Rock and Roll Arizona-Race Review
Here's my Race Review for the Rock and Roll Arizona!
Rock n Roll Expos are the best in my experience. I always get excited going to their expos.
There were a few minor things I noticed at this one. A couple of sponsors that I typically always see weren't there. Five hour energy, muscle milk, etc. Big brands that I love visiting for the swag. But there were still plenty more swag items to pick up, lots of great deals on race attire, etc.
All in all the expo was still a success, just seemed smaller this year. Still a better expo than many other races I've participated in. My favorite booth this year was the Post cereal tent. I'm a cereal connoisseur and I ate my fill of it!
After the expo, I carb loaded with more than a dozen other friends also running the race. I always suggest running races with friends. It makes the atmosphere that much more exciting! Even if your goal is just to *finish*, it's great to have friends to join in the fun! I devoured my pasta and was thoroughly stuffed with carbs and anticipation!
Race time was 7:50am for both the full and half. Start lines were at different areas but both races finished at the same area. I took the light rail to my starting line, and it dropped me off right near the start. Whether you live in the city or are coming in to visit, I highly suggest taking the light rail for this race from wherever you are staying. It's super cheap, convenient, and you don't have to deal with the stress of parking.
I did my usual port-a-potty visit... found a grassy area to get some light stretching in... and then it was on to my coral. I was in coral number 1!! Even more exciting! The temperature was in the low 50's. So pretty chilly. But I know how quickly the Arizona sun can heat things up.. so I went to goodwill to grab a sweater the day before. Something I could ditch when the starting gun went off.
If you don't want to go to goodwill, you could even just wear an old sweater, coat, even robe you want to get rid off. Race organizers will collect all the clothing runners have discarded and donate it to a local shelter, so it'll end up in a good place. You may think you'll look silly in an old robe, but trust me, you only need to stay warm for the start.By the time the sun came up and the starting gun went off, I hit the ground running and it was already starting to warm up. I had decided to treat this race as a good "training run" for my upcoming full. My original goal was 1:40, but wanted to enjoy the race and see what happened.
My little cheerleader! Saw the clock and was surprised to see it was just under 7:37! Ahead of a 1:40 pace! Of course, I knew I had 12 more miles to go.. and know things can change drastically in that time. LOL.
I generally like to carry a small amount of water with me even on half marathons because I like to have water when I need it and not rely on the aide stations all the time. But this time, I decided to do without. I also wasn't running with a stopwatch. You could say I was running "free" of all the gear... except I had my music. Because, come on.. I can't run without THAT! ;-)
I found the aide stations were laid out very well. I never regretted not having my bottle. Also, it had warmed up quite a bit since the start, but I never felt "too hot". The weather for this race is always the best! Was about 75 by the time I finished!
Back to the course... lots of crowds, cheerleaders, and volunteers. Whenever I hear a friend wanting to do their first half or full marathon... I tell them they should do a rock and roll. The exciting atmosphere and huge crowds help motivate you along.
At about mile 8 there I came to the GU station. Later, may runners were discussing how they had missed this GU station. There were no signs, just a small table with about three people handing out GU. I had looked up online the day before so I knew where to look for the GU.
Not all races will have huge signs to let you know that there's GU ahead. It's helpful when they do, but I highly suggest looking online to find out where it will be offered so you can plan around it. Bring an extra if you think you'll need one earlier, and make sure to practice with it in your training. If you're not used to it, GU can upset your stomach. As can any gel. So practice to see what energy gels, beans, chews, etc work for you.
One of the great things about this course is it's fairly flat. One of the flattest I've ever run. There is a small uphill climb around 9-10. But nothing horrible. Just enough to remind you your hammies are there. LOL.
Every time I looked at the clock on each mile marker (or at least those that were working!), I noticed we were UNDER a 1:40 pace. I was getting excited but was also getting super sore and pushing it was taking it's toll on my body. How long I could keep this up I didn't know, but I focused on pacing off of my friend and he wasn't letting up so neither would I.
My favorite part of this course is through the papago park area, where the large rocks are all around you, green trails on either side... It's really gorgeous and I always tell myself to stop and snap a pic, but today I was focused on time.
Around mile 10, after the "uphill" portion... were the drums. A large group of drummers sharing a bit of Asian culture with the runners. I wish these were at every mile... it's always my favorite part.
Mile 12 I was hurting but thanking my lucky stars for the slightly downhill finish. We crossed the final bridge. Unfortunately, the last of the "mini-marathon" runners also merged with us.
I'm glad they've introduced this to the race. It's a smaller run (something a little longer than a 5K I believe).. with all the rock-n-roll atmosphere. However, at mile 12 I was trying to force my pace and push it to the end... when these slower runners/walkers merged WITH us right before the finish, I was forced to weave through them. It would have been easier to have them separated with cones... something. But my fellow half-marathon runners agreed, this was a pain for all of us. So Rock N Roll AZ, maybe something to think about in the future?
We came off of the bridge, into the Tempe State Park, and into the finish coral! All the spectators cheering gives you just the push you need to make it to through to the end! I looked up at the clock and would you believe it.. 1:39:09 was my finish!!!
I received my medal and was absolutely beaming with pride! I had not went into this race expecting to PR, but not only had I PR'ed, I beat my goal time by nearly a minute! I do have to say though, I completely owe it all to running with my buddy. Had we not been pushing each other the entire way.. never letting up... I wouldn't have finished that fast.
I hope I've covered everything in this review... but no doubt I've left something out. So let me ask, what would YOU like to know?
Anything you're interested in knowing... just comment below and I'll answer back with detail!
Happy Running everyone and thanks for reading!!