Friday, December 9, 2011

Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon Recap!

It's amazing how time flies. Not only has Dec 4th come and gone, its almost been a week since the Half!

We arrived in Vegas Thursday night (12/1) and of course had to make my customary stop at In-n-Out (this counts as carb-loading, right?). Friday was Expo day, as we stood in a tremendous line (a theme of the weekend...) to get in. Though once they actually opened the expo, we moved fairly quickly inside. Picked up our bibs, t-shirts and swag bag, and it was time to open up our wallets! Haha....I went in knowing I wanted the buy "The Stick", a self massager tool, those that arent aware. I have been using a rolling pin this whole time. As useful as that was, it was limited. Also on my wish list was another pair of sunglasses and I did make that purchase as well. So now I'll have separate specs for running and biking. Yay!

A pretty uneventful next couple days, and Sunday is upon us. Being my first evening race, it was going to be a little tricky getting nutrition down, even though I do almost all of my runs in the evening. I didnt have my usually long-run lunch available to me! So buffet brunch at 10am and a snack around 3pm is how I approached it, with a 5:30pm start time, and it seemed to work fine, hunger-wise.

So we met up at 4pm to meet up and shuttle it down to the start line....
Pre-race smiles!

This is where the "fun" began. Due to the congestion getting to the start, as a result of road closures, the shuttles provided by our hotel, Wynn/Encore, were delayed coming to pick us up. In fact, we were waiting until 4:40ish until we even boarded a bus. Now on the shuttle and on our way, and we were not going anywhere quick. It was bumper to bumper traffic, and we must have been moving 1 foot per minute. We could have gone out and walked to the start quicker, but of course that would have added an additional 2.5 miles to our legs/feet. Then to do 13.1 on top of that? No thanks.

We arrive to the start area shortly before 6pm- the race started at 5:30! Lucky for me, my corral hadnt left yet. Of course a pre-race potty break was in order. We couldnt locate the port-o-johns, so we decided to use the ones in the Panda Express nearby. There were TOTALLY cool about it. Line wasn't very long either. So, finally, with bladder emptied, we were able to join the march to the start line, with more "fun" to be had...

After handing off the bag I was originally going to check-in to my wife, I finally crossed the start. This is where my fears were realized. Knowing this race was going to be 44,000 people strong, I feared it would be somewhat crowded. And by somewhat crowded, I mean like JP Morgan Corporate Challenge crowded. And guess what? IT WAS. For about 12 out of the 13.1 miles!! The lack of crowd control and signage was a huge problem for this race. Crowds everywhere- before, during, and after the race. I'll just leave it at that and continue the actual recap of the run....

So I spend much of the first mile dodging walkers and slower runners, but my legs feel good. Having not run in 3 plus days, and doing a bit of walking the previous 2 days, did a decent job priming my legs for the run. I finished the first mile in 10:20, which was actually right where I wanted to be. Second mile did not prove to be the same, as I came in in 10:50. It just seemed to get more crowded from there, and the next few miles were 11+ minute miles.  It actually fluctuated, as the Strip would go from 3 lanes, to 5 lanes, back down to 3 in certain areas. We break off the Strip a little after the 4 mile marker, and head toward downtown. Though at the time it didnt seem TOO bad, looking back, it was a VERY sketchy part of town. I downed my first pack of Gu at this point. Still feeling very good, legs strong, not breathing hard yet. As we make our way through downtown and Freemont Street, and approach the Strip again, is where I first start to struggle. Got to mile 9, near the Stratosphere, and I told myself to at least get to mile 10, then I'd pull back a little. The constant weaving and dodging was starting to catch up to me. Finally got to 10, and there was an aid station, so I slowed down to grab a cup of water. Downed what I could and resumed my pace. I got to about 11.5 miles, and was pretty much gassed. From there until about a half mile remaining, I went into somewhat of a run-walk. 1 minute on, 1 minute off.  Half mile to go, and I told myself I had to run to the end, except there was a problem- my quad (right above the right knee) started to REALLY tighten up on me, like, about to cramp tight. I tried to push through, but couldnt. Stopped real quick to stretch it out, and continued on. That final tenth of a mile was so nerve wracking because I feared my quad would just seize up. Lucky for me, it didnt, and I crossed the finish with a time of 2:33:47. Nearly 14 minutes later than my goal of 2:20! I was pretty disappointed with the time, but I also know there was not much I could do about it, given the crowds. Regardless, I had my second Half Marathon under my belt, and another medal to add to my collection:
And it glows in the dark!

So what's next from here? I have the Rock 'n' Roll USA Half Marathon in DC in my sights. Its on March 17th, so I'll have another 3 months exactly to fine tune my fitness. Until next time!

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