Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Run Laughlin Race Recap

In March, during a weekly #RunChat I won a race entry and weekend hotel stay for the Run Laughlin Half Marathon. (If you’ve never joined a #RunChat, get more information here—it’s always a fun time!) The race is relatively new—this was only the second year, but I was excited.  The race run in two states & in two time zones—the nerd in me was excited to add this to my race experiences.. The race wasn't until December, but suddenly it was nine months later and I was ready to go.  

The race was on a Saturday so I was driving out to Laughlin on Friday. After meeting up with the #RUN619 and Movin’ Shoes for my morning run, I was on my way.  The drive is 5-6 hours and I frankly wasn’t looking forward to it.  I had been monitoring the weather for about a week and it had been showing high winds for the drive—they weren’t lying!  The drive ended up being pretty uneventful and I arrived in Laughlin with plenty of time to hit up the expo and explore a bit.

#RUN619 before driving to Laughlin
After checking into my hotel, I headed over to the Colorado Belle for the expo.  In my opinion, this could be more accurately be called a bib pick-up.  Although there were a few tables set up, there wasn’t much about it that was expo like.  After getting my bib, I picked up my goodie bag and shirt.  I talked to a volunteer, asked a couple questions and took a picture with the race backdrop.  Although small, every volunteer I encountered was super friendly!! And how fun is getting a deck of cards in your race swag? Definitely the most random race swag ever but that makes it fun!  

And now for the sappy part—growing up, my mom would frequently travel to Laughlin with my aunt and uncle.  They called her “Wild Woman Slots” for her love of the slot machines and they always came back with a fun story to share.  I’ve missed her everyday since she passed away in 2014 and was definitely feeling sentimental when I was heading to Laughlin.  When I picked up my bib, I had a moment.  My mom’s birthday was St. Patrick's Day (March 17th) and my bib number was 317.  She was definitely there with me.  Okay—now back to the race recap.

I woke up race morning and after getting ready, headed over to the Laughlin outlet center to take the shuttle to the start line at Laughlin High School.  I knew it was going to be cold and was prepared with arm sleeves, gloves, a jacket and a Mylar blanket.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the wind, but I’ll go into more later.  

My flat runner with all of my favorite things!
When we were dropped off at the high school, we were treated to coffee and banana bread—I don’t normally drink coffee before a race, but I did have a small cup to warm me up.  They did have space heaters set up, but unfortunately the winds kept blowing them out, so they opened an area of the high school for us so we could wait in the warm hallways.  We were waiting for almost two hours before the race started so it was definitely nice.  After watching the start of the sunrise, I headed over to the start area.  They had a gear check truck set up and approximately five minutes before the start, I checked my jacket and kept my fingers crossed that my arm sleeves and gloves would be enough to keep me warm.  

After a few race announcements and the national anthem, we were off.  The first miles or so ran us through the high school and then we were off to the roads.  The scenery was gorgeous! The sun was still rising and it was breathtaking—I was in serious awe. The first 3.5 miles or so were a steady incline and though I typically don’t like hills, there views made it worth it.  After the steady incline, we turned onto another road and it was downhill as we headed towards Davis Dam.  Another fun adventure to add to my race experiences- running over a dam.  The views continued to be beautiful and I love a good downhill run.  As we ran over Davis Dam, we were running from Nevada into Arizona.  Arizona included a short out and back part and then we headed back into Nevada.  

There were six water stations on the course which had both water and Powerade.  Each station was hosted by a group and they were all competing for a prize.  In our post-race survey, we voted for our favorite one.  Each one was awesome so it was a difficult choice, but what a fun idea.  I’m sure the “competition” gave them some extra energy to share with us.

After making our way across the dam twice, we headed back down towards a nature walk to finish the run into Laughlin.  The nature walk went along the river and was so pretty!  At the end of the nature walk, we headed onto the main strip of Laughlin and it was a blast!  The crowd support wasn’t just the spectators but also the cars that were driving down the strip. It was nice to have that extra support as you were pushing to the finish.  After making my way down the strip, I crossed the finish line and was done! (My Garmin only showed 12.69 miles—I’m not sure where the extra miles went)  After getting my medal, I headed over to the after party were they had plenty of treats for us.  The food options included water, a bagel, bananas, oranges and granola bars.  They also had a beer tent featuring beers from Pints Brewery—if you’re ever in Laughlin, you definitely want to go there.  If you’re a beer drinker, you won't be disappointed.    

I had a dam good time at this race (see what I did there) and would definitely do this race again.  I did learn that beginning in February, American Airlines will be flying into the area so that solves my dilemma of the drive there (I’d much rather fly than drive) and I think that will make this race more inviting to other people that live in neighboring states.  Between the casinos and shows, there is plenty to do in Laughlin.  There are also river activities and other outdoor adventures you can have.  

I would be remiss in my recap if I didn’t discuss the one non-controllable thing about this race—the wind.  I will admit that I am a fair weather runner—I live in Southern California and we don't experience weather in the same ways that other places do.  So I was not prepared for the wind- 25-30mph winds the entire race.  At one point, my weather app was showing 31mph winds and I believe it!  As we were running into the wind, there were points when it didn’t feel like I was moving at all.  I thought I would be relieved when we turned and we had the wind at our side.  It wasn’t much better as it pushed me to the sides—I definitely was not running in a straight line.  There were portions of the race that the wind was at our backs and I took advantage of those times, letting the wind push me forward.  Although the course is PR worthy, I knew early on in the race that it would not be happening for me.  Due to the wind, this  was the most physically challenging half I have ever run.  I decided to enjoy the scenery around me and take it all in.  I walked some, took pictures, talked to other runners and simply enjoyed the experience.  And what an experience it was!


What’s been your most challenging race experience? Would you run that race again?

Until next time, happy running.

Although I won the race entry, all opinions are my own and I was in no way compensated for my recap.  I loved every everything about this race and it’s definitely a strong contender for my 2017 race schedule.  

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