If you’ve seen my instagram you now know why I went *all the way to Arizona for a half marathon* as someone rudely DM’d me. I’ve got a blog post going live later this week sharing more details of our embryo transfer or you can sign up to my emails for more on our surrogacy journey.
Yes I went to Arizona to run a half marathon. But it was about more than the race, it was about catching up with friends that I haven’t seen for 2.5 years +, friends that have had babies and other life changing events in that time.
I last ran this race back in 2019 where I also dropped from the full to the half marathon (Read that race recap here)
Mesa Half Marathon Race Recap 2022
Race morning is early. Luckily jet lag from the UK works in our favour for this race so I was already awake when the 4am alarm went and sprung out of bed to start drinking my ice coffee and getting dressed. At the last minute, Heather and I had bought some cheap throw away outfits from Walmart (I had brought a coat to leave at the startline but after seeing the forecast for the rest of the week, I decided to hold on to it!)
We stayed at the race hotel, the Hyatt Place which was pretty tired BUT it did mean that we had a 2 minute walk to the buses, breakfast laid on for the runners (we actually bought our own bagels, bananas and coffee but were glad to use the toaster & grab some cream cheese!) and utilise the pool post race.
Yellow school buses take you up to the start of the race, where there are heaters, plenty of porta-loos and bag drop up the canyon. This year the race had attracted some celeb elite runners including Molly Siedel and Sarah Sellers so Cortney, Tam and I decided to watch the start and then hop in to the race ourselves.
My goal for the race was to run steady and try to do two things;
- Run a sub 2 hour race
- Negative split
I am so grateful to my friend Tam who offered to run with me and effectively pace me through the race. Our plan was to aim for 9 – 9.10 minute miles for the first 10 miles, then gradually pick up the pace for the final 3, aiming to finish strong.
And we did just that. All our miles from 1-10 are between 8.50 – 9.09 – we walked through the water stations to stay hydrated and took Cliff Shot Blocks at mile 5, 8 and 11 (Black Cherry flavour which is not my favourite but am thankful to Liz who gave me hers after I accidentally checked my bag with my pack of Salted Watermelon flavour!).
I love this race, it’s not the most scenic but you are running through the Arizona desert as the sunrises. It could not be further from my usual running route. We came upon Claire and Rette around mile 5/6 and ran with them for half a mile before they took a walk break and we lost them.
Tam picked up the pace at mile 10 however it was too much, and I asked her to back off. I knew I couldn’t sustain the increase for 3 full miles, so we decided to incrementally run faster, crossing mile 11 in 8.50, 12 in 8.42 and 13 in 8.16 – with the final sprint finish in 7.06 pace (glad to know there’s still a little speed in there somewhere!)
On finishing we found the girls, including Kindal who had run a 1.28 PB! I was a little disappointed by the finish area after 2019s race was one of the best finish lines with full massages, French Toast from Kneaders and lots of other goodies. The race has changed organisers in recent years and although many of the on course and pre-race activation has improved, the finish line featured more photo opps than freebies.
This race is definitely a PB course, and I’d love to come back to actually run the full marathon some day! I was worried I would feel disappointed that I had run over 15 minutes slower than the last time I ran this race but honestly, I just felt proud. I was really happy with the effort I put in that day and although I obviously have a very long way to go, it was a good starting point. The whole weekend helped reignite my enthusiasm for running and boost my motivation to work hard for my BQ!
It can be easy to focus on where we once were, but that doesn’t help. All we can do is focus on where we want to be and take small steps to get there!
RACE DAY FAQ:
Packet pickup – from the expo on the Friday before the race.
Bag drop – there’s an area for bag drop that are brought from the start line to finish line
Aid Stations – water, gatorade and gels on course. There were 8 water stations in the half marathon, at mile 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.
Loos/Bathrooms –lots of loos at the start of the race and at every aid station along the way!
Cut off time – the race course closes at 1pm, giving 6 hours 30 mins for the half marathon making it suitable for walkers and runners of all paces.
How much is entry? Half marathon is $85 – $120 depending on when you sign up, full marathon is $95 – $135.
Post-Race – water, chocolate milk, stretching, fruit cups, ice-lollies – but missing the famous Kneaders French Toast!
Parking –all entrants had to get buses to the start. Parking was free at the bus pick up location.