Note: I originally had this post scheduled to go live the day of the Las Vegas shooting, obviously I pushed it back because I didn’t feel it was the right time.
The same day I finished the half-marathon in Napa I was ready to sign-up for the next Team Challenge Season. There was this post-race high that I was riding and I felt like I could tackle anything. Run another half-marathon? You go it! Raise another few thousand for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation? Absolutely? Where do I sign?
The winter season for Team Challenge concluded with the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas. I was pretty excited about this because I had never been to Vegas. This race was going to be very different than Napa. Napa had about 2000 runners and the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon series are known for having 20,000 plus runners. Insane!
Returning to Team Challenge as an alumnus was a lot of fun, this time around I was a team mentor. I was assigned team members who I helped get through the season in any way I can. I also spent my time helping with recruitment. Volunteering is pretty much a part-time job, but it was something I was passionate about and I enjoyed every minute of it.
I’m skipping ahead right to race weekend because it was such a blast, and I’m also hoping I can remember everything. It was almost 5 years ago! It feels like it was just yesterday.
Team Challenge participants from around the country all stayed at the Venetian Hotel, famous for the gondola rides. The rooms were amazing, all rooms are suites. I wanted to live in the bathroom, I did get a chance to jump in the jacuzzi tub and enjoy it.
If you’ve never participated in one of the larger races, be warned, they don’t yell start and everyone goes at the same time. You are put into corrals and they let each corral start in waves. It took over an hour for us just to get to the start line. The slower paced runners are put towards the back, like yours truly. My anxiety was really getting to me. As our group passed a McDonalds I was tempted to run in there and just chill and grab a cab to the finish line.
Unlike Napa, this was a night time race. Well, it started to in the afternoon, but by the time I go to the start line the sun had set. Not long after we started I was separated from my friends, which I expected. We run at different paces and I’m a lone runner, I worry about slowing other people down so I prefer to do it alone. I had gone to the bathroom before we left the hotel, but that was about two or three hours before and now I had a full bladder. I had bypassed the porter potties, because gross, and I was stupid.
I had gone to the bathroom before we left the hotel, but that was about two or three hours before and now I had a full bladder. I had bypassed the porter potties, because gross, and I was stupid. By mile 3 my bladder felt like it was going to burst and every porter potty I saw had a huge line. Time is not my friend during these races so I kept hoping I would find one with a shorter line. Our Team Manager Rachel found me and ran alongside me for a few minutes and told me there was another bathroom stop just ahead. Perfect, I had no choice at this point, I was going to have to stop and wait in line.
I found the porter potty, which was right in front of the New York New York Hotel. Unlike the other stops, there was only one porter potty and it had a line, but it didn’t seem that bad. There were about 3 people in front of me, all Team Challenge runners. We were all doing that ‘I’ve Got to Pee” dance and we looked at each other and we all glanced at the bushes next to us. Yup. We helped each other squat and pee in the bushes. One of the girls even had tissues with her, it was perfect. I peed on the streets of Vegas.
I started dragging at around mile 10. It was cold, we were no longer on the main strip so there weren’t crowds of insane drunk people cheering us on, the lights of Vegas were behind us. The streets were a little scary, so my hurdle of people sort of drifted towards each other and ran together in the middle of the street, away from the dark alleys on the side. There were cops every so often, but we did run through some sketchy areas.
At mile 11 the medics were getting rid of their Gatorade, by the bottle. Not just some shitty Dixie cup, a big liter bottle. I needed all the help I could get so I gladly took the bottle and chugged it. Finally the last few miles took us back onto the main strip and I could see the flashy lights of Vegas again.
I caught up with some of my teammates and coaches during the last few miles as we calmly walked towards the finish line. We were all exhausted but happy the end was in sight. I tried to run but yet again, my bladder was full, so running only made it worse. I decided it was best to just walk the rest of the way. It was safer for my bladder. Then it happened. I saw the finish line and I was so ready to be done. I took a mad dash and as I crossed the finish line with what little energy I had, I lost control of my bladder. That’s right. I peed my pants as I finished the race. I didn’t leave a puddle at the finish line, but I was definitely going to need to shower and change my clothes. My coach told me I was a real runner now.
Vegas lived up to the hype and was insane. I’m glad I did it. Seeing the see of orange jerseys along the course was so uplifting. Knowing that all of those people were in the same fight with me, running this race to help find a cure for a disease that has taken so much from me. There’s nothing like it and my words will never do it justice.
For more information about Team Challenge please visit www.ccteamchallenge.org.