When I arrived in Vegas, I was greeted by 100-plus degrees of fiery Fahrenheit hell. I'm from San Francisco, so I'm not used to this kind of boiling point heat. Thank God this was a midnight marathon! If I had to run in this heat, I probably would have melted into a puddle of Vietnamese GU.
After stepping off the plane, I quickly made my way to the Thrifty Car Rental, got my economy car, and jetted off to The Hard Rock Casino for the Expo. The first person I saw there was Yolanda "Walking Diva" Holder, my marathon hero. This lady is going for the Guinness Book record for most marathons walked in one calendar year: 101. This Extraterrestrial Highway marathon will mark her 72nd for this year.
I also made some new friends at the expo--Ray, Sarah, and Hector--all from Long Beach. While we waited for the bus, I got to know these three, and it was great hearing their stories. I know I will be seeing these folks on the SoCal circuit in the fall, starting with the Long Beach Marathon.
When the shuttles arrived at 9pm, we all got on the "quiet" bus so that we could rest. It was a two and half our drive to the start line, so any second of shut eye I can steal, I will!
Along the way, I bumped into Yolanda and a bloke from Down Under named Anthony. Anthony is from Sydney, Australia, and is on holiday in the states. He decided to run this midnight marathon while in Vegas for the weekend. The poor guy blew out his knee at mile 6 and had to walk the rest of the way. By mile 11, he was feeling pretty delirious from the altitude, just like me!
I kept plugging along, but by mile 23, I was really beginning to lose it. Runners and walkers were passing me up one by one. My eyes were throbbing and my head felt like it was about to explode. I couldn't breathe. I removed the Endorphin Dude head band hoping to get some air circulation to my head. It took me 24 minutes to get from miles 24 to 25, and 31 minutes to get from miles 25 to 26. The remaining runners and walkers who passed me were concerned and asked if I needed medical attention. One runner, who is a nurse practitioner, even stopped to take my pulse. I was grateful for all the concern, but I was so close to that finish line. I thanked everyone for their concern and continued to inch along the Extraterrestrial Highway.
Just when I thought I was about to collapse, who do I see? My marathon guardian angel is who. Yolanda, who had finished an hour before, walked out to the the 25.8 mile mark with her friend MG to escort me back! I couldn't believe it. Seeing Yolanda and MG gave me that second wind to jog those final .4 miles to the finish line. The Walking Diva said to me, "Good Work Tony! You made it this far! You can do it. You're almost there. You are so close to completing your second marathon!" She then snapped a picture of me and continued to cheer for me as I desperately jogged to end.
When I finally made it to the finish line, I pretty much collapsed. There was nothing left in me. I'll be honest and say that I really did not experience any runner's high, for I was too exhausted. That, however, does not mean that I am not proud. Believe me, Endorphin Dude pulled out all that he had to complete this arduous race, and I am damn proud of myself for finishing!