Sidelines and Stinky Cheese in Las Vegas

Sidelines and Stinky Cheese in Las Vegas

Sunday was the Las Vegas Rock ‘n Roll Marathon, a race I signed up to do but unfortunately could not participate in because of my increasingly annoying Achilles injury. The last time I updated you on the status of my feet, it was the left foot giving me grief while the right Achilles was intermittently tight. Now my left foot appears to have healed but the right Achilles has gotten worse. It’s now instantly tight and stiff when I start running and is stiff in the morning when I wake up and hop out of bed (morningtendon?).

At first I thought I could still manage to do the half marathon, but after realizing that I wasn’t going to post a decent time and would just end up risking further injury, I begrudgingly opted out of doing the race entirely. (Believe me, eating a $135 race entry is a tough pill to swallow. I can only imagine what it’s like to get injured when training for an Ironman and watching your $600 entry fee get flushed down the toilet.)

Aww, nuts

Since I had already forked over the money, I figured I’d pick up my race packet anyway in hopes of scoring some free goodies that would at least partially justify the bloatedly overpriced Rock ‘n Roll cost (fingers crossed for a gu packet or two). My hopes were dashed when I picked up my bag and saw that the amount of swag I got amounted to a butt-ugly finisher’s shirt with an abstract guitar emblazoned on the front and a packet of Cytomax mix. Really, that’s it? Where are the mini cereal samples, the Shot Blocks and yucky holiday gel flavors, and the inexplicable box of macaroni and cheese? You’re a cheap bastard, Rock ‘n Roll series.

I can’t even wear my ugly finisher’s shirt because I didn’t do the race and would feel like a poser. Much how you don’t attend a concert wearing that band’s t-shirt, you don’t wear race clothing from a race you didn’t do. That has bad karma written all over it…plus, I already have a bajillion race t-shirts, so tossing away the umpteenth black tech tee isn’t going to break my heart. So congratulations, Northwest Center, you’re about to inherit an unused marathon finisher’s t-shirt for some lucky person in need of apparel that wicks sweat slightly better than regular cotton. I am so giving.

So anyway, back to the whole Vegas thing. Jas and I had booked a room at the Bellagio. To make a long backstory somewhat short, the hotel had offered to upgrade us to a “lake view suite” (meaning the fountain) gratis after a reservation mix-up that Jason had straightened out back in June or July. When we got to the front desk to check in, the employee told us that for some reason we had been upgraded again to a mega-suite that’s 1500 sq. ft and has two bathrooms that are each bigger than my bedroom at home. The only catch was that the room wasn’t ready yet. So we waited…and waited…and waited. All told, it took six hours of dicking around and heading to the Expo Hall, grabbing lunch, and being crabby before we finally got our room. In that amount of time I probably inhaled half a pack’s worth of second-hand smoke. Oh casinos, you so nasty.

I just love smelling like a stale version of this lady

The suite itself was nice but not super-duper impressive. It was probably quite grand 10 years ago, but there were a few ghetto touches that indicated how much wear and tear and neglect the Bellagio had been experiencing since it opened in 1998. Some light bulbs were broken or burned out, and there were scuffs and scratches on the walls in various spots. Still, we did have a steam shower and jetted tub, plus there was a TV that popped up out of a cabinet as if by magic…slow, amusingly loud and chuggy magic.

Jas and I were a bit crabby the night before the race from having to wait so long to get our room (my need to shower reaches 24-esque levels of intensity when I’ve been traveling — damnit, Chloe, I need a loofah stat!), so we weren’t thrilled about having dinner with his family that night. Not that they aren’t good company, but you know how it is when you just want to be anti-social and eat your ridiculously overpriced Las Vegas meal in peace. I was less stoked about being peppered with questions about my Achilles — it’s a bit of a sore subject (literally), and I didn’t really need to be reminded of how crappy it was that I couldn’t run the race. We finished up dinner and were lamely in bed by 10 pm. Wooooo, Vegasssssss!

"Goodnight, Bec!" "Sleep well, Jas!"

The next morning, we enjoyed a $50 room service breakfast consisting of coffee, a waffle, and a yogurt parfait (yes, that shiz cost me fifty bucks — that waffle better be made out of narwhal horn) and got ready for the race. By “got ready for the race,” I mean Jason made his bottles and puttered around the room getting all of his stuff in order while I laid in bed until the last possible minute and then threw on jeans and a pullover. We walked to the start of the race and ran into Mark, at which point I hugged my gentle giant, wished him good luck, and parted ways.

It was sunny, windless, and a good temperature for running, but unfortunately Vegas has the shittiest air imaginable so running through the pollution and dryness can do a number on your lungs (as it did to mine last year when I ran the half). Jason wanted to run a sub-3:30 race, but the dry air took its toll and left him dehydrated during the second half of the race. He managed to drag his pasty, salt-crusted body across the finish line in 3:36, which is still a 10 minute PR. Plus, he beat his sister — that should stoke the sibling rivalry and carry him through the holiday season.

I wanted to come back to Seattle on Monday, the day after the race, because I’ve been to Las Vegas enough times that Sin City has started to lose its luster. My allergies are getting tired of spiking into overdrive from the thick clouds of cigarette smoke, everything is offensively expensive, and I’ve found the overall service to be sorely lacking ever since the recession hit. However, my sneaky boyfriend wanted to stay until Tuesday, and he bribed me the only way he knew how: with food. As part of my now quite belated birthday gift, he promised back in August that he’d take me to Joel Robuchon for dinner while we were in Las Vegas. The catch, of course, was that the reservation was for Monday night. That devious bastard — now I had to pack a dress and heels. Coming from someone who spends most of her day in pajamas, that’s a tall order.

Nonetheless, my food-loving side caved and I agreed to leave later so we could dine at a 3 Michelin star restaurant owned by a man who was given the title of “chef of the century.” Sidenote: Jason and I love food. It’s one of the reasons we’re so compatible — instead of negatively judging him for chowing down as much as he does, I shamelessly make him split everything we order in half despite the fact that I’m nearly a foot shorter and weigh 100 lbs less than him. I showed you how we ate our way through Puerto Rico and Miami, so for us Las Vegas’s plethora of restaurants owned by renowned chefs is like Kryptonite.

Joel Robuchon‘s restaurants have more Michelin stars than any other chef in the world. He’s French and intimidating and his food is meticulously crafted. Our reservation included a complimentary limo ride from the Bellagio to the MGM Grand, where we were allowed to walk through the Mansion, a section of the hotel/casino specially reserved for high rollers and super duper rich people who aren’t me.

It costs $500 just to look at this picture

The first thing we saw when we were seated was a framed picture of Tony Parker and Eva Longoria. Ouch. The restaurant had photos of random celebrities who had presumably dined there (either that, or Robuchon really stands by his fellow Frenchmen who are also NBA athletes). They apparently didn’t get the memo that those two are on the out and out. Come on, JR, we’re paying enough money that I expect you to be on top of the latest celebrity gossip.

In addition to the lavish entrees, we got to choose from a bread cart offering probably 20+ types of baked goods (photo “borrowed” from Yelp):

I shamelessly stuffed my face with 7 pieces of various bread

We also added a cheese course option and were stunned when they wheeled out this treasure trove of fromage:

Heaven. Lactose-rich heaven.

There were various types of brie, blue cheese, goat cheese, cheddar, herb-crusted cheese, cow’s milk cheese — you name it and it was probably on the cart (well, not Velveeta). One of the cheeses we picked out was the strongest one they offered. Jason shared a piece with me and I sniffed it, cringed, tasted it, lit up with delight, then smelled it again and started coughing.

Jason, laughing: “Are you okay?”

Me, sputtering: “It tastes like a delicious fart!”

I’ve never encountered such a strong, simultaneous mix of deliciousness and revulsion. It smelled so bad, yet tasted so good.

Lastly, after our meal was complete and we finished our desserts, we were treated to a third cart of ridiculousness, the mignardises (or as I referred to it, the “cart full of fancy chocolates”):


It was full of a lavish and wide variety of treats to choose from — chocolates, caramels, gelees, and 50 other things I’ve only recently discovered exist thanks to the first season of Top Chef: Just Desserts. By the time the meal concluded, Jas and I felt miserably full and his wallet was about to get substantially lighter. It was a fun experience, but not something I’d do again any time soon lest I just decide to say “Eff this ‘saving for my future’ nonsense” and eat my way to bankruptcy.

Now we’re back home and I’m quite happy to have returned to cozy gray Seattle. I don’t know if I’ll do the Vegas marathon in the future — after seeing how much Jason and everyone else suffered and complained about the air quality, it doesn’t seem appealing to me. I might do the half again, but that’s about it. I’m more focused on trying to heal my Achilles and maybe find a replacement marathon to run this spring before the triathlons pick back up again. Oh, and I need to work off this post-Robuchon paunch I brought back with me from Vegas. Priciest fat accumulation ever.

6 Responses to “ “Sidelines and Stinky Cheese in Las Vegas”

  1. Sara Keogh says:

    Sounds wonderful. What was your entree?

    • Rebecca says:

      It was a prix fixe menu so we paid for a few courses. We had some crazy stuff — a crab and caviar amuse bouche, lobster cauliflower salad, roasted chestnut soup, rib eye with wasabi spinach and peppers, and some other stuff that was uber-delicious and super fancy.

  2. Liam says:

    That sucks about the tendon. I just finished my first marathon (NYC) this past November and wasn’t sure I’d be able to run due to achilles’ trouble. I opted to take it super easy for 4 weeks prior to the race and be somewhat undertrained in hopes that it would heal.

    About 13 miles in, it really started to get sore and tight. I had horrific visions of my tendon snapping and rolling up in 2 directions like a couple of slap bracelets under my skin as I ran, but I kept adjusting my footing until I reached a soreness plateau. By the end of the race, it wasn’t bothering me much at all. So, the moral: micro-adjustments in form can really make a huge difference.

  3. Mary Moltman says:

    You sound like a more intense version of me. I exercise to eat!! That meal sounds absolutely AMAZING! Too bad about the tendonitis – hope it’s coming along. Oh, and an aside – a friend of mine took his wife to Vegas for the first time. She excitedly told the couple that they were dining with that she was staying at the Fellatio – I guess that’s down the street from the Bellagio, hey?
    Love reading your blog. It’s great, just so you know.

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