Thursday, December 08, 2011

Good Intentions

You know what they say about good intentions?

I'm sure the race coordinators at Competitor had really good intentions when planning the new night race for the Las Vegas Rock N Roll marathon and half marathon. I'm sure it all looked good on paper. The reality was another story.

The expo was pretty straight forward and the same as any other race expo, such as retrieving  race numbers, d-tags, swag bag, t-shirt and freebies (mostly food) at the expo, plus peruse the expo for the latest and greatest gear.  Hubs and I attended the expo on the Friday before the marathon/half marathon, so it wasn't too bad as far as crowds and getting out of there with in a reasonable amount of time.

This year the race was a night race. It sounds kind of fun to run the strip at night with all the lights, right? The marathoners started around 4:00 PM and the half marathoners started around 5:30 PM. With the wave starts, I think we stared around 6:15PM-ish.  The corrals were rather tight, and it was hard to get into our appropriate corrals.  I was supposed to be in corral 9 and ended up being good with starting in corral 13. I've started other races that were quite crowded and just started in the wrong (higher numbered) corrals because I couldn't  move due to crowds, so I really wasn't too surprised that this was the case.  I figured it would ease up and become less congested once the race started.  It did ease up a little, but, due to the fact people couldn't get into their appropriate corrals, there were walkers in front of runners, which made for slow going in some parts of the race where I felt good enough to kick things in gear.  After the sun went down the temps dropped down to the low 30s and the wind kicked up in spots. It's also really dry in the high desert and you tend to get thirstier. With about 44,000 people running total, they did not prepare for running out of electrolyte, gels, and water cups. I carry a 20 ounce water bottle with me, and might need to refill it once. I refilled it 4 times at water stations. There was one stretch of the course where they ran out of cups and there was no water for 3.5 miles. The marathoners were mixed in with the runners at a several points, which screwed up those marathoners who were trying for a BQ or PRs.  There were about 20,000 MORE  people this year.* I was unintentionally elbowed and bumped several times, and have a pretty good bruise on my arm from someone's elbow. I was often stuck behind groups of people who were much slower, and it was hard to get around them.  As much as I tried, I couldn't speed up at the end, because I just could not navigate around people.   After the finish line the water seemed like long ways away, and I had to ask someone where she got her water. I know there were tables with bagels, bananas, fruit, bars, etc, but it was so crowded I never made it to those tables. It also took me a while to get a mylar blanket. I was FREEZING. When I ran I was mostly fine. Stopping was another story. I was shivering while I waited for Hubs, who was about 10 minutes behind me, and that seemed like an eternity. My gloves got wet at the water stations and my fingers were freezing.  I really wanted a hot beverage like hot tea or hot apple cider. Even hot chocolate would have sufficed, and I'm allergic to dairy. Heck, a cup of hot water would have been great. We didn't stick around for our post race beer, we just wanted to get our gear, use a restroom, and go back to our room, but that took about two hours total. Mandalay Bay, where the race ended, is connected to two other hotels and an overpass walkway to the hotel we stayed at.  We thought we could walk through the hotels and overpass to get to our hotel room at New York, New York, which should have taken 10 to 15 minutes.  We never made it out of Mandalay Bay.  We got stuck in a cluster f*** of people trying to do the same thing.  People were getting sick and passing out around us.  The EMTs had a hard time getting to people in need. It looked like a war zone.  It turns out part of that walkway area was blocked off for some Las Vegas premier for a Michael Jackson tribute show.  Talk about bad timing! It took us well over an hour to get back to our room, which was less than a mile from the finish.

Edit - Check out this article as to why so many people got sick!

We missed the after parties because it was so late when we got back to our room, but we were too tired to go anywhere. While I showered, hubs went into the hotel lobby area to get food and bring it back to our room.  The hotel restaurants were OVERWHELMED with post run people just trying to get something to eat. A couple of places told hubs that they were no longer seating people or placing to go orders.  He managed to find a place that had pasta, which turned out to be fantastic, but maybe because I was so hungry by the time he made it back up to our room at midnight. 

The next morning we didn't have time for much more than packing and catching the shuttle to the airport.  While at the airport we heard stories from other runners who had the same experience.   I'm sure Competitor has heard an ear-full by now. I'm also sure they saw everything that happened from their heated and catered VIP viewing section... I guess they were initially too busy paying attention to their bottom line and not the finish line.

There were some high points.  They actually had women's sized t-shirts this year, finally, and it FITS.  Hubs and I attended a pre race carb load dinner at the condo one of our track club buddies, and we saw a lot of friends there. I also met up with my blogger friend Dawn (Dawn on the Run) from Canada at a Tweet-up. I also met Mary (The Running Green Girl), Carrie (Family Fitness Food) and a few other bloggers (who I can't for the life of me remember their names, but they are wonderful people!!!) I also did better than I anticipated. My mile splits weren't that great, but I was happy to see the finish time of 2:36:48 because it felt more like a 3 hour run running at night, plus it was hard to pace myself with so many people.  I'm generally happy with my run.  I did  chat with a few (a very few) people who enjoyed every aspect of the race, and I'm glad to know it was enjoyable for those people.  I'm guessing they were either uber fast and got out of the race area before the chaos hit, or they were walkers who were at the back of the pack and missed the bulk of the chaos.

The medal is pretty nice. It even glows in the dark. 

The skyline is actually a sparkly green, but it didn't photograph that way.  I didn't know it glowed in the dark medal until someone mentioned it to me once I returned home.  Of course I tested the medal for it's glow in the dark capabilities.  All the yellow coloring on the medal does glow in the dark, and even though it's a novelty, it's still pretty cool.  

Besides the race, hubs and I did enjoy a night out.  We caught a show, Zumanity, and had a fabulous dinner and drinks on Friday night.  Sure, we could easily have a nice dinner out in our hometown, but sometimes a change of pace can do a relationship some good, and being in Las Vegas for some time with hubs was worth the effort of being there. 

I'm not sure why, but I have DOMS in both forearms. I'm guessing I was tensing up after the race while trying to keep warm.  I dunno. 

Now it's back to normal and continue training for my next race (my favorite) The Carlsbad Half Marathon in mid January.

Song from Monday, November 28, 2011
Monday Morning - No Doubt - Run-DMZ


*The 2010 Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Marathon/Half Marathon event had 24,403 participants listed as finishers.

PS...  Any one else having issues with Blogger?  I'm having issues with comments and showing my full list of  followers.


Kenley said...

I am glad to see that on the bright side, you were happy with your time. Congratulations! My last Half was a 2:33. CLOSE. lol. I have heard a lot of negatives about that race too from other blogs and stuff. Awesome to see some good things about it too. I have never raced at night but seems like it would be fun, minus 44,000 people of course. Take care.

Black Knight said...

I am glad for the good things and the medal but I am sorry for the "nightmare race". Now it also happens in Italy, and I learned to send written complaints and the same my friends do. After a terrible race in Ladispoli, and my complaints, the organization gave me a voucher for a very good discount in his shop.
Hovewer I have a black list where I put the the races not to do anymore.

Anne said...

Competitor is starting to build a reputation for its management of the RnR franchise, and it's not a good reputation. This reminds me of the first year they took over the San Diego RnR and never thought to provide adequate transportation at the finish. And these races aren't cheap, either.

(I've had a lot of trouble with Blogger for months now.)

Lisa said...

Good job with your run. I don't think I would like any night race myself.

Pink Granite said...

What a trial!!!
I'll echo the others with being happy you both made the best of the weekend!
- Lee

Jill said...

Ugh, what an ordeal! I just think it was way too many people and they just weren't equipped to deal with the insanity of the crowds with the falling temps. Someone didn't think this though very well. I'm glad at least the medal is fun...I think I'd hang it on my dresser so that when I turned my lights off at night, I'd get to see it :). Nice job on the run and another half in your books :). Fun that you and the hubby got an enjoyable night out together at least!

Um...blogger and I do not like one another. I so badly need to change to Wordpress or something, but I'm way too lazy to put in the effort needed. Sorry about your issues.

Carrie said...

I do think they had good intentions. I think there were a lot of things that people didn't take into consideration - mainly the weather and that the Vegas location brought out people who may not have been prepared or knowledgeable about races (courtesy issues).

Glad you had a good experience and a nice weekend getaway. My friend is trying to talk me into an annual getaway race.

So great to meet you, too.

The Green Girl said...

Hey, girl! It was really good to meet you in Las Vegas.

Too bad the race was a disappointment. Oh wells.

Miss Rachel said...

Ugh - sounds like more trouble than it was worth, but at least you got to meet some online friends. The water thing is especially disturbing; you should be able to count on races with at least providing that correctly.

Have you put up your Christmas tree yet? I always enjoy seeing photos of your beautiful silver and blue decorated tree every year. :)

Tara said...

Hi Irene, I found you through my friend Jill's (Run with Jill) blog. I will be running the Carlsbad half in January too! I look forward to following you.

I have heard from many people that Vegas was a mess....ugh. I sure hope they get it straightened out before next year!