Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Vegas Halfer: Full Race Report

As I mentioned yesterday, I finished the Vegas halfer in 2:23:09!  That's 2 minutes and 9 seconds faster than last year!  It was an amazing race and an amazing weekend!  Welcome to "Weekend In Review"!

WARNING:  This is LONG!  Grab a drink and a snack to help you get through!

Friday:  We wake up at 5:30 am with a possible leave time at 6am (yeah right).  After we get dressed and do the last minute packing, we head out the door.  We stop at McDonald's so the GF can get some breakfast and we're on the road by 6:50am.  Please note that driving to Vegas was a great idea a month ago AND it saved us lots of money!  Some things to note about the drive:
  • We stopped at a gas station and the power was out, so we had to pee by cellphone flashlight.
  • We ran into some weather as we approached Flagstaff.
  • But the weather made the trees in Flagstaff look beautiful!
  • We also passed by Boobie Mountain!
  • We thought it'd be a fun game to keep track of all the license plates we saw from different states, both on cars and semi's.  We ended up with about 27 different states and 1 province for the cars, and about 15 states for the semi's!  Pretty fun game!
Arrive in Sin City about 3pm and check in to our hotel, the fabulous Imperial Palace! 

We were exhausted from getting up early and the long drive so we took a nap...well the GF did, but I couldn't quite fall asleep.  I think I was antsy to start gambling!  After showers and dressing, we met up with the BFT and her main Cheese.  We hung out for a while in her really nice Bally's room (I didn't realize Bally's rooms were so nice), and then we all dined in at Ichiban Sushi Restaurant! 

Salmon is my favorite and it was so nice to visit with the girls.  We headed to meet some friends at O'Shea's and the GF and I finally started gambling!  It was a night of losses.  There were horrible rollers at the craps table so we are officially down $200!  Poop!  Luckily I had plenty of free drinks by then!  Bedtime was about midnight!

Saturday: Wake up about 8am because we gotta get ready to make it to the Expo by the time the doors open.  I know there are going to be approximately 40,000 people there, but the expo is one of the highlights of a RnR race!  We stop with about a thousand other people for more McDonalds breakfast and arrive at the Expo about 10:30am.  ENSUE MADNESS!  So many booths, so many people.  Here's what we got out of it:
  • I bought a new bra for the race since I had been having issues with my lady nips.  I figured wearing a new bra for the race probably wasn't the smartest thing in the world, but I had nothing to lose!
  • The GF and I got these awesome running sleeves that I used for the race too!
  • We met Dan and Jackie from the Biggest Loser Season 5!
  • We filled up the new and improved "going green" swag bag with lots of goodies!
  • Saw this annoying sign as we left the Expo room...bonus if you know why it bugs me so much!
After about 4 hours at the expo, we finally headed out to grab a quick slice of pizza and saw Karina Smirnoff from Dancing with the Stars in the lobby.

We didn't wanna get full on lunch since we planned on having a hefty dinner.  We decided to gamble a little more before we headed upstairs to get ready for dinner.  Another afternoon of losses.  Down another $200.  Things aren't looking good in this area which is a bummer because I love to gamble!

We headed to dinner at Olive Garden so I could carb load on spaghetti noodles and butter!  I also had my final beer of the evening and vowed not to drink again until after the race.  We drove around town a bit so the GF could scope out where she would park during the race so she'd be able to see me running by!  We got a little freaked out when we noticed the Sahara was closed and it was sooo dark...CREEPY!  Once we finally got back to the hotel, I wanted to gamble just a bit more before going to bed.  FINALLY a winning table!  We were having so much fun cheering and chanting for the rollers!
"Fifty-Five! Fifty-Five!"

I think we walked away winning about $200!  This was the table where I met my new running buddy Andrea.  She clearly had a long evening because her voice was almost gone, but we had a blast at that craps table!  Bedtime was near midnight again!

Sunday: I think we woke up around 9 or 9:30 because the GF wanted to go shopping!  After getting ready we drove over to the Fashion Show Mall so she could return some shirts to Forever 21.  I sat around and waited for her for a while and peed about 3 or 4 times...small bladder!

I wanted Subway for lunch around 12:30pm so I could digest the food well before the race.  We sat and ate 6 inches while watching the end of the Bronco game at O'Shea's.  The Broncos pulled off another Win against the Vikings and this was when I knew it was gonna be a good day!  We walked back over to our casino and decided to play some craps before it was time to go get ready for the race.  Lo and behold - we find Andrea at the craps table!  Another good time and another winning round!  We won another $200!  Another sign that it's gonna be a great day!  Andrea mentioned that her and her friend were gonna ride the Monorail over to the race, so the GF and I offered to give them a lift!  We all headed to our rooms to get ready!  I put on my lucky yellow shorts, the GF chose the orange shirt and I wore my new arm sleeves.

We met Andrea and her friend Julie downstairs at 4pm to head over to the Mandalay Bay!  It took us half an hour to get close enough for the GF to drop us off, and once we got out of the car it was cold!  Nearing 40 degrees!  We made our way to the parking lot and started searching for the gear check.  One guy said "next to the stage", once we got to the stage, we stopped for a moment to enjoy Cheap Trick!
Then we headed more lefter to get around some more booths so that we could go more righter to enter the building.  Once we got about 10 feet from the doors we all piled into some sardine cans and slowly made our way through the doors only to find out that we still had about a quarter of a mile to go to get to the actual ballroom that was "gear check"!  It was kind of funny because it was 5pm (half hour til start time) and 30,000 people were all trying to drop off their bags at the same time in the same place.  You can only image the scene!  I even heard one lady ask her friend, "Do you think they'll hold the start?"  Ahahahahaha!  Yeah right...Nancy over there is still checking her bags, so don't start the race until she gets back out here!  Why do you think we have timing you can start any darn time you want!  It only took us 10 minutes to drop off our stuff and make our way to the Port-O-Potties!

Well, I'm sure you are all well aware of my peeing issues while I run, so I had to make sure I peed now, just in case I needed to pee once more before the race started.  I actually felt pretty good by this time.  I was going into an earlier corral with my new friends and I didn't have that sick nervous feeling I normally have before races.  I think it's because it was a night time race.  You could feel the energy of the 30,000 plus people all piled into the corrals.  I was a bit worried about the wind chill and was scared it might be too cold while I was running, especially after the turnaround since I'd be running into the wind.  And then it started!

RACE: Everyone took off pretty fast and I got so excited!  Here I was among 44,000 people running these races on the Vegas strip at night!  I tried to find my pace right away since I'm always quick out of the gate.  Because of the massive size of this race, I had to do a lot of maneuvering to find my own spot.  Because the full marathon joined up with the half on the strip there were these tiny orange cones trying to keep the halfers to the right so the marathoners could run by on the left...ENSUE MASS CHAOS!  None of the halfers would listen as people tried to tell them to scootch over, so all the marathoners just ended up yelling at everyone!  It became pretty funny after a while, but I'm sure it ruined a lot of marathoners' times (and hopes of qualifying for Boston)!

Anyway, I missed the first mile sign so I didn't look at my watch til mile said something like 20:06, so I knew I'd done a couple 10 minute miles...good stuff!  I passed the GF near 2.2 and she cheered like a crazy person and got a good pic of me! 

Two thumbs up means I'm good to go!  I crossed the 5K mark in 32:49 and realized I was WAY off my mark.  I'd run that last 1.1 in almost 13 minutes.  I was just hoping the distance was off!  Anyway, I kept trucking along and felt amazing.  My shoulders were relaxed, my feet didn't hurt, and my knees were feeling great!  Once I got to the 10K mark and saw 1:05:17 I knew I was at my correct pace.  I wasn't pushing it at all and I still felt I had another 10K in me!  Still nothing hurt.  Right around mile 8, THIS guy passed me
He was in great spirits, didn't seem to be cold, and was drinking a 24 oz Coors Light!  It definitely kept my mind elsewhere for the next mile!  I lost him when he stopped at a table that was passing out free beer!  At mile 9 I saw the GF again, and gave her 2 thumbs up.  I felt great.  My new bra was holding the nips in place, so I was pain free.  I wasn't cold even though I had sweat a ton and so I didn't see the need to stop and change, nor to stop and pee!  About half a mile up I passed the beautiful BFT Cheese and she did some sort of jig for me!  Seeing the GF and Cheese helped tremendously because mile 9 is always my "wall".  By mile 10 (1:47:09) my knees started aching and something was wrong with my right foot.  I knew I was slowing down, but also knew I still had a chance to beat my 2010 time.  Shortly after this realization my stomach tumbled and I thought I was gonna crap my pants right on Las Vegas Boulevard!  I looked for bathrooms, but there were none.  I ran like I already had a load in my underoos, and finally it subsided.  I looked at the clock at mile 11 and saw that I had 25 minutes to finish the last 2.1 miles.  I'm not sure how fast I was going at the time, but I sped up pretty drastically and did a 10 minute 12th mile!  Once I knew I had 15 minutes to finish the last mile, I slowed down to a comfortable finishing pace and cruised on in.  Finishing time 2:23:12 is what my watch said, so I knew I did it!

Once I crossed the finish, I bobbed and weaved through the mass of bodies to grab some water, grab my medal, grab some Cytomax, and find the exit.  I ended up shimmying through the gate to get to the Port-O's and I only had a drizzle come out and thankfully no poopy pants!  I met the GF and the other girls at the family meeting point and we headed to gear check.  Like a sensible person, I packed a hoody and sweatpants in my bag to stay warm after the race.  We took a small jaunt back to the GF's car and arrived back at the hotel around 10pm.  I showered right away and got ready to go celebrate!  Dinner was a must and I spoiled myself with one of these:
Enter your own joke here_______________________________!!!!!  I just knew this was gonna be a good day because we won money gambling, the Broncos won, AND I got my PR!  We headed out to do one last round of gambling on this lucky day!  Well, we lost...and fast!  We met up with Andrea and Julie again at the craps table and lost $200 very quickly.  The GF headed to bed, but I saw a lucky roulette table so I decided to sit down and enjoy myself before bed.  Good thing I did, because not only did my number hit 4 times, but so did about 30 other black numbers and so I won my $200 right back!  Bedtime was 3am!

MONDAY: We woke up at 9am, even though we wanted to get up at 8.  We wanted to get back on the road ASAP so we would get home at a decent time. We left at 10:30.  The way home was about staying on the road.  We knew that there had been tons of snow dropped all over I-40, so we just wanted to be safe.  We ran into a blizzard along the way.
But it cleared up after about 15-20 minutes of riding on that semi's ass!  Then it was really nice until about 35 miles before town when we were driving on almost completely iced over roads.  Pretty scary, but the GF is an amazing driver!  She got us home safely!

OVERALL: I had an amazing weekend!  I love Vegas and I loved this race last year.  Regardless of all the things others complained about, I loved Vegas this year too.  I want to run it again and I'd hope other people would want to run it too.  I'll discuss more on this subject later this week, but know that I didn't stress over things out of my control and I had the time of my life!

Thanks for reading...if you're still awake!  Please note: the $200 mentioned above has nothing to do with the actual amounts won or lost during the trip!  Just know that we didn't lose all our money, nor did we win it all back!


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