Shut it Down! We're Rockin', Rollin', and Running the Strip at Night! - Recap of Las Vegas Rock n' Roll weekend
I remember having this conversation about running Vegas Rock n' Roll around this same time last year. It was right after Thanksgiving and my mom had just left the hospital. I laid next to her in bed and told her this was one of my bucket list races. I remember how excited I was telling her about grand plans for the race and possibly renewing my 15th wedding anniversary vows there. Not a beat passed when she told me that she and my dad would give us the plane tickets to Vegas as a wedding anniversary gift. Once registration opened up, I registered Michael and I for the race and convinced my two trusty run friends, Dan and Stephanie, to sign up as well. I spread the word to all my friends and family and my run pals, Larry and Wesley, and my sister and brother-in-law, Tanya and Mike, registered for the race and we all booked our trip!
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Actually what happens in Vegas get posted all over social media! That is if you behaved :) What a fun-filled weekend in Sin City! We left Saturday early morning for our 6:00 AM flight to Vegas. We met up with Larry and Wesley at the airport and took off. Once we landed in Vegas, we met up with Stephanie, who came along with her friends, Hannah and Lily. Dan was flying in later with his co-worker, Dana, and we'd catch up with him the next day. Tanya and Mike flew in earlier that morning and were already at the hotel.
My cousin recommended us to book the ARIA and we're so glad we did! It was so nice and swanky. It's one of the newer hotels on the strip. When we stepped foot into the room, the curtains parted, the lamps switched on, and soft music started to play automatically. Fancy! Once we settled in, we took a cab to the Convention Center to hit up the expo. It was so packed!! I ended up buying a long sleeve Nike running shirt to wear underneath our Custom Ink shirts I had made for Michael and I for our run-thru wedding ceremony. I had the toughest time trying to figure out what to pack for the race. It's so hard to prepare for the unknown - a night race in an unfamiliar city. It was so chilly!
Once we left the expo, we headed back to the hotel to eat (and gamble). We ate at The Buffet (a $45 per person buffet) that included dishes from every country you could think of and seafood galore. We ate like it was our last meal...which made me sleepy, not to mention there was a 3-hour time change for us. After that hefty meal, Michael and I went to bed. Yep, we're in Vegas and we were in bed by 11 pm. Ha! Man, times have changed!
The next morning, the concierge recommended us to eat at a French restaurant, Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris. It was probably the best breakfast I've ever had. No lie. It was so good we ended up eating there the very next morning too! We were watching them prepare to shut the strip down. How cool! There are only 2 times the strip is shut down - New Years and the Rock n' Roll race. After some walking, shopping, and eating, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the race.
I was exhausted riding the shuttle to the start line. The music was blaring as Macklemore and Ryan Lewis took the stage as they were headlining the pre-race concert. We got there fairly early because Wesley and Tanya were doing the Half of the Half, which started an hour before the half and marathon. We plopped ourselves on the asphalt lot and tried to stay warm. Once it got closer to the race start, we began walking to our corrals. Mike was running his first full and was in corral 12. Larry stayed back to pace him for the first 10 miles. Everyone else joined Michael and I in corral 11 - the run-thru corral. There were several brides and grooms dressed up in running gear with veils and bow ties. It was awesome!
This was Michael's first half marathon and I could tell he was anxious. This was going to be the farthest he had ever run. We stopped off at mile 3 to renew our vows in front of the Monte Carlo. Michael and I were among several couples either getting married or renewing vows. We were being silly the entire time with Stephanie, Hannah, and Dan at our side. The only downside to it was that we had to wait 25-30 minutes before the ceremony started. Once it was done, we got back on the course to finish the race. There were 35,000 runners so there was A LOT of bobbing and weaving through folks - even all the way to the finish line! It was that crowded! We were having so much fun during the first couple of miles watching newly wedded couples exiting the wedding chapels on the race course, bands rocking out some Spice Girls, all the blinding bright lights, and then the excitement waned as the music died down, the bright lights were at our backs, and ALL THE BOBBING AND WEAVING! At this point, I was ready to hurry and finish up. I was cold and just wanted the race to be over. The excitement was done. We already renewed our vows and I was lacking adrenaline that even GU couldn't perk up. Michael, Stephanie, Hannah, and I ran together until the finish. I was so proud of Michael on completing his first half! We were actually kicking it once we got back on course because all of us were ready for the race to be done. We ran through the finish, grabbed our medals, draped ourselves in the RNR capes they gave us to keep warm, guzzled down water, chocolate milk, Gatorade, and some beer, parked ourselves in the warm and welcoming Flamingo casino, and waited for Mike to finish his marathon. Once the 4 hour mark came up, Tanya and I walked over to the finish line to wait and cheer Mike on. I went to use the bathroom and I can't believe that Mike ran through the finish chute and I missed him! I was so bummed that I missed it. I am super proud of Mike for running his first marathon, Michael on his first half, and Tanya for completing her first race. How awesome! That made this trip even more worthwhile!
After the race, we made our way back to the ARIA and had dinner and celebratory drinks at the Todd English Pub. It's so different running a race without an after party. I guess Vegas itself is an after party. My big plans for partying the night away fizzled out as I quickly turned into a pumpkin. What is wrong with me? I'm in Vegas and I'm not going to party?! I was just so tired. So Michael and I made our way back to the room, took a nice hot shower, and passed out. We slept gloriously.
The next day (Monday), everyone left except Michael, Larry, Wesley, Dan, Dana, and I. We spent the day exploring the strip and all the different casinos. That night, we went to see Cirque Du Soleil's Zarkana, which was in our hotel. It was amazing! It was also my first Cirque show and I was completely mesmerized from the very beginning. I didn't want it to end! Once the show was over, a few of us stayed out and played some Blackjack. I was getting the hang of it. We all won some, then lost some. After several hands, we decided to call it quits and head to bed since some of us had to be at the airport by 4:30 AM.
Overall it was a very successful trip! We explored the strip, watched a show, ate until our bellies were full, and gambled without going overboard. It wasn't the crazy, party-til-you-drop trip that I had in mind. I couldn't adjust to the time and my belly was always too full for mass consumption of alcohol. However, the trip was a blast! I would like to come back again and visit the Hoover Dam and take a tour of the Grand Canyon. Who knows, maybe next time I'll venture into running the marathon. It was an awesome time with friends and family and great memories were made, as well as new friendships. Until the next destination race...
If you look up the idiom "on-the-run", it means to constantly travel or moving from place to place. Welcome to my life! I get asked the question - "Do you ever sleep?" at least once a week. The truth is - I am always on the run. My weeks are filled with work, training runs, dropping kids off to school and extra curricular activities, traveling out-of-town for races and soccer games, theatre rehearsals, civic duties - you name it. In addition to being an avid runner, I'm a happily married wife, mother of two, an actress, singer, a Fleet Feet CREW coach, and work full time as the Marketing Manager for Thomas & Hutton Engineering Co. I love being on the run!