Number 36 was the Lost Dutchman Marathon on 14 February 2016. I finished in 3:50:26, 52th among 287 finisheers, 44th of 167 men, 25th of 111 male masters, 4th among 29 in my age group. Rachael had a good time in the associated half marathon.

This was a lightnig strike, we flew to Phoenix on Saturday morning and flew back Sunday afternoon, everything required precise timing and everything worked out. It was our second Valentine weekend race and was much more romantic than Texas.

Our plane had mechanical issues in Atlanta that made us a couple of hours late getting to Phoenix. We landed at 3:30 and made it to the expo by 4:30 to pick up our packets, 30 minutes before closing. Poor logistics on my part, we were booked in the Clarendon Hotel on the far side of Phoenix from the race. We got to the hotel at 5:30, with 30 minutes to spare before the end of happy hour and the beginning of sunset on the rooftop. Very funky place, 85 degrees with a beautiful view of the Valley of the Sun, quite a change from 25 degrees in Durham. Here we are on the roof.

Valley of the Sun

We had pad thai and curry take out, watched HGTV and got up at 4 to head for the race.

Runners are bused to the marathon start at Don's camp on Peralta road 30 miles east of Phoenix. The organizers set up large field of campfires to warm the runners in the predawn chill. I got there about 6:15, here I am chilling by the fires

fire

My compatriots by the fire were a local couple running their first marathon and a transplanted Jersey Boy. He had been living in Salt Lake just over a year and loved it. It's not what you hear it is, he told me. I mentioned that the Mayor was a Lesbian, which got him excited because I understood. I asked what he did in Salt Lake which made him a bit melancholy. He was mid-30's but his answer was, "just enough to live." He was like the ski bums I knew in my youth, working for the weekends. He had already completed the 50 states project and was on his second tour. You might think that working for a living would be easier. He said, sadly, that he would probably have to move back to Jersey.

The Lost Dutchman is a fantastically well organized, we were herded into corals just before the 7 am start, which went off without a hitch. Dawn among the desert hills was spectacular, here I am just before the start.

Ready to Go

This was the third race in six months, I didn't do any runs longer than 12 miles to train for it. I was also suffering from a Christmas bump in weight, coming in the heaviest I have been since I started running. Hopefully I will reverse this trend. My goal was to stay under 4 hours.

The first six miles were in a cool shaded canyon with the sun just coming up. My plan to stay at 9 minute miles fell away as I rocked this segment 47:09 at 6 miles on a 7:54 pace. Running just behind and sometimes just ahead were Richard Stauber and Jamie Dana. Richard was in the news for completing his fourth marathon since breaking both his legs in a fall in the Superstition mountains exactly 7 years prior to this race. He had reached out to try to stop his brother falling off a cliff and both had fallen. His brother had called 911 and he was airlifted to a hospital. Would have been dead in the pre-mobile age. Jamie is a beautiful psychologist, I was a mildly involuntary observer of their life stories as we ran down the canyon. They were faster than I, but stopped at the water stations, so we leapfrogged along.

I left Jamie and Richard after the canyon and kept pace to the half way point, which I reached in 1:44:47 with an 8:01 cummulative pace. The weather remained cool and the valley was beautiful. I don't know why Phoencians need such large houses, we went through some amazing residential neighborhoods. Jamie had a new partner when she caught me at the half way point, they were moving along at a 7:30 pace, as I watched them recede into the distance I knew that I was not going to finish in 3:30 and that I didn't have much preference for time between 3:30 and 4:00. I let off on the gas.

The organizers arranged iced towels, along with bananas, gel, water and gatorade. At the 20th mile I took the towel and skipped the liquids. Even though there were stations basically every mile, I was drinking at every one prior to this. I have never felt so parched so fast in my life. I thought that the 21st station would never come, once there I took 2 waters and a gatorade. Phoenix is a dry spot.

Over the last few miles I forgot that I was going slow on purpose as I struggled to maintain even a 10 minute pace. I caught up with Jamie walking at the 23rd mile. I said that I was surprised to see her again, she said that she would catch up soon. I passed quite a few walking half marathoners as we came to the end. You can see further on this course than any I have run before, with the next mile marker aleady visible at the one you are passing the marathon can seem long. On this course the miles fly by at first but time goes in slow motion at the end. I finally reached the 26th mile marker, where the course turns into a finish at Prospect Park. I sped up, but a guy passed me. Then, to my surprise, there was Jamie again. With a severe lack of chivalry, I sprinted ahead to beat her by 1 second, 3:50:26 at finish on a cumulative 8:48 pace. Here I am crossing the line

finish

and here are Jamie and I

Walk off

walking it off. Richard Stauber finished a few minutes behind, but also under 4 hours, at 3:54:27.

So now it's 11 am, the Clarendon had declined to extend our Noon checkout and we were on a 2:20 flight. We took the time to picture Rachael with the race mascot, Clementiny,

Clementiny

caught the shuttle bus to the parking area, got back to the Clarendon at 11:50, showered, checked out, had a quick lunch of wine, crepes and pork rinds, gassed the car, got the shuttle to the airport and flew home. All in all a very happy Valentines Day.

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