Rock n Roll Dallas was never on my radar. It became a reality, however, when I fractured my fibula at the end of 2015 and was unable to run in the Rock n Roll Arizona half as a St. Judes Hero. I was committed to seeing my participation in this wonderful cause through – so I bought myself a ticket to Dallas and a hotel room and didn’t look back.
Thanks to supportive friends and family, I surpassed my fundraising goal of $500 for St. Judes Childrens Research Hospital. I decided to make a quick in & out trip to Dallas, and visit some friends while I was there. I picked one of the partner hotels that was within walking distance (.5 mile) to the start.
After checking into my hotel, I headed over to the expo at the convention center. It was a big disappointment. The DFW Auto show was going on at the same time, and ALL the signage was for that event. Not one sign could be seen from outside the building relating to the half marathon. I was getting frustrated until I was inside the building and roamed around and finally saw a sign pointing to the expo. This was NOT a typical representation of a rock n roll expo. It was lame. Significantly smaller than RNRAZ – just a few rows of vendors. And some really weird vendors were in the mix – rebath companies, gutter cleaning – say what? What in the world does this have to do with running? Goodie bag was minimal – just a few snacks and coupons plus the shirt. Unfortunately my flight got in too late for the #Werunsocial meetup. In my opinion, the only interesting thing about the expo was the attraction outside of the convention center- Pioneer Plaza, see below:
My hotel was the historic Adolphus, built in 1912. It definitely exuded the old world charm, but it was undergoing a massive facelift and there was construction everywhere. At first I was disappointed in customer service, I couldn’t check in early, and the lady at the front desk was borderline rude. There were two podiums, one for a bell desk and one for a concierge but neither was labelled. The escalator wasn’t working. There was construction taking place on my floor. Kind of a mess. But when I got to my newly remodeled room, I loved it. The only down side was that my view was of the tiniest courtyard between buildings, and I was staring at a brick wall. Absolutely zero natural light. Otherwise, it was gorgeous!
I used to work for US Airways (now American) and some of my former colleagues have had to relocate to Dallas. I used this as an opportunity to see them, which was fantastic. We went to dinner at LUCK (local urban craft kitchen). We sat outside (with jackets) it was about 56 degrees outside. Good beers, tiny menu but good. Then they wanted to take me to see the “best view in town” of the downtown skyline. I’m assuming we were going to some sort of skyscraper. Instead, we pull up to the NYLO Hotel and go to their rooftop bar SODA. The NYLO is just 6 stories high. I got a good laugh at that one. But the view was indeed pretty awesome. It was cold and windy up there, luckily they had a fire pit going!
The weather had me scratching my head. I brought many options – skirt, tights, long sleeve, short sleeve, compression socks. I was hoping to wear the skirt, but I ended up wearing TWO long sleeved shirts under my race singlet plus tights and compression! I wish I had packed gloves.
I woke up at 6:15 and no joke the construction started in the hallway at 6:20. Had my husband been staying there with me, he would have been so mad! Weather on my phone said 39 degrees. Windy too. I had 2 commitments – a photo with my fellow BibRave Pros that were local at 7:30 and a photo with the St. Judes Heroes at the startline at 7:40. I got ready and came downstairs. There was an older gentleman sitting in the lobby in his race outfit and he said hello. We chatted for a few and he asked if I was walking over now, I said yes. He said do you want company? I said yes without hesitation. It was still dark out and I was happy not to walk over by myself. So Ted and I walked over to the start. I found one of my teammates and we took the picture, then ended up running (literally ) to the start for the 7:40 St. Judes Heroes pic. They were all so friendly and nice.
I was starting to warm up a little, but my hands were still numb for the first few miles. The course had us running back towards my hotel for 2 miles, through the Deep Ellum district, and came back towards the start. Then we went on the freeway ramp and headed across the Trinity River on to the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, which was a cool sight to see.
At this point I was still cruising along. My first 4 miles were at an 8:40 pace. Feeling ok for the time being, but knowing full well that I couldn’t keep it up. We ran past the restaurant I ate at on Saturday night and started winding through town. Somewhere around mile 8 there was a ridiculously large hill. I looked up and just felt sick. I started to run it but thought heck no and started walking. Then I thought it was getting ready to smooth out so I started running again, when I realized holy crap we are climbing some more! Nooooo! Have I mentioned I don’t do hill training? Throughout the race, as St. Jude Heroes would pass me, they would all give me encouragement and high fives, it was great. One runner even stopped me and said thank you - thank you for being a hero. Then I just wanted to cry. The remainder of the race I was just plain out of gas and was counting down the minutes, seconds til I would be done. We passed through the iconic RNR guitarist inflatable with about a mile to go. I watched my pace slip through my fingers.
The finish line was actually up a hill. Now that’s just plain rude. We ran under and overpass, and then the finish was at the top. I ended up finishing in 2:07, which was my slowest finish since 2012. Ugh. More on my game plan to get back to setting PRs in a future post. The cold and wind was awful once you stopped moving. I met back up with Ted and we had a post-race beer, but were so bloody cold that I personally couldn’t enjoy it. Ted was probably in his late 60s and he beat me by 15 minutes! I had used gear check for my jacket thank goodness, and I took full advantage of the heatsheet they gave me. We had about a .75 mile walk back to the hotel. I dig the medal though.
Even though there were other running friends that I wanted to connect with at the finish, it was too cold for me to hang out there. Plus I needed to shower, check out and head to the airport. I do not think I will ever do another race in Texas, except I am interested in the Austin 10/20. I would like to do that race someday. I now have renewed inspiration to hit all 50 states, this was my 9th, and I'll pick up 3-4 new ones this year. I ended up sitting next to the nicest runner at the restaurant in the airport. We chatted for the longest time about running, racing, destinations, training, beer and dogs. I’ll say it again, runners are the nicest people!
PS – My fundraising page is still open for the next 30 days, if you have any interest in supporting this inspiring cause please check it out!
"Disclaimer: I received a pair of 2XU performance compression sleeves and vectr racing socks to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"
I jumped on the compression bandwagon last year and haven’t looked back since. I now use compression socks, sleeves or tights as part of my training and recovery plan. I have tried several different tights from 2XU, but this is the first time I have had the chance to try their compression sleeves and socks.
Here is what I received:
The sleeves are not super tight or a struggle to get on like other compression socks I own, but seem snug enough to do the job. I first tried them out during the Hot Chocolate 15k race in Las Vegas. My legs were super tired and heavy from walking up and down the strip all day the day before, and not sleeping or hydrating properly (it was Vegas, right??!!). The sleeves seem a little more sheer than I would like, and thinner than other compression socks that I have. The socks provide a really nice squeeze which I like. They have “X-LOCK” Technology – they are breathable, offer anti-blister capabilities and support the arch and ankle. After fracturing my fibula a few months ago, I’ll take any help I can get there! I like the "low profile" of the sock, so that just the right amount of sock shows without leaving the back of your heal exposed and causing rubbing.
Next I took them out on a 10.5 mile training run in the AZ sun/heat. The sleeves have UPF 50+ sun protection, which is cool. I can’t say that I noticed any increase in performance during that run, I still felt really sluggish. I did not have any trouble with blisters or rubbing during the long run, which was nice. Both the socks and the sleeves have breathable technology. I didn’t feel like my socks were too sweaty or have too much moisture in there.
As the weather heats up in AZ, I’ll probably switch to running in more sleeves than full compression socks for training and recovery – if for no other reason than they are a bit lighter and cooler.
If you want to try some for yourself, 2XU is offering a 15% discount with promo code TRAIN15. Valid on full price merchandise through April 30.
Still not convinced? Join us for #bibchat on Tuesday, March 23 at 8PM CST where we will be discussing 2XU compression and hear from other testers.
"Disclaimer: I received a complimentary race entry for the Hot Chocolate 15k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"
This was the first-ever Hot Chocolate race in Las Vegas. I was scheduled to run it last year, but it was cancelled due to construction issues. I have ran the HC 15k in Phoenix, so I was looking forward to the same level of excitement - if not MORE - because it was in Las Vegas! I grabbed one of my best girlfriends and decided to make a weekend out of it. The possibilities to entertain yourself in Vegas are endless, so the race fit perfectly into a full weekend agenda of fun.
We decided to stay at the hotel where the race started & finished – the LINQ. The pre-race communication was great. Lots of emails leading up to the race. There was only packet pickup for 3 hours on Friday and 3 hours on Saturday. Not easy to find, either. Luckily it was in our hotel, but still no signage to get you there.
And once we found packet pickup, it was a mostly empty room with just bare bones tables to pick up the essentials. I remember the inaugural phx race, it was in a rented out retail store and at least had pumping music, several booths from local vendors, photo opps - just way more energy. So that was a disappointment. It felt like a disconnect from the Hot Chocolate brand and their events in other markets – very, very sparse. I liked the embroidered jacket that came with it, as opposed to a t-shirt. It is quite soft and warm. I'm not sure why men got orange and women got blue, my friend who did the race wished he had the blue, and I wished I had the orange. Oh well! It came in a nice bag and had a few coupons in there, but that was it.
Doing a race in Vegas is tough, if you like to indulge in alcoholic beverages. We had a great time, but I had to be fairly “good” the night before so that I could get up early and do the race and not feel terrible. The promenade around the LINQ is so pretty. It was fun to go up on the High Roller and check out the views.
We did a ton of walking the day before (easily 5 miles) down the strip, so my legs were very tired on race day. I was happy that I brought my new compression sleeves and vector racing socks from 2XU It ended up being a warm day, and I felt just right.
Luckily with an 8 am start time and the race being in my backyard, I had time to relax with a pre-race coffee. The race started at the High Roller ferris wheel by the LINQ. We had a great backdrop for the race. The start area was pretty desolate though - just a few tents and hot chocolate inflatables that were set up way far out, not sure why they did it that way, unless they were expecting a larger crowd? I had to look hard to find the iconic happy marshmallows that are the mascots for the race. The 5k started at least 15-20 min late and the 15k started 10-15 min late. No idea what the hold up was.The race was small enough that I'm not sure we even needed corrals, but they did do a wave start. The course went out on the strip for like a minute before it turned off and became less and less scenic as we continued. The route was a bit of a disappointment, parts of it were an out and back on a highway with a long incline. It was a warmer than usual day for February, but luckily there was plenty of shade (and downhill!) on the way back.
There were m&ms on course, which I took advantage of. They were just sitting out in cups like "help yourself". might have been more effective if there was someone there yelling "m and m's" and handing them out. A guy next to me grabbed a cup thinking it was water and then laughed and said it was a cruel joke that they were m&ms not water. There was lots of water stops with nuun hydration, which was great. Volunteers were great, too. My gps showed the course to be a bit long, like 9.7 instead of 9.3.
At the finish we received our medals, which were nice. And we also got the famous chocolate cup with dippers and chocolate and hot chocolate. The cups had older branding on them, they had 10k and 5k on it.
If you're doing the race for the fun chocolate experience, I do recommend it. I hope that they are able to build out the race expo, and make the start/finish experience more fun in the future to match the HC races in other markets. It was a fun “racecation” but on it’s own it’s a little weak. It really has the potential to be epic when you put Vegas and Hot Chocolate together.
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!