Once upon a time I made the somewhat whacky decision to train for a marathon.
I thought, eh, I've run a bunch of half marathons and really, if you put four half marathons together that's really two full marathons and so it's because of math that I did this to myself.
|Driving from Phoenix to Holbrook, AZ. la di da.|
Six months of 6 day-a-week training will really fill up a girl's calendar.
And the thing was, I didn't really want to spend all that time and money preparing and finish it off with a drive to some New England town I've probably already driven through.
I mean really, there's marathons all over the world, so why limit myself? Why not travel somewhere I've never been and see something interesting while I'm at it?
|Not the vehicle we drove around in.|
My travel bucket list is enormous so essentially I could've closed my eyes and pointed blindly at a globe and been satisfied (do people still have globes?)
I narrowed it down with various important criteria: warm weather, short plane ride, not-too-expensive, place I've never-ever-been, National landmark of some sort.
Clearly, Arizona was the winner. Hello, Grand Canyon!
(Yes, it really took this long for me to see the Grand Canyon)
Unfortunately, the cities in Arizona that had marathons were not really that close to the Grand Canyon. I had to do a little digging before I found one that was less than three hours away, and not too long of a drive from Phoenix.
|Quoth the Raven, "nice view though"|
And that is how I found myself signing me and J up for the Petrified Forest Marathon in Holbrook, Arizona. (I would later go on to have this conversation with almost all of the 40-ish other people who actually signed up for this race, who couldn't quite understand how someone from New England found their way to Holbrook for their first marathon)
|In case the photos so far hadn't tipped you off, the Petrified Forest is actually a desert, part of the Painted Desert. Don't let the name confuse you.|
J was of course, super mega thrilled to be running another marathon less than two years after his first, where he had explicitly said that he never wanted to run another one again, and then as an afterthought added "unless you were going to run one with me". Cue devious laughter.
|Despite evidence to the contrary, we did not adopt this bird.|
|If you've been spending all this time wondering what a Petrified Forest looks like here you go, you're welcome.|
One year of strength training, track workouts, and sports massages with the team at A Healthy Balance (and yes, massages totally count towards training :-P) and one long, hot summer with 5am runs all over Quincy with new and old running friends who helped keep us motivated, hydrated, and enthusiastic passed. And then, suddenly, it was October, and before I knew it I was on a plane, running sneakers in my carry-on, watching Massachusetts grow smaller.
|Yes, we really did stay in a wigwam.|
No, it's not nearly as interesting on the inside as it is on the outside.
No, I'm not going to show you pictures, I'll let you use your imagination.
My in-laws had traveled along route 66 the year before and in an interesting turn of events, Holbrook and part of the Petrified Forest is on Route 66. Most importantly, the Wigwam Motel is on Route 66 and was the location of bib pickups. I don't believe in fate, but obviously the stars had aligned and we absolutely had to stay there.
|When in doubt, hold your camera at an angle |
and then celebrate the fact you made your photo ever-so-slightly more interesting.
Day one was a drive up from Phoenix and a trip along the Petrified Forest and marathon route, where Michelle got hangry before we even got into the Park and J was forced to find her tacos.
Day 2 was a visit to the Grand Canyon.
You seriously cannot capture its essence on camera, especially considering that it's far larger than even the panoramic feature of my camera can take in.
|We live dangerously.|
|Yes, I wore cowboy boots the day before my Marathon.|
|I left my hood on crooked accidentally and voila, weird blackness. I like it.|
We also visited a crater from a meteor (and for a brief moment, I learned the difference between a meteor and a meteorite but it's left my head now so look it up yourself). You couldn't go inside the meteor crater but they'd placed a human-sized poster in there that you could view through a telescope if you wanted to feel really insignificant with your place in the universe.
Day 3 was...marathon time.
|Driving to the race pickup location|
You may be wondering how the marathon itself went. Well, just as you would expect, running in the desert was maybe not the best choice for my first marathon (or maybe any marathon, for that matter).
There were more than a few tears when I reached mile 24 (surprising I even had any liquid in me left for tears) and I honestly felt like I would not be able to finish.
The sand, heat, sun, and poor hydration had really gotten to me.
But, after almost calling it quits, I pulled myself together and made it to the finish line.
It wasn't really the time or finish I was hoping for but hey, running 26.2 in the desert is pretty freaking awesome anyways.
There was a brief, delirious moment afterwards of me wandering around the empty parking lot looking for our car (which was actually parking 2 miles from the finish line) so I could drive back to the really dehydrated J and bring him water, before I saw him coming from afar.
Here's some of the professional shots they captured of us (conveniently timed to be just after the largest hill, so we had to buck up and pretend to not be miserable for a few minutes):
**These two photos were taken by Spangler Pics**
|"Kill me now, that hill was miserable"|
|"Just kidding, we're really super happy about this"|
Aaaaand some shots (taken with my phone) of us post-race:
|taken by a girl we befriended on the bus.|
notice my crazy-face and J's "I'm barely standing" grin-grimace.
|I swear I'm not picking a wedgie.|
What else did we do in Arizona? Besides running, napping, and taking pictures of pretty rock formations, there was really only time for one other activity - eating ALL the Mexican food. Tacos, enchiladas, chimichangas, nachos, and of course, margaritas... there was even some delicious fried-dough and cheese appetizer that I would've committed felonies to have again.
|On the way back to Phoenix|
And a few from the film camera (using the 50mm lens):
|Where to get your kicks...|
|J's got talent|
|No cacti were harmed in the making of this photo.|
And so we said goodbye to beautiful, majestic Arizona. We did not, however, say goodbye to my marathon dreams - although luckily for J, he's off the hook on the next one.
Let's just hope that Providence has some delicious Mexican food for my post-run meal...
**All photos taken by me except the ones I was in...duh.**