Monday, June 30, 2014

Running The Strip (Crossing my #1 item off my bucket list)

GOOD MORNING LAS VEGAS!!!! The view from our room at Mandalay Bay. I don't think I have ever seen Las Vegas at 5 AM before. And I have been here. A LOT.

   Since I started running in 2012, I have started making a bucket list of places I would love to run. Some of the runs on my bucket list are races (Salt Lake Half Marathon, running my first half marathon, running my first marathon), other runs are running places (by The Great Salt Lake, running to or by big city landmarks like to the Space Needle, on or by the Golden Gate Bridge, Central Park). The number one item on my list though was running the Las Vegas Strip. I love Las Vegas. I love how the city has embarrassed who it is and accepts it's own flaws. Really, the actual city of Las Vegas, minus the Strip, is just like every other city. They have ran down areas, homeless people, traffic, pollution, public transportation issues, infrastructure projects needing to be done, and bad politicians. Every city has these problems. But I have always felt that if any city can fix them, Vegas will do it. From it's very seedy past to an uncertain water future, Vegas can fix almost anything.
   I love this city so much. I knew when Josh asked me to run the Rock n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon half with him in 2012, I could think of no better race to run for my first half. It was going to be perfect. Then I got injured. And I had to back out. We still took Josh and watched him run the race, but I knew right then I would have to run the Strip. Somehow, someway. I mean, it was item number one on my bucket list!
   Time passed since that 2012 race. I ran my first half in Boise, Idaho, in 2013, which was AMAZING! I am from southern Idaho and it was fitting my first race should be in my old stomping grounds. I actually liked that race so much, I did it again this year along with finally crossing the Salt Lake Half Marathon off my list. Still, I had not had the opportunity to run the Strip. After Josh's terrible experience at the Rn'R in 2012, I knew I wouldn't want to run that race until all the kinks were worked out. Since they actually close the Strip, the race is terribly expensive and still isn't as organized as it could be. So until the race gets better, I would have to do this as a self supported run.
   My opportunity came earlier this month when Mark and I traveled to Vegas to celebrate our anniversary and take our annual family vacation. We stayed at Mandalay Bay, so I planned our route to take us to the Welcome to Vegas sign just south of Mandalay Bay, then turning around to run up the Strip to Treasure Island, then back to the Mandalay Bay. A perfect almost 7 mile run, which is the exact amount we needed in our marathon training schedule. It was meant to be.
The start-line of our Bucket List run.
   We went to Las Vegas during heat wave, daily temperatures were hitting 100+. We figured we would head out early, and were out ready to go at 5:30 AM. Most of the people who were out with us were either fellow runners (an there were a good number of them), ladies of the evening headed home, or people doing the walk of shame back to their rooms. Actually, it was a funny combination that can only happen on the Strip.
The turnaround point heading south. Even at 5:45 AM, there
are people there getting pictures. Only in Vegas.
   We headed south to the famous sign.  We had just ran a 9 miler on Saturday and my legs were still somewhat sore from doing that and driving to Vegas on the same day. My left calf must have had enough, because it started cramping and the pain was really hard to deal with. As we turned around at the sign, I started to question whether I would be able to make it the whole run or not. Really, it was totally unbearable. We stopped as stretched it several times, but it wasn't doing much to help it. Mark asked if I should just go back to the room when we made it back to Mandalay Bay, but I knew I always struggle, like most runners, the first mile or so, so I decided to run to the Excalibur sky-walk, and if I was still hurting, I would turn back there.
Getting hot half way up the Strip. But,
the scenery makes it all worth it.
   But, like I knew it would, my calf decided to loosen up, and we crossed the street  and continued south. The temperature was still in the 80's and getting hot quickly as the sun rose in the sky. by the time we got to the next sky-walk elevators by Planet Hollywood, I was sweating and needing lots of water. Of course, almost all the street elevators are not air conditioned, so stepping into them were like going into an oven. But that is the price you pay when you run pushing a stroller.
Yet another elevator ride. Two words, Vegas.
Air Conditioning.
   At this point we met up with a man that was also running north and I, in my stupidity, tried keeping up with his hopping stride pace. By Bally's he was way ahead of me. I should know better than to judge other runners and how they run. I think Mark was surprised at my attempt to run faster during this section. Mark, who never stays with me during runs, had decided to seriously slow his pace to keep with me the whole run. Who says romance is dead?
After 2 years construction, the ride
is FINALLY ready to go for the low low price
of your first born, per passenger.
   We crossed another sky-walk (with another couple of hot elevator rides) and were home free all the way to Treasure Island.   Since we had last been to Vegas, the Linq project was completed. We had to stop and take pictures by that! Then we continued to Treasure Island. From the Cromwell to Treasure Island is the longest section of the whole strip without the much hated sky-walks. Look, I get why the city is starting to invest heavily in them. It keeps traffic flowing. But the city is becoming much lest pedestrian friendly, especially for handicap pedestrians. Seriously Vegas, wake up and figure this out.
  We reached Treasure Island in 45 minutes. It was only 3.3-something miles. I blame all the elevator rides. Still, I was LOVING our run. The views were amazing. I have walked the Strip end to end many many times, but running it was even better.
We made it! Time to turn around.
  A couple of pictures later, we turned back to head south to the Mandalay Bay. It turns out, the section we had just ran was on a decline, so we were now running slightly uphill. Oh, the things you only notice while running.
   We decided to cross the street at Monte Carlo so we could avoid one sky-walk at MGM and ran by New York New York. A security guard saw Mark running just ahead of me with Addison. He stopped me and said "Is she yours?" After I confirmed that Addison was mine he grinned. "She looks JUST LIKE YOU!" How can you not smile at that?
   Another sky-walk (luckily, this one had a/c and Mark and I were leaning on all the cold spaces loving every second of the ride) and we were in the home stretch. Finally we were on Mandalay Bay grounds again and. like with every good run, I ended it with the epic jump pictures. What a way to cross this off my bucket list!


  1. Sounds like fun! Congrats on crossing something off your bucket list! ;)

  2. Thank you! It was a lot of fun. I highly recommend it, minus a jogging stroller. ;)


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