Monday, January 15, 2018

Rock 'N' Roll Arizona Half Marathon Race Recap

SURPRISE! I ran the Rock 'N' Roll Arizona Half Marathon yesterday! It was a spur of the moment decision, but rocked it!

When you are the third wheel of this TWINNING duo ;)

I am not sure that I mentioned it on here yet, but I was selected to be a part of the 2018 Rock 'N' Blog crew for a third year in a row - WHOOOO HOOOO! One of the many perks that we receive from the relationship is entry to Rock 'N' Roll races (this year we get up to 10 free registrations)! {But, as hopefully you are well aware by now, this will NOT effect my recap.}

A couple weeks ago I asked two of my friends what they were up to on January 13th and 14th. As luck would have it, their schedules were free (and one of them lives in the Phoenix area) so we decided on a quick road trip (that would include me slipping away for a couple hours on Sunday morning to run a half marathon - I mean, why not?!).


We made our way to Phoenix Friday morning (it's about a 6 hour drive, plus we lose an hour with the time change). I figured we'd hit up the Expo when we got into town so we'd have all day Saturday to do whatever we wanted. Like most race expos, I was in and out in no time flat. I grabbed my bib and participant tee (another one to add to the stack for my next Project Repat quilt), said "HI" to a few friends, then made like a banana and split. FYI: Parking at the Phoenix Convention Center (where the Expo was being held) cost $12 to park so my friend drove around while I quickly ran in.

#BadBlogger... The only picture I snapped at the Expo was of
the new Rock 'N' Roll Exclusive Brooks (I mean... TIE-DYE!)

Saturday was full of fun (hiking Camelback Mountain, hanging out at the hot tub, watching old episodes of The Office, etc), but it was finally time to hit the hay and get ready for Sunday.

Yes, yes, I did wear a St. Patrick's Day headband (with two bouncy leprechaun hats
on it) for the entirety of our hike ;) Would you expect anything different from me?!

 I based this race outfit around the new #StateOfMind PRO Compression socks (since they were MADE for Arizona!).
Arizona PRO Compression socks, red Handful bra, royal blue Sparkle Athletic skirt, tank from GracedByGrit, red Sparkle Athletic cape,
red and blue QALO silicone wedding bands, blue and yellow Momentum Jewelry wraps, #WeRunSocial thingamajig, black RoadID,
Nathan handheld, PROBAR BOLT chews, Arizona hat (I made), my Garmin Fenix 5S, and Brooks Ghost 10 (with lightning bolt Shwings).

Rock 'N' Roll Arizona seemed to have a later start time compared to other races, but maybe that's due to the sun not rising until later in the morning. Either way, I was appreciative to have a couple extra minutes to rest my sleepy head.

Yep, not sure if you see the time at the top, but we were
up way too late chatting in bed before going to sleep... 

When I got to the race start it was pretty perfect. While most of the country had recently been dealing with a major cold front (Mother Nature can be so rude sometimes), the southwest seems to be sitting pretty with near ideal temperatures (one of the many reasons I am willing to pay such a high sunshine tax to live in SoCal).

Pretty AWESOME that my Fenix 5S shows the current temps!

After finding parking (which was relatively easy thanks to the free lots!), it was time for the #WeRunSocial meet-up!

PS There was also a meet-up for the full marathon as well since the two races
started at different locations, yet at the same time.

Source@procompression's Twitter feed

Source@werunsocial's Twitter feed

The game plan for the day was to have fun with Pavement Runner and Bling Whore and check out a new-to-me race. (I have run the Phoenix Marathon three times, and will be running it again in about 6 weeks, but I've never done Rock 'N' Roll Arizona before). Thankfully FUN is always on the agenda when it comes to running with Brian and Richard! Races are always better when you run them with friends, and these two guys are some of the best!

Source@blingwhore's Instagram feed

I was pretty stoked because this was the first Rock 'N' Roll race of 2018. With it came the introduction of the all new 2018 experience. This is where everything you love about running comes together in sync - where miles of music motivate you, where beats drop and drums pound, where bands and cheering fans line the course, just for you. For over 20 years, the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon Series has made running fun by infusing each course with live bands, cheer teams and more. In 2018, they have reset their focus to deliver best-in-class running events, where music is core and their community encourages you to feel like you are something bigger than yourself. Whether you’re a loyal fan, new to the family or convincing your friends to join you... you won’t want to miss running Rock 'N' Roll in 2018.


Some of the updates/ improvements include:
  • New corral markers – they're lit, easier to see and pretty legit!
  • Improved pacing – better visibility of pacer signs, plus pacers with Jammy Packs (speakers in a fanny pack)! 
  • A new mobile app with participant tracking 
  • New and improved band stages so you can rock out to music on course
  • A Marathon Zone – those with Marathon Bibs can enter a super special area with pizza, massages, etc!
  • SnapChat Geofilters (available at the expo, start, and finish areas) !
  • New mile markers!
  • Aid stations with awesome and clear signage (Gatorade and water will be clearly marked with pretty signs)!

I've been running Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon Series events since 2013 and was stoked to see how they'd enhance the experience. Don't get me wrong, the races are always a HUGE party, but if they can get even bigger and better, why not?!


As I mentioned before, this was a new-to-me race, so I didn't have a prior experience to compare it exactly to, but I'll be honest, it wasn't the most scenic or beautiful course I've ever run... The majority of it was pretty industrial. It seemed like in most areas we were running on a five lane road with traffic using the outer two lanes (runners using the middle three lanes and one lane in each direction for vehicles).

For running in the desert (which you'd assume would be flat), there was a somewhat steady (although very gradual) incline for the majority of the race and a decent climb the second half of the course. It wasn't anything too dramatic (probably about 200 feet of elevation gain), but since it was later in the race I figured I'd mention it... especially if you're expecting a flat-as-a-pancake course. The downhill to the finish was definitely appreciated!


The course itself ran through a few different areas. I'm not super familiar with the area, but nothing really stood out to me as in way of landmarks or natural beauty. I actually wish we would have been able to run along the Salt River (although there were a TON of dead fish floating in it - sadness!), but I guess beggars can't be choosers.


Although a race is definitely more than a time on a finishing clock, the guys had mentioned that they would like to attempt a sub-2 half marathon so we had that in the back of our minds as we were pushing through the miles. I'd say the course wasn't overflowing with spectators, which tended to make the excitement level plummet a bit, but the additional bands (we noticed many of them were right near the mile markers) was much appreciated.


We were able to cross the finish line with our heads held high, smiles on our faces and with a sub-2 in the bag - BOOM!

I think the idea of having the "guitar pick" as the medal for all of the
races this year is a pretty fun (and consistent) idea for 2018!

The two girls I was spending the weekend with were even able to come down to the finish line and watch us run it in! (I was not expecting them to want to come cheer us on so I was stoked to have them show us some love!)

The ladies ROCK MY SOCKS!

All-in-all I would say this was a decent race but definitely not one of my favorites in the series (San Diego and Las Vegas currently hold those top two spots for the time being). If I was in the area I'd do it again, but I don't think there was anything too special about it that would make me "need" to have it on a future race calendar.

What has been the most scenic race you've ever run?


Fritz said...

Great seeing you out on the course and love the blog!
I said hi as we were going up the hill around Mile 9

Jamie said...

the most scenic race I've ever run is the Vancouver Marathon!! come up and run it one day Carlee! Absolutely PHENOMENAL. Also, the Victoria Marathon is incredibly scenic too. Looks like you need to add some BC races to your list ;)