Monday, December 5, 2011

What You Get for Waking up in Vegas

I registered Jake and myself to run the Rock n Roll Vegas half marathon months ago- on opening day, in fact. It was supposed to be my "A" race, my sub 2 attempt if it hadn't happened yet. But with my stress fracture, my hopes switched to "maybe I'll get to run and not have to walk." I was cleared to run a couple weeks ago but only ran once prior to arriving in Vegas. It was Jake's first half marathon and he wasn't feeling particularly strong about his training (longest long run was 9 miles and that was in October), so I promised to run with him. I secretly hoped to pace us to sub 2:30, but surely at least 2:45.

We went to the expo on Saturday, as soon as we put our stuff in the room and Jake placed some sports bets. The expo was packed. We stood in long lines twice- once to buy RnR merchandise (bought a tee very similar to the race tee but since they wouldn't swap the women's small I signed up for with a larger size, I'll be giving it to my 5 year old who it may fit) and again for a longsleeve race shirt for Jake since all he had at home was short sleeves. The highlight was meeting Dimity and SBS, the authors of my favorite running book- Run Like a Mother. I brought my copy and they signed it. Both were very friendly and sweet to talk to me for a few minutes.

We stayed at Mandalay Bay, which is where the race started and ended. That appears to have been a majorly good decision. I've read some stories of people taking hours to get back to their hotels last night. It still probably took us 30 minutes. The hotel, and really entire strip, was incredibly crowded all weekend. We left our hotel room and headed down to the corrals around 4:50 for the 5:30 start. I was originally assigned to corral 6 with my sub-2 predicted time. Wow!!! We moved back to 24, for the 2:30 finish. It was chaotic trying to get into the corrals. They were too small for the number of runners. The race started right on time but I think they only did the waved start for a few corrals- by the time we really started moving toward the start, we walked right to the line and started running. I think that was the beginning of the end. I've run some big races and this was my 3rd RnR half. I expect it to be crowded for a mile or so. It never really thinned out. I fell somewhere in mile 2 but thankfully wasn't injured or trampled, then injured! The marathoners ran their first half off the strip, starting 90 minutes before the half. I felt awful for them as they joined the halfers on the strip. There were cones to separate the race distances but there were so many halfers and it was so crowded with half walkers, that half runners were moving over to the marathon lane to have running space. Marathoners were faster but had nowhere to go.

Jake and I planned to take 1 minute walk breaks at each mile, plus walk the water stations. We didn't walk until mile 4. By that time we were turning off the strip and had a little more space to spread out. That was about the only time I was thankful to have so many people around me. Scary part of town. Jake started struggling around mile 8 so we took longer walk breaks. By mile 10, we walked at every half mile. It was nice to get back on the strip headed south, and even better when we could see Mandalay Bay. I didn't feel strong by any means, but the walk breaks hurt more than helped. My hips were so tight that the first few steps of running were painful. Other than that, no groin pain from my fracture. I was really worried about Jake for the last 5k. He said he was ok but he didn't look ok. I was worried he wouldn't tell me if he felt like stopping. At one point I kinda joked about not raising the life insurance before the trip so he couldn't die. We ran the last .6+ mile in. We got our medals, space blankets (just in time because it started sprinkling and the cold/wind set in on bodies quickly), and I got some water and a bagel. Jake was getting sick, so we got back to our hotel room as quickly as possible. I ordered room service within 5 minutes of arriving in our room and it still took 2 hours to get. By then Jake was feeling better and managed to eat/drink. Today he says he feels 75% better than last night. I have the expected soreness, especially for my lack of physical activity since September.

Jake says he crossed 2 things off his bucket list last night:
1) half marathon- done
2) full marathon- no desire whatsoever

I don't know what my plan is. I thought I'd make RnR Dallas my comeback/sub-2 half. I'm seriously rethinking that. This RnR race was so poorly executed that I can't get excited about doing another. St. Louis RnR was great. Dallas last year was fine. I just have to think there are half marathons in the Dallas area that are perhaps smaller, but much better organized. And likely cheaper. I wouldn't do Vegas again. Running down the strip at night sounded amazing, but with 44,000 people you couldn't look up to enjoy the sights or you'd trip over somebody. I read that they want to have 60,000 do it next year. That's so incredibly stupid when a race of 44,000 was so messy.

Our unofficial time was 2:57


Teamarcia said...

Yikes, sounds like RnR has some serious work to do to improve that race. I've only done one RnR and it was ok, not worth the $$ IMO.
Congrats to both of you on the finish nevertheless!

Pam said...

Wow, what a clusterf**k!!!!! That's a shame. RnR races might be good for some things, but a PR is not one of them. I hadn't really given any thought to the full marathoners. I ran the full last year, and there are DEFINITELY some places that we ran through that I would NOT have wanted to go through at night. Once you get off the strip, it's all old industrial warehouses and such. Not cool.

Lesley @ said...

I heard of ppl who took over 4 hrs to get back to their hotel. I also heard a ton of ppl got sick... Heard they were pouring water from fire hydrants which I'm pretty sure isn't suitable for drinking. Blech. Sorry you didn't have a better experience, but huge congrats to Jake on his first half!!!!

Dimity said...

Thanks for nice words: great to meet you! That was definitely a race to remember in many respects, but glad you were able to finish, post-stress-fracture. Keep it up!