Read this Phoenix Marathon Review and Recap to learn everything you need to know about running your best Phoenix Marathon and get the most out of your race on this Boston Qualifying course!
BMO Harris Phoenix Marathon Review
Phoenix Marathon General Info:
I registered in December at the prompting of Erica and Smitha and Jen and the desire for a BQ attempt and a spring marathon. Race is usually last weekend of February/early March. Prices for the full range from $65-120, depending on when you sign up. A half marathon and a 10k are also offered, and they start along the full marathon course, which is point-to-point. The full and the half start at 6:30, and shuttles are required to take you to the full start. Music is supposed to be played throughout the course, but that didn’t happen.
Boston Qualifier, but not a certified Olympic Trials Qualifier because of elevation drop. Temperature day of race was in the 60s and windy, chilly in the morning. No corrals–honor system pacing, and people were very good about it. The pacers were super duper nice, too! Full marathon is somewhere around 2000 maybe?.
Phoenix Marathon Expo:
The expo was outside, which I loved, and well organized, finishing by emptying into Sports Authority. Several vendors, but not great selection. Not to worry, you are in a giant mall area with everything that you need. The tech shirt is from Albion (this year) and is actually super cute! We saw a TON of people using the shirts, which was surprising (hello, nothing new and race shirt after!). Other things that we got: Albion arm sleeves (which I wore and then dropped) and nibbles and the usual marketing things.
Phoenix Marathon Course and Race Day:
Phoenix Marathon Race Day:
Shuttles to the start run from 3:45-5 AM. Plentiful buses, well organized parking, easy peasy. At the start it was kind of like summer camp and or Burning Man for runners–heat lamps and fire pits.
And a giant cactus. because, you know, Arizona.
It was chilly and a little bit windy (probably in the low 50s), but it warmed up rather quickly once we started running and soon the temps were steady at around 65 and it was cloudy just about the whole time. Lots of portapotties and even heat lamps by the portapotties for those waiting. Music at the start and even some fireworks! Trucks collected our gear bags on the way to the start and sorted them for us.
Race started on time, no problem. Plentiful pacers, and the guy leading our pace group was excellent. Nice, helpful, reminding you to drink water, etc. Didn’t get crazy if he was a bit under pace or over–just fixed the issue. And super nice!
The Course itself:
Marathon guide calls it arguably the most scene marathon in Arizona, and if that is the case, I’m a little worried. First off, calling this race the Phoenix Marathon would be akin to running a Manhattan Marathon in New Jersey. You are about 20-30 mins from Phoenix itself. The first part of the course (before the half) is fine–mountainy, but you don’t spend much time there and then you are in a residential area (which is nice but not super scenic) and lots of roads around highways. The half course was not scenic at all. One part that was really nice largely because the air smelled freaking AWESOME was the part where you run by orange groves. Oh, lordy, did I take some deep breaths there!
One big draw of this course is the elevation drop. While I will totally agree with them that it is an overall fast course with the first 4 miles being downhill, then a hill for a bit, then downhill, then hill, then an interplay of up/downhill, there were many more gradual climbs than the elevation chart lets on. Also, much of the course once we got to the flatter areas was taking us right into a headwind or side wind. Honestly, the only part with a tailwind was at about mile 25, and then we had a lovely full on headwind right at 26 (shake of the fist). Many people blitzed the first half and had nothing left for the headwinds in the second half.
This is a very quiet race, and not plentiful in terms of crowd support, but very dedicated cheerers! And water/gatorade stations were plentiful and because of the size of the race, not crazy. Great and super attentive volunteers! Clif gel stations later on. Lots of firemen around, but didn’t see many explicitly medical people–sure they were there though. Again, music was “promised” but did not materialize.
Post Race Party:
Great finisher’s party. Immediately given water, towel and medal. Portapotties right after that, and then into the finishers’ only area, with food, Muscle Milk, and massage area’s. Famous Dave’s was also free to finishers, but I didn’t stand in line for that. There were lines, but by then the half finishers had largely cleared out and not too bad when I and Erica were there. The general area (open to families) had more fun stuff–lots of vendors, more massage, even an acupuncture tent! More food and things for us to partake in (we also got interviewed about the race), gear check was easy, and then, as mentioned earlier, you were in the middle of a mall so we went and hung out. More portapotties at the end as well. Well run and organized (though no one had any information about the Boston Qualifier hats, but that is something else and they will be mailed to us).
First off–thank you to everyone who sent hate thoughts to the person that stole my Garmin haha. I managed to get buy on from a fellow Fitfluential Ambassador and it was delivered the day before I left for Phoenix!
This was by no means an “easy” race, though it might be downhill. I remember thinking many times that I would describe it as quiet, fast, downhill to a point, and (honestly) rather boring, but with great support and, if you ran it right, a PR course. Erica and I were waffling between running with the 3:30 and 3:35 pacer, settled on the 3:35 pacer, and then Erica and he had a moment and I think she decided to stick with the 3:30 lol. And I decided to stick with her, though the pace did feel fast.
While the pace felt fast, I am really proud of myself for running MY race. At one point, Erica was like, “Suz, don’t over do it” when we were going uphill. But where she sails downhill, I chug uphill. Remember this post? I can’t tell you how many people I passed while going up hill. GLUTES, ENGAGED. But I knew that it was my strong point, and that it would be good to use those muscles rather than my quads which I knew would take a beating, so I semi ignored that advice and kept chugging lol. (Love you, Erica). She got ahead of me, ultimately, and I let her–I wanted her to run her race, I would run mine. But I kept her in my sights, and nearly caught her at one point, but that was when I decided that a bathroom visit would be necessary for overall success (lost about 75ish seconds there). That was around 15/16. Then I put in my headphones. I took an FRS at about 9 or 10, beans started around 14, and by the time I went to the bathroom , life felt better, even though we were going uphill into wind. (There were people complaining about this, and while I wasn’t enthused by the prospect, HELLO I train in Chicago, thank you. We lack terrain, but we make up for it in wind from all directions.
Not much to say after that–water at every aid station after about 14, and quads started burning at around 20. And then really burning haha. Last FRS around then? Didn’t use my ginger (other than beforehand). Was tracking Erica like the whole time (keeping her in my sights up ahead) and then all the sudden lost her (found out she went to that bathroom as well). But by then I had seen that there was a pacer ahead, so I worked on closing that gap for the last 5k, ultimately catching him at 25 and then running like all get out after that (downhill and tailwind part), then turned the corner and a little bit more then BOOM headwind but I was finishing so I DIDN”T CARE. As we got closer to the finisher chute, I saw that I was coming in around 3:29 and I was just in shock and so I pushed as hard as I could.
WHO THE HELL AM I??????
It might have been a “small” race, but screw that, I was 8th in my division and top 50 female! H*!# S#!+ Sorry. I freaked out. Also, my halfs were the best that I have run period since the Team Challenge Virtual races of the fall and my best half in a race since my PR in 2013. So yeah, I’ll take it! And, considering that I made that bathroom stop in the second half, I kind of ran even halfs, lol. I did haul ass the last bit and made up a lot of time but shhhhhhhhhhh.
Because you know that I gotta.
A fast, course that if you play your cards right can be a major PR race for you. But don’t be fooled by the course elevation map–it will still make you work for it. I would say register for it early at a good price if you decide to do it, and make sure to do plenty of comprehensive strengthening–not just quads or glutes or whatever. If you are looking for a well run race for a spring PR and don’t need to be dazzled by the course or the crowds (like an MCM or Twin Cities), give Phoenix a thought!Check out this Phoenix Marathon race review and recap to run your best race! #runchat #phxmarathon Click To Tweet
I’ll come back with some reflections later, but for now I think I have said enough!
Thank you for reading and coming along on my marathon journey–I guess now I have to keep it up, huh? I mean, I am going to running a little baby marathon next April…. SQUEEEEEEEEE
What is the one thing that can make or break a race experience for you?
When was the last time that you accomplished something that literally blew your mind?