Waking Up in Vegas

“Shut up and put your money where your mouth is
That’s what you get for waking up in Vegas
Get up and shake the glitter off your clothes, now
That’s what you get for waking up in Vegas” – Waking Up in Vegas, Katy Perry

IMG_2685 New York, New York, at dawn

What did I get for waking up in Vegas? Three amazing runs on the The Strip at the ass crack of dawn because I was on East coast time and could not sleep past 4 AM, Vegas time. I logged 15 miles in three days so you know I must have liked it.

So, I have mixed feelings about Vegas. I’ve been before with my husband and had a good time but was sick of it after 48 hours. I went for conferences both times but Vegas with your spouse and Vegas with your co-workers are two totally different things. I was with co-workers this time. Co-workers I consider friends but still, a much different experience.

A little Vegas goes a long way and there is a lot about Vegas that is just plain gross. Vegas, to me, is like that one sorority sister we all had back in undergrad. She always pre-gamed a little too hard. She always wore a really short skirt and she always wanted to go to that one fraternity house where things usually ended in debauchery (shout out to all you Pi Kappa Alphas out there). In the light of day, you knew you should not go out with her but you usually did it, anyway. At the end of the night, you either ended up holding her hair back and listening to her cry or standing next to her in your own very short skirt, taking tequila shots in the frat house and looking forward to the debauchery. Vegas can go either way. This time, it went the tame way for me. I still talk to that sorority sister and I’ll still talk to Vegas, too, but I might not see either in person, again, for a good while.

IMG_2689 View from a pedestrian bridge, at dawn.

But, this is not a blog about the olden days when I used to have a lot of fun and was not a responsible adult, it is about running. When I travel, I love to run. It is the best way to see a city or town. You get to see things you would not if you were not out of a car or public transportation. Running is also the washing machine of my mind and it allows me to clear my head. Because I was without the responsibility of having to get my kids ready in the morning, I was able to run as many mornings as I wanted while I was there. It was freedom, personified.

The Strip, in the morning light, is such a different experience. I headed out all three mornings right when the first light came up over the mountains beyond the Strip, which is a beautiful sight. Vegas is in the middle of the dessert, surrounded by mountains. It can actually be a pretty town if you see it at sunrise. Mike was convinced I was going to be abducted so he made me promise to wait until there was some sunlight but I did want to run while it was still dark and the lights were still on but I did not.

IMG_2682 Paris Hotel and Casino

I must have been trying to burn off something because my pace was fast. Really fast, for me. I put in my head phones and Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and One Direction provided the soundtrack for my run, music fitting for Vegas. Running the Strip is like an obstacle run. One cannot simply run down the Strip. Casinos want you inside, not out on the street. They don’t make it easy to get from point A to point B without seeing the inside of the hotels. There are also a lot of dangerous intersections so there are a lot of escalators, stairs and pedestrian bridges (yes, I always took the stairs). I loved the challenge of figuring out a route each morning. I did not plan it and just went with it each morning when I hit the street, hesitating at the sign in front of the hotel – Las Vegas Blvd, North or Las Vegas Blvd, South. I found, I preferred South.

IMG_2677 A view of the Venetian from a pedestrian bridge.

These were my favorite things or the funniest/most like Vegas things I saw:

People gambling at 6 AM – I stayed at the Vdara, right next to the Aria (which I highly recommend), and had no casino (and no smoking, thank god – what is with all the cigarette smoke, Vegas?) but that did not mean I could get right out to the street. I had to cut through the casino of The Cosmopolitan (the neighboring hotel, which looked like someone had hit every surface with a Bedazzler) to get out to the Strip. I cut through the casino in my running clothes and saw folks still drinking and gambling. Props to those folks (or I am sorry your life is so sad, you have to drink alone, gambling at 6 AM – it was hard to tell with some of them). Y’all are hardcore.

Homeless people – there are ton of homeless people in Vegas. There tend to be a lot of homeless people in warmer climates. It is sad. I wish this were not the case. The homeless people in Vegas, though, work pretty hard to be entertaining. They made funny signs. They put sunglasses on their cats (yes, they did). They sang the Rocky song as runners ascended the stairs. They told the female runners they had nice butts and admired tattoos. They played music. They told jokes. No one takes anything seriously in Vegas.

Other runners – so, there were a lot more runners out than I expected. Runners, in general, share a kinship but runners who get up at the crack of dawn in Sin City to run on the Strip have an even greater mutual admiration. Most of the other runners were male. I only saw three other women. Everyone waved, smiled or nodded. We also struggled with how to navigate the stairs, crosswalks, bridges and casinos – even giving each other a heads up when we encountered a dead end. I met the same guy twice in the fountain garden at Caesar’s Palace. He was from Maine and was still super excited that the Patriots won the Super Bowl. I love runners. They’re just good people.

Beauty – if you can look past the places selling sugary, alcoholic drinks by the yard, or the dudes handing out hooker trading cards (yes, that is a thing) Vegas has a lot of beauty. The architecture of the hotels is lovely. The grounds are well kept (I know because, each morning, I encountered numerous grounds crews out hosing off the sidewalks and sweeping up all the cigarette butts). From an interior, I loved the Bellagio best. It was decorated for Chinese New Year and it was visually stunning. From the exterior, I love Caesar’s Palace the best. They have a fountain garden, which is lovely. They also have Roman statutes, fountains and waterfalls all around. It is just a beautiful place to run. The Wynn is also stunning from the outside.

IMG_2699 Conservatory in the Bellagio, with Chinese lanterns

 

 

IMG_2692 Fountains at Caesar’s Palace

 

 

IMG_2707 The Wynn and the Encore

So, I loved running in Vegas. I highly recommend it. I highly recommend running during all your travels. See things you have never seen, before, and get off your butt.

IMG_2674 View from my 43rd floor window

Now, it is time to get serious. I must clean up my eating (says the woman who is going to run the Krispy Kreme Challenge next Saturday – 12 donuts, 5 miles – although, I am in the non-competitive division, meaning, I don’t have to eat all 12 donuts before I cross the finish line. That is a very good thing.) I have 4 races between now and the end of April (maybe 5 if I get into the MCM 17.75K) and the Ironman in June. No more Bloody Mary’s, Maker’s Mark and ginger ales, Margaritas and buffets. Just kale and the occasional glass of red wine, because, allegedly, it is good for your heart (and it tastes better than kale).

In the meantime, happy running, friends.

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