I left a piece of my heart in....PHOENIX!

If you had asked me 6 years ago if I wanted to run, I would have laughed in your face & (kindly) said HECK NO. I grew up playing softball and HATED running the bases. There was no way you were getting me out there to "run for fun".

And then this happened:

June 19, 2011 I went out for a walk. I saw a couple girls running and thought, Hmmm…..ok, that kind of looks fun. So off I went running down the street and back to my house. That was my first mile. On June 26, 2011 I ran my first 5k (28:18) and haven’t stopped since.

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Fast forward from June 2011 to last week. (one day, I'll post about everything in between). Until then, let's chat about how I got to Phoenix and how I left a piece of my heart there.

DID SOMEONE SAY PARTY IN THE DESERT?

What started out in February 2015 with a few friends meeting up & running a marathon, turned into a social (running / party) event in 2016. I kept seeing the hashtag on instagram: #ItsGoingDownAtPhx . It caught on like wild fire and next thing I knew - I was simply missing out. Shortly after 2016 Phoenix Marathon,  #WeRunSocial: A crew with the sole purpose of running all the miles and winning life on the interwebs, was born. ((you can read about all that here))

2017 BMO MESA PHOENIX MARATHON RECAP TIME:

Without boring you with all the details - I signed up for what would be my 3rd marathon, I made plans, I booked a hotel, flight, trained for MONTHS and off I went. Marathon #3..... am I crazy? Maybe a little bit. But who isn't really. And, in case you don't know, #IRun4Mataya . You can read about that here  (go ahead, I'll wait for you).

Thursday, February 23rd: THE ARRIVAL

@pavementrunner and I caught the same flight into Phoenix. Once there we grabbed lunch, checked into the hotel and ventured out for a beer and a movie - The Great Wall. Ya, lets just say I probably would have fallen asleep but I was scared Brian would have done an Instagram live featuring me snoozing, so I muscled through. (I'm not a movie go'er so I was pleasantly surprised with the comfy recliners!! )

Speaking of Instagram live, when we got back to the hotel that night, Brian thought it would be fun to do an IG live session. So we did- and it was fun and should happen more often.

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Friday, February 24th: RACE DAY EVE

**MORNING**

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@pavementrunner and I picked up @fitfam6 at the airport, grabbed breakfast at Starbucks and headed to the Lululemon outlet. I'm not much of a shopper and the only Lulu item I owned at the moment was gifted to me. Buuuuuuut, when in Rome right....I picked up a pair of shorts on discount. (and now I'm obsessed. I blame THESE TWO!)

**NOON**

Bib pickup and a quick walk through the expo (which was extremely easy to navigate and lots of great vendors) .  @WeRunSocial and @ProCompression hosted a meetup which was awesome. I was able to finally meet some of the awesome peeps I've been following online.

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**NIGHT**

After the expo, a few of us headed over to  La Grande Orange. They have great pizza, delicious dessert, beer and then some! And of course, we took more pictures.

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Back to the hotel,  laid out my clothes, and tried to get as much sleep as I could. 3:00am wakeup was going to come fast.

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Saturday, February 25th: RACE DAY 

Alarm was set to go off at 3:00am. The course was a point to point so we needed to catch the shuttle at a certain time. @Pavementrunner and @carleemcdot had done this before, so I just followed the leader and rolled with them.

I trained for 4 months and was ready to run. Only thing I forgot to do......Check the freaking weather. It was a tad chilly, but thankfully, they let us stay on the bus until it was time to head to start line. (which would end up hurting me. I'll explain, keep reading)

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What should have happened was 20 minutes of stretching and warming up -- sadly, I lost track of time chatting & keeping warm on the bus that by the time we got off of it, we had 3 minutes until race time. YIKES! I did a few jumping jacks, found the 4:40 hour finish pace group, connected my garmin and off I went.  Almost immediately after crossing the start line, the feeling of defeat, sadness, and mostly ANGER came over me.  My left shoe wasn't tied tight enough, my right shoe seemed to be a little too tight, my quads weren't loose, I felt defeated and I hadn't even run a quarter of a mile. It was over before it had even began. Or was it...I had two choices in this moment. 1) give into the defeat & be miserable  or 2) pull my shit together, dig deep and remember why I am doing this.

I run for Mataya. She is a year old and has gone through far more than ANYONE should ever have to in life.

In the past year she has: ▶beaten cancer! ▶had 2 helicopter rides ▶5 surgeries ▶7 rounds of chemo ▶51 blood product transfusions ▶almost 1,000 labs/scans/images done ▶spent 5 months inpatient at a hospital 2.5 hours away from home ▶been a resident in the NICU, PICU, and PEDS.

I pulled over, re-tied my shoes, pulled it together, got OUT of my head and carefully caught back up to the pace group. It was dark for the first 3 miles which is too bad because I'm sure the scenery and the views were amazing. It was also downhill so I had to make sure I pulled back a little and didn't go all out or I'd be regretting that later.

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I stayed with the pace group through mile 16. We stopped for a quick bathroom break. With 10 miles to go, I knew it was time to listen to my body. I had maintained an average pace of 10:30 minutes per mile to this point. I was starting to get tired and my quads never really loosened up. I chose to take the time to stretch as I watched the pace group take off without me. I had told myself that there was no goal for this race other than to just finish with my head held high.

“If I run with no regrets and no excuses, there is no way in hell I will finish and feel like I failed. I will be so proud of myself.” - Kelly Roberts  ( Run Selfie Repeat podcast, episode 4:  "Fear of Failure")

One of the many things I loved about this marathon, the free race photos!! They caught me at mile 19, mile 23 and the finish line.

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Mile 23 was tough. My legs were tight. Mentally I was in it, but my legs just weren't having it. Concerned about injuring myself, I chose to walk at a 15 minute mile walk and then gave it my all coming down the chute for the finish.

My friend Linda was there cheering for me at the finish line and handed me yellow roses (my fave!) as I crossed. We ran our first marathon together (Big Sur) back in 2015, so to share finish line #3 with her, was special.

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The Celebration

@ProCompression graciously hosted a party with the ambassadors. It gave us all a chance to see people we didn't catch at the finish line, enjoy a well - earned beer, yummy food, race day stories, what's lined up next and who is coming back next year.

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Will I be back next year? OH HECK YA. Redemption baby. I won't make the same mistake twice. I missed 2016 (which is a huge bummer because the medal from 2016-2020 half or full marathon all match up to create a copper star). SIGH! I also won't make the mistake of not taking the time to stretch.

This was mine and Mataya's first marathon together. It won't be our last.BMO Harris Bank Mesa-Phx Marathon stole a piece of my heart that day. I can't wait to go back, give it my all and HOPEFULLY, cross the finish line and ring the PR bell.

Registration is already open for 2018. I'm registered.

So now the big question , who's coming to the party in the desert with me?

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