Friday, March 3, 2023

2023 Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon Race Recap - Las Vegas, NV

Official Time: 1:54:25
Placement: 1526th overall, 1177th male, 118th in the 50-54
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Upper 40's, 12 mph wind from the south
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2022[2019] [2018] [2017] [2016] [2015] [2014] [2013] [2012] [2011] [2010] [2009]

Mile TimeComments
19:02Pretty casual start. Easing into the race. A bit of a headwind
28:53Just working my way through the course.
38:38Finally a bit of a tailwind. So much easier.
58:38Making my way past the starting line.
68:40Still enjoying the tail wind. Definitely very consistent and feeling good.
78:37Debating on when I want to pick it up a bit.
88:41Ending the tailwind. It's now or never.
98:31Working my way through the downtown area. Felt great. Push the pace!
118:31Still getting some shelter from the wind.
128:50Into the wind. Wishing there was someone I could draft off of.
138:59Yes my pace was slower, but the effort was there. Just keep going.
13.171:10Gut it out to the finish. Done!
Total Miles: 13.14 1:54:25

Entrance to the runner Expo


So without fail, every year, I do the Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon (or Marathon).  I am one of about 50 or so runners that have done the race every year since its inception in Las Vegas (2009).  

At first, I was all about the marathon, but as time has gone by, I can no longer run marathons as much as I'd like and eventually they discontinued the full, opting simply for a 10K and half marathon.

I've never run particularly well in Las Vegas -- with the exception of last year (2022), in which I ran 1:57 for the half marathon.  It was the first time completing the race that I felt like I had run "well".  In fact, last year, it made my top 3 best race performances.

I had signed up for 2023 in 2022 at the expo, so I was committed to seeing if I could recapture the success I had had in 2022.

I left Salt Lake City for Las Vegas bright and early on Saturday morning and made the 5.5 hour drive to Las Vegas.  It was smooth sailing and it went quickly.  It also gave me plenty of time to walk about a mile from the Bellagio hotel to the Resorts World hotel (and back) to get my bib.

The expo was well organized and I was easily able to get my bib, look around at some of the vendors and items for sale and get out in a reasonable amount of time.  It was noisy but I've been to more crowded expos.  I didn't see anything I had to have either.

Runner Village

The Race

The Las Vegas Half Marathon is a night time race.  It starts at about 4:30 PM -- just as the sun is getting ready to start.  You still have about 45 minutes of daylight before it starts to get dark.  Being in the second wave, my start time was closer to 5 PM, so I had even less daytime running.

Las Vegas weather in February can be a wildcard.  It can rain (as it did for the 5K the night before) or it can be warm or cold.  As with most spring time races, the wind can also be a factor.

On the way to the race start

This year the air temperature was brisk -- coming in at around 48 degree Fahrenheit.  There was a strong wind coming from the south -- about 12 mph.  It wasn't constant but it definitely reminded you that it was there.

Dialing in your food for the day is always challenging. In the past, I never really got it down.  In the days leading up to the race, I'd overeat and wind up feeling bloated.  Last year, I managed to get it right and this year, I pretty much followed the pattern that I did in 2022:

1) Stay off my feet.
2) Eat a normal breakfast (omelet / coffee / hashbrowns)
3) Eat a light lunch -- consisting of pretzels, cold cereal, a banana, Tailwind and a few cookies.  
4) Take a shower and do some stretching.

I carried a few snacks to the starting line as well -- just in case I was delayed a bit.

I wound up wearing a simple t-shirt, shorts, and thin gloves.  I was beginning to doubt my wardrobe choice while waiting for the race start in the massive runner village behind the Planet Hollywood casino.  Fortunately, there were patches of sunlight, which I greedily took advantage of.

The runner's village was a bit more chaotic than the previous year.  There seemed to be less room, less bathrooms and more people congregating near the entrance to the race start.  Even those whose bib numbers were significantly later in start time hung around a very thin entrance to another holding pen.

I saw the elite group head off and then eventually the first group.  The first group had just finished heading towards the starting line -- which was at least a half mile walk -- before they called my group.

It was packed and very slow going.  I wasn't that far away from the entrance but it took forever.  The security that was present were checking everyone's big and with a narrow entrance, only a few runners could go through at a time.  There were several thousand in my corral and it seemed like we'd never get through.

Finally I did get sucked into the main flow and another 5 minutes later I was walking towards the starting line.  I quickly used the bathroom and enjoyed the atmosphere as I power walked to the start.  They really dressed up the route by having music playing and decorations.

Venetian day before the race.

I wasn't in too much of a hurry -- as I figured I'd have another 15 - 20 minute wait before I actually started.  But I was in for a bit of a shock.

As I got closer to the starting line, I realized there weren't many people.  Normally, 1000s of runners would be shoulder-to-shoulder waiting for the announcer to send their groups out.  There was absolutely none of that.

There were maybe 50 - 100 runners milling about, doing strides, drills, or like me, walking to the starting line.

When I got there, I could simply start running. No fireworks, no cheer leading going on, just start running.  Did I miss something?  It was the most anti-climatic start of a big race I had ever experienced.  It was nice that I didn't have to wait -- in fact I could've gone back and warmed up a bit more but the vibe / energy wasn't there.

So I just started. 

I felt the southern wind blowing in my face as I ran.  There were a few runners that I had to meander around, but for the most part I could settle into a decent pace.  I think some of the runners helped break up the wind but it was definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Mirage the day before the race.

I kept telling myself to be patient, be strong and get about 2 miles out before we'd turn around and I'd get a nice tailwind -- for at least 7 miles.

The first 2 miles I ran in around 9 minutes.  Right on target for about a 1:58 half marathon.

I was wearing my carbon-plated shoes and I felt light and fast in them.  I had put in some longer runs in them.  They don't have a lot of support in them, but I knew I could run 13 miles in them.

It was incredible seeing the elite runners fly by me on the other side of the road.  Their stride was so smooth and effortless.  Eventually, more of the regular runners started to make an appearance.  I had finally caught up with all the people and it now felt like a mass participation race.

Around mile 2.25 I rounded the corner and started to run northward. The airport was now on my right and Mandalay Bay and Luxor were starting to appear on my left.  I could see the entire Las Vegas Strip before me.  In the dusk, it was so beautiful with the darkening sky and the lights just starting to come out.

Bellagio "Lake" Morning of the race.

I turned to the runner next to me and mentioned how much easier it was to run with the wind at my back.  He agreed -- I was actually working up a bit of a sweat.

The next 6 miles I felt even better.  I was working on passing people and keeping a consistent pace. I'd slowly bump up the effort. Nothing crazy just yet but just running under 8:45.  Was I going to fast?  Should I turn up the pace?  I had run 8:30's in training without blowing up too badly.

I was worried about pushing too hard too soon. I knew at some point I was going to pay a price for the tailwind.  I kept looking at the palm trees that lined Las Vegas Boulevard to see if they were rustling in the wind.  Had it died down?

The downtown area can be a little rough. The crowds had thinned and the glamour of the city high-end casinos turned into pawn stores, wedding chapels, and other small businesses.  

The organizer has plenty of music on the course. I don't remember too many bands, but I do remember many DJs.  A couple of them were playing songs that really got me motivated, which helped just as I normally feel my pace start to slip.

While the race was a night race, there is enough light to see clearly.  I was never worried about tripping on something or hitting a pothole.  I was so focused on running evenly and in control.  The miles just seemed to slip by.

Around mile 9, when I reached the downtown area and started to make a series of turns before heading back to the strip, I decided I was going to really crank it up a bit.  I wound up pushing it to 8:30's.  I really started to reel in runners.  Normally, I go out too fast and wind up dying at the end, with the humiliatingly feeling of being passed. By now, I was in charge.

Caesar's Palace Day Before the Race

Around mile 10 I was heading south again.  Just a 5K to go.  While there was some wind, I was being sheltered by it from some of the buildings.  I was I going to dodge a bullet? Maybe the wind had died down.  In fact, at times, I felt like the wind was at my back.

Mile 11 I was slapped back to reality.  I could see Circus Circus and the final miles laying ahead of me.  I had the will and energy and my effort doubled down.  I was still passing people, but occasionally a speed demon would work their way past me.  But for the first time in a long time I was having not a good race, but a great race.

My pace, however, did suffer the last 2 miles.  The wind was intense.  I kept looking for someone bigger than me to draft off of.  The problem was that most people were running significantly slower than me.  The few that were passing me, I tried to keep up but simply couldn't.  More often then not, I had to fend for myself.   

The effort was there -- I knew I was running at least 8:30's but the wind had me running 8:50's.  And I was getting fatigued mentally and physically from fighting it.  I was counting down the quarter miles, thinking about how many times in training when I was hurting, I could just grind out one more quarter mile.

I didn't have a lot left when the finish line came into view.  The wind had gotten the best of me.  I was sort of afraid to look at my watch too, to see where I was going to come in at.  I had seen my most recent splits and spiritually, I was crestfallen.  But still, I was trying to save every second.  The Fashion Place mall came by, then Treasure Island and finally the Mirage.

I crossed under the finish line -- having run 13.14 miles in 1:54.  I could hardly contain myself -- a fantastic race!

Time to celebrate at the Bellagio Buffet


This race exceeded my wildest dreams in terms of performances.  I had 3 goals on this race:

1) To finish
2) To finish under 2 hours
3) To finish in 1:55 to 2:00
4) To finish under 1:55

I hit my top goal.

I had put in a fair amount of work into the race -- a lot of longer runs with speed thrown in.  But I had my doubts about this race.

In the past, I've had issues with my stomach or weather or being undertrained. But those things never surfaced this year.  The weather was windy, but I want to say it worked to my advantage.  Most of the course was run northward and with a southward wind, I got a gentle push for a lot of the race.

The few southbound miles at the end were a bit sheltered from the wind, so I didn't have to content with the wind except for the final 2 miles and the first 2 miles.

I also had the added benefit of the Saucony Endorphin Pro 2, which made the running feel easier.

While the last 2 miles probably cost me 60 - 90 seconds, I felt that my time could've been further improved.  I should've started my speed-up at about mile 6 or 7.  I was feeling pretty good here but I wasn't really sure what I had until mile 9.

I haven't run this fast of a legitimate half marathon since I did Riverton in 2021.  

After finishing, I was feeling fantastic.  Usually I am pretty gassed and want to just sit down, but I was over the moon in terms of emotion.  I wound up taking a bunch of photos of the finish line -- having run with a phone in my FlipBelt.

I was so excited that I almost forgot my finisher's medal.  If I hadn't seen one of the volunteers I would've totally forgotten.

They had plenty of refreshments after the race. Gatorade, water, chips, bananas, and other snacks.  They even had wine spritzers of some sort which I almost grabbed by mistake.

It was getting colder by the minute now that I had quit running. I hadn't stashed a bag and the foil blanket that I had grabbed was helping only a little.  One of the downsides to the race is that there is quite a walk to the exit -- nearly half a mile.  

I was still glowing by the time I made it back to my room.

Overall, I was very happy with my experience.  Packet pickup was convenient and easy. The shirt was nice and the medal was cool.  The volunteers on the course were enthusiastic and excellent in supporting me.  My only gripe about the race was the starting village and the cluster-mess it was to get out of the runner village.  Also another demerit was that there were once again NO bathrooms at the finish line. 

I did sign up for 2024 and I am looking forward to seeing what next year brings.

Upcoming Races

03/04: 2023 March Madness 10K - West Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
03/18: 2023 Vineyard City Gold Rush 5K - Vineyard, UT (Confirmed)
03/25: 2023 Riverton Half Marathon - Riverton, UT (Confirmed)
04/08: 2023 Eggs Legs 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
04/22: 2023 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
04/29: 2023 Blossom Run 10K - Santaquin, UT (Confirmed)
07/29: 2023 Timp 10K - American Fork, UT (Confirmed)
08/19: 2023 Rock 'N Roll Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
09/23: 2023 Witch Run 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
10/21: 2023 Haunted Half 5K - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
10/28: 2023 Haunted Half 5K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
03/04: 2024 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)

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