Michelle Rocks in Vegas

Michelle--the shortest of the gang--and her posse at the Sof Sole booth.

We had three lucky winners of the free entries to Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll from Sof Sole: Michelle, Carolyn and Leslie. Their race reports will run over the next three days. Up first is Michelle, who tracked down a babysitter for her three kids for the whole weekend, since her husband had to be Japan. 

When I got the notification from Dimity that I won an entry into the Las Vegas Rock N Roll Half Marathon, I was excited and happy that I’d have another opportunity this year to reach my lofty personal goal: a sub-2 hour finish in the half marathon.

Lofty for me because just a couple of years ago, there was no possible way I could have embarked on such a journey. I used to be a stressed, overweight and unhappy mother of three girls and wife to a surgeon. Now, I’m still that stressed mother of three and wife to a surgeon, but a whole lot healthier and happier.

Back in April of 2009, I tipped the scales at 270 pounds. I was still relatively active, but definitely not running, and obviously my nutrition needed help. I had a moment of clarity and perspective when my mother was diagnosed with a serious illness that year. She has lived an unhealthy and unhappy life for as long as I can remember, and I saw myself on that same road.

Before Michelle found running. "It's painful to look at that picture now," she says.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I reached my lowest weight ever of 132—Dimity here: yes, she weighs less than half of what she used to, and didn't have Jillian Michaels barking at her to motivate her!—and plan on maintaining in the 130-140 range depending upon what I’m training for (or not training for) at any given time.

During my journey I’ve met some great and supportive friends up here in the frozen tundra of Northern Minnesota and was blessed to have two of them accompany me to the race this past weekend. My friend, Louise is much like Dimity – all legs – and has been my training partner for almost a year now. It’s been a challenge to keep pace with her since I’m a mere 5’3”. (Dimity here again: long legs aren't necessarily a great thing for a runner. My two legs weigh probably as much as you do total, Michelle...just saying.)

My other friend Mary, who has faced serious personal stress this past year, came along for the wild ride. We had a great time dressing up and going out to dinner our first night in town, followed by an afternoon of shopping and later on a performance of “O.” We frequented the spa quite a bit; in fact they knew our names by the end of the weekend. Our post-race Thai massage on Monday morning was amazing. It was a great girls’ weekend that I will cherish for a long time.

A trio of ladies sharing some great GF time.

My last two half marathons I’ve had issues with starting too far back in the pack and having to navigate through the crowds. I finished my first half last June with a time of 2:16. I was happy and was planning on running another one in October: the Whistlestop Half in Ashland, Wisconsin. I finished in 2:02, and was convinced had I started farther forward, I would have had my time.

When it came to Vegas, I changed my corral to #4, which was a 1:45 predicted finish time. I knew it was ambitious, especially when sharing that revelation with SBS at Starbucks on Sunday morning; she gave me a look of utter shock. In the end, I think it was the perfect place for me start. My first mile was right on pace at 9 minutes per mile, and the following miles were progressively faster. I had a rough patch around miles 8 to 10 when the course narrowed through some seedy neighborhoods in downtown Vegas. However, I was able to pick up the pace again after that point and was going strong when I ran past my dad and his wife who had driven to Vegas to see me run for the first time.

Just two of the masses, ready to get this party started.

I’m with SBS  in thinking the reason both of us missed our sub-2 hour goals was probably due at least in some part to the narrow and disorganized finish line in of all places, the parking lot of Mandalay Bay. I barely crossed the finish and had to come to a complete stop due to overcrowding. I got a text right away from my husband who was in Japan at a medical conference that I had finished at 2:00:56, since he was getting text updates from the race itself.

At first I was devastated, and honestly, I’m still disappointed. Looking at the big picture though, it’s hard to be unhappy for too long.


29 responses to “Michelle Rocks in Vegas

  1. Congrats, you BAMR! Your story is so like mine–lost weight, got soooo close to sub-2… and trained like a beast that summer. I took over 10 minutes off my time! Can’t wait to hear your next race report!

  2. Heard the finish line was unbelievable messy, but seriously how could you be disappointed with that time? That is AWESOME! Are you local? I live in MN, Ashland isn’t that far from me….ever consider some of the smaller halves around here? We have a group running this one: I understand from a coworker its well organized and has medals…nothing like a date on the calendar to keep you motivated over the winter.

    Oh, BTW, and its just a HUGE BTW-you look utterly fantastic. Way to go and thank you for sharing your personal journey with us other RLAM’s.

  3. I feel for you! I tried to go under two hours in Vegas two years ago. I was lucky, and the course did not have the problems it did this year…BUT, I finished in 2 hours and 7 seconds. It felt so bad! I knew it was just a number, but it was also just seven seconds – like half a second per mile pace. I drove myself crazy with what ifs (what if I hadn’t drank all that beer Friday night?), BUT I went on to run a sub 2 hour half a few months later! You can do it! (I also lost about 80 pounds before I started running – so we have that in common too:) Oh yeah, I just noticed we share the same name too! I see a sub two hour half in your future!

  4. Way to Go!!!!! You are such an inspiration to everyone, escpecially within our family. I’m so blessed to be your brother.

  5. Congratulations, Michelle! You completely deserved to win that entry and it sounds like you made the most of the weekend! (Hello? The spa knowing you by name? That’s my idea of awesome!) What a journey you’ve had, you have so much to be proud of. (I’m also a MN mom of 3 girls and wife of a physician….kindred spirits).

  6. WOW! Amazing transformation–you are a rockstar and so much credit goes to you for doing it “yourself” (i.e. without a Biggest Loser ranch sort of deal). Congrats on your PR and just keep looking at all those happy girl weekend pictures 🙂

  7. How can you be disappointed, Michelle, when you’ve come so far and been such an inspiration? Hmmm, sounds like you’ve got the running bug! Many congrats on a great race and a spectacular journey.

  8. What a terrific job!! I’m about the same height as you and weigh about 10-15 lbs more but I lost 50 pounds last year and it was such an incredible journey (although I did have Jillian barking at me – at least in DVD form, for some of it). 🙂 Wonderful job on your finish!

  9. Michelle, it was so great to meet you on the weekend! 4 was crowded and it took a lot of energy to bop and weave the crowds. That sub 2 is in sight, keep up your base over the winter then rock it next spring.

  10. Way to go! I lost about 75 lbs 2 years ago on my own so I know how hard it is. I also am very short just 5 ft and feel sometimes this is a disadvantage when you see the long legs passing you. I just keep telling myself how far I have come and I need to keep going. I am pushing for that sub 2 for my next half also.

  11. Wow! Way to go Michelle! What an amazing journey. You should be so very proud of all your accomplishments and for sharing your story. It’s an inspiration!

  12. Wow! I am impressed with your motivation and drive to lose weight and train. I know it’s hard when you didn’t get the time you wanted – but still think you have many reasons to be proud!

  13. From one MN girl to another, congrats on your amazing weight loss accomplishment and your super fun girll’s weekend! Sounds like you had a great race and a great time! Way to go!

  14. You.Totally.Rock! Congrats on the wonderful get-away with your girlfriends and for being such a Rock Star on the course. And how cool (creepy?) that your hubby in Japan knew your results before you!!

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