Mesa-Phx Half Marathon 2/24

This was my fourth year running this race and FINALLY a year where I didn’t have major issues with either parking or leaving. I do know that some people did, but I guess I finally learned to bite the bullet and arrive early.

This is a point-to-point race where you park at the finish line and are bused to the start. The race started at 6am this year, with the last bus scheduled to leave at 4:45am. I know people had issues parking and that time was much later, as it has been every year.

But knowing that it was going to be a chore to park I had a plan:

3:10am – get up
3:36am – left my house
4:00am – at the Alma School exit
4:25am – finally parked (it’s maybe 2 miles from the exit to where you park and it was already really busy, but they finally had police at one of the lights which helped a lot. And this year I parked in a different spot to avoid exiting congestion.
4:35am – on the bus
4:55am – at the start.
6:00am – start

It worked perfectly. It was really, really cold and also did my waiting time differently than last year. I brought a robe this year which covered a lot of my legs which really helped. There were tons of heat lamps, but there were tons of people crowded under them too. But having an extra layer helped. The announcers at the start line said 6,000 people were signed up for the half, which did sell out. The finishing results only have about 3800 people finishing. The race was scheduled to start at 6:30am, but it was moved up to 6:00am to help get people done and out of the area before the Cubs game started.

The port-o-potties were in a different spot than previous years so you weren’t standing in the desert, hurdling bushes and such while you were in line which was another huge improvement.

The start was fun as usually with the national anthem and fireworks. I think they toned down the fireworks from past years though, probably because they were starting earlier.

The race started at 6:00am, sunrise was around 7am, but it starts getting light at about 6:40. I didn’t run with a headlamp and didn’t see anyone who was. There was enough lights with the street lights. I was happy to get started, to try and get warm. The start temperate was about 42 degrees. Then the coldest part of the day is right before sunrise and the temperature went down to 39. I could see my breath a lot of the race. It was pretty cold for Arizona and especially for this winter where every other race I’ve run has been much warmer.

This was has the best water stations. There is a contest for the most spirited and a lot of them are super spirited and encouraging. There also seemed like there were more spectators than in past years. There were a couple corners with lots of people on them which I don’t remember from past years.

The race is net downhill and it’s not a scenic course, but it’s a good race. I got the best time I’ve gotten in a couple years which was nice too. This race has the BEST finish line food! You finish, get your medal and then there is a runners area for runners food. There is french toast from Kneaders, Chick-fil-a had sub sandwiches (I didn’t know they had those one their menu), Cliff was giving out protein bars, there was Horizons chocolate milk, Sprouts was giving out Coconut water and chips, there were cups of Gatorade, and fruit cups. But, all other years Dickey’s had mac and cheese and pulled pork. Really missed that this year. Hope they come back next year!

Once you leave the runners area there is a big expo with more food to be had and prizes to be won, but I didn’t stay because last year it took me 1.5 hours to get home (the normal time is 30 minutes) because of the Cubs game. I wanted to make sure I got out of there fast enough. This year the new parking spot worked great and it was a super easy exit and new this year there were parking volunteers directing people on the easiest way to exit.

There were lots of improvements this year which was good to see. This race is in the middle of a 5 year series medal with the 5 C’s of Arizona (Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus and Climate) so a lot of people who are running are doing this series (me included). This was year 3, with two years left. Already signed up for next year!

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Blood, Blue, Super Moon

I got outside this morning to see if I could get some pictures of the moon.

I used my good camera, with the telephoto lense. Wish I had my tripod. It was hard to keep the camera still and I have a lot of pictures where there is shake.  Next time 🙂 Enjoy

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blood moon jan 31

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Coldwater Rumble 1/20/18 20k

I ran my second trail race today – the Coldwater Rumble at Estrella Regional Park in Goodyear, AZ. Yesterday it was sunny and 77, today is was forecast to only be 57. A huge temperature change!! But, luckily when I left it was 57 and it ‘warmed’ up to about 60 on the run so the cool weather didn’t hit as forecasted.

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The sunrise was spectacular! Absolutely stunning!

Estrella is a good drive from my house, about 45 minutes. There was a short wait to pay at the entrance station, but no big deal. Super easy to park. There were real bathrooms so that line was a little longer than the port-a-potty, but so worth it. Then had a few minutes to kill under the heat lamp. A man there was talking about the tough hills and elevation gain. I guess I wasn’t paying attention when I signed up, but there are lots of hills with an elevation gain of about 1,000 feet.

No gonna lie, this race felt all up hill, until the last mile or so. The downhills were into washes and steep so they didn’t seem like a break. But I feel like I had a strong race. I was strong on the uphill, not as great on the downhill.

The race was pretty crowded beginning and end. The loops joined together and many distances joined up. Then longer distances were running the opposite direction too. But I didn’t mind that. See others kept me motivated. It looked like it was going to rain, but held off until after I was done. This was a fun race and I’d do it again!

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Rock n Roll Half 1/14/2018

Happy Birthday to me! Running a half marathon on your birthday! Fun or Crazy? Well today was fun. This is my 3rd year in a row running this race and today was by far the best one.
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Easy parking this year. Every year we park in a different spot. This year we hit the jackpot and the lot we parked in this year was super easy to get to and no traffic. Since it was so easy we were early and sat in the car for 20 minutes. That is certainly better than sitting in a slow moving line to get to a garage.

Easy pre-run bathroom stop. Super easy! My son lives at a dorm right by the start. He let us in and we used his bathroom. Score! Real potty, real sink and great! I also left my jacket with my son too so I didn’t have to carry that!

Got into the coral with plenty of time. It wasn’t crowded and stood by some nice people. There were two men in camo on top of this building using binoculars to look for suspicious people.

Started in coral 6, we didn’t start until after 8am. I feel sorry for all those people who were behind us. Seems like it took awhile to start the corals this year.

The bands were better this year. I counted 11. No cheer leaders this year. Some fun signs and kudos to those few people who cheer for their runner then run to another spot to do it again. The best band is the drummers at the top of the hill. They are always amazing! The course is not too scenic until miles maybe 9-end when we are headed to Papago Park in Phoenix then into Tempe for the end.

Hubby was working again this year by the zoo. Got to stop and see him for a minutes too!

I got a medal for the half and the remix medal for running the 5k yesterday. The remix medal was really nice. The half medal is OK. Better food after the race too. We got water, Gatorade, Pringles chips, a granola bar, banana, and chocolate milk. There were lots of photographers at the end too.

We’re already signed up for next year!
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Rock n Roll 5k 1/13/2018

Rock n Roll 5k – January 13, 2018. First 5k of 2018! The course is beautiful!

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beautiful view along the 5k course

It’s easy to park. Plenty of port-o-potties. My friend Mary ran with me and she did packet pickup before the race which was also easy.

5 corrals for the start. We couldn’t hear the announcer so when the National Anthem played lots of people were talking, but quieted down half way through the song. There was no ‘start’ there were two poles and no crossbar with start on it. Very strange. But I have been there in past years when they are putting up the startline right before the race. Must have been too much trouble.

We were in corral 4. The race started at 8:00am and we probably got released at 8:04am.
We ran / walked. There were 2 DJ’s on the course and one band. One water stop. The band was fun and was interacting with the runners.
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The finish…..hmmm we crossed the finish line I don’t think there was a photographer there. We got our medals and then got a bottle of water, a single serving package of pringles and a banana. No Gatorade. No finish line photographers to take your picture on an official background. As a matter of fact no official backgrounds anywhere. Odd. A very sparse finish that was a bit disappointing. We didn’t even go back to the park (the band was playing) there was not much there.

Running with Mary was super fun. It was a beautiful day! The course was beautiful, but the finish was sub par. Onto the half tomorrow!

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Estrella Regional Park – two hikes on two days

Monday Jan 1st hike – Happy New Year! I celebrated the new year early, which got me to bed early,  which allowed me to get an early start on my New Year’s Day hike. I am running a trail race at Estrella Regional Park so I wanted to hike a part of the course and get the lay of the land. Estrella is about 35 miles away from my house. As expected there was no traffic out in the morning so it was smooth sailing down to the park.

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There are a ton of trails at this park. There are a couple trails you need to take to access other trails. Most of the time you end of on a string of trails – hence hiking Baseline – Horseshoe – Rainbow Valley – Quail and walked on the road back to my car. That hike was 8.5 miles.

Wednesday Jan 3rd hike – I ended up back at Estrella. I parked at the rodeo ground which allowed me easier access to trails farther in the park. I hiked Coldwater to Dysart to Butterfield and then back the same way. It was a gorgeous day for hiking. I was going to do a loop which was longer but I got a late start and needed to get home.

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I love the trail signs they have. Street signs for the trails!

estrella mtn sign

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Imperial National Wildlife Refuge

What a gem! We have visited a few Wildlife Refuges in Arizona and they have not been anything to write home about. The visitors centers are not open on weekends and are not usually onsite. There usually is not much to do and see on the refuge too.IMG_0094 Well, not Imperial. The visitor center is on the refuge and it was open today! (The benefit of visiting during the week!) It’s a 10 mile dirt road drive to the visitor center. The road is graded and all cars can make it to the center.

The visitor center volunteer was knowledgeable and helpful! There are three tortoise there, but even though it was 80 there today it is December and they are hibernating.

From the visitor center we went down to the lake. It was beautiful!

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Then we drove to the Painted Desert Hiking Trail. The road here was much rougher, but still passable by a car.

It was hot when we hiked. Again 80 at the end of December is really warm. The trail was pretty well marked and a nice break from driving in the car.

The road is adjacent to Yuma Proving Ground. There was always one blimp flying and we saw two on the ground. We also saw a lot of dune buggy’s and the drop zone for the HALO jumpers. Fun drive on a dirt road to a wonderful place!

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