P.F. Chang’s Rock & Roll Half Marathon

Most of you know P.F. Chang’s for their delicious Chinese food but what you may not know is they host a marathon and half marathon in Phoenix that combines running, charity, and rock and roll. These outstanding events are held in over 14 different cities —from the bright lights of Vegas to the beaches of Virginia — Rock and Roll races attract runners from all over the world, rockin’ bands throughout the race, and lively spectators to cheer you on to the finish line.

Last weekend I met my best friend, Sarah, in Phoenix for our second P.F. Chang’s Rock and Roll half marathon. Before the event begins on Sunday, a Health and Fitness expo (free to the public) is held downtown at the Phoenix Convention Center.  The expo features over 100 booths offering free samples (from low-calorie beer to energy blocks), innovative products (like “The Stick“), and fun contests. It is also the place where you pick up your race shirt and packet.

Your race packet includes a variety of coupons, free products, information on upcoming races, your race bib, and timing chip. Due to the half marathon’s popularity (over 24,000 participants), runners are split into corrals and the race is started in waves. Each runner is assigned a corral number based on their projected finish times and each corral holds about 1,000 runners. Sarah and I were assigned corral thirteen so we didn’t start until twenty minutes after the first runners. Due to the time lag, the time clock at the end of the race does not accurately read your time (unless of course you were in the first corral…which was clearly not our case). The timing chip, a strip of plastic that attaches to the laces of your shoe, allows you to look up your real finish time on the internet after the race.

Early Sunday morning we arrived at the starting line sporting our matching shirts that read “Montana Girls” on the back. Within fifteen minutes of arriving we had dozens of comments on our shirts (Hey I’m from Montana too, Where are you from?, Hey I was born in Conrad, I live in Billings, YEAAA Montana, I’m from Kalispell, etc.) and even ran into one of our College of Business professors from Montana State University. After a nice chat with the professor and the national anthem, we squeezed our way into our crowded corral. Over the next twenty minutes we inched closer and closer to the starting line..taking part in “the wave” every few minutes. At the starting line we were greeted by Phil Gordon (Mayor of Phoenix–responsible for starting “the wave”) and Senator John McCain.

Two hours and twenty-seven minutes later we arrived at the finish line (a whole ten minutes faster than my time last year!). The entire race was filled with adrenaline pumping live bands (including a fifties band at mile three and a country band rockin’ out to Alabama’s “Mountain Music” at mile nine), cheerleading teams, hundreds of spectators, water and cytomax stands, and great signs…we especially enjoyed the “x miles until beer” signs. A big thank you goes out to all the spectators…anything to make you smile after running that many miles is very much appreciated!

After crossing the finish line we grabbed some water, our medals, and a few snacks and rushed over to the marathon finish line to see if we could catch Sarah’s sister, Heidi, finish her full marathon. Luckily we got there in time and found a spot on the bleachers so we could see over the crowd. Heidi finished in full force in just under 4 hours (great job!). Once we found each other amidst the crowds of people, we walked over to the concert area to listen to Everclear and claim our free beer.

We spent the next three days recuperating the right way — eating post-race oatmeal pancakes (soon to come in another post), soaking in the hot tub, attending happy hour, and shopping! Thanks for a wonderful weekend ladies! If anyone is looking for a fun race, I would definitely recommend checking out the fabulous line up of Rock and Roll marathons! If you’re not into racing…be sure to look out for one of my next posts as I will be recommending some great happy hour spots we found in and around Phoenix!

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Posted by: Denise Angvick on Denise’s Dish