London’s Run – Race Report

Since my next half is in the morning, less than 12 hours away, I’m going to try and knock out this report really quickly.

There were a bunch of reasons why I chose to do London’s Run instead of another race last Saturday. First, the half marathon was the longest distance being run. Sometimes when doing a half that’s associated with a full, I feel like the half gets overshadowed by the full. Second, the race started one hour later at 8am instead of 7am. Third, the course was a loop (instead of out-and-back) and I liked the idea of running around a farm. And finally, it was for a great cause.

Here are some snippets from the London’s Run website:

“London Solomon was a courageous six year old girl who fought a brave and cheerful fight against an aggressive type of leukemia (AML). Her grace still inspires all of us to take advantage of each new day without fear of doing hard things and cherishing our relationships with each other.

The butterfly was chosen as the logo for London’s Run because it represents the changes one makes as they go through the cancer experience. For London, her cocoon was the treatment and the months spent in isolation. During her treatment we saw her grow and change from a little innocent girl to one with a greater sense of appreciation for life and family, self and fun! When one emerges from cancer treatment they are more refined and beautiful – and ready to take flight. So it was with London.

We salute cancer survivors everywhere who emerge changed in subtle but important ways ready to take flight and make more of the life they knew before cancer. The butterfly reminds the rest of us that we can watch on with wonder and learn from the privilege we have in rubbing shoulders with the special people in our lives who are touched by cancer.

In January 2006, the first London’s Run was made possible by the caring support of Queen Creek residents as a benefit event for London’s family. London’s Run is a great day for accomplished and beginning runners alike to compete on a flat course, paved and unpaved, through the peaceful farming community of Queen Creek. The proceeds will go to children’s charities and Queen Creek families who are walking the same path the Solomons did.”

The event was great, but personally the race didn’t go that well for me. It all began when I left the house 15 minutes later than I planned. Which would have been fine if traffic hadn’t been really backed up trying to get into the farm where the race was held. Once I parked, I was scrambling to get everything done… pick up my packet, stop at the port-a-potty, pin on my race number, and make sure I had everything I needed to carry with me on the course.

I had a moment of panic when my Garmin wouldn’t turn on, but thankfully I remembered how to reset it. Then the low battery message appeared, but there was nothing I could do so I just figured I’d wear it until it died. Luckily the battery actually lasted through the entire race.

I was still trying to put on and adjust my fuel belt and iPod as I walked over to the start line with about a minute to spare. I got distracted because I noticed that one of the foam things on my iPod earbuds had fallen off and I didn’t even hear the announcement for the start of the race. I just saw people moving forward and joined in with the crowd.

We’ve been getting a lot more rain than usual lately in the Phoenix area and the roads were muddy for the first couple miles of the course. There were basically just two single lane paths to follow unless you wanted to stray into the mud. This made it hard to pass anyone during those first couple miles.

Although I didn’t have a firm plan in place, I knew I’d be doing some combination of walking and running. After the first mile I kept running because there didn’t seem to be any way for me to walk without getting in someone’s way. The crowd began to thin out during the third mile, but I decided to keep running.

  • Mile 1 – 10:25
  • Mile 2 – 10:12
  • Mile 3 – 11:12

Looking back this was probably a bad idea. In the past I’ve had problems with my feet getting tingly and numb while running. It hasn’t happened since I started running again in December. But that morning I could feel it starting to come on during the third mile. It actually wasn’t that bad until I stopped for a walk break and then both feet just suddenly went numb. I ended up walking for the next two miles until the sensation went away.

  • Mile 4 – 13:59
  • Mile 5 – 15:32

Luckily I didn’t have any further problems the rest of the race, but I already knew that with those two slow miles I’d be finishing in over 2:30 and wasn’t feeling any desire to push myself at all. It was definitely more like a long training run than a race. Especially after the crowd thinned out and the course widened, I somehow found myself at an in between spot and for a long time I couldn’t see any other runners out on the course. At least it was a nice day!

London's Run 2010

Here are a couple other course photos:

There were also signs placed throughout the course reminding us of why we were running.

The rest of my splits:

  • Mile 6 – 11:00
  • Mile 7 – 11:16
  • Mile 8 – 10:24
  • Mile 9 – 13:00
  • Mile 10 – 10:45
  • Mile 11 – 13:29
  • Mile 12 – 11:20
  • Mile 13 – 13:24
  • Last .16 miles – 1:37 (9:53 pace)

As you can see, I was all over the place! If I could redo one thing about the race, I think it would be to stick with a consistent run/walk pattern. Especially since the course was pancake flat it would have been easy to do. As far as I can remember, this was the flattest half marathon course I’ve ever run with absolutely no dips anywhere at all.

Eventually I made it to the end and even got a nice race photo. I’m actually thinking about buying this one.

My official time was 2:39:51, a 12:07 pace. I was 53/59 in my age group, and 488 out of 522 overall. It’s not a horrible time, but I would have liked to come in under 2:30. That’s sort of my general target goal since I usually don’t have a specific time in mind. Unfortunately there were no finisher’s medals, but I did get a participant ribbon. And ultimately, the race was a nice reminder to just be happy that I’m healthy enough to complete a half marathon.


Race Report – P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon

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???

Yuma Territorial Half Marathon

I’m halfway to Jupiter status! The race went very well and the best part is I don’t even feel like I ran a half marathon two days ago.

I found a friend who was up for taking a road trip so I didn’t end up having to do any driving. We left Friday night and made it to Cocopah Resort, the host hotel, about 10 minutes before packet pick-up closed. (I could have picked up my packet in the morning too, but it was nice to get everything taken care of that night.) Notable items from the goody bag were a couple Hammer Nutrition products and a pedometer.

In terms of convenience, I think this is the best race I’ve done. The start/finish line was outside the Cocopah Casino, which was literally next door to the hotel. It was maybe a three minute walk from the hotel room. I picked up my timing chip, did a tiny bit of warm-up and stretching, and slipped into the casino for one last bathroom stop. The race started at 7:20am. A few minutes before, we all gathered in the corral and after a five-four-three-two-one countdown we took off.

As you can see, it was still dark when we started, but it didn’t take long for the sun to come up. The course was an out-and-back. I thought it was too bad we were running west for the first half because it would have been neat to watch the sunrise. I was wearing pretty much the same outfit as I did for Rock ‘n’ Roll AZ last week. Unfortunately I didn’t take into account that this race was starting almost two hours earlier than RnR AZ. I warmed up a little once I started running, but I really wished I had kept my gloves on instead of leaving them with my friend. My hands were cold through almost the entire race. At one point I stopped because I had a rock in my shoe and my fingers were so stiff that a volunteer ended up helping me retie my shoelace.

Other than the cold, everything about the race went really well. I went with run .9 mile/walk .1 mile intervals. Mentally it definitely helped knowing that I had a walk break coming up, versus trying to run the entire thing. The only time I broke from the .9/.1 pattern was near the very end where there was a fairly significant hill in the middle of mile 12. I also took a longer walk break during mile 13 because at that point I knew I’d finish under 2:30 and didn’t feel the need to push myself considering that I have two more halves in the next two weeks. I started running again when I could see the finish line in the distance.

My official time was 2:27:58, an 11:18 pace. Surprisingly I felt really good as I finished. My calves were a little tender, but overall my legs were in much better shape than after last weekend. Not that I was trying to go hard or fast, but I expected to feel worse just by virtue of having covered 13.1 miles on foot.

After grabbing a bagel and some fresh fruit, I made my friend take a few photos of me with my new medal.

We also checked out the awards which were pretty cool. Since it was a small, inaugural race there were no age group rankings, just the overall winners.

To round out the trip, here are some random photos from the drive home:

The pretty desert landscape… I’m going to miss seeing views like this when I get to Baltimore.

We stumbled upon Dateland, AZ entirely by accident when we stopped for gas. They had all sorts of products made from dates, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try a “world famous” date shake. It was quite yummy!

We saw the Space Age Lodge & Restaurant in Gila Bend, AZ on the way down and decided to stop by for lunch on the way back. The food was okay, but the real highlight of the place is the theming, including large hand-painted murals on the walls of the restaurant and hotel lobby.

Sub 3:00

I’m such a bad blogger. I have all these thoughts in my head but they never make it out of there onto the blog. My biggest hang up, I think, is trying to include too much detail. So I’m going to try and keep this short and sweet…

Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona 1/2 Marathon
Sunday, January 17
Official time – 2:51:32

Yay, I met my goal of walking a sub-three hour half marathon… and I even had time to spare!!! Compare that to my RnR Las Vegas time of 3:42:37… what a difference six weeks makes!

Overall the race went very well. Suprisingly the time actually passed quite quickly despite the boring course and lack of an iPod. On Monday I was really hurting in the area at the back of my knees. My arms also felt a bit sore (I swing my arms a lot when I speed walk.) But today I’m feeling pretty much back to normal. I even got a short 1.5 mile run in last night.

Eventually I’ll post a more detailed report (and photos!), but this’ll do it for now.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas – Part 4

(Go to Part 3)

The one day of the week that I have the opportunity to sleep in and I can’t sleep. Ugh. Well, at least now I can wrap up this darn report. At this point I should just call it a photo essay instead of a race report. There really wasn’t much “racing” going on for me that day.

Anyway, I think right here I’m a little over halfway done with the race. I had to take a photo of this restaurant because it combines two yummy things… Chinese food and donuts!

The guy in the plaid shirt was handing out free beer. (No, I didn’t have any.)

This being Vegas, of course I had to get a photo of this Little White Chapel. The sign says they have a 24 hr drive up wedding window!

A little further along, I found another chapel at the corner of these romantically named streets… awww.

I got passed by a couple groups of running Elvi before I finally realized what they were pushing…  a set of speakers blasting Elvis songs. Guess it would have helped if I didn’t have my iPod on.

Now we’re back on The Strip.

At first I couldn’t figure out why I took this photo… But if you look carefully at the guy in the white shirt… it’s my first ever joggler sighting!

The Fashion Show Mall.

The guy in the gold suit did an awesome job directing traffic. He was still enthusiastic even after standing out there repeating the same thing for three hours. The split was at about the 10.5 mile mark and I was glad to only be doing the half. Even 2.5 miles seemed like a long way away.

After the split was when we started passing the more elaborately themed hotels again.

These buildings are part of the new CityCenter project… very futuristic looking.

Mandalay Bay is faintly visible in the background behind the New York, New York sign. Not too much farther to go!

It was awesome to see this billboard right before the finish.

Here’s a closer look at the billboard. I think part of why I rank RnR Las Vegas as my second favorite half (number one is Disneyland) is because of all the little (or not so little) touches like this. Even though it’s not aimed at specifically at me, it’s nice to feel like part of something special.

And 3 hours and 42 minutes later, I’m finally done!

I was tired and a little sore, but overall felt better than after run/walking my last half (RnR San Jose). After doing all the usual post-race stuff (photos, snacks, a bit of stretching), I headed back to the hotel to shower, pack, and grab some lunch before heading to the airport.

I really enjoyed this race and had a fantastic time during my short trip out to Las Vegas, although I do wonder how much my opinion was influenced by the fact that I was walking instead of running. Actually, I guess if I had to pick one course for a personal worst time, this was a good choice even though it wasn’t intentional. At least there was a lot to look at during the almost four hours that I spent walking. I definitely recommend at least doing the race once for the experience. If I was still going to be living in Phoenix, I’d consider doing it again. But now that I’m moving to Baltimore I’ll be exploring options for East Coast races instead.

BRCC Frozen Finger 5 Miler

As mentioned in my previous post, I’m up in Baltimore for a week to do some house hunting. Once I figured out the dates of my trip, I looked around online for any local races and found a small one being held by the Baltimore Road Runners Club called the Frozen Finger 5 Miler.

Out of all the seasonally named races I’ve done recently, this was the one that most closely lived up to the name. (It was warm and sunny for Frosty’s Run and the Winter Misery One Miler was definitely not miserable.) After it snowed here in Baltimore on Thursday night, I thought about skipping the race and just sleeping in this morning. But in the end I decided to suck it up and brave the cold weather. I really layered on the clothing… two pairs of pants, two long sleeve shirts and a jacket, and two pairs of gloves. Here’s a photo of everything I wore for the race, minus one glove that accidentally got left behind in the rental car.

The registration fee for the race was only $8 (for non-club members) and included these nice cozy gloves which I wore on top of my cheap Target gloves. I was glad to have this second pair because I probably would have really had frozen fingers without them.

The race was at Druid Hill Park. Maybe after I’ve lived in Baltimore for awhile I’ll stop being so fascinated by snow. But right now I just think the snow makes everything so much prettier. I took these photos after the race.

Originally, the first mile of the course was supposed to go all the way around the lake that’s sort of visible behind the fence in the first photo, but I think it got changed at the last minute because of the snow. I’ve never run in snow before! But most of the roads were clear and I only had to slow down slightly in a couple spots where I was afraid of slipping on the ice. I’m happy to report that 1) I ran the entire five miles… even up some nasty hills, and 2) I didn’t fall!

Before the race I was a little worried because 3.1 miles is the farthest I’ve run since being sick. I figured that I’d just stop and speed walk if I started getting tired. But it turned out that I felt good through the entire five miles. It wasn’t easy, especially on the hills, but I never felt like I wouldn’t be able to finish. In a way, I think the cold actually helped because it numbed some of the usual aches and pains. On the other hand, the cold prevented me from fueling up because it felt like too much effort to reach into my iFitness belt with all the layers I had on.

I took a GU Roctane before the race. (I’ve decided that I really dislike the blueberry pomegranate flavor, although I’ll still keep using it since that’s what they give out at Rock ‘n’ Roll races. But one of these days I’ll have to try the vanilla orange to see if it’s any better.) That probably contributed to how good I felt while running. I try not to use fuel products too much on a regular basis so that I get an extra boost from them on race days. I had another GU gel and some chomps with me, but like I said above I never got around to taking anything else. It probably didn’t matter anyway because 5 miles is a relatively short race. And my last mile was actually my fastest according to my Garmin.

  • Mile 1 – 10:07
  • Mile 2 – 10:17
  • Mile 3 – 10:34
  • Mile 4 – 10:42
  • Mile 5 – 9:42

The last mile was also predominantly downhill. 🙂

No official results yet, but my Garmin shows an average 10:18 pace for 5.06 miles. That’s probably pretty close to the official results because even though the distance is long, I forgot to stop the timer right away after finishing. I had a blueberry bagel afterwards that was really tasty, but a bit hard from sitting out in the cold. My jaw actually started to hurt after awhile from all the effort it took to chew.

I’m encouraged and excited by how easily I’ve been able to ramp up my running again. I hope I’m not taking it too fast, but so far I’ve been relatively injury free which is a good sign. I do have a slight ache in the ball of my right foot, but I think that’s more due to old shoes and insoles than anything else. Last weekend I splurged on custom insoles from Road Runner Sports that are working out well so far. I also ordered a new pair of Saucony ProGrid Hurricane 10s that should be waiting for me in the mail when I get back to Phoenix.

New Year’s Day 5k

To get the year started off on the right foot, I ran in a New Year’s Day 5k this morning at Papago Park. I took it fairly easy and just treated it like a training run. The race didn’t have chip timing so my official time was 33:24 (10:45 pace), but my Garmin time was 32:57 (10:24 pace).

Other than that, I don’t have much to say about the race itself. It was just a low-key, local event with about 300 people. The weather was cool and sunny, and the course was an almost flat, out-and-back mainly along the canal.

Afterwards I had a fun meet up with RunningLaur and her puppy so I could hand off the box of goodies from the giveaway. I may be joining her for the Sedona Half Marathon, but don’t know for sure yet because I’m waiting to see how things go during my trip to Baltimore and getting ready to move.

It was nice to get my workout done early because I spent the rest of the day playing Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction and finally finished it to 100% completion. All weapons, gold bolts, skill points, everything. I know that probably doesn’t mean anything to most of you, but trust me, it’s a pretty darn good achievement.

So for now, 2010 is off to a great start!