This past weekend I ran in the Zappo's.com Rock ‘n' Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas and it was my most fun race ever! Not my fastest race ever but definitely my funnest race. I ran with one of my sisters and my other sister and my parents also came along so it was like a family reunion/race weekend/gambling gala.
About 25,000 runners competed in the half marathon and another 7,000 ran the marathon. The first wave of marathon runners took off at 3:30 p.m. and the half marathon runners started an hour later. I was in Corral 15 for the half so, with the starts staggered every few minutes for each corral, I crossed the start line at about 4:55 p.m. In other words, we ran on the Las Vegas Strip at night – woo hoo!
So here's my race review – the pros and cons – for the 2012 Zappo's.com Rock ‘n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon –
RACE PACKET PICK-UP & EXPO – First stop for this race was the Expo. This was definitely a pro. The Expo was held at the Sands Convention Center which is HUGE. But I think this Expo may have actually filled it. My sister has previously run in one of the Rock ‘n' Roll series races and she had told us how well organized these things were. She was absolutely right. We had our race packets in our hands within just a few minutes of entering and were then on our way to spending lots of money on lots of running gear. And – bonus – race celebrities were in attendance! First off – a couple of Elvises. I took a picture with my sisters. That's me, on the right (in the white jacket, not the Elvis costume):
We also got to see a real marathon celebrity – U.S. marathoner Meb Keflezighi. Meb won the silver medal in the 2004 Olympics and the 2009 New York Marathon. He finished first in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon trials here in Houston and came in 4th during the 2012 Olympics. Here's my little photo collage of Meb and me:
I guess you can tell that we weren't really that close to the stage.
PRE-RACE PASTA DINNER – This one was definitely a con. If you don't already know, every marathon of any size has some sort of pre-race pasta dinner. I have been to a few and, after my Vegas experience, I have sworn off pre-race pasta dinners forever. They are not nearly as fun as you might think. The dinner for this race started at 6:00 p.m., the night before the race. We arrived at 6:30 p.m. and, by being just 30 minutes behind schedule, we missed the featured speakers, were not able to sit together (there were 5 of us) and didn't get any dessert. I'm fine with missing the speakers and can deal with not all sitting together, but no dessert??? How could they run out? They sold tickets! It wasn't a surprise how many people were going to show up!
Our entertainment at the pasta dinner was provided by “Good Vibrations,” a Beach Boys tribute band. They were great as far as Beach Boys tribute bands go but way too loud. My recommendation for anyone running next year's Las Vegas race (or any race)? Skip the official pre-race dinner and do something on your own.
RACE DAY PREPARATION -This one is kind of a con because of the race being run at night. Usually when you run a marathon or a half marathon, you start early in the morning and don't have to worry about what you will eat all day. But with this race starting as late as it did, my sister and I spent a lot of time in the days leading up to the start trying to decide what we could and couldn't eat on race day. We ended up going to an all-you-can-eat buffet because we were with our family and that way, they could eat whatever they wanted and we could eat some rice and salad and bread and cupcakes. Yes, cupcakes. We were at the buffet inside the Planet Hollywood Casino & Hotel and cupcakes are a big part of the buffet. In fact, I found when I got home that I had more pictures of cupcakes on my phone than anything else. So here's my cupcake collage:
I promise – I just had a few bites of a Kahlua cupcake and a Cannoli cupcake – nothing more.
STARTERS' VILLAGE – A pro and a con here. The Starters' Village for this race was in front of the Luxor and had tons of Port-a-Potties. This was important since I think the Number 1 priority for most runners before a race starts is visiting the bathroom. We had no problem getting to a Port-a-Pottie and making it to our starting corral before the start. That's the pro.
The con of the Starters' Village was that the pre-race entertainment was provided by “The Journey Experience,” a Journey tribute band. I think they might have been good but I'm not 100% sure because by the time we half-marathoners filtered into the Starters' Village, the Journey Experience wase wrapping up. They spent most of their time playing for the marathoners. Once again, the half-marathoners get the dis.
THE COURSE – Totally pro. Running on the Las Vegas Strip at night was truly incredible. With all of the spectacular lights and the crowds, this was my favorite race course ever. It was an out and back kind of thing. We started at Mandalay Bay, ran down to the Las Vegas sign, looped back up the Strip, ran all the way to Downtown/Fremont Street and then looped back to the finish at The Mirage. Very well marked, very well lit, lots of spectators, lots of water stations and a great finish line.
POST-RACE PARTY – This one was kind of a con. Following the race, there were two official post-race nightclub parties, meaning runners got into the parties for free. My sisters and I went to one of them, despite being dead tired. Our main reason for going? Free Michelob Ultra (a race sponsor). Here's a shot of the post-race party:
If you're looking at that photo thinking, “Where are all the party-going runners?”, that was exactly what we were wondering. Apparently, it takes more than free beer to convince most people its worth going out after a race. (Free beer is enough for me and my sisters.) I don't know if people were planning on showing up closer to midnight but we left after knocking back our Michelob Ultra.
POST-RACE TRIP HOME – This one is a con although nothing to do with the Las Vegas race per se. Anytime you go a destination race and fly home, you're sure to get more tired and more sore than you would if you ran a race in your hometown. While I wore compression socks, my legs are still pretty achy today.
My overall conclusion is that I would run the Las Vegas Half Marathon again if I had the chance. Las Vegas is always fun and I think by being so wrapped up in this race, I may actually have lost a lot less money than I usually do!
Next race – the Houston Half Marathon on January 13, 2013. The training continues!
© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved