Monday, January 19, 2009

P.F. Chang's Rock N Roll Half Marathon

Race: PF Chang’s Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon by Mike Miller
January 18th, 2009

Well… after several months of training and hard work Kimberly is officially a “half-marathoner”. Of course we are talking about the PF Chang Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon held here in Phoenix which she had a great run that was surrounded by a whole couple days of running focused fun. I too actually ended up running the race with her. Originally Clay was going to come into town to race and I was going to be the drop-off man, but he had an injury that kept him sidelined until just recently, so I stepped in.

The whole thing was more of experience surrounding the sport of running than a race per se. In fact, I would say things kicked off on Friday. You are required to pick up your race bib and packet before the race at the fitness Expo that runs Friday and Saturday. Knowing it would way crazy busy Saturday we headed downtown on Friday lunchtime. The expo was at the Phoenix convention center and was actually quite a lot of fun. After getting our bibs and packets we walked around all the booths. It was nice because almost everything was really related to running. The biggest was all the PF Chang’s official race cloths. Sadly most of the items just did not fit Kimberly, so she ended up with just a hat and a shirt that is more to wear than run in (of course you do get a regular t-shirt in your race packet too).

Some of the highlights of the Expo was the Cliff Bar booth (hey I got a free bar and you know I live on those), the ‘nutrition designed specifically for you via a DMA profile’ booth (cool), the ‘one more mile’ booth that has a ton of cool saying running gear, and finding some rub on ibuprofen. The show was actually so big a couple of hours flew by before we got out of there.

With an early morning wake up coming Sunday, we wanted to have a chilled out day Saturday so we decided to walk around old town Scottsdale. They had a special Art Walk for the Race and I was able to have lunch with a friend and business acquaintance that was in from Portland. It was a beautiful day and I think we spent several hours walking the shops and checking out the art before heading back to our side of town for dinner at Buca Di Beppo.

When deciding to do the race Kimberly joined a running group up at our club, and the group was all getting together (I guess as is tradition) the night before the race for a dinner together. They are some great folks on ‘the team that Kimberly has really gotten to know (and me too somewhat) over the last few months. The dinner was early (for obvious reasons), we all enjoyed some ‘pump up’ conversation, carbed’ up on a ton of pasta and bread and called it a night about 7:00 or so. We got home, laid out all our stuff – which is a ton, you would be surprised – and hopped in bed with hopes of actually getting SOME SLEEP before having to wake up at 4:00 tomorrow and head to Tempe. I emphasize try to get sleep because for both Kimberly and me it seems so hard to sleep the night before something like this. Kind of like Kids on Christmas Eve I suppose. But unlike Xmas Eve, we had to run 13.1 miles starting less than 11 hours time we finally crawled under the sheets.

Luckily, we both fell asleep fairly early for us and actually got about 4 hours sleep before we decided to get up (15 minutes before the alarms went off – not sure why we even bother to set them). We pounded the oatmeal, packed the car, and did everything else and were out the door headed to Tempe about 5 minutes after 5:00am.

Seeing the race is a point-to-point race, you have to park at the end (Tempe) and then get shuttled to the starting area (Downtown Phoenix). We got parked an on the bus without much issue. After a grueling 45 minutes we finally got off the bus in Downtown. We had the stinkin’ heater seats and as cold as it was outside we were about dying of heat on the bus before she turned it off at my request (I was sweating!). Being a little spoiled we headed over to a pre arranged location called Stage Rock. Basically it was a boxing gym with attached tents near the race start. The good was it had heat, bathrooms that you could get into within a minute (versus the 30 minute wait plus around the start line) and a good place to stretch, etc. We enjoyed it for sure and I think it helped having an inside place the last hour before the race to relax and have a coffee.

Thirty minutes before the race we started heading over toward the start. I needed to use the bathroom but with 30 minute waits and (was was by then) only 15 minutes before the gun, it wasn’t going to happen. Hopefully next year they get more facilities! Anyway, with 26 ‘corrals’ (places you are assigned from the start based on projected finish times) we darn near were running to get to ours. Kimberly was in 10 and I was in 4. When we got to corral 10, we had a kiss and I reminded her (and myself) to enjoy. This was going to be a riot. Yes it was something that would be tough for old folks like us, but we trained for it and we were going to enjoy soaking it all in.

13.1 Miles, a lot of bands, a ton of smiles, and a couple hours later Kimberly and I ran into one another again at the gear pick up area where we planned to meet. Each of us were wearing our finisher medals and a couple of big grins. It was really a special experience. Kimberly said for sure her favorite race that we have done to date. I dug the vibe of Bisbee maybe a little more but this was way special for me too. We both had remembered to soak in the experience of doing our first (of what I am sure will be many more) half marathon. We smiled, slapped the hands of the young well wishers along the run and huffed and puffed our way to some pretty decent times for old folks like us :-). There is no doubt this will be an annual thing for us. So next year, put it on your calendar and come out an join us.

BTW have I mentioned: I am proud of my woman!

Race Photos

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