Strip At Night 2016

It sure would be nice to enjoy these things with my girl, my life partner. Too bad I don’t have one. Well, better I at least experience half the fun than none at all.

It was Vegas, and yet another run to be notched in my belt. This time it was the Rock ‘N Roll Marathon Strip At Night run, one the two times a year that Vegas will actually close down traffic on Las Vegas Blvd. The other is New Years Eve, but I wouldn’t be around for that. This would be the half marathon for me, the same one I ran in 2013. It certainly wasn’t my favorite race, but I had other plans in Las Vegas. Running and jumping was the plan. First things first though. A half marathon is no laughing matter. Having completed the Chicago Marathon a month prior, running another one was out of the question for me. A half would be challenging enough. Was I broken down from Chicago? Would I have the stamina to finish the half? Would my bones hold out? My muscles? I thought that they would, but I didn’t know for sure. Just a little added element of suspense.

Getting to the starting line was a much different experience than in 2013. The trek from Circus Circus to the the Mirage, only to be met with a long line waiting for a shuttle to the start was at best, annoying. This time I was much closer and was able to take the monorail and get close from there. The line for that was epic though, but not the nightmare that it was in 2013. We arrived at the MGM Grand station, and from there it was what amounted to a warmup walk to the start. As I checked my gear, the pre-race entertainment was booming. Snoop Dogg was the act. How he was chosen as the entertainment for an athletic event is anybody’s guess, but there he was. Family and friends of the runners were invited to see the free concert, but…it was Dogg. Not the kind of entertainment you would normally enjoy with the kids. Not my kind of entertainment in general either, but then, I wasn’t there for the music. I was there for the race, and the hope that I could set a personal best for a half marathon. Again, there were questions as to whether my body would hold up, but at that point I felt good and was very optimistic. However, that optimism only extended to my potential performance. There was that feeling again, the same feeling I had in January, the same feeling I had in Marina Del Rey several years earlier. It was a feeling of annoyance that made the entire thing feel like a burden, not the rock and roll party that it was. Running down the Strip that was closed just for us, live music everywhere, cheering crowds-Vegas… This was supposed to be fun. What was the problem?

It took about an hour for my corral to get to the starting line, and the strip stood juxtaposed against the night sky. All the huge casinos lined along the boulevard were lit up, as well as one that was not on the strip. However, it was strategically build to be the the last building that seemingly stood at the end of Las Vegas Blvd. There was no doubt who it belonged to. TRUMP was emblazoned across the top of the building. As we ran past the iconic casinos along the strip, the Trump building was always in view. But there was plenty going on to divert attention away from that building. Course entertainment ranged from KISS impersonators to Elvis himself. FYI, he apparently is still alive, because he was in Vegas and singing up a storm. The Bellagio fountains were gushing, seemingly just for us. The Mirage next door was aflame with their volcano show. Just like 2013. It was fabulous, it was a party, it was fun-but I wasn’t enjoying much of it. Why? Was it because there was noone to share it with once again? Maybe. Was it because Vegas isn’t my favorite place with or without an event like this? I doubt it. This was a good time in the making. All I had to do is relax and enjoy. Well, I was relaxed anyway. It was a good, steady run.

I was passing other runners the entire race, not because I was fast, but I was consistent. As others either started in corrals far ahead of where they should have been, or folks just fading along the way, my route was a nearly non stop zig-zag to the finish line. There was no reason to be annoyed. This was a party race, a good time for all. Well, all except me. As I crossed the finish line near the Mirage, it was just an unceremonious end to what should have been a 13.1 mile festival. I followed the herd, picking up a few snacks along the way. The bananas were warm. I spat out the one I had. It just added to the annoyance I was already feeling. Then it hit me. It “hit” me before, but now it was being driven home. The race was over, and I was in Vegas, alone. At a certain point, having fun alone isn’t much fun. However, trying to have fun with someone who had no interest at all in what you were doing was maybe even worse. I’ve been in both situations. Well, at least there was that celebratory steak dinner waiting for me at the hotel.

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