2011 Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon Las Vegas Recap

Viva Las Vegas! I had a blast in Sin City this weekend attending the Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon. This was my second visit there and my second experience with the Rock 'n Roll series. I had a nearly four hour flight from Chicago, and my sister flew in from California on Friday night. We were both pretty much exhausted after also having to work that day, but we were excited to be there.
Saturday, we took a field trip on the Deuce bus to and from the expo. The expo was super crowded and cramped. This was only a prelude to how the race would end up being, we'll get to that later. At the expo were pretty much the same vendors and gear in Chicago, but I did make one interesting discovery there, Spider Tech. I've been wanting to try out K-tape for the arch of my foot, but the last couple of expos I've attended, the line for free tapings has been way too long. Spider Tech's booth was tucked away in the back, with only a few people waiting. I got my foot taped for plantar fascia and posterior tibial tendon support. I was really excited about the price, a box of 40 for $20.
One of the female employees did the taping, I felt like she just put it on and there was not enough tension to provide any support. She said the more tension, the less effective it would be, but I can't say that I felt a difference at all. By the time we got back to our hotel, the tape was already starting to come off. It could be that the foot is a difficult area for athletic tape to stay put, but sigh, I was less than impressed. There were several members of the run group planning to race, so Sunday there was a planned meet up before the race. It was so nice meeting other Black women from around the country who are also running obsessed!
After the meet up, we had a few hours to relax before the race. Our hotel was near the start line, so we figured it would be a breeze to walk over there. This is when the real fun began. It was pretty crowded trying to walk between the Luxor and Mandalay Bay. It was difficult to get past the crowd at gear check and out the door into the corrals. Thankfully, we made it to our corral in enough time.
The start of the race was very organized. It started promptly, just as it had in Chicago. There were several corrals ahead of us, so we waited about 30 minutes to start. I lost count of each corral as they were sent on there way, but I think at about corral 25, they just let everyone take off, there was no pause in between. There were 40 corrals in total. So what ensued was a mad mix of runners and walkers starting at the same time. There were runners darting in and out everywhere! It was like people forgot the basic rule of staying to the right and passing on the left. I registered for the race before my injury, so I did not have time to properly train, but I knew I was still coming for the experience . . . and for the fact that I already paid to register and bought my airfare. I ran the first few miles of the race, then stood on the sidelines to cheer on the runners, then finished the last mile with my sister. When we crossed the finish line, the finish area was so random. The medals were scattered, people were tearing their own space blankets off the roll, there was a ridiculous line to take a finisher photo, and the bananas and snacks were on the other side of that line. We skipped the photo and cut through for some nourishment! From the secure race area, we had to re-enter Mandalay Bay to get back to our hotel. The line was absolutely ridiculous! Worse than trying to get to the start of the race. Probably because nearly 20 corrals were finishing at the same time! The last thing people want to do after running a marathon or half is stand in line. When it was clear we weren't getting anywhere soon, we exited back outside to get some air. We walked a bit and found another less populated entrance to the hotel. I hear we avoided most the craziness. There were apparently several people that passed out in the crowd and EMTs had to be called. When the race sold out at 44,000, RNR raised the capacity. I believe the final count was near 60,000. I think the major issue with this race was raising the cap and not being able to handle it. RNR got a little greedy in Las Vegas this year. They gambled and lost in the opinion of many runners! It's unfortunate because the course is amazing, it's really cool to run at night on the Strip. Hopefully next year RNR will better manage the crowd.
Update: Shortly after I published this post RNR sent out an e-mail to Vegas participants acknowledging the race issues and offering a $10 off code for an RNR event in 2012. At least they recognize there was a problem!

2011 Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Chicago Recap

I survived. Lasting impression, the Rock 'n Roll races are super organized. The expo was fun, I picked up a free gym back, gorged myself on engery bars and granola samples, and met Biggest Loser season 5's Jackie and Dan.

The race was scheduled to start and 6:30am and they did not waste one second getting started. Had I not been 15 minutes behind schedule, I would have normally appreciated that. I didn't miss the start or anything, but I was racing to get from the El train to the gear check before my corral started. One suggestion to RNR, do not situate the gear check at the furthest possible point away from the start line! It was my own fault, live and learn . . . to wake up at 4am instead of 4:30! I LOVED the course. I usually avoid downtown Chicago at all costs, so it was actually nice to take in all the sites on a closed course. I recognized a lot of places and realized I hang around downtown more than I thought! The hydration and aid stations were plentiful and the volunteers were awesome! This was my first RNR race experience, they really have it down to a science. A few sucky parts, the bands! Wow. First off, the headliner, Brett Micheals CANCELED the day of (boo!!!). The first 8 miles of bands were pretty cool. I'm not sure if it was the fact that my ipod died at mile 9 or if the bands actually got worse at this point, but from then on I could actually hear crickets on the course. A couple of bands were playing slow, dreary tunes, and one was on break. I understand taking a break, but this is a timed event, have enough material to cover the entire race, please. Okay, enough about the negative. The post race gathering was really good! It was situated around Buckingham fountain (the iconic fountain from the Married with Children intro), which is really beautiful. There were tons of free samples, several massage booths, and BEER!

It was my friend Katie's first half, and she beat me! Me and one of my fellow Black Girls RUN! Ambassadors, Renisha

About the actual run, it rained off and on. I felt really good up to about mile 8, my knees started to get sore. It may have been that without music I had nothing else to distract me. When I saw the mile 10 marker I felt really energized and I could not stop running even though I really wanted to walk! It was starting to really rain again and I just wanted to finish at that point. The rain felt really good, but I hate rain splashing in my eyes. Had I worn a visor the rain wouldn't have bothered me at all. Of course, there was a hill at mile 11, arg. I had to walk it. I learned from running the St. Louis half not to run the hills in the last three miles, it zapped my energy. When the hill rounded out, I could see the finish line. It seemed to take forever getting there! Normally I like seeing the finish, but it seemed like a mirage it was so far away. I still ended up finishing strong, which is always my goal, at sub 2:49. My actual time goal was 2:45, so I came close. I'm running another RNR in Vegas in December, and I plan to finish sub 2:45! This bad baby will be mine for completing two RNRs in one year!

My race mug shot . . .

Bikram Yoga Recap

The final class of my Bikram yoga two week trial was Thursday at Bikram Yoga Oak Park. The heater was back at 100%, when I walked into the hot room I immediately noticed the difference. I took Shavasana (dead pose) and as others filtered into the room, I heard a couple of whispers about how hot it was! I didn't realize it until class was over, but the instructor was actually the owner, Nancy. I was very challenged this visit because of the extreme heat and her style is a bit quicker than the other two instructors I experienced during my trial. Nancy mentioned several times during class, 'If you can do it, you must'. Which really pushed me to try harder and push through the sweat and heat. Needless to say, the next day I was exhausted. Much like I felt after my first class. I really enjoy Bikram, and will likely take it up again in the fall. I actually enjoy being warm, and the heat is really relaxing after a day at the office.

2011 Soldier Field 10 Mile Recap

I haven't posted one thing about my training for today's Soldier Field 10 mile race since I posted my training plan back in January. I think that's because it went surprisingly well! I was able to complete most of the weekday runs. The longest long run I was able to complete was 8 miles. I was a bit worried because I decided to try Bikram (hot) yoga for the first time earlier this week on Wednesday. It completely wiped me out. I was so sore Thursday. I was still a little sore this morning, but I really loaded up on sleep between yoga and the race to help me recover faster.

Today's race was great. Fleet Feet always pulls off really well organized races. It sold out at 15,000 participants, everything went seamlessly. I had a few friends at the race too, that always makes races more fun. The least pleasurable part of the race for me was running on a closed off lane of Lake Shore Drive. It was nice that part of the course was flat, but the car exhaust from passing vehicles was almost nauseating! I'm being hyper-sensitive. I couldn't wait to reach the turn around at mile 5 to run along Lake Michigan. The most awesome part was entering Soldier Field like like a BEAR!

There were spectators cheering in the stands, it was pretty cool. I finished sub 1:55. I'm sure there are some Brightroom pictures of me with my hands up with a goofy smile crossing the finish line on the fifty-yard line. This was the first race of the season. I hope the rest of my season is this enjoyable!

Derby Lite Winter 2011

Monday was the last night for Derby Lite practice. It was a fun time! I thought I was a good skater before the class, not really. Skating is really about being comfortable on wheels (duh). Sounds simple, but if you're all tensed up afraid of falling, you will. If there's one thing I learned it's that falling is ok! With the right protective gear, falling won't matter. As far as the workout, skating is great for strength training. Skating works muscles I don't normally use when running. My bum and a weird section of my quads were definitely sore after a few practices. I may again take the course next Winter. It's a bit pricey, but it is nice that the session is long at twelve weeks. Here are a few pics from our last practice.

Fleet Feet Chicago Historic Run - Wrigleyville

We participated in Fleet Feet Chicago's Historic Run through Wrigleyville today. It was a fun time! This is my second group run, the first was not a super fun experience. Although the group was supposed to be for all skill levels, the pace was too fast, set by an Ironman finisher. Today's fun run was an easy pace, about 6 miles, and stopped off at several points of interest along the way.

Places and things that are seemingly normal, but have an interesting past. We saw a church that was hiked up and moved across the street a hundred years ago,

Alta Vista Terrace, the street in Chicago that is a little bit of London, the houses mirror each other on both sides of the street,

Wrigley Field, THREE cemeteries where historical Chicago figures now rest, and tons of gorgeous houses including this one with an amazing garage roof top patio.

Just things you wouldn't be able to appreciate driving down the streets of these neighborhoods. Oh, here's Rahm Emanuel's rented house that he may again reside in once he takes office as Mayor of Chicago!

This run was a great way to kick off my 10 week training for the Soldier Field 10 Miler in May.