Up until very recently, my idea of a “race for fun” included winning, setting a PR or a combination of the two. I truly enjoy competing with myself and putting everything out there when it comes to racing. However, I decided that since Las Vegas is no place for seriousness, and the RnR Las Vegas Half Marathon was at the very end of a very long racing cycle, I would attempt to race it just for fun.
Don’t I look like I’m having fun?
I decided I wanted to run this race after seeing posts from Sue and Natalie last year. I’m pretty sure I signed up in February or March, as soon as registration opened. My plan was to run with both of those ladies and I had some local friends who were also interested.
I knew the location was a slam dunk for my husband since he travels to Vegas twice a year — once for “work” and usually once with me and some other family and friends. He immediately agreed to my race plan.
Fast forward to about September of this year and every single running friend dropped out. They all had excellent, unavoidable reasons but, I was left feeling like this would not be the race experience I hoped it would be.
Arrival in Las Vegas
Arriving in Las Vegas is to enter an adult Disneyland. The world of hotels, hospitality, endless food, people and nightlife springs up from out of nowhere as you fly west over the desert into an alternate reality. We flew in on Thursday afternoon and the race was on Sunday at 4:30pm.
If you have never been to Las Vegas, one of the first things you should know is you need to walk a ton! Everything is very spread out and I averaged about 20K steps per day. Not exactly what you want to do in the days leading up to a half marathon.
There was also some dancing in heels…
I shrugged off my coach’s note on Saturday that read “day off your feet” because, seriously, and went on my merry way of eating, drinking, dancing, shopping and being endlessly entertained. I definitely did not want to sacrifice a good time in Vegas for my “fun” race.
As noted before, there was a lot of walking involved the morning of the race and getting to the pre-race venue. It was also brutally hot. In fact, we spent a day at the pool on Friday. In mid-November. This is fantastic for vacation but not so much for running. I was slightly worried about the temperatures but also comforted that the race was at night and not having the sun beating down would be a huge factor.
After finally arriving at the pre-race venue I was feeling out of sorts. I have never run a race that started after 11am, I had a belly full of food and was listening to Snoop Dogg. It was like an alternate universe and definitely not the typical way I spend my time leading up to a race. But, when in Vegas…
I honestly had no clue what to expect in terms of my finish time. In my mind it would be somewhere around 1:35. I had finished the ridiculously hilly Leaf Peeper Half Marathon in Waterbury, Vermont just 5 weeks prior in 1:39 and the Las Vegas route was flat. This seemed very logical to me.
The start of the race was amazing. We ran out toward the airport (away from the main part of the strip) for about three quarters of a mile before looping back around. Once you hit the turnaround point, the view of the strip is stunning. I just kept thinking “I cannot believe I get to do this!” and simply ran by feel.
The weather was not a factor at all. There was a gentle breeze, with temps about 60, and the tank I was willing to ditch, I kept on for the entirety of the race.
After passing though mile 5 or 6 things started to slow down in the way of scenery and my stomach started to act up. I expected this since I had already eaten breakfast and lunch so I slowed a bit and took Gatorade at the next three stations. I also opened a Clif vanilla shot and took little “sips” for the next several miles, which calmed everything right down.
There were really no dark miles but a few darker streets where huge commercial lights had been set up, and a Toyota cheering section complete with a high-fiving Elvis. I was pushing my pace at an effort that felt comfortably hard and figured I was running about a 7:00-7:15 pace.
I’m terrible at math and, there were clocks at several of the mile markers but I wasn’t really putting it together, until I got to mile 10 and my time was something like 1:15. Wait…what?
I tried to push any thought of a finishing time out of my head and just keep running because I was actually feeling really good. I definitely did not have a “pep” to my step, which I had been struggling with leading up to the race, but I let that go too.
By mile 11 I knew I was definitely not in 1:35 range and I was coming down the final stretch when the clock read 1:39 and change. I did my best not to feel deflated but I was definitely, ever so slightly, disappointed.
Despite the clock, I finished with a huge grin and my fairly new watch greeted me with “A New Record! Fastest half marathon 1:37:57” to which I was utterly confused. I knew I had only been maybe one minute off the start clock so what was with the discrepancy in times? Again, I let it go because this was my fun race and I definitely had tons of fun!
The next day, I decided to look up my results, you know “just for fun” and this is what I saw:
My first reaction was “OMG I was running THAT slow?” but I immediately checked myself and remembered this was all about fun. And, coming in 8th in my division was pretty cool and 62 out of 13,755 women is fun indeed.
This is what I learned:
- I can, in fact, race for fun.
- Walking a ton, eating and drinking with reckless abandon and lack of sleep leading up to a race has an impact on performance. < — I knew this but to actually prove it to myself was interesting
- I would love to do this all over again next year!
[Tweet “Can a super competitive #athlete #race for fun? Find out! @runrockandroll #LasVegas”]
Can you race or do other competitive things for fun?
What is the last thing you did just for fun?
When you announced you were doing Vegas earlier this year, my first thought was, REALLY?!!? I know how competitive you are and like you said, race for fun means winning. I’m so glad you let that go (or at least a little of it!) and had fun for the whole entire weekend. This was kind of like you victory lap for having a great year, right? Like I said on Wednesday, you might have convinced me to join you next year. Maybe it should be the site of the next Rise.Run.Retreat?!?!
Run for fun means winning is my new favorite quote.
YES! My work here is done… #dropthemic
At least I just wrote “vegans” instead of “Vegas.” #bloggerlife
I know so many people who go into these HUGE RnR races planning on PRs, and unless it is there first race (and thus, PR), I usually tell them that they are going to be running for fun. Most of my races other than a select few are runs for fun, and I usually try to head into them like that, even if I have bigger designs. Otherwise, I just put too much pressure on myself.
Running for fun and still running that fast? It must have felt great to be one of the early finishers! I’ve got that Florida half in 2 weeks and I have no expectations for my finish time–the Florida heat and humidity always puts a damper on that–so I’ve decided just to go in and have fun!
I knew you had it in you to race for fun 😉 I love a nice good race and I NEED to find myself in vegas somehow in 2017! I don’t drink or anything but I have no doubt that it will be super fun for me too 🙂
I have to admit, even though Vegas actively terrifies me, the pictures look really cool. I ALMOST want to run this now. I’m glad you had fun, but we know you’ll REALLY have fun when you’re accepting mimosas from spectators on the course. Pro tip.
Ha ha! I love your very first couple of sentences about winning and PR-ing as fun. TOTALLY THE SAME. I don’t even bother racing unless I know there’s a possibility of doing one of those two things. I can be a bit…. intense. 😉 This race looks dope, though. I love the afternoon start time, although yeah, tummy issues could get tricky!
Oh I knew we would be on the same page when it comes to running for “fun!”
Wowzers! That is super speedy fast! Congratulations!
A day in Vegas and running it sound amazing!! There is so much to do and see in Vegas it is almost impossible to stay still! But that pool looks pretty sweet!
I have to run at least have of the races for fun, I’m not very fast and if I try for PR every time, I would end up hating it. It’s all about the balance, right?
I can competitively eat enchiladas for fun! even if it hurts later, I’m willing to make the sacrifice.
Thank you and YES, it definitely needs to be about balance, otherwise you can end up burned out.
I love the idea of competitively eating enchiladas…and only the idea of it 🙂
I mean, would you rather have finished in 1:35, but spent the days leading up to it laying in your hotel room having no fun while your husband and family were out there eating and drinking and dancing…. obviously not…. I had actually decided that I was not going to do any more halfs unless I thought I could beat my PR of 2:03, but now I just signed up for one in January even though I’m pretty sure I won’t beat my time…. I’ve had to remind myself lately that I actually really enjoy a half, and avoiding doing them just because I don’t think I’ll beat my time is just stupid… #nomorestupid
Absolutely, 100% NO, which is why I basically said “to hell with it!”
So glad you signed up and rethought having to beat your PR. It truly makes zero sense!! #nomorestupid
you’re such a rock n roll badass!!! oh i swear, if that were me my time would be double. oh wait, that is me. bwahhahahaha. well maybe not double but when i race for fun it’s just a bit…… more relaxed. i guess that means i’m have more fun, right?!!! sure!
i love this attitude and there is such great information we can learn when we relax. like how much wiggle room do we actually have? how much fun can we have? for me i can have fun and still enjoy a race, in fact much more because i didn’t go into crazy ADHD manic mode the 3 days leading up. life is meant to lived and enjoyed, i am constantly reminding myself of this and smelling all the daisies. even if they’re covered in pee.
Congrats on a badass FUN race Ali!!!! you rock! n roll!
HAHAHA – yes!! I truly enjoyed the days leading up to the race and the race itself. Not sure why I have to go though all this post-race drama but, that’s just me 🙂
The last race I ran for fun I ran with Dani and co. It was fun but make no mistake when they weren’t taking selfies they were hauling ass! I have run other races for fun but like you I look at the results and have to keep myself from getting pissy!
Oh I have seen Dani and co in action so I totally get it!! It’s the “pissy” part that is a pain but then you just have to look at all the selfies and remember the fun 🙂
I nodded in agreement with your first paragraph. I’ve dropped out of races when I realized that racing them wasn’t realistic or smart – because when I cross that finish line, something just compels me to push, push, push. The fun is in running hard and giving everything I have! I think the only exception is when there’s running friends or if I was to run a race with my husband.
But with a race like Vegas where you’re in a place with amazing food and drink, running for fun sounds better than not enjoying all the Vegas has to offer! Racing that late must have been weird also! And you still crushed it.
I know you totally understand and, when I first signed up for the race I was doing it with friends and made peace with running “slower” but then when I found myself alone at the start line…things went a little nutty 🙂
Thanks so much Laura. You always find a way to make me feel less crazy!
I’ve done a few races for fun and honestly I do enjoy racing more. That being said, every run or race does have it’s place.
I think “fun” races are healthy. I mean… it’s life, not heaven You don’t always have to be perfect!
LOL – yes! Perfectly said…
Leaf Peeper was totally for fun and probably the first race I have done for “fun” in like – forever? I seriously don’t know the last time I raced for fun. Usually, I will just run with friends if I want to have fun. When I enter a race – it’s a race. I grew up running and we never talked about racing for fun…
That said – Vegas is definitely the place for fun and I really love how you approached it. You ran a great race and still had a good time. BTW, you had MUCH better weather than we did last year. It was cold, windy and a rainy during the race. The wind was so bad at times, I thought my contacts were going to pop out of my eyes!!
I can’t wait to take Vegas by storm with you next year!!! xoxox
I totally forgot you guys had such awful weather! Obviously that makes a HUGE difference.
I’m sure the weather will be just perfect for us next year 🙂