March 3, 2013

Phoenix Marathon (Race Report)

On the podium at the Phoenix Marathon
Arizona always treats me well. Six weeks after running 1:05:55 to take second place at the PF Chang's 1/2 Marathon, I came back down to the Valley of the Sun  for the Phoenix Marathon. If you've followed the blog or my training log over the last month, I've been a little banged up and I knew I wasn't ready for an "A+" performance. In the end, though, I was able to pull out the victory - running 2:23:55. I'd definitely highly recommend this race - very well organized and lots of attention to detail. A "runner's" race.

Article from the Arizona Republic:

Here's my race recap, copied and pasted from Fast Running Blog:

My blog has probably read like a whine-fest over the past month, but it hasn't been an exaggeration. I have been feeling "off" since the PF Chang's 1/2. Some minor injuries, consistent (very) elevated resting heart rate, so-so workouts, etc. Andrea (my guardian angel!) asked me a few weeks ago what this race was worth to me, and what I wanted to get out of it. The answer was simple, I wanted to win a marathon in front of my parents this year. Its just something on my running "bucket list" that was very important to me... and I knew this was probably going to be my only shot for a while, as there's a good chance this will be my only marathon this year. So we decided to throw time goals out the window (and I say "we" because this truly was a team effort) and focus on what was my best strategy to win the race and not blow up any of the little nagging injuries. The strategy was to go very conservative from the start, then evaluate at 16-18 miles and decide when to make a break for the tape. I ended up waiting until very late to make a move, but it made for an exciting finish and I was relieved and very happy to have won the race today!

Early miles of the PHX Marathon

The race started nice and slow as we ran down from Usery Park in the dark. A guy in green took the lead after the first mile, but we caught him by mile 2 and it was pretty clear that it was a 3 man race (Riley Cook, Peter Omae, and me). In the first half of the race we basically ran side by side by side, at what I'd consider a comfortable effort. My achilles didn't bother me at all, which was a huge relief.

Dad handing me some Gatorade

Andrea and my Dad were out on the course and they were the best support team ever. My Mom was running the half marathon (my Dad was planning to as well, but he jacked up his hamstring a couple weeks ago). Every 3-4 miles they would hand me a drink bottle and a cold sponge. I'd take a few sips of my drink, then hand the bottle to Peter, who would hand the bottle to Riley. Then we'd pass around the sponge as well. Great way to share germs, but it kept everyone hydrated and cool.

The splits for the first half were: 5:39, 5:19, 5:26, 5:22, 5:45, 5:44, 5:08, 5:24, 5:20, 5:21, 5:25, 5:18, 5:21 and we came through in 1:11:20.

Miles 14-16 were 5:22, 5:24, 5:26. Nothing really changed. Then (if I remember correctly) Riley started to drop back a bit around 16.5 miles, so I tried to increase the pace just a bit when I noticed his shadow slipping away. My right hamstring was feeling weaker than my left, but not as bad as at TOU last fall. Miles 17-18 were 5:22, 5:26 and I got the sense it was down to two. Once Riley fell back, Peter got right in my slipstream and ran a stride behind me for the next 9 miles. I slowed down from 19-20 (5:37, 5:40) to see if he would take the lead, and he didn't take the bait...

Late in the race, around 22.5 miles

Now it was decision time. Normally this is when I would want to throw it down and make it a 10K race / long suffer-fest. But for some reason I wasn't feeling confident in my ability to push it from that far out. If Riley had still been in the mix, with his closing speed, I think I would have had no choice but to lay the hammer down from 5-6 miles out. But against Peter, who seemed to be breathing harder than me, I felt like I might have a stronger kick, so I just kept running around 5:40 pace and waiting to see if he would make a move. Miles 21-25 were 5:39, 5:39, 5:45, 5:41, 5:42. He made a mini-surge at 24.5 but I covered it easily. That being said, these miles were nerve-wracking... I'm not a kicker, and I was starting to worry that I had shot myself in the foot by waiting too long.

Even when we hit mile 25, we just kept running the same pace. I was thinking that it was going to come down to the last couple hundred meters. Then, at ~25.5 miles, Andrea appeared and told me to GO. So that's when I finally picked it up, and I was surprised at how quickly I opened up a huge gap. It was over... 5:18 for the 26th mile and 69 seconds for the last 0.2 with my Dad sprinting along (and nearly keeping up) for a hundred yards! I ended up winning by 45 seconds, which is a lot of time considering we were still locked together at 25.5. My Mom was right there at the finish line (she ran great!) and Andrea/Dad appeared shortly after... I'm so lucky to have them there for me!

Final time was 2:23:55. Peter was second, then Riley and Dave took 3rd-4th. Our Utah crew dominated the race!

Not necessarily the most impressive time, but I'm OK with that. My body held up, and I won the race... accomplishing my 2 primary goals, so no complaints here! I should also add that I was well aware that I had lost 6 races in a row (all 2nd place finishes) since the TOU Marathon, and was very pleased to break that streak.

I'm going to take this upcoming recovery period a lot more seriously than I have in the past. My two big races this spring/summer will be the USA 25K and Half-Marathon Championships in May/June. I have plenty of time to get in really good shape for those races, but I need to "re-build" some of my broken parts first.

With Mom at the finish

My support team!
Top 3 Guys
Peter and I
Utah guys


  1. Congrats! Awesome recap, really enjoyed it!! I loved that your goal was to win a race with your parents watching. :) I ran a 5K with my mom last summer, and it was one of my favorite races last year. Wishing you R&R before your upcoming training. Kristen

  2. Awesome race! Sounds like you ran very patiently and executed perfectly. These marathons are going to give you the gas tank to go after the standard. I think a better strategy for the future would be to put some chloroform on the sponges you share with others. Then you won't even have to kick!

  3. congrats Jake!!! I love the recap and all the great pictures! this race was supposed to be my first marathon...but life had other it is postpone...
    my good friend ran it and she placed in her age group..

    I love seeing the pics of your dad handing over the great to have family support ont he course!

    Bravo to you!

  4. Nice Run Jake! I was stoked to see you on the top of the podium. You will tear it up this summer at the 25k and Half championships. Way to go Bro.