A few months ago I made my bucket list of the races I would like to do in my lifetime. The Rock N Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon was at the top of my list. Running on the strip at night and a trip to Vegas seemed like a great combination. I was lucky enough to win a free entry through a Twitter contest so the planning began!
My husband graciously volunteered to accompany me on this trip. Normally he is “voluntold” to come to my racing adventures but he was more than willing this time since neither of us had been to Vegas.
We flew into Las Vegas on Friday morning. I was pumped when I saw the sign below greeting us at baggage pick up.
We checked into our room at The Venetian. Our hotel was gorgeous and like no hotel I have ever seen before. We explored the hotel then headed to the Rock N Roll Las Vegas Expo at the Convention Center.
We looked at a map and saw the convention center was only a few blocks away. We decided to walk but quickly learned a Las Vegas block is not like a regular city block. A block and a half equaled almost a mile….so we found a cab and rode the rest of the way.
We arrived at the Expo shortly after it opened and it was jam packed. The number and t-shirt pick up was fairly easy but the merchandise and vendor sections were crowded. Later I found out Meb was in the house so that could have been the reason for the cluster of runners.
Some of the vendors we visited were PowerBar and CEP Compression. PowerBar was giving out samples of their wafer energy bar. I tried the peanut butter chocolate and it was delicious.
Next we visited the CEP Compression booth. I scored some CEP Compression calf sleeves.
Next we took the Las Vegas Monorail to the middle of the Strip. We knew our feet were not going to survive a few more “Vegas” blocks and the monorail was a lifesaver. We had lunch at the Paris Casino then headed to The Bellagio for some gambling.
My husband played the slots and the black jack tables for a few hours. I sipped my cosmopolitans and took in the sights. One thing Vegas is not short on is the cocktails. Before we knew it, it was night time.
Las Vegas was absolutely stunning at night.
We went back to The Venetian to get ready and have some champagne. We went to dinner and the Rock N Roll runner party at Tao. Dinner was delicious and Tao was beautiful. There were candles everywhere and a giant Buddha statue in the dining room. We had a great time at the Tao nightclub too. By the time 1:00am rolled around we had been up almost 24 hours. Our pillows were calling our names.
Our 5:00am wake up call for our Grand Canyon Tour came way too soon. We whined and complained to each other like kids waking up on the first day of school. We managed to get dressed and out the door. Once the husband got his coffee and I got my donuts we were good to go.
Our tour took us to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon which is owned and ran by the Hualapai Indians. The views were breathtaking. One interesting thing was the Canyon had no guard rails because the Hualapai wanted to keep the Canyon in its original state. There were quite a few times I had to fuss at the husband for trying to be a daredevil…see below.
The tour also took us to the Hualapai Ranch, Joshua Tree forest, and the Hoover Dam.
I highly recommend Canyon Tours and their tour guide Gary. We had a fun and adventurous day. www.canyontours.com
For dinner we headed to the Eiffel Restaurant inside the Paris Casino. The restaurant, you guessed it, was inside the Eiffel Tower. We were lucky enough to be seated near the window with an amazing view of the Las Vegas Strip and Bellagio Fountains. Our plan was to go to the top of the tower after dinner but it was shut down because of the winds. Little did we know a blustery cold front was arriving in Vegas on the eve of the race.
As we headed to brunch the next morning we could feel the chill in the air. After we ate I headed back to the hotel to change into my running gear. I was really happy I packed a light running jacket to go over my shirt but I wished I would have brought long pants. I, or any of the runners, was not expecting this sudden temperature drop.
The streets were already shut down at 1:00pm in preparation for the race so we took a cab on the back streets to the New York New York Casino. I successfully harassed the husband into riding the New York Coaster with me. You would have thought it was the other way around with all of the screaming I was doing. We had a blast. Riding a roller coaster was never part of my race prep before……I really like Las Vegas.
We made it to the pre-race festivities at 3:00pm. Mackelmore performed a free concert for the runners. Dancing was a good warm up because the temperature dropped even more. I committed to wearing my jacket during the race because I was freezing. My husband and I were literally chasing the spots of cement still illuminated by the setting sun for warmth.
It was now after 4:00pm with the race minutes away. The sun set, the cold creeped in, and my husband ventured off to gamble.
I was shivering waiting in my corral for the start. I did not care to warm up or stretch. I just wanted to get the race started and finished so I could find somewhere warm to go. Yeah I know what you are thinking, “Would you like some cheese with that whine?” You had to be there and don’t forget I am a southern girl used to heat and humidity.
The race was finally underway! We headed south on the strip and passed the famous Welcome to Las Vegas sign. I couldn’t pass this opportunity up so I had stepped off the race course for a moment to have my picture taken by the Marathon Foto Team.
My first mile pace was around 10 minutes but I did have to factor in my photo pitt stop which was totally worth it. We turned northbound after the first mile and started heading back towards the casinos.
I finally got down to an 8 minute pace for the next few miles. We were in the middle of the busy part of the strip and the cold was not bothering me that much. The large cheering crowds lined up on the strip were motivating and kept the energy of the runners up.
Once we passed all of the large casinos our protection from the cold winds were gone and we ran through the older part of Las Vegas. There were not many people with the exception of a very intoxicated Elvis cheering in front of a pawn shop. I was freezing, tired, and my pace climbed to the 9 minute area. I did not care about finishing in a particular time…I just wanted to finish.
At mile 9 I started my usual routine that I do for most half marathons. I would sell my soul for the race just to be over, I swore I would never do a half marathon again, and wondered why I paid for this torture in the first place. Redemption was found at mile 10 when we turned around and headed back to the finish line.
I was still really cold which is not normal for me. I have done colder races with less on and usually warm up pretty fast. We passed the volcano at the Mirage casino, which was`”exploding,” and that gave me some warmth to finish strong.
2 hours, 5 minutes, and a whole lot of inner monologue complaining later I was finished! I was less than thrilled with my time but I had to factor in that A. I did not train for this race B. I am still trying to bounce back after the setback from my injury C. I did not sleep at all the whole weekend D. My pre race meal plan was the casino buffet and lots of cosmos.
Half marathon #9 was in the books.
The finish chute was nearly a “Vegas” block long. We received our medals, Mylar blanket (thank baby Jesus), took our finisher photos, and received lots food and drink treats from the vendors.
I finally escaped the finisher chute and wrapped my frozen body in my Mylar blanket, or as my husband calls it my hobo garbage bag. I took a few post race photos and headed to Caesar’s Palace for all that bad stuff I mentioned above that I blamed for slowing me down.
We had some celebratory drinks then indulged at Caesar’s Bacchanal Buffet.
Our short time in Las Vegas was amazing and worth every moment and penny. I would highly recommend you add this race to your future running calender. It is a top notch production and the experience of a lifetime. Oh and as for that never running a half marathon again……….I signed up for 3 in the next 11 months. See I do that to after every race too.