November 14, 2017

Las Vegas Rock n Roll Half 2017 Recap

Let me begin by saying how sorry I am to have stopped blogging last year.  Not because I believe you enjoy reading these, but because I miss the journaling aspect of my journey.  Heck, I never even shared by NYC marathon recap post, because...well I forgot to do one until a couple months ago.

The reality is...I fell off the wagon.  We've all been there, and my roller coaster love/hate relationship with my weight and fitness level continues.  We'll come back to this in a future post...

That being said, I am not at the top of my game.  Not even close, but it is what it is and I am excited to share the journey with you, so thanks for following along!

The Vegas RnR race marks my 22nd half marathon!  And my 3rd time to run the #stripatnight.  Let me also say how THANKFUL I am that the event organizers didn't cancel this event following recent events.

I was last here for the 2015 race and prior to that fell in love with this race when I first ran here in 2012.  This was the event where I met the folks from Team Chocolate Milk and earned my spot on the team (with help from many of you)!

Now for the new stuff....

Flew out of Indy on Thursday and was in Vegas before dinner. Jet lag and time change had me in bed by 9pm local time.

On Friday morning I went for a jog to shake the legs out and ventured South toward Mandalay Bay.  It was surreal to run by the festival grounds in the wake of the October 1st shootings.  Everything is gated off and police are still stationed in their vehicles at each gate entrance as if protecting a crime scene (6 weeks later).  All the festival signage is still up and visible.

I took the monorail to the convention center for the expo on Friday arriving just as it opened.  The normal stuff for the most part, but the rush was on to snag one of these #VegasStrong shirts for $20 with the proceeds going to the victims fund. Signed the memorial wall, picked up my VIP credentials and bought a new pair of CEP Nighttech sleeves.  

After logging over 25,000 steps on Friday, I spent a good amount of time relaxing by the pool and trying to stay off my feet on Saturday.

I love the Paris pool, and it didn't hurt that it was 80 degrees!

Friday night I enjoyed the magic of Mat Franco and Saturday night scored free tickets to see Celine Dion at the Caesars Colosseum.  Also got to see my old college classmate, Eric Tewalt, who plays sax for Celine!  She was undeniably flawless and I was shocked how much I enjoyed the show!

On Sunday morning I had the great pleasure of meeting up with my chocolate milk teammates, including 3x Ironman  World Champion, Mirinda "Rinny" Carfrae.  She was in town for some meet and greets as well as to run her first race (5k) since becoming a mother just a couple months ago.   Sat right beside her for over an hour just talking about everything from running to parenting. I am so lucky to be part of this amazing team!

Finally got to meet one of my favorite teammates, Dani, you should check her out at

 Left the hotel room around 2 and made my way to the start area.  The strip was already closed in both directions which is a very rare occasion.  The start line had been moved away from the festival grounds where it had been in previous years.   The new start line was in front of New York New York.  And this made for a very congested start area.  Police presence was extremely heavy.  On the ground, in the air, guns, binoculars, K9s, etc.  It was really pretty awesome!

The VIP area was inside the T-mobile arena and we were invited to the outdoor rooftop area overlooking the village where everyone had to pass through to get to the gear check.  A nice spread of food and drink that only non-racers could really take full advantage of.  I opted for a a small piece of chicken and some dry rice.  Water and a couple sips of diet coke and I’m ready to check the gear bag by 3:45.

Three corral colors: Blue, Green and Yellow.  Blue went off at 4:30 and I was in the Green which started at 5:00.  Found my friend Bryan in the corral near the 2:30 pacer so I jumped in with him.  We sat on the ground for a good 30 minutes before we stood and were slowly herded toward the start for the next 30 minutes.  Was nice to have someone to talk with during this time.

3, 2, 1, and GO!  The goal was to hang with the 2:30 pacer all night.  I was on his hip from the gun and it was a slow and easy pace trying not to get stepped on or elbowed in the mass of humanity trying to find their early pace.  First mile was a little slow, but no one panicked.  I could tell he was trying to pick it up during mile 2 and I was on him every step. 

I really appreciate the pacers and this was the first time I was with one for so long.  He told stories about the area.  He would sing “If you’re happy and you know it” just to make us clap.  He would talk just enough to keep you engaged, but not to a point where you had to respond.  And while it could have gotten annoying very quickly, it never did.  My favorite mental game was that he would ask everyone for a “lucky symbol” every mile and then everyone had to recite it each mile.  Kind of like the icebreaker game where you have to remember what everyone brought with them.  Every mile he would let someone different pick the next lucky item.   Mile 1 was a lucky rabbit foot.  Mile 2 was a 4 leaf clover.  Mile 3 was a horseshoe.  And so on…

The old course route only went South for one mile and then turned around for mile 2.  With the new course being backed up the strip further, we ran two miles South before turning around running North for 2 miles.  This area is very dark just to the West of the airport, but they light it up well, especially near the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign.  The idea was publicized that this area was to be used as a moment of silence as we passed by Mandalay Bay and the festival grounds.  At the mile 2 turn around, instead of having a rock n roll band, they had a string quartet playing in front of a "Vegas Strong" banner!  It was perfect! 

Mile 3 and 4 felt really strong for me.  The pacer would slow down in the water aid stations and I was still maintaining pace in the low 11s.  I hit the 5k mat at a perfect 11:25 pace and felt inspired to look up at Mandalay Bay and to the festival grounds where they had relocated the Vegas Strong wall that we all signed at the expo.  I couldn’t understand why they had us signing in neon colors until we ran by it lit up with a black light shining brightly on it to illuminate the messages.  Again, it was perfect!

Coming into the heart of the strip, the crowds are thick and this is just FUN!  Friends, family, drunks, etc., are shoulder to shoulder and 2-3 deep and hanging off the pedestrian bridges all the way from Tropicana Blvd to North of Harrah's.  Mile 5 and 6 were  still right on point and I was actually getting pretty warm.  But mile 6.5 brought something  new on.  The last thing I heard the pacer say was, “We’re halfway done!”  and suddenly it felt like his pace increased, but in reality mine was dropping.  I was right at an hour-fifteen in and knew that 2:30 goal was running away from me down Las Vegas Blvd.

I checked the watch and knew something wasn’t right.  The legs were starting to feel heavy.  There was a timing mat at mile 7 and I was behind at an 11:30 pace; I knew it was time for a new strategy.  If I wanted to get in under 2:40 I was going to need a healthy dose of discipline.  I went to a 3/1 minute run/walk.  I had practiced this well in training and found that the 1 minute rest allowed my legs just enough rest to go a little faster during the 3 minute run.  This seemed to work pretty well for another mile or so, but not good enough.

The problem became that every time I wanted to run, I couldn’t maintain the pace for more than about 30 seconds before my gut started turning and knotting up in a way that felt like something might soon be coming up.  I flipped it to a 1/3 run/walk somewhere around mile 8.5 and hated every second of the walk, but felt like I needed to try and let my stomach settle.

I hit the mile 10 marker just a few seconds over 2 hours.  I knew that had averaged out to a 12 min/mile pace and that with a 5k to go I could walk in at 15 min/mile pace and still hit 2:45.  Little did I know that was what would happen!

Mile 10 hits right at the heart of downtown near Fremont Street which has improved significantly.  And if there’s any area that is better for the new start line, it’s downtown.  Where we used to have to bump out several blocks into neighborhoods, now we literally just ran one city block square and head straight back south on the blvd.

There’s just not a whole lot else to tell you for the last 5k.  It was miserable.  I walked with everything I had; which wasn’t much.  I could barely hold a low 14 pace for miles 11 and 12 and even with the finish line in sight and the crowds thickening, I had nothing left to bring me in any faster than what I did.   It was the worst stomach pain I’ve had in a very long time.  I could have cried.  I could have quit, but I kept doing the math and pushed for that 2:45 finish. 

With the finish line sights and sounds now visible, I tried once more to run it in and though still pretty slow, I grunted out a smile and crossed the line with arms over my head!   2:45:45

…and then I headed for the nearest trash can near the fence.  It was all I could do to hold it down.  If I wanted to vomit, it would have been no problem.  So I asked medical for advice, and they advised to not try to as I was likely dehydrated all ready and this would make it worse.  Seemed logical, so I just hung out for another minute or three until it passed enough to start waddling through the finisher zone.

Gladly claimed my medal, and a water before I caught up with Bryan who beat me by less than a minute!  Did I mention he has a titanium rod up his spine and runs with a cane!  Dude is a 96 time marathon finishing beast!  Bryan and I made our way to the chocolate milk tent and were greeted by our friends there.  They wanted pictures, so while they grabbed the camera, we took over handing out chocolate milk.  We were like a live commercial yelling out all the benefits of recovering with chocolate milk!  It’s the perfect blend of carbs and proteins to help you rebuild your muscles quickly after a hard workout.  And oh yeah…it tastes great!!

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A couple photos and thanks and we were off to the VIP gear check to claim our bags.  Then it was off to the VIP after party!  A private secure elevator in the Linq takes us up to the rooftop above the finish line.  Loud music, Bright lights, Vegas Show girls, Open bar, full buffet, and free massage!  How spoiled are we?!?

Enjoyed some final photos and greetings before I waddled back to Paris.  It was a cold walk, but that hot shower was heavenly! 

So what is the verdict?  Well the verdict is Rock n Roll Vegas is still one of my favorite races and I’m confident I’ll be back to take it on for a 4th time, especially if chocolate milk continues to bless me with these opportunities!  As for the race, #22 goes down as my 14th fastest, and I’m not disappointed.  Night races are challenging.  I probably over thought my food intake all day and probably didn’t eat enough early on.  My theory on the stomach issues is Gatorade (not a sponsor, LOL) – I consumed 32 ounces of it before 2:00 which I had NEVER done before but was trying to keep my hydration up.  I was strictly water during training and on the course , and I used NO gels on this race or training.

I always want more.  These races are what keep me going.  I’m really not disappointed.  I know who I am, and I know where I am.  And the best part is, if I want something bad enough, I can still make changes to get there. 

And you can too…If you’ve stayed with me all the way to the end of this novel, then perhaps something I’ve done has inspired you to do something just a little beyond your comfort zone.  Maybe we can tackle the next one together?  I’ve got an idea…it’s a small one…in fact it’s a “mini” one.  More about that soon…

September 24, 2017

Hey! Didn't I run the 2016 NYC Marathon?!?

Hi.  My name is Chris.

You may remember me from such races as the Boston Marathon, the Indy Mini or even Ironman Louisville, but for some reason...I STOPPED blogging about my journey!


I have a great story to tell, and more importantly, this serves as a journal of my experiences so that when I wake up in my 80s and can't remember my name, I can read all about this guy that looks alot like me!  Will we still have the internet when I'm 80?

So my last post was in May 2016 after I completed the Indy Mini.  That was a really good day.

I spent the rest of the summer preparing for the NYC marathon...YES, THE NYC MARATHON!  (Why did I not blog about this?)  So I'm blogging now so that others who enjoy reading recaps might come across this and enjoy the insight!

In late September I ran the half at the Mill Race in Columbus, IN.  My 21st half marathon went down in just under 2:30 on a fairly flat course.  It was a perfect set up for NYC.

The NYC Marathon!!

 Molly and I flew to NYC a couple days early and got a great hotel just south of Times Square.  We took in all the sights and sounds of Manhattan for a couple straight days.  Time Square, Wicked the Musical, and plenty of people watching.

The expo was at the convention center which was very close to our hotel, so we walked over and enjoyed the experience.  Nothing was cheap, but had to have the swag, so we spent some money there!

On race morning, I walked to the NYC library where I boarded a charter bus that would transport me to the start line on Staten Island.  The other choice was to take the ferry, but the boarding area was quite a ways from the hotel.  It is quite a sight to see how they bus so many to the start line.  Lots of nervous energy in that line!

As we rolled up to the starting village, I got really excited thinking about the day ahead.

 A massive area in the shadows of the Verrazano-Narrows bridge.  Areas are separated based on your start time.  People everywhere.  Free coffee, juice, bagels, bananas.  Plenty of room to spread out and sleep, rest or be social.  Very cool experience.
I was so happy to find my chocolate milk teammate, Anthony who was pacing one of the fast groups of the day!

Once it was go time and we made our walk to the start line, I got pretty nervous thinking about the long day yet to come (It was already 11 a.m. before I started)

National Anthem on the foot of the bridge with 15,000 of my new friends!

Once the race started, I just worked hard to find my rhythm.  I remember the first mile was super slow as we climbed the bridge, and the second mile was super fast as we made our way back down.  
Running through all the boroughs was a real eye opener.  All the different neighborhoods are so unique and different.

I really ran pretty well through the first half.  Brooklyn was a great area to run through.  Tons of people and high energy.

Once I hit the bridge into Manhattan I had to walk quite a bit.  Especially up the long incline.  It was also eerily quiet on the bridge.  No spectators and very lonely while struggling.   But on the other side, I was lucky to get to see Molly and my cousin who came out to cheer me on.

Heading North all the way to Harlem the crowds are really thick!  But by mile 20 I was in survival mode!  And I'm not just talking about the man who saw me walking and ran off of his porch to the edge of the road and yelled at me, "you don't want to be walking in this neighborhood!"  Suddenly, I was able to run again!

Once I turned that corner and headed South again, I was excited to run into Central Park.  The park was a lot hillier than what I expected, but did not disappoint.  It is beautiful!  At mile 25, I even got to see Molly again who was doing a Facebook live video broadcast.  Had to perk up for the camera on the way to Columbus Circle.

Once inside the park it was getting quite dark quite fast and by the time I finished it was only the spot lights that provided any back light for my finisher photos.

5:54:51 may have been my slowest marathon, but the experience was unlike any other!

It was a long slow dark walk back to the hotel!  Even with the help of the subway

Once back to the hotel and post shower, it was ALL SMILES!!!

A month later I ran a local 5k in 33 and some change, and then took almost 6 months off!
I started an easy routine again late in the spring 2017, and am now in week 9 of a 16 week training plan getting ready for the Las Vegas RnR in November for my 22nd half marathon.

Don't worry!  I will be blogging a recap of it for sure!