It’s time to take a walk back on memory lane to my very first half marathon, RnR Las Vegas 2011.
I have some race recaps I’ve written on SparkPeople; before I was on Facebook or had a public blog (I had a private blog on SP). I decided it was finally time to hunt them down (finding them is a wee bit time consuming) and add them here.
This is the story of my first half marathon, RnR Las Vegas 2011. I had slotted Austin Livestrong 2012 as my first, until a couple of Spark buddies decided to do Las Vegas and I crashed their party. In the end, neither were able to do it — one due to injury, the other was just not able to get away.
However my buddy Natalie did come (she was the injured one) and we got to meet in real life for the first time. She came because her husband was signed up to run it. I’m going to cut and paste a bit from my blog on SparkPeople, and I’m going to add in some other thoughts I have on it from the view almost five years later.
Packet Pickup was at the convention center in Las Vegas. Despite the size of the race, I recall that packet pickup was pretty smooth.
And the expo was humongous. And crowded. Really, really crowded.
I bought my stick at the expo, which I wouldn’t really come to use regularly for a few years but it eventually became — in fact, still is — a staple tool.
I can’t remember much else about the expo except it was the best expo I’ve ever been to.
My Race Plan
Ha! I mentioned this was my first half marathon, right? I didn’t mention that I trained for it on my own. That I didn’t have a Garmin. There wasn’t much of a plan at all. My plan was to finish, plain and simple.
I trained with a Nike+ foot pod, which showed me faster than I was, and therefore my runs weren’t as long as they should be. I don’t even remember where I got my training plan, but I did have some sort of plan I followed.
We signed up for this race as soon as it opened — I think it was in May of that year. I think the longest race I’d run at that point was maybe 4 miles, although I had run my first 5k in 2010, so I’d been running a while.
I had a plan to run longer and longer races as the half approached. Good thing we signed up early, because the first time I ever had knee pain (out of the blue) was on an 8 mile race in June. I might not have signed up for a half after that race, but I was already committed.
3:07:44 –Official Time
14:20 Average Pace
Running down the strip at night was a lot of fun. Downtown was mostly a snooze. Despite the cold (it was hovering just above freezing and did I mention it was a night race?) — in fact, so far this is my coldest half — I had a great time.
It was my first, remember? And also my slowest!
The weather & dressing
It was cold. Like literally just above freezing. Good thing I’d brought several different running jackets with me, because I would have frozen if I’d worn that light jacket above!
Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert, remember, and yes, it can get cold there. Especially at night.
I gave that coat above to Mr. Judy as my corral started to move, except it would take me almost 20 minutes to get to the start line.
Was the race well run?
Nope. So confusing trying to find stuff at the actual race. I didn’t see the mile markers (but sometimes I just don’t notice stuff). There was the whole snafu with my timing chip belonging to someone else, so Mr. Judy wasn’t able to use the tracking he’d signed up for .
I remember that there was a lot of trouble post race — things like green bananas, running out of medals — luckily none of that actually effected me. In fact, there were so many complaints that they gave all the runners a discount for the race in 2012 (I can’t remember how much that discount was).
Here’s what I wrote about this race a couple of days after:
I slept fine sat night, the night before the big race – other than waking up at 4 am, but that isn’t really terribly unusual for me these days. I don’t get nervous. I know there are many, many things that can go wrong – but I’ve done my training; I’m ready – just a bit concerned about what the body will throw at me.
We got together with Natalie & her husband for brunch. I had chocolate chocolate chip pancakes – because pancakes are my go-to breakfast/lunch on long run days. The upside of not getting nervous is I don’t usually suffer with GI issues (other than my body protesting the lack of veggies this morning).
I hung out with Robin & her buddy Jackie for a little while before the race. They were sooooooo nice & helpful to me. Kind of rushed thru getting dressed, only to discover I had the wrong timing chip! Which gave DH fits, but I knew we’d get it straightened out. The bad part is he’d signed up to get tracking for me, which he couldn’t get so he was po’d. Natalie had signed up to track me, too – sorry Nat!
I must say the prerace organization was sadly lacking. Trying to figure out where to go to straighten out my chip wasn’t easy, but Robin was really helpful & we got it done. I didn’t see her again, sadly, altho I saw Jackie briefly. They just gave me a new bib & chip.
So we hung out, listening to Cheap Trick a bit. I didn’t really feel hungry, but it’d been a loooong time since brunch so I ate some of the chocolate covered pretzels I’d brought with me. Didn’t really need a portapotty, either, but used it anyway.
DH was very sweet & stayed with me the whole time right up until we began to move (a little), so I could wear my coat over my racing gear. And thank god, because it was really, REALLY cold having to stand around for basically 2 hrs from the time we got there. Yeah, we could’ve gone later but I figured earlier was probably better – and I don’t regret that decision.
It took half an hour to get to the start – literally – but that was pretty much what I figured. I’d like to give you a mile by mile recount, but quite frankly I found the mile markers very poor & often had no clue how far I’d gone or how far I had to go.
I haven’t run that slow in a long, long time. Just the sheer humanity of about 40,0000 or so runners. It really wasn’t as bad as I’d expected. The bands along the route were fun, but you only hear them very briefly & I was really glad I had my MP3 player. I was also really glad I carried all my own water on my fuel belt – getting to the water would’ve been a pain & I like to take sips every 15 minutes.
The good news is my knee never really bothered me! Oh, there were twinges here & there all over my body – 13.1 miles will do that to you, even at that pace – but no outright pain. I saw some running brides, but didn’t see the run-thru marriages. I was sad I didn’t see any running Elvi (Elvises) – but finally did somewhere around mile 8 or 9. Walking.
The walkers really slowed me down. I have nothing against walkers – I take walking breaks myself. And really, if you walk 13.1 miles, that’s pretty cool. But many times it was just impossible to get thru them. My official time was 3:07:44 – WAY slower than I anticipated. But I’m cool with it – I finished, not in pain, & those were my goals.
I was shocked that about 95% were walking those last 3 miles. I ran. I really wish I knew my time from the last mile . . . I really ran . . . made me really feel like a runner. I had made sure to run the first 10 miles at a comfortable pace, and then I tried to pick it up.
DH was waiting for me in the reunion area – with a big kiss & my coat & honeystinger bar. I wasn’t ravenous – long runs tend to suppress my appetite – but I ate it anyway since that, along with my 2 GUs consumed along the route & most of the honeystinger waffle I ate around mile 11 because I started to feel a bit light headed, were dinner. DH had a steak dinner while I was running. I never did hit the wall, thankfully.
I felt good afterwards. I almost always feel good afterwards. Really, it was a great first HM experience. The medal is cool – my first running bling! This morning my legs are really sore, but not painful.
Would I do it again? You betcha. Oh wait, I’m doing it again in 2 1/2 months! Any interest in a full marathon? No thank you very much. Maybe someday just to say I did it . . . maybe for my 60th birthday . . . and maybe not. Would I do THIS one again? Absolutely!
What I learned
- That I need a GPS watch. I need to know where I am, and I need to know my pace.
- That Las Vegas can get pretty darn cold in the winter. It was colder that night than it was at home (upstate NY).
- That I enjoy the challenge of the half marathon distance. I really wasn’t sure I would!
- That I can run 13.1 miles without a bathroom break (still true 5 years later, knock on wood).
- That fueling for a night half is tricky.
It was really cool to read what I’d written almost 5 years ago, and know a lot of that is till true — that I still don’t want to run a marathon, that maybe when I’m 60? (probably not), that I’m rarely hungry right after a half, that I’d do it again . . . and again . . . and again . . .
Tell me in the comments:
What do you remember about your first race?
What do you remember about your first long distance race (whatever you consider long distance)?
Or if you don’t like to race, why not?