Let me start by commenting on how well this race was put together. Everything from the course and aid stations to the drop bag arrangement to individual finish chutes to the bounce house for kids, it was truly top notch. Well done Phoenix Marathon! On top of that, the weather was absolutely beautiful. Morning temperatures were in the high 40's, requiring only a light jacket at the pre-race staging area with plenty of heaters and fires to keep warm. As the sun began to peak over the mountains to the East, it was almost time to go. Runners filled the pavement leading up to the starting line completing their last minute preparations.
I rode the bus over with a friend of mine from the fitness center and his wife, both looking for a shot at Boston. My plan was to get those 10 initial hilly miles out of the way (where Brittney would be waiting to hand me a bottle) and average a sub-6:00/minute pace through the first half. Check! I also needed to take in enough calories through mile 20 to be able to finish strong. Check. For most of the race I ran with Gary Krugger from Flagstaff (Tucson Marathon winner) who provided great company until mile 18 when his pace exceeded mine, though I did manage to stay close and finish 30 seconds behind him. So once again I found myself in no mans land running all by my lonesome. At mile 20 I was passed, then regained my spot by 22 and saw a couple of front runners walking which meant I could easily land a place in the top ten. I've been after that 2:39 marathon for a while now and think a larger, more competitive race will help me in the final stages with more guys (and girls) to pace with. By mile 24-25 I realized that goal time wasn't going to happen so I decided to have a little fun with the crowd and enjoy those final miles. Oh, and my legs were spent by this time anyways, so a 6:30-6:45/mile was literally all I could manage at the end.