Tuesday, November 14, 2017

R'n'R Las Vegas Half Marathon Recap


They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas...well, I'm gonna share my latest Vegas adventure.

I registered for the R'n'R LasVegas back in March, a few months before that plot twist of a summer smacked me in the face (and the knee).  Not only did I have to DNS the R'n'R Chicago, but I had paid big bucks for the Vegas experience. Also, there were several blogging gals (Tricia, Marcia, Mary Beth, and Darlene) headed there as well. I was granted clearance to resume running in mid-September, giving me less than two months until the Vegas start line. Although I knew my endurance was fine, that still presented me with a tight window to get my body in 13.1 condition. None the less, I was determined to make it happen...


The hubby and I arrived in Las Vegas late Friday evening. It's a 3+ hour flight from Iowa, and by the time we were situated in our room (at a bed and breakfast), it was almost midnight.

Packet pick-up was the next morning for me. Despite being such a huge expo, getting my bib and shirt went quickly...unlike the LONG line I waited in to purchase my #VegasStrong shirt (the #VegasStrong shirts were made available as a fundraiser, with all proceeds going to the survivors and families from the October 1st shooting).


My message on the writing wall (which later appeared on the route near the Mandalay Bay hotel)
We spent the majority of the day hanging out with Tricia and her hubby, Greg. I have known Tricia for almost two years (via blogging and social media), but had never met her in person. You know what they say about running friends? That it's like you've known each other all your life? Well, it's the same with blogging friends.



That evening we headed to the northern edge of the strip for the 5K. Although, I did not run the 5K, three gals in our group did.
After the 5K...Mary Beth, Marcia, Tricia, Darlene, and myself
Sunday was race day. Since we were staying at a B&B (and not on the Strip), I brought all of my running gear with me when we headed back to the Strip around lunchtime. I wound up changing into my race outfit in the Giordanos restroom (after a delicious late lunch of pan pizza) before we hopped on the monorail, en route to the start line (near New York, New York).

I found Mary Beth on the monorail, so her and I walked to the bag check together before meeting up with the rest of the crew.

Mary Beth, Greg, Darlene, Tricia, myself, and Marcia
We arrived at the bag check around 3:30. The race start wasn't until 4:30, so we had a few minutes to chat before lining up (in our respective corrals). Oh my, the corrals were tight! Marcia, Darlene, and myself were in corral 12, and it was shoulder-to-shoulder crazy crowded.

lined up with Darlene and Marcia
The temps were in the mid-60's (I think), but felt so much hotter due to the close confines of all the runners. The corrals were sent off in approximate 5-minute intervals, so it probably wasn't until 5:00 when we got our send off.
waiting to approach the start line
In contrast to most R'n'R races, the first part of the race was in silence, as a tribute to the victims of the recent massacre. We headed south, down the Strip, passing the Mandalay Bay hotel. It was very quiet and somber. Shortly after the 1-mile mark was the turn-around, taking us back north on the Strip.
The #VegasStrong signs were everywhere
It was around the 2-mile mark where Marcia and I decided to pull over for a quick potty break, and we said our "see ya at the finish line" good-byes to Darlene. I had brought a 20-oz. water bottle along with me, with the intention of tossing it before the start of the race. Since it was so crowded (and I didn't see a trash can anywhere), I hung on to it...and that proved to be a nice twist of fate. Due to the "dry heat" of the desert, I was in an almost constant state of thirst.

Marcia and I continued onward, chatting about all things running and blogging. Her and I actually had met back in January (though we'd already known each other for awhile via blogging and social media), so it was fun getting better acquainted under the neon lights of Las Vegas Boulevard (by the time we reached the third mile, almost all of the daylight had disappeared).

So far, I was feeling pretty good, but I was paranoid. I had run a 10-mile training run a couple weeks prior, but that was the farthest I'd run since Grandma's Marathon (mid-June). Don't forget, I had that unexpected 3-month sabbatical immediately following. I knew this race was not in contention for a PR, and I was quite alright with that. I just didn't want to risk anything by running too fast. Our pace felt comfortable, but slightly faster than what I'd been training. Also, after the turn-around, were rewarded with a slight breeze (that felt oh-so-good!) and a slight decline in terrain, so it was difficult to slow down.

Having had a rather late lunch (around 2:30), I waited until after the third mile to take my first gel. It wasn't too much farther (between the 4th and 5th mile?) when I knew I needed another potty stop. The tummy was feeling a bit off and #yuck.

Before long, we spotted the Stratosphere up ahead, and Marcia warned me that it looked a lot closer than it actually was. She was not kidding! It was a beautiful landmark,but we didn't pass it until just after the 6-mile mark.
The Stratosphere
A short ways later, we stopped again for a few minutes. This time it was Marcia's turn for a potty break, and I needed to refill my water bottle (seriously, I was sipping water every 1/4 mile or so and still felt so thirsty).

It was shortly after the 8-mile mark when I took my second gel, as we began a small loop through what is referred to as "Old Las Vegas." We even passed Elvis! I said, "Hey, way to go, Elvis!" And he replied, "Thank you, Little Darlin'!" I wish I would have gotten a picture with him (#mybad).
Along Fremont Street
Before long, we were back on Las Vegas Boulevard, and headed south. Although I didn't really feel tired, I could tell my hips were not happy. Marcia was feeling a bit "off" as well, so we took a few intermittent walk breaks, and those short breaks served me well.

We passed the Stratosphere again, this time around the 11-mile mark. It was right near here when we spotted the lead marathoner coming through (#overachiever LOL). At his point on the marathon route, he still had about 5-miles left to go, but he was looking fast and strong. It's always a goal for me to finish my half marathon BEFORE the first marathoner crosses the finish line....but this dude was really clipping along. Ha!

I finally drank the last of my water and tossed the empty bottle just after the 12-mile mark. I don't think I've ever run a half marathon with a cumbersome bottle in my hand, but I'm glad I had it with me.
water fountain near Treasure Island
The finish line was tough to spot....not sure if it was because of all of the other bright lights everywhere else, but it seemed to take forever before we finally had it in sight. Suddenly, I had a surge of energy and a painful lump in my throat. As I made my way to the finish line, I could feel my eyes tearing up....I had done it! I had rallied back! Things had seemed pretty bleak just five months earlier on the hospital bed (post-surgery), but now I had just finished a half marathon. Wow.

I gave Marcia a hug, and thanked her for being by my side. This was not a race about speed, but of endurance. It was a scenic course (hello? Las Vegas!) and I had the privilege of  running it (with a friend, no less). Every run is a blessing.


with Marcia (above left), and the hubby (above)
The hubby texted me almost immediately, and we found him soon after. Next, Darlene found us. And, it wasn't long before Tricia and Greg appeared. Mary Beth was right behind them. We all had done it!

Overall, this was a fantastic event. The corral line-up was a bit of a nightmare because it was so crowded (with very limited entry onto the course), but that would be my only complaint. Everything else was top-notch...bag drop-off/pick-up, music, crowd support (along most of the course), security, post-race food/drink.

And, check out the swag! The medal is SO cool...not only is it heavy, but the center part spins around! I took the liberty to cut my shirt into a tank top...I'm not much of a short-sleeve shirt gal and actually wanted to wear the event shirt for the race itself (karma be damned).

The R'n'R Las Vegas Half Marathon route is an overall flat course. There was a slight (though gradual) incline in the first mile, but then it was a straight stretch of 5-6 miles with a gradual decline after we turned around and headed back north on the Strip. Some runners prefer a flat course, but I prefer a few gradual hills to avoid over-use of the same muscles. Something else to consider is the late afternoon/early evening start time, which makes for a challenge in eating and fueling pre-race.

Although my finish time was a good 20-minutes slower than "usual," I honestly do not care. I didn't expect to run this race fast anyways....it's Vegas, after all! Why not enjoy the experience, right?

For the most part, I felt strong the entire race. No hitting the wall, no muscle cramps, no fatigue. That said, my hips did feel a little sore towards the end (and were REALLY angry when I finished). I think the intermittent walk breaks played a significant role in keeping me in the game. I couldn't quite satiate my constant thirst, though...not sure if that was due to the dry heat of Vegas, or if I was legitimately dehydrated (probably a combination of both).

About an hour after finishing, my tummy totally cramped up on me, to the point that I could not eat anything at all. Thankfully, I had drank two little bottles of chocolate milk right after finishing the race, and eaten some potato chips as well. Ugh. That was not a pleasant experience. Looking back, I'm sure it was a dehydration issue because I know I did not have enough water the day prior. Sport gels have a way of wreaking havoc on my tummy if I don't hydrate properly during a race....and since I felt constantly thirsty, I was probably starting the race already dehydrated.

Side note--they had shirts available at the expo with all the participants names on them, and also banners with the runners' names as well.

So, that's my experience rocking the Strip. Have you ever been to Las Vegas? Ever run an evening race?

**I'm linking this with Debbie and Rachel and Lora for the Running Coaches' Corner.


31 comments:

  1. Congrats! Thats sounds like a fun race but Im not sure how I would feel about an evening start time. Im sure it was tricky running in the warm weather after dealing with the cold for the past few weeks! Glad you and Marcia were able to run together. You guys did awesome!

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    1. Well, the weather was warm, but definitely not unbearable. Once the crowd of racers spread out, it was comfortable.

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  2. I have been waiting to hear all about the race! How fun that you all got to meet up in person. One of these days I will meet you all! So glad that you rallied back and were able to run this. It's such a fun race gotta love the Elvis guys. Congrats!

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    1. Elvis totally cracked me up LOL He even talked like the real Elvis...maybe it was the real Elvis???

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  3. Congrats to all of you on a great race! When I ran Vegas a few years ago it was freezing. Still to this day I say it was the coldest race I ever ran! It made for good running weather though..lol. Sorry about the tummy issues. I felt like that after disney wine n dine half marathon last year. I too think it was a hydration issue.

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    1. I'm positive it was a hydration issue. I know if you're feeling thirsty at the start of a race, it's already too late ;-(

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  4. Congrats! I am so happy that you had such a great half marathon experience.

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  5. Congrats on finishing strong! I was worried about running an evening race (I'll never know now) and how that would affect fueling, etc. Sounds like fun. I'm glad you got to do this.

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    1. The fueling is so tricky, but I definitely think it was more of a hydration issue....not just the day of the race, but the entire weekend. Oh well, it still was pretty epic ;-)

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  6. Congrats on the successful rally back half! I hate I missed meeting you, but hope there'll be more opportunities in the future.

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    1. You'll just have to make your way to Iowa..... ;-)

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  7. Great recap Kim! Congratulations on finishing your half after such a rough summer! I have been to Vegas many many years ago but not to run. And while I have run a night 5k without any issues, I know without a doubt that an evening half would be a disaster for me. At my 'older' age, I'm finding my energy levels totally tank in the afternoon ...combine that with fueling and hydration issues, it would be very difficult. Kudos to all of you ladies for finishing strong!

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    1. I didn't feel totally wiped out until the ride back to our place several hours later. My energy was pretty food despite the cranky tummy LOL

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  8. Huge congrats on the epic rally back! It was so much fun to get to experience the #stripatnight by your side!

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    1. It was an epic journey, and the #stripatnight was an awesome victory lap ;-)

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  9. The 4pm start for the 10k was tricky too. I opted for an early lunch and got a pizza from 800 Degrees. Since it's a Neapolitan pizza, it was light, not greasy, and delicious. There were six slices and I inhaled 5 of them. Then I hoped that I hadn't eaten too much.

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    1. I think I timed the fueling pretty well after the meal (waiting until the 3rd mile), but my hydration was way sub-par from the day prior. UGH.

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  10. What a great time you had! I regret that I wasn't able to meet you all at Giordano's. :( Congrats on finishing the race and your recovery from this summer's forced hiatus.

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    1. I'm so glad the summer is now officially in the rear window ;-)

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  11. Sounds like a fun race! Congrats on rallying back. i knew you would!!

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    1. The race felt so good...physically and emotionally. Thanks for being one of my cheerleaders ;-)

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  12. What a fun race! Congrats on a great run!

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    1. It truly was fun, even in the "dry" heat and post-race troubles.

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  13. Awesome recap of what sounds like a really fun weekend! Congrats on finishing your first half since the surgery! Well done!

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    1. Words cannot express how that finish line felt....a huge rally-back victory.

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  14. Congratulations!! I know that feeling exactly coming back after injury and just being so happy to cross a finish line :) At Disney I had been out about 60 days prior to the event and I was so happy with my 2:38 one of the best races ever!
    I love all the lights at night - so glitzy!! Sorry the tummy acte dup but some of that has to be due to the evening...our bodies are not used to it lol

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  15. I can imagine how rewarding it felt to cross that finish line. Great job!

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  16. Congrats on your come-back half, and how cool to meet new blogging friends! I have only run two afternoon/evening races, a 5K and an 8K. I really had trouble fueling properly for them and I know there's no way I could eat a pan pizza just two hours prior to race time. I've had Giordano's deep dish and I know how yummy it tastes! I have the same issues you have with dehydration affecting my stomach. It's tough to get everything right, especially for an evening race.

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  17. Congrats on finishing this half! Such a great comeback after the summer you had!

    RnR Vegas is a blast for sure - I loved running it last year though the late afternoon start combined with the heat was challenging for sure!

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  18. Congratulations on your half! I'm glad you had a fun time with the ladies in Vegas. It must have been a very sobering experience considering the shootings, but I'm glad there was still great energy along the way.

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