A weekend of cacti, hockey, and my 13th state knocked off…with a joke of a race!

I’m baaaaaaaaack!! What a crazy whirlwind of a mini-vacation!!

Me and my motley crew of teammates!

I was at the airport by 5:45am Friday morning where I met up with 3 other teammates for our 7am flight to Toronto. Ok, so that’s a gross time to have to be on a flight…but when I fly to Birmingham next Thursday, my flight is at 6am. I might die. lol

We flew to Toronto and then boarded our flight to Phoenix. A 5 hour flight. On Air Canada’s newest (piece of crap) cheap airline – Rouge. You know how there’s normally no room on a plane? Well, they made even less room. It’s hell. And we had 5 hours on this flight.

Aaaaaaaaaaand, when we flew over the Rockies…

…we had 45 minutes of the worst turbulence I have ever had. Not so much that it was rough, but that it was rolling…like you’re at sea…and people were puking. I was so close to doing the same, but luckily was able to keep my eye on the horizon and keep everything down. As soon as we got off the flight, my teammates and I needed something to calm our stomachs!!

Yup, obviously, McDonald’s cheeseburger is the best choice!!!

Then we waited for another teammate arriving on a different flight, got our rental car, drove to and checked into the hotel and went immediately to the pool.

Seriously, couldn’t have been happier!!

We spent the rest of the afternoon there and more and more of our team and other teams (who we have met at other tournaments) started to arrive and join us! It was awesome!

Saturday, our first game was against a team from Atlanta – we had actually played against them 2 years ago in Chicago and beat them. So, game was going well, we we’re tied 1-1 when suddenly, I’m up by the net, the ball deflects off my stick and hits me right in the eye. It immediately swelled up. In case you don’t know, a field hockey ball has similar consistency to that of a rock.

I missed the rest of that game trying to find ice – the med tent hadn’t quite set themselves up yet as this was only the 2nd game of the day!! I got ice, but we ended up losing 2-1. Let’s pretend it’s because they didn’t have me on the field. PRETEND. lol

We played two more games that day – a local team from Phoenix and then one from San Diego. We won one and lost the other.

Phoenix is GORGEOUS. Dessert surrounded by mountains. And where we played was no exception.

Can I tell you how exciting it was to have to put on sunscreen?? lol

Because field hockey is unofficially India’s national sport, at most tournaments there is FRESH HOMEMADE AUTHENTIC Indian food served throughout the day. This weekend was no exception – sometimes I think this is my favorite part of hockey tournaments!!!

And then, as we played our final game of the day, we were treated to a beautiful sunset…this is our goalie, Liam…I said, “Hey, Liam, can you just stand there and gaze off into the distance while I take this pic?” lol. True story.

Sunday morning I wake at 6am because, oh yeah, I have a half marathon to run at 8am! But wait, I can see out of only one eye!!

By the time I got to the start line, the swelling had gone down enough that I could at least see out of that eye! But it sure wasn’t pretty!

This this was Phoenix’s inaugural Women’s Half Marathon. There was a 10k and 5k happening as well. I think the race has great potential, but let me tell you, they have A LOT to fix with this race.

Let’s see…the HM started first and we did an extra loop of about 1.5 miles before sweeping past the start line again and heading out in another direction for an out and back course. And this is what happened along this course:

1- They said that the course was well measured and marked by an “professional race management team”  – but those of us in the lead pack took a wrong turn (because there was no marker) and ran extra distance – not sure how much, because, in the end, the course, was short 200m WITH THE EXTRA distance some of us did!!! Lame.

2- We were told there would be regularly placed mile markers…I saw the first one at mile 7…and then a mile later I saw the 9 mile maker…WHAT??? AND, given that I already knew we had run that extra distance I had NO IDEA WHERE I WAS ON THE COURSE. Lame.

3-After the HMers had finished the first loop and were coming back to near the start line to head out onto the out and back course we came up on THE REAR OF THE 10K race that had just started…all the walkers, etc. I nearly lost my mind. We spent the next mile or so dodging all these other runners. I’m sorry but WHO designs a race course like that???

4- The volunteers “handing out water/gatorade” were sitting on chairs behind the table (there were two tables in the entire race where the volunteers were actually doing their job) so if you wanted something to drink, you needed to slow down to grab a cup. Super lame. And I ended up not drinking AT ALL during the race because I didn’t want to alter my pace.

4- It was an out and back course so at some point, you are sharing the course with people going in the opposite direction…but they only set up the refreshment tables on ONE SIDE OF THE COURSE so when you were running back, nothing to drink for you unless you were willing to slow down and cross into on coming running traffic. I was NOT impressed.

5- They made a big deal about how instead of a technical shirt, they were giving out Jackets and had this pic on their website:

I was pretty stoked…until I got mine.

It’s NOT a jacket. It’s a long sleeve technical shirt with pockets. Sigh.

But, at the same time, it’s January and I’m running in shorts and a tank top under the blazing hot Phoenix sun so I tried to not let it bother me too much – actually just tried to laugh at what a comedy show of errors this race was! I also knew that I was up near the front of the race. At the turnaround point I counted only 8 women in front of me. Top 10 finish? Sounds good to me!

With around 100m to go, I suddenly heard a big cheer and realized that my ENTIRE team had come out to watch me finish!!!

I was so excited (and touched) to see them there!! But also knew we were in a big rush – we had 35 minutes to get to the fields, get our gear on, and start our final game of the tournament! I quickly ran to the timing people and asked them how I had placed – they told me 9th overall (out of just over 200 runners – small race!) and 2nd in my age category, netting me an award (the little hanging thing I could attach to my medal). Yay!!

But I had barely enough time to catch my breath before I was out on the field playing hard hockey…and there was no mercy for me – my teammates didn’t even sub me off the second half of the game. Carter said, “Well, to be honest, you looked stronger out there than I was feeling so I just left you out there!”. lol

For the rest of Sunday and all day Monday, we just toured around.

Saw LOTS of cacti – seriously, they are cool plants!!

Cacti don’t grow their first arm until they are 50-100 years old!!!

Some grow like snakes!!

My favorite kind – it’s called “The old man of the Andes”

Drank beer

While sometimes sitting on bar stools like this – and yes, when you (finally) get off them, you walk like you’ve been riding a horse!

Had cantankerous bartenders like Karen!

Went on mine tours in old ghost towns like Goldfield…with ridiculous hokey tour guides.

Got made fun of by my teammates because I actually look like I just came from jail with my black eye.

Yes, let’s talk about my eye for a second…by Monday, it was at its worst. And with my toque (it was VERY cold in Phoenix on Monday – Canada cold) I seriously looked like a thug.

So after a full weekend of hockey and running and full day of touring around on  Monday, we got ourselves to the airport for our MIDNIGHT flight home…and got the best news possible. The flight was practically empty – only 20 people!! So everyone had a row of seats to themselves!! I was able to sleep, relatively comfortably, for 3 of the 4 hours back to Toronto, landing at 6am local time (4am Phoenix time) and then flying home to Ottawa at 8am.

My dad picked me up at the airport (with Abby) and she and I spent all day yesterday, resting…and getting back to our normal routines…

And today I went back to work…where I work with kids…looking like this. lol

Happy Wednesday!!!


6 thoughts on “A weekend of cacti, hockey, and my 13th state knocked off…with a joke of a race!

  1. Hollie

    Wow that is truly incredible you ran with your eye. I used to swim collegiately and got kicked in the face and had the same issue. Luckily with goggles no one really saw.



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