Friday, December 17, 2010

Race #7 of the Season: Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half-Marathon

Wow, I'm way behind on this. I wanted to wait until I uploaded pictures and then I got all involved in making our wedding Web site and, well, yeah. Anyway, I still wanted to do this recap so here I am!

So, story. Strap in, because this is a long one.

When we usually fly, we typically fly stand-by because it's a lot cheaper given Brandon's pilot job. However, because we wanted to make 100% sure we made the race and the expo, we decided to just buy airline tickets and, indeed, bundled them with our hotel when we booked our trip. It was a good thing, too, as our flight going out was full. I think Brandon ended up getting free TV, but the standard Frontier channel ended up showing my favoritest Christmas movie EVAR in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" for FREE, so I was happy.

We landed in Vegas, wandered over to one taxi line and then got rerouted to another line since some woman had had a seizure in the line. Awesome. Actually awesome was the rerouting putting us further ahead in line (score) and in a cab on our way to Mandalay Bay. When we got to the hotel, the official race headquarters, we found out that we were in THE Hotel at MB instead. No biggie; we just dragged our crap through the casino and up into our room.

We wanted to hit the race expo first thing and we wanted to get in a short run so we decided to combine the two. We changed into running crap and wandered through the labyrinth that is Mandalay Bay and the Luxor to outside and attempted to run to the Venetian, where the expo was being held. We were successful for the most part. I think people dodging adds an extra little oomph to a training run. Much advised for all athletes. Agility AND speed training; who wouldn't love it?

I'm marginally sarcastic here. But only marginally.

We finally gave up trying to dodge the crowds about a block or so away from the Venetian and decided to walk the rest of the way. We made our way into the building and to the proper area so as to pick up our race numbers and whatnot. Given that we entered different estimated finishing times (Brandon said 2:10; I said 2:20), we found out we'd be in different starting corrals. Obviously this was unacceptable, so I got myself changed into his corral so we could run together.

After getting our tech tees, I wanted to explore the expo, but Brandon was hellbent on seeing if the Wynn table still had any wristbands for the runner after-party at XS, so we had to hightail it over to that booth. Fortunately for him, they had tons. After procuring wristbands, we went back to the beginning of the expo to start the whole thing over and do it properly. There wasn't all that much good stuff there, but I did pick up a tech tee that I liked better and we met ultrarunner Scott Jurek and got him to sign a poster to Team Baby Dinosaur ... because we're nerds.

We also got a picture.

Saturday - Expo

After leaving the expo, we wandered our way through the Venetian and back down the strip back to the hotel, with me playing my first penny slot of the trip at Casino Royale. We'd been in contact with Kris and Mark and wanted to meet up with them. We managed to catch them in the midst of their crazy, whirlwind day and learned we were in the same wave the next morning ... very welcome news! Somehow Brandon got in the wave of couples and running Elvi and me switching waves got me in the midst of it as well.

After our brief rendez-vous, it was time to go our separate ways. Brandon and I took a shower, grabbed food at the Pyramid Cafe inside the Luxor and then wandered the strip a tiny bit before hitting the hay fairly early. We had a race the next morning, after all.

The alarm went off early, at 5:15am. We got ready and waited for breakfast to show up. The night before, we were thinking of possible breakfast options and decided the smartest course of action would be to have room service ordered up that morning. It was a pricey option despite the fact that we split a plate, but it ended up being worth it. The food arrived closer to 6 than to 5:30, something we weren't too happy about, but when food came, it was happy.

Sunday - Pre-Race
Eggs, bacon, potatoes, toast and strawberries.

After food, we finished getting ready, watched the sun rise up over the strip, grabbed the last of our stuff and headed down to the lobby. On the way down in the elevator, I helped Brandon put on his timing tag (he had issues with it for some reason). Once on the main floor, we followed the herds of people (after being directed to a short-cut) outside to the race start.

Outside, I started really regretting my decision to not run with a camera. Oh god, the PEOPLE. It was amazing. In any case, we took care of pre-race business and then found our way to our corral, jamming our way inside. We were looking for Kris and Mark, but didn't see them. Once we ended up squirming our way in the corral after the first gun went off, though, we heard our names being called and our soon-to-be-married couple was behind us. We hung out on the side waiting for them to squash themselves in and then the four of us stuck together until the race start.

As the race was their wedding, Kris and Mark were videotaping the thing. Brandon offered to get video of them crossing the start line, so we ran a bit ahead of them so he could capture it.

Ze Race Itself

We stuck with our new friends for the first two, two and a half miles; whatever it was until the Venetian and the run-through wedding ceremony. Those first couple miles were slow, but they were enjoyable and I think that ended up being a really good thing.

Once Brandon and I split off, though, we picked up the pace, and continued to do so for the next few miles. The first five, six miles of the race were pretty "easy," even though I hesitate to use that word. We were still on Las Vegas Boulevard for the most part and only ventured off right before the 10K point. Part of the reason I say this is because I checked my watch (which I started a few seconds after we started the race) and I saw that my time at the 10K point was better than my BolderBOULDER time. So that was nice.

However, the next couple miles, miles 6, 7, 8 and 9 for the most part, were pretty rough. We were off the strip (though partially on Fremont Street) and twisting and turning and in short, I was starting to hurt a bit. I consumed my gel at the water stop at about mile 7.5, walking almost entirely through the water station so I could snarf it. It was at this point that Brandon really started to vocalize his concerns about not being able to break 2:10 and it started really frustrating me. I know that we lost some time during that mile, but I didn't think that it would be that much of an issue.

Apparently I was wrong, as Brandon kept stressing about it. Him stressing about that stressed me out and I don't run too well when I'm stressed/upset. It screws with my breathing (which I have to be careful about anyway) and therefore makes me need to walk more.

Our original plan was to run the race together unless Brandon felt he could make it in under a 10:00/mi pace in which case he'd peel off. Around mile 10, he thought this was the best course of action and did just that. I know he was upset about leaving, but I didn't want to hold him back from his goals.

The next couple miles were a little rough for me. I was trying to get back into a rhythm, but it was difficult. I was in a definite run/walk pattern which I wasn't happy about, but I tried to just focus and keep going. I stopped at all the aid stations, figuring out that if I further diluted the Cytomax, it wasn't quite so terrible.

As the miles ticked by, I started feeling a little better. When I saw the 12 mile marker ahead, I resolved that once I hit that sign, I wasn't walking the rest of the race ... which I kept to except for one brief moment - the moment I saw Brandon stopped, walking slowly, about a half-mile later. I gave him a hug and we decided to finish together. He was in pain, but we ran to the finish line. On the final stretch, I asked if he was ready to kick it. He said yes, but it's been determined that I have a better kick than him so I did my customary sprint to the finish, crossed the line and immediately turned around to wait for him to cross. He did and I hugged him; so proud of him and proud of us for accomplishing what we had that day.

(amusing: go here, go to the search for photos area, and look for bib #21749. then watch the video. around the 8, 9 second mark, you'll see this crazy streak sprinting on the right side of your screen in blue and black. yeah, that's me. if you watch it from the other angle, you'll see me around the 12 second mark; i cross and then turn around and wait for brandon ... with some guy announcing that i need to leave the area. pfft, i was waiting for my mmrrammrraa!)

We grabbed our medals, our blankets and some food and then headed up to the room, exhausted, but happy.

Sunday - Post-Race

Final Numbers:
Chip Time: 2:15:41
Overall Place/Total: 7726/19217
Pace: 10:21.45/mi
Sex Place/Total: 3712/11942
Division Place (F25-29)/Total: 621/1785

We then attempted to take an ice bath (I was a bit more successful than Brandon).

Sunday - Post-Race
After freezing ourselves, we showered, changed and then headed back down to the crazy in hopes of seeing Kris and Mark cross the line.

Sunday - Post-Race
Bret Michaels rocking it out.

Sunday - Post-Race
The finish line.

At this point, we were starting to get a bit nervous that we'd missed our newlyweds. However, we heard the race announcer mention that they were still waiting for them to cross the line (apparently Kris and Mark's videographers tipped them off!).

Luckily, we caught them coming and were able to cheer them on to the finish!

Sunday - Post-Race
Looking good!

Sunday - Post-Race
He carried her across the finish line. SO CUTE!

We then booked it over to where they'd be exiting the food zone.

Sunday - Post-Race
Exiting with videographer(s) in tow.

We were able to quickly chat with them for a second, agreeing to meet up at the runner after party at XS nightclub later that night.

By this point, Brandon and I were ravenous, so it was off for food and some wandering. But not too much, because we were dead. That, and Brandon's foot was hurting. In fact, we ended up crashing out and NAPPING which we NEVER DO. Felt good, though. We woke up in time to grab some dinner before partying at XS.

On the way, we saw a pallet of ice on the sidewalk. Brandon decided to stick his foot in the ice ... but since we had to wait for a bus, he grabbed one of the ice bags and took it to the bus stop with him so he could continue to ice his foot.

Sunday - Night
Hehe, I'm so glad he's mine.

Soon enough though, it was time for XS.

Sunday - XS
Sunday - XS

Time for free booze, hanging out with Kris and Mark when they showed up and, in Brandon's case, lots of dancing. He had a fun time ... let's just put it that way.

After the party (which we skipped out on at like 10), we slowly made our way down the strip, stopping at Serendipity 3 for some dessert and watching the Bellagio fountains do their thing.

Monday, we walked around as much as our tired legs would handle, gambled a tiny bit and then, that afternoon, got on our flight back to home.

Overall Thoughts:
- I've spent way too much time writing this post and I really need to get to bed.
- If the Competitor group (that is, the Rock 'n' Roll people) put on an event near you, you should go. Even if you don't participate, it is worth the crazy spectacle. I'm tempted on doing Rock 'n' Roll Denver next year just for the atmosphere.
- In training, I think we need to do a lot more of those "middle mileage" runs. 6, 7, 8, 9 miles. I'm glad we ran 12, but I think we had too many smaller distance runs.
- This was hard. I can't imagine what running that distance will be like after swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56 will be, but I'm signed up for it so I'll find out in August.
- The above point makes me realize that I'm going to have to train my ass off this summer.
- The above two points scare me. The challenge they pose also excites me, however.
- As stupidly hard as that was, I think I want to do another one as a stand-alone.
- That being said, I'm totally cool if my next one is the Slacker Half-Marathon ... even though I know that will probably kill my legs even more!

No comments:

Post a Comment