Friday, June 26, 2015

Throwback: 2013 Tucson Marathon Race Report

I only posted one full race report in 2013. I was busy with races and travel and got out of the habit of blogging. I’m caught up on everything from January 2014 to now, and I’m slowly working my way back to write some Throwback race reports. Sometimes I do a throwback report because the race in question is coming up again, or it’s timely for some other reason. Right now I don’t have a specific race to cover, so I’m starting at the end of 2013 and working my way back, focusing on full marathons first. That puts me at the 2013 Tucson Marathon, my selection for Arizona.

Scot and I chose to run Tucson mostly because it fit into our schedule. There are several other races in Arizona, with a few choices in Phoenix, but those are at other times of the year. Tucson is in December, and it seemed like a good time of year for us to visit a warm climate. I had been to Scottsdale, and had flown through PHX airport a number of times, but I had not spent anytime elsewhere in the state. I was looking forward to seeing some desert scenery, including the iconic saguaro cacti.

Magenta the Road Trip Flamingo the day before Tucson Marathon

Cost-wise, it made sense for us to fly into Phoenix and rent a car for the approximately two hour drive to Tucson. It was a fairly uneventful trip, and like many of our quick marathon weekend trips, we didn’t really have time for sightseeing. We made it to Tucson in time for packet pick-up, where we met up with our friend Keith, a Tucson local who joined us for dinner afterward.


At packet pick-up with Keith, Magenta and Scot

Dinner at Mama's Pizza with Scot and Keith

It was cold on race morning. Really cold. Not what I expected for Arizona, and I was not dressed for it. I remember huddling with other Marathon Maniacs as we waited for the race to start. We were not in Tucson proper, and unfortunately, the course of the Tucson Marathon doesn’t go into the city at all. But that was OK; I was looking forward to some nice desert landscapes and hoping to get some nice photographs. The race started and we were off. I was hoping it would warm up soon.

Pre-race Maniacs in the dark and cold

Another pre-race pic with a little more light

I ran the first half with Lori. I was underdressed for the unseasonably cold weather. At one point, we saw a shirt that another runner had cast off. Lori said it was Mike’s throw-away shirt. I’ve never picked up clothing from a race course before, but I was freezing and needed another layer. Knowing who the shirt belonged to made me feel less awkward about grabbing it. It was a long-sleeved tech shirt, so it gave me the warmth I needed for the upper body and arms. I figured I’d wear it for a few miles and then toss it. I ended up keeping it for the entire race.

The weather never warmed up very much, and the sun didn’t come out. I kind of felt cheated. This was not the Arizona that I had expected. The course was also not as scenic as expected. I’m sure the sun would have made a big difference, but we had no sun. There were some saguaro cacti on the course, but they’re not nearly as photogenic on an overcast day. This course was supposed to be a downhill trend, or mostly flat, but don’t let that fool you. There were some hills on the course, and some gradual inclines. It was harder than I expected, and my plantar fasciitis was not fully healed. Although the course was mostly point-to-point, there was an out-and-back section, so it was nice to see some fellow Marathon Maniacs and 50 Staters during the race.

Here I am on the course wearing Mike's throw-away shirt; never needed the sun glasses
Scot's pic of Lori and Mike on the out & back; I'll never understand how these Floridians can run in that cold weather wearing shorts, but more power to them; Scot and I have probably shared more marathon courses with Lori and Mike than any other Maniacs we know

At around the halfway point, I couldn’t keep up with Lori. She was moving just a little faster than I could go comfortably, so I hung back. But I wasn’t alone for long. I fell into step with a Tucson local, Becky. It was her first full marathon, and she was not used to the cold, so she was moving slower than she wanted to. Becky said it was the coldest day of the year in Tucson. I believed her. We got to talking and running (and doing some walk breaks) and it was nice to have a new friend to run with.

Here are Scot and I in a selfie with Becky over Scot's shoulder

In the last few miles, Becky started having some problems with her knee and had to walk more. I could have run ahead, but I didn’t want to. It was a good reason to go at an easy pace and to stick with a marathon buddy. Some of the last miles were through a residential neighborhood and were somewhat boring anyway. When we neared the finish, I ran ahead so I could take some photos of Becky coming in for her first marathon finish. Scot was waiting for us. It was an anticlimactic finish and not much of a finish party. I’m not sure if that was because of the cold weather, or finishing at the back of the back, or if that race just doesn’t do a big party. In any event, we quickly said goodbye to Becky and got on the shuttle back to our car.

Yay, Becky! First time marathoner (but not any longer).
2013 Tucson Marathon Medal

Becky is now a Marathon Maniac! I might not have come away from the Tucson Marathon with sunny memories and great photographs, but I came away with a new friend and might have served as a little inspiration to join the craziness of frequent marathoners. I’m not sure I’d go back to the Tucson Marathon though. If I choose to do another race in Arizona, it will probably be in Phoenix, or maybe Sedona. And if I do that, I sure hope the weather is nicer!

The night after the race Scot and I made the short drive to the US-Mexico border and crossed over on foot. We spent a couple hours walking around Nogales, Sonora, Mexico and eating dinner there, before we walked back to Arizona and turned in for the night.

A sign in Nogales; there wasn't a lot to see there, but we enjoyed the diversion

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