Tuesday, January 21, 2014

RNR Arizona 2014 Race Recap

Tempe/Phoenix, Arizona
Arizona Half #2
Start Time: 7:50 am
Temperature: 46 at the start, sunny at the finish
Bib #7232
Overall: 2486/13407
Division Place: 143/1141
Gender Place: 889/7781
Finish Time: 1:56:11

Blue skies!  No fog or rain.  Arizona in January is the best.
Thank goodness we got a group photo as they were shutting down the expo.
In 2013, I ran RNR Arizona with S.  My local PDX girlfriends were there at the finish concert, having the time of their lives, and I promised myself I'd come back in 2014 with them.

Traveling with 8 women is fun, keeping track of everyone and getting group photos is a challenge.  I came in on an earlier flight than everyone else.  So, my parents picked me up and we had lunch at the World of Beer, followed by Gigi's Cupcakes.

What?  You expected a beer picture?  You don't know me at all.
We stayed at the Mission Palms Hotel, conveniently located a few blocks from the start and finish lines. Tempe has a terrific light rail system, we rode it to the expo at the Convention Center ($4 for an all day pass).  I've never shut down a race expo before.  It seems the vendors were either out of samples, or, like the Sports Bean reps, begging us to take extras.

Brooks changed up their games and exhibit.  It's a bucking bronco shoe.
I had a few things going against me race morning.  I didn't sleep well, as it turns out, we had a snorer in our group (there but for the grace of God go I).  And, as LJ and I like to put it, I did not have great success in the bathroom.  

Our group left the hotel in waves, as some of the girls were taking this race very seriously and wanted to drop bags and get to the corrals.  I left the hotel at 7:30, with plenty of time to walk 3 blocks to corral 15 and work my way up to corral 6.  Coach Trisha and I dropped Karen at corral 12, then lined up on the sidewalk with the other overflow runners for 6.

Pretty, pretty Arizona sunrise.
The race started on time, and we crossed the timing mat 14 minutes after the start.

The crowd forced us to start out slowly.  I was frustrated by lots of walkers in front of us.  How does that happen? Yeah, I'm talking to you, people in the yellow shirts with Ewing on your backs!  You spread out, then walk 3 or 4 abreast down the middle of the road during mile 1!  Most of you Ewings had to have started in front of the 2 hour pacers.  Note:  walkers to the right (or I'd even settle for the left, get out of the middle of the road).  

I ran with Trisha for 3 miles without music, she waved me on and I put my earphones in.  I didn't expect to see any of my buddies again, as we started behind the girls who had trained for their sub 2.

The course is flat, industrial, and strip malls for most of the first 8 miles.  It is definitely not my favorite course ever.  But, in spite of not having a terrific pre race prep, everything came together for me during this race.

I was holding a 9:00 average pace during mile 5, when I passed the PF Changs dragon.  I caught Abbi and Kelly at the 10k, and tried to drag Abbi along with me.  She waved me on as well.  I carried a throw away water bottle until mile 8 (when I took my second Gu, and grabbed a Mandarin Orange Gu to take home with me).  My overall pace dropped below 9:00 as I attacked the only hill at mile 9, on the gorgeous out and back at Papagos Park.

On the out and back, photo courtesy of Karen.
I grabbed water or Gatorade at the aid stations after mile 8, but had the luxury to run through them until that point.  I kept waiting to feel fatigued and bonk, especially at the dreaded 10 mile mark. Instead, I felt strong and was able to keep pushing the pace until the finish.  Last year, I remember S begging me to pick it up during the last few miles, and there was nothing left in the tank.  My 2014 finish time is 12 minutes faster than 2013.

Cathy, Abbi, me and Trisha.
What was different this year?  Since October, I've been lifting weights 3x/week.  I've dropped 10+ lbs.  I'm eating more protein and less processed foods (most of the time).  I'm still running 20+ miles each week and getting a double digit long run in most Saturdays.  This was my fastest half marathon time in over 2 years.

But, as my buddies and I discussed, sometimes it just all comes together when you least expect it. For most of my friends (and myself) a sub 2 hour half marathon will always be a big deal.  I had hoped to break 2 this weekend, but was amazed at how good my body felt doing it.  I think I've convinced some of the girls to add weights into their cross training routines.

Post race, at El Hefe, watching the Broncos beat my Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Phoenix is a great destination race for January.  A chance to get away from whatever ridiculous winter weather you are having in your city.  Stay downtown, don't rent a car, stay close to the start. Downtown Tempe is 15 minutes from the airport, in the middle of a college town (ASU is just down the road) with lots to do and see within walking/light rail distance.  Bring your swimsuit and enjoy the outdoor hot tub post race.  You never know when that sub 2 might happen again.


  1. Yeah!!!! So awesome. You worked hard for that!

  2. Great job! You earned it.

    Look at all those Swirl sisters!

  3. Hurray for a sub 2!! I agree, it is ALWAYS a big deal. Glad everything came together for you.

  4. How wonderful - so happy for you!!! It's awesome to see the changes that you've made pay off...and you are looking GOOD, my friend!

    P.S. Those cupcakes, OMG!

  5. Love that it all came together for you. I agree the race isn't that great, but still had fun while in AZ

  6. Sub-2 is a HUGE deal! Congratulations!

  7. Well done, congrats!

    and mmmm, cupcakes!

  8. Congrats Kim! And yes sometimes all of the stars are aligned and you have a great race.

    And yes those walkers, please get out of the way. So annoying! Walk on the left or right but NOT in the middle.

  9. Nice job! That's funny about not having "great success" and still having a great race. I will remember that next time it happens to me.

    And what the heck is up with people? Have they not done a race before that they think it's ok to hog the road like that? As far up as corral 6, you'd think they would know. They LIED on their race entries, I bet.

    Again, great race! Thanks for sharing it.

  10. OMG... a 1:56!!! You Go Girl!! What a great time, despite a slow start. You are totally lookin' fine and runnin' great right now. Congrats on a great race and what looks like a fun time.
    P.S. What's the story with you all wearing camo shirts at the expo?

  11. :):):) I was so happy to be right! J/K. I knew you would do it. you're kicking ass, my friend. glad yall had fun!

  12. Congrats on a super fast race!! You started 2014 with a bang!! Can't wait to see how the rest of the yer turns out for you.

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