Thursday, September 30, 2010

Running in Vegas

Running in Las Vegas was an interesting new experience for me. I stayed on the south end of the Strip at Luxor and went online to to try and find some suggested places to run. A number of people recommended trails out in the mountains and valleys around town, which I would have surely enjoyed, but most were several miles away and something seemed silly about getting a cab to drive me to go out running, and who knows how I would have found one to bring me back.

I settled on just running up and down the Strip. As compared to running in other major cities, Vegas actually has pedestrian overpasses at most intersections, so as long as you are willing to do some stairs every half mile or so, you can pretty much keep running continuously all the way north to downtown Vegas.

And that is precisely what I did on Tuesday. I missed my chance at a long run this past weekend so instead, I started out at Luxor and ran all the way to the 700 block of Las Vegas Boulevard. I chose this as my turnaround because it happens to be the address of the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop featured on the History channel’s “Pawn Stars”. Unfortunately, they were filming interior shots at the time and the shop is no longer open 24 hours because of the show. I was there at 8:30 and did not want to wait 30 minutes for them to open the shop. I was amused at the signage; instead of some formal or nicely printed sign, all that was posted was a scribbled note saying “quiet, filming in progress” in a sloppy script that looked like what Chumlee might scribe.

So, the Strip is reasonable running, the Pawn Stars 24 shop is not 24 hours, oh yeah, Vegas is hot.

Now, coming from Florida, I know hot. I also know humid. It may be a cliché is that “it’s hot, but it’s a dry heat”, but I would say that the difference between Vegas hot and Florida hot is well, several hundred miles apart.

The number one difference I noticed was in my breathing. Have you ever been in a sauna? How about a steam room? You likely noticed that the humidity in a steam room feels quite different on your throat than the raspy dryness of a sauna. That is exactly what it was like in Vegas. After three days there, I actually found myself with a sore throat from it being dry all the time. Consistent mouth breathing led to the back of my throat and my tongue being cottony throughout the run. In contrast, there are days in Florida when it is 90 and 90 (degrees and humidity) when you feel like you are swimming instead of breathing.

Further proof of the difference in dry vs. wet heat was that when I arrived on Monday, it was about noon and I thought, “I wonder how bad running in 100+ degree weather is when the humidity is in the single digits?” So I went out for four miles, and while it certainly was hot, I had sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and was able to keep up a decent pace for the whole run.

So, location, weather, just a couple of other quick thoughts and observations for this post. When it comes to running “on the road”, you need slightly different gear than at home. I never carry cash, and with my RoadID, I don’t bother with my photo ID. My house/car keys are much easier to store in my key pocket than the infernal and ubiquitous swipey-card hotel keys we all are now used to. First thing I noticed this trip is just how awesome my Pearl Izumi shorts with the zip-pocket over your backside are. With regular shorts, if your key pocket is big enough for a room key, it typically digs into your hips/thigh as you run. These shorts, on the other hand, easily hold a hotel room key without any inconvenience during the run. Second, I usually bring a sandwich bag to put my cash in so I don’t have to hand a wet dollar bill to a clerk for my sports drink. I forgot this time, but, the label off of the bottle of said sports drink actually made for a great wrapper around my hotel room key and cash. Third and last is that in the TSA’s infinite wisdom regarding liquids, getting a small size sunscreen to pack on your carry-on can be challenging, and instead, I took a stick sunscreen which worked just fine.

Overall, I enjoyed running in Vegas. I told my wife I’d rather run in desert heat than Florida heat any day, but that may just be the novelty of the experience. I do think I’d enjoy coming back for the Rock and Roll event in Vegas, so maybe I’ll just pencil that one on the calendar for some day.

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