Race Recap & Review: Las Vegas Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon (2013)

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#16 / 13 of the 2013 Half Marathons

This is the second time I’ve done this race (2012 version here!), and my very last Rock n’ Roll race of 2013. It’s been a long journey with Rock n’ Roll, starting in Phoenix all the way back in January.

Race Weekend
On Saturday morning I flew from San Jose to Ontario, where Erica would meet up with me before our flight to Vegas. It was a cool day and seemed like the race would be perfect running weather.

We landed in McCarran International Airport, got our car, and then headed to the expo.

The Expo:
Unlike last year, this year’s expo was at the Las Vegas Convention Center, where CES and several other conferences are held year round. I guess Sands / The Venetian was taken this year.

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Like last year, notices were posted everywhere that the Strip would be closing.

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Pre-Race Activities

Erica and I settled at Paris Las Vegas, and walked around from Paris to the Wynn and back. We then dressed up and headed to Gordon Ramsay Steak.

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Needless to say, Chef Ramsay knows how to cook a good steak and beef wellington. I left stuffed and ate some of the best meat of my life.

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We then just took it easy and decided to do some people watching while they hit up the clubs.IMG_3279

In the morning, we headed to Paris’s Buffet (Le Village) and I feasted on crab legs and other brunch delicacies, cutting myself off at 12pm so I could have time to digest.

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For the rest of the day, we parked the car at the Flamingo and made our way to the start line, which was over at the Luxor. The All-American Rejects were the pre-race entertainment, and several runners called this “Woodstock for Runners.” Eh…

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At 4:00pm I said goodbye to Erica and she made her way to the Tropicana to cheer me on before heading to the finish line at The Mirage.

I started in Corral 5, and was off at 4:35pm or so, right at dusk!

The Race

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After running so many night races (Vegas 2012, New Year’s LA, Davis), I already know that I’m really bad at running at night. My time to complete increases, I always feel like my stomach is turning, and I’m just tired. This race was no different, and my goal was just to finish at a reasonable time.

The half marathon course itself is exactly the same as last year, while the marathon course deviates a lot where it doesn’t go through as much suburb as before.

I started off at an 8:05 / mile pace for the first six miles or so, and slowed down as the miles wore on. Luckily there was no wind this time.

5K: 24:55 (Paris Las Vegas)
10K: 50:47 (past the Strip)

With an unchanged course, it still leaves the largest concern I have of the Las Vegas course. Only the first six miles and the last two mile of the race is what’s on the Strip. That leaves nearly five miles through the other parts of Vegas.

What other parts of Vegas are there, you ask?

Vegas has some very sketchy areas, especially around mile 8. As soon as I past the Stratosphere, the course became extremely boring, dark, and outright dangerous. Much like last year, this part of the course needs extensive improvements. There was no course support, no crowds, and just runners trying to get past this part as quick as they could in the dark. It seems like when the Competitor Group was figuring out the course, they just added distance without regard to where it was actually going.

I also met PavementRunner at the 8th mile, who was about a third of the way through his marathon after running Rock n’ Roll San Antonio earlier in the morning, then flew to Vegas to run this marathon. Crazy! I did register for #SA2LV, but backed out in the last minute for my own sanity and now I regret it.

At the ninth mile, I passed the half/full split and headed back to the Strip, back to the glamor, lasers, crowds, and “party on the Strip.” I felt exhausted, dehydrated from the dry desert air, and couldn’t wait for it to be over.

10 mile: 1:22:05

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I finished at 01:49:14, or 8:20 / mile. My best time for Vegas, and it seems safe to say that I can finish a half marathon in under 1:50 given no injuries.
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Immediately after the race, I met with Erica, got my Rock Idol medal, and declared my Rock n’ Roll journey for 2013 complete! What to do for 2014…

Before I was able to change or shower, we drove to the airport, returned the rental car, and feasted on Burger King chicken nuggets. I changed out of my running clothes after passing TSA security, and showered once arriving back in San Jose.

Some random points:

  1. Once again, this course is bipolar, with the Strip being incredibly crowded and filled with course support, and the parts outside the Strip being dark, boring, unsafe, and injury-prone.
  2. I affirm the statement I made last year where if the Competitor Group simply changed the half marathon course so it would focus more on the Strip or the Fremont Street Experience, I would sign up again without hesitation.
  3. Running at night will remain a challenge to me. I’m just used to waking up at the crack of dawn.
  4. Don’t have one point of entry to the entrance zone. It simply adds to the confusion and with 45,000 runners any confusion is too much confusion.
  5. Don’t eat the bagels and apples at the finish line. While Erica and I were walking around the Strip midday they were just sitting out there in the sun, baking until the evening.
  6. Even with these issues, the half marathon is something people should experience once. It’s an unforgettable experience running down the Strip even if its only for 8 miles of the half marathon, and plus you get lots of benefits as a runner that weekend (no cover charges into clubs, etc.).
  7. Martin, my host back in the Denver Rock n’ Roll race, flew into Vegas to run the marathon as well. He had to drop out due to injuries. Hope you have a safe recovery!
  8. I finally know what the word “scaffolding” means after trying to weave through the chaos at the finish line.
  9. Gordon Ramsay really knows how to make a good steak.
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One thought on “Race Recap & Review: Las Vegas Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon (2013)

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