Warning: long post ahead.
It’s always hard for me to put the experience of running a marathon into words. Anyone who has run one understands. I can try my best to
walk run you through my race but like a lot of things….you had to be there.
The day before the marathon (Friday) was a lot more eventful than usual. Emz and I woke up and went on a 2-mile shake out run with Bo just to make sure my legs were still working.
My Garmin was giving me some issues while we were running. The stopwatch was working but it wasn’t showing distance or pace. I was still on the fence about even wearing a watch at all for the marathon but I did want the option. We got home to shower and get ready to head to the expo so I brought the watch with me to wear around there and it seemed to be okay!
We picked up our friend Sara who was staying at a hotel near the expo and headed over to pick up our race kits and meet ALL the people! The PRO Compression booth turned into a bit of a party and I finally got to meet so many people who I follow on social media and who have been so insanely supportive through this whole marathon training journey.
We had a dinner meet up from 5-7 at La Grande Orange where I ordered a toasted english muffin with a side of avocado. I had the exact same thing for lunch and it honestly worked so perfect for me. I think it will be my new go-to before any race. SO many people showed up for dinner and it was so much fun. All the socializing, photos, laughs, and race strategizing went on.
Our friend VK makes these super awesome customized Starbucks cups and as you can tell, we were pretty excited about them. Mine says Mrs. Stamos’ Coffee on it because Andrea Barber who you may know as Kimmy Gibbler from Full House (front row, cream hoodie) and I have a long running joke going on (or maybe it’s a non-joke…I haven’t figured it out yet) that I am soon going to marry my childhood crush, Uncle Jesse. I think it’s a pretty good idea.
I was exhausted by the end of the day and was pretty excited to jump into bed. Emz and I stayed with Sara at her hotel and it worked out so great. We were able to hang out with her (it was her very first marathon!) and we were literally minutes from where the shuttle buses were picking up runners in the morning. So we laid out all our race gear, set our alarms for 4am (the race started at 6:30 and the last shuttle left at 5) and headed to bed.
Our morning started with a bit of an adventure. We decided it would be best to get on one of the last busses because the ride to the start line was about 30 minutes so even if we got on at 5am, we’d get there by 5:30 and still have to wait an hour before the start. So that’s exactly what we did. The only problem was that we got on one of the HALF MARATHON busses by accident so we were brought to a completely different start line. The bus driver, Austin (bless his heart), assured us everything would be fine and drove the three of us back to where the FULL MARATHON busses were picking up runners. By the time we got there, there were no other runners so it was just the three of us on a big school bus. I think it actually ended up working out in our favour because we got to stay in a warm bus! We only had to wait about 25 minutes by the time we got dropped off. It was great.
We found some friends, took a few photos, wished everyone good luck, and off we all went!
I reminded myself of my A, B and C goals for the race as well as the game plan that Phaedra sent me a few days prior. Emz knew exactly what she needed to do and actually ended up wearing my watch because her’s didn’t charge. So I was watch-less and put all of my faith into my rockstar of a pacer. I truly felt amazing at the start. I was 100% confident that I was going to have a good race. The weather was perfect, everything I was wearing was extremely comfortable, and Emz was holding my gels for me so I didn’t have to wear a belt or anything. I did bring a tiny hand held water bottle but she ended up taking that from me too. I wonder if I can pay her to come run every race with me?? #notjoking
Here is the race profile:
The first few miles were AH-MAY-ZING. Just look at that downhill. I felt like a million bucks. The plan was to reserve a bit of energy at the start and fall into a steady 8:05-ish min/mile at around mile 5-6 with the hopes of a fast finish to get me to a 3:32-3:33. That was the A goal. We spotted the 3:35 pacer and stuck with him for as long as we could. We were on target for the first 5 miles:
Mile 1 – 8:09
Mile 2 – 8:06
Mile 3 – 8:10
Mile 4 – 8:02
Mile 5 – ? (Emz accidentally pushed a button and reset the lap)
There were moments where we were ahead of the pacer and moments where we were behind him but tried not to let him get too far. That little uphill from miles 5-6 looks so tiny on the chart but after the first few miles of downhill, it felt like I was climbing a dang mountain!
Mile 6 – 8:30
Mile 7 – 8:16
Mile 8 – 8:05
Mile 9 – 8:07
Mile 10 – 8:03
Mile 11 – 8:08
Mile 12 – 8:12
Mile 13 – 8:13
We got to the halfway mark around 1:47 and I was still feeling really good at this point. The first half flew by pretty quickly. Emz told me I looked way better than I did last year which I was really happy about because I felt much better too. I told her I wanted to stay with the pacer until mile 20 and then try to kick it up a tiny bit and try for sub-8′s for the last few miles. We were able to keep up with him until about mile 17 before I started to fade.
Mile 14 – 8:13
Mile 15 – 8:15
Mile 16 – 8:19
Mile 17 – 8:15
I remember seeing the 18 mile marker and thinking how the heck I was going to get to the finish. My legs already felt trashed from all the downhill and the wind. There were two long stretches where we were going into a pretty strong headwind and it definitely took a toll on my legs and my overall energy. I just kept repeating to myself “You Can Do Hard Things”, which was conveniently stamped on a necklace charm that Sara had custom made for all three of us to wear.
Mile 18 – 8:24
Mile 19 – 8:43
Mile 20 – 8:59
Mile 21 – 9:13
This is when I started to question my sanity and swore I would never run another marathon again. I’m pretty sure I would have taken walk breaks if it wasn’t for Emily. Heck – I probably would have walked the last 6 miles. I was hurting. BAD. I felt defeated as we lost the 3:35 pacer…and then the 3:40 pacer passed us…and then went the 3:45 pacer. I knew I couldn’t let the 3:50 pacer pass me if I wanted to reach my B goal (sub- 3:50) so we kept trucking along. Emz said “I am not just going to let you PR. We are getting you to that finish line as fast as possible.”
Mile 22 – 9:35
Mile 23 – 9:40
Mile 24 – 10:06
Mile 25 – 9:58
Mile 26 – 9:44
Not sure about the .2 because once we crossed the finish Emz went back and found Sara in the last mile and ran her to the finish! Because that’s what normal people do after a marathon right? Hah.
I crossed the finish line in 3:46:22 (8:39 avg pace), 7 minutes faster than my previous marathon PR. It’s not the BQ I was hoping for, but I’m pretty dang happy with my time. It makes me feel like a sub-3:35 is within reach and I’ve just got to work a little harder to get there. Usually there’s a BQ bell for people to ring but since I came short, Devon (who works with the PHX marathon peeps) set up a sweet PR bell for me on a random tree. It was pretty awesome.
I loved that there were so many of us running this race because we got to hang out, wait for everyone to finish, celebrate, share race stories, take photos, and give lots and lots of hugs.
We cleaned up at the hotel and for once in my life I had an appetite post-race so we stopped at Cafe Rio on the way home and ate ALL the Mexican food! I took two Imodium and ate two gluten-free waffles pre-race, ate four Honey Stinger gels during the race as well as water at every aid station. I probably could have had one more gel but everything went pretty seamlessly. I may have finally found what works for ME.
We had a little time to rest and then headed to dinner at Oreganos which Pro Compression graciously organized for their ambassadors. Pizza, salads, awesome hats, and lots of laughs went down. I don’t think the day could have gone any better.
This past weekend was THE best race experience I’ve had. Ever. I keep saying that every time I run a marathon but seriously…nothing beats all of the energy and support I felt over the last few days. Crazy to think that the people who support me most are the ones I met on the internet. I am so thankful for each and every one of these human beings. They made marathon #4 an unforgettable one, that’s for sure.
If you made it to the end of this post, congratulations (YOU are the ones who deserve a medal!). And THANK YOU for reading, commenting, supporting, and just always being plain awesome to me.
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and congrats to anyone and everyone who raced!
PHOTO CRED to most of the group photos goes to Carlee and her wonderful husband also known as @ruggedwoodsman. The guy is a trooper and busted out his fancy camera to get photos of all us crazy runners.
I’m off to enjoy my last night in Phoenix with my favourite people!