On December 2nd, I flew to Las Vegas to participate in my last marathon of the year, the Las Vegas R&R Marathon. I was really looking forward to this race as it is the only time during the year that I get to hook up with my twin sister who lives in Atlanta. Angel is the endurance manager for the Georgia Chapter of Team Challenge, the fundraising team running for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation.
Teresa Baker and I got to Las Vegas and headed straight to the mall to pick up our Santa Suits for The Las Vegas Great Santa Run, which was held on Saturday morning. After picking up our packets and having some lunch, we cabbed it down the strip to our different hotels. With all intentions of hooking back up, we didn't see each other again until I got home!
I met up with my sister at the Mandalay Bay, unpacked my stuff and we headed down to the expo. We were so glad we went to the expo on Friday. My sister was in a meeting with the race staff and they told her that only 10,000 of the 44,000 attended the expo on Friday. That place was packed when we were there, I can't imagine adding another 34,000!
Elite Marathoner, Kara Goucher and I at the expo!
I so wish I would have had my showgirl outfit on for this photo!
Kara Goucher signed my race bib for extra mojo! I believe Kara!
After the expo, we got some dinner, got my flat Santa ready and then just relaxed. Not what most people do when coming to Las Vegas, but I was happy.
Saturday morning I hooked up with a few girls from my sisters Team Challenge team and headed down to the Santa run. When we got there all we could see was a sea of red. 8,123 Santas standing in the cold!
Ready to run! Ho! Ho! Ho!
Lots of Santas!
I ran into Yolanda Holder on the course and she took this photo of me!
We ended up beating the world record for the most Santas in one location! Yay! Sorry Liverpool!
After lunch a a little rest, we got ready to attend the Team Challenge pasta dinner. Before the dinner, my sister, coaches and her counterparts from across the USA got there early and formed a cheer-line (complete with pom-poms, whistles, horns, etc.) to welcome all of the Team Challenge participants. It was really inspiring!
My sister and I at the Team Challenge pasta dinner.
After the dinner, I went up to our room to relax while my sister went to see the the new Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil show (I really wanted to go, but I would rather use that $100 towards a race entry).
With the race being held at night, it was hard to figure out how to eat on race day. I opted for a large breakfast and a small lunch as the Marathon began at 4:00pm. I had scheduled the Maniac/Fanatic photo at 12:00pm at the famous Las Vegas sign and didn't want to eat a lot of food too late. That was a good plan.
Maniacs/Fanatics at the sign!
Chris (#2), Tony (#3) and I (#1975)
Marathon Mitch and I
Endorphin Dude and I
After the fun at the Las Vegas sign I walked back to the Mandalay Bay for one more little rest before the start of the race.
I went all out for this race! I was all dolled up in my Maniac showgirl out fit complete with Sparkle Skirt, showgirl running hat, blinged out Maniac tank, false eyelashes (which I thought would drive me crazy after the first mile, but gave me no trouble and stayed on great) and bright red lipstick!
Me at the start!
I headed out to the start 10 minutes before the gun went off. It was really fun seeing other Maniacs, listening to Cheap Trick and just getting excited to start!
Don was freezing at the start!
Marathon Mitch and Kirby Mills
More cool Maniacs!
Waiting to go!
And then we were off!
This photo made it into the Las Vegas Sun Gallery!
The start of the race was crowded, but manageable. With only 6,000 marathoners, we had it much easier than the 38,000 half marathoners. We headed down Las Vegas Blvd., but before we got too far we took a left turn over the overpass and onto a really boring course for the first 13 miles. I was OK with that as I would much rather run the strip the second half anyway.
Everything was going to plan. I was running with the 4:15 pace group until about mile 12. When I saw I was safe of making the cutoff, I let up. I was feeling great, but didn't want to implode later. I thought I would still be close to a PR if everything went to plan.
Being fearful of the race running out of water and fuel, I brought my own, which would later be the smartest thing I have ever done. As I came around the corner at the half, I noticed that the first water stop looked like it was shut down! I never saw sports drink again until I went to my room after the race.
Shortly after getting on the Strip, I worried about the empty aid stations!
I was having a ball running the up the Strip at night with all the lights on. About a mile or so up the Strip, the gridlock came in the form of slower half marathoners and walkers. Apparently there was a lane dividing the half and the full marathon, but it was so poorly marked (with cones about a foot high), I didn't notice them until I almost tripped over one.
I am no speed demon by any means, but walkers holding hands, walking 5 abreast and some even using walking sticks got to be a little annoying by about mile 16. There is nothing worse than finding your groove, than having to stop or take the long way around someone wearing headphones that can't hear you yelling "on your left"! Grrrrr!
By about mile 19 1/2, I saw my sister cheering on the side of the road and I decided to not get stressed. The PR was out the window, so I might as well have fun. So I did.
By mile 23, it was cold and I was ready to be done! I sucked it up and finished in 4:55. Not my best, but under 5 hours. I will take it! I picked up my medal, and headed to where the post race food was. I was starving! When I got there I grabbed a bag of pretzels and the greenest banana I have ever seen!
Post race food at it's finest... NOT!!
I walked past the post race photos (I had no desire to wait in line for photos I wouldn't buy anyway) and headed into the Mandalay Bay. I couldn't wait to get a hot shower and some food! Did I get a rude awakening!
As I started down the hall, within a minute myself and those around me were trapped. There were so many people trying to get down the hall and nobody was moving. When we did move it was only a couple of steps at a time. I was trying to hold my foil blanket on without dropping my water and bag of pretzels. I knew if I dropped them I would never see them again. Then people started to drop. People were yelling for doctors, but any doctor in the crowd was already helping another runner in distress. To see what happened in the Mandalay Bay, click the below link:
It took me over an hour to get up to my room. I took a hot shower and ate a granola bar for dinner. There was a 3 hour wait for room service! No thanks!
When my sister came in around 2:00am, she said the Mandalay Bay looked like the Super Dome after hurricane Katrina! She said there was puke, poop, foil blankets and trash everywhere! There were also a lot of sick people. Was it from the water being dispensed from fire hydrants? I don't know for sure, but I was glad I had my own supplies.
I am not a real fan of Competitor Group since they started raising prices and lowering the quality of their races. For $175 I feel like I checked into the Plaza and got bed bugs!
It was nice to see my sister though.