Tag: Vegas

Travel Swellness: I flew a jet in Las Vegas

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In March I visited Las Vegas for the sixth time, and while I’ve been on plenty of whirlwind trips there (one focused on spa and daytime pool parties, another on food — when I thought my stomach would break — and two on fitness fun times) this one takes the cake on being the most thrilling.

How’s that? Well, for one, I flew a jet. No, really. I did the Top Gun experience at Sky Combat Ace and after you watch a video explaining the moves, you head up in the aerobatic jet and after the pilot performs the stunt, you’re given control of the plane (much like when you learn to drive, he can take over if anything starts to go wrong).

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I feel like I don’t get too nervous for most adventures I’m lucky enough to experience, but I will admit that I was pretty shaky in the knees for this one. But that quickly went away once we were up in the air. I didn’t find it too nervewracking to do the stunts because there’s really nothing around the plane that you can crash into.

What did catch me off guard? How dizzy I got! After the pilot did the first two stunts, I had to ask to have a breather before I performed it, just to let that dizzy feeling ease up. I can get carsick sometimes (usually if it’s particularly stop and go traffic) but I’m fine of rollercoasters so I didn’t expect this flying experience to affect me. But I guess it was the spinning action (I’m good on coasters that go up and down, but not the spinning of a tilt-a-whirl, for example).

I knew I had no interest in doing the stunt where you get to so many Gs that many people black out briefly (I’m prone to fainting thanks to my blood pressure sometimes dropping rapidly — it’s called vasovagal syncope — and I do not enjoy the feeling!), but I was keen to do all of the stunts, even the three more advanced ones…

So once we completed all the regular stunts, the pilot did the first advanced stunt — and mid-stunt, as the jet spun around and dropped in the air, I thought “Omigod, I’m going to lose that half granola bar I had for breakfast!” I immediately started to try to take deep breaths to get control on my insides and not throw up, and as I dry  heaved I reached for the convenient trash bag in front of me.

The pilot kept talking to me but because I was so focused on not throwing up, I couldn’t reply. “I think you moved your headset, I can’t hear you anymore,” he said. No, no, just me trying not to speak so I can keep my breakfast inside my belly…

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When I was finally able to speak, I told him I needed a break, so we flew low to the ground for awhile and then I heard him telling mission control that we’d be flying back soon. I almost interrupted and said I wanted to do the rest of the advanced stunts (cuz I’m stubborn like that) but then I realized how awful I’d feel if I actually did lose my breakfast. So back we went to land, and then I lay down in the lounge for almost an hour as I sipped water and had a snack and just waited til the dizziness went away.

Here’s the video from my Sky Combat experience. TBH, I’ve only watched the beginning…where you can hear my nervous laugh as we go up, and then my true laugh as I’m upside down. I had to stop watching the video because it actually makes me feel all lightheaded and woozy all over again! Soo…there may be a nice little scene where I’m trying not to vomit, I’ll have to watch the whole thing one day. Enjoy!

But you know what? As nauseous as it got me, I’d do it all over again. That’s right, my days as Maverick are not done if I have the choice to fly again! Such a thrilling experience and YOLO! Haha! I’m definitely glad I didn’t have more of a breakfast beforehand, and I say go for it if you’re in Vegas (and have a healthy adventure budget to burn! Jet flying doesn’t come cheap!).

For what else you can do in Vegas for the ultimate thrill ride of a vacay, check out my article on AmongMen!

1 Comment April 27, 2017

Travel Swellness: The Hip Guide to Las Vegas

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I’ve been to Vegas five times now. Which is possibly the most I’ve ever visited one destination other than my hometown of Montreal and New York City. And I’d had enough of walking the Las Vegas Strip after my first visit. So what a surprising treat to stay in Downtown Las Vegas (aka old Las Vegas) my last visit there in November to run the Rock n Roll Half-Marathon for the second time.

My story, which I think of as the Hipster’s Guide to Vegas (well, as hipster as Sin City can be) is live now on AmongMen and Huffington Post Canada. Here are some photos I snapped and you can get full deets over in the article. If you’re a first-time visitor to Vegas, then I’d say stay on the main Strip. But if you’re looking for something different than your usual visit here, I highly recommend Downtown Las Vegas (even if it means the occasional trek to the Strip if you’re seeing Britney or to eat at Giada’s).

We stayed at the Downtown Grand where, as you can see, the rooms are modern and there’s a very nice bar in the lobby.

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My favourite spot at this hotel, though, was the quiet rooftop pool. It was unexpectedly warm enough for the pool to be open (the last time I ran the half in Vegas, pools were closed for the season).

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One of my favourite meals was at Park on Fremont. Not so much for the food (too many fried dishes on our table quickly felt overwhelmingly greasy in my belly) but for the cocktails (yes, I drank before running a half, oops) and quaint back patio. Inside the restaurant, the vibe was more edgy and urban.

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Another beautiful patio is on the Strip at the Bellagio, at Lago, which is worth the visit for the #fromwhereistand photo opp alone.

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If you’re considering going to Vegas for the Rock n Roll Marathon, I hear the marathon route is dark and lonely (which is a big reason I chose to run the half). And the two years I’ve run it this race, it gets cold and terribly windy at night so plan your race outfit accordingly. It’s not always hot in Vegas.

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This trip, I finally got a chance to check out the Downtown Container Park, which is just really pleasant and charming (but hard to get a great photo of that captures its relaxed vibe). But I”m also a big fan of shopping at The LINQ, for people watching and and cute souvenirs at fun shops rather than clothes shopping. Next time, I”d love to go bowling at the Brooklyn Bowl that’s at The LINQ.

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One of my favourite parts of this trip by far was walking around downtown Vegas one morning by myself and checking out some of the fantastic murals, and finally going with to check out the stunning Red Rock Canyon.

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And while there are plenty of over the top buffets, which are top notch, one day I walked over to Grass Roots Juice Bar and grabbed a really big acai bowl. Delicious and very filling. And exactly what I was craving for breakfast. Endless mimosas and dozens of breakfast options at a buffet are best reserved for a Vegas visit that doesn’t include running 21.1k after all.

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I rounded out the trip with my foodie favourites of doughnuts (well, a homemade poptart, this time) and an affordable bowl of ramen, too, before catching my flight home to Toronto. Find out where to go for those nibbles in my Hip Guide to Las Vegas.

 

 

Leave a Comment January 8, 2016

Fitness Swellness: Race report on the 2015 Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half-Marathon

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Am I racing too often? Am I just that out of shape? Could my thyroid be acting up again and making my muscles tire out? Do I just not want to PB badly enough? Is it the little sleep I’ve been getting?

These are just some of the questions flooding my brain ever since crossing the finish line in the Rock n Roll Strip at Night Las Vegas Half-Marathon on Sunday.

The weeks leading up to the race weren’t the greatest in terms of training. But I wasn’t stressed since I’d already completed my goal race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (so this half in Vegas was just an extra race I added on thanks to a work opportunity). In addition, one week after Scotia, I raced the Adidas #RunMore10k (another disappointing race), which left my legs sore for days. In that time, I also traveled to Jamaica and Southern California, which threw off my training schedule and diet while also making life generally hectic. On the plus side, these two trips did temporarily get me back on a healthier sleeping schedule.

But then came the night to pack for Las Vegas (three days before the race). I attended a gala for work and stayed much longer than I intended, and I got home, napped two hours and then got up to tidy up and pack and then I realized it was 7 a.m. and time to get ready to go to the airport. Complete sleeping fail.

In Vegas, the days before the race were fairly busy, and the day of the race I had to up at 5:30 a.m. to meet for an early yoga class (whoever had made this itinerary obviously doesn’t race or they’d know we need our sleep).

With the race starting at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 15, we had a late brunch at Lago at the Bellagio and I was a bit perplexed as to what to eat (I’m more used to morning races where I know what to eat for breakfast). I opted for a macaroni carbonara starter and then a veggie frittata, both of which I didn’t finish as I was afraid of eating too much beforehand making me feel sluggish.

At 3 p.m. we were dropped off near the race start and made our way toward the lot where Kid Rock was performing on the main stage. A large line was forming, and I never found out what the delay was but for a long while no one was being allowed into the lot. Once we finally made it into the lot, we quickly checked our bags, used the portapotties and then realized we were at the very tail end of the corrals: we were in corral 47 and I was supposed to start in corral 7! So we started moving through the crowd slowly. I realized I was running out of time, though, so I started rushing and weaving my way through the crowd. I managed to get to corral 8 and settled in there rather than push through to corral 7.

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My goal for the race was to PB if I could (I was thinking 1:50, which would call for a consistent 5:12 pace), and my B goal was to match my current PB of 1:52 (which I ran in the Nike Women’s San Francisco Half-Marathon last year). I figured in my recent marathons, I’d managed to reach the halfway point in 1:52, so going a bit faster for a 21.1k distance in which I don’t need to conserve any energy for another 21.1k should be fairly easy.

The weather didn’t play its part in helping me PB, though. First off, it was insanely windy, I believe there were wind warnings of gusts of 25 miles per hour. The temperature was low, too, but I was fine with the temp during the race since I warm up very quickly and sweat a ton. It rained lightly for part of the race, which I think upset some runners (“We’re in the desert!” I heard many runners complain), but it was quite light so I wasn’t upset.

I started at a slower pace (the route was slightly uphill) at about a 5:18 pace, but eventually was running several kilometres on pace or faster than 5:12…and then about halfway, I started to lose focus and just felt weary. I don’t even recall my legs feeling like they were exhausted, but it was more a sense of my heart not being into it, and I progressively became less enchanted with racing as my pace with each kilometre got slower and slower. I was also frustrated because this is a large race and I’d say a lot of the runners in it seem to be in it more for fun, dressed in costumes and whatnot. And while I’m all for people doing a race for fun, I do have issues with  runners disregarding the corrals they should have been in. The entire race I had to work my way around runners slower than me who had no business being in corrals 1 to 8.

When I reached the section where the marathoners break off from the half-marathoners, I’d never felt more appreciative to be running the half rather than the full. I shouted (in my head) a little whoop of joy. Making my way back down the Strip towards the Mirage where the finish line was, it seemed to take an eternity until I could make out the finish line. But finally, I crossed the finish line and knew immediately from the time on my Nike+ that it was a very slow race for me, nowhere near 1:52.

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After making my through the extremely long finish chute and gathering a ton of food in my arms (her, race organizers, give us a bag to collect these goodies!), having my photo taken, changing out of my wet singlet and wrapping myself in a heat sheet, I stood shivering and listless. It was a long walk back to the Mirage, and I was frozen and cranky and didn’t want to walk alone. And so I just stood there, too cold to get out my phone to text my fellow runners. And somehow, iRun managing editor Anna Lee stumbled upon me. I was so relieved to see her and have company for the cold walk (and I was also cursing myself for bringing only a thin Nike Drifit long sleeve rather than a thermal winter top). We trudged together as quickly as our tired, cold bodies could take us back to the Mirage where our car would bring us back to our hotel.

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Once inside the Mirage, I checked my time: 1:58:49 (which is just a handful of seconds faster than my Rock n Roll Las Vegas half in 2012). I can’t say I’m happy about this, but I take some comfort in the rest of the stats: I finished 147th in my division of 2576, 907 out of 14260 women, and 2843 out of 23070 runners. And there’s also this crazy good medal I earned (the slots flip!) and the insanely good nail art by Tips Nail Bar I got for the race.

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It does leave me pondering what to do with training come 2016; whether I should train for halfs to improve my speed or stick to the marathon distance so that I can continue to try to qualify for Boston.

And call me crazy but I still have one more race to go this year. On Sunday, December 6, I race the Cayman Islands Half-Marathon. With the warm temperature in Grand Cayman and my current level of exhaustion and general weariness when it comes to running, I’m hoping I can manage to enjoy this race and treat it as a fun race (and not pressure myself so much that I can’t help but try to race it as fast as possible and I feel inevitably disappoint myself again). I think there’s a level of disenchantment I’m experiencing with running and I’m going to guess it’s tied to doing too many races and the plateaus and setbacks I’ve been experiencing all year long (compared to 2014’s PB after PB).

For now, I will focus on the two weeks of training I have to complete, another 21.1k to race, and then I’ll use the latter half of December to figure out my running plans for the new year.

Leave a Comment November 19, 2015

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