Race Recap: Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Phoenix

Two weeks ago, I ran my last race for 2014, The Hot Chocolate 15k, here in Phoenix or technically Scottsdale :).  I debated a lot about even running this race mostly because while it does provide a lot of nice swag, it is an expensive race for the fact that it is a 5k & a 15k.  Also, I ran this race 2 years ago and I did not enjoy the course.  Fortunately they have made some course adjustments and this year things were a lot better course wise.

I finally signed up the Monday before the race.  I saw that the Run Eat Tweet AZ group was doing a meet-up and I love meeting my social media friends so I bit the bullet and signed up.  Really, twist my arm, a race, bling, chocolate? Even though, chocolate isn’t my fav dessert, it’s still yummy from time to time.

The expo was held at Salt River Fields, by the main baseball field where the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies play for spring training.  It’s a really nice place, there is lots of parking and space for the expo.  They had the expo open Friday afternoon and then all day Saturday, because it’s about a 30 min drive from my house, I decided to go to the expo after work on Friday so I didn’t have to worry about it on Sat.

Hot Chocolate 15k, Race Expo, Salt River Fields, Ram Racing, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona
Walking into the Expo

It was very well organized, you go and pick up your bib and they just pick a bib number and then print out a barcode with your name, corral letter and city on it.  After that you go pick up your swag/goodie bag.  The Hot Chocolate race does have a very nice goodie bag, this year they did a zip up sweatshirt, with pink accents for the ladies and green for the men.  I went up to try it on before picking up my bag, just in case, but I had picked the right size, so while they allow exchanges, I fortunately didn’t have to deal with that.  In addition to the sweatshirt, they gave us a cute little pink bag to put it all in and to use for the gear check the next day.

Hot Chocolate 15k, Road Race, Race Swag, Goodie Bag, race bib, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona

After picking everything up, I took a look around the expo, they had a number of booths, although I really didn’t need anything so I only stopped by the Eat Good Food booth to get some sweet potato chips & a coupon and to try the new Larabar granola, which is really good.  As I was leaving I had to stop by the Hot Chocolate sample station where they had hot chocolate and chocolate covered marshmallows – YUM!! They also had a really nice area with merchandise with race logo, name on it.

Hot Chocolate 15k, race expo, salt river fields, phoenix, scottsdale, arizona Hot Chocolate 15k, Salt River Fields, Ram Racing, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona, Race ExpoIMG_1060

Jumping ahead to race day, as I said earlier, the race location is about 30 minutes from my house.  They said that there would be road closures starting at 7am so I wanted to make sure I got there in plenty of time.  I like to have lots of time to allow for anything that might happen and to not have to stress before the race, as we saw before the RnR Vegas Marathon, rushing around before the start totally stresses me out.  This time around however, I got there crazy early, so early that I just hung out in the car for about 30 mins before venturing over to the start area.

Hot Chocolate 15k, Salt River Fields, Ram Racing, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona
Starting Line Area
Hot Chocolate 15k, Salt River Fields, Ram Racing, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona
Starting line village, sun up, moon up 🙂
Hot Chocolate 15k, Salt River Fields, Ram Racing, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona, Gear Check
Fun photo ops next to gear check

The 5k started at 7:30a and the 15k and 8:15a and I got there around 6:45a I believe so that was a big gap.  The nice thing was that I got their early enough that there weren’t any lines for the port-a-potties, lol.  They had a very organized gear check, so after using the facilities one more time around 7:45a I dropped off my bag and headed over to the start line.  I was in Corral G, the 2nd corral for the 15k.  Unfortunately, I got mixed up and ended up in the third corral, they had signs with the letters on them and I thought that I needed to enter at the back of the corral, but instead I ended up in the H corral instead.  Which wouldn’t be a huge issue, except that they had 10 minutes between waves so I ended up having to wait an extra 20 mins to get started.

Hot Chocolate 15k, Salt River Fields, Ram Racing, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona
The obligatory pre-race photo
Hot Chocolate 15k, Start Line, Ram Racing, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona
The start line is up there somewhere – LOL

By the time we started, the sun was up and while it was still chilly, for us ;), it was a great day for a run.  It had been rainy, cloudy the day before and the following days as well.  My last run a few days prior wasn’t great so I wasn’t sure how the race was going to go.  I wore my Newton Distance U’s which I like better than my Fate’s so no calf pain today.  I actually had decided before the race that I was just going to enjoy the race and whatever happened, happened.  There was absolutely no pressure to run any specific time and while I wanted to PR the distance, I wasn’t going to stress about it.

They had a few treat stations during the race, as you ran thru, there were four treat stations, strawberry marshmallows, chocolate chips, chocolate marshmallows & tootsie rolls.  I wasn’t brave enough to try any of that, I’m pretty particular about what I eat when I’m running, but it was a nice thought.

This year the race course didn’t have nearly as many out and backs, but the one that they did have was several miles long, I saw my “insta”friend, @cavecreeknic when I was on this stretch.  It was so great to finally meet her after being instagram friends for a while.  I was just cruising along and it was about mile 6 I decided that my goal for this race was just to run the whole thing.  If you have been following along on my journey, you may remember that I was a Galloway runner for years and the habit is hard to break.

Hot Chocolate 15k, Salt River Fields, Ram Racing, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona
Me & @cavecreeknic after the race 🙂 We’ve done a ton of the same races but this is the first time we met in person 🙂

Side note: I fully embraced the Galloway method and I think it’s a great way to run, I have an issue with my low back/hamstring that makes Galloway more painful due to the start & stop, so I have been working on running straight as much as I can.  I would recommend the Galloway method to anyone, especially if you are just starting out.

It was about mile 7 that this girl wearing yellow shorts passed me and I just kept her in my sights for the rest of the race while I ran my own race.  About mile 8.7 I ended up passing her, I thought she looked familiar, and I wanted to be like, come on girl, you’ve got it, but it really was all I could do to keep going myself.  I kept telling myself one step at a time.  Afterwards at the Run, Eat, Tweet AZ meet-up I found out why she looked so familiar, it was @issamosely!!

In the end, I was so super proud of myself, not for the 10 min PR I achieved in this race distance, but more because I didn’t once stop and walk, I ran the entire race.  It probably sounds silly, but it was such a huge achievement for me especially after having a not so great marathon experience and if nothing else, it gave me the confidence to know that I can do it!

I finished strong and felt a little sick afterwards, but walked it off, got my awesome medal and 2 bottles of water before heading over to get my Hot Chocolate bowl of goodness :).  While I was heading that way, another instagram friend, @jenniferlynn612, said Hi!  It was really cool finally meeting all the people I’ve been following.

Hot Chocolate 15k, Salt River Fields, Ram Racing, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona, Race Medal
The super awesome medal

So now back to the Hot Chocolate bowl of goodness, since I’m not a huge huge fan of chocolate I thought it was a good sized bowl.  They gave us a reusable bowl that had a cup of hot cocoa, one of the sections had hot dipping chocolate in it and then there was a small banana, a mini rice krispie treat, pretzels and a few other snack items.  It was a nice little treat.

Hot Chocolate 15k, Salt River Fields, Ram Racing, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona, chocolate treats
The post race treats 🙂

After getting my chocolate bowl, I headed over to the stage area to meet up with the rest of the Run, Eat, Tweet AZ group, I had posted my outfit the night before and was wearing my Lululemon plaid skirt so everyone recognized me – LOL. We chatted for a while, took some photos and talked a little about the next meet-up.  I know I said it before, but it was really nice to meet in person the people that I’ve been interacting with via instagram the last few months.  The power of social media :).  I also got to meet the amazing @cavecreeknic who I’ve been following for a while.

Hot Chocolate 15k, Salt River Fields, Ram Racing, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona, runeattweetaz
#RunEatTweetAZ Selfie!!
Photo courtesy of @bananabuzzbomb instagram


Hot Chocolate 15k, Salt River Fields, Ram Racing, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona, runeattweetaz
#RunEatTweetAZ meet up…
Photo courtesy of @runeattweetaz instagram

Thinking back on it, outside of my little corral snafu I can’t think of anything about this race that I didn’t enjoy.  I ran for me, for fun, with no pressure to achieve any goals and I was very consistent in my splits – ranging from 8:44(last mile) to 9:22 for an average pace of 9:07.  Now if only I could maintain that for another 17 miles and I’ll have close to a sub 4 marathon.  I know it will come, but on my time.

Hot Chocolate has races around the country and I’d totally recommend running one, but I’d also recommend signing up early to get the best price :).  They have some of the best race swag, sweatshirts, reusable bags, chocolate treats and one of the best things in racing, free race photos!!

Hot Chocolate 15k, Race Photos, Ram Racing, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona Hot Chocolate 15k, Race Photos, Ram Racing, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona Hot Chocolate 15k, Race Photos, Ram Racing, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona



Arizona Road Racers: Thanksgiving Classic 10 Mile

Last year I was taking a break from running after the NYC Marathon so I volunteered at the LifeTime Thanksgiving Day Turkey Run in downtown Phoenix.  This year I was just off a marathon and our huge event at work, but Thanksgiving was Sean’s birthday and I knew we would be running at least a little bit so when I found the Arizona Road Racers, Thanksgiving Classic had a 10 miler, I was like that’s it.  Let’s sign up!

So we were in, we didn’t sign up until the week of the race so I think I paid something like $40 to do the race, I can’t remember exactly.  It was in Peoria at the Peoria Sports Complex, which isn’t too far from my house and not too far from the NYC in AZ race I did earlier in the month.

Arizona Road Racers, Thanksgiving Classic, 10 miler, road race, start, finish line

They were expecting about 2,500 people.  There were 461 people in the 10 mile and 1,079 in the 5k and then there was a 1 mile race too. We had to get our packets the morning of the race so I told Sean we needed to get there a bit early.  The 10 mile was starting at 8:00am and registration opened at 6:30am.  I think we got there around 7:00a.  We parked over by the start & finish line and then walked around the complex to find the registration area.  We got our bibs, blue for 10 mile, white for 5k and a black cotton t-shirt that actually is pretty nice.  I got a small and it fits pretty good considering.

Arizona Road Racers, Thanksgiving Classic, 10 miler, road race

We went back to the car after getting our packets to stay warm and just chill for a bit before heading to the start.  Of course I had to use the bathroom before hand and when we got back over to the bathrooms, which were real bathrooms for a change 🙂 but there was a huge line for the women’s rest room, big surprise there, lol.  By that point there was only 15 minutes before the race started so I stayed positive while waiting and we ended up making it to the start line just as they were doing the national anthem.

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Sean asked me if we were going to run together and I told him he could go and run on his own. I was still semi sore from the marathon and a weekend in heels and I had decided I was just going to see what happened.

Once we were off, I yet again had an issue with that stupid pouch and my spi belt.  I really need to figure something out so I can run without having to deal with the bouncing.  I also grabbed the wrong headphones and needless to say I didn’t have any music the whole way either.

My legs were really heavy and I managed to run until mile 4 or so and then I walked a little.  We were on the Greenway on the pathways for the New River Trail System.  It’s a pretty nice area to run in and very close to where I did the NYC in AZ race.  My calves were pretty tight and this was really just for fun so I was just run/walking and enjoying it.

This was a bit of an out and back course, and I think I saw people on the other side until about mile 6.5 when I saw the last person.  I walked a lot during mile 7 and then I ran the rest of the way in.  I knew Sean was quite a bit ahead of me and I kept thinking, maybe he’ll come back after I finished and finish with me, and at mile 9ish, I saw him and we were able to run the last mile together.

Arizona Road Racers, Thanksgiving Classic, 10 miler, road race

That was the best part of the race!!  And amazingly, I was able to run that last mile in 8:37 – crazy!  Oh and I almost forgot because I haven’t run a lot of 10 mile races, this was only my 2nd one, I think, but I did PR it by about 10 mins so that was exciting too :).

Arizona Road Racers, Thanksgiving Classic, 10 miler, road race Arizona Road Racers, Thanksgiving Classic, 10 miler, road race

After we finished the race, we took some photos, as per usual, and then headed over to the area where we got our bibs, they had bottles of water, bananas, apples, chips & granola bars.  They handed out pies for the top 3 in each age group so as we enjoyed the sun and chilled before heading home, we listened to them announce the winners for the 5K and then eventually the 10 miler.

Arizona Road Racers, Thanksgiving Classic, 10 miler, road race
Post Race Treats

The nice thing about doing the races in Peoria is that there is a lot of parking, so you don’t have to really worry about that.  The trail paths are nice, it’s not just flat canal, there are some ups and downs, albeit not drastic.   This was my first race with the Arizona Road Racers and I think they did a good job.  My only complaint would be that I’m not a huge fan of the out and back on these trail paths because it can get a little congested, but all in all I enjoyed this race.

It’s nice to do the smaller races from time to time. And it was a perfect way to celebrate Sean’s Birthday and start our Thanksgiving!

Run the Strip at Night RnR Las Vegas Marathon

When we left off, we were on our way out for dinner, at 11:30pm Saturday night, because I totally fell asleep after the 5K.  We went to Yardhouse by the Linq and had super yummy club sandwiches with sweet potato fries. Yum!! It was super windy that night and soooo cold.  I was praying that it wouldn’t be that windy on race day, I remember hearing that last year was so windy during the race.

Rock n Roll, Marathon, Half Marathon, Las Vegas, Nov 16, 2014, Road Race, Club Sandwich, Sweet Potato Fries, Yardhouse

After getting a decent nights sleep, we just went to the hotel restaurant for breakfast, they had a buffet, but we like to just eat ala carte so we ordered omelets with hashbrowns and toast.  It was a decent pre-race meal.

We then just went back to the room, watched a little TV and chilled out until it was time to get ready to run. I know you aren’t supposed to do anything new on race day, but I did eat 1/2 a Sprinkles cupcake before getting ready.  Crazy but Sean was like we need to get some extra calories and the actual cake is a carb, right? 😉

We got ready, we were a bit later than I was hoping and headed out for the monorail.  When we got there, we were met by a rude surprise Burnt Toast Moment #1, there was a huge line of people waiting to get on to the monorail.  Sean went up ahead to see what the issue was and found that all the trains were super full and they were literally only letting like 5 people on at a time.  I wasn’t in the mood to be late for the race, we were already a little later than I like to be anyways so we made the decision to run to the start instead.  Off we went, weaving in and out of people as we ran down the strip to the start area.  I don’t do well in situations like this, I like to have everything done in an orderly fashion, i.e. being at the start area in plenty of time so there is no rushing to do anything.

I was running at what I felt was an easy pace, but I kept losing Sean so that was putting a bit of stress on me too, as I kept looking back for him as we got separated by the crowds of people.  We finally made it to the end of the strip, only to see that we needed to go a bit further to get to the start village to check my bag.  We made it inside and to the bag check area with literally 4 minutes to spare.  There was a guy calling out Gear Check closes in 4 minutes as I was trying to get my track pants & sweatshirt into the bag and grab my GoMacro bar.

Rock n Roll, Marathon, Half Marathon, Las Vegas, Nov 16, 2014, Road Race
A little stressed 😉

After my experience earlier this year of not using the facilities before the race, I knew I couldn’t hold it for long, it was cold out 🙂 so we decided to wait for the port-a-potties in the start village.  I wasn’t too happy at this point at all because I was super stressed, nervous & cold.  We finally made it to the front of the line, did our business and then headed out to the corrals, at this point it is almost 4:20p and the race is to start at 4:30p.  When we got out of the village area, it became obvious that we were still not close to the start.  I saw corral 45 and just about burst into tears since we were supposed to start in corral 13 & to make matters worse the race info stated that there was a strict 5 hour marathon cut-off.  I was super worried that we wouldn’t make it time so off we went again.  Fortunately we made it to the correct corral by 4:25p or so in time to hear the National Anthem and take a few photos.  It was at this time when Sean, who if he hadn’t run with me, would have been in corral 2 said something to the effect that by the time I get to the start he was practically finished, LOL. Welcome to the world of the middle of the pack :).

IMG_0166 Rock n Roll, Marathon, Half Marathon, Las Vegas, Nov 16, 2014, Road Race Rock n Roll, Marathon, Half Marathon, Las Vegas, Nov 16, 2014, Road Race

We finally made it to the start and took off.  This is when Burnt Toast Moment #2 happens…but first a tiny backstory… I used to have an awesome Amphipod pouch for my cell phone that slipped on to my Nathon fuel belt, or easily into my shorts/capris with little to no bulk and I lost it earlier this year.  When I went to purchase another one I couldn’t find another one like it at REI so I got a different one, that clips on instead.  Well I don’t like this pouch at all, it doesn’t work for me except if I put it in my sports bra, which can cause horrible chafing (this was the worst it ever has been – it took 2 weeks to heal), but I like to run with my phone so I’ve been sucking it up until I could find another pouch that fits my iPhone 6.  Now back to the race, on Saturday during the 5K I clipped the phone case to my spibelt and ran with it like that, no bouncing so I did the same thing again for this race.  But this time, it was bouncing all over the place and driving me absolutely crazy, probably because I forgot that on Saturday I tied my long sleeve shirt around my waist which helped to prevent the bounce.  I kept trying to get it to stop bouncing while running around people and trying to keep up with Sean.

Finally I was like forget it and I just put it in my sports bra only to have my headphones die immediately (seriously?).  Since we were barely 2 miles into a 26 mile race, that was like the end of the world, especially after all the other craziness.  I think, no I know, at one point I was like I don’t even want to run this, to which Sean said, can you at least be a little positive? so I shut up and tried to enjoy running on the strip.  By this point it was dark and all the casinos were lit up, which was really pretty.

We were going at a good pace and I was trying not to look at my watch so I asked Sean where were at and it was around 6 miles.  I was already tired and I must have thought at least a hundred times, maybe I should just turn off and only run the half, but I knew that I had to do it so I just asked Sean to slow down a bit when we got to mile 8 or so because I wasn’t going to be able to maintain that pace.  We kept going down the strip and then into a little bit of a residential area before we marathoners split off from the half marathoners.  It was at this point that it got colder.  We went thru the Fremont Street Experience which was super cool, I’ve never been there before, lots of lights and there were people flying over us on zip lines, that was interesting.  Lots of people cheering, then we left there and went out, I don’t know where, but there wasn’t a whole lot going on in the next 10 miles or so.

Rock n Roll, Marathon, Half Marathon, Las Vegas, Nov 16, 2014, Road Race, Freemont Street Experience Rock n Roll, Marathon, Half Marathon, Las Vegas, Nov 16, 2014, Road Race, Freemont Street Experience

Around mile 10 there was a little uphill and I had to walk it because my calf was a little tight.  Well that’s the start of a few more burnt toast moments.  At mile 11, my right leg completely cramped up.  The calf issues were causing my shin muscle to pull – and I was already cramping in that area.  This caused me to have to walk a bit. I’d try to run but my leg was literally giving out on me, it was a horrible feeling.  We walked a lot more between miles 11 – 16 than I would have liked.  Also during that time period, I refilled my 20 oz camelback bottle 2 times and went to the bathroom 2 times as well.

Right around mile 16 we took a 2nd bathroom break and got our bottles filled and I took a selfie that I posted to instagram where I was practically in tears because I was soooo afraid we wouldn’t make it due to the time cut-off and in a lot of pain too.  I think it was around this time that Sean gave me 2 advil as well – I very rarely ever take medicine for pain so I almost refused but I’m pretty sure he insisted.  I think it did help because not too long after this point I was able to try to run.

Rock n Roll, Marathon, Half Marathon, Las Vegas, Nov 16, 2014, Road Race
In Pain, Ready to be done!!
Rock n Roll, Marathon, Half Marathon, Las Vegas, Nov 16, 2014, Road Race
Social Media break

So from mile 16 on, we ran to each mile marker where we walked for about a minute before running to the next mile marker.  At some point we ran back thru the Fremont Street Experience and I missed the mile marker so I think we ran about 2 miles that time, after which took a quick break and we ran the rest of the race in (almost 4 miles).  I was so worried about the time, but once we got to the strip, I saw that there were still half marathon walkers that we were passing so I felt a little better.  I figured if there were still half marathoners out there they weren’t going to kick us off the course.  This is the first time I’ve run a race with such a short time limit, although, I don’t think it was as strictly enforced like I thought it was, it still made it stressful when my race didn’t go as well as I thought it would.

Rock n Roll, Marathon, Half Marathon, Las Vegas, Nov 16, 2014, Road Race

It was probably around mile 22 or so that my head phones died but really I think what happened was that my phone was almost dead and I didn’t realize it until we had finished and I saw that my nike+ app hadn’t captured the entire race.

I checked my Garmin and it looks like from around mile 22.5 thru the end, we ran without walking, it wasn’t fast but we did manage to finish strong.  Our last mile was even sub 10 mins which at that point, I’m shocked at.

Sean and I smiled for lots of photographers and then when we were about a 1/2 mile from the finish, he asked me if I would be ok with holding hands when we crossed the finish line.  Of course!! So as we approached the finish line we joined hands and finished the race at the exact same time.  It was pretty amazing because when we checked later, we hit every single timing mark at the same time!

There are no words for how happy I was to be finished with this race.  This was my 4th marathon and of the 4, it was probably the one I was least excited about.  I think I told Sean a number of times, I was way more excited for him to run NYC then I as to run this race.  I didn’t have the best of training cycles, it started to feel like work vs fun.  I didn’t run more than 18 miles twice vs the 22 – 24 that I’ve done in the past. There were a lot of reasons why I was excited for it to be done.

I am signed up for 2 marathons for next year already and there were times during this race that I was like, what was I thinking, I’m signed up for 2 more of these! lol But I’ll take what I learned here and use it to help me for the next one.

Overall, as a race, Rock n’Roll does do a good job.  The aid stations were well stocked, they had port-a-potties at each station. They had a lot of food/beverage available at the finish, including bottles of water, Gatorade, chocolate milk, bananas, pretzels & power bars.  Apparently they were also handing out beer at the finish, but since we don’t drink, that didn’t really interest us so much.  They also handed out the space blanket wraps.

Rock n Roll, Marathon, Half Marathon, Las Vegas, Nov 16, 2014, Road Race, Bellagio, post race

The medals were nice too (although, I like the 5K medal almost as much if not more than the marathon one – lol).  And since we did the 5k on Saturday and the marathon on Sunday we got the extra Remix medal.  They had a tent after the finish where you could collect them.

RnR Las Vegas, Marathon, MedalRnR Las Vegas, Remix Medal

Most of the issues I had with the race were not related to the race itself, they were more my own personal issues.  The only real cons I saw with the race were that it takes a lot longer to get to the start than anticipated, definitely allow enough time to get there.  Don’t rely on the monorail unless you leave way early.  The other thing was that once the marathon left the half marathoners, it’s pretty desolate out there, we felt like we went to Utah or something it seemed so out in the middle of nowhere.

The best part of the race, running the whole way with Sean :).  Running on the strip was pretty cool too, seeing the lights and then being able to watch the fountains at the Bellagio after the race.

Rock n Roll, Marathon, Half Marathon, Las Vegas, Nov 16, 2014, Road Race, Bellagio, post race

Oh and then there was the post race Sprinkles Ice Cream 😉 that was awesome!! And totally made all the burnt toast moments better, lol.

Rock n Roll, Marathon, Half Marathon, Las Vegas, Nov 16, 2014, Road Race, Sprinkles, Cupcakes, Ice cream

Now to start planning for my next race ;)…

Run the Strip at Night RnR Las Vegas 5k Race Recap

Sean & I headed to Vegas a few weeks ago for the RnR Las Vegas Marathon.  We had Tour Passes and one extra race each so I looked it up to see if we could use the pass for the 5K and when I found out we could, we signed up.

Since Sean is a run streaker – he’s almost at 4 years of running a minimum of 2 miles every day so I knew we were going to run on Saturday regardless so this 5K was a great way to get in a nice & easy shake-out run the day before the marathon.

The 5K was by the SLS Hotel on the other end of the strip from us so we took the monorail from near our hotel down to the race start area.

RnR Las Vegas, 5k, Start line, marathon weekend, race day
Ready to go!! Happy & all smiles 🙂

The monorail was busy, but not too bad and we made it to the start area in about 15 minutes.  Once there we took a little tour of the hotel to get to the actual start.

RnR Las Vegas, 5k, Start line, marathon weekend, race day

We got there about 20 minutes before the race was to start so we hit up the port-a-potties, barely no lines and then took a few photos and headed over to the corrals.  I was in the 2nd corral, but the corrals were too small for all the participants so we waited until corral 1 left and then we crawled thru the barriers to get inside.

RnR Las Vegas, 5k, Start line, marathon weekend, race day RnR Las Vegas, 5k, Start line, marathon weekend, race day

They started the race in the parking lot, which is ok, I guess, except that you hear the announcer say, be extremely careful until you get out of the parking lot because it’s not super smooth. So needless to say that slowed down the first mile quite a bit.  Before the race, Sean & I discussed that we didn’t have to run together – he’s quite a bit faster than I am and very very rarely runs 5Ks so I wanted him to see what he could do :).

Right after the start, there was a cool little light up bubble tunnel – that was kind of a nice touch to kick off the race.  They had colored lights at the end of the race as well.

RnR Las Vegas, 5k, Start line, marathon weekend, race day
Inside the tunnel at the start

We both started in corral 2, but once we were started I didn’t see him again until about 1 mile in when we did a short out and back.   I saw Meb running too in this section.

The course itself wasn’t anything super special in my opinion, we did run on the strip for a little bit, they had the far right lane closed for us so there were a lot of cars driving down, which was good & bad.  Good because a lot of people were cheering for us and bad because there were a lot of cars with exhaust and smokers which makes it hard to breathe.  But all in all it was a decent race and considering I rarely run 5ks, I managed to not only officially PR but run negative splits as well!  So another goal checked off my list :).

RnR Las Vegas, 5k, Start line, marathon weekend, race day RnR Las Vegas, 5k, Start line, marathon weekend, race day

Sean was waiting for me when I finished the race and Meb had finished just a minute before me so there was a lot of people taking photos with him, etc.  Sean said he had hi-fived him at the finish and then got a cool photo of him finishing.


I got my medal, a bottle of water, a banana and some pretzels.  I thought the medals were awesome!! They are super cool, unique and really incorporate some interesting elements that showcase where the race was being held.

RnR Las Vegas, 5K Medal

Afterwards, we took a few photos and then decided to head back to the hotel.  We were debating on staying for the concert, Cromeo was playing, but we finished relatively quickly, I heard them announcing corral 8 just as I was finishing the race so we had at least a 1/2 hour or so before the race and I just wanted to relax before the marathon then next day.

RnR Las Vegas, 5k, Start line, marathon weekend, race day

So back to the monorail we went, we were able to see some of the runners that were still finishing up from the train.  That was pretty cool – it reminded me a bit of Chicago when I was racing from spot to spot to find & cheer Sean on :).


I ended up falling asleep pretty early and then woke up around 11:30pm starving, we never ate dinner – yikes!! So off we went for dinner and then more rest.  Less than 24 hours until my 4th marathon!

Ragnar Trail McDowell Mountain Recap 2014

When my team from last year asked if I wanted to run Ragnar Trail McDowell Mountain again, the answer was a resounding YES!  Last year was my very first time camping and surprisingly it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting and throw in a few runs, friends, food and it was a great time.  And after our experience in Zion, this would be a piece of cake because the odds of snow in Phoenix in November, pretty darn slim – lol.

We had a small planning meeting the weekend before the race, basically just to discuss who was arriving when and bringing what.  5 members of our 8 person team went over on Thursday evening to stake out our spot, set up camp and stay over that night.  One of the new things that Ragnar did this year was limit the number of cars that each team could have come into the park to 2 so we had to definitely coordinate a bit.  By bringing almost all our stuff over the night before that made it a lot easier for those of us that couldn’t arrive until Friday morning.

Ragnar, McDowell Mountain, Arizona, Trail Run, Camping
Team: Quinn’s Crew campsite

6 of us came back from last year, one of our team mates ended up with a torn quad muscle I think and then we were actually short one last year.  2 of our teammates from Zion came to join us at McDowell Mountain to make up Quinn’s Crew.

They changed the course slightly, the legs were green, 3.1 miles, yellow, 4 miles (I’m pretty sure this was the exact same course as last year) and then red was 8.4 miles.  I was runner number 6 so I started with red in mid afternoon, yellow in the dark around midnight and finished up with green early morning for a total 15.5 miles.

Ragnar, McDowell Mountain, Arizona, Trail Run
Ragnar Loop Color Signs

I was going into this race with a minor injury, my right lower calf was super tight, to the point I was feeling pain just walking around so I wasn’t quite sure how things were going to go.  I took 3 days off from running before the relay to see if it would help and the pain seemed to subside.  We weren’t running the relay for time, we just wanted to have fun so I figured even if it took me a bit longer than anticipated it would be ok.

Last year we started around 1pm and the next morning they told us that we weren’t going to finish in time so we had to double or triple up to run 2 last laps.  They gave us our medals but officially we had a DNF, which didn’t matter to me, I ran my 3 loops, had a great time and got my medal :).  This year we did what we did in Zion and put slower times so we could start earlier in the day on Friday.  So we started at 10am with runner #1 which meant that as runner #6, I ran my first and longest leg at the hottest part of the day just like last year even though I was runner #3 last year.

Ragnar, McDowell Mountain, Arizona, Trail Run, Transition, Red Loop
Some crazy guy photobombed me before the red loop 🙂

I was a bit nervous before starting my first leg, I ended up going out way too fast and then when I hit the hills, my leg was not happy and started to lock up, huge burnt toast moment.  I ended up walking/hiking a lot of miles 2 & 3, texting with Sean a little too, letting him know how my leg was doing, as he was going to be coming over to support me & my team.  After that uphill, very rocky, technical section, I was able to run a little especially on the downhill, except a few very rocky areas.

Ragnar, McDowell Mountain, Arizona, Trail Run, red loop, hills
Red loop hills
Ragnar, McDowell Mountain, Arizona, Trail Run, Red Loop
Starting the Red Loop: all smiles 🙂
Photo Credit: Tom Scotney
Ragnar, McDowell Mountain, Arizona, Trail Run, Red Loop
Starting the Red Loop  Photo Credit: Pete Barry

I hit the water station around mile 5ish, refilled my bottle and then continued on my way.  It was probably just a few minutes and I saw a girl coming back the wrong way, I asked her if she was ok and she said there was someone up ahead that wasn’t doing well.  I kept running before coming across a young girl and a guy sitting with her.  The guy asked if she could have a little of my water so I gave her some and a few probar gummies too.  She looked to be about 15 or so and didn’t have any water with her which wasn’t super smart because it was probably about 85 out but felt a lot warmer.  I think either a volunteer or a medic came up on a bike and said that they would assist her further so I went on my way.

I managed to do pretty well until there was a section of dry sandy river bed.  I walked more of this than I would have liked but considering my leg being iffy, it was ok. And then not too much further and we were close to the finish.  I did my best to finish strong, handed off the bib to Joseph and then limped back to the tent, my tight calf muscle caused my shin to start pulling as well which was quite bothersome.

I didn’t feel great after finishing that loop but had to eat something so I got a smoothie from a Jamba Juice booth, drank that and then took a 2 hour nap – I guess that leg wore me out a lot more than I thought it did.  After waking up, we decided to walk down to see about getting some dinner.  Well at that point it was about 6:30ish and the line was ridiculous. It was practically wrapped around the whole transition area.  I personally think that if they were splitting the camp sites in half, they should have had 2 mess halls as well to accommodate all the runners.  This is definitely an area Ragnar needs to address.

So Pete & I headed back up to camp and waited until later to get dinner.  When we did finally get it, it was a semi decent pasta, an ok salad – I know ice berg is cheap but it is by far the worse lettuce out there for you – I’m not a fan, a huge sandwich sized bun and a cookie.  If we ever do this again, we already discussed we are bringing our own food and cooking out or something instead of eating their mediocre food.

Ragnar, McDowell Mountain, Arizona, Trail Run, Dinner
Dinner, pasta, salad, sugar cookies & a huge roll

I went back to camp and ended up sleeping for a few more hours while Sean drove over. My leg was really bothering me, it was super painful to even walk back and forth to the camp, I wasn’t sure how my second loop was going to go, because in my opinion of the 3 loops, the yellow is the most technical. But when I finally got out there, I just took it one step at a time, I actually felt a little better once I started to run so that was a plus, it was cold, but not super cold.  I was happy I had my hat, but I didn’t feel like I needed gloves.  I don’t have any photos of this leg, but it was fun, it has a few steeper hills and a decent amount of downhill, some of which was really steep and rocky, I just slowed down over this section and enjoyed my run.  Even though it’s the most technical, I like running the yellow loop, it was my favorite of the 3.

Ragnar, McDowell Mountain, Arizona, Trail Run, Transition, Yellow Loop
They changed the bands for this year – they were different from Zion too.
Ragnar, McDowell Mountain, Arizona, Trail Run, Yellow Loop
In the transition for Yellow Loop in around 11:45pm.

When I finished I called Sean and he was almost there so I headed back to camp to change and then wait for him.  By the time I was done, he was there!! So we headed back to camp and attempted to sleep a little, it was getting cold and there was a full moon that was sooooo bright.  We slept decently, one of the great things about a Ragnar Trail race, you can actually sleep :), but were awakened about 5:30a by the campers next to us who were making coffee.  Not long after this the campground started rousing and we walked down to the port-a-potties and to Sean’s car to get him some warmer clothes.  We were wrapped up like mummies but having a great time.

Sean & I all bundled up - it was cold for us!!
Sean & I all bundled up – it was cold for us!!

Sean massaged my leg for a while with icy hot and then we were ready to run.  By that point, it was getting hot!! I was freezing one minute and sweating in my tank top the next.

Sean was so sweet to massage my leg for me :)
Sean was so sweet to massage my leg for me 🙂

We walked up to the transition area and went out on my last loop, green, 3.1 miles.  We started out fine, but I’ll be honest, there was a lot of small hills and sand so I ended up walking a lot of the run, Sean ran while I walked next to him, which worked out great :).  It was hot but it gave Sean a chance to finally experience running some Arizona trails, especially since this is the same/similar course as the Javalina Jundred which was actually the weekend before.

Sean & I starting the Green Loop

We finished strong, I joke, that by looking at me, you would have no idea I walked 60% of the course but it was fun and we did it together.  We were done!

Ragnar, McDowell Mountain, Arizona, Trail Run Ragnar, McDowell Mountain, Arizona, Trail Run, Green Loop

There were still 2 more runners for our group before we finished so we got some more Jamba Juice and then headed back to camp where we changed again, I got some more massage before heading down to get some real food.  The line wasn’t too long so we thought it would be a quick in and out.  But NO, that was so not the case. We got a hamburger, a pork sandwich & fries and ended up waiting almost an hour for both, in the hot sun.  It was horrible, the food truck was just handing out orders in no apparent order even though they asked us our names when we ordered.  It was clear they had no clue how to handle a large group of people.  Definitely a fail and definitely not photo worthy!!  When I finally got my burger, it was pink inside, it was edible, I just like having my hamburgers well done.

All in all it was a great race, good friends, running, nice weather, although it did get both really hot & really cold, which is totally normal for the desert lol.  I would totally run this relay again.

I did however have a few other notes on things that changed from the year before.

1) The free coffee wasn’t free the whole time like it was in the past – it was $2 until apparently 7am, which no one really knew about.  The hot chocolate however was free the whole time.

2) They let about 150 additional teams run, which is great, however, it made it so that parking became a huge issue as we got closer to the event. We were fortunate that our team was able to come over on Thursday evening but if we had all had to come on Friday it could have been an issue.  If you run this race, definitely try to come over and set up camp on Thursday, it will make a HUGE difference!

3) Last year they had the environmentally friendly port a potties with saw dust & candles that were really nice, this year we had the traditional, gross, plastic ones, which they did clean periodically throughout the event, but still the other ones were a nice touch and went along with the natural/green theme of the event.

4) They allowed teams to start earlier on Friday, the first start was at 10am vs 12pm last year.  This gave us a good buffer to get finished without having to worry

5) Nice long sleeve tech shirts in both men’s & women’s cuts

Ragnar, McDowell Mountain, Arizona, Trail Run, Tech shirt
They did the same shirts for this race as Zion, long leave tech tees.

5) Free race photos – always a plus!!

Next up…RnR Las Vegas 5k & Marathon!!


Race Recap: NYC in AZ Half Marathon Nov 2, 2014

As per usual, I’m a little behind on my recaps 🙂 lol, but this was my first of 4 planned races for November.  I signed up for and had targeted the Women’s Half Marathon in Scottsdale way back in January, at the P.F. Chang’s Marathon expo, but unfortunately in late September they sent an email saying that the race was cancelled.  So I took this opportunity to look at other options.  There were 2 here in Phoenix, the 3TV 10K/Half Marathon in Downtown Phoenix or this race, the NYC in AZ Marathon, Half Marathon or 4 miler.  The price was right, it was a smaller race and it incorporated the NYC theme and since Sean was running the New York City Marathon this year and I did last year, I thought it would be a nice way for me to be with him in spirit.

I picked up my packet on Saturday at the Scottsdale Road Runner Sports, which consisted of a pretty nice tech shirt and my bib.  Road Runner was offering 20% off to race registrants, I didn’t really need anything and I had a team meeting for the following week’s Ragnar Trail relay so that gave me an excuse to not buy anything I didn’t really need.

NYC in AZ, Marathon, Half Marathon, 4 Mile, Race Shirt, Bib, November 2, 2014

The race didn’t start until 8:30am, which is pretty late for most races but I think is was a way to start at the same time as the New York City Marathon (or at least one of the waves).  There were 3 different distances available, a marathon (started at 7:30a), a half marathon & a 4 mile race (started at 9a).  The marathon was USATF certified course making it a Boston Qualifier.  All the races were on the New River Trail System starting & ending at Rio Vista Park in Peoria, AZ.

The course was 90% paved trail and then there was a short section that we ran twice that was a nice, canal type trail.  It was a lot hillier than I expected with an elevation gain of 384 and loss of 453.  There weren’t a lot of people in the race, I think it was about 199 total for the 1/2 marathon so after the first few miles there weren’t a lot of other people around, which was good & bad.

It was kinda cool out that morning, high 50s, low 60s, which for us is cool.  I decided to wear my fav lululemon speed shorts and a short sleeve shirt, put on my recently found nike visor, sunglasses and newton fate shoes.  Now that I think about it, this was the longest I’ve worn these shoes, which may have contributed to my calf issue.  I started the race with some minor tightness in my right calf, but as we all know, it can take a few miles for things to loosen up so I didn’t think anything of it and just ran.

NYC in AZ, Marathon, Half Marathon, 4 Mile, Peoria, AZ, Rio Vista, November 2, 2014

I had absolutely no expectations for this race especially after having a horrible long run the week before, that resulted in my walking 8 miles back to the car because of extreme dehydration.  I started the race fast, as we do, running the first 3 miles in 25:43.  It was around this time that the sun came out for a few minutes and it got hot so I slowed down a bit.  I didn’t feel great after the 4th mile so I took a minute to walk and get my heart rate down, eat a probar gummy bite and then started back up again.

Starting the race... Photo from Startline Racing facebook page
Starting the race… Photo from Startline Racing facebook page

A little tangent here – until this year, I was a Galloway runner, I ran/walked every race with strict intervals and did well.  I started running straight in January after a back injury, but I still really think that Galloway is useful and really does work.  I took about 8 short walk breaks during this race, ranging from about 20 seconds to 1 min.  My slowest mile was 9:26 and my fastest was 8:29 even with all the walk breaks.

I PR’d this race even with all those walk breaks by over a minute and I now have 2 sub 2 hour half marathons under my belt :).  Could I have run faster without them?  That’s the question, isn’t it?  I know from having worked with Jeff Galloway that the philosophy is that by taking walk breaks early on, it helps you to recover faster and run stronger.  Without those walk breaks would I have been able to maintain my pace, you know I’m not sure.  But even with those short breaks, I was able to run a 1:57:29 so I must have been doing something right!

Now back to the race, it wasn’t the most exciting of courses, it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t horribly scenic.  There weren’t a lot of people so were I was I was practically by myself for most of the race.  I could see 2 people up ahead of me and I kept thinking if I can see them I’m good and I would try to pass them.  I was passed myself around mile 11 and then I picked it up and just kept running, thinking, I was almost there, I could do this.  I was thinking about Kara Goucher, Meb and Sean out there on the streets of New York running my favorite marathon and how if they could run on those cold, windy streets, I could get my butt in gear & finish this half. I managed to pass 3 people who I had chased the entire race and finished strong.


I finished the race, got a few snacks, they had cups for water & gatorade (I think), bananas, oranges, apples, bagels and some sort of protein drink from Core Power.  Which was great for such a small race.

IMG_9826 IMG_9827

I had to head home pretty quickly because I had family in town, but I looked at the results the next day and I was super surprised to see that I come in 3rd in my age group!! I think the closest I’ve ever come to an age group placing was probably 6th place in a 10k.  There were only 17 people in my age group, so it was really small, but it was still pretty exciting to me :).  Maybe that’s the trick, run smaller races 😉 lol.

Next up, Ragnar Trail Relay at the McDowell Mountains.

Spectator Recap: Chicago Marathon

It isn’t very often that I’m a spectator at a race, as I’ve mentioned previously, I love to race and I try to do it often, just because I love being around all the people, and the excitement that goes along with it.  On Oct 12, I had the pleasure of spectating the Chicago Marathon and supporting Sean.  I’ll admit, and I’m pretty sure he said something about it too, I wasn’t sure how it was going to be, if I was going to be jealous/envious that I didn’t get to run the race too or if I’d be totally cool just watching and supporting him.

Well long story short, I had a blast spectating the race!! It was a great race for spectators and really easy to get around the city.

So after carb-loading at Quartino on Saturday night we went back to our hotel and I looked thru the participant guide to see what time the race actually started, what time you needed to be at the corrals, etc.  I told Sean we should leave the hotel, which was about 2 miles from the start line around 6:00am and since he said he only needed 30 minutes to get ready, I set my alarm for 5:15a thinking we could snooze once, maybe twice ;). He on the other hand, set his alarm for 5a, 5:15a, 5:30a and finally for 6a.  He tends to run a bit late, lol.

My alarm went off at 5:15a and I got up, got changed and then dragged him out of bed.  It was only 46 degrees out so I layered up, 2 long sleeve shirts, my black lululemon scuba hoodie, a rain/wind breaker, my warmest wunder unders and my vinyasa scarf (pretty much head to toe Lululemon) and my Newton Running Fate shoes.  Oh and not to forget, my lulu running gloves.  I was ready and going to be warm, having grown up in the Midwest, I know what that cold feels like, and it can be bad, especially when you are used to the 90+ degree Phoenix temps.


It took Sean a bit longer to wake up and get ready, but we were out the door by about 6:30ish and on our way to the start line in Millennium Park.  It was pretty chilly out, only about 46 degrees with the sun was coming out by the time we got there.  I kept him company for a while before it was time for him to go to his corral.  After giving him one last kiss for good luck, I headed up to where I could see the beginning of the race.

Sunrise, Bean, Chicago Marathon, 2014
The Bean and the City at Sunrise 🙂


Sean before the start
Sean before the start

I was looking for mile 1 but I saw a bunch of people on a bridge not too far from the end of the park so I got set up there and waited to see the race start.  And prayed I didn’t drop my new iPhone 6 that I didn’t have a case for yet.

They start the wheel chair athletes first, then the hand crank, then and I’ve never seen the start of a major race, so I didn’t know they did this, but the athletes with prosthesis or that are blind, with guides, came next and then came a few trucks with cameramen, a timer and the elite men.  It was really quite awesome to see them go out.  I stayed there for a few more minutes, waiting to see few elite women and then I decided to head out to the next spot.

Elite Men, Chicago Marathon, 2014
Elite Men at the start
Elite Start, Chicago Marathon, 2014
Elite Start – there are a few elite women in here 🙂

I wasn’t quite sure where I was going, but I headed up Michigan Ave and started running following some other people, it was quite exhilarating as we ran down Michigan Ave – why exactly we were running, I wasn’t quite sure – lol, but I got found a spot where I was able to see Sean, maybe around mile 2?  After I saw him, I started running again and made it to a water stop, around mile 3 I believe, where I was able to see the elite men go past.  I got this awesome photo where if you zoom in, you can see one of the water bottles dropping with liquid coming out – it was kinda cool I thought.

Elite Men, Chicago Marathon, 2014
Elite Men coming thru – see the bottle falling in the middle?

A few minutes later, I saw the elite women come thru, at this point, which was way early in the race, American Amy Hastings was the lead woman, she ended up finishing 5th woman.  I got another photo later with Rita Jetpoo and some of the other elite women in it too.  This was super exciting to see.

Amy Hastings, Chicago Marathon, 2014
Amy Hastings has an early lead – mile 3ish
Elite Women, Runners, Chicago Marathon, 2014
The Elite Women at mi 3ish

I stayed here for a while and tried to find Sean, but they split the course at this point and I must have missed him go by.  So I got out my handy dandy spectator map that I got at the expo, which was awesome!  I used it numerous times to figure out where to go next and it was great because they had the directions on which trains to take and where to go from each of them.  As well as a map with all the trains on it so you could figure out where to change trains, etc.

Chicago Marathon, 2014, Spectator Guide

The spectator train stops - great resource
The spectator train stops – great resource

I went to go towards mile 7 but by the time I was waiting for the L, I got an alert that Sean had passed the 10k mark so there was no way I was going to see him there.  So I thought, let’s go to mile 16, well I headed that way only to have him pass the half point as I was on my way, so I just headed to mile 20 which was actually really close to the place we had lunch the day before – crazy, huh.

View of a water stop from the train
View of a water stop from the train

I got to mile 20.5 about 40 minutes before he came past so I was cheering along with a bunch of other spectators.  It was really cool to see the faster runners, most of which don’t look like they are going that fast suprisingly, I saw the 3 hr pace group come by and even some of them walk from time to time 🙂 lol.

Sean at mi 20.5 IMG_9336

I was across the street as they came up a hill looking for Sean’s pink hat.  I saw a guy dressed as big bird, who I had seen ahead of Sean earlier so I knew he was coming soon.  I managed to get some good profile shots of him as he passed me.  Then I raced back to the train, which was literally across the street, and headed to the finish line.   They don’t let spectators at the actual finish line, but Bank of America had a great cheer zone set up around mile 26 so I found a spot and waited.  As it got closer to the time when he would be finishing, I headed a little further up so I could see better and try to get some photos.  I was actually able to get some decent photos of him finishing.

Sean at the the final turn mile 26 - BOA Cheer Zone
Sean at the the final turn mile 26 – BOA Cheer Zone

Then I started walking to the other side of the park so I could meet him at the family reunion section.  It was a bit of walk up Michigan Ave to where the entrance was and then they were wanding everyone and looking in purses, bags.  I totally understand the security and all, but the guy who was in the line I was at, was not happy to be there, and he was quite rude when telling you what to do.  As I was getting thru, I actually said, that they should have signs telling us what to do.  And really they should have, it would have made it all go so much faster and more efficiently.  I know they did that at the Cardinals game I went to a few months ago and they were making it really clear what you needed to do & I thought there was a sign.  But regardless, I finally got in and then there weren’t any signs as to where to go, it didn’t seem like there were many people around either, which seemed weird since there were lines of people trying to get inside.

Finally, I turned the corner and saw a ton of people heading into this one section so I followed them and I could see the letters for the family reunion section.  It was again a bit weird because the letters didn’t seem to be set up in alphabetical order, they were just kinda placed willy nilly or so it seemed.  Finally I found the M/N sign and headed over, hoping that Sean wasn’t over there waiting for me.  Fortunately, I got there first, by probably a minute or 2, I was just getting ready to take off a few layers when I saw him.  He did amazing!! Finishing in 3:46, which is super awesome considering he thought his feet/legs were only at about 70% after having run over 500 miles within the last 5 weeks (He did the Tahoe 200, Kodiak 100 & then the Cuyamaca 100k within the month prior to Chicago).

Sean at the finish
Sean at the finish

I’m super proud of him and all the racers out there.  I had a fabulous time spectating and I look forward to doing it at another race in the future :).

Race Recap: Esprit de She Run: Mesa 10K

It’s not often that you get to run a race on a weekday, but Esprit de She gives you the opportunity to do a 5K or 10K for “happy hour”. So last Thursday, I took a little 40 min drive down to Mesa Riverview Park to run the 10K.

I ran this race last year, the first year for the race, when it was in Tempe. When I first looked at signing up, the race still showed being in Tempe, however as we got closer to the race, maybe six weeks prior, they changed the location to Mesa.

I really enjoyed this race last year, even though the course was a bit short, so I had it on my schedule to run again for most of the year, although I did not sign up officially until last month, so I paid $50 plus the whatever the fee was, somewhere around $5 I think.  Also, if you remember from earlier this year, I did my first duathlon with Esprit de She in Tempe as well, so I am familiar with and like the brand.  You can read that recap here.

I had the opportunity to pick up my packet at the Athleta store at Kierland in Scottsdale on Tuesday, which was nice since, the actual race location is a bit far from my house.  It was quick and easy, all I did was give my name and then they asked what size shirt I wanted and told me if I was going to use the drink coupons to bring my id and I was on my way.  If you weren’t able to make it to the store, they did have a nice packet – pickup and gear check at the race.

Esprit de She, Run, Mesa,  5k, 10K, race day packet pick-up Esprit de She Run Mesa Gear Check

The race bag included, a re-usable Athleta bag, an Esprit de She Tank, a Luna bar, a few chewable Smarty Pants vitamin packets & on the bib was a 20% off coupon for Athleta & 2 drink coupons for after the race.

Esprit de She, Mesa, Run, 5k,10k, Race Swag

Come race day, I had a nice lunch, of honey seared chicken with brown rice from Pei Wei and lots of water. Night races aren’t always the easiest to fuel for, but since I have been running more at night lately, I felt ok have a big lunch and then just ate half of a Go Macro cashew butter bar on my way to the race.

Like I said earlier, the actual race location was about 40 minutes from where I live. It’s not a horrible drive, but there is a lot of traffic on that route. With the race starting at 7pm, I left my house around 5:30/45 and got down there a little before 6:30ish just when I wanted to. I was a little nervous about the race, which is pretty common for me, but especially since it was a bit warmer than I would have liked.

When I got to the race location, I got in line to use the port-a-potties, the line wasn’t too too bad. Then I walked around just a bit to see the expo area & there was a pretty fountain near by too.

IMG_9063 IMG_9061

The fountain at the Mesa Riverview Park, so much nicer in person
The fountain at the Mesa Riverview Park, so much nicer in person

Then it was time to line up for the race. They started with the 10K runners at 7pm and then the 5K runners at 7:05. The race was one 5K loop that the 10k runners would do twice.


We listened to the national anthem & some announcements before starting the race. I had a fellow runner take my photo and then we were off!

Esprit de She, Mesa, Arizona,

Not too far after starting was a water station, which seemed a bit early in the race, but considering we were going to be running 2 loops it was a decent location.  We never actually went out on the main roads, it all took place on the parking lot roads near the Cubs spring training stadium and then thru the park.  In the first mile, we went out, did a turn around and then came back towards the start line, eventually hitting another area where you do a turn around before going onto the grass for a about a quarter mile.  After the grassy section, we came back by the start/finish line, but not yet, we still had to go around a little lake and past the fountain before coming back around by the start/finish line.

Since I was doing the 10k, we had to do 2 loops, when I started my 2nd loop, I checked my watch as I passed thru and it showed 2.9 miles and around 24 or so minutes which was a bit disappointing.  Last year the course was short too, I was hoping that this year it would be closer, but it wasn’t. 🙁

After starting the second loop, I had a Burnt Toast Moment when I started to get a little pain in my chest area.  I could also tell my heart rate was a bit too high, so I walked for a little bit before starting back up again.  I think that the Pei Wei, which I never eat before a run, was not the best choice for a pre fast race meal, giving me a little heart burn. Oops, lesson learned.

During the first 5k
During the first 5k

I slowed down a little bit, I had run the first 3 miles, really fast, for me – around 25 mins so I was ok with slowing a bit.  I think I walked about 3 times total in the race, while I do run more straight, I still have the Galloway run/walk mentality and I really don’t mind taking a minute or two here and there to recover.

At races and really in general when I’m not running on the sidewalk or trail, I like to run on the curb, or on the painted line on the road, somehow it helps me to stay focused, maybe a throw back to my Galloway days, when I was trying to stay to the side so I didn’t disturb anyone when starting the walk interval.  So I focused on staying on the curb and just starting passing people one by one.  By this time those that I passed were mostly slower & walking 5k’ers which is always kinda weird.  While I felt a little bad about passing the slower 5k run/walkers, it was nice having them out there so I did have people to pass and interact with.

Almost at the finish line, and I actually have a great photo!!
Almost at the finish line, and I actually have a great photo!!

I speeded up as I neared the finish line, crossing the finish line at 51:25, which if it had been the full course would have been a 2.5 min PR in this distance with a big 5k PR as well.  After I crossed the finish line, they gave me a bottle of water and a bottle of Aspire sports drink but I seriously thought I was going to be sick so I took a few deep breaths and sat down just past the finish line to calm down.  I hate feeling like I’m going to throw up and this is the second or third time I’ve felt like that after finishing a race, which apparently, according to my coach is how you are supposed to feel, because it means you ran hard.  Not sure how I feel about that.  Anyone who knows me well, knows, and I’m sure no one likes getting sick, but I have a huge phobia of it and can not even hear someone else getting sick or I feel like I am too, even if I felt perfect before.  But anyways, I drank some water and rested for a minute before heading over to the post race festivities.

At the Finish - Esprit de She Mesa 10k IMG_9198

I really like the women’s races, specifically Esprit de She, for all the cool stuff that they do after the race.  I wasn’t able to participate in a lot of the activities because I had a decent drive and an early morning the next day, but they had a pampering area, a DJ with a little area for dancing, lots of booths with wine and other types of alcoholic beverages, which I did not partake in, for several reasons, #1 – I don’t really drink when marathon training, #2 and most important – I do not drink and then drive and since I was by myself and had quite a drive, that wasn’t going to happen.  I did get a plant from the plant station, which was really cool and some yogurt from Dannon.  They also had a nice area with the Esprit de She logo’d product, which looked really nice and like something I would wear on a regular basis.


All in all this was a great race.  I really enjoyed it and I’m glad that I did it again this year.  My only complaint is that the course was .4 miles short. I know all about the tangent running and how most of the time you run long, but this was ridiculously short and I was not the only person who noticed.  If I had been over, I wouldn’t have had an issue, because it is much more common to be a little over, but being almost a half mile short?  I’m disappointed because it will now show up on athlinks as a PR but it’s not a real PR.  I will look forward to actually achieving this time on a certified course :).

But even with that little burnt toast moment, I would totally do another Esprit de She event and I look forward to next year!


Half Marathon #20 !! Ventura Marathon (Half Marathon)

Finishing up my tour of travel a few weeks ago was a visit to Ventura Beach, CA for the Ventura Marathon or half marathon in my case :).  I had been planning on running this event for a while, ever since my friend Rhea told me about it earlier this year.  She, her husband, Kenny, and another mutual friend of ours where all planning on running so I eventually signed up for the 1/2 marathon, which would be my 20th lifetime half marathon!!

This was the 2nd year for this race and it was a pretty good one.  It’s not a huge race, like some of the other beach marathons I’ve done.

I arrived on Friday evening, flying into Burbank after a work event in Nashville, TN, I wasn’t feeling well Friday afternoon, with a minor cold and probably a slight fever, and I didn’t realize that it was going to be an hour drive from the airport, but it was actually a pretty easy drive, on the 101 all the way there.  I finally got to the hotel around 11:30pm, got checked in and crashed.

Rhea & Kenny went for a quick run on Saturday morning, while I slept in, and then we all met up for breakfast at the hotel before getting ready and heading over to the beach to pick up my packet, and one for a friend, which was super easy.  They also had race day pick-up for an extra $20.  Packet pickup was a breeze, super fast and I just needed my friend’s waiver and a copy of her driver’s license and I got her packet too.

Race swag included: a nice reusable logo’d tote bag, a nice women’s cut tech t-shirt, some KT tape samples and a bunch of advil samples, the cold & allergy one came in really handy for me that night :).  I don’t have a photo, but the interesting thing was that they had reusable chips for the shoes.  I’ve gotten so use to the D-tags or B-tags that I was a little surprised to see that in my packet.

Ventura Marathon, Half Marathon, Race Swag, T Shirt, Bib
Race Swag!

We were there really early, so the little expo was just getting started, but they did have a nice booth with pieces specific to the marathon that were very reasonably priced.  Too often you go to the expo, want to get a shirt or something, but they are super expensive, these pieces were priced in the $20 – 40 range mostly and were decent quality too.

After hanging out there & at the beach for a bit, we headed into town for a bit, for lunch.  There was a car show in town that afternoon, which was really cool, we had a great time looking at a lot of old cars, in mint condition.

We hit up Vons for some race day treats and then a little coffee house & gelateria called Palermo.  They made a good effort, but the gelato was not like in Italy, it was kinda gooey and had an interesting consistency.  The best place outside of Italy for gelato, I’ve found, is actually in Vancouver, BC, called Bella Gelateria, it’s really really good!

Pre-Race Gelato

Anyways, back to the weekend, we all took an afternoon nap and then headed back into town to carb up for the race, there was an awesome Italian restaurant, Sicily by Gino, with at least one native Sicilian that worked there :).  I had a rigatoni alla bolognese with a huge spinach salad.  A nice moonlight walk on the boardwalk by the beach and we called it a night.

Rigatoni, Bolognese, Siciliy by Gino, Ventura, California, carbload, ventura marathon, half marathon
My super yummy Rigatoni Bolognese from Sicily by Gino

Ventura Beach Moon

Then it was time for bed, we had an early morning.  Rhea was running the marathon while Kenny & I were doing the half.  The marathon started at 6:20am, with the half following around 6:50am, I believe.  We left around 5:45am, since we were only about a 1/2 mile from the start.

We headed towards the packet pick-up where there were a ton of porta potties, after my experience in San Fran, I was happy to see that they were close to the start line.  I met up with my friend, a co-worker, whose packet I picked up the day before and then watched Rhea & Vanessa start the marathon before getting a few photos and getting ready to start the half.

Meeting up with Raheleh pre-race.  It was her 2nd half.
Meeting up with Raheleh pre-race. It was her 2nd half.
Rhea, Vanessa & I giving Sean a shout out as he runs the Tahoe 200!
Rhea, Vanessa & I giving Sean a shout out as he runs the Tahoe 200!
Kenny & I give another shout out to Sean
Kenny & I give another shout out to Sean

The weather was really nice at the start, I felt comfortable in my tank and skirt – I feel cold a lot of the time before the sun gets up, but this time it was just right :).

Pre-race photo :)
Pre-race photo 🙂

There were just a few waves for the half, I think 3 total.  I started in the 2nd wave because really, I wasn’t sure how this was going to go since I wasn’t feeling 100% the day before.  The first few miles of the race were in the shade, it was pretty nice and relatively cool, always a plus.  This is an out and back course, with several out and backs.

We started out by the pier, running thru some neighborhoods, then over by the Ventura Harbor and we spent a lot of time on Harbor Blvd.  The harbor area was the best in my opinion but all in all it was a decent race, it wasn’t overly crowded and while there weren’t a lot of spectators there were some, like this couple that I think I saw about 10 times throughout the race – that was pretty cool :).  We finished close to where we started by the pier, a little closer to the beach, where there was a fun, beach party with a decent amount of post race food and drink.

2014, Ventura Marathon, Half Marathon, Race photo, ventura, california

How did my race go?  Well let’s see, the first 6 – 7 miles were fine, I ran all the way thru, then around mile 8 all the travel and not feeling well started to catch up to me, plus that’s when the sun really came out in full force with no shade.  Around that time is when I started walking a little bit.  In fact one of my friends caught up with me at that point, we ran together for about a half mile before I told her to go ahead.  I mostly ran, but did a bit of walking as well, got passed by the marathon winner around mile 11 and then finished at 2:03:04, which considering the week I had and not feeling good, was really awesome!

Ventura Marathon, Half Marathon, Race Photo, Ventura, California
Still not smiling – LOL
Almost to the finish!
Almost to the finish!

After finishing the race, I g0t some post race goodies.  I love it when races have good food afterwards, this was one of my biggest complaints with the SF Marathon.  I’m not a huge fan of coconut water but I drank a full container, in addition to a bottle of water.

Ventura Marathon, Half Marathon, Post Race Eats, Clif Bars, Dole Fruit Cups, Refresh Coconut Water, Ventura, California
Post Race Eats – Coconut Water, Regular Water, Clif Bars, Pretzels, Watermelon, Pineapple, Bagels, Dole fruit cups, there were animal crackers and some other things too that I didn’t get

I went with one of my friends to cheer on other finishers and wait for our friend to finish the half and Rhea to finish the full marathon.  By this point, it was getting hot!

Raheleh is doing great - almost to the finish
Raheleh is doing great – almost to the finish
Ventura Marathon, Half Marathon, Post Race, Finisher Photo
Post Race with Vinny & Raheleh

After Rhea finished, I left my other friends to get her some food, with all the people, it wasn’t easy to see where the food was, both Rhea and my other friend didn’t see it.  We took some photos and then headed down to the ocean to take some medal pics and a jumping photo.  I totally got some air on this one ;).

Ventura Marathon, Half Marathon, Medal, 2014
Rhea & I post race – medal shot!! Look at how huge that marathon medal is!!!
Ventura Marathon, Half Marathon, Medal, Ventura Beach, California, Ventura Beach Pier
Rhea & I jumping after the race. How in the world did I manage to get that kind of air?

This is the 2nd race I’ve done that has had free photos and that’s a great perk.  I obviously wasn’t paying attention to the camera since I’m totally concentrating lol but I’m happy to have the photos to commemorate the race.

2104, Ventura Marathon, Half Marathon, Medal, Ventura Beach, California

I’ve been lucky to run all over the country on my journey to 20 half marathons and this was one of the best, because I got to do it with friends :).

The San Francisco Marathon – 1st Half Marathon Recap (July 27, 2014)

I love to race, no matter what the outcome, PR or not, it’s been 8 weeks since my last race, which I think was part of the reason I was getting bored with my training, plus this crazy heat is insane :).

Last weekend, I went up to San Francisco to run the 1st half of the San Francisco Marathon and because this wasn’t really a goal race for me, I didn’t follow any of my normal pre-race rituals.  Normally, the day before a race, I do a shake-out run in the morning, maybe a bit of walking around the city in the morning but rest my legs in the afternoon, eat & hydrate well during the day and have pizza for dinner before going to bed early.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, Chrissy Field
Walking by the beach with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

This time, I didn’t do my shake-out run, although I did walk over 10 miles throughout the day, I definitely didn’t rest my legs, I think I was on my feet pretty much all day, I barely ate, although I did have some water, I had a really yummy rice bowl for dinner and went to bed around 10:45p with my alarm set for 4:00a.  But I wouldn’t change it Saturday for anything, it was a fabulous day!

But how did doing the opposite of my normal affect my run?  The answer is to come…

First though a little side story, I signed up to run the half with my friend Pete, who was going to run the marathon, in the end, he wasn’t able to run so I met up with Sean, my amazing ultrarunner friend from San Diego, my sister Diane and brother in law, David, who live in the Bay Area.  Sean, was going to be running the Worth the Hurt, a total of 52.4 miles, or 2 back to back marathons starting at midnight, for a really amazing cause, to find a bone marrow match for an 8 year old boy, Baylor, in the San Francisco area who is battling leukemia. You can check it out and donate to the cause here.

Diane & David were running their very first 5k and this was a huge deal, especially for David who 11.5 years earlier was in a terrible car accident and his doctors never thought he would ever be able to run.  I’m so proud of him and so happy that I was able to be there to support them, even though I was running a different race.

San Francisco Marathon, Expo, July 26, 2014, San Francisco, California
At the Expo with my sister, Diane – it was her first 5K!!

Now back to our regularly scheduled program…I didn’t sleep well the night before the race, I woke up suddenly, practically jumping out of bed twice, first because I was dreaming that I missed my alarm and second because the recycling truck came by and dumped a ton of bottles suddenly.

But I didn’t miss the alarm and was able to get ready and out the door on my way to the start line around 4:20a.  We stayed about a mile from the start line and it was a quick easy walk down to the Embarcadero that morning.  I got down towards the start line a little after 4:30a and was waiting to see if I could catch Sean between races to see how he did.

Another quick caveot, I am a part of this really amazing group on facebook, that was created by my friend David DeNeire last year, called 365 days of Cardio Challenge … One Month at a Time. It’s a great group, with people from all over the country & world for that matter.  The goal is to do 25 min of cardio or exercise in general every day. When I put it out there that I was heading to SF for the race, one of the amazing ladies, Sam, in the group lives near by and made sure to come and cheer me on at the start.  So I texted to let her know I was down there and to see if we could get a picture and chat for a min.

By this time is was about 5:10 and I wasn’t finding Sean so I decided I should probably head back to my corral, I’m not sure what time I put in when I registered, but I was in Wave 5, which was starting around 6am.  Right as I got there, Sam texted and told me she was at the start, so I checked my bag and headed back up to see if I could find her.  Well turns out she was on the other side of the start line from me, so I told her I’d catch up with her when I got up there and then managed to see the Elites and Wave 1 start the race, so that was pretty cool.

San Francisco, Marathon, Elite Start, July 27 2014 San Francisco, Marathon, Elite Start, July 27 2014

I then made my way back to Wave 5 which was a little confusing, there was a sign for Wave 4 & one for Wave 6 but I didn’t see one for 5, the other thing that was quite annoying, there were no port-a-potties or bathrooms at all between the start and Wave 6, in fact outside of 2 spots, I didn’t see any all race.  I’m glad I didn’t end up needing to use one because that would have been a huge issue.

It was a little cool out, with a decent amount of humidity.  I wasn’t sure what to do considering my mishap of wearing too many clothes during the Rome Marathon, but I made the decision to run in my long sleeve shirt, and considering the humidity, I’m really glad I wore my Lululemon running capris.

Pre-Race Photo
Pre-Race Photo

We finally got to the start, Bart Yasso was helping to start us off, I wish I had gotten a picture of him, but I was busy looking for Sam, who is the sweetest lady, she was right there before I stepped over the timing mat so I stopped to say Hi! and give her a hug, she gave me a kiss, said good luck and was like get out of here! lol.

San Francisco Marathon, 1st Half Marthon, July 27 2014
The view from Wave 5 🙂
The lovely Sam and I before I started the 1st Half
The lovely Sam and I before I started the 1st Half

And then I was off.  I went to start my Garmin only to find I lost the satellite even though I had just turned it on for the 3rd time.  So I’m glad I had my Nike+ on too, but I ended up getting it on, but was only at .65 mi at the 1 mile mark so I reset and started again so I could see my pace.

First few miles were right there on the Embacadero, I wasn’t really pushing it, but trying to get acclimated.  I had a slow mile one for once, and kind of just went from there.  The first hill was after running past Chrissy Field, I just went slow and steady up and didn’t have too many problems, then came a nice downhill by Fort Mason and we continued heading towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

By Chrissy Field
By Chrissy Field

There was another really big hill before we got to the actual bridge.  I managed to make it 3/4s of the way up before I had to walk a minute and then we were heading over the bridge!  I have to say this was my absolute favorite part of the race, I think it was a little over 4 miles over and around the rest area and back.  The first half, I was looking to see if I could see Sean, since he had started before me, I thought I might see him on the other side, but no luck. I did however see a runner in a very interesting get-up!! Sorry for the blurry photo, but I think you can make out what he’s wearing!

Interesting get-up, huh?
Interesting get-up, huh?
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, Marathon, 1st Half Marathon, July 27 2014
Getting ready to go over the Golden Gate Bridge

We finished up with the bridge and then immediately headed up a hill, I was pretty tired by this point so I did walk up a portion of it, but then came the 2nd best part of the race, this amazing downhill for what seemed like forever, it was amazing, I have to be really careful on the downhill because I’ve hyperextended my knee in the past, so I was concentrating on not doing that, but going downhill makes me feel like I’m flying.  After this there were a couple of more smaller hills and I was fine until mile 12 and then my hamstring started to cramp a little bit.  I’m not sure what I did but I walked a bit and then would run a bit and then were were at 13 miles so as soon as I could see the finish line I picked up the pace, I still had a bit left, I didn’t really push too hard this race, just running it to enjoy.  I ended up finishing in 2:07:01, which I was happy with, considering, I didn’t eat hardly anything all weekend and I didn’t sleep much either, that was pretty good!

Finish Line, Marathon, San Francisco, Marathon, 1st Half Marathon, July 27 2014
Almost ready to cross the finish line…

Finish Line, Marathon, San Francisco, Marathon, 1st Half Marathon, July 27 2014 Finish Line, Marathon, San Francisco, Marathon, 1st Half Marathon, July 27 2014

After I finished, I collected my bag from the UPS trucks.  I’m so glad I brought a change of clothes, I was soaked, it was sooo humid, my Garmin said 83%.  So I changed shirts and put on my track pants before heading to get some food.  They had this really awesome boxed water, which actually tasted really good, I got that after finishing the race.  The food section, had 1/2 bananas, muffins, coconut water and that was all except some coffee drinks or something which I didn’t explore. Kinda disappointing considering the size of the race. So I ate the other 1/2 of my GoMacro bar and the banana and that was all I ate until I got home to Phoenix that night.  What I was thinking, I don’t really know, but I just wasn’t super hungry, then I got distracted doing other things and never ended up eating, which if you know anything about me, NEVER happens.

Obligatory Medal selfie :)
Obligatory Medal selfie 🙂
Sam met me at the finish line...so sweet
Sam met me at the finish line…so sweet

The lovely Sam texted me to tell me she was waiting at the finish line, so I met up with her to chat.  She ran from the start line to the finish line to meet up with me, so unbelievably sweet considering we only know each other from FaceBook, and had never met before.  The power of social media!

So Sam and her husband drove me back to the finish line where I met up with my sister and husband, who actually didn’t start their 5k race until after I finished my half.  Apparently there were some technical difficulties or something.  But they were so so excited when I finally met up with them, David finished in 30:42 & Diane in 36:14 and were super happy with their times.

IMG_8063 IMG_8149

We tried to find out where Sean was using the SF Maraton App, but it wasn’t working properly so I couldn’t track him or any of the other people I knew running the marathon, so that was kind of a fail on their part.

All in all, I really enjoyed this race, which kind of surprised me a bit, because I had been really resistant to running it because of the hills, so I guess the hill training is paying off!! Thanks, Coach!! 😉

The only negatives, to me, were the food at the end, and that the tracking app didn’t work.

Now to continue working towards #20, Ventura Marathon Half Marathon on Sep 7.

Have you ever run a race expecting not to enjoy it but ended up loving the course??