We came. We ran. We ROCKED the Vegas Strip at night!!
Wow! What a great race!
There were no PRs or no PDRs AND no pressure! Just a great night run with 44,000 of your closest friends. Loved it!
In the weeks leading up to the Las Vegas half I received more than one email, tweet, or comment asking how I was going to fuel for a night race. Honestly? I had no clue! I’m extremely blessed to have a stomach of steel and the ability to literally eat an entire footlong sub minutes before any race and not have a problem on the course.
I know most runners aren’t as lucky and pre-race nutrition is a tricky business, but I wasn’t worried. I was mainly concerned with making sure I wasn’t starving at the starting corral since the race ran right through dinner time.
So, timing versus actual food choices was my main concerned.
Anne and I decided to continue with our food sharing tradition of the weekend and ordered both the garden omelet and baked lemon raspberry to split.
The omelet was ok, but the baked pancakes (with fresh whipped cream) was like eating a rich decadent cake. It was amazing!
And, in a world that can only be as random as Vegas, we dined next to an attempting-to-be-incognito-but-a-hat-with-sunglasses-is-more-of-a-giveaway-than-a-disguise Brad Garrett. We kept our paparazzi skills to ourselves, but it’s fun to name drop that we had breakfast with Brad Garret in Vegas. 😉
The day before, Anne and I had a blast exploring up and down the strip, but our legs were killing us that night! We really wanted to go out and see some more of what Vegas had to offer before the race, but knew it wasn’t the best idea. Instead we grabbed some sandwiches on our way back up to the room and went to crash for a few hours.
I was able to get a little work done and a few episode of One Tree Hill in (I’m catching on the 8th season on Netflix) before taking a cat nap.
Just after 2:00 I ate my sandwich.
Roasted Turkey with bacon and avocado on white. It was delicious.
Right around 3:30 we cranked up the club music and started getting ready to head out. It felt so strange getting ready to race while it was daylight out. I even managed to put a little make up on (it is Vegas after all) and brush my hair. Craziness!
A BIG shout out and thank you to Attune Foods for sponsoring Anne and I for this race. How adorable are the shirts the company made for us?
The race started at 5:30, but was we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to get to the race start. I’ve learned my lesson many times in the past and have decided I would rather be crazy early to a race, than fighting the crowds. This is my second Rock ‘n’ Roll race that I’ve had this philosophy and both times I’ve had amazing non-crowded experiences, but have heard horror stories from people at the same races who left later and had not-so-great experiences.
Allow me to shout it from the rooftop – IF YOU DON’T LIKE CROWDS THEN ARRIVE EARLY TO THE START! <- the best advice I can give you!
We re-met up with our friends Rosa and Stephanie in the lobby and headed to the start.
The roads were already starting to fill with runners, but nothing too crazy.
The tram station looked like a mad house, but the wait wasn’t bad. We were able to hop on a tram almost immediately and made it to the start with plenty of time to spare.
We spent about 30 minutes in the Mandalay Bay lobby using the restrooms (lines moved fast!) and soaking up some warmth before heading out to the corrals.
How AWESOME is Stephanie’s husband’s shirt?!?!
He wears it for every race he spectates at! I love it! I need to get one for Derek. 😉
We headed to the corrals about 20 minutes before the start and had no problem making our way to the middle of the pack.
We even found a friend in the crowd!
Monica was running with the ‘just for fun’ philosophy as well and decided to join Anne and I for the 13.1 miles. Of course, we welcomed her with open arms! The more the merrier!!!
It was FREEZING, but starting right next to the Mandalay Bay tower at night was So. Cool!
Ahhhhhh!!!!!! We’re running Vegas!!!!!!
Oh, and good news! My eating strategy was a success! I wasn’t starving at the start and my stomach was fine for all 13.1 miles. Yay!
In true Rock ‘n’ Roll fashion, the start was perfect. There was a big send off for each corral and we never had a problem with bottle necking or walkers. I really believe the early corrals are key here, if you don’t want to fight your way through the start, I highly recommend making sure you’re seeded in corral 9 or lower. We were placed in 6 with a ‘potential predicted finish time’ of sub-2:00.
Here goes nothing!
The first mile out was amazing. I kept jumping up and down shouting “How cool is this?!?!” We ran an 8:45ish pace and just took in all the sights and sounds that are Vegas. None of us are normal night runners (nor practiced any night runs leading up to race day) and were surprised how great our legs, stomachs, and bodies felt.
We were all freezing our tails off at the start and, unlike most other races, we knew it was only going to get colder on the run. However, once we started moving, my body began to immediately heat up and I was seriously regretting the addition of the long sleeve compression shirt under my Attune shirt. I was starting to sweat. I took off my gloves, but stashed them in my waistband, afraid that I would regret the decision of tossing them later.
Luckily the winds weren’t as bad as the day before. In fact, I don’t remember having a problem with them at all. All-in-all I would say we had perfect racing weather.
I can not say enough about how cool it was to run the strip at night. All of the beautiful lights and displays lit up the course (minus a few sketch areas in the middle of the course) and this may be the first race where I was able to watch tv while running (thank you hotel advertisements along the course!). We even caught a glimpse of the Bellagio water show we had missed the day before. It was incredible.
After we passed The Palazzo around mile 3, Anne and I were in new territory. I remember staying at the Circus Circus in my youth, but I hadn’t had a chance to see it this trip. The big tent was still the same out front and the lit clown out front was as scary as ever.
We passed the stratosphere, a dozen or so wedding chapels, and entered some not-so-nice areas that were poorly lit. Monica, Anne, and I stayed close at this point and were thankful for the thousands of runners that surrounded us on either side. This did NOT look like an area we’d want to explore on our own at night.
As the lights of the main Vegas strip began to fade behind us, the streets grew very quiet. There were no fans and runners were, well, running. This is the part where the three of us began to slow down and just get lost in conversation. I LOVE running with friends and it was so nice to not have any pressures of times on us and just run and talk at our leisure.
We ran past the ‘Old Town’ of the Vegas strip and were greeted by whiffs of stale smoke air. Yuck. I’m pretty sure you could smell the smoke from that area coming and going a mile away!
Old Town also marked the turn around point where we made a quick U-turn and began running towards the main lights again. I took a couple of Gu Chomps and just tried to soak everything up. This was a very flat course that was really flying by.
Around mile 11 I started to feel chilly again. My hands were getting cold and my nose was starting to run. At that point I was thankful for the long sleeve shirt and the gloves I had stashed in my waistband instead of tossing. I may have felt a little warn in the beginning/ middle of the race, but was just right pulling into the finish. Wardrobe choice was a success!
Finishing the last 5K+ on the strip was amazing. So many gorgeous lights everywhere! Sure, the crowds were a little thin (really, Vegas?!), but the view made up for it.
At mile 12 we kicked up the speed a bit and pushed ourselves hard to the end.
We crossed the finish line at 1:59:05, hand-in-hand!
Personally I LOVED running the strip at night! This was NOT a race meant for a PR (too many people, funky starting time, the yearning to ‘live it up’ in Vegas) but, instead, a race meant to be done with friends for FUN!
We had a BLAST running Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas together! I would come back to run it again in a heart beat!
The finish line was insane, but the volunteers did a great job funneling everyone out. We grabbed our space blankets (NEEDED!!!! brrrrrrr), drinks (heck yeah! I grabbed 5 water bottles! Those things are $4 on the strip!), food and easily found Monica’s husband Ben in the family reunion area.
Anne and I were all set to walk back to our hotel (the race ended at Mandalay Bay and we were staying at MGM Grand), but quickly realized it was just too cold. We decided to check the tram out ‘just in case’ and were pleasantly surprised to hop on the first tram home. Talk about good luck!
We (very quickly) showered and changed before hopping in a cab to make our 9:30 dinner reservations at Serendipity 3.
A post-race treat of Peanut Butter Frozen Hot Chocolate? Ummm… YES, PLEASE! 😉
I’ve dined at the NYC Serendipity once before, so when Anne suggested we eat there this weekend, she didn’t have to ask twice. The Peanut Butter Frozen Hot Chocolate was like sipping on a delicious reeses milkshake. It. Was. Incredible. and just what the doctor ordered.
We had plans of sipping on actual hot chocolates to warm us up, but they do such a great job of pumping the heat in there there a frozen one sounded just right. Bravo, Serendipity!
I really had no idea what I wanted to order from the menu. Traditionally I prefer burgers after big races, but I just had one the other day and wanted to branch out. I had read on both Yelp and wikipedia that Serendipity is known for their famous hot dogs, so when I saw it on the menu I knew I had to have it.
Holy crap! This thing was insane!
A full foot-long hot dog was a full personalized topping bar. Wow!
Load ‘er up!
Man, that was just what I was craving! I could only eat a little more than half, but every bite was better than the last. I can see why they’re famous for it! Probably my first hot dog in years and definitely one of the best!
I had a side order of sweet potato fries as well, but didn’t get a photo. They were ok. They were slightly coated with brown sugar and I’m not crazy about sweetened sweet potatoes.
Monica ordered this crazy overflowing grilled cheese that was filled with 6 or 7 different types of cheese. She gave me a piece and I was in cheese heaven.
Our adorable dining partners.
We headed to the hotel after dinner and I immediately crashed after setting my alarm for 5:15am for my early flight.
What an incredible weekend. Seriously!
Thanks again to Attune Foods for making this all possible!
If you haven’t added the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon to your race bucket list, I would highly suggest it! Just remember to run for fun and live it up Vegas style while you’re here.