Nevada √ (13 STATES COMPLETE)
The gem and I took this trip with my parents and had an amazing time.. I came home with a little more bling than expected. eeeek!!! so exciting!
Having gotten engaged on vacation and coming home starting the planning process – I am sorry it took me so long to get this post up!
We decided to stay at Mandalay Bay and I HIGHLY recommend it if you are planning on running next year, or even if you are just planning a vacation. Having visited Las Vegas prior I knew that distance was deceiving on the strip. Something that may look like it is ‘right next door’ probably ends up turning into a mile walk having to go across bridges, in and out of hotels, around various things, etc. The starting line was right across the street and it was SUPER easy to get back to after the finish.
PRE RACE COMMUNICATIONS
There aren’t many negatives about pre-race communications for such a large race and a well established organization such as Rock n’ Roll – there are plenty of e-mails of important notes and releases to an arsenal of information on their website. With 40,000 runners they were on top of everything you needed to know to make your weekend a successful one.
We flew in on Thursday night and thought we should hit the Expo right when it opened on Friday. We were dropped off at the corner of the Convention Center and there was on OVERWHELMING amount of people in line, I mean the line was twisting and turning all over the front and down the side of the street. We soon found out that the center hadn’t opened yet, and as soon as it did the line moved VERY quickly, we were shocked.
Of course I forgot to PRINT my race confirmation and signed waiver so I had to detour on over to the iPads to pull it up because they won’t accept the digital version on your phone – I think it is a little odd that there is no better way for them to do this, but it was quick and simple so I cannot complain too much.
We were presently surprised when we walked inside they had split the numbers down to smaller groups than usual and there were only 4 people in front of me and the ladies I picked up my bib from worked efficiently and quickly together. This was a HUGE expo, but we didn’t find it any better or worse than others we had been to.
I should have known to get a Men’s/Unisex cut shirt, because these shirts always run small – and I should have visited the exchange table to get it swapped out, but with my upcoming wedding I hope this fits comfortably in no time!
There are so many Runner Perks involved with this race, I wish I had taken advantage of more of the discount opportunities, because Vegas certainly is not a cheap vacation!
Night races are so hard for me, I do my training runs in the morning usually and the vast majority of races are early in the morning, so I struggle with eating throughout the day and properly fueling starting at breakfast leading up to the race. A little added obstacle was getting to the starting concert and then waiting about 2ish hours (mostly standing) to start.
Snoop Dogg, yes the Snoop D-O-double-G was the headliner for the show – the concert took place behind Mandalay Bay (I believe it is where America Ninja Warrior is held in Vegas) so it was a very short walk over. For someone who is, ahem ‘experienced’ he still puts on an amazing concert and played all the throwbacks you would hope for. Some runners were offended by the ‘swearing’ and ‘inappropriate lyrics’.
There was no shortage of port-o-potties in this area – there were rows, and rows .. and more rows and lines were only two or three people deep.
Heading into the Yellow starting area there were volunteers checking bibs, which I was happy about at first because corrals in these races are always a sh*t show and the honor system is surly taken for granted. Sure enough corrals were a free for all, and all blended into one as we approached the end of the quarter mile walk to the starting line.
The weather was absolutely perfect – I had worn a long sleeve and capri pants after reading some of the previous years where the temperature had significantly dropped at night – I could have done a short sleeve for sure, but I was pretty comfortable the whole time.
I am not sure how all of the other corrals were, but we (Yellow) were all sent off at once, there was no wave start for corrals or even a group of corrals – this led for a questionable three miles (I forgot my watch in the hotel room so I am pretty bummed I don’t have a mile by mile breakdown) I am sure they were significantly slower than others. Many people were not following basic race day courtesies or the directions presented in the beginning – walkers were all over (and I totally get it I am a periodical walker too), but there were groups blocking whole lanes, walkers with headphones who were unaware of their surroundings. I digress.
After looping around the ever famous “welcome” sign the next 6 or 7 miles were a straight shot down the strip. It was truly an amazing experience all lit up. The crowds were lining the streets, spectators and entertainment galore, it was amazing.
I kept looking down at my ring – WE ARE ENGAGED – wedding plans, life long plans, goals – gahh! The future is going to be amazing!
At mile 3ish I saw Chris and my parents – that was so exciting! After the long wait in the beginning and chaos I had to pee! One of the only races I have ever stopped to use the bathroom – oyyy sweaty compression pants!
Around mile 8 the race veers off to make a loop in order to head back up the other side of the strip. There was no shortage of entertainment and crowds along the way … except for these awkward side roads that were dark, no cones, volunteers, or police details (which I thought was very odd).
With less to be distracted by and boredom creeping in – fatigue (mentally and physically) started to set in. I definitely felt my pace slow and even stopped to walk for a bit. As we looped back around to head back up the strip there was a woman ‘Facebook Live-ing’ an encouraging “DON’T QUIT” speech in which she panned over to me and had me join in – I was inspired and my motivation was back up.
Seeing how many runners (and lots of walkers) were still behind me boosted me even more and I am pretty sure mile 13 was one of my fastest miles. Looking at my ring a few more times yep, still there ;). I pushed on and finished with a huge smile and full of excitement.
There were multiple warnings beforehand about how runners should be prepared for the ending and the extra half a mile before runners could actually exit the course. This was a very familiar feeling from a year ago at the NYC Marathon, MARATHON JAIL – I was re-living marathon jail – after the finish I just wanted to be done – to sit down to eat something.
WHERE IS MY MEDALLLL!?! Eventually we reached the medal crew.
SOMEHOW Chris found me and saw me – like a true gem he tossed over my Rock n’ Roll bag with extra sneakers in it and plenty of room to pack in some free goodies! I stopped at one point stretched out a little, change my sneakers, drank some water and continued on.
After finally getting out I couldn’t find Chris or my parents and was slowly getting more exhausted. I had to climb over the stone fence lining the street and parked myself in front of the Bellagio and watched the water show. I told them where I was and let them find me. It worked out quite well. We headed down a side street and went to the Taxi pickup to one of the hotels and caught a ride back to Mandalay Bay.
One of the things that first sparked my interest in this half was the awesome slot machine medal they had (I think it was either last year or the year before). This one does spin and glow in the dark, but the slot machine one was pretty awesome and totally Vegas.
This definitely isn’t a cheap trip to take, especially when you are traveling from the East coast. This is a trip that requires planning and saving. I would absolutely recommend this race to other runners, The Strip at Night is an amazing experience and one of only two times in the year that the Strip is shut down. I had read a blog beforehand that said this was no at PR race, and I 100% agree – especially this being a night race and the longer wait to start.
As I have seen past runners suggest and even some recent recaps suggest – more lighting on those backroad areas of the course would have been very much appreciated and maybe even more than just the one group of volunteers around one of the corners.
One, thing I would do differently, personally, I would run this with a friend or family member – there was so much to experience and so many photo ops/sights to see that would have been more fun with a buddy.