Pre-race fuel = Larabar (I'm crap at eating before a race)
Race fuel = Tailwind mixed in pack, bottle of flat coke, Salted Caramel GU
5am alarm, still pitch dark. We're taking the hotel shuttle to the light rail station, it's still dark when it shows up at 6:15 for our 6am booking (stress). Just enough time to get a ticket before the train appears in the distance (more stress). Hello all the runners. And....a delay, accident blocking the line ahead (STRESS). Breathing. Finally off again at 7. Trains are packed the other way heading toward the Half/10k start.
There's a cold wind around the start area, it's just getting light. Plenty time for bag dropoff and some pics then it's a breeze joining the 7 marathon corrals. This is a nice laid back race start with the other 2500 or so runners.
|New customized wrap from Momentum, it matches my tattoo|
Corral 6 heads off through the streets of downtown, west then north. There are a lot of long straight stretches on this course. I would not describe myself as energized, it's more of a slog with random shin pain. Happily the pain eases up completely after 8k. I tell myself I'll feel good after the first 10k 'warm up' stretch passes.
Everything is perfect, it's sunny but not too warm, there are cheer stations, frequent water stations and bands along the route, it's pretty much everything you could want in a marathon. Running still feels like hard work physically with the occasional happy km thrown in. Kms 16 through 27 are a very gradual uphill. My plan is to run the course and only walk through each aid station. It's working well, average pace at the Half point is 7:19/km (time 2:34:24). Painkiller time.
We are now on a very long out and back east/west section covering kms 20 through 32. Watching runners heading back along the road is a nice distraction and I manage to spot Kev. Ah there's the 30k marker on the other side. The Arizona canal trail is on our left, there are cyclists trundling along leisurely, buggars.
I know the distance but still expect to see the turnaround on the horizon at any minute. Nope. As we enter Scottsdale and see the actual turnaround point I spot Geo from RocknBlog in the distance and speed up to catch him. He is a pure ray of sunshine and I kind of forget I'm in the middle of a marathon. We walk through the aid station, there's hugging then I have to get on with it. Run, Love, Rockstar!
At 32.2k (3:55:41, still 7:19/km average pace) we turn south into the sun and now it really feels hot. Okay, there's 10k left, what pace do I need to run a PR? I have literally no clue. Math is hard. Is that Jesus?
Since I was not capable of juggling my phone, I have borrowed these pics from Jesus (Jeff). There's more here. Best marathon LOLZ of the day dude.
The only shade now is when we pass under roads. Each time a km passes I try to figure out the pace I need to be doing and fail. Sod it, just run.
It's going to be close, I figure I better stop walking through aid stations and try to maintain a forward shuffle. Although my pace has gone all the way to hell, I'm staying quite positive about the entire thing.
Eventually I notice a couple of people walking up the side with medals on. Oh is that a hill? Lookit that. Nasty thing, walking up it. Crap. This is not going to help at all. As we climb onto a bridge, two happy things occur; I've Been High (REM) comes on my IPod and I realize the bridge must lead to the finish, just like yesterday.
I think I've just missed my PR. After running for 5+ hours stopping dead is plain weird and PAINFUL. I instantly become aware of how much pain I'm in, basically everywhere.
Check the Garmin, I can see 5:14.....a marathon PR. Oh praise be. I lost about 6 mins over that last 10k so it is tight. Yeah, I'll take it! Wow, so much to work on before Pittsburgh.
Purple me is pleased to have run a PR.
I am so happy to be handed a chocolate milk at the end. Kev is right there, we sit on the grass while I confirm my finish time and whine about all the pain. He just ran a 9 minute PR.
Limping over to pick up even more medals ensues, and then the marathon finisher jacket then another 3k to get back 'home' in time for the Steelers game.
That was a spectacularly good weekend!