Saturday, November 30, 2013

Race Recap: Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas [The Race]

 Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas | November 17, 2013
Las Vegas, NV

I was not expecting this race to go well. I was not expecting it to be pretty. I was not expecting to hurt that badly, however, at the end. I was undertrained, underprepared... and still fighting the last of my bronchitis. Recipe for disaster, right? Well the good news is that I finished. And I didn't die, though my tweets may have suggested otherwise.
I digress. I was anxious to run RnRLV for quite some time -- it was my first RnR race, part one of earning the Desert Double Down, first run in Nevada to make for State #9, and obviously, an awesome ladies' running weekend (check out #ladiesrunvegas on Instagram if you missed out). I needed some girl time, some fun, frolicking race time to find my running groove again and feel like I was back in the swing of things. Goals for the race? Don't die, have fun, and find that groove. 

Pre Race
My only major gripe about pre-race was the lack of marking about where exactly bag check was. Thankfully, we had a spectator in our group who volunteered himself to hold our bag(s) (thank you Kevin!) since we were already pressed for time as it were. Otherwise, finding our corral (sooo many corrals) wasn't terrible and the wait was tolerable. 

Other favorite.
Whoever that lady was at the start line was absolutely phenomenal -- she had just as much energy for the Corral 29ers as she did for the Corral 10ers, and you couldn't tell there was any sign of slowing down. She certainly got me pumped for the race ahead and made me excited to finally be there (up until about 2 minutes before go time, I really could have cared less, truthfully). 

The crowd was certainly fantastic and had a major buzz going on -- not the Vegas kind, just the pre-race, pre-energy, pre-excited kind! 

Trista's cabbie had mentioned that this was one of the more dead weekends he'd seen all year, which took me by surprise given the 30,000+ runnerrs that were there for the weekend and the fight and all the general shenanigans. It wasn't until we were along the course that I kind of saw what he meant... 

Race Time
Running selfie because why not?
 Given the shape I was in, or lack there of, I wasn't sure what my game plan was. I could run with Tina and try and pace her to a PR. I could run with Heather and Trista and maybe get them to PRs. Our corrals were all over the place (I was 15, Tina in 26, HP and T in 29), and while we all ended up starting in the same corrals, I started with the plan of hanging with Tina and Erica just to see what I could hold on to. If I was feeling terrible (thank you, bronchitis), I could back off and hang with HP and Trista. 

I was good until Mile 5 or so -- Tina was taking walk breaks every little bit, and my lungs didn't feel as though they were on fire! I called it a success. I goofed around, stopped for photos along the early parts (including my first-ever photo with the Welcome to Las Vegas sign) and generally tried to ensure I was just having fun -- part of the goal, keep in mind. 

Around Mile 5, I stopped and let Tina and Erica go ahead. I hung back longer than I planned, but Heather wasn't far behind, so waited on her and walk-ran with her and Trista for just under a mile. When they stopped, I realized that I was already starting to hurt so badly (mind you, Mile 7!) that I knew if I a) kept stopping and b) walk-ran, that I'd likely end up walking the entire last half of the race. Out of shape or not, that's not how I roll. 

I jogged at a decent pace (10:40s, 11:10s) through Mile 9 just to keep hustling and found myself very (happily) distracted by the Strip. I mentioned the crowds, or lack there of, because I expected there to be a lot more people on the pedestrian bridges and along the sides of the Strip -- not nearly as crowded as I had expected! And was kind of disappointed.

Whatever mile it was, I think about 9, we head east of the Strip into a residential/industrial area. While I knew this was coming, many thanks to blogs I've read and generally knowing the downtown Las Vegas area, I was not expecting it to be as pitch black as it were -- there were TWO flood lights in a dark, dark, dark, 1.5 mile stretch. Not okay, yo, not okay. I ran with my head straight down that entire time in sheer fear of putting my toe into a crack and face-planting. 

Mile 11 is where I wanted to stop. Honestly. I walked, shuffled, and half whined through the last two miles and shuffled (literally) through the finish. Done and done. That was miserable. 

Personal worst mostly-solo half marathon time ever (official chip of 2:54:13) and a major, major, major foot pain that's still lingering almost two weeks later. Of all of us, we all had a pretty lousy race day. It happens. And I knew it'd be coming for me, so though it sucks to see such a time, I also know I couldn't have asked for a ton better considering the circumstances. 

For the reputation that Rock 'n Roll has (especially with their Las Vegas race), I've got a few thoughts. 

a) The quality of bands was great, but the number of bands? Not so much.
b) Glow in the dark metals sure are a way to win my heart. 
c) Sketchy areas need to be lit (and secured) with more than two flood lights.
d) Running a half marathon in Vegas (and taking care of yourself the way you should pre-race) certainly makes it hard to have a Vegas weekend in Vegas). 
e) Expo was awesome.
f) The full ran through Fremont, the half didn't -- and that was my major course disappointment! I had looked forward to it all weekend, running under the tunnel of lights. Boo.
g) If you're not used to large races, this can be really overwhelming.

I'm not sure I'll run Vegas again. Truthfully, after Phoenix, not sure I'll run a Rock 'n Roll again (though I DO want to do San Diego, but that's just 'caus it's San Diego!). But it was a good time, all things considered! 

Did you run Vegas, or have you? Your thoughts?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sin City, Here We Come!

By the time you read this... gooooood morning!

Off for an early flight in the morning to RnRLV - finally! It seems like forever ago we talked about this, forever ago that I finally signed up, and even though it's only been like six weeks, I feel like the airline tickets were purchased months ago.

Magenta and highlighter yellow are apparently my themes for the weekend.
IT'S HERE! So I'm off on a stupidly early flight to Vegas tomorrow morning, landing within half an hour of both Tina and  Heather, and then it's expo goodness time!

Tomorrow evening, I'm joining in on this:

SO excited to meet some of the fabulous F3 folks -- and get a little more in tune with what they're all about. Can't wait!

Of course, Sunday afternoon is race day. I'm not all about paying $5 for y'all to track me, 'caus that's ridiculous, but I'll holler when I'm done. Now that this nasty chest cold (er... bronchitis, but whatever) knocked me out this week, I'm even more so running this for fits and giggles. Far from trained, just out to have a good time. It is Vegas after all!

Who else is playing in Vegas this weekend with me!?

Monday, November 11, 2013

An Open Love Letter to Running

Dear running:

We've had a tumultuous relationship the last two and a half years. Some extreme highs, some definite lows, and all the while... we've been by each other's side.

Half-mary #1!
You found me when I was at my worst. Unhappy, unexcited, lonely, and desperate for some way to feel like I mattered or did something to say that I was proud of myself for... anything. A new job had taken me to the furthest state from home at that point, into a yet new territory for me and into a job that I wasn't loving. I felt like I contributed nothing, didn't accomplish much, and was just a body at a desk for the better part of my days.

I'm a marathoner!
And then I found you. You gave me something to look forward to, to strive for, to feel good about myself again. You made me feel accomplished, challenged, motivated and encouraged me to feel like I had a purpose again. Thanks for bringing me back to life!

Simply put, you filled the void that I struggled with every day for those two years. No desire to stumble out of bed, no desire to sit at a desk for eight hours on end, and no desire to feel connected to anyone or anything. Sure, our relationship was on-again, off-again, but whenever we were back on, we were on. I felt on top of the world.

Through you, I've pushed myself beyond any limits ever thought possible. From regular 5K-er to half marathoner, knocking off PR after PR, you pushed me to my best. When I decided a marathon was in the cards, you took me to a whole new place -- you led me to that special 1% club and I can't ever thank you enough for helping me see that when I set myself up to do something, I do it. I go all out, I make sure I get there, and you were my biggest supporter.

Georgia Publix ladies -- half-marathon #8!
You connected me to a group of sorority sisters, who became merely sisters by association, to friends and running companions. You helped me reconnect with old friends, or find community members who shared my passion and my drive for finding the next great race. Friends and running nerds who I could share in my victories, challenges, excitement, and downfalls with. Partners who pushed me past my  limits to do my best, encourage them at their worst, and help push others to new places too. Crazies who ran 200-mile relays with me to seek as new sources of inspiration, camaraderie, and friendship across state lines. To friends who completed their first half, their first full, or those who even ran their first 5K, I had a whole new collection of people who understood why I crashed early each night and was up before the sun most mornings. You understood me -- and helped me find others who understood me, too.

I felt like I had something to give others -- whether it was motivation, or some words of advice, or an experience to share. I contributed, I made a difference, and I was fulfilled. I'm a helper by trade and by person, and knowing that even if it was just one person I made a difference to, I felt fulfilled, purposeful, and grateful that I could impact someone in such a way.

And now here we are. You've been strung along a bit these last few months, as I've found a new job, new home, and am learning the ropes of both. Enjoying my time here, struggling a little bit, but overall an infinite change from my last home. I don't have that void anymore -- something that I found full (finally) in the last year is now full, for good.

It's not you, it's me. I'm happy. Things are good - and while going out with you every few days is awesome, we need to find a way to still share this bond and make it work. To keep me happy, to keep me sane, and to ensure that things continue along the way they're meant to. Thanks for holding me up when I was at my worst, and hopefully you'll continue to see me at my best.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Oh, Right... I've Got a Half Marathon to Run

... whoops. The good news is that I finally seemed to find some kind of motivation this week. Wonder where that's been (that's a revelation I came to this morning - post soon!).

It's almost here! Race day is two weeks yesterday, Southwest is sending me reminders, and details are coming together. Woo! I think I'm really just looked forward to a fabulous weekend with some fabulous ladies and getting out of a groove of some kind. Lasssss Vegassssss, here we come!

1.51 miles / 16 minutes / 10:35 pace
Finished out the Monday with running dragging Molly around the block just to get out. Lovely evening!

3.08  miles / 29:38 minutes / 9:39 pace
Felt slow, and sluggish and was tired running a 9:40 mile. Ugh. Lousy! But happy that I got out a second day in a row, for a second run... finally.

2.08 miles / 19:50 minutes / 9:32 pace
I remember nothing about this. Clearly lackluster!

3.10 miles / 27:13 / 8:46 pace
Halloween miles (thus the 3.1!) and an awesome, awesome run. Made it a drive to just get on the sidewalk and push myself to see what I could do. Turns out... I ran only 3 second short of a 5K race PR. Who knew! Happy Halloween to me!


4.00 miles / 37:51 / 9:27 pace
Set out just hoping to get past the 3 mile wall. 4 is shorter than I planned, but still happy with how it went. I ended up chasing a lost pup a little bit because he looked like a dog on the flyer I had seen earlier in the run. Couldn't catch the dog and went back looking for the flyer, but couldn't find that either. I tried!

All in all... a decent week. 14 miles done, and not too shabby miles either. Better than zero! Maybe I'm slowly coming back.