Archive for March, 2013

Las Vegas Red Rock Canyon Marathon

March 5 marked our departing flight for what is becoming an annual trip to Las Vegas! My husband and I love the vibe of the city, and the simple fact that there is so much to do there. This was our fourth trip to Sin City, making a total of one month that we’ve spent there over the years, and we still find new things to do every time.

Last year I read about the Red Rock Canyon marathon in Runner’s World just a few weeks before we were set to leave. I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t have enough time to train for a half marathon (especially since it would have been my first half marathon) before we left, so I had to miss it. I vowed not to let that happen again, so as soon as our flights were booked this year I registered for the half marathon at Red Rock. I had already been training for it for a month or so before we even booked the trip!

We landed in Las Vegas just before lunch on Tuesday and had lots of time to pick up our rental car and go check out the Neon Museum. Wednesday morning I got up early (still on Saskatchewan time!) and hit the strip for an easy 5km run. That day we also went to the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, went to Carrot Top at the Luxor and watched the NASCAR hauler parade down the strip.

Thursday morning Lululemon Fashion Show Mall was hosting a run club. Perfect! I wanted one last easy run before Saturday, so I met up with their group in front of Starbucks and we did an easy 5km interspersed with push-ups, crunches, shuffles, jumping jacks and lunges. A group of runners who suddenly lay down on the sidewalk of the Las Vegas strip and start doing crunches get a lot of strange looks! The Lululemon staff hosted snacks and coffee at the store afterwards, and I met a bunch of really great people, one of whom was also entered in the half marathon. It was a really fun start to a day that continued with shopping and Cirque du Soleil’s Ka.

Our run club group from lululemon

Our run club group from lululemon

Friday, rest day! My husband and I took a cruise on Lake Mead and found the package pick-up location without too much trouble. We had a Groupon for supper at Capo’s, a mob-themed pasta and steak restaurant, so had a carb-tastic supper as well!

Lake Mead Cruise

Lake Mead Cruise

Saturday morning my alarm went off at 4:45. We had to be out of our hotel room by 5:30 to catch the 6:00 shuttle out to Red Rock Canyon. There isn’t much parking there, so all runners and spectators must take a shuttle out to the start line. This is a point-to-point race, and the spectators get to take a bus tour to the finish line about a half hour after the start time. I had taken a container of Honey Nut Cheerios, disposable bowls and spoons along in my suitcase and bought a bottle of milk Friday night which I stored in our sink filled with ice. It worked wonderfully, and my husband and I were able to have a good breakfast before heading out. I have to give him huge props at this point, he is NOT a morning person! He didn’t grumble or complain at all, and listened (or at least pretended to) to my excited/nervous running chatter the whole way to the shuttle location and then out to Red Rock.

It was COLD that morning! I had been comfortable on my first run in Vegas in shorts and a tank, so decided to wear the same for the race. I was one of the few! Most were in long sleeves and capri pants, some in long pants, and some even in toques and mitts! Brett and I kept laughing and saying to each other, “awwww, they think it’s winter!” I don’t know what the temperature was, but I’d guess around 5C. Still a welcome change from the -20C we’d left behind in Saskatchewan! I knew if the sun came out it would warm up fast though, and there’s nothing that makes me feel worse on a run than being too hot.

C-c-c-cold at the race start!

C-c-c-cold at the race start!

Who's the crazy girl wearing shorts and a tank top while everyone else is wearing pants and jackets? She must be Canadian! :)

Who’s the crazy girl wearing shorts and a tank top while everyone else is wearing pants and jackets? She must be Canadian! 🙂

The race start was very quiet. Again, no anthem. Not even a gun or any sort of signal to start, other than the fact that the people ahead started running. The spectators were silent (perhaps their hands and faces were numb), and there really wasn’t anything to get you excited at the start of the race. The first mile is a loop around the start line, and by the time we came around the spectators were at least clapping a bit. This was a nice little warm-up before the most challenging part of the race began.

One mile down, 12.1 to go!

One mile down, 12.1 to go!

Oh, the most challenging part is right at the beginning when you have fresh legs? How nice! Yeah, except that the uphill grade goes on for FOUR MILES! I had read online that by 5.3 miles you’ve climbed 900+ feet and are good to go. That was a carrot that helped me get through, ’cause man was that HARD! I was beginning to really question the wisdom of running this race when I came to a water station run by the Lululemon crew I’d run with on Thursday! Their very enthusiastic cheering and clapping as I ran through helped a lot. And it really was almost all downhill after the 5.3 mile point, so I was able to make up a lot of time and give my legs a break.

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I learned a lot on this race. I learned that it’s really fun to run in a place I’ve never been before, and I learned that my cardiovascular strength is great but my leg muscles could use some work. This was my third half marathon, and the first where my GI system stayed calm throughout. I also recovered much better after this race than I did after the first two.

I was surprised and thrilled to finish in 2:03:48 chip time! I was 140/496 overall, 37/282 women, and 12/54 women 20-29. I was also the tenth Canadian and the third Canadian female! I had zero time expectations going into this race, I simply wanted to enjoy the scenery and finish the race. My time ended up only five minutes slower than my personal best!

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medal

Red Rock Canyon Marathon Pros: beautiful scenery, choice of either long or short sleeved tech shirt, tons of water stations (despite only two showing on the online course map!), good food at the end, and very well organized overall.

Red Rock Canyon Marathon Cons: very challenging course, quiet start, and spectators bussed to the finish means no one cheering on the sidelines at all.

Overall: I will be back! My husband loves the Vegas NASCAR race, so as long as my race is Saturday and his is Sunday I’ll see you at Red Rock next year!

I loved running a race while on vacation, and my custom maple leaf GlitzBandz helped me meet a few other Canadians at the start line. Funny, none of us were over-dressed!

Gotta run.

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