(Part 2 is here if you need to catch up).
Our longest event of the weekend – the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas half marathon – didn’t start until the evening, so when my friends J., B. and I woke up on Sunday morning, we decided to get some pre-race fuel via the Bellagio’s breakfast buffet.
This would be a good time to point out that I rarely, rarely eat at any type of buffet situation. When food is unlimited, I tend to eat unlimited quantities, so this is not good and the best strategy is for me to avoid it entirely.
And yet, knowing this information, I boldly strolled into the breakfast buffet and proceeded to consume roughly 14 zillion calories.
At one point I used a slice of cheese pizza like a piece of toast and topped it with part of an omelet to make an open-faced sandwich.
The cheese display was also heavily pilfered.
Ditto the sushi bar, despite having just eaten a much superior sushi dinner only 12 hours earlier.
The one thing I will contend is that I definitely got my $33 worth of breakfast foods, not that this should be a point of pride.
After that mess, we wandered back to our room to rest and digest.
By 2 PM, we had to head to the starting line.
Even though the race wasn’t beginning for a few hours, there was a pre-race concert at 3 PM that we wanted to see.
Yep. Snoop Dogg.
The starting line for this race is near Mandalay Bay. There were 22,000+ runners in the half marathon, so the starting area was quite crowded.
Our VIP race package gave us access to a special area in front of the concert stage with tables, chairs, private bathrooms (still portable ones but barely anyone was using them, so it wasn’t as gross as usual at the start of a race), and refreshments.
I was still overly full from our breakfast – even though it was hours earlier at this point – so I did not want any of the food or drinks they had in the VIP tent. The spread was impressive, though. There were several things that looked reasonable to eat before a race (trail mix), but also a massive bowl of hummus, which just seemed like a terrible decision before embarking on a two hour run.
There was also alcohol available, and I was surprised to see several people partaking. Again, this would have made my already bad decision making that day worse. I stuck to water.
Soon it was time for the concert.
Snoop Dogg played the crowd well. At one point, he looked out at the audience and said,
What’s that y’all like to drink while you’re running? What is it? Gatorade?
Crowd screams back: “Gin and Juice!”
He begins singing that song. Crowd goes nuts.
And guess who was dancing and singing along next to us at the show? Meb Keflezighi.
I was in the Green starting wave, which was the second group. The Blue starters began the race at 4:30 PM, Green at 5, and the Yellow wave was at 5:30 PM.
Like the 5k the night before, there were assigned corrals but they seemed like mere suggestions. People were randomly crowded into the space, so there was zero separation by anticipated speed or finish time. This meant that speedier runners were stuck behind slower runners or walkers in many cases. I did not like this part of the race set-up.
The half marathon course is flat and fast.
Runners head away from the Strip for about a half mile at the start and then do a U-turn, running past the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign and then down the entire length of the Strip, which is closed to traffic for the race.
Ok, that was super cool. Later I spoke with a woman who was part of the planning team and she told me that getting the Strip closed to traffic is a big, big deal. It only happens twice a year, once for this race and again on New Year’s Eve.
I don’t know if I perceived this correctly or not, but it also seemed that much of the Strip portion was ever so gently downhill.
For the first few miles, I had to bob and weave to make room but still managed to keep a reasonable pace.
My 5k split was 29:45, which is 9:35 per mile.
At Mile 3, there was a run-through wedding area. Supposedly 200 couples got married during the race.
I did not.
My 10k split was 58:53, which is 9:29 per mile.
I secretly had a goal in my head that I wanted to get a two hour finish. I have been working with a trainer over the summer and generally done a lot of better things for my health and body, so I was excited to see what I could do.
Except the wheels came off the bus at this point.
Miles 7-10 were in a strange part of town. It was very dark and difficult to see. After the bright lights and distractions of the Strip, this took significant effort to keep momentum going.
I chugged along and we passed the Fremont Street area.
I was getting very tired, realized I had improperly fueled (Breakfast buffet! You ruined me), and walked for two minutes in Mile 10 near an extremely sketchy “hostel.”
My 10 mile time was 1:37, or 9:42 per mile.
At this point, I was demoralized. I realized I would not make it in two hours. I didn’t have enough gas in the tank to pull out three sub-8 minute miles.
Once I finished my walk break, I felt a lot better.
At least until Mile 12.
I thought I’d missed the sign for Mile 12. When I finally found it, my watch said I’d completed 12.47 miles.
This was very surprising to me, because my watch had seemed pretty accurate to the mile markers up to this point.
I was further defeated and decided to walk for two more minutes. When I started running, I felt moderately better and saw the finish line. In the end, I think mile marker 12 was misplaced and I was further than the course said.
I put a bit more effort into the finish, but my final time was a disappointing 2:09:39, or 9:54 per mile.
My overall finish was 4164/22048, and 1609/13755 for women.
Now, let me also be clear that I know I am crying over spilled milk. I was healthy. I completed the race. My finish was respectable. I get to run whereas others cannot.
I get all that, but what I am saying is that I had a personal goal in mind and felt like I’d let myself down. My time for this race was almost exactly – to the second – the same as my finish for the Tinker Bell half marathon in May. I guess I am consistent.
I got over it my disappointment pretty quickly, in fact by the time I had exited the finisher shoot.
My friends weren’t quite finished yet, so I headed to the VIP after-party, which was held at the Linq hotel.
Besides the party, there was one final VIP package perk: all runners received a very soft red fleece Rock ‘n’ Roll logo blanket. I was cold and sweaty at this point, so that blanket was everything to me.
The party was never crowded at any point while I was there. While there was an indoor area with food (pizza, sandwiches) and drinks (free beer and wine, plus some liquor, but $5 for soda or Gatorade – which was weird and wrong), the outdoor area overlooked the finish line and is where I spent my time.
My hair looks terrible but I am happy to be done.
A slightly better shot of the finish line from above:
J. and B. soon arrived and we had some food and wine (me). Being cold, wet and tired at a party is not all that fun, though, so we didn’t stay late.
Once back in the hotel, we quickly showered and had a celebratory drink.
It was getting super late and this point and we decided to get room service and call it quits.
Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart’s new show was on TV, so we had a laugh watching it while we ate.
Next up: Review of the Bellagio Spa and their amazing lip balm. The (sad) trip home. Final thoughts on the weekend.