Let’s just start this off with saying I absolutely hate writing recaps. I am a horrible storyteller I feel like recaps are kind of boring. Necessary but boring. I’m not fast enough or interesting enough that people would be like “OMG I want to know every detail so I can run like her”, you know? Does this even make sense? Anyway, with that being said, I will try and make this as short and non-boring as possible.
Like I said, I had no plan going into this race. My very first marathon was quite a few years ago and to make a long story short, I got injured a month before the race (PFS aka runner’s knee) and was told by my PT at the time that I couldn’t run the race. I ran it anyway and finished in 4:19. It was the most painful experience ever and I told myself I would never run a marathon again.
Fast forward to my trip last fall when I visited Emz. All it took was her saying “Come back in March for the Phoenix Marathon!” I got home from Arizona, signed up, booked my flight and started my countdown. I trained as hard as I could given the crazy winter circumstances here in Toronto. I only ran about three days a week, sometimes four. I skipped some runs, made use of the treadmill a lot because outside was just too dangerous, and sometimes had to split long runs into two separate runs when I was short on time. I knew I wanted to break four hours but my main goal for the marathon was to have fun and use this race to gage where I was at physically so that I could get stronger and faster.
Let’s talk about race day now, shall we?
Start time was 6:30. Crazy early. I guess it usually gets so hot in Arizona that they need to get a move on before the sun comes out. This time it RAINED. Phoenix hadn’t gotten rain in three months and of course the day of the race Mother Nature decided it was time to water all the cactus/cactuses/cacti? I still don’t know the plural of cactus. It was also a bit cold but I knew it would be okay once I started running.
Emz ran with me for most of the race (first 18.5 miles and last 4 miles) so I was pretty lucky. She was a huge motivator. We went out too fast (sub 8:00 miles for the first couple miles) but because it was a major downhill she told me to just let my legs roll with it as long as I wasn’t feeling like I was pushing and trying too hard. She’s the boss so I listened.
Once the downhill part was over we started to slow down and maintained about an 8:15 pace until the halfway mark. This was painful for me because I felt two massive blisters develop on my feet. I think it’s because my feet, socks and shoes were soaked from the rain. I’ve never gotten blisters from my Elixirs or from Pro Compression socks so it was super strange. The blisters burst just before 13ish miles and after that I felt “fine”. Not really sure how to define “fine” but I guess I was as good as I was going to be.
Emz and I cruised along until 18.5 miles and then we saw her parents so she hopped out and got a ride to the 22 mile mark. I know I only had to run 3.5 miles without her but it was honestly the hardest thing ever. I just wanted to sit on the curb and cry because my legs were hurting so bad. To make it worse, my iPod stopped working around the halfway mark so I didn’t even have music to motivate me. It was literally all Emz. Knowing I only had about a half hour until I got to see her again is what kept me going.
[My lonely, sad attempt at a smile and a wave.]
Seeing her face was the best thing ever. I had hit 22 miles in a little over three hours so I knew that even if I just coasted and ran the rest super slow I could get a sub-4. That’s exactly what I did. With two miles to go, my friends Rachelle and Julia jumped in and ran with us to the finish. My quads were cramping and I kind of wanted to die. I’m just being honest. I kept asking myself why I CHOSE to inflict such pain on myself. For some reason I was still smiling when I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 3:53:16.
I almost fell to the ground when I stopped. A volunteer caught me in time and my three amazing friends supported my weight until I got a little more feeling back in my legs. For the first time ever, I got a massage after the race and it hurt like crazy but felt so good. Emz put a sweater on me (I was actually useless and couldn’t do anything for myself) because it started to get real cold and she forced me to eat a bagel even though I wanted to throw up.
We said our goodbyes to Rachelle, Julia, and Emz’s parents (who win an award for most supportive parents, by the way), hopped in the car and went home to shower and put our legs up. Mike (Emz’s husband) went to get us In-N-Out (animal fries!) and I ate a big bag of sour patch kids while laying on the floor. Pretty perfect if you ask me.
What I wore: Lululemon ‘stuff your bra’ tank (held all my gels and my malfunctioning iPod), Lululemon ‘speed’ shorts, Pro Compression calf sleeves + low socks, Mizuno Elixirs and Mizuno visor. I think I dressed perfectly for the weather and was comfortable the entire time (with the exception of the blister situation). I had no chafing from my clothing which is huge for me because I always seem to have an issue with the seams on a lot of my shorts.
What I ate: I don’t do well with food before a race but I was able to eat half an English muffin with Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter. During the marathon I had three Clif Shots (two raspberry, one vanilla) and I stopped at all but one water station to drink (water, not Gatorade). I had an extra gel in my shirt but didn’t feel like I really needed it. I think I will use water stations all the time from now on. It was hard to stop, walk, drink, and get started running again but I prefer that over carrying extra weight around in the form of a belt or hydrapak.
I know I said I would try to make this short but I guess that didn’t work. If you made it to the end, congratulations!!
The Phoenix marathon was by far my favourite race experience to date. It’s going to be a hard one to beat. It was a tough training cycle but crossing the finish line knowing how hard I worked was the best feeling ever. Thank you to Emz for always having my back and offering me with her words of wisdom, support and encouragement. I couldn’t ask for a better best friend. No one has ever believed in me as much as she has and I am forever grateful. Julia and Rachelle – these girls are complete rockstars. Crossing the finish and having them by my side is a moment I will never forget. I hope to be as speedy and inspiring as them one day.
And that’s that! Thank you all for following along in my crazy journey. I couldn’t have done it without all of your positive comments and support.
Now onto the next race! 😉