Phoenix Marathon Review

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!

PhoenixLogo4

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!

IMG_2774Scene 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!

saltstick-100-caps

  • 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!

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  • 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.

IMG_2816I’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!

IMG_2823

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:

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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?

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54 thoughts on “Phoenix Marathon Review”

  1. Congratulations on a great race and qualifying for Boston! My one and only marathon was not a very fun experience, it’s so interesting to look back and see all of the things I could have changed. Hind sight is 20/20! My big goal is a 50k in May. I’m hoping to use some of the lessons I learned during my marathon to help drive my training and be better prepared for the time I’ll be spending on my feet.

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    1. You should write down some of the “lessons learned” for your next race! It’s great to go back and see how we can learn from each experience. You must be getting excited for the 50k!! It’s coming up fast!

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  2. Absolutely brilliant Jane, well done on getting a great time.

    I’m sure you already know with regards to food the night before but I’ll say it for the benefit of your other readers – keep it light and small. There’s not enough time for it to get absorbed into your muscles, any carbo-loading needs to be done at lunchtime and the preceding Thursday/Friday.

    Personally my running is over-reached so taking a rest day or two :-s

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! It was definitely a lesson learned! I am usually more focused on nutrition, but made the mistake this time. Enjoy some rest days, you deserve it! Hope you have a good run this weekend :)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Over eating is always the problem. Sometimes I was really afraid about the glycogen depletion, that I would add more carbs. At the end it will sacrifice the run itself.

    Btw, congrats for the Boston. I wish I will someday

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  4. Wow, that’s a long time to run with shoe pain, but you were still able to run it so fast. Congrats! I’m a fan of gels during a race, too, because they’re convenient to carry and an easy way to get in lots of carbs. I can’t eat much after a race either, but at least I can always drink something. I always like reading what worked/what didn’t work after runners complete a race, so thanks for sharing!

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  5. Bummer about the painful foot for sure, especially coming so early in the race…but kudos to you for pushing past it and focusing on the run. Also, I had never considered salt tablets before and am really intrigued by that. Good post

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    1. Thanks for your question! I think I’d only use the salt tablets when running/hiking/doing any type of prolonged exercise in the heat in order to avoid cramping, possibly hyponatremia, or other heat-related issues. I don’t think I would use them in every day life, as I’m sure I ingest enough sodium with my normal food intake as it is. I would highly recommend these for hot weather races/runs/prolonged summer exercise! Let me know if you have any other questions :)

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  6. I have IBS so I have to make sure I watch what I eat the day before and day of the race. I also need to make sure I plan my breakfast about 30 minutes before I leave the house, or I end up sorry (I know TMI). I think the biggest rookie mistake for any runner/newbie is changing up your diet on race week. In other words, don’t try anything new that you haven’t eaten before.

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    1. Thanks for your comment! I can’t agree more. I’ve traveled a lot for races (traveling and running are so fun together!), and so normally I’m very careful about what I order at restaurants for meals leading up to the race. I totally didn’t pay attention this time- a mistake I won’t make again!

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  7. Congrats again on a super race! I really enjoyed reading your marathon review. Beautiful photos! I had eaten the “wrong” dinner once with spicy red sauce and BOY was that a bad idea. I didn’t mean to get spicy but apparently that’s just how the restaurant made the dish. Oh well. Never again. I have also learned that drinking Gatorade while eating EnergyBits is a bad combo. Just do not mess with your nutrition game plan on race day.. Ha!!

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  8. I just got a visor from Balega and can’t wait to try it out! I sometimes run with a hat, but it’s usually backwards =P My next goal race is my first marathon. However, to take some pressure off of that, I have my eyes on some other races after that one. Anything to decrease race anxiety hahaha
    Again, congrats on the negative split and PR!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Loved the read! Thanks for the overview. I’m signing up for a half marathon here in MN that will be raced over Memorial Wknd 2016. Training officially started 3/1 so this was a timely read. My first event was the Fargo half in 2010. “Fast and Flat.” I now try to do one event e/o year. Being married, having a three and five year old, plus FT job and some additional side writing work makes it tough to fit in the training or do more than e/o year. Here is a link to a blog I recently wrote for a friend’s business about running and perseverance: http://avantsynergy.com/running-the-race-with-perseverance/

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    1. Thanks for your note! It is challenging to fit it all in, but great to hear that you’re planning to run another half soon. Good luck! I would like to run the Fargo marathon one day- I’ve heard great things!

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  10. Congratulations on Boston! As a fellow runner and Phoenix resident, I can say that this years race temperature was HIGH. We are normally only in the low to mid 60’s as highs during the month of February. I have run the Phoenix Half the past 3 years and it’s usually around 40 at the start of the race. I will agree the post race food is awesome!!

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  11. Nicely done! Lovely recap and I am so happy for you. I know how much work it is to get ready for something like this and it makes me smile to see it pay off.

    Salt caps are a staple in the ultra races, and are provided at the aid stations (in the races I’ve attended) and I down a couple every hour.

    I’ve never had GI issues in a race yet but I have something of a cast-iron stomach so I am by no means a good barometer.

    It’s true about the heat here in the desert. It’s different. 70’s here is different than 70’s in Boston and we will dry you out if you are not used to it.

    Well done! Relax, you’ve earned it (until the next one).

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  12. Congrats Jane, so psyched for you! Phoenix sounds very much like Tucson in its lack of late-race scenery and inspiration. Great job hanging in there through the heat & shoe issues… a 3:20-something is definitely in your not-too-distant future!

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  13. Jane, great info on prepping for warm weather runs with the salt tablets to avoid cramping. Do you have any other tips (or blog posts) on how to prepare for running in hot/humid climates? I’d love to read them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I am working on a post regarding running in the heat, so stay tuned! I am just coming from a training cycle during a Boston winter, so running in the heat hasn’t been on my mind :) But given that spring and summer are around the corner, this information is more relevant! Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Right on! Thanks, Jane! I have a Run Disney race in Floria this April, and being from (vaguely northern) Canada….I’m worried that the humidity/heat will stop me in my tracks :) Either way – an adventure!!!

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  15. Cracking run and a PB as well, isn’t it wonderful when you pass a milestone like that on your marathon journey. Onwards and upwards as my father says, the next adventure is just around the corner.

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  16. Awesome race report and cool pics. I’m running my first marathon in May and my goal time is the same as your Phoenix time. I’d love to read how you felt at mile 5-10-15-20-25. And if you have any advice for first timers I’d love to hear it too. Thanks for liking my post(s)! run2run.

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