Phoenix Half Marathon Recap

The trash bag flapped around me in the wind as I squinted my eyes to see through the dark. Where was the starting line? Not too far away, I could hear the reverberating voice over the loudspeaker—we must be close! Suddenly, my sisters and I turned the corner of a low, concrete building and were greeted by a crowded mass of runners huddled around heat lamps.

Welcome to 60 degrees in Arizona at 5:30 in the morning! We entered the throng of runners, ready to race the Phoenix Half Marathon this past Saturday, March 1st.

My sisters and I, coming from much cooler climates, had to chuckle a bit about the huddled runners. Coming from the sub-zero long runs in Wisconsin, the balmy 60 degrees felt amazing—even the threat of rain during the race didn’t scare me. In fact, I thought it might help me; I was afraid 60 degrees would feel too warm!

The garbage bag “dresses” we wore proved useful.

garbage bags before a rainy race

The slight wind and misty weather turned out to be a little chilly after standing outside for 15 minutes. Even we were glad for the heating lamps that we, and all the others, corralled around as we waiting to line up for the start of the race.

It wasn’t long before the Star Spangled Banner was being sung; beautiful voices echoed over us all, and a spark of excitement ran through us all as fireworks went off. What a way to get the adrenaline going!

phoenix half marathon fireworks before start

We headed for the start line. At 6:28am, the rain started falling. At 6:30 on the dot, the starting gun went off.

waiting in line to start running the phoenix half marathon

Five minutes into the rainy run, I clenched and unclenched my chilly fingers and wondered how quickly they would warm up with the rain. But just five minutes later, the rain had stopped and was replaced with an intermittent mist. It hadn’t rained in 80 days or so in Arizona, and although we had a few showers during our half marathon, it turned out not to be the water-logged run we all expected.

We ran down residential streets, somewhat tightly packed. I got stuck behind some slower runners and walkers a handful of times. Frustrating, but easy enough to quickly find a spot to slide around. I took in the humble homes; the desert landscaping right with cacti and stones; the groves of lemon and orange trees, which completely but happily surprised me. The birds chirped as the sun came up and lit our way.

I focused on how I felt—good, strong—and tried to stick to a consistent 10:30 pace. I went up and down but stayed somewhat close—good enough. Water and Gatorade stations popped up about every two miles, and I made sure to hit up most of them. Vaseline, kindly offered by a volunteer around mile 3, saved my arm from being chafed to death. {How did I forget this tank top always did that?}

Clif gel shots, licorice, bananas and oranges were all offered along the way by smiling volunteers. I grabbed a Clif shot to try on a different run, but gobbled down my trusty Shot Blox gummies as needed. I was amazed at how well the runners were supported, and thanked the volunteers and numerous policemen (and the few cheering fans who braved the cruddy weather) when I could spare the smile and breath.

Soon, I was nearing the 10-mile marker. I felt great still, and decided to kick it up a notch. I had been sticking close to my 10:30 minutes per mile goal, but I wondered how much further I could take it. I hadn’t been planning to race this half marathon or try for a goal time, but that itch surfaced and the push began.

Mile 10: 10:34
Mile 11: 10:17
Mile 12: 10:06

This was it. The end was getting close, and I stared out at the mountains in the distance. Glad to finally glimpse some Arizona scenery, I spared the seconds to slow down and capture the moment.

scenic view during the end of the phoenix half marathon

But not for long. I opened up my stride and continued the downward descent to the finish line.

Mile 13: 9:05

I sprinted past people left, right, dodging around like a little kid running around his parents’ legs. I smiled huge, feeling so strong and fast, hearing my older sister cheering for me—“Go Mandy!”—as I stared down the fast-approaching finish line.

Then a man’s voice behind me:
“Runners, move to your left! Make room for the first marathon finisher!”

I glanced back to my right to see a male swiftly approaching at the end of his 26.2-mile run. I sailed over the finish line at nearly the same moment as him, and grinned to myself.

smiling at the finish line

At least when I got home, I could tell everyone I had tied with the winner of the Phoenix Marathon.

Final half marathon time:
2:17:38 (10:30 pace, on the dot)

phoenix half marathon medal

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5 thoughts on “Phoenix Half Marathon Recap

  1. That’s a beautiful finishers’ medal. Congrats on your achievement and wonderful time… And you tied the marathon winner. That’s a story to tell the grandkids 🙂

  2. Awesome race Amanda! Way to take the rough weather in stride. It’s awesome you finished with the marathon winner!! I’m glad you liked Arizona…another really great race is the Lost Dutchman in Apache Junction. I did that one after the Phoenix race the following year.

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