In many ways, my final races of 2015 in Las Vegas were as fantastic as I hoped they would be. While I didn’t quite set a half marathon PR (keep reading for the recap), the trip was a perfect mix of racing and exploring with B. We arrived on Saturday afternoon, quickly checked into the MGM Grand, and headed to the expo to pick up our packets.
It was easy to take the monorail to the Las Vegas Convention Center for the expo. When we arrived, there were large crowds of people also picking up packets, despite the expo being open on Thursday and Friday. Still, lines to pick up our two 5K packets and my half marathon packet took less than five minutes each. Our packets included a few product samples, time chips, bibs, and a neon tech shirt for each race. I don’t love running in t-shirts, but I was impressed with the design and quality. B and I were short on time, so we walked quickly through the rest of the expo. There were a great selection of vendors, with Brooks being my favorite. Brooks even had a mechanical shoe you could ride!
B and I headed back to MGM and grabbed pizza before the 5K at 6:00pm. I chose to run this race for three reasons. First, B wanted to run to support St. Jude. I figured it would also be a great way to shake out my legs for Sunday. Finally, I would get a Remix Challenge medal by running two races.
When we arrived at the starting line near SLS, we easily checked in and were handed glowing thunder sticks. B and I had time to stretch and find our corral before the gun went off. The corrals were a bit full, but it seemed that many were also running the 5K as a secondary race and didn’t care that it was tight. The first mile of the race wove through a parking lot. The second mile headed out onto The Strip. The third mile re-entered the parking lot. B and I ran a 10:00 pace and really enjoyed ourselves, despite dodging walkers. A quick half hour later, we collected our medals and headed to shower and indulge at the Bellagio Buffet.
On Sunday morning, we ate brunch, walked through a few hotels, and napped before I had to be in my half marathon corral at 4:30pm. I physically felt great but was nervous about the weather–possible 25mph winds and rain. In the desert?! RNR sent out a list of precautions that would be taken because of the weather, which helped me relax before the race.
Miles 1-3.1 — B walked me to my corral before finding a spot to support me. I couldn’t help but watch the darkness in the sky shift while I waited for 20 corrals in front of me to begin. Just before it was my corral’s turn to run, the wind and rain started. When you register for any race, you take a chance with the weather. I zipped up my jacket, adjusted my headphones, and set off. During the first two miles, I struggled with the weather, the walkers, and feeling like I should have hit the porta potty. At least I had views of the famous Las Vegas sign to distract me. By the third mile, I hit my stride and noticed that I was running negative splits past the first few hotels. 5K in 32:55
Miles 3.1-6.2 — I really rocked this portion of the race. I knew that I would see B at the Paris hot air balloon, so I pushed myself to get there. At this point, the rain was making the street slippery, so I was careful not to take a slide. It was also tricky to navigate the crowded water stops. However, I think the spectator energy and hotel lights kept me moving closer to Downtown Vegas. 10K in 1:03:26
Miles 6.2-10 — Mile 6 was my fastest of the race. It had just stopped raining, and we were still distracted by The Strip. Almost the entire race was on The Strip, except for Miles 7.5-9.5. Those miles wove through a dark neighborhood. I started to worry whether I could hold or pick up my pace after the turnaround. My body still felt great, so it was all in my mind. 10 Miles in 1:41:27
Miles 11-13.1 — I was thrilled to be on the final stretch, but it wasn’t as easy as I hoped. The final three miles were slightly uphill, and the wind really started to pick up. In the pockets with no hotels to our right, it felt like we were moving nowhere. To keep myself moving, I picked buildings in the distance to run toward. In the last mile, I even tried run/sprint intervals to push through the wall of wind. Despite the weather and non-PR, I had a giant smile on my face crossing the finish line. I was thrilled to have run my final race of 2015 with my boyfriend there to support me. 13.1 in 2:13:09
B and I spent our final two days in Las Vegas exploring the rest of the hotels and enjoying a special date night at Cirque du Soleil and Giada. We crossed everything off our Vegas list except zip lining in Downtown Vegas (too windy) and riding the High Roller. There’s always next year, right? In fact, I loved my first RNR race so much that I have the below races bookmarked to consider for 2016. If you’ve run any of them, I’d love recommendations!
Check out Run Rock ‘n’ Roll 2016 Races
Photos via Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series