Rock’n’Roll Vegas Part 2: Race Recap

Day 3: Sunday, the race

We head south on the strip, away from New York, New York towards the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. The crowd thins out faster than I expect, and my anxieties about being tripped and falling fade. The desert sunset is visible on the right side, illuminating the sky in neon pink and orange. Since this is Sky’s first time running a half-marathon I am in charge of the pace. As far as I am aware, the goal is to finish. She tells me she doesn’t know the ball-park time, maybe 2:30, maybe longer. I try to keep us at a 5:45-6ish min/km pace, to avoid hitting the wall later in the race and walking. This proves to be challenging due to a few factors, 1) it’s a race 2) there are a lot of people 3) there is live music 4) Sky is a fairly competitive person by nature. I keep trying to reel her in, though I can tell she just wants to let loose and pass people.

Our first 5km are: 6:08, 6:04, 5:49, 5:46, 5:46. This takes us to the Vegas sign and back to Mandalay Bay. It is dark now, and the temperature is perfect. A loud fellow runner starts yelling, “If you’re not yelling, CHEER” to spectators, he continues this and waves his arms madly. It is obnoxious. Km’s 6-10 are: 5:48, 5:48, 5:22, 5:29, 5:48. There are a lot of people cheering in the middle part of this stretch taking us past Paris and the fake Eiffel Tower. Just before km 8, I decide to take a video of Sky running past the Eiffel Tower, once I upload the video, I face-plant and both hands, my right elbow and knee are scraped and bloody. I continue running as a fellow runner tells me “no one saw”, which I think is funny. At the 10km mark we have passed The Wynn and most of the landmarks on The Strip. I tell Sky whenever I think we have done a km too fast and she asks when we can pick it up. I tell her we have to wait until 16km in, the length of her longest run leading up to the event. She is feeling good and I know it is hard to hold back, but I still want to remain conservative.

Km 11-15 are: 5:45, 5:38, 5:49, 5:37, 5:40. We pass Circus, Circus, one of the oldest casinos and hotels, the Stratosphere and then the wedding chapels start popping up. We pass a few houses with people on the lawn having a party and cheering, they offer little cups of wine and beer. No one seems to accept it except our loud friend from earlier, who immediately starts spitting and yelling, “JESUS CHRIST, they’re giving out vodka” and then tells the police to “do something about them”.

By now we are in downtown Vegas and Sky announces that she will be “very mad if we don’t finish in under 2 hours”. Classic. This is the first mention of a time goal. I see the wheels turning as she calculates our pace in order to do that, and then the disappointment in her voice as she says, “I don’t know if we can do that, it’s 8:30/mile (5:17/km)”. I tell her, “it’s up to you and I will do whatever you decide”. Her outlook quickly changes and she says, “we may as well try”. Game on.

We take off and I keep my eye on the pace. Km 16 is 5:18. 17 is 5:14. 18 is 5:16. We begin weaving through dozens of people who are trudging along, maybe they didn’t start as conservatively as we did. We begin to pick it up and km 19 is 4:57. Sky says she is using the mall as a landmark, it looks like a spaceship. She knows the finish is straight down the street from there, only a km away from the mall and I wonder if things are starting to get tough. Km 20 is 4:54, she’s still strong. We continue weaving through people, not ideal, but we are running for time now. For a moment I don’t see Sky beside me anymore and I worry, but a second later she says, “I’m here!” She was just stuck maneuvering around other runners. Km 21 is 5:02. We pick it up over the last couple hundred metres and cross the line in 1:58:47. We did it. So much for a 2:30 finish.

Rock’n’Roll Vegas Part 1

Day 1: Friday, travel

Friday morning I get up and go for my 30-minute easy run, I also do a core workout. My bag is packed and my flight isn’t until late morning, so I have time to spare. I grab a cab to the airport and before I know it, I am in Vancouver having lunch on my layover. After my second short flight, I arrive in Vegas and 20 minutes later,  my friend Sky arrives. We make our way outside and look for the ride-share pick-up. In Vegas, Uber can only pick up passengers in specific locations, it’s a bit of annoying. We arrive at the LINQ and check-in via a kiosk, when we get to our floor we wonder how it’s possible to not get lost, but at the end of the trip we realize we never did.

We go for a walk on the strip and stop at Walgreens and buy beer for the walk. We end up on the south part of the strip, shopping at the Miracle Mile shops. We decide to go for a beer on a patio, and head up to Beer Park, which I read was good. While, the patio and view are on point, the beer list has something to be desired, many of the options are Budweiser or worse and the bill for our 2 beers is north of $30 USD. Dinner is In-N-Out and then we walk some more before heading to bed.

Day 2: Saturday, the expo etc.

On Saturday, I wake up at 5am, sans alarm, no sleeping in for me. We go to Starbucks for coffee (not many independent cafes on the strip), and slowly walk towards the north part of the strip while eating a banana. I have a 20 minute easy run, so I get that done before too many people are out on the strip. Post-run, we head to the Cosmopolitan for breakfast at Eggslut, we have not beat the line and it snakes around the restaurant into a dark hallway. We also grab cold-press juices from nearby Juice Standard, while we wait our turn. We have our breakfast and then head outside to meet our Uber to go to the race expo. The sun is out and it is HOT, we are happy the race is at night.

The expo is bustling with people, sequin-adorned skirts and other strange vendors offering teeth-whitening, hair extensions and cosmetic procedures. It is definitely the strangest race expo I have attended. We get our race kits and wander through, but not much catches our attention, so we line up to take a photo and then head out. We get another Uber and head to the mall for some shopping, we figure this will limit the amount we can walk rather than aimlessly wandering the strip, though we end up walking a lot anyway. We get chipotle for lunch and shop all afternoon. We stop for a brief rest at the hotel and then go to Flour and Barley for dinner which is pizza.

Day 3: Sunday, race-day

We wake up early, and grab coffee and breakfast at The Nook, a cafe in the LINQ. After that, we walk across the street to Caesars Palace in search of Lululemon. We have registered for a pre-race yoga and meditation class. We are some of the first people to arrive and are greeted warmly and given Perrier, we settle in near the back, and the class quickly grows. It is clear a lot of the attendants are new to yoga, but the class is not as easy as one would expect pre-race. There are far too many vinyasa which I regret the next day. After the meditation portion, we roll up our mats and the shop opens. They have screen printing to celebrate the race and we settle on the extra mile long sleeve, with the print on the lower back.

We grab another coffee and then head back to the room for a bit to figure out what to have for lunch. We decide on the earl of sandwich as well want to stay nearby, and end up back in the room afterwards. We lay out our race-kits snap and few photos and gather our fuel. The race begins at 4:30pm, shortly before sunset, but we need to be there early.  This is the first race I have done with so many people and we want to be ready in our corral with extra time. The roads are already closed so we walk there to avoid the traffic, so we arrive quickly, in spite of our washroom stop. When we get to the corral there are not too many people there yet, but the sidewalks are lined with runners and spectators since there are multiple waves. We have an hour until go-time and sit on the ground to preserve our legs.

The corrals begin to fill up and we are forced to stand up to avoid getting trampled. We notice a skyjack with snipers on top, the police presence is undeniable, there are even helicopters circling overhead. We see a few couples dress in wedding attire, this event offers a “run through wedding” option. There are a few Elvis’s and other costumes as well. After the national anthem and fire display, we are off.

Training Recap Nov 6-12

This week was pretty light because of the Rock’n’roll half. I was happy about that because last Sunday, I made a mistake on my 10km easy run. For some reason, I decided to run on my forefoot for the entire time, which felt good at the time. However, shortly after the run, my calves felt terrible. They were super tight and painful, and that continued through the week. Lesson learned!

Monday: OFF.

Tuesday: 40’ easy, I met up with my friend and we ran on Lochside. I also did a Core workout.

Wednesday: Met the group and they did a WO, I just ran easy with coach. I also did an arm workout.

Thursday: OFF.

Friday: 30’ easy, nice, little pre-flight run. I also did a core workout.

Saturday: 20’ minutes easy, I ran the strip while most people were still asleep, I always make a point to do this in Vegas even when I’m not there to run the strip at night. It is fun and challenging due to lots of stairs and escalators.

Sunday: Rock’n’roll Las Vegas, run the strip at night, my first “night race” and Sky’s first half-marathon. It was a lot of fun!

Total Weekly Mileage: 44.3km

I will post a full recap of my time in Vegas and the race later this week!

Training Recap July 31-August 6

This week was lower in volume than the previous few weeks. I got 2 whole rest days, instead of 1, and no double-day runs. In spite of that the running this week did not feel easy.

Here is what I did last week:

Monday: OFF.

Tuesday: 45' easy, I ran  home from work and did the NTC Core Crunch 2.0 workout.

Wednesday: Group workout, 20' easy, 4x1km@5km, 20' easy. I am enjoying 1km repeats, they are just the right length for me. You feel the burn, but you know it will be over very soon. Initially, I had planned to focus on shorter distances this summer. That went out the window, when I registered for another marathon 10 days after my spring marathon. I really do plan to focus on shorter distances after Toronto Waterfront Marathon!

Thursday: OFF. I did the NTC Ab Burner 2.0 workout. I couldn't sleep that night due to all the extra energy from not running.

Friday: 50' easy, I ran home from work, but messed up the route and ended up with a few km walk home, oops! I also did the NTC Core Strength Workout.

Saturday: Group workout, 20' easy, 4km@MP, 2x3km@HMP, 1km@as fast as possible, 20' easy. This was done on trails and it felt pretty challenging. I also did the NTC Ab Burner 2.0 workout.

Sunday: 75' easy, with the last 20' at marathon pace. I was nervous to do this run because of the last 20', but it ended up being great and I held marathon pace. I also did the NTC Abs and Arms Workout.

Total Weekly Mileage: 59.2km

This week I will taper for the Seawheeze Half-Marathon. I have not raced since early May and have not raced a half-marathon since February 2016! I am excited to see what I can do next weekend.

Stay tuned later this week for my post about how training affects my life, what training means beyond the workouts.

Training Recap Jan 30-Feb 5 and Thoughts on Cancelled Races

This week was mean to be a taper leading up to the First Half Marathon, first I’ll tell you what my training looked like and then I’ll talk about why I didn’t race!

Here is what I did last week…

Monday: OFF

Tuesday: 45 minutes “easy”, a run home from work and beginning of the (unnecessary) taper.

Wednesday: Group workout, 20 minutes easy, and then hill sprints: 2 x 3 minutes, 2 x 90 seconds, and 3 x 1 minute, and 20 minutes easy. It was freaking cold, so knowing I had a group to do this with was about the only thing that got me out the door!

Thursday: 40 minutes “easy”, another run home from work.

Friday: OFF (I only get more than 1 day off if I’m tapering or recovering).

Saturday: Would have been 30 minutes easy, but due to the race cancellation I got to do a marathon training workout which was… 20 minutes easy, 4km @4:48 (slower than MP), 3km @ 4:41 (MP), 2km @ 4:34 (faster than MP), 1km @ 4:10 (10km pace), and 20 minutes easy. Those aren’t technically my marathon and 10km paces, BUT, you have to train hard to improve right?! I knew this workout was going to be hard work, but I didn’t anticipate how much my legs would “feel it”.

Sunday: Would have been “race day”, I was actually happy to have done Saturday’s group workout in lieu of the race, but I actually had a back-up race for today. Since I registered for the entire Vancouver Island Race Series, there was also the Sooke 10km scheduled for today. I wouldn’t have been able to do it very fast after the Saturday workout. As luck would have it, on Saturday afternoon, I got an email saying that race was also cancelled due to poor weather! So, I had 105 minutes “easy” instead.

I also did 3 NTC core workouts, no weight training this week due to the taper.

Total Weekly Mileage: 62.2 km

Why I (and the 2,00 other registrants) didn’t run First Half:

There was supposed to be a race recap included in today’s discussion of my training from last week. As I mentioned, I was tapering for a half-marathon which I was meant to run yesterday. The plan was to go to Vancouver on Saturday, spend the night in a hotel near the start line and enjoy the race and being back in my old home. The mid-week weather predicted it would be cold on Sunday, “no problem”, I thought, “I’ve run in at least -20”. By the end of the week, things were not looking good, the weather called for snow, and a lot of it. Again, I thought, “well I’ve had more snow before and still gone running, so what”.

By Friday night, I had no idea what was happening or if we were even going to go. We decided to stick with the plan and head over the next day. Shortly after, we saw from the race website that the event would either be re-routed and 2 miles short, so, an 18km race instead of a half-marathon OR it would cancelled altogether. The final decision was to be made at 3pm on Saturday. At that point we decided we weren’t going. Instead I did a marathon training workout with the other ladies in our group. It was a good choice because at 8am the next day it was announced that the race was cancelled for the first time in 28 years since it began.

I can only imagine the frustration and disappointment of those who trained specifically for this race. Obviously the weather cannot be controlled and even if the race had gone on, the reality is, the conditions would not have been ideal. But still, they would have gotten their race. I know the training is supposed to be just as important as the actual goal race, but it’s got to be mentally tough to work hard for something that doesn’t happen. This was not intended as a key race for me, this race has begun allowing bib transfers (which I think all races should offer) and I accepted a bib from another runner who had conflicting plans. 

Have you ever trained for a race that was cancelled?