P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2014

The Rock ‘N’ Roll Arizona race always falls on my birthday weekend, so I decided to celebrate my 32nd year of life by running a half marathon in my home state! I was super excited going in to this because 1. The course starts on Arizona State University campus, my alma mater (GO DEVILS!) and 2. Several of my friends would be running, including one of my best friends, Julie, who has been running half marathons since before I could run a mile!

My boyfriend, Rich, and I continued training through the winter so we would be ready for race day in January. I was unfortunate to catch the death-cold that was circulating around in December, so I wasn’t able to run for a couple of weeks. I discarded my plan to run this half in under 2 hours, but I arrived at the starting line prepared to give it my best!

RNRAZReview

website: runrocknroll.competitor.com/arizona

Sunday January 19, 2014

7:50 AM

Price: I paid approximately $120 for the half marathon, including taxes and fees. If you register earlier the price is reduced. Also, when running a RNR race, keep your eyes open because the promotion often releases coupon codes!

Expo: The RNR Arizona Health and Fitness Expo was held at the Phoenix Convention Center on Friday, January 17th from noon-7pm, and Saturday, January 18th from 9AM-5PM.

RNRAZExpoConventionCenter

The venue is HUGE, providing plenty of spacious room for the numerous vendors. My friends, Rich and I went late on Saturday afternoon and the lines for packet-pickup and swag were easy breezy.

RNRAZExpoCheckIn

Swagger: The tech shirt is decent, but I have a women’s small and it feels a little short. Even still, I decided to wear it for the race because I liked the design and it was something new to wear.

RNRAZTechFront

My boyfriend and I had tickets to a Phoenix Coyotes game in the evening, so our time at the expo was minimal. However, there were ample photo ops…

RNRAZExpoGroupPhotoOp

RNRAZRunIslandPhotoOp

And free samples galore…

RNRAZFreeCocktail RNRAZExpoVendors

We didn’t get to partake in all of the free-sampling but it was still an impressive expo.

The night before the race…

I am usually calm before a race-right up until I pick up my bib. That’s when IT gets real and the nerves/excitement sets in. Going to a hockey game the evening before was a great distraction. My other best girlfriend, Allison, and her boyfriend came with us and we had a blast!

RNRAZCoytoes

RNRAZAtTheGame

RNRAZCoytoesAllisonAndrew

Go Hockey!

After the game, Rich and I pinned our bibs like good runners do and retired to bed around midnight.

Race Day:Β My alarm screamed at 5:30 am and I begrudgingly forced myself into the shower. We were staying with my friend Julie and her husband (who was also running), and she prepared amazing banana and oatmeal cookie bars for breakfast! This saved a TON of time because I was able to take them with me on the road.

We parked at a light rail station and took a train to ASU campus. Our stop was only a short walk to the starting line.

A few observations about the starting area…

Daylight had yet to peak and the weather was chilly at first, but I knew the Arizona sun would make an appearance sooner than I would like. There was an entire parking lot of port-a potties (5-10 minute wait), bag check provided by UPS was cake, and the starting corrals were PACKED. This is a huge race with 20 corrals total. Rich and I were in corrals 5 and 6 and we actually had to wait until the first few waves were off before we could even fit into the corral!

RNRAZStartingLine

Let’s run this b*tch

The Breakdown:

RNRAZASUBridge

Miles 1-3: I loved starting on ASU campus and running through the nearby streets. For me it was like running down college memory lane-so many memories of being completely sober at all times and making it to class 100..no..150% of the time!* There were plenty of people lining the streets and cheering at the beginning, and Allison and her boyfriend were there to take pictures (which were all deleted…boo!)

RNR races are known for their on-course entertainment and there were a lot of bands and other really fun people out:

RNRAZCheerleaders

20’s-themed cheer squad

RNRAZStilts

Stilted rockers

RNRAZPFChangsDragon

About to leave the P.F. Chang’s Dragon in my 9 min/mile dust

I thought the course entertainment was ample enough to be fun without being overly distracting, and smartly placed on the least-scenic parts of the course.

Miles 4-7: The course support picked up as we entered Scottsdale, Arizona as did the scenery.

RNRAZToTheMountains

Running toward the mountains

Around mile 5 we passed through the ASU SkySong buildings, and ran underneath this nifty shade:

RNRAZSkysongs

I really enjoy running over and under cool things, I can’t explain it

The temperature was starting to pick up, but it was still comfortable. Pro Pro Pro: There were tons of water/Gatorade stations along the course. Hydration was my biggest concern running a race in the desert.

Miles 7-10:Β  The second half of the race was even better than the first. There were still plenty of fun things along the course as we made our way in to Phoenix, Arizona:

RNRAZChangsBalloons

Balloons!

RNRAZTaiko2

Taiko Drummers

But the best part was the scenery in Papago Park, which is a beautiful display of red rocks and desert:

RNRAZ9miles

Just before mile 9 we hit the most significant incline of the race. It was nothing like the hills of SF I’m used to running, but up is up and I could feel it. This portion of the course was an out-and-back and thankfully we were treated to a nice decline at the turn around.

RNRAZElevation

Down hill baby. Weee—->

Suddenly, I feel soo blessed to be running in this beautiful place, with these beautiful people and all of these beautiful cacti.

Runner’s high.

Miles 10-12: At mile 10 I knew I was close to finishing in about 2 hours, but my legs were starting to give. I walked through the remaining water stops. My stomach was starting to give me trouble. Being sick had definitely taken a toll on my cardio. Rich stayed with me, even though he can run a much faster half marathon than I πŸ™‚

I was still really enjoying the course, it was quieter and a lot less populous than the first half.

RNRAZRichAzDesert

This scenic route we were taken on was a much appreciated surprise-I expected dull neighborhoods and strip malls for the duration of the course and we got peace and serenity amongst the desert landscape-truly the best of Arizona.

Miles 12-13.1: The final mile of the race is definitely the most exciting. The course descends back in to Tempe and over the Mill Avenue bridge.

RNRAZBridge

After crossing the bridge, one final turn revealed the finish line. As always, I pushed myself as best as I could to the end!

RNRAZFinished

I actually pushed a ‘lil too much, and dry-heaved as soon as I came to a stop! Whoops! Luckily, I found water right away and everything stayed contained. We collected our medals and post-race grub, which included dry pretzels, milk chocolate, PowerBars, bananas, dole fruit cups and a full-sized Gatorade.

Official Stats:

Finish Time: 2:04

Age: 291/1248

Gender: 1625/7827

Overall Place: 3937/13500

I was sooo close to breaking 2 hours! Even still, it’s a half marathon PR for me so I was happy. This gives me confidence I’m getting better with each race, and that I WILL break 2 hours this year-my goal numero uno for 2014!

After picking up our checked gear, we headed over to the finish line festival hosted at Tempe Beach Park. There was live music, vendors, beer, and massage/stretch tables.

RNRAZStage

I was interviewed by a news crew from some website. I don’t know if they will use any of my footage but it was fun!

PFChangsRNRinterview

We lost track of my friend Julie so we spent a little time stretching and taking pictures…

RNRAZFinishBridge RNRAZBestieAllison

…but I had a 1300 calorie deficiency to make up so we headed over to Ncounter on Mill Avenue for brunch.

RNRAZNcounter

Naturally, I selected the carbi-est most whipped-creamiest thing I could find on the menu: French Toast

RNRAZFrenchToast

Healthy? Nope but #yolo

Several more of my friends showed up after the race-a few I haven’t even seen since I moved away to California 2 1/2 years ago!

RNRAZMyCrew

My Wherehouse crew

We then headed over to a bar to meet up with my runner/yogi friend, Jenny, for a celebratory Guinness!

RNRAZGuinness

Nectar of the Gods

RNRAZJenny

Jenny ran the Nike Women’s Marathon half with me back in October!

Fatigue started to set in and we had to eventually say our goodbyes so Rich and I could have one last Mom home-cooked meal before our early morning flight back to San Francisco.

*****

Note: I can’t attest to the experience of the full marathon as the course started in Phoenix and was completely different from the half. However, the half marathon exceeded my expectations. This is my second Rock ‘N’ Roll event and I would not hesitate to sign up for another race from this promotion. From start to finish it was an organized race, the course was entertaining and it showcased the beauty of the desert….I will definitely be back!

RNRAZProofPhotoCute

Our first official runcation was a success!

Finis!

-J

*Hi mom!

15 thoughts on “P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2014

  1. Great race recap! The last couple of miles were my favorite as well – so beautiful! I was looking at your pictures closely since I finished at the exact same time as you and started in corral 6 – wondering if I would see myself – and I did! My husband and I are in the picture you took of the stage right under the letter S! (Pink tank top, black shorts). Too funny! Have any more races on your calendar for 2014?

    • Oh my gosh that is soo funny! What a crazy coincidence!! I’m going to run a bunch of half marathons this year and at least one full marathon. Most of them are going to be in San Francisco/Oakland but I’m hoping to run in a few other states πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, the fact I’m at 2:04 gives me confidence I can do it! I just need to be careful not to drop the ball in the last couple of miles when I start to tire out πŸ˜‰ Ooh you have been to Ncounter?? That was my first time, it used to be a coffee house/crepe shop so it was new to me!

  2. I love, love, love your review! Congrats on a great race – 2:04 is an awesome finish time! The views in the second half of the race are breathtaking! I love downhill finishes. I have no doubts you’ll hit your sub-2 hour goal this year.

    • Thank you!! I grew up in Arizona so I’ve seen most of the course 1000s of times, but running through the different cities gave me a whole new appreciation for how pretty the desert can be! I’m hoping so, I’m sure I can as long as I can learn to push through the last few miles strong

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s