A few months ago, Stacy and I got this crazy idea. We decided it would be a fun idea to sign up for another marathon just six weeks after we were to run St. Jude.
Coincidentally we both had our minds on the Arizona Rock ‘n Roll marathon. It was fate. We both signed up, and convinced Nicole and Diana to sign up too. It would be a fun and relaxed girls weekend, where we could also check another marathon off the list.
When I told people I was running this race, I pretty much got the same reaction – “you’re crazy”. I brushed off the comments and then stopped telling people my crazy plan. Which is why it was never mentioned here or on my other social media obsessions.
I didn’t realize how crazy of an idea this actually was, until I finished the St. Jude Marathon and could barely walk….I began to really question the decision and wonder if it was even possible for me to run another marathon. My body hurt, my feet still hurt, and my heart was not there.
It took until a week before the race to start getting excited for the race and to accomplish marathon #8. Stacy and I decided that we would run the race together and just have FUN. Diana, Nicole and Diana’s husband Lee were running the half marathon and had also had a plan to start the race together.
As soon as we landed in Phoenix on Friday night, I was beyond excited for the weekend and to run another marathon. I knew the weather would be gorgeous, there was no pressure, my body felt back to normal, and I was with some of my favorite people!
We were greeted at the airport by Diana, Lee and Nicole. It was great to see their smiling faces. I am sure the wine consumed prior to our arrival had nothing to do with their extreme excitement ;)
We went back to the hotel, had girl talk time in our room, then fell fast asleep.
Saturday morning we woke up rested and refreshed. Without the pressure of trying to PR a marathon, I slept like a rock. It was awesome.
After we got dressed, Nic, Stacy and I hit the Phoenix roads for a 2 mile shake out. I couldn’t get over the gorgeous weather and the SUN! We had not felt the sun like that in a very long time. KC has been a bit brutal lately!
After the shakeout, we grabbed coffee and breakfast then went to the expo (which was a really good expo btw). The whole morning was great. In Memphis I was a nervous wreck the day before the race. So nervous that I didn’t have as much fun as I should have. In Phoenix, I was so relaxed and able to enjoy every moment.
Following the expo, we went to the pool for lunch and relaxation. I made sure the group stayed in the shade so we did not use up any extra energy. I also made sure we were all drinking plenty of water…even though fruity pool drinks sounded SO much better.
Saturday night we went to dinner at 1130 The Restaurant. It was a great place and perfect for a pre-race meal. After dinner, we drove down to Tempe to check out the Half starting line and the finish line for the race. It all made me so excited!
After we got back to the hotel, the pre-race ritual began. Numbers were pinned, tags were added to shoes, and race strategy was discussed. We were all ready to run :)
Sunday morning, Nicole got up first to get ready for the half and meet Lee and Di. The half started in Tempe by the finish line of the marathon and half marathon. Therefore they had to drive down there and get situated much earlier than we had to be at the start of the full.
Stacy and I got ready and were out the door by 7:05am. We walked a few blocks from our hotel to the start and prepared for our 26.2 mile journey ahead.
Our pre-race nerves started, but overall we were still very excited for the adventure ahead.
And now begins our 26.2 mile journey…….
As soon as we crossed the finish line, our strategy began. Stacy and I decided we would warm up the first few miles, then get into a groove of 8:15-8:20 miles.
The first few miles flew by, and before we knew it, we were at the halfway mark! Our pace was steady at an 8:20 and we were having fun and enjoying each others company.
Miles 13 – 20 were a weird out and back. I am not a fan of the out and back races because you get to see what is ahead for you. If you run down a hill, you know you have to run right back up the thing when you turn around. But it was nice to see other faces while we were running and do some people watching. That is certainly a benefit of the out and back.
Side bar I am still in SHOCK over the number of people running in long sleeves and pants. How did they not suffocate!!! I even saw someone in GLOVES at mile 20.
When we hit mile 20, the race started to get hard…as it always seems to! Someday I want to run a 20 mile race and see how much better it feels than the full 26.2 does ;)
Stacy and I continued to run mid-8’s and tried to maintain pace. By this time of the race, there was no avoiding the sun. I forgot my running sunglasses at home, so I ended up running in my huge bug-eyed Tom Ford glasses. While I might have looked a bit ridiculous, I am so glad I decided to wear them! Had I not, I would have been miserable from the squinting and likely added 5 years of aging to my face.
It was also getting warmer. I don’t think the heat really had an affect on my race, but I could definitely feel it. It was so weird, because while I knew it was warm (mid 60s) I never sweat. Apparently in the dry heat, your sweat evaporates as soon as it leaves your pores, which is why I didn’t sweat yet had salt all over me.
At mile 22, Stacy told me she needed a little pep talk. I proceeded to give her the worst pep talk ever and gave her my “shut up and run” line. Sorry Stac. I was finally able to pull together a semi-inspirational message for her and that got us through the next few hard miles. My body was hurting too, and I probably used up all the good pep talks on myself in my own head!
I tried to distract us from the race as much as possible and get us to the finish. We reminisced on our runs together, and the fact that this was our 4th marathon we had done together. And our first marathon we did just the two of us the whole time.
Stacy is the reason why I started running marathons, and it was so much fun to run this one with her. If you want to have a real bonding experience with someone, run a marathon with them!
At mile 24, we finally saw the half marathoners and hit our first real hill! This race was INSANELY flat. I still cannot get over how flat it was. Once we peaked the bridge, we could tell we were getting really close. I loved this race because we stayed separate from the half marathoners the entire time. We could see them, but we didn’t have to share a road with them. This is a MAJOR bonus when the race is bigger like this one.
The last mile of this race was one of my favorite finishes I’ve had (behind Boston and NYC of course).
We got to run across a bridge over water, and looked down to the finish line. We could also see the finish line village and Beer tent which was extremely motivating. As we left the bridge and were almost to the finish, we saw our cheering squad!! It gave us both the biggest smiles to hear Di, Nic and Lee cheer for us. It also gave us our boost to get to the finish.
Stacy and I crossed the finish line just as we had in Boston 2013. Hand in hand.
We were done (finish time 3:41:10)! Marathon #8 for me and #15 for her was complete and it felt GOOD.
We immediately went to the reunion area and saw our friends. Then we got a beer and headed back to the hotel.
Looking back on this race and weekend as a whole, I have to smile. We had a great weekend together and the race was perfect. It was so great to run this entire race with Stacy and spend this time with her. She is such a great friend and I am beyond thankful and blessed to have her in my life.
As for the Arizona Rock n Roll marathon, I thought it was a great race and I would highly recommend it.
Thank you for all of the support for the St. Jude Marathon, and for this one as well.