My 2018 Rock n Roll half marathon recap in storyteller mode. This is totally out of my comfort zone so enjoy!
It was Sunday early morning when I turned off my 3:30 a.m. phone alarm. Thankfully I did a flat runner Instagram post the night before because all of my gear was set up and ready to go. I’m pretty good at knowing how my tummy reacts to race day so having a small cup of coffee didn’t bother me. I poured hot water on my steel cut oats and left them to cool. Next up was applying pjuractive 2skin and putting on my race clothes. I was proudly wearing my bright orange BibRave shirt and trucker hat. I had to represent team orange, I wouldn’t have ran this race without them. Tucked my ID and one credit card in the back zip-up pocket of my running tights, grabbed my oats, water bottle belt and car keys and I was out the door at 4:40 a.m.
The drive to Katey’s house was quiet besides the bumping music coming from my trucks stereo. I know I shouldn’t but I had to eat my oats while driving. Totally not safe but very efficient. I arrived at her doorstep a little after 5 a.m. I had some jitters but mostly I was pumped for running my second RnR with Katey. See, last year I helped her PR and this year I wanted her to PR again. She wanted me to PR too and that means we would have to get faster than 2:22. I wasn’t sure that was possible. I did the training but I was just getting over a cold and I had my doubts with myself. Still, I was committed to run the 10:30 pace and see where it would take us! We loaded up in her SUV with our friend Deborah and jumped on the I-17 to make the 45 mile trek from Anthem to Tempe.
In the past I never raced with friends, we would meet up at a race but then run our own paces. Gosh, it felt good knowing that I would be running with Katey. My pre-race jitters were getting more intense on the ride into Tempe. It was about time to find a parking spot and since we arrived so early we decided to try to park as close to the starting line as possible. Thank goodness ASU was offering structure parking for free! We got a spot that was steps from the start line. It was perfect. We waited for Katey’s husband Ray and our friend Fine to park. Once they arrived, we all squeezed in Katey’s SUV to keep warm and chat, laugh and get even more pumped for the race.
Our Garmin’s told us it was getting close to 7:30 a.m. so it was time for potty breaks and stretches and getting in our assigned corrals. It was a nice touch that the RnR crew had bananas and water for us runners at the start line. That was a huge help for me cause my 4:45 a.m. oats were pretty much digested and my body needed more fuel. I quickly ate one and we all headed to the dreaded bathroom lines. The lines were awkward. The potties were lined up parallel to each other, maybe 25 on each side. There wasn’t much space in between them so people were lined up facing east for the east potties and facing west for the west potties. Lines moved quickly but when it was my turn a man jumped in front of me and was about to snatch my potty. I looked up at him straight in the eye and said “Excuse me?” and he backed down. Bathrooms were stinky but clean and stocked. Did my business real quick and headed out to find Katey and the rest of my run crew.
The corrals were getting jam packed at this point. We had to get in there now! We found an open spot and that’s when I was getting super pumped! The emcee was fantastic, they were playing music too. The garbage bag I was wearing to keep warm was just overheating me so I took it off. Next came off my long sleeve tech tee. I was sad to see it go but RnR donates the tossed clothes, it will be recycled. Holly and her husband Antonio arrived and we started our selfie ritual. It was obvious I was happy cause in every photo I have my mouth wide open like a goofball.
The count down was on. GPS signals were found and start buttons ready to be pushed. Katey staring happily at me, we were ready to RUN! We were off and past the start line. Our goal was 2:20 and we each had our pace bands on. Gosh we were feeling so good. The first two miles flew by, like seriously flew by. Then mile 4 hit and that’s when we started to feel the slight uphill. This is the deceitfulness of this course. It’s a hard race. There is approximately 226 feet of elevation gain. That doesn’t seem like much but it is when you are trying to PR. Even though the slight uphill was eating away at us. The roars from the spectators helped tremendously. At every turn of the road, the crowds were there with their bells, signs and screams. It felt good to hear them.
Our pace was slowing down a bit. We knew what was ahead of us. Were we in denial of the big hill? No, we trained for it. It was going to kick our butts and we were ready.
Katey told me her goal was a 12 minute per mile pace up and we started trucking up. Where were the drummers? I was counting on their beats to get me up and I didn’t have any music on me so I was wondering if they weren’t there this year. Boom, boom, boooooom, boom. Finally, they were there and it was just what I needed. We bounded up, did the u-turn and started heading down. I wanted to fly but I knew to save my legs so the pace was only dropped down a bit. This is where the rest of the course gets deceiving. You think you are done with hills but another baby one appears. I was getting grumpy. Where is the huge blow-up Brooks man? That vision got me motivated to keep pushing along. Katey told me she wanted to make up some lost time earlier. We actually picked up the pace on mile 10 and mile 11. We were pushing our bodies so hard. The sun was shining brightly and I could tell my arms were turning from being sun tanned to sun burned. And the salt on our faces! That was proof this race was kicking our butts. At mile 12.2 we started to slow down and we started to walk. I didn’t mind. We were still going to get Katey a PR. I could tell something was bothering her. I had a feeling it was because she wanted us to both PR at the same time. I understood that. I told her this was her race! And it’s all about her PR’ing. It was obvious that this point that she would get close to a 30 minute PR which is huge IMO over the course of year.
Let’s start running again. Our Garmin’s told us we were at mile 12.7, getting close to the bridge that goes over Tempe Town Lake and the finish chute. Our legs were heavy, the crowds around us screaming. It was now or never. We turned the corner and there was the glorious chute and that finish line. We gave it all we got and ran it in. It was magic. Running is magic. We finished at 2:30:54. That was a 28 minute PR for Katey and I am so proud of her. Running is hard. I used to think it’s for everyone but it really isn’t. It’s for the dedicated and focused and is something Katey is. We proudly took selfies and scarfed down snacks. I was craving chocolate milk since the expo. Chugging it quickly is not a good idea after running 13.1 miles, ugh, I had a tummy ache.
Where was the family reunion area? My brain was foggy, I didn’t know where I was. A volunteer shouting in a mega phone near my ear was yelling at us finishers to get out of the finish area and keep on moving. I plugged my ears and followed Katey. She was able to get some information from a helpful volunteer at the info tent and found our letter A and dry patch of dead grass. Sitting never felt so good. I was on cloud nine.
Ray and Deborah met up with us and we chatted a bit before deciding to make the trek back to the parking garage. Where exactly was the parking garage? It was actually a long walk. My phone told us 30 minutes. Seriously? No. Yep! The lactic acid in our legs thanked us. Katey got a call from Fine, she was lost. We ended up meeting with her at the parking garage at last. This was the perfect moment for us to sit in Cupz Coffee for tea and carbs.
Our ride home consisted mostly of girl talk and race memories and talk of what’s next on the race docket. One thing I know for sure is that racing with Katey is the best. I never knew racing and running with someone could be so wonderful. I’m thankful for her. And thankful for BibRave to give me the opportunity to represent them.