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!

Getting Back Into The Swim/Bike/Run Routine

So on a whim I decided to try a swim/bike/run routine this morning. At first I thought that I’d only for a nice long swim, but figured that now was a good of time as any to take an assessment of where I’m at, physically, for the triathlon in November.

Let’s just say I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me!

I arrived at the pool at around 6:15am or so. It was so empty. The lanes were absolutely calm and there was no one in the water. I’ve historically had challenges with the pools at 24 Hour Fitness, especially in Hollywood. (I cancelled my all-club pass after I stopped working full-time, but I really enjoyed the pool in Northridge. So clean!!!) I rinsed off and hopped in. The water felt just right.

In my usual fashion I spent a good deal of my time just getting used to being in the water again. Swam mostly using the backstroke but after a short warmup I began transitioning halfway into the freestyle crawl. I really need to learn the breaststroke (who wants to teach me?!) so that I can use that stroke for resting during the triathlon. I came into a bit of trouble switching to the backstroke in open water during the LA Triathlon last September and was either kicked or swam in the wrong direction.

While swimming, I thought of the swim boot camp I had considered joining (http://www.bootcamph2o.com/) and even a masters swim program at Occidental College (http://www.catriathlon.com/swim.html). I am sure they are worth the price…and I’m sure with the right amount of scrimping and saving I can probably go for one or the other. The boot camp is much shorter commute but the cost of the masters swim program is just right. I wonder which will be a better investment based on my goals. (Hey, the program at Occidental is also through the CA Triathlon club…) On Sundays there’s an awesome meetup in the south bay for beginner ocean swimmers. I’ve attended a few of their meetups and it is really fun. Once I get some more work in maybe I can join them again!

After the short swim, I proceeded to the stationary bike. I totally felt cheated out of a cycling experience. There I was, riding a bike…going nowhere. Nothing like riding in the outdoors with the wind in your face and the sights and sounds of the city. Maybe next time I’ll just hit the road instead. It’s much, MUCH more gratifying. Anyways, it was a really boring hour unfortunately.

And, to top that off, the run wasn’t much better. Again, I should’ve just left and ran around the neighborhood. I hate treadmills and gyms but I really wanted to get everything timed on location. The run was harder than the bike ride. I was starting to huff and puff on the bike and I wasn’t even going that fast. I’ve definitely lost some conditioning in the time I’ve been gone (not to mention the slight weight gain) but I’m sure with a bit of work I’ll be back to where I was…if not, better.

I also can’t tell if my performance was lacking based on my level of deconditioning or if it was diet related. When I came back home I wasn’t even hungry for a couple of hours, but I forced some food into me. Then the fatigue set in like a brick wall. After waking up from my mid-day nap I can say that I probably need another one and will sleep quite well tonight.

All in all, I enjoyed the swim portion the most…and that’s saying something. I should hit the pool a bit more regularly and then consider joining one of the programs to keep me going. I can never tell if I should focus on one sport at a time, two, or just go nutty and do all three. I need to do some legitimate research on some half Ironman training plans or just find a reasonable coach that I can afford.

Also came across this nugget of inspiration. What an awesome guy!

Paleo Day 8…Down 6 Pounds, Here Comes The Cravings, 100 Weeks Left

So after what turned out to be more of a cheat day than a cheat meal, I set about my Monday to go back to my usual staple of veggies and fish. Monday started harmlessly enough with leftover curries from the weekend. Most of the broth remained but the bulk of the veggies were gone, so I loaded it in with my leftover veggies from the pho restaurant on Saturday night.

Then I set about my design work as usual. When I’m getting creative, I always seem to get MORE creative if I’m snacking away. I began craving sweets so I reached for a banana. What I really wanted was hummus — loads and loads and loads of hummus made from scratch, but since chickpeas are off-paleo I had to settle for something with a similar consistency, which lead me to the banana. (Maybe I can find a recipe for banana hummus or something. It probably won’t taste nearly as good though.) I bought so many last week that they were beginning to brown, which meant they were even sweeter than before. Score!

Then, an hour later, hunger struck again. I was in the mood for finger foods but was too lazy to prepare anything so I cracked open a bag of baby carrots and hot house cucumbers. I was reminded of how much I hated cucumbers to begin with.  Not sure why I bought them in the first place. Maybe they’ll taste better when I load them in to the curry.

Then, the time came when I had to head out for class. I hadn’t even prepared a dinner to eat since I was so busy with client calls and working. I had no choice but to pack a rather large handful of dates and almonds for the road. It powered me through my 3 hour anatomy and pathology class.

This is where it got tricky. The minute I got to class, I began craving all of these foods that I hadn’t had in a long time. I started craving a ham sandwich (even though I haven’t had pork for seven years now!), and cheese enchiladas, and a grilled cheese animal style from In-n-Out. I talked it over with one of my classmates, who has been following my paleo progress, and lamented with me, which instantly took my mind off of the food. Anatomy and pathology went on and as we delved into diseases of the gastrointestinal system I was thoroughly disgusted and didn’t even want to think about eating another morsel of food.

After school, I stayed out a bit late hanging out with Shant at his office, so instead of grabbing a bite to eat I grabbed a small baggie of nut mix I had in my bag.

So, it wasn’t my best day, but it was decent. I totally skipped a major meal (probably not a good idea) but it didn’t seem to effect my energy or attention span. After weighing in, I’m happy to report that I’ve lost 6 pounds so far.

Some of it was water I’m sure, but it’s a nice first step. I put myself to the test today and went for a run around the neighborhood and already I feel a lot stronger, a little faster, and a bit lighter. To reward myself I signed up for a RunKeeper Fitness Class, the sub 2:30 half marathon. With only 100 weeks left to go before I have to achieve my Ironman goal, I can’t spare the time to stop training!!

How are you progressing on your goals? Chime in!

See Ya, 2011!

One last post before I hit the road…

Hope you are all having (or will have later tonight) a wonderful New Years!

This year I accomplished a lot. Starting with a small, short personal challenge to run for 21 days, it has blossomed into a newfound passion that has bled into every aspect of my life. My friends, family, and you have watched me transform from a sedentary blogger to what I am today, and for that, I’m thankful.

It was a busy year — In my RunKeeper I posted 333 activities, 1,414 miles, and 130,800 calories burned. That’s major since the prior 12 months I posted probably less than 20 miles.

Next year, I am looking forward to the following:

  • Racing in the 2012 Honda LA Marathon and leading all of my teammates to the finish line
  • Racing in my first 70.3 in November
  • Becoming an ACE Certified Personal Trainer
  • Becoming a CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist
  • Becoming an Usui Reiki Practicioner
  • Becoming a health and wellness professional to help others live healthier, happier, and more wholesome lives
Thankfully, all of the work that needs to be done has already been started. 2012 — let’s do this!!!
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Fitness Friday: RunKeeper + GainFitness 1-2 Punch!

I’ve decided in the short amount of time that I’ve been working out that there are two iPhone apps that I could not live without.

One I’ve been using for almost a year now…the other, I’ve been using for just a few days. What’s great is that I think they really complement each other.

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I use RunKeeper to track all of my activities — swimming, biking, running, walking, hiking, etc. Its GPS tracker helps give me accurate measurements of distance and pace and gives me a really nice interface to view it all in. I’ve been an Elite member since February, which means I get detailed statistics and reports on my workouts. I’ve also enrolled in a few of their running classes, which are really helpful to get you across the finish line for your first 5K, 10K, half marathon, or full marathon.

But, as you probably already know, cardio is just one fraction of the entire picture.

I’ve recently started using GAIN Fitness to help me with resistance training. All you do is put in your height, weight, where you’re working out, what equipment you have, and they’ll come up with a workout for you! They take the guesswork out of everything by illustrating proper form via video or photo.

What’s also neat is that you don’t need to have an iPhone to use their services — the basics of what both services offer are also available as a web-only component to your health and wellness regimen.

What other apps do you find motivating and inspiring?

Fitness Friday: Someone Busier Than You Is Running Right Now

Getting started with a running program can be challenging, especially for people who is strapped for time.

However, something you have to realize is that everyone has a busy life, a demanding family, and lots of time commitments. However, what separates runners from non-runners is that a runner makes the time for them.

Health and fitness is important to your well being. No one should have to remind you that you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else’s problems, whether it’s at work or at home. Take control of your life and tell yourself that you’re worth 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour today.

Give yourself a fighting chance to be the person you want to be — healthy, happy, and full of life.

What I find most promising is my charity training team — Team Dress for Success. We’re all working towards finishing the LA Marathon in 2012 all the while fundraising $1,000 along the way. It’s no small feat but the rewards are indescribable. I was gone for a few weeks and everyone trained on their own. I shot off an email last night and already, people who signed up for the team never having ran a mile in their lives are now up to 8 or 9 miles in their training.

I’m so proud of them. They made a commitment and are seeing it all of the way through. These people have time commitments that could undermine their training and fitness regimen. However, they decide to prioritize their needs so that they can better serve others. So inspirational!

What are you so busy doing that you haven’t made time for yourself yet? Let me know below. I’ll probably be able to help you rationalize yourself out of your excuse!

 

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Who Dares to Brave the Stiletto Dash?

At this weekend’s Zappos Rock n Roll Marathon weekend, they hosted a few other events…including their very own Stiletto Dash!

 

The Stiletto Dash was a 50-yard race in (a minimum of) 3 inch heels on a fancy red carpet. Dashers sprinted through The Palazzo‘s Casino and raised money for charity while racing for a purse prize of $5,000! Amazing idea. (I hope no one got hurt.)

I passed by the event while on my way to the Rock n Roll Marathon expo on Saturday to pick up my swag bag, bib, and check out some cool vendors. Check out my video of the dash below!

Would you ever participate in a stiletto dash?

Race Recap: 2011 Zappos Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon

What a race! First of all, congratulations to everyone who finished the race.

It was definitely a fun yet challenging course, based on all of the feedback I’ve sifted through online. All in all I think the race was a success — with 44,000 runners on the Vegas Strip at night, there was bound to be a number of problems. However, I think most of the issues that came up were all preventable if the race directors had taken the Murphy’s Law approach — whatever can go wrong, will go wrong — and anticipated these problems beforehand.

English: The strip in Las Vegas
Image via Wikipedia

First off, Vegas is a fun destination. Combine that with a race and you’re bound to get lots of excitement. Seeing as though this is the Rock ‘n Roll series, you’d think that the Vegas race would be the most special of all. I’m not sure if it was the vibe or the cold or just the throngs of people but the excitement was something that was missing from this race. (It might’ve also just been me, since I got some pretty bad news on Friday.) I’m not sure how I would’ve performed if I were running the actual marathon on Sunday but the half marathon seemed like a perfect distance and a decent workout.

Because of my experience in Athens, I knew that running in the cold was going to be very tough. I was hoping that Vegas would be a little warmer but unfortunately, when I arrived, it was pretty cold (40 degrees F) and windy. Despite my better judgement of not trying anything new before a race I went out and bought some cold weather gear. I’d rather have to deal with breaking in my equipment DURING a race than to race through very cold conditions and getting sick for a week afterwards.

For the race I picked up:

  • Base layer Champion running tights
  • Base layer Nike long sleeved running shirt
  • Top layer Champion windbreaker jacket
  • Champion running beanie
  • Nike fleece gloves

During the race, I also stuck with my essentials:

  • Brooks Addiction running shoes
  • Champion thin no-show running socks
  • iFitness race belt
  • iPod shuffle
  • iPhone + RunKeeper
  • Champion technical tank top
  • UnderArmour sports bra
  • I even dabbed on a little eye makeup for the eventual finish line photo!
LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 05:  Runners fill the...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

I left a few hours early for the race, even though my hotel was a mile away. We parked at New York New York and LVPD had already shut down most of the Vegas strip. The start line corrals were set up and I arrived on time to watch the final marathoners take off on their 26.2 mile journey. There was a lot of downtime to head to the portapotties, snap photos, and get into the corrals. I was surprised that by the time we circled around it was not the familiar wave start I had grown accustomed to (like the RnRLA race), but rather a sequential mass start. This caused a lot of problems since the start was not particularly well policed and walkers were ahead of runners. (I think anyone could see why this would be a problem.)

The race started with a decent pace. The key is to always start a little slower than you are used to so that you keep a decent overall pace. I felt better than anticipated and tried to conserve my energy before weaving too much in the crowd. It was pretty dark on the course since it was a night race — my first! — you had to be extra mindful of every footfall. The strip was pretty well lit and it was fun seeing the spectators cheer us on. We ran down the strip all the way to Old Las Vegas (Downtown Las Vegas, for some of you) and then back to the strip again.
As a child I remember walking around and snapping photos with my family all around Vegas, so it was very interesting to see the landmarks from such a different perspective. It was my first race in Las Vegas and I have to say that I am officially hooked on destination races. I can’t wait to scope out what is available next year! Overall this race was great — I didn’t PR but I had a great run, I finished feeling great, I never once got cold, and my boyfriend was waiting for me at the end. What more could I ask for?

Let’s get some of these issues out of the way so that I can just focus on the positives of the race!

  1. Start corrals/waves were not enforced, which led to walkers and runners clashing throughout the entire course.
  2. Marathoners eventually had to merge with the half-marathoners during the last half of the race, which meant people were getting in each other’s way.
  3. Water stations were not optimally set up, so runners were having to go without water.
  4. There was a massive bottleneck at the finish line because of the small number of step and repeats (photo backgrounds) for race photography. Therefore, people were passing out and/or getting cold.
  5. The finish line festivities were hosted outside during a winter night with NO external sources of heat (i.e. gaslamps or heaters).
  6. Most of Las Vegas Blvd + Tropicana Ave was shut down so if you came by car, you were stuck in traffic for at least a few hours.
  7. Mandalay Bay was very overcrowded and could barely handle the extra foot traffic inside their casino.
  8. The staff ran out of medals, which meant that course bandits were able to jump into the race, finish, and grab medals without having registered.
  9. Swag bag was empty per usual, but at the end of the day that’s not a really big problem.
Okay, admittedly that seems like a pretty big list of bad things. However, that’s not to say that I had a decent race. Unfortunately I did not set a PR (personal record) for the race that I was hoping to but I’ve come to terms with that and a way to achieve it next time!

 

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Recent Read: Kara Goucher's Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons

As you may already know, I hit a bit of a rut with my training a few weeks ago. Before the bout got better, it got worse…by a lot. Eventually I did nothing — no swimming, no biking, no running. I was pretty low on motivation. I couldn’t get friends to join me. I was also under a lot of stress. I remember reading somewhere in Runner’s World magazine about Kara Goucher‘s book that was published awhile back (Kara Goucher’s Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons). It was geared towards women runners and was said to be a great resource, so I dusted off my nook, bought the book, and began reading.

I spent one weekend devouring the book. I couldn’t put it down! The three sections that I found most helpful included:

  • Balancing running with family and work: she gave tips and first hand advice on how to manage different commitments, deal with setbacks and guilt, and the positive reinforcement system
  • Finding the right training program for you: understanding that everyone has strengths at different distances and that you don’t have to race to be a runner
  • Building a successful support team: how to speak to your loved ones, friends, and family and help them help you during training, even if they can’t run every step alongside you

As I flipped through the pages, what was most helpful was that her authentic voice came through. It was incredibly genuine. It didn’t feel like I was getting advice from a world class Olympian. It felt like I was getting advice from an older sister.

My favorite piece of training advice: run three days a week. The three runs should include one easy day, one hard day, and one long day. Anything else outside of that is just gravy. With that mentality I’ve been able to schedule my runs in a lot easier, and it takes less mental preparation if I’m not so busy worrying about times, pacing, distance, route, etc. Easy/Hard/Long. Super simple!

Pick it up! My rating: 10/10

Want to Join a Charity Marathon Team?

I’m hosting a public video chat today to give you information on joining Team Dress for Success. If you’ve been wanting to get into running, this is a great opportunity! I will be hosting group runs on weekends as a volunteer and (hopefully) helping everyone reach their running and fundraising goals.

I’ll also be available after the info session to go over any questions or concerns you may have about joining the team or embarking on a marathon-training journey. Good opportunity to pick my brain on everything running.

No excuses…Join me tonight! 6:30pm PST