My trip to Arizona was very spur of the moment. My registration for the Women's Running Series half marathon in Scottsdale was even more spontaneous! With zero preparation and no thought I registered Man Friend and I (he was 1 of 50 dudes!) for my first ever race in Arizona. Friday we hit up the expo and discovered the nuances of driving in Arizona compared to Oregon -- hello legal u-turns! The expo was much bigger than I expected, and I admit I was disappointed in the race specific merchandise and walked away purchasing none of it. I did, however, get a free Ragnar shirt, some blotting sheets and a new skirt - so not a loss. OMG, they let men run ... but they also get the women's hot pink shirts. MF put his on and it was hilarious!! While at the race we also set some goals, as seen in the photo. What I didn't prepare for?? Altitude. Silly me, I figured I was in the desert and it must be low elevation. I was wrong. I realized that day I would be running at an altitude 3 times higher than what I run in. Oops.
I spent Saturday night with Tara, Team Freedom!!!, so we would be close to the start. At 5 am we were finally parked at Sun Devil Stadium and getting on a bus to the start line. We arrived and it was dark, and only slightly chilly for us Oregonians. We wandered around the start area and realized we were at City Hall! Oh how fancy it all was. The courtyards had ponds, fountains, art work, all sorts of things! We also stumbled upon some very nice public restrooms ... with lights, running water and NO lines. Score!! As the sun started to slowly rise we made our way back to the crowd a woman behind me said, "Looking good in your skirt!" I turned to see the longest legs ever. I looked up and it was the creator of my skirt! "Thanks, you too!" I said. As she left I said, "she's totally going to place, if not win!" She got 3rd.
The race began at 7 am. I was corral 3, but since I am married to a man, he was put in the last corral with nearly every other man. Naturally I started with him, which was the first time I was ever at the very back to start - usually my slow running just gets me there anyway! And off we went! Initially we did pass a lot of people because really, we were put back with runners much slower than my natural pace. But once we got through that first mile it seemed everybody had spread out and we were with the same runners for the remainder of the race. That first mile was so cute, too! We ran through Old Town Scottsdale and it was just adorable, I wish we had some place at home even half as quaint and appealing!
Seeing as I can't be completely serious in an untrained for race, it felt old fitting that someone in the second mile Man Friend stopped to shop.... He got the attention of fellow runners with this one ... I told them it was the only way I could get him to join me in a girl race! So running plan talk -- I decided to Galloway it and do intervals so I could run and then walk to get my breath. I kid you not, for the rest of the day and the next my lungs were feeling it. Had I realized I was running at a much higher elevation I may not have spontaneously signed up. My body was fine, but trying to find air was my big challenge that day. It was my last day and last race in the 30-34 age group, so I decided to not care at all about time and just enjoy the scenery and being in a new place.
I really liked the course. If it was set in Oregon I'd have loved it even more. The "hills" were non-existent compared to our every day runs, so that was a bonus on my legs. My favorite part was along this canal that actually had water. It wasn't just some desert mirage! Plus it was a trail and felt great to run on. It was fairly long and I was disappointed to get off of it and back onto the road. Across the water we saw some mountain type things and this strange pyramid. Later I found out it was the tomb of a 7 time mayor, his wife and family ... thank you Roadside Attractions app! Shortly after the trail we had caught up to the 3 hour pacer. I was determined to not let her beat me. If so then clearly I was waaaay out of shape and didn't belong running. **She did not finish before me! As soon as we passed her we stopped for our 2nd potty break of the race. Hey - we were hydrated! Back on the road, we quickly passed her again and for the rest of the race I just made sure to never see or hear here anywhere near me.
This picture summarizes how I felt for most of the race .... hot. I saw so many people in long sleeves and some in pants. Some in both.... I was all sweaty in my shirt and skirt. I was so warm, for the first time ever, I ran this race without my knee high compression socks! This picture also shows the one negative ... we were crossing this bridge and just on the other side is the finish line. The downside is we were only 8 miles into the race. We had to pass the during a long out and back, watching the fast runners come flying toward us on their way to the finish line. But soon enough it was our turn. I fully admit by the last couple of miles I was not doing too well. I had tweaked my ankle at some point so I was pretending to not be in pain while gasping for air. I just really missed Oregon!! I focused in and once the finish was in sight I gave myself a strong finish and happily received my medal from a young Air Force boy. I swear I could have been his mom!
The finish area had a lot to offer in terms of food and drinks. I got my HUGE, HEAVY medal, stopped for photos and soaked up the atmosphere before the mile plus walk back to the car. Best post-race food? In-n-Out French fries. I felt it appropriate to stop there at least once on the trip!
Final thoughts ... would I do this again? Totally! I'd probably actually, oh, I don't know ... train?!?! And maybe not just sign up at the last possible moment so I could get my name on my bib. Would I choose the 5 am bus again? No. What the heck was I thinking with that option?? Definitely a fun and non-intimidating event .... and thankfully not an abundance of tutus for me to bitch about. Hallelujah! I'll end with a couple of "official" photos.