Monday, April 6, 2009

Havasu Half

The second annual Havasu Half in Lake Havasu City, Arizona was on Saturday, April 4, 2009. I was glad my boyfriend agreed to accompany me as driver (and race photographer) since Lake Havasu City is about a four hour drive from Phoenix. We drove up Friday evening and arrived around 10:30, much too late to visit the expo or pre-race dinner. We stayed at the Quality Inn & Suites which was offering special rates for race participants. The Quality Inn was the cheapest of the three race hotels at $72 + tax. For our short one-night stay, the hotel adequately met our needs... the staff was friendly, the room was clean, and the bed was comfortable. I would recommend the hotel for anyone considering the race in future years.

On race day morning, we drove over to the designated parking area promptly at 6am. I wanted to make sure we had a good parking spot because the race instructions said there were almost 700 participants (between the half marathon and 5k) but only space for 200 vehicles. It turned out that I didn’t need to worry though because there were at most 30 vehicles parked in the lot. Everyone else must have walked, taken a shuttle, or found some other parking.

It was a short walk over to the start/finish line where volunteers were still working to set things up. There was almost no one around and I was able to pick up my race number and goody bag very quickly. The goody bag had my short-sleeved cotton t-shirt along with the usual assortment of flyers and a few other things including a sample of Tylenol tablets, a toothbrush, and a small bottle of E-Lyte Sport Concentrate. I stopped by the Gypsy Running tent to try on some running skirts before heading back to the car to finish my race preparations and grab everything I needed for the race… sunscreen, body glide, iPod, Garmin, etc. Then it was back to the start area again for a visit to the port-a-potty and some last minute stretching.

Despite what the banner says, this is the start of the half marathon.

The race started promptly at 7:30am. Going into the race, I didn’t have any specific goals in mind other than finishing and earning another medal. My second half marathon ever was a month ago on March 8 and between then and now I’d been dealing with a bunch of issues from trying out new shoes to a minor injury. Most of my runs had been at around a 10:30 pace so I figured if I’d be happy if I finished somewhere near my previous PR around 2:24. But as I crossed the start line I was near the 2:15 pacer and make a quick decision to try and stick with her for awhile.

The first four miles were a loop around the island that was created when the London Bridge was installed. Sometimes it takes me a mile or so to get into a groove, but today everything was good right from the start. The weather was perfect for a race. It was in the 60s and sunny with a light breeze. I had my iPod, but didn’t turn it on at first because I was happy enough to just enjoy the view and listen to the conversations around me. Around mile 3 I finally struck up a conversation with the pacer and another fellow runner and we stuck together for quite awhile. Typically I run alone and I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it is to run with other people. This was the pacer’s first time being a pacer, and my first time running with a pacer.

I'm in the middle, number 339. The girl to my right is the pacer. The guy on my left is a fireman from Lake Havasu City.

Just before mile 5, we crossed the famous London Bridge. The rest of the race was an out and back. Since this was a fairly small race, only one lane of traffic was closed for us runners. The volunteers were great at directing traffic and making sure we stayed safe. This part of the course had a few small hills, but overall the course was very flat. Some water stations had just water and some had water and Gatorade. I stuck with the water. Again the volunteers were great and the stations seemed to have plenty of fluids available.

I felt very strong and was keeping up with the pacer very well, even though she was actually slightly ahead of pace for a 2:15 finish. We chatted occasionally. I ended up not using my iPod at all during the race. At mile 8 I took a GU, then grabbed some water at the turnaround. I seem to have gotten better at drinking and running and was able to run through all of the water stations, only slowing down just a little.

After the turnaround, the other runner who had been with us the whole time started to pull away. But the pacer and I continued on together. Around mile 11 I finally started to feel tired and it really helped to have the pacer encouraging me to press on. By now I knew I was on track for a PR which also lifted my spirits. Luckily it was mainly a slight downhill from here to the finish. After crossing the London Bridge again we had less than a mile to the finish. With the finish line in sight, I somehow still had enough energy to sprint the last 100 meters.

Here I am approaching the finish. The woman to my right in front of the sign was celebrating her birthday by running her first half marathon.

I was very excited when I crossed the finish line... I could tell by the clock that I finished somewhere just under 2 hours and 10 minutes. Woo hoo! Official results have my time at 2:08:45!!! I got my medal, met up with my boyfriend, then went to thank the pacer because I know I couldn’t have done it without her.

The post-race spread was just standard fare – Gatorade, bananas, oranges, and bagels. I think my only gripe for the whole event is that there was nothing to spread on the bagels. Once I had recovered sufficiently, I saw that it was just after 10:00 and I had plenty of time to get back to the hotel and take a shower before check-out time at noon. I sort of wanted to attend the post-race party, but my boyfriend wanted to start the drive back to Phoenix and since he was doing all the driving I acquiesced. But we did make a quick stop for a few photos on the London Bridge...

Proof that I've been there, done that.

Additional Photos:

Firemen from the M.C.C. Fire Academy running the 5k as a group.

View at Mile 4 of the half marathon.


  1. you crushed your HM PR. Way to go. I wanted to do Havasu this year too. But, my schedule wouldn't allow it. Thanks for sharing your race report.

  2. Great Run Lisa - thanks for sharing. We would have loved to be there too, maybe next year

  3. Very nice report and pics! Do you have any idea how many people ran it?