Running through the Strip at night, Sin City Style — State #3, Nevada

DO NOT spend a whole morning tubing and swimming, then have a tiny bag of Doritos, and then run a half marathon. :)

View from the Venetian.

When I originally began planning this 50-state challenge, I thought picking out races would be pretty easy. New York? Should be NYC. Georgia? Should be Atlanta. Arizona? How about Phoenix?

The more I started planning it though, the more I realized — part of the reason I wanted to do this challenge was to travel to new places! Now don’t get me wrong, running in Phoenix downtown might very well be different than running in, say, downtown Philadelphia — but I’m assuming more often than not, it will be tall buildings, museums, parks and well-laid roads. It was then that I thought, why not emphasize the travel part of this challenge, and run the races that are more unique to each state? For example, the Grand Canyon in Arizona! The Indy500 Mini in Indiana? Or….The Las Vegas Strip, at night?!

Which brings me to my third state!! NEVADA.

The Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon is held in November every year, and is one of the only two times that the Strip is closed down (the other one being New Year’s). This was a race I had to go for.

The Plan:

Get there on Thursday, roam around on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, run the race on Sunday evening, recover on Monday, and fly back overnight! A short plan — not!

The Non-Race Stuff:

Now I know all my friends have been to Vegas for the sights and sounds, casinos, night-life, and all that — but not being a drinker/much of a gambler, the Strip held only some attraction to me. I will say this though — I’m a huge foodie, and checking out all the celebrity chefs-owned restaurants was amazing.

Gordon Ramsay’s Burgr had some amazing things on the menu. Try the onion rings!

After spending the first day walking around the casinos and restaurants, we stopped by Gordon Ramsey’s “Burgr” in Planet Hollywood. I had the Turkey Burger, which at first glance seemed to be a bit…over the top (blueberry compote and candied lemon on a burger??) but it somehow turned out to be delish! I guess when he’s not making grown men sweat in their shorts, he does know a thing or two about gourmet cuisine! LOL

The next day, we decided to rent a few ATV’s and drive around for a few hours on the Jean, Nevada. That was a lot of fun! Even Saumya and Radhika (who seemed a little iffy at first) got the hang of it, and rode out in style. There were other folks on dirt bikes, Razr’s, buggies, and we even witnessed a wedding — out in what was a dried out lake bed! (and some dead tarantulas…)

Off-roading on the dried-out Jean Lake Bed.

Day of the Race:

After spending the previous day out in the heat (and Saumya deciding to attend a bachelor party in the evening), we headed out to Lake Mead to check out the Hoover Dam, and do some tubing. After getting our feet wet (literally), we hopped into the inflatable tube and went nuts! There’s a video of us flipping over, but I’ve been asked not to put it up!

Hoover Dam, from Lake Mead.
Hoover Dam, from the other side — the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, between Nevada and Arizona.

Anyways, we headed back to the hotel in high spirits, and all of a sudden, I realized — I hadn’t picked up the bib! After a quick half-hour break (where I grabbed the Doritos bag), we rushed to where they were handing out bibs for race-day latecomers (opposite the Luxor). The Strip had been closed, and Ubers were taking a loooong time getting through traffic…finally, we got a cab at the last minute, and rushed along, finally picking the stuff up at 4:28pm (the cutoff was 4:30) — PHEW!

Almost immediately, the crowd started moving towards their corrals, and I hurriedly pinned my bib and went with them.

Now as with any long race with thousands of runners (and this one had 45,000 of us!), you move through the corrals slowly, waiting for the start — runners are released in batches, so as not to cause too much congestion on the streets. After waiting an hour, our turn was finally here. I was yawning a bit already — the morning’s exploits had taken it out on me.

(Sidenote: The races were kicked off by Snoop Dog.)

The run itself went pretty well for me — I got off to a good start for the first 7 miles or so, and took it easy after that (the pictures weren’t that great though). The worst thing, however, was when you could see the signs for Treasure Island, and the Mirage (which was where the finish line was), miles before you got there!!

I will say this though — once you crossed the finish line, you still had to walk about half a mile more to get to water and bananas, and information desks, etc.! None of the runners around me appreciated it. The roads were blocked on either side, so even if you had your friends and family cheering you on, you couldn’t get through the barriers. Which sucked, because I’d selected my hotel to be near the finish line, and now I had to walk a mile and half extra to get back! Yeesh.

The medal rotates!

Enjoy the pics! The medal was totally cool. Sports Illustrated covered the race with better pics than I ever could (mainly ‘coz I don’t want to run a half with a DSLR bouncing off my chest — maybe I should look into a GoPro) here: http://www.si.com/extra-mustard/photo/2016/11/14/las-vegas-rock-n-roll-marathon

What’s next?

Well, that’s it for 2016! I was originally planning on running in Baltimore in December, but now I’ve decided against it — mainly to get some more training in, and also because I want to save up a bit before my next race! But from the looks of it, I might be tempted to do the New York Half in March.

See y’all on the road!

The Eiffel Tower, at the Paris Hotel.
Somewhere between miles 8 and 10.
A street artist doing his spray-painting thing.
The High Roller, at the Linq. Gives you a cool view of the entire Strip! Insider tip — go after sundown to get the best views!
Inside the Venetian.

(This article was also published on LinkedIn).

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