Saturday, January 20, 2018

Glowsticks and Pylons, #VegasStrong and Year's End Race - RNR Vegas RR

I wanted to finish the year off in style at Vegas for the Rock and Roll marathon.

2017 Vegas Marathon mirrored very much my experience at 2013 Chicago when Chicago hosted the first marathon major back on US soil after the 2013 Boston marathon attacks. Chicago introduced the clear morning check-in bags and the airport style check-gates into the start. The news of the country concert shootings roughly two months prior to the Vegas RNR event was pretty upsetting. The security surveillance during the race was top notch silently working behind the scenes. I felt goosebumps at the start line when a moment of silence was honoured by the massive gathering. I spotted none other than triathlete Mirinda Carfrae in the tent supporting the hosts to rally the runners. It was prudent to re-locate the starting and finishing festivities away from the Mandalay Bay hotel, and a nice gesture to remove all rock bands for the first 3 miles along that portion of the strip to honour the victims. At the expo, we signed with neon coloured markers for the #VegasStrong poster which was posted up after the first 3-mile mark.

Race started at 4:30pm so it was awfully nice to wake up at reasonable-o-clock. It was a military precision and clockwork to watch the police cars roll in to shut down the entire Vegas Strip. Apparently there were few hundreds of officers and a few snipers on the rooftop to keep us safe. Vegas used to shut down the strip often for private events, now RNR is the only private event to shut the strip down from vehicle traffic. I was impressed!

Of course energetic Jen wanted to do touristie things, so we actually drove to Red Rock Canyon Park in the morning - so much for taper - sigh! We also had to missed the Goo Goo Dolls concert the night before because we had booked our Cirque du Soleil O show during that time. Originally it was meant for Sunday night after the marathon/half. It was probably for the best though for sake of taper.

Flames shot up from the starting gate. You feel a warm blast as you press the button to start your watch.

The half marathon route is pretty much two out and backs which is fast and flat, wide and straight.

This wide straight and painfully obvious navigation ends at the diversion point for the marathoners. After running into the back-roads of the Strip, there was a couple technical sections with more out and backs (or what not to say the least) along the back roads of the strip, too many that I lost track. You can take a stab at accounting for all of them. :P

Between 20 to 31km, it felt more like racing a go-cart and craving the turns.

Between 34 to 38km was the same stretch for the 5km event the day before, it was just an open lot with glowsticks on pylons and disco lights. It felt like a dance party but a lonely one because most had remained on the half distance.

I remember when approaching back on the strip, there was one last out and back section to add more salt to the wounds when seeing the finish line but turning away at kilometre 40.0 to the quiet and a very lonely 500m out and back before making it back onto the strip for the final kilometre finish. Flashback to Zurich ironman when I had to run pass near the sunshine finish gate 8 times to finish! ...#FML!!

My feet was destroyed from all the night running slamming. Perhaps I would had been better off not using the light racing flats and substitute them with a slightly more cushion shoes. A costly mistake.

Sun screen and blisters weren't a problem because the sun was gone and the climate is dry. Not being too familiar with the course can lead to confusion. At one point between the 34-38km, it was like a cat chasing its tail and I got lost for a brief moment passing again a deja vu intersection .

Other than navigational issues, I think knowing the course now would make things easier to save that mental strength for delivering a good pace.

Overall a fantastic experience in the dark, I think Jen is forcing me to do this race again in 2018. Stay tuned. :)
Me before it got dark

Jen checking out zee Bling ware

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