Better late than never! I’m finally recapping my Feb. 25th marathon, the BMO Harris Mesa-Phoenix Marathon. I ran this same marathon in 2015, and this year I ran a PR of 18 mins. (3:37 – 3:19) In 2016 I ran two marathons. (RnR AZ 3:40) (Mountains 2 Beach – CA 3:42) Obviously both were disappointing races at the time, but looking back I am so thankful for these races. These were experiences I needed to learn from and to grow. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t had these struggles.
I have never ran a marathon or possibly any race, regardless of the distance, and not looked back in the days that followed with some sort of what if’s. I would think about all the little moments in the race where I could have saved a sec off my time, or done something differently that could have made my race better. This was the first race I can say I there is nothing I regret or wish I had done differently. When I reflect on it I’m completely content and amazed that I ran a sub 3:20. I knew I could do it, but there were times during the marathon that the goal seemed fleeting. I’m not saying I did everything perfect during this marathon, I did not negative split the race like I was hoping to do. However, I know I held back when I needed to, and I know I pushed and dug deep when it really counted.
Miles 1-4 “The Start”
This can be one of the crucial parts to having a great race. Going out too fast early can be detrimental in the later miles. It is hard to think ahead in the early part of the race. Who wants to think about mile 20 when you are on mile 2? I had to tell myself there is a lot of race to go, just keep calm. The first 4 miles of this race are mostly downhill so it is even harder to hold back because it feels too easy! I kept my pace right where I needed it, coach said no miles faster than 7:30 in the first half.
Miles 5-9 “The Hill”
Starting at mile 5 there is a “nice” hill, and it seems like it will never end. I swear every time I run this hill it gets longer and longer, and in the race it seemed like it was going on forever. The hill in reality is about 1.5 miles long. I knew my pace would drop about 15-30 secs per mile, and it only slowed about 10 secs. I was happy about my effort going up the hill. Right after the uphill is a long downhill section, and it can be easy to want to fly down this to make up time. I kept myself under control and maintained an easy pace, maybe a tad fast, especially on mile 8, oops!
Mile 10-15 “Getting over the hump”
I felt great thru the midway point. I knew what I wanted my half split to be around (1:38), and it was right on. Around mile 14-15 I could tell my legs were starting to get fatigued, and I would have to start mentally dialing into the race more in order to keep my pace where I needed it to be.
Mile 16-19 “The countdown to mile 20”
I was still feeling “ok” and I was running with the 3:25 pace group for a little while. I think that pacer went out pretty fast in the first half, which is why I was still hanging back with them. It is always better running with a group and not having to mentally think about your pace, but eventually I had to leave the group and keep my pace up as their pace was not as fast as I needed to reach my goal. During these miles it is just a mental countdown to get to mile 20.
Mile 20-25 “One mile at a time”
These miles are of course the hardest miles of a marathon. Once I get to mile 20, mentally I just tell myself to get to the next mile. It is just one mile at a time from here to the finish. I knew I wanted my time to be around 2:30 at mile 20, and it was 2:33. That may seem ok, but I knew when I looked at my watch I was at least a min or two off, and making up time in the last 6 miles is almost nearly impossible. This was when I first started to have doubts of the sub 3:20 happening. It was hard for me to keep my pace mostly because my legs would not move! It is also hard to keep pace if there isn’t a pace group or another person around that you can latch onto that is keeping a pace you need. I didn’t really have anyone around holding a pace I needed so mentally it was hard, and I struggled at times. A few bad miles (21-23) where my pace slowed 30 secs. It’s so hard to stay positive and focused and keep pushing when you know your pace is slipping. The only thing you can do is find something deep inside to motivate you to push past your pain barrier.
Mile 26 “The final Mile”
Look at that pace! I knew I was right on the edge of the 3:20 cutoff. I was trying to do all the mental math and figure out if there was anyway possible to make it. I did not want to give up no matter what! Thank goodness for the downhill section about half a mile from the finish. I was fighting for every single second at this point. When I came up the final stretch to the finish I could see the race clock still had 3:19 on it, and I knew if I kept pushing I could make it. AND I DID! 3:19:44
I absolutely love this race. It was my very first marathon, and it was just as great two years later as my 4th marathon. Will I be back in 2018? I hope so….