I landed in Vegas and met my family at our hotel: Treasure Island. Flying in at night was awesome - Vegas really is just as cool as it seems in the movies.
I quickly learned that the National Finals Rodeo was in town at the same time as the race and I was in heaven. Everywhere I looked there were cowboys and you better believe I ran upstairs to put my boots on :)
I took my parents to the expo where I got my bag, doll-size shirt (you better believe I traded that sucker in for a large), and head lamp (pretty cool freebie!). This was their first race experience and they were overwhelmed. They had absolutely no idea how big the race world is. My mom totally got in the spirit though:
Then I got to meet up with some of the most beautiful, friendly, and talented runners (who also happen to have some pretty cool blogs). In true blogger fashion we all met up at an ice cream shop - totally Hungry Runner Girl's idea. I blame her for making me and my mom eat this monstrosity of an ice cream :) p.s. - she is just as sweet and beautiful in person as she seems on her blog!
I met wonderful bloggers like Blonde Ponytail, Skinny Runner, Runner's Rambles, Meals and Miles, Vitamin Bee, Running for Trevor, and of course Pain, Pride and Perseverance. There are many more - sorry I didn't get everyone's names!
|So many great runners and bloggers!|
|SR doing something funny|
|Glad I found a new blog to read: Vitamin Bee :)|
|Love this pic with Julia.|
My family and I spent the weekend doing a little gambling and shopping (a.k.a. throwing money out the window, but that's apparently okay in Vegas). We also got to see the Cirque du Soleil show Mystere. It.was.freakin.amazing. I'm not kidding when I say my brothers and I had our jaws hit the floor several times, and 19 and 20 year old guys are hard to impress. It is just unbelievable how talented (and strong) those people are!
Before I knew it, it was Sunday afternoon and time to get ready for the race. My brother Nolan was happy to cheer me on from the warmth of the hotel room :) I don't blame him.
It was pretty dang cold and I was a bit worried that I wore a t-shirt and capris when it seemed like everyone was wearing long sleeves. Personally though, I was perfectly happy with my outfit choice. I know I would have been hot and miserable if I wore more clothing.
The excitement surrounding the race was incredible. Not really sure how it couldn't be - I mean you are running the strip at night! This is a 180 degree change from my Ohio/Indiana race where the only thing to look at was a corn field.
The only photo I took during the race was this blurry one where two women were wearing shirts that said "Cuz Sam" and "Cuz Heidi" - my name is Sam and my mom's name is Heidi. What are the odds of that?! With all those gambling junkies in Vegas I'm sure someone smarter than me could figure out the actual odds, but you get the point.
I'm not as heated as others about how the race was executed because I thought that overall it was decent, but I will say that the design of the finish line was absolutely outrageous, actually dangerous. The medals and pictures were so close to the finish line that everyone had to immediately come to a complete stop when it got backed up. My leg muscles weren't very happy and I felt like I was going to be sick. Water > Pictures. Just sayin. I'm sure it is ridiculously hard to organize 44,000 runners, but if you're going to charge people $150 to run you should have your sh*t together. Enough said.
You all know that I am the Queen of awful race pictures. (Remember the I'm so pretty picture?) I didn't even realize it was possible, but I think I might have beat it with this one:
|WHAT?! I refuse to believe that is me. That person looks like they are about to eat someone.|
The next morning my parents left and I was waiting around for my 10:30 pm flight when I learned that tickets to the American Country Awards were being sold for just $22 to a 5:00 pm show. I'm sorry, WHAT?!? I think I almost cried I was so excited - I didn't even know it was in town! I even treated myself to the lower level $60 ticket, a new dress from Forever 21, and then got my hair did all fancy-like at the mall. Yes, it was a "treat yo' self" kind of day (anybody watch Parks and Rec?).
|American Country Awards at the MGM.|
|The gorgeous Carrie Underwood|
It was an awesome show. It was too bad that I didn't have any of my family or friends with me. I had such a good time though, even if I was by myself.
Then I headed to the airport.
|Love the colors/design of this race shirt!|
I was about to say adios, Vegas when I discovered this in my coat pocket:
Noooo!!! $30 down the drain :( Oh, but wait, excuse me Mr. baggage handler man, do you ever gamble? I have a $30 casino voucher that could be yours for only $20. Score.
I don't recommend taking a red eye and then having a morning layover in Atlanta. From 5 am - 6:30 am EST I slept just like this even with Christmas music and vacuums blaring in my ears.
I just realized that 2011 consisted of 7 half marathons, one full marathon, and a few 5k races. I had so much fun, but that number sounds ridiculous. Maybe 2012 is the year I cut back on the number of races and instead focus on improving my time. Regardless, I wouldn't take one minute of 2011 back - it was phenomenal.