Jeff’s Post – Rock N Roll Las Vegas ½ Marathon Review – A Tale of Two Races!
Wow this is way longer than I wanted it to be – I have broken it up in sections so you can read what you like!
As I write this Tamara and I are in the air on our way home to Maryland. We are three days removed from our last big race of the year – Vegas Baby. We both PR’d and I personally had a good overall experience. This was our second Rock N Roll event of the year (We ran Virginia Beach in September). I knew going into this race there were approximately 44k registered so I was preparing for crowds, lines and everything else associated with pushing that many people through one area.
We flew in to Las Vegas on Saturday morning. We stayed at the Venetian and the expo was connected to that building so we had a short indoor walk from the hotel. I still enjoy the expos but find them somewhat repetitive after attending so many. We went around 11:00 and noticed a decent crowd but getting our race bibs, shirts and goody bag went off without a hitch. We then went through the Brooks merchandise area. I love Brooks stuff and always like to see them at an expo. We gathered our handful of race items and headed to the checkout. When I first saw this line I thought they might be giving away a car at the end (soooo many people) but everyone was in a good mood and the line moved amazingly quick. The rest of the Expo was a bit of a cluster it was just too crowded. I made the comment to Tamara that I felt sorrow for some of the vendors because we would have bought more if it wasn’t so crowded. We actually ended up going back later in the day (around 6:00pm) and found that experience much more enjoyable (this was easy for us because we stayed so close).
This was our first night race and we changed time zones so we were both a bit nervous about what to eat, when to eat, when to sleep and yep we are runners so were also worried about the whole bathroom thing. I basically reversed my eating schedule and ate what I would normally eat for breakfast (oatmeal) in the afternoon. I also packed a few energy bars and my old standby princess gummies! I called earlier in the day and found out that shuttles would be leaving our hotel on the hour – somehow I missed “on the hour” and when we left to get on one I found out we had missed the 2:00. So we decided to walk the 2.5 miles to Mandalay Bay. This isn’t really ideal before you get ready to run 13 miles but we really had no choice. The walk seemed to take forever and it seemed like every escalator in the town was out of order. So we walked and walked and ended up getting to the start line around 3:30. Our event didn’t start until 5:30 but we were so worried about the crowds that we thought it would be best to get there as early as we could. I also figured we could crash in a hotel for a while if needed. Tamara and I took a few minutes to take a couple pictures then headed towards the finish area to see where everything was. I wanted to find bag check and after asking a few people we were directed to the convention area of Mandalay Bay. It was interesting walking in because we ended up walking through some sort of Western Wear convention. All these runners mingling with all these cowboys gave us a good laugh.
We finally found bag check but more importantly found a really nice area that we could sit and stay warm inside the hotel (we also found a couple secret bathrooms on the floor above – score!) We wanted to see the marathon start but we both decided to stay put, enjoy the warmth and rest our legs. This comfort almost got us in trouble. We didn’t leave to head to the start line until around 5:10 (the race started at 5:30). We moved through a very crowded hallway towards the starting corral. I was a bit panicked at this point because I wasn’t sure we would get to where we needed to be corral 5. Tamara and I were in “game time” mode though – which means we both get a bit grumpy and focused at the same time. We found a small shortcut thru some bushes/trees and worked our way up to the street but we were at coral 11. We had a long way to go and a short time to get there! Tamara and I took turns darting through the crowd (and boy this was a crowd) each thinking we saw a better way. I would let Tamara push her way thru (then I just said I’m with her) and I tried to squeeze through and that actually worked very well and we got to the back of coral 5 with about 5 minutes to spare.
They used a wave start (really had no other choice) and this actually gave us a little time to get focused it also gave us a time to look at each other take in this amazing moment and wish each other luck. Tamara and I run great together and we know in a race of this distance we will run together until the other one says go and then we run our own race.
We finally got to our wave and we were off. It was not nearly as crowded as I thought once we got going. I notice some things right off the bat.
- Running the strip was amazing. During the first couple miles I allowed myself to take it all in. I was focused but I was also enjoying the experience. Tamara was doing her normal darting and I was right beside her.
- It wasn’t nearly as cold as I thought it was going to be – I started to get hot early on.
- It was dark! I know we were running the strip at night but it was darker than I thought it would be. I was definitely paying attention to where I was stepping . The strip wasn’t as smooth as I thought it would be.
- I saw these little cones and it took a little while before I realized these cones were trying to create a lane for the marathoners. I knew this was going to be tough on them.
Tamara and I were running strong and fast. I was surprised I felt as good as I did. I had a point at around mile 5 when my legs starting to feel a bit tired but I had experienced this before and didn’t really let it worry me. I would later find out that Tamara wasn’t feeling as good as I thought she was. We ran together until around mile 6 then I noticed her slowing a bit. I had thought about a PR coming in but wasn’t counting on it due to the size of the race but it wasn’t as crowded where I was and I was running fast so I pushed away. The middle of the race was interesting. We went through places in Vegas I probably wouldn’t go and the course had a few more turns than I expected but I still enjoyed it. I will cut to us back on the strip. I was still feeling really good when we got back on the strip. The hotels along the strip are so deceiving. You think you are close but you are so far away. When we went past our hotel (The Venetian) at mile 11 I could only recall how long this really was. I quickly pushed that thought out of my head and started running. I was hoping to finish at around 1 :39 but realized I was a little slower than that but I could still PR if I pushed – and that is what I did – I pushed. It seemed to take forever to get to the finish line and I wasn’t a fan of how it twisted and turned at the end but the end was in sight. I run to the finish and I PR with a 1:41 yeah!! I cross the finish, get my medal and sneak into a side area so I can wait for Tamara. About 4 minutes later I see Tamara cross the line and I also know she has a PR. I love and worry that she lays so much out on the course because she was a bit groggy when she finished. We quickly grab a water and an energy bar (I skipped the green bananas) and head back to bag check. We sit down for a while grab our gear and decide to walk back to the hotel. It was a long cold walk back and I was amazed at the amount of people still on the course. We made it back to the room thrilled with our PR’s!
When I woke up the next morning I went to the facebook page for RnR and was shocked to see all of the negative comments. I felt like we were at a different race. Aside from one possible issue (I will let Tamara address that) we really had a good experience. I felt like I paid for the opportunity to run on the Las Vegas strip at night and that is what I got. My expectations tend to be a little lower in the big races and I also go into a bit of a survival mode. I print all my registration stuff before, I run with my own water, I bring everything else I think I might need and I don’t try to PR at big events (if it happens that is a bonus). In all honesty I don’t really rely on the race organizers for much. Finishing early and leaving early gave us this good experience. I really do feel for all of those who had such a negative experience later on….but we had a really good race experience and a great time in Vegas!