Our Minnesota/Dakotas team made it to the parking lot across from the Luxor hotel where the start village was. There were toilets, food, water, and music. All American Rejects played a pre-race concert!
I headed to my corral (corral 19) at about 3:50 p.m. The gun was set to go off at 4:30. There were 36 corrals. This is a huge race with about 30,000 people participating.
The sun was setting and it was starting to get a little chilly, but nothing compared to Minnesota. I was still glad I had my new Team Challenge arm warmers.
The gun went off (or rather a horn sounded) at 4:30 and the elite runners were off. They were releasing each corral about 45-60 sec apart, so I hoped that corral 19 would be starting about 5 p.m. and I was dead on. The course starts out by going past Mandalay Bay and you turn around right by the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. I had been to Vegas twice before and had never seen this sign, so apparently all I had to do was run a half marathon. 😉
By the time we turned around the sun was gone and the lights were on. Miles 2-6 are on the main part of the Las Vegas strip. Miles 6-11 are in downtown Las Vegas and some side streets. At mile 11 you’re by the Stratosphere again and heading back down the strip. Two
short miles later, you’re at the finish line in front of the Mirage.
I took off and felt great. There was lots of energy and excitement in the air. The strip was full of cheering spectators. Even with the waved start, there was lots of weaving around people (actually, I thought the course was pretty crowded the entire way). I tried to settle in to a pace of about 10:15/mile, but it was a little tough to find a steady pace (probably the crowded course).
Water stop #2 was a bit of cluster. They fell behind with having water out on the tables, so the first several tables were empty and I slowed down far longer than I wanted to. I tried to make up for some lost time.
Around mile 4.5 Coach Chris caught up to me. She was out on the course with us for support and she ran with me for about a mile. I was still feeling strong as we headed away from the main part of the strip and to the halfway point of the course.
Being part of Team Challenge and wearing the orange singlet was great on the course. There were tons of Team Challenge supporters along the course, and they would all cheer for you when you ran by shouting “Go Team Challenge!” Always nice to get that extra boost of support even from strangers! I saw our team manager Lindsay at mile 9.25 and it was great to see her smiling face and hear her cheering.
By mile 11 I was ready to be done and hungry for a PR. I tried to pick up the pace a little. My legs cooperated pretty well and I still had some gas in the tank. Before long the finish line was in sight. I had my Garmin on, but wasn’t totally sure if I would get my PR or not, so I gave it all I had. I crossed the finish line with a big smile on my face and my hands in the air. It felt so good to be done and I felt like I had run a pretty good race.
I started to make my way down the finish shoot (which is actually about a 1/2 mile long). I grabbed my medal first.
Then I got one of those foil blankets to help keep warm as my body cooled down. (I had always wanted to get one of these after a race and didn’t think I would unless I ran a marathon, so I was kind of excited.)
I grabbed an apple, bagel, water, and some chocolate milk (which I didn’t end up drinking) and got my official finisher photo taken.
I checked in with Team Challenge at the end of the shoot to let them know that I had finished. There, I got a 2nd medal! And my finisher pin!
Team Challenge had a finishers tent set up for us with food and drinks, but even more importantly, there were chairs and it was heated! I found some of my teammates and we celebrated being done.
My official time was 2:14:50. Here’s how I fared with my A, B, and C race goals:
A: Cross the finish line in 2 hours, 14 minutes, 30 seconds or less (avg. pace ~ 10:16). I didn’t get a PR – just 5 seconds off. (My goal would’ve been a 15 second PR.) I was disappointed at first, but then I realized that it was quite an accomplishment to run my 2nd half marathon just 3 weeks after my 1st half marathon and hold a similar pace on a crowded course. I am really happy with how I did and if nothing else, it just gives me another reason to sign up for more half marathons in the future!
B: Follow my plan for fueling during the race (and fuel smart before the race). Check! I did a much better job of fueling during this race. I still felt tired near the end, but I didn’t feel as sluggish for the last few miles, so I think this new strategy really worked.
C: Have fun! Check (times a thousand)! I had a fantastic weekend and really did have fun during the race. I love Las Vegas and got to see it in a whole new way by running 13.1 miles around the city.
Having fun, representing Team Challenge, and raising awareness for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation were really what this was all about. I was very proud to wear that orange singlet and so proud of all of my teammates for making it across the finish line too. The 600+ Team Challenge participants running the Las Vegas half raised over $2.3 million for CCFA and that money will help us cross a different finish line on the day that cures are found for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. That goal is also a marathon–not a sprint. It will take time and dedication, but I got to witness the passion of CCFA staff and volunteers, so I know we’ll reach that goal one day.