The main event of this trip (for me anyway) was the half marathon. I’d run it in 2015 and could not resist returning for an encore. In 2015 it was cold…and windy….with rainy bits….and a sandstorm. This year? On the toasty side. Of course it’s a dry heat. As a RocknBlogger I was grateful to receive this race entry free of charge.
Darlene and I resolved to be better about not walking a billion miles before the half. In the morning we took a free tram to the Mandalay Bay Hotel because the Caveman told us there were all sorts of nice cafes there. I had my heart set on a Belgian Waffle. I got one, but it turned out to be a mega disappointment. Who screws up a Belgian Waffle? Especially a $19 one. Around noon, we took the monorail to meet Tricia, Kim and their hubbies for a Giordano’s pizza lunch. Darlene and I were still full from brunch so it was purely social for us. Cue ominous foreshadowing.
When we made it back to our hotel to prep for the race, I devoured a bag of pretzels I got after the 5k. I was pretty hungry…and we weren’t the best (not as bad as the day before but still) at staying off our feet. We headed across the walkways over to the starting area about 90 minutes before race time. I later learned this was a smart move as those overpasses filled up to a crowded standstill later on.
We found gear check, (hooray for zero lines) and made a large rock our outpost as we people watched, waiting for the others to arrive. Our blue corral opened at 3:40 so we made our way over. I think brain surgery might have been easier than entering the corral. Holy crowded, cluster Batman!
The whole crew. Ready to run!
The revised racecourse started further North and headed Southbound, past the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign then back North on the strip toward downtown Las Vegas. Darlene, Kim and I started together and ran the first stretch past the Mandalay Bay hotel and the concert area where the tragic shooting took place in reverent silence. I prayed for the victims, their families, friends, the city, the country, the world and was sad that incidents like these are part of life. I could feel the strength and resolve among the runners as we ran in peaceful silence. Since I failed to make a pre-race potty stop and stood in the corrals for an hour before we went off, I already had to go pretty badly. Kim and I stopped at a bank of potties in the first 5k of the race. We lost Darlene here.
I was taking it easy, but I won’t lie, I was hot and my legs were dead. It was harder than it should have been to keep even a slow pace. At mile 6 I took a new to me, Toasted Marshmallow GU that I bought at the expo. Sounds good right? It tasted good but immediately I felt it laying like lead in the pit of my stomach. It didn’t take long for the tummy cramps to start in painful waves.
I should have eaten more earlier. I should have hydrated better. I should have rested. All the should haves. But this was FOR FUN. I stopped at the potty with Kim at mile 8, this one had a longer line. I felt better for a couple miles but then more cramps, lots of burping, heaven help me. We pulled off to take pics of the Stratosphere and again in downtown Vegas. You saw all my pics and video shenanigans if you watched my Insta Stories. Running the Vegas strip at night is nothing short of amazing. So many sights, sounds, costumes and so much fun. The spectators this year were exponentially better since it wasn’t freezing/windy/raining like in 2015.
Finally we made the turn back on the strip to head to the finish. I felt like death. Nauseous now. I thought about just walking it in but opted for lots of walk breaks instead.
We watched the marathoners break off and head out into the black abyss that is the back half of their course. The full Vegas marathon has less than zero appeal to me, probably due to the night aspect. The half is challenge enough for this early bird. As I labored through the final couple of miles, the soon-to-be winner of the full marathon came through, looking focused and fresh as a flower with the lead truck/media entourage. Wow!
I plugged along, not sure which would come first, crossing the finish line or tossing my cookies. Thankfully it was the former. I was never so relieved to cross a finish line as I was this one.
Finish time: 2:28. Probably a personal worst but I’ll take it. I felt like I was out there closer to 3 hours.
Pros. This race was amazing. Incredibly well done. Probably the best executed race I’ve ever run. Mad, mad props to all the security. We literally had police helicopters flying overhead for the entire race. Police were everywhere, on the ground and above. Every single intersection was barricaded by heavy equipment. I can’t even imagine the thought, planning and expense that went into keeping us all safe. I’m beyond grateful and so happy it went off peacefully and without incident. Except for gridlocked crowds of runners cramming into the corrals at the start, every detail went off without a hitch. The firey starting arch, the bands, sights and sounds were all epic. I love the race medal and the remix medal. The finish line food was great (chocolate milk, Gatorade, water, protein bars, Pringles, pretzels). Gear check and retrieval was effortless. Volunteers were so kind and helpful.
Cons. I’m splitting hairs here but the only thing I could have wanted from this amazing race was something other than a black race shirt. Just like I said in my 5k race report, a neon one to light up the night would have been ideal. All the rest of the cons are my bad. Because I was planning a “fun run” I didn’t give the distance the respect it deserves. I was depleted, sleep deprived, dehydrated, didn’t fuel properly…I pretty much made every mistake in the book…and I paid for it. I never cared about finish time, but this race was so much harder than it needed to be because of my lax approach. In 11 marathons and 50+ halfs I’ve been really lucky to only need to make racecourse potty tops 2 times. In this race alone I stopped 3x. I suppose every runner has their “day” and this was mine. C’est la vie.
The weekend’s medal haul wasn’t too shabby.
Final Words: This a bucket list race weekend every runner should experience at least once. There are logistical challenges for sure but with some thought and planning, they can be overcome. Choosing to stay at the Tropicana Hotel, while far from the nicest on the strip, but not a fleabag either, was great because we were able to avoid the crowds to the start line as well as be at the first monorail stop, which is key for the 5k. Allowing more time than you think you need to make your way to both the 5k and half is also super important. Buying the unlimited use monorail pass and using the discount coupon that was in the race goody bag was another thing that was very helpful.
Have you run RnR Vegas? Any tips? Is it on your bucket list?