Wednesday, February 28, 2024

2024 Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon Race Recap - Las Vegas, NV

Official Time: 1:57:08
Placement: 1745th overall, 1344 male, 134th in my age group
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Low 60s.  Slight breeze from the south
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2023] [2022[2019] [2018] [2017] [2016] [2015] [2014] [2013] [2012] [2011] [2010] [2009]

Mile TimeComments
19:08Off to a conservative start. Easing my way into the race
29:03Still timid and holding back
38:55Heading north now. A bit of a tailwind but didn't really feel it.
48:52Felt like I could take off but still too early
58:44Consistency still holding back
68:48Have left the main area, not as much crowd support but feeling good
78:44Should I go now?
88:44Holding steady
98:47Upon completing this mile I told myself -- let's go
108:42Short lived effort to "go".  Just didn't feel it and I didn't want to blow up
118:53Holding steady
129:03My head was like let's go -- but my body wasn't ready
139:12Fished out my phone at some point to film a really crappy ending.
13.191:32Cross the finish -- finally!
Total Miles: 13.19 1:57:13

Me at the Expo


Every year, I am pretty much locked into the Las Vegas races.  I got into this race in 2009 when I ran my very first marathon (3:41 I believe).  At the time, I was infatuated with Las Vegas.  I had heard there was a marathon there (that got very lukewarm reviews). I was training with a marathon group and had visions of running a full marathon and weeks before the race, I wound up booking a flight from Chicago to Las Vegas and registered for the race.

I struggled during that race but it soon became a yearly tradition: train with the Chicago marathon people and hold onto my fitness for a bit longer and do the marathon.  I never ran particularly well in Las Vegas but for some reason I kept coming back.

This year was like all the others: I had to come back. If nothing more than to keep the streak alive of having run this year every year it has been available since 2009.  There have been lots of changes over the years: it is now a night race, it has changed hands a few times, and the marathon is now gone and in its place is a 10K.  But the same thing still remains: they close down the famous "Las Vegas Strip" and over ten thousand runners get to "own" it.


I arrived in Las Vegas via a 5.5 hour drive down I-15 from Salt Lake City on Saturday for the Sunday night race.  Packet pickup was at the Resorts World Hotel and Casino on the north end of the Strip.  I was staying at the New York Casino, which is where the race start was and is also located on the south side.

I managed to snag my room, get my luggage situation before making what I thought was a fairly quick walk to the north end.  I figure it might be 3 miles round trip.  Suffice to say I woefully underestimated the journey:  it wound up being close to 7 by the time I got to the race headquarters.

What's left of the Mirage's Volcano

It was an enjoyable walk, but current I suffer from sciatica and walking and standing for long periods of time aggravate it.  By the time I had got my bib, took some photos, circled through the expo and made my way back to the hotel, I was wiped out and my hip was aching.

Packet pickup was a snap and while I was there for the mid afternoon rush, it wasn't terribly crowded like I've seen it before.  I didn't spend much time at the expo, other than to get some samples of Biofreeze and check out some of the exhibitors.  There really wasn't too much I haven't seen before though, so for the most part it was a very quick in and out.

I wound up walking a bit more even after getting back to the hotel and my hip was definitely not happy (the hip is the source of the sciatica / nerve pain I am experiencing).  It has never bothered me, but tonight it was off the charts bad.

I wound up getting a decent night's sleep though after eating dinner and gambling a bit.

In the morning, my extremities were tingling a bit -- against more nerve issues and just pre-race nerves.  Even sitting at the America Café in the New York hotel, I could feel my hip telling me I had walked too much the day before.  From experience with this race, I knew I had to eat a fair breakfast but I didn't need to gorge.  I went with last year's breakfast: a basic omelet and the traditional sides.

I gambled -- and lost some more money -- before retreating to the room and dosing up on Aleve.  My nerves -- both mental and physical were on edge.  I definitely knew I had it in me to run well, I wanted to run well but my body was -- I think -- telling me to sit this one out.  Again, I think it was anxiety but I couldn't discount the typical nerve pain I've been dealing with for the past 6 months.

I wound up relaxing, watching basketball on a non-HD TV and eventually diving into my tried-and-true lunch of fruit, cold cereal, pudding cups and a few bland cookies.  I've used this "lunch" for the past two years with great success... it suffices for energy, it is easily digestible.  I was basically following the same pattern I have used for the past 2 years, which again, has served me well.

With a race start of 4:30 PM and a loading time of 3:45, I wound up heading to the "Park" area between the Park Hotel and New York, New York around 3:15.

Getting ready to race

The Race

I wound up waiting for about 15 - 20 minutes in the area near where my blue loading zone would be.  I was fortunately in corral #1, which meant I'd be in the first wave of runners to start.

The loading process was fairly chaotic and it took a solid 15 - 20 minutes of shoulder to shoulder people before I could enter the "secure" area / loading area for corral #1.  I quickly jumped into the bathroom, which I managed to just in a nick of time.  With 5 minutes to spare, I shouldered my way to a respectable distance from the start and waited for the run to start.

Despite nearly 45 minutes of standing my hip and back were not bothering me.  I think thanks to a healthy dose of ibuprofen and acetaminophen.  In fact, I was surprised as my nerves settled down a bit.  I had a bit of tingling in my left foot but I was fully operational.

At 4:30 the race started and I, along with about 3000 corral #1 runners who were running the half marathon or 10K proceeded forward.  In fact, I think this year was the quickest I went from waiting to running in terms of when the gun went off.

My goal for this race -- like the others I've done recently, was to go out at about 2 hour pace but slow bump up the pace as the race progressed -- and how I was feeling.  It was warm -- about 60F but there was only a light breeze.  I knew it was going to get cooler as the race went on and the sun set, but for now, it did feel warm.  A big change from the 30F-40F weather I am used to.

I was wearing nothing but shorts and a thin tech t-shirt.  I was running in my Saucony Endorphin Pro 2's.  I was wearing a tried and true kit -- even my shirt has been lucky for me.  I was armed with two gels as well, one caffeinated, one not, which I was planning on using around mile 6.

I started off conservatively, nailed my first 5K spot on.  I have run every inch of this course many times before so not a lot was new.  We did head south until we passed the airport and the Welcome to Las Vegas sign before making a U-turn and heading back towards the strip.

It was congested running, but I never really felt hemmed in for very long.  I was just working to settle into the race and see how my body was going to relax with the nerve issues I was dealing with.

I was concerned in that it felt warm and my mouth felt a little dry.  I wound up using just about every aid station on the course, taking a bit of the Mortal sports drink they were serving and once in a while throwing water over my head.

Around the 4 mile mark we were heading north, the sun was setting and the crowds were jubilant and offered a wealth of support.  I would probably argue that this race is the most fun to run in regards to interactions with the throngs of people.  Sure, some are drunk or carrying on but there were plenty that were offering eye-to-eye acknowledgement with an encouraging word.

I felt my pace increase ever so slightly here as I was buoyed by their support.  In fact, I had to reign it in a bit.  It was a little early to be pushing the pace -- but I was clearly running exactly what I had hoped for.

I wound up tearing into a Tutti Frutti Roctane GU.  I needed the jolt of caffeine despite it being a late night race.  I hoped I wouldn't regret it with having problems sleeping later (I didn't).

The race did get a bit lonely as we sped down the strip towards Fremont Street and the older part of town.  The crowd support diminished and those that were around were less vocal.  It was also dark at this point.  The road was still well lit and I was never concerned about tripping and falling.  I still felt strong as the music got more interesting.  I was overtaking a number of runners.  I felt like I might want to really bump it up a notch, but I still wasn't feeling ready.  I still had around 5 miles and I felt like the pace I was running was okay.  I decided mile 9 would be my "go" mile.

I knew that I needed to pick up the pace to get the time I wanted but I also needed to temper it with that I didn't want a death march 5K at the end.  The last two half marathons I was able to smash the final 4 miles but there was some doubt in my mind.  Was it too hot? Had I not hydrated enough?

We were thoroughly in the downtown area and I saw the second turn of the race.  You basically hang a right and run a lap around a downtown area before coming back onto the strip and heading back to the finish line.  For me, this signaled that I was getting close -- despite having about 4 miles to go.

My Garmin beeped 9 miles -- time to go!

I kicked up the pace - just a bit more and wound up getting a pretty good surge.  But for the most part, it was short lived.  I think about half a mile later I was back to running what I was running before -- about 8:45's.  I felt like I was running 8:30, but the effort started to weigh in on me.  Again, it was warm, I felt a bit dehydrated, I had a bit of headwind and it just wasn't there.  Mentally, I was like "Go!" but my body wasn't having any of it.

I made peace with the situation.  I told myself there'd be a chance that it just wasn't going to be there, despite being well tapered for this event.  I just didn't want a slogfest for the final 5K.  8:45's it would have to be.

The other racers were on the other side of the boulevard and it was nice to get encouragement from them.  There were still some spectators but overall it was quiet running, pot smoke, and shadowy running.  Fortunately, I knew how much longer I needed to run and I kept picking out landmarks ahead -- knowing I just needed to get to the Bellagio to call it a day.

I was still overtaking other runners, which was empowering, but my pace was slowing up.  Again, mentally I willed myself forward and I wasn't exactly hurting, but the power just wasn't there.  I think I had settled into that 8:45 pace for so long that I couldn't find that next gear to get me out of it.  Also, the 8:45's seemed harder to hold as my heart rate increased and the exertion level reached higher levels.  Perhaps I was dehydrated.

I wound up pulling out my phone out of my FlipBelt in hopes of getting a few photos and video of the finish.  Suffice to say, I love to watch YouTube, but I am definitely not adept at filming anything.

This wound up costing me a bit of time as I slowed down to fool around with the camera, but overall it was only a minor distraction in the grand scheme of things.

I kept knocking off landmarks: Circus Circus, Resorts World, The Fashion Mall, Treasure Island, The Wynn, The Mirage.  Finally, Caesar's Palace came into view and I knew I just needed to run past that and the finish line would await (in previous years the finish line was at the Mirage but during to the starting location change, this year the finish line was at the north end of the Bellagio).

I pushed it hard the last quarter mile.  At this point, I didn't really care what my time was -- it wasn't what I wanted but I wanted to be done.

It's always a massive party when you finish and this one was no exception.  With all the neon, the Bellagio fountains exploding to the side and thousands of people cheering you in; it is just a wonderful experience.


Upon finishing, I grabbed a medal and a bottle of water. We had timed it just about right in that we were treated to the Bellagio fountains.  It was almost a perfect finishing setting -- exploding jets of water, music, flashing lights and cheers from spectators.  This is why I do this race!

I wasn't in terrible shape after the race.  There have been a few in the last 12 months where I simply collapsed at the end and sulked for a while.  But this one, I was able to keep moving, take some photos and share the experience with everyone else.  I actually felt pretty darn good.

I was given a bag, which contained post race refreshments: a banana, gummi fruit, a granola bar and some chips.  There were some photo opportunity spots as I made my way south towards the exit. 

I hadn't checked any gear, but it looked like a pretty easy process to collect whatever you had dropped off.  It took a good quarter mile (or so) to finally find a very small gap in the protective barriers to make my way out of the race pen.

I wound up cutting through most of the Cosmopolitan hotel before finding ample space to walk back to my hotel -- about another half mile walk or so.  My hip was silent despite walking.

The Exit area of the finish chute.

I sort of wish I had had another bottle of water though and I was certainly missing the chocolate milk or at least some Gatorade.  With the sponsor being Mortal Drinks, they didn't really have an electrolyte-based drink that I really felt I needed.  I was a little worried about getting woozy. I probably should've grabbed another bottle of water, but when I had been given the water, I figured there'd be another hydration spot (other than beer or wine, I never found it).

With a time of 1:57:08, I was a little unhappy with it.  It wasn't terrible and I've definitely done worse but I was shooting for something in the 1:53's.  I just didn't have the confidence that night to close the deal.  Perhaps it was not enough hydration, the heat or maybe just the sciatica issues I was dealing with, but I think confidence-wise I didn't think I had it.  Perhaps all the times I've not run well at this race weighed in on me as well.

The medal was nicely designed and a bit different from the other ones we've been handed out to over the years.  Definitely lighter feeling but this one was a bit bigger. I liked the t-shirt and it is one I'll wear.  I also got another (cotton-based) one for registering early for 2025 (see ya next year Las Vegas!)

The race support was fantastic. The volunteers crewing the aid stations were simply fantastic.  The corral loading process was better than last year, but still kind of a mess (not sure how to do it better but there could be better ways I suppose). The expo was definitely energizing but for me, there really wasn't much to see or do.  It used to be significantly bigger with more independent race organizations showcasing their races, but it just seemed less interesting and less runner related in some cases.

Post race refreshments were standard issue.  I had registered for the race a year in advance -- paying $99 plus the service fee to participate.  Well worth it given the environment and nature of the event.

Despite my fears and anxieties about even finishing, I did complete the race and by all accounts, I do think I paced it very well.  No death marches, no "gosh why do I put myself through this" moments and I had fun.  This race, unfortunately, won't make my top 3 yearly race performances (races where I ran well) but it definitely won't go down as my worst.

I am really looking forward to year #15 in 2025!

Upcoming Races

03/02: 2024 March Madness 10K - West Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
03/30: 2024 Eggs Legs 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
04/202024 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
04/27: 2024 Apple Blossom 10K - Santaquin, UT (Confirmed)
05/27: 2024 Run of Remembrance 10K - American Fork,  UT 
06/01: 2024 Utah Valley Half Marathon - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
07/242024 Deseret News Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed
08/17: 2024 PC2PG 10K - Lindon, UT (Confirmed)
09/07: 2024 Cedar City Half Marathon - Cedar City, UT (Confirmed)
09/28: 2024 Witch Run 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
10/19: 2024 Haunted Half 5K - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
10/26: 2024 Haunted Half 5K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
02/23: 2025 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)

No comments:

Post a Comment