I have returned from my second consecutive weekend of running. I flew out on Saturday morning for Vegas. My friend, Tay, from my first Solemates Ragnar team landed about 30 minutes after me. I took a terminal shuttle over to her and we caught a cab to the hotel together. I had an extra bed in my hotel room so she was my roommate for the weekend. It all worked out really great – I so enjoyed catching up with her and it was nice to have someone to hang out with.
After we checked into the Linq hotel, we took the monorail to the LV convention center for packet pickup and a little shopping at the race expo. I had pre-purchased a Vegas Strong shirt and picked that up. The proceeds from the shirts were donated to the victims of the Vegas shooting tragedy and the race organizers were hoping to have many runners on the course wearing the shirt to show support. There were few other things I wanted to get for the race – arm sleeves (I lost my last pair at the AZ RNR race), Sport Beans, and a hat (I accidentally left all of mine at home). I also came across a booth selling BASE electrolyte salt and I had been wanting to try that for a while – so I bought some for the race.
When I had registered for this race originally, it was meant to be a bit of a reunion of the Fat to Finish Line friends that I had hung out with 2 years ago. Unfortunately, many of them didn’t make the trip this year. I still saw a
Finishing my 1/2 “yard” of beer
bunch of people at the FFTFL expo booth but I didn’t volunteer to work at it this year. For some reason I guess I’m just a little burned out of all of it. I did have fun with many of them Saturday night at the Yard House and I drank quite a bit of beer with one of the guys I met 2 years ago and his wife (and we have stayed in touch via Facebook). I didn’t stay out too late though since I have been really run down after Ragnar last week and
Had to dig out my inhaler since my little cold has been messing up my breathing.
fighting off a slight cold / cough I picked up mid-week. I got to sleep in on Sunday and then my friend from high school, Robin, picked me up for brunch. We went to a cute place off the strip and I loaded up on pancakes – hoping I had enough time to digest them before the run later that night. After returning to the strip, I played blackjack at Harrah’s with one of the FFTFL founders, Jen, for about an hour. I had good luck at the table and won $140!
At about 2pm I went back to the room and started getting my stuff together for the race. The race course and start line had been changed due to the shooting. The big headliner concert is typically before the race at Rock n’ Roll Vegas marathon and half-marathon and it takes place at the same location where the shooting occurred. Because they have left that venue fenced up and there wasn’t a place for an outdoor concert pre-race, the band (Goo Goo Dolls) played on Friday night after the 5K instead. So, on Sunday, the starting line was moved quite a bit further north up the strip to right outside New York New York and the MGM. The race organizers did an amazing job with the last minute changes and I actually preferred this new setup. There were tons of port-a-potties available (clean!) and the corral layout was pretty organized. Because it was closer, I just walked down instead of taking the monorail. It probably only added an extra mile of walking but I didn’t have to deal with any crowds or lines to board. I had fun while I waited, running into a few friends from Phoenix and others from FFTFL.
We lined up in the corrals sometime after 4:30pm. It was starting to get dark. The weather was so bad 2 years ago I never wanted to do this race again, but I hoped that this year would be better – and it was! There was definitely an increased police presence and security, especially in the wake of the shooting, but it wasn’t scary or anything like that. The energy was very positive and it was an appreciative and respectful crowd. There were police helicopters flying over periodically and I’m sure there were police officers stationed at the top of the casinos. We were lined up just a short distance from Mandalay Bay – and that served as a reminder of the tragedy. Around 4pm, the marathoners started the race and then at 4:30pm the first corrals of half marathoners were off. We inched forward in our corrals and in groups of maybe 5 or so corral groups, the starting line announcer and pyrotechnics sent off each wave of runners. As with most Rock n’ Roll races, the energy was high.
At last we took off and headed south on the Strip. We had been informed that the first 2.5 miles of the race would be without music out of respect for the shooting victims as we ran past Mandalay Bay and the concert venue. It was dark now and fairly silent as the runners made their way down. At the turn-around point, there was a simple string quartet playing classical music – again as a show of respect. It was very nice. As we turned there to head back north, a very large banner was hung at the concert venue location and had been signed by thousands of runners at the Expo. I put my phone in Pano mode and tried to capture it – it’s pretty choppy, but you get the idea.
Anyway…the race. I was super tight at first, which was expected. I pretty much didn’t stretch or do anything after Ragnar and I’m sure my muscles had wanted me to pay for that. I ran the first mile straight and then just wanted to give an “all out” effort for the rest of the race. I tend to walk longer than I need to and I wanted to run more of this race. As we re-entered the more active Strip area, the crowds were lining the street and cheering for us. Those of us wearing the Vegas Strong shirts were cheered, so that was fun. I saw a few people I knew in the crowds and hi-five’d them as I ran by. The energy was pretty helpful and I kept up a pace I was happy with. I really wanted to finish the race under 3 hours. When I first ran half marathons, 3 hours would have been easy – I was shooting for 2:30 back then. But, I have realized, that takes some dedicated training and I just haven’t put the time in like I used to. Plus, I’m a good 25 pounds heavier. As the miles went by I felt like I had a pretty good chance of finishing right around 3:00. We turned off the Strip for about a mile in a rather dark neighborhood but, before long, we were running towards downtown Las Vegas. This was the point last year when the weather was horrible so it was nice to be enjoying it more now. My legs were starting to hurt more now and my pace was slowing as we made the final turn to run back down the Strip. I was sort of settled in with the same pack of runners. The last 2 miles were lined with crowds again and the marathon runners were routed in next to us (but divided by fences). As much as it seemed like I should be able to keep a pace up to finish under my goal, I realized my legs were not necessarily going along with that plan. My walk breaks were happening more frequently and when I did run I just couldn’t move very fast. I was so glad to be almost done though! As we got into the final stretch, the energy was like none other. I wish I had a bit more left in the tank. Finishing a race in the dark was amazing. The lights on the tower built at the finish line were super bright and created cool effects as we ran in – the runners ahead were almost just shadows and it felt like we were running to a space ship or something. At this point I knew I had missed my 3:00 goal but I was still pretty close to it. My finish time ended up being 3:04:15. Disappointing, but I do feel like I ran the race I wanted to and 13.1 miles is a long way! I also know that the long walks (with a little running) that I did this fall helped and it would have been much worse if I had not done that. I pretty much got the results I trained for. Not great, but not bad. As with more Rock n’ Roll races, the finish line area is another 1/4 -1/2 mile long … medals, photos, hydration, medical tents, more pictures, bananas, Pringles(!), pretzels, chocolate milk … then beer! The finish line was right in front of our hotel but by the time we could exit (it was all fenced in) we were all the way down at the end of the next hotel/casino.
I went back to the room and took a shower that felt amazing. Tay had run the 10K, had a great race, and had been back over an hour. We walked a short distance to In and Out for dinner, along with a hundred other runners, and got some much needed food. Gotta love Vegas, I was able to bring my beer in with me. After eating, I also had to make a stop at Sprinkles for a cupcake (ok, maybe 2…). It felt soooo good to go to bed after that!
Monday morning, moving very slowly, we checked out of our hotel and went to the brunch that the FFTFL group was having. I got to see a few friends that I had not run into yet. We hung out there for about an hour and then I headed for the airport…still slowly. There were still a few people I totally missed seeing over the weekend.
I can’t decide if I’ll run the race again next year. I’m thinking about it just because it is a great, flat course and I do love running at night. I want to do it with better training though. So, we’ll see if I can make that commitment! Meanwhile, I’ll rest up a bit and then try to keep up with some longer distances until the Rock n’ Roll Arizona race in mid-January.