Athleta Esprit de She Tempe Duathlon Race Recap

Back in December when I was planning my winter/spring race schedule I got a few emails from Esprit de She because I was a founding finisher after I ran the 2013 Esprit de She 10K in Tempe, AZ.  I remember seeing emails about the Tri/Duathlon last spring but I was training for multiple half marathons and I didn’t have a bike so I figured that wasn’t really for me.  Plus, I am a horrible swimmer, I had a really bad experience in swimming lessons back when I was like 5 and while I can get by, underwater, back-float/stroke, treading water, the basics, I can’t do any strokes.  So I figured a duathlon was probably more my speed, I can run, I think I can still bike and regardless it’s only a total of 15 miles so why not give it a whirl. 🙂  I re-read this and remember, yeah, crazy marathoner here, 15 miles is nothing, LOL. 5k running 12 miles on the bike, piece of cake, or so I’d like to think ;).

The way I swim - with a floaty
The way I swim – with a floaty lol

But at the time I was coming off my injury, a possible bulged disc in my very low back, and stationary biking was helping so I decided I wanted to at least try the duathlon this year.  At the time I entered the race, December 31, I didn’t even own a bike so talk about crazy, I spent $94 to register for an event that I didn’t even have the right equipment for.

So what did I do, being on an extreme budget, like not wanting or having more than $100 to spend on a bike & hopefully a helmet too, I started scouring craigslist for bikes.  Most of them were mountain bikes or crazy expensive road bikes but I was able to find someone who was selling an old, Trek Multitrack 720, that was in great condition.  The first time I looked at it, it was listed at $150, then it was down to $120 with a make an offer so what the heck – I figured I’d go out to check it out.

It was in great condition and I was able to get him down to $80 so I am now the proud owner of a new bike.

It's old and it's not a real tri bike but it'll do for now :)
It’s old and it’s not a real tri bike but it’ll do for now 🙂

Well flash forward to May 3, about a month after my last marathon and a month when I was totally not motivated to really exercise at all, so I did maybe 3 total bike rides, the last one for 10 miles 4 days before the race and no brick workouts.  I was nervous but in the end this was all for fun so I headed out to the expo to pick up my packet and to drop off my bike which you were required to do on Saturday.

Esprit de She bikes racked while picking up packets
Racks for the bikes while picking up our packets.

As I mentioned earlier, I was a “Founding Finisher” since I did the 10K last year so they had a separate line for packet pick-up.  There were a lot of founding finishers so the line there was 3 times as long as the other lines, but it moved relatively fast.

Esprit de She Packet Pickup Tempe Beach Park, AZ, May 3, 2014
Founding Finisher Packet Pick-up

After picking up my packet and getting my really nice race shirt, a Moxie Cycling commemorative shirt and a reusable Athleta bag with goodies inside, I took my bike over to the transition area.

Esprit de she goodie bag Esprit de she Moxie Tank

Esprit de she transition bracelet
Transition Area bracelet – Required for coming & going into the transition area, even on Saturday

There were 2 tags that we had to add to our bikes, as we know, I’ve never done anything like this so I was just watching everyone else, one lady was telling her friends to make sure the purple tag was in a spot where it wouldn’t rub on their legs so I stuck mine at the top, and then they had d-tags that had to be zip tied to the top of handlebars.

Esprit de she bike tag 2 Esprit de she bike tag

Bike's racked and ready to go
Bike’s racked and ready to go

They had special bike races for the founding finishers so I raced my bike and then headed back to the expo area to listen to the safety meeting.  It was really hot out, like a 100 degrees, so they had added some extra tents and handed out bottles of water.  I’m glad I went to the meeting, I had no idea about some of the USAT rules.  As I was listening to them talk about some of the common violations, bike helmet strap not clipped in transition, staying 3 bike lengths from the next bike, 15 secs to pass someone, etc. I kept thinking, I guess I better go online and read these rules.

The meeting lasted about 45 min and then it was time to rest and relax for the big day.

I arrived at Tempe Beach Park around 5am on Sunday.  I was really early, but I’ve been there for PF Chang’s half marathon and the parking can get really crazy so I wanted to get their early.  Since I was doing the duathlon, I didn’t have much to layout in transition, so I just kinda took in the whole scene.  I ran into my friend, Kate, who was doing the Sprint Relay with another friend Jen, so we chatted for a while :).

Finish Line before the race
Finish Line before the race
Getting body marked in the transition area
Getting body marked in the transition area
I love being at Tempe Town Lake at sunrise - so pretty.
I love being at Tempe Town Lake at sunrise – so pretty.

I got marked, I thought it was interesting that they asked you your age at the end of the year and put that on your leg instead of your current age.  I have to say though, that it took me forever to get the sharpie off my arms & legs.  I had to use my dad’s Goop to get it off after washing it 3 times with soap. LOL.

 

Marked and ready to start
Marked and ready to start

The Olympic distance triathletes started us off at 6:30a with a floating start.  There were swim waves every 3 minutes and then the duathlon started at 7:00a.

Esprit de She Floating Start Olympic Esprit de She Olympic Swim Start

I was so ready to just start after having been down there for 2 hours.  The first run portion was 1.5 miles and off we went.  The first half was on the dirt path and then after the turn we were on the concrete path with some rolling hills.  I was able to do really well in this portion, finishing in 12:18, 8:09 average, which put me at 23/131.

I headed into the first transition, hopped on my bike after 1:38 and headed out.  The bike was what made me nervous, but I just did what I could do.  I think I have a small problem with my bike though, maybe it’s out of alignment? I’m not sure, but it felt really wobbly when I took my hands off the handle bars so I wasn’t able to drink as much as I would have liked.  The bike course had a few hills but I thought it was pretty fun, I liked racing down the hills more than I thought I would.  I finished in 49:39 avg 14:99mi/hr to put me at 81/131.  Considering I really only road 3 times in the last 20 years before this, I’m pretty happy with that :).

Transition 2 was a bit longer because I mixed up the row where my bike was supposed to go but after 1:58 I headed out for the second run (1.79mi).  This is where things went a little downhill because I was extremely dehydrated by this point and so unbelievably hot.  It was only 79 but with sun beating down on us, I was really feeling it.  I ended up having to walk a bit of this part and dumped water over my head on both sides of the water station.  I was feeling pretty bad towards the end and walked up each of the hills.  I heard my coach, Charlie, who was there for another one of his athletes, cheering me on in the last 1/4 mile and I pulled out a fast finish.  Crossing the line, I felt like I was going to pass out &/or be sick, but after getting my medal, some water & Aspire, I felt better.

A nice benefit, they put up the tape for all the finishers to go thru.
A nice benefit, they put up the tape for all the finishers to go thru.

Something nice that they did that I haven’t seen at any of the other races I’ve personally done was having a tape for all the finishers to go thru.  As someone who is more of a middle of the packer, this was a nice touch and definitely made me feel good.

After going thru the tape, I was given a medal, it’s pretty nice, duathletes got a purple ribbon and triathletes a red ribbon, a bottle of water, a bottle of Aspire sports drink.  They also had orange slices, pretzels, animal crackers, I think, and chocolate milk.

I saw my friends, Jen & Kate after I left the finish line area and we had to get a commemorative photo of the 3 of us.

Jen, Kate & I after the race. Jen & Kate got 2nd place overall in the Sprint Tri Relay!! Great job ladies!!
Jen, Kate & I after the race. Jen & Kate got 2nd place overall in the Sprint Tri Relay!! Great job ladies!!

There was a finish line party after the race, with the “Bubbly Bar” which had mimosas, I don’t drink when I have to drive, so I didn’t try them, but they were served in cute little Esprit de She glasses.  I got some brown rice, egg white, pico di gallo casserole from My Fit Foods which was really good, drank my water & my Aspire sports drink.  This was the first time I tried Aspire and it wasn’t bad.  Didn’t taste like it had as much salt in it as my Gatorade but it tasted pretty good.

Esprit de she finish line mimosas Esprit de She Post Race Fuel

After a few snacks I grabbed my bike out of the transition area and headed home to recover in the pool.

Esprit de She post race medal shot

All in all this was a great race and I would definitely do it again.

I learned a few things though…

1) I need to get my bike fixed so that it’s in alignment and doesn’t wobble

2) Brick workouts!! Definitely need to ride the bike and then run, the 2nd run kicked my butt

3) Drink more during the event, I was seriously dehydrated and that played a part in the 2nd run portion

I’m really excited to have been able to help kick off the 2014 Esprit de She season in Tempe and I’m looking forward to running the 10k again in October.  If you are in the Phoenix/Scottsdale general area and want to join me, you can register here. Please put EDS62 in the promo code box.  It’s not a discount, but it will let them know I told you about the race. 🙂

 

Disclaimer: I have been chosen to be a 2014 Esprit de She Ambassador however, I did pay for my entry to the 2014 Tempe Duathlon and was planning to do this race and the 10K in October even if I wasn’t selected. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Race Recap: Ragnar Trail Zion

This past weekend I went up to Zion with some of my running buddies to run the Ragnar Trail Relay.  We did the McDowell Mountain Relay last year and so when one of my running buddies told us about a team that was looking for runners, we jumped at it.

A little burnt toast moment that almost ruined my trip, the day before I was to leave, I woke up with an issue in my back.  I have had a lot of back issues throughout the year, but this was different, it got tighter and tighter all day when I was at work, everytime I went to get up from my ball chair, I felt worse and worse. So off I went to see my PT, Charlie, at Cadence Physical Therapy and he helped manipulate my back to get it back to somewhat normal. But how would I feel on the trails…

I was a part of 2 teams and as luck would have it the captain of the other team, Robin, had reserved 2 cabins way back in November for the race so not only would we be running the relay, we wouldn’t have to camp! Win win in my book.  (McDowell Mountain was my very first time camping and while it wasn’t bad, there is no way I’m turning down a cabin with a real bed and a shower!)

We stayed in cabins 501 & 502, which was called the Overlook Mountain Home at the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort.  I unfortunately didn’t get any pics of the cabin but you can find information about the resort & the various cabins/mountain homes here.  Personally I would so recommend renting a cabin.

The drive from Phoenix to Zion was about 6.5 hours and except for the last bit in the dark, it was a pretty easy drive.  I’ve really not been out of the Phoenix area since I moved here about 2.5 years ago so it was nice to see some different parts of Arizona.

The only complaint I have, and this is because my phone is attached to my hand, lol, I wasn’t able to access the internet, text or email during my time in Zion.  I seriously have my phone no less than 2 feet from me all day long, mostly due to my job, but also because it’s habit and not being connected was so making me crazy – LOL!!  Eventually I just went with it and said, I guess I’m not meant to do anything today & chilled out 🙂

Waking up the next morning to this beautiful, crisp morning.

Ragnar Trail Zion Day 1 Sunrise
waking up to a beautiful day

My cabin mates were overachievers who thought to bring all sorts of fun extras with them so we were able to start the day with our normal green smoothies, score! Thank you Margaret & Wendy for being so awesome and bringing the Vitamix with them!!

Day 1 Ragnar Trail Zion Green Smoothie

We had a really early start time 9:30am, because at McDowell Mountain we started late and were a little slower than we thought so we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time, especially since the elevation was significantly higher than in Phoenix.  So we ate up and headed down to our camp site to hang out before our safety meeting.

 

Our camp before everyone else arrives Photo Credit: Tom Scotney
Our camp before everyone else arrives
Photo Credit: Tom Scotney
Ragnar Trail Zion Transition Tent
Ragnar Trail Zion Transition Tent
Ragnar Trail Zion Safety Meeting
Ragnar Trail Zion Safety Meeting

All teams have to go to the safety meeting which goes over the trails, the different color and shaped signs to look for, what to do if you get hurt, if your runner takes longer than you expect, if there is lightning, etc. etc..  There wasn’t anything mentioned about snow or rain.  Although I did hear later in the day that they added a little something I had mentioned to the director of the yellow loop about how it seemed like the signs were really far apart in some areas.  They added that some of the signs were really close together when you could have other options and far apart when the trail was clear.  They also mentioned about using headlights starting 2 hours before sunset for safety and that they would be adding blinking lights to the signs when it got dark.

Ragnar Trail Zion Finish Line
Ragnar Trail Zion Finish Line

They told us about how we would be getting different wrist bands, green, yellow & red for our different legs and we would also have one bib for the entire team that we hand off after each leg.  So after all this, we were off.

Ragnar Trail Zion Runner 1
Tom starting us off in Leg 1 in green Night Run shirt
Ragnar Trail Zion Runner 2
Margaret, Runner 2 coming in after the Yellow Loop
Ragnar Trail Zion Runner 3
Joan our 3rd runner coming in after the long Red Loop

I was Runner 5, I didn’t really care what leg I did but it’s hard to wait around.  When you do a regular race, you wait around, but just for a bit, this was for hours so it was a bit difficult in terms of what to eat before going out.  I have a lot of problems with race nutrition when I’m doing a standard style race, but I eat relatively normally for relays.  Weird.  I wasn’t nervous for the relay like I am for regular races :).

Finally it was my turn, I got the bib from Mandy and headed out for my first leg, the Yellow Loop, 4.6 miles with a 600+ ft elevation change.

Ragnar Trail Zion
Heading out on my first leg, the Yellow Loop
Photo Credit: Joan Topham

Ragnar Trail Zion Yellow Loop

Ragnar Trail Zion Yellow Loop Friday 2pm
Ragnar Trail Zion Yellow Loop Friday 2pmish
Ragnar Trail Zion Yellow Loop Selfie
Taking a quick break on mile 2 of the Yellow Loop – uphill
View from the Ragnar Trail Zion Yellow Loop
View from the Ragnar Trail Zion Yellow Loop
The uphill on the Ragnar Trail Zion Yellow Loop
Another uphill on the Yellow Loop – this one was sandy

I started out running thru camp for the first mile, then the second mile was pretty much a hill the whole way, I actually walked most of this mile, I didn’t train properly, after the Rome Marathon, I was recovering and just not real motivated so I wasn’t really well trained for hills, but since this was just for fun, I was listening to my body and my heart rate was out of control high so walking it was.  The trail was a lot different than those in AZ.  It was a lot softer than our trails and sandy in a lot of spots.  The last photo above was pretty much all sand and the single-track trail was practically on the edge.

I didn’t get any pictures of the other part of the trail as mile 3 was a great single track downhill (red somewhat packed sand).  It was so much fun, although you had to really watch your step.  I cruised down this part.  A part of mile 3 linked up to the Red Loop and then both loops (actually all 3 loops) would finish on the same section.  The section at the end, was another uphill trail with numerous switchbacks, pretty steep, I walked this section too until we came up to another part of the camp.  Towards the end of this loop, the wind had picked up so much that I actually had to walk for a min to be able to cover my mouth and nose (I have asthma and dust isn’t a good thing :)).  I finished this loop in about 56 min (11:13, 18:30, 10:10, 11:39, 10:14 last .50) handed the bib off to Wendy and went to chill for about 8 hours before my next leg.

I was pleasantly surprised that I had no back pain during this leg or my next.  I could still feel the stiffness when getting up from sitting, laying down, etc. but nothing while running.  Yea!!

And off to dinner we went…

Ragnar provides dinner for the runners on day 1 as part of the registration fee so we headed over to the Mess Hall and chowed down.

Dinner Day 1 Ragnar Trail Zion Mess Hall

Inside the mess hall Ragnar Trail Zion
Inside the mess hall Ragnar Trail Zion
Dinner consisted of Pasta, Veggies, Frozen Bread, Salad, a Cookie & Lemonade
Dinner consisted of Pasta, Veggies, Frozen Bread, Salad, a Cookie & Lemonade

I didn’t mind the dinner for the most part.  I thought the veggies were awesome – really flavorful and the pasta was al dente.  I’m not a fan of iceberg lettuce, but I ate it :).  The bread was good, but I could only eat a few bites around the edges because it was still frozen inside.  I normally wouldn’t eat cookies, but I was hungry and it was peanut butter so I figured a little protein LOL.

After dinner we headed back to cabin, where I took a 2 hour nap and just hung out while waiting for my next loop, which would be around 11:30pm.  We weren’t exactly sure how long it would take the runner before me to run the Red Loop (8.2 miles) so I went down around 10:30p to wait, because I didn’t want to miss him. They had TVs with the team names & numbers coming up when your teammate was 2/10s away from the finish.

My second loop was the Green loop which as just over 3 miles.  I unfortunately don’t have any photos because it was pitch black out and even though I had a light, it was super dark and I didn’t want to break or lose my phone. Besides I’m not sure if the photos would have come out in the dark.

I really enjoyed this loop, although it was sooo dark that I really just went super slow because they had mentioned that there was a super steep downhill section with loose rocks and I did not want to fall.  I really didn’t think that down hill was that bad and compared to some of the trails I’ve done here, it wasn’t bad.  I think my headlamp was dying though because I had a hard time seeing, or maybe that’s because my contacts were dirty, I don’t know, but I thought it was super hard to see.

Again, you ended up at the same uphill switchbacks, again I walked this section and then then ran when I got to the top.  This leg I finished in 36 mins (11:55, 11:36, 12:22, final .02 8:41).  I could have gone faster, but again since it was so dark, I just wanted to be safe.

I again handed the bib off to Wendy, told her to be careful since it was so dark and then headed up to the cabin to get some sleep.  I figured I had about 8 hours until my next run, so I took a shower and set my alarm for 6:30am so I could get some food before heading out for my next loop, which I was estimating at around 10am.  I woke up and went downstairs, saw Joan, who told me that Margaret, runner 2 had just left and they expected her back around 7:15a when Joan would go do the next leg.  I got a small bowl of cereal and then went back to bed, setting my alarm for 7:30a.

I was awakened to a lot of talking and so I got up to see what was going on and this was what awaited me…

What we woke up to on Day 2...
What we woke up to on Day 2…

Seriously, I think my mouth dropped open and I was like WHAT? Are you kidding me? I seriously haven’t seen snow in years, I can’t even tell you the last time.  I live in the south for a reason and snow is one of those reasons :).

As we were all taking photos and commenting on what was going on, one of our volunteers, Maryanne contacted another of my teammates and told them that Ragnar had called the race.  Only one problem, one of our runners and one of the runners for our other team were still on the course.  Margaret, runner 2 was not only on the course, she was also wearing capri pants and vibram five finger shoes.  John was in shorts and just regular running shoes.  We were incredibly worried about both of them and wanted to do something, but and for good reason, Ragnar wasn’t letting anyone extra out on the course to look for people.  So we waited and finally John came back to the cabin and then about an hour later (3.5 hours after going out) Margaret was back as well.  Thank you Lord!

Walking down to the Village Ragnar Trail Zion
Walking down to the Village Ragnar Trail Zion

Near the transistion tent Ragnar Trail Zion Day 2 More snow Ragnar Trail Zion

After they were both back safe and sound we went down to the camp site to start breaking things down.  We ended up getting everything back up to Wendy’s truck and then the cabin in 2 trips.

Taking down the tent on Day 2
Taking down the tent on Day 2
My running buddies, Tom, Ken & I after cleaning up our campsite.
My running buddies, Tom, Ken & I after cleaning up our campsite.

It was a mess, snow, mud, water, but we managed to get it all back up there and then most of decided to head home in case the weather continued to get worse.

It was a big surprise waking up on Saturday morning to the snow and not exactly how we expected our 2nd Ragnar Trail Relay to go, but I think in the end we all had a great time and really enjoyed the event.  I know that we were all so relieved when both John & Margaret finished their loops and while the rest of us weren’t able to finish our last legs, I know that they made the right call for the safety of the runners.  I would not have wanted to be out there in those conditions and I hope that no one was seriously hurt while out there when the weather turned bad.

While we didn’t officially finish, we were still awarded our medals and I can now add Utah as my 8th state that I have run a race in. (I did run my last 8.2 mile loop Sunday morning back in Phoenix, it was on the road and much flatter, but I felt like I needed to do it – if nothing else for myself.)

Ragnar Trail Zion Medal 2014
My Ragnar Trail Zion 2014 Medal

All in all I really enjoyed this weekend and I’m looking forward to McDowell Mountain again in the fall!

Have you ever run a race that was cancelled due to weather?  And if so what happened?

The Roman Guy Maratona di Roma Shakeout Tour

After spending Friday afternoon at the Maratona di Roma expo and having dinner with my cousins & aunt, my cousin Simona took me back to The Beehive for some sleep.  Saturday was a big day.  A few months before I had met another marathoner via instagram, Laura, from the Washington, D.C. area who goes by @laurentinaphoto – Follow her – she’s amazing!  Anyways it was her first marathon and somehow she came across The Roman Guy (follow them too :)) again via instagram and they (Sean & Brandon) were also running their first marathons and were going to do a little tour/shake-out run the day before the race.  I have been lucky to have been to Rome many times, but since I have family that lives there, I don’t always get to do the touristy things so I thought, this sounds like a lot of fun and signed up as well.  For 45 Euros, we got a tour of the Colosseum & Forum, a run thru the city & a super cool, Team TRG New Balance tank to commemorate the day.

So Saturday morning, I fueled up with good American style breakfast – eggs and toast 🙂 and set off for the Colosseum.  The tour was going to start there and then we would do a 2 mile shake-out run going hitting up a lot of the best tourist spots in Rome.

I got there a bit early so I just walked around getting the lay of the land – before heading back to meet up with the group. It was kind of cloudy so I was hoping it wouldn’t rain.

The Roman Guy, Rome Italay, Colosseum, March 22, 2014, Maratona di Roma

Notice how the section on the right looks different than the section on the left?  Brandon told us that they had actually renovated a portion of the Colosseum because they had taken a lot of the Travertine for other projects around the city.

It was a bit of a cloudy day, but the 12 of us runners weren’t going to let that get us down and so we started off with a tour of the Colosseum.  Brandon did most of the tour, Sean was the photographer for the day and a lot of the photos you’ll see today are from him (THANK YOU!).

The Roman Guy Shakeout Tour Maratona di Roma
Love this pic 🙂
photo credit Sean Finelli, The Roman Guy

I’ve been to the Colosseum twice before, but it was really nice to be on a tour, Brandon & Sean had insight into things that you just can’t know from looking around.

The Roman Guy Shakeout Tour, Maratona di Roma
Brandon showing us a map of the what the Colosseum looked like when it was built.
Photo Credit: Sean Finelli, The Roman Guy

Inside, they had built a partial floor to show what it would have looked like back in the day, I don’t remember that from my last visit in 2003. But that’s not to say it wasn’t there, 2003 was a long time ago :).

The Roman Guy, Shakeout Tour, Rome Italy, Colosseum, Floor, March 22, 2014
Personal Photo
The Roman Guy, Shakeout Tour, March 22, 2014, Rome, Italy, Colosseum
Check out our awesome Team TRG (The Roman Guy) singlets – super cool 🙂 personal photo
Photo Credit: Sean Finelli, The Roman Guy
Photo Credit: Sean Finelli, The Roman Guy

After a quick tour of the Colosseum, we headed over to the Roman Forum to walk around for a bit.

Panarama of the Forum

The Roman Guy, Shakeout Tour, Rome Italy
Leaving the Forum, time to start our shake-out run. Photo Credit: Sean Finelli, The Roman Guy

So after we left the Forum, we started down the stairs by the Palazzo Victor Emmanuel, which looks a lot older than it is.  This was right near the start & finish line of the marathon.

personal photo
personal photo

And so off we went.  In Italy, unlike here in the States, cars stop when you cross the street, in fact they expect you to cross and if you wait for them they stop for you.  It’s very interesting how it works.

First Stop The Fountain of Trevi Personal Photo
First Stop The Fountain of Trevi
Personal Photo
The Roman Guy, Shakeout run, maratona di roma
Group Photo – Fountain of Trevi
Photo Credit: Sean Finelli, The Roman Guy
The Roman Guy Pantheon Maratona di roma shakeout run
One of my fav places, the Pantheon.
Photo Credit: Sean Finelli, The Roman Guy
How massive are these columns?  Personal Photo
How massive are these columns?
Personal Photo

The Pantheon is actually 50 years older than the Colosseum.  It’s fascinating to me how it looks like a regular building on the outside and then a dome inside and where the famous Rafael is buried.

We hit up the Spanish steps but there were so many people, I didn’t feel it was photo worthy 😉 LOL.  Little tidbit about the Spanish Steps, the poet, John Keats lived in the building to the right of the steps before his death at 25.

And on we went to Piazza Navona, where we saw Bernini’s fountain – I always think of Angels & Demons when I go to Piazza Navona now :).

Bernini's fountain in Piazza Navona. Personal Photo
Bernini’s fountain in Piazza Navona.
Personal Photo

And then we finished up in the Campo dei Fiori, the market, in the center of Rome.

Me & @laurantinaphoto by Campo di Fiori
Me & @laurantinaphoto
Photo Credit: Sean Finelli, The Roman Guy
Campo di Fiori, Market  Personal Photo
Campo di Fiori, Market
Personal Photo
Me with The Roman Guy(s) Brandon & Sean Personal Photo
Me with The Roman Guy(s) Brandon & Sean
Personal Photo

I really enjoyed this excursion and I would totally recommend it to anyone.  It was an awesome way to see the city, Brandon & Sean were great tour guides, they seemed more like friends than guides 🙂 and I met a lot of really nice runners.  If you are in Rome and are looking for a great way to see the city, I totally recommend contacting The Roman Guy.

 

 

Maratona di Roma Expo

So last time we spoke, I was just about to go thru passport control after landing in Rome. Got my passport stamped and I was ready to go.

First thing I had to do was catch a train from the airport to Roma Termini and drop my bag off at the hotel.

And so we wait...Train to Roma Termini
And so we wait…Train to Roma Termini

After about 15 minutes of waiting and a 35 minute train ride, I finally made it to the main train station in Rome.  Roma Termini.  My hotel, a cute little hotel/hostel called The Beehive (more about them in a future post) was literally 5 minutes from the station, however I was tired, dragging a huge suitcase and wandering around without GPS for over a 1/2 hr trying to find this place.  I asked for directions, I walked in circles, seriously, practically in tears, and finally had to use my cell phone t0 call (who knows how much that cost me!) to get directions.  And to find out what? That I literally walked around it about 5 times but just never crossed the street.  Seriously?!? Wow…

You’ll find I like to digress some, ok, a lot and I have to say, this was one of the toughest weeks, without having access to my cellular data, (I literally am never without it due to my job) no gps, no iMessage, no Instagram likes, facebook responses, nothing without wifi.  How did we survive, without all this technology??

Ok, now back to our regularly scheduled program.

The Maratona di Roma Expo was held at the Palazzo dei Congressi, which was probably about a 15 min ride on the metro, blue line.  Another quick digression, I’ve lived in Italy, I speak relatively fluent Italian with a decent accent, enough to get by, I am 3/4 Italian with dark hair, people were speaking to me in Italian from the moment I stepped off the plane, asking me questions, even though, I have as good an idea as they do, it was hilarious.  I say this because, I’m standing in line to buy my metro card and this couple is asking me all sorts of questions about which line to take, etc. like I’m a native, it was really funny.

So I took the Blue metro toward Laurentina, getting off at Eur Fermi, it wasn’t really clear to me at least which way to go, so I asked someone and off I went.  After walking about a mile (give or take) I started to see people with red New Balance bags.  I came up on the back of the expo, where the vendor check-in was and saw the cutest Maratona di Roma Smart Car (according to my cousin, a native Roman, there are like over a million Smart Cars in Rome).

Maratona di Roma smart car

Arriving at the expo, I was there pretty early so there weren’t many people there, I saw photos from others where that red card was completely full.

Red Carpet for Marathoners
Red Carpet for Marathoners

maratona di roma expo marathoner entrance

42,195 vs 26.2
42,195 vs 26.2

Inside the expo, it was pretty much like a normal expo, the only thing that was different in this race was that women’s bibs were in a separate section, at the end of the line.  I should have remembered this for race day, but I didn’t and it was an issue the morning of the race.  Just like here, pick up the bib first and then your shirt/bag at another booth.

Women's bib started with F (at the end of the line)
Women’s bib started with F (at the end of the line) sorry for the blurry photo

There was a spaghetti lunch available but I wasn’t that hungry so I skipped it and headed into the expo portion of the building.  The red carpet continued throughout.  The expo itself was split into a number of different sections, first up, food & beverage samples, I skipped past this part, because there weren’t a lot of samples and most of the items were processed, not really things I’d use.

Then you walk thru an area with other races – there were actually a few sections with other race options, my favorite was the Kenyan Tourism board booth.  I literally laughed out loud as soon as I saw it.

My favorite booth at the expo :) Kenyan Tourism Board
My favorite booth at the expo 🙂 Kenyan Tourism Board

I kept following the red carpet to where the shoe booths were, all the big names, New Balance (sponsor), Brooks, Mizuno & Asics had booths, along with some of the other big sponsors for the race.

Brooks Booth at Marathona di Roma expo

New Balance Booth at Maratona di Roma Expo

The expo finished up with a charity section.  Right outside was something I love, the first time I experienced it was at the Nike Women’s 1/2 Marathon in DC.  It was a wall with all the names (in alpha order) of the people participating in the marathon – so cool :).

One section, it went around for a bit - there were 19,000 or so names!
One section, it went around for a bit – there were 19,000 or so names!
Found my name ;)
Found my name 😉

Me at the maratona di roma expo

The swag bag was pretty cool, they gave us a 20th anniversary New Balance backpack, a New Balance tech T-shirt and some pasta.  The backpacks were used for gear check too.

Swag from the marathon - where else do you get pasta in your swag bag!
Swag from the marathon – where else do you get pasta in your swag bag!

The expo was Thursday, Friday & Saturday, and all in all it was pretty nice, I had read a few reviews where they commented that things were a lot different, but it seemed pretty similar to me.  There were a lot more booths for area races, but I guess with the proximity of so many different countries, it’s kind of like us with states. With the exception of the big race companies, it’s normally local or near-by state races that exhibit at the expo, there other countries are as close as California.

I was glad I went after I arrived because it was a bit of a ride over and I wanted to relax after my shakeout run & tour with The Roman Guy on Saturday.

Have you ever done an international race?  Was the expo similar to those in the States or completely different?

 

Phoenix Marathon or Rather Half Marathon Recap 2014

Welcome to Runny Legs Burnt Toast!! This blog has been a long time coming and I am so excited to share my running, eating, traveling & living with you all!!

BMO Phoenix Marathon or Half Marathon in my case

This was my first time running this race, although I was signed up and ready to go for the 2013 race, I ended up with Plantar Fasciitis and ended up skipping the race, which was probably for the best :).  I signed up for 2014 on December 31 to take advantage of the discounted rates and because this race tends to sell out especially in the marathon distance.

There are 3 different race distances that are a part of BMO Phoenix Marathon, marathon, half marathon and 10K.  I’ve only participated in the half distance, but it’s a great race for PRs as it is a net downhill course.  I think I heard that about 14% of the marathoners qualify for Boston on this course so it’s pretty fast.  Since I’m training for the Rome Marathon on March 23, I just wanted to do the half.

When I signed up, I didn’t realize I was going to be traveling for work the few days prior to the race, which resulted in an interesting day before the race.

We left the Omni Nashville at 5:45p CST and headed to the jets.  Yes, I am so so lucky I got to fly in a private jet home.

Private aviation, trip home
Private aviation, trip home

However, we did fly in the smaller jet, which required a stop in Wetherford, OK for about 30 minutes half way thru our trip.  We didn’t end up getting back to Phoenix until around 11:00pm, then had to drive to the office and back home, which meant no sleep until after midnight. Burnt Toast moment #1. Normally the night before a race, especially one that starts at 6:30am!!, I’m in bed by 8pm or 9 at the very latest.  Who am I kidding? I’m normally in bed at that time no matter what day it is :).

Burnt Toast Moment #2 – when I fell off the sidewalk outside my office, WHAT?? How does that happen? Well it did, resulting in a huge bump & scab along with a decent amount of pain on my left knee.  Fortunately when I woke up, it didn’t hurt, but it wasn’t fully scabbed over so I put vaseline all over it and ran with no pain.

My bruised & semi bloody knee after falling off the sidewalk
My bruised & semi bloody knee after falling off the sidewalk

The night before as I realized how late we were going to be arriving home, I was frantically facebook messaging Phoenix Marathon to make sure I could pick up my bib the morning of the race.  If they weren’t going to let me I was going to have to beg my sister to drive down to Mesa to get my packet.  Fortunately, they let me pick up my bib race morning so that eliminated one stress.

So after getting home at midnight, my alarm went off at 2:45am, I jumped out of bed, got ready, ate a piece of whole wheat bread with peanut butter, realized I didn’t have any gatorade for my fuel belt bottles and left the house at 3:20am.  I stopped at Circle K, where at 3:25am there was a line of 4 people. A LINE??? Again WHAT??? who is at Circle K at 3:30 in the morning? Obviously not me, normally :). Got my gatorade – lemon-lime, my fav, and then started the 35 min drive to Mesa, where the race was.

It’s an easy drive and the race is right off the highway so it didn’t take too long to get there. I got my bib, and my shirt after the race. and then headed to the buses that would take us to the start line.

Buses to Phoenix Half Maraton Start Line
Buses to Phoenix Half Maraton Start Line

 Each of the races was a point to point so there were 3 different sets of buses taking you to each start line.  It took about 20 min (at least that’s how it felt to me, but after only 2.5 hours of sleep, who knows). Once at the start area, there were tons of heat lamps, bag drop off trucks, water, vaseline and 2 announcers that were entertaining us while we listened to music and chilled.  There were 2 sides of port-a-potties.  I didn’t wait too long, maybe 5 min.

start line village, phoenix half marathon, 3/1/14

Pre Race Photo, Phoenix Half Marathon, Lululemon, 3/1/14

Fireworks during the national anthem
Fireworks during the national anthem

The race started right at 6:30am, it was a mass start with no corrals so i just started about half way back because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen considering that I didn’t get much sleep, oh and I forgot to mention, my dinner was a small container of chips and a 1/4 of a sweet potato muffin, not my normal pizza pre-race meal :(, my knee mishap and that it started to rain right before we took off.

As per usual, the first half of the race was pretty fast, although my legs were just so incredibly tired, especially my quads.  I stopped to walk around the halfway point and ran a half mile with a short walk break until mile 10 when I apparently got my second wind and ran the rest of the way.  Burnt Toast moment #3 when I got my garmin out before I left, I realized it was dead, I was able to charge it for the 35 min drive, thank goodness for USB ports in cars!! and managed to get to 12.5 miles before it died so I don’t have record on my own devices of a new PR of 2:05:52.

The course itself, to me, was kind of boring, just on the streets of Mesa, no real scenery or anything special, but it wasn’t a horribly expensive race.  I think I paid $70.00.

I was happy that I was able to do that well, I really didn’t know what was going to happen and I’m just glad I was able to make it thru with no more burnt toast moments :).

Finisher Selfie in the Car :)
Finisher Selfie in the Car 🙂

They had a great finish line set-up with food, I saw bananas, oranges, muscle milk, water, bagels and fruit cups.  There were a lot of food trucks and other booths and a nice area for awards.  I was so incredibly tired, cold and wet that I didn’t take any photos or do anything but grab my shirt, which is awesome, it’s Abion Fit. It really fits well, I don’t normally wear my race shirts, but this one fits great and I discovered last night it even has a cute little pocket.

Phoenix Marathon bib, medal & shirt

All in all, it was a really well run race and even with all my Burnt Toast moments, I’m really happy to have added it to my race list as my 17th half marathon.

What kind of crazy things have you had happen to you before or during a race?