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Ever Been to Phoenix?

Posted Jan 18 2010 5:06pm

I have been!  It was a whirlwind trip that lasted 26 hours.

I ran as Elvis at the Vegas Rock and Roll on December 6th.  It was a fun race, but you can read about it elsewhere on this blog!

I traveled to Vegas with my friend, Tom.  Tom is a great guy and a great runner.  He is much faster than I am! He ran his first half-marathon since High School and set a start over PR of 2:02!  Congrats, Tom!

While there, his brother and Tom agreed that while Don ran the full marathon at PF Chang’s in Phoenix, Tom would run the Half with his niece, Julia. So Tome was committed to the Phoenix competition.

Now…  I’m selfish.  With Tom’s first 2 half-marathons, he would get 3 medals (one of the medals would be for completing both the Vegas and Phoenix competitions in a 6 week period.  That would give Tom 3 pieces of bling.  I had 3 prior to the Vegas run. With the Vegas bling, I would end up with 4.  It was just too close!  I ended up signing up for the Phoenix competition.  That would give me the greater edge.

It also gave me an additional 5 weeks of training (I took a week off after Vegas).  Unfortunately, I also decided to take a week off to RICE (Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate) after a debilitating left calf muscle injury.

So, I trained for 4 weeks.  It does get cold in Colorado. 3 of those weeks were outside in the cold.  I did finally get my treadmill fixed for the last week of training.


I start most of my morning runs between 9 to 9:30 AM.  Saturday morning, both Tom and I ran at 8:00 AM. I was a short run of 2 miles.  Then it was time to get showered, get Sami (the yellow labrador dog) to the kennel, park the car (off airport) then get to the airport.

We got to the airport at 1:30 PM. We got through security quickly and headed for our gate.  We were there earlier enough to get some lunch. Why isn’t airport food healthy?  AND why do they charge so much more at the airport than on the street?

Soon enough, we were back at the gate and loading on the plane.  The flight took two hours with no troubles.

As each of us had only a backpack, it was easy to escape the airport. We went outside and Don was just driving up with his family.  We got in after much hugging and all of us headed to the Health & Fitness Expo.

We found out that a family friend was dying.  Nancy, Don’s wife, was absent due to that.  She had her hands full with that situation.

The Expo was good. It was fairly large and well-attended.  I did get myself a new running shirt from a past Vegas competition. I also got some “26.2” socks for Don.  Didn’t give them to him yet.  After all, he did have to earn ‘em!  How much did it cost to park? $20!  Hmmm…

After that?  An Olive Garden for dinner!  It was great! Then off to the house, a viewing of “Spirit Of The Marathon,” prepping the clothes and gear for the race, and then I fell out!

Both Tom and I looked forward to this race.  We trained in very cold weather with snow, ice and other on Winter surfaces.  This race was going to be run in shorts and short sleeves!  Won’t that be wonderful!

4:30 came early…  The coffee was ready.  I had one cup.  After all, you have to think about pit stops along the race route.

Don’s race marathon attempt would start in 3 hours.   I had some oatmeal and slowly prepared for the race.

Slowly, Tom, Nancy and Julia stirred!  We were getting ready to go out the door.  Of course, it was close to 6:20 AM before I got out the door.  It was a long drive to the starting line. 

We let Don out with enough time to get to his start line.

After Don got out, Nancy got a saddening call.  Their friend had died.

Even though it was expected, the news is still a shock.  Nancy asked if she could go to the hospital.  All of us said, “Of course!”  Off to the hospital we went.

We were all left with our thoughts for a while.  We played some games.  There was a restroom call and then a visit.  Nancy met Tom and Julia in the hospital lobby.  They came out to the car.  It was now 8:05 AM.

Nancy and Tom negotiated the closed streets to a runner drop off area.  There were a lot of people coming in as late as we were.  I think that both Tom and Julia were getting tired of me pushing a hustle out of them.  The sidewalk was busy with pedestrians and runners warming up.

We passed the start line and saw both Ryan Hall and Deena Kastor being interviewed prior to the race.  Deena did a phenomenal run and finished first in the women’s race. Ryan came in 2nd in the Men’s.

I was in corral 17.  Tom and Julia were in corral 16. I finally entered my corral with one minute to spare (to the gun).  They released the corrals slowly but evenly.  It was .28 miles and 33:28 minutes for me to cross the start line.

At the start line was the Mayor of Phoenix and Senator John McClane.  Interesting things to see!

The start was slow and it took a while to break from the crowd to run at a comfortable pace.  I set my mind to an 11 to 11 and a half minute pace.

As is my style, I like to interact with the spectators.  I encouraged them to encourage the runners.  I asked them if they’d run it next year.  I high fived and fist bumped a lot of people!  It needs to be said that I think the people of Phoenix are great, and there were a lot of them watching us run!  Yay, Phoenix!

The run reminded of East Colfax in Denver.  In areas, it was a path of buildings and streets that had seen better times.  The race is a joint venture between Phoenix, Scottsdale and the city of Tempe.  The objective was to run from Phoenix through Scottsdale to Tempe.  It had to be a course that featured all three cities.

I though it was funny because in tow places we ran around little city parks.  It was explained to me later that the route went there to provide some additional restrooms.  Makes sense now!

Most of the course was flat! But from about mile 8 to mile 10 was a slow, gradual upward incline. The we went down for a mile and then slowly up again.  We ran through one University parking lot.  There was a climb out of there that assisted you knowing exactly where the quads are!

The longest miles were the last 2, for me. Finally, though, the bridge that crosses the Salt River just prior to the finish line came into view.  The down side? There were two musicians carrying their cases that I had to run over to and ask them to slow down so I could pass them running.

Finally, there was the crowd at the finish!  I can do this!

Another mile, and I crossed the line.  I ran across the line and started to walk.  In a daze, I missed my friends as they congratulated me from the sidelines! There were water bottles and I grabbed one, opened it, and slugged half of it down.  Ahead of that, was my medal  My bling.  One of the reasons for doing this race!  The lady who was handing them out gave me mine. I told her that I have a tradition of hugging the medal giver!  She told me to go right ahead.  We hugged and she thanked me.  I thanked her, too!

I walked through the finishers area, collecting energy bars, green banana (Green Bananas?), oranges and crunchy munchies!

I found Tom, Julia and Nancy. Is there time to watch as Don finished the full Marathon?  But we’ll talk of the soon!

I cross the Finish Line!

(Look to the right, the count timer actually covers me as I finish!)

The Bling!

Phoenix Bling!









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