Race Report: Inaugural Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

The night before the race, my mom and I decided that pancakes would be a good carbo load.  Wholesome whole wheat pancakes with almond butter, yum!  We made the pancakes using a mix from Lehi Roller Mills, a mix that I’ve only found on the store shelves when I’m visiting my mother in Utah.  But they’re really good, so if you ever see them you should snatch them up!  Of course, we started to goof off and decided to color the pancakes green.  And then my mom started to put the pancake mix on the pan in attempts to make shapes.  She used to make clovers and such for me when I was a kid.  She said she’s a little out of practice and that they were “like clouds, use your imagination!”  I love having such a good friend in my mother.

My mom and green pancakes cooking
My lovely mother with the green pancakes

I woke up at 4:00 AM to get ready to go.  The plan was for my mom to drive me to the race start, although she said that she was going to feel really sad that she was going to “be at the race start and not playing too.”  But it was super cold, so perhaps she’s better off to not have run.  It was 31 degrees at my house, but around 34 at the race start.

I snacked on a Clif bar as my mom drove me to the start line, but I really didn’t find it appealing that morning.  This cold has kind of made me a little quesy.  Traffic ended up being a nightmare coming in off I-15.  Perhaps it would have been better to approach the area from the east?  I don’t know.  But when it became abundantly obvious that my mom had to contend with a lot of traffic to park her car, I hopped out and walked about 1.5 miles or so to the start line.  That was fun as it meant I had to hop over a few barriers around freeway on/off ramps and I passed a couple shady looking kids who were out wandering that morning.

As I was walking I had the sudden realization that my left arm was a lot lighter than it should have been… meaning, I forgot to put on my Garmin! And the thing that really sucked? I actually had remembered to wear the HR strap.  So I had to wear that uncomfortable HR strap (mine’s kind of uncomfortable because the default Garmin strap is too big, so I have it cinched in a ton by use of safety pins) for no reason!

Outside Corral 7, prior to the race start
Outside Corral 7, prior to the race start

I made it to the race start area around the time the gun went off for the elite women.  I hopped in line for the porta-potties, took care of business and headed over to my corral.  I tried to snap a self-portrait with my iPhone, but that came out pretty dark.  Fortunately my mom had made it to the corral by that time and she snapped a picture of me.  You can kind of see I’m in corral 7.

The wave start began at 6:15 AM.   They had fireworks at the beginning of the race, but the sky was already starting to lighten so the full effect was kind of lost.  As they let each corral go, we shuffled forward.  When I got up to the start, I could see the band on the platform spanning the start line.  On each side of the starting arch there were white tigers in cages.  Rick Thomas (a Vegas magician) was standing next to one cage and a showgirl next to the other tiger.  Nice touch!

The race started by heading south on The Strip before we passed the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, looped around it and started to head north on The Strip again.  By about mile 2 or 3 I passed my mom again.  It’s a lot of fun to have people on the course cheering for you!  I never have that.

Running on The Strip, I'm in pink!
Running on The Strip, I am in pink!

Despite not knowing what my pace was, I felt pretty good and was making decent time.  Every participant got one free pass to the Competitor Wireless system, so my mom was receiving text alerts as I passed certain milestones on the course.  I did my second 5K faster than my first and was feeling okay.  Not grand, but that’s to be expected considering I was sick all week and was still feeling kind of crummy.

All over the course people were discarding layers… and then picking up other people’s discarded layers to put them back on.  I watched one guy pick a hat up off the ground and put it on.  Then he found a glove and put that on.  Then he found another glove and put that on too.  He was very colorful in his red hat, green glove and purple glove.

There were a lot of people who had been assigned to corrals further in the back (like corral 25 or 26) who had jumped corrals.  This annoyed me because they were walking right up at the front of the race.  They jogged across the start line and immediately started walking.  I have no problem with people walking marathons, in fact I encourage it.  But the corral system is there for a reason!  It’s not an insult if you’re at the back and you will still get an accurate chip time to show your performance.  Just don’t jump up to the front corrals and start walking because all the runners then have to shuffle around you!

Around mile 7.5, as we were turning around to start heading back toward the start, a girl ran up next to me and said, “Is that a phone on your arm?”  I told her it was and she asked if she could call her husband.  Letting her call her husband slowed me down a little.  (She was demanding that he meet her at mile 8.  Not sure how he was supposed to make it there in time when she was just a half mile away, but that’s not my problem!)

Mile 9 I had to pee.  SUCK!  So I popped into the line for the porta pottie and lost a couple minutes there.  But I headed back out and started running again. Mile 10  smacked me down though.  That’s the point that the lingering cold decided to attack full force.  Just to be gross, the post-nasal drip started to choke me, I felt my throat closing off and I was gasping for breath.  The gasping in the cold air caused me to start hacking.  To be honest, there was a lot of walking between miles 10-12.  It was during this time that I actually started thinking to myself, “The cutoff for the half is 4 hours. You can do this.”  It was during this time that I also started burping up that blasted Clif bar. My stomach was churning some, but at least I didn’t puke during this race.

Somehow I managed to hold myself together and run in the last 1.1 mile. My mom as along the finishing stretch and she snapped this picture of me.  I definitely look better than I was feeling at that point, I felt like I was dying!

Heading toward the finish line
Heading toward the finish line

I crossed the finish line feeling really discouraged.  I knew I hadn’t made my sub-2 hour goal and was kind of pissed off at myself.  My mom sent me a text that was the official text she got saying I had done it in 2:11:40.  I felt a little more down at that moment, seeing the numbers spelled out proving that I hadn’t accomplished my goal.

I collected my medal, post-race food that I couldn’t stomach at that time and made my way to the family reunion area.  I was meeting my mom and husband at the I-J sign.  When I saw my husband I almost burst into tears.  I was seriously so discouraged with myself.

But my mom, Kevin and my friend Jimmy all re-iterated the same thing to me.  2:11 is a good time.  In general it really is a good time.  But considering I had 2.5 weeks off from shin splints just a few weeks earlier and then being sick the entire week before the race it was a really good time.

Running costume
One of the runners in costume.

There were a lot of people dressed in funny clothes in the race; girls in little Santa mini-dresses, people in fuzzy pajamas, running Elvi and this dude in front of me at the finish-line photos who ran in a white hat, fringed jacket and dress shoes.  I saw a runner in a No Meat Athlete shirt. The resorts that had big water features in front were a lot colder than the other stretches of road.  The temperatures never got out of the 30’s throughout the race. My hands were frozen and felt like they were full of pins and needles throughout the race, despite wearing gloves.  We got our photos taken with showgirls at the finish line.  The course was awesome in terms of visual experiences.  There were a lot of runners on the course discussing how hungover they were.

Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Medal
Medal from the Inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon

I’m a little sicker now than I was before the race, but I guess I did put my immune system through a good stress test.  I’ll survive and I have this week off from running to recover.  I got a cool medal for the inaugural year this race was part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll series.  So although it was tough, it was still a good entry in the race book.


  1. Good for you! 2:11? Shoot. I can barely grocery shop that fast, let alone run a half marathon! Don’t be so hard on yourself, I know a lot of folks who would have given up after the shin splints.

  2. Your family is right – your time was really, really good. And you were sick, I was surprised that you were even running at all, with how sick you were. And the shin splints, I am sure that they affected you.

    I have to say, I am honestly surprised it was that cold for you guys at this point in the year. My race this weekend was warmer than yours – now how weird is that?!

    By the way, you do look good in the pics (you always do) and thanks for the laugh you gave me about that guy picking up random stuff and putting it on. I can honestly say I’ve never seen people picking up discarded stuff – only them taking it off!

    • Thank you so much for the kind words about my photos! I’m always far too critical of my self. I’m going to try posting more pictures of myself on here in an attempt to get past that!

      That is weird that you were racing in warmer weather than I was! Vegas definitely gets cold in the winter, we’re not below freezing much but when it happens it feels really harsh! I think there is something about how dry the wind is, it’s so biting in the cold.

  3. I think you have to take every race for what it is…I think it is natural to feel disappointed when a goal isn’t met but that is why we keep going, you know? I think it is great that you did it, under the sicky circumstances!

    By the way, this was fun to read since I am going to be doing this race next year!

    • You’re totally right, it’s important to learn and more forward with each race.

      If you have any questions for next year, let me know! I’ll probably be doing it again myself! Feels wrong to miss out on the big hometown race!

  4. Congrats. You beat me to the punch on a recap but I did the full so I’ll have some new info. Way to overcome obstacles!!! To me, that’s what endurance running is all about.

  5. Congratulations Jill. 2:11 is great considering you were down for several weeks before the race, including your cold. Take the week off, recover, and start again next week. You deserve it.


  6. Jill-you were sick the week before! Most people wouldn’t have run the race!! Let alone finish in a very good time!! Way to go chica!! You rock!! Smile!!! You ran a great race in very tough cold conditions after having been sick-spectacular!!

  7. I never got to see you in LV, and I am completely bummed about that. 😦 I wanted to meet you!!! Sounds like you and I both beat ourselves up about the race a little bit. And, we should both listen to our families tell us that our times were GREAT, and really, they were. I can’t believe you made it through that race feeling like you did. YUCK. Have a good week off, honey, rest and recover, and you’ll be back before you know it. Hugs!!

    • I’m seriously bummed about that too. I wanted to meet you too! My brother is moving back to the Denver area soon though, so when I visit him I need to arrange a meet-up with you!

  8. Congrats Jill! You ran a really strong race given that you have been sick. Surely the cold didn’t help.

    Love the pic of your mom with hergreen cloud pancakes. Too cute. 😉

  9. i ran the race too and really enjoyed reading your race report. i heartily concur about the walkers who should have been in the back. but congratulations on running another race! having traveled there, i had a great time in vegas!

  10. no being disappointed! you did great! congrats on another half. you were sick as a dog last week remember… that definitely contributes even if you felt 100% on race day.

    i’m glad there were no “whoops” stories about the green pancakes 😉

  11. Great report. I didn’t attribute the cold blasts in front of the Bellagio and Caesars to the fountains, but it makes sense now. I too found it really hard to breath at the end. I know the cold slowed me down…

    How funny, I was in that same porta potty (mile 6/9) too, but I ended in line FOREVER!

    Bummer that we didn’t figure out a way to meet up. Next time…

  12. Sorry you didn’t meet your goal but, yes, 2:11 is a good time! You finished, even though it was tough and you weren’t feeling 100%. That’s something to be proud of!

  13. Running a half after being really sick is no joke. In May, I did the same thing and ended up over 25 minutes over my original goal time! The fact that you ran such a great time after being sick proves to me just how tough you are. You’ll get that sub-2 half the next time around . . . when you are feeling better! But for now, you should definitely be proud of what you accomplished! Great job!! 🙂

    P.S. Love the pancake carbo-loading idea! I might just have to try that tonight!!

  14. Congrats! 2:11 IS a great time! I loved reading your recap. It’s so funny that people pick up other people’s layers – I never thought of that. Those evil corral jumpers. Ugh. I swear I say this a million times a day, but what is wrong with people?!

    I hope you felt good after the race with no shin problems!

  15. […] I took a little while to chill out, then moved into training for some half marathons. I wasn’t training with other people, everything that I was doing was basically “my time”. I spent a lot of time on the roads with audiobooks on my iPod and logged some pretty high mileage (for me, at least). But I did get a little too dependent upon the release that came from running, which lead to injury and a weakened immune system. […]

  16. […] Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll It’s my hometown race… gotta give it props! But truthfully, there is something really cool about running up and down The Strip. And now that Rock ‘n’ Roll has taken over the race, the half marathon course is mainly on The Strip, which is a HUGE improvement over the past course. And it’s fun to run along and listen to how many runners are complaining about over-partying in the days before the race. Apparently many people cannot set foot in Vegas without immediately starting to indulge… and I fully encourage that behavior here because it is how our economy survives. […]

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