Rock N Roll Marathon 2016
Rock N Roll Marathon 2016

Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon: 2016 Half

Your Fearless Leader’s running journey started in 2016. Here’s the recap of my first half-marathon, the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon, and the thing that got me started in running in Las Vegas.


Work sponsored any employee who wanted to run the Rock N Roll Half Marathon, so in August 2016, I decided to run my first-ever half. I had no idea what I was doing, but knew that I needed an app to motivate me to run on schedule. I downloaded Runkeeper and used their built-in 16-week schedule. Since I only had 12 weeks, I had to skip some of the longest runs. I was lucky to have a friend who was also training for the race who lives only a mile from my place. Work schedules meant that we only trained together on weekends for long runs, but she was amazing and inspiring and kept me on track. I was also inspired by my dad, who ran one of the early Rock N Roll Las Vegas Marathons (full) at around age 60. It took him about 8 hours, but he finished and then did it for the next two years.

Running the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon

We arrived on-site really early. Sponsor booths gave away swag, race sponsored water, fruit and mini bagels. Lines for the bathrooms were minimal as there were plenty of them. Great weather, and a concert by Snoop Dogg rounded out the wait. Corralling was uneventful, and the trudge to the start line felt like forever. They had a ceremony for hitting the start line for every few corrals, it looked like, which helped space out the flow. It’s the second-largest half marathon in the country, so there was a LOT of people. The starting line was brightly lit, and there were fireworks for the ceremonies.

Miles 0 to 7

The race starts out running the Las Vegas Strip south, from Mandalay Bay to the Welcome To Las Vegas sign. Although I’ve lived in Vegas for 10 years, I never took a photo at the sign. Today, that changed. While I was running a solid 12-minute pace, a stop at the sign put a dent in my timing.

Weather was fantastic. We headed out after sun had set, so no goofy temp changes. No rain, no humidity, mid 60s.

Then back north up the Strip, past all the casinos. It’s a pretty surreal feeling to run past places where you’re usually stuck in traffic. The big buildings start to die down around Mile 6 or 7.

I was feeling really good, consistently at 12 minutes/mile, using belly breaths and leaning. There were still plenty of people, and with my estimated time, I had to thread through plenty of walkers. I started to feel mild knee pain around mile 6.

Used many of the watering stations, grabbed a Gatorade, had a potty break around mile 7. Random singing throughout the race when a good song comes on.

Miles 7 to 10

I was using Runkeeper to get my pace, and around this point, it started to differ from the race mile signs. Runkeeper said I had completed 9 miles before the sign showed up. Frustrating!

Started to feel tired here, and both knees were complaining. Scenery wasn’t great, as this routes through a residential/light commercial (lawyer’s offices) area near Downtown Las Vegas. The houses are actually vintage and cute, but you can’t see them well in the dark.

Also, race had not thinned out at all, so was still weaving through walkers. Note to self: next time, sign up for faster time just to avoid walkers!

Miles 10 to 13.1

Energy was dragging and I actually felt hungry around mile 10, like stomach growling, so I sucked down a gel, which boosted me right back up. Just around mile 12, Runkeeper said I was done. Somehow, I just kept going, albeit a little slower.

At this point, I know it’s close, and if I can run 10, I can run 13. I think about how crossing the finish line will feel and am about to cry. Then I remember I actually have to get there.

No more singing, now it’s internal self-talk and external grunts and other strange noises.

I mark off the landmarks to the finish line at the Mirage: Stratosphere, big empty nothingness, Fashion Show Mall, TI….

The finish line is there, bright as day. A hear a grunt next to me. I grunt back to her, and she smiles. One of us says, “Let’s do this!” The other agrees, and she says “You go first!” I didn’t think I had a reserve. I did. We both go into overdrive and hit the line with huge smiles. I give her a massive hug. Thanks running stranger!

Runkeeper pace: 12:31. Rock N Roll pace: 12:58. Total time: 2:50, 10 minutes under my estimated time! I was expecting a 13-minute pace average.

Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon: Post-race

Getting out of the race is another half-mile or so. Bananas, Gatorade and beer were available. I get a banana and Gatorades, but couldn’t find the beer.

I finally get to the end of the exit corral and see my husband, dad, and a family friend. Hugs, congrats, hooray. Husband and I head to work-sponsored meetup. The folks with the credit card had already left, but a co-worker got me a margarita and food was still on the table. The best margarita is the one after a race, and the best running in Las Vegas is with friends!

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