Phoenix or Bust: Rock n’ Roll Marathon 2012
After setting my alarm for 3:58am Friday morning, the marathon took on another form: it became more real. Until we touched down into Phoenix, the event still seemed so distant, so ephemeral. To maximize time in the Valley of the Sun, Aaron and I left on our separate flights at 6:15am and 6am, respectively.
We had stopped for layovers on our journey. Aaron ended up beating me into Phoenix by 20 minutes and waited patiently as I hopped on the bus to meet him at his terminal. My dad picked us up and it was pre-race go time.
First: eat at Marleje’s. No, this didn’t have anything to do with the race. Aaron grew up a huge Dan Marleje fan, so we ate lunch at the downtown venue prior to getting our race packets. It was a surprisingly good lunch (especially the shoestring French fries). After getting our fill and checking out some great sports memorabilia, we walked over to the Arizona Civic Center where the running expo was housed. Here, we picked up our race numbers (6162!), our t-shirts, and our official “swag bag”. Very cleverly, they shuffled us through a merchandise area before we could get to the rest of the expo. Who needs a $45 t-shirt letting the world know they ran a marathon? Some people do. I opted to keep my wallet unused.
The rest of the expo was typical: vendors flashing their wares to the runners looking for the edge. From sunglasses to energy drinks, jelly beans (excuse me – energy jelly beans) and headphones that they guarantee will NEVER fall out of your eyes, we wandered through the sea of commercialism, picking up a free sample or two along the way.
Friday night was carbo-loading night one: pancakes. I ended up eating more of the gooey egg dish and turkey sausage than pancakes (protein still important). Laura came over and joined us, which was great getting to spend quality time with her. Aaron and I fought against the Mountain Time Zone and managed to stay up until 9pm Friday night.
Luckily, sleep came easy and we woke up Saturday morning feeling refreshed. We started our morning meeting up with Rhonda and Michelle, my dad’s co-worker and her daughter, who were also running the marathon. Michelle ran the marathon last year, so we considered her our veteran leader. I had decided after a discussion with Laura that I was going to invest in some KT Tape to help my plantar fasciitis during the run. I was really worried about my feet during the run.
So, we met up with Rhonda and Michelle at a running store where I picked up some blue KT Tape (hot). Then, we drifted over to Starbucks to discuss strategies, review the race course, and share our goals. Michelle was going to stick with her mom during the run, as Rhonda had some challenges with her knees. I was going for a 4:30 finish and my dad was aiming for 5 hours.
Aaron was recruited as our assistant in all of these projects. From carrying clothes to driving the car to the lightrail, my family kept him busy throughout the weekend.
Saturday afternoon: I took my first run in two weeks and my first ever run with the KT Tape. I felt pretty good although a bit stiff during the 2 mile loop. My dad and I ran an 11:23 pace, which worried me. I struggled a bit on that run. I projected that a 4:30 finish was not within my reach after missing so much training. The good news: the KT Tape did help my feet. It worked to make my hips and thighs work harder instead of my tendons.
Saturday night: Carbo-loading #2. Other family members came over and joined in chowing down pasta, homemade meatballs, salad, and Rosemary & Olive Oil bread. This was it. Tomorrow morning was the big day. I split a White Chocolate Ale from Sonoran Brewing Company with Aaron (I really enjoyed it!)
I pinned my number on my shirt. Aaron and I packed the backpack with needed supplies and clothes. The alarm now set for 4:30am. Three hours before race.
Sunday: The Race Day
I woke up during the night and thought it was time for the race. Well, it was only 2:45am, but my nerves were in overdrive. I was able to fall back asleep until 4:30am. I got up, ate my peanut butter/banana/honey toast, drank one cup of coffee, and three glasses of water. I did not want to drink any more liquid after 5:30am in order to avoid having to use the restroom during the marathon.
We left the house around 6:30am and made it downtown by 7:00am. After using the restroom one last time, we met up with Rhonda and Michelle. We all four started in the same corral. Unfortunately, the race did not start at 7:30am as planned. It ended up starting at 7:58am, which may have impacted future events. But, we remained positive and upbeat, dancing around and staying energized. The weather was perfect. The wind had dissipated. The impending rain stayed away. The temperature was a bit cool but would feel great. AND, it was overcast – aka no beating sun cooking us from Phoenix to Tempe.
And we’re off!
So, what can you say about running a marathon? I actually felt great for the first half. I loved seeing people cheering on the sides of the road. That served as a strong motivator for me. I ran with my dad until about the 6 mile mark. I met up with my family and friends at the 6.5 mile marker. I had been looking forwarding to seeing them since the start. Laura, Vo, and Aaron met me at the 13 and 19 mile markers as well. Having people staggered out to cheer for you throughout the race was a big plus.
Miles 18-19 were my worst physically and mentally. Because of the delayed start, I believe I became too dehydrated (plus the normal dry Phoenix air does not help). My legs cramped up badly during those two miles. When I reached Aaron at 19, I had to stop and stretch. I also took in some additional Gatorade at that time. That was the low point for me during the marathon. I had not completed a training run past 17 miles, so this was new territory for me.
I wore a watch to keep my pace, and I was clocking in just over a 10 minute pace for the first half, which was fabulous. I felt so good during the first half of the run. Some other runners shared that miles 19-21 may mess with my head. I did do a little mental workout while in the first few miles after 20, but nothing more than playing a quick game of “I’m going on a trip and I’m going to bring…”.
Right after the mile 24 post, we had to climb a hill, which was very unwelcomed at that point of the run. But, the anticipation was growing. Only 2.2 miles left! Then, we crossed the bridge over Tempe Town Lake. I think I grinned during this entire portion of the run.
When I was nearing the 26 mile marker, I made eye contact with a blonde woman in glasses. I felt on some level that I knew this woman, but I could not connect with who it was. Well, snap back to reality, Katie. It was my family! They were calling my name, but I was in such a zone that I failed to hear them. I never even heard my poor mom hollering my name further down near the end. I picked up my speed and forced my body to finish.
And then it was over. I smiled for the cameras, wrapped in my tinfoil coat, donning a shiny new medal. I could barely walk. Some people looked so natural. How could they do this after 26.2? Not me. I reconnected with my mom, Aaron, and my friends while the B-52s rocked on. It took me about 30 minutes to have the courage to sit down.
Damage: three blisters, one exceptionally sweet. Intense aching in the hamstrings, calves, and quads.
Was it worth it? Yes, to be able to say I ran a marathon. But more so, to say that I saw my dad complete a marathon at the age of 60. That I had been able to train with him and even run the first quarter of the marathon with him. I am so proud of me, but I am more proud of my dad.