Thursday, January 30, 2014

PF Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona 2014 Half Marathon Recap

Bright and early Sunday morning, I met up with Lara and Blake to head down to Tempe for the start of the RnR Arizona. In years past, the full marathoners and half marathoners started together and the marathoners split off somewhere on the course. Last year, they changed the start of the marathon so that the runners were bused to the start location.

Bruiser helping me pack my race bag.

Luckily, the start was not nearly as crowded as I remembered from 2011, which is the last time I ran this race. Weird, right? Especially considering this is the biggest running event in AZ. Parking was crazy easy, too. I was all prepared for it to be a bitch to park with a zillion other runners, but we pulled right into a spot and we were on our way to the start line.

We made the usual stop at the porta potties- this is really my only complaint - the lines were really long and there definitely were not enough of them. We hung out for a few minutes, then said goodbye to Blake (the best Sherpa ever) and made out way to our corrals.

Lara and I before the start.
Lara and Blake

You know how a you can tell right from the start that a good race is in the cards for the day? Well, that was my start. Usually, it takes me a few miles to be able to tell if I'm going to have a good race or not. Everything felt great from the first step. My legs felt great, my stomach felt great. I felt well rested.

I didn't take many pictures and those I did take were pretty much taken while I was in motion. Since I was trying to PR, I didn't want to waste time stopping to get good shots. For the first few miles, I kept myself at a really comfortable pace that felt pretty effortless. I had to keep slowing myself down because I've learned time and time again that starting out too quickly is absolute disaster for me. My legs felt great, though, so I was able to keep a faster pace right from the beginning.

Couldn't resist a picture of this
gigantic VW bus.

By mile 5, I was definitely going to PR. My legs still felt great, as did my lungs, but I was starting to get a stitch in my side the lasted the entire rest of the race. I was keeping about a 20-30 second faster pace than normal and other than the stitch, I still felt great. I only took walk breaks during the water stations.

I'm impressed by people that can walk
on stilts

By mile 10, I was still going to PR. I was feeling great (except for the stitch in my side) and I was totally getting prematurely excited because I just knew I was going to be celebrating a PR that night. Now, I don't typically put all of my emotion into the outcome of a race. Running races is something I just do for fun. I love the friendships and all of the hoopla. But I had been steadily improving as a runner for awhile and I was really excited to see it pay off.

Mile 11 was where things just went to hell and I couldn't get it back. There's a pretty steep long hill at mile 10 and I knew I lost some time, but I thought I had made it up on the down hill. The last two miles of the course were pretty hilly and my legs were just shot. I tried to fight it out and I can honestly say, I gave it my all right up until the finish line, but the walk breaks I had to take during miles 10 and 11 ate up just enough time that even though I ended up running my fastest mile of the race at the end, I couldn't make up for the lost time.

I always take a picture of mile 10,

In the last 100 yards as I entered the chute, I could literally feel the muscles in my calves rippling and I thought that there was a good chance I could trip and fall, but I still really tried. But I ended up finishing 1 minute and 13 seconds away from my PR.

And yes, I did cry a little at the finish, which I never do at races (horse shows, definitely, but not races). I was really disappointed and mad at myself for getting so close and not getting the job done. I whined at my friend, Debra, via text and was getting ready to turn up the dramatics, but she asked me if this course was more or less difficult than my current PR. I told her it was definitely more difficult, but I didn't really give that aspect much thought until just now when I went to look up the course elevation profile.

This is definitely not the hardest course around, especially compared to a lot of courses in California, but it is certainly harder than the Disneyland Half course which is where I got my current PR. I'm almost embarrassed to post my time because it seems like a time this slow wouldn't have taken such effort on my part, but it's my second fastest time. And I can tell I've improved over all as a runner.

My slowest miles were around mile 10
and that giant stupid hill.

It's been almost two weeks and I was over my disappointment within a day or two. I'm hoping I might be able to pull off a good time for Princess half, but considering that it'll be the day after I run the Enchanted 10K and that my lungs are currently a mess from the plague I've had for the last several days, I'll just wait and see how I feel.

Lara missed her PR by 2 minutes...and she had
trouble at the same spot. 
Over all, this is a good race. I had forgotten how much fun RnR races can be and it was nice to do a big race without all of the Disney drama I've gotten used to. It was also fun to experience a race where people were running most of it rather than stopping constantly to take pictures. I love that stuff, too, but it was nice to have a break from it. Unfortunately, the prettiest parts of the course are also the hardest, but I had a good time.

The medal is pretty awesome


  1. Jamie, So sorry you were disappointed in your time, but just think what it would have been on a flat fast course. You can get a PR at Princess, but be sure to take the 10k race slow. I am doing the opposite, trying to get a fast time in the 10k and using the half as a training run....a little strange but that is what my coach recommended for my training. Hope to see you at WDW in just a few weeks.

  2. Total bummer. . .I'm so sorry! Now, you just have to pick a race after GSC to redeem yourself!

    I think my love affair with RNR is being rekindled for exactly those reasons. I think I want to go for Idol in 2015.


Thanks for reading!