Rock N Roll Arizona Half Marathon

January 24, 2014

Well, this happened!

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Honestly, I still can’t believe it, I feel like it never even happened! I guess that’s what happens when you approach a race by trying to NOT think about it or prepare!

Let’s take a look at my goals for the race again:

1. Finish the race: CHECK!

2. Don’t make my injury considerably worse: CHECK! More on this below.

3. Be okay with a DNF: Unnecessary!

4. HAVE FUN! Close enough. Awful but fun all at the same time. Runners are a weird breed…

Alright – so back to my weekend in AZ! It all started bright an early: 3:00 am to be exact. My flight was at 5am and I decided to take a cab. I first intended to take the train (I’m a cheapo) but then I realized I’d be on the El at 2:45am and that didn’t seem safe…

After arriving at the airport, getting on my plane and attempting to sleep for an hour or two, I was greeted by this out my window:

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I love the west! And after three and a half hours, we arrived in Phoenix:

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I was SO EXCITED to see Ari and Nicole ! Once they picked me up we grabbed breakfast at Snooze (new to Phoenix!) and then headed to the race expo. We grabbed our gear, took some photos and I may or may not have ridden on a mechanical shoe…

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Nicole was hosting a baby shower that afternoon, so Ari and I did one of my favorite activities: browsed Target. Haha, that and a couple other stores, as well as lunch before meeting back up with Nicole. For dinner, we met up with Kristi at Pita Jungle, which is a healthy restaurant chain in Phoenix and I absolutely loved it! I ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala over brown rice and it was the perfect pre-race meal. We had a great time catching up with Kristi and afterward I headed back to Nicole’s for some much-needed sleep!

Oh, I cannot forget to mention that I made a new friend in Phoenix and I hope Molly isn’t too jealous… Meet Tink!

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I die. What a cutie!

Race morning we were up at 6am and all huddled together putting KT tape on our various injuries – we were quite the colorful bunch! After a breakfast of a rice cake with PB and banana (and a little coffee) we headed off to the start. When we got there we barely made it to our corral in time (let’s just say RNR AZ needs to work on getting more than 10 porta potties for the start line… we may or may not have found our way into a men’s bathroom in a building nearby). But we were the first people to start in our corral which was really cool because we got to stand at the start line!

The race took us through a couple areas of Phoenix, but to be completely honest I wasn’t really paying attention… My IT band started bothering me in the first mile and I got really nervous I’d be done. I knew we were seeing Nicole and Ari’s husbands after mile 3 so I hoped I could make it there. Good thing I did because we got a great running photo, and then a hilarious photo-bomber.

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Check me out, totally oblivious!

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Luckily my IT band would hurt on and off, but never long enough or painful enough for me to stop running (just random pains for a minute or two every couple of miles). After about 7 or 8 miles I didn’t feel it again and was SO grateful!

However, the problem with not running for weeks before your half marathon is that you are not physically fit enough to run the whole thing… Ouch. This race was HARD! I definitely was running slower than my usual pace but even then it was tough. I felt great miles 1-4, started to feel it miles 3-8, weirdly felt awesome during our hill on mile 9, and then by mile 10 I was loosing some serious steam.

My quads felt like rocks and each step was a struggle. Starting around mile 11 I started run/walking because I just couldn’t run anymore. I’d pick a point in the distance, make it there and then turn around and walk backwards (a trick I learned in marathon training). Thankfully Ari and Nicole were a little behind me and every time I turned around we waved to each other! They caught up again with me about halfway through mile 12 (we’d run together for the most part up until 9.5ish) and headed for the finish. Thank goodness for them or I would not have run the rest of the way, actually I would not have run a lot of this race! Knowing they were there with me definitely kept me going.

We crossed the finish line in 2:12:47, celebrated and then immediately started complaining about our injuries, our tiredness and the EXTREME HEAT. Goodness gracious, Phoenix, get some shade over your roads! I would have appreciated it. Then, true to runners, about an hour later we had it in our heads that it was so much fun! Haha, all the pains forgotten.

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After showering, we headed out to get some pizza and wine. I cannot remember the place that we went but they had gluten free pizza crust and it was AMAZING! After sitting and chatting for a bit, and then looking around their shop (they had a ton of cute little items) we headed home, regrouped and then went out on Mill Street for some celebratory drinks.

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The next morning we had BIG plans. After an oatmeal bar for breakfast (SO fancy, Nicole), Nicole’s husband drove us out into the Arizona desert for some target shooting! Sounds a little odd, yes, but I was thrilled. I did riflery quite a lot at summer camp growing up but hadn’t since I was about 14. We had brought some expired beer bottles with us, which we set up and were a blast to shoot because they exploded when they were hit.

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If you want to see a video of my mad skills (I was surprised at my aim, even shooting a hand gun with one hand), head to my instagram account.

Once we left the desert we headed to In N Out for lunch (protein style cheeseburger and fries, and a little bit of a strawberry shake):

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Then I went back to Nicole’s, packed up my stuff and we were off to the airport! On the way we stopped at Bahama Bucks for shaved ice. I’d never had shaved ice but Nicole and Ari insisted it was amazing, and they were so right. Seriously, this far exceeded my expectations! I got half pineapple and half cherry.

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After our shaved ice it was off to the airport and then back to Chicago. After 3.5 hours of flying and 2 hours of commuting I was back home by midnight! It was a much needed weekend of fun and friends and I miss them already! Oh, and pretty proud of myself for finishing my third half marathon!