Pat’s Run 2014

Today was the 10th annual Pat’s Run – one of my can’t-miss races each year. Every year I worry about the weather since it lands at the end of April and it can be really warm, but after a warm week, clouds, wind and a little bit of rain rolled in to make it pretty perfect. In fact, since that was the forecast, I actually had dreams about snow at the race last night! I guess I’ll find a way to worry about the weather either way!

With travel, a new job and getting sick in between (apparently a nasty bug was going around, but I also think it has to do with stress of the job sitch leaving my body), I haven’t been running recently so I wasn’t sure what to expect for this 4.2 mile race. The hills were tough, but my goal of finishing in 42 minutes was in the back of my head so I just ran through my mean side cramp!

The race typically backs up at the entrance to the ASU stadium for the finish on the 42-yard line, so I started to push it, but the back-up never happened and I was just about dying but couldn’t very well stop! My classic competitive runner came out and I picked two more people to pass to finish in 41:56!

My mom ran the race again this year too and I missed her at the finish line again, but we found each other in the crowd just as it was getting pretty windy and cold, so we headed back to the light rail to go home (NY subway-style…packed in with all the other race-goers)!

When I got home, my new treadmill was being delivered!  Hooray! After my push at the end of the race, I was pretty spent, but I gave the treadmill a little mile test spin. It’s great! Then I was like, “why am I on a treadmill? The overcast weather outside is perfect for running!” But, I was tired anyway so I ran some errands and now am having a lazy Saturday after my first week of work!

Advertisements

Workout Giant: Snowboarding

Sean’s birthday was at the end of February and his request was seemingly simple…a weekend ski trip to Flagstaff. Yes, Arizona has a cooler climate just two hours north of Phoenix, which is pretty neat in both winter and summer.

My only snow sport experience was snowboarding with a high school group over 10 years ago, so naturally, I was like, yeah, let’s go and I’ll snowboard and it will be great! Then as the weekend got closer, I started to think about how long ago high school was, I remembered the huge bruise I got on my butt and the feeling when my group wanted to go for one last run and I was no thanks, DONE, see ya at the lodge. I remembered that 17-year-old Megan was a little more fearless and didn’t think about how dangerous it actually was to fly down a mountain with a board strapped to both feet. It’s a good thing I found this AFTER our trip:

Penguin

11 Signs Snowboarding is Impossible

But, then I remembered that an ex once called me “naturally athletic” (not that I’ve clung to that or anything) and I was like “I got this.”

Then my sister (who has been snowboarding for years) told me to wear a helmet and the guy who rented us our equipment told me it only takes 15 pounds of pressure to break a wrist so when I fall (not if) I should fall on fisted forearms and I got a little worried again.  Spoiler alert: I didn’t take either of their suggestions, but I’m still in one piece.

Then I watched a YouTube video about how to get off the lift with a snowboard and I was like, “I got this.”

If you’re concerned that Sean was not around during all of this, remember his request was a ski trip. He hasn’t snowboarded and didn’t want to learn with me. I considered skiing with him so he could help me, but in my mind, controlling the two seems harder and I’d rather build on what I learned 10 years ago. We did stick together, but with no idea what the other person was doing.

So, we started on the bunny slope with the little people mover that mostly takes kids up and down. Fortunately on Friday it wasn’t too crowded, so I got to figure it out without running the kiddos over. I practiced strapping in, getting up, falling down and getting back up. Snowboard2 I Googled what direction goofy was because by shoving me forward and watching what foot I caught myself on, the guy at the rental shop determined I was goofy-footed (right foot forward). On the slopes I determined I was indeed regular and rode my board backward for the rest of the time.

Arizona’s been having a very mild winter (sorry, rest of the country), so the snow on the mountain was mostly fake and there was hard ice underneath, which apparently would make it trickier with stopping and sliding, but I pretty much got the hang of it! We graduated to the beginner hill with a real lift and I put my chair skills to the test. That was the only time I really wished I was skiing. I didn’t fall, but it was not easy to get off and navigate to a spot to plop down and strap back in. Meanwhile, Sean gracefully exited the chair and was ready to go, but waited patiently for me. This is seriously the worst part: Snowboard6 After lunch, we decided to try the bigger hill and since it was pretty empty, we got right on and headed up. And up. And up. The lift went on forever. Long enough for us to pull out the map and wonder what lift we even got on. Long enough to worry that it was the one that led to the black diamond trails. The lift went so high that we were in the clouds. No one on the lift in front of us, not too many skiiers and snowboarders below. It was pretty ominous. Sean’s afraid of heights and I’m afraid of black diamonds, so we were a bit of a hot mess until we got to the top, which was labeled Prairie Hart, the easy one, thank goodness!

At the top, we had to navigate around some narrow paths and trees to get to the easy part, but we made it and after all that anxiety, it was actually pretty fun, except that we got to the bottom way too quickly! How was it such a long (anxiety-filled) ride for not a very long hill?!

We returned to our beginner hill for a few more runs and called it a day.

Somehow in a ski town, winter is not high season, so we got a really nice hotel room at the DoubleTree for pretty cheap. We rested up before heading to dinner at the Beaver Street Brewery. We love Four Peaks in Phoenix so much, we wanted to check out Flagstaff’s version! My Enchanted Forest veggie pizza (with portobellos and nuts and brie!) was awesome. We were pretty tired from the day, but made one more stop for a drink. Collins Irish Pub doesn’t understand ONE drink because on Friday nights, it’s two-for-one! So, we stayed a little longer and watched a rain storm come in.

The good news was that rain in town meant snow on the mountain! They got about six inches overnight and on Saturday we headed up to the slopes again. For this desert dweller, the snow was an incredible sight (and on the first day of March)! I could have just watched that all day, but what an even better treat to snowboard in it! Day one/day two weather comparison:

Snowboard4 Snowboard5

As we were heading up from the parking lot, a family asked if we had our tickets yet because they had to leave, so they gave us theirs. I just love nice people and random acts of kindness (and being in the right place at the right time)!

The mountain was much busier on Saturday, so I was really glad I had some basics down. Aside from the downtime of strapping in, we were pretty consistently up and down and my chair exit got much better! I took two pretty good tumbles – one from trying to ride goofy again and one from trying to straighten out too much and go too fast – but other than that, I was doing pretty well. I guess the fact that I was getting brave enough to fall was a good sign!

The “wintry mix” was pretty consistent all day and the powder was much nicer to board on than ice. Eventually it started real snowing. I absolutely hate being cold, but I was bundled up enough that it didn’t bother me. By our last run, though, my hands were pretty miserable, but I was pretty happy because the last run involved cutting across to a different hill and over to the lodge and I got the navigation down! The day before I had just gone down to the bottom and walked back up! Hooray! Snowboard3 Aside from hating being cold, I don’t think I could ever move to a place where it snows because I also hate the idea of driving in snow, but fortunately Sean has seen much worse and got us safely down the mountain and we were back home in a few hours!

We got to see the tail end of the great rainstorm Phoenix was getting and on Sunday, it was back to jeans and a t-shirt (and now a week later, tank and shorts), but at least I got a little taste of winter! My only battle wounds were a small bruise on my ankle from my boots, a small bruise on my knee from a fall on the ice and knotted shoulders, but LBH, I always have knotted shoulders.

I was warned not to wear heels the day after snowboarding and I remember being pretty sore after the first time I tried it, but this time I really wasn’t. I would say that being naturally athletic and consistently active really helped my snowboarding learning curve. Not to mention my yoga balance and core strength helped keep me upright more often than not! I don’t want to relearn how to snowboard every ten years and can definitely see myself going at least once a year! Snowboard Next up…surfing! That’s the summer equivalent, right?!

Have you snowboarded and/or skiied? Which do you prefer? Which is easier?

Splash Mob 5K

Sign up for a race in July, she said. It will be fun, she said.

And it sure as heck was.

Splash2

Pre-race…still smiling, still dry!
(Rachel, the toucan to my left, was the one with the brilliant idea – to run and to run with floaties!)

When my alarm went off at 6am for the 7am Splash Mob 5K, I was not a fan. I had stayed up until 3:30 the night before – just drinking water, so at least I was hydrated – and that’s my own stupid mistake. When I was running in humid 90 degree weather, I was not a fan. When I finished (35:45, note to self: you can stay up until 3:30 OR run a 5K in the morning – there is no BOTH option) and was still actively sweating for the next 20 minutes, I was not a fan.

Splash1

The post-race sweat that never ends.

The only way to survive a summer race in Arizona is lots of water. Honestly, there could have been a little bit more…more splashing (at splash stations along the course, kids with supersoakers and water balloons attempted to cool off the runners) and more water stations [insert organizer’s excuse about the water delivery truck here] AND they ran out of bottles for the end by the time the last in our group finished.

Ready to jump into that Waikiki Beach wave pool!

Ready to jump right into that Waikiki Beach wave pool!

But, after the race, the water park that played host to the event, Big Surf, opened its wave pool. Those floaties actually came in handy as we waded in – our running clothes already drenched with sweat, so who really cared? – and set up shop.

My friend looked at me and said, “Megan, you look like you’re actually on vacation.” “Um, I AM for the next half hour.”

And then…”Hey, guys? We’re the only people left in here without kids.” My 30-minute, young-at-heart vacation in the wave pool totally made up for all the not-a-fan things about the race and it made my overall impression of the race a favorable one! I keep my race calendar busy throughout the year and 5Ks in particular can get a little monotonous, so I love races that offer something unique!

Other pros: I really liked the course. It can be tricky to create a course when the location was picked based on a landmark, but it was half-loop and half-out-and-back and included a golf course and a (man-made) lake. Also, I knew it was going to be a tough race, so having it on my calendar was great motivation to stay on track through these torture months.

I actually got in a bonus outside run last weekend when the humidity finally gave us some good rain on Sunday and it cooled to 80ish in the middle of the afternoon! You have to be ready to roll on rare days like that!

Berry Winter

Not so much in Phoenix, but it still gives me hope! Do you prefer running outside in hot or cold weather?

I’m kind of a wuss on both ends…my ideal range is probably 60-75! Do you live somewhere where that’s the year round temperature? Need a new best friend?!

Pat’s Run 2013

Pats BannerI look forward to Pat’s Run every year and my third race yesterday was another great experience! My mom and I lightrailed in with a few hundred of our closest friends and got to the start with just enough time to find and get in our corrals – Mom was excited to do this race again, but made me promise to run my own race this year and meet up with her at the end.

It’s always a solemn, but fun, memorial run and this year, just five days after the bombing at the Boston Marathon, it was an even more moving experience – the huge crowd of over 20,000 runners was so amazingly quiet during a moment of silence for Boston and a spectacular rendition of the national anthem.

I love the people that come out for this race and how they challenge themselves for 4.2 miles – army troops and patriots and firefighters, oh my!

Pat's

Feeling a little undertrained and knowing that in a crowded race, it’s sometimes hard to get space to do well, I just wanted to have fun. It wasn’t until I started that I decided my A and B goals were 36 minutes and 40 minutes. My Nike app kicked in at each mile with times that I loved to hear and I felt good. I loved the familiar course, the hills that I’ve hit during other recent races didn’t kill me like they have in past years and it was warm, but not as hot as I remembered it being.

At mile three, I decided to punch it, remembering that the course narrows and the runners jam up at mile four heading into ASU Stadium to finish on the 42 yard line and if I wanted a good time, I’d have to make up for that in the last full mile.

I was running pretty strong and as the course narrowed I found a few other runners determined to finish hard and got behind them as they puddle jumped, so I never really even slowed. Macklemore was my music of choice for the whole race and as I was heading into the finish line, this song kicked in…I highly recommend finishing any race to this athletic-themed crescendo, there’s actually cheering!

My official finish time was 38:12, perfectly in between my goals…woohoo!

My mom’s corral had to wait a while to start, so I walked around the expo for a bit before posting up near the stadium entrance to catch her. And of course I missed her! We discussed later that she was just behind a group of people running for Boston who were hauling a cooler speaker blaring Irish music, so I was a little distracted!

She finished in 54:11, beating last year’s time and said her race felt good! Great job, Mom!

Pats2

We lightrailed back to my car and had a fantastic brunch (hello, almond-crusted french toast, where have you been all my life?!) at Biscuits in Chandler and then pampered ourselves with mani/pedis. I can get behind this post-race tradition!

Workout Giant: Golfing

With over 300 days of sunshine each year and 250 courses, the Phoenix area is a golfing mecca. Even so, I’ve had a minimal interest in the sport, played nine holes a few times in high school and been to a few driving ranges since then. But, when my sister started planning a golf outing for my dad’s birthday and said, “you golf, right?” I just went with it.

My parents play with increasing regularity, my brother-in-law at least has his own clubs, but mentioned he had played once in the last five years, and my sister and niece (at the ripe age of 11 weeks) came along to watch. On the third hole, I asked if she had realized how long it actually takes to play 18 holes. She didn’t.

But, Saturday happened to be a beautiful day – our cold spell from last weekend warmed up to a fantastic mid-70s afternoon – and we headed out to Kokopelli Golf Club in Gilbert. They were running a little behind schedule, so we warmed up on the range until our turn.

Driving Range

Then our carts came up and my brother-in-law put his work iPhone on a “shelf” that actually was a hole down to the engine.

Cart

Fortunately, a staff member wasn’t afraid to reach up and find it!

Then we were off! The first hole was a bit of a learning experience, but eventually, I figured out the clubs, had a few good hits and even had some fun. I kept telling myself I’m naturally athletic, something I never would have imagined the last time I played golf, but I really do believe now.

I only lost a few balls early on. My biggest problem was not actually making contact with the ball. It’s a very small target dontchaknow. My scorecard included a lot of hearts and stars and other symbols in lieu of actual numbers. Either way, it was a great way to get some exercise and get outside to enjoy a day of warm weather and sunshine!

So, was it actually a workout? There were carts involved, but walking back and forth to the ball and swinging (many, many times) for four and a half hours definitely felt like one! WebMD’s Fit-O-Meter tells me I burned about 850 calories! Afterward, all I wanted was dinner, a warm shower and to SLEEP! I didn’t even care that it was 9pm on a Saturday!

Phoenix Sister Cities 5K

Another beautiful fall weekend in Arizona…another race! On Saturday I did the Phoenix Sister Cities 5K which started at Arizona Falls (much less glam than it sounds) and looped around the canal in Arcadia. I signed up for this a while ago…so long ago in fact that I was apparently the first person to sign up for the whole race!

My schedule last week was ever-changing so I ended up needing to do my long run on Saturday (instead of Friday and using the 5K as my recovery run). The eight miles were all over the place, but it was important to me to get them done. I got up early and ran two with Rigo, then drove to Arizona Falls and ran one mile to stay warm before the race, three more miles with 100 new friends.

I just kept telling myself not to stop and really my body was fine, my legs felt a little weak, but my pace was more challenging to me mentally. I was aiming for a 5K under 28 minutes and (spoiler alert) I still hope to do that sometime this month, but Phoenix Sister Cities was not the place for it.

I finished in 29:35, so still under my standing goal to race under a 10-minute pace. Apparently their timing method was to take a tag off my bib at the end, but I didn’t know and had ripped it off before the run, so my time was from my Garmin.

I felt eh after finishing, grabbed a water and a banana and drove to my office (where I had left something very important!), but ran two miles around the neighborhood to finish my eight miles for the day! I felt great for finishing, even if they were more collective than consecutive, but I was ready to start my day feeling great and knowing I earned my dirty chai latte and then the beer I was about to drink!

I haven’t done a solo race in a while and this one made me realize how much more fun it is when I have cheerleaders or, even better, friends or family running in the race too, so fortunately I just found out Stacey is running the Fiesta Bowl Half, which is my only race coming up I didn’t have anyone yet! Yay!

The Fastest Half-Mile in the West

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit. I actually said it today because as much as I love my birthday month of August, I’m happy to see September and I’ve got some high hopes! But first, to finish August, in addition to my hot yoga sesh last night, I had one more little thing to do …

In July, I had no running goals..honestly, no real fitness goals at all except to take the pup for a long walk every morning or evening when it was cooler (you know, like 95 degrees) and get to the gym three times a week. In July I ran all of TWO miles. In August, it was time to get a little more serious and since I was starting up running again, I decided 35 miles was a good place to start.

Rigs takes after me in this sense…he must have gotten his run-like-the-wind gene elsewhere!

Running was not on my schedule for yesterday, but I added up my miles and was at 34.5! That’s just too close to not actually get there! And, yeah, I really did just run a half-mile, BUT I came home from yoga and my dog was being a crazypants, so even though it was still really hot and sunny out, I decided he could come along AND he picked the pace.

He runs like it’s the best and easiest thing in the world, so it was a tough half-mile (for me). And yes, I realize that not only are there athletes able to run a whole mile in the amount of time it took me to run my half, but there are super athletes who can run 26 consecutive miles at just about that my-half-mile-is-their-full-mile pace, but damn if it didn’t feel like a full-on sprint to me (3:56 for anyone keeping track)! A little butt-kicking every now and then is a good thing to remind myself what I’m capable of if I don’t let the mind games take over.

One of my high hopes for September is to get back in official training mode to help me prepare for my upcoming races – four 5Ks, one 10-miler and one half-marathon all before the end of the year! – so I joined the September Miles Madness Challenge! Ashley (She Runs Strong) and Cait (The Arty Runner Chick) made a bet to see whose team could run the most miles in September. All the runners have to do is pick a side and run their little hearts out!

I’m sure Cait is great, but Ashley is a Phoenix-area running and lifestyle coach and very involved with Girls on the Run Maricopa County…no contest! I’ve got a lot of miles on my training plan this month, plus I’m a smidge competitive, so…Go Team!

Are you running in September? Join me! Or join Team Cait and let’s get ready to rumble!

The Obligatory Heat Bitchfest

True story – the temps in Phoenix have been above 90 degrees every hour since Monday at 7am. It’s Friday. The extreme heat warning has been extended until Sunday.

I really try to bite my tongue all summer because I know how annoying it is come January when bloggers and Twitterers and Facebookers in the Midwest or Northeast complain that, OMG, it’s COLD.

And I get it, I know. I live in the middle of the MF desert because someone decided it would be a great place to randomly build a city and my parents randomly decided to move here from one of those godforsaken Midwest states many, many years ago and I was smart enough to get out, but then for some reason decided to move back and I shouldn’t really complain that OMG, it’s HOT.

BUT, it is just that part of the summer when it’s totally unrelenting and I’ve been complaining a teensy bit.

It’s been going on so long and the end is almost, but not really in sight. And by sight I mean a really tiny dot on the horizon. (My sister’s outside wedding last year on October 15th was the last 100 degree day of the year, so mid-October is about where I hold the end in my mind.)

Hey, wouldn’t you know? Complaining didn’t actually make me feel better. Another reason to STFU. Instead I shall road trip. Plane trip? Get the heck out trip?

You know it’s summer in Arizona when…

You know it’s summer in Arizona when the pool is deserted!

Kinda like this…only the exact opposite. Ew.

It’s not so bad right now, but as the heat wears on, it’s too hot to be outside and the pool start feeling like a bath.

After a few errands today, all I could think about was jumping in the pool and I was so happy when I got to my community pool after work and it was EMPTY!

It’s like having your own pool without the maintenance! And, when the pool is empty, you remember what it was like to go swimming as a kid. It’s just FUN! I even practiced my butterfly stroke and with no one around, I’m pretty sure it looked like I was the one who taught Phelps.

I didn’t stay too long, but long enough to cool off AND get my heart rate up and probably get my sweat on (I love how in the pool you don’t feel sweaty!). An active lifestyle doesn’t have to mean strictly planned, sweat-soaked hour-long seshes! Working out is fun…yeah, I said it.

Pat’s Run 2012

Last year, after cheerleading me through my first Pat’s Run, my mom said she wanted to do it this year and last weekend, she kept her promise to herself.

Pat’s Run is a crazy big race in Tempe to honor the Arizona State and Cardinals football player, Pat Tillman, who gave up his NFL contract after 9/11 to join the Army Rangers with his brother and was killed by friendly fire, which was then covered up. That’s the short story, but seriously, read Where Men Win Glory.

His football number was 42, so it’s a 4.2 mile race (and the kiddos have their own .42 mile race), it’s in the spring, it’s reasonably priced and it’s just a good time.

It is a little crazy with the 28,000 participants and I had to wake up at 4:30 to get to the lightrail at 5:30 to avoid a crazy traffic situation and spring weather is actually hit or miss in Arizona and both years I’ve done it, it was HOT, but I’d say it’s worth it.

I signed up to run with my mom and we were in the first of the joggers’ corrals, which took about 40 minutes to start…many people were finishing as we were just starting! Fortunately, ASU recently covered the starting parking lot with solar panels, so at least we were shaded while we were waiting, but eventually, we snaked our way up to the start line and we were off.

My mom had been training with the Couch to 5K, so she was ready for race day and I followed her lead (despite her telling me to go ahead) for alternating running and walking. She was really good about walking for a bit and I probably would have kept walking, but then she’d pick up the pace and we were off jogging again.  Her mental grit was awesome!

We ran the first mile, intervaled the second and third, then decided to run the last 1.2 miles, although we ended up walking into the stadium because it was really congested. My mom even got bumped by some guy with a jogging stroller who decided the narrow pathway and slower pace didn’t apply to him…really, dude?!

Oh, and yeah, the end of the race takes you into Sun Devil Stadium and you cross the end zone and run onto the field, finishing at the 42-yard line. When you’re outside heading in, it just seems like such a party, you REALLY want to get in there. There were volunteers and spectators cheering us on, there were ASU players giving our free high-fives (FREE!) as we went across the finish line. The energy (patriotism + local love + fun + football) at Pat’s Run is amazing!

Way to steal the pic, MJ! (My mom's next to me in the blue hat!)

We finished in 56:23, a 13:23 pace, and were promptly rushed out of the Stadium party (can’t very well have 28,000 people just standing around in there), got some refreshments and walked around the festival for a while before heading back to the lightrail.

Then we treated ourselves with Starbucks, mani/pedis and The Habit. The Habit is a fantastic burger (and veggie burger and chicken sandwich) place that was within walking distance of both of my apartments in California and FINALLY has opened a location in Arizona, just a mile from my parents house. Yum.

Unfortunately, the race high that came with the finish has been met with crickets, race season is over (unless, you’re a crazypants and are doing a mud run in May that doesn’t even start until 9, eek), but I think my mom’s and my motivation for our next races will survive the summer heat and we’ll be ready to fill our race calendars for next fall and winter!

[Obviously, I still haven’t figured out the “carry the camera and/or phone during a race” thing, so no pics, but when the race posts theirs, I hope to grab some good ones!]