Yesterday I ran what was possibly my last half marathon of 2012: the Rock n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon.
Unlike every race I’ve done before, I didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn since this was a night run down the famous Las Vegas Strip. This was all about the lights! The glamor! More superfluous things!
Friday night I flew down from the Bay Area to LA and met with my parents to make the drive up to Vegas. With the countless times I’ve been on the I-15, the four hour drive went very quickly.
The Expo was held at the Sands’ Convention Center, which itself is just like any other convention center. Inside, it looked like every single convention center, and almost a duplicate of the LA Rock n’ Roll race, only this time with a $10 PF Chang’s gift card.
Because Las Vegas Boulevard is such an arterial road, there were notices everywhere that the Strip would be closed on race day, including our hotel room.
With high quality buffets everywhere, Vegas is one of the best places to carbo load. This is exactly what we did, since most of the time we just sat around waiting for the race to start. Saturday night, I loaded up on snow crab legs, shrimp cocktail, and prime rib at the Wynn.
Race Day, my parents and I went over to Caesar’s Palace for their buffet and purchased the Total Vegas buffet pass (24 hours, 6 buffets unlimited). We made our way south to the starting line and stopped at every eligible buffet along the way. I loaded up on king crab legs, sweet potato tator tots, and all the dessert imaginable, cutting myself off at 12:30pm so I wouldn’t be hurling all of that on the course.
I have to admit, Rock n’ Roll know how to keep 30,000+ runners organized the best they could. The corrals themselves were about a mile long, starting from the Tropicana and winding towards Mandalay Bay. I hopped into my corral about 20 minutes before starting time and planned on running what I thought would be my fastest half marathon yet.
Boy was I dead wrong.
Ten minutes before the official start, the wind picked up. And I mean it picked up. Signs were falling down, hair was flying everywhere, and pigs were flying. Okay, maybe not the last part, but gusts were up to 45 mph.
This proved to be to my advantage in the beginning. The first 5 miles or so were really exciting, with the wind pushing me forward, all the bright Vegas lights and people everywhere cheering you on and on. I really don’t remember this part at all, only that it was fun and very fast. You might say I breezed through the Strip with ease!
One huge issue I had, however, was all the slow runners. They started ahead of me, but were very clearly assigned several corrals behind. I really have no problem to do this, but if you’re going to, move to the side if you’re going to walk. Weaving around walkers taking up a substantial middle of the asphalt really slowed me down and was extremely annoying throughout the entire race.
After passing the Stratosphere (mile 6 or so), we entered the part of Vegas no visitor would normally go to: the areas surrounding Downtown Las Vegas. The wind really picked up here, and it became difficult to keep the pace with the headwind and runners who decided to just take a walk. From here, it was mostly through residential areas and in some parts were almost pitch black. The entire time I was eyeing the Stratosphere and pretending it was telling me to hurry up and come back.
At around mile 9-10 we passed by the Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Vegas, but didn’t run through it. That would’ve been awesome!
From Downtown back to the Strip, I was fighting against the wind that pushed me forward in the first couple miles. Wind was never something I prepared for, and all that extra effort really only kept my pace constant.
Finally, as I approached the glamorous lights of the Encore and Wynn, I made the final push for what I now believe was the toughest last mile I had ever done. There was nothing but wind the entire time.
I sprinted as fast as I could past the Wynn, the Christmas-themed Venetian, and finally finished at 01:55:49, or 8:51 / mile, 2077 / 22087 overall, 1471 / 8597 Male, and 63 / 303 Male 18-24.
Overall, this race was very bipolar. On the one hand, you get to run down the Strip at night, which is an unforgettable experience. On the other hand, you’re running with thousands of other runners in dark residential/industrial roads for certain parts of the course.
If Rock n’ Roll would alter their course so it can focus more on the Strip / Fremont Downtown, I would sign up again instantly. Running at night was a great experience and I feel every runner should run Vegas at least once.