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November 16, 2017

Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon Recap

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This past Sunday Stephen and I drove up to Las Vegas to meet my parents and their “gang of six” (their group of long time friends) as they call it, so that my Mom and I could complete a marathon in the state of Nevada. It’s always a blast around them. They crack jokes and laugh the entire time they’re together. It was a great excuse for everyone to get away for the weekend and get a little exercise in. Two of them ran the 10k, two of them ran the half, and my Mom and I ran the full. My Dad and Stephen sat this one out so they could cheer us on.

This marathon was unlike any other my Mom and I have run because of the fact that it started at 4:30 PM. We had never run a race in the evening, let alone a marathon. As I mentioned here, minimal training went into this “race”. When I say minimal, I mean literally, like 12 miles total in the four months leading up to the race. For someone training for a marathon that is a Thursday tempo run… My point is, I had completed 12 marathons before this one and this was by far the least trained I had ever been going into one.

Last Vegas Rock 'n' Roll

Saturday we did the whole packet pickup, walk around the expo gig. Sunday morning I slept in for as long as possible before resorting to the couch to binge watch “Fixer Upper”, sip on water, and eat some PB&Js.

Tip: If you’re trying to PR or just kick butt at a night race, train in the evening (at least your long runs) in the months leading up to the race so you can understand how your body responds before, during, and after your training session. It’s also important to take note of how your body responds to food on race day. For long runs especially, document what and when it’s best for you to eat. For me personally, I didn’t have any huge goals for this run other than to finish; so come Sunday, I just didn’t eat anything abnormal or go buck wild and walk five miles sight seeing during the day.

Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll

The race was scheduled to start at 4:30 PM. Since we had friends running the 10k, we arrived on the strip a couple of hours early. We had to walk a pretty far way from Caesar’s Palace to the start. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do before running a marathon but eh… We survived. I had never been to Vegas before so I enjoyed seeing everything in the daylight while it lasted. After waiting for a while, it was finally time to get into our corrals. We stood like herded cattle surrounded by thousands of people in our corrals for over 35 minutes before the race finally started. I was getting really impatient at this point. It’s like this at every single race but the wait never gets any easier. I just want to GO!

The start was really exciting! They had fire spewing out of the starting line, great music, and hundreds of cheering spectators. I saw Mirinda Carfrae (Ironman champion) on the stage near the DJ and had a fan girl moment. I thought I was dreaming but I watched her Instagram story the next day and I was right! How cool is that?!

FINALLY we crossed the starting line and were on our way! As usual, it was a weaving game at the beginning to get around the masses of people but after a couple of miles we got into a groove. The sun had set behind the tall buildings on the strip and it was so so beautiful. I came up with a game during this time called “My Elvis” to play with my Mom. It’s a spin off of the car game “My Cow”. Basically, anytime one of us saw Elvis we’d say “My Elvis”, count out loud the number we saw, and keep a running (no pun intended) total during the race. Things like this help the time go by quicker for us and help keep our minds off of any pain we experience during the run. By the way, my Mom won. She found a group of 4 Elvis’ and beat me 7-2.

Running down the strip was by far my favorite part of the race. It was SO COOL! It’s so cool that it actually is at the top of my list for one of my favorite races. They only cut off traffic on these roads twice a year so it is a really big deal! The atmosphere is phenomenal. There were so many people lining the streets, music was blasting from all different directions, and there was always something different to look at. We saw my Dad and Stephen around mile 4 and we also got to see the Bellasio fountain show during that time. It was such perfect timing.

I had to stop at the bathroom, which is very abnormal for me, around mile 10 or 11ish. Other than that, my Mom and I were rolling along the first half of the race. I was genuinely surprised at how well things were going. We didn’t stop at all except to get some water in our hands. The first water stop by the way, YUCK. It was like drinking chlorine. So terrible. The water stops after that though were fine. We hit the half in decent time but a little bit after that I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom again…

At this point I started to get worried. I’m really sorry if this is TMI for you! If it is, just stop reading right now. The truth is, running isn’t always as pretty as the split second action shots captured in Instagram squares. Anyway, we were now around mile 14ish and I felt like I needed to pee again. I searched and searched for a bathroom but couldn’t find one around. I tried not to flip out but here’s the thing… I experienced a bladder infection at a marathon five years ago (Disney) and considering it felt like the fire-y depths of H-e-double hockey sticks had unleashed on my bladder, I did not want to experience that again. Unfortunately, my fears were justified. Around mile 15 I found a bathroom but nothing happened and that’s when I knew… The next half of this race was going to be really tough. It was just endless burning that felt worse and worse with every step I took.

I felt so terrible for slowing my Mom down. She was on a ROLL! She gave me some Motrin to try to help with the pain and suggested I drink more water to try to flush it out. It’s hard in that situation though… The last thing I wanted to do was think of let alone any liquid but here I was running a marathon in the dry Vegas air where my sweat was evaporating right off of me. It was necessary to drink more so I did. Despite taking water or Gatorade I was severely dehydrated. I mean… Coca Cola pee dehydrated. It was not good at all.

Needless to say, miles 16-18 were terrible. The course itself at this point was really squiggly and flat. There were lots of colorful strobe lights all around and loud, bumpin’ music that I would’ve definitely appreciated more had I not felt so bad. It’s funny looking back on it now but at some points I just had to stop and squat on the course to get comfortable for just ten seconds. I’m sorry that’s not a classy image but man oh man all my cares were just out the window.

Around mile 19 we saw the 5:00 hour pacer pass us and we looked at each other like, “Holy crap we have got to move.” Did I mention this race had a 5 hour time cap? We knew we had some wiggle room based on when we crossed the starting line compared to him but either way it made us hustle a little bit (and took my mind off the pain).

The next 4 miles were mostly silent until we started to play more games to keep our minds occupied. Around mile 21 we started to play the “Run to the….” so we’d pick a landmark about 100+ yards away, run to it, and then walk for about 20 feet before choosing another landmark and starting back up again. Miles 22-23 were so boring. They were more squigglies through a cleared out amusement park. Don’t forget that pretty much this entire race was in the dark so sometimes it was hard to see how far or where we were headed on the course. I’m not saying it wasn’t lit up well because it was, but the darkness in the background sometimes made it hard to know just how far we were in the boring patches for. That part felt like it took hours but we made it back onto the strip eventually.

My Mom and I both had a few issues with cramping but taking in salt tablets and mustard packets (yes, mustard packets) early on really saved us this run. Especially after mile 20 in any marathon it’s just like, “Okay… Fight through the pain and just finish this thing.” So we did.

Once we were back on the strip there were more people lining the course cheering us on so the time went by really quickly. Before we knew it we saw the finish line and thought, “That isn’t the finish is it?!” Sure enough it was! We officially could color in Nevada on our maps.

As soon as the race was over I started drinking as much cranberry juice as possible and then we got In-N-Out of course…

Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll

The first 10k of this marathon makes it one of my favorites. Like I said, the atmosphere at the start and on the strip is just phenomenal. It makes up for all of the boring stuff we had to do. I think this would be the most perfect half marathon to do because it’s pretty much just down and back on the strip (the best part) and FLAT. The other racers also made this race a blast! People were dressed up in light costumes, couples were getting married, and you can’t forget about all of the Elvis’! It’s definitely one for the books. If you ever have the desire to run a 10k, half, or full marathon in Nevada… DO THIS ONE!


with joy
jordan jean

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