I have always enjoyed Rock n Roll Arizona. Yes it can be crowded. Yes it can be expensive. But doggone it, it's one big party and everyone comes out for it!
This is my 9th Rock n Roll AZ Race - 1 full, 6 halfs and 2 10ks. My course PR was in 2015 - I ran a 1:52. Just 3 years ago!
I didn't have a major goals for this race - I am just trying to work myself back to a "normal" race time for myself (2 hours or less for a half). I haven't been under 2 hours since before knee surgery in 2016. Recently I had been sick and on many medications - prescribed by a doctor who is also a runner who was running this race. He said "we're going to hit this hard so you're well by raceday". and I was!
Rock n Roll has made some improvements to the race experience. They FINALLY ditched those awful D ring tags that went on your shoe!! The mile markers are now much bigger and the water stops are called out really clearly. The expo has definitely gone downhill, but I did get to see my name on the screen and have a fun photo opp.
I took the light rail down with one of my neighbors. There were several people I wanted to meet up with but I figured that I would let my prerace time unfold however it happened. While I was waiting for my neighbor to drop off his gear check bag, I met the nicest lady. We had ducked inside a coffee shop to stay warm (it was 48 degrees lol). We started chatting and it turned out she was also from Michigan (Detroit). She had just moved from Washington DC to the Phoenix area. We chatted about running and racing all over the country when we discovered she was a Ragnarian too! I gave her my number and hope to run with her in the future! I love meeting new people. Runners are the coolest.
Then it was time to line up in the corrals. I ran into a guy I worked with at America West Airlines/US Airways and we were able to take a pre race selfie and comisserate about how hard it is to have fast finish times now that we're old.
The race started and although I felt good, my knee felt inflamed already. And I purposely took it easy in the days leading up to the race. Oh well. I just decided to take it all in and do my best. I wanted to walk less than I did in my last 2 half marathons. I made it about 3 miles before my shoe came untied. I took a gel around mile 5.5.
The last 4 miles are my favorite. The course goes around Papago, the one "hill" on the course, and then you turn around and come back down. You get to pass people going the opposite way, which is defintely more fun when you are headed downhill rather than up! I walked at every water stop, which is probably a habit I need to break if I ever want to go sub 2 again.
Around mile 11, the iconic Rock n Roll guitar guy...
I was hoping for 2:10 but I came in at 2:19. It's still faster than my last 2 half marathons and comes out to a 10:39 pace, but that number still seems pretty high to me. Oh, and this was my first race representing Honey Stinger!
The weather was glorious - 48 at start, 60 at finish. Blue skies, live music, and beer! I found my running bestie Patty and we sat and listened to Everclear for the post race concert.
Then we went to grab some lunch and more libations. Such a fun way to celebrate our race experience. Here's hoping I can hit that 2:10 or less goal next time!
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Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!