Las Vegas Rock N Roll 5K + Half Marathon Race Recap

Another half marathon done! This is my 11th half marathon since I started running!  There are lots of reasons why this year's Las Vegas Rock N Roll Half Marathon was special to me, but the main reason is that this year my running came full circle back to where it all began.  The Las Vegas Rock N Roll was my first half marathon ever in 2013.  I remember how nervous I was about running this event. Everything was so new to me and I am so grateful to my marathon running cousin, Anel, who traveled from Texas to Vegas to run my first half marathon with me.  I will never forget that and how helpful it was to have a pro showing me the ins and outs of race day. 

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My first time running the strip at night, I had all my family and some friends cheering me on from the sidelines.  They held signs and gave me high-fives as I ran past them around mile 5.  It was such a rush! They were there for me at the finish line and we even got a hotel room for the night so we wouldn't have to deal with traffic leaving the race.  We ordered In N Out (fancy!), did some tequila shots, and celebrated together this accomplishment! Well, as you can imagine by the 11th half marathon and countless other races in between, the fanfare has diminished.  Can you blame them? There were no family members giving me high fives along the half marathon course or waiting for me at the finish.  But, no matter what, I know I still have their support and encouragement always.

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This year, I got to run as part of the Rock 'N' Blog team and I couldn't be prouder to be a part of this running community!  I decided to run the Vegas 5K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday, as part of the Remix Challenge.  You can read more about what's a Remix Challenge HERE, on a post I wrote for Rock N Roll Marathon Series Tempo Blog!

For the 5K, my hubby and kiddos came to cheer me on, along with a friend and her 2 daughters who came from California and were also running the half marathon the next day. Parking for the race was pretty easy.  The race started at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds across from the SLS Hotel at 6pm.  The security was tight, which we were definitely expecting, and they were only allowing the clear Rock N Roll swag bags we got with our registration.  I honestly don't remember seeing this posted at all during the registration process or at the expo and of course, my husband had a camera bag they wouldn't let him in with. At least we had enough time and he was able to make it back to the car and drop it off before the race started.  Being a Las Vegas local, I wasn't too excited about the course for the 5K, it was an out and back and ran down Industrial Blvd, a side street that is parallel to the strip but nowhere near as glamorous! Although the course was not amazing, the energy and the participants made it fun! There was plenty of lights and music along the course and lots of runners in costume and neon flashing lights on them! After the race and once I met up with my family and friends, I went to get my finisher beer and we sat together for a bit before heading out to our cab loading dinner at Bucca Di Beppo.  We didn't stay for the concert.  My kiddos have no idea who the Goo Goo Dolls are!!! 

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Sunday morning I had a good brunch and took my time prepping for the race.  I met up with my friend, Emily and her friend, Mike, who drove us to the race (no entourage this time!) We parked at Mandalay Bay and took the monorail to the start line area.  Although it was crowded and busy, everything was still organized and calm.  It was nice to have some friends who were running while we waited for our start time.  Bonus: This was the first race where I didn't have to wait in a long line for the port-a-potty! Total Win!!

Wasn't this announcement for start times just awesome?!? 

Wasn't this announcement for start times just awesome?!? 

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The race went well for me.  I started slow, felt good in the middle, but by mile 10 I lost steam and struggled to keep my pace.  The energy from the crowds along the strip was great and I especially loved the lights and music towards the finish line!! There was even an acrobatic performer hanging from a crane and swinging and twirling at the finish line.  Only in Vegas! Also, only in Vegas do you get to walk openly with your finisher beer and take photos with Elvis!! These are some pretty fun perks for sure!

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Of course, getting to run on the strip is pretty epic! But for locals the traffic due to so many street closures can be pretty bad, so getting picked up after the race was kind of a nightmare.  I think next time I run this race, I'll play tourist and book a room on the strip like we did for my first one.  I'm never one to say no to a staycation! All and all, it was a great time and I'm so happy I got to run this race again!  

Love my race bling!!! 

Love my race bling!!! 

Tuesday Introductions...

I know, I know, 'Tuesday Introductions' is not really a thing. I made it up.  Clever, huh? 

But, now that you're here and I have your attention, I wanted to introduce myself. I realized that I've had this blog for about 4 years already and I've never done an introduction post.  Of course, you can always go to "My Story" page to read about why I started It's a Messy Life and a bit about me, but do you really know someone off their about page? So, here goes! 

5 Random Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Me 

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1. I'm obsessed with La Croix sparkling waters.  I don't drink soda, so when plain water starts to get boring, this is my go-to! I especially love the grapefruit flavor! Have you tried them? What's your favorite? 

2. If I had a pet, I'd want a mini pig!!!  With a husband, 2 kids, running a business, a blog, and everything else in life, there's just no time for a pet. So, for now I just get my mini pig fix on Instagram! Anyone else follow @mybestfriendhank

3. I don't like Starbucks, but I collect their You Are Here coffee mugs! I don't particularly hate Starbucks, I just think there are lots of better coffee options available. Given the choice between Starbucks or a local coffee shop, the local coffee shop wins every time.  But, everywhere we go has a Starbucks, so I always get a mug to commemorate where we've been! Does this make me a hypocrite? 

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3. I'm a professional wedding photographer.  It's the best "job" ever! You can check out my work here: http://www.theemerics.com/ and if you're looking for a wedding photographer, I'm your girl!

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5. I was born in Texas! But, I don't own cowboy boots or listen to country music.  We moved to Maryland when I was 10, so that part didn't get ingrained in me.  I do say Ya'll a lot, though! 


Ok, so there you have it.  A little more info on who I am and what I like to do besides running and blogging! I'd love to hear more about you! Feel free to introduce yourself in the comments and give me a random fact about you. XO

Seven Tips for Making the Most of Your Next Racecation

What exactly is a "racecation"? Well, it's a race + vacation in one! I love to travel and I love to run races, so racecations are the best of both worlds for me!  For others, it could be a dream race they've had on their bucket list or part of their goal to race in every state.  Whatever your reasons, if you're traveling for a race, I say bring the family, stay a few extra days and make it a vacation! 

I've traveled to quite a few races and with a little planning it is totally possible to run a great race and enjoy the sights!  Here are my Top 7 Tips for planning your next racecation!

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1. Plan Ahead. This may seem obvious, but it's important to note.  Make sure to check out all the race details and final emails for any transportation logistics, last minute changes, and any race add-ons, such as carb loading dinners, seminars, or VIP Packages.  Some of these can sell out, so be sure to sign up early if you plan to take advantage of them.  It's best to print any waivers or forms beforehand, so you don't waste time once you're there.  Believe me, your family will thank you for it. Some race sponsors also offer discounts or deals to race participants, so it's good to go to the race website and see what's available.  I've found great prices on hotels and even a good deal on a city tour in Seattle this way!  Also, know where the expo is being held! Sometimes it's at the start/finish but other times, it could be in a completely different area, so map it out and know where you're going! 

2. Book a Nearby Hotel.  Like I just mentioned, most races will have a list of recommended lodging and they may even offer a discount to racers.  I'd check these out first, but if they are no longer available, as these do tend to book up soon, look for other nearby hotels. It's up to you if you prefer to be near the start or finish line and it may also depend on what you'll be using for transportation.  A lot of races do offer buses to the start line from specific locations.  Personally, for my racecations, we'll book a hotel near the finish line, so my family can easily meet me with me afterwards and they don't have to ride in the car with stinky mom for too long! 

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Use Eagle Creek Pack-It Sport Cube. This post in not sponsored by Eagle Creek, I just really love their products.  As a Rock N Roll Marathon ambassador, I was given a Sport Tote to try out and I really liked it. Then, when I saw their booth at one of the expos, I purchased the Pack-It Sport Cube and it's since been with me for every overnight race and racecation! I pack everything I need for race day in it: sneakers, Garmin, hat, top, bottoms, socks, sport bra, undies, glide, gels, Nuun! Even a change of clothes for after the race! Basically, if I need it for race day, it's going in that cube.  It keeps me organized and I love knowing that it's all together.  Plus, the cube is small enough and fits nicely in my suitcase.  I highly recommend them to everyone!! 

Don't Arrive Too Early.  I've learned from experience that it's best to run your race and then start your vacation, not the other way around.  Leaving the race for the end or even the middle of your trip may give you added stress and who needs that!  You'll possibly worry about things like getting enough sleep or worry about walking too much and running on tired legs.  You may even have to plan a short training run.  There's also things like your diet to consider and let's be honest, we all like to indulge a bit while on vacation, right? I've noticed that the best time to arrive is 1-2 days before your race.  I prefer to arrive the morning before the race.  This gives me enough time to visit the expo, pick up my race big, settle into our hotel room, grab dinner, and have an early bedtime.  However, if you'll be traveling to a different time zone and will experience some jet lag, then plan to arrive 2 days early and use that day in between to relax and acclimate to the time change. 

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Stick to your Pre-Race Routine. When we're traveling, we tend to go on hyper-mode and want to do and see everything! I speak from experience! Since most races are super early in the morning, you'll want to be sure to get to bed early.  Then, stick to your morning routine as much as possible.  I always make sure to get my go-to race day breakfast of a banana and a Justin's almond butter packet the night before. I also lay everything out the night before, so I can just go into auto-pilot and get dressed, grab my things and go.  It's usually to early for me to think straight, so doing it the night before gives me peace of mind on race day!

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Use Waze.  This one only applies if you'll be driving to your race.  If so, then rather than using Google Maps, I suggest using the Waze app.  It's free to download and since it's crowd sourced, the road closures due to the race will show up and it will give you better routes to take.  It's been really helpful for us!

Enjoy the Race. Most of us who plan racecations do so because it's a new city or new place we want to explore.  Running through a city or park we've never been to is exciting, so don't forget to look around.  Don't get so focused on just running the race and watching your pace that you forget to look around and take in the new scenery.  This was probably the reason you signed up for the race to begin with! Enjoy the race and scenery and think of all the fun you'll be having after your race is done! You'll get to see and visit new places because running got you there!  And, that is pretty cool! 

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