Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rockin Rabbit Half, My Escape from Vegas

Rockin Rabbit Half Marathon

Every April, the industry in which I work has a huge trade show in Las Vegas and I get to spend a week there. Some would think that's fantastic. I, on the other hand, find it a huge grind, just waiting for it to end. Each day is a 10 hr marathon of booth duty, mostly standing, talking, hyping my company's latest wares,  greeting customer, discussing their issues, suggesting solutions, and ultimately losing my voice in the dry air. This is followed by late night dinners with clients and business associates, then back to the hotel for an hour or two of email. (Doing email is a poor substitute for real work. It does, however, make you think you've done something.) Then there's the time shift from the East coast, so I wake up 3:30am Vegas time for 3 or 4 days. As you can guess, my running definitely suffers during Vegas week.

Running with Blue Suede Shoes
This year I decided to start the week off with some real fun before all the trade show hoopla began.  So I was fortunate to find the Rockin Rabbit Half Marathon, in Boulder City Nevada, about 30 min east of Las Vegas. It offered me a brief escape from the Vegas madness and helped to rev up my batteries.

Rockin Rabbit Half is a  small, local race that is run to help raise money for a charity called Hope4Lives. It certainly has a good dose of fun personality with several quirks that set it apart from your typical half. The race was quite enjoyable, meandering through open red rock nature, providing wonderful views of Lake Mead and even runs through some old railroad passes cut through mountains.

 Starting point, landmark Railroad Pass Hotel & Casino
The course is a point-to-point, mainly along parts of the River Mountain Loop Trail, a paved trail that circles some mountains west of Lake Mead. The first four miles gain about 700 ft, the the next six miles are down hill, dropping about 2000 ft. The last 5K is an out and back along dirt trail that was an old railroad pass. The 7am start offered a mid 60's temperature with a warm breeze.

The very bunny Start director

Race Rabbits?
The pre-start entertainment (and at the finish) was provided by DJ Switch, as well as a live rendition of the national anthem. The racers were then led in a warm up routine by fitness trainer Nancy Dickinson. Her business CoreHore Fitness provides training and coaching to endurance athletes and those wishing to become one.

Nancy Dickinson gets everybody moving
Nancy is also a serious triathlete and took the women's first place spot with a time of 1:29. At the finish she and several other Extraordinary Trainers provided massages to the runners.

What a great name! CoreHore.
We started running east as the sun was rising. It was quite warming and gave me a relaxing feeling as I ran.

Follow the rising sun

The path slowly curved back and forth next to the rocky hills. This seemed to prevent you from noticing any of the incline in the first few miles. It was such easy running.

Amazing views behind us.
 As I came upon the first water stop I had good laugh at the port-o-pot. Never saw one quite like this before. Pink! Guess it was a charity related thing.

Where's the men's room?

The volunteers were cheery and full of smiles.

Hawaiian skirt Nevada style

Boulder City's version of Hollywood Hills

The first 4 miles went by quite quickly. When mile 5 rolled around the course immediately started the decent. At times is seemed steep and you started to pick up speed. With the downhill came the first views of Lake Mead, which seemed far off in the morning sun.

Lake Mead in morning light.

Getting closer to to the lake
Since I was taking pictures on the go, it was very difficult to see the screen in the bright sun. I decided to stop and to take pix then run start running again. Good thing I wasn't worrying about pace. The frequent stops had an odd effect. There were several people I passed multiple times, then they would pass me when I  was pretending to be a photographer.  Kimberly Clark and I rubberbanded most of the race, passing each other at least 15 times.

Kimberly, my passing partner, says hi

As we descended towards the lake, we zigged up towards the hills for about a mile and I was surprised to see some houses tucked high in the rocks. The brief up hill felt good after 4 miles of decline.
Houses with lake views.

Again the down hill slant started and it was easy to pick up the pace. Not for too long as I stopped for some more pics.

Brief shade in the rock canyon
After 10 miles the course leaves the River Mountain trail and picks up the Rail Pass trail, This is a dirt trail that was at one time the railroad that led to where the the Hoover Dam was built. We were joined by 5K runners who had started here. The trail brought us above Lake Mead with the best views of the day.

Hemenway Harbor on Lake Mead

We got to run through two of the five rail passes carved out of the rock mountain, before turning around and heading to the finish.

Warning! GPS devices may loose signal

And now I am a tunnel runner

After the turn around it was a slight down hill to the finish. I put in a 1:46 time, with Kimberly coming in soon after me. Though not a fast time, it was good enough to capture a 2nd place age group award. Ahh, the small race surprise! (The 1st place in my age group was 1/2 hr faster!).

Kimberly finishes strong
The finishers bling was a nice Rockin Rabbit circular metal and the age group trophies were also quite unique.  The blue tech shirt provided to every runner has the Rockin Rabbit front and center. It makes you feel fast when you where it.

Rabbit awards for the fleet of foot
DJ Switch was at the finish line pounding out motivational pop hits. After a brief massage from Extraordinary Trainers, it was time to start heading back to my hotel. I had a blast running the Rockin Rabbit Half. My escape from Vegas was over. Time to have my morning Starbucks and start the week's whirlwind of activities. Refreshed and ready, I left with a smile on my face.

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