Latest reviews by Mai Khuong

(2018)
"Strip at Night"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I left for Vegas with a few friends on Saturday morning and drove 4 and a half hours to Sin City.  We easily picked up our bibs at the Health and Fitness Expo and bonus - we didn't even have to pay for parking! That's always a win in my book. There were again a lot of things to see and a lot of photo opportunities. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you probably saw some of them. One of the noteworthy things I saw and forgot to take a picture of was a wall where everyone could sign in neon sharpies. They later moved that wall to the course and so we ran by it and it lit up with everyone's messages. 

Race: This race has always been on my bucket list. Racing through the Las Vegas strip at night always seemed like an interesting concept and it was. We started off by the T-mobile arena and headed 2 miles south towards the airport before making a u-turn back towards the heart of Las Vegas. We passed by the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign, which tons of people took selfies in front of, and they had lined parts of the race with the wall we had signed at the expo.

Since the messages were in neon, they lit up the course with our messages. That was very cool. Once we returned to the starting area, we ran an additional 5 miles north of the strip.We passed by all the big casinos and I was pretty much blinded by lights when I looked up. Towards the north end of the strip, we passed by the older casinos and even passed by the famous Pawn Shop seen on Pawn Stars. At mile 9, we made a u turn back towards the finish line and passed by Downtown Las Vegas, which from the outside looks like a huge carnival with a ton of lights. There were a good amount of fans cheering us along the route, but because Vegas is so busy, I barely noticed the people. Because I hadn't been running regularly, my legs suffered. My feet started hurting at mile 3, but because I wanted to finish so badly, I didn't care. I pushed on and after that second u-turn, I tried my best to not burn out.

Since the messages were in neon, they lit up the course with our messages. That was very cool. Once we returned to the starting area, we ran an additional 5 miles north of the strip.We passed by all the big casinos and I was pretty much blinded by lights when I looked up. Towards the north end of the strip, we passed by the older casinos and even passed by the famous Pawn Shop seen on Pawn Stars. At mile 9, we made a u turn back towards the finish line and passed by Downtown Las Vegas, which from the outside looks like a huge carnival with a ton of lights. There were a good amount of fans cheering us along the route, but because Vegas is so busy, I barely noticed the people. Because I hadn't been running regularly, my legs suffered. My feet started hurting at mile 3, but because I wanted to finish so badly, I didn't care. I pushed on and after that second u-turn, I tried my best to not burn out.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2018)
"My first themed race at the Wonder Woman 10k"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Packet Pick up - Easy peasy. Drove down to SDCCU stadium, parked for free, and grabbed my bib with no wait. In addition to the race entry, the registration also came with a Wonder Woman racing tee, two Wonder Woman sweat cuffs, and a tote bag. The expo was small, but it was also packed with photo opportunities. If you love taking selfies, this is probably the race to do it at. :) Side note: They also have FREE RACE PHOTOS.

Race day - Since this race was more of a fun run, this race started at 9 am. This was very bad for me as I run very warm. I do well in very cold weather and just get destroyed when the sun comes out. :( I got to the race about an hour early and was able to park very easily for free at the stadium. Almost everyone was dressed up as Wonder Woman and there was even an occasional Batman or two. I even saw a mom who dressed up her four kids as various super heroes. Her cape read Super "Exhausted" Mom. :)

The course itself is not a very scenic route as it's only a 5k/10k. We ran around the stadium and out for a bit and there were two out and backs for the 10k. The course is not flat and actually had a surprising amount of hills considering how short the course was. My biggest mistake, as always, was starting out too fast. I was ready to PR and starting running too fast and gassed out a mile in. My calves started cramping, the bottom of my feet started tingling, and I started getting shin splints. I started run walking about 1.5 mile in and the experience was all very humbling. I have run marathons and yet, even a 10k can still destroy my self confidence. At mile 3 and 4, I had to stop to stretch because my calves wouldn't loosen up. At mile 4, I ended up needing Race Guards to spray BioFreeze and thankfully that helped and I was able to speed up a bit at mile 5 and 6. Both the 5kers and 10ker finish inside the stadium where you take a lap around stadium before crossing the finish line. Honestly, this would have been much more awesome had they differentiated the two distances. I had to weave in and out to avoid running into the 5kers who were walking towards the finish line.

Post - race party: I do have to give it to the organizers of the race. They definitely know how to throw a fun run post race party. They gave out donuts, ice cream, and bananas and of course, had a really fun band playing in the festival. And of course, everyone had to retake their photos with their medals. :)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2018)
"Redemption at RnRVegas!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Health and Fitness Expo – Rock N Roll expos are large. If you’ve never been to one, be prepared. There a TON of vendors so choose wisely when deciding what to purchase or else you’ll rock around having dropped $100+. Bib pick up was extremely easy. I took a Lyft from the airport and was at the Convention Center in 15 minutes and then picked up my bib with no wait time.

Race Day (Pre-race) – Preparing for a night race is always tricky. Things to take into consideration:

Meals: Last year, I made the mistake of eating too early (10 am) and by the time I finished the race, I was starving and was grabbing anything the volunteers would give me to stuff my face with. This year, I tried to eat lunch a little later (12:30 pm) and hoped that whatever I ate would digest quick enough and not give me GI distress during the course (like during my Chicago marathon. Sigh). Fortunately, it worked, but I might have also upchucked a LITTLE bit of food during the course so I guess I will need to refine this a bit more. LOL.

Time on your feet: Time on your feet should be minimized for a night race. Knowing that, I still went out and ran 6 miles in the morning because I had a scheduled 20 mile long run for marathon training. LOL. In my defense, I did run much slower and tried to take it as easy as I could. After the run, I went back to the hotel and rested until it was time to get lunch and get to the start line. Even at the start line, I sat down and tried to rest and since I beat my course PR, I’d say it paid off.

Hydration: Holy moly is Vegas dry. I come from a fairly humid city so being in Vegas completely shriveled me up no matter how much water I drank (and I only drank water; no alcohol was involved). If you are going to run in the desert, drink up. It may be cool, but your body will thank you.

Gear Check: It’s a night race. It’s going to be COLD when you finish. You won’t feel it when you cross the finish line, but give it 10-15 minutes. You will feel it. So packing a jacket is a must.

Race Day (Actual race) – All day, I had been debating whether to race it or treat it like a training run. Since I ran 6 miles in the morning, I was worried that I’d hit a wall at mile 7. So I told myself to take it easy and run by feel. And crazily enough, I actually felt fine. I hadn’t raced a half since June so I was stoked be around other runners and was ready to cross that start line.

The course itself is fairly flat with a few minor ups and downs and you hardly notice them as the Vegas strip lights are pretty mesmerizing. I had seen them the night before, but running through the strip was another type of experience and you can bet I took it all in. The air was also cool and refreshing as I started to heat up.

The bands and DJs that were set up along the course also really helped my energy levels. I would hear a Bruno Mars song and I’d just start dancing, which gave me more energy to run faster. LOL I also really like Bruno Mars. LOL. At mile 12, I was losing momentum. The dry winds combined with the sweat stung my face and I was struggling. But then I ran into someone I knew and boom, I was back to it. :)

Honestly, I crossed that finish line feeling like a million bucks. I finished strong despite having run a total of 19.3 miles that day AND I beat my course PR. So maybe the secret is constantly running on tired legs?!?!

Official time was 1:54:45! Wheee!

Loading Comments...

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2018)
"It's the people that make the race!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I would like to have said that I crushed this race, but then I'd be lying. Conditions were not the best, but I conquered another half marathon and that's all that matters. I also had a fantastic time at the expo so really, I have no real complaints. Without further ado, my race weekend report.

Saturday - I had a pretty difficult 3 mile shake out run in the morning, but shrugged it off and headed to the expo. I parked at the Old Town Trolley station and made my way down to the Convention Center for Bib pick up. I picked up my bib and made my way through the vendors stopping at the Nuun, HoneyStinger, and Orange Mud booth to name a few. After picking up all the necessities, I grabbed a nice lunch with friends and called it a day. Luckily, I had little problems sleeping early. :)

Race day - I woke up at 4 am and was out the door by 4:15 am. I parked at the trolley station again and made my way down with very no issues. From the trolley stop, it was about a 1.5 mile and a half walk up to the start, which was a nice warm up walk. :) I met up with friends and at 6:25 am, I crossed the start line. From the start of the race, I could feel that something was off. It was taking a lot more effort to run and when the sun came out around 7 am, I knew I was toast. I had forgotten my visor and my sunglasses so for a good portion of the race, I was squinting and wiping the sweat off my brow. Sigh.

The course itself was very fun. You start off fairly flat and then head downhill. Another mile later, you get some rolling hills. I saw the mile 4.5 bar with their assortment of alcoholic beverages. I ran the blue mile a little bit later, where volunteers hold up flags and there are posters of US troops that have fallen lined along the road. By mile 7, I was pretty much toast. My left foot was tingling non-stop and the ball of my right foot felt like a big blister was coming on. I started overheating and had to pour a few cups of water over my head to cool down and around mile 9, I started doing a run/walk. At mile 10.5, we hit the last really large hill and it was mostly downhill from there. Taiko drummers were performing at the top to keep us going and goodness, I needed every little bit of it. Running downhill was easier, but I was running out of gas.

Then, an angel by the name of Vanessa, came running by. She's not really an angel, but in this scenario, she was mine. :P Vanessa was someone I met through a friend and when she ran by me, she told me she'd run with me. I didn't want to slow her down since I knew she ran faster than me, but she insisted that she would stay with me. For the rest of the miles, she stayed with my pace and kept me going with her pep talks. I pushed when I didn't think I could anymore and was able to stay at a moderate pace. I crossed the finish line destroyed, but because of her, I was able to complete the course in under 2 hours, which was my original goal. Thanks to her, I finished it in 1:59:13. :)

I spent the next hour or so basking in the glory of my finish. Although it was warm during the course, it was perfect for when I was cooling down. I easily grabbed my gear and was able to just lay on the lawn and rest. :)

Not every race is going to perfect and this race was a perfect example of that. But I learned a lot from this experience. I learned that some days, you just have bad runs and some of those days are during races. But even on those days, you can still achieve a lot if you have the right people beside you. :)

Loading Comments...

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2018)
"Big Sur Conquered"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

And BAM, just like that, the Big Sur 21 miler has been conquered. :) I had a wonderful experience running Big Sur and despite my legs hating me oh so much right now, I'm sure they'll get over it and I can start running again soon. :)

Without further ado, my race report:

The Health and Fitness Expo: I flew into San Jose Saturday morning and rented a car to drive down into Monterey Bay. There was plenty of parking and as long as you could get out of the expo in one hour, there were no issues. :) I made my usual rounds. There were plenty of photo opportunities.

I found my name on a HUGE Big Sur poster and took an awesome expo photo in front of this ginormous sign. 

Thinking about it now, I should have known. Everything was so big. That should have tipped me off that the hills would have been the same. I stopped by the Motigo booth, where I talked to one of the Co-founders Dan. He was super cool and told me to open the app prior to the race to make sure all of my cheers were downloaded. I refreshed the app like a mad woman that day. Seeing more cheers being sent my way made me happy. :)

After grabbing my race swag and visiting the vendor booths, I quickly made it outside to sight see a bit. Then a massive headache came about and basically spoiled the rest of the night. Luckily, I passed out around 8 pm to get ready for my early wake-up call at 3:45 am.

Morning of: I was pretty worried the morning of the race. I had been experiencing stomach cramps for the past few days and was worried they'd make an appearance during the race. I was too scared to eat, but managed to gulp down some gatorade and had half a bagel with cream cheese right before the race. Everyone met at a pick-up location and was shuttled to the start line for our respective races. Since my race was 5 miles shorter than the marathoners, we started further along the course at mile 5.

RACE! The start of the race was actually a little anticlimatic. LOL. The reason being that the start line banner doesn't actually indicate the start. The timing mats were located 0.2 miles up a hill and that's where we officially started. So as we crossed the banner, most of us slowly stretched our legs up the hill. I even overheard a Pennsylvanian say that "Californians were really chill." When we hit that timing mat, we were off. I started my Motigo app, my Garmin (because if there's no data, did you really run it?), and was off. I started off pretty quickly.

The scenery was extremely pretty. I took a lot of videos and pictures and was just in awe from the hills and the greenery. :) We were running along the coast and I got these gorgeous views of the waves crashing against the rocks of the cliffs.

The course was marked for the marathoners and just the marathoners so we all laughed when we started running and already saw the 5 mile marker. :P Hooray! 5 miles done, 16 to go, right? The first few miles were a breeze.

I heard a few cheers and then later found out that the app had unfortunately crashed due to really really poor reception in the area. Seriously. Plan ahead to meet your loved ones at the finish line. There is barely any reception in the area and I'm pretty sure I ran 19 miles of it without any cell service. I ended up listening to my cheers at the finish line, which was still pretty awesome. :)

At my mile 5 (10 for the marathoners), we began our ascent (into madness, jk, only sort of kidding) up the massive hill. We ran up maybe 600 feet over the course of 2 miles? It was this intense trek up and honestly, I had no idea when it would end because the course kept winding and so I couldn't see the top. You'd turn and then see another hill. Seriously, I can't believe I complained about the La Jolla Half. That race was nothing compared to this one. Also, once you got higher up, the wind got stronger. LOL

At mile 7, we started heading down towards Bixby Bridge, where we got to see this awesome piano player! He was playing lullabies when I ran by. LOL. I took about a million photos of the area and continued the trek. Around mile 10, the first place male marathoner passed me by. LOL. They were fast. At mile 15, it started to sprinkle, which was actually kind of fun. I kept leap frogging with another runner for a few miles, but at the 2 last miles, she passed me. At mile 17, I started feeling pretty tired. I liked to think that running down hill was my strongest skill, but at mile 17, that was not the case. My knees started feeling the the impact from pounding on pavement up and down. My stomach felt very empty at mile 17 and I worried that I had not fueled enough and I'd hit the wall. Luckily, it didn't happen. and I managed to make it to 20.5. Mentally, I was done. I started walking, but soon after, another runner touched my back as he passed by to encourage me to keep going so I did.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 3:25:56 and a big smile on my face. :) I had conquered the hills of Big Sur. And I placed 80th/1010 overall. I had a blast and I'm sure once my legs recover, I'll be back for the marathon. 

Loading Comments...

Login or sign up to leave a comment.