Run for Ryan House Half-Marathon

This is my 17th year of Spring Training ball (give or take a couple of years) and my second year of adding a second Spring Training trip to the desert. I justify the second trip by running a race – the Run for Ryan House Half-Marathon. Running and baseball – could there be a more perfect weekend? I probably should have read last year’s race report to refresh my memory on the things that didn’t go so well – big fail on my part.

Friday Like last year, I took a 6 am flight from SFO to Sky Harbor Airport. This meant a 3:30 am alarm. Once I arrived in Phoenix, I picked up a car rental and headed straight to Scottsdale Stadium to catch a G’s game. It’s also Spring Training for fans and I need to acclimate to sitting in the shadeless sun. It was much warmer than I expected (80's) and needless to say, by the time the game was over, I was exhausted.

From the ballpark I headed to DC Ranch in North Scottsdale to pick up my race packet. The race holds a tiny outdoor expo and I was in/out of there within 15 minutes. Then I sat in Phoenix traffic for a 1+ as I made my way to the West Valley where I stayed on this trip.

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{raffle boxes - each runner got 1 raffle ticket but could purchase more}

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Saturday

Pre-Race: I managed to get almost 7 hours of sleep, but like last year, when the alarm went off at 5 am, the last thing I wanted to do was run a race. I dragged myself out of bed, got ready and had a bagel and downed peanut butter breakfast. I have not had much of an appetite the past couple of weeks and had to force myself to even eat half a bagel.

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We were on the road by 5:45 am, which should’ve gotten us to Scottsdale by 6:15 am – plenty of time to park, use the port-a-potties , stretch, etc. However, the great state of Arizona decided to shut down a massive portion of the freeway (who does that?!?) for road construction and we had to take a 30-minute detour. Once we got on the freeway, I had complete disregard for their 55 mph speed limit and booked it. We got to the race with just a few minutes to spare and I didn’t have time to do my usual pre-race business.

The Race

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Right after I had gotten there, the half’ers were called to the starting area and we were off.

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The first 2 miles were downhill. I didn’t want to get caught up in the hype and take off so I hung back and just cruised along. It had been cold and breezy before the start, but once we got going, it was nice – 58 degrees.

Although this was my 11th half-marathon, each one presents new experiences. Today, for the first time, I had to pee really bad during the race. So at Mile 3 I had my first sighting of a port-a-potty and took off for it. The line was about 4-5 people deep and cost me a few minutes. Mile 3 was also the first hill, albeit it wasn’t too bad at all.

The course leveled out at Mile 4, and then hit another hill at Mile 5. It was definitely the steepest climb of the race – and that is saying a lot because there was a lot of climbing.

Miles 6 to 7 ½ were downhill but I tried to stay controlled and not completely let loose and crush my quads.

Miles 7 ½ to 11 was one steady climb. This was the “challenging” part that the race organizers had described. Along the way I kept asking people how much more climbing there would be; I may or may not have cursed out an officer for giving me a smartass answer. ☺

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course

Somewhere along Mile 8 I just gave up the fight and just accepted the climb. It was there, not going anywhere and there was nothing I could do about it. While it was physically tough, it was mentally tougher because every time the course turned, I thought it would level out or go downhill, but it just kept climbing.

The temperatures were climbing and we all know how much I hate hot weather; i.e., I hate running in anything over 60 degrees (yes, I live in the Bay Area and I am spoiled – I know this). I stopped at every aid station for water and sport drink. So it’s no wonder that I had to stop to pee again, somewhere around Miles 10 or 11. Twice in one race after never having in any previous races! At least this time there wasn’t a line.

After the second potty stop my stomach started gurgling and I realized I hadn’t eaten any of the Hammer gels I had with me (usually at Mile 5 and 10). The thought of eating one just made my stomach turn, so for the first time, I went without eating anything in a race longer than a 10K.

The last 2 miles were pretty flat, except a slight climb on the last quarter mile. It wasn’t much, but after all the climbing we did, I was over it. That last bit of mileage also had some twists and turns and I felt like the Finish Line kept eluding me. I had also set my Garmin to count down the miles, forgetting to add in that last .1 miles so although my Garmin read “Workout Complete”, I wasn’t quite there yet.

I finally crossed at 2:19:11 (Garmin reading). Or 2:21:18 (Buckeye Outdoors reading). Or 2:20:17 (chip reading). Take your pick.

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{wore my new shirt from Skinny Runner - a fun blog to read!}

I’ve been thinking about this all day, and I think this was the most challenging course I’ve run. The LA County Half was tough too, but I also wasn’t trained very well for it. This race was my third half in 5 weeks, and although they were all very different races, I felt way more conditioned for this one than LA one. My legs are the most sore after this race than the preceding 2, but I think if I had been mentally tougher, I would have fared much better.

That being said, there’s always opportunities to try again, and my next half-marathon will be in 3 weeks at the Oakland Running Festival!

As far as the race it self, I would definitely recommend running it:

- It is very well-organized. - They actively participate in social media (Facebook & Twitter) to keep you updated and are very quick to respond to questions. - The goody bag is full of coupons and goodies such as a chap stick, detergent, water bottle, etc. - The race shirt is a tech shirt that fits well. - There were plenty of aid stations that provided water, sport drink and energy gel. - There was traffic on the course, but plenty of room was allocated for runners and there are officers at every intersection stopping traffic for runners. I never had to stop once for traffic. - In addition to a 5/10K, they also offer a kids mile race to make a complete family affair.

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{how cute are these photos from the kids race?!?}

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- Nice bling!