I first signed up to run the Phoenix Marathon last fall after my goal race didn't go as planned. I had visions of redemption on a fast course. Fast forward to recent times and I'm still in doldrums from all the fall racing and a bit out of shape. Well I'm in a rounder shape after a lackluster winter. Once race day got closer it also didn't look like mother nature was going to cooperate either.
I flew out to Phoenix a couple days early given that I've never been there before. The first night was spent meeting an internet stranger and drinking entirely too much good beer at Four Peaks Brewery. Day 2 saw me and my friend meeting up with a former coworker for packet pickup at a bigger than expected expo as well as driving past Wrigley West. After packet pickup We went over to Mill Ave to soak in the college crowd, and a drink, before heading to dinner to carb up. It was then lights out early for an all too early alarm clock on race day.
The alarm went off at 2:30AM so that I could be ready for my friend picking us up at 3:30AM. We drove over to the finish line area to catch the shuttle buses to the start. I hopped on my bus and it took us up one of the smaller mountains in the dark. Once there it was like a camp with port-a-potties, water station, and a bunch of heat lamps and fire pits. It was still a little cool in the dark so I settled in near a fire to relax.
Soon there was the national anthem, complete with fireworks and we were on our way with even more fireworks announcing the start of the race. The first few miles were a pretty steep downhill. I tried to settle in, but really just rode gravity and coasted downhill. Looking at my Garmin information later it's crazy to think that I was running a 7:25 pace with a less than optimal cadence. About 4.5 miles in there begins a mile long steady climb. It was here that my legs felt like molasses and I struggled a bit. This was followed by another steep downhill sequence where I went flying again.
As the race went on the sun rose higher in the sky and started to heat things up. The course started to flatten out again and things became a struggle. With as steep as the downhill sections were, once things were more or less even again it felt more like an uphill fight. I also began struggling with dehydration. I had to start walking a lot more.
The second half of the race was a stark contrast from the first half. What began with a 1:43:45 turned into a 2:35:xx 2nd half. The feels like temperature of 80+ was not nice. As I walked I talked to other runners who were also struggling, even meeting a fellow Chicagoan from Roscoe Village who had runner friends in common. I did manage to pick things up just enough to finish with my 3rd worst marathon time. I managed to spot Lauren as I approached the finish line. After crossing I got my medal and downed a bunch of water and gatorade. My friends found me and we talked while I cooled off a bit. The finish area also featured Famous Daves, french toast, turkey dogs, and the only thing I could eat, fudgesicles. It was a pretty solid set up.
The day after the race was spent going on an "easy" 3 mile hike near Tom's Thumb. Once that was done I wanted nothing more than to spend some time cooling off so I finally went and saw Deadpool which was hilarious.