Expo, Saguaros and Course
The expo was very small. I was surprised how empty the expo was. We picked up our stuff and bought a tank top and that was it. I thought this was a larger race, I was wrong! After the expo we went to Saguaro National Park and drove the up to the start line of the marathon and followed it back to the finish line. Near the half marathon start we saw some cows and bulls. It was very rural. I was expecting something total different. We got a sense of what we were running and it wasn’t that exciting. I was a little worried about running down a highway but it really wasn’t that bad. Only once I felt like the traffic was too close.
We boarded our shuttle bus at 4:45am from Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort. It was about a 20 minute drive to our start. I’m not sure why the shuttles started so early, we were at the start line an hour and a half before we actually started! I can say the half marathon starting area was chaotic. Nobody knew what was going on. We could hear the radio communication between the buses and seriously, nobody knew anything! There were buses everywhere near the start. There was a general confusion as to where the actual start was. It wasn’t marked! LOL! They allowed us to sit on the bus to stay warm as it was in the low 40s. But I had to pee so I hiked the almost half a mile up hill to the port-a-potties. The bag drop was also up there. Nobody knew what was going on with that either. This was not a very comforting start to the race!
Finally we made our way down to the actually start and bang we were off. The started us in waves of like 200. I can understand why, once we turned on to the main road it was a bit narrow. I never felt squeezed but the field spread out pretty quickly. The course is a point-to-point. We started up the hill and ran down. We had beautiful desert scenery around us the whole way. It was pretty but I can see how some say it is boring. My first mile was a bit slow, I guess I was warming up? Miles 2-4 were great. There isn’t much to talk about as it was the same thing, slight downhill, desert and cars. My time for these beginning miles were (1-4): 13:19, 12:53, 12:59 & 13:07.
Nothing really stands out about the middle miles either. Lol! I kept passing this older woman, “the speed walker” from Maryland. I really don’t know how she walks that fast. Sadly she finished before me!! A speed walker! Ugh! Miles 5 and 6 were still good but like always I start to fall off at mile 7. My time for the middle miles (5-8) were: 13:13, 13:07, 13:23, 13:55.
Around mile 8 I ran into a Judy, a woman from Portland. We started talking and had a great conversation. We talked about everything and the miles kind of flew by. She was 66 years old, she didn’t look that old. I was amazed! Her husband was 70 and running the marathon. By the time I caught up to her, she was mostly walking. I stayed with her the rest of the way. I quite honestly don’t remember much about these miles. I know that I was slower than miles 5-8 but considering we walking more than running, I was impressed my times were still under 15 for most of these miles. This is the first half marathon, since my first one last year that I didn’t have a mile over 15:30. I was very happy with that. I could have left her and kept running but to be honest, she was such a fast walker that I think my time would have sucked more if I continued on with my running. Yeah, I could have had a couple more 13 minute miles but I know that I would have petered out and end up walking 20 minute miles to finish. My time for the ending miles (9-13) were: 14:33, 14:14, 14:51, 15:24, 15:24.
Overall time was 3:02:15. My fastest this year! I’m happy with that. I don’t have a desire to do this race again. However, I really like this run even though it was lonely for the middle miles. There weren’t too many of us slow pokes and before we got to the finish we were being passed by the really fast marathons.