Vegas or Bust

And we busted, crapped out. Heck we didn’t even get to put in our chips. This post won’t be full of pictures because we were so tired from driving and we were planning for most of the pictures to happen past Colorado, but let’s start at the beginning.

The week before our Vegas trip was like waiting for Christmas day as a kid. Every night was filled with house cleaning, packing, and making lists. I couldn’t wait to get on the road. Visions of an amazing race, a little gambling, shopping at Louis Vuitton, and fine dining… was going to be a vacation and a race all in one.

This year has not been an easy one as far as running is concerned. I’ve had my fair share of disappointments and difficult races due to stomach issues and hamstring problems. Rock and Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon was going to be the last race of the year for me. My intent was to make it a redemption race. PR or get close to feel like I can get back on track with my training. However my hamstring issue became too big to manage on my own and I have been going to physical therapy for Graston’s. I was leaving for Las Vegas put back together, but out of race shape from the recovery. My new goal was to run a race healthy, no stomach or hamstring issues and get to focus all of my attention on racing again. It wouldn’t be the redemption race I had envisioned, but a quiet taking of the reins again to start anew.

When it came to making the 2,000 mile drive to Las Vegas we had 2 major ways to get to there. Come from the North or make our way South around the mountains. The South route adds an additional 5 hours to the trip, which over time is very taxing so we chose to come from the North since the weather was looking absolutely perfect. 25-40 degrees the whole way, sunny and completely clear.

Thursday morning we left to cover 450 miles to Omaha, NE. It all went smoothly and we were able to go out for dinner. We went to Biaggi’s which is a chain, but known for gluten free menu and I didn’t want any surprises on this trip. Unfortunately our hotel did not have a gym and the pool was closed for repairs. There appeared to be some hills we could run nearby, but I was scared to aggravate my piriformis or hamstring. Riding in the car was already going to press my luck and I figured I’m in no place to throw hills at my leg right before this race. I figured I would hold off until we made it to our next destination.

Friday morning we packed up and drove over 500 miles to Denver, CO. Again a smooth and uneventful trip. When we arrived we were tired. We didn’t venture out for dinner and dined at the hotel instead. There was a hot tub outside running with a view of the mountains, a beautiful indoor heated pool and gym waiting for us. Unfortunately after dinner we found out the hot tub was closed, probably due to the dropping temperatures. The indoor pool, while inside, was too cold to enjoy. So instead Rob and I ran in the gym. The treadmills were decent. Rob did some pick ups and said he could feel the altitude. I was surprised, but I was running 6 easy and didn’t notice….until I finished. As soon as I stopped my head turned completely red, I got a headache and felt fevery and light headed. It was surprising and I felt gross. I just hydrated and rested.

The next leg of our trip would be to Las Vegas! Our planned route was to take 70E. It would take 12 hours to get there and we would gain an hour back from the time difference. The expo packet pick up would be open until 8pm, which would not be a problem. We went to bed super early so we could get a full nights sleep, get up at 3am, and on the road by 4am. Before bed Rob was concerned about traversing parts of the mountainous route in the dark the next morning. He was reading up on how parts of the mountain have no railings and there are steep drop offs. We know we will need to travel very carefully, but it will be some of the most beautiful driving as the sun comes up. Rob checked the weather again and everything looks good to go. That is, until the morning….

We were up at 3am rearing to go. Rob went out to pack the car and get Coco out and found we had snow on the ground and it was still coming down hard. We immediately starting getting a game plan together. Where did this weather come from out of nowhere? Apparently the 100mph Santa Ana winds blew what would have been rain into the mid-west turning it to snow. 70E was now CLOSED. We definitely would be coming back from Vegas via the South route and adding potentially another day to our vacation, that we could manage. However, to get to Vegas now we were going to have to take 25 over to 80 and then down to 15. 25 and 80 were showing severe weather condition warnings and even parts of 15 were also showing the same. This re-route would take our 12 hour drive to 15, so we had to get on the road pronto to make it work. The hotel front desk person was concerned for us, and wished us well trying to get out.

25 was ridiculous. Snow covered, icy, windy, and dark. We were going 30-35mph and trying to not end up in a ditch, like other cars and semis that were out in this weather. It took FOREVER to get to 80 and was treacherousness the entire time. It took us an additional 2 hours just to get there and the weather wasn’t letting up. We were now in jeopardy of not even making the expo in time at all. 80 wasn’t any better, which meant we were over 17 hours to get there, if we don’t end up in a ditch. Our Vegas plans were over, there would be no way to make it in time. Instead we re-routed 80W to get across Nebraska. It took us 13 hours of going 30-40mph on a highway that is normally 75mph just to get to Lincoln. It was an absolutely exhausting drive because every move with the semis and cars was a potential to be in a ditch. The amount of vehicles in the ditch was so high I stopped counting. We eventually made it to Lincoln. It almost took us twice as long to get there than yesterday, and Omaha was still another 50 miles that we weren’t willing to risk.

We slept in, in hopes that the roads would be cleared. The weather was scheduled to improve, but the predictions of clear weather the whole way produced the exact opposite so we knew they could be very wrong. Luckily Sunday morning the roads were better and we were able to make our way home safely by night time.

Ugh….so a 1,000 miles to Colorado to stay one night and 1,000 miles to come home (more than half of it being dangerous driving). We made the best of the situation, joking about the silliness of the whole fiasco and making plans for our next adventures. I’m not sure that we will make our way this route ever again, especially in December, no matter how great the weather is predicted to be for 10 days straight.

I’m disappointed to miss our race, our whole weekend plans, and time with Drew and Carrie and other friends. I hope Drew, Ryan, Terry, Tanya, Linda and everyone had an amazing time and enjoyed the race.

I am grateful that we made it safely, that Rob is such a good sport and a joy to be around no matter how stressful things can be, and that he can manage driving in terrible conditions because I cannot. So in the end we got an adventure, just not the one I had expected.

Now that we are finally home, I can focus on unpacking, decorating for the holidays, doing some home projects and planning for our next races. I am looking forward to starting again in my training and focus on 2012 racing.

12 thoughts on “Vegas or Bust

  1. I am so sorry Christine. My family drives out to Steamboat, CO all of the time and I cannot tell you how often we get stuck in small towns / exits when parts of the highway are shut down. I am sorry that you had to miss the race, but I am glad you guys chose the safe choice and got home safetly! 😀


    1. Since this was our first trip to the West we had no idea what we were in for. Probably not a good idea to drive that direction in December when we were very time driven to get to the expo in time. Even with good weather forecasted it changed so quickly. Next time if we drive we will head South.


  2. I had a pretty craptastic racing year as well this year and I can’t wait to be rid of 2011. January 2nd is 18 weeks out from my first 2012 marathon. Let’s rock 2012 and be done with this year known as 2011!


  3. So sorry to hear this!! Sounds like you handled it really well, I would have just been miserable and crabby the whole time home. I’m sure 2012 will be a great year!


    1. Yeah I think it was just so riduculous all we could do was laugh about it. Plus after seeing so many cars in the ditch, we knew we were lucky just to make it back in one piece.


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