Rock n’ Roll Arizona

Sometimes, I am an unintentional drama queen.

I kind of made a big deal out of not preparing adequately for this race.  But seriously. We only did 4 long runs (3 of them were under 8 miles) and our last long run was 3 weeks ago.  We did a total of about 4 speed workouts.  I was putting in a weekly mileage between 15-20 miles when I should have been putting in 35.  My sciatic nerve was bothering me (made worse by the 6 hour drive to Phoenix).  On Saturday I walked 3 miles in 4 inch heels resulting in 2 blisters. And did I mention that I bought new running shoes last Sunday out of desperation and didn’t really break them in?

Physically speaking, I was in no condition to run 13.1 miles much less run them faster.  I was, however, prepared to meet some hunky EMTs.

But, despite any reasonable explanation, 

I finished Rock n’ Roll Arizona in 1 hour, 44 minutes, and 54 seconds….A PR! (albeit a 44 second one, BUT A PR!).  I finished in the top 7% of the over 15,600 runners, and placed #52 in my division!


Does anyone else find this completely nuts? This isn’t supposed to happen.  Years upon years of research have shown exactly what you need to do to improve your speed.  I didn’t do them. I powered myself completely with an unmaintained base, positive thinking, good vibes from sympathetic people (THANK YOU FOR THOSE!), and the desire to not suck.  Apparently that was enough. Not that I’m planning to tempt fate again.


Rock n’ Roll Arizona

There has been a lot of bad press about Rock n’ Roll races recently because of the December Las Vegas disaster.  This was the first RnR race since then, so the pressure was on Competitor Group to redeem themselves.

Most people (at least the ones on facebook) agree that they did!

Honestly, this race made the other two I’ve done look like amateur hour.  Granted RnR had 6 times the number of runners and cost twice as much. But WOW.

The Expo 

SO. ORGANIZED.  There was no waiting in line for your bib, they didn’t run out of t-shirts, and every station was neatly labeled.  Lots of quality vendors, lots of giveaways, lots of discounts, and lots of informative booths. 

Prep and Pre-Race

Saturday evening we carb loaded at Oregenos, an Arizona staple for casual Italian food.  It was tasty.

Sunday we got up bright and early ate a banana, then headed to the village.  There were plenty of porta-potties and the gear check ran like clockwork. I felt very comfortable leaving my stuff there.

***COMPLAINT ALERT****  Because we took the Light Rail (Arizona’s cheap public transit which was suggested in all the pre-race information), we had no parking issues.  They even doubled the number of trains on Sunday morning. But apparently, some people had a hard time finding parking. Um, DUH! Any time you have that many people trying to get into one place, parking will be hard to come by.  We talked  to several people who said they had NO PROBLEM parking because they followed the suggested routes and allowed ample time to get there (the pre-race packet suggested getting there AT LEAST 1 hour before schedule).  I even heard people in my corral saying that they were stuck in traffic…but they still made it.  But a small, vocal group got stuck in a traffic jam and couldn’t get to the start line in time.  

Obviously the parking issue isn’t my complaint.  However, the officials delayed the race start.  The half marathon started 10 minutes late (which wasn’t too bad), but the half marathon started 30 minutes late! If you are warming up/eating /planning your day based on a certain schedule, that delay could really throw you off.  I appreciate the race organization trying to make everyone happy.  But why punish what appears to be 90% of runners who were there on time and ready to go for the 10% who weren’t?

13.1 Rockin Miles

I was assigned to corral #2,  so I didn’t have to zigzag around walkers and slow people. I was the slow people.

The course is new.   Aaron said the new course is much nicer and more interesting/scenic than the old one. You travel through 3 municipalities (Tempe, Phoenix, and Scottsdale). The elevation is mostly flat with a couple of long uphills, but after San Francisco, this was nothing.  According to the course elevation map, the first 9.5 miles are all uphill, but I didn’t notice until mile 8.

{I was trying to wave. Obviously not what happened.}

A signature of Rock n’ Roll is the course support.  Every mile featured a local band, and/or a cheerleading squad.   Plus, there were TONS of spectators all along the way, so you were being cheered on or sung to the entire time!

There were ample water/Gatorade stations and GU at mile 7.  (I’ve heard about 10 complaints about the water making people sick and tasting bad.  Arizona water tastes bad.  And seeing as how like, 10 people got sick and 20,000 didn’t, I’m guessing the water was fine).

I started to get a blister on the bottom of my foot from my new shoes at mile 4.  My knee and sciatic nerve started hurting at mile 7.  My body didn’t want to go very fast, and if I looked away from my Garmin for a few minutes, I would look back at it to find that my pace had dropped significantly (check out my pace chart above.  Bipolar speed  much?).

{Promoting World Peace? Lord knows what goes through my head when I’m trying to pose for the race camera.}

But, I repeated GO! GO! GO! GO! and THIS FEELS GREAT! over and over again in my head and  I actually started to believe it!  Apparently my mind isn’t all too bright. The miles flew by, and at each mile, I was in disbelief that I had made it that far. As we hit mile 12 (and really, at this point I am GOING NUTS because I only have 1.1 miles left) I picked up my pace.  I crossed the finish line to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin, checked my Garmin (GLEE!), and ran and jumped on Aaron out of sheer joy.

And then I got really dizzy and light-headed and thought I was going to pass out.  But I didn’t.

My mom texted me right away because the race website actually provides live updates for each runner as they progress through the course.  They knew our official times the moment we crossed the finish line!

In case you’re wondering how Aaron did, he came in at a “disappointing” 1:31:16.  He was sick all morning and didn’t feel well during the run or after, but I wish my good races could be as good as his bad ones.  He finished in the top 1% and was less than a minute off his Duke City time (which we actually trained for). He beat his San Francisco time by a landslide, and overall did really well considering he was combating a migraine the whole time.


Another signature of the Rock n’ Roll series is the concert.  After getting medals, Jamba Juice, Snickers,  Gatorade, water, and bananas handed to us, we made our way to the ASU stadium  to pick up our free beer (which, sadly, was Michelob Ultra…but we totally drank it anyway). 

The awards ceremony was inspirational. The third place female marathoner pulled her groin at mile 4, and ran the rest of the 22.2 miles in a total state of agony and STILL FINISHED THIRD! Completely insane.

The B-52s of Love Shack and Rock Lobster fame were the headliners (we were front row, center!).   The lead singer is adorable and rocks her fishnet tights and pink hair despite being 63.  Unfortunately, the male vocalist was rude.   Runners who raised lots of money for the MS Society got to be in a VIP area right in  front.   The male lead singer demanded that one of the fundraisers turn off his camera over the microphone.  I thought that was uncalled for.  He could have at least asked nicely without announcing it to the entire audience. But other than that, it was a fun show.

In other news, the race photos are already up which is UNHEARD OF! (I promise to order pictures, race picture people!).

So, that was our race.  It was a wonderful experience, and I hope to do more Rock n’ Roll races in the future (San Diego’s June race is seriously calling my name). I had to stop myself from signing up for another one right away (that’s how I got into this mess in the first place), but we will be taking a half marathon break for a little while. At least I can end my streak on a positive “PR” note!




25 thoughts on “Rock n’ Roll Arizona

    • Thank you! Though, I’m not sure what I’m doing with my hand up in the air. I thought I was waving, but it looks like I’m giving props to the photographers? I don’t really know why I always make hand gestures at the photographers when I’m running either. Who does the peace sign any more?

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  2. You might take the best race photos ever. Haha – I always look like death!!! Some of my best runs were on mornings after a party or too many cocktails…and after a week full of bad meals and awful runs. It’s SO confusing, but a nice surprise. Those few good runs don’t stop me from taking the time to prepare properly for a long run/race though!

    • It was a nice surprise but I keep wondering how well I could have done if I had actually trained! And thank you! You are too sweet! I didn’t post the other 10 photos where I pretty much looked like death!

  3. Congrats! I KNEW you were going to do well. 🙂 I love the Rock and Roll marathon series, and am filled with envy that you ran Arizona’s. I recommend San Diego’s. I ran the full, my first, last June, and loved it (except for the freeway portion, which is fortunately short-lived).
    Good for you. Now rest, massage, chiropractor, and look forward to the next one AFTER you rest. 🙂

    • Can’t wait to see the new blog. And thank you! Arizona was perfect for this time of year because it was so warm, and you could tell they were pulling out every stop for this race to make up for Vegas. Hopefully they keep it up. The course and timing for San Diego look good. Glad to hear you had a good experience there!

  4. Thank you! I always at least try to look happy and presentable in the finisher photos so at least I know I’ll have one worth sharing. Most of the course photos are not so cute!

    • Thank you! I would definitely recommend the RnR races based on this one (though maybe wait another year before trying Vegas). They really put on a good/fun event.

    • Thank you! I am pretty excited. I wish I had tried harder during the training part, but I’m still very glad that it wasn’t my worst race ever!

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