2016 Phoenix Marathon–Half Marathon Recap

They say it comes in 3s!!!

For the 3rd weekend in a row, I was able to snag a PR! I can’t believe the month of February. Can’t.

For those who want the Cliffnotes version, I PR’d my half marathon time by OVER SEVEN MINUTES! 1:55:37 —> 1:48:04!!

And here are my splits:

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For those willing to hear the long version, here goes:

The Expo was on Friday, the day before the race (which btw, I really like Saturday races) and I really wanted to meet some Instagram/We Run Social friends from last year’s race.

Carlee, Me, Kindal, and Brian

Carlee, Me, Kindal, and Brian

We Run Social was started from last year’s Phoenix Marathon and has blown up to become a year-long running party 😀

Both the marathon and half marathon started at 6:30 so my husband and I had to be there at the same time which was nice because we could drive together (he was running the full). Runners had to arrive suuuuper early to catch busses that would drop off runners at the start of the point to point courses, so we left at 4:30 and scooped up my BRF Runner Jenny along the way. It was pushing it because the last bus left at 5:15 and we got there right at 5. Traffic was insane and we decided to drop my husband off and he ran to where his busses were. But me and Runner Jenny had no idea where the half marathon busses were! I asked a volunteer who took out a map and pointed me towards the direction we had just come from. What?!? We went back and saw my husband and run club coach who told us, no, the half busses were the other way! Runner Jenny and I scrambled (and ran seriously about a half mile) to the right place and luckily on time.

After about a 20 minute bus ride, we reached the drop off point and I immediately got in line for the porta potties. It was a long line but I was able to do what I had to do just as the announcer called runners to the start line.

My long time buddy Nadia was with me and planned to help pace me to a PR (which was my goal, but I seriously had no idea I would do it by so much). She wanted to make sure I started conservatively, while I really had no idea what I was doing. Thank God for her because I know I would’ve started out too fast.

My beautiful friend, Nadia. Friends for over 20 years <3

My beautiful friend, Nadia. Friends for over 20 years ❤

In my overly ambitious head, I wanted to be at 8:15, but Nadia wanted me closer to 8:30, at least at the start. We found the 1:50 pacer and decided we’d stick with him for as long as we could as he said the pace was an 8:23/mile and that was a happy medium for me and Nadia.

I began my attempt to get my I-pod ready; I had purchased a little shuffle thinking I’d avoid another FroYo music fiasco, lol. No such luck though because I had no idea how to make my playlist play. It would play the songs out of order and I didn’t know how to fix that. I started panicking a little, frustrated that I was dealing with this, but Runner Jenny was nearby and calmed me down, reminding me that before then, I never listened to music anyway. She was right. Music or no music, I’d be fine.

I never got the shuffle to play the songs in my playlist order and it ended up not being a big deal at all.

Mile 1 was navigating through crowds and it went by quickly at 8:24. We settled in and I just got in a zone, only looking at my watch when I felt it buzz a mile split. The pacer was actually going a little faster than planned as miles 2-7 were between 8:14 and 8:19. This pleased me as it was what I had wanted and I was feeling good. Really good. Sometimes I would feel myself start go a little ahead and then I would pull back, go a little ahead, and then pull back. Nadia’s presence a reminder of the plan.

And each time I felt the watch buzz and saw the mile split I would just grin. I was doing it! At mile 7, I unplugged an earphone, turned to the pacer and Nadia and said, “This is officially the longest I’ve ran at this pace!” I was doing great!

At mile 8, the pacer returned to his plan as the split buzzed at 8:21. I was a little bummed to see a 20something after feeling so good in the teens, and I told myself that if I was feeling good at mile 10, I would let myself pull away.

Mile 9 buzzed away at 8:20 and mile 10 at 8:26. As soon as I saw that mile 10 split, I decided to let go of the pacer. I was going to finish this on my own.

Even without Nadia.

After mile 10, I dug my heels in and picked up the pace. I didn’t look behind me or next to me. I didn’t say a word to Nadia (who later ended up stopping to call 911 for a runner!), I just went, telling myself I had a 5k left and to leave nothing on the pavement.

Mile 11, 8:17.

Mile 12, 8:03. 

Knowing I had a mile left, I was going for it. I knew the last mile was a decline and I used that and the adrenaline of having a sub 1:50 nailed to give it all I had at the finish.

Mile 13, 7:37.

HELL YEAH!!!

HELL YEAH!!! 1:48:04!!!

I roared my way into the finish line. I was so ridiculously happy. I couldn’t believe that in 3 weeks, I’d managed to PR in my 5k, 10k, and now my 1/2 marathon time. With the adrenaline I was feeling, I could’ve signed up for a full marathon this coming weekend! (Spoiler alert, I didn’t LOL)

This was the first race, in all distances, that I felt good the entire way. That I felt confident and strong the entire way.

I never once felt like I couldn’t do it.

Nadia’s plan to start with the pacer was perfect. I think had I tried to do it on my own, starting off right away at an 8:15 pace, I might’ve tried to go faster and lost control. I was lucky that the pacer went a little faster earlier in the race, closer to what I’d wanted, because that let me be consistent and I feel that was huge in allowing me to feel so good the entire way.

I’m also extremely freaking proud that I took the risk of pulling away after mile 10. I think the “old me” (I’m not sure what that means yet) would’ve been too scared to leave the pacer, afraid that I would burn out.

But I felt so confident in myself. I’ve never felt this way before. It’s like I just knew that I could go faster–at mile freaking 10!

Ringing the PR bell :D

Ringing the PR bell 😀

When I finished, I immediately grabbed my stuff from gear check. I had signed up to receive tracking alerts from my husband and sure enough, he had crossed the half way point already right on target.

Not long after, Runner Jenny and Nadia met up with me and we waited for my husband to finish. I got the 20 miler alert and then finally, we saw him. I screamed my head off as I saw him cross at 3:37:46!!! A PR for him too!!!

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It was an absolutely fantastic day. Being surrounded by friends (my running club is amazing), having my husband with me, and finally feeling like I ran a race the way I knew I could has me the happiest girl on earth. I’ll be taking a break from racing (but not from my blog, so don’t worry 😉 ) and plan on riding this high for a long while 😀

Thank you all so much for your kind words on Instagram and Facebook and here. Thank you for following my journey. ❤

–How do you build confidence in your running? 

–When’s the last time you felt you “nailed” a race?

 

A Rock and Roll Weekend (RnR AZ Recap)

I didn’t run RnR Arizona as most of you know, but my husband did and I was still very excited about this race because of that reason and several others.

I’ve been very lucky to have met several blogger buddies and this past weekend I was able to scratch two more off my long list!

I found Suzy last year and it was love at first read. She swears a lot (which I do in real life–right, Scott?) and often when I read her blog, I’m just nodding at how much I relate to what she’s saying. If only I was as fast as her….oh wells! 😀

Anyway, we Facebooked messaged leading up to the race to figure out how we could meet up. She’s from Canada so we couldn’t text so thank goodness for technology. I managed to sneak away to the expo Friday so I could catch her–my husband wouldn’t be going til the next day.

And as I was walking in, she was walking out–as soon as our eyes met, we squealed!

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Suzy and me

She’s so pretty. She’s beautiful in her writing, but in person… ❤

The next day, Saturday, I went back to the expo this time with my husband. I was texting with Mar all morning to make sure we met up and as I looked up mid-text, there she was! Oh man, had I been waiting for this day! I somehow missed Mar when I was in her hood for Marine Corps Marathon and we vowed to not let the chance escape us this time. We seriously chatted for almost an hour there at the expo like we’d known each other forever–which 2 years in the blog world kinda is, lol!

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Me and Mar

At the expo, they had a special for next year’s race and since this is a race we always do (it was both of our first half marathon) we signed up!

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First race of 2017! (wow, lol!)

I hit the Lululemon booth and snagged these really cute shorts

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and used a coupon they gave to buy some pants 🙂

The ProCompression booth was nearby so I was able to visit my Instagram buddy Shane. He is super sweet!

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Race day was the next day and my husband and I ventured out early in the morning. We’re pros at this race as it’s become a yearly thing for us. I wanted to get there a little earlier than usual though, because I was hosting a meet up spot for the Arizona Moms Run This Town chapters. We had a good group turn out for the pre-race photo and it was so much fun meeting women from different chapters around Phoenix.

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Arizona Moms Run This Town

 

After, I walked my husband to his corral, corral 2, and he was off! I waited along the corral fences holding my sign and cheered the runners as they started. I even got to see Mar again! I waited til the very last corral, corral 19, and had an absolute blast. Some people recognized the MRTT name and posed with my sign as they waited for their start. It was so cool!

My husband had been running for about 30 minutes when the last corral started. The start line and the finish line are just under a mile apart so I began making my way there to catch him.

Thanks to tracking, I knew how much time I had before he’d be approaching the finish. I was able to catch him turn the 13 mile corner and he waved to me as he ran to the finish line.

We took a post race pic and hung out for a while and then we went home! It was such a fun weekend that I hardly noticed I didn’t race 😉 (you guys know that’s not true, lol!)

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He let me keep his medal ❤

How was your running weekend? 

Have you met bloggers/social media friends at races? 

Have you had fun at races you were supposed to run but didn’t? 😀

USA Half Marathon San Diego {Recap}

I’m so freaking proud of this race.

It was tough and it was ugly but I finished–leaving nothing on the course. Nothing.

I knew from seeing the course elevation map that it would be hilly in the beginning, but I was really unprepared for how hilly it actually was. I knew as soon as I started that my goal of sub 2 hours would be a long reach.

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I began with brf Runner Jenny and we took the first hill slowly–it was seriously right at the start. And the next one too. Except it wasn’t really all that slow for me as the first two hilly miles were 9:35 and 9:42–for me, that’s a really good pace going up.

For Runner Jenny though, that was cruising and at mile 3 I told her to go on her own. I just couldn’t keep up. I could see her every now and then turn around to see how far back I was ❤ , but I kept falling farther and farther behind. And then I couldn’t see her anymore 😦

So I decided to run my own race, only checking my watch when the mile would beep.

At mile 3 I settled in my own pace and miles 3 and 4 sounded off at 9:21 and 9:25. I had  left my goal behind at the start so I didn’t have that pressure of trying to maintain a certain pace–I was just running. But I surprised myself at mile 5 with an 8:51.

Mile 6 was a downhill and I just rolled with it. Again, I wasn’t looking at my watch and when it beeped, I was shocked to see 8:03!!! Whoa!!! Slow down, Hell!

It was right after this mile that as I was running along, I saw someone on the sidelines cheering people on. He had no sign or crowd and seemed to be cheering everyone, not just one particular person.

It was Meb!!!

I veered to the right so I could high five him! I was surprised he wasn’t surrounded–I totally would’ve stopped to take a pic if I had had my phone.

Mile 7 sounded off at 8:54 and I was shocked again to see it be a sub 9–the downhill definitely helped.

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It was here that the course seemed to flatline but there were still some baby hills along the course. I cursed each and every one of them.

I managed a 9:13 mile 8 and was really happy to have it be a lowish 9. I started doing some math (I’m really not good at it) and I realized I still had a shot at a sub 2–I’d have to work though.

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Mile 9, 9:24. Not as low as I would’ve liked but still good.

Then the cramps started.

Miles 10 (9:40) and 11 (9:42) were me struggle bussing but I refused to stop. I stuck my tongue out at the photographer at the top of a hill (because really, who puts a photographer at the top of a hill?) The 2:00 pacer reached me at mile 11 and I told myself I could stay with her for two miles. Just do it, Helly.

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Mile 12, 9:01.

And then……. the mile from hell.

I knew I had one mile left. If I could just get through this mile, I’d get a sub 2. It would be ridiculously close, but it was possible.

Except it wasn’t. My legs cramped up into rock solid masses of crampage–it almost brought me to a complete stop. I was in so much pain, pain I hadn’t felt ever in a race. I saw the pacer roll past me and I wanted so badly to hang on. But I couldn’t. For the life of me, I could not run faster.

I turned the corner towards the finish line broken. My teammates were on the side line and I yelled for them to call for my husband. I knew it was going to be an ugly finish. I was limping, dragging my right leg (that one hurt the most). I had cramps everywhere–toe cramps, foot cramps, ankle cramps, shin cramps, calf cramps, hamstring cramps–my entire legs were cramping.

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The announcer saw me approaching and said through his mic, “I don’t care if you walk, limp, crawl across the finish, just do it!!”

And that’s exactly what I did, screaming in pain and collapsing as soon as I crossed.

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I was immediately picked up by the medics and my husband found me not too long after. I was screaming so loud; I’m sure there are people who I traumatized, but the pain was so intense–I felt like my muscles were ripping apart.

I was giving water and electrolytes and they placed ice all around my legs and it was a while before I started to feel better. Just when I thought I was in the clear, the cramps came back on both legs in full force. Screams again.

The medics asked what I had consumed throughout the race and I told them I had been carrying Tailwind (electrolytes) and had taken water at a few of the water stations as well–even my Gu at mile 7. I had no idea why this was happening; I felt like I had done everything right.

I know I need to get myself checked. I think my diet might be my issue–maybe I’m deficient in some vitamin or nutrient?? I don’t know, but it was definitely scary what happened to me and I def don’t want it to happen again.

I ended up crossing the finish line in 2:01:15 and I was so proud of myself for getting that close to two hours on a hilly course I was so unprepared for and with cramps the entire last mile (which I ended up running in 9:13 and realized I really had no chance of a sub two unless I had ran an 8 something last mile–I’m really bad at math).

Several of my teammates walked away with PRs (included Runner Jenny) and my husband snagged a new PR as well 😀 It was nice to have so much good stuff to overshadow my awful ending and once I was out of the medic tent, I was all smiles.

my AZTNT team

my AZTNT team

with my favorite <3

with my favorite ❤

The Bad:

  • The Expo left A LOT to be desired. Granted, we got there on the second night about 30 minutes before it closed, but there were maybe 5 booths open?? I saw nothing with the race’s name on it that I could purchase.

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  • Little to no crowd support. But you got Meb and maybe that’s really all you need.
  • The jacket is of poor quality (in my opinion) the letters look like they’ll fade after a few washes but it’s cool to have a jacket –even though it has no pockets 😦 and they gave it to you in a cheap plastic bag (no race swag bag). So yeah….
  • They said they’d cap the race at 5,000 but only half registered. I definitely felt there was very little hype about this race. Someone needs to hire a social media person (I’m available, USA Half Marathon!).
  • Very little crowd support.
  • San Diego is expensive.  (Holy cow, parking=$)
  • Finding your official time after the race was confusing. The website said “Coming Soon” the entire day–I was able to find it through a friend who registered for tracking through Chrono Track.

The Good:

  • The race had a 2:30 time limit so you really felt the competitive atmosphere (which I liked). Going uphill, I seriously saw no one walking and that motivated me to not walk.
  • Meb.
  • The medal is pretty sweet. It’s nice and heavy and the ribbon is pretty.

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  • Free pictures. Soooo nice in a day and age where race pictures cost a fortune.
  • Post race snacks a plenty!! They had so much left over, they let runners take boxfulls home with them–made for great road trip snacks.
  • Shout out to the medical staff! xoxo!
  • San Diego is beautiful. The weather was absolutely amazing–I mean, 70 degrees in mid November? Yes, please!!!
  • The host hotel, The Westin San Diego Gas Lamp Quarter, was beautiful and worth every penny.

Notes:

  • This is a qualifying race so for my age group 30-35 I had to have ran a sub 2 hour half marathon. They plan on making the requirements more competitive in the future but I’m not sure if that’ll happen soon considering they barely got half of their estimated entries this year.
  • I would do it again. 🙂

–Have you ran an inaugural race before?

–Do you like the idea of a qualifying half marathon?

–Ever high-fived an elite?