I did it!
Back in July, I announced I was going to train for a half marathon in the fall. Well, on Sunday November 15, 2015 it happened!
I could have done a local race, there are plenty around, but for my first half I needed something fun! The Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon sounded like it would be fun!!! I figured, if I was going to put in all the time, energy, effort and miles I was going to enjoy it and be rewarded at the same time.
My friend and I flew out on the Thursday night, which gave us plenty of time to explore, sight see, and get prepared for the race Sunday night. Night? yep! This race was at night on the Las Vegas Strip! The Strip was shut down for the run. We ran up and down the Vegas Strip with all the lights and excitement along the way!
We stayed at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. It was such a great place. It was also right by the start line, so it was perfect!
Friday Morning we got up early, we were still on Eastern Time Zone time, and made our way to the Running Expo to get our race kit
We found our things according to our start corals, which were emailed to us a few days before.
Coral….42, and I thought an initial goal of 3 hours was respectable! haha, apparently not. There were very few corals behind me.
According to this chart, I start almost an hour after my friend who was in coral 17
Our shirt, not only is it bright, the letters glow in the dark!
Our hotel was right in front of the pre race festivities! We were on the 25th floor and got to see them setting everything up and all the people arriving. In the fenced in area was VIP lounges and massages, as well as bag check and the Kid Rock pre-race concert! Behind the grounds you can see Toilet City, there were hundreds of them. You can also see all the yellow shirts heading to the right, which was towards the start line about a km up the road.
Ground level pre-race festivities and concert
Time to make our way to our corals – this is where I part with my friend as she heads waaaaaaaaaaaaay up to the front
Then the storm hit…
Isn’t it suppose to be hot and dry in the desert? The entire time we were there it was 17-22ºC. Race time it dropped to 10ºC, there were 60kph wind and a downpour! It was crazy!!!
After 41 count downs from 10, it is my turn! I was freaking out! I was about to start my first half marathon! I had not properly trained, I was injured and not entirely sure I would be able to finish, but as I neared the start line none of that mattered. I was standing in Las Vegas with nearly 40, 000 half marathon and marathoners! I was one of them, I am doing this! The music was thumping, the crowd was cheering and I was pumped!
Notice the rain in the spotlight
I could hardly stand still, I was bouncing up and down side to side even singing along to the music. Then she came on the speaker for the 42nd count down. We all joined in. 10….9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1 and we were off! What a feeling! I had just started my first half marathon!
Start line video from runrocknroll.com
I still get chills watching that and I wasn’t even in that part!
We struck up the strip towards the Welcome to Las Vegas Sign. There were people ahead of it saying ‘Easy on and easy off, run up and get your picture with the Famous sign.’ I didn’t care if it was easy on and off or not, I was stopping for this picture! It was very organized. They had at least 6 photographers sitting on the ground and marks where we were to stand, I was there probably 20 seconds, then ran back onto the course.
As we approach the first turn around I can hear music, it keeps getting louder as I near the turn. It was so loud I could feel it in my bones, it was amazing! There was a DJ under and tent just pumping out the tunes, dancing and cheering us on. It was at this point I had my first tears (yes, first, there were more, haha). I just could not believe what I was doing. I was running down the strip of Las Vegas, I felt like I was leading the pack, it didn’t mater that there were 2o thousand people ahead of me, I felt like I was the only one there and I was going to rock this race! It was now that I remember what my running leader back in my 5k clinic used to say, ‘run the mile you are in’. I completely understood what she meant at that very moment. I knew I had 19k to go, but right now I was running in km 2, the music was loud, it was windy, it was raining and it was freaking amazing! I took in everything I could. I probably ran half the race with my jaw dropped in awe.
I was going pretty slow, I knew I was injured and I wanted to be able to run as much as possible, so I didn’t want to push it. I was running (and I use that term loosely) at a 10:00 min km. I was also doing 6:1s. I was able to keep this up for about 6k, then the pain came. I didn’t let that bring me down, I knew it was going to happen. From here on in I ran when I was able and walked when I had to, all the while taking in every single moment of this amazing experience.
There were many more walkers than I had thought there would be, which was great. I was even was able to talk to a few other Canadians along the way.
When the rain stopped I started taking some pictures and cheesy selfies in front of cool places that we ran by. Time didn’t matter, as long as I finished I was going to be happy, so might as well have fun in the process.
About km 9 I was in severe pain. I was barely running, when I tried, I was only getting maximum 2 minutes sometimes 3o seconds. I would run and smile when I saw the photographers! (there were about 30 shots of me!! haha) Things were going down hill, and I knew I was not half way through yet. It was then that I got a text from my friend that she had finished and was heading back to the hotel to shower. I got a boost of energy from her amazing accomplishment, she finished with a 2:08!! I picked up my pace and ran more and as much as I could. I was drawing as much energy as I possibly could from all the people watching and cheering us on. There was thousands of people lining the street as well as bands and DJ’s all along the course. I could constantly hear music, just as one would fade you would start hearing the next up ahead.
Then we veered off The strip for a couple of kms. This did me in. It was dark, it was quiet, it was very sketchy, and there was no one around, we were running in a quiet neighborhood, I had nothing to draw from other than myself. We were at km 13, still had 8km to go. I slowed down for a few minutes to refuel, take more Advil and get some fresh gum.
As we approached the Strip again, I found new energy. I, honestly, gave up on running, it was too painful. I started power walking, something I had never really done before. I felt like I was gaining some speed, I started passing people (for the first time all evening) and started seeing people who passed me a while ago. This gave me energy and some confidence. My arms were pumping, and I found a rhythm that felt good (in my mind I felt like a speed walker. It felt like my hips were wiggling like I have seen on the Olympic races). I was feeling good and feeling fast! I checked my Garmin and I was WALKING at a 8:02 km! Earlier when I was feeling good running I was at a 10:00 km pace.
From here on in I stuck to speed walking. At one point I looked down and I was walking a 7:40! Hell, I had a hard time keeping that running pace. With this new confidence I was feeling much better. I kept up this pace for several kms. The mile marker signs seem to be coming faster now (I much prefer km markers, there are more of them and closer together. Mile markers are sooooooooooo far apart!). I see mile 12! One more to go! Just as I see mile marker 12 I see this…
…a 75 year old woman in a clear garbage bag walking. I could hear people talking with her, inquiring how old she is etc. She apparently does several half marathons a year. This woman is my hero! It only took me, a 35 year old, till mile 12 to catch her! I also passed the man who walked the whole thing, who also started in my coral, he was dressed as a turtle. I was able to keep him in my sight for about 4 miles then I lost him, until mile 12. I passed him! Mile 12 was a good mile!
As I speed walk my way though mile 12 I can hear the finish line getting louder and louder. I can feel myself speeding up, I want that finish line! I am now passing many people, all of which had probably walked the entire race. Everyone was friendly and encouraging. During this last mile the marathoners also rejoined the strip on the other side of a barrier.
I can now see the finish approaching, I see the lights, I hear the announcers and all the people cheering. I had ran 21 kms. In the last .1 km I felt like I was the only person there. I saw the finish and I RAN with my hands up in the air, and let out a big “WOO HOO!” then I cried…
Finish line video from runrocknroll.com
I did it! I
ran completed my first half marathon. 21.1k, 13.1m, I don’t care what you call it, I did it!
When they placed that medal around my neck, it was all worth it. I think I cried again!
Walking out the shoot there were so many photographers taking our pictures walking with our medals, posing in front of signs, finisher displays etc. I felt like I was walking the Red Carpet! As we walked down the shoot they were passing out bananas, water, Gatorade, pretzels, bars, chews, chocolate milk and a beer. I took it all! My arms were full when I saw my friend. She was waiting for me at the end of the shoot. She greeted me with a big hug and and I cried again (good heavens, who knew running wold be so emotional?)
We stopped for a few photos together, got my bag from the bag check and headed back to the hotel. Now, in the days leading up to the race Jen had warned me that we would be walking the several kms back to the hotel after the race, I really didn’t pay attention, kinda thought she was joking. She was not! We walked back almost 4kms. I did what she said. She is a veteran runner and knows what she is talking about. She took good care of me from the moment she met me at the finishers shoot. She made sure I drank and ate the right things, during the walk back. Made sure I was wearing the recovery jacket etc. It was a looooong slow walk back to the hotel, which had a lot of stairs because you can’t cross a lot of streets on Las Vegas Blvd, you have to up and over! The streets were full of people walking funny and very slow, it was kind of comical really.
Back at the hotel I did a lot of stretching, during which Jen fell asleep, so I celebrated alone. This is my celebratory post race meal….
Cold pizza and the beer from the run. I don’t drink beer, but that night I did and enjoyed every (watery) drop of it!
What an amazing experience! It was not the run I planned for, or hoped for but I am thrilled to have completed my first half marathon. When I registered I had a goal of finishing in 3:00:00. My official time was 3:32:45. I don’t think that is terrible considering I was injured. Heck, I wasn’t even sure I would be able to finish, so I will proudly take it!
I look forward to healing up and doing another one as soon as possible.
I will return to the Las Vegas Rock n Roll half when I am healthy to do it right, and redeem myself.
Las Vegas you put on one hell of a race! Can’t wait to come back!
The slot machine spins and glows in the dark!