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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rock n Roll Arizona Marathon 2012 Recap

Wow, I dont remember when was the last time I blogged about my race, been jumped off the blogging wagon for awhile and now I think I need to get back on it since the new year had just started. So for this year's resolution, I want to start doing my recap of my races again!!

Ok so this was my 1st marathon of 2012 and 94th marathon overall!!! I have planned to make my 100th Marathon at Pasadena Marathon on May 20th. Although I would love to make LA Marathon in March as my 100th since that's where I started back in 2001, but because of my busy running schedule, I cant squeeze another marathon before March to make it happen. So LA Marathon would be my 99th Marathon and Pasaden will be my 100th!!

So I have ran Rock n Roll Arizona ever since their inagural year back in 2004, but I only did their Half that year, then starting 2005 I ran the full from then on. So this year made me my 9th year going back to Arizona.

Saturday - 1-14-12
After only slept for 3 hours after I got off work at 10pm Friday night, I went to pick my friend up at 3am so we could start driving to Phoenix, yes you read that right, I started driving to Phoenix at 3AM IN THE MORNING!!!! I really wanted to get there early so we could enjoy the sunny Arizona weather.

So after about 5 hrs driving we arrived in Phoenix, then  we wanted to hit up this local restaurant called Los Reyes de la Torta, which was featured on the show Man vs Food!! They have some crazy mexican sandwiches with all kinds of ingredients in there, I ordered the regualr Del la Reyes Torta, but it was a bit too dry for my taste, but overall it was a great experience.

My De la Reyes Torta, plus a non alcoholic pina colada.

We then checked in to our hotel and rested for a little while before we headed to a nearby light rail train station to take the train to the Expo in downtown Phoenix. This was my FIRST time taking the light rail even though I have been to Phoenix for the past 8 years. But I decided that I didnt want to deal with the downtown traffic because there were other events going on the same weekend, so the traffic would be crazy down there. Taking the light rail would be the best choice to get to downtown.


Since this year is the Year of the Dragon, and RNRAZ is sponsored by PF Changs Restaurant, so at the entrance to the expo they were decorated with many Dragon theme signs. Since I was bored in the year of dragon back in 1976, I think this will be my lucky year. =-)

The expo was nothing unusual, we picked up our bibs, got our shirts, which was poorly designed, got our "goodies" bag, walked around a few aisles and grabbed some free samples, bumped into a few friends and chatted for awhile and we were done in less than an hour. Then we walked to the famous Alice Cooperstown restaurant Alice Cooperstown Restaurant a few block away from the expo to have lunch with 2 other friends. This place was PACKED!! Since this place was also featured on the show Man vs Food, I HAD to check it out!! One of their famous item was "The Big Unit", a 22 inch hot dog, my friend and I shared that gaint hot dog, it was pretty delicious, the baguette roll was toasted and the 22 inch vienna sausage was cooked properly, I really enjoyed it. I would say that would be carbo load meal right there, along with 2 beers, I normal dont eat or drink that much the day before the race, but I figured I should break some rules, I pretty much didnt eat anything afterward, and it was only 3pm, I was THAT full.

The Big Unit!!!

So after the lunch, we took the light rail back to our hotel and get rested for the race in the morning.

Race Day - 1-15-12

We woke up at 4am and  left our room by 5am to drive over to Tempe by ASU to take the light rail to the start. This year they decided to drop the shuttle buses and suggested us to take the free light rail to the start instead. Which make us have to walk a LOT further after we finish to get back to our cars!! For the previous years we parked across the street from the Finish Line and just took the shuttle to the start so we didnt had to walk too far after we finish to our cars. So after we parked at the parking lot inside ASU, we made our short walk to the light rail station and hopped on the train. They have trains running every 10 mins or so from 5am to 7am. Inside the train was pretty packed, we werent lucky enough to get a seat so we all had to stand for the half an hour train ride to the start. The train didnt really go straight from ASU to Downtown Phoenix, it had to make all the stops between those 2 stations so it was a bit uncomfortable long train ride.

After we got off the train, we made our way to meet up with other Maniacs for the group pic at 6:45am, it was pretty chilly in the morning, like around the 50s. I had my Wheaties Fuel jacket on to keep me warm. By 7am we head to the UPS trucks to drop our bags and headed to our corrals and get ready for the 7:30am start.

While I was on my way to my corral, I tried to turned on my Garmin, but it wont turn on!! Even though I charged it the night before, I tried to reset it a few times but it still didnt do anything!! I was so frustrated and thought my race would be ruined!!! So my other option was to use my regular Timex watch, which is not GPS enabled, so I would have to hit the Split button everytime I passed by a Mile marker to track my pace for each mile. I would have to run base on how I feel instead of how fast my Garmin tells me.

The race start was delayed by 15 mins because of some issue with the train I think. The first mile I was running a 8/mins pace, I knew I went a little too fast, so I made an emergency stop at the porta potty, I wanted to go before the race but I didnt want to wait in line, so I was glad that I went after the first mile. The first 5 miles were running on 7th Ave, it was a long stretch but they did have a lot of spectators on the sidewalk to cheer us on, so there wasnt a boring spot on that course. I was maintain my comfortable pace around 8:30min/mile, I tried to run my own pace and didnt want to follow any pace group. I finished the first 7 miles in under an hour, the weather was just PERFECT, cloudy sky the entire time, didnt see a sun at all!! Definately a perfect day for a PR, but my main goal was to finish under 4 hours since last year I finished in 4:05. 

I didnt try to take a lot of pictures during the race this time because I wanted to concentrate on my race. I was still running pretty good even though without my Garmin, I was able to keep up with my pace for longer than I exected, after 13 miles, I finished in 1:51, then I knew I might have a chance to finish under 4 hours if I could maintain my pace for 13 more miles. For the next 3 miles, I saw runners on the right side of the road running by after their made their turnaround at around Mile 16. After Mile 14, I finished in under 2 hours, and I noticed the 3:45 pace group was behind me, I tried not to follow them because if I do, I will end up running too fast and not have energy left for the rest of the race, so I just stayed with my own pace and be patience since I have ran the last 13 miles without a pace group, I knew I could do it again for the 2nd half of the race.

So after the turnaround at Mile 16, I could see all the runners who were behind me on the other side of the road, I always look for my friends and give them high five if possible whenever there was a turnaround. There werent a lot of spectators during this 6 miles out and back course, so it was kind of quiet the whole time, but watching the runners running by on the other side kept my mind off the race for a little while.

So after 20 Miles, I finished around 2:52, and with around 10K to go, I have a little over an hour to finish under 4 hours, that means I could run a 10min a mile for the next 6 miles and still make it under 4 hours. I wasnt gonna go for a PR, which was 3:50.55 because I didnt want to put a lot of pressure on myself, I just wanted to finish under 4 hours. So I just wanted to take it one mile at a time and make sure I hit my Split button whenever I passed by a mile marker. The weather was still perfect at this time, still no sign of the sun behind the clouds. I was still maintaining around 8:30 pace after 23 miles, which I was kind of surprise. Probably because I was doing some hill repeats training 2 weeks before, which helped my endurance level. After Mile 23, I finished at 3:18, I told myself I have 40 mins to finish the last 3 miles, if I run 10min/mile I could still finish under 4 hours. I tried not to think too much and just let my running do the talking. After I got my last few cups of water/gatorade at the last aid station at Mile 24, I finished at around 3:27, I told myself again that I have half an hour to finish the last 2 miles, I could run 10min/mile for the next 2 miles and still finish under 4 hours. We were running on Mills Ave on the bridge right above the Tempe Lake, which was a nice additional on the course since the Full marathon course from the previous year never got the chance to run on this bridge, only the half marathoners were lucky to run it during their course. So I was able to see the Half marathoners on the other side of the bridge finishing their race with only 1 mile left to go. After Mile 25, I finished around 3:36, again I didnt want to think about breaking 3:50, although I might have a chance, but I didnt want to mess up my pace, I just wanted to maintain my pace and not try to speed up. So after I make a left turn with less than a mile to go, I saw a lot of spectators were on the side cheering for us runners, both full and half marathoners, the course was well divided for the full and half runners, unlike RNR Vegas!! The full runners were running on the left side on the road and the halfs were running on the other side, even though it's less than a mile to go, I felt like the finish line was MILES away!! I kept my head down and just kept running my pace, then when I finally see the finish line after I made the right turn into ASU,  I told myself to NOT sprint to the finish since I was afraid I would pull a muscle or something, so I just ran with my hands raise up and crossed the finish line at  3:47.02!!!! A NEW PR!!!!!

My extra Desert Double Down Medal for completing both RNRLV and RNRAZ

Here are my splits:

1-8:06, 2-9:42, 3-8:20,4-8:52, 5-7:55, 6-8:24, 7-8:27, 8-8:29, 9-8:33, 10-8:36, 11-8:37, 12-8:38, 13-8:21, 14-8:38, 15-8:41, 16-8:37, 17-8:40, 18-9:01, 19-9:24, 20-8:28, 21-8:29, 22-8:46, 23-9:04, 24-8:48, 25-8:47, 26-8:37.  

I have learned a good lesson after this race that I could actually run faster without the help of my Garmin!! So from now on I should run without my Garmin and just run my pace. So overall I really like this revamped fast course, will definately be back next year!! I have improved my RNRAZ time every year since I start running it in 2005.

2005 - 5:05.08
2006 - 4:43.57
2007 - 4:39.58
2008 - 4:17.55
2009 - 4:13.10
2010 - 4:27.12 (was bothered by my achilles tendon on my left foot, took it slow)
2011 - 4:05.41
2012 - 3:47.02!!

Next Race..............ING Miami Marathon, 1-29-12, My 100th Marathon/Ultra Marathon!!


  1. You did great, Mitch! I am so proud of you!

  2. Congrats Mitch for that new PR :)

  3. Great write up! Congrats on your RnRAZ time --- awesome awesome. I took up running again at the end of 2010. I live a block off of 7th ave and have always enjoyed being a spectator. This year, I decided to run the RnRAZ Half Mary. I loved. My sentimental favorite race is the Southern California Half Marathon in Irvine and The Temecula Valley Half Marathon. I ran 3 half marathons in Jan. I'll never do that again. Next year, the TVHM will be the day before RnRAZ so I'll be missing out on the race here. Something special about destination runs... Look forward to your next write up. Cheers!

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