The ET run was held on the Extraterrestrial Highway near Rachel, Nevada (about 2.5 hours from Las Vegas). This run is held on the weekend closest to the full moon in August every year and is a midnight run. The half marathon start time was actually 12:30am on Sunday, August 10th. Let me back up----
I arrived in Las Vegas on Wednesday, August 6th and got in a rental car to head to the Grand Canyon (will post about that another time). I woke up at 4:45am Saturday to catch the sunrise at the Grand Canyon, got in the rental car, drove back to Las Vegas, went fabric shopping, had ice cream at Luv-It, returned the rental car, walked to the bus stop with all my camping gear on my back, got to the hotel, checked in, got to the room to find it was occupied by other people already, waited a while to get someone to bring me a new card for a new room, finally made it to a room, took a shower, walked to the bus stop off Trop, walked to the Hard Rock for packet pickup, got on one of the buses for the ride to the start line. Note I did not say "took a nap." My naptime was eaten away by waiting for my room. I was most displeased.
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was the host hotel for the ET run. I got to packet pickup around 7:00. The Hard Rock is off the Strip--waaay off the Strip. I had to walk about 1/2 mile from the bus stop to get to the hotel. I'm glad I got to packet pickup well before it ended. I had plenty of time to do some much-needed stretching. I lost a lot of flexibility during my time at the Grand Canyon and I needed that time to warm up my muscles and get some of it back. Here's my swag bag:
T-shirt, Hammer nutrition propaganda , emergen-C packet & coupon, Hammer gel, race bib
At 8:30, all the runners loaded up on the buses for an 8:45 departure. The buses were designated either "chatty" or "quiet." I was hoping for a nap, so I chose one of the quiet buses. I actually slept almost the entire 2.5 hour ride to the marathon & 51K starting line at the Black Mailbox. I didn't even get out of the bus to see the mailbox. Sleep was more important. We still had at least an hour to the half marathon start time and I desperately needed sleep. The half marathon starting line was a point along the the ET highway. Just a spot. No timing mat at the beginning or anything--just a go point. The bus drivers kicked us off the bus at midnight and we had to crack our glow sticks and get ready to go.
Here I am a few minutes from go time. I look pretty awesome in this photo. I was actually freezing! and still kinda sleepy.
The race itself was pleasant. I found the first 4 miles or so to be easy running. I felt like I was climbing a neverending hill between miles 4 and 6. I hit an eerie cold pocket of air during those miles too. My torso was cold but my legs were warm. Aliens. After I got to the top of the hill, it was literally all downhill to the finish. Unlike all my previous runs, I didn't use runkeeper. I find that runkeeper isn't reliable when it has a good GPS signal, let alone how it would be in the middle of nowhere with a barely there cell phone signal. I stopped to take a photo of the Extraterrestrial Highway sign just outside Rachel and was surprised to find it was 3:21am. That meant I had 9 minutes to run just under a mile and finish in under 3 hours!
Not my photo (got this one from Trip Advisor)
Here I am at the finish! I ended up finishing the 13.1 miles in 2:58:4-. I made it! A typical half marathon course has a 3 hour time limit, so that was why I was so excited to finish in under 3 hours. I shouldn't have any issues in coming in under the time limits of any race, especially since this was my 9th!
I don't feel like I had any issues with the elevation or the air being thinner. My biggest challenge going into this run was trying to keep myself from becoming dehydrated. I didn't sweat at all during the run and I couldn't tell how much fluid I was using. I didn't want to drink too much water and become grossly bloated, but I didn't want to not drink enough and become lightheaded and dizzy either. It all worked out in the end. I loved this run. It was very well organized and the whole concept was very unique. One could tell that the race organizer is a runner herself and she knows what is important to runners in order to make the event great. There wasn't a single thing I could think of to make this race better. That is never the case for me.
I can't say this run was the highlight of my time in the desert, but it was definitely a great way to spend a few hours. The medal is really great too!