Run Laughlin Half Marathon Race Recap

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Earlier this year, I was contacted by the Run Laughlin race director and asked to be part of their ambassador program for their race.  In return for promoting their race, I was given 2 race entries for myself and a friend PLUS 8 race entries to giveaway! Although I was given this race entry, my review and opinions are my own. 

This was my 2nd year running this race.  I ran it in 2015 and really enjoyed the course, you can read my review HERE.  The course for 2017 was slightly different, so I was looking forward to comparing the course.  I also was excited because this was the hubby's 2nd half marathon and I was looking forward to running together for part of the race and and seeing him cross that finish line! 

The race began at the high school and had us do a loop around the track.  The higher elevation of the school, meant we got some great views of the mountains around us! After the track, it was a steady uphill climb for the next 3 miles or so.  Not the best start to a race for me, but at least it was at the beginning and not the end! Like the saying goes, "What goes up, must come down!" and the next 3 miles were gloriously downhill and fast! I knew that we'd get another uphill section as we ran towards the dam and across the bridge and I took it slow and steady because that section was out and back so it was going to be a nice downhill after the turnaround.  The last portion of the race was along the river.  It was pretty flat with a few slight inclines, but nothing major.  Of course, after 10 miles, any slight change uphill can feel like a mountain! I kept pushing on that last mile and was really happy with my time! I beat my 2015 time for this race by 1 minute and finished 2017 strong! 

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I really enjoyed the course and the smaller race size, after having ran a lot of bigger races this year.  The volunteers were all super friendly, even though a lot of the aid stations were running out of cups for water! Thankfully, I run with my Nathan's hydration pack, so this didn't affect me.  The other not-so-great- thing about this race was the fact that they ran out of medals.  It was such a let down to cross the finish line and not get our finisher medals.  According to the new race directors, it was a problem with their supplier. I will say, they have communicated with us and are in the process of mailing our medals and even got the suppliers to engraving our name and finish time on the back of our medal at no cost.  It's been 2 weeks and we're patiently waiting for them to arrive.  

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In the meantime, I'm working on my race schedule and goals for 2018! Can't wait to share them with you next week! Tell me, what are your health and fitness goals for the new year? 

Food Friday | My Top Local Las Vegas Restaurants

Yesterday I was chatting with a couple we just met from Toronto, Canada and of course, the subject of food came up! Now, I am no foodie, that's my friend Emily! But, I do love to go out and enjoy a good meal and lots of times, she's my go-to person for food recommendations. Anyhow, I was asked what my top 3 favorite Vegas restaurants were and at first I drew a blank! Maybe it was because I was put on the spot or maybe because I was overthinking it.  My brain started thinking of sub-categories, like on the strip or off the strip? Casual or fine dining? What kind of cuisine? Fusion? Traditional? Seriously, I went into overdrive! I did finally give them some suggestions and I thought I'd share this with you today on the blog too! So many people come to Vegas and never leave the strip! Yes, there are some very good restaurants on the strip, many owned by famous chefs from around the world. However, for this blog post, I want to share some restaurants that are off the strip! When we travel, we always look for where the locals eat. We ask for recommendations on less touristy eateries and most of the time, those are our favorites from our trip.  Next time you come to Vegas or anywhere else on your travels, be sure to try something new and local!

Here are a 4 of my favorite off the strip Las Vegas restaurants:

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Yonaka Modern Japanese  -  They are a modern tapas style restaurant, consisting of traditional Japanese ingredients fused with international flavors and inspirations. Most of their seafood is flown in from Japan. Everything we've ever had here has been amazing! I highly recommend the Omakase Tasting Course because you get to try lots of different dishes from their menu, from seasonal sushi to hot dishes and dessert.  The crispy brussels sprouts are not to be missed!

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Carson Kitchen - Located inside the re-purposed downtown mid-century John E. Carson Motel, this is a great place to enjoy some delicious American comfort food with a creative twist.  The space is small, but modern and quaint.  The bacon jam and bourbon fudge brownie are bomb!

 

Bachi Burger - They are everything you'd want and expect from a good burger, but with an Asian twist.  The portions are huge so come hungry and don't miss the oxtail chili cheese fries! Yumm

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Makers and Finders - This is a Latin cafe in the Arts District of Downtown.  They offer an extensive coffee bar and handcrafted cocktails and the food is modern spin from South/Central America foods including handmade arepas and empanadas.  The arepas benny for brunch is my favorite, with either a lavender infused latte with almond milk or a hibiscus mimosa ;) 

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There are so many other great culinary spots in this town, I had a hard time narrowing it down.  I may have to share some more faves in another post!  You'll have to try one or all of these local favorites next time you visit Las Vegas! Have you visited any of these restaurants yet? What's your favorite off the strip Vegas spot? 

 

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!!!