“A little progress each day adds up to big results”
Oh boy, I don’t even know how to start this one. It’s been awhile since I’ve written a recap but this one comes with so many feels.
The last couple years I’ve ran a destination half in the winter. Key West in 2016, Disney Princess in 2017, and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do this year but I knew I wanted it to be part of a family vacation. My oldest son is at that age where he wants to see everything he reads about so he was asking about the Grand Canyon and the desert so when someone posted about this half I quickly put the two together, booked flights and a hotel and marked it down as a go.
We left to fly down to Arizona the morning before the race. With a 3:30 wake-up call, a long flight with the kids, car rental, and getting to the hotel, we were all exhausted by the time we got to the hotel. We were going to try for a nap before the expo but my little one was not having that(of course).
We headed to the expo which was at the Mesa riverview shopping plaza. It was outdoors and the traffic was crazy so my husband let me out and I went alone. I picked up a few little goodies and left because I didn’t want to spend too much time away from the kids.
I was really worried about getting to the buses in the morning because everyone had told me that the traffic is horrible even at 3-4 am and they had experiences of sitting in traffic for 30-40 minutes. I talked to the people at information about the best way to get there from my hotel since I would be taking a Lyft so that I didn’t wake up my kids or husband that early.
We stayed a hotel with a kitchen in our room which I like to do when traveling for races if possible. It makes it easy to cook my pre-race meal which is unlike most pre-race meals. I always eat a cheeseburger on whole wheat bread with rice. It’s strange I know, but it works for me and I eat it every Friday night as well before I long run. They had a grill at the hotel so Justin made the Burgers, I made the rice, and we had dinner and went to bed around 7. Early- yes – but with the time change it was really easy for everyone to fall asleep.
The 2:30 wake-up call came early. I got up quietly, got ready and was out the door by 3:20. My oldest son had ended up in our room that night with me and he woke up right before I left and said “good luck on your run mom” and it melted my heart that he woke up to just tell me that. I got a lyft from the hotel to the mesa riverview parking lot where you meet the buses. The traffic was not so bad at 3:30 but as we were leaving the parking lot, you could see a long line of traffic trying to get off the overpass. I would always rather be too early than stress about running late.
I should insert here that the night before I told Justin that I had never felt so confident about a race. I almost felt too confident and that made me nervous. I told the cab driver the same thing when he asked me how I felt. I just felt good, I trained well, the weather was going to be nice, and I felt like it was a day to PR. Every single race I’ve ever done before I doubted myself and my capabilities but this time I chose to believe in myself and honestly trust my training. People say that a lot but it’s really hard to actually do, this time I did it.
They had heaters to sit by to keep you warm at the start line so I did that and met some new people and friends from IG. At 5 am(an hour before race start) I mixed my Genration UCAN packet with my water and slowly drank that for about 10 minutes. I have found this to be the best fuel for long runs and races because I no longer need to fumble around with sports beans and GU’s and Gel’s do not sit well in my stomach. At 5:30 I went to the porta potty line which was not too bad and then dropped my bag and went to the start line. I should add they had U-Hauls right at the start line to drop your bag off so it was convenient.
(I was one of the first people to line up and leave the heaters…this was about 10 minutes before the race 🙂 )
They had music playing and fireworks at the start which was really cool. I knew I wanted a sub 1:50 so I lined myself up between the 1:50 paces and far behind the 1:40 pacer. When the gun went off, I found a groove and ran with it. It was dark so I didn’t want to keep checking my watch but I know I tend to go out fast so in the first mile I checked it a couple times and did slow my pace because at one point my instant pace was 7:05 and that’s too fast for me in a first mile of a half.
It clicked at 7:58 and I just tried to maintain that pace the entire time. Around mile 8-9 it was narrow in some spots and I could feel myself slowing a bit but didn’t want to positive split so I thought of all the things to speed me up. My family that was waiting for me and that had traveled out here with me. The early mornings that I wake up and sometimes struggle with and the 9 miles behind me that felt so good. One of the best things about running a half after you have done marathons or while you are training for a marathon is the fact that you run a half almost every weekend. The distance is not SO daunting!
By mile 10, my thought process really did change to it being only 3 more miles instead of 6-9 on a really long run and I knew I could push myself to finish fast. Because my A goal was 1:47 I didn’t really know where I would end up. I knew my husband had ran his first half in 1:45 flat and that was a 8 minute mile so if I could keep up those splits I would beat a 1:45 but didn’t know what my time would be.
I came around the last corner and saw the finish line and my family. I had told my son I would “Dab” when I saw him so I did that and starting “raising the roof” and kinda dancing as I ran! I was so happy to see the finish and I didn’t even look at my watch at that point until I ran through and hit stop.
1:42.43 is what my watch said. I was shocked, honestly I am still a little shocked. My hands were freezing, I couldn’t even stop my music or text the people that were texting me because they were so numb. My family found me and I said to Justin “wow a half goes much faster when you run it fast” that an obvious statement but it was the first thing I thought of. I just couldn’t believe my watch time yet and the tracking app was frozen for him so he couldn’t tell me what my time was. I looked down at my kids and their cute little signs they made and it made me laugh. They couldn’t get in the gates so Justin told me to go do what I needed to(take pictures, etc) and then meet him later.
At that point I had no idea what my official time was, finally a friend who had been tracking me told me the actual official time from the app because the QR wasn’t working or maybe I was just shaking too much.
Official Time- 1:42.41!!! PR CITY!
Looking back on the race, I feel like it was one of those races that you hear about all the time but rarely get. The weather, for me, was perfect. Some people were complaining how cold it was, but for this Michigan girl it was perfect running weather. The humidity in Arizona is so low compared to what I usually run in here even in the winter so breathing for me was easier. I had absolutely no GI stomach issues, which sometimes happens during races, and my mental game was just on for this race. I completely believed in myself!
I beat my 2018 goal of a sub 1:47 half in February of the 2018 and that’s an amazing feeling! I’m so truly thankful for my family, friends, and IG friends who have supported me and believed in me over the years.
I’m in full marathon training mode now and I would be lying if I said that Boston didn’t seem a little closer now. I like to set attainable goals and my written goal is far from a Boston time but I want to start fighting hard for Boston and believe that I CAN get there!
I definitely want to do Phoenix again but the full next time! I loved the race, the atmosphere, and everyone was just so nice!
The amazing thing is that I took 20 minutes off my PR in ONE YEAR and also PR’d all my distances in this race(except the marathon, of course)
Official stats: (helps with my footpod now)
It was such an amazing day and I’m so thankful that I was able to not only run such a good race but also thankful for my family that definitely puts up with my running obsession. My husband who watches the kids and my boys who just know it is part of me and cheer me on.
If you want to try the UCAN I talked about- I drink Lemonade flavor…I also drink the electrolyte drink after long runs and LOVE the bars!
The link is : Generation Ucan- 10% off
Also, I was sporting the Run Rum gear that day because as always it’s my favorite!
10% off with code “jessicah10” at Run Gum
I have a half at the end of March that I signed up for before Phoenix and I haven’t decided my game plan just yet. I main goal now is training smart for my marathon at the end of May so the last thing I want to do is injure myself racing. I rolled my ankle last week on the long run and it feels fine when I run but little twinges creep up once in awhile so I want to play it safe with that as well. Eyes on the prize- MARATHON PR!
Thank you to everyone who has reached out to say congrats and all the kind messages! Two weeks later and I’m still on a high!