I trained for the Tucson marathon in Santa Monica, San Francisco (soooo many hills), Sacramento, Roseville, and Draper! So that made for a unique training experience.
The weekend of the Tucson marathon started off rough because we got there in the evening when it was rainy and dark. We stayed at the host hotel, the El Conquistador, which is one of those hotels where you walk around outside to get to your room. So, trying to find it in the rain was not fun. We were also moody due to the day of travel. Nonetheless, the next day we awoke refreshed and in the light of day saw that the hotel was really nice! Definitely the best option. The expo (which was very small) was held in the hotel so that was convenient. After getting my shirt and bib we drove to my childhood hometown of Dudleyville. it was tiny when I lived there, but it was weird seeing it again for the first time in 12 years. The area was also trashier than I remembered. Anyway, after that we got dinner at a sushi place in Tucson. We went back to the hotel and I got my flat runner ready and laid down early.
I actually don’t remember what time I woke up, I was on the first bus to shuttle to the start though, which left at either 5 or 5:30. I had oatmeal for breakfast and brought an extra gel (My Spring Energy) to have before the start. Our bus got there before 6am so waiting for an hour on the bus wasn’t fun, I just tried to rest. When it came time, I took off my sweats and put them in my drop bag. I wore a t-shirt, shorts and arm warmers. I was worried about being chilly, despite the sunny forecast, which is why I chose to go with a t-shirt and no visor. The race started at 7am and I found the 3:45 pacer and stuck with him for a few miles. The beginning had a nice downhill, and I thought most the race would be like that. Turns out most of the race is downhill, but more of a flat downhill. Anyway, I stuck with that group for maybe 6 miles and then decided to slow down a bit. Also at mile 6 I stopped to use the portapotty, which took about a minute or so. At mile 10 you make a left turn and run part way down a road and then turn back around. Before turning around, we were running uphill and right into the sun-I was starting to regret not wearing a hat. By the time you finished with the turnaround and back on the main road, it was over halfway. I hit my goal time the halfway mark, being 1:49. I also shed my arm warmers around that time. Miles 13-17 went well, I had about an 8:30 pace. During this race, at aid stations I just had water, and since my gels don’t have much electrolytes, I brought salt pills which I took about four times. I don’t think those were enough though, hence the reason I am going to also drink the Gatorade that is offered the next time I race.
At miles 17 I started to hit the wall. The sun seemed so bright and I felt so tired. The course is also rather boring so that didn’t help. I started the race in the 8-8:30 range, then from mile 20-26 I start being around 9-10 minute range. I’m ashamed to say that I completed mile 25 in 10:50. I do think I was dehydrated though-not enough electrolytes and no sunglasses or hat. I felt ashamed to be taking walking breaks so close to the finish, but I felt like I couldn’t help it. After the 26 marker, I picked up speed knowing the end was near. Those last 6 miles all I could think was how much I wanted a Gatorade or Liquid IV (which begs the question, why wasn’t I drinking the Gatorade at the aid station?? I honestly have no answer for that question. It wasn’t in my race plan, so I felt it was off limits. Obviously not thinking clearly).
I crossed the finish line in 3:53, so I was glad I at least PRed. I got the medal (which I love!) and a Gatorade (thank heavens!) and browsed what snacks were offered. It was pretty slim pickings though, I just grabbed orange slices and a banana then went to stand in line to get on the bus to take us back to the hotel.
This race didn’t go as well as SF (despite the faster time). I learned I need to drink more electrolytes, especially in the first half. I learned that you should basically always wear a visor (I’m not a sunglasses kind of person). I also learned that once you take one walking break, it’s too easy to take another, and another, and another, and ect. I also learned that I don’t mind hills and declines, because it helps switch up the monotony.
This race had over 500 feet elevation gain, but overall is was very drab. For a large part of the race your running along the shoulder of the road which isn’t the greatest. The organization of the race was fine, and shirt is as good as any other race shirt, the medal is fantastic, the host hotel was wonderful, the post-race snacks were lacking, and the spectators were minimal. Doing this race once was cool (since I grew up in the area), but I don’t see myself coming back. I read that they will be changing the course this year, so I am a bit curious what it will be like. If I read amazing things, maybe I’ll find myself back there in the future.
If you want to read more about how to prepare for this race, check out my list of what you should know about the Tucson Marathon!