This past Saturday I ran the Phoenix Marathon. It was my 10th marathon (and 6th since my MS diagnosis). I flew in on Friday and went right to the Expo which was well organized, had a number of vendor booths, and many family friendly activities. Unfortunately, my family wasn’t able to come with me, so I picked up my race packet and breezed through the expo and then went to get checked into my hotel. The race swag was a tech fabric shirt and matching arm warmers, love them!
The weather forecast was showing 100% chance of rain and strong winds, so I was a bit apprehensive about how it all was going to go. I packed warm clothes and a rain jacket for waiting around for the race to start. I woke up at 3:45 Saturday morning, got ready and left my hotel to walk across the street and catch the busses that would take us 26.2 miles to the start of the race. (It was great staying at the hotel near the bus loading and finish line, very convenient!) I rode next to a man that was running his 37th marathon and was recovering from radiation therapy for cancer just a few months prior. He was also at the Boston Marathon last year and finished a few minutes after me and was very close to the bombs that went off. Wow, runners never cease to amaze me with their inspiring stories.
Staging area at the starting line on Usery Mountain
I arrived at the staging area at the starting line at 5:20am, with the race scheduled to start at 6:30. Thankfully it was not raining (yet), but the wind was whipping. There were heaters set up for everyone, and after I made a trip to the porta potties, I found a place to sit down and relax for a bit. Around 6:00 the temperature dropped about 10 degrees and the rain started. They played the national anthem and shot off fireworks, which was a fun touch. I started walking the short distance to the starting line, took off my sweats that were keeping me warm and checked my bag, deciding to keep the rain jacket on, not knowing if it was going to rain the entire race or not.
The race started on time, in the midst of a strong downpour. I was so happy to start running and warm up. It rained for the first few miles and then the rain stopped and the rest of the race was cloudy and windy, but fortunately there was no more rain. Other than the wind, the weather ended being ideal. The first 6 miles flew by with 2 uphill miles from 4-6, followed by some downhill.
At mile 7 my friend, Lorina, who lives in Phoenix, joined me to run the rest of the race with me. The race had sold out by the time I told Lorina I was running it, and since my family was not going to be at the finish line for me, I was super happy to have a friend with me, just in case I needed some help during or after. Since I have ended up in the medical tent in 2 out of the 10 marathons I have now run, my husband has a rule that I’m not “allowed” to race without having someone with me in the event something goes on with my health. So Lorina ended up being my race day angel. She stuck by my side the remainder of the miles (which got tough for me towards the end) and then helped me at the finish when I wasn’t feeling 100%. I didn’t end up in the medical tent, so that’s always a win, but I wasn’t feeling great. Lorina catered to me, stayed with me and got me food and water until I felt ready to head back to the hotel.
Sitting down at the finish line with my race day angel, Lorina
I ran a 3:41:59, which is a new PR and a Boston Qualifying time for me. My last PR was marathon #5 and that was a 3:42:27 over a year and a half ago, so while I only beat it by 28 seconds, I’ll take it!
Never been so happy to finish a race!
Overall, I was very impressed with the Phoenix Marathon. The race was well organized, the volunteers were wonderful, the course is definitely PR friendly (although not the prettiest course), and they treat you great. All runners that ran a Boston Qualifying time got a cool visor. The race also offers a half marathon and a 10k for those looking for other options. I would definitely run this race again!
“giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” Ephesians 5:20