Las Vegas – Run the Strip thanks to R’n’R Marathon

So it all started with an email to say I was one of the finalist for Dublin Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon Rock Idol. This was a competition where there was a finalist picked from each province and an extra one from Dublin. This started  a stressful couple of weeks in the search for votes. I think people were avoiding me as I was constantly reminding everyone to vote. I can only thank every single person who voted for me. The effort they went to was out of this world and on August 3rd the announcement came with

I had won and now it was time to relax and finally get excited about the trip to Vegas. In my head I had won it 100 times and had everything planned, so to know it was real meant the countdown could begin. I got to meet the other idols at Dublin Rock ‘N’ Roll Half marathon, some who I still keep in touch with and follow their journeys on social media.  It was a tough course but enjoyed the race. It also meant I had part one of the world rocker medal complete. I had done Lisbon R ‘N’ R half last year but missed Dublin so now I had my chance to do another race abroad.

Here we come Las Vegas

The long trip with Martha to Vegas began with overnight in Dublin before flying to London and then on to Vegas. Lucky I hadn’t been to the cinema in a long while because I had plenty of movies to watch to pass away the time. We eventually arrived at our hotel (Park MGM) at about 8pm. 1st thing we did was get some food in Shake Shack before deciding we should get an early night. Jetlag truly kicked in and we were both up at 3am and heading to Dennys for some pancakes. After another quick nap we decided to travel to the expo. We took the monorail and it was quick and easy to get to the convention center from there. It was one of the larger expos I have been at. Picking up my numbers were quick and easy. I strolled through the stands, we could definitely have spent a lot with the amount of choice but said I’d stay firm, I have so much already. We met Stacey from R’N’R who ran through some of the events for the weekend and there was a quick video to make. I thought it was going to be a few questions but it was more of a promotion video. Being Irish I was typically uncomfortable behind the camera but I gave it my best go.

I’ll have more than this medal this weekend

Being interviewed at the expo

Friday night was all about the VIP night in Hyde @ Bellagio. We walked to to the Bellagio and handed over our VIP passes and danced, drank and eat the night away. Ozomatli were the entertainment, I hadn’t heard of them previously but they had the crowd on their feet the whole night.

Enjoying our night

We booked a helicopter trip for early Saturday morning. We wanted to make the most of the trip. So we got our limo to McCarran airport and off we set towards Grand Canyon. The weather was perfect for it. The views were amazing and it was worth getting up at 6am for. Three Helicopters set off at the same time full with a large group from Scandinavian and us gatecrashing their fun 🙂

Getting back on the helicopter

View from the bottom

After that fun morning it was time to get a quick power nap and relax before heading to take on the 5k with Martha. We got the monorail out to the Festival Grounds. No fear of getting lost or worried about where to go since everyone on the train were going to the same place. Just like everywhere in Vegas we had to walk through a hotel and casino to get where we needed to go. We got into the grounds and found where we needed to go. Even with so many thousands of people there I managed to bump into one of the other idols who I was up against for the prize. Tracey Burke was out here to do the 5k and half and had great results over the weekend.

2 Rock ‘N’ Run Idols

Martha hadn’t had much time to prepare for this 5k and I know she would have preferred to be walking the strip than taking on a 5k in Vegas. The corrals were crazy but we found a section to make our way in. We had a long wait to get going but once we got going it opened up fairly quickly. Martha kept focused and I kept quiet. She ran down the kilometers and as the race went on her confidence grew and she got faster and faster. I was extremely proud of her as she pushed her way to the line. A very impressive finish and her 1st race in over 3 years complete.

Deserved medals

Medal number 1 for the weekend

It was an easy trek home via the Monorail again. Of course I went straight to Shake Shack yet again. They will almost know me by name now. Sunday morning we headed to the outlets and did some shopping. I planned to stay off my feet as much as I could but that is definitely hard to do in Vegas. I had some subway and when we got back to hotel I had some pizza. Having a race in the evening isn’t unusual back home but not the half distance. So trying to decide when to eat, drink and rest was hard. My main worry was I’d be hungry half way through so eating plenty early I hoped would help me out.  We walked to the starting area and into the VIP tent.

VIP treatment

Having the VIP area was brilliant. No queue for the restroom, an area with foam rollers which I took advantage of, food that was perfect to fill the gap and easy area to bag check. I was able to relax with some chicken sandwich and gatorade while Martha got to sample all the food. We were right at the stage for Capital Cites but I was concentrating on the race and had to head off early as I was in the 1st wave and wanted to be close to the front to help me get into my rhythm.

Almost ready to head to start

Start line

With Dublin only being 2 weeks ago I really didn’t know how to to approach the race. I had kind of decided to go out as hard as I can and see how long I could hang on. I said to myself I’d go close to 6:30 / 6:40 min per mile. This is a good bit faster than my PB pace but since I already achieved my goals for the year if it all went wrong I didn’t have to worry. I do need to test myself. There was great atmosphere at the start line. Plenty of nervous people around while the countdown to the start ticked down. So I took off strong and with huge crowds around it was hard not to get too excited. There was the smallest of elevation rise on the way out of Vegas and passing the sign. I managed to do 6:31 and 6:30 for the 1st two miles. That was steady and as we turned and headed back towards the strip there was a noticeable elevation fall which I knew I would try take advantage of. The crowds going down the strip were amazing. The sun was going down now so it was finally getting dark. As we passed the start line again there were huge crowds still going through the starting shoot. It was then I could truly see the number of runners taking on the races today. Miles 3 to 7 were consistent and I was really happy how things were going. (6:27, 6:30, 6:31, 6:34, 6:36). I passed through 10km in 40:42, which is my 3rd fastest 10km I have done. Certainly not something I would have expected. Things going through my head was what if I didn’t have a marathon 2 weeks ago. But I kept the head down and said I’d keep going.

Passing the Vegas sign

After mile 7 things started to slow down. I could see as we were going down towards Fremont Street that we’d have to work our way back up as well. Not sure did that play with my head but my legs started to feel some pain. Probably was a bad idea going out so hard to begin with. 6:45, 6:56; 7:05 rounded out 10 miles. I passed the 10 mile mark in 66:40. Considering my 10 mile PB is 69:11 that was a huge boost. I gave it all I could but the next 3 miles were tough. The atmosphere around Fremont Street made me forget about my pain for a few minutes but that was soon behind me and I knew I’d have to drag myself home. I had passed a big number of runners in the 1st 10 miles and I could now see those catching me and passing me. A 7:24 and 7:36 for mile 11 and 12 meant I have lost a huge amount of time in recent miles. PB was gone and now it was a case of trying to finish it out and maybe still break 1:30. I knew it would be close but a 7:42 13th mile finished the chances of break 1:30. I pushed hard to the finish and couldn’t believe it I just missed the sub 1:30 with a time of 1:30:15. The 1:30 pacer was just behind me (he would have started further back) and in my head I was thinking maybe if I did go out with him I might have had a better chance of breaking 1:30 with a more consistent run. But when I look back on it I have to be happy with my performance.With the race being almost straight up and down with very few turns it definitely could be a PB course. My 3rd fastest half marathon only 2 weeks after smashing my marathon PB has to be a win.  I gave it my all and my body felt it. I grabbed water, chocolate milk and pretzels to replenish. I was delighted to get the medal around my neck and now began the long walk to out of the runner area. I posed for many photos and smiled to hide the pain but I was done and it was time to meet Martha but not before picking up my remix and world rocker medal. Plenty of bling from the weekend. I was 155th out of 17100 overall, 16th out of 816 in my division (M30-34) so definitely can’t complain about that.

Showing off my collection in the club

After getting my bag I headed to Drai’s Nightclub in the Cromwell hotel. Does it feel right walking into a club with shorts and singlet? Maybe not but this is Vegas. I got my massage and food and met Martha. She made the most of the VIP experience and had met another runners wife. Martha and Arden were able to pass away the time while Ezra and I were running outside. The club was a great venue and was nice to put my feet up and enjoy everything that was on offer. It was great that Martha met someone as that meant she wasn’t on her own and she was so busy chatting she didn’t even see my calls 🙂 It was good to share our stories after the race and best of luck to Ezra when he takes on the marathon distance.

Enjoying the VIP night after the race

One of my photos on the walk back

And there was only one place to go to finish off the weekend. Yes – Shake Shack. Even the people behind the till mentioned “You got the same last night, didn’t you?” I had to laugh, when it was close to the hotel and very tasty I had to have them. I do badly need to fix my diet once back in Ireland. Since I’ll be cutting my training for a few weeks I better also cut my calorie intake.

Another shake and my medals.

After a long day it was time for an early night. We were on the go since we got here so a good nights sleep was needed. It was the 1st night we didn’t feel jet lag and we weren’t up at 3am looking for food. When we did get up it was time to go get pancakes for one last time before packing up. I’m glad in the end with the later flight because we had so much packing to do. We got ourselves organised and checked out. A quick Uber to the airport before starting the long trip home. LAS to LAX to LHR to DUB. Close to 22 hours travelling from when we left for the airport to landing and then a drive to Cork home. The trip ended up being a bit longer due to being on the runway in Heathrow for 2 hours due to rivets being missing on the plane. I guess it was important to put them back in 🙂

View on flight from Vegas to LAX

What a great weekend and again I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me and helped me win the Rock ‘n’ Run Idol competition run by Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin marathon. What an amazing prize to win. I always looked at the possibility of doing Las Vegas race but the cost of getting there meant it was always going to be hard to do. It was a once in a lifetime chance and I’m glad to have done it. It wouldn’t have been possible but for the hard work of family and friends who pushed hard in the weeks leading up to the voting deadline. And even after that both Martha and mine families helped us out hugely by minding George while we were away. The hardest part of winning the trip was that we would be leaving him at home but they took great care of him that no doubt he enjoyed his holiday as well.

Now it is time to put the feet up for the rest of 2018 and start again with big goals for 2019.

 

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