It took me a while to finish writing but here it is :)
I had high expectations going into this marathon even with patchy training in December. Tanya and I drove to the Phoenix area Friday and spent a relaxing night under the stars in the McDowell Mountain regional park. This is the location that the Javalina Jundred is run. Living in southern California, you forget how many stars light the night ski. But in this park away from major civilization the night ski was ablaze with millions of bright stars. It was incredibly quiet also, other than an occasional coyote howl we were able to sleep through the night in total peace.
We were awaken by the weekend warrior mountain bikers just after dawn. They came in droves to enjoy the miles and miles of trails this park has to offer. We took our time cleaning up and getting out of bed. We later had breakfast(bowl of soy milk & bran cereal w/ nuts and raisins) and then went for a short hike to loosen up the legs. It was quite chilly. Great tempature for a marathon, I thought. The cooler the better.
Once leaving the Park , we drove to the Expo which was located at the Convention Center in downtown Phoenix. We picked up our bib and Goodie bag. The draw for this run is actually the 1/2 marathon which drew over 25,000 participants; the marathon drew just over 95oo. We then took a leisurely walk through the expo admiring the new running gear and the many gadgets that I guess help you run better.
Tempe, was our next stop to check in at our hotel the 4 Points Sheraton Hotel. We chose this hotel because it was in walking distance from the finish line which was at the ASU football stadium parking lot. We also learned that the morning shuttle pick-up spot was only a block away. Everything was looking good for us especially with the hotels location.
Time for lunch. Tanya usually prepares our meals and we carry them in a large cooler. but we decided to be adventurous this trip. Prior travelling we did a Google search for a vegan place to eat and found one in Tempe called Green. We give them 5 stars, just what we needed two very tasty and healthy pasta dishes. The food was fresh and delicious. The staff were efficient and friendly. We don't eat out often, but we would eat there again definitely.
So, back to the hotel we went to get some rest. The Hotel was very modern and contemporary. Very nice downstairs lounge and bar with a very big TV. The Eagles/Cardinals game would be on after the marathon, and I am a big Eagles fan. Our room was large, over looking the pool; it was also very clean and contemporary. We thought this is nice, lets just relax look at a little TV and get ready for Sunday. The shuttles began leaving at 4:30am so we wanted to go to bed early for the 4:00am wake up call. When we finally decided to go to bed that is when the fiasco began. I believe the hotel walls were made of paper. The ice machine down the hall rumbled like thunder every hour, people having a conversation walking down the hall sounded if they where in the room with us. The cars and Trucks driving by the hotel echoed like a New York subway. An when it couldn't get any nosier, the person in the room next to us snored like a grizzly bear and left his TV on all night! As you can imagine we did not get much sleep, if any. I won't recommending this hotel.
The morning did not come quickly, 4am is here time to get dressed. We walk out of the hotel and make our way to the shuttles. I was a funny site as people came from all directions and side streets. The marathon zombies making there way through the morning darkness to board the bus. The ride to the start was about 40 minutes, we arrived at the start area just after 5:30am; the marathon was schedule to begin at 7:40am. We were ahead of the major crowds, so the porta potties did not have lines and still were clean. The start area had quite a spread, coffee, bars, water, drinks, and of course good music blaring. "Let's get it on" by Marvin Gaye filled the air and people stopped in their tracks to give their groove on.
The temperature was pleasant, actually not as cold as I had hoped, but let me speak for myself. Tanya said she was freezing and her toes had gone numb. We walked around locating our corral and the UPS trucks that would transport our clothes to the finish.
7:15am time to warm-up, parallel to the corrals we were able to do some easy strider's to get the blood flowing and loosen the legs and arms up. I have become so dependant on my Garim 305, I have begun to think it is actually hindering my race day performances. So Tanya and I both decided not to wear them today, and run completely on we felt, not on pace alone.
We started together in corral 3# which was for sub 4 to 3 hour pace. The gun went off right at 7:40 am and we took off together. As we passed the first mile marker a bank clock displayed 48 degrees, perfect! I was a beautiful morning, and it felt great to be running. We worked our way into quick but conservative pace. It is easy to get pulled early in a race; being mindful of that we consciously held ourselves back a little. It is always easy to start strong, but it is not easy to always finish strong.
Tanya and I split after I made a quick pit stop on the side of the road. So it was up to me alone to pull off this sub 4 marathon today. The miles seemed to be passing by fast, the water stations where about every mile so I still used them as walk breaks. I would run to the last station in the line then grab a few cup and walk while drinking. This helped me from choking and also gave my legs a quick break. The course was thus far FLAT, no hills to climb up or tocruise down. I reached the 10K in 53:41; I did have my Timex on.
I fell into a faster but comfortable pace with a group of ladies, they looked strong and where feeding off of each other. I fell in behind them and allowed them to carry me. I love it when your body just goes, you don't have to think, the rhythm just does its thing. The next thing I know I am coming up on the 1/2 at 1:52:56 right on pace. I think I walked and downed a gel. The temperature was rising, I could tell as I needed to pour water over my head more often at the water stations.
I wish I could share more about the course, but other than the bands it was not scenic. We ran through neighborhoods of Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe. I continued to run on feel, pushing the pace and then backing off if I felt my breathing and heart rate shoot up. I also kept pace with other runners, allowing them to pull me if I felt they had a pace that was a little quicker than I.
I reached the 20th mile in 2:56:00 walked again and took a gel, I had one gel left which I would take at mile 23. Only 6.2 miles to go, time to dig deep. If I'm going to go under 4 hours this is it. My inner thighs are beginning to ache and my quads are feeling heavy and full of blood, not good; but I still felt strong. I just started saying to myself over and over, "don't fight it, embrace it". I shortened my stride and quickened my pace. By mile 23 the pain was gone and the quads where numb but moving ahead like pistons.
We had to cross this bridge at mile 24, it was the first hill in the race that I remember. From the bridge I could see the finish line in the ASU stadium parking lot. I glanced at my watch, I was going to go under 4 hours. I sucked it up, and let my body flow; there wasn't much flowing at this point though! I rounded the corner into the stadium parking lot; the crowd was screaming. I crossed the finish WHEW! With a time of 3:56:41 a new PR!
Tanya finished ahead of me in 3:51:39 not a PR for her but another solid run!.