A guest blog post from runner, marathoner, and beer geek, Robin Brazy:
After running the Puerto Rico Marathon last March I had told myself I would not run another marathon in a warm weather state…that didn’t last long. So for my latest runcation I headed down to Phoenix, Arizona for the Phoenix Marathon thanks to the peer pressure of my friend Ali Schanhofer (who has a great blog, RunningFromAnorexia). Not only would I now be able to scratch off another state on the list I would be able to reunite with old friends and get to explore the southwest a bit and, of course, check out some local breweries.
One of the greatest things about traveling for races is that you get to explore the city from a different perspective than other tourist. The race started out on N. Usery Pass Rd where we were surrounds by mountains, cactus, and bonfires setup to keep the runners nice and warm before the race began. Yeah I know that sounds weird “keep the runners warm in Phoenix, and in the dessert...” but at the start of the race it was a chilly 54 degrees. But as I sat there next to the bonfire, I chatted with my fellow runners, stared up at the stars and watched as the sky changed colors as the sun began to rise. At this point all the bitching I did about waking up at 3 am to catch the 4 am bus was thrown right out the window.
The race itself was definitely an experience. I loved how the first half of the marathon was mostly downhill, and how the aid stations along the first half were mostly Star Wars themed. And for the big geek that I am seeing a man dressed as Darth Vader giving out high fives and kids dress as various Star Wars characters was a pretty awesome sight to see. As the race continued and the sun began to rise so did the temperatures -- the temperatures went up from 50's to high 70's really quick -- and hit me harder than I ever expected!
You always hear the term "hitting the wall", and for me around mile 16, I began to hit the wall hard...my legs were cramping all over from my calves, to my quads, and then my feet were swelling up. At first, I was thinking maybe the fact that I neglected some of my training leading into the race was the cause for this, and it's a good possibility that some of it may be related, but I think it was more the fact that I was so dehydrated. Thankfully my friend Ali was there with me to keep pushing me to keep moving and would run walk with me as much as I could.
Around mile 23, I was at the point that I was just walking to finish and was close to throwing in the towel, but I talked myself out of it because my pride would not let me quit. So after dealing with severe dehydration, cramping, and a reality check that even though I love reading comic books, I am not the super hero "The Flash" myself and that I need to take training for races more seriously, I finished the race. I finished feeling defeated but at the end of the day I have to remember there will be races I finish feeling awesome and happy that I did well, and then there will be races that won’t go the way I hoped...I can use it as a learning experience to help me prepare for the next race.
Now that the race is behind me its time to celebrate! Those that know me know that I love to eat, enjoy a good beer and have fun. When I pick a race I give up eating my favorite foods like pizza and burgers and also give up drinking beer and use them as a reward to myself for finishing the race. After this marathon, I went to Four Peaks Brewing Company brewery in Tempe Arizona. Let's just say that Four Peaks definitely lived up to their reputation as the best micro brewery in Arizona. I highly recommend getting their flight which samples all of their 8 year round brews. To end the night, I finished off with their seasonal Sirius Black Russian Imperial Stout (I asked if it was named after the Harry Potter character but the waitress could not confirm that) -- it was definitely worth running 26.2 miles in Arizona for it!
What I love the most about the whole race weekend experience was that I got to share it with my friends and family. During and after the race we shared stories, laughed together, had a couple drinks and had a good time. To be honest, that is what I keep looking for in running. Yes hitting new personal records is great. Qualifying for Boston would be epic. But in reality, I know I’m not going to win races, and qualifying for Boston is not a major priority, so I choose to embrace running and use it as a means of connecting with friends and having fun in the process. Here’s to many more races and marathons to come, friendships to be made and beers to help ease the pains after the races are done.
Next Up: Run Disney Star Wars Half Marathon in April, stay tuned as a I get to totally nerd out over Star Wars, run some races and take on Epcot's Drinks Around the World challenge!
Robin Brazy is a multiple marathon and ultramarathon running self-proclaimed "geek" (like us at OnlyAtoms!) who's a big fan of Star Wars, comics, podcasts and other nerdy stuff (like us!) who loves a good craft brew (also like us!) and traveling to run races (like us!)