Last month my dear friends J., B. and I ran the 2017 Rock n’Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas.
This was my second year running in this series. The half marathon is really novel since the Las Vegas Strip gets shut down for the runners, and it’s run at night. We were planning to run two races over the course of the weekend, a 5k on Saturday and half marathon on Sunday.
We arrived Friday and checked into the Bellagio. The floral displays featured peacocks.
Housekeeping obliged by giving us extra amenities. There is something about the smell of these toiletries that I love. Ditto the floral displays, especially the fall-ish scent that must be pumped in.
Most of these tiny tubes came home in my suitcase.
Friday night featured a runners’ reception at Hyde, which is one of the clubs in the Bellagio. It’s eye level with the fountains and part of the club is open air, so the view is unbeatable. The top picture is one of the many displays that we saw. I never get sick of watching those fountains.
On Saturday morning, we hit up Giada for brunch. This was one of our favorite restaurants from prior trips, and it did not disappoint. I got my money’s worth of bottomless mimosas and we all went nuts for the fresh burrata, blue cheese and olives that we had as appetizers.
Saturday afternoon consisted of picking up our race packets at the expo, a bit of shopping and getting ready for Saturday night’s race, which is a 5k that takes place near the SLS Hotel. Security was tighter this year than last, but the race went smoothly. There was a Goo Goo Dolls concert afterwards that we could have stayed to watch, but none of us were really in the mood to stand around in the cold night air while sweaty.
Plus – we had 10 PM tickets to Absinthe, a funky circus-type show that combines feats of strength, burlesque, insult comedy, tap dancing and roller skating. We’d seen the show once before but decided it was worth a second trip since the first time was so wow-ing, and we also wanted to see if the political jokes sprinkled throughout by the MC were Trump-esque. Many were. The show did not disappoint the second time around, and we all agreed it was as good or better than ever.
The show finished so late that most restaurants were no longer serving dinner, which was a bummer since we were now all pretty hungry. We ended up in an Asian noodle bar in the Bellagio, which hit the spot.
One thing that was unusual for me on this trip was that I gambled. This was the first time I’d gambled in a few years, and once again I learned that while I love to spend money, I like to have something to show for it. Gambling doesn’t fit that bill. Nevertheless, I gave it a shot and put $20 into a National Lampoon’s Vacation slot machine. I promptly lost $1.10 and cashed out.
The next day, a Betty White machine caught my eye and I tried again. This time, success! I turned $20 into $22.65, so I called myself a winner and walked away.
Full disclosure: My friend B. and I stumbled upon the 10 cent voucher at the top, so I technically can’t count this as a money I won. Still, I made up for my $1.10 loss the day before and then some. I’m not quitting my day job yet, though.
Sunday’s brunch was at Bardot Brasserie, a restaurant in the Aria Resort. Given that the half marathon was scheduled for a few hours after brunch ended, I didn’t make the same mistake I did last year when I went whole hog at the Bellagio’s buffet.
We did, however, spend $5 to buy a small serving (large pat?) of what was described on the menu as “The World’s Best Butter.”
Carb loading at its finest.
Sunday’s race had a new starting line this year due to the recent mass shooting. I have to admit I was nervous at the start, when approximately 40,000 runners were corralled into a small area. The security was tight and police presence was everywhere. My predominant thought was that this was one of the first major events since the shooting and the need to get it right was strong, so I felt that every reasonable measure had (probably) been taken by the Las Vegas PD. I also knew that once the race started, everyone would be stretched out along the course so much that the crowd would no longer be concentrated.
Another thing about this race: I was totally, completely under-trained. This is embarrassing to admit, but I had some serious magical thinking leading up to the race and I couldn’t seem to do what I needed to do to prepare. The longest run that I had done in the two months before the race was about 7 miles, which is a far cry from 13.1.
As I stood at the starting line, I told myself that I would divide the race into thirds and run the first third, run/walk the second and walk the final third if needed. I wasn’t exactly happy that I needed to make this plan, but that’s where I found myself.
Once I started, it took more than the first mile to settle in to a comfortable rhythm. That worried me. I thought I might not even be able to continuously run the first 4 miles, but once I completed miles 2 and 3, I started to get into the groove.
Mile 4 then passed and I told myself that I would go to mile 5 and then take a running gel for some energy. That milestone came pretty quickly and about that time I settled into a pack of runners for the next mile or so, and I decided that I would go to mile 6.5 so that I could say I ran halfway.
At mile 6.5, I felt really good so I kept going through miles 7, 8 and 9. Shortly after mile 10, I felt like I was not going to be able to run all the way to the end, so I took a walk break and picked up running again. I alternated running and walking for the last 3 miles and finished the course with one of my worst half marathon times, but an overall sense that I did waaaaaaay better than I thought I would.
Weirdly, it was motivating to see how well I’d done under sub-par circumstances and it inspired me to set a new goal and train appropriately for it. This was the best case scenario; if the race had been a disaster I think I would have been completely defeated.
By the time the three of us had finished the race and showered, it was already 10 PM and we were hungry. We had dinner at Yellowtail, which is a sushi restaurant in the Bellagio. B. called it an early night since she had a flight an the ungodly hour of 7 AM. J. and I finished dinner and then had a nightcap (or two).
Monday was our scheduled day of departure, but not before J. and I hit the Bellagio spa. For a hotel spa, it’s really good. My only quibbles would be that they tend to try to upcharge with service add-ons and there is a communal waiting area for men and women. While I’m a first order feminist and all about equality, there is something about seeing a hairy guy in a too-short robe that just does not jive with the Zen spa vibe. Give me a women’s only area any day.
The trip home was uneventful. Too boring to write much else about it.
Overall, this was a perfect getaway with friends. I can’t wait to go back next year and hopefully set a PR on the course.