"Disclaimer: I received a complimentary race entry for the Craft Classic Phoenix Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"
The Craft Classic Race series includes craft beer-themed races in San Diego, Phoenix and Seattle.
I was disappointed not to run this race last year due to injury, so I was looking forward to getting the chance to run this race this year! Running and craft beer are two of my favorite things! Aside from the beer itself, there was the promise of unbelievable cool swag! More on that later.
Hill training is not something in my regular repertoire, so I was worried about the challenging hilly terrain of this course. Rightly so…
Going into this race I got in the mindset that this would be a “training run” for the Rock n Roll Savannah half marathon I have coming up 3 weeks later.
I was excited to have many friends running this race to join in the misery…I mean fun! Aside from my local running group, I had my Team Nuun buddy Jeremy (@runblogaz) and my fellow BibRave Pro Christine (@cginpnw). She flew in from Spokane and we met up for breakfast the day before.
Packet pickup was held for two days in two separate locations for convenience, as there was no race day packet pickup. I headed over on Friday on my lunch hour, and was soon tempted by tiny samples from Huss Brewing Company, the official beer sponsor. I managed to avoid them, but I was quite excited about all the other swag!
Speaking of swag, inside my bag was my personalized race bib with beer can background, the softest tank top ever that said “on a beer run”, my groovy beer socks I prepaid for, a Huss Brewing pint glass, and an unexpected surprise – a nice pair of sunglasses! Wow.
I tried to lay low the day before, carbing up and hydrating. The race took place in Fountain Hills AZ, about 30 minutes from my house. It was pitch dark until about 25 minutes before the race start. It made it a little challenging to meet up with friends when you couldn’t see anyone clearly. I made it in time for a meetup with my local Moms Run This Town (MRTT) chapter.
I was also looking forward to seeing a good friend of mine who had taken a break from running half marathons, but was inspired to do this one due to the incredible swag and beer! As the start time got closer, my nerves were in overdrive, which was odd given the fact I had written this off as a training run.
It was still “cool” outside – mid 60’s with a light breeze. The race started with a gentle downhill, which is always appreciated. We all knew what was coming though. We looped around the town’s iconic fountain and meandered for a few miles with small rolling hills. And just when you think "this isn't so bad", the monster hill started. Somewhere around mile 4 a hill started that just didn't quit. At one point it was so vertical that I was walking fully leaning over to feel like I was moving forward. It was truly insane. Around mile 5 before we got a brief reprieve from that hill, our local MRTT chapter leader was there cheering us on. It gave me a little oomph to run for a minute (ha ha ). She captured this photo of me acting like it didn't suck.
Some of my other MRTT friends passed me at that point, and I was officially beat down. The pity party/walkathon was in full swing by now and it was walk/run as best as I could. By mile 8 we were heading downhill, so that gave me a boost. Miles 8-10 went by pretty quick. We hit a strong headwind when we turned onto Shea blvd, but otherwise things were still going ok.
From miles 10-13, even though they were smaller rolling hills, and still some downhill - if I hadn't been beat up so much on those earlier hills maybe I would have had more energy to keep going. But the truth is, I gave myself permission to walk as much as I needed to, and that added a lot of time onto my finish.
I tried some new fueling during the race - I used Clif shots at mile 4.5 and 9. I hate the consistency of gels. I felt a tad queasy after the first one, but it ended up ok. I can't say that the caffeine gave me any noticeable energy boost. There was Nuun on course (yay!), so I was drinking a ton of Nuun and water at every stop. For whatever reason, I was SO thirsty!
There were what seemed like a million race photographers on course, more than I have seen at most races, especially one this size. Seeing them so often did make me pick up the pace and smile though! The mile markers were courtesy of Huss Brewing. Seeing the pint glass at every mile marker also made me smile!
After I passed the last photographer at 12.9 miles, I turned the corner and praise the Lord, it was a straight shot to the finish line! I used all that energy I had saved up by walking and hightailed it to the finish. My buddy Jeremy caught some of the pics of my finish.
So then it was finally time to enjoy that finish line party I'd been waiting for! It was a little confusing. Your race registration got you one free beer, which you had to pick up in one location - then if you wanted additional beers, you had to go to another tent on the other side of the beer garden. It wasn't far, but still odd. Of course there was only one type of beer for the free one, but 5-6 to choose from at the paid tent. It was getting very hot very quickly in the sun, and there was zero shade. It seemed like people weren't hanging around very long.
We did stumble upon a fun photo prop area - we couldn't resist the opportunity to ham it up with beer themed props.
Check out the elevation profile - we had over 800 ft elevation gain, my fitbit said I climbed 70 floors!
Overall, I came in at 2:26:16. It was my 3rd slowest out of 49 half marathons. 257/403 overall, 128 out of 228 females and 17/27 in my age group. Meh.
I came away with some final thoughts about this race:
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!