Arizona Rock and Roll Marathon 2011

Phoenix Marathon ExpoRunning, Travel, Friendship, Family. Four of my favourite things. What a great weekend it is when we can combine these together. This past weekend was no let down and I wish it lasted longer. We headed to Phoenix, well, Scottsdale actually, and spent the weekend reminiscing, running, eating, and lounging. And we ate a bit more too. The goal while there was also to run a marathon, and half marathon for my wife and our host.

The Race was the Arizona Rock and Roll Marathon. The Rock and Roll Marathon Series has received great reviews, especially San Diego and Phoenix (Phoenix-Scottsdale-Tempe to be exact) so after a couple of years of threatening to visit my best-man Rob, who now lives there, we finally made it happen. Rob, a former pro hockey player, recently ran his first half marathon and on this weekend,  ran his 2nd, a PB  with a solid 1:50 which we’re all stoked about. There’s more big things to come from Rob next year including a marathon. How awesome is that!

The event was well run, with a great, vast expo, bigger than most events and a lot of good deals to be had. The bummer for me was not realizing that Meb Keflezghi was the guest speaker, and I was there while he was talking but was too caught up in looking around!

The race itself was so well organized. It had to be with 30,00 runners combined in the Half Marathon (19,000+), Marathon (5,000 +) and wheelchair and relay races for both. There were actually 2 separate start lines and start times as well as 2 different finish lines for each race making the abundance of runners very controlled. It’s a lot of extra work and expense for them but definitely a plus. Highlight runners were Kara Goucher, in her first race (half-marathon) since giving birth last year and Josh Cox, who ran the marathon and then 8 more kms in ASU stadium to attempt breaking the world record…which he unfortunately missed by 7 seconds. However he did set a new American 50km record with a time of 2:47:17 and won the marathon proper with a 2:17:32

My race was pretty straight forward, no major goal other than to have a good time, and stay under 3:30. The morning went well, up early, out the door and dropped off at the point to point start area while Rob and Anita drove back to park at the start, then shuttle their way to the start. It was dark and cold and I had plenty of time to linger and soak up the atmosphere, visit the porta potty (thrice) and listen to the Rock Music coming from 2 different start area bands. There were 26 more bands en route and although it was a nice touch, the music itself was amateur and nothing special but it certainly beats nothing at all like many races.

The time came to start and it was crowded up in our corral. They had a moment of silence for the recent fallen from the shootings in Arizona and the hush among the expanse of bodies was stunning. Then the anthem, and a start horn that went off before the countdown ended. Another marathon to run now I thought and made my way, not really focusing too much on pace other than trying to hold back a bit. The first half scenery was nothing special, very Vegas like actually with minimal spectators. The aid stations were exceptional, very long, either side of the road and packed with volunteers. Lovely. The sun was fully up by Mile 5 but nice and overcast to keep from beating down on us. It did make a full appearance from time to time but I never really felt too hot – fortunately – I do not run well in the heat.

At mile 8, my race plan, or lack thereof, changed – or was formed – depending on how you look at it. Since we were in the desert, I had consumed many litres of water the day before and morning of the race. Despite my 3 pre race emptyings, I had to make a ‘pitstop’, which took about a minute, as I had to find a spot to go, then get back on course. About a mile later, I tried to clean my sweaty sunglasses but only made them worse, so I stopped to clean them right. At that point I thought I’d wasted so much time I sort of considered just easing up altogether and stopped again when Camelback Mountain came in view to take a few photos – one of them can seen below. Then, I get to mile 13.1 and the clock reads 1 hr 40 m exactly.  I thought I’d be around 1:45 or more and was going have to work hard to stay under my goal of 3:30 or just settle for 3:35-3:40. Happily I continued on and even toyed with the thought of a PB. All I had to do was run a 1:38:19 or better second half to manage that. Let’s laugh at that – the way I felt over the last few miles dictated that this was not  going happen on this day.

The 2nd half started out well and the course got nicer, more interesting and the spectators were plentiful for a while.The course wound it’s way through Scottsdale and old Scottsdale where there were some really nice little streets and older buildings. Then into Tempe for the final 5 miles. By this time, as usual, I didn’t notice too much other than the many people who would stop to walk then run past me, then stop to walk again as I’d pass them back. It was kind of nice to have something occupy my mind like that. A few of them I ended up ahead of, a few had a much stronger final mile than I and finished ahead.

The final mile was actually tough, probably due to the fast first half, or the fact we went to bed at 1Am (3AM Toronto time) on Friday night. I knew a saunter would still get me in at sub 3:30 so I didn’t stress to o much, running the last mile well slower than the rest and enjoying the relief you always feel when you make a turn and see the finish line. I was across the line in 3:28:21, my 21st marathon and third fastest. Very acceptable even by my high expectancies of myself. I mentally pat myself on the back, moved through the chute, got a taken photo in from of the PF Changs Rock and Roll Marathon sign, headed for the post race food and then plopped down to admire the sun, shining over top of a hill and the ASU Stadium. The 10 minute sit down helped me recover back to normal, then I made my way to Anita and Rob who were waiting for me at t he Baggage pick up. They were a sight for my tired eyes. a proud moment was shared as they relayed their successful race results and we drove off into the afternoon sun, back to Rob’s place for a jacuzzi….and beer. Tasty, tasty beer.

Overall Place 512 / 5062
Gender Place 430 / 2874
Division Place 82 / 490
10K 47:10
Half 1:40:00
20 Mile 2:34:29
Finish 26.2 Miles 3:28:21

Here are some various photos from the weekend:


Beaches RunnerAbout Beaches Runner
Crazy mad runner, wanting to be fitter and faster but too busy to do it right. Still, I keep trying.

  • Ardee

    Nice story Dave, and congrats to you, Anita and Rob. I bet that beer (no matter what brand) tasted great!

  • Beaches Runner

    Yes Ronny D, the beer, despite being American, tasted great!

  • Beaches Runner

    Click on this link to read Marathon Guide Reviews from other people who ran this race.

  • Runshorts

    This race is on my (long) list. Glad it went well!