The Rock n' Roll Arizona half marathon. Where do I even begin? I am still on a high from this race. I guess let's start from the beginning.
Friday morning I headed out for a very easy 2 mile run and then to brunch at Firstwatch with my sister and her friend and then after we headed off to the expo. We hit up all the booths and grabbed all the free snacks and goodies and then we bought our Rock n' Roll Arizona Brooks jackets. By far the softest running jacket I've ever found.
Saturday morning I lounged around most of the day drinking water and Nuun and watching Law and Order Reruns and then I went for a 1.5 mile walk to loosen up the muscles. When I got back, it was time to carb up with my pre-race meal: gluten free spaghetti and meatballs and two pieces of gluten free toast.
Sunday (Race day and my birthday!!) - 1/17/16
Sunday I woke up bright and early at 4:30 am. I had my cup of Gatorade, cup of coffee, bottle of water, banana, and two piece of gluten free toast for breakfast. Then I grabbed my drop bag and headed off to the start line. I got dropped off around 7:15 with the race starting at 7:50.
I headed to the portapotties and had to wait until 7:30 by the time I got to the front, which really freaked me out on time because I still had to drop my bag and get to my corral. I wandered till I found the drop bag trucks and handed them my bag. Unfortunately, the drop bag trucks were behind Corral 22....and I was in Corral 2. I fought my way through 11,100 runners plus spectators up to Corral 2 and found myself a perfect spot next to a guy in a Columbus Marathon shirt (seemed appropriate). I put my headphones in and played my running playlist to get in the zone (also because I'm claustrophobic and the corrals bother me when they are really tight).
The national anthem was played and the elites took off. We waited 45 seconds and then they started our countdown. 10..9..8......3..2..1..GO!! We were off. I worked my way around the walkers who started in Corral 2 for some reason and got up to speed, settling for a 7:40 mile. I felt amazing and I told myself I had this. This was the race where I was going to get the 1:45 half that I tried for last May. I cruised at a 7:40 mile for the first 2 miles, knowing I would see my mom at mile 2. Sure enough, she was right where she said she would be and she didn't expect me because I was ahead of my estimated 8:00/mile.
I held a 7:45 average through the 5k mark and then went to about a 7:45/7:50 for miles 4 and 5. I knew I'd see my mom again at mile 7 and I used that to push myself along. Around mile 6 I started to get hot. The sun was directly overhead making it feel much hotter than the 48 degrees it actually was. I threw my gloves off and rolled up my sleeves and pushed on. Around the 10k-6.5 mile mark I slammed into the wall. My legs felt like rocks and I was sure my 1:45 was gone. I had held a 7:49 avg through the 10k mark and I told myself to back down a little but just keep going. I held a 7:55 until mile 7 where I saw my mom and yelled to her that I just hit the wall. After I left her I felt miserable. I ranged between 8:20 and 8:35 for mile 8, but was kept going when I saw one of the members of Team Best Buddies Arizona, pushing a wheelchair stroller at an 8:15 mile. I talked to the man for a little and thanked him for inspiring me to keep going.
Unfortunately, that was not it for my wall issues. I tried talking to myself, focusing on my footsteps, logic on the amount of miles left, listening to my music, etc. but I was still hurting and focusing on staying at 8:20/mile, expecting the 1:45 pacer to pass me at any minute. We turned the corner at mile 8.5 and I saw it. A monstrous long, gradual hill up between the mountains. I told myself to put my head down and push through it. You can get through this, one foot in front of the other, pace doesn't matter, just keep going, look at the runners coming down on this out and back, once you get to the top, you get to come back down! Half way up I heard the drummers of the Korean drummer band near the top of the hill. It was so fitting having that in the mountain and I kept grinding to the top. Of course they made us go a little down hill before the turn so we had to run back up hill after the turn around. I got to the top of the second hill and was right next to the band at the 15k mark when I saw it. The 1:45 pacers, way behind me. That was all I needed. I knew I had my 1:45. I got a huge grin and took off, dropping back down to an 8:05 mile and cheesing for the on course photographer.
3.6 Miles to go. And they were all downhill or flat. I held an 8:00 for the rest of mile 9 and all of mile 10 as we wound our way through the desert and back onto ASU's campus. Mile 11 I knew for sure I had it. I kicked it up to a 7:45, visualizing myself back in the park in Ohio where I train and how close I am when I have 2 miles left. Before I knew it I was at mile 12. Spectators were lining the road and runners starte their kicks. I held a 7:50 as we cruised back to Tempe Beach Park, crossing a bridge over the river with the sun shining. From the bridge I could see down into the park and heard the celebration and bands playing. I saw that after we crossed, it was a downhill turn and then about a 10th of a mile stretch to the finish line. We cruised down the hill and I started my kick, picking it up to a 7:15 for the last bit. Fans cheered and I could see the clock bearing 1:46 and I knew that I was about 2 minutes behind the gun time. The announcer yelled that this bunch would be in with chip times under the 1:45 mark as I crossed the finish line. I immediately broke into happy tears. I had my goal with a 1:44.49. I got my medal, worked my way through the corral and out to my mom on the biggest endorphin high I've ever had.
I changed my clothes and headed off to try to catch my sister who was running the full to run a couple miles with her. After struggling to break through the traffic blocks, we ended up at mile 21 waiting for her. I walked about half a mile down the course and finally I saw her as she started jumping and waving, happy to see me. I took off and ran with her for about 2 miles of talking and laughing and keeping her spirits up and her feet moving.
I left her a little before mile 23 and hopped back in the car to meet her back at the finish. When I got back, I grabbed my finisher beer and waiting for her to come out of the corral. She finally did, grabbed her medal and beer and we went to tour the finish party. She had just completed her 15th marathon and first marathon back from plantar faciitis and I had finally got my goal time.
After celebrating at the finish I headed home for a power nap and then out to a celebratory gluten free pizza and wing dinner which was also for my birthday. After that I said goodbye to my family because I had to take a red eye flight home (which I will never do again after a race). I had a fantastic time at Rock n' Roll Arizona and I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate my 25th birthday than with a 5 minute PR and finally getting my sub-1:45 half. Time to rest up because Cleveland Marathon training begins in a couple weeks.