It’s time for another race recap! This one was extra special – and not just because they shut down the Las Vegas strip for us runners, but because I got to share it with some of my family. Great memories!
Keirsten ran her first half-marathon and it was an honor to get to run every step by her side and pace her to the finish line. And my brother-in-law Jason ran his first full marathon. Huge accomplishments! Both of them set big goals and went from being non-runners to serious athletes this year and I am incredibly proud! The best part of the weekend was getting to experience their big “firsts” with them.
Chad and I hit the road on Saturday morning. It’s about 5 hours from San Diego to Las Vegas. We have made this drive once before to visit Adam and Keir, who moved from Delaware to Vegas shortly after we moved from Delaware to San Diego. I cannot emphasize enough how nice (and what a relief!) it is to have family only a drive away. Though it’s mostly through the middle of nowhere, I enjoy the scenic drive through the desert! It’s a great way for us to unwind, catch up, and listen to some great podcasts and music.
Lara and Jason flew out from Philly to meet us for the race. After we all had a reunion and grabbed lunch, it was time to head to the expo – held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the strip.
The expo had some great vendors! My favorite was definitely Daiya, who was dishing out vegan pizza and cheesecake (yes, please). I also loved the sweatshirts that listed all of the participants names on the back and the Vegas Strong banner.
Toyota had a “carb-loading” game! So clever!
Keirsten surprised me at the expo by buying me one of the special “Vegas Strong” t-shirts as a thank you for helping her with training. Are you kidding?! Getting people to love running is my joy! I really wanted this shirt to begin with but a few weeks ago, I talked myself into saving money instead…so the fact that she bought this for me was a huge blessing! Thank you, Keir! I can’t wait to wear it proudly. 🙂
Later that night, the Goo Goo Dolls performed a free concert for all of the runners and guests, per RNR tradition. We skipped it and opted for a night in with pasta and Moana. In my opinion, it felt a little too soon and a bit eerie to be going to a concert on the strip! Many runners seemed to feel the same way.
Sunday morning came and we went to church and ate a big, carb-filled breakfast! Keirsten and Adam were great hosts and kept the bagels, pancakes, and coffee coming. Racing at night presented an interesting challenge with fueling for the day, and the anticipation was high as we waited around for the time to finally get dressed and head down to the start!
The race started on the strip outside of New York, New York hotel and casino. We enjoyed hanging out in the starting village area where they had plenty of water, bananas, and more than enough port-a-potties for us! And even though herding 40,000+ runners sounds super chaotic, the folks at RNR kept it organized and efficient. We also loved the pre-race prayer that Team 413 offered – it was great to huddle up with about 20+ other believers and to pray for strength, protection, and joy before the race! He spoke about this verse and how Las Vegas is a light in the middle of the darkness…literally…have you ever flown into Vegas at night before? It’s just miles and miles and miles of vast, pitch black desert and then BAM! a beautiful city of lights in the middle of nowhere. What a perfect analogy. He used this verse to encourage us to be a light of joy, hope, and love to the people of Las Vegas after the very worst tragedy – just as Jesus is a light in our lives.
And before we knew it…we were off on a 13.1 mile adventure!
Keirsten and I stuck together for the entire 13.1…it was so fun to run with her and to see her have total breakthrough when everything else in her body was screaming “Stop! I want to quit!” …but she proved to herself that her mind is stronger! We ran pretty blissfully up until mile 9.5 and she started to hit the wall…but she persevered and did not quit! I felt really grateful to have watched her work through her pain and fight like hell to reach her goal. She wanted that finish line and she got it. I am so proud!
And if you were wondering about Jason…he also did it! 4:34 for his first marathon which is fantastic!
Favorite sights and moments on the course:
- the first 2.5 miles = total silence in memory of the 1 October victims and running past the Mandalay Bay.
- We ran right past the Route 91 festival grounds…Jason Aldean’s picture and stage was still there…it was like nothing had been touched (as it is still an active investigation) and it was very sobering to be there.
- Meeting a 72 year old woman running with her 50 year old sons!
- Getting high-fives from rowdy strangers along the strip
- Seeing a spectator in an Eagles hat and sweatshirt — GO BIRDS!
- Singing Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On” with Keirsten at mile 4
- Elvis impersonators
- So many brides and grooms getting married during the race!
- Running past the old wedding chapels in Downtown Vegas
- Elton John and KISS cover bands playing on the course
- Seeing the Backstreet Boys videos/banners on the strip
- The Vegas Strong glow in the dark banner
- All of the costumes!
- Seeing a woman wearing a sign that said “My first half for my 65th birthday!” — proof that it is never too late to run!
- A runner’s shirt that said “Longest Walk of Shame EVER.”
- Thanking police officers and feeling incredibly safe along the course with security, helicopters, tractor-trailer barricades, and volunteers everywhere!
- The sheer joy + spectacle of running down Las Vegas Blvd. in the middle of the night! We felt like a million bucks!
This was my 8th half-marathon and my 5th Rock N’ Roll event – they do an amazing job, every time and I hope to be back to run Vegas again next year!