Wow, has it really only been a week and a half since P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona? It feels like so much longer. The details are already starting to become hazy. Good thing I have plenty of photos to jog my memory…
Last year I got dropped off at the start which was really nice. This year I was on my own so I parked at the finish and took a shuttle over to the start. It was not much fun waiting in the cold for about half an hour until the bus finally arrived.
Then when we reached the start area it was time to get in another line to wait for a port-a-potty. Check out this guy’s hair!
I overheard a lot of people worrying about not making it over to the corrals before the race started. But I knew from past experience that it didn’t really matter unless you were in one of the first few corrals. The whole morning was basically a big case of “hurry up and wait”. I was assigned to corral 17 but moved back to corral 22 to wait with a friend who was also walking the race. It took about 40 minutes to get up to the start line.
(I found this really cute, comfy fleece jacket at Old Navy for $4 and even though I bought it as a throw-away jacket, I was sad to get rid of it.)
I planned to walk at least the beginning part of the race with my friend, but I ended up being much faster and lost her within the first mile. At first I sort of regretted not having my iPod with me, but I was able to keep myself occupied taking photos and people watching.
One thing I really like about RnR AZ is the enthusiasm of the spirit groups. Unfortunately this year they also reminded me that I’m getting older because all the girls look so young. I used to think that I could still pass for a high schooler under the right circumstances, but seeing these girls I realized that’s probably no longer possible.
It’s hard to see, but there was a steel drum band playing around the mile 3 marker. I remember last year this was where my left foot started to go numb. Luckily I didn’t have any similar problems this year. Despite the KT Tape, my shins hurt a bit during the first couple miles (I should have done more warm-up/stretching pre-race), but after that it went away and I was fine.
This is one of the most picturesque areas of the course. And one of the few parts that’s not a long, straight stretch of road. The majority of the course goes through downtown Phoenix with lovely views of warehouses, trailer parks, and drive-through liquor stores.
Another spirit group. I couldn’t quite figure out what their theme was supposed to be… There was the devil mascot, but then one of the girls looked to be dressed in a pirate outfit?
Yay, something different to look at and read! I think it’s awesome that P.F. Chang’s is such a major sponsor of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series. It’s just too bad their food isn’t better so I could actually make use of the discount cards I keep getting in the mail every month or so.
For the first 7 miles of the race, all my splits were under a 13:00 pace! During the race I didn’t look at my Garmin very often so I was surprised by these numbers when I went back to look at my splits. It didn’t feel like I was walking that fast. As I always say, the race atmosphere brings out my competitive side. With no iPod to listen to, one of things I did to keep me distracted was find someone else walking in front of me and then focus on keeping up my pace until I passed him/her.
- Mile 1 – 12:35
- Mile 2 – 12:42
- Mile 3 – 12:41
- Mile 4 – 12:34
- Mile 5 – 12:29
- Mile 6 – 12:42
- Mile 7 – 12:48
I enjoyed going past the Chinese Cultural Center because it was nice to be on a stretch of road that was familiar. With all the destination races that I do, that doesn’t happen very often.
The next couple photos are just things that made me smile. Love the penguin!!!
For the last six miles of the race, my splits were all under 14:00 pace. I was a little slower than the first half of the race, but still going at a decent speed. I fueled approximately every three miles with GU and all that caffeine probably contributed to helping me keep my energy up.
- Mile 8 – 13:03
- Mile 9 – 13:09
- Mile 10 – 13:20
- Mile 11 – 13:08
With only two miles to go, I looked down at my Garmin and realized that I would definitely be able to make my sub-3:00 goal. I decided to slow down just a bit and have some fun.
There weren’t too many spectators out on the bridge, but I found a friendly-looking older gentleman and asked if he’d take my photo. He seemed a little puzzled about my request (why was I stopping in the middle of a race?) but was happy enough to help out.
Then for this photo I actually handed my camera to a spectator, turned around and walked back a few meters, and retraced my steps to get an “action shot”. Some of the other people gave me strange looks, but who cares? I’d never see them again.
So with the photo stops my last two miles were the slowest of the day.
- Mile 12 – 13:48
- Mile 13 – 13:49
Finally I crossed the finish line with an official time of 2:51:32. While I was certainly happy with this new walking PR, it was almost too easy. Everything about the race went so smoothly that I never felt challenged. It was a good way to end my short stint as a speed walker, but I’m ready to go back to aiming for some new running PRs soon.
Overall the race was well-organized, as all Rock ‘n’ Roll events are, but there was nothing “special” about the race that stood out. I do like the point-to-point course rather than an out-and-back, but that doesn’t make up for the slow shuttle service and the boring scenery. Right now I think I’d rank RnR AZ last among all the halves I’ve done so far. Which is not to say that it’s a bad race, just not one that I’ll probably do again since I’m leaving Phoenix. I’m already starting to think about next January… first marathon at Walt Disney World maybe???