Wednesday, November 30, 2016

RnR Vegas Half Marathon

Ok.  I'm finally ready to put up my review of the Vegas Half Marathon!  I was in Vegas with 2 friends and the three of us were planning on doing the half.  We also had a couple friends doing the 10k and my parents were planning to spectate and cheer.  So it was a complicated bit of logistics but here's how it all worked out.

Thankfully, we stayed at a hotel on the strip that had a shuttle to the start line.  That helped a lot.  The race also had runners split into 3 color waves and you had a different start time depending on your wave.  This was nice so we know that since we were in the last wave, we didn't have to get there that early.  We still left our rooms to get to the shuttle around 3:15.

Photo with the New York New York Hotel in the background

The shuttle dropped us off around the Mandalay Bay around 4pm.  Turns out, the Mandalay Bay is near the start line but not near the start party where the corrals are.  So it was a long walk over to the party.  We did at least get to catch a bit of the headliner concert from Snoop Dog.

Occupying ourselves during the wait by taking photos

Once we got there, we found a curb in the shade to sit at.  It was still pretty hot at this point in the afternoon and we didn't want to tire ourselves out.  We chatted a bit and of course, took more photos.  I also made a visit to the portapotties.  There were a ton of them and there were lines but they moved pretty quickly.

Waiting in the crowded corrals while the sun sets

Finally, they announced that the corrals were open for the Yellow (i.e. last) wave.  It was packed!  And we basically trudges forward in this massive crowd toward the start line.  I'm not sure how long it took but it seemed to take forever and be a pretty long walk.  I looked down at my fit bit at one point and saw that I already had more than 14,000 steps before the race even started.  One of the downsides of an evening race.


Finally, we were off!  I think we crossed the start line approximately 45 minutes to an hour after the official race start.  You can see the map of the race course from my Garmin above.  The first couple miles were an out and back starting out going south, away from the lights on the Strip.  But the race had set up plenty of lights and there was also a DJ set up in this section so lots of music.  Once we turned and came back, you could see the lights of the Strip in the distance.  And we passed the Welcome to Las Vegas sign where lots of people were stopping to take photos.  I attempted it but failed to get a good photo.  Eventually I figured I was wasting too much time and just continued on my way.

That bright blur in the back is the Welcome to Las Vegas sign

The next section, approximately mile 2 to 6, were on the Strip and this was the best part of the race.  There was a lot of crowd support, so many lights, and so loud!  This was a lot of fun.  It was very cool running past the Bellagio as the Fountain Show was playing.  There were also some fun music in this section and a Cher impersonator that I thought was really good.  My parents were planning to spectate around mile 3, between the Bellagio and the Cosmopolitan.  I couldn't see them so I did stop there for a bit too.  I tried to call my dad and got a hold of him but I was already past the spot they were at so he told me to keep going and they would see me later.

Next comes the not as fun part of the race.  Miles 6 to 9 were not as scenic and didn't have as much crowd support.  I had another stop in this section because I had forgotten to use body glide before the race and I was feeling it a bit on the underside of my arms.  So I stopped at a medical tent for some vaseline.  There was a spot around mile 8 or 9 where the race had set up a little dance party to liven up this section and that was cool.  I liked the music and lights and volunteers dancing, but they also decided to have a smoke machine which was not a good decision for people running!


Next, we came upon the lights of Freemont Street which was really cool!  I enjoyed seeing that then there was a turn and we could see the lights of the Strip again.  This meant the end was in sight!  I kept pushing on.  It seemed like a lot of people were having a hard time and sort of trudging along by this time.  It's hard to motivate when it seems like everyone around you is walking and you can see by the splits that I had a really hard time at mile 11.  I pulled it together a bit for mile 12 but then lost it again at mile 13.  It was also really crowded at this point because the marathon joined back up and a portion of the road was roped off for them.


Finally, the start line was in sight and I picked it up as much as I could to end strong.  I crossed the finish line and found one of my friends that finished before me.  We stretched and waited for our third friend.  We chatted as we walked down the LONG finisher's chute and got a medal, a bag with food, water and gatorade.  We all had a hard time with the race, due to the crowds and probably also the drier air.  My official finish time ended up being around 3:04 with the stops I had.

Watching the Bellagio fountains again from the finisher's chute

We had deliberately picked our hotel by proximity to the finish line.  We knew the finisher's chute let out by the Bellagio and our hotel had an indoor connection to the Bellagio.  So we went inside there as soon as we got out of the finisher chute and then we trudged back to our hotel to clean up before heading to a late dinner.

So what's the summary?  We're all glad we did it but also glad it wasn't a goal race.   And for me, I think it's a one and done.  It was a lot of fun but I don't feel any need to do it again.


Cons:  Crowds (at other big races I've felt like the crowds ease up for me in the back of the pack after a couple miles but that never seemed to happen here), evening race with lots of walking before the race, drier air than I'm used to

Pros:  Scenic, lots of spectators, seemed like a lot of music this year, lots of hydration stops and medical tents, relatively flat (the end is a gradual uphill), the logistics seemed really tightly run.  I also liked that a lot of the area got into the race with lots of signs around, discounts through the race, free shuttles from the hotels to the start, etc.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

RnR Vegas Expo and 5k

I'm going to go ahead and start my Vegas recap with the expo and the 5k.  We got up bright and early on Saturday (easy because of the time change).  This also meant we had an easy breakfast with no wait.  We went to Mon Ami Gabi, even though they have a location close to us, because they are so good with gluten free food and the friend I was with has a wheat allergy.  It was delicious!

Next we, met up with my parents at the Bellagio and took a bit of time to check out the conservatory there.  They change it up seasonally and it's always fun to check out the little details.


My parent's had a rental car which definitely made things easier.  We all piled into the car and drove to the Las Vegas Convention Center for the race expo.  It was a quick drive, 15 minutes or so, and we were able to find parking relatively easily since we got there around 10:30 am.  We walked into the expo and thankfully, the crowds weren't too bad at that point.  We were able to get a couple fun photo ops and then went straight toward package pick up.

Fooling around in front of the video of the course

There was a bit of a line but none of us had to wait for more than 2 or 3 people in front of us as the lines were split up pretty well by bib number.  After getting our bibs, we did have to wait in a separate line for our shirts but that line moved quickly too.

More Expo photo fun

And then we were off into the expo.  It was huge!  We wandered around a bit, sampled some stuff, my mom found a type of protein bar she really liked and ended up getting a whole case of it!  I found a headband that matched the outfit that I was wearing for the half and then we found a booth with a huge sale on shoes and clothing.  My mom and I both bought some winter work-out gear there.

I don't think we even got through half of the expo it was so big.  But after 90 minutes we were all tired and hungry so we headed out and to the Wynn where we had a delicious brunch at Tableau.  We had heard that all the restaurants at the Wynn were great with special diets and we were not disappointed.  They handled our table of 2 vegetarians, 1 vegan, and 1 gluten free diet with no problem at all.


After that, we went back to our hotel to nap and rest up before the 5k.  The race started at 5 (I think) so we decided to meet up at 3 at the Bellagio.  Once we met my dad there, we called for a Lyft.  We used Lyft throughout the weekend and it really was a great way to get around.  I'm glad we went with that option instead of the monorail as I heard it was pretty crowded.

Matching Elvis shirts for me and my dad!

Anyway, we took the Lyft to the SLS Hotel and walked across the street to where the 5k started.  The start area was right off the strip but the majority of the course was on a road parallel to the strip and it was aptly named Industrial Road.  It felt industrial and it had a great view of things like pawn shops, sex stores, etc.  But we could see the lights of the Las Vegas Strip hotels in the distance :)  And the race did an amazing job with the music, there was music almost the whole 5k.  I was pretty impressed.

View of Circus Circus on the Strip while waiting in the Corrals

We were accompanying my dad so we walked most of it.  My dad's goal was to make it in under 55 minutes, and we did with an official finish time of 54:07.  The course was pretty crowded, especially in the back where we were, but it wasn't too bad.  I think it would have been hard if you were trying to run the whole thing or had a time goal but we were going about the same speed as everyone around us and were situated well in the correct corral.  The only other downside of the race due to the crowds was how long we had to wait for our corral to even start.  I think it was around an hour that we were waiting and slowly shuffling up toward the start line.  That's a lot of time on your feet when you have a half marathon the next day.

Time for selfies since we were waiting so long to start

We finished and got out water and fruit cup.  The fruit cup seems like a weird choice since you need a spoon to eat it but it was actually really refreshing.  We also indulged in our free beer while listening to the band playing at the finish line festival :)  We also admired our medals.  They were huge and heavy!  They definitely did not skimp on the 5k medals.

My dad and friend crossing under the Guitar guy

After we finished our beer, we headed back to the SLS hotel and called another Lyft once we got there.  I have to say, we had a lot of great Lyft drivers all weekend and had a really interesting conversation with this guy.  The traffic was pretty bad trying to get back to the hotel so it was a good thing he was a good conversationalist :)

Showing off the medal while listening to the post-race band

We eventually got back to the hotel and cleaned up to head out to dinner.  My mom had read about good vegan options at Lemongrass, which was located at the Aria hotel.  And this was another one that did not disappoint at all.  There were lots of vegan or gluten-free options and we were all really happy here.  Plus we had left-overs for later in the week :)


So that's the end of this long day and long post.  I'm hoping to recap the half marathon next week.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Race 13.1 Baltimore training weeks 11 and 12

I'm back!  I've been off in Las Vegas but I got back Thursday night and am ready to get back into sharing how my training is going :)  And of course, I did the Rock and Roll Las Vegas 5k and Half Marathon while I was gone so I will be sharing those race recaps soon too.  But for now, here is my summary.

Monday - Rest day

Tuesday - Yoga for runners


Wednesday - Rest day

Thursday - 35 minutes on the elliptical


Friday  - Flying to Vegas!  We also spent a lot of time dancing at the Britney Spears concert :)


Saturday- Lots of walking at the expo plus the 5k with my dad in the evening.


Sunday- Half marathon day!


Monday - A lot of walking around Vegas plus a wonderful massage and seeing a Cirque Du Soleil show in the evening.


Tuesday - More walking around Vegas


Wednesday - Hiking around Death Valley with a friend from LA


Thursday - rest day and traveling back home

Friday - rest day and back to work

Saturday- Met up with a friend for 7 miles in the morning


Sunday- Runner's World Yoga Essentials

And that's it!  It was a whirlwind of a 2 weeks.  I'm happy to be back at home and trying to settle back into a routine.  I was pretty much off social media while I was gone (other than posting photos to instagram) but I'm planning to catch up on blogs this week as well.

I'm linking up with HoHoRuns and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap.

 Weekly Wrap 51 Taste the Rainbow

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Radical Self Care

I am making a commitment to myself to re-engage in self care.  There is plenty of unkindness in the world but none of it needs to come from myself.  This includes taking care of myself, mind and body.

I am making a commitment to not eat out so much because I know both my mind and body feel healthier when I eat fresh, balanced, whole foods.  And I know my wallet feels better when I eat at home more.

Or at least choose healthy options when I do eat out

I am making a commitment to continue engaging in physical activities I enjoy.  Yoga and running are both healing for my mind and body.  But I will not judge myself during these activities and will instead concentrate on how I feel.  I will give myself permission to indulge in these activities in ways that make me feel good.

And taking more time to be out in nature and on the trails while running

I am making a commitment not to over-indulge in alcohol.  I have to remember that I always feel worse afterward.  And there will be bonus benefit to my wallet here as well.

I am making a commitment to re-introduce meditation into my routine.  And I am giving myself permission to say no as needed.  If I need to stay home to engage in all these behaviors, I am going to give myself the freedom to do just that and be gentle with myself.

And more kitty cuddles are always good for my well being!

And lastly, I am making a commitment to get involved in my community again. It has been a while since I've volunteered anywhere other than at races.  I need to give back in a way that reminds me the world is a larger place with lots of good in it.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Race 13.1 Baltimore training week 10

This week did not go well on the working out front.  It is what it is.  There were just a bunch of little things that came up that prevented me from getting it done.  None of them were huge on their own but together, they resulted in me not getting things done.  Oh well, here is what did happen last week.

We had a work conference that took over a bit as we prepared for it all week.  The conference itself was Thursday and Friday.  Part of Thursday's activities was going to Mt. Vernon for a tour.  It ended up being a beautiful day and I really enjoyed Mt. Vernon.

Sunday was my only day working out this week.  I met up with friends for a run in the morning.  None of us had gotten in any runs during the week so we all struggled a bit.  I don't know why but this 7-8 miles felt tougher than my 11-12 miles last week!  But it was a beautiful trail we were on and we even got a glimpse of some deer while we were out there.

Another fun activity on Sunday is that we met up again after getting cleaned up from our run.  We included our husbands this time and went to check out a distillery in Frederick, Maryland.  It was really cool to see how the distillery process works and taste some of the offerings.  We ended up buying a bottle of the peppermint vodka and the citrus vodka to take home as they were both delicious!

So that's my week.Not much but work but hopefully this week will be better.  It's finally race week!  I leave for Vegas on Friday so hopefully the week goes by quickly :)

I'm linking up with HoHoRuns and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap.

 Weekly Wrap 51 Taste the Rainbow

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Running Memories

You know how Facebook shows you memories from that particular date in the past?  Well this one just popped up for me yesterday as a memory from November 1, 2013.

"I am flirting with the idea of increasing my running distances. I've just been doing 5ks up to now. I might try to train for a 10k next spring or summer. Any tips from you runners? Having said that, I just finished a training run for my 5k in a couple weeks and feel like I'm about to die."

It's so interesting to see how far I've come in a couple years.  So after putting that post up at the end of 2013, I signed up for a beginning running training group with the local road runner's club.  We trained for a 5k and I learned a lot of great information about getting into running.

Of course it rained during our goal 5k for the training group

Then, I did my first 10k in June of 2014 where I learned my first lesson about races in hot weather.

After that, I joined up with another training group for my first half marathon. This race taught me a lot about persevering and what I am capable of doing.  It was an unseasonably cold race and I really appreciated the blanket as a finisher premium!

Thankfully Mike met me at the finish with warm clothes to put on

After that, I went to Rock and Roll DC 2015 as my second half marathon.  This is the first race where I didn't follow the training plan to a T.  I had an injured foot and a trip to India in that training cycle.  And to add insult to injury, it rained all through that race.  So this race taught me that I can run a half even if I have less than ideal training or less than ideal race day conditions.

Next was the Wine and Dine half in Disney World.  This is the race where I had a great training cycle, but then the race was delayed around an hour and shortened to around 7 miles due to the threat of lightning.  I learned to roll with the punches and that even when I control the training, I can't control everything about race day itself.

Then we have Rock and Roll DC in 2016. This is the race where I trained with friends through the Winter and they ran their first half marathon!  I learned about how rewarding it is to run with friends and share their triumphs.

And now, I'm coming up on Half Marathon number 4 (I don't count Wine and Dine since the race ended up shortened) in a couple weeks!  I'm excited and feel ready to learn whatever this race has in store to teach me :)  I also enjoyed this reminder from Facebook to look back at my running journey and how far I've come since I first posted that question 3 years ago.  Sometimes when I'm struggling on a run and things are tough, I forget how far I've already come on this journey and it's good to have this look back.  And it's also a good reminder that most of the time when I look back on races, it's not the finishing time that I remember but the experience.