Saturday, April 22, 2017

Pat's Run Weekend

Finally, an Arizona adventure! Pat's Run is an annual event held in Tempe to honor the life of fallen soldier Pat Tillman. Tillman was a graduate of Arizona State University and a professional football player for the Arizona Cardinals. Tillman enlisted in the Army in 2002 and died April 22, 2004. Funds raised in the race go to members of the military and their spouses for education.

So how did I decide to run? I mentioned wanting to run another 5K after The Patriot Run last September, and my mom told me to research this race. It turned out to be 4.2 miles, to honor Tillman's football jersey number 42. But I signed up anyway. And I trained. I missed a week, but proved to myself that I could do it by running 4.5 miles a few weeks before the actual race.

Race weekend started with me leaving work at noon, filling up the car with gas, and then going home to pick up my mom. From there, we packed the car, and headed for Phoenix. Mom drove part way so that I could eat lunch/snack.

Mom and I switched drivers at the rest area and I drove into Tempe. Mom is a great navigator. Bib pick-up was at Sun Devil stadium, and it was so super quick. I gave the volunteers my bib number, they gave me the bib and a shirt and off I went. No swag bag this time, but that's okay. It's not like I need more stuff.
Mom wanted to find the light rail stop before going to the hotel, so we did that. We also purchased all day light rail passes for the next day.
I booked our motel, a Ramada Inn, online, but I wasn't super stoked when we got there. The motel looked like a remodeled apartment complex, and when we got to our room, it smelled. I turned on the two air conditioning units and thought it would help, but it didn't. I asked the front desk if we could change rooms, but both the rooms we visited smelled bad, or worse. So we opted for them to put an ozone machine in the room while we went out to dinner.

I searched and searched for a place to eat, and settled on The Perfect Pear Bistro. I had a little (okay, a lot!) trouble parking, but we found the place. (I can't parallel park to save my life.) Inside, it has a nice dark, but airy atmosphere with wood tables and chairs. There is also outdoor seating for patrons who prefer that.
Mom and I opted to split the roasted butternut squash tacos with sweet potato fries instead of black beans. This was a good choice! The tacos were double wrapped in corn tortillas (so they actually held together!) and were filled with roasted squash, quinoa, black beans, fresh arugula and feta cheese. There might have been a hint of cream sauce in there somewhere, but it wasn't overwhelming or heavy. The sweet potato fries appeared to be fresh cut and were crisp and tender, but not oily. They also didn't come covered in cinnamon sugar, which in my mind is unnecessary when they're already sweet potatoes.
Mom and I drove around a little after dinner, so as to give the ozone machine a little extra time to work. Praise the Lord, it did! The room wasn't pleasant smelling, but the smoke odor had lessened. So I kicked off my shoes and headed for the bed. I didn't want to sleep per se, but wanted to rest.
I looked at my phone for awhile and then did Saturday's Bible readings online using The One Year Bible. I read a few chapters of a book and then headed for the shower. Meanwhile, Mom read her Bible and watched some Family Feud with Steve Harvey.
(Notice how our shoes match? Like mother, like daughter, I guess.)

I wasn't super hungry for snack, but I had a headache and knew I'd better eat if I wanted to have energy for the race. So I chowed down on an apple, some Nature's Valley Oats 'N Honey crunchy granola bars, almonds and raisin trail mix, and a square of 90% dark chocolate from Lindt. I still didn't feel that great and was tired, so I hit the sack at 9 pm.

I slept fairly well (except for several trips to the bathroom from all that water) and woke up feeling pretty refreshed at 5 am. I quickly changed into my race shirt, pinned on my numbers, and we packed the car, checked out of the hotel, and booked it for the light rail station. Mom's timing is impeccable! We got to the station about 5:45 am, just in time to ride the next train, along with a lot of other racers. We weren't sure exactly how to get from the light rail station to the start of the race, so we just followed the crowds.
The race corrals (I was 13 out of 28) technically didn't open until 6:30 am, so we wondered around, picked up a few samples, and took some pictures.

Then I got into my corral and waited. Normally, I chit-chat with other racers, but this time I didn't. Everyone seemed to be with someone, and the music was loud. Shortly before 7 am, there was a moment of silence, and then the playing of the "National Anthem" by a trumpeter. 
David Johnson, a member of the Arizona Cardinals, started the racers. First, went the wheelchair racers, and then the corrals. I'd say that I started at 7:30 or 7:45 am. There were 28,000 racers, so corral 28 was just starting when I finished the race.

I don't have any pictures from the race itself (since I opted to leave my phone with Mom), but it was mobbed. Here a few photos she snapped:
Lots of people walked, which was fine, but they were hard to dodge. My goal was to finish the race sub-45 minutes. When I looked at my watch at the Mile 1 marker, I saw a time of 7:02, which I knew couldn't be right. At mile 2, though, I was running a little under a 10 minute mile, so I decided to just keep going. There were a few gradual hills, but overall, the course was flat and easy (which made me so glad I'd trained at altitude on hills). I grabbed a few sips of water at one stop, but even that was hard to elbow in for. I finished the race running up into Sun Devil Stadium and past the 42 yard line, but even that was a struggle, as quite a few people decided to walk. But according to my watch, I finished in 38 minutes, 51 seconds. Yeah!
Getting out of the stadium was pretty crazy, but I eventually did it, grabbing some water, a banana, and an orange on the way. The first thing they had out for runners was blue Powerade, though. No thank you. Give me God's natural rehydration instead.

The back of the stadium was almost at the light rail station, so it took me a while to get back to Reunion Square to find Mom. I panicked because I didn't see her at first, but then we found each other. We took a few pictures on the way out (one to post on Instagram to enter for a free race pass next year) and then headed for the light rail.

We had to wait about 15 minutes for the train to come, but I texted and looked at race Instagram photos while we waited.

The train was absolutely packed, and Mom and I thought we got off at the right station, but we didn't. So we had to walk a ways back to the parking garage. I was getting a headache from the sun, so Mom let me borrow her hat.
We got on the road again and headed to Panera for breakfast/brunch. We got there about 10 am. I opted for the steel cut oatmeal with almonds, quinoa, and honey. Mom got the steel cut oatmeal with blueberries and honey. (See like mother, like daughter?)
After that, we headed up the hill, arriving home about noon.

Would I do the race again? I don't know, but I'm definitely glad I did. It's an iconic race, and honors our service men and women. And it showed me that I can do 4.2 miles. I honestly don't feel that tired, so I'm wondering if I could train for a 10K (6.2 miles). Maybe if I did it in Phoenix, I'd be more fit and have more energy? (Training at altitude supposedly makes the red blood cells carry more oxygen.)

So there you have it: our Pat's Run Arizona Adventure weekend. Praise be to God for His provision, safety, and health-and a momma who's an awesome co-adventurer!

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