Rock and Roll Arizona-Race Review


Day after my race, and the adrenaline is still flowing!  Great race + Great friends= Great time!  But let's start at the beginning.
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.
At mile 1 the bf and my pup were there waiting.... I made this sign for her and she was a hit!
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.

A friend of mine had told me he wanted a 1:40 finish time as well, so for the most part I told myself to keep up with for as long as I could.  We ended up pacing off of each other the whole race! I'd get ahead, he'd catch up to me... and then vice versa.  We've trained together plenty... so even without talking we pushed each other when and where we needed it.
  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. 

  All in all... it was another amazing race.  I highly recommend it.  Not just for the great Rock N Roll environment, but also for the weather! Every year I've done this race, it's right around 70 degrees and sunny by the time you finish.  IN JANUARY! 

   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!!




Comments

  1. great review! the "merge area" after the mini-marathoners had come through so I didn't have to weave through as many people. A nice perk to being slower than all y'all i guess. grabbing a sweater from goodwill is a GREAT idea. I had my lightweight smartwool with me, and it was way too pricey to just leave on the side of the road after i got hot. something cheap that would be re-donated would have been perfect. i hope the phoenix full does the same donation thing - i'll definitely be taking that advice. no matter how often i have GU i hate it - the jelly belly sport beans i got at the expo were AWESOME though. I'll definitely be stocking up on those especially if they come with caffeine in them in the future.

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    1. Jessica,
      I typically like sports beans as well. Easier on the tummy and you don't have to take the entire packet at once. However, I also enjoy GU and didn't want to carry anything this race. On this upcoming Phoenix Marathon I *will* carry sports beans and GU. Also, the marathon should have the same "donation" policy on discarded clothing. So definitely bring something to keep you warm that you can toss later! :D Congrats on your finish!!!! So proud of you!!

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  2. Congrats, Jeremy! That's a very impressive time! How do you deal with blisters on the feet? Are there any special kind of socks you wear/recommend?

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    1. Colton, thanks!!! I typically wear light weight/thin socks. You'll sweat more in the heavier cotton socks, thus more blisters. Also, I will put a little gold bond powder in my socks before a long run or race. It helps keep your feet dry. Hope that helps!

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  3. Great time and great race report! I am hoping to break 1:40 on my next half too. My last was 1:42:20. You paced well and it's nice to have a friend run the course with you.

    I did the Rock n' Roll Providence RI half a couple of years ago. They get a bad rap in the running community, but I was happy with the energy that comes with it. Good organization, too.

    50 degrees is chilly in January, huh? Really? I ran today in 46 degrees and I thought we were having a heat wave ;)

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    1. Hahaha, yeah... we're a little spoiled here in the desert. 50 degrees and we're in gloves, hats... the works! LOL. But that just goes to show how great the weather is here and why I always recommend this race.

      Best time of year to excape the winter and enjoy our arizona weather! Good luck on breaking 1:42! You can do it! Keep truckin' and stay strong! Let me know how it goes!!!

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    2. *escape* that's what I get for replying on my cell! lol

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  4. Congrats on the PR!

    LOVE your dog's sign! Made me giggle.

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    1. Thanks Kristy! Yeah, she was my little cheerleader on the course! Lots of runners stopped to pet her apparently!

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  5. Great review! I will have mine up soon so you can learn what it was like at the back of the pack :)

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    1. Lol, sometimes the back of the pack has all the fun! When you're hurting and pushing as fast as you can.. sometimes you miss all the fun! ;-) Let me know when yours is up.. I'll definitely check it out! Congrats on your finish!!

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  6. The thought of a sunny run in January is VERY appealing from up here in Toronto Canada! It looks like a great race and congrats on the PR, you are one fast dude!

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    1. I highly recommend it! Always a great run to start out the year! :) and "fast" is relative... The majority of my friends were running 1:30s! Thanks again and happy trails!!

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  7. Congrats, Jeremy! What an accomplishment. I can't even imagine walking for 1:40, let alone running it.

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    1. It was definitely tough! Although going slower *does* allow you to enjoy the course more! So it's not always greener on the other side! Happy trails!

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