I know this race recap is a long time coming, but I am finally sitting down to hash it all out. In 2015, I was a Rock n Blog team member for Rock n Roll Marathon Series. Unfortunately due to other scheduling conflicts, RNR Las Vegas was the only race I was able to participate in. It was kind of a last minute trip, but I was able to find a decent hotel deal and relatively cheap flights from Atlanta (about 4 hours away from us). Originally I had planned to travel alone but the more I got to thinking about it, I wanted TJ to come with me which of course he was more than willing. Side note: It was TJ’s very first flight ever and he got put next to a woman who ended up puking on him several times. Poor guy!
We left ATL late Friday night ended up landing in Vegas minutes before midnight and most of the shuttle services had already closed. We really didn’t want to pay a taxi but one last shuttle service was open and ended up taking us to our hotel in a LIMOUSINE for the same price as a shuttle. Unfortunately our hotel, The Stratosphere, had given away our non-smoking room so we had to settle for a smoking room (YUCK) but had to wait over two hours for housekeeping to clean it. We finally got our room keys around 3am.
The next morning my body surprisingly woke me up super early thanks to the time change and we headed to Expo. This being my very first RNR experience, I didn’t know what to expect. It was HUGE. People were everywhere but it was super organized. I was able to easily retrieve my bibs and packets for both the 5k and the half. Since both races were at night AND you got an extra medal for the Remix Challenge, I decided to do both. We made our way around to the various booths and let me tell you…companies do it BIG for Vegas. The Brooks booth had a massive foot stomping volcano race, a mechanical shoe, and tons of cool prizes to give away. I was so overwhelmed with all of the amazing booths! We were sort of short on time so we did a quick walk through and then caught the monorail back to our hotel. We spent the remainder of the day hitting up all of the hotels and casinos on the Strip before making it back to the hotel for a quick nap prior to the 5k. Fortunately, the 5k was right in front of our hotel so I was able to grab some sleep and walk right outside a few blocks to the race area.
The 5k was jamming! A company was handing out “thunder sticks” that lit up so it was one big massive party. We hadn’t planned very well as far as spectating goes but I told TJ where to meet me when it was over and we would both have our cell phones if there was an issue. I took my place in my corral and waited for the fun to begin. There were lots of cool costumes all around and everyone seemed to be in a great mood. The music playing through the speakers was deafening but I didn’t mind. Since I was so far back, I was able to see loads of people actually finish the race before I even made it to the start line. Once the race started, everyone went crazy cheering and clapping and banging their thunder sticks. High fives were plenty and everyone just seemed happy to be there. We made our way onto a long road for an out and back so I enjoyed seeing people who were making their way back to the finish line. I stuck to mostly walking with a little bit of running bursts throughout. I felt like I was in slow motion seeing all the sights and sounds that Vegas had to offer. This small town girl was NOT used to big city life. I forgot which exact mileage point it was in the race, but around the last mile, we just weaved in and out of one big parking lot. It was kind of confusing because you saw people running on all sides of you throughout but couldn’t really tell where you were. RNR did a great job of keeping it well lit with lots of glowy things including a huge glow tunnel, but it was a little discouraging to have the finish line be just yards away from you yet being so far from finishing. Finally I made it to the finish line, collected my medal and a drink and went to the meeting spot to find TJ. There was a live band playing and lots of post race entertainment but it was so late by my internal clock that I was ready to be back at the hotel.
Once we made it back and I showered and cleaned myself up, we headed back to the monorail and over to the Bellagio. I have ALWAYS wanted to see the Bellagio fountains and they were just as beautiful in person as I have always imagined. We also treated ourselves to the Bellagio buffet since one of our goals was to eat at a Vegas buffet. It was a little fancy for our country palates but we did enjoy and attempted to try a little of everything.
The next morning and early afternoon was spent with more sight seeing. We went to see “old Vegas” and visited Golden Nugget and had our picture made with one million dollars. Binion’s Casino takes your photo in front of it and gives you two free copies…yes FREE. I didn’t think anything was free in Vegas. We had lunch at a local food court and tried our hand at some blackjack. I only wagered 20 dollars the entire time I was there but that was good enough for a couple of hours of entertainment. For some reason I was exhausted so we took another nap before getting ready for the half marathon. I woke up feeling sick to my stomach and groggy. This was not good. I tried to eat some crackers and calm my nerves but nothing was working. We eventually hopped on the monorail to make our way to the start line. Our hotel is the monorail’s first stop and the start line at MGM is its last stop so we boarded an empty train and by the end of it we were all packed like sardines. The temperature had began to drop and everyone around me was wearing ear muffs, gloves, and scarves. I started to worry that I was underdressed with my capris and tank top but I tried to focus on feeling better instead of worrying about others. The talk on the train was the winds and that got me even more worked up. Walking to the start line had me in a ball of nerves for some reason and the wind was really picking up. I was cold, my belly hurt, and I felt exhausted. I tried to keep a brave face as I kissed TJ goodbye and made my way to my corral.
Originally I was supposed to be in a corral near the back since I’m currently a walker, but our plane left Vegas that night and I was terrified of it taking over an hour to get to the start line, having a long race, making my way back to the hotel, and then getting to airport on time, so I checked with the customer service reps and they allowed me to get into a single digit corral. I know I was probably one of those people that get trash talked about on internet groups for jumping ahead to another corral but I tried to be super respectful by staying super far to the side-so far that I almost tripped on the curb several times. I kept my head held high as I marched down the Strip. Not too far into the race we ran by the famous Welcome to Las Vegas sign. Photographers were there taking photos of people but since I was in a time crunch I just snapped a selfie and moved on.
The wind was atrocious. It was blowing soooo ridiculously hard AND it began to rain. The rain drops felt like knives stabbing your body since the wind was blowing so hard and the temperatures had dropped. Sand that was on the road was blowing in people’s eyes and it stung my bare legs as it blew into me. I was miserable but I kept telling myself that I was in VEGAS and that it could always be worse. The more I tried to do some positive talk in my head, the more then wind blew. It was not fun. The only thing that kept me going was seeing all the beautiful people dressed up in costumes as Elvis and runaway brides and to look at all the magnificent hotels lit up at night. This kept me surprisingly entertained.
Around mile 6 I really wanted to give up. We passed my hotel and I deeply wanted to just get off course and go inside and say that I’ll try again next year. Obviously I didn’t do that but it sure was tempting. Miles 8-10 were super miserable. The wind was still blowing, the ground was slick, and the people had began to thin out. I continued my power walk and reminded myself to run my own race. At this point, my hips were hurting and my feet were cramping. I had never experienced such pain in a race before other than my full marathon. Around 10.5 I began to cry so I texted TJ and told him that I didn’t think I could finish. Somehow and some way I saw him standing on the street around mile 11 and I ran to him sobbing. He took me by the arm and began to walk with me. I just complained and complained and complained some more and began to cry even harder. Looking back, I have no idea why I was so emotional but between the exhaustion, the weather, and my pain, I was just a complete wreck. TJ made it to mile 12 with me and urged me to go on. I told him I would never make it to the finish line unless he came with me. So he did. All the way to the finish line. TJ crossed the finish line with me holding my hand and my arms. I was so grateful to be finished and to have someone by my side.
I collected my medal and slowly made my way with TJ through the finisher’s chute. By the way, the chute was LONG. So long. Like probably almost half a mile long (no exaggeration). Since I had basically stopped, I slowly began to feel the sickness creep up that sometimes plagues me after races. My head started to spin and I could hear my ears ringing. I told TJ we needed to get out of there ASAP and that I needed a space blanket. I was told that they were out of space blankets but another person actually gave me theirs. All of a sudden I felt so sick that I just needed to lay down. Usually laying down relieves my light headed feeling and I can sort of get my bearings (read: Flying Pig) so I asked TJ to go farther down the chute to try to find me some sort of sports drink or food. He came back empty handed and the tears began again. How could I continue feeling like this and how could we possibly make it back to the hotel on the complete other side of town? After walking more and about four more times of lying down, we finally found some Gatorade and chocolate milk. I chugged them both so hard to tried to lick the salt off the pretzels that TJ gave me. I was so worried that a race official was going to bring medic to me (my biggest fear), but TJ had his firefighting jacket on so I think some people assumed that he was actually my medic.
FINALLY we made it past the chute and TJ stood in line to grab my Remix medal while I laid down on the road. We slowly but surely made it back to the monorail and back to the hotel. I was able to shower and put on some warm clothes and sip on some sports drink. I only had about 30 mins to do all of this before we needed to catch the shuttle to the airport. We received and email saying our flight was delayed but our shuttle was already on the way so we went downstairs to wait. And wait, and wait,and wait. Turns out, we were waiting in the wrong area and after 40ish minutes we finally figured that out. Our shuttle had already left us and after a call to the company they said that we were a no show so we would have to pay again and catch another shuttle an hour later which put us in jeopardy of missing our flight. Guess what? I started crying. Again. Can you tell that I was super emotional for some reason???? The valet guy had heard all of this and right as we were hitting the escalator to go back to our room he came running through the lobby screaming for us that another shuttle from that company had just pulled up. We ran back to the shuttle area and talked to the driver and said his route got rerouted due to the marathon road closures and that our passes were still good for his shuttle. It was a complete miracle!!!! Another lady on the bus ended up originally being from Knoxville, too, so we had some great conversation on the way to the airport.
After a super long delay deep into the night (like 2am), we eventually made it on our plane and back to Atlanta. I took a nap in the airport floor while waiting for the plane to get to our gate. Classy, I know. It was a long four hour drive home from ATL and I was so thankful to be home in my own bed.
Overall it was a super eventful (and quick!) trip, but I’m so glad that we got to spend the weekend in Vegas and that I was able to knock off another state. Other than the insanely long finisher’s chute, this race was very organized and I’m glad that I was able to actually run the Las Vegas Strip at night as my Nevada race. Who knows…maybe it is in the cards for me again this year?? You should definitely add this race to your bucket list, although I do recommend staying longer than we did.