Thank you so much for all of your Phoenix Marathon love in my last post! I promised you a full review, so here you go!
First off, while I am so thrilled to have run a personal best and BQ, I am always looking to improve, and think that I can potentially meet my “A” goal, which is a finish time somewhere in the 3:20’s.
Upon reflection, here is a list of some lessons learned and thoughts on the race in general:
- I may have over eaten at dinner the night before the race. Usually my pre-race dinner includes plain pasta or with added light red sauce, and maybe some added chicken and vegetables. Or sometimes I go with a simple pizza, either ordered at a restaurant or cooked at home depending on race location. However, the pasta dish that I ordered the night before in Phoenix was very rich with garlic and more oil than I’m used to. I simply overate (it was delicious, not going to lie). Fortunately we ate on the early side so that I felt digested by the beginning of the race, but I started to feel a little heart burn around mile 9, and suspect it had to do with my rich dinner. Let’s say that this was an amateur mistake, one that I won’t make again! I’m going to be a lot more focused about what I eat the night before a race from now on!
- I prepared for warm weather as much as I could, but wasn’t expecting low 70 degree desert air to affect me as much as it did towards the end of the race! It probably added a few minutes to my time, so this is something to consider if you’re interested in running Phoenix marathon.
- This was a surprising one, but my shoes were giving me pain from mile 6 onward. Particularly the outer edge of my right foot felt very painful throughout the race, almost to the point of feeling as if I was stepping on glass. I believe it was the extra cushioning of my new Brooks shoes that I ordered online, but long story short- I’ll be paying my local running store a visit this weekend to get re-fitted for a new pair of shoes. I don’t think that this affected my overall time, but was a bit of a bummer/influenced my mental game a bit.
- While parts of the route were beautiful and somewhat downhill, particularly through mile 4, around mile 9, and towards the end of the race, the rest of the course was fairly boring and flat, with some uphill stretches mixed in. This is a fairly fast course as the race directors say, but not as easy as other marathon courses such as Chicago, New Orleans, and even Philadelphia (in my opinion). I had anticipated some of the hills and was well-prepared (helps to drive the course before a race if you can!!).
- Lastly, the lines for the port-a-potties at the start were somewhat of a cluster. I would highly recommend getting to the start (via buses that shuttle you from the finish of the race area to the start) as early as possible!
Scene post-race in Mesa, AZ
On a more positive note, these are the things that worked for me on race day:
- I ordered a white visor (Brooks brand) on runningwarehouse.com the week before the race and was SO HAPPY that I did. I had never run with a visor, so didn’t really know what to expect. It was pretty cheap so I knew I could toss it mid-race of it didn’t work. But I ended up loving the visor and will be using it many more times going forward. It saved me especially in miles 19-26.2, as the blazing sun started to rise fully over the course.
- Given the warm race-day weather, my coaches encouraged me to use salt tablets (brand was SaltStick Caps) throughout the race. Mark and I were able to find some at a local bike store near Phoenix the day before the race. I took one tablet before the race and one each hour, and was so thankful for them. No cramping at all!
- My nutrition and hydration worked well overall. Besides the 4 salt tablets, I took in one bag of honey stinger chews followed by 3 GUs, one every 45 minutes or so. I washed these all down by water at each station. My go-to breakfast of a bagel with PB and banana with coffee also worked well- no GI issues or bathroom trips required!
- My coaches and I had a pacing plan, which included splits that I wrote on my arm as a reference throughout the race. My pacing was on point up until mile 19 where I started to stray a bit from the planned pace as the heat started to slow me down. I ended up having a positive split by 5 minutes. That was not the plan, but given the high 60s- 70 degree temperatures starting around mile 20, I was happy with my finish. Coaches agree that the heat impacted my pace towards the end, and that without the heat I probably would have had an easier time maintaining my scheduled pace.
- The water stations were plentiful and full of energetic volunteers. For a course that has limited spectators, this was very welcome! Particularly the station at mile 9- the signage was memorable and hilarious, and the spirit carried me through the next few miles to the half-way point.
- Although I couldn’t really eat after I crossed the finish line, the post-race food and entertainment were great. There were BBQ and French toast stands among other delicious food and drinks. They also handed out nice bags that we were able to fit all of the foods in. I really enjoyed this post-race atmosphere and stayed a little longer than I have at other races.
I’m about to cross the finish!
- Last but not least, the race medal was cool! A reminder that the race organizers do a great job and pay close attention to the little things, which is very important!
In the end, I think I would recommend this race, but would be mindful of the Phoenix temperatures coming from cooler training climates.
So there you have it! Let me know if you have any specific questions!
One last sunset photo from Mesa, AZ:
Any good runs or workouts for you this week?
What’s one big lesson you’ve learned from a race? Either good or bad?
What’s your next race goal?