P.F. Chang’s Rock n Roll Marathon and Half Marathon 1/16/11

As promised, my detailed race recap!

I decided way back in October to run the P. F. Chang’s Rock n Roll Half Marathon.  My sister Leslie was running the marathon (she ran the half last year), and my friend Sarah was running the half marathon.  I thought it would be a nice challenge plus a good opportunity to go visit them both.

I got to Phoenix on Friday, and Leslie and I went straight to the expo.  I hadn’t run a race with an expo before, so I was very excited!  We picked up our race numbers, our shirts, and our bags of ads and stuff.  We then walked around and picked up loads of free samples from a variety of booths.  We also looked at some of the shops, but I didn’t buy anything—I figured anything I wanted I could likely find for cheaper online.

Saturday was for resting, and then Sunday morning was the race.  The marathon start time was 7:40 am, and the half start time was 8:30, but there was a wave start and I was in corral 21.  I got a lift to the start with Leslie, so I hung around with her beforehand and kept her company until her race began.  It was completely dark when we got there, and the sun came up shortly before the race started.  There were loads of people milling about, and there were 9 corrals for the marathon (I think).  Leslie was in corral 6.


At Leslie’s apartment, then at the race, waiting to start.


At corral 6!

It was a bit cool outside, but not too bad—I was pretty comfortable with my jacket and vest.  Leslie was wearing a paper jacket she bought at the expo.  It was funny looking but she said it was warm and she didn’t want to wear anything around her waist.

The marathoners left on time, and it only took them a few minutes to all get going. Leslie was shocked how quickly it was time to run.  I wished her good luck as she ran away.


I then went in search of my friend Sarah.  I also made a gear check stop and a porta-potty stop.  Just for the record, I seriously hate porta-potties.  They were super gross at this race, probably because there were about 40,000 runners using them…you could apparently pay extra to use fancy bathrooms, but I didn’t do that.


I finally found Sarah and her boyfriend Sam who was there for moral support.  She was supposed to be in corral 23 and I was supposed to be in corral 21.  They didn’t seem super strict, so we split the difference and got into corral 22.  I’m glad we did, because it took about 40 minutes to cross the starting line AFTER the official race started and it was really nice to have somebody to chat with.


Sarah and I posing in front of…the porta potties.  Seriously we didn’t notice that until later.

The race started at 8:30 after a moment of silence for the victims of the Tucson shooting and the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner.  Sam went up to the starting line to try to get some pictures, and we just waited…and waited…and waited…


They used a “wave start”, which meant that the first corral left, then they waited just a bit, then the next corral, then a short wait, etc, so that the field would be moving along decently after the start.  We slowly walked towards the start line, and FINALLY it was our turn to start running!  Sam got a few great pictures at the start.



I ran the first mile or so with Sarah, but her pace was just a bit slower than I was comfortable with so I left her behind.  The first couple miles went along pretty easily, but from about mile 4 to 9 I kept having cramps/side stitches.  I managed to keep running for the most part, but I was really frustrated by that.  I don’t know if I ate too much for breakfast or what—maybe having a little of the sports drink they were giving out at the race was a bad idea.  In any case, I pushed through, but I put on my headphones.  I like running alone and wasn’t planning to use my ipod, but I really needed something to distract myself from my discomfort.  I like to listen to podcasts while I run, so I listened to two or three episodes of Car Talk.

Throughout the race there were tons of people running with me.  Basically the route was from Phoenix to Tempe, and the whole time I was surrounded by people, and at times it was really congested.  I got frustrated sometimes that people would be walking in lines right in front of me and I would have to work to go around them.  Other times I was walking and was likely frustrating other people!  It was exciting to be around so many people though, and there was definitely some great people watching!

Along the route there were bands playing, and often small groups of people cheering.  Sometimes there were large groups, and of course a large number of water stops.  The water stops were always a MESS with cups all over and the roads seemed sticky, probably from the sports drink (cytomax, I believe.)  Around mile 10 my feet started to really hurt, and I just wanted to stop.  I realized, however, that walking didn’t help my feet feel any better…so I kept running.  I told myself if I kept running, I would get done sooner, and the sooner I got done, the sooner I would be able to take my shoes off and sit down.  So I kept going.  And going.


I see I clench my fists when I run…I need to work on that!

I had thought perhaps I would be able to finish close to 2:30 but I knew early on that wasn’t an option.  I decided to try to finish under 2:45.  It was a challenge!  I really had to run hard the last few miles, and I really had to push myself.


I crossed the finish line!  You can see the great sense of relief!

You can watch me finish using this link:

Action Sports International.


Not quite under 2:45, but I’ll take it!  I wore my garmin for the race, but I haven’t yet uploaded the splits.  I actually am not sure how to get it to do the mile by mile breakdown—can somebody help me with that?

I ran MOST of the race with just occasional walk breaks and one short potty break, which was really my goal.  After crossing the finish line I got water and my medal and then they took finish line photos.


I was very happy!   I love this picture, by the way.

There was an area for only finishers with food and drinks—I picked up a bottle of cytomax, some fruit and some energy bars.  Then I went to get my gear check bag to put on my flip flops and find my friends.  I got my bag and turned on my phone, and then I saw Leslie getting her bag—she finished in around 4:15.




I was happy, she was sad because she was so tired.

We didn’t wait around for Sarah because her boyfriend’s sister was running the full and we didn’t want to wait any longer and just get back.  However, they all finished too and had a great time!


Overall the race was as advertised:  flat, fast, and fun.  It was a pretty boring course through the city, but the crowd support was great.  The amenities were fantastic, the gear check was quick and easy, the medals very substantial feeling, and the t shirt is a nice technical shirt—I just wish they had women’s fits instead of men’s.  Would I run this race again?  Maybe!  Definitely if I lived closer, maybe for traveling.  Or maybe I’ll do the marathon someday… I definitely recommend the race to others.

7 thoughts on “P.F. Chang’s Rock n Roll Marathon and Half Marathon 1/16/11”

  1. good job! I’d like to do a half sometime in the future. My husband uses a garmin, but I haven’t figured his out yet, so maybe I’ll have him explain it to me. Arizona seems like a good state for running.
    –thanks for the post!

  2. Great job! I love the medal!!
    It’s so frustrating to get slowed down when you know you’ve got some power in your legs for running – crowds can be great for people watching, but a pain when you’re trying to fly!

    Congrats on your race!

    1. I wouldn’t say that I “fly” as I am more of a tortoise, but I guess that’s the price we pay for a big race. I’ll be doing a much smaller one in late March, so it should be an interesting comparison!

  3. Congrats on a great race! I ran the Rock n Roll Las Vegas half in December and got pretty frustrated with running around people. I guess that’s just what you get with these big races.

  4. Great job on the half marathon! A friend of mine recently got a winter home in AZ and invited me down for the PF Chang Marathon. After seeing your pictures, I really want to run this one! 🙂

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