Friday, November 22, 2019

2019 Las Vegas Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon Race Recap - Las Vegas, NV

Official Time: 2:04:51
Placement: 2708 out of 19,931 | 262 out of 1328 men (45-49), 1866 out of 8350 men
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 70's at the start. Mid 60's at finish
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2018] [2017] [2016] [2015] [2014] [2013] [2012] [2011] [2010] [2009]

Mile TimeComments
19:12Bunched in at the start but off to an okay start
49:17Back to the crowds here so got some energy

Garmin lost track of satellite here. Splits are way off
Total Miles: 13.?? 2:04:51


Well, I admit, I am a bit of a streaker.  At the Las Vegas Rock 'n' Half Marathon that is.  I started doing this race back in 2009.  It was my first true 26.2 marathon and at the time I was in love with visiting Las Vegas and running.  I love following Nevada news and such, so it just seemed natural that I would want to run this one.

A lot has changed since 2009.  The first edition was a morning race in December.  After 2011 it became a night race held in mid-November.  And it hasn't let up.  It starts at 4:30 in the afternoon -- just as the sun sets.  The race also shuts down the infamous Las Vegas Blvd. so you get to run along wide street under the neon lit casino signs.  The race isn't cheap but the adventure and thrills of running in Las Vegas is a treat.

The race has changed its course from time to time, but largely it has been the same: start at the south end of the strip, run to the airport, turn around and run until you get to downtown Fremont Street.  If you are doing the full you go out into the boonies of North Las Vegas. Then you work your way back and finish in front of the rumbling Mirage volcano.

At this point, it is hard for me to say no to this race.  I am on a getting-shorter-every-year list of "legacy" runners.  And I am happy to report my name is still on the list.  And I'll try to keep going as long as I am able to do justice to the race.  It's kind of cool seeing my name on the list, even though it just means I am super consistent, not fast.

We left Salt Lake City early Saturday morning and made it to Mesquite, NV for a late breakfast.  It is the cheapest place for food -- 2 breakfasts is under $10.  I shied away from gambling before making the final 75 minute push to the Las Vegas Convention Center.  

As usual, the event boasts a large Expo.  It was filled with a ton of merchandise, swag and product samples.  I didn't see anything I had to have so it was a pretty quick experience, other than signing up for the Laughlin Nevada Half Marathon (Dec 6th).  That saved me $15, so well worth the boost visit.

Either way, it was about a 15 - 20 minute before I got back in my car and made the final drive to The Park Hotel (formerly known as the Monte Carlo) for the night.

The Race

With a race start at 4:30 in the afternoon, doing the Las Vegas Marathon takes a bit of planning.  Yeah, I could sleep in but making sure one stays off of their feet, dials in their food intake and stay hydrated.

I had breakfast fairly late, enjoying a stack of pancakes, coffee and an egg.  I followed that with some Wheaties in the afternoon and some Chips 'A Hoy cookies.  Yeah the cookies don't sound right, but they are bland, and a solid starch.  They usually work for me as a snack before races: easy to digest and filling.

I made my way from the hotel to the Start Village just shy of 3:00 PM.  Believe it or not, it was a solid walk -- at least a mile.  I wound up taking the tram from the Monte Carlo to the Bellagio, exited the Bellagio, took a pedestrian walkway across the strip and then followed the helpful volunteers to the rear end of Planet Hollywood.

I wound up killing about 40 minutes there before they queued us up into the first loading area.  Another 15 minutes we paraded out to the front of the strip (yet another mile walk) before we clustered into the starting corrals.  I was supposed to be in corral 8 and that's pretty much where I found myself.  Clearly some folks didn't get the message and clearly there were people of varying running abilities in the lead corral.

In year's past it took a LONG time from the start of the race until I could start running.  Usually in the neighborhood of 45 minutes.  This time, I was seated on the pavement for about 20 minutes or so before they started the race.  Within 5 - 10 minutes I was on my way under the setting Las Vegas sun.

I want to first say that it was warm.  I had broken a pretty good sweat just walking to and from the starting village. And I wasn't carrying any hydration.  I probably should've carried a bottle of water, but I didn't think I'd need it to be honest.  But by the first mile I was sweating and I was considering throwing away my trusty running cap (it's beaten to crap at this point).

There were aid stations at about every 1.5 miles.  I must say, the race organizers are no slouches when it comes to hydration stations.  Usually at the start of the race I have problems taking in fluids.  I usually take a tiny sip, and swish the rest.  I drank a little more, but I figured this heat wasn't anything to be too concerned about.

My first three miles I went out quite a bit slower than usual.  I wasn't feeling spot on and again, I was sweating pretty good.  The last 2 halves I had gone out at 8:45's.  This time, I was seeing 9's and 9:30's pop up.  The first miles are usually very crowded so it is hard to get into a good pace so I told myself I'd pick it up if I felt good at the half way point.

By mile 4 I had returned back to the starting line and my legs and breathing were fine but for some reason I just felt a little off.  Nerves perhaps?  All the memories of the bad races I've had here?  My epic marathon melt down from 2017?  Maybe all of the above.

I hit all the water stations and found myself looking forward to the next one.  By the middle of the race I was grabbing 2 cups of water.  I just felt really thirsty.

My Garmin at this point had lost track of my mileage.  I had heard a lot of people had their Garmin's fall off a clip at this point.  It was still semi accurate and my pace quickened here.  Not a lot, and I have no way to prove it, but at this point I felt that I had coasted long enough.  My legs and breathing still felt good.

This year's course seemed to have a LOT more Las Vegas Blvd on it then previous years and we only did a very tiny detour just east of Fremont Street.  It was at this point, though, with about 4 miles to go that I suddenly started to feel tired.

I am not sure what happened.  But I was suddenly really thirsty and I was running ragged.  More people were passing me, which is always disheartening.  I definitely wasn't walking and my Garmin was beeping every 3 or 4 minutes telling me I was running a mile in that time.  It was clearly confused.  I knew I was in the upper 9's as far as pace.  I nibbled on a Gu in hopes that it would give me some energy.

I finally reached Circus Circus and I knew that was the home stretch.  Just about a mile and a half to go.  But my running muscles were just off.  No turnover, I felt sick, I had gas, and simply put: I felt like crap.  I knew I was running in the 10 minute per mile pace and as people cruised towards the finish line, all I could do was trudge forward.

With about half a mile to go, I spotted the flames shooting from the Mirage's volcano as well as that of the finish line.  It couldn't come fast enough.

Purely for egotistical purposes, I pushed it the final quarter mile.  I was asking myself why.  My time was clearly not a PR and I certainly wasn't going to make my 2 hour time that I like to consider for a decent half marathon, but I did anyways.  I sort of ran out of gas about a 100 yards from the finish line, but I managed to make it look like I was finishing strong as I shuffled underneath the finish line banner.


Once I finished I walked off the wooziness of the run.  I circled around the immediate finish line wondering if I was gonna get sick.  I usually get this way after a run and pushing it the final quarter mile didn't help.

I leaned up against one of the barricades hoping I wouldn't throw up.  Once the waves of nausea passed I started to walk up the way a bit and felt another wave of nausea hit me.  I approached the medics and just hung out near them, in case things got bad.

I was dying for water and I also had to go to the bathroom:  bad.  Like emergency bad.

The medics didn't have any water and one reluctantly got one for me.  They also weren't on board with me using their bathroom, insisting that one was up about 50 yards from where I was.

After a solid 5 minutes -- and with the medics getting very concerned for me -- I got up and walked and got my medal.  Also another volunteer was handing out cold water.  I grabbed that along with the 90% empty one I had snagged from the medic.

Where were the bathrooms?

I looked high and lo, no bathrooms.

I kept going down the finisher's area, which is a solid HALF MILE.  No bathrooms.  I grabbed a endurance Gatorade from another volunteer and opened that and started to drink that.  I totally skipped the chocolate milk, bananas and chips.  Where the hell were the bathrooms?

I was already about 60% out of the corrals and I spotted a few porta potties.  However, they were behind the volunteer section.  I pleaded with the volunteer stationed there -- please can I use your bathroom.  It's an emergency.  I was seriously inches away from voiding in my pants.

"No sir,", she replied, "but there are some just up the way".

Long story short there were NO BATHROOMS IN THE FINISHER'S CHUTE.

I finally realized that I had three choices:

  1. Find someplace to hide in the middle of LV Blvd and go (that wasn't going to happen)
  2. Void in my pants (not if I could help it)
  3. Or get out of the chutes ASAP and make it into a casino and go.
I wound up doing option 3.  I somehow clambered over the Bellagio's barrier, walked up a set of stairs and made it through the north pedestrian entrance and somehow made it to their bathrooms in their mall.  I barely made it.

After the bathroom situation I wound up cleaning up, changing into some clothes and that night at dinner I had no less than 6 diet sodas, 2 coffees, 16 ounces of water, 32 ounces of Gatorade and I was still thirsty.

The race was bittersweet for me.  It was my 11th year of finishing and 11th year of being a legacy runner.  Hurray for me.  So many memories of the first time I ran this race in 2009 -- and who I was at the time, versus now, in 2019.  Some things have changed, some haven't.  It's been a solid streak and one I aim to keep going in 2020 (I already registered for the race).

I had mixed feelings on not doing the full marathon.  This now marks 2 years that I haven't run or attempted to run a full marathon.  My body, mind and soul really haven't been up to that challenge and after Sunday's race, I was glad I had stuck to the half.

My performance wasn't good.  I don't think I've ever really run well in the Las Vegas area.  I am not sure what it is but I am beginning to suspect it was a lack of hydration and there may be something in the water where my GI system just reacts violently against.  I had run the last two half marathons in well under 2 hours at higher altitude and this one -- well it just sucked.

I did hear some people say their Garmins reported 13.5(ish) miles.  I suspect too, that the course may have measured a bit long.  It is hard to say though on account that my Garmin clearly lost reception.

Overall, the start line organization was well done.  I was so much happier to be running sooner rather than inching towards the start line watching a dozen corrals ahead of me start racing.  It was still a mad house and people clearly were over estimating their abilities.

The finish line was nice (I wish I could've gotten pictures there but I was in such a hurry to find a bathroom that I didn't goof around with pictures) and the race had typical post race stuff.  But I am still miffed about the bathroom situation.

This year's medal had a moving part on it.  There is a roulette wheel on the medal that actually spins. Definitely makes it unique.  However, this year's medal seemed a lot smaller and less heavy that ones in the past.  I am not a medal freak by any means, but it was nice but I think I've enjoyed some of the others better.

Hopefully next year will be better for me and maybe one day I'll have a great race in Clark County, Nevada.

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