Monday, February 10, 2020

Mesa Marathon Race Recap

Saturday was the Mesa Marathon (and my SIXTH time running it - although it has gone by a few names since I first ran it - starting as the Phoenix Marathon, updating to the Mesa-PHX Marathon and currently going by the Mesa Marathon ;) ).


Far Left: 2015 / Left: 2016 / Center: 2017 / Right: 2018 / Far Right: 2019

If you've read the previous five race recaps, this may sound a little familiar, but I'm sharing it nonetheless (with my Fibro Fog I'll probably forget the details in 0.73 seconds if I don't write them down, so this is as much for me as it is for you).


Let's start from the beginning. With it being a Saturday race (which I prefer), the hubby and I left bright and early Friday morning (I swapped with a co-worker and worked his Thursday so he would cover my Friday and Ryan just used PTO).

Thankfully the Ford Focus can get about 400 miles
on a tank of gas so it isn't an expensive trip.

The game plan was to leave the house by 5:30am so we'd get to Mesa by 1pm (the drive takes about 6 hours, but with pit stops {the hubby has a small bladder ;)} and time zone change it appears as though we allotted 7.5 hours for the trek).

There's a stretch of the drive on backroads and even all of the stop and go from the traffic lights doesn't wake him...

We had grabbed a couple audiobooks on our Hoopla app to keep us "entertained" on the journey, but as you can see from the previous photo, the hubby fell asleep for the majority of the drive (he's legit like a baby being rocked to sleep)... But one nice thing about that is when he's sleeping he doesn't have to pee as much so it means less potty stops, hehe.

The sun and soothing rocking motion puts him to sleep in about 2 minutes...

The only pit stop I tend to care about... Well, that and food ;)

Eventually we did have to stop for gas (are you the type of driver who starts looking for a gas station when your tank hits half full or do you ride it out as long as you can?!) - although we can almost make it the entire was on a single tank.

Don't worry, all of the lights are on because the key was in the ignition but not started... The only "issue" was low gas.

On the way into Mesa we also made a quick stop at Kneaders because we had a gift card with a few bucks still on it. The hubby ended up grabbing as many cookies as he could for $5 (and then we gave the remaining $.37 on the card to the couple behind us in line, because why waste it?!). Spoiler Alert: He obviously ate them all before we got back home.

I don't know that there is a sweet treat the hubby has ever met and didn't like ;)

And then we had to grab lunch, so it was off to Ike's we go (they recently opened one in San Diego, but before that we had to be in San Francisco or Phoenix to mow down on the deliciousness). I'm a little bummed my normal go-to sammy (the Reading Rainbow) can't be made vegan {the pesto must have eggs or dairy in it}, but found a delicious alternative (I got the "Gramps" with vegan turkey and grilled mushrooms and added lettuce, pickles, red onions and avocado to it).

Get in my belly!

After our tummies were happy, it was time to meet Brian at the hotel before heading to the Expo. We hung out in the lobby since our room wasn't ready and eventually threw our stuff in the car before walking to the #WeRunSocial meet-up.

Source: @werunsocial's Instagram feed

The turn out wasn't as big as in years past, but it was still great to be able to chat with friends and meet new ones.

Say cheese!

After the meet-up a decent sized group of us walked over to a nearby pizza place for dinner (Fired Pie which even had a vegan cheese option - SCORE!) before wishing each other a great race and heading back to the hotel to call it a night.

We could see the Cubs Spring Training Facility from our window. The sunset didn't suck either!

PS I always try and write a little thank you when I stay in a
hotel. It's a little gesture, but can be greatly appreciated!

As I'm sure you could have guessed, I obviously had a #FlatCarlee to help make sure to have all of my gear ready for the race (I also had gloves, flannel pants and a sweatshirt to keep me warm before the run {PS The race donates all of the "throw away" gear to Savers, a local thrift store.}. Pro Tip: When the hubby and I do our closet clean-outs, I put aside warmer clothes that are going to be donated anyway and keep them for future chilly races so I don't mind tossing them.).

This #FlatCarlee was all about the Arizona flag colors: Red with Whit Dot PRO Compression Socks, Royal Blue Sparkle Athletic Skirt,
homemade trucker hat, red Handful braNathan Speedmax Handheld, PROBAR BOLT chews, Sarah Marie Design Studio "RUN" muscle
, elite Road ID, blue and red QALO silicone wedding bands, blue and yellow Momentum Jewelry wraps, #WeRunSocial thingamajig,
COROS APEX Watch and Brooks Ghost 11.

I knew the alarms would be starting early, especially with the time change, so after watching an episode or two of Shark Tank (we were watching the Democratic Debate but it definitely wasn't an uplifting bedtime story), we hit the hay.

And with the time change it actually felt like 2:23am!

This race is a point-to-point race so you are required (at least for the full) to ride the shuttles to the starting line (you are able to get dropped off at the half and 10K start lines, but the way that the full start line is set up only buses are allowed in). The buses run from 4:30 - 5:15am, so Brian and I decided to leave the hotel by 4:45am to get to the shuttle line by 5am. Our timing seemed to work out perfectly (apparently we've learned after the five previous years, HA).

Ready to go!

The bus ride was uneventful (which was great because I am always slightly nervous that we might get lost, break down, etc...) and we got to the starting area with plenty of time to spare. Brian and I got off of the bus, got in line for the port-o-potties and then got back onto a bus to stay warm. (I love that getting back on the buses is an option, rather than trying to huddle around a heater or fire pit - which are also available, but I prefer sitting and saving my legs for the next 26 miles.)


Eventually we left the comforts of our warm cocoon that was a yellow school bus and made our way to the start line. Thankfully it wasn't as cold as it had been the previous few days around that time (yes, when I would wake up I would look at the current weather in Mesa and was worried when I kept seeing low 30 degree temperatures #WeatherWuss).

Thankful Mother Nature decided to hold the rain
off for a couple extra days! 

Technically the race starts before the sun rises (which is great for the "warm" races when you need to beat the heat). Although it is still fairly dark, your eyes tend to adjust rather quickly and I never have an issue with the amount of light on the course (side note - some runners will use headlamps. I have never felt the need, but I did have someone ask about it prior to the race, so wanted to mention it. Normally the race has a "drop bin" for them around Mile 4 or so, that way you can leave it there and pick it up at the finish without having to carry it the entire way - but I've never taken advantage of it so don't know the specifics.). The moon was pretty full, too, which helped provide a bit of a spotlight.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't THAT big, but it was gorgeous... although none of my pictures would have done it justice so I didn't bother...

Brian and I didn't have a goal time for the race. We were thinking that we'd try and stick with the 4:15 pacer (in years past we would shoot to be closer to 4:00 and then around the halfway mark, when the course flattens out, slow down, so thought this year if we started slower maybe we could keep that same pace the entire way), but there wasn't one... DOH! 


I did try my hardest to reign it in at the beginning because I tend to get caught up in the adrenaline and excitement (and the downhill) and take off faster than I (or Brian) would like. I am pretty terrible at pacing, but thankfully Brian is well aware of that fact after all of these races together (this was marathon #9) and has zero qualms about telling me to back off a bit.


As per usual, I decided if there was a "character" stop along the route I would stop to snap a picture while Brian would continue chugging right along and I'd sprint to catch back up with him. This happened multiple times. Sometimes we'd be mid-conversation and I'd have to pull over, take a selfie, sprint and resume the conversation like nothing ever happened.

Fun signs from some fun boys

"Can I snuggle with your pup?!" There's a possibility I stayed at this "character stop" a bit longer than the others...

These ladies knew how to party!


The hubby always talks about marathoners pooping their pants so I had to snap this picture to send to him ;) 

I'd say we were plugging right along for the first half of the race. At the midway mark Brian wanted to use the bathroom (which is perfect because that is the starting line for the half marathon, so there are tons of port-o-potties) and I took off my sweatshirt and gloves. Neither of us had noticed our pace and actually tried to avoid looking at any clocks along the course. We just wanted to enjoy the miles and the company (and not get frustrated if we weren't hitting certain paces).

The half way point of the full is the starting line for the half, so the starting arch was still up when we ran through.
PS You can see Brian in the red hat and red long sleeve shirt crossing under the arch in the background.

I'd say the first half of the race is the prettier portion, but the second half has more spectators (and character stops - hehe) because you're getting back into town where there are more roads to access the course and more population in general.


Stoked to see Jeremy on course (although I'm bummed he is still injured and wasn't running with us...
and the fact that the none of the donuts he was handing out were vegan ;))

A giant lion?! Sure, why not?!

Funny side note: last year, there was a spectator dressed as the clown from It (I do NOT do scary movies, but was told his name is Pennywise). I stopped and snapped a picture with him because he was a character (even if it was slightly nervous-ing ;)). When Brian and I ran past the spot he was at in 2019 we both referenced him not being there. Well, when we got down around Mile 20 there was a Bob Ross that I HAD TO stop at (he even had an easel with "happy trees" painted on it). Come to find out, Bob Ross was last year's Pennywise AND he recognized me! (A friend of his commented on my picture last year, tagging him, so he said "You're the Instagram girl from last year; I was the clown".) HAHA! I told him I appreciated this year's costume much more and then his wife offered to snap a photo of us. How fun is that?! 

Obviously I couldn't recognize him since he was under a mask last year, but I love that he recognized me!

We were able to keep our pace fairly consistent until about Mile 19.5 where we took our first walk break (which came later in the race than it had in previous Mesa Marathons, so we will consider it a win!). After that we took about one walk break (around a minute long) per mile until the end of the race. (FYI: You should NEVER feel bad about walking. Some see it as a "failure" if you don't run the entire race, but I promise you, it is part of the journey! Dean Karnazes said, "Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up." {And I'd edit it slightly to say that there are definitely times where you need to "live to fight another day", so just because you have to throw in the towel on one run or during one race does NOT mean you have to scrap running all together. I promise, the run gives more than it takes... most days ;) })


Eventually it was time to run it on home. I knew the hubby would be near the finish line so we kept our eyes peeled and waved as we ran on by (he ran the half while we were doing the full - and it was his 19TH HALF MARATHON!).

Heading to the finish

Hubby snapped a selfie while he was waiting for us to run by

And, just like that, okay, maybe not "just like that", but the miles did seem to tick away super quickly this year, we were crossing the finish line! Marathon #26 is in the books (nine of which I've been lucky enough to run alongside my BRF).


We may not have twinned in our entire outfits, but you better believe we still were going to #RunMatchy with our socks!

Not only did we collect our 2020 bling, but we also got to snag our 5 YEAR MEDAL. You see, after having so much fun in 2015, we decided to come back the following year. Well, little did we know, starting in 2016 they were doing a five year challenge. The medals from 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 would fit together to form a large star (so obviously we had to come back year after year!). Not only that, they announced a few weeks before this year's race that if you had completed all five years (either in person or virtually) you would nab the bonus medal. BOOYA GRANDMA!

The things that entice us to run ;)

After snapping a couple finisher photos, we made our way through the runners' area (unfortunately this year there was no Kneader's French Toast which the hubby was heartbroken over) and bee-lined it to the hotel (Brian had a flight to catch at 1:30pm so he wanted to shower while I snapped some medal pictures before we took him to the airport).

Pretty awesome, right?!

Let's be real, it's hard to make a laying down picture look
good, but the hubby insisted and I sort of like how it turned out.

In case you care, we finished in 4:34, but honestly, I am all about celebrating finish lines instead of finish times. Those 26.2 miles were meaningful because of who I spent them with and the memories made, not because of the time on a clock. I am forever grateful for every step I can take and plan to run happy for as long as God and my body let me!

Oh yeah, and of course the hubby slept for the majority of the drive home too... 36 hours after we hit the road, we were pulling back into the garage (after picking up Walt the Wiener Dog, of course) with happy hearts and tired legs ;)

Same thing, different day ;)

Is there a race you do year after year?

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