30th Asics LA Marathon Race Recap

I wanted to write this recap last week before I moved, however, I ended up sick in bed for a few days, then had to finish packing before the big move this past weekend.  A little late but here goes… 

On Friday I flew over to SD to meet up with Sean so we could drive up to LA together.  We started the morning with a quick run around the neighborhood, then packed up and headed up.  It’s a pretty quick drive up to LA.  First thing on our agenda upon arriving to the city, was to hit up the expo and then get lunch. 

Since this was Sean’s 4th time running this race, he knew exactly where to go for the expo, which was at the Convention Center near the Staples Center.  We walked inside the expo where there was a big Welcome Runners banner, got our bibs, then went to the next area for our race shirts and bag of goodies.  There was no line for either of us at either station, it was around noon when we arrived.   

After that we tried to get out of the Asics store, it was ridiculous how crazy it was – lines pretty throughout most of the entire section.  All we wanted to do was get out lol.  Once we finally got out the first thing I saw was the Asics Pace Your Race pace bracelet station.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to run the pace I selected because of the heat, but I thought I’d at least get the bracelet for a souvenir.  I had signed up for it online so the line for pre-registered runners was pretty short.

Next we just went thru the expo checking things out.  It wasn’t an overly large expo, but had all the main players.  

We found our names on the mural. How cool is it that both outlet names were in the same section? We were walking thru near the stage area and I just happened to look over to my right and who did I see?  The amazing, inspiring oh so cool Deena Kastor!  I was so excited and I asked Sean if he would wait with me so we could get a photo, which of course he would.  When we were in Chicago he had mentioned how he gets chills every time he thinks about her running the Chicago Marathon, which was featured in the original Spirit of the Marathon. 

We said hi & chatted with Deena for a few minutes before leaving for lunch.  She is going to be racing at the Carlsbad 5000 this coming weekend so we might be heading out to spectate :).  On our way out of the expo, we ran into our friends Rhea & Kenny who were coming in.  We told them about meeting Deena, wished them luck and said we’d see them the next day. 

We hit up Yardhouse for lunch, it was close and it wasn’t too busy.  I had a grilled chicken sandwich on a wheat bun and sweet potato fries & Sean had a salad & regular fries. After that and lots of water, we headed a bit further into the city to find our hotel. 

We stayed at one of the hotels that the marathon recommended in the downtown area, The Millennium Biltmore.  It’s a nice older hotel with a lot of history.  They held the Academy Awards there a few times back in the 1930s.  While staying by the beach would have been nice, it was more expensive and a lot farther from the start line.  We didn’t want to have to get up super early 😉 and there were shuttles only a few blocks from the hotel. 

We got settled in and then headed out for dinner.  We were going to try Bottega Louie, a cute little Italian place not far from the hotel.  We got there just before 6pm and it was already packed.  We were planning to carb up and for once I have to say my eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach.  We ended up with a huge piece of lasagna & a margarita pizza, which was disappointing, but we also had our first Chocolate Souffle which was amazing.  We were stuffed by the time we got back to the hotel.   I got my gear ready, took my Flat Jenny photo and posted on Instagram and then I totally passed out super early.   They were calling for extremely warm temps for the race, so the LAM race officials had made a few changes to accommodate the heat. 

1) They moved the race up 30 minutes to start at 6:55a 

2) They added additional water & Gatorade to the aid stations to make sure everyone stayed hydrated 

3) They removed the timing clocks from the course so that it allowed runners to just enjoy the race and not go too hard. 

With the race start time changing to 6:55am, we were close enough that we didn’t have to get up too too early.  I think I set my alarm for 4:30a and we were up and out the door by 5:15a.  We made it to the shuttles pretty quickly and managed to get in front of a huge group of kids that were part of the Students Run LA group to get on a shuttle.  The shuttles would take us over to Dodger Stadium. 

We made it to the Stadium, hit up the port-a-potties and then headed over to meet up with a few of our friends running the race too by the gear check.  We got in line to go a second time but the lines were really long and we didn’t want to miss getting into our corrals so at 6:25a, we called it and headed into the corrals just to be safe.  I don’t know how strict they were this year, but apparently in years past they were really strict. 

While I was in my corral, I ate a vanilla honey stinger, I had eaten some oatmeal before we left the hotel so this was just a little snack before the start.  It was already getting warm out by this point, I even saw a guy go down while we were waiting in the corral, if it was from the heat or nervousness, I’m not sure, but it was a little scary to see. 

They started the Elite women about 15 minutes before the Elite men and the rest of us.  It didn’t take that long until we were running thru the start line and out of the stadium. 

I forgot to charge my Garmin so I didn’t have any way to keep track of my time outside of my Nike+ but it was on my phone, which isn’t as easy to check.  That was OK with me because I hadn’t been training with it recently and considering my training this cycle it was just better for me to not worry about time. 

I was already warm around mile 2 so I just chugged along until about mile 4 when there was a bit of a hill.  I ended up walking up the upper half of the hill because of some minor chest pains that were a precursor to the cold/respiratory issue I ended up with after the race.

I stopped at every aid station after mile 4, filled up my bottle with more Gatorade and dumped water over my head.  I ran thru every sprinkler and kept myself as cool as I possibly could.  You would think that being from Phoenix, the heat wouldn’t matter, but we hadn’t had temps into the 90s yet at this time so I definitely wasn’t ready for it.

I was doing really well considering for the first 19 miles when the 4:30 pace group passed me.  By this point the sun was really out and I just wanted to finish without getting dehydrated or feeling bad so I just keep doing the run/walk thing – what interval I was using, I’m not quite sure but it was working for me. 

Miles 20 – 24 were somewhat shaded, it was on a nice residential street lined with spectators and charity tents.  It seemed like everyone was handing out water, orange slices, pretzels and other things.  Everyone was super nice and kept cheering us all on.

One of the nice things about this race was that you could see a lot of the mile markers as we ran.  There was an aid station every mile after mile 2 and so having both those things helped the course go by quickly.  There were a few Clif Gel stations, I think 2 that I can remember. 

The last 1.5 miles were probably some of the toughest mentally for me, you could see the finish line, but it was obviously still a distance away, and it was super sunny by this point.  Since I didn’t have my watch, I didn’t know exactly where I was at so I didn’t want to push it and start the kick too early so I ended up just cruising in to the finish.  

They did have a clock at the finish line and it was showing 4:41 which wasn’t too far off from my current PR so I was happy.

They haven’t finalized the results yet, they are still showing as “unofficial” but my time listed was 4:39:22 – less than 4 minutes off my PR which considering the heat and the my not so stellar training I was thrilled. 

Split times were decent considering:

5k – 29:02
10k – 1:00
15k – 1:31:23
20k – 2:04:16
25k – 2:37:14
30k – 3:12:41
35k – 3:51:16
40k – 4:26:19 

Sean met me at the finish line so we were able to get some finish line photos together.  We went thru the finish line area, got our medals, got some water and snacks before heading to a runner area so I could stretch my hips, they were so so tight.    After which we tried to find our friends, Rhea & Kenny, but they weren’t responding so we headed out of the finish area and made our way to the Santa Monica Pier to get some post race burgers & fries.   We would later get our celebratory dessert and a nice salad from Tender Greens to finish off race day :).   My thoughts:
– Well organized race
– They were really good at communicating with us regarding their plan to deal with the heat
– Lots of spectators – lots of people handing out water, oranges, pretzels, bananas and Twizzlers.  I even saw a couple grilling hot dogs and then another with beer shots.  Everyone was really nice.
– Great medals
– Overall good course with lots of aid stations
I enjoyed this race and I’m really glad that I was able to run the race without much pain, I didn’t have any issues with cramping or hydration.  I think that not being so concerned with time was a good thing for me, I actually enjoyed the race for the most part.

We’ll be back to run this one again :).      

Marathon Training: LA Marathon

So…here we are…Marathon #5 right around the corner and I’m not feeling entirely prepared yet again. I made a decision at the beginning of the year to not focus on time, but to enjoy the ride, which I have been. 

However this training cycle didn’t go exactly as planned. I started out good, but then a few things happened to get me off track.

December was really lazy, I did the Hot Chocolate 15k on the 7th and then didn’t run over 6 miles until the end of the month, when Sean and I ran 13.5 miles around San Francisco. 

Running over the Golden Gate Bridge

December: 11 runs 59.6 miles 

January was better – I started running more on the weekends doing back to back runs. Weekend 1 was 9 miles on Sat, 8 miles on Sun. Weekend 2 was 15 miles on Sat, 5.5 on Sun. Then we headed to Hawaii where I was supposed to pace Sean for at least 20 miles, but after he almost fell off the mountain there was no way he was going to let me out there. Especially since I have a huge fear of heights. We did however run at least 2 miles everyday we were there. 

I ended the month with a 10 mile run after work one day feeling a little better about getting in another semi long run. 

Heading to a waterfall near Hana on Maui

January: 22 runs 103 miles

February started out great with a 15 mile trail run on SuperBowl Sunday & then my one & only 20 mile run the next weekend. Sean & I went out for 13 miles to start off our Valentine’s Day. Then things got a bit of track yet again. I wanted to do another long run the next weekend but it just didn’t happen for a variety of reasons. The last week of February was the Phoenix Marathon & while I had great plans to run additional after my half marathon, it was freezing & I didn’t have another set of running clothes to warm me up. 



February: 16 runs 111 miles

March – well let’s not really talk about March lol. It’s already the 13th of the month and I’ve only run 25 miles with a nice 10 miles last weekend. 

I’m not sure what happened to my best laid plans but life got in the way. I know I am capable of running a marathon. I’ve already done 4 of them & while they haven’t all gone to plan, I know it’ll all work out. 

The LA Marathon is tomorrow & it is slated to break heat records with a current forecasted high of 91 so I don’t have any thoughts of PR. I just plan to enjoy the ride & hopefully take some photos along the way.  Whatever is meant to be will be, I’m just along for the ride

Phoenix Marathon 1/2 Marathon 2015

I kept meaning to write this recap but with packing, work and training, it just didn’t get done until now. When I ran this race in 2014 it wasn’t my best experience. I didn’t get much sleep the night before, I fell and my knee was all cut open, it rained. There were a ton of burnt toast moments in that race and it definitely wasn’t my favorite race.

So why did I decide to come back for another year? Well first off, it wasn’t super expensive, I think I paid less than $70 for this race and all sorts of people were running this race, from the RunEatTweetAZ peeps, to most of the Cave Creek Running Chicks, to tons of bloggers from out of town to friends of mine from other races & run groups. So I convinced Sean to sign up for the marathon and I signed up for the half again.

The Phoenix Marathon is deceiving in it’s name as I mentioned last year, it actually takes place in Mesa, but I think the race name has to do with, not only is it’s near the city of Phoenix, it is also referring to the bird the Phoenix, which was the focus on both of my medals.

When I signed up for the race, I wasn’t quite sure what my work schedule was going to be like, we typically do an out of town event the week of the race, but fortunately this year we did it the week before so I didn’t have to worry about missing the packet pick-up like last year.

First off, quickly, I made it to the official packet pick-up this year. It was held at Mesa Riverview over by the Sports Authority. When you arrive, you get your bib, they ask you to know your number and show a photo ID. They allow you pick up other runner’s packets too with the same info. I was picking up Sean’s packet too and just had to show a photo of his ID on my phone.

I got our bibs & the swag bags in the first part of the expo. Then you could walk thru to see the various vendors, they were selling my favorite Honey Stinger waffles 10 for $10 which is an awesome deal so I picked up a few of those and then looked at what else was for sale before heading in to Sports Authority to get our shirts.

Ladies…I think I did this last year too, but I normally like to have a medium in most women’s style race shirts. This is because they run small and have tight necks, which I hate. I’m just a little picky lol. Well the Phoenix Marathon shirts are by Albion, which is an awesome brand, but they run super big because the fabric is really stretchy. You couldn’t exchange at the expo, but if you brought your shirt to the race you could exchange there. I ended up getting the last x-small. So glad I did because the medium was pretty big on, definitely not something I would have ever worn because of how loose it was. So in case you are wondering what size shirt to get, if they are using Albion, err on the side that the shirts might be a bit looser.

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Race Shirt, Arm Sleeves, 2015

Inside the swag bag was a bunch of random brochures, a pair of arm warmers, a mini sized peanut butter Clif Bar (finally not that horrible mint clif bar or luna bar that I always seem to get) and some sun screen.

All in all the expo was nice and for such a small race, pretty big & I’m glad I got to experience it.

This year, I didn’t want to have to drive the 30 – 40 mins to the race so Sean & I stayed closer to the race location, I got us a room at the Marriott at the Buttes Resort in Tempe, which was about 12 minutes from the race vs. 30-40 from my house. Sean isn’t really a morning person so I didn’t want to have to wake him any earlier than necessary and since we needed to be at the race location by 5am to catch the last shuttles to the start lines. I didn’t want to get stuck in a lot of traffic and have to rush to find parking and then get to the buses. Especially since the buses were in different locations for Sean & I.

I think I set my alarm for 3:30a and I’m pretty good about getting up when it goes off. I made Sean some coffee and then attempted to make myself some of the new Quaker Steel Cut Oatmeal packets. Burnt Toast Moment here or just tired girl moment, I forgot to pull the coffee packet from the coffee maker and so I go to eat the oatmeal and I’m like that’s right. Oops! Fortunately I had another packet so I was able to make another one.

We headed out to the race, it was a little chilly out, probably around 50 or so. I took my gear check bag so I could wear my track pants and jacket to the start line area. We made it to the bus area pretty quickly. There were different exits for the marathon & half marathon bus staging area. We decided to park near the half marathon buses because it was closer to the finish line and Sean walked/ran over to the marathon bus area.

I got on my bus pretty quickly – same set up as last year and then headed off on a 15 or so minute drive to the staging area for the start line. When I got off the bus, there were port-a-potties right there with a lot of heat lamps. There was a lot of space for everyone to wait for the race to start. I think I got there about 90 mins before the race would start. The buses started around 3:30 or 3:45am, I’m glad I didn’t get on an earlier bus, that was long enough to have to wait.

I walked around a bit before I saw one of my friends from my Slowrunners running group – I don’t run with them often any more since I’m trying not to use Galloway as much but I did run the Ragnar McDowell Mountain Trail Relay with them. Joe & I chatted for a while before another friend Trish came up to say hi. We headed over to near the start line to use a few port-a-potties that were over there.

After this I sat down near the gear check buses and just chilled for a few minutes. The guy next to me asked me some questions about my awesome Altra The One2 shoes so I gave him the run-down about them before checking my bag. I wanted to head up towards the start line to find the RunEatTweetAZ peeps for the photo op. On my way over, I ran into Cave Creek Nic so we chatted for a bit, took a few photos and were looking for the others. Eventually they came running past us and we all got a few photos. I haven’t really been able to be at a lot of the RunEatTweetAZ events, so I don’t know most of the other members but I did meet Corine (zucchinirunner), Jeremy (confessions of an amateur athlete) and Issamosley at the Hot Chocolate 15k. If I wasn’t moving to SD I’d definitely want to be more involved with this amazing group of people. Maybe they can come to SD for a field trip for Rock’n’Roll SD in June 😉

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Race Course, Start Line
with Cave Creek Nic before the start

with Issamosley (her photo) before the start
with Issamosley (her photo) before the start

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Start Line, RunEatTweetAZ
With the RunEatTweetAZ Half Marathoners – photo courtesy of RunEatTweetAZ

We all chatted for a few minutes before it was time for the race to start. I decided to keep my long sleeve lululemon shirt on for the race. I figured that if needed I could always take it off during the race and put it around my waist. I was fine for the first mile or 2 and then I started to get a little warm, but I was like, I’ll wait until at least mile 5 because I was feeling pretty good and didn’t really want to stop. I’m not sure what mile it was when the wind started to kick up a bit but I was glad I had it on because by the end of the race I was freezing.

I still don’t really like the course. I don’t find it very exciting at all and while there were some people out cheering us on, it’s not like a huge race where there are lots of spectators.

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Race Course
We were all going about 7 miles per hour around this point of the race 😉

Now the finish line area, that was awesome. I have to say of all the races I’ve run and I’ve done a lot of them, this race had the best post-race food of any race I’ve ever done.

Issamosley & I post race - She did amazing even with a sore knee.  Her photo
Issamosley & I post race (her photo) – She did amazing even with a sore knee.

Soon after crossing the finish line, we were handed bottles of water, hand towels from 24 hr Fitness and our medals.

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, 2015, Medals
His & Hers – Marathon & Half Marathon Medals

There was a section to have your finish photo taken, I passed, but it was there. Then you walked over to the food section. There was a muscle milk area with Muscle Milk shakes of course, yoga mats and foam rollers, an area to get massages and a line for food. The line was semi long but it went pretty fast. In line I talked with a lady who came down from Indianapolis to run the half and she asked me about my Altras too so I was able to chat about them while waiting for the line to progress.

First up was some fruit (orange, apples, bananas), Dole handed out fruit cups as well, then there were some breakfast breads, Sprouts had a small booth with multiple snacks, and then there was a BBQ food truck handing out mini bbq pork sandwiches and a really good mac & cheese with a little kick.

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Post Race Food
Post Race Grub – BBQ with Mac and Cheese

Turkey Hot Dogs
Turkey Hot Dogs

That was just in the runner only section. Then when you went out into the main expo area there were turkey hot dogs, green juice, Sprouts had another booth with tons of stuff, bottles of water, containers of coconut water, Svelte protein drinks, multiple snacks and they were telling us to take some of everything. When I went back with Sean a while later, there was even more & different items out. And all of this was free.

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Swag Bag    IMG_3287

There were other food trucks with things like sodas, mustache pretzels and other things that you could buy. It was like a mini expo after the race. They also had a nice area for the awards, with seats and a seating area with little tables for you to enjoy your snacks, etc.

I got my bag of dry clothing, changed into some warmer clothes before heading back to my car to drop off my bounty, get Sean’s heavier sweatshirt and then headed off to wait for him to come in.

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Post Race, Finish Line, Medal
Post Race Photo

I thought he was going to be in somewhere around 4 hours. He was still recovering from the Sean O’Brien 100k at the beginning of the month and had a few issues with his knee and heel so I didn’t think he was going to push it but I wasn’t sure.

I ran into Olivia (Balancing Mommy) and her friends so I cheered with them for about 20 minutes before I saw Sean come in.

Me and Balancing Mommy cheering on the runners.
Balancing Mommy & I cheering together while we wait for Sean

I took a few photos, he semi stopped to wait for me to give him a quick kiss, awwww… lol. He had eaten a ton of red starburst so his mouth was bright red. At first I thought he had fallen and cut himself or knocked out a tooth, it looked like blood, but no, that’s what happens when you eat 12 red starbust 😉

Sean almost at the finish line

Love this photo of Sean as he sees me near the finish. Hilarious :)
Love this photo of Sean as he sees me near the finish. Hilarious 🙂

I met him at the finish, got a few photos, he got his medal and went thru the food area before meeting me. He had gotten blisters on the bottom of both his feet because he wore a pair of old Newton Distance shoes with about 600+ miles on them. Oops.

Sean right after he finished the Marathon

After we went thru the finish area again, we walked back to the car, headed off to get showered and changed before heading off to a celebratory post race lunch at my favorite restaurant, Flowerchild, where we met to oh so lovely Narindipity and her boyfriend Marcus in Charge who are the most awesome peeps (Definitely follow them on Instagram).

Lunch with Narindipity & Marcus in Charge

All in all it was a great day that I got to spend with Sean and with a lot of other awesome runners. I’m super blessed to be a part of such an amazing community of like minded people.

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

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

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15 miles into 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Alan Webb killing it in the 10k

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

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

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

Xterra McDowell Mountain 15 Miler Race Recap

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

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

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

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

xterra, mcdowell mountain, trail race, 15 mile

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

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

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

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

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

xterra, mcdowell mountain, trail race, 15 mile xterra, mcdowell mountain, trail race, 15 mile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what does Sean put in his drop bags?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2014 Running Review

This has been an interesting year, running wise.  I started off the year marathon training for my big race of the year, the Maratona di Roma, after being off for almost 2 months attempted to start running straight after having been a Galloway runner for over 3 years.  This year I struggled a bit to keep myself motivated to run and felt for a while like running was a job instead of my passion when I got so caught up with the numbers.  Once I remembered why I was out there and why I love to run, it all fell back into place.  In the end, the only person who cares about the times is me and I’ll get there, but I’ve decided that it will be at my own pace.

That being said, I had an extremely eventful year.  Breaking it down…
 

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16 individual races + 2 Ragnar Trail Relays & volunteered at the Rock n’ Roll AZ expo and marathon start line

1 – 5K  (PR: 26:46)
3 – 10Ks including one trail (PR: 54:01 – my athlinks shows 51:25 but I’m not counting that since the course was .4 miles short)
1 – 15K (PR: 1:25:07)
1 – 10 miler (PR: 1:35:06)
1  – Sprint Duathlon New Event so it was an automatic PR (1:22:59)
6 – Half Marathons (PR: 1:57:29)
2 – Marathons (No new PR)

All of these races + training equated to 1,085 miles for the year & I still have one more run today. I finally hit another goal of 1,000 miles for the year!

I started the year with a three time goals, run sub 30 in an official 5K race, sub 2 in the half marathon and sub 4 in the marathon.  I finished the year with PRs in all distances except the marathon.

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Outside of going to Rome, I had decided at the beginning of the year that I was going to stay for the most part within driving distance for my races this year.  One of my big 2014 goals, not related to running, was to make a huge dent in paying off my debt.  I’m happy to say that I will be debt free within 2 months!! This goal made it so that I had to be a bit more conscious of my race selection.

Which means, of those 18 events that I did broke down as follows:

11 in the Phoenix area
2 in Las Vegas (New Race State for 2014)
3 in California (San Diego, San Francisco & Ventura)
1 in Zion, UT (New Race State for 2014)
1 in Rome, Italy (New Race Country for 2014)

The best part of my running year was all the amazing people that I met.  I am incredibly blessed and so happy to have these amazing people in my life.  Without social media, Instagram & Facebook especially, I would have never met the fellow runners that I am able to call my friends and in the end that means so much more than any medal, t-shirt or race.  Thank you to all of you who have been following my adventures this year – I’m so happy to have you as a part of my life.  I’m look forward to some amazing things in 2015!!

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What was the best part of your 2014 running year?

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.

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#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 ;)…