The Rock N Roll Phoenix Marathon was my 8th marathon. My previous PR was Fargo in 2009, with a 3:44. Since then, I’ve had another baby, and had a horrible injury — with the stress fractures to my pubic ramus. But I’ve come back carefully (and luckily) and feel like this year I put in the work and am in pretty close to the best shape I’ve been in. I wanted to requalify for Boston, and with the standards for 2013, that meant 3:40:00, not even the :59, damn it! I felt confident that would happen, and my hope was to come in closer to 3:35, if I had a gold-star, perfect day.
My sister Pam lives in Phoenix, and she watched the kids while my brother in law, John, drove me to the start. It’s good to have a project manager/engineer brother in law. I knew I would get to the start on time. I knew he wouldn’t get lost. And since his father was a marathoner, and my sister is a marathoner, I knew John would understand my pre-race psychosis. Philip was running the half, and was kind enough to allow us to drop him off an hour before his race. John has a project in downtown Phoenix, and it was a block from the race start. That meant I had a really nice work trailer for my own private bathroom and my own pre-race freakout. And then John walked me the block to the start and got me into my corral.
In the midst of my panic, he said, “Are you always this nervous before you do something fun?”
It was a great reminder to me to calm down, and remember, yes, I have a goal, but this is also my hobby, and something I love, so I shouldn’t lose sight of that during the race.
I ended up chatting to the woman next to me in the corral, who was a triathlete. This was her first marathon. You know where this is going.
“So, uh, do you ever, uh, pee in your wetsuit?” I asked her.
“Oh yeah,” she said. “All the time. It’s kind fo gross.”
“Yeah, I pee my pants before every race,” I said.
And I swear she moved away from me. Just a little. Can you blame her?
The race was a half hour late starting (what the FUCK, Phoenix?), and a lot of people were sitting down in the corral. Thank god it was also very, very flat, because I stood there and peed. Luckily it just pooled around my shoes. The guy behind me laughed and waved it off the first time. Then he sort of gasped, I think because of pure pee volume. And finally he said, “Doesn’t that burn, later in the race?”
And you know what? It doesnt. Which is weird when I think about it.
I ran this race with headphones, the first time I’ve done that in a marathon. My friend Danni made me a mix of about 3 hours worth of music. I told myself I would play it at the 10K mark, knowing then I would be finished before I ran out of music. I need to completely disassociate when I race, and I thought I would try music this time. Usually I just count to myself, or mock the people around me, or chat with a friend.
I also decided to run this race a little weird — the second half is downhill. I always fade toward the end. So I decided to go out for my A goal (3:35) and hope I could hang on if I faded to at least hit my B goal of 3:40. I knew I was in shape for either, physically, if I could just hold on mentally.
7.40 — I think some of these were off. I also realized I despise running by people wearing Garmins. Friends, the course is marked. Wear a fucking watch like a normal person. Believe me, I love my Garmin. But not in a race. People were dinging all over the place. Isn’t that annoying? And what are you going to do — go complain if the course measures long or something? I mean, really, just use a watch. Or turn the fucking sound off. That would make me insane to have it tell me I hit the mile before the course says so. I also think this is where I started the music. (The playlist is at the bottom.) I turned it up so loud I couldn’t hear anything around me. That is pretty unsafe, but I credit it, and the music itself, to helping me completely focus.
8.02 and 1:47 for the half-marathon
8.25 — this part of the course was a godawful out-and-back. You went in around here soemwhere, and came out around mile 19. It was cool to see the first woman go past, but it also was insanely boring. I don’t look around much when I run anyway, but it was really, really dull. And Phoenix is either full of trailer parks and smokers or this was the ugliest course they could find.
8.28 — somewhere around here the “Swamp Buggy Badass” song came on, and I think I hit repeat like 3 times on it. I also had to stop and look at my ipod. I rarely use it, so I kept hitting pause/play instead of select, and then realized what I was doing. Then I laughed at my stupidity for like 2 miles.
9.02 — 2:46 for the 20-mile, and a 20-mile PR for me by a minute
8.17 — saw John and Philip around here
8.48 — started to fade
9.22 — really, really started to fade here, and talk myself out of the race
9.12 — just fucking rally, jesus
8.45 — I did not pay a thousand dollars to crappy airlines to blow this
8.46 — I couldn’t figure out where it would end. And there were no water stops after 24, which is crazy. It wasn’t hot, and I wasn’t thirsty, but still. You need something to break up the miles. I was at the point where I could say, “Make it to the next water stop,” but I needed goals. I felt a little lost in the desert here. I also thought a parking garage was the ASU stadium, and then was like, oh wait, that’s not it. It was disconcerting having no idea where the finish was, and how close to it I might be. That’s what I get for not looking at a map.
And … I didn’t hit stop at the finish.
Official time: 3:41:49. Not good enough for Boston 2013, but good enough for a 3-minute PR for me.
I can’t complain (but I will). I am proud of myself for PRing. I’m shocked I could pull some sub-9:00s out of my ass in the final 10K. I’m horrified by how I talkd myself out of the race around 20. I had no reason to slow down. I even was thinking, wow, my whole body feels great. So I know it was all mental. I turned the music down there and tried to pay attention to my surroundings a bit. But then I saw people faltering and realized I needed to not look at them, you know? I tried to only look at people who looked strong.
I think starting the way I did was the right move. I felt better in this race than any other marathon before — except maybe Twin Cities this past year, which I ran really for fun. I definitely think I had that 3:35 in me physically. I just need to work on the mental parts of it. I was definitely sad when the 3:40 pacer went by (I think I was at a water stop), but I couldn’t catch back up. And I absolutely think the music helped. If Danni can run 100 miles in the Alaskan wilderness hauling her gear in a sled in the dead of winter, I can suck it up for 26.2 miles.
I absolutely wished I would have qualified for Boston. But as Philip and I joked, aw well, we can’t afford to take the trip anyway. But I think I might try again this spring, in Brookings or Fargo. Pam is going to come run, too, so whichever race she picks, I’ll be there.
I will say that I am more sore than I have ever been after a race (except when I have been injured). I had to stand up on the plane today, holding a sleeping Genevieve, so Philip and Jack could go to the bathroom, and I had no quad strength to lift me. It was horrible. And I woke up overnight to take ibuprofen because my legs were so sore it woke me up. Youch.
Here is the playlist, for those interested.
Sail 4:19 AWOLNATION Megalithic Symphony
Hey Hey (DF’s Attention Vocal Mix) 7:16 Dennis Ferrer Hey Hey
Ni**as in Paris 3:39 Kanye West & JAY Z Watch the Throne (Deluxe Version)
1940 (AmpLive Remix) 3:15 The Submarines Honeysuckle Remixes
Help I’m Alive 4:46 Metric Fantasies
Virgin 4:28 Manchester Orchestra Simple Math
Great DJ 3:25 The Ting Tings We Started Nothing
Luno 3:56 Bloc Party Silent Alarm
Let the Drummer Kick 4:17 Citizen Cope Citizen Cope
Dancing On Our Graves 3:24 The Cave Singers Invitation Songs (Bonus Track Version)
Dare 4:04 Gorillaz Demon Days
U.R.A.Q.T. 2:57 M.I.A. Arular
Midnight And I 3:34 White Rabbits It’s Frightening
Manhattan 3:24 Kings of Leon Only By the Night (Deluxe Version)
Mercury 3:51 Bloc Party Intimacy Alternative 58
Mehbooba Mehbooba 3:54 Rahul Dev Burman Sholay (Original soundtrack)
Zephyrus 4:35 Bloc Party Intimacy
Chaiyya Chaiyya Bollywood Joint (featuring Panjabi MC) 6:11 Sapna Awasthi & Sukwinder Singh Inside Man (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Fancy Claps 2:53 Wolf Parade Apologies to the Queen Mary
Fire It Up 4:35 Modest Mouse We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
Sour Cherry 3:07 The Kills Midnight Boom (Bonus Track Version)
Swamp Buggy Badass 4:22 Quintron & Miss Pussycat Quintron & Miss Pussycat
You Are a Runner and I Am My Father’s Son 2:57 Wolf Parade Apologies to the Queen Mary
Ion Square 6:33 Bloc Party Intimacy
Kids 5:03 MGMT Oracular Spectacular
Hey Ya! 3:55 Outkast The Love Below
Imma Be 4:17 Black Eyed Peas The E.N.D. (The Energy Never Dies)
So What 3:35 P!nk Funhouse (Deluxe Version)
Future Foe Scenarios 5:21 Silversun Pickups Carnavas
One Beat 3:08 Sleater-Kinney One Beat
UK Jamaican 2:43 Tricky Mixed Race (Bonus Version)
Staring at the Sun 3:29 TV on the Radio Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
Way Out 2:51 Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fever to Tell / Show Your Bones
Rich 3:36 Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fever to Tell / Show Your Bones
Bird Song 2:55 Florence + The Machine Lungs (Deluxe Edition)
Dream Captains 4:41 Quintron & Miss Pussycat Quintron & Miss Pussycat
Try It On 3:40 Interpol Interpol
Crystal 6:51 New Order Get Ready
And a note about Phoenix: What ugly ass shirts. Jesus christ. For $135 to enter, you could have made them a bit nicer. And you could have had a water stop after 24. And I wish I hadn’t bought a decent Phoenix shirt at the expo … because they sold actual finisher shirts at the end. Which I also bought. Thanks, Phoenix, for bleeding me dry. I think Twin Cities does it right — you only get the finisher shirt if you finish. And you get it at the end. That shirt means something, you know?
Thanks for reading. And a huge thanks to Danni for the music. John for the ride. Pam for the babysitting. Patrick, Christine, Brenda, Erica and the noon boys for the training, Chris for the mapping and Philip, for not divorcing me through the training and tapering of yet another marathon. And especially for meeting me at the finish with a bag of chips and a Diet Coke.
That right there is love, baby.