August 19, 2010

A Mysterious Marathon

Here we go! Tomorrow bright and early my mom and I head out for Las Vegas and on Saturday night will be running the E.T. Full Moon Midnight Marathon. And yes, it starts and midnight! The race is in the middle of the desert near Area 51 (hence the extraterrestrial theme) in, believe it or not, a little town called Rachel, Nevada. From the website:

"Running along the fringe of the mysterious Area 51, this stretch of highway (375) has an overwhelming number of reported UFO sightings. So much so, that in 1996 the federal government officially named highway 375 the Extraterrestrial Highway. Not only is the ET Highway full of alien fun, it traverses some gorgeous scenery as well. At roughly 4000-5600 foot elevation, the high desert abounds with Joshua trees and other vegetation unique to the area. This road is also “open range”, so don’t be surprised if you’re passing cows on course!"

I have to admit I'm pretty excited to experience such a unique race. Plus, this race will also be my 3rd marathon in 3 months, qualifying me for the Marathon Maniacs, and it will be my 3rd state on my quest to conquering all 50. I also have to admit that I'm a little nervous about a few things. First and foremost, the staring time. Starting a marathon at midnight means I'll be running a looong way during a time when I'm normally asleep. I have no idea how my body will handle this on top of normal marathon fatigue. I hope I don't decide to stop for a nap on the side of the road. Another concern is the altitude, approximately 5,000 ft. I've never run in altitude and have no idea how it will affect me. And lastly, the first half of the course is on a gradual incline. While hills aren't a huge issue for me (hello, SFM), I hope I don't get too worn out during the first 13 miles. That being said, I have no strong time goals for this race. I'm hoping for 5 hours or just under, but considering the circumstances I'll take what I can get. I just want to have fun!

On the positive end of things, I think running at night in this kind of setting will be both exhilarating at times and serene at others. There are less than 1,000 runners doing the 50k, marathon, half, and 10k races so it's a rather small field and there's a good chance I'll be alone for stretches at a time. If anything it will be a great time to get some good soul-searching in, no? It should also be fun to see all the glowing runners and alien costumes, too. We're required to wear a headlamp or carry a flashlight and are encouraged to wear reflective vests and other glow-in-the-dark accessories. I bought some sweet lime green Nike shorts and a cool black shirt to go along with the alien theme and I have a headlamp and reflective vest to keep me aglow. I did an easy 3.3 miles tonight to test out the headlamp and it worked great! I do love running at night, it's just so exhilarating : ) As I mentioned before, my mom will be volunteering out there as well so I should pass her around mile 20 and get see her at the finish line!

Anyway, it should be a fun weekend! My mom and I are staying in Las Vegas and will be making a mini-vacation out of the trip. Tomorrow night we have tickets to a Cirque du Soleil show, then Saturday we'll probably just lay around and relax until it's time to catch the bus out to the start line (about 2.5 hours from Vegas). Then Sunday and Monday we have free to do whatever! Although I'll probably just want to sleep and eat : ) So with that, I bid you goodnight!

 p.s. More updates on my biking adventures to come after this weekend! But suffice it to say I'm in love  : )