Las Vegas, Nevada
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Half: Rock & Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon
Date: Sunday, November 12th
Finish Time: 1:38
Pre-run meal? Uh…. Del Taco (Chicken Rice Bowl), Shake Shack (chicken sandwich and fries), and Hash House A Go Go (toast, oatmeal, fruit, and eggs)… Yes, I had a lot of pre-race fuel.
Well… this was definitely a weekend to remember (or at least try to remember). It was a slightly spur of the moment decision to sign up for this one, but it couldn’t have been more worth it. This trip was a straight up dream, maybe even better than any dream I could’ve created.
We flew in on Friday night, getting to Vegas with plenty of time to fit in a few things before going to bed. We quickly unloaded our things in our room at Vdara and made our way out to the strip. We were all pretty hungry from the trip, so we stopped to eat at Hexx. After, we checked out the tables at a few casinos and made our way back to the room for the night.
Saturday… Saturday couldn’t have been more packed with adventure and excitement. It started with breakfast and dessert (the perfect pairing) at Patisserie. Next, we went to the fitness expo to get my race packet. As if I wasn’t already excited enough to be racing in Vegas… this expo literally made my enthusiasm grow exponentially. The atmosphere, the music, the FREE GIVEAWAYS (lots, and lots, of free giveaways); all of it only added to the thrill and anticipation for the race. So, we got everything I needed for Sunday and decided to spend a few hours relaxing in the sun at Bellagio before my sister and her boyfriend, Sam, arrived.
Now, at this point, the trip had already been an absolute blast.. but it was about to be taken to the next level, or 5. Once my sister and Sam got to Vegas, we spent about 30 more minutes at the pool before our Saturday Night adventure began. We packed into the Uber. Where were we going, you ask? A FREAKING HELICOPTER RIDE OVER THE STRIP. Yes, that’s right. We were about to get onto a helicopter and freaking fly over the strip. On our way, however, we realized we were all pretty much starving, so we stopped for my infamous pre-race dinner at… drum roll please…Del Taco. Yes, it is exactly what is sounds like, an upscale version of Taco Bell. That was my pre-race dinner, and it was actually pretty bomb.
The helicopter ride… I don’t even know where to begin. First, we took a limo to the helicopter. Then, we piled in and off we went. Over the strip, dangerously close to the stratosphere, the whole works. We saw everything, and it was absolutely breathtaking. However, the fact that our helicopter driver was making twists and turns while he texted on his watch was a bit nerve-racking.
But as if a helicopter ride wasn’t enough… our next stop? The Blue Man Group! THE FREAKING BLUE MAN GROUP. The sounds, the music, the comedy, the art, all of it, packed into an hour and a half of the most unique show that you can imagine.
After the show, we realized Del Taco didn’t quite cut it for dinner. We stopped at Shake Shack on our way back to the hotel for the night. So, I added a spicy chicken sandwich and fries to my pre-race fuel tank.. not exactly my best choices.
We slept in on Sunday, finally getting up and ready around 9:30. Well rested and ready to race as soon as I woke up, distraction was going to be key in getting me through the day. First stop: coffee. Second stop: cupcakes. I don’t know what it was about this trip, but breakfast and dessert became synonymous. After cupcakes? The most amazing breakfast at Hash House. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Huge, fancy, shareable plates came out one by one. So with our bellies filled, we decided to give Vdara’s hot-tub a try before race-time.
So, pretty much all of my race tips, tricks, and techniques had been completely abandoned up to this point. Nutrition? Trash. Hydration? Decent but definitely diluted by the time I spent in the hot-tub right before the race, plus, I hadn’t exactly avoided alcohol so far on the trip. The only things I had going for me: my family’s support and my internal motivation. I tuned into both as we walked into the mass gathering at the starting line.
3 corrals: blue, green, and yellow – I was in the fastest, blue. Each color was then split into 12 more corrals based on time – I was placed in corral 4. I could literally see the starting line 100 feet in front of my starting spot. This must be a mistake, I thought. I’m not that fast, everyone is going to pass me, I’m going to look like an idiot. Panicking, my sister, Kristen, gave me a stern look and reassured me that I was right where I belonged.
With that in mind, I found my spot in my corral and got into my own internal pre-race motivational thoughts. I thought about why I run, why I started, why I continue. I thought about how blessed I am to have the experiences I’ve had, to travel to all of the amazing places I have, with the people I love. Then, I thought of where I was: Vegas. I thought about the individuals who lost their lives in this city just a month ago and a mile away from where I was. I thought about how they wouldn’t get to feel the wind on their faces anymore, their feet on the ground, their dreams coming true. And that was all it took. I was ready, and as the race began, I knew my race had a purpose.
I started out slow, weaving in and out of hundreds, if not thousands, of people to find my pace. I wasn’t going fast, I couldn’t when there were so many people around me, but as I’ve learned from many races: never judge your run off of your first mile.
I kept going, getting faster and faster. The next thing I knew, my headphones were shouting, “4 miles, average pace: 7:20 per mile”. I literally shrieked in excitement. I hadn’t gone this fast in forever…but it was only mile 4! Could I keep this up?? For 9 more miles?! I kept going, and as I ran past the beautiful, bright, buildings reaching as high as the sky, I lost sight of my pace and focused on being present.
I focused on the crowd cheering, the buildings gleaming, my feet pounding, my breath tightening and releasing: this is what I was here for. To finish this race. To experience this crazy place. To be a part of this, and the time was now. As I focused on my presence in this race, I ran through the finish line at 1:38. I finished as the 54th female out of 11,830. I finished 2nd in my division out of 394. I finished 287th overall out of 19,278. I was so proud of myself, it was time for a drink.
I finished up the trip with an amazing dinner with my mom, Mike, Brian, Kristen, and Sam. As we ate, we talked, laughed, and shared an amazing experience. Vegas left me feeling like I was absolutely on top of the world.