Thursday, November 19, 2015

Race Recap: Rock N Roll Las Vegas- Half Marathon

Although I still need to recap our girls' Vegas trip, I will say that Saturday was probably our craziest night. Despite only sleeping for three hours, Friday, we decided to go hard after the running the 5K Saturday night. We didn't go to bed until 5:30 and were up by 8:30. Oh, and we carbo-loading with In N Out burger. Yep.

Anyway, so the Half Marathon was at 4:30pm Sunday. They had Kid Rock headlining a pre-race concert so Melis, June, Taylor and I headed to the stage around 2:30. We found a spot in the middle of the pack and spent about an hour rocking out. 

I had a Rock N Blog commitement so I headed over to the VIP area to meet up with some of my runner friends. It was so great to see Carlee, BrianMichaelAndrea and Ashley again! I also got to meet some new friends like Dave and Dorothy!! 

Since I was moving back to run with Melis and June I said goodbye and headed back to the girls. Taylor left for the hotel and the girls and I hit up the porta-potty lineup. There were more than enough and the lines moved really quickly. They were really full (TMI) though. I can't imagine what those who waited until later to use them had to deal with.
The weather had definitely taken a turn for the worse at this point. The winds had picked up and the sky was black. As we made our way to our corrals we felt a few rain drops.
We made it to our area just as the national anthem was playing and the first wave was being let go. It took us fourty-minutes before it was our turn. We used that time to deck ourselves out in glow sticks and dance to stay warm. I'm not going to lie, it was a long wait.
But, it was the most relaxed I've ever felt before a race.
Our goal (or I should say my goal) was to pace the girls to an under three-hour half marathon. Melis had never run longer than 5 kilometers and this was June's third race but she'd never gone longer than 10 miles. My plan was to run for 8 minutes and then walk for a minute for the first few miles and then re-evaluate.
Before we knew it, it was go time!!

Our goal pace was around a 12 minute mile. We planned to stop for lots of photos and really just enjoy the experience. Our first photo was about .5 mile in at the "Welcome to Vegas" sign! We attempted a jumping shot and failed. I need to work on these!  
We spent about four and a half minutes there as we waited for the race photographers and then grabbed a few shots of our own.
It was POURING rain at this point but it wasn't too bad. The wind was the worst part. Plus, the course had only a handful of spectators at this point. I kept wishing for the main strip as I knew it would be packed.
June and Melis were doing great. I kept our runs to 6-7 minutes since I didn't want to start out too strong and waste all our energy. I remember passing the three mile mark and yelling "this is the furthest you've ever ran Melissa!" I was so proud of both of them.
The strip was SO FUN!! There were quite a few spectators (probably would have been more if the weather was better) and we ran by and high-fived most of them. It was a little dis-heartening to be at mile four and seeing people finishing on the other side of the street though, haha!! 
My attempt at an air guitar
At mile six, the girls started to struggle. For some reason, we thought our friends were meeting us around the 6-7 mile mark so I was talking that up quite a bit. Except, it wasn't until mile 9 at Freemont Street.Mile 6 is when the course became really deserted too. Apparently it's quite a sketchy area of the city too. 

Thankfully, Toyoto, had a really big cheer zone that helped with the energy. I had dropped the splits to 5 and 1 at this point to help the girls. Melis and June were both facing an early mental struggle and some physical pains as well. I tried to be as positive and upbeat as possible and just keep cheering them on and having dance parties whenever we passed by anything playing music. Because of the rain, a lot of bands were forced to cover up their equipment and wait it out. Thankfully, some of the speakers were still on and blasting tunes. We chose to run without music so it was nice to have something.

The weather also affected the aid stations. The wind was blowing cups over so volunteers were only filling them up a few at a time. There was a little wait if you wanted a drink at the earlier stations so we chose to skip quite a few. 

At one point, the wind was so powerful it literally stopped us in our tracks.
At mile nine, we saw our girls. We saw Tijana first. She had come up about half a block and decided to run us in to our other friends. She was wearing boots with a heel and rocked it!! 

It was so nice to see some familiar faces when things were getting so tough. Melissa almost immediately burst into tears when they started hugging us and, of course, I followed suit. We posed from some photos said we loved them and were off again.

Leaving them was tough but I told them we were in the home stretch once we hit ten miles. I also said we could start talking about the food we were going to eat after and what "pose" we were going to do at the finish line. It felt great to finally be back on the strip!!

We would scream as we hit every mile marker but "10!!" was my favourite. Although it was tough, I told Melis she had a 5K to go. A 5K, the furthest she'd run before this, was all she had standing between her and being finished.
A few minutes later, Melissa told me she had to stop running or she was going to have permanent knee damage. I told her that everyone was hurting and it was all mental (aren't I a great friend?!) She told us to go on without her but there was no way we weren't crossing this finish line without each other! I told her I would cut down our intervals and that we just had to keep moving or it would get worse. 
That's when we started running for two minutes and walking for thirty seconds. 

Just after mile 11 I spotted the finish line. It was just past the Mirage and the white banner and lights were so bright you couldn't miss them. I told the girls to look at it. We were almost there. They put their heads down and kept pushing. I was looking at my watch every few seconds to see if we were going to make our sub-three goal (I'd accidentally stopped it at the first Vegas sign photo op and kept having to add time.) 
Our running intervals got shorter the last two miles. I knew they were struggling so we used land marks instead of time "just to that palm tree girls" or "we can stop at the light!" It seemed to work as the girls, no matter how much they were hurting, always made it. June would even run a bit faster so she could get there before us and have a longer walk break.  She's so sneaky ;) 
Throughout the race, June definitely had her quiet moments though. I knew she was hurting but she never really talked about it. She still let loose and danced whenever the opportunity arose which made me happy. I know her and Melissa were enjoying themselves even thought it was tough.

As we passed the 12.5 mile mark we started to plan our last stretch. I told them we had two more walk breaks and then we weren't stopping until the finish. That's when we saw another runner who, over heard me, and said he was struggling. I told him to just keep moving and he was almost there and we talked about how good he was going to feel once he had that medal around his neck. He gave me the biggest smile, and high-five, and then he was off. I loved seeing so much support out on the course!
Following our last walk break, and with the finish line about 80 metres away, I told them to start running. 

I started tearing up as we grabbed each others hands and threw them up in the air just before the finish line. We crossed as a team.

They Did It.  We Did It Together.

This race will forever be one of my favourites. I helped my friends accomplish something they had once only dreamed about. I pushed them out of their comfort zones and showed them just how tough they are.  
It was a tough balance between wanting to push them to what I know they were capable of and sympathizing with their pain and discomfort. It wasn't always easy for any of us but we did it. We did it together.
We crossed the finish line and just stood there hugging each other.  We cried.
As we made our way to get our medals we got to watch each other's eyes light up as they were placed around our neck. We EARNED those babies!!!

After getting our medals we made our way down a finishers chute where we collected a heat sheet (very grateful for this since I was chilly once I stopped running) and lots of drinks and snacks. I just wish they handed out a bag to put everything in since it was tough to keep my heat sheet on while holding five or six things.

We then headed to pick up our remix medal for running the Half and 5K and then made our way back to our hotel (thankfully it was right across the street!!)

Thank you Rock N Roll for an AMAZING race day experience. Yes, the weather was crappy, but the race was well organized and really fun! How often do you get to say you ran down the strip at night? 
To Melis and June. I am so proud of you two. Getting to run your first half marathon with you was an experience I'll never forget. We made some great memories out on that course and I know you both walked away feeling like you can do anything! I am lucky to have you in my life and I can't wait to see what's next (besides SEAWHEEZE, YAY!!)
Here's a video Rock N Roll put together of our weekend. Thank you Ashley and the rest of the team!!!

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