Phoenix Half Marathon Recap

The trash bag flapped around me in the wind as I squinted my eyes to see through the dark. Where was the starting line? Not too far away, I could hear the reverberating voice over the loudspeaker—we must be close! Suddenly, my sisters and I turned the corner of a low, concrete building and were greeted by a crowded mass of runners huddled around heat lamps.

Welcome to 60 degrees in Arizona at 5:30 in the morning! We entered the throng of runners, ready to race the Phoenix Half Marathon this past Saturday, March 1st.

My sisters and I, coming from much cooler climates, had to chuckle a bit about the huddled runners. Coming from the sub-zero long runs in Wisconsin, the balmy 60 degrees felt amazing—even the threat of rain during the race didn’t scare me. In fact, I thought it might help me; I was afraid 60 degrees would feel too warm!

The garbage bag “dresses” we wore proved useful.

garbage bags before a rainy race

The slight wind and misty weather turned out to be a little chilly after standing outside for 15 minutes. Even we were glad for the heating lamps that we, and all the others, corralled around as we waiting to line up for the start of the race.

It wasn’t long before the Star Spangled Banner was being sung; beautiful voices echoed over us all, and a spark of excitement ran through us all as fireworks went off. What a way to get the adrenaline going!

phoenix half marathon fireworks before start

We headed for the start line. At 6:28am, the rain started falling. At 6:30 on the dot, the starting gun went off.

waiting in line to start running the phoenix half marathon

Five minutes into the rainy run, I clenched and unclenched my chilly fingers and wondered how quickly they would warm up with the rain. But just five minutes later, the rain had stopped and was replaced with an intermittent mist. It hadn’t rained in 80 days or so in Arizona, and although we had a few showers during our half marathon, it turned out not to be the water-logged run we all expected.

We ran down residential streets, somewhat tightly packed. I got stuck behind some slower runners and walkers a handful of times. Frustrating, but easy enough to quickly find a spot to slide around. I took in the humble homes; the desert landscaping right with cacti and stones; the groves of lemon and orange trees, which completely but happily surprised me. The birds chirped as the sun came up and lit our way.

I focused on how I felt—good, strong—and tried to stick to a consistent 10:30 pace. I went up and down but stayed somewhat close—good enough. Water and Gatorade stations popped up about every two miles, and I made sure to hit up most of them. Vaseline, kindly offered by a volunteer around mile 3, saved my arm from being chafed to death. {How did I forget this tank top always did that?}

Clif gel shots, licorice, bananas and oranges were all offered along the way by smiling volunteers. I grabbed a Clif shot to try on a different run, but gobbled down my trusty Shot Blox gummies as needed. I was amazed at how well the runners were supported, and thanked the volunteers and numerous policemen (and the few cheering fans who braved the cruddy weather) when I could spare the smile and breath.

Soon, I was nearing the 10-mile marker. I felt great still, and decided to kick it up a notch. I had been sticking close to my 10:30 minutes per mile goal, but I wondered how much further I could take it. I hadn’t been planning to race this half marathon or try for a goal time, but that itch surfaced and the push began.

Mile 10: 10:34
Mile 11: 10:17
Mile 12: 10:06

This was it. The end was getting close, and I stared out at the mountains in the distance. Glad to finally glimpse some Arizona scenery, I spared the seconds to slow down and capture the moment.

scenic view during the end of the phoenix half marathon

But not for long. I opened up my stride and continued the downward descent to the finish line.

Mile 13: 9:05

I sprinted past people left, right, dodging around like a little kid running around his parents’ legs. I smiled huge, feeling so strong and fast, hearing my older sister cheering for me—“Go Mandy!”—as I stared down the fast-approaching finish line.

Then a man’s voice behind me:
“Runners, move to your left! Make room for the first marathon finisher!”

I glanced back to my right to see a male swiftly approaching at the end of his 26.2-mile run. I sailed over the finish line at nearly the same moment as him, and grinned to myself.

smiling at the finish line

At least when I got home, I could tell everyone I had tied with the winner of the Phoenix Marathon.

Final half marathon time:
2:17:38 (10:30 pace, on the dot)

phoenix half marathon medal

Tips for Running in the Rain

I’ve been keeping a close eye on the weather for the Phoenix Half Marathon on Saturday morning. They’ve been predicting rain, and I keep waiting for that to magically go away—but just a few days out now, there’s a pretty good chance we’ll be slogging through 13 miles in the rain.

Which led me to start seriously thinking: What do you wear for a race in the rain?

Here are some tips I’ve collected (from my gracious, knowledgeable running club friends) on how to prepare for and run in the rain. I hope they help you, whether you’re running the race this weekend, or face a rainy run in the future!

tips for running in the rain

Before you start:

  • Mentally prepare yourself: You will be running in the rain, and you will get wet.
  • Pack dry clothes to change in to immediately after the race, so you aren’t freezing post-run.
  • If you prefer to run with music on an iPod, your phone, or other electronic device, find a way to waterproof it. Sandwich baggies, plastic wrap, whatever you can MacGyver up. If you can forego your tunes, do so—that’s one less thing to worry about on race day.
  • Use a poncho, or even just a large (clean) garbage bag, to keep you warm and dry while you wait for the race to start.

During the race/run:

  • Wear a hat. The brim will keep the water from streaming down your face and into your eyes.
  • Wear moisture-wicking clothes. Yeah, there will be too much moisture to wick away, but it won’t hold on to it and weigh you down like other materials. Plus, it will help keep some chafing away.
  • Use Vaseline/Body Glide on likely chafing spots: Legs, arm pits, bra straps, etc.
  • Don’t forego your water stops. Just because you’ll be soaked, doesn’t mean you don’t need to stay hydrated!
  • Embrace it! We don’t often go out running in the rain. Enjoy the feeling; pretend you’re a kid out running around in the puddles again.

After the race:

  • Change into your dry clothes that you so thoughtfully packed up before the race. Hopefully this includes some dry socks & shoes.
  • Refuel yourself with something to drink—again, that’s not just rainwater you’re soaked in, it’s surely sweat, too.
  • Celebrate! You made it to the rainbow… That finish line! 😉

Any tips to add?
Please comment & share!

What To Wear for Winter Running

The weekend is here!

I’m grateful for two days off, with nothing to do besides take down our dried up Christmas tree and decorations. {Which I’m a tad sad about—didn’t we just put them up?} We haven’t had a weekend without plans or a mile-long to-do list to tackle in so long—maybe since before Thanksgiving—so I will enjoy the R&R.

I started off my Saturday morning by making a comeback at my running club. I haven’t been able to run with them in weeks, so it was fun to be reunited!

With the wind chill, it “felt like” 8 degrees out, so I was all bundled up. What do you wear when it’s that cold out? It’s actually not too bad, if you dress properly. Even I was surprised! Here’s what I wore to stay warm in the super cold winter weather.

what to wear for winter running

• Underwear + baselayer shorts

• Thicker, weather-resistant running pants

Nike Element Shield Running Pants for cold weather running

You need thicker pants, or lined pants, in general to stay warmer. If you can find some with waterproof or weather-resistant fabric panels, they really help to shield your muscles from the cold wind, rain and snow. You could try something like this {pictured above} from Nike.

• Moisture-wicking t-shirt and long sleeve shirt
You want both shirts to be breathable and moisture-wicking, so that your sweat won’t make your clothes too damp—that will make you colder. Also, layering is key. You can wear both shirts to stay warmer, but maybe after a few miles you’re really warmed up and too warm? Then you can remove the long sleeve shirt and tie it around your waist. Done.

• Waterproof, lightweight jacket
Nike Sequence Jacket
My sister got me a waterproof jacket several years ago for Christmas, and it’s key to the cold workouts! Because it’s waterproof, it keeps out the snow, and also helps shield from the cold. It doesn’t have to be a heavy coat, it’s just the waterproof layer that makes the difference. Mine also has a drawstring hood, so if it’s super windy, I can pull the hood up and tighten it around my face. Sure, I probably look like a freak, but most people probably think I am a freak already for running out in the wind/snow/sleet/rain, so it works. You could try something like this jacket {pictured above), or even keep an eye out at Marshalls/TJ Maxx, as I’ve seen some there before.

• Gloves

• Ear warmers + hat
Since my hat doesn’t cover my ears fully, the ear warmers make sure they’re toasty, and the hat keeps more heat in covering my whole head.

• Scarf
Wrap this around your neck to keep it warm, and pull it up around the bottom of your face if you need to. I used it to help shield my face, with that wind yesterday.

• Tall compression socks
I don’t normally wear compression socks, but since they come up all the way to the knee, I thought they’d help keep my legs warmer. All my other socks are no-show, so my ankles always get cold. Any tall sock would work well.

• Shoes
If you have vented shoes, make sure your socks are nice and thick. Better yet, I saw someone yesterday who had taped around the toe box of their shoes with masking tape, to help keep out the cold air and flying slush. Smart!

It looks like a long list, and I guess it is—but it definitely made running in the “feels like” 8 degree weather not suck.

Happy {warm} running, friends!

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What do you wear for cold-weather running?
Any favorite items, like pants or jackets that you recommend?