Race Recap: 2013 Zappos Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon Las Vegas

To tell you the truth, I started off my race weekend a bit disappointed.

A few months back, I had registered for the full marathon. However, with my lack of training and inability to truly run a full marathon in less than 4 and a half hours, I had settled into the mentality that I was going to just run the same 13.1 I ran last year. I was a bit disappointed at the expo because I had a bib that reminded me of my original registration and started scheming up a plan to somehow manage a full fledged marathon. Thankfully, my boyfriend brought me down to earth very quickly and I tried to put it behind me.

Anywho, let’s start from the beginning.

I flew in to Vegas on Friday evening after work. On my first flight from Seattle to Sacramento, there were a ton of runners talking about “the marathon.” They were mentioning bad weather, like rain and wind and flooding. I naturally thought they were talking about the Rock ‘n Roll Las Vegas, which was where I was headed. I had a moment of panic and listened closer and realized that we were not talking about the same race. Instead, they were talking about the California International Marathon, which is historically a really nice downhill race that also BQs (for you non-running folks, that’s Boston Qualifying).

After checking Google for the weather reports, I found 0% chance of precipitation on race day. INSTANT RELIEF. I changed planes in Sacramento and ended up sitting next to another Rock ‘n Roller. She was super nice and we chatted the entire flight about running, pacing, racing, significant others, etc. It was great connecting with another runner. Once I got off the plane, I met up with Shant who had been waiting for a few hours for my flight to get in and we headed over to Imperial Palace. By the time we got our room and headed up it was 2am and I was exhausted!

The view from my balcony at Imperial Palace

After doing a quick round of casino hopping, I headed to bed and promptly got up for a 20 mile ride the next morning at the gym. Shant even joined me! After we finished, we headed back to the strip. I had two main missions on Saturday: to grab my bib at the expo, but only after my carboload at lunch! I started off with a salad and then ended with this:

Carboload at the buffet. Snoozefest!

I felt gross and sleepy afterwards. Probably should’ve listened to my body when I was halfway done with the plate and already full. I kept going anyways. DIG DEEPER applies to carboloading, right?

After the race expo, we strolled around the strip. Holiday lights and decorations were in full swing.

The Venetian and Palazzo all gussied up

Ended up watching a ton of people lose a ton of money at Craps. I say, they make it look very hopeful. I can see why people are drawn to it. It’s like an arcade, for adults. With prize money. Who doesn’t like that? I left with my wallet intact since I don’t play.

So many hopeful people!

Headed back for an early night. We were both pretty exhausted, and unbeknownst to me Shant was coming down with some sort of really bad head cold. He ended up sleeping most of Sunday, which was good for him and for me. I ended up getting in a nap after a really late breakfast (which would nip me in the butt later in the race). I prepped to the sound of his sleeping and got my gear together: base layer, long sleeved running shirt, windbreaker, running hat, some tunes, my bib, my timing chip, and a handful of Gu.

The usual race getup.

Headed over to the start line via the Monorail with, like, a couple thousand of my best friends. No joke. It was packed! At the start village, I saw the cutest thing ever — people getting ready to get married! I wondered how the woman on the right was ever going to make it 13 miles in a dress as heavy as that. Maybe she would disrobe to reveal running tights later. Who knows.

Runners getting hitched at mile 3

The winds started kicking up as the sun was setting. People started filing in to their corrals, and before I knew it, we were shuffling towards the start.

Start village at Rock ‘n Roll Las Vegas

This year’s corrals went a lot smoother than last year. There was more time in between each corral so that the race course wouldn’t get terribly congested like last year. This was a great move on part of the Rock ‘n Roll. Last year I remember being literally next to a huge flood of people. This year it felt like a normal race — lots of participants, but people weren’t tripping over one another. With more time in between each corral, getting to the start took a lot longer. I think there were over 30 corrals. Sheesh! People really like Vegas! It didn’t seem like it was very highly enforced, since I just guessed which corral I was supposed to be in, but nonetheless it seemed to work out better than last year.

So many corrals!

The course itself was great, just like last year. I can’t remember if it was the same course, but it takes you through down to McCarran International Airport and back up the Strip to Downtown Vegas and back. There were a few residential neighborhoods thrown in there but all in all, a great race for people who love to do some touristy sightseeing during a race.

Water and Gatorade was plentiful on the course. I could see the careful attention to detail by bringing potable water trucks parked along the route. There were more medical aid stations this year as well. Some parts of the course were still a bit dark, and they tried to stave off that darkness with ginormous flood lights. A few more would’ve made a difference, in my opinion.

I witnessed a few people tripping over themselves in the dark. The course was also a bit windy, and the sand around the unpaved sidewalks near McCarran kicked up into my eyes. A few runners were having that same problem, but I pulled my hat brim down and rubbed it out of my eyes as much as I could.

There was plentiful Gu on the course as well. Somehow I managed to leave with more than I came with. Marathoners had their own dedicated course, with exception at the end. I saw a half marathoner jump the boundaries and a marathoner swiftly kicked them out. Such poor race manners! Why on earth would you get in the way of someone who just put in 25 miles?!

The finish line was stretched out quite well. No bottlenecks this time. Everyone was moving. Maybe not as fast as I would’ve liked because I think I remember swearing at the sky at one point, but I chalked it up to a bunch of newbies on the course. I was just tired and hungry! I didn’t stick around for the finish line festivities but instead ducked out halfway through the finish chute since my hotel was right next to the finish line. Staying right next to the finish line was probably the best decision I had ever made. The price was right (at around $20-$30 a night) and it was comfortable.

Adding more race bling to my collection

All in all it was a much better race than last year. Thanks to Rock ‘n Roll Marathon for listening to their runners and making the experience much more comfortable for everyone. They put a lot of hard work into all of their races. This one was definitely worth the money! (It’s also the most expensive race on their calendar every year.) I look forward to running it next year!

I hustled and hustled…and then I finally saw the finish line.

This race hurt a bit since I did very little running in between Rock ‘n Roll Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Since I’ve been incorporating more swimming and biking I spent less time on my feet overall. Surprisingly there was only about a 5 minute discrepancy between the two races, but I feel like I worked SO much harder in Vegas than I did in LA.

So much has changed in the one year in between these races. I went from funemployed to working with Amazon. Shant’s still around a year later. I’m in a new city. I’m training for longer distance events. I finished my first and second marathon and am working on my third. All in all, a lot of progress has been made in just 12 short months!

At the end of it all, I made a mental plan to conquer the 26.2 in January. More on that later!

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