Well, It’s been weeks since the Rock N Roll Half marathon; high time that I wrote my recap! In the future, I will try to do it sooner when the race is still fresh in my mind and the excitement is still lingering!
Let’s start with the Expo. I have been to a lot of race expos and I have to say that Rock N Roll Arizona is definitely the biggest I have been to. There are so many vendors that gather at the Phoenix Convention Center and yet, it doesn’t feel as claustrophobic as some of the other big ones. Everything is spaced out nicely and there is room to breathe despite the large crowds that are attracted as this event is not only mandatory for all runners, but also open to the public. And there would be a lot of participants this year as Competitor Group added an addition 5.4 mile “mini marathon” run (huh?) and a 20 mile bike ride to the usual full and half marathon events. I may check out the bike ride in the future.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have my phone with me so I wasn’t able to take any pictures.
I intended to visit the expo on the Friday so that I could put my feet up and relax the day before the race. Since a couple of my family members volunteer every year, I decided to join them as I would be there any way to get my packet and goodies. We volunteered at the shirt station, handing out the shirts for the marathoners and half marathoners. We had fun, though being on our feet for so long was not ideal 😉
Before the doors opened to the masses I was able to go pick up my Bib before there was a line. It was such a simple process as we were told via email which corral we were assigned and everything was clearly marked and so simple to go to the table that corresponded with my corral. I waited until later to get my goodie bag and shirt.
After our shift, the family was tired and dragging them with me through the entire expo would have been torturous to them. I decided to return the next day after all and go through with my friend Mary who was also running. I was able to convince the family to stay long enough for me to sample a cocktail, earn a long sleeved tech shirt and a $10 gift card to P.F. Chang’s by listing “10 things I love about P.F. Chang’s. I had to wing it, but I got my loot! I also waited in line for a few to have my knee and back taped for free by KT Tape.
I am so happy I did those things on Friday because Saturday at the expo was a complete ZOO! The crowds were a lot crazier than the day before. Mary grabbed her packet & I grabbed my shirt and goodie bag and we did a little shopping. Mary wasn’t able to do the line for the gift card, etc as it was just too long! We went through every aisle! I was able to get my ‘over 21’ wristband so I wouldn’t have to bring ID on race morning, sample a few sports nutrition goodies. It was a good expo, but honestly, I think last year was bigger and better with a lot more samples!
My goodie bag contained the usual race and local merchant fare and the only sample it contained was one for DOWNY! really? You guys couldn’t throw a GU in my race bag, but you gave me Downy? I don’t use that stuff on my running clothes!
I saw a lot of familiar faces on both days and a few even went twice like I did. So, it was a great social event lol.
Race morning was a breeze! Mary and I took the Metro Lightrail to the starting line. The energy was great, lots of loud music & excitement. There were plenty of port o potties with runners already lining up for them. Lots of pre-race fruit and water. I begrudgingly took my hoodie off and handed it (in my bag) to the nice gear check folks. We then met up with a few other friends and socialized and jumped around/danced in our corral to stay warm. As the time drew near we all stood very quietly for the National Anthem; it gets me every time! Then we big each other farewell and waiting to go!
There wasn’t too much of a wait for us in the higher numbered corrals to get moving, it felt like maybe 15-20 minutes after the frontrunners. My friend Lola and I stuck together despite her being a half marathon veteran. She had been sick for months with a cough that wouldn’t quit so she had the same goal as I did; cross the finish line! We ended alternating jogging a mile/walking a mile at first. Since she has done this before I gave myself over to her completely and let her set the pace since she had no intention of running I knew I could keep up lol. After awhile, we just walked the rest! It was so pleasant. We talked the whole time and I learned so much about her. I have never ran with anyone before so I now get why those who run together have such a bond! She did tell me that even though she had never taken that long to complete a half, the time seemed to go faster since she had someone to talk to. YAY for me I am apparently good company!
I had my Camelbak with me so I chose not to take advantage of the on course refreshments. There was water, gatorade and GU, but I had my own water and GU so passed it all up. The volunteers on course were great with lots of enthusiasm! I am grateful they were there cheering us on!
Around mile 12 there was a table set up by the Phoenix Hash House Harriers. They were handing out a cup of beer to the adult runners. By this time I was hot, sweaty, smelly and thirsty and was ready for the finish line. They were angels! Never before in my life has slightly warm PBR tasted so damn good! Dare I say, it was a hell of a lot tastier than the refreshingly cold Michelob Ultra at the finish lol! After being perked up by this delicious nectar we saw the crowds at the end of the line and managed a little sprint home.
Mary was waiting a the finish line for us. It was so great to see her smiling face and get a great big hug! We got our medals and ventured further for bananas, granola bars, fruit cups, chocolate milk, etc. I’m not sure what else there was, but I did grab a coupon for a free dessert from P.F. Chang’s that said I beat the dragon (no I did not beat him) Mary went off to have her medal engraved on site with her name and finish time. I grabbed my bag from gear check and went off in search of a port o potty. I tried at least 6 foul potties and there was no toilet paper to be found! I remembered that I had a pack of tissues in my bag finally lol. Phew! All that water from the Camelbak was not waiting a minute longer!
We moseyed on over to the stage area where my Dad and hubby were waiting. I was so happy to see them and get more hugs and hear how proud they were. We apparently just missed the main act from hanging out in the finish area too long. I had never heard of the guy anyway… Andy Grammar? I know every other band that played in the past, but not this guy. Does anyone wish to enlighten me? None in my group had heard of him either.
This was a great experience for me. I would do it again, though I am considering looking into a smaller half for next spring. I also might consider the bike race in the future. We shall see.Since I didn’t do much running I finished feeling really great with minimal pain. I think the KT Tape helped my back a bit while out there. My feet were comfortable in the Nike Free 3.0 v4 ( I did wish they had more room in the tow box on this day) and the compression calf sleeves kept the cramps away.
The race was very well organized and I have to give the race directors their props for handling such a huge crowd so well. I was told there were around 25,000 participants and of course even more spectators. I realize that is what we are paying for; the well run organization. The tech shirt has become my favorite, but I won’t get too much use out of it being that it is long sleeved and I live here in hot Phoenix. The goodie bag was seriously lacking in any type of swag whatsoever. There were stickers for 26.2 and 13.1 courtesy of Garmin and that is the only thing out of the bag that I kept.