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.Β 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 πŸ™‚

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!). Β 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 πŸ˜€

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). Β 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 πŸ˜€ 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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RnR Arizona 1/2 Marathon: You Never Forget Your First

I remember my very first 1/2 marathon in 2010–I was “sweatin’ for the wedding” and really had absolutely zero clue about racing. I didn’t know what training plans were, or fueling, or anything at all. I think the longest I’d run up to the race was 6 or 7 miles.

In high school, I ran cross country and in college I ran sporadically, so when I ran RnR AZ that year, I really was a newbie runner.

chillin before the race--you know, in my cotton yoga pants and race day shirt. How many rule could I break in one day?? LOL

chillin before the race–you know, in my cotton yoga pants and race day shirt. How many rules could I break in one day?? LOL

Not surprisingly, it was a tough race for me but I wasn’t upset by my results then because honestly, I didn’t know what was a “good” finish time. To me, finishing at all was an accomplishment. (Isn’t that funny? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be always but as you learn more, that mindset shifts as you get more competitive?)

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Seven year later, I was back for another first but this time, it was my cousin’s. Back in July, he’d sent me a message asking about half marathons. Since he lives in California, I sent him a few suggestions to do out there. But, I also threw in RnRAZ and told him that I do it every year and that I’d run it with him if he decided to come out.

He signed up as soon as I said that.

OnΒ Sunday, my cousin was going to his first ever expo picking up his first ever bib. He’d never done a 5k or a 10k, this would be his very first race.

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I could see the excitement on his face as we got in our corral. My bib may have said 2 this time around but I was him in 11 (a better corral than my first, 15, lol!).

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We had a goal of finishing sub 3 hours but most of all, we had a goal of having fun.

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The first five miles went by smoothly, but I could tell my cousin was beginning to struggle. We began taking walk breaks and then as we reached the big hill of the course (there are little ones to prep you lol) I could tell he was sick. We pulled off to the side so he could, you know, do what he needed to do.

At mile 9, I promised him that as soon as we got up the hill, it would downhill the rest of the way. By then though, he was completely checked out and only concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other.

We reached mile 11, finally, and I turned to him and said, “We are right on schedule. We have 30 minutes for two miles. We can get this sub 3!!

Except he was done. So done. He had his headphones so I couldn’t give him words of encouragement. I only hoped whoever he was listening to was doing a good job for me.

When we reached the last mile, I knew we’d be cutting it close. I nudged him and pointed to my watch. ONE MORE MILE.

Finally, we made our last right turn and we could see the finish. I yelled, c’mon let’s run it in!!! He shook his head.

Um, sorry dude, but we ARE running it in.

I pulled his arm and put my other arm on his back.

Let’s go!!

And at just a couple of minutes over 3 hours, he was a half marathoner πŸ˜€

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Our stats :)

Our (my) stats πŸ™‚

He was tired. He was sick. But he was oh, so proud!

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And you know what, he was ready for more ❀

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yesssssss

–Do you remember your first race? What comes to mind when you look back to it?