February 29, 2012

Virtual race, running blog database, compression sock sale

This is a public service announcement of sorts.

Most important for today is that it's February 29th, Leap Year! And Life as a Running Mom is having a 2.9 mile Leap Year Virtual Run. With prizes! Enter your time by March 4th, and you are in. You can use your split times if you are running longer today, which if that is the case by the way -- awesome job. You rock!

Another cool thing you should check out is 2slow4boston and his running blog database. Living in a small-volume running blogger state, Alabama, I loved the search-by-state feature that helped me find people in my area. These are people who I might actually meet running out on the street one of these days, so it's really cool to connect with them through our love of running and writing. In fact, a lot of the people I found had just run the Mercedes race with me the weekend before I found them on the database. Sounds like the makings of a blogger meet-up for 2013! If you don't see yourself in the database, add your blog so that other people can find you.

Some of you may have read my review of Pro Compression socks.


I loved them, and right now Skinny Runner is hosting a giveaway for a pair. Because the likelihood of that happening is slim to anorexic, the real reason I am posting this is to tell you that you can get 20% off by using the code skinny20 at checkout. I didn't see the awesome star ones like I have available anymore, but they do have some other cool colors, like purple and argyle.

And if that wasn't enough fun for one post. Here is what we did for fun at our house last night.

Facetimed in the same room.

This lady made salad for our dinner. From start to finish, the whole creation was 100% her idea. 

Then I found a series of self portraits from Twin A. He likes to steal my phone from my nightstand in the morning and run away before I notice. I wonder how many times he has called Russia?


Looks like this guy has a Jesus hair bow.

Be the best race chaser

In my short running life, I've been blessed to have awesome race chasers help me through my longest, hardest runs.

My husband is a race chasing maniac. I wasn't convinced he would be after his first performance. My brother and I were running a little 8k so I could prep for my first half marathon. This was my first race ever, and I wasn't sure what to tell my husband about how to find me at the finish or where he and the kids should stand. All I could tell him was that I thought I would finish in about 45 minutes. Well, they got there about exactly 45 minutes after the start, and I had finished in 41:30. Race chase fail.

The number one way to be a great race chaser is to actually see your racer running. 


But it's still nice to get hugs after a race too.

I think I might have to enlist my husband at some point (after he stops working a million hours a week) to write a post on his new race chasing techniques because he has definitely upped the ante. Now he comes fully loaded: camera with multiple lenses and backup batteries, race course maps, iPhone to ping my location (I also run with my phone), cheerleaders (aka our kids) and snacks for the cheerleaders. Ever since that first miss, he has been determined to find me as many times as possible on the race course and has often impressed other race watchers with his timing. He will pull up and jump out of the car, and I will run by ten seconds later. It's all about the iPhone ping, baby. Not just all about the Benjamins. But those help to buy the iPhone.

He also picks waiting spots based on the type of photo he can get. He took my banner photo during the Savannah race. Take that, Brightroom.

The only thing I don't like about this pic is that my shadow is very T-rex-ish.

But I want to dedicate the rest of this post to my sister, who did an amazing job during her very first race chasing ever at the IMS Arizona Marathon. She even made journal entries to document her activities at each stop. I spent about two hours laughing with her over these journal entries.

My favorite part: just like the runners, the race chasers have to fuel.


Not only did she mark the race by how many cute outfits were ahead of me (see pg. 2 above), she photo-documented those outfits.

First place went to this girl.

At this point in the race, looks like they were buddies. I think she won for her awesome hair.

Second place went to this chica.

Wow, again better than Brightroom, and I'll give it to you for free. Call me, Sherry. You are working it in this pic!

Other things she instinctively knew would be important to document: my hair!

My husband never takes hair pictures. 

The best thing about having my sister as a race chaser is that our brains have a sibling/sister link, so all of the things I noticed and thought were cool in the race, she noticed too. And took a picture of each cool person, place or thing.

Cute girl just hanging out solo in front of her house cheering for us. Future marathoner? I think yes. But where exactly were her parents?

Fido gets inspired by the runners.

A faster way to the finish line.

Other race chasers. I might have seen them even more than my sister. That's me in the top left corner.

A yard sale on the race side of the street. Their only customers are the race chasers from above.  In case you guys were wondering, a blocked off marathon route is not the best location for a sale.

The only downside to her first race chase was that she missed the finish line. She was waiting for me at the above sale, thinking that I was coming, but I had already passed.


No surprise here, but she is hooked to race chasing. She immediately started talking about coming out to my race in Nashville, which is where she is from so she would rock that race chasing out with her insider knowledge. I think race chasing is like racing, as soon as you finish you think of all the ways you can do it better next time.

Dear awesome sister,

You are the best first-time (or all time) race chaser ever. You took amazing pictures and yelled at the top of your lungs to get my attention when I didn't see you. You had plenty of healthy snacks on hand and drove a million miles to get to my favorite can't-get-this-in-Alabama restaurant after the race.


You even loaned me your beautiful sweater at the end of the race even though I had already pointed out that I had dried snot on my shirt.


After you drove until 1 a.m. to get to Arizona, you weren't mad at me when I woke you up at 4 a.m. to get ready for the race. All of that with a five year old along for the ride!



If there were a Best Sister in the World contest, I would definitely enter you, and you would definitely win.

I love you so much!

February 27, 2012

Taking a rest day

Last night, I couldn't sleep because my stomach was cramping. Details, details, details. That's me skipping over all of those. Definitely I caught something that someone somewhere had, and now I'm taking an official rest day from everything, except this blog post, I guess.

It's 1:15, and I'm finally sipping some lemon-lime Gatorade, my first intake of the day.

The great things about a rest day are the books you can read without feeling guilty. Mostly I slept all morning, being woken up by an occasional toddler pouncing on my head. From their perspective, it must be crazy to not jump on the head of someone lying completely still in the same room as you. Crazy! So I sat up and got to work on this.


Thanks, Katniss, for making this day slightly better.

And if that doesn't work, I can just find random screen shots like this in my photo stream. This is a conversation between my husband and eight-year-old daughter. He was trying to teach her how to message him. Looks like she caught on.


This kid cracks me up.

February 26, 2012

Current top playlist picks

Weekend workouts: yesterday I made it out to a spin class and a Bodyflow class. Double whammy! This never happens because I only have two hours of babysitting at the gym, and usually at least one of those hours is dedicated to running. Our spin teacher reminded me that I freaking love that class, especially when we spin to "Proud Mary." I had to clamp my mouth to keep from scream singing the song for the whole class to enjoy. I was just that into it.

Today, I got to run 7 miles with some running buddies. So fun! I love running with people. The time just flies by, and they took me on a route I had never tried, which is always cool. On long runs outside, I constantly find myself saying, "So that's where that street comes out." And while I was at the eye doctor today, someone told me where they lived, and I responded, "Oh, I run by there sometimes. Literally." It's so cool to get to know a town on foot. Since we live in the burbs, I have more experience in downtown on my feet than in my car. Running know-how doesn't always translate to driving know-how or know-where, unfortunately.

Since the marathon, I deleted my old list of songs to add to my play list, and I'm starting fresh. I keep the list in my Notes app, and anytime I hear something that I like, I add it to The List. I don't mind having familiar songs in my play list, but I also want new songs every time. So here are ten new/new-to-my-mix songs that made it onto my latest marathon play list and that I love, love, loved.

1. "Beautiful" by Akon

2. "Krazy" by Pitbull ft. Lil' Jon. This one reminds me of my Zumba days in Florida. And I do believe they say, "Yo mama she gets crazy." So it could become the blog theme song.

3. "Switch Up" by Black Eyed Peas, unfortunately this is the only BEP song I can stand to have in my play list right now. I went too crazy with "Boom Boom Pow" and may never want to hear it again.

4. "Good Feeling" by Flo Rida

5. "Animal" by Neon Trees

6. "One Step Closer" by Linkin Park. I used to have this on a play list that I worked out to a bazillion years ago, and I've been craving it recently. It has just enough good angst for me.

7. "Like 'Em All" by Jacob Latimore. Never say never. Is it just me, or is this the black version of Justin Bieber? Or maybe Bieber is a white Latimore. Except Latimore Fever doesn't have the same ring to it.

8. "Wild Ones" by Flo Rida. You're lucky I only put Flo on here twice. It's just great running music.

9. "Tonight Tonight" by Hot Chelle Rae

10. "Good Life" by Kanye ft. T-Pain

What's your top play list pick right now?

February 24, 2012

Get rid of runner's diarrhea

My main goal with this blog is to not segue every single post into a poop story. It's really tricky, but I still try. Luckily today a segue isn't even required. This post is to tell you straight up the best ways to avoid pooping your pants during your long runs and races.

You don't have to be this guy. 

Source

When I first started running last year, I used an the indoor track at my gym. One of the first things I noted was that my intestines were very sensitive to the foot pounding. Luckily, there was a restroom close by so that I could take a pit stop anytime I needed. For the first few months, I stopped at least once during every run, whether it was three miles or ten miles. Over time, my intestines got used to the pounding, but I still suffered from extreme cramping and diarrhea during my races. Not good. 

Let me tell you now that a great way to improve your race time is to get rid of this problem.  

I credit my most recent PR to my properly functioning bowels. So if you have this problem, let's fix it so you can get a shiny new PR. 

First, what are the reasons behind runner's diarrhea?

1. The foot pounding, jostling, and repeated ka-clunk ka-clunking can irritate your bowels. 

2. Prolonged exercise directs blood away from the intestines to your muscles that are working extra hard, causing your bowels to not be able to properly process the remaining contents. 

3. Dehydration. It's cause and effect or symptom and cause. You get dehydrated and have diarrhea, which causes you to be more dehydrated. 

4. Foods you've eaten. Runners, especially distance runners, are constantly trying to determine how best to fuel their bodies during their running. If you eat too much fiber too close to a race, it might come barreling out. If you eat a type of energy gel that doesn't agree with you, you may experience diarrhea. If you drink a cup of coffee too close to race time, you may wind up needing to use the port-o-potty within the first hour of your race. 

5. Stress. Any time I have a game or race, I have to get in my nervous poop before the event. I thought it was just me, but apparently stress causes lots of people to experience nervous poops before a big event. 
So let's see what we can do to fix the problems:

1. Get more experience. The more running experience you have, the more your body will be able to handle all of the jostling and pounding. I have seen this in my own training. Now on short runs, my intestines don't complain at all, whereas eight months ago, I barely took a lap around the track before I knew that I would need to make a bathroom stop. Also, trying to increase mileage and speed gradually may help. Sudden jumps in either can irritate your bowels.

2. While you can't help that blood is being diverted from your intestines during long runs, you can leave those intestines with fewer contents to expel. This has been my main tool in cleaning my colon before a race:

Health Plus Super Colon Cleanse
Super Colon Cleanse contains: psyllium husk powder, senna powder, fennel seed, peppermint leaf, papaya leaf, rose hips, buckthorn bark, celery and acidophilus. Psyllium helps to absorb toxins in the colon by creating a spongy, gelantinous mass in the bowels. By swelling and absorbing fluids, it breaks down and moves waste matter stuck in the folds and crevices of the colon. A clean colon inhibits bacteria from surviving on human waste. Psyllium husk soothes the lining of the bowel and leaves a thin slippery film along the inner lining of the colon, which makes it easier for waste generated later to move along smoothly. Source

I take it the day before a race, starting in the morning, or if I am traveling, I take it the day before I am traveling to a race. It only takes me one or two doses (four capsules per dose) to get things moving. This has been my secret ingredient for bowel success in my last two races. We nicknamed it "colon blow" cause that's what it does. 

3. Stay hydrated. Get up in plenty of time the morning of your race to drink lots of water. Before my last race, I drank two glasses of water as soon as I woke up. Drinking water helps you poop. That's it. You have to take a PRP or a PRD (pre-race poop or pre-race dump). Some people like to drink coffee first thing, which provides the extra caffeine stimulant to get things moving. Before a race, I also drink a 5-hour energy drink which I try to take about an hour in advance to give my bowels time to react with a bathroom nearby.

Coach Joe English talks more about the PRD in this video. It's mostly a lot of poop jokes, but they sprinkle a little useful information in there. 



Season 2 - Episode 13 -- The Runs on the Run from Joe English on Vimeo.


4. Fuel properly and according to your needs. The great and frustrating thing about us is that we are all unique. What works for one person for fueling may not work for another. You may be sensitive to the caffeine in some GUs or the sugar in Gatorade. This is why our pre-race long runs are so important. It's a time to practice fueling as well as running. You may run better on Cliff bars and cinnamon bears. Another person may be able to only tolerate a peanut butter sandwich. Some other ideas are raisins, honey stingers, sport beans, granola bars, sports drinks, Shot Bloks, gummies, or whatever else you like and can tolerate while running. During a race, I drink whatever sports drink they provide, and I take GUs as needed. I drink water at the next aid station after taking a GU.

5. To prevent stress poops, try getting lots of sleep the week before your race. Do some yoga to relax. Lay out all of your clothes the night before the race, and set an extra alarm. Try to figure out what stresses you out most about an event and prepare for that aspect of the race, which hopefully will help you to have fewer stress poops. But actually, I'm fine with stress poops as long as it's not during a race. Before is good. During is bad. 

To close, I'd like to play Say the Dumbest (by which I mean Coolest) Thing Possible About Diarrhea. 

Source

Source

Source

"Our children should not have diarrhea." Really, kids can die from diarrhea.
I just liked this one because it was old-school Soviet propaganda. Source

Source

February 23, 2012

Strength training plus marathon training

Yesterday's workout: 1 hour of slow track walking, machines for arms, push-ups, 2 min. plank, lunges and squats. I'm trying to not run until at least Friday, even though I'm itching to start back. The old joints need a rest. 

My soreness from the marathon was gone, but now that I actually did strength training for the first time in forever, I'm more sore than I was after running 26.2 miles. Something is subtly telling me that I don't do strength training enough. That something is every muscle in my body. 

So now one of my goals is to strength train, especially with two hilly races in Tennessee coming up. I know I need the glutes, quads, and hamstrings to be ready to fire on those hills. So I'm going to do at least one day of upper and lower body strength training a week. When I write that out, it sounds slightly pathetic, but if you knew how little I was doing the last few months, you would be impressed by my upgrade from zero. 

I'm missing Arizona today. Being in Arizona for the race meant that I got to spend time with my awesome family who lives there. 

Aren't they cute? And there are even more of them not pictured. We are related to lots of people in AZ.

We did stuff like this.

Is this for real AZ? I didn't even know they had water.

My sister and me.

Running with the saguaros. Cause that's what you do in AZ.

Then this morning, I missed them when I ate some of the delicious grapefruit from the tree in their backyard. Those lemons are from the same backyard. And guess what? The grapefruit doesn't need any sugar. It is perfectly sweet. 


A bowl of AZ.

I got another treat in the mail this week from twentysixtwo.com, a forum for marathon runners. And you can get a stickery treat in the mail too. All you have to do is join the forum! 

Guess who's behind the sticker.

How much strength training do you do when you are marathon training?

Do you like grapefruits with or without sugar? 

When was the last time you visited your family?

February 22, 2012

IMS Arizona Marathon February 19, 2012

Love. Maybe if I hadn't met my sub-four goal, you would be reading a totally different post right now, but goal reaching induces positive race reviews from me. So there's that full disclosure.

I flew into AZ on Saturday and headed straight to the expo. When I think Phoenix, I think the expo will be close to my family who lives in Phoenix. Nope, it was an hour from their house. That city spreads large and thin like my breakfast crepes. The expo was easy to find with not much traffic on the way to and from. What I liked about this expo? Spacious rows. If I had to take my four kids packing heat (i.e. our giant double stroller), it would have been no problem. Also, they would have loved walking through the blow-up colon as much as me. We run a very poop-focused household. The downside of this expo was the lack of running gear. There were three rows of booths, but only a handful were even selling anything run related. If you wanted a free shoulder massage (yes, please) or a spinal check, you had lots to choose from, but there was not a running shoe for sale in sight. Although, I did manage to find a cool headband booth where I bought my first outrageously expensive and sparkly non-slip headband. Sometimes I feed my family for weeks on the price of that headband, $14, but it didn't slip a bit during the race. And now I have a pattern to use for making my own next time. Thanks, grandma's old sewing machine.

Look at those wide aisles.

The t-shirts they gave out weren't lady-size so they were big, but I liked that they gave out safety pins and printed your name on your bib. For some reason, my last couple of races didn't hand out safety pins. I thought that was required like reading The Scarlett Letter in high school. Everybody does it.

Front
Back

After the expo, I got to hang out with family (loved it!) and went to bed around 10:30, which was good for me. I woke up around 12:30 a.m. to let my sister, who was just getting in from Los Angeles, into the house. She was a saint to drive all that way AND get up at 4 a.m. to race chase.

Sparkly headband and nail polish (thanks, Bella!) to coordinate with my outfit.

Warning: I am the opposite of a morning person, so race day is always a stretch for me. Getting up at 4 a.m. is not my thing, ever. Especially when the total hours of sleep from the previous days equals one average night's sleep. We had over an hour's drive to the start line and wanted to give ourselves a little extra time to get there in case traffic got weird. I forgot this isn't a Rock 'n Roll race and that traffic would be the last thing we should worry about. Hear that, e-people? That's the sound of no traffic in Arizona at 4:45 a.m. So we got there around 6 a.m. with an hour to spare.

Me and my matroshka doll before the start.

I used that hour wisely by going to the bathroom 10 times thanks to two big glasses of water and a 5-hour energy drink. The start line was by a cute little town square in Buckeye, AZ, and a small grocery store and a coffee shop were open. Because my sister bought some crazily overpriced coffee, I felt good about using their indoor restroom over and over again. It was so clean and cozy that I could have napped or eaten breakfast in there. I used no portable toilets during this race. That is a victory right there. PR of zero port-o-potty visits.

So if you hate poop, look away now. Colon cleansing was the most important part of the race prep for me because it enabled me to run without bathroom stops and without extra glute flexing to hold things together for the intestines. Feeling on the verge of pooping your pants for ten miles really hurts your time. I know what you're thinking, isn't this supposed to be a race review not a poop-story (poop + history)? What you absolutely need to know is that I colon cleansed (more on this in another post) on Friday before I left home, and that combined with the awesomely clean bathrooms at the start line meant that my colon was totally clean.

Also,  I didn't need the bag check because we were able to park so close, and I just waited until five minutes before 7 to put my throw-away clothes in the car (to throw away at the next race) and head to the start. There was no parking allowed at the start, but we just parked temporarily while we waited. Then my sister drove to the next location. I'm not sure if they meant no parking there until the end of the race, but there were spots available when we arrived. 

The start itself was so easy. It wasn't crowded at all. There was no indication of where to line up for times or corrals, but I tried to stand sort of close to the 3:40 pacer with some vague idea of keeping them in sight. There didn't seem to be any starting hitches, other than the microphone kept dipping out for the girl singing the national anthem and a four-minute late start. People just cruised out smoothly and quietly, gliding towards the rising sun.

Smooth, uncrowded start.

Mile 1 8:22
Mile 2 8:06
Mile 3 8:04
Mile 4 8:16
Mile 5 8:16
Mile 6 8:15

These miles were sloping downhill through some farmland. I was running with no Garmin (just my Runkeeper app), so I was trying to keep it at a challengingly comfortable pace according to feel. I knew that the first half of the course was slightly downhill, so I figured that I would run faster during this section. No music for these miles. I just enjoyed the distant mountains (which we don't see much of in Alabama), the pink and blue striped sunrise, and the dry desert farmland we passed. What I didn't enjoy was the distinct manure smell during these miles. It would be pretty gaggy if I was sensitive to smells, but given my general colon situation, I'm not that sensitive to manure singeing my nose hairs.

Mile 7 8:10
Mile 8 8:11
Mile 9 8:19
Mile 10 8:12
Mile 11 8:18

I started the music going in the headphones and put my sunglasses on to continue the cruise downhill. This must be the most amazingly even pace I have ever kept. Part of that was that I was using some other runners as my mental pacers. There were lots of awesomely strong ladies running this race and several who inspired me from the beginning to end of this race. My other new technique was not stopping at water stops. I've always used these as a little rest before this race, but I wanted to see if I could save time by running through them. Yup, it saves a lot of time. It is a lot messier, but that's what indoor plumbing is for, right? I tried to make sure that my cup was pinched all except for one tiny hole so I got splashed less. Before I was just pinching it in the middle, and it would splash out both sides. I took pretty small sips and tried to finish a drink from each water station, but by the time I was done drinking them, there were never any trash cans for chucking them. My brother, the unofficial trash police, would have been disappointed that I was throwing cups all over the ground, especially in the neighborhood sections of the race. I took a GU from my pocket (I carried two GUs into the race) at mile 9. This race only gave you a GU at miles 11 and 19, which wasn't enough for me. At this point the sun was up, but the clouds were still covering so we weren't ever blazing hot.

Arizona race cheerleaders start young.

Mile 12 8:18
Mile 13 8:10
Mile 14 8:28
Mile 15 8:27
Mile 16 8:26

My pace started to slow down as the descent ended and the road evened out. I took a PowerBar gel at mile 16. It was a gross flavor that I just grabbed from the volunteer (back at mile 11) without even looking at it. It almost gagged me, and I thought I might throw up for a minute. Nothing. Good, so I kept trucking. I had already seen my sister a couple of times, which helped me to keep smiling. Somewhere around this time, the 3:40 pacer group passed me which freaked me out a little. Partly because they were loud (so many feet pounding in the middle of such a sparsely populated race seems loud) and partly because I was hoping to stay in front of them. A runner can dream, right? I tried turning off the music for a bit to listen to my performance, but I needed it again almost immediately to help my feet keep churning.

Still smiling.

Mile 17 8:41
Mile 18 8:44
Mile 19 8:33
Mile 20 8:36
Mile 21 8:56

Starting to slow down a little, but I felt like my effort was the same as in the beginning. I took another gel at mile 21. In between, I was drinking Gatorade at most ever stop, except for the stops right after my GUs. My mantra for this race was "you trained for this." Meaning that I was going to push it, and I could do it. I trained for it, and nothing was holding me back. My legs were ready to perform. Those were the things I kept repeating to myself when I felt doubts. "You trained for this. You can do this." Over and over and over.

Thank you, clouds, for keeping the sun out of my face.

Mile 22 9:09
Mile 23 9:20
Mile 24 9:28
Mile 25 9:28

At around mile 22, I got some toe cramping in my left foot. Yikes, but I ran it out, and it didn't come back as strong, though it never fully left. The water stops started coming closer together at every mile, and I gave in to the temptation to walk through the last three stations at miles 23, 24 and 25. I had started aching everywhere from the constant effort, and I was having a hard time convincing myself to keep moving. When "Sweet Home Alabama" started playing up in the headphones, Skynyrd gave me the extra push I needed. I didn't want to disappoint my family back in our sweet home, so I tried to keep it together.

Mile 26 9:24
Mile 27 8:50

At mile 26, my favorite fellow runner ran by and yelled some encouragement to me. It wasn't the nice banter from the beginning of the race; it was the growly "you better dig deep" stuff that you need to wake you up and realize that this is it! You better do this junk now! That was the key to pushing through that last mile. I loved how you could see the finish line from pretty far out, which is when I kicked it into my highest gear (not super high at this point). I was done with this business and ready to hang out with my sister. When I was close enough to see that the clock was still in the 3:40s, I was ecstatic!

Holy crapoly, I can't believe I sub-4ed it!

The end of the race was in another city square type of courtyard close to the Coyote Arena. I never noticed any arena because I was so distracted by moving my feet to the finish. They had cold drinks and plenty of snacks on hand. The medals were nice with Arizona's 100th birthday recognized on the front and a map of the course on the back, but the ribbon they were on seemed kind of cheap. My sweater hook grazed by it and got stuck in the ribbon because it wasn't woven very tight. Not a big deal, but it might get in the way of me wearing it all week. My sister said the announcers were saying things about each runner who finished, like "he just got engaged" or "this is her first race." She also said they played "Sweet Home Alabama" after I came through, but I was too freaking happy to even notice what anyone was saying or doing. Unfortunately, she just barely missed my finish. I have to dedicate a whole other post to what an awesome race chaser she was.

My super serious cheerleader.

After walking around to cool down, I went out to meet Skinny Runner who helped me win the entry to this race. She was the first lady to cross the marathon finish line, and we stayed for an extra minute to cheer her on at the award ceremony. Go, SR! I also got to thank the race director, Debra, who provided the free race entry. Super nice lady!

I'm surprised Skinny Runner stood near me. Look how funky dirty my shirt is!

Debra the race director.

Overall, the best part of this race for me was the course. The first half of the race was picturesque, peaceful and downhill. The second half was a little more urban with a slight upward tilt. The other runners were pretty quiet, but friendly at times. Even though we were sharing the roads with cars, the nice wide Arizona roads made that possible without any hitches. The only part I didn't like about the course was when our space on the road narrowed and I felt like I had to run on the pebbly shoulder of the road to give the occasional runner room to pass. I have horrible balance when it comes to rocks on pavement, but no slip-ups happened. It just made me slightly nervous. They told us that going on the outside of the cones would disqualify us, but I'm not sure anyone was enforcing that. On a couple of turns I missed cones because I was following other people or not sure how the path turned. As far as I know, none of us were disqualified, but our infractions weren't intentional.

The weather was absolute perfection, with a low of 46 and high of 66. At the very beginning, the sun bothered my eyes for a few miles because it was rising right in front of my corneas. I brought sunglasses and put them on soon after we started. I also wore sunscreen, which is a must in AZ, but we were lucky to have cloud cover almost the entire race.

There weren't very many spectators, but I had already decided that there wouldn't be any, so my lowered expectations were exceeded. The relay runners were fun and encouraging as they waited at their checkpoints. The volunteers were friendly and plentiful at the water stops, and the bibs with our names on them meant that I heard my name being yelled by lots of random people which is always fun for attention whores like me. It was also fairly easy for my sister to get to several spots along the race course to cheer me on and take pics.

I am so happy right now.

Final stats: 3:46:48, a new PR and 15 minutes better than my previous record! 75/304 overall, 4/22 age group. My half split was 1:47, and my average pace was 8:40.