I had the opportunity to head out to Las Vegas with some people from work for the weekend of the Las Vegas Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon. I figured I'd give this whole half marathon thing a try. I didn't really know what to expect...never running a half marathon before....being in Vegas....not being in the best shape....being in Vegas. We arrived Friday afternoon and the partying began. I had a wonderful time recovering on Satruday with 13.1 miles looming the next morning. Saturday night, my group went to see Cirque di Solei "O" and it was absolutely amazing. The performers are incredible. It kind of motivated me. The show ended at 9:30pm and I was ready for bed, so I passed up what I would discover later, was the best Sushi anyone had ever had and went back to the hotel room. Oh well...good decision. Looking back at it, it doesn't really bother me that I can sit here today and write about my performance without mentioning anything to do with Sushi in my actual race report. That wouldn't have been pretty.
The alarm went off Sunday morning at 5:45am and right away I was ecstatic that I had gotten a good night's sleep. I headed down to the race site, which was conveniently located right outside the hotel lobby. It was a zoo. I guess this is what 28,000 people who don't exactly know where to go looks like. I found the VIP tent in the middle of the expo and relaxed a bit. Warm up consisted of a 3 minute run and 4 strides; Doesn't take much for a half marathon. After working my way up to the front row in wave #1 and suffering through a Cher look-a-like Star Spangled Banner, I was ready to go.
The plan was to go out in 5:45s and gradually go a bit faster each mile. I felt this was doable at my current fitness level. About 10 seconds after the gun went off I hear a "Hey -bleep-" to my left. I thought I had somehow cut this joker off and he was already pissed at me. I looked left and saw Jon Kieliszak, my XC teammate from Michigan who I hadn't seen in about 3 years. It was a nice surprise! We chatted for about 1 mile before it was time to shut up and conserve energy.
So I wanted to run 5:45s. First mile-5:30, 2nd mile-5:30. OK, we're doing 5:30s all day I told myself, and we'll see what happens. We had a great group going. Jon and I were joined by the eventual marathon winner Josh Cox, the eventual women's half winner Jen Rhines, and about 4 other guys all running the same pace and not messing around. The last thing we needed was some dude to mess around with pacing and screw everything up. Jon and I would lead a mile or two and then drop back while 2 others took the pace. This first half marathon could not have been set up any better. We hit 5k in 17:00, 10k in 34:45 and 10 miles in 56:05. By the 10-mile mark, Jon and I had dropped everyone in our original group, but slowed to about 5:38-5:40 per mile. I had a great mile from 10 to 11, which was back to 5:29 and at this point, I was slowly inching ahead of Jon. By mile 11, I was by myself running 5:30s again and catching 2 half marathoners ahead of me along with the marathon leader and lead truck. I used these guys to pull me along. I finished strong, running the last 5k in 17:15.
Overall, what a great experience running most of the race with Jon. He was a great help. What an experience running all 13.1 miles and feeling great the whole way. What a great experience running up and down the strip in Las Vegas, completely shut down to traffic (which only happens 6 hours a year, for the marathon) and having it completely lined with people. Overall, I finished 15th place with a time of 1:13:21.
I had my fun Sunday night. I didn't have Sushi, but I'm over it. Now I'm back home, a little sore, but ready to get away from runner mode and start becoming a triathlete again! I can't wait to jump in the pool and get back on the bike.