Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Phoenix Marathon

Phoenix marks my tenth - and fastest! - marathon. I've come a long way since my first one way back in 1998 when I struggled along the Vancouver course for 42.2 very painful kilometers. At the time, I was out-of-shape, under-trained and overwhelmed. I was miserable for most of the nearly five hours that I was out there, but once I crossed that finish line I felt like a rock star - a tired, aging rock star, but still a rock star. A lot has changed since then, but my love/hate relationship with the marathon remains.

The Phoenix Marathon was my first road marathon in awhile. Having convinced myself that road running leads to injury, I've avoided it like the plague and embraced the trails, which seem to agree with my lopsided body much better. But always in the back of my mind I knew that I would end up at the starting line of another marathon hoping to have that perfect race when everything just falls into place and running feels effortless.

I came close to achieving that this weekend. There was a brief stretch mid-race when I felt pretty crappy and had to slow my pace a bit but I quickly recovered by taking some salt and fluids and then was able to push hard to the finish. Other than that little blip, everything went smoothly. (Instead of a detailed race report, I've decided just to throw together a few thoughts that came to me while running the Phoenix Marathon.)

In the past, I have had both public and private race goals - the former more modest than the latter. Now, I am more honest with my goals and don't mind sharing them. My goal for this race was a sub-3 hour marathon. And while I missed it by 6 minutes and some odd seconds, it was still a successful race. I was 13 minutes faster than my previous best marathon time (which shouldn't even count because it was run way back in 2005 when I was just a kid!).

I know some people think I'm disappointed at having "failed", but I'm not. I've decided that if you meet every goal you set, then you're probably not aiming high enough. To be achievable, goals should probably fall somewhere between realistic expectations and dreams.
That's me on the right, beside the BMO bear.

I do believe that I'll run a sub-3 marathon one day, but I'm in no hurry to sign up for another road race. As far as marathons go, this one was fast, well organized and relatively scenic, and I may do it again next year. (Boston 2014 is another one I'm considering.) But even with all it had going for it, it didn't inspire and excite me the way so many of my trail runs do.

It's almost with a sense of relief that I'm exchanging my pretty, white road shoes for their rugged, mud-covered trail equivalent and going to find some dirt to play on...

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