Thursday, November 21, 2019

Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon Race Recap

This past Sunday was the Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon. {And this was my fifth year in a row running it.}

Ready to rock and ROLL my way to my 56th half marathon finish!

If you've been around my corner of the InterWebs for a while, you probably remember that I normally join some "crazy" friends and turn the weekend into a multi-race weekend. With #RnRLV not starting until 4pm on Sunday afternoon, it's the perfect opportunity to squeeze in a race on Saturday (or even Sunday) morning. Last year we did the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon on Saturday morning, the Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas 5K on Saturday evening and then the Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon on Sunday {we called it #Dirt2Strip}. In 2017 I "only" did the 5K {where I dressed as Elvis Presley} on Saturday and the Half Marathon on Sunday. In 2016 it was a Vegas only weekend again with the 5K {where I dressed as the Welcome To Vegas sign with battery powered lights and everything} on Saturday and the Half Marathon on Sunday. And in 2015 we did a #SD2LV trip where we ran the Silver Strand Half Marathon in San Diego on Saturday morning and the Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon on Sunday. I know, I know, we are cray-cray, but we love it!

An assortment of photos from some of those past races.

Last year we decided we weren't going to do the 5K any longer. The course is crappy (you aren't even on the strip), it's dark, the street is tore up, there are a bunch of turns and it's crowded... It's just not that great. We threw around the idea of maybe going to a show instead or a fancy dinner, but all we really knew was we weren't registering for the 5K on Saturday night. When the idea of what Saturday race to run arose I did something out of the norm. Instead of jumping on board immediately, I asked the hubby if he would want to rock climb at Red Rock Canyon. He loves bouldering there so I suggested I could opt out of a Saturday race and we could drive (he needs his pad and gear, so flying isn't really an option) so he could climb. It took him all of three and a half seconds to agree, so that's how I ended up at Red Rock on Saturday morning, taking pictures and videos of my hubby climbing instead of running another race. #GoodWifePoints

On the walk to the boulders I saw these rocks, which I thought looked like they said "I <3 U".

But let me back up just a few hours so you can get all the nitty-gritty deets (okay, so maybe my madre and daddy-o are the only ones who care about the minute details, but it's my blog so I'll share them if I want to ;)). With rock climbing, you don't necessarily want it too warm outside, which can be difficult in the desert. You see, when it's hot, your hands sweat more and become softer, which makes rock climbing harder (due to less friction). Our goal was to leave the house around 4:45am so we'd be to Red Rock a little after 9. Thankfully the roads were clear and we didn't have to worry about traffic.

Obviously the hubby slept while I drove (but it could be 2pm in the afternoon and he'd still doze off... he says it rocks him to sleep like a baby...). {My mom suggested I make a collage of all the "sleeping Ryan" shots... I think I need to do that!}

It's a good thing I prefer driving anyway, right?!

I guess that's why I get free reign to choose the audiobook we listen to since he misses at least half of it every time!

We stopped in Primm to fill up gas, so I snapped a quick photo before running in for the restroom.

After Ryan climbed for a few hours we made our way over to the race expo. I grabbed my bib (it felt weird not having to pick up multiple bibs!) and participant shirt, then we walked through the aisles so I could say HI to some friends.

I loved the graphic, but it's too bad they misspelled Wyoming, huh?!

Welcome to Vegas, baby!

We stayed at The Linq this year because we snagged a great deal a few months back and it would be convenient for Sunday's finish line {FYI - The 10K, Half and Full Marathons all finish at the same spot}. Check-in wasn't supposed to be until 4pm but we decided we'd head over early and see if there was a possibility to get into the room. Thankfully there was a room available and we got settled by 3. [Remember, we're currently in our No Spend November challenge, so since The Linq charges for parking that meant we parked at The Palazzo's free parking garage and then walked the half a mile or so down to where we were staying. We also packed all of our own food because we wouldn't be eating out while in town.]

Of course I had a list to remind us what we had for meals...

Saturday evening was chill. We watched some college football and waited for Brian, David, Richard and Carmen to get into town. Once they were showered (the guys ran the Lexus LaceUp Palos Verdes Half Marathon that morning before jumping on a flight to Vegas), we joined them for dinner {well, Ryan and I ate our PB&J's beforehand [The Linq doesn't have microwaves, so whatever food we brought couldn't require cooking ;)] so just hung out and enjoyed their company while they ate at Tao}. I guess it's a good thing we didn't decide on a show since our No Spend November would've put a kink in those plans. (Hubby was already heart broken because we couldn't go to his fave pizza place, Pizza Rock... oops!)


I'll be honest, night races aren't usually my jam because I never really know what or when to eat before them, but one of the positives is not having to set any crazy alarms for Sunday morning. Well, we did meet up with the crew at Hash House A Go Go for breakfast (again, we ate beforehand but thankfully they didn't seem to mind that we were just along for the friendship and not for the food) at 7:30am, but my body is used to waking up early anyway so it wasn't an issue.


After breakfast the hubby and I went back to the room to do a little maxing and relaxing. While the hubby did a little more snoozing (he is not so much a morning person, hehe), I watched some football and made sure I had everything I needed.

Since it's a night race I had to break out all my reflective gear. The bottom picture shows with a flash.
#FlatCarlee consisted of (well, besides my die, haha) Black and White PRO Compression sock,
a black Handful bra, black reflective chevron Sparkle Athletic skirt, black lululemon Swiftly Tech top,
reflective Brooks canopy jacket (older model), reflective Brooks Chaser hat (older model), white and
black QALO wedding bands
, black Momentum Jewelry wrap, COROS APEX watch, and Brooks Ghost 11.

Yep... In the past I had only dressed up for the 5K, but since we weren't running that race I thought I'd try a costume for the half marathon. The issue was, I waited until a couple weeks before the race to decide I wanted to run in some sort of costume, and at that point we couldn't spend money. One afternoon I told myself if there was a square box in the recycle-ables I'd try and make a die. Low and behold the dumpster gods were shining down on me and a near perfect sized box appeared ;) We had plenty of black and white paint, so I got to work. I ended up doing quite a few coats of paint (I think it took four or five of the white so none of the cardboard was showing through) but I was happy with the final product.

Walt is never very impressed with my creations... Ah well... 

While trying on the box, I quickly realized something was different between the die cardboard box and the Ms. PacMan costume I had made for Rock 'N' Roll Los Angeles. You see, I physically made the Ms. PacMan costume from different pieces of cardboard, so I was able to make it just wide enough for my shoulders. This worked perfectly because I was able to add arm holes into the side. Well, although I fit inside of the found die box, it wasn't a perfect fit. I had to decide whether I'd want to keep my arms inside of the box (I had enough room to swing them a bit inside the box, but it did make the whole thing shift around) or if I wanted to cut holes in the sides but run awkwardly with my arms out like chicken wings. In the end I decided to run with my arms inside of the box, even though I knew this would lead to problems like drinking at aid stations and not being able to catch myself if I fell over... I was hoping the good would outweigh the bad ;)

I'm an old pro at running side of cardboard costumes, HAHA!

We met in the lobby at 1:30pm, which may seem crazy early for a 4:30pm race start (and it is), but we had to walk down to the runners' village and the line to get through security in years past has been crazy long so we wanted to give ourselves enough time (also, the first wave, which we were in, opened at 3:30). And there was a #WeRunSocial meet-up at 2:45pm.

When we arrived there was like zero security line, so we walked right in. Since we were so early we snapped a few pictures and got the lay of the land. We also stopped by the port-o-potties (there were a ton, but then again, there were only like 100 of us milling around so of course we didn't have to wait in line), gear check trucks (the hubby would be meeting us at the finish, so he'd be bringing my jacket, but I'd absolutely suggest checking a layer or two in your gear bag because when the sun goes down and you stop running it can get chilly) and the foam rolling/ stretching area.

We almost needed a panoramic picture for this one ;) 

This is how we ROLL ;) {Lisa and Carmen were actually rolling, I was using
the bathroom and left my box so Brian decided to have a little photo fun}

Eventually it was time to meet up with all our running friends. We had a decent turn out and I loved seeing and chatting with everyone. It was a little rough trying to give hugs to folks while I was in my box, but thankfully everyone understood ;)

These three are quality guys right here! Lucky to have them in my life!

Around 3:30pm we made our way to the gate and they released the blue bibbed runners to the street. The course had changed again this year, as had the walk to the corrals. Last year I remember thinking the walk to the start was a cluster (they said you had to go to the runners' village, but the walk to the start was open for everyone {at points just random tourists were getting swallowed up in the hoards of runners walking to the start} and it definitely didn't seem closed off or secure). This year the walk was a little more streamlined (we were walking down back alleys to get back to the strip), but it did feel a bit like cattle. Thankfully the time we spent walking to the start wasn't too long (with the shooting that occurred in 2017 ever present, our safety and surroundings are definitely things I pay more attention to now than I had before).

Once we got out onto the strip the crowd spread out a bit which was nice.

As with all of the Rock 'N' Roll races I've run, the corrals are more just suggestions. No one is enforcing where runners should go (I actually don't even remember if people were checking the color of our bib, but maybe that's because I was focused on not knocking into people with my box than I was looking for volunteers) and the size of the corrals (notated with blow up signs on the side of the street) are pretty laughable for the number of people they are trying to squeeze in. We always joke that we need a flag to carry so the group can see where we are going (it gets pretty crazy trying to squeeze through the masses to get up to our appropriate spot), but we were able to reconvene without any lost souls ;)

Not only is trying to fit into the corrals difficult, but so is fitting everyone into a selfie ;)

Before long we were counting down the chair and elite start before the rest of the runners were getting ready to hit the strip. In years past they've spread out the start between corrals (or at least between chunks of runners) a little more, but once the race started it seemed like there was maybe only 10 seconds between the next set of runners going. I'm not sure if they had complaints about how spread out the starting times were and that's why they changed it or what the rationale was, but I think it played into the overly crowded feeling on the course (at least it felt more crowded than in years past).

Ready to rock and ROLL! And hope I don't DIE since I didn't have use of my arms...

If you've read my recaps from years past (or have looked at a course map), you may know that the first detour we make is to the Welcome To Vegas sign. It's about a mile and a half into the race and it's normally a good place to regroup with friends who may have slipped away from the pack. This year there was a stage in front of the sign (I guess that's where they were doing the "run thru wedding" this year) which was sort of an annoyance, but we made it work.

No one knew the Elvis that jumped into our picture... but that's okay ;) 

It's hard to get great night shots, but at least the reflective gear was on point! 

Once we all got our pictures we merged back into the race and got to running. There was a tribute to those lost in the 2017 shooting at the turn-around point. There was an ensemble of musicians on stage and the music they were playing was beautiful. It definitely was a moment for reflection and thanksgiving. I could have stayed there for a lot longer.

I took this picture of the Vegas Strong sign at the Expo, but it was the backdrop behind the musicians.

The next stop I made was to see the hubby. He wanted to get in a run, so ended up running about 2 miles from the hotel to see us on the course (and then ran the 2 miles back so he could shower and eat dinner before meeting us at the finish line). I pulled over so I could give him a quick kiss and he snapped a couple photos. He's the bestest!

Normally I hate pictures of me running away, but it's pretty funny to see a die running down the street!

When I caught back up with the group they were keeping great pace. As you may remember, my groin has been angry with me since the Ventura Marathon about four weeks ago so I wasn't sure how it'd hold up (besides running the REVEL Big Bear Half Marathon the weekend before this race I had mostly been either biking on my stationary bike or resting), but thankfully it wasn't giving me much of an issue - not sure if it is slowly getting better or if it is the CBD balm I use.


This race is always about the fun, friends and memories. I know some people will race it (I mean, someone always has to win, right?!), but this will never be that kind of race for me. Don't get me wrong, it's normally decent weather (once the sun sets it cools down and you can get some great running temperatures) and the course is flat, but that's about where the pros for running fast end (at least in my opinion). Some years the crew we roll with is small, while other times the group is so large that we all have to take a number and count off when leaving aid stations to make sure we aren't losing people or leaving anyone behind. We normally end up running a two-ish hour half marathon with about thirty to forty-five minutes worth of stops for pictures and shenanigans along the way. It's what we've deemed "Party Pace".

We couldn't catch this guy breathing fire, but we still snagged a shot with him.

In fact, we're so serious about the party that we always stop about a mile before the finish so folks can grab a beer... I mean, it's Vegas... (I don't drink beer, so I don't partake, but I may have enjoyed a shot of Fireball before we left the bar.)

While everyone else drinks their beer, I'll just make a crazy face and stand in the middle - HAHA!

I would say that the die costume was a HUGE success. I got shout outs from runners and spectators alike. Most of the runners were flabbergasted that I could run with my arms inside the box for the entire race, while most of the spectators were drunk and just looking for something to yell about ;) Surprisingly the box wasn't as difficult to run in as I was expecting. It did get rather toasty inside since there was no air movement, but it wasn't terrible. I ended up pushing my arms out on the edges of the box while I ran because it helped to keep the box from moving around and made me feel a little more stable in the process. The only bummer part was that because I didn't have use of my hands I couldn't give out high-fives or take photos along the course (all of the pictures included in this post were photos other folks took and kindly sent to me after the race). Oh yeah, and drinking at aid stations wasn't as hard as I was expecting either. I was able to get my hand up through the top of the box at my neck hole, so I just stopped at a volunteer, explained that I would need them to put the cup in my hand and then was able to shimmy it up to my mouth and grab a couple sips. Originally I was thinking I wouldn't be able to drink at all, so being able to slurp down a couple cup fulls of water on course was nice.

My favorite aid station was obviously the one where we saw our favorite
vegan hotdog! She will be joining us at the LA Marathon in March - YAY!

I made it to the finish line without falling, so I'm considering it a success!
PS How awesome is it that this picture was on the Review Journal. Doesn't it SCREAM Vegas?! 

Seeing as we are still on our No Spend November, I won't be registering for next year's race quite yet (and since I haven't worked out my 2020 calendar I'm not 100% certain this race will be included, which is crazy to think I might skip it, but we will see), but if you're interested to run the #StripAtNight, you can take advantage of the presale prices till November 24th.

We did it! 

This race is never about the finish time... but the time spent with friends on the course!

Everyone joked and asked if I added a medal hanger in my box... I didn't, I was just holding it at the neck hole ;)
And isn't the chair/foot stool that we found at Secret Pizza PERFECT! 

Word on the street is Las Vegas just approved a Rock 'N' Roll race for April (starting in 2021), so I'll be interested to see what happens to this race in the future. The April race is supposedly going to be on Saturday, which would make it more difficult for a multi-race weekend, but would be easier for folks who have to work on Monday (seems like you either have to take a redeye flight Sunday night, a super early flight Monday morning or take the day off work if you aren't local).

We stopped by Seven Magic Mountains on the drive home so I could snap a #MedalMonday picture.
The race bling glows in the dark, has a flat bottom so it can stand on it's own and the poker chip
on the top spins. It isn't as large as medals we've received in the past, but the design gets two thumbs up.

What do you think is more impressive - running in a box for a half marathon or not spending money while in Vegas?


Andrew said...

Terrific recap as always, Carlee! I loved your costume. And thank you SO MUCH for your shouts of encouragement when we saw each other on the course! However dull you think the 5K course is, the back half of the marathon course is ten times worse. Not doing that again. Next year: PARTYPACE.

Meredith said...

I thinks it’s crazy that you didn’t spend any money in Vegas. So much good good and beverages to partake in. I would’ve bought gift cards in October for the places I knew I absolutely had to go to. Your outfit was on point. You always look like you’re having so much fun. Before I forget-Go Blue!