Sunday, February 26, 2012

Phoenix (Half) Marathon -- T Minus Six Days

Oh, my friends, you are in for a treat!  Yesterday, the committee member of the Phoenix Marathon gathered together to preview and run the half marathon course in preparation for next week's Big Day.  We gathered in the early morning hours to caravan up to the start line at Usery Mountain Park Shooting Range.  Then exactly at 7a.m., the horn blasted and off we went.

There is something spectacular about the desert as the morning sun casts it's first light over the Saguaros and creosote.  The air is crisp and clean, it's quiet, and the fresh light brings everything into such perfect focus you can pinpoint the tip of each tree branch and cactus needle.  Make sure you look up and check out the scenery while you are running those first two miles down Usery.  You might catch a glimpse of a small pack of coyotes or a family of quail.  Mile one and two are the spirit and the highlight of the race.

Down, did you catch that in the last paragraph?  The course is fast and mostly downhill.  You will feel the most extreme descents at miles 1-3 and then again on Thomas Road at mile 11-12.  Enjoy these stretches and take advantage of gravity as, in life, good things don't last forever.  I recall three distinct uphills: mile 4 at the Brown Road/202 overpass, mile 5ish at Falcon Hill Park, and mile 12 as Thomas Road passes over the 202.  There is an ever-so-slight uphill on Power Road as it shoots toward McKellips and McDowell.  And save your energy for the last point one mile as the final turn onto Longbow greets you with an uphill finish.

This course is a PR-friendly one.  It's smooth, pretty, and enjoyable.  The long stretches are not too long and the curves and turns make it interesting.  The only negative I have is that from McDowell to McLellan on mile 2-3, there is still road construction and parts of the road are not yet sealed.  Stay to the left of the barriers when you see them on Usery.  If you happen to get caught on the wrong side of the flashing barricades, you'll be running in sandy dirt instead of asphalt.

The medals, the swag bags, and the finish-line party are all completely amazing.  I got my medal yesterday as I crossed the imaginary finish line.  It's a nice chunky piece of hardware and one of my favorite medals I have ever earned. I also ran wearing a special surprise that comes in every swag bag.  They were perfect for this race, and I'll leave it at that.

So, look for me Friday afternoon at the Registration Tables.  Come say hello!  Introduce yourself.  I can't wait to hear YOUR story of the inaugural Phoenix Half Marathon.  A run in the desert and a family finish.  What a great way to spend a Saturday morning!

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Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.

Dreams That Have Come True