Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tucson Marathon Recap

I have no excuses for my lack of blogging lately. But now I'm back, 2.0 and all, so let's do this.

12/9/12 -> Tucson Marathon. In a nutshell, this was a relatively small, well-organized race on a very pretty course. I had thought this would be a PR race. And then it became an easy/steady training run for my upcoming 24-race on 12/31. But more on that in a later post...

I'm not running,
 just modeling arm sleeves

The expo was held at a Hilton resort, which was also the host hotel. Staying here made everything super convenient and it was beautiful in general. The expo was efficient and although there were very few exhibitors, there was a good amount of running porn. I mean gear 'n stuff. I realized I had forgotten my arm sleeves and this was a great excuse to buy some new, hot pink ones. 


Brr. Yes, Tucson is in the desert. And yes, I almost froze my little toes off before the start.
Given the 7am race start, buses left the hotel starting 5am. Our bus (naturally) got lost, so we got some extra sightseeing and extra time-in-warmth. I heard the half marathon start had heaters - apparently marathoners are tough and don't need them. Or something. Anyway, there were thankfully a few buses that stuck around so I jumped on one of those to defrost.
The start was at an elevation of about 4800ft, which probably contributed to the (relative) arctic conditions. Ok, maybe I'm just spoiled by SoCal weather... to be fair, it was still in the mid 40's. Overall, the start area was pretty uneventful. And then the sun started coming up over the desert mountains and we had quite the privileged view. 

I also got to declare my love to Pam Reed (race director) herself. She looked a little confused and I was a little starstruck. Yes, ultrarunners are my kind of celebrities. (my review of her book is here for your entertainment)
courtesy of Copper Area News

I didn't feel the need to listen to music until about mile 17...and even then it was more habit than necessity. That's saying a lot about the scenery... which provided ample entertainment and made it feel like a trail run, except with paved roads. 

We started with a screaming downhill - very conducive to going out too fast. The 3:50 pacer was flying down the hill almost beating the 3:40 pacer. There was some comedy as confused runners wondered why a 3:50 pacer is holding a 7:30min/mi average pace. But then things got real and rolling hills shaped the course for 1-2 miles until about mile 4. Amid the complaining around me (this time about the "steep hills") I looked around and wondered what it would be like to run some trails up the surrounding mountains. They just seemed so magical and inviting.
So pretty.

Oh, look, a mountain lion! (Ok, I took this at the desert museum. but it was cool to see them up close)
Until about mile 11, the course was pretty much down/flat. Very uneventful. I hung around groups of people with interesting conversations like a stalker. It was entertaining. There were ultra runners, first timers, those aiming for a PR and those simply hoping to finish. A pretty relaxed vibe in general. I kept thinking about my lovely friend Kim, who was all geared up to BQ (and she got an amazing PR out of the race, yay Kim!).

I, on the other hand, committed myself to not being concerned with my time. I left the Garmin at home. On second thought, it would have been great to have it in the beginning because those first few miles at 10k pace were not a brilliant idea. My quads were a little unhappy for a little while.

Miles 11-13ish brought back the rollers, which I appreciated. Oh, random tip: do not stand in like for the 2 lone port-a-potties at mile 11.5 because there will be a row of empty ones half a mile down the road. Live and learn! 

the medal
The rest of the course was downhill/flat and very pretty. Typical desert highway. The road wasn't fully closed to cars, but we got 2 lanes sectioned off, which was plenty of space. This second half made it easy to zone out and get in a good rhythm, enjoying the run. The last mile and a half I spent talking to a guy about his story - he was about to shave 2 hours off his tim from last year. Very inspiring stuff. HE proceeded to drop and do 10 pushups by the clock at the finish - a tradition he does at every race he told me.

I ended up cruising into the finish with a time of 4:18, all smiles. I found Kim, Erin (who rocked the half) and Lori and then there were even more smiles. I also found my two fellow San Francisco Marathon Ambassadors, Bruce and Keith, and we posed for some pictures. Yes, we're all superstars.
Lori-myself-Kim-Erin (I love you ladies)
Keith-myself-Bruce. SFM Ambassadors rock!
No comment.


  1. Aww I've missed your blog! :)Sounds like a great race, trust me I miss that cold...

  2. Alettaaaaaaa!!! this post makes me so happy. and having you at the start line in tucson made me even happier! cant wait to run together again. so much run love for you! xo

    1. Kim!!! Good luck tomorrow! I can't believe it was last year we ran this race.

  3. I am running this one Dec 8th 2013. It will be my first full marathon. Been training on the hills of Prescott, Arizona so I feel good. This Tuesday is a hilly 20-miler then my taper. I feel pretty confident as the Tucson Marathon course is flat and/or downhill, with a few "hills". Thanks for posting this blog! Jim in Arizona.

    1. Hi Jim! Thanks for your comment and good luck in Tucson tomorrow!