If you’ve been reading my blog then you know the reservations I was having about doing the ET Full Moon Midnight Race. If not, you can read about it here. I decided to just go into it with a good attitude and make the best of it, even though I was really worried about running a race at midnight and probably not getting home until the wee hours of the morning, since the location was a 2 hour drive away.
On Saturday, I just did my typical thing, swim lessons with the kids, errands, etc. I ate what I would normally eat, having dinner around 6pm. I headed over to the Hard Rock Hotel around 7:30pm to pick up my race packet and meet up with my run club before boarding the bus to Area 51. There was a costume contest for the race, and dressing up was encouraged, so it was fun seeing people that really went all out (and most of them were from my run club!).
Around 8:45pm we started boarding the buses. There were about 30 people from my run club (Las Vegas Runners) that participated in this event, so we all were able to ride the same bus together. It was about a 2 hour drive to Rachel, Nevada, where Area 51 is, so I downed a cup of coffee right before getting on the bus but actually ended up napping for the last 45 minutes of the drive, which was so great and made me feel so refreshed when we got there.
Our first stop was to drop off the participants for the 51k and the full marathon at their start line. These people are seriously rock stars! I couldn’t imagine running a full marathon, let alone a 51k at midnight, but there were a ton of participants for those distances. I was so impressed! The drop off location also happened to be the location of the infamous Black Mailbox. After making a pit stop and posing for a photo op with the Black Mailbox (which is not actually black by the way) the rest of us participating in the half marathon and 10k were off to our start lines. The 10k race was an out and back, so they started at the finish line and the half marathon was a point to point, so we were dropped off about 13 miles up the road from the finish line.
The weather was absolutely perfect. Between low 70s and high 60s. It was a little cold waiting at the start line, but once we got moving it was wonderful and such a nice change from the hot summer weather in Vegas. I put on all my glow sticks (this was the extent of my “costume”) and head lamp and got ready to begin.
At this point I was wide awake. The adrenaline had definitely kicked in and there was so much great energy from the participants and organizers. There were several professional photographers getting people to snap fun photos and so many people were dressed up with fun alien themed costumes and accessories. I also ran into my Body Pump instructor! It really made for a fun time!
Before I knew it, the countdown was on for the start and we were off! I really wanted to work on pacing myself so I started out slow and just tried to keep a nice steady pace. The first couple of miles flew past and as the runners started to spread out I really got caught up in the moment and was enjoying the race so much. If you’ve never ran a night race before, the one word I would use to describe it is peaceful. For most of the race the people in front of me were far enough ahead and the people behind me were far enough behind that I was pretty much alone. It was so peaceful being out there on this lonely stretch of highway with nothing but me, the road, the full moon and the stars. I don’t race with music and I was really happy for that during this race because I would have missed out on this total Zen moment. I don’t know if it was the sleep deprivation or what, but for most of the race it was almost like an out of body experience where I was floating up in the stars, lost in happy thoughts while my body was down on the road doing all the work. It was incredible.
The half marathon course was basically 13.1 miles in a straight line along Highway 375 (aka Extraterrestrial Highway). The first 6 miles were uphill, about 1,000 feet of climb and the last half of the race was downhill. Most of the climb was gradual, so it wasn’t too bad and once I reached the halfway mark and crested the top of the hill, it felt so good to just fly down the road. The road was closed to traffic for the race so we didn’t have to worry about cars. And a meteor shower just happened to be happening that night, so it made for some awesome night skies.
There were 3 fuel stations for the half marathoners (and I had brought my own Pocket Fuel Naturals as well) but I didn’t end up fueling at all for this race. I don’t know if it was because of the time of the race and I had eaten during the day, but I just didn’t need it. I had my hand held water bottle and took sips throughout the race, but other than that I didn’t have anything else. I was feeling so good during this race, and because I didn’t need to stop at any of the fuel stations, for the first time ever, I ran a half marathon without stopping or walking at all. I was having a total Forrest Gump moment where I just kept running!
The race went by so fast. I remember passing the mile 11 marker and actually thinking to myself that I was a little sad that it was almost over because it was that enjoyable. Usually when I get to this point in a race I just want to be done, but I really felt like I could have kept running forever! I had my Garmin on me, but I didn’t check it even a single time, so I had no idea where I was at time wise. This is how I’ve decided to run every race ever since I accidentally left it at home for the Moms Rock 10k (and ended up with a PR). I will wear it just so I can check my distance in case the course isn’t clearly marked, but I have the lap feature turned off so it doesn’t beep at each mile and the display only shows me overall time and distance (if I choose to look at it). For me, I would much rather focus on how my body is feeling then getting caught up in my pace.
Before I knew it, I was passing the mile 12 marker and it was the final stretch. I could start making out the finish line and sprinted to the end. When I crossed, I looked up and saw 1:53 and change on the clock. I was really proud of myself! I though for sure that I was going to be over 2 hours because I had felt so good for the whole race that I assumed it was because I was running slower. I got my medal and posed for some photos with some of my friends at the finish line.
After that I was wandering around trying to find a bathroom and some food when I heard my name called on the loud speaker. My first thought was, “Oh great, they must have lost my bag or something.” I went up to the table and they handed me an award. I asked what it was for and they said I got 1st place in my age group. I couldn’t believe it! I think my face probably looked about like this:
I ended up with 4th place overall for the females and 1st place in the 30-39 age group with an official time of 1:53:26. Several of the runners from my run club placed as well which made for such a great feeling for all of us!
I have to give a big shout out to Joyce from Calico Racing as well. The race was so organized from start to finish and considering all the logistics (bus transportation, multiple start lines, road closure, time of race, etc.), she did an amazing job. Did I also mention she hand made all of the placing awards? It is such a cool award made out of Peridot (August’s birthstone). Plus we all got a cool alien themed tech shirt!
I rolled in around 6am and could only sleep for about 2 hours before my body just decided that was it, so I’m definitely still trying to get back to normal. But, it was so worth it! I was so worried about this race and it ended up being so much fun, and definitely the best I’ve ever felt in any previous half marathon race. I really want to do this one again!
Also, we have a LÄRABAR winner!
Congrats Sue! Sue is also a blogger. She writes This Mama Runs For Cupcakes. Go check out here blog too. You won’t be disappointed!