Rock and Roll Arizona Marathon 2015 Race Report

With the Rock and Roll marathon this January, I met a little goal I’d had my eyes on for a few years: I’ve now run as many marathons as I am old. (37) So, it’s a goal I can continue to try to reach year after year!

That about sums up how seriously I approached this race. It was only a few months since I ran New York, which was a pretty special race for me. KJ and I had tried to be consistent in keeping up with our long runs, but the holidays and some vague illness contributed to some pretty lackluster training for this race.

Honestly, this race hadnt even been on my radar until KJ came with me to the Denver Half race expo back in October. She mentioned wanting to run a marathon again and I had already been planning to come to AZ for this weekend, so we decided to go for it. I was really more excited for my friend who hadnt run a marathon since a disastrous Boston 2012 when she got severe heatstroke and vomited several times on the course, as well as afterwards (I’m still surprised they let her continue, but there were others in worse shape than she)

So, this is a long-winded intro to say that I claimed “our” goal was 3:30, but I wasnt confident about my ability to execute. The week before New York I got on the treadmill and ran 5 miles at race pace to get familiar with the speed; I tried before Arizona and wasn’t able to hit nor sustain that pace. Hmm…

It was fun to have a friend to get excited about the race with, exchanging eager texts in the week leading up to the race. KJ was going to stay with my family Friday and Saturday night, so she got the chance to meet my family and we all went to the expo together. Mom was going to run the half, as were her friend and her friends’ daughter. I could tell KJ was nervous about the race temperature and getting the right hydration and nutrition for the race, and honestly her apprehension was a bit welcome as it helped me try to focus on the fact we were running 26.2 miles!

I dressed in the same gear as I did for Pikes Peak: Readytalk singlet, shorts, bright pink calf sleeves, injinji socks, hokas and a bright pink headband. I carried my flipbelt with two gus, chapstick and my iphone, but no headphones.

Race morning is easy when your dad can drop you off at the start. We were there in good time to go to the portapotty and drop of KJ’s bag at gear check. I did a bit of a warmup jog and then we headed on up to the corrals. We were listed to be in corral 1 but as we lined up, KJ saw the 3:30 pace group in corral 2. She suggested we move back (which turned out to be a great move). I had my old forerunner 315 and the minute I turned it on, it said it had a low battery. Then it refused to catch the satellite. Not the first time at this race.. oh well! We had the pace group leaders to keep us honest.

It was really great to run with them, they were from Denver as well and we did the standard runner exchange of stories for a few miles. But I realized pretty quickly that I just wasnt feeling great. My hip actually started hurting at about mile 7, which wasn’t welcome as I hadnt really had trouble with that during training. As well, the soles of my feet were surprisingly sore. Around mile 9 I called over to KJ – “I’m going to slow down. You stay with the pace leaders until 24, then give it all you’ve got”. She offered to slow down with me, but I was adamant. I didnt want her to not see what she was capable of. Then soon after we had this exchange, I felt myself drift back. But I didnt mind; I felt like this race was about getting my friend in a position to have a great race, and finish marathon #37.

It also turned out to be great that my watch wasnt working, as it prevented me from trying to figure out the math. instead, I somewhat put myself on autopilot and actually even found that a few miles slipped by without my noticing! It wasnt easy per se but it wasn’t bad as I had slowed down to a sustainable pace.

The out-and-back section around 13-19 was a bit surprising, it felt a little challenging on the way out but thankfully I realized why on the way back as we had a nice long downhill!

Although I apparently did slow down over the race, it was never anything super apparent where I hit the wall and fell apart. I did wish I’d had another gu, but overall the weather was pretty good (as good as you can expect in Arizona!) and I felt decent. I did have plenty of time to reflect on training, and if I want to keep doing these things and feeling good about them, I owe myself some more training. Specifically, I need to get in some more mid-week long runs. Before I got injured, I had several weeks where I was getting over 10 miles 3-4 times a week. I just don’t have a great base under me right now.

I came in at 3:44:44 (even though the 3:45 pace group, which started after me, passed me. Huh???) and was glad to have snuck in under 3:45 even without a watch. I ran into the 3:30 pace group leader right away and he said that KJ had executed perfectly, and ran in at 3:27:54. Yippee!!!

My mom also did great; I had put a goal in front of her to run 2:15 as the McMillan Pace Calculator predicted that could translate into a 4:59 marathon. The day before she hadnt been sure if she could do it; she came in at 2:14:21! Look out Chicago, here we come!

I was pretty sore after the race; a blister on the top of one toe oozed out starting on mile 25, and my quads and hips were super sore. Honestly, there’s just something about this race. I really like the half, but I’m not a fan at the marathon: this was my third attempt and I’m always vaguely dissatisfied at the end. I told my parents not to let me do it again! I’ve set two PRs at the half marathon distance, I should just stick with that here 🙂

A 3:44 is obviously nothing to be ashamed of, but I was a tiny bit surprised at how worse I did compared to New York but a few weeks ago. I guess I thought I could coast on that training and benefit from a seemingly easier course. Guess not – I;m not dissatisfied, but there is work to do!