Apache Junction, AZ
Weather - Overcast, Chilly, Light Rain
If you research "best first time marathon," the Lost Dutchman marathon almost always comes up. Not only is it rare to hear SO many good things about a race, but from SO many different people. This race was selected because L wanted to encourage her boyfriend to run his first marathon and thought this would be a good experience for him. She was possibly going to run also, but with her still bothersome quad, she wasn't 100% sure on it. I'm a spontaneous person, so I decided to go for it and let everything else fall into place. L definitely decided not to run after all. And her boyfriend... didn't either. What that meant is yet ANOTHER solo marathon.
I booked as late a flight as possibly on Saturday afternoon. I figured allowing 2 hours from the plane landing to get a rental car and get to Apache Junction would be NO problem. What I never counted on was some freakishly bad weather happening in Phoenix. Luckily my flight out of Denver was not delayed and even with VERY heavy rain in Arizona, we landed on time. At PHX, you have to take a shuttle bus to the rental cars. It usually only takes a few minutes. I of course, however, had a reservation with the only rental car company with a line. Even with that, I still got the car rented and was on the road less than 45 minutes after landing.
I cannot even begin to express how much I adore the Garmin GPS I got for Christmas from J. It makes these trips so much less stressful! I knew that as long as there were no major traffic incidents that I would get to the "expo" in plenty of time. The rain driving from Phoenix to Apache Junction was INSANE. It seriously felt like I was driving through a typhoon. I was really REALLY hoping I wouldn't be running in something similar...
Find the "expo" with no problem at all, get my bib, get my shirt and "goodie" bag... all with 23 minutes to spare. The vendors were already taking down their merchandise and not being in the market for anything, I left. It was just before 5:00 and I didn't have anything to do. Normally L and I would find something to do to kill time, but being here alone... I decided to drive back to Mesa where my hotel was and check in and get everything ready for the race before going to get some dinner.
I had booked my place through Priceline, and picked it because it seemed close to the highway and it was a great price. Um. No wonder... First off, the place had bars on the windows and the lobby door was locked. The guy working was nice enough though. Asked about late check out so that I'd have time to shower before heading to the airport. He didn't think he could get me one since normally they have people out by 10:30 and I wanted to stay until 1... Got my key and my tv remote (yes, apparently it is a high theft item so they don't leave them in the rooms).
I was put in a room on the end of an alley. Literally. Outside my window I had a nice view of a title loan company (attached to the hotel) and the dumpsters. Oh, and I especially enjoyed the ONE rubber glove 2 feet from my door. *shudder*
After getting everything ready, I decided to stick with my regular pre-race dinner (Applebee's), but decided to head to the store to get some Powerade. I came up with my shower solution!! Right by the store, just a mile from the hotel was a 24 hour fitness! I have a membership that is good at ALL locations, so I could just shower there. Score! Of course that meant I'd have to buy a little towel or something, but at least I wouldn't offend the people I'd be sitting by on the plane.
By the time I headed over to Applebee's it was after 6:30. It was pretty busy, but the nice thing about eating alone is that I could sit at the bar without having to wait. I ordered a salad and regular three cheese chicken penne pasta and dessert. After dinner I stopped at 7-11 to get my beer. I pulled out my ID and the lady says "I don't need to see that, I remember your face." Really? I've never been here.
Start the drive only a few minutes after I had intended on being on the road, it looked like about a 30 minute drive to the rodeo grounds where I would be parking my car to catch the shuttle to the start line. Get about 2 miles from the exit I'm supposed to take and the downpour of rain starts. Uh oh. I am NOT really wanting to run in pouring rain! Sigh. At least there is still a few hours until the race, maybe it will be ok.
Nice thing about a race out in the boonies is that everyone on the road at that hour is going the same place you are. Find the rodeo grounds with no trouble, park the car, grab my gear and get on the bus. I sat next to a guy (Tristan) from California who had driven up with his wife from San Diego so he could run this as as his first marathon. As we are talking I realize that I left my water bottle with Nuun in the car. Damn!!! Ate my Luna bar during the bus ride, and luckily once we got about 15 minutes from the start line, it stopped raining. However, the first 6 or so miles of the course were on a dirt road/trail and it was pretty flooded from all the rain.
We get dropped off and have a little over an hour until the race starts. One of the perks of this race is the fires at the start line. It was awesome! I was only wearing a light jacket and felt perfectly warm.
|With Karen, MM Diva|
|Walking tot he start line|
They are not kidding when they advertise stunning views. Even with the cloud cover and fog, it was pretty amazing. Between looking around, soaking up the atmosphere, and making sure I didn't trip over a rock or step in a huge puddle, the first couple of miles really flew by.
I felt 100% better after the bathroom stop. I felt more focused, more energized, etc. 6 miles down... 20.2 to go! Immediately after the bathroom, the trail part of the course ended. The next few miles were run through a residential neighborhood. Quite a few hills, but nothing too terrible.
|Approximately Mile 8|
There was a section of the course when we were running on the shoulder of a highway when it felt colder than it had earlier. Then I noticed I could see my breath. Whoa. Seriously? In Arizona?? Didn't expect THAT!
|Somewhere between mile 9 and 10|
|Somewhere between 15-16 miles|
I don't know really what I was expecting from this course. First off, there was virtually NO crowd support. That was made up for by some of the most awesome volunteers. The course was a lot more hilly than I thought, but not unmanageable. The race wasn't super crowded, which was nice, but there was enough people running that I never ended up running alone (which I hate). Take another GU around mile 10.
Get to the halfway point and I'm still feeling really good. By now I am definitely on track to get a PR. Even more important than that... I've run enough half marathons to know that I can always finish. I can tell just by how I feel how the race is going to go. I hit that halfway point and knew that I felt good enough to run the rest of the race without walking. What a great feeling. Another GU around mile 14,
The miles literally kept flying by. I'd concentrate on keeping my pace steady and just watching the mile markers for the next aid station. There was even one where they were handing out Krispy Kreme donuts! (No thanks :D)
By mile 18 I am super happy that after that stop, the aid stations are going to be a mile apart. It gives me a few seconds here and there to catch my breath and stretch my legs a bit. Take another GU. The last remaining girl and I are chasing each other. I pass her, then I walk the aid station and she doesn't and I have to catch up. We do this for miles. My stomach had been feeling a bit off for most of the race, and around mile 19 I was feeling like I was going to have to stop again. Luckily there was one around the 20 mile marker.
I (again) misread the elevation profile and I thought the last 5-6 miles of the course were flat with a slight downhill. Turns out that there was quite a bit of "rolling hills" on the end. Thankfully, by pacing myself properly I had saved enough energy and while I think I slowed a bit, I felt good and handled them just fine. Mile 22 and I take the last GU of the race.
Honestly I feel AWESOME. The last few miles of the course finally start to feel more flat and even downhill, and I try to push myself to pick up the pace. With just a few miles to go, I am confident I can go sub 4:30!!
I finally pass the chick in black for the last time with about 3/4 of a mile to go. I can see the balloons for the finish line in the distance, and I honestly felt like I did when I was finishing my first marathon. I feel HAPPY. Yes, I feel tired, but man, until you have run a marathon, it is really hard to describe what it feels like. Coming up to the final stretch and I finally am coming up on some people. A few are walking, and a few are barely jogging. I still have some energy! I try to sprint (who am I kidding, I can't sprint after running that far, lol) and cross the line... of COURSE it is a new PR!!!
|Taken minutes after crossing the line!|
Chip Time - 4:28:15
Pace - 10:14
Overall Place - 325/525
Gender Place - 101/191
Division Place 17/26
Garmin Time - 4:28:15
Garmin Distance - 26.31 miles
Garmin Pace - 10:11
Mile 1 - 9:50
Mile 2 - 9:44
Mile 3 - 10:04
Mile 4 - 9:54
Mile 5 - 9:46
Mile 6 - 10:03
Mile 7 - 10:44 (bathroom)
Mile 8 - 9:54
Mile 9 - 10:11
Mile 10 - 10:34
Mile 11 - 10:21
Mile 12 - 10:32
Mile 13 - 10:05
Mile 14 - 9:47
Mile 15 - 10:10
Mile 16 - 10:02
Mile 17 - 10:36
Mile 18 - 10:45
Mile 19 - 10:30
Mile 20 - 11:03 (bathroom)
Mile 21 - 9:55
Mile 22 - 10:20
Mile 23 - 10:32
Mile 24 - 10:21
Mile 25 - 10:05
Mile 26 - 9:29
Mile 26.2 - 8:25
|I thought this was cute.|
The 24 Hour Fitness in Mesa? Super nice. A thousand times better than the one I go to. Just look at this awesome locker room!
Eat stupidly fast, and then rush to get gas, return the car, etc and get to the airport. Again, everything takes longer than I think, and by the time I get to the airport I have 1 hour and 15 minutes until departure. Then I find out the flight is delayed. Well, better than it being delayed on the way TO the race. Long story short, the flight ends up being almost 2 hours late. Gave me some time to SIT and finish a book.
Thoughts after my second marathon?
1. I didn't hit the wall this time either. I like that.
2. My average heart rate was 163 bpm. 4 bpm lower than my last marathon, and 10-15 bpm lower than I average while "racing" a half marathon. All that really tells me is I probably COULD have run it faster, but I probably would have been more tired and not enjoyed it as much.
3. I finished a second marathon and STILL don't hate running. Hmmm.
4. I think what makes the marathon finishes so much more awesome than the half marathon finishes is that I don't run them nearly as often. I have a few more scheduled for the remainder of 2011 but no plans on making them as frequent as the half marathons.
Thoughts on the Lost Dutchman Marathon?
Believe the hype. It was an AWESOME race. It wasn't too expensive, it wasn't too far from a major airport. They limit the field size so it doesn't get too crowded. The course is beautiful, well marked, and staffed with amazing volunteers.
I would totally do this race again if L and/or her boyfriend wanted to do it next year.