Runner’s Den AZ Pancake Run – 5K Race Recap

A few weekends ago I had a great confidence boosting run weekend – I ran 20 miles with the Cave Creek Chicks on Saturday and then on Sunday I headed down to the Paradise Valley Mall to run in the Runner’s Den AZ Pancake Run.


15 miles into 20

This was the 37th year for this race and it is a flat & fast race.  They have had multiple elite athletes participate in both races, in fact the 10k American Record was set at this race twice over the years.  This year Olympian & American Record Holder in mile, Alan Webb participated in both races.

I’ve wanted to run this race in the past, but it never really fit in with my schedule.  Now that I’m doing things a little differently to train for my upcoming 50K, I’m running more back to back on the weekends to get my legs prepared.  I originally signed up to run both races and had every intention of doing so when I got there that morning, but we’ll get to that in a little bit.

You have the option of picking up your packet on Saturday at Runner’s Den so I did that.  They gave us a cute Brooks shirt, it still had the tags on it and everything, a coupon for a free short stack of pancakes from IHOP and a unique bib. It was nice that the race was so close to my house and it didn’t start until 8am so I was able to sleep in.  After so many races of having to get up before dark, this was a nice treat.  I got up, made myself two pieces of toast with peanut butter, got my water bottle filled and then took off.


It was somewhat cool when I left so I decided to wear one of my long sleeve shirts, a running skirt and a pair of ProCompression marathon socks along with my new Altra The One2 – which I love!!  I’ll review these shoes once I have worn them a bit longer. I got there with plenty of time.


Since the race was starting in the mall parking lot there was a ton of parking :).  I made my way over towards the port-a-potties, did my business and then hung out for a while – they had packet pick-up that morning as well, TVs set up that would be scrolling the results and some vendor tents along with the pancake station.

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It got closer to 8am so I lined up somewhere I thought was about midpack, turns out I was much closer to the front, but that ended up being a good thing.  They announced that last year they had 10 people go under 17 mins in the 5K and that the first women came in at 17:01 so we knew this was going to be a fast race.  The only thing I was a little surprised at was that they didn’t play the National Anthem like they do at most races.  Considering how big of a race, that was interesting but anyways.


And then we were off.  I really was worried about how my legs would react after the 20 miles the day before so I was trying not to run too fast.  I was far enough near the front that I didn’t really need to do too much in the way of weaving in and out around people.  I wasn’t really trying too hard, I figured if I was going to run the 10k later, I needed to conserve something for that :).

I passed the first mile marker around 9:02, I started about 20 secs after the leaders.

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Free Race Photos rock!! And I really want to see this movie too!

It was a nice & quite course – the only thing I didn’t like and it was my fault for not wearing my visor was that the sun was in my eyes after the first turn around and I couldn’t really see anything.  This was probably why the 2nd mile was the fastest – lol.  During the third mile, I started to feel a little light-headed and sick, which I originally contributed to running faster than I have in a while, but it started getting worse as I got closer to the finish line so I had to back off a little bit.  I ended up finishing in 26:51:74 (8:39 avg pace) which was only 5 seconds slower than my PR – I just looked that up on and I had no idea I was that close – oh, well, I’ll get it next time :). After I finished I wasn’t feeling that great so I took a few minutes to relax and then decided that if I felt that lightheaded and dehydrated I should probably skip the 10k.  I didn’t need to run it and I know that I didn’t refuel properly the day before after my 20 miler which contributed.


So I went over to get my post race pancakes, which the folks from IHOP were making practically to order.  It was really cool to see them out there.  I got my 2 piping hot pancakes, took them over to one of 3 topping stations.  They had berries, apples, chocolate chips, butter, syrup and whipped cream.  I dressed my pancakes, got a banana and a Shamrock Farms Rockin Refuel Vanilla drink.  The pancakes were really good, the Rockin Refuel was surprisingly good too – I’m super picky with milk drinks, I don’t normally drink real milk, but this was lactose free so that was a huge plus.

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After getting some food, I felt a lot better, but I still wasn’t going to run the race, so I headed over to the start to watch Alan Webb warm up and start the race.  I ended up talking to another runner about his upcoming trip to Italy during the 31 minutes it took Alan to run the 10k.  Crazy!! The 2nd place runner didn’t come in until after 34 mins.


Alan Webb killing it in the 10k

I didn’t regret skipping the 10k and I’m glad I had the chance to get in some speed work.  After a lot of slower runs lately, my confidence in my speed was a bit low.

All in all it was a great running weekend and I feel a lot better about my upcoming races.

If you are in Phoenix and want to run a flat & fast 5k/10k this is a great race.  I can see why they have been putting on the race for so many years.  I’m glad I had the opportunity to run it before I move.

#Teamseanandjenny Our Story

Since it is Valentine’s Day I thought it would be fitting to tell the story of how Sean & I met.

It was a dark and stormy night…no wait that’s another story lol. A little background first. As you all probably know my favorite social media is Instagram & way back, in 2012, our friend Rhea & I became instafriends. We liked each other’s posts, commented occasionally and then I decided to run the Rome Marathon & since Rhea had lived in Italy too we chatted more often. Then Meb won the Boston Marathon and Rock n Roll San Diego announced that Meb would be pacing the 1:35 half marathon pace group. And since Rhea is that fast or actually faster she decided to come down to SD.

On the flip side, Sean met Rhea earlier last year, I believe at the Carlsbad marathon after our other friend Vanessa posted on a running site looking for a place to stay in SD for the same race.

Also, just to make it more like fate, Sean & I have actually done a few of the same races over the years. Surf City & RnR San Diego for sure and there might have been others.

Back to the story…Rhea & I made plans to meet up for dinner the night before the race. I was with my running buddy Pete & she said there would be 3 of them on her side. I assumed a friend & her hubby but when we met up with them in Little Italy it was initially just Rhea & her friend Vanessa. Sean was running a bit late because he had done the Camp Pendleton mud run earlier in the day.

When he arrived he sat next to me & Rhea so we all spent a lot of time chatting. What he didn’t know until later though was that night was the first time Rhea & I met in person too.

We ended up walking down to the Harbor & we all chatted a bit more before heading out own ways to get ready for the race.


I’ve already recapped the race so I’ll skip all that, but that night when I got home I had a friend request from Sean & when I accepted he sent me a PM congratulating me on my PR.

Long story short we ended up texting pretty much everyday and since we were both going to be running in the San Francisco Marathon, me the first half, him the double marathon, we decided to meet up the Saturday before the race. July 26 would be our first official date :).


We packed 8 weeks of talking & not seeing each other into a 12 hour day and needless to say it was an amazing day! And we have spent the 6 months traveling, running & eating our way around the country since.


I feel like I am the luckiest girl in the world & I can’t wait to share the next 50+ years with him. We have a lot to do! #50yearplan #teamseanandjenny

Xterra McDowell Mountain 15 Miler Race Recap

After having been in Hawaii for 10 days and not doing a lot of running, it was time to get back on board with my marathon training.  I was having some issues with my calves being really tight & until the Tuesday before this race, I hadn’t really run more than 6 miles for over 3 weeks so I was a bit nervous about my ability to run 15 miles out at the 4th of the 5 Xterra series races here in Arizona, McDowell Mountain.

I knew I could run it but how fast, with how many walk breaks, I wasn’t sure, but I wasn’t really that concerned with that – I just really wanted to get in a decent run and start my SuperBowl Sunday with a race.

Sean came over that weekend so we could run the race together.  I picked him up at the airport Saturday morning and we headed straight out to go on a shake-out run in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve over near Norterra, which is in North Phoenix.  We did a nice 4 miles where I walked most of the hills, to save my legs, but then had a great time on the downhill & flats.

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After our shake-out, we headed over to Sole Sports, a local running store, in Scottsdale to pick up our packets.  They were offering $15 off new shoes & 10% off everything else in the store, which if I hadn’t just ordered 2 new pairs of shoes, I might have taken them up on that.  We got a few power bar snacks, our bibs, a nice red Xterra shirt and a huge Rubio’s catering bag. (I forgot to take a picture of everything – oops).

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After getting our bibs, we rested our legs at a movie and then we carb-loaded with some super yummy pizza from Sardella’s. I love pizza and am a bit of a pizza snob.  I really like Sardella’s because they have a wheat crust pizza.  We almost finished an x-large pizza between the 2 of us before heading off to bed.

Because it isn’t too hot here yet, the race started at 8:00a, which meant that we didn’t have to get up until around 6ish to leave around 6:30. I am much more of a morning person than Sean so I got him up around 6:10.  We got ready, I always lay out my gear the night before so I don’t have to worry about it the morning of.  I got our bottles filled and made us each 2 pieces of wheat toast with peanut butter and had a bit of water.  I’ve been really trying to focus on fueling properly for and during my runs so I made sure to eat both slices. We were only about 10 minutes late which was awesome!

It was a little foggy out when we got past Fountain Hills and closer to the McDowell Mountain Regional Park.  We made good time, arriving probably around 7:30a.  They had said on the website that the 15 milers were going to be able to park near the start area, which we did, but I think we heard that there was a bit of confusion on that and some of the 15 mile runners had to park down the way, near where we had camp for the Ragnar Trail Race in November, about 1 mile away.


Once we got settled there was plenty of time to use the bathroom, get a little something to drink and stretch a little before heading to the start line.  They had a few port-a-potties and this year the real bathrooms were open as well so there weren’t many lines.

We finally made our way to the start line around 7:55 and then we were off at 8.  There were quite a few people that were running the 15 mile race.  It was interesting after having been at the Hurt 100 and looking at the shoes people wore there and then at this race, definitely a different sort of crowd :).

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It had rained a lot over the week before the race so they weren’t really sure how muddy it was going to be, but fortunately save a few puddles, the course was mostly dry.

I swear that the course looked different from when I ran it last year.  I didn’t remember it being as flat, but when I look back on my gps map from last year, it looks pretty similar so I guess I was mistaken or it just looked different because of all the rain we’ve had this year.  It really is a beautiful course.

They had 3 maybe 4 aid stations on the course with water, gatorade & a gels.  It was funny because Sean was expecting more things, but I had to remind him, it wasn’t an ultra so they didn’t have all the fun snacks they do for races like that.  I just ate a few ProBar Bolt chews and had a bunch of Nuun during the race.

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How did my race go? I was doing fine the first mile or so and then my calves started locking up so I had to stop to stretch them out.  This happened a few more times and then we were able to finally get going.  Sean stayed with me the entire race even though I know I was not very fast.  He is super amazing, he ran the uphills and then would come back down for me and then run up them again.

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I wore my Altra Olympus shoes, they were awesome, I couldn’t feel any rocks under my feet at all like you sometimes can with some shoes.  It started out a bit chilly, but as we got going it got warm fast.  I was really glad I decided to wear shorts and about 1/2 way or less thru the race, I got so hot, I had to wear my long-sleeve around my waist.  Arizona weather is deceiving, because it might only be in the 60s but it feels a lot hotter in the sun.

I had no expectation for how the race was going to go, I just wanted to finish, enjoy myself and we did.  My official time was a few minutes slower than last year, but I think I had a lot more fun this year since Sean was with me.

We finished the race, hand in hand :), got our medals and then grabbed some post race food.  They had a decent selection, oranges, bananas, bagels, muffins, eggs.  We didn’t eat a lot but it was nice.

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We didn’t stick around for much longer, they were just announcing awards, which we did not win, lol, so we headed off to get breakfast and to enjoy the beautiful day.

If you are looking for a fun, not super crazy trail race, this is a great one to try.  In addition to the 15 mile race, they also have a 7km which is just over 4 miles of fun on a beautiful course.


Crewing at H.U.R.T. 100 Ultra

Sean asked me to go to Hawaii with him way back, or so it seemed :), because he got into the H.U.R.T. 100 ultra race on the island of O’ahu.

Since we’ve met, he’s run a lot of ultras but I unfortunately haven’t been able to join him at any of them so I was excited to finally be there for him at a big race.  I was a little concerned at what I needed to do, but I didn’t have to worry because everything was super easy, for this race.

We got to Hawaii a day and a half before the race.  We had to go to a pre-race briefing and packet pick-up on Friday afternoon at the Hawaii Nature Center, which would be the start, finish and an aid station.


After the briefing, they gave us a parking pass & directions to get to the other aid stations.  This was a huge help and the directions were spot on. I’ve not driven on O’ahu before so I had no idea where to go.  I probably could have GPS’d the locations, but this made it so much easier.

We headed to dinner with Sean’s family and then we had to set up his drop bags.  He had a pretty basic set-up for this race.  Fortunately, it wasn’t going to get super cold, like it can at some races so I was going to just keep his extra clothes and if he needed them, I was going to bring them to the next aid station.  We just needed to get the food & drinks ready.

So what does Sean put in his drop bags?

Monster Energy Drinks, Ensure, little snack size bags of M&Ms, bags of Starburst, which he didn’t tell me until later, we had to take the wrappers off them all :), a donut, extra batteries & an extra mobile charger.  I also would have his extra headlamps in case he needed them and he would keep a hand-held in his vest.

We got that all set up and then hit the sack, it was going to be an early morning and then we might be up for a long time so we wanted, or I definitely, wanted to get a decent night sleep.

We ended up getting to the Nature Center around 5am, got him checked in, dropped off his bags, I ran back down to the car to get his headlamp because it was much darker than he was expecting, and then it was time for him to go.   I watched him and the others start and then headed for some much needed coffee.



I wasn’t able to go to the first aid station because while there was a parking lot, they told us we weren’t able to go there until after 9am, so Sean & I decided that I would meet him at mile 20 after the first loop.  He would be fine for the first 20 miles with just going thru the aid stations without much from his drop bags.  While he ran the first 20 miles, I headed down to Ala Moana Beach Park, read some of my Bart Yasso book, did some yoga and tried to relax before heading up to meet him.


I went back to the Nature Center and while everyone else just waited I headed over towards the start area so I could watch the runners come in.  The trails are open to the public and so occasionally we would see someone who was just out for a hike come in.  After hearing later about how the trail was, it was interesting that there were so many young kids out there.

I watched for about a 1/2 hour before Sean came in.  I was able to get a few photos of him coming in then I ran over to get him some Monster, we got a photo, agreed to meet up at the next aid station and then he was off.  It was super exciting seeing him come in and I know he was really happy to see me too :).




The next aid station was really special.  It was the Paradise Park – Pirates Aid Station – they even had a pirate ship and everything!  All the volunteers had on pirate gear and they even had a plank to walk ;).  Our friend Jen, who had crewed for Sean at Tahoe 200 after her runner had to drop out, was one of the main volunteers at this station – we chatted for a few minutes and then I took a seat, waiting for Sean to come in.  I didn’t mind standing, but I was going to pace him in the evening so I needed to make sure I was hydrated and relatively rested as well.

This aid station had the best food and there was soooo much of it.  It was really quite amazing.


I was waiting for Sean to come in when along came his brother and family. His nephew made a Good Luck Uncle Sean sign and they had snacks, waters, etc. for Sean.  It was super sweet and super cool when Sean’s brother ran into the check-point with him :).  We took a few more photos, I got him more Monster, he ate a little more and then headed out.




The next aid station was about 5 miles away, so we all went our separate ways and were going to meet up there.  As I was leaving, I saw this ambulance and fire truck go by – heading towards the aid station.  I didn’t think anything about it, but as I waited at the Nu’uana aid station and it seemed like Sean was taking a little longer than I expected, I was getting worried.  But I figured that Jen would have texted me if there was a problem.


The rest of Sean’s family showed up at this aid station.  We all chatted for a bit before I saw him coming in.  He looked great & you would have never know that he had already run 32.5 miles.  I gave him his headlamp, another Rockstar, we took some more photos, hugs and he ate some more food before he headed off.




I hadn’t eaten anything much all day and it was about 4ish so I headed off to get some food before meeting back at the Nature Center.  His family met me again to cheer him on at 40 miles.  At this time, it was about 5pm and it was going to get dark soon.  We got him some more food, drink and a few more hugs before he went off again. 


We weren’t sure when I was going to start running with him so I wanted to get a bit more rest.  I was getting a bit nervous about running with him.  While I love running in the dark and have done a few trail races (Ragnar McDowell Mountain & Zion) in the dark so I didn’t have a problem with that.  The bigger issue for me was being on the edge of the mountain.

I got to the Pirate Aid Station again and waited for Sean.  I saw a lot of the runners that were ahead of him come in and thought he would be in soon.  It ended up taking him a bit longer than I expected but I finally saw him.  He came up, gave me a kiss and said he was done.  I was like what? because this is a guy who didn’t sit down for over 48 hours at the Tahoe 200 even though he had a huge blister on his foot after 50 miles, this is a guy who slept a total of maybe 3 hrs in 95 hrs of running at that same race.  Who ran the Kodiak 100 8 days after the Tahoe 200. To say I was surprised is an understatement, until he told me that he almost fell off the mountain, literally doing the splits and having to pull himself up.  He was not having fun on the course and told me flat out that there was no way he was letting me run with him, especially in the dark.


I was fully supportive of what he wanted, if he wanted to continue on, I would support him and I would still have gone out there if he would let me to keep him company, even though I was seriously shaking after hearing he almost fell off the mountain.  Talk about scary, well it wasn’t just scary to me, it was also super scary to him and after talking with a few of the volunteers, having someone who knows the course offer to pace him and us talking, he made the decision to drop out after 47 miles.

I am super proud of him and I would have supported whatever decision he made and been there at every aid station, the last miles if that’s what he wanted to keep him company.

My first experience as crew was amazing, I don’t know if it will be as easy at the next race, but HURT totally had a great set-up for aid stations & crew/spectators to meet up with their runners.

I had a great time and it was so awesome being able to be there for him.  I can’t wait to crew & pace for Sean again at his next ultra race.

And so I leave you with a few of the professionals shots that were posted on Facebook of Sean during the race. The photographer info is on the photo watermark.