Category Archives: RnRLV

Waking Up in Vegas

After the marathon, we spent a few days hanging around in Las Vegas with friends.

[photo from Colleen]

Sunday night we tried to stay on our feet to help in recovery. We didn’t want to go back to the Strip after going back to our hotel and showering, but luckily there was a little bar across the street. We were basically the only ones there. Ordered up some chicken wings, and played a few games of shuffleboard. 

Monday we walked the Strip, and went to Serendipity for lunch. Then we walked some more and finally found a sports bar in the NY, NY casino to watch Monday Night Football. Afterward we went to Wolfgang Puck at MGM for dinner. The food was SO delicious! I have been there 3 different times, and loved their food every time.

Tuesday we decided we had spent enough time on the Strip, so instead we rented a car for the day and visited the Hoover Dam! On our way there we stopped for lunch at In-N-Out. This is a West Coast  must for those who haven’t tried it.

 [photo from Colleen]

The Hoover Dam is pretty incredible. It is quite the feat of engineering, and incredible to see. I would highly recommend visiting if you are in the area. The drive from Las Vegas is only about 40 minutes. There are two different tour options — I recommend the more expensive one ($30) because you get to walk through more of the dam, and really see of how it was constructed.

 not the greatest panoramic, but still looks pretty cool.

Overall, it was a great trip to Las Vegas! It can be so fun to travel for a race because you get to see more of the area. Already trying to figure out where the next destination race should be! Let me know if you have any good suggestions.

Rock n Roll Las Vegas Marathon (My First Marathon): Part 2

See RnRLV Recap Part 1 here.

There were 8 corrals in the full marathon. I wasn’t really sure if I should line up in the 7th or 8th. I had signed up for the 7th (way back in April!), but I was a little nervous whether the other runners would be too fast for me. When I got into the corral though, the 4:25 pacer was there, so I wasn’t worried anymore. She said she was going to run a 9:55 min/mile to account for bathroom breaks or water stops. Sounded perfect!

The race started right on time at 3pm. The weather was great — around 70 degrees and sunny. Except for the wind!! The wind advisory said 25mph sustained winds and gusts up to 45! I tried not to let that make me too nervous…so, when our corral was finally released, I was just SO excited! This was finally happening!! Here. We. Go!

 [photo from Rock’n Roll LV Facebook page]

We started by heading away from the main part of the Strip for a mile before turning around and heading back down the entire Strip for 7 more miles. This part of the run was amazing. There were so many people out along the road, the wind was at our backs, it was the first few miles and everything was going great. There was so much to look at with all the big casinos! I tried not to start out too fast and really wanted to keep this part easy so I didn’t burn out later. I ended up running the first 10k in 1:02.

At mile 9, we headed away from the Strip and the wind started to pick up. Sometimes it felt like no matter which direction we were going in, the wind was against you. My legs were already feeling heavy by mile 10, which I got a little nervous about, but I tried to keep my mind focused on just a few miles at a time instead of that I still had 16 miles to go. I past the halfway point in 2:13.50.

One of the most difficult parts was miles 13.5-16, which was a long stretch into the wind. It really took a lot out of me. It was an out and back, so I did my best to push the pace again until mile 20. These miles were also tough because it was super dark by that point and there weren’t too many people out since it was kind of an empty/commercial area.

The last 6-7 miles were all against the wind, and seriously so tough! My legs were tired from running so many miles already, and pushing it against the strong winds. At this point, it seemed like everyone around me was walking. I only let myself walk the water stations, and then kept pushing as hard as I could once I past by them.

Along the run I ate a power bar, and a few ShotBloks. I had water at every water station. I also decided to take some salt with water near two different stations to make sure I didn’t cramp or maybe help the fatigue. Not sure if it did anything, but I didn’t have any issues either. I passed mile 23 with 30 minutes to finish under 4:30. I knew I wouldn’t quite make it but I decided to push it as hard as I could to see how close I could get.

The final 2 miles were back on the Strip, and it was great to have the crowd support again! One of my favorite spots on the route was running through the Freemont Street Mall area. SO many people, good bands, bright lights…just an all around fun atmosphere!

The last couple miles were alongside the half marathoners. The marathoners had just a small lane since there weren’t as many of us. With so many walkers at this point in the race, I had some trouble sometimes getting past people, but I did my best to keep pushing it all the way to the end.

I finished in 4:32:01 with an average pace of 10:23/mile. 

I was hoping to finish a little faster than this based on my training, but I think the wind took some  energy out of me. I also think for me, doing a night race was difficult. I found it harder to stay focused in the dark (especially since I don’t listen to music). Walking so much the day before probably also didn’t really help — something to consider for my next race. But overall, I am SOO excited and proud of myself for finishing my first marathon! I think I kept a fairly consistent pace throughout and had so much fun! I was smiling almost the whole time even when I was in pain.

Thanks to everyone for your support. It is so incredible to finally cross that finish line and call myself a marathoner. It was less than two years ago when I decided to train for my first half marathon. I was so worried about how my knees would hold up, or if I would really be able to do it. I truly never thought I would one day run a full marathon! I think there will be another marathon in my future. And I’m already looking forward to it.

Rock n Roll Las Vegas Marathon (My First Marathon): Part I

I’m still a little bit amazed that my first marathon is actually finished. After putting in months of training, the day has finally passed…and I made it to the finish line!

Let me start from the beginning…

We arrived in Las Vegas late Friday night, and just went to our hotel to meet up with the friends we were staying with. We ended up staying up pretty late just talking / catching up — they live in CT, so we don’t see them very often!

On Saturday, we headed to the expo. It was held in the Convention Center near the Venetian. I was hoping we wouldn’t have to walk too much, but it is hard to get anywhere on the Strip in Vegas without walking, or paying a ton for a cab.

The expo was gigantic! The check-in process went really smoothly, and we didn’t have any issues getting our bibs or t-shirts. Afterward we wandered around to check out some of the vendors since we had never been to an expo like that before. We didn’t buy anything, but it was cool to see what was out there.

For the rest of the day, we wandered the Strip (a few friends had never been there before, so it was fun to see their reaction to all the huge casinos and lights). We got tickets to David Copperfield’s show, so we slowly made our way down to the MGM. On the way we checked out the street performers, ate an early dinner at Toby Keith’s I love This Bar, and bought a bunch of treats at the M&M store! We ended up walking way more than I wanted to (probably almost 6 miles on the day), but at least it was spread out over the day.

After the David Copperfield show (which was pretty cool by the way…better than I expected), we cabbed back to our hotel and all shared a small pizza as a late night snack. We decided to go to bed a little later than we usually would for a morning race since this run didn’t start until 3pm.

Sunday morning was spent lounging in our room. We slept in until about 10, then stretched and ate before getting ready. We decided to cab to the start of the race since our hotel’s shuttle put us about 3 miles from the starting line. We got there super early, so we found a spot inside to hide from the crazy winds until closer to race time.

About 2 o’clock, we headed to the start area to check our bags and get into our corrals. Before I knew it, the race was about to start!

Overall I felt surprisingly calm all day. Earlier in the week I figured I was going to be nervous all day about the run, but I really wasn’t to bad. I believed I would be able to make it, and tried to stay confident. The thing that made me the most worried was the wind. It had been beautiful on Saturday, so I hadn’t expected the wind — and I know how hard a windy run can be!

Stay tuned for more about the race!

I’m a marathoner!

I finished my first marathon yesterday! I am so excited to say that. 🙂

I’ll have to wait to give you all the details because I am staying in Las Vegas for a couple more days and don’t have access to my computer, and I haven’t mastered this phone posting thing yet.

But I wanted to let you know I made it and live to tell the tale. And even though I am so sore today, I am considering when should be my next race!

Thanks for all your support! Will tell you all about it soon — hopefully Wednesday!!

Three Things Thursday: Pre-Marathon

1. Tomorrow we leave for Las Vegas so my husband and I can each run our own first marathon! I have so many emotions right now…excited, nervous, excited, scared, happy… and excited! I know I’m starting to feel a little antsy with tapering and nervousness because I have been dreaming about the marathon and probably accidentally kicking my husband in the middle of the night with my “sleep running”. But I am seriously so freaking excited! I know I will make it to that finish line, even if it isn’t as fast as I hope. Like I wrote the other day about tapering…I need to trust in my training, and keep my mind strong in these final days.

2. The weather for Sunday looks nice. High temp of 70 degrees. Since we start at 3pm, it will be warm at the start, but should get to be a nice temperature before I get halfway through. I don’t think it will be much cooler than 60 degrees by the time I’m finished, so it will be perfect for running. Probably the thing I’m most nervous about is eating during the day, since I didn’t really do much night training. I’ll try to post as soon as I can after the race to let you all know how it goes!

3. Some fun stuff that’s not running…last night I saw the Trans Siberian Orchestra. They have put together a new show, and it was awesome! Cute story. Awesome rock show and lights. So much fun!


How to Marathon Taper

Wow. I can’t believe it is less than 6 days from the Rock & Roll Las Vegas Marathon! The time has really flown by the last couple weeks!

The race is definitely starting to feel real. I have printed out my confirmation codes, and have planned rides to the airport. And I’m getting SO excited…and a little nervous too.

Tapering hasn’t been too bad so far, but I’m starting to get antsy this week. I am ready for a long run! Luckily since I was away over the weekend, it was easy to have things to do instead of running.

I realized not everyone may have done a taper before, so I thought I’d give a little explanation of the how’s and why’s of tapering.

Why Taper?
Basically, the point of a taper before a race is to let your muscles fully recover. Additionally, you can top off your glycogen stores, and reduce your chances of injury during the race. Swimmers who completed a taper before a race improved their performance by 3%, and increased their arm strength and power by 17.7% and 24.6%. In a marathon, this 3% difference could work out to a decrease in time of 5 to 10 minutes!!

I have also read that the key to a good taper is to reduce mileage, but keep the same intensity (pace). One study showed that keeping high intensity but lowering volume resulted in a running time to fatigue increased by 22%. In addition, although you might feel a little lazy with all your resting, you won’t lose any aerobic capacity!

How to Taper?
For a half marathon, I usually do a shorter run the week before my race, and the week of my race I take things easier (slow my pace a bit). I also try not to run (or only do an easy 2ish miles as a shakeout run) the day before the race.

For a marathon, the time of the taper is usually extended a little longer. I have reduced my mileage for the last two weekends. Over a period of three weeks, it is suggested to cut down to 75-80% of my peak training in week 1, then 50-60% in week 2, and to about 30% in week 3 (the week of the race).

Runs in the final week should be less than 4 miles. It is important to keep any runs the week of the race short and slow (1.5-2 mins/mile slower than marathon pace), even though your muscles feel well rested and will likely want to go faster.  Additionally, you should not increase workouts in other areas like cross training or weightlifting — again to provide lots of rest time and not tire yourself out. Try to stay off your feet and rest as much as possible.

Throughout the tapering process you should especially be focusing on eating well, staying hydrated, and getting to bed early! This is most critical in the final week.

Every person deals with the taper a bit differently, or may need a different amount of time (we are all different, right?). For my first marathon, I’m following the general guidelines, and if I think this is too long for me, I could adjust how long my taper lasts if I do another marathon.

More Info
Here are some links that can provide more details about tapering:
Pete Pfitzinger
Brian Mac
Runner’s World
Training Science

Mind Games
I think it is also important to focus on the mental picture during the last few weeks. Remind yourself that you are physically capable and trust in your training. I like to picture myself having a great race, or pushing through the tough parts of the race to get myself ready.

Anyone have other tips for tapering?

November Goals

This week has been pretty light in terms of workouts. Since I was away last week, I have to make up some time in my TA position, so that meant an extra day of working late. Add on Halloween, where the kids start coming around for candy at 6pm (our usual gym time), and we’re down pretty low in the exercise front.

Luckily it is a step back week, and my body felt pretty tired after last weekend’s long run, so I’m trying to fit in a lot of stretching in the time I do have.

For October, I was able to meet most of my monthly goals. I am super proud of myself for actually doing 2 runs at 20+ miles. It makes me feel so much more ready for the Rock & Roll Las Vegas marathon. We are now one month away! Crazy! I am really starting to get excited, and more confident. I now am feeling like I could complete the distance, but I’m still unsure of how long it will take me.

October Goals
Really enjoy the Nike Women’s Half Marathon experience. Try carrying a camera to take photos! Had a ton of fun with this race, but couldn’t figure out the camera thing. Thankfully Ry was around to take photos! See more here.
Get in a 20-miler by the end of the month Actually did 2 runs at 20+ miles! Here & Here.
Go on an trip with Ryan to Napa I knew this would be happening, and it was awesome. Such a great weekend!
Put a focus on networking on your Dallas trip. Get business cards! Bring your resume! I went. I saw. I conquered.
Do yoga once a week. Make it a priority in your schedule with new school year starting. The yoga was definitely more difficult to fit in this month, but I think I did do it — even on the travel week.

November Goals
Run a strong, evenly paced 20 miler

Eat healthy through Thanksgiving in prep for marathon
Make a good salad at least once a week for lunch (I’ve been lazy and need to gt back on track with this)
Keep up with the yoga — it has been helping stay balanced!
Enjoy your fun upcoming events with friends.

Tough Twenty-Two

After getting home late last night, I set my alarm for an early wakeup to get on the trail. I usually don’t mind the Saturday morning early run time, but after being away for most of the week, and not getting as much sleep as usual, I thought about sleeping in and saving the run for Sunday instead.

But… I decided I’d be able to enjoy the weekend more if I just got the run done and could relax the rest of the day. Ryan’s also away for a guys trip so I can lounge and watch chick flicks tonight.

I made it out to the trail by 8am (yeah, yeah — probably a little late, but the snooze button got me today… told you I was tired!), and got going right away. Right from the start I felt a little sluggish, but figured it was because of the lack of sleep and travel.

Usually when I run the American River Parkway trail, I sick with doing one out and back. Today I tried the route Ryan took last week — 4 miles one way and back, then 7 miles the other direction and back. I think, for me, this made the run more mentally tiring with thinking about when to turn around and passing by the finish point with 14 miles left to go!

from Tumblr

At mile 18, I was really starting to hurt — and by mile 20 I was seriously ready to be done running. It took all my willpower to keep going and I slowed way down. But… I finished! Longest training run for the R&R Las Vegas Marathon is officially in the books! Pace was overall quite a bit slower than last week’s run, but I’m just proud of myself for covering that distance.

Distance: 22 miles
Time: 3:58 (phew! so much time running!)
Average Pace: 10:52/mi

One good thing though — I didn’t get any chafing today around my sports bra! I tried moving my heart rate monitor strap down just a bit, moved to the next set of clasps on the chest band, and used a bunch of Body Glide. Lots of changes at once — but at least it seemed to work!

Only one more 20-mile run before the marathon. In two weeks I will be running the Clarksburg Country run historic 20 mile race (which has been going on since 1966!). My goal will be to try to maintain a good solid race pace to feel totally ready for Vegas.

Now that I have done lots of stretching, rested on the couch and watched the Project Runway Season Finale, and went for a walk with Raechel, I am feeling good! Love that the body can recover pretty quickly!

A Long Twenty Miles

This morning I officially accomplished the 20-mile marathon training run. Although it felt a little rough, I am so so proud of myself for finishing it.

I originally planned to go for 19 miles, but Ryan was struggling on his 22-mile run, so I circled back near the end to find him and help him make it to the finish.

I finished in 3:25 for an average pace of 10:17/mile. This is seriously exciting for me for a few reasons: 1) that I officially finished a 20-mile run. It really makes the marathon feel attainable to see that 2 in the beginning of the distance, and 2) This was a great pace for me for a long run. I even ended up with a negative split, and held a 10:05 pace for about 5 miles.

Ryan and I went out to the American River Parkway trail, and got going at about 7:30am. It was a perfect morning for running — nice and cool with a slight breeze. But, I knew right away that it was going to be a little bit of a tough run for me because my hamstrings were super tight, right from the start. I think it is probably from a tough yoga session on Thursday night.

I didn’t really try to push my pace at all, and really my goal was just to keep moving and finish the run. Maybe running those half marathons the last couple weekends helped me pick up the pace!

Even when the run feels difficult, I really try to focus on breathing, and thinking positively. I attribute this mental attitude to yoga. Janna, my yoga teacher, always says a few things that I think about on my runs:

“Where does your mind go when things get hard?”

“Who are you feeding, the Ego, or the Soul?”

Thinking about these quotes helps focus on not feeding your fears or seek external validation or wanting to quit (Ego), but try to be happy, loving, and positive (Soul). A bit more on Ego vs. Soul can be found here: from I also like to tell myself that I am looking great, and beautiful! Enjoy the moment I am in, and know that it is making me stronger every step. Helps with the positive thinking and attitude. 

photo credit:

By the time I found Ryan, we were both seriously ready to be done running! We finished up with some stretching and got a sandwich for lunch. We’ve both been hungry all day, but we are lounging and resting our tired legs. Tonight we’re going to laying low and and watching The League, and doing some foam rolling/stretching.