Rockin’ and Rollin’

By Lance Cull

Lance CullOn Sunday, January 18, 2009, I ran my first Marathon. The Marathon of choice was the 6th Annual P.F. Chang’s Arizona Rock-n-Roll Marathon/Half Marathon held in sunny Phoenix, AZ. The Marathon and Half Marathon routes are run on different courses but both start in downtown Phoenix and run through Scottsdale before finishing up in Tempe on the Campus of Arizona State University.

Kristi and I arrived a few days early so I acclimate myself to the weather. The temps were supposed to be mid 40’s to mid/upper 70’s. Friday morning, we headed to the Phoenix Convention Center which was the site of the Expo. I thought to myself “Now this is an Expo”. There were over 100 vendors and free clinics were being offered throughout the day. We headed to main floor, through the souvenir area, after packet pick-up with our pockets a little lighter. We strolled for a couple of hours, listened to some of the guest speakers, and headed for some lunch at Alice Cooperstown. This is a must when visiting Phoenix. Another must is the TGI Friday’s located at Chase Field (Diamondbacks Stadium). It overlooks the field and is a pretty cool experience.

Saturday was spent walking the streets of the college in Tempe. We met up with Kristi’s Aunt and Uncle around 2:30 and headed to Applebee’s to watch the Illinois/ Michigan St. game. The beers that Kristi and Howard were drinking looked good compared to the water I was sipping. Unfortunately, the Illini lost. That evening, we headed to P.F. Chang’s at the Waterfront for dinner. After filling myself with garlic noodles and a HUGE salad, it was back to Grandma’s for a good night’s sleep (I actually slept awesome).

I woke at 3:40 AM in order to eat some oatmeal and drink a shake and some water. I was feeling VERY nervous even though I knew I had trained right and was both mentally and physically prepared. I caught the shuttle from the finish line to the start line and arrived at the start at 6:10 AM. After mingling for a bit, I finished dressing, took my gear to the bag drop, relieved myself one last time, and headed to Corral 5 where I was to meet Scott at the 4:00 pace group. The temp at the start was about 50 degrees… absolutely gorgeous. At 7:40 AM, we were off. The plan was run with the pacer until mile 13/14 and see how we felt. Unfortunately, the pacer was all over the place so we left her at about mile 5 and went out on our own. This is when I first noticed the inside of my right ankle starting to hurt. Unfortunately, the pain stayed for the final 21.2 miles. Our 10K split was 55:36. I think it was a little fast but nothing too crazy.

P.F. Chang Rock N Roll Arizona MarathonThe miles were rolling by and we both felt pretty good. At about mile 10, my stomach started cramping. I dealt with it for as long as I could. We passed the halfway point at 1:57:41. I had to make a quick pit stop at Starbucks sometime during mile 14 but felt 100% better. We made up the stop in a matter of 3 miles. Around mile 18, I started to prepare mentally for the last 10K. We ran through the 20 mile mark at 2:59:08. This was my last GU stop. I had taken 1 15 minutes before the race and at every 5 miles.

Miles 20-26.2 were by far the toughest thing I have ever done. At mile 22, every joint and muscle in my legs hurt. I could feel myself wanting to give up. Thank God, I had Scott right there. He kept me chugging along. He was EXTREMELY strong on this Sunday. Today, I still feel like I held him back just a touch but I guess that is why they are called training partners. I can honestly say that I would have done the same thing if the roles were reversed. Although my split for mile 26 was my worst, I mentally and physically thought mile 24 was my worst. Scott kept up his encouragements and before I knew it, I saw the mile 26 sign… and Kristi. I can only imagine what I looked like but I do remember mumbling “I’m hurtin’” as I passed them. Scott sprinted home (where did that energy come from) and I did everything I could to muster a sprint but my body said ‘NO WAY”. I crossed the line with a clock time of 3:58:02. I was elated that I ran a sub 4:00 for my first Marathon. My chip time ended up being 3:55:58 and Scott’s time was 3:55:44. We missed an even split by 36 seconds. 18 weeks ago we started this journey, and at approximately 11:40, we finished this journey together.

After receiving my medal, going through the food line, and retrieving my bag from the gear drop, I met up with Kristi, Howard, and Donna. After a couple of hours, I started to feel REALLY bad. A comment was made that I actually looked a little green. The crew dropped me at the hotel so I could shower and change. Kristi brought back a pizza and it was the best tasting pizza I had ever eaten. I scarfed down like 5 pieces in about 10 minutes. Mexican was the course for the evening meal.

This was such an incredible experience… from the training to the actual race. It was awesome training with Scott H, Mike and Chris B, and on one occasion Tom B. If you ever have the opportunity to train with these guys, don’t pass it up. This race is a must do. Not only is the weather superb, the environment, the bands, and the scenery were just as good. Total number of entrants between the Marathon/Half topped out at a little over 34, 800 making it the largest combined Marathon/Half in the world.

Lance, Tim Marker, and Scott post race

The difference between my Garmin and my official results was 6 seconds. Below is a list of the splits.

Miles 1-5… 8:51, 8:50, 9:03, 8:57, & 8:49
Miles 6-10… 8:55, 8:57, 9:03, 8:53, & 9:02
Miles 11-15… 9:05, 8:51, 8:54, 9:42, & 8:27
Miles 16-20… 8:51, 8:50, 8:45, 8:46, and 8:50
Miles 21-26.2… 9:05, 8:47, 9:06, 9:12, 9:02, 9:24, and the last .35 was at 8:59

On a side note, Scott somehow came up with these stats… At the halfway point, we were roughly 2,555 people back. In the second half of the race, we picked up roughly 850 spots. Of those 850 spots, we picked up roughly 390 of them in the last 6.2 miles.

And if your wondering if another marathon is in my future, I’m contemplating one the second half of the year.

– Lance

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