Sunday, March 5, 2017

Mesa-Phoenix Half Marathon

Last weekend a several of us traveled to Phoenix, AZ to run the Mesa-Phx Marathon. When I had originally signed up, my plan was to run the full marathon. However, due to an injury and a few setbacks, I changed my registration from full to half in January. Since Roger's training had gone very well, his plan was to complete the marathon with a PR.

We left for Phoenix on Thursday morning with another couple, who barely made the flight (whew)! Since we had a day and a half before our runs, we were able to explore Phoenix and do a few fun things.

After arriving, we drove up to South Mountain Park.  It was a beautiful drive with a scenic overview at the top. (Our friend had rented a convertible Mustang. It was very cool, but also quite tiny in the back seat area, so we drove our own rental.) Along the way, there were many hiking trails, but since our marathon was just a day away, we wanted to save some energy for our legs.

South Mountain Park
On Friday, we spent the afternoon taking a boat ride on the Dolly Steamboat.  Once again, the car ride there was filled with amazing scenery. We really enjoyed the 1.5 hour, six mile cruise. Along the way we saw a bald eagle hovering around its nest. The weather for the ride was perfect. It was a relaxing and peaceful way to spend the afternoon before the race!

View from the Dolly Steamboat

After our ride we headed back to the hotel to get our race things ready for the next day. We had hoped to go to sleep as early as possible, as our alarms were set to 2:30am (ugh!!!) This race is one that you must catch the bus to the half/full start locations by 4:30am, so we had to be ready early! Blake, Roger and I left the hotel at 3:30am and arrived in plenty of time to meet up with other friends and catch the bus by 4:30am. The full and the half both started at 6:30am, but from different locations. I was glad that we didn't feel rushed and were able to do a warm up mile and a half along with warm up drills before the race. The start was unique as both locations received a brief fireworks show before gun time! 

The weather for the race could not have been more perfect. Temps were in the mid to upper forties (perfect running weather) with very light winds. The morning was absolutely beautiful and everyone had amazing races. Roger, Blake, and David all ran personal best times and I came within a minute of a personal best for myself. My half marathon time was the best that I have run in five years. 

My second best half marathon finish at 1:41:47.
*Free pics provided by the marathon event!

After finishing my half, I was able to find Mindy and then Blake. The three of us were able to watch several friends finish their marathon. The most exciting was watching Roger blaze past us to complete his marathon with a personal best of 2:55!! (This time is fourteen minutes faster than his previous record. wow.) I'm so proud of him and the hard work that he put in training for this event. Congrats to everyone who attended the event and finished their runs. :) 

Roger...just past the finish line. 

Roger ran so well that he placed first in his age group and received an additional medal (it was HUGE). Before the awards actually started, many of us took turns taking pics on the award stand. 

While waiting on the awards ceremony, we took this pic for fun.  Thanks to Muscle Milk for making such tall stands! Ha! It was tough for Roger's post marathon legs to make it up that high. 

We enjoyed hanging out and visiting while waiting for the awards. While it had warmed up, it was still chilly for just sitting around. I was thankful for my post run warm clothes! After getting cleaned 
up and taking a short nap, we all headed to dinner in Scottsdale. We enjoyed tacos, chips, and some way hot salsa at the Salty SeƱorita. We even went for some treats afterwards at the Sugar Bowl.

Eating outdoors is awesome! Roger, Blake and Mindy at our "reserved" table. We didn't reserve it, so we made some good jokes about the sign. haha. 
Before we headed home on Sunday, we had to check out the amazing pool at our hotel. While we didn't want to get everything totally wet, we soaked our legs in the hot tub and then in the pool. It was  fantastic and refreshing! I have to add that our hotel, Grand Canyon Hotel, was one of the best that we've stayed in for a visit to Phoenix. It is run by the Grand Canyon University and students who are working on their degree in the field of management and hospitality work here for real life experiences. We would stay there again!

Last stop before heading home...the hotel pool. 



Warming up by the fire pit. There were two of these by the pool. 



Overall, this was a great trip! We enjoyed spending time with friends, seeing some beautiful scenery and running on an amazing course. Everyone is already talking about going back next year. 


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