Rock 'N' Roll Arizona Marathon: Expo and Pre-Race Meal

We drove from San Diego to Phoenix on Saturday morning, just in time to make it to the expo at the Phoenix Convention Center to pick up my race packet. Everything was pretty organized as runners were easily guided from one station to the next to pick up BIB #s, race t-shirts, swag bags, etc. 

Afterward, the flow of traffic was directed into the vendor expo where it opened up to a huge display of Rock 'N' Roll Marathon merch presented by Brooks (kudos to you, Brooks. You're ROI  must be pretty impressive). 

I loved the Brooks fitting rooms! Casey on the other hand, wondered how many people tried to go to the bathroom in them. 

However, as much as I love my PureConnect kicks the race provided long sleeve technical tee (also produced by Brooks and was included with registration) was pretty rad, so why waste more money on RNR souvenirs?

We quickly made our way around the expo, saw the Pro Compression booth overflowing and decided to head out to check-in at our hotel nearby. 

We parked in a garage walking distance to the convention center for $12 (overnight) near 2nd & Monroe which was much cheaper than parking at our hotel ($27 daily), grabbed our bags on the way back from the expo and walked less than .3 miles to where we were staying at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel

The view from our room . You could see runners heading to the starting line from our window on Sunday morning. 

I have to hand it to Casey for booking the BEST hotel possible for this race. We cashed in some of our Marriott points and this location could not have worked out any better as we were only .1 miles from the (marathon) start line. We were literally just a hop, skip and a jump away. It was AWESOME. For anyone running the Rock 'N' Roll Arizona Marathon this is where you should stay. If you plan on hanging around after the race, I suggest moving your party to Tempe as there isn't a lot going on in downtown PHX unless the Suns are playing. 

Once we settled in, Amie (my best friend) and Savannah (her wife and also a great friend of ours) met us at our hotel to head out for our pre-race meal. These two ladies were the reason why I signed up for this race as this was going to be Savannah's first marathon and they asked me to join them shortly after I finished the Chicago Marathon. I was po'ed with my time in the Windy City and it doesn't take much convincing for me to sign up for a race, especially when it involves two amazing friends! 

Savannah and Amie (taken from Savannah's Instagram; follow her at savypals)

We looked up "pasta" at restaurants nearby on Yelp! and came across The Strand Urban Italian Food. I called to make a reservation for four and was shot down by Nicole saying they were no longer taking reservations for the night and that the restaurant was full. Savannah called back, spoke to a person named Raul (thanks, Raul!) who put our names on the list and said it would be just a 30-minute wait. 

We should have taken that as a sign of the service we were about to receive. 

I ordered the Creamy Alfredo Pasta and added grilled chicken for $2 (it was $2 to add broccoli, say what?!). 

The food was delicious but the service was sub-par as we had to flag down our waiter multiple times just to get our waters refilled. We also heard a couple of the other tables complaining about their experience as well. I won't point the finger at the staff though as the restaurant was jammed but it seems the restaurant manager may have dropped the ball (they were clearly short-staffed) or they may have been unaware that it was marathon weekend in downtown Phoenix (despite signage all around the city).

Poor service aside, the best part about our pre-race meal is that we found out later we were dining right next to a Rock 'N' Roll Marathon executive! 

We thought when he sat down next to us (the tables were close enough together that I think Sav could have rubbed elbows with him) that he may have been someone from Competitor Group, Inc. as he was decked out in an official RNR jacket (no, not one you just purchased at the expo) but we had no idea he was one of the head honchos until I was checking Instagram later and CGI's Public Relations Director, Dan Cruz, posted this photo with the caption "Record time for the @RunRocknRoll booth teardown for @mendy86's last expo! Maybe because she enlisted the help of CGI execs John Smith & Steve Gintowt..."

Follow Dan Cruz on Instagram at: cgiprguy

THAT guy (John Smith), third from the left, is the Senior VP and we (running nerds) were sitting right next to him! Pretty us, at least...maybe not to everyone else. ;)

Anyway, we wrapped up din, went back to the hotel, laid everything out for the morning and tried to rest up for race day. 

After all the next morning was going to be all about SUB-4 or GO HOME





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