Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rock n Roll Arizona (Race Recap)

State #23 Arizona
Weather- perfect, 50s, partly sunny

Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico are 3 states I have purposely been saving until winter to run due to the high temps. I ADORE warm weather, just not when I'm running.... especially not when I'm racing. Although I'm not a fan of the RnR series as a whole, I chose this particular race because it fit nicely into my schedule, and all the people that were going to be there. It also helps that B was finally able to join me in my adventures (we haven't traveled for a half marathon together since August, Chicago)

One of the great aspects of Phoenix is they have this rail system that will take you all over the surrounding areas for fairly cheap. Once B and I landed, we left the airport, took a shuttle to the rail, and made it to the expo in fairly decent (and more importantly, uneventful) time. 

This is my race face 

Had the opportunity to meet Endorphin Dude back in Oct, was cool to see him on the promotional poster 

PF Changs was the sponsor and they had a dragon set up at expo... come to find out people actually ran with it the entire race!!

I told myself I wouldn't purchase anything at the expo because I didn't need extra stuff, but also we had our luggage with us since it was out of the way to go to our hotel before the expo (or so we thought) and I didn't want to be there too long lugging everything around. I already knew that after this race it would be time to retire my shoes and get a new pair, so instead of waiting till I got back from the race and test out some Brooks for the first time, I decided to just get the updated pair of my Saucony Progrid Guides... I present to you the 5 series

Its quite different from the 3 and 4 I ran in previously. From their website:
Saucony’s go-to training shoe for runners seeking lightweight stability, the Guide 5 arrives a full 1.5 oz. lighter than its predecessor version! ProGrid™ foam running from heel to toe provides the ideal blend of cushion and responsiveness, and an 8mm offset encourages a smooth transition with less impact. Weight: 9.1 oz.

I'll be excited to test them out on my first day-to-day run- since I didn't buy them at Fleet Feet, I'll be s.o.l. if they dont' offer the same amount of support as my previous shoes... fingers crossed. 

Finally left the expo and after many adventures HERE, we made it to the correct hotel, got everything ready for the morning, and had a few beers and food before heading to bed at the ripe hour of 9:30pm- in my defense, Technically its 10:30pm cst.

Although I woke up several times in the night with a coughing fit, (one of which I had to stay out in the hall till I was done) It was the first night's sleep I had in over 2 weeks where I actually felt RESTED. I'm not really sure what is going on with my body, but I've been sick for a little over 2 weeks and I have ZERO energy... constantly feeling like I could fall asleep at any moment (praying its not mono)

After my alarm goes off at 5:20am, I do my normal routine of getting ready, eating, hydrating etc so we can all  be ready and out the door by 6am. The 6 of us (me, B, other B, L, Chris, Jason), hop on the rail to head to the half marathon start- only to find that the rail runs LITERALLY through the start line... poor planning Rock n Roll.

Since apparently none of us are the greatest at reading maps, we're not really sure where the half fanatic photo meet up is, so we just decide to do our own pre-race photos.
Strike a pose!
Couldn't get the "demon look" out of our eyes, so lets just say this is how you know we're ready to run. 

Jason and Chris

We end up walking around a bit, and I learned that apparently when you match, people think you are race officials or something. We had several individuals walk up to us asking where the race start was or other questions that although we knew the answers to, it was strange that they were asking us out of all the people. 
I also learned that the camera crew LOVE matchy matchy
I didn't get the throwaway memo 

Apparently B, B, and L don't stretch, weird right?!?! Me... I HAVE to  or i'll have hip issues- lesson learned the hard way

We cycle through port-o-potty's one more time before heading to our corrals -- note to people that are still new to racing, OR have yet to catch on: When there is a large group of port-o-potties in a linethe closest line to you will always be long, if you willing to take a little extra effort and walk to farther port o potties in the same group, you will cut your wait time in 1/2. What looked like a huge cluster and potentially a 15-20 min wait, was less than 5 min for us since walked a bit farther. This ceases to amaze me that people don't catch on on. 
Other B was last to get out bathroom, so unfortunately, not in the photo. 

I never blogged this because I wanted to save face if it didn't pan out- but originally when I signed up for this race I had every intention, and ability, to break into the 1:40s- thus I put that time on my expected finish and was originally going to start in corral 4.  Since B & L had put a faster time as well, they were starting in 5, so I figured starting one back and waiting around with everyone would be fun, and I didn't really think 1:40s was realistic anymore with my stupid congestion / cough/ breathing thing going on. 

For whatever reason, race start was delayed 10  minutes (I heard it was much much longer for the marathon start on other side of town), so we had plenty of time to be goofy. I entertained everyone with my super sweet dance moves, but politely declined a few offers to take videos so I could post for you all. Sorry guys, I just really don't think you're ready to see all that my dancing has to offer....

When there were a few minutes left till the gun went off, my Garmin had a seizure and although it was fully charged, it decided to keep turning off and on, off and on, repeatedly till it just decided to stay off

Its one thing to run a race Garmin-less, its another to expect it to be working and then crap out with less than 5 minutes to the start--- mini anxiety attack. Now I wonder if my Ipod will short out too because it wasn't connected to Ls charger she let me borrow--- agh!!

*complely side note- I had a few people, including my fellow matchy matchy folk, ask where in the world I got a cheetah head band that went perfectly with my runningskirt. I got this from Chica Bands back in May @ the  Geist 1/2 expo since I wore the same.exact.outfit. Generally I stock up on them at expos because they have the 3 for $30 bands, what a steal!  Looked and worked good then, looked and worked good now! End side note* 

Right before our corral was supposed to be released to start the race, the rail is going to be crossing the start line soon so we have to sit around and wait. I don't necessarily mind the waiting part, what I minded was there was NO CLOCK at the race start so I had no idea how much I would be 'behind the clock' to get assessment of my pace since Garmin died on me. To top it off I turned on my Ipod to test it, and it immediately said battery low--- well well well Arizona, looks like you are not starting out as planned. 

Eventually the rail passes through and we're off. It was quite a neat experience to be at the front of the pack, no bobbing or weaving, but also nothing to really listen to. Randomly about 1/2 way into the first mile, my garmin magically turns on and starts tracking my pace--- weird. I deleted the workout and decided I would wait until I hit the first mile and start it up so at least I know my pace- and that is what I do. 

Just as I suspected, judging by my pace in the 2nd mile, my first mile was sub 8, stupid Lisa, when will you learn? I'm already having trouble breathing and I'm not sure if its because I was going faster in comparison to other half marathons, or the fact that I can't breathe through my nose... or both??

Shortly before mile 3 I see the PF Changs dragon!!! Once I caught up to it I asked one of the back runners if they were going to be carrying it the whole way--- yup. they didn't have bibs on so maybe they were just getting paid to carry it?!?!

The head with the ball in it- I can't imagine running while carrying a stick, so kudos

Sadly that was probably the most exciting part of the race for me. Normally if my music dies on me or I forget it, I'll listen to conversations of runners around me to keep me entertained, today everyone decided they would just keep to themselves and it was SILENT. I finally gave in around mile 4ish and turned on my music and would just deal with it if it died later on. 

I never claimed to be good at math- I was trying to figure out what my actual time was based on how far back I was from the clock, and the fact that my garmin is 1 mile behind since I started it right at mile 1- apparently that was too many variables to figure out exactly, so I just estimated that I was about 10 minutes off (which is what it turned out to be!) 

This was the first race I ever decided to do ABC goals
A- Break into the 1:40s
B- Get a new PR (anything under 1:51:56)
C- Go sub 1:55

I don't even remember palm trees being there 

Up until mile 8 it appeared I was on pace to break into the 1:40s- although I had to stop every so often to catch my breath, I wouldn't allow myself more than 15 sec, so it didn't eat too much time- even with my bathroom break around mile 5ish. 

Somewhere around mile 8.5 everything fell apart. I was having issues breathing right away, but I guess not being able to breath through my nose and just using my mouth caught up to me. Out of no where I got a killer side stitch that WOULD NOT go away. No amount of stretching or controlled breathing would lessen the pain, so I had to resort to walking- only problem was that the pain would resurface within a minute of running after the walking, so I was kind of screwed.

Annoyingly the rest of my race was spent running 2, MAYBE 3 minutes, followed by walking. I knew my mom was tracking my time, so I sent her a text about my breathing so she would understand if suddenly my pace drastically slowed down.  I realized that as much as running in pain sucks, I can tolerate and potentially push through that, however when it comes to  breathing issues and stitches, I can't. Up until the finish line  I kept cursing at how great my  body felt and how I wasn't tired, but yet I just couldn't shake the stitch. I had no idea what my accurate time was, but I knew my A goal was out the window, and possibly my B goal. 

In the last mile I had a brain fart and forgot that my watch was 1 mile behind- when I looked down and saw the time I thought, "wow I can still break into the 1:40s if I push" so I sped up and ignored my stitch. About 1 minute late I came back to reality and remembered I had to add about 8ish minutes to make up for the first mile not documented-- therefore, no chance of breaking into 1:40s so I literally said 'screw this' and started walking again. HAHA pathetic I know. 

I'm pretty sure the last mile, including the chute, was the longest mile of the race. I knew the route well since we had walked it the previous day to our hotel, which is why I think it made it more unbearable to know how much farther I had to go.I high fived every little kid with their hand out to pass the time. I hate to admit this.... but I walked in the last mile. Yes I know it shouldn't be a surprise considering I walked from mile 3 on during entire race, but I generally try to push through it and give a good last mile--- not today. 

I waited until seeing the Mile 13 sign before picking it up, and even then it was hard to go much faster. Crossed the line, ambivalent to what the clock said, grabbed my medal and water, and immediately walked over to the fence to keel over and die get my breathing squared away- I must have sounded like an asthmatic fat kid. 

Within 1 minute of finishing, mom sent me a text with my official time 1:54:24--- how about that, I got my C goal after all. 

Quick Rant: 
Here is where the conflict comes in- I had a sucky race. Even before mile 8.5 hit, I just never could control my breathing and I consistently had to walk. I've had some people say "it's still an awesome time, you should be happy" Well then I can't help but think- If I can fall apart and take a bathroom break, text, and walk every few minutes, then 1:54 is NOT a good time for me because apparently I'm capable of running much faster. I'm just so used to running in the 1:50s, that its just always expected / anticipated- then I use my time as a determinant of if the race was good or not. I NEED to step it up and see what I'm actually capable of, I think only then will I be satisfied with a race entirely. 
End Rant. 

After hanging up phone with mom I grab my food- normal post race Rock n Roll stuff, only this time they had many different flavors of the Snickers marathon bars- normally its always the same crunchy tasteless flavor, but I tried something new and I think I'm in love... its chocolately, chewy, caramely, salty, and sweet goodness! aka Caramel nut rush- seriously, try it. 

I knew B, L, & other B were planning to run together, so I go over toward the finish line and wait for them. Despite my height advantage when looking for someone, L spotted me first, sans B & B. Both ladies were experiencing pain in different areas- other B in her calf, and my B in her hip (once we got back to TN she found out she has a stress fracture in her hip and she is going to be on crutches for 6 weeks--- I cannot imagine taking that long of a break, so pray for a speedy recovery)
We try to weave through the crowd to get out of the finisher area, but some Rock n Roll workers genius idea of having family and friends be in the finisher area and NOT in the family meeting area made it a slow "i want to rip my hair out" kind of experience- we even lost other B in the process. (thank goodness for her and I carrying our cell phones)

In our process of searching for other B 

We finally find her and now the guessing game begins of where do we need to go to get to the rail and back to our hotel. There are ZERO signs, and our only saving grace was having someone else ask a security guy and we just eavesdrop on where he is telling them to go. 

After quite a long walk we make it to the rail and finally back to our hotel
We actually didn't plan the ladder in height affect 

All in all the race was okay.

  • Weather was seriously perfect. I was never too hot, or too cold. It was just right
  • The half marathon and marathon had 2 different courses included different start and finish, so even though it was a Rock n Roll event, once you started running it was never too crowded
  • Where we stayed was RIGHT on the rail, the rail dropped us off 100 feet from start line, which made being from out of town easy. 
  • Views in the distance of Cacti and mountains
  • Relatively flat and easy course
  • For a rock n roll event, course support was relatively low (i think maybe because there were 2 different courses?)
  • Not that many stages of music (this doesn't bother me since I listen to my ipod, but it was something i noticed)
  • HUGE cluster that was the finish line and finish area- it took us over 30 minutes to exit
  • No signs pointing us to the rail until it was clear in the distance, then we saw a sign- gee thanks
  • start line crossed the rail tracks, so we had to wait on it before our corral was released. 
If you do decide to do this race, you can get around on the rail alone, if its a quick in and out trip- it will take you to the expo, good eats, and your hotel if its near the rail. If you are wanting to stay an extra day to explore like we did, it might be best to get a rental car so you can see other  surrounding areas- Scottsdale, Chandler etc. 

State #23 Done
Official time 1:54:24
didn't show places for some reason
Updated splits now that garmin is working

Mile 2- 8:05
Mile 3- 8:16
Mile 4- 8:29
Mile 5- 9:56 (bathroom break)
Mile 6- 8:38
Mile 7- 8:29
Mile 8- 8:54
Mile 9- 9:23
Mile 10- 8:52
Mile 11- 8:53
Mile 12- 8:51
Mile 13- 8:40
.16       - 7:07

next up: Austin, Tx - Livestrong 1/2 marathon


  1. Awesome job! So sorry about B's hip. Ouch! I hope you get over whatever virus you have. So frustrating. I think your time is awesome considering you weren't feeling well. Faster than any of my half's:)

  2. I heard somewhere that everyone that came in before the dragon would get something free from PF Changs? I can't remember now what it was, I think I read it on twitter.

    Congrats on State 23 !

  3. Great report. Can't wait to see you in Austin. Um, 6 weeks on crutches? I guess B is on the injured reserve?

    1. Love the Saucony 5s. I hope you like them so I can get a pair in about 100 miles.
    2. That Proof pic of you running is gorgeous. You look great.
    3. You are fast. Good grief. Sorry you had a bad for you race. At least I know you'll be waiting at the finish for me in Austin.
    4. I found a pink shirt to wear in Austin, maybe. It's almost a tank, almost. Will post pics tomorrow.

  4. wow - you had a lot going on during that race! It IS still a great time, but I understand when your expectations are higher, it's a small consolation. They have a new R&R race here in Portland this year, but I just have no desire to run it - whenever I read recaps of R&R events they just sound like a zoo...

  5. I hope the Austin marathon starts us all together so I can enjoy your awesome dance moves again. Hilarious. So fun hanging out with you again, sucks so bad about B though :(

  6. Oh man - if you could get a time like that on a not-so-great race you are definitely going to meet some amazing goals in the next few months! Great recap!

  7. Great race report, thanks for all the details. RnRAZ was my first half so I have a fond place for it in my heart, but that was the old course so it was nice to read about the changes. I'm pretty new to your blog, but I look forward to following along with the rest of your 50 states quest.

  8. Ahhh, I think you had a great race but we're our own worst critics as runners! That's just natural I suppose.

    I can't believe that people ran that whole entire race with the dragon! Talk about sore arms!

    I've never tried a Rock N Roll race but it's on my list of races to-do. I heard bad things about the Vegas full.

  9. 1. love the pic of you-thats a spend-money-on-it shot. :)
    2. if we ever run the same race- i would love to pace you/run with you to your sub 1:50!!
    3. don’t beat yourself up too much-i was aiming to beat my previous PR at 2 different races. it took the perfect course and day to make it happen. but it WILL happen.
    4. only suggestion would be negative splits. maybe practice on your training runs? i know this time it was breathing but it may help in the future.

  10. The race day outfit is too cute! Sorry you didn't get to meet all your goals but I'm really impressed with your time. That's fast!

  11. LOVED the outfit! I'm so sorry you had a hard race - the Garmin issues, the sideache and walking. But you're right, atleast you know you can do better and you WILL do better next time! Hoping for a speedy and quick recovery for your friend! :)

  12. Seems like RnRs seem to be hit & miss lately. Sorry you had such a crazy/sucky run -- but like always I'm still in awe of you. And look how great your photos turned out! That's always a win in my book! ;)