Whenever I sign up for a marathon, I look for the overall trip experience, not just the race. Yeah, of course I’ll train for it, but there’s more to it than a PR. I try to look at possible food & drink venues, what kind of excursions I could take, what kind of parties or concerts I may go to, or who I’d be hanging out with. Days before Vegas, I didn’t really have any plans except the race and afterparty.
I already knew what kind of weekend it will be when my friend Scott and I had a few beers at the airport while we waited for our flight. We even got called out by the stewardess in the plane when we tried to order water = “C’mon… it’s VEGAS!”. So we were peer pressured into another beer! Our friend Rachel already arrived in Vegas an hour before us so she saved us a spot in the taxi line. We were at the back of the line, took a pause to text/call her, let a few people go ahead of us, but once we started moving again, we were hassled by security for cutting in line! What the! We ignored her and proceeded to the line until we saw Rachel. We didn’t let that ruin our weekend!
We proceeded to the Expo at the Sands Convention Center, with 2 hours to spare until it closes. My friend Scott’s primary source of nutrition was taken by TSA, I think it were the EFS shots, so we did a few rounds to look for it, but no luck! He had to resort to some other Gu. Once we got back to Aria, our hotel, we immediately got ready for Tao, since there was a complimentary open bar for all race registrants! Yes, I know, not a recommended thing to do the night before a race, but hey, it’s VEGAS! We found something to eat real quick at the Venetian, got in line, then all of a sudden we were IN. I won’t go into details of the night, but we were out til 4:30AM. Yes, A.M.. Looking back, I’m glad we partied it up… it was such a fun night, I’ll trade that for a P.R. any day!
Woke up around 11:30… 7 hours of sleep. Still not bad! A little slow, but functional. Did my marathon rituals of getting ready for a race around noon, but this was all too weird since I’m using to doing this at 5 or 6am. We had to go eat, so we returned to the cafe that ended the party night for us. Got to the shuttle buses after lunch, and it looked like the driver took a few wrong turns, did a lot of backtracking, and we were ALMOST late to the start! We got there with 10 minutes before gun time, so we rushed to the gear drop off, and made it JUST in time!
As far as the course goes, I already knew I wasn’t going to like it just by looking at the race map. It went through some undesirable parts of Vegas, there were A LOT of quick 90 degree turns in a short distance, and the possible bottlenecks were pretty obvious that they were going to happen. The beginning was cool going through a part of the strip, then it literally went through the strip club and warehouse areas. I don’t remember much of the middle except that it was cold, with a bunch of spotlights lining up the streets (better than complete darkness because I didn’t have a headlamp). By the halfway point, I reached the tail end of the half marathoners. Not going to hate on how slow it was because I know exactly how it feels to start off in this sport. What I didn’t like was how the halfers were walking on the full marathon side of the course. A big part of it was the event planner’s fault because the only division were these small orange cones with an 8×11 paper pointing where runners should go. Of course, it was too small to even notice. At some parts, they had bikers splitting the course up, yelling at people to stay in their lanes. It was complete madness at one point. My pace went down to a crawl, I had to zig zag a bunch. I tried not to be rude and just went along my business and didn’t let it get to me.
By the end, like mile 21, I was about near my max. It was definitely mental from here on out. Luckily for me, my saviors, Holly & Marisela were there to the rescue! I was so happy to see them because I was seriously about to just walk because I was in so much pain. They kept me on my toes and I tried to pace them. Looking at my watch constantly, calculating if I’d make the 4:30 cutoff, I realized that there really wasn’t going to be a cutoff for the full because there’s thousands of half marathoners behind me on that same course! I was going to still try anyway. My pace was so slow at the end, but when I saw the finish line, I dug up everything inside of me to finish. Holly, Mari & I held hands and did a pseudo Flying-V through the chute. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the 4:30, but it ended up being 4:35, which was still pretty good considering the course setbacks. I was still happy though! Finishing with two of my favorite friends, a second place to my PR, I’ll take it!
The finish video:
A few days later, I got this in my email inbox, looks like Rock N Roll recognizes their fault.
“Though many of you who participated in the Zappos.com Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon & ½ Marathon on Sunday night had a great race, there were many runners whose experience failed to meet expectations and we sincerely apologize. We’ve taken the past 48 hours to analyze, identify major problems and plan for future improvements. Congestion in the start area caused difficulties accessing the runner corrals in a timely fashion, which led to overcrowding on the course, through the finish line and inside the gear check area.”