So, in a matter of days we’ll be running the Phoenix Marathon. But not just that, we’ll also be getting married during the race. But yes also, we ran this race last year. So for those of you who may be running, or thinking of running this race, we’re here to give you the highdown.
First off, people like to say this is a downhill race. It is…But it’s no Revel. We’re sorry, but we gotta say that we are not fans of the Revel races. Running thousands of feet downhill just seems like cheating. Well, doesn’t seem, it probably is. Thousands of feet net decline?!?! We mean, come on. That said, Phoenix is downhill, but that’s deceiving. It’s a net 800 feet or so down from start to finish (not 5000 feet like a Revel). But also…there is a good 2 mile incline in the full. It goes a little something like this: You run downhill a few miles, you run uphill a couple miles, you run downhill a few more miles, then it’s flat, flat, flat, flat the rest of the way. That’s the nature of the beast. It’s still a runner friendly course: It’s a bit downhill net, it’s point to point, and the course is mostly straight roads (not many turns), around 20% of runners BQ, and race pics are freeeeeeee!
OK, we thinks we’ve gone off on a tangent…let’s regroup.
This is a great race…We love it! This is where Marsha BQ’d!!! This is where we’re getting hitched! This is where our besties live. This is the Valley of the Sun.
And no, this is not the Rock n Roll Phoenix race. That’s the first thing everyone always axes. This is the Phoenix Marathon. Phoenix like the bird who comes back to life from fire. Which is admittedly weird because this race doesn’t even take place in Phoenix, technically it’s in Mesa.
Here’s how it goes: You get up at the butt crack of night to drive to the race finish area. They bus you up to the top of a mountain. It’s freezing cold. They have fires going to keep you warm. It’s pitch perfect dark. They warn you not to wander off the road lest you may encounter a chupacabra or the like. There are no corals. It’s very chill. The race starts early. Early. The sun is not yet up. But once you start running, the sun slowly rises. There is no more glorious sight than the first break of dawn crawling over the cactus covered mountainous desert.
As we said, you go downhill a couple miles. But then you hit the uphill. It’s a good two miles. It sucks. But once you conquer the zenith, you the get reward of going back gravity towards. This part goes through a little mountain side neighborhood. There’s not much crowd support in this race, but this is one of the biggest athletic supporter areas.
Once you get off the mountain, you’re ground level. You are running flat the rest of the way. One thing we love is that the roads are so flipping straight. You don’t have to worry about breaking stride to make turns. You just keep on cruisin.
B to the W, the weather is great. Being the desert, there ain’t much humidity to speak of. Ain’t much wind neither. Last year it was 37 degrees American at the start…Around 50 degrees American at the finish. Perfecto. We went with Helly to Wallfart the day before the race to buy $2 sweat clothes to wear at the start (We threw them off a couple miles in). Again, perfecto.
But alas, here in lies the rub. Lettuce give you our experience, race-wise. Marsha really wanted to BQ. She needed a 3:45, which meant we wanted a 3:40 to be safe. That’s roughly an 8:25 pace per mile. Scott was the pacesetter. Helly said before the race that she wanted to run with us as long as she could. She had just PR’d at NY a few months earlier at just under 4 hours. But she’s a strong runner, getting stronger by the day. So off we went. Scott spent the entire race saying, “Moooooon (his nickname for Marsha).” Meaning, “Marsha, slow it down.” Moon. Mooon. Mooooon. Moooooon. Moooooon. Mooooooooon. The theme of the race. Keeping Marsha in check so she didn’t burn out early. Helly termed this, “In Scott we trust.”
A couple miles in, another nameless friend said, “I can’t keep running this slow.” He took off (we would see him again later, walking around mile 20). But we were focused on the pace goal. It worked. We were cruising. It felt like a jog. The best marathon we had ever run. Around mile 18, Helly put her earphones in. We knew that meant she was starting to ride the struggle bus. She trailed off a bit. We kept on keeping on. At mile 20 Scott said that since we felt good, we could start to push it. We did. These were our fastest miles of the race. Not to brag, but that is so smart…keeping it in the tank so we had something in the tank for the end of the race. “Banking” time is dumb, fo real doe. It’s way much better to finish strong.
But then something bad happened. At mile 23, Scott had to stop. His foot said, “No more, hombre.” But he didn’t want Marsha to miss out on her BQ, so he told her to go on and finish strong. She did. Scott had to limp in the last 3 miles. It sucked. It hurt. It was like a lime had been put in the bottom of his shoe. Turns out his foot was broken, but we didn’t know that until later. Yeah, a stress fracture had fractured his foot. But he still finished in a PR of 3:43, despite having to hobble in.
Marsha, meanwhile was focused. She was focused on finishing strong. She was focused on all the negative things people had said or done to us the past few years when we found each other and ourselves. She used that to embody determination. She turned it positive. She used it for fuel. She used that to BQ. She finished in 3:40.
At the finished line she waited as Scott hobbled in. We were pleased. Then something else amazing happened, we turned around and saw Helly hight tailing it. She had pushed through to finish a little behind Scott with a 15 minute PR! Then we saw her hubby, he had also PR’d (he’s much faster than all of us, so we won’t talk about times ;)). Then we saw our friend J, who had PR’d the half and breaking 2 hours. Even our nameless friend who burn out early had rallied and ran some 20 minutes faster than the marathon he had just run in Houston. It was all good.
The post race party was aight. No free beer like at most races now-a-days, but no worries, we had tequila in the car. And we were happy.
Can’t wait for the Phoenix Marathon! Can’t wait to see everyone! Can’t wait to get married! Can’t wait see how it all goes!
Have you ever run this race? What makes a race special for you?