Las Vegas “Rock-n-Roll” 1/2 marathon

I'm in yellow and Annette is running next to me

I'm in yellow and Annette is running next to me

On Sunday, December 6th Annette ran her first ½ marathon with “Team Challenge” in support of the Crohns and Colitis Foundation of America (it’s not too late to make a donation!) at the inaugural Las Vegas ½ marathon! I joined her to do it as my second ½ marathon.  We drove up to Vegas on Saturday and rushed over to the Mandalay Bay for packet pickup.  Annette had a team meeting scheduled for 5pm and we pulled into town around 3:30, so we didn’t have much time to wander through the Expo.  Still we were cutting it close and left the expo at 4:30.  It was a LONG walk back to the parking garage.  As we walked, we overheard someone ask another person for the time.  3:30.  What??  We didn’t realize Vegas is on Pacific time, so we saved an hour.  It would have sucked to have walked down to the start on Sunday morning an hour late!  At least we weren’t rushed after that.

Phew!

Phew!

Team Challenge had a dinner that night.  Over 900 people from all over the country were there supporting the CCFA.  Together they raised over $3.5M for the charity!  The top fund-raiser raised over $39,000!  Impressive!  One of the speakers was a professional running coach.  His advice was to remember to listen to what the coaches said about how to run the race.  Pretty close to “start slow and taper off.”  He said everyone is good about telling others how to do an endurance event, but don’t generally listen to themselves and do something stupid.  I can attest to that from personal experience!

Aren't we cute?

Aren't we cute?

Annette and I were up at 4:15 am to get ready for the start.  We expected it was going to be cold, so we had purchased cold weather clothing in anticipation.  Annette was particularly happy with her ear warming head band and gloves.  It was COLD.  The Phoenix team decided to walk through the hotel to try to get a bit closer to the start before walking outside.  Unfortunately, we got a bit turned around in the hotel and wound up on the opposite side of the MGM Grand, extending our walk by at least ½ mile.  At least we got the “everyone does something stupid” over with before the start!

Annette's looking GOOD!

Annette's looking GOOD!

Because this was Annette’s first ½ marathon, she had no idea how much time it would take to finish, so she guessed 3 hours 30 minutes, which put her in starting corral #28.  There were only 29 corrals, so we were at the back of the field.  The race started at 6:15am, but we were behind 17,000+ people, so it took over 40 minutes before we got to the start line.  That gave us plenty of time to watch the front of the race go by in the other direction.  There were some CRAZY people in that front group.  Several people ran without shirts and one guy just had a speedo on!  I did mention that it was freakin’ COLD didn’t I??  Nuts!  As we got closer to the start line, Annette jumped out of the pack to hit a porta-potty.  We were a bit too close to the start, so I had to move off to the side for a minute or two until she got back.

We started running when we crossed the start line.  There were a LOT of walkers in front of us, so we spent a lot of time going back and forth across the road trying to get around people who were walking.  Annette’s plan was to run/walk, but not at fixed time intervals.  So we ran for around a mile at a time then walked for a couple minutes.  That worked out really well for me because I never really had to push myself.  I did go out front a couple miles into the run to hit a porta-potty myself (cold weather always does that to me).

Even with the run/walk, we were still passing hundreds of people.  It was amazing.  Just a mass of people in front of us and behind us as far as you could see.  Annette grabbed a Cytomax drink at the first water station, but had to get a cup of water too because it was way too sweet.  I just stuck with water.

Good times!

Good times!

The sun came up and I expected it to warm up, but running down the Las Vegas strip, we were in the shadows of the casinos and it actually felt like the temperature dropped a bit after sunrise.  The website said there were a number of weddings along the course, but I didn’t see any of those.  I did see a LOT of Elvis impersonators and there was one woman who ran to each band, then danced in front of them for a few minutes.

The course pretty much went straight down the Las Vegas strip, had a big loop at the end and back.  There were 7 or 8 bands playing along the course.  Pretty cool event overall.  Annette was getting a bit fatigued towards the end, but decided to run the last mile and pushed it through to the end!  She really did great.  And I felt pretty good at the end, so I think I’m ready for the Tucson marathon this coming Sunday.  I did hurt my knee at Cochise, which caused me to miss some of my longer training runs, so my goal for Tucson is to just finish, so I’ll probably employ some of the run/walk strategy that Annette used.  It works well!  Interestingly, Jacob’s teacher Mike Nowotarski and his wife Melody were also doing the 1/2 marathon.  After the race we decided to stop at the Starbucks in the MGM Grand to get something hot.  Guess who was standing in line two people ahead of us?  Mr N.!  What are the odds?!?  17,000+ people doing the race, a huge number of people in Vegas and we run into the two people we know after the race!  Anyway, I splurged for a “couples massage” at the MGM Grand after the run, then we went to a nice dinner and watched the Blue Man Group over at the Venetian.  What a great weekend!

Getting close to the finish!

Getting close to the finish!

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