Well, hello there! Happy Monday to you. :)
I know that I’ve put this off long enough; two weeks to be exact. That’s how long it’s been since I ran the RnR Vegas Half (Strip at Night) and I’ve been somewhat recovering from it physically ever since.
You see, there are many reasons that I attributed my poor (for me) race performance to, but only in the past few days have I come to learn that none of those reasons were the culprit. I’ll get to this later in the post and fill you in.
So, my last blog post left off with Saturday evening shenanigans, or more like going to bed at 3am on Sunday (aka race day), to be exact.
Having a race in Vegas was a very unique and unusual experience for me. For example, drinking beer all day and lack of sleep is not something I incorporate into my normal pre-race routine. But, I’ll provide a full race recap later in this post.
Back to Sunday morning… I ended up sleeping in till about 11am and lazed around until about 1pm when I headed downstairs to grab breakfast. Yes, breakfast. The cafe downstairs offered bowls of steel-cut oatmeal with mashed banana, vanilla, etc. I got a bowl of that along with two scrambled eggs. It was okay. I wasn’t hungry, but made myself eat it.
I also made sure to hydrate with H2O and Nuun, my hydration of choice.
Once it got to be around 2pm-ish, Joe, Sarah and James, and I took the trolley from the Bellagio (adjacent to our hotel Vdara) over to the Mandalay Bay area where the start line was for the race.
Luckily, the trolley wasn’t too difficult, we didn’t have to walk much, and it was free. Win win.
On our way to to the Mandalay Bay, I quickly played a few hands of Blackjack and ended up winning $80 within a matter of minutes. Score! Good luck pre-race.
Once we got to the Mandalay Bay, Sarah and I started getting pumped up for the race. In a bar. Don’t worry, we didn’t drink.
My race outfit consisted of my Oiselle team singlet, the Bum Wrap (Oiselle’s answer to the running skirt. It’s a bum wrap, not a skirt. And I fell in love with it!), Zensah compression sleeves, and my awesome Oiselle arm tattoo! Guys — I absolutely am in love with my Bum Wrap. Go and get it!
Right before the race, I had some Honey Stinger chews along with my favorite bar — Picky Bar in Smooth Caffeinator. Mmm, so good.
I decided to rub some Icy Hot on my legs prior to the race as Sarah does this all the time. I didn’t feel anything at the time, and I’m not sure if it had any effect on me under my Zensah sleeves. Still not sure if this was bad (doing anything new right before a race).
Getting to the Race Start
Once it was about 30 minutes until race start, Sarah and I headed over to the corrals. I headed to corral 3. With only 30 minutes to go, was surprised there weren’t tons of people crowding around yet.
Right before the race started, the PF Chang’s relay team of runners carrying the dragon during the race made its way through. Very cool.
Then the National Anthem was sung right before we were on our way.
Also, right before the race got going, my fabulous Oiselle teammate, Patty, found me at the very front of corral 3! It was so awesome meeting her as she’s super fun, funny, and lively. Amazing lady!
Go Fast, Take Chances (or… have extreme pain and run slow)
Now, it was go time. Here’s just some bits and pieces that I recall from the race, not organized in any particular order:
- Miles 1-8 were awesome! I was running mile splits between 7:45 min/mile and 8:33 min/mile. All that beer and little sleep? No big deal!
- Mile 8 happened and my entire body completely fell apart. From running 10 previous half marathons, even one that had major hills just the weekend prior, I had never experienced anything like this. I kept mentally crying to myself about hip pain and needed to actually stop to the sidelines, stretch from side to side, dig my knuckle into my hip, etc. to no avail. The pain was there, but I couldn’t reach it.
- The pain started to get sharper and more frequent as each step went on. My entire body started to rebel and I needed to stop multiple times in a mile. It’s like I couldn’t will my legs to go any further.
- I even considered my first DNF as soon as we got to the Frontier neighborhood, but worried about how I’d be able to transport back to Joe and James. So, on I went.
- The headwind was the craziest wind I’ve ever experienced, period. Apparently, they were 30-40mph winds. It was ridiculous, I had to keep on holding my hat and when I pushed forward, I felt like I was making no traction.
- The tailwind at very odd, random times would propel me forward and even almost knock my feet into the other leg, but I was determined not to fall (aka RnR SD Full).
- The last three miles were the most excruciating miles I’ve ever run in a half marathon. People from further back corrals had caught up to me already, my 8 min/miles had quickly faded to 11 min/miles. I was distraught, frustrated, and mad that my body was so painful and wouldn’t do what it always did in a race – GO.
- The last mile was like torture – I could see the finish line hotel but it just seemed so far in the distance. I started doing the jog/walk method. I couldn’t get myself to go any further and would keep on stretching, poking at my hip, etc.
- Finally, when I thought all was lost, I spotted my bestie Christy come up and just seeing her motivated me to run the rest of the way. I also saw Patty and decided to go for the finish line. I thought that the faster I finish, the faster it’ll be over. Thank goodness.
- Final time: 1:58:17, 9:02 min/mile pace (around 9 mins slower than Seattle Half one weekend prior that included major hills, sigh).
Post-Race Sighs of Relief
At the end of the race, I was SO excited to just be done with it. And to see my run buds, Becky, Christy, Clarissa, and Patty!
Seeing Joe at the recovery area made me feel so happy! Sarah and James were also there and Sarah also had one of her worst races ever, 15 minutes slower than her PR in the 1:30s. It was definitely a difficult race for all.
Space blankets are good at keeping me warm after a race but not when it’s super windy. I felt like I was flying.
We quickly made our way back to the hotel and had some celebration beers and these amazing wings.
Delicious Post-Race Mexican Food & Dueling Piano Bar
After freshening up at the hotel, we had dinner at Javier’s, a modern Mexican restaurant located at the Aria Hotel.
The food was really good, but the service was definitely very all over the place. It’s like we had multiple waiters coming to ask the same questions, getting multiple dishes delivered to our table that weren’t ours, etc.
But! The food was good. I even had my first-ever taste of flan. Can you believe it? It was good, very creamy, but I’m more of a chocolate dessert gal.
After dinner, we headed over to the dueling piano bar located at New York New York Hotel. This was so much fun!! I had never been to a dueling piano bar, but I was very impressed by how talented the guys were.
A fun last night in Vegas was had by all.
The Day After
The next morning we slept in, lazed around, and took another quick tour of the winter wonderland in the Bellagio.
Final Race Results
Here are my race splits for the entire race. As you can see, I definitely made the mistake of going out too fast in the first mile but really at mile 8 when my entire body fell apart was when my race performance completely tanked.
Nearly 11 min/miles? Hmm, yeah. That was when I was likely just standing, stretching, trying to figure out why I had such intense pain. Also, 9 minutes slower than the Seattle Half which incorporate big hills and was run the morning after signing up.
Gluteal Muscle Spasms and Trigger Point/Active Release Therapy
The Sunday after running RnR Vegas, I attempted to do an 8-10 miler. Once I got to mile 2, I had the most excruciating pain in my glute (butt area), definitely very painful and unusual. I couldn’t believe the pain that I was experiencing to the point that I thought my leg would give out. I completely a total of 6 miles that day, but my concern was full-blown.
Enter my Oiselle teammate, the good doctor Sarah Lesko (aka Lesko to the Oiselle team). She’s a family doctor who has an extreme passion for running-related injuries. She offered to help me out and performed active release treatment (ART) on me… SO PAINFUL, and provided me many exercises and stretches to perform at home. Thank you, Lesko!!
My issue all along during the RnR Vegas race was a gluteal muscle spasm, not an issue with my hip or all the myriad of reasons that I list at the end of this post (though I’m sure some of them contributed to my less-than-stellar feel). This spasm requires a lot of trigger point therapy and one of the tools that Lesko had me use was the Trigger Point Massage Ball which I ordered from Amazon as part of the Trigger Point starter set. Amazing reviews, definitely check it out. It really helps target the deep area of my glute that can’t be reached through The Stick or foam rolling. SO painful, but so good. I’ve been doing that for the past several days along with various stretches.
I attempted a 6 mile run on Saturday (two days ago) and ended up having the extreme gluteal pain just a few miles in. Had to walk the last mile home. Continue trigger pointing and stretching.
This week, I’m going to see a chiropractor recommended by Lesko to see if I have SI joint pain that can be remedied. Cross your fingers for me!
Needless to say, I am very ready for this glute issue to be fixed and for me to get back to healthy status. My next race in in early Feb, so I’d like to get back to running.
While it was super fun in Vegas with my great friends, I should remind myself and inform others to stick to your normal pre-race routine. I probably would’ve changed up the following:
- Don’t walk all over the city (or The Strip, in this case) right before a half/full marathon – rest those legs!
- Stay hydrated with water – don’t drink beer all day the day before.
- Get plenty of rest – don’t go to sleep at 3am or 4am. Being fully rested is essential to race performance.
- Don’t stay out all night the day before a race – again, get plenty of rest.
- Make sure to eat your pre-race meal at normal times and in the case of a race at 4:30pm, don’t just skip actual breakfast time and eat breakfast/race fuel at 1pm.
- Don’t wear heels and get a blister the day or two prior to a race.
- Don’t breathe in tons of smoky casino air.
I might be missing lots from the list above, but I’m sure you get the point. :)
That was my last race of 2012 and I wish you all happy holidays! Can’t wait to recap my year in running for you all soon.