My first half marathon was a learning experience (Salt in My Eyes). I was happy to run under 2 hours (1:54:46); however, I did pretty much everything wrong in preparation. I didn’t eat right, didn’t run enough miles ahead of time, and on race day, I went out way too fast, got overheated in the first mile, and suffered all 13.1. Not unusual for a first timer, but still, I was disappointed, and my recovery period was too long. I’ve been contemplating my next half, and I’ve decided on the Maine Half Marathon http://mainemarathon.com/ next fall. I plan to train smart and race smart; I want to actually enjoy the race.
In the meantime, I’ve mapped out a few other adventures. Today, I’m on route to the McDowell Mountain Frenzy 10-miler, near Fountain Hills, Arizona. I’ve been looking forward to this race for months! Running through the desert with a bunch of ultra runners will be a new experience (and for some reason, I’m ridiculously excited about the t-shirt and beer glass that come with registration). Race day includes 5 and 10-milers, as well as 25 km, 50km, and 50 mile races. I’ll get a glimpse of an entirely different running culture, in the Southwestern landscape.
And the adventure has already begun. I arrived at Logan airport (Boston), by bus, this morning, prepared to fly to Tucson through Dallas/Ft. Worth. The plan was to meet my mom in Tucson and drive up to Phoenix, where we would crash for the night and wake up early to be on site for the 8:00 a.m. race. Unfortunately, I arrived in Boston only to learn that all Texas flights were cancelled due to ice storms! After a few hours of standing in line, I found a ticket agent with wings! I pleaded my case–I needed to be in Phoenix by 8 a.m. for a race. After 15 minutes of furious typing, she got me on a flight to L.A. I’ll catch a late night flight to Phoenix and, fingers crossed, I’ll be at the starting line in the morning! My aim for the race will be to follow the coaching I’ve received from my running mentor, Rick: the first 5-6 miles are a training run. I’ll be enjoying myself and taking in the view. The last 4-5 miles, I’ll give it all I have.
In the meantime, waiting in the airport, I’ve been contemplating my last trip to Arizona. It was a few years ago, when my 102-year-old grandmother, Travilla, was in hospice. She passed away shortly after my visit, in early December of 2011. My uncle, Rodney, had died 6 months before, and it was a profound period of loss. Just a few years earlier, we were together in Tucson celebrating grandma’s 100th birthday party (pic below). Like most (all?) families, we were—and still are—a complex cast of characters, and traveling the same path to Arizona is bringing it all to the surface.
As I’ve come to expect with every race—whether local or a journey away—the entire experience somehow shifts my foundation. I never know what’s going to come up. The tales, past and future, begin to flood in, as I enter a space of anticipation for something I know will be difficult and profound.
After the race, I’ll head back to Tucson for some days of rest and visiting, and perhaps a visit to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, one of my favorite Tucson Treasures.