Rockin’ the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Vegas

 Hello Readers!  The New Year is right around the corner and what better way to start the New Year than with a little inspiration to set a fitness goal and reach it?  With that in mind, today’s post comes to you from my cousin Katie Simmons about her experience training for and running her first half marathon  – none other than the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas in December 2011.  Thanks Katie!

33,279 people finished the 2011 Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon, and I am one of them! My first thought as I crossed the finish line was “Oh my gosh! I did it!!”  Although the training program I used was 9 weeks long, I had been training for this moment much longer!  I decided to sign up for a half-marathon after I completed my second sprint triathlon this fall!

I know that the only way I will consistently exercise is if I have an event to train for, a training plan taped to my bathroom mirror, and a highlighter to mark off completed exercises:

I followed the beginner training plan that I found on Runners World. I used this training program because it was the only free one I found at the time. The program had me run Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.  During the week, the runs focused on interval training in the middle and at the end of the runs.  Saturday was an easy shorter run.  Sunday was a long run.

Training for a half-marathon was challenging mentally and physically.  Before I began the training program, the furthest I had ever run was 6.2 miles and the fastest I had ever done that was in 10 minute miles.  The seasons were changing as I continued my training which meant that it was dark when I left for work and dark when I got home from work. There were days I was too sick to run, and days I was too lazy. 

BUT, I also had a voice inside my head saying “Yes, you can!”  That voice belongs to a trainer at the Rec Center I go to.  She would say that at the 8th repetition of every exercise, and it really stuck!  I found that telling myself “Yes, you can”  over and over during my runs when all I really wanted to do was stop running helped take away the self-doubt and made me more confident for the next run.  Luckily, my boss was willing to give me an extended lunch break so that I could get my 8 and 9 mile runs in during the day light hours outside.  And I always had the looming feeling of accomplishment after highlighting a workout that motivated me to lace up my shoes! :)

The day of the race, I was excited and nervous!  It was a different feeling waiting all day for the race because every race I have ever done started early in the morning.  The race had coordinated a shuttle bus to take us from the hotel to the starting line, but there was so much traffic from the strip and a few surrounding streets being shut down that I made it to the starting line a little late!

The course started at the south end of the strip at Mandalay Bay, headed north to Old Town Las Vegas, made a loop, and then headed south back to Mandalay Bay.  As I approached the starting line, I turned on iMapMyRun and started my play list.

As I crossed the starting line, I was really excited!! There were thousands of people around me, and a band to get us pumped up!  My plan was to start out a little slower than my goal pace for the first five miles, run my goal pace the next five miles, pick up the last three miles (thanks to some advice from a veteran half-marathoner ;) and finish in 2 hours 11 minutes, averaging 10 minute miles. 

The race went by really fast. I started in a slower corral than my race pace because I arrived at the start line late, and so was weaving through people. There were bands about every mile on the course, and there was a lot to look at!  Before I knew it, I had already reached the 10K mark, and I was running barely slower than goal pace at 1:03:22.  I did not have a water bottle, Gatorade, or gels on me because they were provided along the course.  However, there were so many people and the stations were not marked as to whether they were water or Gatorade (this race used Cytomax) so next time I will carry my own!

I took my picture at about the half-way mark near Freemont Street.

At the 10 mile mark, I was at the north end of the strip, and could see Mandalay Bay.  I started to pick up the pace.  By mile 12 my legs were burning with every step, but I was not about to stop.  I kept pushing, sprinting as I approached the finish line giving it everything I had.  I finished in 2:11:30!! I averaged 10:02 miles!!  My iPhone says that I actually ran 13.57 miles because I did not take every turn as tight as possible, and did a considerable amount of weaving!  So I really ran 9:42 miles, shattering my goal!!

Sweet Victory!! A Couple of Finish Line Pics with My Sweet Finisher’s Medal!!

 I finished 9,520 out of 33,279 Competitors (top 28%), 4,253 of 21,134 Women (top 20%), and 233 of 960 Females Aged 18-24 (top 24%)!  I rocked it!! And it rocked me!  I was really sore afterwards!! I did some light stretching before we headed back to our hotel and hobbled for the next couple days, but it was worth it!!  It has been a couple weeks since the race, and I think I might just sign up for another one… :)

Just remember, “Yes, you can!!!!”

***Sway and I are very grateful to you all, our Dear Readers, for following along in our pursuit of good health and happiness in 2011.  We wish you a wonderful New Year with plenty of adventure and wellness all around.  See you all in the New Year!

~R

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