I ran in the Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon on 1-18-15. I went with my good friend, Tracy. We made it into a little road trip! We left Las Vegas on Saturday, the 17th, at 6:00 a.m. We wanted to get to Phoenix early enough to walk around the Health and Wellness Expo after packet pick-up. We arrived at the convention center at 1:00 p.m. It was a smaller expo than the Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll but that was to be expected since this race was half the size of the Vegas one. We picked up our race bibs and then got our shirts and drawstring backpacks. These backpacks were nicer than the Vegas ones. In Vegas, they were a frosted plastic drawstring. Phoenix gave us black cloth ones. We then made our way into the merchandise area. It's fun to see all the Rock 'n' Roll and Brooks items. Since we were within the last few hours of the show, they were a bit picked over. After that, we made our way into the actual vendor fair. It was crowded as they usually are. We made our way around to all the different booths. I didn't buy anything but did get my left heel taped. I also grabbed some Sports Beans samples from their booth.
The race started at 7:50 a.m. We left our hotel around 6:00 a.m. and made our way to the parking garage. We had purchased the V.I.P. upgrade which included several perks. One was a reserved parking garage between the start and finish line. After parking we walked a few blocks to the warming station (another perk to the V.I.P. upgrade). There we had light breakfast foods like fresh fruit, bagels, juice, water, coffee and tea. We also had access to several port-a-potties and a separate gear check-in. We stayed there until about 7:30 a.m. We then began our walk to the start line that was still a few more blocks away. We stopped by another set of V.I.P. potties near the start line to do our business one more time before joining the start corrals. (One of the biggest perks of the V.I.P. upgrade for me is the private potties because the line to the other ones are super long). We met up with some friends in their corral and waited an additional 30 minutes from the first wave to finally start our wave.
The course was a point-to-point run. The beginning of the course was flat and crowded. It was amazing to see the sea of people running ahead of me. The aid stations were nicely spaced along the course. Mile 7 was the only one that had GU so I grabbed one. It was also nice to see First Aid at several locations. The course had a steady, gradual climb until mile 8. There we started the "hill" I had heard everyone talking about. It didn't seem that big but it was long. And when you are on tired legs, it seems even longer. I pushed through it and was thankful for all my hill training. Shortly after the 9 mile mark, we turned around and were able to run down the hill. It was amazing to see how many people were walking up the hill. At the bottom of the hill we turned into a park that had small rolling hills starting at mile 10. I started to feel pretty tired around then. I had been sick for the previous week with an ear and sinus infection. I had been on antibiotics and other medications for a few days so I was feeling better but not 100%. I knew I could make it the final 3 miles so I just pushed the pain out of my mind the best I could. Finally, I was passing mile 12 and only had a tiny 1.1 more miles to run. I saw a big bridge ahead of me. I heard someone say that we just had to cross the bridge and then we were done. So I started my final push but the long bridge was really long. When I was about half way across it, my head began to feel really light. I looked over and saw paramedics working on an athlete on the ground. I prayed that I wouldn't be their next patient. I finally began the slight downhill as the bridge ended and made the last right hand turn to the finish line. There were people lining the finisher's chute cheering so that gave me the burst I needed to finish strong. As I crossed the finish line, I looked at my time. It wasn't a PR but I was pleased with it since I had battled so many obstacles that week just to be able to run the race. My official time was 2:27:41.
I finished just over 3 minutes ahead of my friend, Tracy (who did PR!). We received our medals and grabbed some waters. We made our way to the official photo spot to get a picture. As you can see, we dressed up for the run. She's from Canada so we decided to be patriotic. It was a lot of fun and we heard tons of cheers for us as we ran along.
Since we had also raced in the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon we received the Desert Double Down medal. We made our way to the medal tent to receive the additional bling. It was really cool! After that, we went to the V.I.P. area for some post-race food, drinks and massage. We stayed there for about an hour, resting and relaxing. Then we walked back to the parking garage and drove back to the hotel. It was a beautiful day and a great race! The Rock 'n' Roll races are expensive but are a lot of fun. If you are considering running one, do it! The experience is definitely worth it!