Alrighty, now that we are all on the same page, let's begin, shall we?
Race morning came early, like always... I never sleep well the night before a race (no matter what the distance or goal), so I've come to expect it. I spend the majority of the night tossing and turning, checking the clock to make sure I haven't overslept and missed the race. Thankfully I am sure to lay out my gear the night before so I don't have to search around in the dark with a half rested brain making crucial race-day decisions.
The sweet EMZ offered to pick Brian and I up from our hotel the morning of the race (this would allow the hubby to sleep in a bit, meet us at the 20 mile mark and then see us again at the finish line to give us a ride back to the hotel).
Normally I am the type that needs to be at the start line EXTRA early, but since this was a "fun run with friends" I wasn't too worried when EMZ suggested she pick us up at 4:45am. You see, the last bus was set to leave at 5:15am (the race is a point-to-point, meaning we all park near the finish line and are bused up to our respective starting lines) and our hotel was literally 2 miles from the parking lots. We always hassle EMZ because she led some of the girls astray last year and got on the wrong bus, but, hey, they made it to the start with time to spare, so why question the pro?!
Well, life is always an adventure, right, so why stop now?! Traffic was pretty backed up heading to the parking lot, but with all the cars we knew they wouldn't leave without everyone, so felt decent about getting to the buses with a little cushion. As we were parking, EMZ noticed that there were buses a little further down and then we saw a big, open parking lot. Shoot, we thought we had lucked out... Come to find out, the reason there was an empty parking lot was because those buses were for the 10K which had a later shuttle time than the rest of us... OOPS!
After a bit of swift walking, a minor freak out, and some kind runners pointing us in the right direction we found our way to the correct shuttles! And we made it with "time to spare", okay, maybe not really, but there were two additional buses in line after us, so it made us feel a bit better. [Come to find out, Monica and Sarah were two of the final runners to make the buses... Read Monica's recap HERE.]
Once we got on the bus, we let out a collective sigh and were able to relax for a few minutes. The shuttle was smooth sailing and we got up to the start line with no issues. By the time we got to the top we only had about 10 minutes until it was go time. The line for the port-o-potties was CRAY CRAY (not sure if everyone decided to wait until the last minute or the number of potties vs. people was inadequate) so we may or may not have found a somewhat dark bush and popped a squat. I mentioned to the crew that maybe it was the larger number of heaters this year, but MAN did it feel a lot warmer than it had the previous year...
|It might not look HOT, but try starting a 26.2 mile run|
with the temps already in the mid-50s and see how you feel
We made our way over towards the starting line and it was go time. Like, legit... there were a couple of fireworks and then we noticed the crowds were moving forward. We didn't even have time to move up towards the correct pacing area. I don't think I even heard the National Anthem or a "GO", but it appeared as though the race had started... Thankfully I had started locating satellites on my Garmin before we found our bush and was ready to go.
The game plan? To have fun with my friends, hand out as many high-fives and THANK YOU's as possible, and try to encourage #AllTheRunners along the way. Originally I was thinking it would be great if I could get a 3:44, only because I'd love to PR all of my distances this year and I'm not sure how many other chances I'll have at the marathon distance this year, but numbers go OUT THE WINDOW if I have the option to hang out with friends!
Although the race is touted as a "downhill" course (and that is what the elevation chart would lead you to believe), I'd say it's more of a flat course. The reason I mention it is because last year (which was my first year running this race) I was expecting the down to pull me a little more... You totally have to WORK for these miles (especially the couple miles of UPHILL between miles 4 and 6). There is definitely a net loss, but it seems so gradual over the 26.2 miles that in case you're hoping to pick up your legs and have gravity speed you to the finish line you better prepare yourself for a different game plan.
The race started off awesome. We were keeping great time, but noticed once we hit the hill around mile 5 that Brian started letting off the gas. Now I remember from running with him during the RnRSD Half that he likes to take the hills conservatively (whereas I'd prefer to eat them for breakfast), so I wasn't totally worried. But by around mile 7 when he hadn't gotten back to the original pace I figured something was up [my first thought was the fact that he did a spontaneous trail marathon a couple weeks prior in place of his 20 mile training run... Go big or go home, right?!].
Like I said, this race was NOT about a time on the watch, but about time with friends! EMZ and I would run together, notice Brian had fallen back and wait for him at the next aid station. Although we weren't necessarily the three-man wolf pack that I was originally anticipating, we made sure to meet up and check in to make sure everyone was doing alright.
I was totally pleased with the temps the first half of the race (and remember thinking to myself that if I was "only" running the half that it would have been a perfect morning). The sun was at our backs for the majority of the time, so even when it was rising and getting a bit warmer it wasn't terrible. I would say around mile 18 or so is when the heat made its presence known - THANK YOU MENOPAUSAL MOTHER NATURE! IT'S FEBRUARY FOR GOODNESS' SAKE!
|Thankfully we didn't see the 90 degree temps they were|
originally predicting, but 80s is hot enough...
Ryan was planning on being out on the course around mile 20. He was at this location last year and it worked out great, so why ruin a good thing?! (It's near the start of the 10K, has decent parking, and still allows him to get back to the finish in time to see us come through again.) He caught some great pictures of the three of us.
|Smiling and chatting it up the entire 26.2 miles!|
|I think Brian was hoping Ryan made good on his word and had tacos and Tecate at his cheer stop.|
|You know #WeRunSocial and the streets of Phoenix!|
|I normally HATE when Ryan takes pictures after I pass him... I mean who wants a picture of their backside?! But this might be my favorite one of the day!|
Brian saw a friend from NPSF shortly after this who ran along with him for a while. I think it was just the spark we needed to keep the train heading towards the station, especially with the heat rising and the scenic views behind us (the first half of the course is gorgeous, the second half is more industrial but at least does have more spectators and crowd support).
Around mile 23 or so, EMZ and I stopped at an aid station to wait for Brian. When we saw him approaching he was walking with two women. EMZ looked at me and said, "Did Brian make friends on the course?". "I hope he isn't trying to replace us." Low-and-behold, it was Monica and Sarah! They were two of the last runners to cross the starting line (one of the great things about chip timed races is your time doesn't begin till you actual start) and had caught up to us! We chatted it up for a bit and then remembered that we were actually running a race and should probably try running some.
I've gotta say, although we were on the course longer than I was originally expecting, the miles FLEW by! And being the second marathon I ran in less than two weeks, my body AMAZED me! EMZ, Sarah and I were even to pick up the pace and kill the last mile or so.
|Crazy-faced-Carlee coming in hot... Whereas EMZ and Sarah just look so graceful... I need to get some pointers from these ladies... Not only on how to take decent race pictures but also how to be SPEED DEMONS!|
We waited for Monica and Brian to join us at the post-race party (shoot doggy, if I could eat after running the Phoenix Marathon post-race party is where I would LOVE to be... they've got BBQ, huge plates of french toast, popsicles, etc) and grabbed a couple quick pictures.
|The Muscle Milk crew said they'd take our picture if we held some of their product ;) Guess it was a fair trade.|
|We be all about that Garmin and Momentum life ;)|
|Stoked to have finished my SEVENTH full marathon|
(remember how I said I would NEVER run a single one... HA, yeah, that was a funny joke!)
After finding the hubby, it was time to head to the hotel so I could shower the thick layers of salt off (I know, I know, it might be TMI, but I am a super salty sweater) and relish in the feat I was just able to accomplish!
|Official results, even though numbers mean nothing!|
|A pretty snazzy medal, right?! And a few folks even pointed out that it appears|
as though the cactus is applauding my accomplishment!
And just in case you were wondering, you better believe I'll be back again... At least for the next four years ;) Because the medals create a STAR and I'm all about that bling life (not to mention the awesome company and great race!)!
And if you wanna join me, NOW IS THE TIME TO REGISTER! Prices are SUPER LOW, so do NOT miss out! Register now and EARN THE BIRD (and don't forget to share your registration on Facebook and save an additional $3 - every penny counts, #AmIRightOrAmIRight?!). [To be on the safe side, since we all know life happens, the Phoenix Marathon offers a deferral option in case something comes up between now and February 25th, 2017.] Who's comin' with me?!
Do you prefer to run to run with friends or on your own?