Run Revel – Mount Charleston 2017

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On April 29th, 2017 I ran my first downhill marathon. Just an hour out from the glowing Las Vegas Strip you will find cottages and two lane roads up Kyle Canyon, this is Mount Charleston. Most runners gravitate towards downhill marathons with bright eyes and their heart set on a BQ time. While downhill racing tends to give a runner a new PR, it’s not as easy on your body as you would think. When I registered for Mount Charleston, I wanted a vacation along with the experience of a downhill race. I knew I wasn’t ready for a BQ but a PR would be in my future. Run Revel is known for their downhill beautiful courses and quality race experience. They host a few races a year with half and full marathon distances. When you Run Revel, you know you are joining a strong group of runners that train hard and finish strong.

runrevel_03When I told Mav I registered for Mount Charleston, he jumped online and said, “you know this is going to be a Vegas vacation.” While there are hotels near the race finish line, you bus up to the start line from a parking lot in Summerlin. Since we drove to Las Vegas and had a car, staying on the strip was ideal for us. We drove up the day before the race, checked in and headed out to packet pick up. Once I had my bib, I was getting excited. Training for a downhill race included a lot of uphill runs, along with stretches, fuel prep, and IT roll outs. One thing that always makes me nervous while running is my knees, I can train, prepare, and supplement. However, I never know if they are going to act up. I knew if they were going to give me trouble, a downhill race would be when be when pain may show up. Instead of being scared, I prayed and figured if Mount Charleston was going to be my race then everything would go as planned. Las Vegas holds a lot of my favorite restaurants, so Mav and I had an early dinner and for the first time ever, I was able to get to bed by 8 PM with a 3 AM alarm.runrevel_04

Before I knew it 3 AM rolled around and I jumped out of bed, from that moment I started pre race hydration with nuun performance. I can’t eat before a race so nuun performance has been a game charger for me. It’s the right amount of carb and electrolytes to keep me hydrated and strong throughout my long runs. Mav drove me to the parking lot in Summerlin, I sat in the car for awhile until I braved the chilly windy weather and jumped in the bus line, which was headed to the marathon start line. While in line, everyone was ecstatic and excited. Talking about the previous years race, where they flew in from, and that BQ they were chasing. One women shared her story of chasing a BQ for 15 years, I admired her journey and wished her luck. I thought to myself, “this race is serious, it’s a make it or break it for a lot of runners.” Driving up, we passed the half marathon start line…a part of me thought, “can I change my mind now.”  Soon, we were at the start line which was a cute little cabin restaurant and lodge. While the race temperature at finish was a perfect 72 degrees. The start line reminded me of my fun chilly race in Florida this past January. You forget how chilly and windy it is the higher up the mountain you go. Knowing I would be running and warmed up soon, I just couldn’t wait until that blow horn went off.

runrevel_01Starting down the hill, it was really windy. I once again had a flashback to my first marathon and tried to keep a positive focus. The first couple of miles were steep and allowed me to gain momentum, this is were I kept a steady 8-8:30 min/miles. Hydration stations and port a potties were located just about every mile down the course. I kept to my plan of at least getting an ounce or two of water each stop, along with my honey stinger gels each hour of running. nuun performance keeps me hydrated for a good portion of the run, while the gels give me the amino acids my body needs. This course had so much to see and kept me mentally free. my focus on the scenery and the sounds of the outdoors kept me on pace. When I would set my eyes on the distance I could see the north side of the strip. Coming up on the half marathon start line, I was feeling good. This is where it started to warm up and I knew I was halfway to finish. Arriving at mile 18-20 during a marathon is tough, I always feel like I’m almost finished but the miles start to get longer and I need to stay head strong. This is also were the Mount Charleston course tends to flatten out. I started to feel my quads on fire. I knew if I wanted to PR, It was going to have to be on me and my training. With 5k to go, it really hit me. I wanted to walk but my legs weren’t ready to give up. I kept my focus on the signs of the spectators cheering the runners on. Since most of the course is closed off, it does give spectators a tough time to cheer on loved ones, unless they drive up or live along the course. I’m always for spectators towards the end of 26.2 miles!! Since my head was telling my body to slow down but the crowd was telling me to “finish strong.” Before I knew it I could see the finish line, approaching it took forever even though it was a quick minute. lol. I could see Mav to my right at the finish, this gave me the strength to push harder. Shortly after I finished I checked my time, which was better than the time I saw while crossing the finish line!! I finished in 4:09:45 for a 9:31/mile, a new PR for me!

Looking back at this marathon, I found myself in most of the miles. Run Revel exceeded my expectations, from a organized quality course to the quality of challenging runners. Once you run a downhill marathon, it’s tough to meet your running goals with any other course. This was my third marathon, and I plan to make a Run Revel event my fourth. If you are pursuing your dream of running Boston, I would advise to sign up for a downhill marathon. Run Revel shaved 17 mins off my previous marathon time!

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Rock ‘N’ Roll Las Vegas – Strip at Night 2016

Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas: Strip at Night

Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas: Strip at Night

Over this past weekend I ran what is known as “The Super Bowl” of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series: RNR Las Vegas aka Strip at Night.

Strip at Night is now one of my favorite runs. It’s crazy, fun, and flat! lol. When I first signed up for the run all I wanted was to PR. I knew I was going to be 12 weeks out from having Little Little and with that, I would have limited time to train. I figured the time I was up against was from the Tinkerbell Half-Marathon, which I ran 6 months pregnant. Without carrying the extra weight, I knew I had this.

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packet pick up! woohoo

Vegas is Vegas, I never thought I would find myself running along the Strip. Even when I lived in Vegas I opted for treadmills versus the Strip. However, there was something about this race that made me all about it. The fact that it was at night and they actually close down the Strip is amazing! Also, Vegas holds a lot of memories for me, good and bad. I had this mindset that running miles through some wild moments in my life would be refreshing.

There’s 4 distances you can choose from for RNR Las Vegas: 5k, 10k, half-marathon, and marathon. You also have the option of doing the “Remix Challenge” which include the 5k on Saturday and the half or full marathon Sunday. I was signed up for the half-marathon. Since I was planning to PR, I didn’t do the challenge. I’m sure in the future I’ll be up for challenges but, I really want to do my best at races. My races hold me accountable and they aren’t cheap, hahaha. I’ll sign up for challenges when I know I’m strong enough to take them on and achieve my best time in each distance. I only had 6 weeks to train but training was going well. I was feeling stronger each run and really gaining spend. Two weeks prior to RNR I ran my fastest 10k and was working on a sub  2 hour half-marathon. Anyways, that was at least my goal.

I arrived in Vegas on Friday. My Sister, Little Little, and I drove up in the morning and got into town just in time to pick up Mav from the airport. Mav had work obligations that didn’t allow him to drive with us. Everything all worked out though. We checked into our hotel and I even packed my foam roller to stretch those IT bands! On Saturday we ventured over to the Health & Fitness Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center to pick up my race packet. I’m a sucker for these things, as most runners. There was more opportunities to buy “everything,” which you really want to do. You get to meet up with other runners and take promo pics with sponsors. All and all, it’s super fun and addicting. That night I really wanted to avoid overworking myself, at the same time it was hard to adjust my head to I wasn’t running a race in the morning but later Sunday evening. In Vegas, I always at least walk over 20k steps so I kept that down and also watched how long I wore my heels out for dinner. Before I knew it, it was race day and I really tried hard to balance breakfast/lunch since I was running at 4:30 PM. This year they decided to have waves of runners along with the normal corrals. There was 3 waves: 4:30-5:00-5:30, depending on the color bib & number you had determined your start. I was in the first wave, this was based off my estimated finished time. I ended up eating a small meal around noon of chicken & pasta. Which was perfect because that 4 hour timeframe was just enough to digest my food and keep me energized.

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compliments of Richard aka @BlingWhore

I headed over to the race a little early to join a #werunsocial meet-up. I’m so glad I did, I ended up meeting a great group of runners that run a lot of the races I do or will do. I always find myself running solo and while I don’t mind it because I feel it’s when I find myself. It’s also nice to recognize an amazing running community and hang out with others who share the same love I do for the sport. We all hung out right up until it was time to head over to the corrals, a lot of the runners were in the same wave as me so we went out together. When I first started out, I started out with the crew up until the “Welcome to Las Vegas Sign.” The crew had ran the Avenger’s half that morning so RNR was a fun run for them. This was a going to be a PR race for me so I split off and started my way down the strip. The first 3 miles flew by in breeze, I was really surprised how I was maintaining a good pace. If I still wanted my sub -2 I was going to have work for it in negative splits. My mindset at mile 5 was strong and I really thought I could still do it until mile 8 where the course turns off the Strip and into some weird areas. These areas are well lit by the race organization and they also have more bands playing then they do along the strip but for some reason I fought with myself on the pace I wanted to keep. I slowed down a little and told myself I would pick back up once I hit Fremont Street, which leads back down the Strip. I was able to pick up my pace a little bit. Once again, I found my high and kept a strong 8-9 minute pace until Stratosphere, which was 2.1 miles from the finish. This is where I really wanted to quit, I looked at my time and knew I wasn’t going to hit my training goal of a sub -2. I still was going to PR but it wasn’t the time I had planned. This really took a toll on my focus and I slowed down even more. I couldn’t believe I was telling myself to just give up, not literally but I wasn’t being positive. Finally, I got the motivation to finish, thank goodness! I paced back up to 9:20 and quickly started approaching the Mirage, where the finish line was. I finally reached the finish line and set a new PR at 2:07:04!
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the bling 😍

Shortly after finishing I met up with Mav, Little Little, and my sister. Little Little wanted to nurse right away, which worked for

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nbd, just feeding my small child on Las Vegas Blvd 😂

me because I needed the relief, lol. As I sat on the curb of the intersection of Flamingo and Las Vegas Blvd with a boob out surrounded by lights. I took a deep breathe and teared up a bit, so many emotions filled my mind. The Strip had seen the worst and best of me. I never thought in years I’d be sitting there after completing a half-marathon feeding my 3 month old son, it was surreal. Life is strange but it’s moments like these I live for.

So would I run Strip at Night again? YES, YES, YES!! My sister already made me promise we are all running together next year, including Mav and her BF. Hopefully in a year I’ll be good for the “Remix Challenge.” I guess if I made the 5k a fun run, it would make sense. I guess we’ll have to see. I’m about 7 weeks out now from my first Marathon in Orlando. I’m excited and so nervous. I really want me to think of 26.2 miles the way I do of 13.1. I know I’ll get there, hopefully sooner than later. Right now, my training puts me at a few miles each day and really no rest days. I need to continue to build strength and gain speed. All I can say is thank goodness I made my first marathon a Disney run, lol. At least I have the excuse to stop and take pics through the 4 parks without feeling guilty for losing some time. Right now, I’ll continue to celebrate my new PR for my half-marathon and keep that my focus through training.RNR_05