Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Race Report: P.F. Chang’s Arizona Rock n Roll Marathon

My last post left the race ambiguous as to whether I would run the full or the half marathon in Arizona. To save suspense and keep some of you from skipping over the report (since it will be a long one) I’ll just announce up front that I ran the full marathon. Yes, you heard right, I ran the full marathon bronchitis and patella tendonitis be damned! I will say, I was doing the marathon shuffle pretty early on BUT I finished. My time was slow but I still beat my first marathon time by a few minutes. I finished the marathon in sunny Arizona in 5 hours 56 minutes and change…pretty good considering the obstacles previously mentioned. Not to mention I had the worst blister ever pop at mile 21 and my stomach started to revolt against me around mile 15 and I made several port-a-potty stops between 15 and 19. All in all, marathon #2 ended with a happy smile and a sprint/shuffle to the finish.

On with the report of the pre-race festivities and of course, the actual race report. Mr. Pi and I arrived in Arizona on Friday morning. We arrived to a warm and gloriously sunny day, temps in the upper 70’s (i.e. my idea of heaven). At the race expo we realized how many more people were running the half marathon vs. the full marathon. Mr. Pi was in corral #2 and I in #8 (in SD last year we were 9 and 19 or something). Later we learned that the half marathon had over 45,000 participants and the full marathon only about 9,000. We worked our way through the expo a little faster than we did in SD last year, we were tired, hungry and I still wasn’t feeling great. We ended Friday night with a beautiful sunset from our balcony at the Camelback resort, which was a desert oasis filled with cacti and other deserty landscaping.

Here are a couple of pictures from our hotel.

Saturday we had planned to make the 4 hour trek to the Grand Canyon BUT after sleeping in 2 hours past when we had set the alarm for we decided it wasn’t worth it (we’ll be back Arizona)! Instead we decided to go to Sedona for the day. The Running Knitter had given us some tips on places to view the famous red rocks of Sedona. We were NOT disappointed, it was beautiful! In addition, to driving to some viewing spots we also bought a red rock pass and found a trailhead and took a little hike up on one the red rock flats. From the top we had a 360 degree view of Sedona and its beautiful red rock formations. It was a great way to see the rugged beauty of Arizona. I got such a kick out of seeing wild cacti!!!

Pictures from our wonderful day in Sedona!

Sunday…race day! We woke in the wee hours of the morning…ate our oatmeal, I downed my coffee and we were off. Since we rented a car we decided to park at the finish line and take the shuttles offered to the start. I thought this might be a hassle BUT it wasn’t at all…we parked and didn’t have to wait but maybe 1 minute before hoping on a shuttle to the start. When we got off the bus at the start line we made the usual port-a-potty stop before heading to the start line area. It wasn’t completely clear where the corrals were set up…we wandered around a little bit before finding the UPS gear check bags and the marathon corrals. The marathon and half marathon started in the same place with the marathon starting one hour before the half. At T-30 minutes we shed our outer layers and headed to our respective corrals. As I waited for the race to start, I thought about what I wanted out the race and told myself that given everything leading up to that day I just wanted to cross the finish line with a smile. Before I knew it the Governor of Arizona sent us off into the desert sunrise.

Pre-race pics!

The first song on my shuffled playlist was Chariots of Fire, fitting I thought. For the first 6 miles of the race I ran 2 miles and walked .15 taking in water and Gatorade during the walk breaks, trying to stay hydrated since I knew it was supposed to be about 80 degrees. I felt pretty good, though my legs felt a bit heavy and I was coughing every few minutes. By mile 10, I was in a new race strategy, run 10 minutes walk 1 minute. I did pretty well with this strategy until mile 15ish, this is when my stomach revolted against me and I had to use multiple port-a-potties. Unlike in SD, there weren’t any lines and I really didn’t have any problem establishing my own space on the course (I am betting this was NOT the case on the half marathon course).

By about mile 17, Camelback Mountain was no longer in view, the crowd support had significantly weaned and we were running through the boring Phoenix suburbs. The course was as advertised, pancake flat, BUT it was also pretty boring. Running alongside Camelback mountain was the most exciting part of the course and that was over by what I call the “trying miles.” By mile 20 I was ready to be finished and wishing I had run the half marathon. My coughing increased and my knee started to give me a little twinge every now and then. At this point I had gone from the run10 minutes/walk 1 minute strategy, to 8/2, to 7/2, 5/1 all the way to run 3 minutes and walk 1 minute. I kept this up until about mile 24 when I threw strategy out the window and said whatever gets me to the end! The two things that kept me pumped during “the trying miles” were the phone calls I made to fellow running buddies and the comments on my running skirt! I got soooo many positive and uplifting comments about my skirt…I am soooo glad I decided to wear it! (I hope I made Cindy and Christy, owners of Runningskirts.com, proud. I certainly gave them more than a few plugs!)

I had a mini-meltdown at mile 25. I could see the ASU stadium where the race finishes and I saw so many people with medals around the necks that I just lost it. Only for a few seconds though b/c then an SUV with a bunch of girls that had run the half marathon started yelling “cute skirt,” “hey everyone, follow the skirt!” It was just the boost I needed to start shuffling along again. Then I saw it, the glorious mile 26 marker! I tried to pick it up a little as best I could. I rounded the corner and started scanning for Mr. Pi. I knew he’d be around to take my picture and I wanted it to be a good one! (Note: My husband is the most patient caring man ever, he finished in a rockin’ 3:28 and waited for over 2 hours for me to finish, sending a few texts of encouragement along the way.) Just as I saw Mr. Pi I also saw the woman in front of me drop one of her bottles. I scooped it up and ran after her reaching her before the finish line, in time to raise my arms up for a photo finish (hopefully the camera techs got that photo). The first thing I thought of was…Alisa, you did it!...despite all the obstacles to block you from this finish line, you crossed it! At that point, I didn’t care that my time was only a few minutes faster than before…I finished!

Here I am, almost finished, carrying an extra bottle to boot!

Here I am at the finish line, overtaking one last person =)...mwahahahaha, jk!

Mr. Pi and I post race, all smiles!

The day after. Monday was again gloriously sunny. I was sore but really not anymore so than after SD. My knee was sore but that was to be expected. At 8:00am on Monday morning Mr. Pi and were at the resort spa enjoying massages. By mid-afternoon I had had a margarita and was lying out by the pool in bathing suit soaking up the sun! We lazed by the pool pretty much until the sun went down…it was a great way to spend our last day in Arizona. (Though, we’ll be back to explore the Grand Canyon and maybe more of Phoenix too.) By Monday night most of the major soreness was gone, just my quads and my poor, gross looking pinky toe were painful.

Now that I’m back in Oregon, I’m missing the warmth of Phoenix but am happy that it’s at least a sunny day. On the plane ride back I was already starting to think about training for San Diego. I decided that I’m going to take a full 3 weeks off from running to hopefully heel the knee and overcome my cold. In the next 3 weeks I hope to concentrate on swimming, yoga and strength training. As for an SD training plan…that’s still up in the air BUT I’m thinking about trying the FIRST plan (suggested to me by RunnersRambles). It’s a 3 day a week running plan, which I think might be good for the knee, and it concentrates a lot on pace. Each of the three runs during the week has a specific pace. Since I have a pretty ambitious time goal for SD I really want to work on my pace, especially for my long runs.

With all that said, marathon #2 is under my belt! Here’s to recovery and planning for the next one.

I've been on a blogger hiatus and have a TON of posts to get through...but can't wait to read about what all of you have been up to!
Wild cacti!


  1. OMGOSH chica!! CONGRATS!! What an awesome awesome job. Especially given the circumstances ;D ;D GO ALISA!! YAY!!

    FIRST is good but it hurts. And that's all I'm sayin about that LMAO! (I use their plans all the time)

  2. Great race report but OHMYGOD!!! You ran a marathon with that mess of illnesses and ailments?!?

    You crazy, girl!

  3. Congrats again - it was so good to talk to you during the race! Better than obsessively refreshing the tracker page & feeling like a stalker.

    You did awesome, and I am excited for SD now!

  4. Yikes, you would have seen a 'DNS' or a 'DNF' attached to my name had I underwent what you suffered through.

    Way to tough it out chica. That marathon distance ain't no joke.

  5. you are so awesome :) !!!!

    CONGRATS again on marathon #2!!! you did so awesome esp given your circumstances... cant wait to see you ROCK SD!!!

  6. Way to go, Alisa! A PR is a PR, even if by seconds. You're one tough cookie!

  7. Sooooo fantastic!! You'd be right in thinking you're hella awesome because you had a ROUGH time getting ready for this B*tch of a race! SO proud of you! Can't wait to hear about it in person :)

  8. Congrats!! That is awesome!! Way to push through and run the full anyways.

  9. WOW! I am sooo proud of you for not only doing the full, but even PRing despite everything going on with you! Seriously, you are a marathon warrior!

    I cannot wait to finally meet you in SD! Let's kick SD's ass and take some names, girl!

    Rest up because you deserved it...3 weeks off is a great idea so you can be a lean, mean PR-making machine!

  10. Awesome job considering you were/are a sick girlie!!! I knew you would LOVE the weather(sick girlie like I said!!) But it sounds like you and hubby had a wonderful running vacation! How lucky you are to have a hubby that enjoys running! Wow-you are lucky!!

    Sedona is gorgeous. I'm really glad you got a chance to see it!!

    Rock on woman! Did you take the warm weather with you? Will you take it with you?

  11. Congrats on a great race. That is an amazing time on its own, then add being sick and having knee problems...dang girl!
    Enjoy your break from running. You should be extremely proud!

  12. Congrats on getting through it! I'm so glad to hear you guys enjoyed Sedona. :)

  13. Haha! Wild cacti...

    Those pictures turned out pretty well! I still think you need to make your pictures clickable though. :)

  14. congrats Alisa! Phoenix was my first marathon - reading your blog brought back a lot of bittersweet memories. The massage and post race margie by the pool was much deserved. Congrats. Thanks for rockin the new cheetah skirt! Hope to see you in SD - there's a lot of merit to the 3day training plans - more quality vs quantity miles. That's what I did last winter after having the baby...I was skeptical, but found I was well rested from not running so many "junk" miles and had better speed and endurance workouts. I ran 4x week.

    Hope to see you in San Diego! Keep up the great running & enjoy your 3 weeks off.


  15. Congratulations! Crazy girl, I am still shaking my head in awe that you decided to run the full-- and you did it! Enjoy your recovery. (Oh, and the skirt is SO cute, and so nice to hear it helped boost you up with the comments about it, too!)

  16. Yeah! I'm glad you got your wish of a smile on your face at the end!

    Congrats on running through all those physical obstacles! Wow!

    And that skirt is just too cute! :)

  17. Congratulations Alisa!! Great job on your second marathon finish. :)

    You did an amazing job of pushing through to the end doing whatever it took to finish with a smile on your face. I can't believe you PR'd with your bronchitis and knee issues... wow. You are so hard core!!

    The rest of the trip sounds wonderful too- so warm and relaxing! I love all your pics. The desert is surprisingly beautiful.

    Congrats to Justin too- that is an absolutely SMOKIN time! :O

    See you guys tonight!

  18. WAY TO GOOOOO!!!

    I loved the skirt!! I'm glad others "chased" it!! And post-race massages sound GREAT!! And then a margarita by the pool?!?! Why wasn't I invited to this party!!!


    Again, congrats!!!

  19. Congrats on getting out there and finishing!!!!Great race report too, you are such a trooper!

  20. now you are one tough cookie!!! I am pretty sure I'll be running SD too, can't wait to meet everyone

  21. I can't believe given the state of your health that you went ahead and did it! You have serious balls! CONGRATS!!!!! I'm so happy for you!

  22. You looked super cute! So glad you called me!

    Congrats on the pr!

    Can't wait to do SD with you.

  23. I have to tell you, I love reading your blog! I felt like a proud Mama reading your marathon story because I was just so proud of the way you persevered! I also loved the skirt, first thing I noticed! :) I hope you guys had a blast, even though you were missed on Sunday, I was thinking of you guys in AZ! Good job!

  24. Super congratulations!! You are one tough runner! Bronchitis AND injury -- you should be really proud.

    And, I LOVE that skirt!!

    Congrats to hubby, too!

    Rest up and get healthy.

  25. CONGRATULATIONS! I'm so proud of you for runnning the *full* marathon under all those harsh conditions. You rock!

    And your pictures in Sedona are absolutely gorgeous! I need to get there someday.

  26. Oh - and I would be *thrilled* if you guys did Goofy in 2010!

  27. Congratulations! I am so impressed you completed your 2nd marathon and you overcame a ton of obstacles! I loved reading your race report. Keep up the good work and good luck in SD.

  28. Congrats on #2!!!! Great way to push through and finish!!!! whooohooooo!!! Definitely take time off to rest...I took 2 week off with no running and have been sooooo greateful I stuck too it! Can't wait for SD :)

  29. Congrats on finishing the marathon on a very tough day. I'll bet that chasing your skirt helped a lot of other people finish as well. Great job!

  30. Congratulations! I love the cute skirt you picked and the pictures all look great :)

  31. AND FINALLY! I got down to your race report!!! I'm just catching up to all my blog reading and I KNEW I couldn't go to bed without reading your race report! Hey, you did great, considering the bronchitis and all. You are one strong lady!!!

    I need to go check out AZ one of these days. Maybe the RnR AZ next year?!?!?

  32. Greetings!

    How are you? Hope all is well!

    Anyway, I noticed you mentioned COMPETITOR GROUP (Rock N Roll Maration) on your site: (http://ambitiousaspirations.blogspot.com/2009/01/race-report-pf-changs-arizona-rock-n.html).We really appreciate the mention! I'm glad you wanted to share information about Rock N Roll marathon with your readers.

    Would you mind linking back to use as a reference for anyone that is interested in learning more? Here is the URL: http://runrocknroll.competitor.com/arizona.

    Please let me know if you will. Thank you so much and I wish you all the best! :)