This race recap for the 2013 Tucson Marathon is a real bummer for me to write, my goal race for the year, as you probably know, did just not turn out like I had hoped. Back in 2006 as a freshman at UofA this was my first marathon. It was everything a marathon should be, perfect weather, just cruising along enjoying the run. This time around it was anything but awesome, the race was just overall unfortunate. Luckily a race like this teaches you something for the next one (like ALWAYS train for hills, no matter what) and we had a wonderful weekend otherwise with perfect weather, good company and yummy food.
The weekend started out Friday driving to Queen Creek, where my parents live just outside of Phoenix. Our first stop was to the outlets in Cabazon (near Palm Springs) and when we were walking through Banana Republic, I turned around to see my Aunt, Uncle, and cousin standing in front of me. You might think, “hey that’s not THAT random,” but when you consider neither Danica or I live near Palm Springs and my relatives live in MINNESOTA! It was a completely serendipitous meeting, so we decided to have lunch and catch up. We ate, laughed, and chatted before driving the second half of the ride.
Saturday we headed down to Tucson from Queen Creek to pick-up our bibs at the Expo. We took the “back way” if you’re from AZ you know this means not taking the I-10 to get down there, and we actually got to drive part of the course, it just didn’t look the same as I remembered it, which I would soon find out, it was not. At the expo I snagged this super awesome Run Arizona shirt from a local Tucson running store. I’ve already worn it like 4 times.
Danica was pretty excited about the saguaro!
LOVE this shirt from The Running Shop in Tucson!
After the expo I dragged Danica to my Alma Mater for a quick stop at the bookstore to pick up some UofA swag, pointing out Tucson ‘landmarks’ (which I’m sure she loved ;). I LOVE any chance to visit my school, even it’s its just for a few minutes, and it turned out to be a great day to visit, by the end of the evening UofA was ranked #1 in the country for Basketball!! We headed back to Queen Creek on the I-10 and I got to point out some AZ landmarks no one should miss, including the Ostrich Farm and Picacho Peak ;). I dropped her at my parents to see her hubby and I went to pick BF up from the airport since he flew out just for the race!
My mom made awesome lasagna to carbo-load, we laid out our clothes, foam-rolled and headed off to bed for out 3:15am wake-up call. Morning came way too quick but we were up and out the door for the 75-mile drive to the start line shuttle buses. We loaded up on the warm buses and chatted with other runners during the long drive up Oracle Road to the start line, which was SO COLD. There were even little flurries of snow falling on our heads as we waited in the very long port-o-potty line. At 6:55 we headed to the very nondescript start line, and soon heard the gun go off!
We started out at 8:50 pace for the first mile, it was down hill and I was so ready to kill this race! We slowed down a little bit on purpose and little bit due to the hilly first 5 miles but I was feeling good! It was still cold and I shed my throw away sweatshirt at mile 4, but surprisingly never took off my mittens! At mile 5 Danica stopped to go to the bathroom and I went on ahead getting into a groove between 8:40-9 minute pace, still feeling awesome! At mile 8 I had to stop and take out the pad in my shoe I use to help the bone bruise in my foot, but was soon back at a good clip. Around mile 10 Danica caught up to me and we tackled the hilliest and most difficult part of the course, little did I know how much this hilly terrain would derail the whole race for me. The hills for me at least were killer, I made my way up and down them, but wasn’t expecting to struggle this much. This wasn’t part of the course I ran in 2006 and for some reason I was just not expecting the challenge at all.
Danica had to stop at the bathroom again around mile 13 and let me go ahead. By mile 15 I knew this race was not going to be the fabulous PR I had hoped for. The hill from mile 10-13 took their toll on my legs and my pace. My hips were killing me and my quads were starting to scream. I felt like I had already ran a marathon and it was only mile 15! I couldn’t get my pace back down to 9 minutes and each mile split slowly crept upwards. By 19 I was almost in tears and knew it was pretty much over. I saw the boys (BF and Danica’s B) driving to the finish and they cheered for me, I tried to force a smile. I knew I HAD to finish; I had to finish this race.
pretty miserable at mile 19
The course then took a turn into a neighborhood section, and as I ran towards mile 22 I saw BF and B on the side of the road cheering me on! I ran towards BF and lost it, tears streaming down my face having a hard time breathing, he hugged me all sweaty and salty and told me I was almost there and that I could do it! He walked a few yards with me and I was just hoping Danica would catch up to me soon so I wouldn’t be alone.
When Danica and I do a race together we tell each other to run your own race, to go ahead if you feel awesome and not hold the other back, but I knew I needed her to get to the finish this time. When she caught up to me around mile 23 I was hobbling/walking/running and almost lost it again when I saw her. I was in so much pain, my hips, quads, and bone bruise hurt so badly, walking was about all I could manage. I’ve never had so much pain during a marathon, everything hurt. The 4-hour mark came and went while we both hobbled towards the finish line.
I think we were both a little delirious at this point, but soon she had us (and many around us) laughing and smiling again. We made ourselves run the last half-mile and crossed the finish line at roughly 4:40.
I know for a lot of people this is an awesome time, but I had a larger goal and I’m bummed I missed it. Especially since this race held such a special place in my heart having been my first one back in 2006, in my college town, during my favorite time of year, with perfect weather. I suppose it just is what it is, the hilly course changes took me by surprise and I wasn’t trained enough for them. On one hand I’m disappointed but on the other I’m really glad I didn’t quit and finished. Each race teaches you something and pushes you towards the next one, and you, Tucson Marathon, definitely did both of those things. Who knows maybe I’ll run it again next year and show it whose boss!
What’s next? Deciding whether or not to run the Lost Dutchman Marathon in February. It all depends on how my foot cooperates and if I feel like I have enough time to fully train for it. Otherwise it’s the LA Marathon in March (which you can help me run by donating to my FundRacing effort for BOMFLA!), and maybe few half-marathons sprinkled in over the next few months! Until the next sub-4 attempt…