What a weekend! Just when you think that you have everything planned out with this 50 states business, something is inevitably not going to go your way. For many of my states, there is just no compromise on which race I am going to do! Arizona is (was?) one of those states. I have been literally dying to run the Sedona Marathon since 2013! Why, you ask? Eh, it's Sedona. Google some pictures. My original plan was for 2014, but it conflicted with something else, so I moved it to 2015. I tried my best to make this as quick of a trip that I could but with Sedona being a few hours drive from the closest airport (Phoenix) and Phoenix being the location of the Super Bowl the same weekend as the race (making flights ridiculously expensive), I chose to fly in and out of Las Vegas (about 4.5 hrs from Sedona) and extend my trip by a day.
|It's state #25!|
I met up with my friend GK in Vegas Thursday night. I got an awesome deal on a hotel for Thursday night ($25!!!!). We noticed that a large majority of patrons of this casino/hotel (and all other subsequent casinos that we visited throughout the weekend) walked with a distinct limp (which we'll call the Casino Shuffle - SPOILER ALERT: I fit right in after the marathon). Friday morning we made our way out of Vegas and down to Sedona. We drove 4.5 hours in heavy rain. Halfway there, GK reads his email and announces that due to the rain the marathon portion of the Sedona races had been "shortened" and the marathoners would all be moved to the half marathon. Hold up! How the hell can you "shorten" a marathon? It's not a marathon anymore. Just say it's cancelled. Skeptical, I continued on to Sedona to investigate, all the while scheming up a Plan B. The Sedona races are all out and back along the same stretch of road. Why on earth couldn't the marathoners just run the half marathon route twice? It just seemed like such a simple solution.
|The drive down the canyon into Sedona. Photo cred to GK.|
We got to Sedona (the drive down the canyon was beautiful, but once in Sedona all the red rocks were covered by fog), stuffed our holes with hot dogs (vegan for me), and ventured to the expo to grab our stuff. We asked about running the half twice but to no avail. So now we were on to our Plan B. I absolutely was not leaving this state without running a marathon and lucky for me, AZ had 3 (well 2 I guess after Sedona cancelled) marathons all on the same day. Our choices were the Desert Classic Marathon near Phoenix (about 2 hrs from where we were in Sedona) or the Yuma Territorial Marathon in Yuma (about a 5 hr drive from Sedona). Phoenix just seemed like too "easy" of a choice. Yuma sounded like more of an adventure so we obviously chose that one! Plus, fellow 50 Stater (and Sedona Marathon Reject) BM was heading to Yuma too so we had someone to hang with and share hotel expenses with there! We were able to register for the race upon our arrival to the host hotel in Yuma and all of the volunteers were so nice and helpful. We even got to speak to the race director (David). He was super nice and very excited that we drove all the way down to Yuma to run his marathon.
|Sedona Marathon Rejects!|
Race morning was different in Yuma than what we were expecting in Sedona - we all got to wear shorts and tank tops. Yay. This is a very small marathon (less than 50 finishers this year) that starts and finishes right in front of the host hotel. The marathoners started about 20 minutes before the half marathon (my kind of race).
For the first few miles it was still dark, so we couldn't see much. Early on, GK decided to play it safe and only run/walk the half, so it was BM and me for the 26.2 miles. This is a straight out and back course - so run 13.1 miles and turn around. If you remember from my last post, my leg has been an asshole lately. Between the Blues and this race (3 weeks), I had "run" a collective 6 miles (2 miles at a time and half of that was walking hence the " "). So this race had the potential to be quite ugly. Leg hurt pretty much from the start but nothing too terrible until later on in the race. BM and I kept a good walk-a-minute-every-mile strategy (which turned out to be at every aid station) for the first 10 or so miles.
|Course starts past some desert landscape (litter included free of charge).|
|Can't believe we missed the Chihuahua races by a week. No fair.|
|Part of the course runs through a small town.|
|Oh yeah. More farms.|
|And just when you think you couldn't see anymore lettuce.|
|Halfway done with being halfway done.|
The course is FLAT and (as you can see) mostly run next to lettuce. Apparently Yuma is a giant salad bowl. If you know me, you know that I love small, rural races. This marathon fit the bill perfectly. Now don't get me wrong. Sedona would have been lovely, but the Yuma Marathon was a suitable replacement. We hit the turnaround at about 2:25, which I was ok with. My leg was getting progressively worse, so I figured there would be a significant slow down in the second half. We pretty much knew exactly what to expect for the 13.1 miles back to the finish - lettuce (see above pictures in reverse order). We took our time for the next several miles and walked a bit more.
|I have no idea.|
By mile 20, my leg was hurting more when I would start to run after walking, so I decided to venture on ahead and keep "running" as much as I could (with my definition of running being very loose). After not running for 3 weeks, it's pretty hard to traverse more than 20 miles. I walked miles 24-25, but tried my best to "run" for that last 1.2 miles. I shuffled my way to the finish line in 5:21:40 and crossed off my 25th marathon state! I'm halfway there baby!
|Oooohhhhhhh we're halfway therrrrrrreeeee!|
One of the perks of running such small marathons is that you are likely to win an age group award! Once I crossed the finish line, the RD told me that I was 3rd in my age group, with the 2nd place woman passing me in the very last mile (it was apparently an exciting race in Yuma for the women aged 30-39). The 2nd place winner was so nice and I found out it was her very first marathon. She said that BM and I helped to push her along.
|I hope this sweet girl doesn't mind her picture on the interwebz.|
|Let's take a picture next to this cactus.|
We talked a little more with David (RD) and you could really tell that he loves this race and puts a lot into it. He also said that profits from the race go directly back into the community (he mentioned score boards at schools).
|Selfie with RD David and cactus.|
Even though the Yuma Territorial Marathon wasn't what I came for, I'm glad I did it. It is a very low key, community-directed, small, rural marathon. My perfect kind of race. The course is FLAT. Aid stations were plentiful (about every mile) and the volunteers were amazing (at a few aid stations, the volunteers were actually running towards us to give us some water). The aid stations had water, Gatorade, and fruit (bananas and oranges). Some had candy. Don't expect huge crowds and a bumping after party, but do expect a lovely, peaceful run through farmland.
So here are the travel deets:
- Sedona Marathon registration: $81 (I had a $10 discount; this was the introductory rate since I registered probably the day it opened) - unfortunately, I lost this :(
- Yuma Territorial Marathon: $85 at packet pickup (I had a $10 discount)
- I flew into Las Vegas (it's actually only about 5 hrs from Yuma). The flight was $300.
- I rented a car from Thursday night through Sunday morning. It cost $95 total and my portion was $55. My portion of gas for the trip was about $25.
- Thursday night - Arizona Charlie's Boulder Casino in Las Vegas ($25)
- Friday night - Original plan was Sedona so I had already paid for the hotel there (Days Inn Kokopelli - $61). In Yuma we stayed at the Cocopah Casino and Resort ($77).
- Saturday night - Royal Resort in Las Vegas ($31) - This hotel was a great location (right off the strip) and I would definitely stay here again when visiting Vegas.
- I had room shares all 3 nights. I lost the $61 for the hotel in Sedona since I booked that through Priceline, but my hotel total for the 3 nights was about $117.
- I spent way way way too much on food - about $100. I need to work on that.
- So total was about $770. A bit more than I like, but I actually had to pay for a flight and I ate the Sedona Marathon entry fee and the hotel fee in Sedona.
As for my leg, it's still being an asshole, although slightly less of an asshole than after the Blues. I could actually bend my leg the next day, but I still had the Casino Shuffle going on as I walked through the casinos and down the strip in Las Vegas. No one noticed though as this is the standard walk in Las Vegas. My next marathon that I'm signed up for is the Mississippi River Marathon on February 14, but may drop to the half. I did go to the doctor today and got a steroid shot right in the IT band. I'm hoping that will help some. I've been doing hip/glute strengthening exercises the past few weeks and have also been getting active release therapy a few times per week. Doctor has me starting some PT next week. I will back out of all races that are not new states if I have to, but backing out of new states would be a last resort.