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Friday, December 9, 2011

las vegas half-marathon recap.

so i know i'm a little slow on this one but i just haven't had the time or the energy to sit and write a legit post since returning from vegas this past monday.

seeing as though i slept a total of 11 hours last night, i think i should be capable of producing a pretty decent post now.

so here goes, the yin and the yang of the las vegas half marathon:

The company!
christina, my parents, and I at Minus5 Ice Bar
myself and the girls, at Surrender at Encore on friday night

the expo.
My experience at the expo was fantastic.  I was lucky enough to get into Vegas by noon on Friday so we had plenty of time to get to the expo before it got insanely crowded.  i'm glad we got there when it was pretty empty because i had an agenda: meet meb.  and i did!  and he was awesome!

he even let me hold the winning nyc marathon medal!

he won my first ever marathon (nyc 2009) and i could not control my excitement when i found out that he would be at the vegas expo.  there were only about 8 people on line and he seemed to be spending a lot of time with everyone who was there to meet him. obviously i got even more excited that i'd be able to have an actual conversation with him as opposed to just having him sign something for me.  

when i walked up to him, my mom immediately took the above picture of us together.  i told him how he won my first marathon (and that i was "right behind him, obviously") and he says "oh just wait, i have something to show you then."  after he signed my marathon bib and my book, he took out the winning nyc marathon medal.  it was humongous.  and heavy.  he laughed and joked that i must be so amazed by the size and weight because "the second place medal must be a lot smaller, huh?"  

i am in love.  thanks so much, meb!

also, because the expo wasn't all that crowded, the rents and i were able to walk around, look at what all the booths were selling, take pictures, etc.  with big races, it is DEFINITELY worth it to head to the expo as early as possible.  i learned this the hard way with the nyc marathon.  get your butt their the first day if you want to do anything besides just pick up your bib and free swag.  

this show was fantastic.  it was funny and entertaining and i couldn't stop smiling during the performance.  no pictures were allowed during the actual show but there was a 20 minute pre-show where i was able to snap some photos:

My PR!
the course was flat and i knew i could get a PR.. but i definitely started to have my doubts before the race since i started to feel pretty crappy on saturday.  walking to the race, i started to get nervous that i had built myself up only to be let down if i didn't have a good run.

i had even more doubts during the race because it was so completely crowded and i was behind tons of walkers and slower runners (i'll get into this more later) that i started to get cranky that i wouldnt PR and it'd only be because of crowding and not because i couldn't go faster.  luckily, i finished with a 40 second PR so i couldn't be all that cranky.  when i ran past my parents near the finish line, i knew i'd be under 2:08 so i got all excited and threw my hands around.  they didn't get this on camera.. they did, however, see me coming and snapped this shot:

i apologize now for the crankiness that is the next few paragraphs...

Start line/corrals
The start line and corrals were completely unorganized.  When Lisa, Christina, and I first arrived at Mandalay Bay, we had absolutely no idea where to drop our bags.  there were no signs, nothing. we figured they would be inside mandalay bay so we went in that direction.  we still didn't actually know if we were going towards baggage check so we decide to ask a volunteer.  the volunteer didn't even know which way to direct us.  finally, someone says that we need to get inside mandalay bay (which is what we were trying to do in the first place) and a cop yells at us to get over to the corrals.  uhh hello, we want to go INSIDE mandalay bay because we really don't want to run with an extra 10 pounds of crap on our backs.  we get inside mandalay bay, ask again for directions, and have to walk through a massive mob of people for a good 10 minutes before we check our bags. awesome.

Merging of the half and full marathons
awful awful awful.  the full marathoners were supposed to have the left side of the road and the half marathoners were supposed to run on the right side of the road.  this didn't happen.  everyone was just wherever they wanted to be.  i felt so bad for the full marathoners because they were dodging walkers and slower runners.  these poor people just ran 13+ miles and now they have to dodge half-marathoners who are slower than them?  give them their money back.  next year, the full marathoners should do the half-marathon course FIRST.  this just seems logical and idk what einstein thought up this years course.  idiot.

Walkers and Slower Runners
races assign corrals for a reason.  you are put into a corral because that's the pace you have proven you can run.  it is not fair to decide to put yourself in a lower corral.  i was running and swerving through runners with corral numbers wayyyy higher than mine.  how are you in front of me if you were supposed to be in corral 37?!? huh?! answer me that!  it was really frustrating and in the world of running, i'm not all that fast.  it made me appreciate the nyc marathon and how they have volunteers that literally check your bib before letting you into a corral.  thank you, nyrr, i love you.

The water and cytomax
first of all, the water was gross.  apparently they just took it straight from a fire hydrant.  and i've never had cytomax before and it definitely did not taste good so i just stuck to water (which didn't taste all that good either but i took what i could get).  i heard that for runners in the back, they ran out of water.  what?! how do you run out of water?! you have 44,000 people running and they're gonna be thirsty! prepare for this.  geeze.

The Finish Line
the finish line was absurdly crowded.  i was lucky enough that i was able to run over the finish line, even if just barely.  couldn't have been more than a few paces back that this was no longer possible for runners.  runners literally had to WAIT to cross the finish line!  unbelievable.

Post-Finish line
oh man.  i don't even know where to begin.  once i crossed the finish, it was so unbelievably packed that people were barely moving.  i was able to swerve and get myself to a volunteer who was handing out medals.  i later found out that they RAN OUT OF MEDALS.  how do you run out of medals?!  you knowww exactly how many people are running, shouldn't you just make that amount of medals? maybe you should even make more just incase some are broken or lost or whatever.  i just simply cannot fathom how you can be so unorganized that you run out of medals.  every runner gets ONE MEDAL.  they don't get a second one to bring home to their dad or grandma.  c'mon people.

the foil blankets - ughhh.  instead of having people handing out the foil blankets like they do after the nyc marathon, they had people bunching them up and throwing them over the crowd.  not once, but twice, i had another runner grab a foil blanket out of my hand.  eventually, i was able to grab one from the ground.  i was even able to grab one for the little older woman behind me who also had her wrap stolen from her.  unbelievable.

the food/fruit.  usually i grab whatever they have to eat after the race.  banana, apple, pretzels, whatever.  the bananas were green.  pure green.  awesome.

there were absolutely no signs to anything.  once i got my bag, i figured someone would direct me to the "family meetup" area where i told my parents to wait at the letter Q.  no one was around to let me know where this was and when i called my parents, they said it was back outside.  ummm someone tell me why i would want to go back through a mob to go back outside in the freezing cold?  instead, i had them come meet me in the lobby.

we asked the concierge where the shuttle buses were since there were obviously no signs of volunteers to ask and he said it was all the way back where i picked up my baggage.  so (again) we herded through a mob of about 30,000 people going the opposite direction.  my mom was flipping out that we were going the wrong way.  i had to remind her that these people probably had no idea where they were going either and were all just "following the crowd."  after a good 20-30 minutes of navigating through a mob and looking all over mandalay bay for a sign for the buses or a volunteer to ask (there were none of either), we found the shuttle buses.  it was then about a 5 minute ride back to the hotel.  umm how about a sign next year?  just a suggestion.

i later found out that the mob in mandalay bay all went to the tram (because why would anyone let them know that there are way easier and more convenient shuttle buses back to hotels?) - and that it took some people roughly 2.5 hours to get to their hotel! sickening.

to sum it all up, the vacation was fun and the race was just poorly organized.  i am so appreciative of new york road runners and all that they do to ensure that all of their race participants are well-cared for and safe.

again, i apologize for the crankiness that was the last half of this post.  i just had to vent.

next up? ted corbitt 15k in central park.  back to the comfort of nyc and nyrr!

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