Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Things I Learned and Relearned in Vegas - A Race Report of Sorts - Part 1

I learned LOTS by running the Las Vegas Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon last weekend, including some things I already knew, but needed to be reminded of...and some things that never would have occurred to me.

Settle in...this may take awhile...Sometimes I'm a slow learner. Today I start with all the Prerace reporting...

Things I Already Knew - Pre-race Nonsense

You never stop being a mother, even when you're trying to pack
I had another ridiculously busy week at work last week, so I didn't even start packing until Friday morning. I knew I was going to be cutting it pretty close timing wise. Our flight to Vegas left at 12:20, which gave me the morning to pack and straighten the house a bit before I left, but as I was starting to make sure that I had all my gear together, I received a frantic text message from DramaGirl...

Suffice it to say that running said project up to the school and back took a good 30 minute chunk of my already limited time.

Of course, limited packing time meant that I overpacked some things (I packed four pairs of running tights) and underpacked others (oh, like regular clothes for example) and forgot a few things (like deodorant...no big deal), all together ((sigh)). Oh well, Vegas has stores. These things can all be purchased.

In any event, Walter and I made it to the airport only to find (of course) that the flight had been delayed 20 minutes.... GAH! Once on the plane, there was this...

Bloody Mary's of course...in honor of the 1/2 Mary...and after all, we WERE going to Vegas...

Big expos can be fun, but it's best to go early!
I'm really glad Walter and I flew into Vegas on Friday and went straight to the expo (where we ran into Irene and her husband Michael) because we were able to sort of browse around and enjoy ourselves...well I did anyway. I think Expos of any sort are sorta Walter's version of hell.

Trust me...it's Irene and me...Walter is an excellent sherpa, but photographer? hmmmmm

So here's my question, why did the Expo organizers smush all of the vendors into only a portion of the room. It was busy on Friday, but I went back for a bit on Saturday and the place was a complete ZOO! Almost scary crowded.

Lucky for me, on Friday Irene had already been through the expo and gave me the info on where to get the best swag. Verizon had some extra-groovy Elvis glasses and a flashy ring (Walter and I each got one...one for each kid). At Pearl Izumi, if you tried on their shoes, they gave you some free socks (sweet!), and Wynn Hotels were giving away some pretty nice knit caps (lots of runners used these as their throw away hat the next morning).

Certainly, the talk among many runners at the expo was the weather and how cold it would be in the morning. I heard reports that it was going to get down to 25º overnight...and I don't care where you live, 25º is cold.

Maybe I should have paid the extra moola to stay across the street at the MGM Grand
Because I waited too long to make hotel reservations (ok...I'm gonna throw the herd under the bus a little bit here...because I was also waiting to see if any of them were going to Vegas), the sponsor hotels, Mandalay Bay and The Luxor, were sold out, so I decided to Priceline it, put in my lowball bid and got what was purported to be a 4-Star hotel on the "South Strip"...at the Westin.

Two issues:
  1. The location. I would say that the Westin is mid-strip at best, so it was pretty far away from all of the race stuff, which meant that all of the money I may have saved in the room rate went to taxi cab fares. The distance between the race and the hotel would also be a HUGE issue AFTER the race as well.
  2. 4-Stars? I think not! I mean it was a nice enough place, but not 4-Star nice. Priceline rating system...pffffft.
Vegas is Surreal, Amazing, and Incredibly Interesting... Especially When You're Sober
Walter and I spent two nights in Vegas. It was one of the ways I convinced him to go with me..."Hey honey...let's go to Vegas for TWO nights...the first night we can just play!" So the first night we hung out with some friends and basically wandered up and down the strip and pretended to gamble. Mostly we had beverages :-)

The fountains at the Bellagio

My friends Dee and Joel...who live in Vegas and who must have been channeling their youth when they came out to meet us at 10pm.

We met up with Dee and Joel in the Bellagio, then they took us over to a bar in a new hotel called V'dara. The bar and the hotel were quite lovely. Dee told us that it's the first fully "green" hotel in Vegas.

This is a shot of City Center, the new "thing" on the strip in Vegas. When it's finished there'll be three hotels, some condos, a huge shopping mall, and of course, a casino. It's pretty cool looking, like Gotham City in Batman Returns, before Gotham went bad.

After Dee and Joel dropped us off at our hotel, Walter and I went to bed...what a day!

Too much wine = headache
Of course, I woke up on Saturday just a tad bit tired. We spent most of the morning doing nothing, but we did go to the hotel gym. I did some stretching, rode a bike and did the elliptical. Then walked over to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville for breakfast/lunch. This is twice I've been to Margaritaville and not had a margarita (the last time was in September when I went to Vegas with the herd), or anything stronger than coffee...weird.

Walter in Margaritaville. That's a whale swimming over his head.

Something else you should know. Along with, about 20,000 out of town runners for the Las Vegas RnR, Vegas was also hosting some NASCAR event, and the National Rodeo Finals.

It's really easy to tell the difference between NASCAR fans and runners. Not as easy to tell the difference between Rodeo fans and NASCAR fans though. Just an observation.

After breakfast/lunch, we finally caught up with BBJ, who was also runnng, and Wilma. We pretty much hung out in a Mandalay Bay bar and watched Alabama beat Florida State, which only mattered to us because Walter had bet on Florida State.

That night, we met my parents for dinner. We went to a deli in the Wynn called ZoZa Crackers. They make an excellent Matzoh Ball Soup, which was an excellent pre-race meal.

It's a bowl, but it really was enough for all four of us. But seriously YUM!

It doesn't happen often but... some do win at the tables in Vegas
No...not me. I'd have to actually gamble to win, although Wilma did turn me onto penny slots. Now that is some mindless fun.

After dinner, my parents dropped us off at the hotel pretty early and Wilma and BBJ were already there. We had told them that the Westin had a small casino with $5 minimum bets on the tables. This is pretty much unheard of in the major hotels on the strip on a Saturday night. By the time we got there, BBJ was already lining up the chips. He was on a roll...literally. At the end of the night, he cashed out about $1000 ahead. (GOTTA LOVE THAT!). To be honest, at one point I was worried that if he kept winning he might not make the start of the race!

While BBJ won his thousands, Wilma introduced me to Penny slots. Penny slots are just a hoot...the silly gambling part is interrupted by occasional bonus games. In our favorite one, we got to watch an animated characters do a strip tease.

Gotta love Vegas.

Alas, bedtime called, so we said goodbye to Lance and Rod (the cartoon strippers) and I went to bed, after all I'd be up at 4am to get to the race.

Next time: Race Day (oh yeah...there was some little run involved in this weekend somewhere).

I'll get to the actual race part of the race report tomorrow


  1. Great post! Good idea to spend two nights in Vegas... half the fun of that race has to be the fun of Vegas!

    Vegas is a strange place. I can only tolerate it in small doses. It looks like you had lots of fun, though! I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the story. :)

  2. I love that in 24 hours you can meet up with family, friends, runners and still have time for Walter, gambling and exercise!

    What is with the "herd" for standing you up?! I'm sure they will make it up to you in the future!.... Promise!

  3. Have never been to Vegas (just the airport - yuck) - I might have to try this race on one year to get out there :)

  4. "It's really easy to tell the difference between NASCAR fans and runners. Not as easy to tell the difference between Rodeo fans and NASCAR fans though. Just an observation." ----> I just had to laugh out loud when I read this... because I have a few uncles that are Nascar fans ... and not runners... and I know of the difference you are talking about :)

  5. Sounds so busy!!! I've never been to Vegas...I like to play blackjack on cruises though....lol

    I'll be checking back for the race report!!!

  6. I can remember calling my parents nad begging them to bring a homework folder to school for me many times. Back then I actually had to go to the office and use a phone since it was pre cell phone and texting. I was so glad to see Alabama beat Florida, being in the SEC, we all tend to dislike Florida this season! It sounds like you guys had a good pre-race time in Vegas.

  7. OMG, I have to learn NOT to read your posts when I'm at the office, the dead give away is me laughing my head off, pounding my desk top! You are SOOOO funny!!!

    Love this report, and had to share the part about Vegas ~ Especially When You're Sober!! I'm still laughing here (~:

  8. Sounds like a fun time so far!

  9. I LOVE this race report. You make me laugh out loud without fail whenever I read your stuff. :-)

    That NASCAR/Bull Riding comments was classic. LOL

  10. OMG! I had no idea about those freebies @ the expo and at the Wynn hotel. Boo for me being out of the loop! LOL

    About the cowboys... I'm just not used to seeing that many cowboys all that once and each time I saw one, I couldn't help but stare. LOL My bad.

  11. never been to Vegas, but penny slots sound fun since i'm not much of a gambler! Great idea to spend two nights there, and LOL at Walter's photography :) can't wait for part two!

  12. LMAO! I was saying the same thing, " Where TF is the turnaround?" It seemed like it took forever for it to finally appear. Can't wait for your race report :D

  13. Hey, I notice you visited the hotel gym. Would you mind writing a review at http://www.HotelGymReview.com?