Running the #stripatnight – Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, 2015 Race Recap

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas half marathon was my twelfth half and also the craziest one that I’ve ever run. It rained, we were hit by 20-30 mile per hour winds and we took a 35 minute break to renew our vows on the course. It was crazy, challenging and awesome all at the same time. We ran the half as the second part of the Remix Challenge. You can read about the first part here.

Mei and Dan with their medals after the half.

Dan and I with our medals after finishing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas half marathon – the craziest half I’ve ever run and definitely one of the most memorable!

When we first signed up for the half I had hoped that I could run it in sub-two hours and achieve a new PB. I’ve been looking at running a sub-two hour half all year (something that I’ve never done before) but the timing or the races never seem to work out for me. When I catch up on my blogging, you’ll see why when I recap my tenth half marathon, which can best be described as a comedy of errors. More on that later.

Simple Salad and Lobster Roll at Hexx.

My light lunch before the race. I had the simple salad and a lobster roll at Hexx.

After our Run Thru Wedding meeting the day before I knew that sub-two hours wasn’t going to happen. There were almost 200 couples renewing their vows or getting married and we were all of varying paces. They moved us up to earlier corrals based on our pacing with the hopes that we would all end up at the Monte Carlo/5k mark at around the same time. They estimated that the ceremony itself could take up to 15 minutes. This, combined with the strong wind gusts, made me get realistic about our finishing time. I was ok with it. We were going to have fun and besides, how often do you get to renew your vows on a half marathon race course in Las Vegas?

Mei and Dan before the race.

Dan and I at the pre-race festivities. Ready for the Run Thru Wedding! You can also see one of several running Elvises behind us.

We got dressed and headed for the race. Since we were renewing our vows I wore a veil under my running cap and Dan had a tuxedo t-shirt on. People kept stopping us to ask if we were getting married. We got tired of telling people that we were renewing our vows so we just started saying yes and people congratulated us. Getting to the race was easy. We took the monorail down to MGM and then followed all of the other runners to the start line, which was across from Mandalay Bay. We had lots of time to get ready so we checked our bags and then found a good spot to watch the Kid Rock concert.

Mei, Dan and Kid Rock

Enjoying the Kid Rock concert. He was awesome live!

Kid Rock concert as the sun sets.

Kid Rock, Mandalay Bay and the setting sun.

 

Confetti at the Kid Rock concert.

There was confetti at the concert.

Rock ‘n’ Roll races are known for their live music and Kid Rock was the headliner for the Vegas race. He was amazing live and this was an awesome way to start the race. Shortly before his set ended we left the festival area and got a head start on the porta-potty line. I was happy with our decision to do this because when the concert ended it was crowded and I don’t think we would have had time to go. After this we started to scramble to make our way to our corral. We were originally going to be in corral 18 but got moved into 11 because of the Run Thru Wedding. We ran down the side until we found corral 11 and then pushed our way through. It was crowded and a little stressful. At this point it was also starting to get dark and windy. The clouds looked ominous and the palm trees were all blowing to one side.

There were flames and pyrotechnics as each corral took off. Finally it was time for us to go and before we knew it we were running on the strip. I can’t even begin to explain how windy it was. I thought I was going to blow away. We were running and pushing hard. Dan was convinced that we would be late for the Run Thru Wedding but then we started passing the slower paced brides and grooms and I knew that we would be ok. The ceremony wasn’t going to start until 5:45 and we crossed the starting line at 4:44. That gave us an hour to get to the 5k mark. Plenty of time!

What I remember from the start of the race was the gusts of wind and thinking that the race was crazy. It was dark at this point and I remember seeing the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign and pointing it out to Dan. Shortly after that I heard somebody calling my name and turned and saw Matt, who I know from Instagram! He was also a digital champion for a Canada Running Series race and we have never met in real life before. With 30,000 runners running the half and full marathon I thought it was short of a small miracle that he ran past me on the course. We said hi, gave each other a high five and then he said he had to go find his wife. Off he went.

We got to the Monte Carlo and left the course to join the other couples getting married or renewing their vows. There were white balloons everywhere, a dj and a crowd of friends/family members of other couples. We waited in the ceremony area, took a selfie and danced to the music.

Mei and Dan's selfie at the Run Thru Wedding.

Selfie at the Run Thru Wedding.

I think we waited for almost 30 minutes and then it started to rain. They announced that the ceremony was going to start and asked that the grooms stand on the left and the brides on the right. We yelled “which way are we facing?” We had no idea which direction the officiant would be standing so there was some confusion. Then when she got up she said she meant she wanted the grooms on her left and the brides on her right, so everybody shifted around again. Then there was the ceremony, which was exciting and touching. I saw brides and grooms who were getting married wipe tears and smile excitedly. Monte Carlo posted a short video about the Run Thru Wedding so you can see for yourself. Dan and I even made the video (watch out for us about 13 seconds in).

When the ceremony concluded we dashed back onto the race course. In the time that the ceremony took, about 30 corrals had passed us so we were now with slower paced runners. Because of this, Dan and I spent the rest of the race dodging people. I don’t mind slower paced runners (as I mentioned in my last post, I was one of them in my last Rock ‘n’ Roll race). What made me mad was the walkers who had clearly moved up to a faster corral when they shouldn’t have. When we started in corral 11 we had to dodge walkers less than a kilometre onto the course. That was annoying.

Mei in action.

Action shot of me running around people.

Anyway, running with the slower runners was a humbling experience and reminded me of how far I’ve come. Many of them were trying their hardest. Some of them were not having a great race day, probably in large part due to the crazy weather. I heard one woman say “I’m so mad at my body right now for not letting me do this the way I should be able to do this!” I know that feeling all too well.

Despite all of this, running on the strip was amazing. By this point it had stopped raining and I could concentrate on all of the lights. It was beautiful and cool to think that we were running along the Vegas strip. As we passed the Bellagio we could see the runners who had just finished the race on the other side, collecting their medals and mylar blankets. This was hard for me to see because I knew that had we not stopped for the Run Thru Wedding that we would be almost done. I pushed that thought from my mind and we kept going. My favourite part of the race took us around Freemont Street. It was beautiful. I had a camera with me but none of my pictures turned out. Maybe next time.

Mei and Dan running past the Encore.

Running past the Wynn Encore.

Mei and Dan running past Circus Circus.

Running past Circus Circus. Too bad my eyes are closed!

Running on the #stripatnight!

Running on the #stripatnight!

Because of the weather, I didn’t see a single mile or kilometre marker, so relied solely on my Garmin to figure out where we were on the course. Dan had to stop for Gatorade at one point and they were pouring them one at a time because they couldn’t leave the cups out or else the wind would blow them away! He said they were still pretty efficient. My legs were cramping up at around the 17k mark. I knew that this was from lack of fueling. Because of the weather and trying to around people we were running harder than usual and I hadn’t taken the time to take any gels or drink enough water or sports drink. This forced me to slow down. The course also got very narrow when the half and full marathons split and we weren’t able to get around people for a while. That was ok though, I knew we were almost done.

Mei and Dan close in on the finish line.

Dan and I getting closer to the finish line.

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After what felt like an eternity, we could see the finish line. We held hands and started to go for it. In front of us was a group of about five runners wearing Canada gear all joining hands. For a brief second I thought about attaching us to them but then realized that there would be no way to get around us if I did. Instead we ran past them and kept going. Then we crossed the finish line and it was all over. The craziest half marathon that I have ever run. At the finish line, one of the volunteers said that she saw many brides and grooms cross around the same time as us. She said “Sorry you didn’t have nicer weather.” and we said “It’s ok! It was so much fun!” She was really friendly.

Mei and Dan crossing the finish line.

Raising our arms as we crossed the finish line. We did it!

Our official time was 2:49 but the time on my Garmin, which paused while we waited for the ceremony to start, was 2:14. Not bad, all things considered.

Mei and Dan showing off the backs of their medals at the finish.

Our official race picture at the finish. For some reason Dan and I both held our medals up backwards! Oops!

We got our blankets and medals, collected our post-race food and drink (chocolate milk, water, gatorade, chips, Powerbars and other snacks etc.) and our remix medal and then headed back to our hotel. The race finished at around the Mirage but the finisher’s chute took you out to the front of the Bellagio, so that worked out perfectly for us. When we arrived back to our room we were pleasantly surprised by a congratulations card, balloon and gatorade from the Bellagio. How nice of them!

Balloon, card and gatorade from the Bellagio.

A congratulatory surprise from The Bellagio!

The next day we had a late breakfast/early lunch at Hexx by Paris Las Vegas and then rode the High Roller, the world’s highest observation wheel. After some shopping, eating and gambling in the casinos (Superman was my favourite slot machine during this trip!) we said goodbye to Vegas and headed home.

Mei and the poop emoji plushy.

We did some shopping at Hexx. The poop emoji is my favourite but I was good and didn’t buy this plush toy of it. It was too expensive and I also didn’t want to carry it around Vegas for the rest of the day.

Dan on the High Roller.

Dan on the High Roller. We had the cabin to ourselves!

Mei in the High Roller.

Me and the view from the High Roller. We were able to get a discount on tickets via Runners’ Perks online.

Mei in the Bellagio conservatory.

Me, wearing my three medals with the talking tree in the Bellagio’s Conservatory. I love how their conservatory changes with the seasons.

So what did I think of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas race weekend? The Run Thru Wedding was completely worth the extra 35 minutes and a fun way to celebrate our anniversary. I think now that we’ve done it though, I would just run the half next time to see what kind of time I could finish in and to enjoy the strip more. The race weekend was very well organized with fun entertainment, good shopping at the expo, great post-race food, amazing medals (the half medal glows in the dark and the numbers on the slot machine spin!), runners’ perks discounts and we got to high five Meb! So yes, I would run this race again.

Mei's medals and finisher's shirt.

Final look at my medals and new finisher’s shirt!

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4 thoughts on “Running the #stripatnight – Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, 2015 Race Recap

  1. What an incredible experience! Congrats to you and Dan!!!!!

    Ben wanted to get married out on a race course (his first choice was a quick City Hall wedding), but my mother and I nixed both ideas.

    • Thank you! It was so much fun! I don’t know about getting married on a race course. The logistics seemed a little crazy. I’ve seen a few people get married on race courses. One year when I ran Around the Bay in Hamilton a couple got married at the finish line. You guys could definitely do a vow renewal on a race course though and then, in a way, Ben gets his wish (sort of!).

  2. My husband and I just signed up for the Vegas half! Can you tell me, is there someone along the way that takes photos of you running that you can buy after? At the wedding, is someone there taking photos also? Thanks!

    • When we ran it there were photographers on the course from Marathon-Photos, so we could buy the photos afterwards. There were event photographers at the wedding but we never received any. We had a lot of issues getting emails about the wedding because of Canada’s anti-spam legislation. They were having a lot of issues getting emails through to Canadian registrants, but they were very helpful and informative when we talked to them at the expo. Hope this helps and you have a great race!

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