Did you know that #WeRunSocial was born out of the Phoenix Marathon way back in 2015? Well, it's a special place and I was lucky enough to experience it this weekend.
Lucky is the appropriate word here because I won a bib from the ever-amazing Emily aka, @runemz. She's a Phoenix native, a BMO Phx Marathon Ambassador and she held a contest on her Instagram for a free race entry.
I told my wife that if I enter and happen to win, that I would have to go and she said "you better enter that contest!" I'm glad that I did and here is my entry photo. Funny thing is Emily didn't notice that I photoshopped myself in the picture. Hey, I guess it just looked so natural and that I fit in so well with the crew. 😉
I flew to Phx on Friday morning and was graciously picked up by the greatest Uber driver(s) ever, Brian @pavementrunner and Sarah @hereforthewine. They had an extremely popular Instagram live session the night before which involved beer, race plans and a q&a.
Before any of us got too hangry, we drove to a nearby Starbucks for breakfast. After fueling up with coffee for the long day ahead we were off to our next stop, shopping! We drove a short ways away to the nearest Lululemon outlet and did a small amount of damage.
We then headed to the #werunsocial meet-up sponsored by @procompression which was located at the expo. So many cool running friends know how to squeeze into tight spaces for epic photos!
My first impressions of the expo were good when I saw the quality of the merchandise that the @phxmarathon were selling. The tees were nice quality and the designs were not over stated. I didn't buy one but I did like them. We went inside, picked up bibs, did a quick walk through to pick up shirts and they even gave out socks! They had a photographer setup who was very patient with our silly group when it came to having our picture taken. Overall the expo was organized and easy to navigate.
We circled back inside to the PRO booth and socialized, selfied it up and talked racing and socks! It's challenging to meet up in such a small expo space as we seem to be blocking the aisles and even the PRO booth. This didn't stop them from selling a bunch of socks though!
We went to dinner with friends that night and what's better than pizza and beer on the night before a race? NOTHING! Except when it's with good company. One of the greatest attractions in Phoenix, Arizona is a place called La Grande Orange Grocery - it's freaking amazing! Their pizzas are the bomb, they have good ass beer and inside the store there's a section of "old school candy"! Where else can you buy a vegan pizza, a delicious IPA and a packet of Pop Rocks?!
After a long day of travel and socializing, we called it a night.
3am wake up calls are for Disney races only right? WRONG! Since we were a few minutes drive away from the race shuttle buses, which was also where the finish line was located, we had to set out early to get there. It was cold - desert when the sun goes down, cold. Call me a wimp but it was not my jam. When your Marathon friends get to stay on their bus and had fire pits to stay warm next to, you send them texts at 4:50am that read:
Ryan @ruggedwoodsman and I huddled around a heatlamp with very little success. Since 87% of the human population is taller than me, the wind was blocked from those who were huddled around our layer of the heat lamp.
We left the heat lamp to use the port-a-potty and fortunately picked the fastest moving line around us. Afterwards Ryan and I were able to do a nice long lap around the surrounding buildings as a quick warmup. The feelings in our fingers and toes were beginning to come back! After witnessing a woman drop her running tights like it was hot to pee behind a wall (I can never unsee that), we quickly checked our bag and hit the starting line. Our timing was perfect as our heart rates were up, blood was flowing to our hands and legs and we hit the ground running when the gun went off.
I was smart enough to bring a long sleeve tee as a throw away but I didn't expect to throw it away so late in the race. I believe I ditched it between miles 4 and 5. Speaking of miles, they went by very quickly as Ryan and I were talking up a storm. Our pace was consistent and we both found it just right. We both weren't trying to PR, focused only on having an evenly comfortable race.
The course was fair and forgiving. No major climbs and descents. It was not scenic by any means and if I was running alone, I could've easily been very bored. The support on the course was adequate and evenly placed. Never were we wondering when the next aid station was. We finished with a nice kick at the end and for a HOT second, Ryan thought that he might've PR'd! We came to find out that he did not but it still was a great race!
Remember how I told you that the expo was well organized? Well the Post Race festivities were easily the star of the show. There was french toast from Kneaders that was worth going back to a different line so they don't recognize you, for! There were also bbq sandwiches, tons of free snacks and even creamsicles! Once we were able to wipe off the magical french toast syrup from our faces, we left the finishers area to grab our jackets from our checked bag and walk around to scope out the fun games and vendor booths.
Easily the highlight of the morning was the free post-race massage given out to runners. I have to admit (please don't judge me) that this was my very first massage, like ever. I enjoyed it so much that I took a picture with my massage therapist, Christine. She touched me with her magical fingers and i'll never forget it.
After mulling around for a bit we decided to head out, get food, clean up and rest. There was a Pro Compression dinner that night at O.H.S.O Brewery where we were able to meet other PRO enthusiasts and ambassadors. This is what I love about getting out to these special events. Meeting friends we've followed on Social for a long time, in real life. We drank, ate and shared stories about how our races went, running in costumes, Spring Training happening down the street, you name it. This ended a very quick race-cation for me which was just the right prescription to get me out of my running funk.
Has a race ever taken you out of a running funk before?