That’s what you get for running in Vegas: A recap of the Golden Night and Day Half Marathon

Does drinking bottomless mimosas chased by a to-go beer sound like a recipe for a successful half marathon? Probably not, right? 

Unless you’re in Las Vegas, where anything goes and a morning of drinking can give way to victory at an afternoon half marathon. 

Last month, I ran the afternoon version of the Vegas Golden Night and Day half marathon and won it – despite the fact that I’d been day drinking. 

How, you may ask? Honestly, I don’t know. It was a small race. And maybe everyone else was drunk or hungover, too. 

First, let me back up. When I heard I was going to Vegas for an in-person (yay!) work conference, my sister Catherine, a Vegas enthusiast, suggested that I tack on a few extra days and she could fly out and we could make it a girls weekend. I immediately started searching for any local races I could jump into. I love running in new places, and I especially love racing in new places. I found the Vegas Golden Night and Day race, which included a 5K, a 10K, and a half marathon. (For the non-hockey fans, the name was a nod to the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team.) There was a morning race at 8 am and an afternoon race at 4 pm. Assuming we’d be out late partying the night before, I opted for the afternoon race. I chose the half marathon, as that would be my long run for the week, and Catherine said she’d run the 5K. 

Long story short, she got to Vegas later than planned after a total fiasco with American Airlines, in which she flew from Pittsburgh to Charlotte and got stuck overnight in that airport, sleeping in one of the terminals. So instead of arriving around 10 pm Friday night, she got in at 9:30 Saturday morning. Fortunately, I was able to meet up with a childhood friend who lives in the area on Friday night, so that was fun! When Catherine finally arrived, we headed to brunch in the Venetian casino. The food was bomb and the drinks were better. It only made economic sense to get the bottomless mimosas, and we are super responsible people, of course. 😉 After we finished up our meal, we took our mimosas to go, downed those and then stopped at another bar in the casino for beers. At this point, we had less than five hours to go until the race. YOLO! (We were tipsy, but not falling down drunk. Again, we’re responsible! LOL.) 

Catherine looks so excited! Keep in mind, she’d spent the night in an airport!

After playing the slots for a while, we headed back to our room at Treasure Island to get ready for the race, which was being held in Sunset Park about 20 minutes away. We took an Uber there and figured the start of the race would be easy enough to find. Uh … not the case. The Uber driver dropped us off and we wandered around for a good half hour (fortunately, I insisted on getting there 45 minutes early!) trying to find the race. And we weren’t the only ones …. We saw a few other runners who were also walking around, totally lost. There were no signs pointing the way or anything! Finally, we found the start line and picked up our bibs with just a few minutes to spare. We lined up and the race director started talking about the course and the loops we’d be running and how you had to pay attention to where you’re going because there weren’t many volunteers out there and then … “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, go!”   

Seriously, she went from giving race instructions to suddenly just sending us off. OK. Sounding like the race was a bit of a hot mess? Yes. It was. But I was just happy to be running it. I had no real expectations for how fast I’d run, especially since I’d been boozing it up, but was hoping to come in around 1:40 or slightly faster. The dry, cool weather was almost certain to work in my favor. 

I went out at a pace of around 7:30 and it felt challenging, yet sustainable. The park was pancake flat and the half marathon was something like 3.5 loops around. The race director wasn’t lying when she said you had to pay close attention – I saw like two volunteers on the course and there were signs telling you what mile you were at, but because there were multiple distances, it was pretty confusing. They did have arrows on the ground, which was what I used to guide me, but I heard a bunch of runners got lost anyway. Catherine missed a turn in her race and ran almost 4 miles. She told me afterwards that one of the 10K runners also way overshot her race and was super pissed. I would have been, too!  

Everything felt pretty good and my splits were consistent. I was wearing my Maryland flag running shorts and a few other runners called out “go Maryland!” Our flag is quite noticeable! I didn’t feel nauseous or anything, which was kind of surprising not only because of the drinks but because of the heavy breakfast I’d eaten. Again, I think the weather – low 60s, zero humidity – helped. My real beef was with the headlamp I was wearing. Race management said if you ran the afternoon half marathon, you had to wear reflective colors and a headlamp because we’d be finishing in the dark. So I wore my Noxgear light up vest and borrowed a headlamp from Catherine, who goes camping a lot. The headlamp was super uncomfortable and I wanted to throw it in the bushes by mile 10. Oh well. 

With multiple loops in the half, and few volunteers and zero spectators, the race itself got a little boring after a while. But I needed to do a long run anyway as part of Boston training, and like I said it is always fun to have a change of scenery and run in a new place. I did get to see an awesome sunset toward the end of my race, and had I not been racing, I would have surely stopped to take a #sunsetselfie. 

At around mile 11, I was holding a steady pace but knew I was ready to be done (mainly because of the damn headlamp!) I pushed through the final two miles and came in at 1:39:18. Not a PR, but sub-1:40. It took me 20 half marathons to break 1:40 and now I know I can do it after a few drinks. That’s pretty cool! The volunteer at the end told me I’d won the half (I later found out I was the first finisher, period, not just first female) and they gave me a nice water bottle as a prize, plus a finisher’s medal. Yay! 

We were supposed to get free race pics, but the would-be race photographer sent out an email after the race to all participants where he basically said “sorry, had another commitment and couldn’t figure out how to clone myself.” OK then. Like I said, the race was a bit of a hot mess. 

This was the first time I wore my Alpha Fly super shoes in a half marathon, and I’d be curious to see what kind of half marathon time I could throw down if I had taken the race more seriously. But that wasn’t my goal – I was in Vegas, after all! I just wanted to have fun and do a race in a new state and I did just that.

I fell in a half marathon, and kept on going

Sometimes you accidentally PR a half marathon

And sometimes you trip and fall and skin your knees and hands at mile 11.5 of a half marathon, and run one of your slowest times in years. 

Guess which one was the Georgetown Half Marathon? 

Yeah, that was fun. 

I did manage to come in third place, though! 

Last weekend, I ran Bishop Events’ Georgetown Half Marathon. It was a week after I ran a 1:37:58 at the Halfity Half Marathon in Harrisburg, and I wasn’t planning on beating that time, i.e., running another PR. Which was fine — all races can’t be PRs. And then I saw the forecast — humid, with a high of 91 degrees. On May 23! Yuck! When summer comes to the DMV, it comes in with a vengeance. The older I get, the less I like to run in the heat, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from coming out and giving my all at the race. It’s been so long since we’ve had a plethora of live races to choose from, and now that they are coming back, it’s taking serious restraint for me not to sign up for alllllll of them. 

The race was on the C&O Towpath in D.C., where I have run many times before, including other races with Bishop Events. It benefited Operation Turbo, a local nonprofit that sends care packages to troops overseas. As far as half marathons go, the course is about as simple as you can get — 6.55 miles out, 6.55 miles back! Easy peasy. And it’s flat as a pancake, too. The surface is a little rocky and uneven, though. More on that later. 

Things kicked off right at 8 am sharp, which was nice because I live about 45 minutes away so I didn’t have to get up THAT early….. But bad because it was already pretty hot and sticky by then. At least the course is mostly shaded, I told myself. Except that wasn’t entirely true. The first four miles were pretty shady, and then the trail opened up and the sun was beating down on me in full force. So, I guess the middle part of the race was in the blazing sun. Lovely! The race organizers did set up water stops every three miles, which was great. I drank a cup of water at each one (mind you, when I ran the Halfity Half the weekend before, with temperatures in the 50s, I didn’t take a sip of water — didn’t feel like I needed it) and also dumped a cup of water over my head. 

My mile splits were in the low- to mid-7s until about mile 9. And then it all went to hell. (Felt like it, too.) I was overheating so badly — luckily, I had opted to run in a sports bra rather than a tank or T-shirt — and I was just over it. I started to take walk breaks — no shame. Another woman on the course, whom I’m pretty sure finished in second place, saw me struggling and tried to encourage me. “Come on girl! You look so strong! You have more than enough in you to finish the race!” she told me. “It’s just so hot,” I whined. “I ran a 1:37 last weekend!” (Because that was vital info to share? Like I needed to prove that I was fast or whatever? LOL.) 

Then I ran with two men for a while, and they helped me keep a somewhat steady pace. I’m glad they were there, because they helped pick me up when I took a tumble late! 

Like I said earlier, the trail is a bit uneven — nothing terrible, and if I hadn’t been so hot and gassed at that point, I probably would have been paying more attention and may not have tripped over some rocks in the middle of the path. But I was, and I did. Man, that hurt. I reflexively braced myself with my hands, so my palms got all torn up, and then my knees and my right thigh got all scraped up. My shorts were filthy, and blood was running down my left leg. I looked like I was in a tough mudder, not a half marathon. But even though it hurt, I didn’t do any major damage. No fractured knee or anything like that. So, with the help of my running buddies, I picked myself back up and trudged to the finish line. Running hurt, but honestly no more than it did before I fell! (I’ve been running this past week, and even though my left knee feels tender to the touch, it’s not causing me any pain when I run. Yay!) 

By the time I got to the end of the race, I wasn’t even looking at my watch anymore. But when I crossed the finish line, I yelled out “thank God!” and stopped my watch and saw I finished in 1:44:36. My official time was actually 1:44:29, so I guess I stopped my watch a few seconds too late. Definitely one of my slowest times in quite a while, but still pretty solid considering the conditions and my fall. After I finished, Travis, owner of Bishop Events, handed me a plaque and congratulated me for coming in third female. The first place female finished in the high 1:20s, and the second place female, whom I think was the lady that encouraged me on the course, ran a 1:39 and change. 

All in all, I am really proud of that race. Maybe as proud as I was of my PR the weekend before. It’s one thing to run an incredible race when all the conditions are perfect — flat course, cool weather, you feel good, etc. That was the case in the Halfity Half Marathon. But it takes a lot more grit to gut it out when the weather sucks and especially after a hard fall. I’m not going to lie — I felt like a total badass crossing the finish line all bloody. 

A closer look at the bruise on my left leg.

Have you ever fallen in a race? If so, were you able to finish?