2011 Dec 4 – RnR Vegas Half Marathon Race Report

I could have titled this post many things but now that a few days have past I am trying to be over the negative crap that happened and is still being talked about. All things aside that went wrong I had an awesome few days in Vegas. I saw some great shows, met up with friends, made new friends, shopped, danced, drank margaritas and so much more. Just not gonna let a few hours running a half marathon ruin the whole holiday. That said on with the details of the race.

Oh yeah, for those who don’t know me and are happening on this blog for the first time, I am not new to running. I was an excellent runner (trophy/ribbons to prove it) in high school but that was many years ago. I stopped and then started running again about 16 years ago. I am not fast anymore, I’m pretty slow by most standards but I know “the rules”, etc. I’ve run 11 half marathons, 2 full marathons, tons of 5/10Ks and recently started doing triathlons.

I’M ALIVE! I survived!!! WARNING IS A BIT LONGISH…..

Onto the disaster that was supposed to be RnR Las Vegas. Okay, my training had sucked since Sept thanks to some health issues. Then I ended up with a nasty cold just before the trip. I was still coughing and medicated on race day. Oh yeah, the Expo was a zoo as well. Lots of line ups and cause Hubby wasn’t really into this kind of thing I didn’t get to see a lot of it. I did get a nice flashy hot pink vest and a finishers shirt.

I suspect part of the issues with the race (for some) were because of the time of day the race was held. I still turned in early the night before. The tough part was trying to relax before an evening race. So that Hubby would have an idea of where to go, etc (his 1st time there) we did a tram ride to the start and checked out a lay of the land/setup. We had healthy sandwhiches from the deli in NY NY hotel for lunch and relaxed til it was time to dress and head down. We wanted to see the full start as well as the band so we got there around 3:45. The full started at 4pm and the half not until 5:30. There was a light crowd to start. I went to the portapotty around 4:30. Good thing as by 5pm it was wall to wall lineups for the 50 odd potties. Could be wrong on the number. Oh yeah there were VIP trailers by Brooks with no lines but they were policed and you had to have a vip bracelet. Not sure how you got it. Probably in the part of the expo I missed.

Anyhow we headed to the corral area bout 5pm. Hubby tagged along. Heck as we meandered through the already crowded corral we saw many in wrong corrals. Heck I was amazed they let spectators in the corrals and were not policing who got into which corral. Last year they were very strict about it, checking every number and corral entrant. This year they did not care. It was nuts. I was slotted in corral 28, now I wish I had moved up. Oh yeah, last year they released one corral at a time moving each up as they did so. Apparantly this year they only did that for the first 15 or so (that’s what hubby said). Then they just let everyone go. It was a mosh pit!!! Oh yeah did I mention there were 40+ corrals.OMG the start was a disaster.

I had not looked at the map and had no idea where the “merge” was taking place. It was wall to wall runners with no room to move from one side of the road to the other. I had started out on the left side, a mistake. Along the way that was the marathon lane. I had no idea I was in it until I heard someone on a bike yelling behind me to move over. Wait, then I saw in the dark these little signs maybe six inches square and cones about the same height. Most had been kicked or tripped over. I don’t blame the runners. I mean it was pitch black, how were they even supposed to see such tiny markings. The tiny cones weren’t the only tripping hazard. The road was strewn with discarded clothing, not really visable at night. And the water stations were a mess of slipperiness between spilled liquids and the thousands of cups strewn everywhere.

Oh yeah the mess of the merge. Now since I moved completely to the right edge I did not run into any hassles from the marathoners but I heard from others there was rudeness and near riots cause by both sides of the non existant fence. I had a friend who did the full that told off a fellow marathoner because he was rude, swearing and shoving the half marathoners. Uncool! But heh being on the right I still had runners who jumped curbs and passed on right. Heck one guy with earphones on full did not acknowledge anyone around him.

First aid station was empty. The tables empty, cups strewn every where and hard to navigate. Runners lined up at the back of the truck for water. Not something I expected to see at the first aid station especially since I estimate at that point there were still several thousand runners behind me. Heck one didn’t even realize you were at the water station until you were on top of the mess. In a daylight run you would have spotted it ahead of you. Aid stations after that were often on the left with very few supplies setup on them. I had my own fuel and water with me so continued through them all.

Bib: #28039, Race: Half Marathon
Point Time Time of Day Pace
START 00:00:00 6:00:36 pm —
5K 00:58:11 6:58:46 pm 18:44
10K 02:01:12 8:01:47 pm 20:17
10M 03:23:25 9:24:01 pm 21:44
FINISH 04:29:16 10:29:51 pm 21:11
Avg. Pace 20:33

As shown by my stat above, I started out a little slow but I wasn’t far off my plan. I wanted to average 6k in an hour, so by 2 hours I was roughly 2k or 20 minutes behind but somewhere along the way things just kept falling apart. I only really made two stops – one for my traditional photo with the firemen (still have to check if it turned out) and the other for the bathroom at IHop. No line up there…lol.

The potties along the route were few and far between. I think they had the same number for this race as last year with twice the runners….sheeshhhhh. Going through the top end and older areas of Vegas was kind of spooky. Some of it was pretty dark and oh wait they had a couple of those portable lights along the way so you went from black to almost blinding light. I passed a few and was passed by lots. I passed the same 4 runners a few times, they were stopping for beers along the way. One of them was wearing a hat with two beer cans and straws plus he had a beer in a brown bag in his hand. Not just any beer they were all carrying those really tall cans. Ya know, maybe that’s how I should have done the race, running with a margarita and refilling it along the way…lol. Could have used brownies for fuel…lol.

Not sure where the “Weddings” were held. I ran past a few chappels and thought of my friends who originally planned to marry at the Vegas race but instead got married at a different event in November. While disappointed I didn’t make it to Shawn’s wedding I’m so glad she did not do it at this nightmare. They twisted and turned us around so much in the old part I did not know if I was coming or going. Finally we were back on the BLVD and heading back. There was a light drizzel here and there. I was chilled but not cold. I saw runners carted off. They were dropping like flies. Many were struggling like me. Four things kept me going – hubby waiting for me, the finisher shirt I wanted to wear, the medal and a bracelet I got early in the race. MBFC Fit Chicks handed me a motivational bracelet way back in the first few kms. Every time I struggled, it reminded me to keep going and that I could do this.

As I passed each hotel that got me nearer and nearer to the finish I felt better and more confident. However seeing the “Tail Vehicle” nearly sucked that out of me…lol. They were sweeping to the back and taking runners closer to the finish. I picked up what energy I had and kept going. I did not want to have to take the ride. I wanted to finish on my own. Did you know that even the diverted runners got a finish time and as they finished ahead of us many of them got medals. Finally I passed under the last arch to the finish. Penguin John was still greeting all the runners/walkers. He gave me a hug/High 5 as I headed under the archway to finish. Wait something is wrong here. No one rushed up to greet me and give me a blanket, no medals. There were a handful of full medals on the rack but all out half medals. As much as I liked the PINK full medal I did not earn it, did not want it. I cried, partly from disappointment, mostly from pain. A runner gave me her blanket. It was kind of wet with sweat but felt warm. I was shivering. Finally a volunteer approached and gave me a fresh one making sure I was fully covered. She saw my tears and explained they would mail the medal. I cried more, it had been such a hard race. Heck I was an hour past my worse ever, I could barely move. I limped through what was the food area. I found water but it was still wrapped in plastic. I struggled to open a flat and grabbed two bottles. The bagels were dried out and stale, I walked past them. No marathon bars, no granola bars, no snacks…wait bananas. Oh crap, so green, so hard, two bites and I tossed it in the garbage can. Then the volunteer from before comes running up behind me, wait, I will find you a medal. I walked/limped slowly and found some yogurt tubes…ewww, warm yogurt. A few minutes later I was handed a medal, I cried again. I think she did too. She was the one bright light at the end. Never got her name. I had to hide the medal and so many around me did not get one. Wait I saw some with half bibs wearing a full medal. Ya know after the hell they went through I don’t blame them for taking it.

They were still playing a recording that the beer gardens was open but nothing was open. The place was pretty much dark, dreary and shut down. We (the runners) wandered around like lost zombies. I was extremely thankful that my Hubby, Darren was there to rescue me. He had a miserable time waiting and worrying. No one would tell him anything. Also the situation for spectators wasn’t much better. It was cold, wet and they had no shelter plus no food, drinks, etc after not sure what time.

We headed through the back end of the Mandalay Bay towards the trams, hoping they were still running. What a mess. Stuff left/littered by runners everywhere. If my camera had not died I would have taken photos. We passed several runners being attended to by medics in the hallway. I would have done anything for a wheelchair to ride back to the room but so many were worse then I, I just limped slowly along. Thankfully they extended the hours on the tram. Not so lucky with places to eat. I found some friends on the way to the room. They had not faired much better. After hearing my story one even offered me his medal, but I showed him the one I was hiding. The mexican place was still open but lined up like crazy. Besides I had eaten there a couple of nights before, it tasted good but didn’t do well with my tummy.

We ended up going to the room. Hubby bought two tall cans of beer and a huge bag of nachos. I ate a few and drank half the beer before falling asleep. Well that’s pretty much it for the disaster. It’s in the books, I’ve got my medal. Will I do it again, only time will tell but a lot has to change in the race and I need to make some changes as well.

Congrats to those that finished! Thanks to the wonderful volunteers, officers and such that braved the cold. Thanks to the bands along the way especially the ones that played forever and especially the one near the end that yelled out “we’re playing til the last runner goes by or until we get electrocuted” (it rained lightly). Thanks also to the many that supported us along the way, your cheers and such kept us going to the finish.

More photos on Flickr