Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rock ‘n Roll Las Vegas 2011 Race Report

To start, I want to thank Refuel with Chocolate Milk for sponsoring me for this race weekend. Not only did I enjoy meeting my team mates (Skinny Runner, Runners Rambles, Hungry Runner Girl, Run Like a Mother Ladies, Run Eat Repeat) but working with Refuel was so effortless. I’ve been chugging chocolate milk after workouts for recovery for the past year, so it was a perfect fit to work with Refuel and to endorse a product I believe in.


Did I tell you the race started at 5:30 pm? This means no early wake up calls or struggles to get out that first dump of the day. It does mean, however, that while you have all day to make sure you clean the pipes, you also have  all day to obsess about the race.

I got my Team Refuel outfit all laid out:



Skirt: Mums Noir Running Skirt from Running Skirts
Shirt: Sweetest Tee Running Shirt from Skirt Sports
Arm Warmers: Pearl Izumi Thermal Lite Arm Warmers from REI.com
Capris: Reflective WorkItOut Knicker from Athleta 

I really like the way Refuel did the outfits. I was asked to select what I wanted to wear and they put their logo on it. Win-win!

We then spent the rest of the day looking for pancakes. That’s what I wanted for a bigger meal before the race. There was only one option:




I was a bit scared I would regret this grand slam. I only ate the eggs and about half of the pancakes. I knew the sausage would haunt me the whole run, so I left those itty bitty wieners on the plate.

During breakfast the couple beside us asked why the hell I was taking pictures of my food. I told them that I was a famous food writer and they could have my autograph if they wanted. We got to talking. Five minutes into the conversation I had one of those TMI moments. You know me, I am not a prude, but I am selective about when I bring TMI to the conversation. You have to know when your audience can handle it. The dude I was talking to told me he had had gastric bypass a few months ago and he was still only having one bowel movement a week. Yes, he told me that. Maybe that is why I didn’t finish my food.

Finally time to go. Met up with Aron, Page and Marjorie to head to the start.


I got to corral #4 as it was getting dark. It was a madhouse, pretty typical for the start of a Rock and Roll race.  I kind of liked the crowd because everyone’s body warmth and bad breath kept me toasty. I used my cheetah Walgreen’s blanket as a skirt until I had to give up my down coat.


Race started promptly and I was off and running by 5:32 p.m. I usually start slower, but I was so ready to get going I blasted out of the gate. I felt like I was flying for the first few miles, and I think there were all around 8 min/miles. I had very little congestion in my corral. It was not crowded, I had plenty of room. I later learned this was not the case for the later corrals, but mine was great. I had my music pumping and I was taking in the lights and energy along the Strip. It was invigorating to be running at night in a city that I had never seen from this perspective. You have to admit this is SUPER WAY AMAZING COOL:

I hit the 5K at 25 minutes. I cruised along, feeling great. No aches or pains. I silently praised Matt (Handled with Care Massage) who does my active release therapy. I think he saved me for this race. And, hopefully for many races to come.

I got to the 10K at 50 minutes. Almost halfway, I was still feeling good. I had a vanilla Power Bar gel (my favorite for both taste, texture and consistency. They are so runny, they go down easy). I saw a dude running in front of me with a huge load in his tights. I don’t me a “load” as in male prowess. I mean “load” as in EWWWW!!!

At about mile 8, as we headed back up the Strip, my insides started revolting a bit. This distracted me and I slowed. I looked everywhere for a porta potty and guess what? There were NONE. At least none that I could see. Even at the aid stations I could not find one. I clenched and hoped for the best. Then in full disclosure because that’s what I do, I crapped my pants just a tad. Dammit.

I hit the 10 mile around 1:22. I knew I was in the home stretch. I started to feel fatigued and realized that I was kind of under trained for this one. Due to injury, I’d only been doing 15-20 miles per week, with my longest run at 10 miles. I haven’t done speed work in ages. No duh I was fading.

I crossed the finish in 1:49:28.

Overall: 2,237/ 33,123 · Division: 93/3,600 · Gender: 584/21,051.

I was okay with that. I was still in the top 2% for my division and gender. Not my best showing and a few minutes off my PR of 1:46. But, I’ll take it.

Once I crossed the finish it was a cluster f%ck of people. I ran for 13 miles then, BAM, I was at a standstill with a million others. My stomach immediately started cramping. I pushed through, grabbed some water and my medal (which I’m glad I got because I heard they actually ran out of them for the runners who came in later. Are you KIDDING me??), skipped the food and made it to a porta potty. I was feeling pretty crappy and starting to get really cold. It was windy.

I found my team mates and Refuel gave me a big bottle of chocolate milk. I tried to get a few sips down. I started to really freeze and bid my team mates goodbye. Erika and I headed into Mandalay Bay for some warm tea and to find a cab. I knew the shuttles would be a nightmare.


(Runners Rambles, me, Hungry Runner Girl, Skinny Runner)

This is my mad, hard core face. I’ll take you down.


This is when the fun began.

We waited in the cab line for 90 minutes. I was FREEZING and not feeling well. I didn’t have any food, but don’t think I could have eaten anyway. I just wanted to get back to my hotel for a warm shower and my post-race ritual of putting my feet up, calming my stomach and getting warm. I hid out in some corner while Erika stood in line. We finally got to the front of the line. Lots of people were not doing well: shivering, sick. We saw several stretchers come into the lobby. I heard stories of people passing out. One guy approached us upset and sick saying he couldn’t find the shuttle and had no money. He was so ill and so cold he was almost incoherent. We invited him into our cab. We also invited in a mom and her daughter who were also not doing so hot.

I thought once we were in the cab, we’d be good to go. Nope. 20 minutes after getting in, we were still in the driveway of Mandalay Bay. Nothing was moving. The Strip was still closed. The meter read $15 and we’d barely gone a few feet. The guy we brought in was sick and I knew if he threw up I would have a panic attack (I have this vomit phobia thing). Erika and I decided to get out of the cab (my idea – not a good one), go back inside for a drink and try the cab line again after the Strip opened.

This is me in the bar. I am wrapped in several mylars I borrowed from people in the bar, freezing my ass off. My knees are actually pulled up into my chest, but you can’t really tell. Erika thought I looked legless. And, a bit peakid, sickly.


An hour later the cab line was twice as long. SHIT. People were much worse off by this point. We walked through the lobby to see a girl in a stretcher and another girl puking into a trash can. People were laying around everywhere. Total refugee zone.

We decided to go next door to the Four Seasons to see if things were any better. It was like walking into first class from coach. Serene, warm, calm. The guy handling the taxis told us we’d be second in line for a cab. He said, “Go sit down by the fire. I will come get you. Would you like some water?”

We waited for about an hour, until midnight. By this time I had been done racing for 4.5 hours. Then WE GOT A CAB and I don’t think I’ve ever been happier.

Back at the Venetian, we stopped for dinner. I tried to get down some soup, but couldn’t eat. I just felt so sick. I blame it on the poor conditions post race because I’ve never felt this bad this long after a race. We had plans of going out for a nice dinner and doing some gambling, but at 1:30 a.m. and an early flight to catch, all we could do was go to bed.

Here’s what sucks. I thought the race itself was a blast. I was already planning on coming back to run it again with Ken. But the post race situation was so crappy, I don’t know that I can revisit this one unless there are some big changes. I noticed the race took a huge hit on their Facebook page yesterday.

I still will end on a positive note. Race weekend was a blast. You can read about it HERE, HERE and HERE. I got to meet so many bloggers who I’d never met in person. I’ve decided that running bloggers are an exceptionally nice breed (I like to think it’s because we run and that makes us better people. Thereby proving that running makes everything better).  I won $200. I spent time with good friends. I laughed so much I almost peed myself several times, just like the guy next to me on the plane. I learned about someone’s pooping habits in Denny’s. I got to run on the Strip at night in Vegas. And, I have a great story to tell my grandchildren about the time I was stranded after a race and almost died (it’s important to embellish).

Moral of the story: Stay at the Four Seasons.



  1. I'm trying to comprehend how/why so many people were sick? Because they too didn't get any post-race food?

    Or simply from the temperatures?

    How cold was it out there?

    Great description. I would not like to be there!

  2. Yeah, I think that moral works for most stories.

  3. Wow, that's crazy! I was planning to end my 12 in 2012 race challenge with the Vegas RNR but now I have second thoughts. Sounds like they should have capped it. Good job!

  4. Deal. Next time four seasons.
    It freaking has a "4" what was I thinking?! ;)

    Freaking. Love. You.

  5. That's really unfortunate that a terrible situation after the race really puts a damper on the whole experience. :( There is nothing worse than being cold & sick after a race/run and being essentially STRANDED. I'm glad you finally got looked after.

    Congrats on the race - you ran strong, especially given the obstacles you've had!

  6. From reading everyone's recaps, it sounds like it was horrible! I would love to run this race, but I will definitely stay at that end of the strip so that I can just waddle to my hotel room.

  7. I think people were sick for lots of reasons: cold, lack of food/water, standing around. Lots of people passed out and I think it was from standing in line and being in crowds for hours on end. Plus it was late by this time and most people had waited to have dinner until after the race. But there was no way to get dinner!

  8. am also wondering why so many people got sick?!?! Something you drank on the course? Was thinking about a Vegas marathon next year...am rethinking that now

  9. I ran the full and had a fun weekend overall. We must have just missed the craziness with the shuttles because we didn't have any problems getting back to our hotel. But it took FOREVER to get from the finish line to gear check and we were so cold.

    Did you notice that the water at the water stops was being poured from hoses attached to the fire hydrants? Part of me wonders if that's why people felt so sick. I find it hard to believe Vegas doesn't use reclaimed water in its hydrants and that stuff is not technically supposed to be potable.

  10. Too bad what could have been such a great race experience was managed so poorly by RnR.

    Congrats on your race! And love the moral... Four Seasons definitely cures a lot of ills!

  11. Looks like fun but the wait after would have killed me. When I'm done I just want to get going.

  12. That's just unacceptable on so many levels. The sad thing is people will still go back.

  13. Wow. I am so glad you had a great race. Too bad about the aftermath, it really has me thinking twice for sure.

    The fire hydrant comment above totally got my attention. Is this seriously what they did? That could explain a lot, at least about the sickness. The disorganization and lack of planning for closing of a major thoroughfare is another matter altogether.

  14. Oh my goodness! I had no idea that you had to wait so long. When I saw you (5 minutes after the race) you were already shivering....I can't imagine what you went through. I felt really sick after the race too? We were parked at excalibur and were able to get out of there within just a few minutes and then the problems came when we hit utah.

  15. I ran the ET Half Marathon in August 2010. The course for the race was on Highway 50 outside of Vegas. I felt fine during the race, but as soon as we stopped - It was windy and so cold (was this January or August??). Even the food at the buffet inside was freezing cold. then standing around waiting for a bus to take us back to Vegas was miserable. I am still thinking about RNR Vegas 2012 - but will definitely get a hotel near the race finish - thanks for the heads up. Congrats on the great time.

  16. I've only been to Vegas once and stayed at the 4 Seasons. I feel like I missed out on a little bit of the action, but it was relaxing and amazing for sure!

    Hope you're recovered.

  17. From all the feedback, people love the race, but the post race was total chaos. I really want to run this race, but I don't want to die from the poor logistics.

  18. I'm so sorry you had to wait so long! I enjoyed the race too, but the moment it ended my bowels said ELIMINATE! Coach & I could walk back to the Fairfield from MB. I saw all the stretchers and was worried for the people finishing late in the cold weather.

    The REFUEL team was awesome. I'm bummed I didn't make it to corral C to meet up with you all, but I was not feeling well either :P

  19. Your blog sounds similar to mine. I've stayed at Mandalay Bay and knew about the hidden way to Four Seasons. We camped out there before the race and it was totally serene. No lines for a bathroom just stretched out on the floor.
    We stayed at the Venetian too but didn't even mess with the cabs. We hoofed it back and took the shortcuts through the hotels so we didn't have to go outside alot. It was my friends first time to Vegas so she got to see inside the casinos and shopping on the way back.
    I'll go back just because its Vegas and not try for a PR :-)
    Congrats on your finish!

  20. I had SO MUCH FUN with you this weekend!!!! Still bummed we lost each other - would have been fun to run together!

    You were smart to leave when you did. We didn't get back to the hotel until 10pm and I was SO COLD in my t-shirt waiting... my body hurt from shivering.

    I hope we get to do this again very soon... and tell you friend hello - she was SO FUN!

  21. Thanks for the comment on my blog and I've been thinking about this quite a bit and maybe you can shed some light on the thought process.

    Yes, the after race scene was crazy but all the puking and passing out I believe was related to the venue.

    See when you go to Vegas you want to do the Vegas thing. Drink like a fish, smoke like a chimney, gamble and all those things. If you are a first time runner or even one who has run in the past maybe this atmosphere was too much to handle.

    Throw in the late start and people did not know how to fuel for the race and thus went out there empty and dehydrated.

    I am having a hard time believing that it was ONLY the poor race situation with people packed like sardines.

    The bananas were green and hard to open yes, and maybe they could have had something warm for a race ending at around 7p-1030p in the cold in the dessert in December but it cannot think it was just that and some of the people complaining have to look at themselves in the mirror and take responsibility for their actions prior to the race.

    All in all it was awesome to get to hang out with you and laugh like kids AGAIN and I can't wait to do it AGAIN. I have a flat out blast with you and enjoy just cracking stupid jokes and laughing.

  22. Here I am at work reading your blog and I get to the part where you crap your pants a little and bust out into laughter so hard I'm crying! You are hilarious and enjoy reading your blogs! Thank you for the laughter I needed that today and of course always some motivation to run more races outside my home town! Great job on both your run and blog!

  23. Just joined your site and you are hilarious! Bummer about this race, sounds a bit crazy. I would not have been happy either. Great job though!

  24. I just think it's hysterical that you found Dennys guy's "i poop once a week" comment to be TMI -- then continue to tell us that you pooped your pants during the race!!

  25. I ran this as my first half marathon. Key word there, RAN it .. meaning didn't walk like a LOT of people did. That was the most frustrating thing for me. I didn't care about time. I just wanted to keep running. I ran with my handheld water bottle and feel I managed my pre-race meals really well. Felt great. It was an awesome experience, but it sure did make me appreciate my smaller hometown races here in Salt Lake. I feel lucky that I didn't feel too cold, even after. I signed up for a 2:45 finish and that's EXACTLY what I got, despite the CONSTANT running around walkers. Wish more people had signed up for a more realistic corral. While I may not repeat this one unless they make some changes .. I also don't regret it at all. I mean really .. how many people get to run right down the middle of the Vegas strip at night?

  26. between your report and Jason's this seems like RnR has some splaining to do. He mentioned not having enough medals? WTF?

    way to crap your pants. again. lol! JK congrats on your race!

  27. It sounds just awful and I am sorry the experience was less than what you expected (and paid for). I have a strict rule of NEVER running a race in its first year. Even just a time change like this (we ran the half last year and didn't have the same trouble). Savannah sounded like a drag too.

    The Kidless Kronicles

  28. Susan: I get your point, but you have been reading for awhile and know this about me. I had met the guy for five minutes.

  29. wow, and i thought i had it bad. that simply blows. like colon blows.

  30. Wow. That sounds brutal all around.

    I've run one RNR race and the finish was a madhouse and really made me not enjoy it. In your case it sounds ten times as bad.

    Hope you recover!

    PS: I really liked your outfit though. Refuel's logos and all. Very nice!

  31. What a race recap - Thanks it was thoroughly entertaining tho I am very sorry to hear about the horror show post race.

  32. Glad the race was fun but what a cluster after.
    Yippee! Just got a free weekend at the Four Seasons no less. I am blessed.

  33. Sounds like a crazy race, and as always, you killed it!

    Also, those wieners weren't that small... ahem...

  34. even though I am fairly close to LV, about 3 hrs drive. I will never pay for that race after reading this and your previous post and the ones others wrote. Not ok at all.
    I am sorry you were feeling so bad after the race. I know all too well how it is..sadly

  35. Way to rock your time SUAR!! I think that part of it is fabulous! Man~ I hope next year's venue is better planned and laid out. I really wanted to go, but I hate puke, cold, and sickness....in that order. :-/

  36. Beth, you were fortunate to be able to run at your pace. Apparently starting a few corals behind you, people got pretty jammed up with walkers who shouldn't have been that far up in the pack.

    I read hundreds and hundreds of comments on the RnRVegas facebook page, almost in disbelief at how ugly the whole thing was before, during and after.

    If you had only known how bad the cab situation was going to be, you could have elected to walk back to the Venitian. It is only about 1.5 miles and can be done mostly inside.

    In spite of all that went on, congrats on a great performance.

    Dana Roueche

  37. I was so looking forward to running this race next year but now I'm scared!! I don't think I'd be about to handle that! Scary! Glad you made it through! Great time for being undertrained. Sorry about the lack of potties and the crap it caused!

  38. I read Jason's blog too. This sounds like a mess. I bet his comment was about right too, on people having trouble handling vegas and racing. I have done several night tris (while those overall are a lot easier on the bowels than a half marathon, but the nutrition needs for me are about the same), as well as cold races. It was really hard to figure out what to eat those first few times I raced, and I can see how people would be sick. Thankfully, I have never had a transportation nightmare like that to compound it.

  39. Dana: we contemplated walking, but it is actually closer to 3 miles. I was just too cold to enterain being able to handle being outside at all at that point.

  40. I love your report! I feel like I don't even have to write because you summed it all up ... except sadly I was one of those that had to get med help after. It was totally a refugee zone - I have been searching for the right description and you nailed it on the head! I LOOOOOVVVVEEED the course so much, but that after disaster just scares me from going back next year.

  41. I have been reading their FB page and I see they used water From fire hydrants and hoses and in barrels lined with trash bags and volunteers who had NO gloves were dumping their hands in it.

    no wonder why so many got sick

    I read a post from a volunteer who confirmed this is what they did and they did.

  42. Caroline ... I saw the hands dipping into water myself! And reusing cups to re-dip into water. It tasted disgusting. I opted to skip the last two water stops because of the taste!

  43. I can see how this would be awful in the cold. I was hypothermic after the Seattle Half last week, and even being inside for the recovery area I could not get warm, even with clean dry clothes on. I had to go to the medical tent, where thankfully they got me from 92 degrees back up to 98 and fed me lots of warm, salty broth. I think the post-race organization is one of the most important parts of planning a race, and a lot of races don't really get this right. People are in a fragile state at that point and need TLC!

    Sounds like you rocked the time though! :)

  44. Haha, true - but it's still super funny. It makes me want to run up to you someday (without introducing myself) and start telling you about my bowel movements just to see the horror on your face :)

  45. Awe, sounds like a great race... stinks that the after events put a huge damper on it all. Way to go on your time tho...and pushing through!

  46. It sounds awful after race conditions....like everything that could go wrong did. I'm sorry to hear that!

  47. Can I just say Denny's totally rocks? :)

    It was so awesome hanging out with you and Erika for the little bit that I did. We should have grabbed the two of you for the cab ride back... we made it back in about 2 hours.

    You ran so well! Way to go!!!

  48. Thanks for the race report!! I contemplated doing this Vegas race, but I opted to do my first marathon for St. Judes Hospital in Memphis this past weekend. Not sure if you've gotten to this race yet, but I really loved it.

    I cannot believe the craziness post-race in Vegas/the water situation. I'm not sure if I would do that race in the future based on your account. But I'm glad the course was really cool =)

    Congrats on your finish!

  49. I haven't had a Grand Slam in years. Damn, I'm hungry.

    Oh, and congratulations.

  50. Wow, I am so glad we were able to get out of there when we did, we walked through the underground tunnels to Excaliber and then was able to get a cab. We didn't push our pace at all because #1 we couldn't have, we were far enough back that you had to maintain the group pace, which was fine, and #2 I was afraid of how horrible getting out of there was going to be after seeing to mass cluster upon arrival. I guess I was expecting more course support the only other big race I have done was OKC and the course support there was amazing!! Porta potties at every mile, lots of refreshments, and medical tents everywhere. I have decided that when I chose to run a full it will be there and not at a RnR event. I have already signed up for Dallas and am currently undecided if I will actually run it.

  51. I ran the half and had about the same experience as you did, except that I was stuck in a corral with multiple walkers and it took forever for me to get through. My Nike + App actually showed that I ran 14.38 miles, undoubtably from the weaving through walkers and those walking three abreast.

    I luckily had my Mom and a friend to help me out, but I was very dehydrated and ill after the race. The only comparable feeling was from when I had Meningitis after staying at a camp on a university in high school. It ruined the remainder of my trip as well. As a South Dakotan, I run in this type of weather for the majority of the year, so the cold had nothing to do with my condition either.

    I am glad I did it and enjoyed the race surroundings, but it was a miserable post race experience and the entire trip was mentally exhausting. I will not be back to a RnR without significant promised changes.

    btw- I would have given almost anything for a bottle of chocolate milk after the race. As I knew you and Monica from Run Eat Repeat were going to be there, I thought they would have chocolate milk post-race, instead I got a green banana and finally bottled water. I missed the chocolate milk-- a lot. And every store within any near distance was out!

  52. Wow wow wow, that is one heck of a race report, and thanks for sharing. I always enjoy reading your posts. You have a delicate way of keeping ones attention. Glad your race went well, despite the post conditions. Take care, and look forward to reading more of your adventures.

  53. Google maps indicates the Venetian is only 3.2 miles from the Mandalay Bay... And you waited 4.5 hours to get a cab??? You usually are the voice of reason, but you must have left it in the port-a-potty...

  54. congrats on the race! Wow.. terrible being sick :( Your time still kills my half! SUPERSTAR!

  55. Holy cow, that sucks how the race ended....ridiculous!! and being sick too. UGH.

    At least you got to meet with a lot of super cool bloggers!

  56. Heard lots of really bad things about the logistics of the race...Glad you had a good performance.

  57. MinnieMutt: Ahh, so easy to judge when you weren't in my shoes. I was SO freezing there was no way I could have done that. I could barely wait in the cab line outside. Plus, at the time we had no clue it was going to take that long. Haven't you ever been in a situation where you wait an long time and afterwards think, hmmm...maybe should have done it differently? Thanks for taking the time to google it though.

  58. Thanks for the race report! I'm glad you were still able to have a good time. Hubby and I were thinking of doing that one next year but now....we'll see. Either way, I'm thinking we'll bring our own water!

  59. Oh man, I didn't even realize so many people got sick. The good news is that you're still a bad ass. All is good in the world ;)

  60. I don't know for sure but being freezing and walking around outside on what was sure to be a crowded street with no room to roam and bumping into others would have taken quite a bit of time as well.

    Getting out of Mandalay Bay alone took me two hours. And then I had to turn around and walk out a different way, then past Luxor and Excalibur through the back roads and wound up taking nearly 3 hours to get the 3 miles down the strip in the opposite direction than all the hotels.

    There were no easy solutions, not with 35K+ runners and what seemed to be 2-3 people per runner so over 100K+ people in a congested spot.

    Plus lets toss in the fact that there were shows letting out at the same time. The Strip was closed to cars but that doesn't mean that you couldn't get around down there and the people were still going to the hotels to gamble and see shows.


  61. It was so great to meet you! This race was so crazy. I made it without crapping myself. But the finish was harsh. Worse time ever! Corrals were so packed.. You ran a great race, High Five! Just go home recap to follow! So sad how many bad reports are out there.

  62. I'm sad I didn't see you at the expo (I was there, as I won a trip to Vegas and race entry). Leaving Mandalay Bay was so nuts! Personally, what I find so scary is that the Race Director wants to increase the amount of runners to 50,000 - 60,000...

    I hadn't really trained for it, and ended up with a 2:17 race - I ran it with my mom! So that part was pretty cool. Still, it shouldn't have taken 3 hours from finishing the race to get back to my hotel.

  63. If i ever ran Vegas again I would definetly stay a lot closer to the start.
    Such madness getting out of the and the monorail wasn't any better. Took us forever to get back to our hotel. There was people passing out next to us. It was so crowded I was starting to feel dizzy myself. They need to organize it better.