Wednesday, January 21, 2009

P.F. Chang's Rock 'N' Roll Arizona Marathon

3:40 Pacer report January 18,2009
Temperature change:
We arrived in Arizona on Thursday, realizing a 104 degree change in actual temperature. It was -24F in Minnesota when we left and 80F when we arrived in Phoenix. What a change!
Mary, Taylor, Chelsey and myself arrived at my parent's place in Mesa early Thursday afternoon. We had some time to relax and take in some of the abundant sunshine.
My sister, Joja Jogger arrived on Friday and she brought with her a lot of nervous energy. Read her race report here to get another point of view on the weekend's activities.
Mom's birthday was on Friday (she turned 83), and we went out for supper/carbs that evening.
Saturday was Expo, and I wanted to get to the pacer booth and talk to some runners. We had a pacer clinic at 10:00AM and also at 2:30PM. I visited with a lot of runners and many of them were intending to run with me on Sunday. Exciting stuff!
Start Village:
Mary, Joja and myself got to the finish line area just before 6:00AM and rode the bus to the start. We had plenty of time to get food, fluids, bathroom lines, sunscreen, etc done before the start.
Here is a picture of the three of us before the race.

Joja, John and Mary
The Race:
Got into corral 3 about 20 minutes before the start. Both the 3:40 and 3:45 pace groups were in the same corral, so I worked my way up to the front. The 3:45 pacer was there, right at the rope with quite a few runners around him. Oh well, he'll let us move ahead when they drop the ropes.....not.
He and his group dashed right up there, leaving us behind them.
The gun went off, and we crossed the start line with an offset of about 1 minute. After a slow start, we had to try and work our way through the 3:45 group. At about the 1 mile mark we had finally cleared them. It was a beautiful morning for a run.
At mile 3? we heard a huge CRUNCH!!! to our left. Some guy driving an RV must have been watching the runners and forgot that his vehicle was taller than the canopy clearance at the gas station. His AC unit was now in a new place.
The miles continued to click off nicely and at 10K we had 19 seconds in the bank. By the half, we had 45 seconds to work with. As it happens every year, quite a few of my group surge ahead of me from miles 11 to 14. I try to keep them in as much as I can.
At mile 14.5, we get a beautiful view of Camelback mountain. This is a sight I look forward to every year as the sun really accents the exposed rock at this time of the morning. But after this point is where I start to lose runners from my group. As we work our way north and then get up to Indian School Road, we are on a very slight incline, and a breeze was picking up from the east. The breeze had a good cooling effect, as we were now running in a lot of direct sunlight. But, it takes a little more effort to maintain pace into the wind also.
By mile 20, we had about 1:30 in the bank. It was time to slowly withdraw from the bank - but not too much. My goal was to run 8:25 to 8:30 miles for the next few.
I told my group that it was my mother's birthday on Friday, and that I planned to pull over just before mile 22 to give her a hug and kiss. I told them to shout "Happy Birthday Lois!!" when I pulled over to the side of the road. I was visiting quite a bit with some runners, and was oblivious to the fact that mile 22 was coming up soon.
There they were - Mom, Dad, son Taylor and his girlfriend Chelsey. Mom got her hug and salty kiss. The group started singing "Happy Birthday" as they ran by. Nice touch. Thank you, 3:40 group!
Mom felt really special.
I caught back up with the group and there was a group of 5-7 who were running very well. When we got to mile 23, I told them "There's only a 5K left, if you feel fine - keep going at this pace. You will then finish somewhere around 3:38:30. I will slow down a little more and see if we can pull in a few more runners for the finish."
I intentionally slowed down to about a 8:40 pace, but not many runners were catching up to me. I really started to wave my pace sign really high, back and forth, trying to lure a few more BQ's up to me.
Soon, the final mile was here. I take it in nice and easy, waving the sign some more, encouraging the crowd to cheer for all of these fantastic runners that are coming in.
I crossed the finish in 3:39:46 chip time.
Extra Thoughts:
It's kind of lonely in a way, as you'd think a pacer would have dozens of runners right with him across the finish. I crossed the finish line alone. The fact is, I WANT my group to beat me. And congratulations to all of them that did!
A few more came in right behind me. I'm not sure if they used me during the race or just happened to be there. If I helped in any way - my goal was met.
My heart goes out to those that fell off my group. Whether it was mile 10, mile 16, mile 18, mile 23... not everyone that runs with me will get their goal. The marathon is not easy.
But if you did not reach your goal, make sure that you learn something from the experience.
And try again...don't let that goal slip away or let your inner demons convince you that it is not possible.
Mary and Joja Jogger(my sister):
After I finished, I got my drop bag and then went back to mile 26.1 to cheer the runners on!
Mary finished in 4:26:37, and had a lot of trouble with quads cramping and persistent plantar fasciitis pain in her right foot. She was a real trooper and gutted it out to the finish!
Joja finished in 4:58:23 for her first marathon ever! She had a goal of breaking 5 hours and executed her plan perfectly. Congratulations, Sis!
We sat down for a bit in the Family reunion area. Drank some beer and talked running. It was fun.
Evening concert:
Taylor, Chelsey and I went to the evening concert in Tempe. Smash Mouth was the feature band. It was the first year that I had enough energy after the marathon to take in the concert. I'm glad we went.
Temperatures started to drop, but that didn't seem to have any effect on LeRoy the lead guitar player who prefers to go shirtless.
Thanks for reading,


MN Ultra Runner said...

Great job, can't get much better pacing that that! See you soon.

JojaJogger said...

Enjoyed running "with" you and Mary, bro, I say we make this an annual event.

Matthew Patten said...

Nice job John. You made it sound easy.

Any chance you saw Josh Cox there? He pulled out a 2:47:17......... for 50K!!! new American Record.

His marathon split was 2:20, which was slow for him.

I guess we have some training to do

Abby Michaels said...


How are you? Hope all is well!

Anyway, I noticed you mentioned COMPETITOR GROUP (Rock N Roll Maration) on your site: ( really appreciate the mention! I'm glad you wanted to share information about Rock N Roll marathon with your readers.

Would you mind linking back to use as a reference for anyone that is interested in learning more? Here is the URL:

Please let me know if you will. Thank you so much and I wish you all the best! :)