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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.  It 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!

We appreciated how well groomed the trail was, but wasn’t overly crowded.  It took us about 4 hours and we only saw a handful of people in that time.  We didn’t rush 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.

We started in a rock bed and headed upwards. The first mile started with a good amount of climbing but it leveled out.

Mesquite trail phoenix arizona

Just keep climbing…just keep climbing.

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 loop is not climbing but more flat with views.  That is definitely something I can appreciate.Mesquite trail phoenix arizona

Looking down at a dried up water bed.

Mesquite trail phoenix arizona

At the top of one of the peaks

 

One of my favorite photos of two side by side cacti.

cactus white tank mountains

It 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 ever been to Phoenix?

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Nick’s Diner II (Surprise, AZ)

Nick’s 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

Atmosphere: B
Nicks 2 is located in an outdoor shopping mall near a movie theater. Despite 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.

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 definitely value when they do.

nicks diner 2 surprise az

Food: A
Everything at Nicks 2 Diner looked good. Nicks 2 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 2, 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

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.

Cost: $
For the cinnamon bun, coffee, and meal, the cost was $12.

Overall Thoughts/Summary:
I liked Nicks 2 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

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

Phoenix Half Marathon (1:22.03)

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.

Thoughts:

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?

Training: Workouts, Travel and a New PR

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? 

 

Phoenix Full Marathon (3:14.59)

I don’t know how to start this post.  I ran a marathon, I PR’ed and won my age group. 

I should be pleased (I am).  I do know, however, my fitness was a little bit faster than this race showed.  I also know that I finished this race not healthy.  Not a full blown injury but I did have a major issue in my hips and hamstring that lead to a painful finish.

There are a couple of factors that played a part in the “bitter aftertaste” with this race.

  1. My travel the Thursday night before. It left me not fueling accordingly, up for 22 hours and traveling for 14.  I didn’t know traveling made you sore….but it does.
  2. My hamstring became very aggravated around mile 21…not tired but it was in pain. My pace slowed because my stride shortened (not because I was experiencing the “bonk” like last marathon). While it’s tough to say, I lost around 5 minutes of time because my hamstring and hip were in pain.

Enough whining because despite finishing in pain, I did have a 2 minute PR.  I’m truly grateful for a PR but I would have liked to have shown a slightly faster time.

Incase you don’t want to read 1000 words here are cliff notes or a screenshot of my splits:

finish time hollie phoenix

The recap: 

I woke up at 4 am and made it to the bus drop off right on time.  Tim drove me to the start.  I chatted with people on the bus and got to the race start successfully.  The Phoenix marathon had fireworks at the beginning which was unique. With the exception of long bathroom lines, there was nothing stressful before the race. Sacrifices had to be made and I delayered my pink Avalanche jacket, never to be seen again.  I threw it to the side of the road and bid it farewell (I have too many jackets anyways and I paid 5 dollars for that thing…it lasted 3 years).

Before I knew it the race was off.  Unlike my first marathon, my Garmin actually worked. I made the decision to start with the 3:15 pacer.  My original goal was to stay with the 3:10 pacer but after everything happened, I knew it was best to start less aggressive.  I did not want to have an unenjoyable second half of the race (but I still did).

During the first mile, my shoe came untied.  So I stopped and tied it…Spending an extra 10 seconds tying my shoe was not the end of the world (or any world).  My first mile was 7:17.  I chatted with a few guys training for Boston.

Phoenix Marathon

During miles 2-3, were pretty boring.  I enjoyed talking with the pacer and a few athletes around me.  One thing I enjoy about marathons is the amount of talking people do!  (6:50, 6:55).

During mile 4, I went to get water and just kind of left the pacer. I didn’t mean to but I sped up and then proceeded to go forward.  Despite my finish time, I never saw the pace group again.

I took my first gel at mile 5.  I didn’t feel like I needed it but the (fueling) plan called for 4 gels and I’m a follower.  I ran with a few other runners and we formed a nice pack. We talked for a few miles and by the time I knew it, we were at mile 8.  My legs were feeling good and as a whole my body felt good too.  Each mile between 5-13 ranged from 6:50-7:00. I ran the only uphill mile of the race in 7:44.  I wasn’t too upset and I actually passed a lot of people during that mile.

635610868350750942

During miles 7-10, I found myself running with a really nice man from Colorado.  He had run multiple 100 milers and wanted to run one more marathon.  We had about the same goals in mind.

I took my next gel at 10.5 and started to focus on the half way point.  I hit the half marathon at 1:34.  This was about where I hit the half in NYCM.  My goal originally was to hit around 1:35 so I was on pace with my original goal.  I didn’t feel tired, my hamstring felt okay and I actually felt really good.  I counted my eggs early and thought I might be able to achieve a 3:10.

Everything after the half point increasingly got worse (I think that means I’m doing marathons right?). Miles 14-16 were extremely windy.  With NYCM, my most memorable mile (in a bad way) was mile 15.  It was exhausting mile up the bridge and I felt sore and tired.  For Phoenix, I was worried about this mile too.  During the Phoenix marathon, miles 14, 15 and 16 were all extremely windy and boring.  I had a no mans land clearing of 10 feet in front and behind.  They were mentally challenging miles and once again, I think those miles were the most mentally draining. I took my next gel around mile 16.  I had planned on mile 15 but I wanted to take it with water.

At mile 17, I saw Adam.  I mumbled something (who knows what?) and high fived him.  I grabbed water.   My hamstring began to feel tight but I choked it up to…oh I’m running a marathon, things should not feel good. I didn’t think the pain would progress like it did.

Waving

By mile 18, my hamstring hurt.  It hurt a lot. I almost stopped and stretched but I knew if I stopped, I would not start again.  The issue was annoying from mile 18-20 but it wasn’t painful.  I hit mile 20 and was overwhelmed that I still had 6.2 miles to go.  Not because I was tired but because my hamstring and hip hurt.

I really thought about dropping out due to the pain escalating.  Did I want to stop at mile 20? Doesn’t everyone ask that? I knew physically I had the energy to get through the last 10k but my hip/hamstring was hurting. It was quickly becoming more of a worry. I began to analyze my situation and figure out what felt the best. I realized turns made the pain worse as did a longer stride.  I shortened my stride and proceeded on.  I wanted to accomplish marathon number 2, PR or not.

I hit 21 and took my gel.  5 miles to go (7:59).  At this point I began calculating how much time I had left to the minute.  45 minutes, 44, 42…

Despite having 5 miles to go, I began to focus on the finish.  I thought to myself “no one drops out of a marathon at mile 21”.  That is inaccurate but it motivated me. My hamstring and hip pain was very much there.  It wasn’t altering my stride but it was a very noticeable pain.  If I had felt a pop, tear or anything alter I would have stopped. A 2 month injury recovery was not worth it to me.  The moment I felt I had to alter my stride I would have stopped.

When I hit mile 22, I blindly assumed just half an hour left.  Somehow dividing the race into half an hour then 2X15 minutes made me feel a little bit better.  My pace was slowing and my hamstring was getting progressively worse.  I decided that I might end up walking the race if needed.  I also knew if I stopped running I would not begin running again (8:04).

During Miles 23-25, I just focused on getting to the end.  We had a brief tail wind during mile 24-25.  I remember silently cheering to myself because at that point my hip and I needed all the help we could get.  I stared at the people running in front of me and noticed they were not getting further away and I was not gaining on them.  We were going the same pace and that made me feel better.  I passed several half marathoners who were walking.  I wanted to say “please walk single file and not 5 across” but decided it was too much energy.

The last mile was a blur.  For mile 26 was just focused on “less than 10 minutes to go”.  I repeated that to myself several times.  I was so mentally checked into finishing the race I was oblivious to anything and everything around me.

Thoughts during mile 26:

Who are these people?  Where is the finish line?  Which way to go?  So close, so close so close…OMG…no there is that .2…now so close.  Here I go..they are announcing my name.  Don’t cry, finish like a woman.  They are taking your photo.  Raise your arms, do something…why aren’t you race photo ready…you had 3 hours to think of a good  finish pose…omg just cross this damn line.

Seriously what am I supposed to do?

I’ll settle for bird pose I guess…I mean a Phoenix is a bird right (Absolutely no thought went into that. but I’ll let you think it was planned)

I crossed the finish line in 3:14.59.

Yes it’s a PR but not a PR I’m satisfied with because I spent the last 5 miles dealing with an issue (hopefully not to turn injury).  After crossing the finish line I found my friends and Tim then sat around.  I do remember repeatedly saying (being very dehydrated) that I must find my checked bag so I can get my pants.

Phoenix marathon finish

The awards ceremony was at 11 so we waited around until then.  I was second in my age group and 21st woman overall.  Since one of the top 3 women was in my age category, she was pulled out.  Therefore I was bumped to first.

Climbing the podium

Climbing the podium

Phoenix marathon

To summarize, it’s hard to complain about a PR.  I’m happy that I’m over my stress fracture hump, but I think I was in better shape than a 3:15.  I didn’t slow down because I was tired, I slowed down because I was in pain.  So far I’ve gotten another deep tissue massage and I’m resting accordingly.  I’m happy with a PR but I am leaving with a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth.  I’m not entirely sure I enjoy the marathon distance yet but I’m sure I’ll try again at some point.

I’ll write a few more posts discussing final thoughts, fueling thoughts and a comparison of both marathons.  As always thank you everyone for your support.  The love I received race day was overwhelming.

Insert Sunshine Here

Where to even begin this post?

I spent the weekend in Phoenix, Arizona.  After a horror story with travel (as of now we are not receiving anything), we made it on Friday morning at 3 am East Coast time.

Here is a brief recap of everything outside of the race.

We enjoyed the Scenic views that New Jersey does not offer.   I kept thinking I was in a movie because they were so nice!

Phoenix View

Phoenix View

Lots and lots of blogging meetups…

Meet with Matt V

Matt V.

 

 

Party foul...my eyes are closed but everyone else looks nice so this photo won!

Party foul…my eyes are closed but everyone else looks nice so this photo won!

(Why did we not take a photo Adam?)

 

RunEMZRunEmz and I

With one of my favorite bloggers and people, Kevin!

IMG_1539

I had a great time in Phoenix.  It was nice to escape the cold of New Jersey and enjoy some warm weather.  Outside of running the actual marathon, I did a lot of fun and cool things.  Tim and I explored Phoenix and explored the entire city.

One thing I did learn was going to a destination race is tough. I wanted to go hiking and enjoy the views but didn’t want to hike before the marathon (and couldn’t hike after).

Would hiking a few miles the day before a marathon be smart?  No, probably not.

I had a great time and Phoenix is a lovely city.  I would recommend this race to any of my East Coast friends for the fact that you get out of the cold weather for a few months.

Questions for you:

Have you ever been to Phoenix? 

Have you ever done a destination race? 

 

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