When I got on the plane headed to Vegas on Saturday, I was greeted by this sign!
So unfortunately, I am not going to be able to divulge any details of what happened in Vegas, including any information about my first half marathon. Ok, who am I kidding? I am a blogger, of course I am going to tell you everything! 😉
I had Vegas sized expectations for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half Marathon that I participated in this past Sunday. Any why wouldn’t I? Everyone always raves about the Rock ‘n’ Roll events and Vegas has never disappointed me. Unfortunately, I could not have been more disappointed. The short version of the story is that the whole event felt like a fight. Here is the long version.
For me, the kick off of a race is at the Expo. And the Expo for the RnRLV race should have been my first red flag. The hubby and I went to the expo in the afternoon on Saturday. It was so crowded we could barely move. I had planned on spending some time looking at the booths and scoping out new race gear, but that didn’t happen. Once we realized how congested it was, we decided just to get our swag bag and race shirt and then escape the madness. Even just doing that took forever because once we got inside the expo we had to walk through the whole darn thing in order to get out. I felt like we literally had to fight our way through the crowd to leave the expo.
The day after the expo was race day! I woke up feeling pretty excited for the race. All the walking I did on the strip the night before, somehow alleviated the pain I was having in my knee, although I did develop blisters on the bottom of my feet from the cute boots I was wearing. I hydrated and fueled as I normally would for any other night run I have done. After putting on my awesome running outfit we took the shuttle from the Encore to the start of the race.
I was very surprised that the shuttles did not have a direct route to the race site. Instead we were sent along with all of the other traffic and it took FOREVER! Once we finally got off the shuttle we were happy to see that we were very close to our corral. However, I had a bag of warm clothes that I wanted to leave at gear check so we had to wander around until we found where it was located. I couldn’t believe how far away gear check was from the start / finish line! It was at least a half a mile away! It took a very long time to even enter the gear check building and even longer to make it through the crowd in the lobby of the building. Once I checked my bag we had to once again fight through the crowd to get back outside, use the bathroom and then walk back to our corral. I guess you could say I was very warmed up for the race.
The corrals were very crowded and nobody was monitoring who got into what corral. At the start of the half marathon they released one corral every minute, just as they said that they would. That lasted for about 15 minutes and then all of a sudden they released the rest of the runners! All at once! It was crazy. When I crossed the start line there was literally a wall of “runners” ahead of me. I say “runners” because so many people were walking or jogging. And those that were trying to run were forced to jog because it was impossible to get around the slower people. I was averaging a 13 minute pace for the first couple of miles and I was fuming mad!!! I did not come all the way to Vegas to jog on the strip, I came to run it! I had put in 12 weeks of training and paid a lot of money to be there. I wanted to accomplish my goals!!! I started to zig zag in between people, hoping I would eventually get clear of the crowd. I was probably saying the f word every 30 seconds or so because I was so frustrated. I usually don’t swear, but I couldn’t help it. I just wanted to run my race! I tried to be polite to the other runners and say excuse me as I meandered around them. But as the miles continued to pass with no break in the wall of runners, I eventually just did what I had to do to keep my pace going. I ran in the median, over bushes and pushed my way through people all the while realizing I was wasting valuable energy.
I felt especially bad for the marathoners as they were supposed to have the left lane all to themselves. The bicyclists and the small orange cones separating the half-marthoners from the marathoners did nothing to encourage separation. In general, I think most people didn’t know where they were even supposed to be. I witnessed many verbal lashings between halfers and marathoners. In one occasion a marathoner yelled at a halfer to move to the right and the halfer told him he was an ahole. I had to bite my tongue from getting involved. But in my head I was thinking about all the training the marathoners had put into the race and at the very least they deserved respect and their space to run their race.
Throughout the race I saw many other failures of this event. A lot of the water stations I passed were empty or if they had water they couldn’t keep up with the demand of the runners. Not to mention it appeared that the volunteers were getting the water from a garbage can by dipping the cups inside it. Ick! Thank goodness I carry my own water and Gu. And port a pottys were few and far between.
As you may recall, my A goal for this race was to finish in under 2.5 hours. This was a very doable goal. However, by the time I reached mile 11 I only had 20 minutes left to meet my goal time. Normally I can run 2 miles in less than 20 minutes, but after fighting through 11 miles of craziness on the course I knew it wasn’t going to happen. (I also didn’t realize the my zig zagging was adding more mileage to my race, I ended up running 13.4 miles because of it.) At this point, I also tried to use my last Gu packet and my hands were so cold I couldn’t twist off the top. I had lost my gloves a while back ago when I was warm. I ended up sliding my arm sleeves down to warm up my hands and then I got my Gu open.
When I crossed the finish line with the time of 2:36:45 I felt a mixture of excitement at finishing my first marathon and disappointment over the conditions of the course. There is no doubt in my mind that the poor conditions of the course deterred me from finishing sooner and happier. And crossing the finish line did not mean my fight had ended. The wall of people in front of me made it difficult to retrieve my medal. I had to fight my way to the tables with water and food, when I had no fight left. The blankets were given out haphazardly and I never got one. Since my hubby was behind me in the race, I made my way alone to the gear check building. Once again I fought my way into the building and retrieved my bag. By the time the hubby and I found each other I was feeling horribly ill. People around me looked horribly ill and many were vomiting. One guy was shivering so violently despite being inside a heated building. No medical people or personnel seemed to be mointoring the runners. After about sitting there for an hour, the hubby finally convinced me to make the half mile walk from gear check to the shuttle buses.
Luckily I managed to survive the shuttle ride without getting sick, but instead did it on the sidewalk of the Encore. I am sorry to the person who had to clean it up. Before I went to bed that night I said I would never do a half marathon again and even said I was no longer doing the Tough Mudder in April. I have since changed my mind and I will certainly still be doing the Tough Mudder and other half marathons in the future. But I will never do the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll event again and would certainly steer away from any Rock ‘n’ Roll event anywhere. In my opinion, the RnR franchise placed economic gain over the safety and happiness of its participants and I will not encourage those actions. And believe me, I am not the only one who feels this way. Click here to read another blogger’s perspective and click here to read the Facebook page of the event.