Half Marathon #5
Rock n Roll Marathon Weekend #3
Entire Oneida Family participating in Rock n Roll Marathon Weekend #2
First official 5K Race #1
This was my Rock n Roll weekend by the numbers, but it was so much more than just numbers and paces and end times. So let’s break it down further…
This year, we decided to do something different. Rock n Roll has a Remix Challenge for the Vegas weekend and this year we took part. In order to earn this special medal (shown below), you must complete the 5K on Saturday night and one of the races (10K, Half Marathon or Marathon) on Sunday night.
We all decided to take it easy on Saturday night for the 5K. I chose some brisk speed walking which is something I’ve never done for a race. I’ve also never participated in an official 5K race, but now I can proudly display a 5K medal on my wall.
It was fun to slow it down to walk with my Mom. There was no pressure to compete so we took our time to observe our surroundings and chat about whatever came to mind. So let’s touch on the surroundings for a hot minute. The 5K course was honestly less than impressive. It began at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds across from the SLS hotel and led us behind the lot on Sammy Davis Jr. Drive to just south of Circus Circus and back. Along the way we passed a few strip clubs and bail bonds stores in the dark. It was not ideal and I have no plans on participating in the 5K next year. In fact, that is my one critique of the weekend – the 5K course sucks.
Sunday was the big one – a 10K for my parents and brother; the half marathon for me. This is one of two events in the calendar year that ever shuts down the Las Vegas Strip. Runners get to experience the feeling of running on the actual road as the sun sets and the famous (notorious – lol) neon revs up for the night.
Compared to last year, this year’s race night was much colder and windier. Luckily, the course wasn’t too treacherous thanks to the resorts and buildings. They stand so tall that they block most of the wind and keep the central Strip fairly warm. I only felt the effects of the weather once I found myself north of the Stratosphere and headed into the Fremont area.
I experienced two new things this year. The first was waiting nearly an hour in a holding pen before my wave of runners could even start the race. Although all of our bodies in such close proximity kept it warm, there was no where to move or use a last-minute porta-potty. Once I finally got to start the race, I quickly realized that the last bottle of water I had consumed an hour prior had made its way through my body. After one mile I knew I couldn’t go on like that for another twelve, so I made the decision to pull off the race course and use a porta-potty which already had a surprisingly long line. I can tell you looking back that this was the best decision I made all night.
The second thing was – even though I did loosely follow a training plan, I didn’t prepare as much for this race as I have in the past. Going into the night, I was heavily relying on my stubborness, willpower and muscle memory. Since this was my fifth half marathon, I had faith that despite whatever circumstances may have popped up, I would be able to make it to the finish line.
Spoiler alert: I did make it the whole way, only stopping to pee after the first mile. And I am here to tell you that muscle memory is truly an amazing thing. The first 10 or 11 miles for me went extremely well. I kept on pace, was alert and felt really strong for this first part of the race. The last 2 or 3 miles, however, were the most difficult. I got pretty tired and needed sheer willpower to make it to the finish line. The stretch of the Strip that starts at Circus Circus and ends at the Mirage (aka the finish line) felt longer than usual but I decided to approach the end of the race with a new strategy.
Instead of running as fast as I could just to get the damn thing over with, I decided to chill out, slow down and pay attention to the last portion of the course. I wanted to stay in control of my breathing while continuing to enjoy the end of this accomplishment. It felt great to cross the finish line having been mindful of my body and environment.
I have to mention one of the most powerful things that happened to me this year. I rarely remember specifics about long runs, but this was something that stuck with me. As I was coming up on Mandalay Bay, my shuffled playlist began playing “Country Strong” – just as my Nike Run Club app told me my mile marker and time…58 minutes. It instantly brought tears to my eyes and gave me so much more motivation to keep going. #VEGASSTRONG
Overall, I would say this year was an absolute blast. Ever since my first Rock n Roll Vegas two years ago, I always look forward to this weekend in my city. From all the runners and the energy they bring to the crowds who line the streets cheering, displaying creative signs and that apartment complex near Fremont who hands out shots on the course (chars!), it’s a weekend full of fun and positivity. Even if you’re not running, I highly recommend coming out and watching it happen.
As for what’s coming next for me…I have decided to take on a new goal.
Run one half marathon per quarter next year.
That means I’ll be running four half marathons next year. Rock n Roll Vegas is absolutely on the list for quarter four. I’m still working on what/where I will be running for the rest of the year. Quarter three will almost be guaranteed to be out-of-state since July/August/September in Vegas is treacherous.
So stay tuned, because I’m just getting started.