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Mesa-Phx Half Marathon Race Recap

Apologies in advance for any tears you may shed while reading this Mesa-Phx Half Marathon race recap. But I promise they are both good and bad, so there is a balance! Typically my race recaps can get really long… and many times I enjoy looking back on those posts to remember exactly how I felt and what I experienced on race day — or the events that lead me to that race. I’d like to think today’s post will be different, because quite honestly, it’s all a fabulous blur… but I’m not making any promises.

First I’ll start by saying I had three goals in mind heading into the Mesa-Phx Half Marathon.

  1. Have fun.
  2. Cross the finish line and NOT feel like dying. (In other words, honor my body and not push it to it’s limits; hope all my cross-training and strength training paid off.)
  3. Beat last year’s time on this course which was 1:56:55, and the last time I raced this distance of 13.1 miles.

A time of 1:56:55 is not my PR; my PR is way back in 2013 and was 1:39:04. I highly doubt I will get to that speed again. So I needed to figure out a NEW place to start; a new set of goals for this year. This year is extra special to me, and I want to explain why.

As some of you may have read previously, on March 5th of 2016 our amazing dog Rocco passed away. Rocco lived a life filled with love, in a house full of joy and compassion. He was truly our furry child. I can’t believe he has been gone almost a year now. It has left a hole in my heart, which has been slowly healing over the days and months he has been gone.

After Rocco, the thought of running just didn’t appeal to me — at all. After he was gone, I didn’t run for 3+ weeks. It didn’t seem right. He was our boy, he was our family. We did everything together and now he was gone.

Mesa-Phx Half Marathon Race Recap

Found this little recap on my Strava data.

Our first run as a “family” of two, was a mix of emotions. That day on the trail I went from smiles to tears and back again — many times. It was a new world for Mr. ZR and I to explore. One where we weren’t burdened by the illness Rocco had been fighting for over 4 years, one where we could just focus on us.

Mesa-Phx Half Marathon Race Recap

Over the next 4 months I only ran about 15 times. Once my birthday hit in July, I decided to get back on the running wagon — but very slowly. I would run 3x’s a week, but only one or two miles at a time.

141 miles in 6 months (15 runs/hikes)
March – 2 runs, 8 miles
April – 6 run/walks, 31 miles
May – 6 run/walks, 20 miles
June – 1 trail race run/walk; 7 miles
July – 12 runs, 30 miles
Aug – 6 runs, 3 hikes; 45 miles

By September, I remembered I had registered for the 2017 Phx-Mesa Half Marathon. I wanted to be trained for the distance, so I set up a SUPER extended training plan to ease my body back into running regularly. I essentially took Hal Higdon’s “Novice 2” half marathon training plan, and doubled it. So what was originally a 12 week plan, I made 24 weeks. I allowed myself to walk in the first month, if needed. By October I was in the groove, but in November I got a cold and that caused me to take some rest days and skip some runs. Lastly, December is always a lower mileage month for me due to the holidays, but by Jan I was on FIRE and ready to really pick up my training.

418 miles in 6 months (86 runs)
Sept – 15 runs, 1 hike, 48 miles
Oct – 18 runs, 76 miles
Nov – 12 runs, 56 miles
Dec – 11 runs, 62 miles
Jan – 17 runs, 102 miles
Feb – 13 runs, 74 miles

I did it for me.

Mesa-Phx Half Marathon Race Recap

One more pivotal thing about 2016 I don’t want to glaze over. If you read my Heart Rate training update, you know that in addition to losing Rocco, we also decided to give one final big push towards starting a family. That was another reason it seemed to make sense to run less; to see if that had any effect on my conception chances. After giving it a solid 5 months of trying ALL the natural methods (you name it, we did it) we had both finally reached our limit. Unless you have ever tried for a family and been unsuccessful, there is no way I can fully describe it. Here are some words that come to mind, in a nutshell.

Failure. Flawed. Broken. Sick. Incomplete. Insecure. Sadness. Obsessed. Worried. Hopeful. Disappointed. Daily. Void. Lonely. Spinning. Weakened. Exhausted. Empty. Doubtful. Lacking. Self-pity. Fear. Darkness.

And then at some point, you say f#ck it. I’m done.

Six and a half years of feeling all those things, over and over again.

I’m done.

…feeling sorry for myself.
…living my life with a limiting belief on what I am capable of as a human being because I’ve let this define me for too long.
…feeling weak.
…feeling broken.


We’re done. And if I seem angry, it’s because I am. I am still processing this loss. I’ll probably be processing it for the rest of my life. But I will not let it stop me or define me.

Now I’m living my life to be healthy and fit FOR ME. I’m living in the present, not for the what ifs that MAY come down the road.

This race was my comeback. My road to healing. After the loss of Rocco and the loss of our potential family.

We are SURROUNDED by family — AMAZING families. So, we are far from alone. And instead of being pissed about what I don’t have and why I don’t have it, I’ve been focusing on what I do have and not wasting it. We have freedom — in more ways than one. I will not waste that.

Let’s celebrate that and move onto the race, shall we?

Mesa-Phx Half Marathon Race Recap

Mesa-Phx Half Marathon Race Recap

Photo Credit: My Dad

This part of the recap should be smooth as butter; because the RACE went as smooth as butter. I seriously couldn’t have asked for a better race day. Normally at the finish — at EVERY finish — I’m grunting and pushing and giving it all I have. But this year, despite the earlier headline above, it wasn’t just for me. But I’m getting ahead of myself!

I won’t bore you with packet pick-up or my pre-race head game, that stuff is pretty standard these days. But I will start with the realization that I knew a TON of people running this race. That’s one of the reasons I DO this race. It is local, and I’ve done it every year since the inaugural half marathon. (We all know how hard I worked for 26.2 in 2014. Yikes.)

Mesa-Phx Half Marathon medals

The Mesa-Phx Half Marathon definitely holds a special place in my heart, and this year just added to the reasons.

Earlier in the week, one of my runner friends, Melissa and I agreed to meet at the 2:00 hour pacer, at the race start. We thought we’d stick together as best we could, to run a good race. We were both very clear that the other could drop the other if needed, and we genuinely both seemed good with that. Essentially, run our own race, but have a quiet shadow nearby — pushing us along — but no obligation to stick together.

I don’t know why, or how, but about 20 hours before the race, I just KNEW we were going to cross the finish line together. It was in my gut. We would come in under 2 hours too. Her PR was 2:01 and she just wanted to beat that. So it was perfect that we were right within the same finish time goals.

After packet pickup, I realized I had ‘2 hours’ as a finish time in my head — ‘2 hours, 2 hours, 2 hours’. But I needed to BEAT 2 hours; I needed 1:56 or FASTER. So I wrote 1:55 on the dry erase board in our kitchen, along with my bib number. VISUALIZE.

Mesa-Phx Half Marathon Race Recap

Race Day

On race morning, lined up at the 2:00 pacer with Melissa, I told her I had 1:55 in my head. She gave me a look that said, ‘Oh man, I don’t think I can do that’. But deep down, I still felt like we both could. Yet again, we agreed to run our own races.

Melissa and I crossed the start mats, started our watches and our race was on! We stuck with the 2:00 pacer until the first water station at mile 2.5. I had been looking at my quarter mile splits and they were too slow if we were gonna meet the 1:55 time. Melissa and I were feeling good, so we pushed by the 2:00 pacer. It was a perfect way to start, by warming up and easing into the race. We just kept clipping along, side by side, mostly in silence while I listened to my music. At about mile 6.5 I heard an excited voice from behind… “I’ve been chasing you girls for the last half mile!” Slightly worried to see who it was, I looked and realized it was another runner friend, Amy! I was STOKED! There isn’t another runner who I’d be more happy to see!

We all got our excitement out, and then kept clipping along, 3 across now. I finally realized I should ask her what her finish time was. When she said 2 hours was her goal, I was stoked! Amy was just 5 months post-partum, had logged 1,000 pregnant miles and had been fighting for every post-partum mile to prepare for this race. A PR wouldn’t happen for her today either, much like me, but she was fighting for her comeback. (She has a great Instagram account, you should follow along.)

It was set, from that moment on we just kept pushing each other and ticking off mile after mile. And apparently at mile 9.87 I decided it would be a good idea to jump for the camera. LOL Melissa is 6752 🙂

Mesa-Phx Half Marathon Race Recap

By about mile 11, I think we all started to feel it a bit more. The last two miles became all of us taking turns sharing motivating words. If we kept pushing at that pace we were definitely going to finish under 2 hours and Melissa would beat her personal record (PR). It helped me to forget about any pain I was feeling and focus on making sure she got that PR!

In the final 1/4 mile, we decided it was time to push even harder and get to the finish line even faster.

Mesa-Phx Half Marathon Race Recap

Photo Credit: Hayley Pollack — Amy was right there too, just out of the frame!

I think at one point Melissa said, “I’m gonna puke” and I said, “No you’re not. You’re fine. You’re about to PR.” LOL #toughlove

Mesa-Phx Half Marathon Race Recap

WE DID IT! All three of us crossed the mat together. All three of us ran our own race, beat our own goals — but we did it together. If there is anything that the past 6.5 years have taught me, it’s that life is better with a team. Sure, you can always find a way to do it alone – but it’s so much better together.

Mesa-Phx Half Marathon Race Recap

Mesa-Phx Half Marathon Race Recap

Melissa got to ring the PR bell!! WOO HOO!

The stars aligned perfectly for the 2017 Mesa-Phx Half Marathon, and I couldn’t be happier. Family comes in many forms. BRING IT ON 2017.

Mesa-Phx Half Marathon Race Recap

Mesa-Phx Half Marathon race support family

From left to right: My dad, my niece Eva, my mom, Mr. Zucchini Runner, me, my niece’s boyfriend’s dad, my niece’s boyfriend Luca. #fitfam

Final race stats below, finished in 1:55:53 (8:51 pace), so almost exactly 1 minute faster than last year’s Mesa-Phx Half Marathon race. I’ll TAKE it! Especially considering my fastest training run was a 12 miler which I finished in 1:55:17 (9:36 pace)! Amy finished in 1:53:19 (8:39 pace), she ran her first half faster than we did! I’m so proud of all of us! It seemed like A LOT of people had great races this year, PR’s were in the air. 🙂 Looking forward to the adventures 2018’s race brings.

Mesa-Phx Half Marathon medals 2016 and 2017

Three more medals to complete the copper star!

Until next week!

Sleep hard.
Get moving.
Trust Your Gut.

GTD Half Marathon Recap

On Saturday I raced my first half marathon in over a year. Don’t get me wrong… I have run the 13.1 distance a couple times, including last Saturday, and even did a 25 k trail race in November but Saturday was the first time I’ve pushed myself to the limit, testing my endurance and thinking competitively. When I originally thought about writing up this blog post, I was going to talk about all the usual things, what I ate the night before, what I ate the morning of, port-o-potty mishaps, etc. But I decided instead to focus on the actual race, and the moments afterwards.


Ready to go in my ninja outfit…

This race was part of a series called Going the Distance by StartLine Racing, a local running organization in AZ. They are small, and their races are small, but they put on a great race. Saturday’s half was my first experience with them, and wow – talk about a night and day difference between the big “A list” races and StartLine. The differences were all positive, but we’ll get back to that a little later.


I was able to find fellow Run Eat Tweet AZ members Emily and Jaime right away! <– perk

At the start of the race I didn’t have the same pent up race energy that I normally do, because the field was so small – 100 runners; compared to the 4,000-40,000 of some other races I’ve done. So at first I kind of felt like I was doing a big group run… in the first mile it was really easy to keep an easy pace, almost too easy! I got a little worried that I wouldn’t have any umpf to get up and go when I needed to pick up the pace in the second half. I always like to start the first mile slow, hold a steady pace for the next 6 and then push harder for the last 6.1, especially in the last mile to half mile.

Soon after, I ran into fellow Run Eat Tweet AZ CRO, Emily. We chatted a little bit, ran side by side for a little bit and then she disappeared on one of the downhills. Oh yeah, I knew this race was on a canal path, so I assumed it was going to be flat as a pancake the whole way and boring, boring, boring. So I trained with music leading up to race day, and also trained on flat paths! Well, as it turned out there were approximately 8 (or more) total underpasses on this course, which meant heading down a steep, short hill and then up a steep, short hill. My ankles and knees were not ready for this, but I plowed on nonetheless.

Around mile 2 or 3 I saw the other RETAZ CRO, Jaime; she was grabbing her upper hamstring and heading to the side of the path. Oh no!!! 🙁 She just ran a full marathon the week before, so I was thoroughly impressed she was even out there running! I took a moment to mentally send some positive energy her way and then regained focus.

I was slowly starting to get into the groove of the race and was realizing it was really nice to be in such a small race — and somewhat more intimidating. In a large race, you can pass by what seems like hundreds of people (or they pass you) and you never pay much attention to each individual, because there are SO many – it’s a race and you need to focus on your own goal. But in a small race like this one, I would pass a single person here or a single person there and sometimes it would take me up to 5 minutes or more to truly pass or catch up to someone. For me, that was the most motivating part, but at the same time you think to yourself, “I better be able to maintain this pass!” There is just something about being caught again, that really messes with your head when racing. haha


The views on the course were not bad! There were parts with trees and a little shade too.

Around mile 5 I saw the first place runner, who had already reached the turnaround point and was heading back. So I started counting each female to figure out how far back I was. I was 14th and the gal directly in front of me was 13th. We stuck together for the next mile and at the turnaround point she was starting to pick up the pace a bit, but I stuck with her. We had both caught up to two males, about my age and I just kept hoping I had enough in me to keep the pace or pass them. It was about at this point that I realized this girl was my doppelganger (see above)! She had my same body type, had a single braid in her hair, and her running stride was exactly the same. As the morning heated up, and I was getting delirious, it became a race against “myself”. haha I wasn’t gonna let “me”, beat me so at the next underpass I dropped all 3 of them. Whoosh!

Now the pressure was really on and I could feel that fire inside me pushing to make sure I created a big enough gap and keep my pass. Up ahead I noticed another female runner, she was my new target! After a few minutes I passed her with a nod and a “great job”, which was reciprocated. Runners are the best. I was now the 12th female. My goal was top 10 female and I hoped to place in my age group. The next targets were out of site, but I knew it was two women running together. If I could catch them, I could meet my goal.

And then, right when I needed him most, Mr. Zucchini Runner was on the sidelines, cheering me on and snapping pics. 🙂 It gave me a little burst to keep pushing to catch those other runners!


Not too much later I crossed through mile 10, heard cheers from my friend and fellow RETAZ CRO, Jeremy and knew the end was near! The next mile was brutal, and I almost felt like I needed to slow it down a bit, especially if I was going to have anything left in the tank to finish strong. There was a second turnaround point and I saw the first place runner – who was also a female – and gave her a big wave and “great job!” At this point things were a blur, I kind of felt like I was getting tunnel vision and the will to keep pushing was dwindling. But I told myself it was 20 minutes of my life, and kept plugging away. By mile 12 I had passed the two female runners and I was now – by my count anyway – 10th female.

Everything was jumbled in my head, so I just kept telling myself the ‘numbers didn’t matter, just give it all you’ve got’. In the last half mile I really pushed it, which wasn’t much. I saw Mr. Zucchini Runner on the course again and this time, I couldn’t even give him a smile. I was laser focused and SO HOT, I just wanted to finish.


I crossed the line at 1:47:28 and was mixed with happiness and sadness all at the same time. It wasn’t a personal record, I knew it wouldn’t be, but to know I pushed so hard to finish with a time I had achieved years ago was kind of tough. On the other hand, I was happy because I KNOW I couldn’t have done anything differently. I gave it 100% and at the end of the day, THAT is what truly matters. I am where I am, and that’s ok. I knew taking a year off from full blown racing would cause me to lose some speed and I’m ok with that, because 2014 was an amazing year of ‘running just to run’, exploring the trails of South Mountain and getting lots of cross training in!


Photo credit: Jeremy

At the finish area, they had bananas, apples, pretzels, oranges and other healthy snacks. I took a banana and headed back over to the finish to see Jaime and Emily cross the mat. We had a nice little group of people hanging out and chatting and Emily asked if I placed – I told her I had no idea!


Emily, Me, Jaime, Emily and Schuyler (oh yeah, he took 1st place – but started 20 minutes late because he ran a 10k first. #beastmode)

She quickly looked it up for me on her phone, since she is a StartLine Racing veteran and told me I finished first in my age group!! WOO HOO! Now THAT made me happy. In the end, I finished 19th overall and 9th place female.


StartLine Racing posted this pic on race morning to their Instagram account and it took my breath away! It was amazing.


All throughout my training runs, whenever I posted to social media, StartLine Racing would comment and support me. It was so nice to have that connection. On race day, I got to meet their social media manager and finally put a face to the account! She actually handed me my first place award! I loved the ease of packet pickup on race morning, I felt there were plenty of water stations on the course, it was well marked and had large mile marker flags along the way. Results and photos were up almost immediately too! I will for SURE be doing more StartLine Racing events in the future… I have my eyes on some of their Sunrise Series races. 🙂

After the race Mr. Zucchini Runner and I headed over to a local breakfast place to grab some food. I was starving and we were far from home! It hit the spot for about 30 minutes, but it was still a nice snack. (It’s kind of hard to eat breakfast out when you are gluten-free and vegan.) 🙂



A special thanks to my #1 supporter, I couldn’t do it without you!



After a looooong day we like to treat our bodies to some green juice!


What keeps you motivated during a race to keep pushing towards your goal?