Tucson Marathon

Annette and I had a great time at the Las Vegas Rock n Roll 1/2 marathon, but doing that the weekend before the Tucson FULL marathon wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had!  Nor was going to a “standing room only” concert at the Realto Theatre in Tucson on Thursday night.  Standing for 5+ hours waiting for then watching a great concert (Five for Fighting and Train – Annette’s favorite band) didn’t help resting my legs in preparation for a 26.2 mile run!

But I was still feeling pretty good Sunday morning when I got up at 4:15am to get ready for the shuttle to the start of the race.  It was a pretty brisk morning, but not quite as bad as it had been in Las Vegas.  Our bus got to the start a full hour and a half before the start of the race, so everyone just sat on the bus and waited.  The guy I was sitting next to had attempted a full marathon in Florence, Italy a few months before this race, but went out too hard and had to abandon due to knee pain.  He had been going for a 3 hour time and pushed too hard.  He was going for a 3:30 at Tucson and planned to run with the 3:30 pace group.  Don’t know how he did in the end.

Anyway, I timed getting off the bus to make one last porta-potty stop just about perfectly.  With the lines for the porta-potty’s I was ready to go about 5 minutes before the start.  I told Annette I wanted to finish in 5-5.5 hours, but really I was hoping for a sub 5 hour time.  The start was similar to the Lost Dutchman, where there weren’t any official starting corrals like in Vegas, so people just started milling at the starting line with people who wanted a fast finish pushing to get closer to the front.  I stayed about 3/4th back in the field of about 1500 people.

The start was a pretty steep down hill run.  Running down a steep grade is actually pretty jarring and hard on the body.  That first mile was down hill, then we hit steeply rolling hills from miles 2-9.  You lose 2700 feet overall over the course of the marathon, but that first 9 miles is pretty hilly.  The elevation profile on the route sheet appears to have a lot of those rolling hills smoothed out, so I was surprised by them.  But I was keeping a pretty good sub-10 minute pace going.  At Vegas I wound up with a small to medium sized blister on the arch of my left foot.  About 6 miles into this run I started to feel that blister.  I could tell it was getting bigger…a lot bigger.  There was one long out and back section of the course that wen up and down a good sized hill.  I made it over the hill ok, but on the way back I walked up the last part of the climb.

After that, the course was generally down hill.  Split times show I hit 6.6 miles in 1:04:24, averaging a 9:46 mile pace.  I was doin’ good.  My split time at 10.8 was 1:47:03, averaging 9:55.  Still doin’ good!  I hit the half marathon 13.1 marker in 2:10:00, a personal best for a half marathon, knocking almost 1/2 hour off my Lost Dutchman time!  Woohoo!  I was cruising!

The wind had picked up quite a bit and we faced a head wind with some pretty good gusts.  I started trying to draft off people for a bit when they went past me.  Around mile 17-18 my upper thighs started to get pretty tight, so I walked for a bit.  Then I started to use the strategy Annette and I used in Vegas, running for a bit then walking.  But my thighs still felt tight.  So I finally stopped to try to stretch them a bit by pulling my foot behind me to my butt and leaning back a bit.  Wow, that felt GREAT!  I was able to run again!  So I’d run for a while and when I started to feel my thighs tighten, I’d stop for a quick stretch.  19.2 mile split time shows I finished it in 3:29:35 with an average pace of 10:55.  That was slowing me down a lot!

Somewhere betwen mile 20 and 21 I went to do that thigh stretch and over-extended my right knee (the same knee I’ve been struggling with all year).  When I finished the stretch, I felt some discomfort.  Not intense, but not good.  But it didn’t take too long before that discomfort became pain and I started walking.  After mile 21 I think I walked more than I ran.  But I was still able to run some good stretches.

At about 23.5 miles I decided to take it easy and mostly walked from there on, my knee just couldn’t take the pounding any more.  Of course anytime I came near someone with a camera I toughed it out and ran! LOL!  Vanity!  About a mile and a half from the finish I heard the voice mail beep on my phone and checked it.  Annette wanted to know where I was so I called her to let her know.  She and the kids weren’t quite at the finish yet, but were on their way.  With my walking pace, they were sure to get there before me!

There were probably 3 camera guys in the last mile that I forced myself to run for!  I’m sure those shots are just beautiful!  The finishing stretch was really sandy.  I had decided I would run once I made the last turn, but as soon as I stepped on that sand, my knee screamed at me.  Jake saw it and told Annette he thought I just cramped.  Not a cramp, just very intense knee pain!  But I moved to the side where it wasn’t so sandy and ran slowly towards the finish.  The announcer called my name and home town as I approached the finish line, but said it looked like the guy behind me would pass me before the line, so of course I put on a last ditch burst of speed to get over that line first!  That hurt.

Final time was 5:16:58 to go 26.2 miles, losing quite a bit of speed at the end with a final average pace of 12:06 minute miles.  Walking those last few miles really cut into my time, but I finished and that was my ultimate goal.  It probably wasn’t the brightest move to put in a personal best time for the first half.  That probably had something to to with the tightness I felt in my thighs.  The knee problem was a result of stretching it too much while it was tired.  And that blister is about 2 inches on the arch of my left foot.  But the pain is already fading I’m registered to be back to do it again in 2010!

    4 comments to Tucson Marathon

    • I want to Run my First Marathon In 2010. I found a program by Marrius Bakken, which I found on you tube which looks pretty promising….He takes you through 100 days of training for the big race….For those interested in running their first marathon run this is the product to get….

    • Dan Trued

      Don’t know what your knee injury is, but mine was very similar to what I read in your blog. My injury came to a complete head on the Last Dutchman full marathon. It was an inflammation of the IT band in my left knee. Shooting pain when going downhill, but could run uphill. Ran a very good half in that, and then it blew up on me. For me the roots of this injury probably started in cycling, as I would feel twinges there on those brevets. Hope you solve your knee, as it is kind of maddening, as mine feels alright most of the time. I always carry Ibuprofen when I ride just in case. Good luck with that, but I suspect it will take some time to heal completely, if it isn’t re-injured. Spin, spin, spin is the rule I live by now.

    • Hi Pat, Congratulations yourself! Great determination to get to that finish line! I enjoyed reading your blog. 🙂 My wife and I are planning to do the Phx R-n-R 1/2 marathon and the Lost Dutchman 1/2 marathon. She’s also looking at possibly the SanDiego 1/2 and Napa Valley 1/2 in June and July. I’ll do those with her of course, but my next full won’t be until Tucson next year. 1/2 marathon isn’t a bad distance for me. I think I need more muscle adaptation for running before I try another full and those 1/2 marathons with my wife should help that development. In the mean time I’ll probably get back to some longer cycling events.


    • congratulations. It was tough running into the wind on 77. I ran it for the first time. My bus got there 1.5 hours early too. I was on one of the coach buses, so waiting was at least comfortable.

      I was planning on doing around 5 hrs too, but ended up just over 6. Man, was it tough.

      Good luck in the future. I’m planning on doing the full Rock N Roll. How about you?