Thursday, March 1, 2018

Mesa-PHX Marathon Race Recap

This past Saturday morning I ran the Mesa-PHX Marathon for a fourth year in a row, making it my FIFTEENTH full marathon I've tackled in my relatively short running career! {Recaps of the past PHX races: 2015, 2016, and 2017}

Can you believe I was the one who always said I would NEVER run a marathon?! HA!

And although that's well and fine, what's even MORE AMAZING is the fact it was the hubby's FIRST FULL MARATHON! 


But let's not get ahead of ourselves... there's obviously a whole heck of a lot to cover before we get to the finish line, so grab a beverage, prop your feet up, snuggle in and LET'S DO THIS THANG!

The hubby and I left Friday morning. It's about a 6 hour drive (depending on traffic and how many potty stops we need to make) plus the hour you lose due to the time change. We left around 5:30am and got into the Phoenix area around 12:30pm. The first order of business was stopping at Ike's Place for lunch. (It seems strange, at least it does to us, but Phoenix has a TON of yummy vegetarian and vegan options so we always love to get our grub on while we're there!)

I ordered the Reading Rainbow (Avocado, Vegan Cheddar, Red Pesto and Lettuce on Wheat)

After mowing down on some deliciousness it was time to check into our hotel. Let's just say it was in a convenient location but it definitely left us wanting more (like more quiet {located next to the freeway off-ramp led to traffic noise ALL NIGHT LONG}, more updating {the rooms seem nice but the hotel overall is rather lackluster} and more accessibility {where it is located required lots of u-turns}). Don't get me wrong, it served its purpose, but I'm glad we didn't spend much time there.

Seeing as the Phoenix Marathon was sort of the birthplace for We Run Social, you know we had to have a meet-up, right?! Brian, Emily and I hosted a get together at the Expo and it was great to see everyone come out. I love meeting everyone IRL {in real life}, chatting about race goals, taking selfies, etc. Thanks to everyone who came by and said HI!

Source: We Run Social's Facebook Feed
Having a meet-up at the Expo is tough because people show up at different times, but we still had a decent turn out!

After the meet-up we made our way to dinner. Tradition states we head to La Grande Orange Grocery and smash some scrum-didily-umptious pizza... and who am I to mess with tradition?! FYI : The Mushroom Party Pizza is where it's at!

Get in my belly!

Since the race was starting earlier this year, we knew we couldn't stay out too late. You see, this race is a point-to-point course, meaning you start 26.2 miles away from the finish line, so runners are required to take buses to the starting line. And with a race start time of 6am, you can imagine how early the wake-up calls have to start to get you there in time.

I was already out of bed by 2am, but these were nice for insurance ;)

When we got back to the hotel, we made sure we had everything ready for the following morning and tried to hit the hay. (I'll be completely honest, we turned off the TV at 9pm, but I'd say I tossed and turned for the majority of the evening {always freaked out that I will sleep through the alarms and miss the race}. I probably got about two hours total of "rest".)

I based this race outfit around the new #StateOfMind PRO Compression socks (since they were MADE for Arizona!).
Arizona PRO Compression socks, yellow Handful bra, royal blue Sparkle Athletic skirt, tank from Belcorva, sleeves from the 2016 PHX
red and blue QALO silicone wedding bands, blue and yellow Momentum Jewelry wraps, #WeRunSocial thingamajig, black RoadID,
Nathan handheld, PROBAR BOLT chews, Arizona hat (I made), my Garmin Fenix 5S, and Brooks Ghost 10 (with lightning bolt Shwings).

About the buses... There are different pick-up areas for the 10K, Half and Full. The race tries to make it as easy as possible for runners to park at their appropriate locations but year after year we get things mixed up so make sure to give ourselves a buffer. This year was no different, but thankfully we had plenty of extra time. Buses were running to the full from 3:30am until 4:45am. We got there around 3:45am, sat in the car until about 4:15am and felt pretty perfect time-wise.

Let's just say the lighting in our hotel room wasn't the best, but this is what our race gear looked like under the layers ;)

Like I mentioned, this was my fourth year running this race, and I've gotta say, this was the best weather we've had yet. I don't know what sort of deal the race directors made with Mother Nature to score such perfect weather, but whatever they promised, I hope they come through (and can make a similar bargain for the upcoming years as well). It was definitely a little chilly at the starting line (especially since you start "up the mountain" from the finish), but that was to be expected.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to wear a tank and sleeves or a long
sleeve top. I decided on the tank (with a throw-away jacket on
top and was perfect throughout the race)

We came prepared and brought throw-away layers, gloves, and Mylar blankets. They also allow the runners for the full marathon to remain on the buses at the start for as long as they want (the buses drive up the backside of the mountain so don't have to be off the course before it starts or anything like that). Once we got to the top, we jumped in line at the port-o-potties (I always feel like they have too few for the amount of runners, but I guess you just have to expect long lines at the potties on race morning), took care of business and then got back on the buses to stay warm for a while.

Around 5:35am we got off the bus for the final time and made our way to the fire pits to find some friends. (I love that they have fire pits and heat lamps to help keep runners comfortable, even if breathing in smoke from the fires might not be the best idea before running a race.) The energy was high and everyone seemed stoked to take on the miles that lay ahead.

A few of the full peeps

Before we knew it we were heading to the start. This race does not have corrals, but they do offer pacers (from the Clif team) so it seems like most folks self-seed based on the pacers' signs. There was a National Anthem (an instrumental recording... although I heard there was a live performance at the half start), a couple fireworks and then we were off!

I don't know if Ryan was giddy from the lack of sleep, nervous for his first full or just being "normal", but he was definitely
having fun with his water bottle placement during our photos ;) 

Since this was the hubby's first marathon we didn't have any time goals. The paces he ran during his training (which he NAILED, by the way) indicated he could probably run a 4:15-4:30 marathon, but the only goals were to finish, have fun and not hate it since we have many a miles to run in the coming weeks. We wanted to run as conservatively as possible so we'd have gas left in our tank for the end (especially since the furthest Ryan had ever run prior was one 20-miler).

I'd say the first half of this course is definitely the prettiest part. The difficult thing with the earlier start time was you couldn't see or enjoy the beauty around you. I wouldn't say I ever felt unsafe, but it was definitely DARK out there! (There was an email sent the day before the race letting us know that if runners wanted to wear a headlamp there'd be a drop bin {which ended up being a laundry basket} at Mile 5 if you didn't want to carry it with you the whole race.) I'd definitely recommend that if the earlier start time is here to stay (which I actually preferred), then I'd recommend more lights on the course {and the lights to be pointed DOWN at the ground and not into the eyes of the runners}.

Thanks to everyone who gave Ryan and I encouragement along the course. It was awesome to have so many people congratulating him on tackling his first full. He normally chuckles a bit because I tend to get recognized by fellow runners at races, but this time he was the one getting the cheers and it was great to see!

Selfie while the hubby was getting his stretch on

Although this course is a net downhill, there is a decent climb around Mile 4.5 (until around Mile 6). It isn't steep, but when you go into the race thinking it is going to be downhill, the mile and a half of gradual uphill can be a bit demoralizing. Thankfully I had forewarned the hubby about it and he CRUSHED IT!


Ryan trained with taking fuel every 5-6 miles, so that is what we continued on race day. We both use PROBAR BOLT chews (he prefers the ones with caffeine {he used Berry Blast and Lemon on the course} while I'm currently loving the Pink Lemonade flavor). When I am running on my own I normally fuel "on the go", but the hubby prefers to walk while fueling, so that's what we did. The game plan was to take 5 chews at Miles 6, 12, 17 and 22 and it worked perfectly!

Obviously NOT from this race, but these are my JAM!

I'll be honest, I didn't look at my watch very often during the race. I did see that when we crossed the halfway point (so the way that the course is set up, everyone has the same finish line, so the 10K is 6.2 miles back from the finish, the half is 13.1 miles back from the finish and the full is 26.2 miles back from the finish) - which was also the half marathon start line - I saw we were at 2:01 which was AWESOME! I figured it was probably a bit fast and assumed we would have positive splits {meaning our second half would be slower than our first as opposed to negative splits where the second half is faster}, but with the majority of the elevation loss in the first half I was very happy with where we were at.


The hubby had to stop and stretch a couple times throughout the race, but for the most part he was pleasantly surprised with how well his body held up over the 26.2 miles. {We stopped around Mile 15.5 to use the port-o-potties. Normally I don't have to go during a race, but I think due to the cooler temps I wasn't sweating as much and therefore had to pee. Since I usually don't need them I normally don't pay attention, but it did seemed like the potties on the course were few and far between... It'd be great if there could be more on the course - like maybe a couple at every aid station or so.}

Ryan LOVES the elevated pigeon pose! 

I'll be the first to admit, this course isn't super visually appealing during the second half. You are running in more industrial, residential and business areas like your average road race. Even still, I really enjoy it. I always appreciate how wide the course is (I would say that the majority of the course is at least two to three lanes of traffic wide). Runners have plenty of room to spread out and get into a rhythm. (This is also another reason why the hubby liked the course so much - because there are long straightaways so he could zone out and get into a flow, not having to worry about constantly turning or weaving through town.) And I can't forget to mention the officers keeping us safe (not only from something like a security threat, but also from traffic crossing at intersections, etc). Their presence was very visible and much appreciated!

We got FREE race pictures and they made this one the Facebook album cover. I know it's blurry and has the race logo over it,
but I actually really like this shot. It was around Mile 19 and you can still tell we are truly enjoying ourselves!

Before we knew it we were on the home stretch! Okay, so maybe it wasn't all rainbows and butterflies, but the miles did seem to be ticking away and I was a little sad that they were coming to a close. I tried my hardest to keep the hubby encouraged and in good spirits throughout the race - reminding him of how proud I was of him. I just kept thinking, "YOU'RE DOING IT PETER" (from Hook).


I literally could not be more proud of Ryan. I had originally laid out a training plan for him, thinking he might do 80% of the runs, but he knocked out EVERY SINGLE ONE! Not only that, he didn't hate it! He originally started running because he knew I loved it, but recently has found his own passion for it. (Can you believe that he didn't consider himself a runner until a couple weeks ago?!) And I got to cross the finish line with him as he became a FREAKING MARATHONER! 

This is us... I'm laughing and having a grand ol' time while Ryan is eyeing the finish and
just wants to be done already ;)

A quick selfie after we crossed the finish line is a MUST!


Although we didn't do this race for time, I still figured I'd share some of our data (more as a record for us to look back at). Our official finish time was 4:15:58 (first half - 2:01:27 / second half - 2:14:31), with an average pace of 9:47 per mile.

I know I've said it before, but just in case you are new around these parts, my hubby has QUITE the sweet tooth. Let's just say having free french toast from Kneader's at the finish line definitely motivated him to push those last two or three miles! He may have inhaled every single bite, but from the sounds he was making while doing it, it must have tasted amazing ;)

I grabbed a piece for myself but ended up letting Ryan have it because he loves it so much!

And although THE Pavement Runner didn't want to run with us, I made sure we at least got a picture together afterwards (especially since we were backwards twinning!).

It felt weird running PHX and not running it with this guy, but he wanted the hubby and I to have
our time together to enjoy this monumental occasion and I am forever grateful! 

This was year three of the Phoenix 5 (on our way to achieving the amazing Arizona copper star). So I guess you know where I'll be February 9th, 2019... I mean, I gotta come back through 2020, right?! I even saw an AWESOME glass plaque at the Expo where you could display the five medals together (but forgot to take a picture of it... DOH! #BloggerFail).

I love that it looks like the cactus is clapping for me!

Source: PavementRunner's Twitter Feed
PS The hubby took this picture of Emily, Brian and I during the 2016 race and Brian had it printed on shirts


If you want to join in on the fun, make sure to register NOW because these FAN-FREAKIN'-TASTIC prices cannot be beat... The full is $79, the half is $69 and the 10K is $39! The races are earlier next year - February 9th instead of the end of the month - so hopefully that fits into your scheduled even better! {PS In case you missed out on the races this past weekend but want to run the virtually so you can still nab the bling, you can register HERE!}

Do you prefer to run the same races every year or do you always switch it up?

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