Man, was Phoenix tough! I knew it was going to start getting more intense as the races continued on in the challenge, and with this being race number four, I kind of figured it was going to be a turning point. And turning point is an understatement. But I'll get to that.
Overall, the race was very well organized. The packet pickup was at a business near where the shuttle pick up was going to be. Was in and out in about 10 minutes. The line looked a little intimidating, but it really went pretty quickly. I was staying in downtown Phoenix, so it was about a 20-25 minute drive, but while I was out in that area, I figured I might as well drive the first part of the race. It's the first time I've really ever done it, and I'm glad I did.
The course it self was pretty uneventful (especially following races in Vegas and Disney World), so I was glad I had the chance to psyche myself up the night before.
Got up, had my usual oatmeal with dried cherries, packed everything into the car, and made my way out to the shuttle spot. Got on the shuttle, rode about 10-15 minutes on the bus up to the race start area. The weather forecast said it would be a perfect day for a run - clear skies and during the race, highs of 55. However, early morning in the desert is considerably colder. They had several bonfires in the clearing that was the 'pre-race' waiting area. The only down side to this was that if you stood on the wrong side, you would get a face full of smoke and ash. And there were only so many warm spots. But hey, it was better than nothing. They did a good job of keeping the crowd updated on when the race would start and provided plenty of water and restrooms.
It was a short walk from the 'waiting area' to the actual race start, and unexpectedly, we made the walk to the sounds of some bagpipes that played for us. Got to the start line, and had a beautiful view of the desert and sunrise. It was a good start to the race - I felt good, was keeping with my pace - and then it all just fell down hill. No pun intended (as the course was entirely down hill).
My shins hurt, my knees hurt. I got water at every water station (I usually don't get water until at least mile 6, and thats so I can do my sport beans). My playlist was annoying me. My orthotics in my shoes were bothering me. In short, I wasn't mentally focused, and it threw the whole race off. The worst of it was about Mile 9 when I realized I was getting the "pre-passing out" feeling. The tunnel vision, the fuzzy thoughts, all that. So I ate another package of my chomps, hoping it would help. And then came the pep talk. I'm probably going to remember that pep talk for the rest of my running days. In essence, it was along the lines of "Beatty, you didn't come all the way to quit. You didn't come all this way to be THE girl who passes out while running. This isn't your first time at the rodeo, so suck it up and finish the race." Was it the best thing to do? Eh, maybe not. But, I finished and to me, that is what I needed to do.
The finish line area was actually one of the best I've been around - people handing out medals and water as soon as you cross the line, and a good variety of food to try before mingling with the masses. Even outside of the "Runners Only" area there was a good variety of vendors. Food, technology, healthcare - you name it, it was there. Didn't stick around too long, was starting to get sore and wanted to get back to the room to clean up.
Overall - the race was really well organized, the course was a lot tougher than I was prepared for, and I've probably never been happier to finish running than I was that day. I would recommend it to anybody who wants a change from a fast, flat course - its definitely a different challenge. Registration is already open for the 2013 Phoenix Half Marathon, so check them out.
The good thing was that I definitely learned a lot from this race. So much so, that I'm actually just going to save those for another post.