December 7, 2012

STRIP AT NIGHT

The Las Vegas Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon is dubbed STRIP AT NIGHT!  The play on words was enough to get my attention, but when my buddy Pete said he and his wife Amy were renewing their vows at DURING the race, I knew I had to be there!  Pete and Amy are two of my biggest supporters including traveling to Michigan with us this summer for the Ironman Steelhead 70.3 race, and this was just one way to give back   -  and besides, it's not like I need an excuse to go to Vegas in December!


Free flights booked with skymiles on Delta, Hotel room for 2 nights at Planet Hollywood costs as much as the race entry itself, throw in a few meals, and Molly and I figured out how to do this trip pretty cheap - and quick!  We're out of Fort Wayne on Saturday morning, connecting through Detroit and arrive in Vegas by 1.  Quick shuttle to the hotel to check in and a walk to the Mirage in the 70 degree sunshine for the mandatory wedding meeting at 3.  Pete and Amy came out Thursday night with her sister Brenda and brother in law Jesse. Grabbed a quick bite at the California Pizza Kitchen, bet on some ponies, and met up with our friend Chris Cook to walk over to the Venetian for packet pickup!  Enjoyed the expo for a good hour or more including shooting a commercial for Chocolate Milk (more on that later), and then back to the hotel to drop everything off and head out to Fremont Street for dinner.


Met up with Team Olson and took the Deuce downtown.  I knew Pete would love Fremont Street, and it did not disappoint.  First order of business - cheap buffet!  After fueling up, second order of business was entertainment, and the Queen show on the canopy was outstanding!  Molly and I also had to pose for a pic at the 4 Queens, a tradition that started the first time we came in 1996!  Next up - cheap gambling - $3 Craps and $1 Roulette, and we both won!  Late night bus ride back, and lights out by 11 pm (that's 2 a.m. where we woke up)

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Slept in Sunday morning, found some breakfast sandwiches downstairs, Molly went back to sleep, and I took a walk, pulled a few levers and bet on the Colts to win.  Lunch at PRB Rock Bar while watching the Colts game, and back to the room to get ready just in time to watch the Colts win, pocketing me an extra $36!

Walked down to the start line and met up with the YRC gang as the full marathon started at 3 pm!  Molly left us and headed to NYNY to witness the wedding ceremony while the rest of us headed to the starting corrals.  Over 32000 athletes, and the herding of the cattle was on!  Enjoyable and high energy as our wave approached the start and darkness set in on the Strip for the 4:30 start.

As exciting as it was the only disappointing part was the first 3 miles were just an easy jog as all of the couples had to arrive at NYNY together for the ceremony.  We jogged easy and stopped off for some pics at the Welcome to Vegas sign.  Then carried on to the ceremony and waited for everyone to arrive!





The ceremony was wonderful.  Pete surprised her with a new anniversary band for her ring.   Renewals first, Wedding second, 3 minutes, I do, I do, I like it, put a ring on it, kiss it, and let's go!  Confetti is flying and true love is witnessed when Amy tells Pete, you boys go on and have a good time....and that's exactly what we did!

The on course entertainment was very good.  Especially on the strip.  We stopped often for pictures in various places in crazy poses.  But the one took that cake was running INTO the Riviera casino and actually placing a bet!  Only one roulette table open at the time.  I put $5 on 13 and $10 on black - Pete put $10 on 13 and $10 on red - Pete takes my picture here and was lucky he didn't have his phone taken away.  RED 30 - Pete wins $10 and cashes in his $20 for a push, I lost!  But that was 4 minutes well spent just to tell this story!

We said all along we didn't care about our time, and continued to jog easy at around a 10:30 - 11:00 pace, stopping at least once every mile for more pics.  The course turns back south into a headwind that was 20+ mph sustained.  Not so much fun!  My feet hurt, and my legs were tired, mostly from walking around the strip on Saturday and Sunday, but we pushed on, and finished with a respectable 2:52.  Seriously - considering we stood around at the wedding for 15 plus minutes, and with all the starting and stopping, it's impressive we didn't take 4 hours to finish the thing!  


The finish line was wonderful in the lights with the music pumping and the lights flashing.  People are packed shoulder to shoulder 4, 5, 6 deep.  Thankfully since I ran with my phone, I could call Molly to locate her.  The finish area was well stocked, and quite long.  But the bling - well the bling - GLOWS IN THE DARK!  Tell me you got a medal cooler than that?  Nope!  You don't!  IT IS AWESOME!


 Molly and I returned to the hotel and enjoyed the buffet there before heading to bed.  In bed by 11, and the alarm set for 3:15 a.m.!  For some reason it didn't go off, but Molly woke up at 3:37!  Shuttle picking us up at 4 a.m., and somehow we made it!  6 a.m. flight was not my finest idea, but was ready to get home on a Monday before the kids got off the bus.  That was until we landed in Detroit to learn our flight home was cancelled.  After going round and round with Delta, we surrendered to a $250 rental car to drive to Fort Wayne.  Made it there before our standby flight even left Detroit, but we were told it was not likely we would get out of Detroit until Tuesday morning (not an option).  The remaining drive home was uneventful.

An amazing weekend trip - on the ground less than 48 hours, and we packed it all in - 4 days later, I'm still not caught up on sleep!  STRIP AT NIGHT!  AWESOME!

To see the entire photo album, click here 

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