Something happened it Vegas.
I didn’t plan on it, I didn’t see it coming and I’m going to blame it on what I have since been referring to as “light steroids.” The neon glow of the strip was simply intoxicating and pushed my naïve legs to a race finish that I’m pretty happy about. Here’s how it all went down (warning: this is an abnormally long report for a half):
The medal glows in the dark. Awesome.
When someone tells you you’re racing the Las Vegas strip at night, you simply cannot race without excessive sparkle. Call it trite, call it cheesy, whatever, I call it kick ass.
With my sparkle shorts, neon ponytail thing-a-ma-jig, and orange arm warmers, I looked like a rainbow threw up, but I was ready for the race. Aron and I couldn’t resist the pre-race outfit shot:
Next, we had to get to the race start, which was on the completely opposite side of the strip. Shuttle? We don’t need no stinkin’ shuttle.
Aron and I met up with XLMIC, Beth and Beth’s friend (hello friend from Colorado) to hop in a cab and hit the back route to make it to the start of the race. This strategy proved to be a wise choice as we found secret port-a-potties with zero line.
After the first of three pre-race potty stops, we set out for the gear check, which I am disappointed to say, was an absolute mad house. Not only was it poorly marked and hidden far in the back of a hotel where thousands of people had to funnel through two small doors creating the all-too-familiar can of sardines scenario. Marjorie and I hustled through the crowd to drop off our bags, race back out to meet Aron and somehow squeeze into a corral.
When we finally got into a corral, we felt yet again like gross fish packed too tight, but at least we found our way into corral five and not back in corral 26! By this time, the sky had grown dark, the lights of the city lit up the sky and the Rock ‘N Roll team had definitely made this race an official production. Live commentators projected onto a big screen, flashing green laser lights shining bright about the crowd, and music blaring heightened my energy and the adrenaline started to kick in.
Before we knew it we were counting down to the race start. A hug goodbye and headphones in — we were off.
From that moment on, I just ran in a daze. You know that stupid look tourists get on their face when they’re walking down the street eyeing all of the over-the-top Vegas sights? Yes, that was me. The only difference was the fact that I was running. In the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard. In sparkly shorts (and no, they didn’t chafe).
The course is an out and back on the strip, with miles five through eight in what I’ll call the Las Vegas “not so pretty” area. The first four miles on the strip were smooth sailing. With no strategy in mind, I just ran what felt like a fun clip. I could tell I was pushing myself and that I might want to consider saving myself from a complete disaster come miles nine and ten, but what the hell, I just wanted to have fun. Who knows what could happen.
Once we made our way to the “not so pretty” part, we basically wove in and out of who knows where in the dark. I made sure to watch my footing and to start eating the Gu Chomps that were in the race bag. So there I was, chomping away on the only fuel that I brought with me, when only two chews down, my butterfingers made a major fumble and the convenient little pack slipped out of my hands, hit the ground and crushed my soul. I felt like I was moving too quickly to stop and would lose my momentum if I were to go back and pick them up. I muttered profanities, shook my fist in the air and proceeded to lament the demise of my race.
Oh but wait, 30 second later I felt someone tap me on my shoulder. I turned around and some man had picked up my chomps and ran to me to give them. Shocked at probably the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me during a race, I started shouting THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU over and over again. So to the guy who returned my precious little babies, if you are reading this, thanks for saving me. You’ve done your good deed for the year.
I have to admit, throughout the “not so pretty” part, I started to get bored. I could see the sparkling lights of the strip beckoning me to come back. This was when I had to focus on my pace because when I get bored I easily lose it. Just get to the strip…
Once we reached the Stratoshpere, I knew we were back in the game. I glanced down at my watch and hot damn, I might have a chance at this thing. So I forwarded to a good song, turned up the volume and refused to let my tired legs start to get the best of me. Along the way, I saw Emily and Sarah whose awesome spectating skills were just what I needed!
By mile 11, my legs and stomach started to revolt. Perhaps this is when the pre-race dance party and drinking decided to come back and haunt me. It became a solid mental effort to get to the finish without slowing down too much, or letting the beer get the best of me. I pushed to the end where we were met with a very cool and very Vegas-esque finish: glowing lights, music and all. I glanced down at my watch and shocked myself.
It’s my third best half time and given my injury and work time off, I was pleasantly surprised.
After the race, I met up with the rest of the girls for some more mug shots in space blankets.
Overall, this was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time – I needed it in more ways than you could imagine. I not only got to spend the entire weekend with what might be the nicest person on earth (ehem, Aron), but I got to meet some incredible new people that I look forward to having many more adventures with.
So what did I learn from the Rock ‘N Roll Las Vegas Strip at Night Half Marathon?
- Pre-race dance parties are an excellent alternative for a shake-out run
- The content of carbo-loading is purely up to your imagination (yes, beer works)
- Running at night isn’t that bad. I just need to shut up and man up
- Making races vacations with friends is HIGHLY recommended
- Everyone must do this race (the half, not the full) at least once in their life
- Never be afraid to through your plan out the window and just see what you’ve got
Did you race this weekend? How did it go? Would you race Vegas?