Once 2pm hit on Sunday, November 15th, 2015, it was time to meet up with my Team Challenge crew in the lobby at the LINQ. From there, we would assemble onto buses and head off to the starting line of our 13.1 mile journey running the Strip at night!
After taking pictures we anxiously waited on the buses. Team Challenge had a special deal with the race organizers: we were the only ones allowed to drive on the blocked-off course in order to be dropped off at the starting line.
We were dropped off a little after 3pm at a giant parking lot across from the Luxor. All Rock ‘n’ Roll Series races have a headliner concert, and for Vegas, they managed to get Kid Rock…erm, not my style, but ok.
The race was aimed to start at 4:30pm, and I actually had to run over to my corral (5) after realizing the parking lot was only next to corral 40…
Needless to say, I got a warm-up in without even planning for it! It probably was necessary though looking back at it, considering that it was COLD.
Because I was able to change to corral 5 at the expo, I didn’t have to wait an insane amount of time to actually start! I remember almost waiting 40 minutes when I ran Nike Women’s two years ago, and now I’m more knowledgeable about how to avoid that!
Most of the race was run on the Strip, but it wasn’t until a little after Mile 1 that we “entered” Las Vegas (we made a loop around so that we passed the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign!)
From there, we passed all the Strip landmarks—Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Bellagio, Paris, Wynn, Palazzo—and continued on north to Downtown. Actually, most of the route was familiar to me, since we were just in that area the day before. In fact, we even ran by Vegenation, haha!
This race also ended up being one of my toughest. I was putting in a hard, race-pace effort, but the elements were burly too. There were bouts of rain and gusts of strong winds. I thought I would overheat as the run progressed since I was fitted with my armwarmers, but I stayed relatively cool the whole time.
I felt slight sorness in my hips and shins, but I was able to push through, and surprisingly, the time seemed to fly by! Miles 8-10 were probably the hardest, since it was on the way back from Downtown right before hitting the Strip again…a “so-close-but-yet-so-far” zone, so the fact that I had those feelings was not surprising!
When I did cross the finish line, I was excited to have scored a new half PR, running at an 8:49/mi pace! Other than sore hips, I felt fine. My hands and face felt cold, but a mylar sheet quickly fixed that! My arms were stuffed with chocolate milk, powerbars, snap peas chips, and water by the time I exited the recovery zone and made my way to the Team Challenge tent.
After I signed out, I received a Rock ‘n’ Roll charity medal to wear along with my race medal, which included flip-able slot charms (so cute!)
I met up with my Dad at the tent, and we quickly made our way to the closest casino to warm up and get away from the wind that was still howling at runners outside.
It took us a while to find something to eat, since all of the restaurants were packed and finding a place to sit down and eat was a maze in itself. We settled on a food court in the Venetian, and I ended up having another Mediterranean dish for the day.
But what I really was craving was a piping hot cup of HOT CHOCOLATE (and maybe something sweet on the side 😉 ). We thought we’d be able to find something suitable at the Wynn, and while it was a gorgeous hotel on the inside (and oh so fancy), there was no proper bakery/chocolatier/coffee shop in sight.
We made our way back towards the Palazzo, and luckily found something even better—Carlo’s Bakery! Yup, the place of Cake Boss fame (I was never a fan of Cake Boss as I preferred Ace of Cakes, but a bakery in a bakery in the end, despite who owns it).
The place was packed for a Sunday night at 9pm, and there were so many baked goods to choose from!
Jam-filled powder cookies and layered cakes…what’s a girl who just finished a night half marathon to do?
I happened to spot a small tray of cannolis at the very bottom of the display case, and immediately knew that THAT was what I wanted to accompany my hot chocolate.
I finished my large cannoli within five bites, but my 20oz. hot chocolate kept me warm as we walked back to the LINQ, walking inside through as many casinos as we could to stay warm. As we walked, we continued to see runners (and now walkers) make their way towards the finish.
By the time we made it back to the hotel, I was pooped! I still had to “pack” (meaning, stuff all of my things back in my rollerboard because I had a 6:45am flight the next morning…), and I had zero energy left to do anything. Nothing felt more right than snuggling under the cozy LINQ bedsheets and resting my head on the soft pillows. Even though I only got five hours of sleep that night because I had to wake up early (why you Monday afternoon class!!), it was a restful night’s sleep. Although to be honest, sleeping is probably the last thing a “normal” person would want to do in Vegas!
Have you ever run a night race?
Have you ever run with a charity organization?