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Friday, December 9, 2011

Las Vegas Rock & Roll-The EXPERIENCE

What do you get when mix a company turning road races into a profit making venture, with the most obscenely capitalist city in the world?  A half marathon that did virtually nothing right. You didn't have to be there to find out all of the things that went wrong. Check out the race event facebook page or take a look at the many news headlines and countless blogs that have been written since the race.  While, I too had some less than pleasant experiences over the weekend, I've decided to focus on the positive.  After all, if your reading a running blog, I'm going to assume you are more of an optimist and would prefer to leave here feeling all warm and fuzzy.

A group of us made the decision back in April to sign up for this event as a way to celebrate.  We called it the "Fill in the Blank" celebration.  Some celebrated birthdays while others celebrated anniversaries.  A couple of people were using this as their very first 1/2 marathon.  We had lots of good times leading up to the race; drinking, gambling, eating and collecting cards on the strip.  You know, those cards they smack in their hands before passing them out to you?  Thinking they were valuable trading cards, we ended up with quite the collection. Surprisingly, no one really seemed interested in trading cards with us.  I got to meet a fellow DailyMiler, who came out from Indiana to run the race.  She has now become known as Pistol Annie, a nickname she acquired from my wife for reasons still unknown.

Running at night was weird, it threw off all of my planning and preparation rituals.  I wasn't sure what I should eat or how much to drink.  When to stop eating.  When time to target that last really good BM before the race. When I should I start getting ready?  Should I nap before hand?  I ended up sitting a blackjack table in New York New York all day, made a little bit of money and decided to just let things happen however the happened.  It was kind of crazy how many runners I met.  I think all of Vegas was either there for the race or the Rodeo. 

About 3:30 in the afternoon, we start making our way to the start line.  I made my way to corral 20 for the Team Future "family" pic, got a beer from Rich.  Rich intended to follow the sweeper car at the back of the race and drink beer for the entire 13.1 miles, so I figured I could handle one before I ran.  As soon as I finished the beer, I see 20 Elvi walking through the start corrals.  "What the hell was in that beer!?  Oh wait, I'm in Vegas and I'm in a it's all good." 

I had decided long before this, that I had no intention of taking this race serious, I just wanted to have fun.  Of course, once I got up to my start corral (corral 3) my mindset drastically changed.  I went into competitive mode and now had every intention of kicking ass.

Believe it or not there were some cool things about the race.  Obviously, running on the strip at night was a way cool experience.  The crowd, within the first 4 or 5 miles, was great!   Yeah, there were a couple times I thought "I should stop and take a picture of that!" (Pawn Stars, Little White Chapel, etc.) but of course, I didn't.  I ended up missing a PR by less than 2 minutes and finished in 1:48:02.  Considering the amount of alcohol and food I consumed in the two days leading up to the race, I'm pretty proud of that.  I got through the finish with no issues.  Got my blanket, medal, drink, food, etc.  And let us not forget all of the selfless volunteers.  THANK YOU!  (Side note- If you never have, volunteer for a race.  It's one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have.)

(And, yes, I did drink the water.  There were two aid stations that I thought the water tasted funny but I had no issues the night of the race.  The following Tuesday (two days later) was a different story.  Stomach cramps and several trips to the John and I was all better.) I don't know enough about contaminated water to say that was the cause, but I do know it's never happened to me before.  And there was nothing out of the ordinary that I did in those two days.

After the race, while making our way through the madness aka Mandalay Bay I found a half marathon medal on the ground.  No one claimed it, so I scooped it up.  When I got home and saw how many runners didn't get a medal, I decided to see if I could put it into the hands of a deserving runner.  I posted a message on the facebook page and a lady from Wyoming responded.  Later, I started seeing other people on the page offering up their only medal to first time runners.  Kudos to them.

Other fond memories were the "entertainers" at Coyote Ugly, the cool head lamp in our goody bag, the glow in the dark medal, running 13.1 miles in a kilt, the crazies on the streets and plenty of laughs.

Sure the organization was poor (at times even dangerous), the crowd (even the runners) was not as friendly as past races, there were long sections of the run with NO crowd support and so on and so on.  I doubt I'll ever run this event again, largely because of all the f' ups but there were still plenty of smiles this weekend.  For me running is all about the experience and whether its good, bad, ugly or whatever, it's what I've signed up for.  Not to take away from the terrible experiences of other runners, but I refuse to be left with only the negative thoughts.  We runners are known for being obnoxiously optimistic and intend on living up to that stereotype.

I put together a little collection from some of the weekend "highlights".

And for the record, Competitor Group, it doesn't matter how you try to make it better, I will not run Vegas RnR again.  But that's ok, because I've run Chicago twice and it is one of my favorite races!!!

Happy Running

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