Rock’n’Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon Recap
As most of you know, I completed my first half marathon in Vegas last weekend. I have been dying to write this recap since the moment I finished the race but I just simply have not had time since returning home. I have a lot to say about my trip, the race and my entire experience but I will try to keep this at a reasonable length and just try to focus on the race itself.
We (my sister and I) arrived in Vegas on Friday and I finally got to meet up with Redd, my insta-friend and maker of the famous Redd’s Protein Pancakes that you may have seen on Instagram, they seriously are amazing. You NEED to check them out!
I was SO excited to actually meet her in person and she is just as awesome as I thought she would be. She was honestly the entire reason that I signed up for this race in the first place, had she not challenged me to complete a half marathon I certainly would not have ever done it. You can read more about how we met and how we became insta-friends here.
Now that I’ve given you a little background, I’ll get back to the race details. Since we got in later in the afternoon on Friday, we didn’t get to the Expo until Saturday morning which was held at the Convention Center. To say that it was crowded was an understatement and with a race of 35,000 participants I guess you would expect it to be. After waiting in the line that literally went out the door and around the building, we finally got in and were able to explore.
We took some pictures, picked up our race packets and browsed. There were SO many vendors there that I can’t even name them all. I tried my best to stop at the booth of companies I had connected with on Twitter but it was just so crowded it was hard to have a real conversation with anyone.
Fast forward to Sunday, the day of the race. My sister and I got up fairly early and went to find some gluten free carbolicious eats. We dined at a restaurant at Paris Hotel called Mon Ami and literally stuffed our faces with nearly everything on the menu.
See? I wasn’t kidding. I ate allllll. After carboloading, we walked around for a bit then headed back to the hotel to take it easy before having to get ready. The race technically started at 4:30 but we had literally 3 MILES to walk (we tracked it) from Caesars where we were staying to Mandalay Bay where the starting line was. Plus there was a pre-race kick off concert featuring Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at 3 so we left around 1:30 to make sure we got there on time.
After the concert we made our way over to the starting line to get into our corrals. Oh and did I mention it was FREEZING out? Ok, like 45 degrees which was perfect running weather but not so nice just to be standing around in….we had to stop at CVS on the way and buy throw away hoodies!
After what took approximately 18 minutes we reached the starting line and we were given the go to start! Weeding through the initial crowd was rough but after about 1/2 mile I got into a groove and ditched the hoody. Another 1/4 mile later we had to round the center divide to start our journey down the strip. I looked at my phone to check my pace and realized that it was most likely going to die during the race….the service there was TERRIBLE and kept eating my battery. I also knew at that point that I might have some trouble reaching my goal without knowing my exact pace but I just tried to forget about it and run. I did manage to snap a quick pic of the Vegas sign before my phone died, which I was thankful for!
Mile 1 to mile 7 was pretty much a straight shot down the strip. I can’t even begin to tell you how AMAZING it was to be running with the lights of Vegas illuminating the pavement and the energy of the crowd cheering us on. I was eating it up…this was my first large scale race and the atmosphere was just euphoric! I did make a quick pit stop around mile 6 to pee because I thought I was going wet my unders again. I have never stopped to pee during a race before but I attribute this to the fact that we had to wait SO LONG prior to the race actually starting.
At about mile 7 we took our first turn where we had to loop around in a big square for about 2 miles before we started making our way back down the strip. This part of the race was dark, there was no bands playing, no crowd of spectators to cheer us on (very few) and really no lights. I suspect it was because this is the “not safe” part of Vegas and I used the silent shuffle of the other runners to really focus on my pace.
The last point that I had checked my phone was at mile 8, my overall pace was 8:11 min/mile and I calculated that I need to cross the finish line at approximately 2:03 or less to meet my goal of 1:45…which meant I had to speed up. My phone finally died around mile 10 and as far as my body was telling me I was pushing it as hard as it could go. I was weaving and passing as fast as I could but without something to pace me I had no idea how fast I was actually going.
When I finally could see the finish line in sight, I did my best to give it my all. I was expecting there to be a band a mile to the finish, cheering us on but there wasn’t…I had to rely on some guy I passed who was counting down the mileage for surrounding runners, shouting mantras- encouraging us all.
There was a band at the finish line and though I can’t remember what song it was, I apparently thought it was appropriate to “fist pump” as I crossed. When I looked up at the time after I passed the finish it read 2:07…I didn’t know if I should be elated that I had finished or sad that I had not met my goal.
Given all of my set backs…the fact that due to injury I didn’t train regularly in October or run AT ALL two weeks prior to the race, the fact that I didn’t even know if I could run ONE MILE let alone finish, given the fact that I stopped to pee (all of 30 secs) during the race, given the fact that I was sick and had flown cross country and was running at night as opposed to the morning….I should have been satisfied with my time. But, I’m not.
I HATE not reaching a goal, I HATE being so close and thinking maybe if I just had pushed harder. It is what is is though and as with most things in life I am going to use it as a learning experience.
I thought I had at least made it in 1:48 but once the results were posted my official time read 1:49:06 with a pace of 8:20. Since I know I sped up at the end I find it hard to believe that my pace was that drastic in comparison to what I had been going all along but I have no way of really knowing.
Overall I came in 1511 out of 25,168 runners, finished 70 out of 1,943 in my division and 400 out of 15,828 females. Not too shabby for my first half but fuel to do better next time and there will be a next time. I have already registered for the Syracuse Half Marathon on March 22, 2015 so training will commence soon!
What I learned:
- MapMyFitness is not reliable. At least not a good way to track GPS given the fact that my battery dies so quickly!
- I need a GPS watch, like yesterday. I think if I had one and had been able to use it to pace myself then I could have gotten that much closer to my goal. Suggestions anyone?
- I need a pacing band. I never really gave them much thought but after this race, I think it would be helpful.
- I need to run along the inside of the course to cut down on extra, unnecessary mileage. I am pretty sure I ran 13.3 not 13.1 which would contribute to my longer finish time.
- I need to follow a real training plan. I kind of haphazardly made up my own running schedule, increasing my mileage week by week. This time I am going to follow a plan out of Train Like a Mother and actually do all the prescribed runs in conjunction with my regular cross training.
I will also gladly take any advice of any of my seasoned half marathon/marathon running readers I have…I am clearly still learning.
QOTD: What is your favorite pre-race meal?