It’s been a day since I finished my first marathon and I feel great. My legs are a bit stiff and I’ve been hungry all day, but other than that I couldn’t be better. I visited my Aunt Rebecca in Arizona and we ran the Lost Dutchman Marathon together. I’m glad my first marathon was with family.
I arrived in Phoenix late Thursday and didn’t do much that night. We decided to go for a hike on Friday to keep our legs loose. We thought a short jaunt would be good, but circumstance wasn’t going to allow it. We turned around after a while (probably a mile or so, but I’m not exactly sure on the distance) and started to head back to the car. That’s when Rebecca realized she didn’t have her wallet. We went back to the car to see if it was there and didn’t see it, so we walked the route we had just come back from. So much for a short hike! We didn’t find it so Rebecca left her information at the park station and we went back to the car. We looked around one last time and it ended up being in the car. It had fallen between the seat and the door without her realizing it. Crisis averted!
We didn’t do anything physical on Saturday. We decided to make it a rest day and ended up seeing the movie “Safe House.” It was nice to get lost in the simple plot and action in the movie instead of thinking about the race. We got to bed early and I slept fairly well even though I woke up two or three times from intense dreams about the race.
I set my alarm for 3:30 on race day because we wanted to be out the door by 4:30 or so. The race parking was at the end of the race so we had to be shuttled over to the start line to wait for the 7 a.m. start. I ate cereal and some juice for breakfast and used the bathroom to make sure I didn’t have any issues. We got to the parking area around 4:30 and got on a shuttle shortly after so we could get to the starting line.
The bus ride was somewhat bumpy once we got to the trail, and I think it got my digestive track going a little bit. It was either that or the nerves leading up to the race. As I was waiting for the facilities another runner came up to me and said she liked my bib number (55) because it was the year she was born. We talked a bit and she said, “You look like a pretty serious runner. Have you run this race before?” I laughed and told her it was my first — she seemed surprised. I told her the best part about the race was going to be running with my Aunt, which ended up being true.
My digestive track felt great after the trip to the portable toilets. The race organizers had multiple bonfires set up for us to hang out around until the start, so Rebecca and I picked one and talked with a few other runners. One guy had just gotten some of the Merrel Trail Gloves I was wearing for the race so we talked about them for a while. We made a few jokes about the smoke from the fires and whether it would affect our running, then the announcer got on the PA and said it was almost time to start.
Rebecca and I decided to hit the portables one more time and as we were waiting the announcer tried to find the person who had run the most marathons. It turns out one of the 600 participants had run more than 200 marathons, which is hard to imagine. If people weren’t inspired by that I don’t know what would do it.
We lined up at the line and got started right on time at 7:00. The first six miles of the course were on a dirt and gravel road, which was great except for the few huge rocks that I managed to step on. Thankfully the Trail Gloves have a decent shock plate in them that made it so I didn’t notice much. Rebecca was setting the pace on the run, but she didn’t wear her Garmin watch because she wanted to go by feel. I had mine on just so I could know (and to get the data) but we didn’t use it for pace at all during the race.
We discussed it before and Rebecca thought we would be starting out at a 10:30 pace, but I was a bit skeptical. I thought we would be going faster because of the adrenaline and excitement. It turns out that was the case. We ended up sub-10:00 for the first two miles and at 10:02 for the third. The course had aid stations and bathrooms every two miles, and we started hitting the bathrooms by mile four.
Rebecca had some digestive complications during training and she thought she had worked them out. It turns out they came back for the race, which meant we ended up making more stops than she planned for.
We got back out on the course and came across one of the best sights (other than the amazing mountains that were constantly in the backdrop) of the whole race. We came around a curve in the road and saw two huge longhorns waiting to cross the path. They looked at us as if they were wondering what these strange people were doing running out in the cold. One of the runners ahead of us started clapping his hands and motioning toward the massive animals, which didn’t seem like a good idea. Nothing came of it, but a goring would have been a bad start to the race.
We made it to mile 9 before another bathroom break, with all the miles at 10:30 pace or better. The trail gave way to pavement after six miles, and I was sad to see it go despite the rocks. The break at mile 9 was interesting because there was a turn that people kept missing. I had to keep shouting, “Turn, turn!” at people because they wanted to keep going straight. It made sense because the course took a small detour into a neighborhood then went back on the main road and people saw the other runners coming out and thought they just had gone straight. I’m glad no one made it too far before turning back.
Miles 10 through 14 were relatively uneventful and took us through some nice residential areas. I ate my first peanut butter tortilla at mile 10. We settled in at about an 11-minute pace and ended up stopping for another bathroom visit somewhere in there. We hit the halfway point at about 2 hours and 27 minutes.
Miles 15 and 16 were on Highway 60, which was interesting. I never thought running on the side of such a busy highway would work, but it turned out just fine. This stretch is where we ran into the guy I’ll call The Beeper. The guy had his watch set up to go off every minute and was alternating between running and walking. That was all fine and well, but for some reason the beeping really started to get to me. The Beeper stayed with us to about 17.5 miles, then he inexplicably turned around at a random point and said “Don’t ask” when I gave him a quizzical look. I assume it was to go to the bathroom, but who knows. Either way I was glad to be rid of the beeping and us catching up to him every minute. I hope he finished well, despite my annoyance at his watch.
There was a turnaround just after mile 18, and that’s when people around us really started to slow down. It was also in the middle of a climb of about 200 vertical feet, so we slowed down some too. I had my second peanut butter tortilla at mile 20 and it tasted wonderful. I never thought something so simple would be so satisfying but it was like nectar from the gods and that point.
My legs had been feeling good the whole race, but they started to get a bit sore at mile 22 or so. That was the beginning of the last climb that went for two miles or so. We had been on our feet for about 4 hours and 12 minutes at the 22-mile mark. I couldn’t help thinking that if I had been running on my own I would likely be done, but I quickly put that out of my mind. I was there to run with Rebecca, and I quickly realized that a little discomfort wasn’t going to ruin that.
The last few miles were really about us and the road. We didn’t talk much, except for when I would remind Rebecca to breath deep (she had a habit of speeding up her breathing on inclines) or ask if her if we were making a pit stop at the next bathroom. We went through what they call The Wall (a literal wall where they take pictures) at mile 24 and I could tell Rebecca was pushing hard to keep going. I kept encouraging as I could and we moved along between an 11 and 12 minute pace.
With a couple of miles to go a woman came up and commented that she liked Rebecca’s running skirt and started asking her questions about it. Rebecca thanked her and said she didn’t know much of anything about the skirt right now, which told me she was really pushing it to keep going. We slowed down a bit to get water at the last few stations (they had them at every mile for the last six miles), but we kept moving.
The last mile was amazing. Rebecca wasn’t expecting to finish the marathon in under 5 hours and I knew if we pushed it we could make it under. I decided not to say anything, however, because I didn’t want anything to happen that would stop us from finishing. Instead I kept encouraging her and told her the finish was coming up soon. We turned right and saw the finishing chute. As we got closer Rebecca started to sprint, which surprised the hell out of me. I picked up the pace and we crossed the finish line together. My final chip time was 5:01:44.
I am beyond happy with the experience I shared with Rebecca that day. She was good company, despite what she may have thought. One time she said she was “losing her personality” when the running started to get to her, but I think it was still there. She even managed to tell an older couple that I was her coach, and we saw them a few more times down the course. They always yelled encouragement for her and my “coaching.” To top it all off, the scenery was absolutely gorgeous. I don’t think I could have had a better first marathon.
I wasn’t worried about time, but I was somewhat worried about whether being on my feet that long would lead to injury. It ended up being fine. My legs felt relatively good after the race and today they are holding up well. I am planning on going out for a couple miles tomorrow to see how they really are. I can’t wait until my next marathon, which is just a few short weeks away.
- Daily: 26.4 miles at 11:27 pace
- Week total: 0 (the week starts today, Monday)
- February total: 66.55 miles
- 2012 total: 137.35 miles
- Distance to 2012 goal: 2,362.65 miles