cactus white tank mountains

Hiking Mesquite Trail in the White Tank Mountains

Hiking Mesquite Trail in the White Tank Mountains

The final hike, my husband and I did, was also in the White Tank Mountains on the Willow Canyon Trail.  The White Canyon ended up being just about an 8.5-mile hike, with plenty of incredible views, and switchbacks.  There is a longer trail: Ford Canyon, but we didn’t want to be out too late.  I would love to come back sometime!

At the White Tank Mountains, there is plenty of trail information.  In addition to the Mesquite Trail, there is a waterfall trail and loop trail. Most of the trails at White Tank Mountain Regional Parks have a moderate incline, tricky terrain, sections of uneven terrain, small inclines max 10, and rocks and roots present as well as obsticles such as rocks. Nothing is extremely difficult and at the White Tank Mountains, there is something for everyone.

We appreciated how well-groomed the Mesquite Trail was, but wasn’t overly crowded.  It took us about 4 hours to hike the Mesquite Trail and White Tank Mountains, and we only saw a handful of people in that time.  We didn’t rush on the Mesquite Trail and stopped, took our time, and relaxed.  My guess is you could probably do the hike in about 3-4 if you were on a mission.

At the Mesquite Trail, we started in a rock bed and headed upwards. The first mile on the Mesquite Trail started with a good amount of climbing but it leveled out.

Mesquite trail phoenix arizona

Just keep climbing… keep climbing on the Mesquite Trail and White Tank Mountains.

Mesquite trail phoenix arizona
Mesquite trail phoenix arizona

Mesquite trail phoenix arizona

We traced the canyon and a good amount of the 8.5-mile Mesquite Trail loop is not climbing but more flat with views.  That is something I can appreciate.Mesquite trail phoenix arizona

Looking down at a dried-up water bed on the Mesquite Trail

Mesquite trail phoenix arizona

At the top of one of the peaks on the Mesquite Trail and overlooking White Tank Mountains

One of my favorite photos of two side by side cacti on the Mesquite Trail and White Tank Mountains

cactus white tank mountains

The Mesquite Trail and White Tank Mountains was another gorgeous hike outside of Phoenix and I am glad we made it out there.

We also hiked the Dixie Mine Trail and ate giant Cinnamon Buns at the Nicks Diner 2. 

Questions for you:

Do you like hiking? Have you been to the Mesquite Trail? 

Have you ever been to Phoenix?

nicks diner 2 surprise az

Nicks Diner II (Surprise, AZ)

Nicks Diner II (Surprise, AZ)

While in Phoenix, I wanted to go to a new diner. I had been to the with Matt and Adam a few years ago, but we stayed on the opposite side of town towards Phoenix. Surprise is located near Luke Air Force Base and relatively close to the White Tank Mountains.

My brother, Husband, and I arrived on a Sunday, and they were packed. We waited about 20 minutes for a table.  It was one of the busiest diners I have ever been too, but we got a table much quicker than anticipated.

nicks diner 2 surprise az

Nicks Diner II Atmosphere: B
Nicks Diner II is located in an outdoor shopping mall near a movie theater. Despite Nicks Diner II being packed, we were never sat on top of anyone which was nice.  The inside has plenty of booths, tables, and a full-length bar. It looks like a modern restaurant versus a diner.  There is a giant chalkboard with specials, and it’s written on their menu too.

Nicks Diner II Coffee: A
The coffee was brewed fresh and hot every time. I appreciated the table also had plenty of creamers, including small packages of hazelnut and vanilla.  Not many diners have flavored creamers, and I value when they do.

nicks diner 2 surprise az

Nicks Diner II Food: A
Everything at Nicks Diner II looked good. Nicks Diner II menu has plenty of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. Since we were there on Sunday, they have a cinnamon bun special. Little did I know, how massive that “special” was. When it came out, it was enough for the entire table. It’s not your average cinnamon bun. nicks diner 2 surprise az

If you ever go to Nicks Diner II, go on a Sunday and treat yourself to the cinnamon bun.

nicks diner 2 surprise az

Not only was it massive, but it was one of the best cinnamon buns I’ve had.

nicks diner 2 surprise az
coffee mug for comparison

For my meal, I ordered another special that included bacon, hashbrowns, and eggs. Between that and the cinnamon bun, it was enough food. Everything was cooked well, and I have no complaints. nicks diner 2 surprise az

Nicks Diner II Service: A
Despite being busy, the waitress always made sure we had plenty of refills. After ordering, it didn’t take long for the food to come out either. I think we waited longer to be seated than for the food to come out.

Nicks Diner II Cost: $
At Nicks Diner II for the cinnamon bun, coffee, and meal, the cost was $12.

Overall Thoughts/Summary of Nicks Diner II:
I liked Nicks Diner II a lot and went back once while we were out in Phoenix. It’s a good diner, and I hope to go back again.

Atmosphere: B
Coffee: A
Food: A
Service: A
Cost: $6-12
Overall: A

You can see all of the diner reviews here.

Questions for you:
Do you like cinnamon rolls?
What is the longest you’ve waited before being seated?

Phoenix Half marathon feb me running
Running, Running Reads, Training

Phoenix Half Marathon (1:22.03)

What to say about the Phoenix Half Marathon?

It’s a 54 second PR.  I had a good day.  Realistically, that is the general information about it.  I guess there is more though.

Anyway,  since running the full marathon a few years ago, I’ve wanted to come back and rerun the race but didn’t have a year I wanted too.  In fact, I wasn’t confident I would be able to make it to the race this year either.  I signed up and booked airfare last minute too.  I had been watching flight prices, and it wasn’t that much more to wait.

The week before the race, I felt “too good’.  Nothing had gone wrong, I didn’t have phantom pains, and I came off of back to back good races.  To be honest, I hadn’t had many issues in training.  In conversation with a good friend I said, the weather was looking good, my training was going well, and the course was fast…there was no real excuse to not run hard.

With that, my husband and I got to Phoenix, waited 90 minutes for a rental car (Yay, spring training for baseball) and got to our hotel.  The day before was relaxing, I got a longer shakeout run because my legs were stiff from flying.  We relaxed, went to the zoo, ate dinner at 4 pm and fell asleep at 8 pm.  My brother arrived at 11 pm, to visit.

The morning was uneventful, and my husband and I made it to the bus by 4:45 am.  The bus was a little louder than I would like but nothing terrible.  The start was wide open and allowed you to have your own space.  We started in the dark at a sharp and dark 6 am.

Phoenix Half marathon feb me running

One thing I don’t like is running in the dark.  I hadn’t thought about that component of the race, but most of the race was in the moonlight.  There were street lights but nothing like running in the daylight.  The first mile felt like it took forever.  I wondered how I would make it through a half.  I was running with a crowded pack, and we hit the mile in 6:22.  I thought either I can hold this pace or I can’t but I wouldn’t run even 6:22s the entire race.  6:22 was my exact previous PR pace.  The pace didn’t feel difficult, but you can’t judge any race by the first mile or even the first 12 miles.

The next few miles were uneventful.  It was dark, and not many people were out.  The crowd dwindled, and I was running with a pack of 6 women.  I noticed what other people were racing in, and it varied.  It was 39 degrees at the start and a lot of females wearing crop tops and shorts, many in runderwear, a few in capris and a few in sports bras.  It was pretty much everything. I ran between 6:15-6:18 miles for all of them.  It was boring, uneventful, and dark.  Each mile ticked off with nothing of note.

I hit the halfway in 38:56.  Around the halfway mark, our park started to divide once more.  2 women went ahead, followed by me, followed by everyone else.  For the next few miles, I always felt like I was chasing someone, but never running with anyone.  Miles 7-9 were the hardest of the race.  You’re halfway, but you realize you have a very long way to go.  I began to question everything.

Here I was, running in the dark, in Phoenix by myself.  I had been dropped by the two women which didn’t help.  I had taken the race out faster than I have ever taken a half marathon race out.  Sure, I was below my PR pace but I was starting to feel fatigued, and I lost a PR at the Dallas half marathon in the final few miles due to cramps.

Phoenix Half marathon feb me running

Even though they were gaining space, the two females pulled me along for the miles 9 and 10, and we ran 6:08.  I hit the 10-mile mark in 1:02.30.  At that moment, I knew I should have run my own race because my legs began to feel fatigued.

I told myself: 5k left.  You need to run a 5k in 20:27 and you will PR.

Another woman passed me around mile 10 who I did a double take and thought it was Shalane Flanagan. She passed me as if I was standing still. I attempted to stay with her while also weaving in and out of 10kers.  The 10k merge was one of the only components I didn’t care for during the race.  Many were blocking the entire course or running 3-4 across, and I had to zig-zag around.  It was not the energy I had, nor wanted to use.

Phoenix Half marathon feb me running

I hit both mile 11 and 12 and in 6:26.  During the final mile, things began to look more familiar from the full marathon, and I remembered the feeling of the last mile of the marathon.  Everything was coming together.  We turned the corner, and I saw the finish line, the clock.  I just powered to the end.  I could see it ticking in the 1:21s and I was trying to make it under 1:22 but my legs didn’t have it.  I crossed in 1:22.03 and a 54 second PR.


A PR is a PR.  I’m thrilled with it.  I do know the race course was easier than my previous PR in Carlsbad, but I also know I’m in better fitness too.  I realized at the Phoenix half marathon that I don’t like to race in the dark.  Obviously, I can run fast in the dark, but it’s certainly not my favorite.

I think I have a lot more to give in the Spring racing scene and I’m looking forward to it.  For those who asked, my husband decided a few days ago that he was going to take the race easy for him, and finished in a 1:27.

Questions for you:

When was your last race PR?

Do you prefer running in the morning, afternoon, or night?

me pheonix half marathon
Running, Training

Training: Workouts, Travel and a New PR

Last week was my best week of training in the previous 2 years, but any week that brings you new PR is a good week.

Anyway,  my log from the week is relatively simple.

Monday: 6ish mile hike in Jockey Hollow park
Tuesday: 6x800s (5:58 pace) with 400 jog in between warmup/cooldown total miles 10
Wednesday: Easy 60/ART with Dr. Kemenosh
Thursday: Rest+Travel to Pheonix
Friday: 60-minute shakeout run
Saturday; Phoenix Half Marathon 1:22.03
Sunday: Easy 45 minute shakeout

Workout: 6X800s (5:58 pace)

My body was relatively tired from racing the Saturday before.   Ultimately I decided it was better to do the workout on tired legs and have an extra day of easy running/rest before Phoenix.  I’m glad I made that choice, and it was still a good workout.

Phoenix Half Marathon: 1:22.03

I PRed.  I have a self-reflected a lot about this race as it’s my first PR in two years.  I took the race out fast, and my first mile was on PR pace of 6:22.  Most of the mile were well below and ranged from 6:09-6:18.  The final two miles were more gritty, and I was fighting for time, weaving through 10kers (6:26).

When I looked back at my full marathon a few years ago, I realize that the first half of the full was very much downhill while the second half and the half marathon course levels off. It is a much easier course than my previous PR in Carlsbad. However, I am also in better fitness.  I crossed the finish line, knowing, there was nothing more I could give that day.  It was a day that everything aligned with travel going well, fitness, and even the weather being pretty much ideal.

Now, I’m just enjoying Phoenix for a couple of days and then heading back to NJ.

Posts of the Week:

Don’t Just “Survive Winter Running”

Saucony Triumph ISO 4 Shoe Review

Frostbite 5 Miler (30:25)

Questions for you:

When was your last PR?

How was your week of training?



Hanger Cafe

One of the best meals after a marathon is a diner meal.  Adam (IE: The Boring Runner) knew of my diner reviews and when in Rome…go to a diner…right?  This was a very unique diner that it was located at the Chandler Airport right outside of Phoenix.  The Chandler Airport is a small regional airport. This made for a fun meal as we watched airplanes take off and land.  Adam, T, Matt and I found ourselves at the Hanger Cafe the day after the marathon.

The Hanger Cafe has been rated as the best airport food before!

Atmosphere: B

The atmosphere was one of the most unique restaurants I have been too.  We were able to watch planes land and enjoy our food.  The Hanger diner is a true dive.  Inside the diner is a full bar and open grill.  It’s very festive decorated with various planes and memorabilia from the Chandler airport. It’s exactly what you picture when you think “greasy spoon diner.”

We sat at a table towards the back.  The waitress forgot about us for a while, and we waited a long time before being helped (the reason the atmosphere went from an A to a B).

Coffee: B

The coffee was good but nothing to write home about.  I was happy she refilled the coffee quickly.  I don’t have anything to complain about the coffee, but there was nothing spectacular either.

Hanger Cafe Coffee

Food:  A

The menu is rather small, and they had about 5 different omelets, 5 types of pancakes and a few odds and ends such as oatmeal or French toast.  It was certainly a smaller menu than I was used too.

I ordered the Spinach and Feta omelet with buttered rye toast.  It was good, and I can’t cook omelets, so it tasted great to me.  The portion was a little smaller than I would have liked, but then again I had run a marathon the day before. Rye toast is my favorite, and it was great.  I really enjoyed the omelet a lot, and it seemed like everyone else enjoyed their food as well!

Hanger Cafe Omelet

Cost: $

For Tim and I are two omelets and coffee, it was 17 dollars.  That is the cost of one meal in New Jersey. So it’s one of the cheapest diner meals we have had.

Would I come back/Overall Thoughts:

If I’m in Phoenix again, I would probably come back.  The diner is very unique, and the food was good. I would recommend going early when we left there was quite the wait time.

Cliff notes:
Atmosphere: Outdoor: A, Service: B
Coffee: B
Food: A
Price: $5-12

Questions for you:
What’s your favorite type of omelet?
What is the best “airport” food you have had?