To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Las Vegas R'n'R Half Marathon - The Story

Google the Vegas RnR races and you'll see tons of scathing reports. What you read in them .... all true. I'm going to focus on the stuff I loved and just put a disclaimer here. It was one gigantic cluster fuck! Unorganized. It did feel like it was a lot of newbie runners, so perhaps they didn't understand certain race protocol on the course, but still. My friend started in corral 39, her assigned corral. The gap between the clock time and her chip time? 37 minutes. So corral 39 started 37 minutes after the gun went off. Is that proper spacing between corrals? Hell no! I blame this for the major congestion on the course. Only two times was I able to actually stretch my legs out and run MY pace... and we know I'm not even fast. It was a sea of people, elbows flying, tempers flaring, confusion, near accidents. Hats, jackets, gloves tossed right in the middle of a crowded street instead of off to the side. Twice I almost went down because of that. Okay - so that's my rant on my theory of congestion - well, the terrible start plus 44,000 people. Let's just move on to the fun stuff, k? I mean it IS Vegas after all, and I freaking LOVE Sin City!!

I made our matchy matchy headbands!
Before I even hit the start line I was all smiles. That smile lasted most of the race! I loved seeing the Strip from a slightly different angle. We had spectators lining the sidewalks and walkways that go over Las Vegas Boulevard. My legs felt GREAT!! Seriously, I should just go on a running hiatus before races more often. And I need more night races! I was on fire! My plan was to stick to the 4:1 run/walk ratio. I just loved the running so much that I couldn't stop! Occasionally I dipped off to the side into a planter or turn lane to take a photo, but other than that I was on the go. My run/walk pattern began when I kept encountering walkers in mass groups that I couldn't get around. I figured, "Okay, I will use my walk minute right now, and figure out how to get around this so I can run again." That was my plan for the entire race. Could I have gotten a PR on this course? Most definitely! My body felt PR ready and the course was perfect for it. The crowds were a different story. In the end I was over a minute per mile slower than my pace and I easily could have cut 15 minutes off of my finish time. Oh well, I am not complaining at all about it. I still just feel really proud of myself. My mental stamina was spot on. I had no pain in any part of my body until the final 5K, which is also when the vertigo kicked in - but that's also when I was back on the Strip and all the flashing lights and police lights just kind of did me in. I ended up walking more than I wanted to here just because I really couldn't see!

Fueling was interesting. I skipped the last two water stops because of what I saw and tasted. The water was foul. I mean horrid. And the final table I hit (mind you they were running out all over the place. I never even saw electrolytes after the first stop. (Poor marathoners/back of the pack walkers. I was sooo concerned about Jessica when I saw the mess that was happening around me.)) Okay, yes, my final water stop. I get to the table and have to wait. I see a volunteer take a cup stick her bare hand and cup into a pitcher of water. She handed it to a runner who quickly drank it, set the cup down and ran off. The volunteer then picked up that same exact cup, dipped it back in with her bare hands submerged and gave it to another runner. I was lucky and got a fresh cup, but the water was so hard to swallow from the taste. You know how I always throw up? Well you might not know I always almost puke when I take my Clif shot. This time I took the whole thing, while running!!, and kept it all down!! I'm getting better at this whole thing!! *Never threw up during this race at all!!*

So my run was awesome. I have never felt so proud of myself as I did after this race, even though my time isn't able to reflect what I actually did out there.

Circus Circus inspired my outfit!
Then came the finish line. I couldn't do my final sprint, which is fine because I truly couldn't see. I did manage to throw my arms up and cheer for myself at the end. I was just so excited that I was at the end and that I felt like a success. I crossed the finish line and was quickly given my medal. I slipped that sucker on and grabbed the fence so I wouldn't fall. A volunteer told me to keep going and as I stared at the med tent deciding to go in or not and told him I couldn't see he didn't care. Thanks. I kind of shuffled with the crowd, but we could barely move. Space Blankets were just on a big roll on the ground and we were trying to take them off ourselves. If there were volunteers, I didn't see them. I had such a hard time, couldn't see, could barely stay up, and luckily a fellow runner came and helped me. It was a sea of people, so he probably helped just so he could get one next. I was able to grab water and found the ONLY yellow banana in the pile of green ones. Grabbed pretzels and a Gogurt and then began the frozen walk into Mandalay Bay. I was feeling strange, but thought I just needed warmth and to get some food in me. Walking into the building it was a mess of runners everywhere on the ground, you could hardly find a path to Gear Check. I finally got there and was happy my line was short. The kid writes my number down and goes to find my bag. He brings 3 back and not mine. I asked where it was, he says, "I didn't see it." Okay, so that's it?!?! I said, "He took it from me. I'll be back, I'm going to be sick." All this happened with a bite of bagel in my mouth that I couldn't chew.  *I did get my bag later.

From here it gets REALLY scary for me. I could see the bathroom. It felt so far away with all the people I'd have to get around. I started "walking" and noticed people were nice and moved. And then I just stopped. I didn't know what to do. Everything was swirling around me. Noise was distorted and muffled. Vision was not good. Was I going to throw up? Did I have to sit? I was almost crying and just lost any sense of what was happening. A girl in line for her bag came over to help me and offered to walk me to the bathroom. I told her I couldn't make it that far and I didn't know what to do. I have no idea how long it went on, but as I was about to just collapse to the floor she helped me not get hurt. Almost immediately a med volunteer was at my side. My whole body was shaking, then I lost feeling in my arms aside from a bit of a tingle. I could hardly talk, they had to open my water bottle for me. I've never felt so helpless and I didn't even know what was going on around me. The volunteer, Teresa, opened a salt packet and helped me take it. She was a life-safer. Teresa never left my side, constantly checking and helping me get my banana open as well. Another girl went down right behind me, so Teresa was able to help her too. I don't know how long I sat there, but after she said I got my color back and I was able to see and speak she helped me stand up - and gave me salt for Jessica just in case! Words can't fully describe how I felt and what I saw. It was like a war zone. She said people were collapsing just like me left and right. I saw EMTs everywhere, and still not enough to help everyone that needed it.
My chins and I were talking
as I finished.... lovely.

I was able to get outside to the finish line and cheer Jessica on to her finish. She ran it in and I felt like a proud mom! The poor thing, she was over 6 minutes faster than her goal, yet still didn't get a medal at the finish. The bagels that were left were all soggy from the rain and the bananas were all too green to eat. We made our way back inside and as the crowd thinned we saw the disaster zone that was Mandalay Bay. Debris everywhere. Sick people still on the ground getting help. We slowly walked through the casino to the Luxor to Excalibur. Even at Excalibur we saw someone calling for an EMT to help a runner. And the food line was insane. We grabbed some Kettle Chips, drinks, muffins and called it a night ... falling asleep watching the Hangover in our hotel room.

I am so glad I did this race! As scary as my ending was, I feel like I can take what I learned and use it. I learned the importance of electrolytes and how important it is for them to not run out of those drinks on the course! **I WAS going to run with Gatorade on my belt, but the bottle kept leaking on me, so I ditched it at the last minute. I sincerely hope they make improvements for next year because this was an epic disaster when it comes to runner safety. I am VERY happy that Jessica didn't leave with a bad taste in her mouth. She is already even saying "next time...." when we talk about racing! I consider that a success!!

19 comments:

  1. That water thing is GROSS!!!!

    I'm glad you were able to take away a positive experience from it. And I'm glad your body got you across the finish line before it decided to fully shut down.

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  2. Yet one more reason to pack my own water for races and the like...my usual mix is two 60/40 Gatorades on the left, and two waters on the right. I am glad you made the most of the race and are focusing on the positive instead of the negative. That way, if you do pay for the insanely high prices of an RnR Vegas again, you will have an idea of how to work around their issues.

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  3. Glad you are OK. I was wondering how you survived since you are a puker, because it sounds like MANY people in Vegas became pukers. :-/ UGH!!! I am so happy that your friend had fun!!!

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  4. Glad you are ok - I will carry my own water at all RnR events from here on out! Yuck - did you see this - http://www.lvrj.com/news/marathon-runners-say-they-were-sickened-135233493.html

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  5. Sounds like the organisers will be lucky not to get sued!! Horrid water story and I'm not surprised people were collapsing left and right!

    SO so pleased you are ok and made it through xx

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  6. I guess the best part of RnR Portland will be that worst case scenario, you just stop at a Benson Bubbler...

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  7. Portland will be awesome! It HAS to be. No way could it be worse ... although I can tell you the course can't compare to the Strip. That was too cool!!

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  8. Yeah, but *I* wasn't in Vegas...I will be in Portland.

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  9. Let's be happy Kate Gosselin probably WON'T be in Portland!! Ugh, so glad I didn't see her on the course.

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  10. That is scary...glad your ok.

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  11. I don't know anything about race running....but how far apart are the corrals SUPPOSED to be? I want to get mad but I'm not sure what to be mad about! hahaha! Glad you survived!

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  12. @Jen - to give an example of a race that went really smooth and didn't have congestion ... Rock'n'Roll Seattle. I was corral 28. I didn't hit the start line until 45 minutes after the gun went off! They paused between every corral to leave a gap. Works so much better that way!!

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  13. This is the first RnR Vegas report that I'm reading and oh em gee... I can't even imagine what others have to say!

    Yay for another half and so glad you're ok!

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  14. I'm glad you were able to find all the positive and that you enjoyed your race! :D

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  15. Glad you're alive! I don't think I could handle 13.1 miles alone with Fred :)

    I don't know what is going on with RnR. This is the 4th really big f-up race. They are proving my point. They need to stop acquiring races and focus on the ones they have.

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  16. Good job! and seriously just like Rose said, props on pulling a positive outta this race! Ive read and heard nothing but sad bad news, but come on, look at how amazingly cute you looked, of course some good came out of such a hot looker :)

    P.S. Give away town on my blog on friday :)xoxoox

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  17. @Abby - very true! Who cares about going to a different continent if you can't even put it on properly on home soil?

    And Fred? He better be nice to us and let us go slow. I am NOT in Goofy shape like he is!

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  18. Exactly! I'd hate to spend all the money to go to another country for a race for something like this to happen. Especially if I don't speak the language? How scary.

    Anyway, Fred already said he's willing to run my race, which is slower than yours, so no worries! We'll have fun.

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  19. man, that race was nuts. glad you finished and that a volunteer was there to help you! as for whatever made everyone sick - i really hope they find out, cause something is not right! and the water situation was definitely out of control, which is why i posted my thing about water. things need to change.

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