Rock n Roll Arizona: Race and Half Marathon PR!!!!

I previously wrote about how my pre-race jitters going in to this race were at an all-time high. I didn’t have my fuel, and I was a nervous wreck about breaking a cardinal running rule: Nothing New on Race Day. But, I figured a Huma gel was better than no gel, and I just had to deal.

Luckily, my husband and training buddies Ashley and Dallas were with me at the start. A calming presence for sure. Dallas and my husband planned to run together and Ashely and I would see how long we could last with each other. We’ve yet to finish a race together, ha!!!

My coach had given me a plan. Start miles 1-4 conservatively. And like a good student, I followed direction, holding my pace the first couple of miles. But when we turned the first corner, we were met with a head wind that all of sudden, made staying at half marathon goal pace difficult.

Seeing that 7:55 bummed me out, but I told myself to keep to the plan. Coach had said miles 5-8 needed to be slightly faster than goal pace and to move by effort up the big hill at mile 9. I slowly started to separate from Ashely as I tried to pick up the pace.

It was shortly after mile 5 that I found a buddy who is also under my coach’s direction. He was seriously a Godsend! I took the Huma gel and tried to just swallow that thing down. I could taste the tart strawberry and feel the texture of the chia seeds (way too healthy for me. Give me GU any day). But I was feeling okay.

We coasted along as best we could with the wind and slight upness when we finally reached it.

The hill.

I told myself not to freak out. Stay with Alex as close as I could. It was a short hill. I would be fine. After the hill, it’s down the rest of the way.

JUST GET TO THE TOP.

7:49!!!! Y’all have no idea how insane that looked to me. It was such a confidence booster seeing that split considering how awful I am at running uphill.

But my happiness was short lived once we turned to go down because WHAM!!!–headwind!!! I let out an expletive as I ran, so angry that I would have resistance going down hill.

But I had to deal. Nothing I could do.

According to the plan, once I reached mile 10, I was supposed to “Last 3, fast 3” as I’d been practicing during training. I wasn’t sure I could muster “fast” at the end of this long race, but I knew I had to give it a shot. I was cutting it close.

Mile 11 was a blur as I tried to concentrate on my form and moving my legs. I was expecting my coach and teammates after mile 12 but instead caught them right at the mile mark. My coach yelled out words of encouragement and I felt a rush of pride at how well I was doing–I wanted to show her I COULD DO THIS.

Her instructions had been to ignore the watch the last three miles, so I didn’t know at the time what paces I was hitting. All I knew was that I. Had. To. Move….FAST.

When I turned the corner at mile 13 and saw the time clock at 1:39 (I started about 30 or so seconds behind it) I gave whatever kick I had to the finish.

I was NOT going to let this opportunity pass. I ran knowing that it all came down to those final seconds and if I didn’t do it now, the chance would be gone and I would regret not giving it my all. Close but not succeeding wasn’t an option. I needed to get it done NOW.

I sensed two men increase their speed as I passed them and I hit turbo. NOT TODAY. NOT RIGHT NOW. This was MY time. I was going to be the fastest one to the finish these last few seconds.

I don’t know who this person is.

There was no picture of me stopping my watch. I ran that thing all the way through like a maniac. As evident by that 5:10 pace, lol!

Oh man, I was so happy. I was so happy when I finally looked down and saw 1:39. 1:39. I never, ever in my life thought I would be in the ’30s, that I would run a half marathon averaging 7:30 something. Sometimes it’s hard for me to accept reality–that I really am running the way I’m running right now.

I don’t take progress for granted. I don’t forget the long journey it’s been to this moment. I’m not sure how much longer the desire to continue to improve will last, but I’m so proud of how far I’ve come. I’m so proud of how I’ve overcome negative thoughts, feelings of insecurity to get to this point. I am fast. I’m not bragging, but I need to tell myself that so I can accept this craziness that’s happening. That it’s not a fluke. It’s not luck. It’s freaking hard ass work I’ve done.

This was a hard race. But I know the real hard is coming next.

And I’ll be ready.

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Rock n Roll Arizona: The Expo and Pre-Race!

 

I’m back for a second year as a Rock ‘n’ Blogger (RnR Ambassador) so I was excited to represent this year and take a closer look at things so I can (always truthfully) relay info back to y’all.

This year, there was a 1 miler race on Friday and a 5k race on Saturday morning. I had friends do both and who said both were fun. One said the band playing after the 1 miler was legit–a Tom Petty cover band! I was already having FOMO and that just intensified it.

@runlaurarun28

There were some changes made this year (new company!) and I noticed it as soon as we walked in to the expo on Saturday. There were computers available at the entrance of the expo building where you could search your bib number and fill out your waiver–away from the crowds and totally convenient (because I forgot to print mine out, lol!)

Easy walk through to get my bib and shirt but when we entered the actual expo, there were these cool computer screens wishing us luck… by name!! I’m thinking they “got” the info from our bibs?? but either way, I thought that was a nice, new touch 🙂

The expo seemed small, but I don’t mind small expos. I did a loop and half, snagged some Honey Stinger waffles then took a quick ProCompression pic and I was done!

I like that the expo is in downtown Phoenix (where the marathon starts) since we rarely make it down there, and it’s a good excuse to take our time (that, and parking costed $12 so I was going to milk it!).  If you’re coming from out of town and doing the half marathon (which starts and ends in Tempe, not downtown Phoenix), you can easily take the light rail to the expo.

We ate a new-to-us restaurant and enjoyed the beautiful 75 degree weather day 😀

RACE DAY

As I mentioned, the half marathon starts and ends in Tempe, Arizona (but goes through Scottsdale and a tiny little section of Phoenix).  People complain that it’s not “scenic” but you’re in the city, and I’m not sure how scenic it could be. I think if people are coming to Arizona because they want desert, they need to hit the trails. RnR Arizona does what it can in providing a visually appealing course–it’s start in Tempe’s Mill Ave district and ends at Tempe Town Lake. The middle portions are city streets which is unavoidable–you’re in the city. There’s a nice section (where the big hill is at at mile 9) that takes you around the Desert Botanical Gardens area and is a bit more desert-y. I like that it ends at Tempe Town Lake because it’s a huge area where you can hang out with friends/family afterward (with plenty of food options walking distance). Plus, the band is literally right there. Super convenient. By the way, this year Everclear performed and I totally relived my 90s youth.

Anyway, my husband and I are pros at this race as we’ve done it the past….oh 5 years?? We drive to a park-n-ride off the freeway (in Mesa) and take the light rail to the start line in Tempe–which happens to be at my alma mater, Arizona State University. Big reason why I love doing this race. I love coming back to my old campus stomping grounds 😀 Go Devils!

We arrived suuuuper early, because that’s how I roll, and because I also had to squeeze in 2 warm up miles and attend 2 group pictures, LOL!!

Moms Run This Town AZ

Pro Compression Ambassadors

Rockin’ the Arizona PC sock!!! ❤ #keepittight

It was while I was handing things over to my husband for gear check that I realized I LEFT MY SPIBELT WITH GU INSIDE IN THE CAR!!!! And remember, my car was back IN MESA!

I could feel my anxiety rising and tried hard not to panic. “It’s only a half, I will survive,” I told myself. But because I was shooting for a PR, I really wanted everything to be perfect. This was not perfect.

One of my MRTT girlfriends said she had an extra Huma gel she could give me and even though I hadn’t tried Huma gels before, I figured something was better than nothing. I mean, it’s not like they say to not try anything new on race day or anything.

Sigh……

I tried to get back in the zone. Like I said, I’ve done this race many times. I know this course. I know exactly what’s coming.

Race deets: Always on MLK weekend, always at ASU.

I knew that from the beginning, it’s a slight uphill that at parts you can see/feel and at parts not. I also knew there’s a “big” hill around mile 9 but that after that, you’ve got a fast finish 5k. I told myself to work it to the hill.

Get. to. the. hill.

Actual Race Re-cap tomorrow ❤ 

 

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Rock n Roll AZ 1/2 Marathon Recap

I DID IT!!! I DID IT!!!

Official Time– 1:58:11

Oh my goodness gracious, that was the hardest race I’ve ran so far ever, ever, ever.

It was pretty clear that I had a lot of jitters leading up to this race. Oddly though, I slept like a log the night before. I think I was so beat from worrying that my body went into shut down mode. Either way, I was glad that I was able to rest.

Our alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. –our real alarm, not my almost 6 month old 🙂 — and we began getting ready. I had my clothes laid out and ready to go so this process didn’t take too long; we wanted to leave our house by 5:45. I ate my usual Nutrigrain bar and we were off.

Do you have a pre-race song you like to listen to before a race? I do. It’s Delta Goodrem’s “Believe Again”. I hear that song on repeat in the car on my way to each race. Luckily, my husband likes it and didn’t mind hearing it for the 20 minute car ride. We had to park and take the light rail to the race as the area where it started was super congested and trying to find parking there would have been ridiculous and expensive.

The race’s starting line was right smack in the middle of my college campus, Arizona State University. This is me in front of the bridge I’d cross each morning on my way to class 🙂  My dorm building is the farthest one on the left.

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I was able to move up corrals, thank goodness!, and hung out there while I waited for the start. I seriously thought my corral had to be the most popular; we were packed in there like sardines. I anticipated the first mile to be a weave through process and it was. Once it was time to go, I moved towards the outside left so I can pass as many as I could to get my pace started. I didn’t feel like I was settled in until about mile 3!

I went into the race telling myself I wanted to maintain an under 9 minute average the first 6 miles. I knew from the map that these were the flattest and I wanted to take advantage of it. Sure enough, each mile I was in the 8:35-8:50 range. Up to that point, I was really enjoying myself. There was a very slight downhill in one spot and you could see the thousands of people running the race–it was pretty cool to see and know you were one of those colored specks. The music was loud and definitely helping to move us all along. Spectators were cheering, holding signs–the atmosphere was just awesome.

And then things started to get a little rough around mile 8. I reached the low incline portion of the course, the one leading up to the hill, and I instantly felt myself slow down. I wanted to stay at the 9:00 min mark and it was so difficult to do.

By the time I got to mile 10, I had had it. My legs felt heavy and I could feel the hill approaching. The mental game had official started.

I was trudging up the hill, it was an up and back so I could see on the other side the runners who had already climbed the hill running back down. As I was snailing, I noticed a runner on the descent bouncing two basketballs, one on each hand. Yes, someone running while bouncing basketballs! Yes, this was around mile 10! It took me a split second to realize that it was Doctor Dribble. If you don’t know who he is, you need to check him out–he’s pretty incredible. I recognized him because he’d commented on one of my Instagram photos and when I checked out his profile, I saw that this is something he’s done in quite a few races. I had no idea he was doing RnRAZ .

Having gotten pumped up by Doctor Dribble, I moved up what was left of the hill. On the ride down, I let the descent carry me for a while. My legs were tired and I could use all the help I could get. I got to mile 11 and told myself that once I got to my 12 I would be sooo close. I just needed to get to mile 12.

The eleventh mile was the longest mile of my life.

Have you ever had those miles? That one mile that just seems way longer than all the others? This was it. This was that mile. I was thinking to myself how I had ran 13 miles quite a few times in my lifetime. How this was not anything new to me. I could do this. I’ve done this!

But I could feel my form falling apart. I could hear my feet start to shuffle. But then all of a sudden, I also heard my name! I looked around me but couldn’t see anyone I knew but I could definitely hear my name being yelled. Finally, I saw a girl jumping and waving her hands hysterically. It was my old friend from waayyy back, Nadia. Nadia ran cross country with me in high school and was one of the elite. She’s so hard core. I love her because she’s a no-nonsense type of gal. But there was my typically serious friend cheering me on, trying her best to make sure I could hear her tell me to Keep Going! You got this!

I could not have seen  her at a better time. She was exactly what I needed.

Not long after, I saw mile 12 and I knew I was on my way to reaching my PR. I wanted to make sure I left no room for doubt, so I picked up my pace wanting to get as under 2 as possible.

I turned and saw mile 13 and immediately begin my final kick. I finished that .1 leaving everything I had behind me. Immediately crossing the finish line, I looked down at my watch and saw 1:58:10. I wanted so badly to yell, scream, shout in joy but I had absolutely no strength left. I clumsily made my way through the finisher’s chute to look for my husband and when he found me, he could see that I had given it all I had.

“You did it, didn’t you?!?”

All I could do was nod.

I somehow managed to pull myself together to take a finisher’s photo with him. (I actually loved the pic and ordered it! I’ll share it with you guys as soon as I get it.)

Once were able to get past the crowd of finishers, we came across a grassy knoll that I found perfect to rest my weary bones.

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And this is where I stayed for about 45 minutes.

I honestly don’t think it was until yesterday that it sunk in. I DID IT. I ran a 1/2 marathon in under 2 hours!!

–What’s your most memorable race or the race you’re most proud of ? (This one is mine!)

My 1/2 marathon was dedicated to Meg Cross Menzies.