Sunday, November 14, 2010

Shun the Sun Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Saturday, November 13
State - #14/50
Weather - 50 degrees at start, 65 at finish, sunny

I honestly don't even remember registering for the Shun the Sun half marathon in Mesa, AZ. I honestly think this one got picked because it fell on a weekend I didn't already have another race and because it was NOT on Sunday. The date is important because there was NO way I could be out of town on my daughter's 5th birthday! Anyway, Saturday races have been rare for me. I had already taken Thursday off from training, and when Friday morning rolled around, I felt like I needed to run a few miles instead of taking yet another off day. My flight didn't leave until 3:30 in the afternoon, so I had plenty of time. I dropped my daughter off at school and got bundled up. It was COLD... less than 30 degrees when I headed out to Lake Arbor.

There are two bridges on this loop, both were covered in ice
I don't normally run fast when I train. Meaning, I usually average between 10:30 and 11:00 min miles. Maybe it was the cold or that I was a bit pressed for time (I had errands to run and needed to shower, eat lunch and pack for the weekend) but I practically sprinted this... Less than 23 minutes to do two loops (2.5 miles). Madness all around. I felt TONS better getting that out of the way. Not working has honestly made me feel like a lazy slug, so having stuff to DO was nice. I ended up having some free time so I played on the computer a bit and watched TV. My sister's friend thankfully volunteered to give us a ride to the airport - which saved us parking expenses AND time. Score!! Since we are "expert travelers" we were through the security line in no time. We had packed a movie for the plane, but our two hour flight was more like 85 minutes so we didn't have time to even watch at all. LOVE the short flights though! Arrived in Phoenix and headed to pick up our rental car. The "expo" was until 8:00 and landing around 5 gave us plenty of time to get there.

Getting the rental car was easy... almost a bit TOO easy. I gave the girl my paperwork and she told me to just "pick one." Um. Weird. Anyway, it didn't take long and we were on our way. Go to the expo at Hohokam Stadium (if you didn't know, that's where the Chicago Cubs train in the winter). Strangest expo ever. Hardly anything was even running related. Picked up our packets and shirts, and by now we were STARVING. It was already pushing 6:30 and we needed to EAT. We found an Applebee's nearby and got our usual.

Spinach dip

Three Cheese Chicken Penne Pasta

I'm assuming it was because we started eating so late and because by then I was soooo hungry that I was eating too fast, but I actually finished all my dinner and was FULL. Like sick to my stomach full. Full enough I couldn't even finish my dessert. And for the record, that NEVER happens. I was even too full to drink my pre-race beer. Wow. So I struggled a bit driving around trying to find our hotel. I know I've mentioned it a TON of times, but the pre-installed map/GPS application on the iPhone is crap. It mislocates me, it just STOPS and assumes you can find things. After driving around and having NO luck we finally call the hotel. Turns out they are about a block and a half off the main road... in the mall parking lot. Silly us. No sign on the road indicating there would be a hotel in there. It wasn't just us. The receptionist said at least 5 other people called for directions. I would think that would entice me to bring up signage to management...

Anyway. The room was nice, but also strange. For starters - shower only... no tub. Don't think I've EVER seen that at a hotel. And my sister wandered the whole floor and couldn't find an ice machine. I still was feeling sick, so even though it wasn't even 9:00, I got into bed and pretty soon it was lights out. But I could NOT sleep. I was tossing and turning. FINALLY fell asleep only to wake up SURE that I had overslept only to see 2:40 on the microwave. What is UP with that? I never have trouble sleeping.

5:00 came REALLY early. I couldn't believe it but I was actually STILL full from the night before. For a moment I thought about skipping my regular pre-race breakfast of a bagel and peanut butter but decided that even if I felt full now, the race still didn't start for two hours and I would need the energy. Bluh. It was hard to eat that. It seems like it has been taking longer... and longer... and longer... to get ready in the morning. I bet it was at least thirty-five minutes later before we finally headed out the door. They were closing the parking lots at the stadium at 6:30 so we wanted to be sure to allow plenty of time to get there. After having to go a bit off course due to road closures, we arrived shortly after 6. We had an hour until the race, so we walked around a bit. They didn't have a bag drop (no need, we were parked about twenty feet from the start line) but they did have a KEY drop, which I loved... stupid rental car keys are sooo bulky. We also got pre

With about 20 minutes until the start, we walked back to the car to drop off our sweatshirts (who knew 50 degrees felt SO cold??)

Start Line!
We were able to cycle through another bathroom stop and then went to line up. Talk about madness... there was also a 5K and a 10K, and the 10K started somewhere else, but we were all lined up with the 5K runners... and someone in the back was shooting a music video? It was all very chaotic. Luckily we all had different colored bibs to distinguish which race we were doing so since I saw at least a half dozen wearing the same thing as me, I figured we were in the right spot. I also apparently didn't really research the course. I found out just a few minutes before starting that the course was a loop. Well, actually, two loops. What??? We would have to run the same thing TWICE??? UGH!! Not cool. At least I didn't have too long to worry about it. By the time I got my watch ready to go and took our pre-race start pic, it was about time to go.

A few minutes until the start
The first mile was obviously set up ONLY for distance. Weaved around the stadium and lots of random turns, really didn't make much sense and was hard to navigate. The first mile marker came REALLY fast. And that was when I realized the course was going to be short. Clicking the first mile we were only at .92 miles. Ooops. It was pretty chilly when we headed out, and I was mildly regretting not wearing my sleeves. But knowing how I am and knowing that the high for the day was supposed to be mid seventies, I ignored being cold and tried to focus on following the right group of runners. We went up the only incline of the course (a small bridge) and the 5K runners branched off from us, and at some point the 10K runners merged with us because I saw their first mile marker a few minutes later. I was SUPER glad to have my sunglasses - with the sun coming up and running by the canal, it was really bright out.

First aid station was around mile 2. And I need it. Badly. I already felt really thirsty and tired. I began to feel concerned about this race. I shouldn't be SO tired SO early. By now I had lost sight of L, and I settled in for the long haul. One thing about this course? NO spectators. None. Which made NO sense, we were running through downtown Mesa, Arizona. The roads were NOT completely closed. We  ran through business AND residential areas. And yet there was NO one. Strange. The course in my opinion? BORING. Everything looked the same and there wasn't even the fans to make it interesting. I only took ONE picture on the entire course. I took it because it was the only section that was "pretty" with the palm trees.

Approximately mile 4
The other interesting thing about the picture. The girl in the bottom left, all in pink? Right after I took this picture she starting talking to me. She asked me what my goal time was. I told her I was aiming for about two hours and that I usually average around 2:05. She actually asked if she could pace off me. What?? Really?? Pace of ME??? Damn it!! I am not fast, I am not consistent. And yet for the first time EVER, someone wanted to run my speed. (Granted, she actually said "You're easy to spot" - what does THAT mean??) Anyway, so much pressure!!! I had already been negotiating walk breaks in my head. Couldn't do that if someone was pacing off me. So the break off point where the 10K runners were finishing and I was supposed to keep going was VERY poorly marked. There was a sign with an arrow for the 10K runners and just a sign that said "half marathon does two loops" - with no arrows. I apparently went the wrong way and had volunteers yelling at me. FYI, it's better to have fixed signs in the ground with arrows for a course than pre-teens holding small printed handwritten signs without arrows. Just saying. So I essentially stopped dead in my tracks, had to double back to the canal. All while I was trying to take a GU that half ended up on my hand. I walked a bit further through this water stop trying to clean myself up.

Man. That first lap had been ROUGH. And now I had to do it all.over.again. UGH!!! This time... random bicyclist with a HUGE basket on the back. Just riding on the course. Slowly. While throwing stuff to the ducks in the canal. Seemed completely unconcerned with the race. Getting passed by skinny girls who aren't sweating. Where did THEY come from??? Still chasing the old guy with a knee brace and a limp. I still don't look at my watch while I'm running so I start to feel concerned that I might be going really slow. Why else would this be happening? Get to the first water station of the second lap and look at my watch for the first time. 8.30 miles and it's only been 1:15:00.... um???? If I keep up this pace I can CERTAINLY beat two hours. Damn it. Why did I have to look??? THAT'S NOW FIVE MILES OF PRESSURE.

I had lost track of the skinny blond in all pink (with no iPod) that wanted to pace off me somewhere around the halfway point. I managed to catch sight of her around mile nine, and managed to catch her at mile 10 - to which she says "Oh there you are!" Like I've been out for a leisurely walk. So I manage to gasp "If we can run 9 minute miles I think we can break two hours." And we keep on going. She is still not really sweating, she is waving and saying thank you to all the police officers directing traffic. I'm hyperventilating and wishing I was dead. Finally FINALLY I see the 12 mile marker. I glance at my watch. Confirmed. We have about 10 minutes to get to the end and we can do it. I take off... and literally, I lose her around 12.5 miles. I still can't catch the old guy with a limp but I am bound and determined to cross that line in less than  two hours. Turn by the parking lot, and all of a sudden... two hairpin turns to sprint across the field. WHO DESIGNED THIS??? So hard to run fast when you are worried about falling. I sprint as fast as I can, and my watch confirms I've beat my goal time. By about ten seconds. I'm not super happy because I felt like crap AND the course measured short at 13.05. But... I will take it.

Finally I have an official sub 2!!
Chip Time: 1:59:50
Overall: 150/306
Gender: 77/181
Division: 42/87
Pace: 9:09
Garmin Pace Per Mile:
Mile 1 - 8:54
Mile 2 - 8:57
Mile 3 - 8:56
Mile 4 - 9:05
Mile 5 - 9:08
Mile 6 - 9:32
Mile 7 - 9:42
Mile 8 - 9:23
Mile 9 - 9:12
Mile 10 - 9:08
Mile 11 - 9:08
Mile 12 - 9:21
Mile 13 - 8:58
Mile 13.1 - 7:57

I actually slammed a whole bottle of water after the race. And also got this free Razzmatazz Jamba Juice. So good!!

At the finish line
Got this instead of a "medal"
L was feeling really tight after the race, so we actually signed up for post-race massages too. I saw a gentleman wearing a Half Fanatic jersey so of course I felt inclined to talk to him. Turns out he is training for his first marathon - he is running the Tuscon marathon in December. Also random? He was wearing a hat from the Kauai half marathon. That's the second state I've run so far where I have seen someone wearing gear from that race. With only a few thousand runners, it seems strange to actually see people who also ran that. The girl in pink found me a while later and thanked me for pacing her to a new PR, around 2:00:40 (her previous best was 2:06).

Hohokam Field
We sorta had to rush out after the race again. Check out was at 11:00 and it was already after 9:30. We had to drive back to the hotel and shower. Both of us were hurting. My foot felt swollen again, and L's quad was hurting. In Hohokam Stadium we had seen Culver's was one of the sponsor's... and we found one nearby. I just LOVE their food!!

Well deserved lunch!
We always like to do an "activity" when we do these quickie races. Seems a little less crazy to do a 24 hour trip if we actually DO something besides run. Near to the hotel AND the airport???

It actually sounded pretty interesting, and with only an hour or so of free time and a $6 entry fee, we decided to check it out. I've never been to a museum where you have to carry around a three ring binder if you want to learn about the items on display though!

There were four different "galleries" - housing many different types of fire trucks. Starting with ones in the 1800's that were horse drawn!

This one looked like a fancy carriage!

Most of the trucks and items were on display only, but this ONE truck we were able to dress up and play on!

I look like a little kid playing dress up!
Behind the second gallery is a small section that was made specifically to memorialize those that have died in the line of duty. Within THAT section is another one specifically for those that died during 9/11. Did you know that on average over 100 firefighters die annually in the line of duty? And in 2001 that number was 444? I didn't either.

9/11 Memorial Pony

The museum even houses patches from fire stations all over the world. We found two different ones from our home town. It took a while to find them, there were THOUSANDS of them!

We finished up at the museum, and with a 3:30 flight, we had just enough time to drop off the rental car and take the shuttle back to the airport. I was a bit stressed when I couldn't find a gas station nearby. (Why? Why? Why? isn't there one on site if all the rental cars are???) We get our boarding passes, get to security, and I notice that the boarding time is 45 minutes after we are supposed to leave. Crap. Long story short. Our flight was delayed twice. Over two hours. And did you know that after 4:00 pm on a Saturday in Terminal 3 in PHX that EVERYTHING is closed and even the soda machines don't work? Yeah. I was thirsty and annoyed. At least we got free DirecTV because of the flight delay.

State #14? DONE.


  1. Congrats!!!!!!! Sub-2; woooohoooooo!!!!!! :) You Rock, Sista! ;)

  2. Congrats on going sub-2, that's awesome!!!!

  3. What a crazy race -- and you still got under 2 hours with that little mini-detour. Awesome! Way to go!!

    And those post-race fries you had ... they look scrumptious!!

    Wow - 14 states. That must be so cool to get to see new places and run all at the same time. I don't have any goal like that, but I just realized next year I have my 1st half, and 3 others -- all in different states!

  4. Girl, you did it AGAIN! (we know you had it in Alaska.) An official sub-two!! I hope you're at one of my upcoming halfs so I can pace off you too. :)

  5. Congrats on the sub 2! I am not sure how you stay so strong racing as much as you do, but keep it up!

  6. Congrats to a sub 2 hour half marathon, that is awesome!!!! Don't worry about the distance, how often did you run more than 13.1. At least once in a while it is in your favor :) I love that you were a pacer, maybe now you realize what a strong runner you are!! The race sounds pretty weird, especially the "medal"!

  7. Sub 2 in your "Will Run for Ice Cream" shirt! Way to go!
    Oh, and you are just so cute in that fireman's jacket!

  8. Great job! I think I have a love/hate relationship with runs that feel like I'm doing crappy and want to quit when I'm really going super fast. It's crazy, but I think everyone has one now and again. Yay for #14!


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