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Racing Arizona

January 18, 2012

As soon as we landed in Phoenix, we headed to the Health and Fitness Expo at the  Phoenix Convention center.

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The convention center is giant, with cool sand statues in the lobby. This was a much a better setup than the underground garage at the Sheraton hotel for the Portland Marathon.

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The course map at the expo showed that the half marathon loop starts and ends in downtown Tempe stretching North a bit into Scottsdale. The full course spanned all three cities – starting in downtown Phoenix, heading West through Scottsdale, ending in downtown Tempe.

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After I picked up my bib number and the goody bag I made the best decision– to switch to a faster corral. When I first registered, I underestimated my pace, and the last thing you want do when trying to PR is start in a slow corral as you’ll be blocked by slower runners and waste a lot of energy on passing.

We spent about an hour browsing through the expo and snacking on sampling free protein bars. There were dozens of sponsors from the big brand names like Cliff, Nuun, New Balance, Nike, Garmin, etc. to a small Texas-based bakery (whose name I can’t remember, but they make the best “healthy” coffee cake). The two products to catch my attention were the Marathon Snickers (and I don’t even like regular Snickers but their Chewy Peanut Chocolate bar is the tastiest and very filling 210-calorie snack) and a set of Bluetooth headphones that locks in your ears (although I doubt their usefulness as not every media player has built in bluetooth support). On the way out the door, we ran into the Biggest Loser contestants from season 5 (perfect timing, considering our latest challenge). I am still catching up, so I begged Jackie and Dan not to tell me whether they ended up winning. Can you believe that he used to be over 300lbs and she was in the high two hundreds?

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After sorting out and marveling at my treasures from the expo, it was time for a good stretch/roll-out session and then bed.

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The race was scheduled to begin at 7:30, but was delayed by 10-15 minutes due to the light rail schedule.

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As with any long run day, I started January 15th with the usual toast, peanut butter, and banana breakfast, followed by the “world’s greatest” stretch.

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Time for some photos (way more pleasant to pose before the race vs. after).

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And we are off… Being in corral 2, I started off way faster than I planned. I had to keep slowing myself down to stay within 8 min/mile. I am pretty bad at pacing myself in the beginning, but so far it’s been working out fine as I’ve been able to keep up my starting pace for most runs.

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IMG_0731Mile 12 - way less smiley

Rock’n’Roll Phoenix is known for its flat course and over 40,000 runners all over the country participated in this year’s race, many hoping to use it to PR or to qualify for the Boston Marathon. There are not many turns and the scenery is pretty dull (but there were some funny signs along the way).

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It’s a good course if you just want to go out there and run your fastest race, but it’s not a fun time. The Portland Full will forever be my special race. Like a high school sweetheart or a first love, it might have been awkward, clumsy, painful, and a bit naïve at times, but it’s my fondest memory and I will forever treasure it. 

My favorite moments in Arizona were when I high-fived the cheerleading squads and the little kiddies on the side of the road. So many folks are focused on their time that they kept ignoring the pouts and puppy eyes they were leaving behind. Every time I touched a little palm and saw a big smile light up a kid’s face, it gave my legs extra energy to push further.

I saw Eric at mile 12 and tossed him my empty water bottle. I caught my second wind then and sped up to 7:30 min/mile to the finish line. I crossed it with the 1:45 running group, shaving 3 min and 33 seconds from my previous half marathon result. I was hoping for 1:45, so being able to hit it made the finish just so much sweeter. Most importantly– no blisters, injuries or chafing, but my lungs were burning for a few minutes afterwards– not used to the dry desert air. Overall, not a bad way to wrap up my last age 25-29 half marathon (landing in the top 5% for my age group).

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After about 20 minutes of stumbling around the family reunion area (amongst the thousands of finishers and their fans), Eric and I finally found each other.

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We bummed around the finish area (the Arizona University Stadium field) for an hour stretching, chatting, checking out other runners, refueling with free beer and more Marathon Snickers bars.

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The stink and the cold finally got to me before the B-52s had a change to get onstage, so we headed back to the hotel for a hot shower and a giant celebratory lunch.

Half-marathon: check! Next stop: The Napa full.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark permalink
    January 18, 2012 9:06 pm

    Congratulations!

    Those Marathon bars are GOOD. Like eating candy. I’ve had the caramel nut rush several times. 290cals, but 20g of protein.

  2. Kristin permalink
    January 18, 2012 9:53 pm

    Congratulations Jane! You look like you were really enjoying yourself out there & a new PR to boot, way to attack it.

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