Updated 12/11/10


Please click on thumbnails for larger view!

The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge  As half marathons go, this one is quite flat, only 80 feet of elevation change. But there were still lots of hills to slow us down...
The Fiesta Bowl Half Marathon December 5th, 2010

 The Half finisherMedal Click to Enlarge
  The Event T Shirt Click to Enlarge


Every competitive runner knows what his or her Boston Qualifying Pace is. For my age group range, I would have to run 26.2 miles in 3h 35 minutes - or less at a certified major event to qualify, just to stand at the starting line at Boston - The most elite marathon in the world. For most slow runners like myself, this is an insurmountable task. Or is it? This weekend, I took a huge step in the right direction at the Fiesta Bowl Half marathon. My goal, which I had never done before in the past 25 half marathons - was to run the entire 13.1 mile course at a pace just a bit faster than the 8:11 pace I would have to do for a Boston qualifier full. To do this, I would have to shave 2 minutes off of my fastest half I've ever run, and come in at 1:47:30 - or faster. Conditions were perfect. Cool temperatures, no wind, and a somewhat flat course, but with some very sharp turns. Well, I did it. I came in at 1:47:11 and beat my Boston Pace by 19
seconds! The tempo runs I've been doing since August are really starting to pay off now.

Race Day - Sunday December 5th.

We left Payson at 4:30am and headed down to Scottsdale under an over cast sky, but no rain was in sight. The temperature in Scottsdale when we arrived was in the mid 40s, and the race would start at 7:30, right after sun up. The meeting area was Scottsdale Civic Plaza, with a fountain and large grassy areas. The race starting line and finish were on both ends of this park and made it convenient to park nearby to access both ends. There wasn't much of an "Expo", a few tents and tables of mainly food items for sale or to sample. After picking up my bib at the one set of tables, we went over and got the neat black technical T at another, and the Walgreens bag filled with race materials. Then we had about an hour to kill, so walked around and watched over a thousand runners pile in. It was awesome in such a small park! 15 minutes before race start, I warmed up on a side road near the start line, doing surges and fast accelerations
to prepare for running what was for me an insanely fast pace. The longest I had ever run this fast in a race before was an 8k - about 5 miles. Could I hold on near the end?

The race started with an air horn, and hundreds of half marathoners burst over a rather narrow starting line. We were chip timed, so it should have been very accurate. Because I was holding a pace faster than most of the pack, I found the pack opening up much sooner than I expected, and concentrated on holding an exact 8.0 minute per mile pace. Because of the turns, the GPS read a bit high on the miles and I was really moving a bit slower. But still fine. My 5k time was 24 minutes, and 10k I passed it in 48 minutes. Right on. As we turned on to Gainy Ranch road, it was a long up hill to Hayden road, but I gave it every thing I had and kept it under 8.0. It was when we turned off the road into a wash over spill park that the sharp turns and single file route made me loose a few second per mile. By the time I had gotten back to Hayden and was turning on the McDonald to the final 2 miles of the race, my pace had dropped to 8:03 but as
far as I could tell, all I had to do was beat 8:11. When I came in over the finish line, the race clock read 1:47 or so, and I noticed my GPS read 13.3 miles - .2 miles too long. That made my pace off, but I was still ok, but just barely and cleared the 8:11 TRUE pace. But that was enough and I had finally done it - A half marathon at my Boston pace! After the race, we had lunch at the Mexican chicken place to celebrate the accomplishment.

Notes for next year

1. Run at least 8 seconds per mile faster than your target pace
2. Did not use gels, gatoraide with corn syrup worked fine.
3. Plan 7:45 tempo runs in month before
4. Arrive early to take advantage of very limited parking


Race Morning - During the Run Lumix
Sunrise was spectacular that morning
Palms silhouetted against the blazing sky
Getting close to race start
With the sound of an air horn - Were Off!
I'm in blue behind the runner in pink
Starting the race - I'm in blue
Fall colors are even in the desert
The finish line awaits us
85 year old doing the 5k Your never too old to race!
The long final stretch to the finish line
Here I come still pushing an 8 min pace!
The fastest finish I have ever done in 26 half's
Heading in to the finish line
After the race - I FINALLY broke my Boston Pace in a Half!
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge  As one can see here, the route here is generally downhill, but at mile 17 starts a ruthless uphill onslaught.
The San Antonio Marathon Full and Half Events November 14th, 2010

 The Full and Half finishers Medals Click to Enlarge
  The Event T Shirt Click to Enlarge


This years San Antonio Rock and Roll Marathon event will be our last one for probably a long time, so we did our best to make it a good one to remember. Recall last year, we endured terrible heat and humidity and I ran my longest time ever in a marathon. After that we decided to do the much cooler Denver event instead, held in October and say good bye to San Antonio. Also, Dawns sister moved to California, and combining this run with a family visit evaporated as well. Undaunted, me, Dawn and David once again participated in this event to perhaps partially redeem ourselves after last years miserable results. We were not disappointed! I ran my second fastest Marathon ever, chopping over an hour off last years time, Dawn did her first half marathon race walk in great time, and David felt great crossing the finish line this year without the oppressive heat crushing us. We have succeeded in our conquering of this event.

Before the Race Day

We left Thursday early from work and flew out to San Antonio, about a 2 hour flight from Phoenix. Friday morning, we went first over to the Expo at the Alamodome near the race finish line, and spent hours collecting our bibs, shopping for running wear, and accessories, and seeing all the exhibits in the huge auditorium. Again, Brooks is the main sponsor here and the gear had their logo on the official clothing. Since both me and Dawn still use Brooks products, it was a worthwhile shopping spree. Its great to see an American company sponsoring this huge event. Afterwards, the three of us headed over to do the River Walk stores and then had an early dinner and headed back to the Holiday Inn to recuperate.

Saturday we went sight seeing, and tried not to spend as much time on our feet. We first headed out to the Natural Bridge Cave and took a tour for a few hours. Then after lunch headed over to the IMAX theater and watched the "Hubble 3D" movie. That was really cool, we wore polarized 3D glasses and it felt like we were right there with the great space telescope working on it. Then an early retirement that evening to the hotel, so we could get ready for the next days big event!

Race Day

We left the hotel at 5:30am that morning, and walked a mile to the starting line. This works out really great not having to fight getting on busses and a big parking ordeal. It was totally dark still, and the sky was cloudy, but not raining and it was a perfect temperature, in the lower 50s. Would this hold for the race, or would it suddenly clear up and bake us or soak us with a downpour? Soon we would know the answer to this. After walking round a bit to get our bearings, we sat on a curb waiting for the time to drop off our warm up clothes at the UPS trucks. Since this event has both half and full marathoners, the staging area was getting very full fast. Over 28,000 runners were waiting for the big 7:15 start. By 7am, the sky began to lighten and it was overcast and cool. We parted for our respective corals and waited for the race to begin. When the guns went off to start the race, wave after wave about a minute apart went over the starting line. Where I was at - which was about mid point in the line up about 15 minutes to reach the starting line. Then as you pass over the timing bars on the pavement, your official clock starts. Thousands of watts of rock and roll music played as we started and headed out toward the city.The field was really crowded for about the first 5 miles or so. I started right on pace, but one thing after another caused me to loose my pace. But by mile 10, I was back in sync. and making up for the time lost. I held a faster than 10 min/ mile pace for the rest of the race. Mile after mile, I NEVER hit the "wall" or slowed down a bit. It was the most awesome experience I have ever had during a marathon! No doubt that the long hard tempo runs I have been doing since San Diego came into play here. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that mile 25 marker whiz by, and I was still running solid, strong and passing runners one after another. The weather stayed cool, and only got to the upper 50s by race end. I had actually run the second half of the race faster t han the first half. Never did that before. Even though I had lost about 10 minutes in the beginning of the race, I crossed only 2 minutes slower than my fastest San Diego time, in 4:33. Dawn wanted to beat 4 hours on the half, and blew that away by coming in in 3:30 - a great showing for her first half marathon. And she was one of the lucky ones to get a finishers medal before they ran out too. Everything worked out for us this day!
We met up with David after making our way through the finishing area, then walked about half a mile back to the hotel. Much to our relief, we never got rained on that day, and the hot temperatures we had on Friday that would have made this race another disaster - was avoided. Farewell San Antonio, it was a wild ride!


Before the Race - The Full and Half Marathon Chris - Dawn - David Dawns Panasonic Lumix/Kodak M1033/Stealth Cam
Dawn and David heading toward the Expo at the Alamodome
Dawn in line to pick up her racing bib
Each line is for a bib number that reflects your projected time you think you will be coming in by.
The Bib pickup area
Next you pick up your event technical shirt You can put it on after you cross the finish
Here is the "goodie bag" pickup - mostly ads, but some good stuff too
Inside the Expo - So many things to see!
Runners Expo - Dawn in center
Inside the Mall at one end of the "River Walk". David and Dawn
Dawns close up with the Lumix of the Wreath
Overlooking the mall from the bridge
The mall
Both of us in front of the River
Looking along the river next to the shops
Things others miss - fossil Cretaceus clams all over the paving stones along the river walk.
A boat of tourists in the River
Inside the gift shop at the Natural Bridge Cave before we went on the cave tour
A view from the gift shop window shows the cave entrance
Banner inside the lobby
Lining up to go inside the cave tour David in purple on the right
Sign at cave entrance
Descending down the stairs to the cave hatch
Dawn going down
Dawn and David inside the cave
Dawn marvels at the formations!
Cave pool with stalactites
On the ceiling
Huge Pillar
Most stunning pillar
Dawns shot inside the cave
David next to giant pillar
Cave formations
Afterwards, a walk around the grounds led us to this neat mineral and fossil display
Dawns close up of the cave area plants
The visitors center at the cave
Lumix close up
Dawns camera does much better at plant close ups than my Kodak
No idea what they are, but the color was very intense. (Kodak cam)
David shooting the purple berries
The poster at the Hubble IMAX Entrance.
The market across from our Holiday in. Perhaps not the place for fresh meat??? (read the sign on top)
The bridge near the hotel is lit up at night with multicolor changing LED lights. very cool!
Down to business, laying out the clothing the night before the marathon
Race Morning - During the Run Marathon (Chris & David) Aiptek Stealth Cam/Lumix
Near the starting line, signs point the way
Me and David on the curb waiting for the race start
Here Im standing in my coral 12 waiting for the air horns to start the race!
Lighting was very low from dark clouds but this is looking towards the starting balloon arch.
A bit lighter now, we are off! and into the city of San Antonio
Running under the Brooks Man
Looping back into the city
Heading toward down town. Camera distorts a bit in low lighting...
Aid station - cups everywhere
Coming up rapidly to the Half/Full split point at 10 miles
Marathoners on right, half on left. The Paths split now, and they lead to different finish lines.
Only marathoners now! Its about 1/5 of the runners.
Coming up on the 20K mark, about 13 miles
Passing the obligatory 13.1 mile mark so you can tell how your half might have been.
We are running on one road, and way off in the distance, you can see a line of marathoners heading down another road
Running past 15 mile marker
Now at the 18 mile aid station Still running very strong!
Mile 19 - many runners are starting to drop back
Mile 22, now is where the huge mental and physical effort starts.
Passing mile 24 - Still running past most of the runners
During the Marathon (Chris & David) ASI Photography sample images
During the Half Marathon (Dawn) - Dawns Panasonic Lumix
Waiting for the race start. The official race end vehicle is in the background.
Daylight approaches and the excitement of the race start is all around
Heading off on the first leg of the Half Marathon!
Passing the Alamo, a famous land mark.
Heading toward the Brooks Man
Look at the half marathoners heading up hill
Dawn gets to the finish line an hour before I do. Here is what she sees in the finish coral
During the Half Marathon (Dawn) ASI Photography sample images Dawn triumphantly completes here FIRST Half Marathon! Race Day - At the Finish Line and Post Race Dawns Panasonic Lumix/Stealth Cam
Dawn meets me in the finishing area time to refuel...
Some runners get their portraits taken Its not for free.
Chris - Finish Line shot
Dawn - Finish Line shot
Accomplished Racers!
David - Finish Line shot


The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge

 A very steep first two miles on the first loop, followed by a long increasingly steep uphill for the second half!
Map on tree of the run Click to Enlarge
The Flagstaff Half Marathon Trail Run in Flagstaff September 25th, 2010
The finishers Medal
  The Event T Shirt Click to Enlarge


We would rate this first class event as one of the best planned and supported trail runs in all of Arizona. This run held at the Flagstaff Nordic Center is also one of the most challenging if not THE most difficult trail events in the state with steep hills, high altitudes and trail obstacles such as logs, pine cones, roots and giant rocks. How can you not love such a run? This year, while I was doing the Half Marathon, Dawn race walked the 10K event with Ayla, our 13 year old friend in from Australia. What better way to show her Arizona's finest outdoors than by taking part along with hundreds of exciting and physically active athletes? We left the house in Payson at 4:30 am Saturday morning and arrived at the Nordic Center around 6:45. Plenty of time to get in a few warm up runs in and take in the race starting line sights. Dawn had picked up the race packets the day before while up in Flagstaff, and we were all set. It was great to see Neil, Tim and all our racing friends up there again. We met David Garcia up there, a friend from the Valley up to try his hand for the first time at some extreme trail racing. David is primarily a road racer but has done some training for the upcoming Denver Marathon which is at 5000 feet, and this would top off his experience on a high altitude run. We also really wanted both David and Ayla to meet some of our trail running friends and see how very different this type of racing can be.

The Race

The Half and Full marathons began at 8 am, and while the half ran the roughly figure 8 course once, the Full marathoners would loop it twice. The 10k route was the same as the first loop on the half marathon. This year, we didn't see any aggressive elk or other animals like in previous years, but there were plenty of birds and squirrels to see. Running in the woods is a fairly quiet affair, you don't have the deafening pounding of the pavement sound you get in a road race to muffle the sounds of nature. Just you, your 250 trail running friends and trees, animal sounds and the deep blue skies. The temperatures were superb this year around 50 degrees, and not a cloud in sight. It can get quite hot once the sun comes up but the strong breeze kept that in check this year too. It doesn't get any better than this!

This was my second fastest year ever, I came in at 2:10 - without any pulled hamstrings either! You have to be careful running down hill on this one. Loose gravel and pine needles can make it quite treacherous. I saw a few runners trip on rocks and fall and roll, but no one got seriously injured. I saw one runner in the med tent with ice bags taped to his ankles but thats pretty common with tough trail runs like this.

Dawn and Ayla came in with good spirits and had a great time on the 10K as well coming in at 1:54. The day was so perfect we wanted to stay longer at the race finish more than ever. David came in with a smile on his face, and were all proud of his accomplishment on this event that challenges both spirits and physical fitness. I think he is so much more ready for Denver now.

After we finished, Dawns sister was there at the finish line with her son and daughter from Black Canyon City to see us at the finish line. We left with them and headed off to Flagstaff for an early lunch.

Notes for next time:

More hill trail running training to go faster on the first two difficult miles.


Before the Race - 10k and Half Marathon Chris - Dawn - Ayla - David Dawns Panasonic Lumix/Kodak M1033/Stealth Cam
Dawn picked up the race packets the day before in Flagstaff
Race morning. Runners start to gather in the chilly temperatures
Near the Starting Line, one of the aid stations on the end of the 10k loop 1
Me and Ayla, our good friend from Queensland Australia
Near the end of the first loop near the starting line, the directions.
Getting ready for the start of the half and full. David is in green. Can you find him?
Here I am at the starting line of the Half.
It is sun rise and nearing the start of this challenging race.
Tim gives instructions and rules and warnings. I think some runners didn't know what a trail race was...
David with his friend Yolanda
Dawn and Ayla ready for the 10K Race - Walk
At the starting line for the 10k
Race Start - During the Run Half Marathon (Chris) Aiptek Stealth Cam
The race starts by running right into the sunrise up a gentle slope.
Very steep up hill now, and for the next two miles.
Leveling off and heading for the aspens.
Running toward a stand of aspens - they had not started to change yellow yet
I try every year to get a better shot of us in the aspens. Its tough when your running at a 9 min pace!
Coming up on an aid station and a sharp turn
Here I am (in yellow) coming into the finish
Final burst of speed to the finish line!
David coming in to the finish!
During the 10K (Dawn and Ayla) - Dawns Panasonic Lumix
At the starting line for the 10k
A scene during the 10k
Race Day - At the Finish Line and Post Race Dawns Panasonic Lumix
The race results are posted on this board as runners come in. They are the bottom of the race bibs stuck to backwards duct tape.
Me at the finish line with medal
Me and Ayla after her FIRST trail race
Dawn with Ayla
David and me telling fanciful race tales after the race
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge

 Above: The first two miles are very steep up hill, however if you survive that, you are treated with rolling hills and long flat stretches until the long down hill run at the end!


The Big Brother Big Sister Half Marathon Trail Run in Flagstaff August 14th, 2010
The Event T Shirt Click to Enlarge


The 33rd annual Big Brothers Big Sisters Half marathon was our fourth running of this event, and was well attended in record numbers by hundreds of runners, walkers and support crews for both the Half and 5k. The weather was going to be clear, and while it was warm near the end, temperatures in the upper 50s at race start were perfect. As in past years, while I was doing the half, Dawn race walked the 5k in 42 minutes beating her times from previous years by a full minute. My goals were far less aggressive, since I had just gotten over a pulled hamstring from running Gaspin' two months before. My goal was to run fast, but backing off a bit on the speed if there was any problems. I had to at least beat the slowest time I ran the first year in 2:29! I had no problems and ran carefully but well and came in at a respectable 2:13 time.

Race Morning

We arrived at Wheeler Park in Flagstaff around 6am, and it was cool enough to have on light jackets or sweatshirts. We picked up our race packets with the new pine green race t shirt. We think its one of the best graphics they have ever done, its simply gorgeous. Ill be wearing that one a lot coming fall and winter. The Half started at 7:30 and the 5k about 15 minutes later. Both routes are stunningly scenic. For the half, we almost immediately go up hill, and the first two miles are absolutely killer. One spot was so steep, nearly no one could run it. Once on top of the thousand foot Lowell Mesa, it flattened out and the combination of long distances, stands of awesome Ponderosa pines and the company of hundreds of dedicated trail runners made for a truly magical experience. I could easily see the white observatory domes of Lowell in the distance, and that completed the connection from ground to stars. You simply could not ask for more on a trail run! The last few miles include some very steep down hills at time when your legs feel like rubber. Finally back to the pavement at Wheeler park and to the finish line, which this year was a metal pole arch with out a finish banner, right back to where we started several hours before. It was in the mid 70's at race finish which is quite warm in the high altitude sun.

After finishing, we ate, drank and watched the other trail racers coming in. We then headed off to a well earned lunch then back to a much warmer Payson.


Before the Race Dawns Panasonic Lumix/Kodak M1033/Stealth Cam
Small foot bridge over a canal at one edge of the Wheeler Park
Early morning light, runners start to gather.
Last minute sign up for runners for both races
Packet pickup table
BBBS truck
Start/Finish line early in the morning
Timing recording tent
Neil in control
Neil talks with David B.
Me warming up before race.
Race Start - During the Run Half Marathon (Chris) Dawns Panasonic Lumix/Aiptek Stealth Cam
Pre race rules and announcements.
Before the race
David and wife
Race announcements from within the starting gate
The gun fires and the race has begun!
Here we come...
Im on the right hand edge with a yellow hat on this one
During the Run Half Marathon - Aiptek Stealth Cam (Chris) Note: Some photos are blurry because I am running while taking the photo :)
The short road portion of the race
Onto the trails
First aid station
Water hazards!
Steep rocky inclines
Long stretch of back road
San Francisco Peaks
Lowell observatory
Heading right toward the Peaks
Rolling hills
the final steep down hill thrust is WILD
Last bit of trail before retuning to the road to the Finish line!
Race Start - On the Trail 5K (Dawn) Kodak pocket cam
At starting line
And Were OFF!
Back road beauty
Uphill to finish
Race Day - At the Finish Line and Post Race Dawns Panasonic Lumix/stealth cam
Flagstaff train goes by
Coming to the finish line
Last quarter mile
Whats my time?
Finish line run!
In line for food after the race
The food table
Chris - Finish Line shot
Dawn - Finish Line shot
Orographic clouds over the peaks
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge

 Above: The GPS data from the wrist mounted receiver downloaded this plot. You can see the constant up and down roller coaster ride in elevation from 8000 feet to around 9000 feet with four very steep peaks to navigate to the finish line !

Gaspin in The Aspens Trail Run June 19th, 2010
The Event Technical Shirt Click to Enlarge


This was our third year to participate in this challenging event. For me, doing this grueling run in 90 minutes or less remains tantalizingly elusive (missed it by 16 seconds), however both me and Dawn who race walked the 5k event both grabbed PR's this year, finishing both races in our fastest times ever. I came in at 1h 31 minutes, and Dawns time was 48 minutes.

The Event

We arrived at our usual time of 6:30am at the Flagstaff Nordic Center to pick up our race packets. This year, 250 runners for all three events made it a sold out event. Runners just showing up at the last minute could not get in, however they could man the aid stations and help run the highly successful event. The weather this year was perfect as far as temperatures and no rain. The sky was totally clear, however the wind was blowing fiercely at times! Both races started at the same time, both of us lined up in our respective packs and headed off in two different directions. The 5k route is much different than the 15k, keeping the two groups on separate trails.

For the 15k, I was much slower at the beginning this year, but by mile 4 my pace had picked up and I was flying over those hills. The first 2.7 miles are particularly grueling, a very steep climb at elevations over 8000 feet. Once you top out, its rolling hills and much down hill to the finish. I was much faster this year on the long down hill parts, and made up for my slow start and then some finishing 1 minute faster than last years fast time.

Dawn came in on the 5K before I did and was waiting in the finishing area when I came in. We ate and cooled down back at the Nordic Center finishing area, watched the other runners coming in, and the wind nearly blow down the finishing banners. Afterwards, we went off to the book store in Flagstaff and off to a well deserved lunch!

Notes for next year:

- go slower on first 2.7 miles to go faster at the top


Before the Race Dawns Panasonic Lumix/Kodak M1033/Stealth Cam
Last minute sign ups
Gathering before the run
5K start line
15K start line
Waiting for race start
At the Nordic Center
Tim Allen race coordinator
Me practice running before race
Trail markings just before finish line
Here comes the sun!
Dawn readies for her race walk
In the starting area both races
Announcing the rules and path for the run
In the 5K starting line
5K start area
Race Start - During the Run 15K Aiptek Stealth Cam Note: The "Lean" you see in some images is because it is a progressive scan CCD camera and Im moving while shooting causing a translation blur...
The trail looks pretty easy - at first!
Wicked up hills
The start of the aspens
More uphill into the woods
Open fields
Heading into the aspens
Coming into the aid station shes handing us water
The dense aspens
Running through a trail of aspens
How cool is this?
Race trail was hard to see sometimes!
The last quarter mile to the finish line
The final leg blast
Over the finish line 1:31:16
Race Start - On the Trail 5K Kodak
Heading out to the woods
Deep woods views!
Race Day -Finish Line Post Race Dawns Panasonic Lumix/stealth cam
On the deck at the Nordic center looking at the finish line
Finish line shot Chris
Finish Line shot Dawn
Heading home looking back at the San Fransisco Peaks in Flagstaff

 Tonto Basin 20 mi Training Run Photo Pictorial Here!
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge

 Above: Except for the 300 foot hill at mile 11, this race is mostly flat or downhill, making it a potentially fast run.

The San Diego Marathon June 6th, 2010
The Finishers Medal Click to Enlarge
Marathoners in action! (I'm in yellow)
The Event Technical Shirt Click to Enlarge


This years San Diego Marathon was held on June 6th, and was new in many ways. First, they changed the second half of the route to include a run around Fiesta Island, and second, ended the race this year in the Sea World parking lot. And third with the southwest US being blasted with a heat wave, it was very warm and humid as well. Finally, the number of runners nearly doubled as they jammed a half marathon on the same starting line! I held a strong pace up to the last two miles, and then had to slow down from the heat and soaking humidity. Despite this, This was my fastest San Diego run yet (4:31), and also my fastest full marathon so far. Hopefully next year temperatures will be more moderate.

Day of the Expo:

We arrived Friday morning in San Diego, and after picking up the car, went right over to the Expo at the AT&T center. Never in my life had I seen so many runners packing the expo! The addition of the half marathon meant so many more jammed the isles. You could hardly walk around it was so full. . Brooks was the sponsor this year, and we picked up a few Brooks running wear items. I'm still looking for a red running specific hat, but settled with a white one with red trim instead this year You can certainly spend a lot of money on this gear. After picking up my race packet I confirmed I was in coral 9 out of 40 which is nearer to the staring line, and my blue bib read "9009". Half marathoners bibs were yellow. We then headed over to the seafood restraunt for a late lunch, and then met up with Dawns sister who lives there. Saturday we drove the new Fiesta Island route, and walked on the beaches looking for shells and marine creatures in the tidal pools. Dinner with Dawns sister Sheri and her husband Mark finished off a great restful day.

Race Day:

This year we tried something different - Dawn dropped me off right at the starting line at Balboa park. It worked great, and I was there with a few dozen runners at 4am. It was still dark out, but as the cloudy sky lightened from the morning twilight, they came in by the tens of thousands. It was unreal how many runners were at the staging area, somewhere around 38,000 they told us at that time. I kept my carbohydrate loading intake up right to the last half hour. I finally met up with David Garcia who I ran San Antonio and the Lost Dutchman with recently, in the last half hour, and as the time approached, we went to our respective coral areas to get in line. It was a mad house! Runners were jamming into the coral gates so tightly that finally, no one could get in. I felt like a sardine. We would have to go first and then they would have to fill the coral as we left to start. Thats the first time I've seen that before.

The start was earlier this year, 6:15 am to accommodate the extraordinary number of expected runners. That worked out very well and delayed the onset of the heat later on in the race. It was 63 degrees at race start - barely 2 degrees cooler than the ill fated San Antonio run last November. Later on that day the sun would come out and bake us in 75 degree heat and high humidity - only 5 degrees cooler than San Antonio. How far would I get on this one? Fortunately the ocean breezes made most of the run bearable. When the gun went off, we made our way over the starting line, and onward toward the center of San Diego. The first 10 miles or so was spent looping through the city. between the buildings and amongst cheering crowds of hundreds of thousands. Then onward to Mission bay and along the sea coast. We ran past ancient sailing ships and modern battle ships parked along the bay. My pace was solid 9:45 and I felt great. Then over the bridge and onto Fiesta Island, a sand island with ocean bay all around. It was a bit desert like, with no rocks in sight. the breeze was great along the north side, but when we got to around mile 23 on the far side heading back to the bridge, the cliffs of sand totally blocked the wind just as the full sun came out. Myself and the runners around me were soaking wet in sweat and I had to finally back off in the last few miles to avoid overheating and dehydration. The last mile was pretty hard, but I ran every inch of the 26.2 mile route.. Coming over the line I had lost some time in the last few miles but still pulled off a new PR and an fastest ever Full marathon time!

After the Race:

After picking up my hard earned finishers medal, I met Dawn and then we were picked up by Sheri and went off to eat lunch - something other than pure carbs!

Notes for Next Year:

Pacing for next year 9:45 for cool, 10:20 for warm
Continue Carb pre loading
Drop off again at race start
Don't forget Gels...


Packet Pickup/Expo Friday/Post Expo Fun Friday and Saturday before the Race Dawns Panasonic Lumix/Kodak M1033
Race banners on the light poles down town
Entering the Expo
The cheerleaders at the enterance
Runners have to walk through cheering on both sides when they enter!
Heading toward the packet pick up
Race bib pickup
Both races are sold out!
Packet pick up by race number
Next you pick up your bag of goodies, mostly ads and food samples
Piles of Race Techinical shirts
Next you have to pull out your wallet...
Brooks products
Expo stars - Deena and Meb - Fastest marathoners in the US.
The Hugemoungous crowds!
You can hardly move around
Next Lunch at the Harbor House
The menus prices posted outside
Eating lunch with a great view of the ocean front
Kelp on the shore
Surfers with the big waves today
Sand Dollar on the beach
We find a small crab that just washed in
Dawns close up
I had to hold him...
The Pacific Ocean
In the tidal pools barnacles on a rock
This close up Dawn took shows the barnacles with limpets on them
I tried this shore shot of all the cool small shells
Shore birds, cormorants and Pelicans
At the beach and tidal flat at La Jolla
Boaters watch the seals
The seals on the beach
The seals are nervous
Along the tidal pools
Onward toward the Pier
Me looking at the tidal flats
The beach heading toward the pier
Dawns shot under the Pier
My shot under the Pier
Me along the beach
The ocean front walk way great for running!
Then lunch at the Goldfish Point Cafe
Thinking about the race tommorow...
Race Day - Race Start Dawns Panasonic Lumix/Aiptek Stealth Cam
First light at the staging area at Balboa park
UPS trucks for gear drop off. they will carry it back to the finish.
In my coral 9 wating for the gun to go off
Looking behind me at the tens of thousands of runners!
Police escort
Race Day - Marathon Stealth Cam II/Dawns Panasonic Lumix Note: The first few shots are blurry because it was still so dark out!
Race Start - heading to the city. Dim lighting...
Past the science center featuring "Aliens"
Then through the city
Running past cheer leaders
Heading into the city
Dawns shot of the lead racers at mile 7
The female leaders
Then here I come!
Running past Dawn at mile 7
Dawns trip on the trolley
Aircraft carrier Midway
Past the old sailing ship
Circling the ship and heading back
Passing the old sailing ship on the other side of the road now
Back on to the ocean
Waiting for runners to drop
And now onto the freeway
Running on the freeway with no cars!
Coming up to the arches
David Bluestein - another Arizona marathoner
Huge banner over roadway supporting marathoners!
Mile 11
The aid station on the freeway
The half marathoners split off now
Off the freeway and into thousands of cheering crowds
Primitive running
Passing Dawn again while taking a photo
The ocean bay side
Running along the bay
Bay view
Mile 14, after the steep uphill part has ended
Giant inflated "Brooks Man" to run through
I will NOT let the marath- oners in Tu-Tu's beat me!
A fallen runner
Residential area with zillions of oranges
And now onto Mission Bay
Running on Mission Bay
Mile 18 aid station.
The route to Fiesta Island
Along the bay
Dawns shot of me passing by at mile 21
At mile 21
Then onto Fiesta Island
Round Fiesta Island its getting very HOT.
The back of Fiesta Island and last 2 miles
Race Day - Marathon Finish Line Post Race Dawns Panasonic Lumix/stealth cam
Finish line shot. My fastest marathon ever.
Lunch with Sheri
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge

 Above: The center of the profile is at the 13.1 mile turn around. The slope is constant up hill from 5000 to 7000 feet, down to 6000 feet and then back up to return!

The Whiskey Row Full Marathon Marathon, Half, 10k, 2mi May 1st, 2010
The Event Technical Shirt Click to Enlarge
The Finishers Medal - Full Click to Enlarge

Left: Full marathon finishers medal

Right: 10k finishers medal

The Finishers Medal - 10K Click to Enlarge


On May 1st, the 32nd annual Whiskey Row running events took place in Prescott Arizona. This year I would run the 26.2 mile Marathon for the first time, and Dawn race walked the 10k event again. Both of us did extremely well, Dawn bested last years time by 7 minutes - 1:34, and I finished the very challenging marathon in 4:47.

About this Marathon Event

The Whiskey Row full marathon is one of three or four of the most challenging and scenic marathons in the continental United States. You will face very long up hills, 2000 feet of elevation change into cold and potentially extremely windy conditions, thin air and rugged back roads routes. The race starts in Prescott at just over 5000 feet elevation, and runs non stop uphill to 7000 feet. Then you plunge a thousand feet to the turn around at 13.1 miles at 6000 feet. Then turn around and back up a thousand feet to the 7000 foot summit. Then a mad dash downhill mile after mile with some steep rolling hills to the finish line where you started. Needless to say just completing this one is a major accomplishment, a true test of your hill and rough trail running skills. 200 of us took this challenge in the marathon event, and here is the story of our adventures that day.

Friday the day before the Race

We headed over to Prescott, some 2 hours drive from Payson the day before the race and got a motel on the outskirts of town so to spend the night. The plan was to get a good night sleep, then head over to the starting line for the 5am early start. Since this was to be the very first time I was going to do the full marathon, I had no idea how long it was going to take. I had this vision in my head of crawling over the finish line 7 hours after starting, no one around because they all went home. But I also thought of that huge brassy medal, twice the size of the half marathon one. What a mental battle! Ok, I was going to do this, no matter how long it took. The normal marathon start was at 6am, and the 10k started at 7am. When I did the early start at 5am it was 32 degrees out and the sky was totally clear.

Saturday - Race Morning

When we got over to the starting line, there were around 25 others that also doing the early start. I would not be alone in my quest. At 5am, with just enough early morning light to not need a flashlight, the starting air horn sounded and we were off! I held back and ran at a constant and very slow 11 minutes pace along the paved city back roads, between buildings, houses and parks. It was getting lighter by the second. I was trying to conserve every ounce of energy for the hill climbing up ahead. After a few miles, we hit the dirt, and the relentless up hill battle began. both sides of the road were lined in dense tall Ponderosa pines and deep forest. The early morning scent of the pine forest gave me more energy to run even harder up the steep slopes. My goal was to reach the 13 mile turn around point with an 11 min per mile pace then give it my best after that. When we finally made it to the 6.5 mile turn around for the half marathoners, the river was flowing across the road, and they had us running through a stream with large rocks in it to cross the road. Then it really went up hill. Steeper and steeper, the runners started to really spread out a lot. Those from Phoenix were not used to the altitude and many dropped back. Most of the time I could only see one or two other runners around me up the road. At mile 10, the peak was reached at 7000 feet. There was a huge aid station up there, serving drinks, fruit and other goodies! But there was no time for the amenities. I flew past and it dropped over a thousand feet in several miles along a steep massive rocky ridge to the turn around at mile 13.1, nearly to the Thumb Butte road crossing. A lone aid station at the turn around seemed surprised at us showing up, I guess no one told them about the early start group.

Then a long extreme climb back to the 7000 foot level. It was very difficult to say the least. There was plenty of big rocks, and ruts on the primitive road. But upon peaking at the lookout, a blast down hill to the finish was next. It was a roller coaster of hills and valleys, but I was able to make up the 30 seconds per mile I lost on going slowly up the back side of the 7000 foot hill. As I neared the paved road section again, I knew I would be able to easily run all the way to the finish non stop. My training at Tonto Basin, and the carbo-loading I had done that week was working perfectly. I held a strong pace to the finish line, and ran into a cheering crowd as I passed the FINISH banner in a final burst of speed that got the crowd roaring. (I'm so theatrical at times) What a fabulous experience! Dawn had finished her 10k race walk in record time, and was very surprised to see me come in to the finish is way less than 5 hours. What a feeling it is to have just run 26.2 miles without hitting the infamous wall!

After the Races

I really liked the early start, I came in at a great time, and could enjoy the activities afterwards without the huge crowds which were still out doing the half and full. There was lots of food, and pizza for ONLY THE MARATHONERS. How cool. This race makes you feel like a winner even if you come in last. One really neat feature was the near live display of the runners coming in to the finish line on a big computer monitor. We left before noon and headed over to the mall for some lunch. What a great way to finish such an awesome event!
Notes For Next Year

- Wear distance tested trail shoes or stiffer soles.
- Beat 10:58 pace at turn around
- Wont need water pack again
- Do 5 am start again!


Packet Pickup/on Race Morning before the Race Dawns Panasonic Lumix
Early morning scene before the sun came up
In the hotel, packet pickup
The race headquarters at 4:30am
Race headquarters in St. Micheals hotel
Almost 5am, and its 32 degrees out.
Race Day - Race Start Marathon Dawns Panasonic Lumix
Runners line up at the Early 5am starting line
Race Day - 10K Zazoosh Photography
Dawn nears the finish line of her very fast 10k
Race Day - Marathon Stealth Cam II/Zazoosh Photography Note: The first few shots are blurry because it was still so dark out!
Heading out of town toward the dirt road
At the 6.5 mile half mara- thon turn around. We went past this point another 6.5 miles for the Marathon turn around.
The relentless up hill battle mile after mile very steep
A turning point in the trail. The sun finally comes up!
Constant up hill. I was able to hold a 11 min pace
Up ahead is the top of the peak.
Less incline for a bit near the top
The final very steep climb to the lookout
Finally! the 7000 foot lookout!
The aid station at the lookout.
One final short hill to climb after the lookout.
Then fantastic views at the top!
Now heading down hill very fast to the 6000 foot turn around
Running along a very steep cliff face
Amazing views!
Along the down slope
A final up hill
Very near the turn around Where is it???
FINALLY. the 13.1 mile turn around station!
Now turning around and all very steep up hill
This is nothing compared to whats about to come..
The worst hill yet, back up a thousand feet to the lookout
Half way up the terrible hill...
Now past the lookout, and its almost all down hill to the finish.
8 miles to go. When will I hit the wall??
The last dirt road part getting more level
Pavement - What a relief! Now I can concentrate on running and not tripping on rocks
Long slope down hill
Crossing a bridge with fantastic views
Now Im catching up to all the half marathoners that started at 7 am.
The last few miles before we head into down town
The center of Prescott dead ahead! And on to the Finish Line!
A few shots from the race photographer along the course
Race Day - Marathon Finish Line Post Race Dawns Panasonic Lumix/stealth cam
Dawn watches the photos of the runners coming in
Finish line for all races just before I came in
Here I am heading for the fast finish!
Can you tell Im a mid foot striker?
I am thrilled to have run this entire course WITHOUT hitting the infamous "Wall".
Dawn after her very fast 10k performance
St. Michaels hotel
The streets of Prescott blocked off just for the race
Empty streets
The Finish line area


The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge

 Above: The first two miles are a steep uphill through town, then it varies from steep up to steep down on both street and trail.

Brian Mickelsen Half Marathon Half Marathon & 10k April 17th, 2010
The Event Technical Shirt Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

 Left: My third Place age group medal

The weather this year for the Brian Mickelson Memorial races was nearly perfect. Few clouds, no wind and perfect race day temperatures. Over 300 runners showed up for this event. I was 7 minutes faster than last year on the half, at 1:53 and took third place for my age division. Dawn set a new 10k personal record at 1:31 - her fastest 10k yet. We arrived around 6:30 in the morning at the River Front Park where the race is staged. We picked up our race packets there, and were ready to go. The plan was while I was doing the road/trail half marathon, Dawn would race walk the 10k event. There was also a 2 mile run mainly for kids, but I saw a few adults along for the run as well.

What is very nice about this starting area is that even with several hundred runners packing in, the large grassy open field for other sporting events is right there near the starting line for warming up. 85 runners did the half marathon this year, and we started off with the blast of an air horn at 7:30am. Dawn started her 10k some 15 minutes later, allowing her to get a few shots of the race start.

The Races

The course is very scenic, and is a even mix of road racing and off road sometimes rugged trail. For this reason I think I will try wearing my trail shoes next year, to save the bottoms of my feet from the rocks on the trail. My plan was to hold an 8:30 pace but the up hills on the nasty trail parts made that too much to ask for. The route was changed this year so that we did not run right through a trailer park, but on the road next to it. Also we came just short of running up the Tuzigoot Indian monument and turned round just before it. They lengthened one of the side road excursions to make up for it.

Although the elevation profile makes it seem all downhill, the steep rolling trails and long up hill road runs made for a roller coaster ride to the finish line! Crowd support on this run is basically non existent, although there were a few cheering us on at the aid stations and from those who were directing us around turns especially on the trail parts. My time at the finish line was much faster this year, mainly because I could run faster, on both trail and road. This I attribute to the speed work I have been doing regularly at the track.

After the Run

After both of us had come over the line, the finishing area was crowded with other runners and their friends and families. There was food, drinks and a live band. We didn't stay for the winners ceremony, but I didn't realize at that time I was going to get a 3rd place age division medal. Maybe next year Ill go for 2nd place....

Notes for next year.

- Try trail shoes
- keep up the speed work
- don't eat the food afterwards
- Stay for award ceremony


Packet Pickup/Expo on Race Morning before the Race Dawns Panasonic Lumix
Packet pickup for all the races
Next you get your bib number...
The "Expo"
More runners start to show up for packets
I'm warming up on the trails
The Police escort for the race start is getting ready!
Now I'm in green here, at the race start line just before the air horns went off.
Memorial to Brian
The Memorial Tree
Race Day - Race Start Half Marathon Dawns Panasonic Lumix
The 85 runners at race start
Runners passing the Start Line
Race Day - 10k Race Walk Dawns Panasonic Lumix
At the Start Line
And were off!
Heading away from the Park
Race walkers and Run Walkers
The first quarter mile Curve from the rear
The Park sign
Bike team ready to help any one in trouble
Approaching the lake
Dawn is catching up to the Boston qualifier up ahead
Mingus Mountains
Old building
On the final leg to the finish Dawn catches the Boston runner. (Ok, he qualified 25 years ago)
Race Day - Half Marathon Stealth Cam II
Standing at the Race Starting line!
Heading up the first steep hill going out of town.
the blast through Cottonwood
Really getting steep now in the first 2 miles
Leveling off, time to make up the time
The geology was gorgeous Up ahead is the cliffs of the Verde Formation
Heading toward Tuzigoot, the runner ahead of me has the same exact shirt on that I have...
Turning onto the first leg of the trail part
Running the trail through the dense woods.
VERY steep and rocky trail road, really sucks down your time!
After a very short stint back on the roads, we once again hit the trails
Running around the lake - very flat...
View running around the Lake
Lake. The gal up ahead (Tracy) is trying to keep ahead of me.
Heading back into Cottonwood. She is I am still trying to catch her!
The last two miles. Entering the park. I'm barely starting to catch her.
The finish line just after I came in.
I finally caught Tracy, and beat her by only seconds across the line. Oh what FUN! We thanked each other at the finish line for making the race so challenging.
Race Day - Half Marathon Finish Line Post Race Dawns Panasonic Lumix/stealth cam
The Police escort leaving the event
Finish line Social
Finishers refueling, talking with other runners and carrying on
Here I come into the fast finish
Last burst of speed!
Me at the finish line
Dawn at the finish line
The food for the participants - Pasta
Dawn relaxes after the finish.
The live band at the finish line
Parting view of the Banner

The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge
 Above:  Over 700 feet of
elevation change in this steep
uphill run.  You can see that
just after mile 3, the steepness
increases dramatically.
Run for Ryans House Half Marathon & 5k March 6th, 2010
The Finishers Medal - Front Click to Enlarge
  The T Shirt Click to Enlarge
Sunrise at the DC Ranch (Dawn) Click to Enlarge


This challenging half has now officially replaced the defunct Valley of the Sun Half, which several years ago was also held in early March. Formerly a 10k, this new event hosts a Half, 5k, and 1 mile fun run. This year, 985 runners participated in both main events, and while I ran the Half marathon, Dawn Race/Walked the 5k to a new all time 5k PR. The weather was partly cloudy, and a perfect 50 degrees at race start. The challenge on this Half Marathon is that it climbs relentlessly 1000 feet in elevation, then you turn around after 6.5 miles and run down hill at an insane pace to the finish line! We lucked out again on the weather - the very next day it rained, and we got over 3 inches of snow in Payson.

Packet Pickup and Expo

Friday, the day before the race is packet pickup at DC Ranch Market Street Plaza. This was close to my work, so at lunch time I headed over to a very ritzy neighborhood and shops to the central plaza where they had our race packets. I was surprised that they would be giving out finishers medals to the runners when we crossed the line. I then made a quick drive over the route, which is basically up Pima road 3 miles, then you turn right on to Happy Valley road up again 3 miles. The route is all up hill, very steep and gets steeper as you go. It was going to be grueling! While driving the Happy Valley road portion, a huge road runner shot across the road in front of me. I then knew this was going to be a successful run for sure!

Race Day

We left the house at 4:30am Saturday morning, and made it to the parking areas around the Market Plaza by 6am. It was cloudy, and still pretty dark out, but we were able to see all the lights of the plaza directly ahead. While everything except the Dunkin Doughnuts was closed, we could see that these shops were really high dollar stores. Runners poured in, and soon the entire plaza was swarming with nearly a thousand runners, and race walkers. The starting line was under a huge wooden bridge, all lit up with hundreds of twinkle lights. Very cool! I had never started a race before under a bridge.

15 minutes before the 7am Half start, we gathered behind the starting line banner. Dawns event would start half an hour later, allowing her to try to get some start line shots in the very dim lighting. My Aiptek stealth cam was pretty worthless at that point, since it works only well in bright sunlight.

The Race

At 7am sharp, the air horn went off, and the Half Marathon had begun! There were 457 of us, and we shot under the bridge and wrapped around the Market Plaza on our way to Pima road. The up hill at this point was stout, and constant. I was able to maintain an 8:30 pace all the way to the 3 mile point with some difficulty. Then we turned on a side street, Pinnacle Peak road for about half a mile up and downhill, which wasn't on the map of the race route. I think they added this to get the full distance in check. Then the grueling uphill part, going east on Happy Valley road. We ran past gorgeous desert scenery, headed up, and up to a series of very expensive homes in subdivisions. The view was spectacular as we climbed to the top, some 3 miles later. I pushed hard and met my goal of getting to the turn around point with a 9.0 min/mile pace. Then - the wild mad dash down hill to the bottom!

I don't think I have ever run so fast so far in my life. The 3 miles down to Pima was a screaming (for me anyway) 7 - 7:30 pace all the way. Then we turned on to Pima, and from there, back up Pinnacle peak side road, back onto Pima and it started to flatten out a bit. I was able to hold a 7:30 - 8:30 pace all the way back to the finish line. I flew in, under the bridge, and blasted over the finish line in 1:50:41 (Chip time), beating my second fastest Half Marathon time ever done which was last year at the Fiesta Bowl Half by 5 SECONDS, and only 1 min 37 seconds from equaling my fastest ever Half PR, set at PF Changs Half. What an incredible run!

Dawn did fantastic on the 5k Race/Walk. This was her fastest 5k ever, and she PR'd at 45 minutes 55 seconds, an amazing time to power hike the 3.1 miles. Both of us were in great spirits at the finish line, which had a carnival like atmosphere. Even giant airships circled overhead. Wow. After we recovered with the food and liquid refreshments, we watched the other runners coming in. Then headed off to celebrate our successes at lunch.


Packet Pickup/Expo Blackberry Phone Cam
The Race Shirt Table
Maps of the routes
Sale items
Pre-Race massage...?
Expo overview
Race Day - Race Start Half Marathon Dawns Panasonic Lumix
The day started off with a gorgeous sunrise
Runners gather at the bridge
The finish line at first light
Almost Race Start, we will cross under this cool bridge!
Me in blue in center waiting for start
The race starts with the blast of an air horn
Me in blue starting
Off I go toward the massive up hills...
Race Day - 5k Race Walk Dawns Panasonic Lumix
Gathering for the 5k
Dawn at the start line
Heading down the road the Race has started!
This seems a bit unfair, don't you think?
Rounding the corner
Mile after mile
Uphill route
Dawn after her fastest 5k EVER.
Race Day - Half Marathon Stealth Cam II A new camera failed on this run
Runners gather at the starting line
Nearly 600 of us!
Heading up Pima road
Uphill mile after mile
Some areas we were close to the cars
Most of the time we had the road to ourselves
On Happy Valley Road, very steep now
Miles of very steep uphill
Heading back down
Running faster than I ever have on a long run!
Looking back at the finish line after the run
Race Day - Half Marathon Finish Line Post Race Dawns Panasonic Lumix
Racing into the finish Line - Yep, thats me!
Runners coming in back under the bridge to the finish
Handing out the Medals to the finishers
Post race recovery!
Dawn after the 5k
In and around the Finishing area Giant balloon woman...
Runners crowd around the computer to see their times
Chip times displayed as the runners come in
Blimp flying over the race what a carnival!

The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge
 Above: the run looks deceptively
easy, a long downhill at the beginning.
but long steep rises in the remaining
miles make this tough going!
The Lost Dutchman Full Marathon February 14th, 2010
The Finishers Medal - Front Click to Enlarge
  The T Shirt Click to Enlarge

Me and David next to the Camp fire! Click to Enlarge
The Finishers Medal - Rear Click to Enlarge


The weather this year was as close to perfect as you could hope for. At the start of the marathon, it was a perfect 48 degrees, totally cloudless and dry. Dawn once again did the 8k trail event, and raced a new personal record (PR) besting last years results by 3 minutes. We were also privileged to have David Garcia, an accomplished running friend of ours from Phoenix run the marathon with us. I tied my PR from last year, and tried out a new running technique that would hopefully prevent me from blowing my quads near the end of the race, and putting me in pain for weeks afterwards like last year. It worked!

Packet Pickup

This year, we ran over to the Road Runner Sports store a few miles south of where Dawn works in the Tempe Market place to pick up our race packets. This worked out far better for us than having to spend half the day Saturday going to Apache Junction to the meager expo and getting it there and blowing half the day. The race is always on Sunday. At this point, we did not know exactly how many runners had signed up for the events, but we did know that the Half Marathon event was sold out.

Race Morning

We got up at 2:15 and left the house at 3:00am on Sunday. After an hour and a half drive, we made it to the Apache Junction Events Center where in the dark began to realize how huge this event was going to be with thousands of runners everywhere. Rows of dozens of busses were lined up ready for transport of the runners to the starting lines for the Half and full events. I think I got on the second bus at around 5:00, and it was a long 45 minute ride to the Peralta Trail head where the marathon was being staged. Dawn waited in the car until the festivities started at sunrise in the finish line area.

When I got off the bus, it was quite breezy and the two dozen campfires were putting out lots of smoke and flaming bits. I hit the tents with the food and coffee and headed over to the campfires to look for David, who was supposed to be on the first bus. The first campfire I walked up to - was David and an older highly experienced runner who was sharing her extensive experiences in marathons. Once again, I think David was a bit taken by the fact I found him so fast in nearly total darkness with hundreds of runners all moving about under a dark starry sky. We sat around the campfires, which were really duraflame logs telling tales until about 30 minutes before the race was to start at 7:00. It was around 50 degrees, so I stripped my warm up suit off, and got my gear race ready. At this point, there was an announcer reading off rules, warnings and the usual running edicate. 15 minutes before start, they called out once again on the bull horn that it was time to line up at the starting line. We wandered over about 200 feet to the gate, which was a banner over the road tied off on cactuses with ropes. The first glows of sunrise came now, and I could now see the hundreds of marathoners trying to keep warm and chomping at the bit.

The Marathon

A loud gunshot started the race. We headed down Peralta road, the first six miles were graded dirt, with extreme rolling hills, and a huge number of steep down hills. Since I blew my quads out last year on these hills, I went a bit slower, and most importantly - bent my knees on all the down hills. This made all the difference later, and I did not suffer the fate of two weeks of recovery on my screaming quads like last year! After Peralta road ended, we ran several high end subdivisions, twice along the freeway for a mile each, and back to back streets to the finish line. I kept my pace 20 seconds per mile slower than last year, and slowed down less at the end than last time as well. My final time was exactly the same as last year, my current PR for this race and second fastest marathon ever. Despite the altitude profile on their web site, this runs second half has some very difficult hills and tons of up hills making it slow going near the end. Dawn was there at the finish line, and we met up with David for a while, and after congratulating each other on our runs, we headed home.

Final Notes

After the race, the totals came in for the following races:

8k - 601 runners
10k - 604 runners
Half Marathon - 1100 runners
Full Marathon - 471 runners

Strategies for next year to consider...

A consistent
10 min/mi pace from the very start (past mile 16)
Bend Knees on down hills again
Test the running camera before the race


Race Day - Marathon Stealth Cam II ( Non CLICKABLE) A new camera failed on this run
Night shot - Campfires at the race start staging area
The coffee and food tents
The starting line in the very first morning light!
Behind the starting line - very dark out
Heading down Peralta trail road
Going down Peralat road the sun has risen!
Running in cactuses
Hitting the paved part from now on
First turn
Back roads running
Spreading out now
Back in subdivisions mile 19
Mile 22 the new Wall location up ahead
Race Day - Marathon Dawns Panasonic Lumix
Waiting for the marathoners
David coming in
Me coming in in red
Running to the finish
Post race shot
Post race awards
Race Day - 8k Dawns Panasonic Lumix
Approaching sunrise
Race starting area
The start line
Fun attractions
The sun and Arizona flag
Gathering for 8k
All dressed up to run!
Just before start
Dawn at the starting line
The race/walk has begun!
Runners and race walkers

The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge
The Sedona Half Marathon February 6th, 2010
The Finishers Medal Click to Enlarge
Our good omen Bald Eagle we saw on the way to the packet pickup. Click to Enlarge
  The fabulous red rocks of Sedona near where we will be running ! Click to Enlarge
The T Shirt Click to Enlarge

This years Sedona Marathon Events which included a Full Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5K was attended by a record number of participants - over 1700. The largest of the three events by far was the ever popular 5K, which Dawn did again this year, and chopped 4 minutes off her time last year - power walking it in 48 minutes. For me, this event has morphed into a final training tune up event for the following weekend Lost Dutchman Full marathon. My goal in Sedona was to run at exactly the pace I expect to do in that full event, this year I planned to run the half at exactly a 10 minutes per mile pace. This is a bit slower than racing a half marathon, but I wanted to be in good shape for next weekend!

The final results were a total success, Dawn has a new PR to brag about and I completed my run exactly 1 second faster per mile than goal pace at 9:59. I now have a good feel for what this pace feels like for the next weekend.

Weather forecasts

It rained on and off all week long in Payson, thanks to the El Ninio weather pattern now in full effect. The predictions would put rain in the afternoon after the morning race, and into the next day. Sure enough, while it was cloudy and cold at race start (38F), the rain held off till after lunch. Then the wind picked up, and it rained on and off all day. The next morning we had snow in Payson and it snowed all day long about an inch. Once again, we lucked out on this run!

Friday - Packet Pickup / "Expo"

Our plan was to take off Friday and head over to Sedona to the usual race packet pickup at Tlaquepaque plaza in Sedona around 10am. A surprise for us was that Dawns sister Deneen and her mom and dad decided to join us, and we would meet them there and do the tourist thing. When driving to Sedona, coming over the Rim, we spotted a bald eagle on the side of the road munching on a carcass along with some huge ravens. We quickly stopped and turned around and Dawn was able to get some shots with here Lumix as we tried to sneak up on it silently in electric mode. The eagle spooked and took off down the road, where it landed in a huge dead tree. I pulled up as close as I could to the tree which was several hundred feet off the road and shot it with my big 400mm lens. He was HUGE. This bird dwarfed the giant ravens that live on the Rim, and was simply the largest bald eagle I had ever seen, nearly three feet tall and at least a six foot wingspan. Would this be a good omen to our race performance the next day?

After our packet pickup and a stroll through a very anemic Expo, we spent the rest of the afternoon with Dawns mother and her sister Deneen.

Race Day

We pulled into Sedona at the stadium parking lot at 6:30am. We had a spot right at the finish line! It great to get there early. As the 8 am start approached, I warmed up a bit on a side road and got in the group at the starting line. The marathoners went first at 8:00 , then 15 minutes later we went, and after that the 5k took off. The route was the same going out for all of them, with the 5k turning around at 2.5k, the half at 6.5 miles and the full onward to the longest 13.1 miles before turning around. Event though it was mostly cloudy, the red rocks scenery was fantastic and we always take this chance one a year to run with a huge group like this among the Permian cliffs and buttes.

This year a change was made at the 6.5 mile turn around. Instead of turning a the top of a very steep hill, they cut it short and we turned around at the bottom. I'm sure somewhere else they lengthened the route, since I came out the right distance at the end. For me, running this slow on a half was very hard. It was difficult to hold back especially in the first half but I wanted to achieve my goal pace as accurately as possible.

After crossing the finish line we were handed a folded up medal in a plastic package, rather than having them put it on us. A bit impersonal, but the medal is new and stunning this year. Blues and oranges on a brass base, with the words "Cinco De Marathon" on the front - Spanish for 5th marathon. This was the fifth Sedona Marathon Event, and we have done four of them now. I met up with Dawn on the other side of the finish line, and we exchanged stories of our race adventures, watched hundreds of runners going over the finish line.

We made a fast get away, and had lunch in Sedona at a sandwich shop. Then it was time to leave and head back up the hill to Payson. It rained the rest of the day. The eagle must have been a good omen.


The Day Before Race Day - Friday Canon 10d, Panasonic Lumix
On top of the Rim along the Highway this Bald Eagle
Dawns shot after it took off from the rabbit carcass
The Red Rocks of Sedona
Tlaquepaque shopping center
This is the way to pick up our packets!
Packet Pickup
Picking up more race stuff
The expo was anemic, here me and Dawns Dad
The "Expo"
Race Day - Half Marathon Stealth Cam II
As we near 8am, its still pretty dark from the clouds
Hundreds of runner line up for the half
And were off! Round the park past an old ampitheatre
We then headed down the back roads toward town
Now on main street through Sedona
Right after turning onto Dry Creek Road
Steep down hill
The next turn left is ahead, down...
Turning onto the back road
The hills are very steep! Ambulances waiting for victims.
After turning around at mile 6.5 heading back toward ambulance
Back onto Dry Creek Road
Another Steep hill ahead!
This shot shows the traffic radar recording me at 6 mph = 10m/mi
The final turn toward the finish area
And just ahead - the FINISH LINE!
Race Day - Half Marathon Dawns Panasonic Lumix
Early morning light on the Starting line
The runners gather in the dim darkness
The distant peaks with snow caps
In line for the race start - Me in yellow cap
Posed shot of me at starting line on right
The Start of the Half Marathon!
You can see me in the yellow hat left/center
More runners
Coming by the start after the ampitheatre
Last pass before heading off
Race Day - 5k Dawns Panasonic Lumix
Gathering for the start of the 5k
Dawn in the staring corral
There off!
Heading toward town
Heading back to finish!
During the Races - Zazoosh Photography (not clickable.)


Looks like Dawn is having a great time!
Race Day - Saturday After the Race Dawns Panasonic Lumix
Back at the start line, we are parked left most vehicle
The satisfied runner - goal accomplished!
What can I say?
Dawn at the finish line
The massage tables are packed after the race

The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge
 Above: The run ascends from
 about 1100 feet to over 1250
feet constantly, with a few 
zingers near the end to really
 kill your fast pace. I was able 
to hold on to a sub 8:10 pace
 for most of the run, but in 
the steeper hills my pace 
slowed to bring the average
down to 8:18.
The PF Chang Rock and Roll Half Marathon My location at the race start behind the banner inside the red circle...
The Huge Finishers Medal It's really THICK. Click to Enlarge
Dawn and Friends at the Aid Station along the Marathon route ! Click to Enlarge
  The Race Announcement with MY NAME in the Payson Paper See a description below in write up Click to Enlarge
The Technical Shirt Click to Enlarge


This was the first year we participated in the PF Chang Rock and Roll marathon and half marathon event in Phoenix. This year, I did the Half Marathon along with over 25,000 other runners as a great tune up race for my upcoming Marathon in February. Dawn signed up to work at the aid station for the full marathon next to the General Dynamics plant where she works with 55 of her co-workers. This was also my last chance of the year to do a somewhat flat low altitude run to try to better my fast performance at the Fiesta Bowl Half in December. Ill tell you up front that I PR'ed on this run, 1 minute faster than my Fiesta performance - at 1:49:05 making it my fastest half marathon ever despite the all uphill route.

Before the Race

Since the shuttles to the starting lines began at 4:30 am Sunday morning, we got up quite early and left the house at 3:30 am that morning. We parked in the lot between the two starting lines at the ASU football stadium and I got on the bus at 4:45. Dawn walked the 3 miles from there up to the aid station next to General Dynamics and helped them get set up for the race. She got a totally cool "Race Support Crew" shirt for the effort. I was going to run the Half which is a totally different route from the full marathon through phoenix, so would not see her again until after the race. It took over half an hour for the bus to get to the starting area, and everything was spread out all over the place. On all the other Rock and Roll marathons I've done, there is usually one central park which the runners congregate, with the food tents, UPS gear trucks and festivities all around the outside edges. Here, the half started on Jefferson street, the full one street over, the tents and amenities were on two separate streets and the medical and support teams were on another! It was needless to say a bit confusing to me as I was wandering around in the dark at this early hour. Since the marathon started at 7:30, everyone was heading to that location first. I decided to take a look at the starting line for it, and headed over. And walked right up to our Marathoner friend David, (He went to San Antonio with us) who was sitting on a concrete bench near the starting line. He was shocked to see me standing right in front of him when he looked up! How did I find him in the dark and with over 26,000 runners moping about? Ill never tell.

For about half an hour me and David and another runner next to him talked and then it was time for them to head over to the marathon starting corals. I bid them well and watched in the early morning light the marathon start. There were nearly 6000 marathoners roaring off the starting line. David would do well that morning, the temperatures were perfect in the low 50s and it was cloudy.

I headed over to the UPS trucks next, and sat on a big tree root for the next half an hour, waiting for the 8:30 start of the half marathon. I quickly found that the half marathoners were a much more upbeat crowd. They knew that they didn't have to run a exhausting full marathon. While 13.1 miles is still a very long respectable distance, you can run it MUCH faster than a marathon. That would make any runner happy! And that's why there were over 25,000 of us ready to line up on the staring corals.

At 8:00 I dropped my cold weather warm up suit off at the UPS truck one of dozens each labeled by a range of last name letters. and headed over to the half mile long starting corals to do some fast warm up runs. The UPS is right next to the very end coral, # 25. The faster you plan to run, the closer to the front you are and lower the coral number. My coral based on my expected pace was #2, right up front. I have never been so close to the front before. But this year, my track work outs are starting to really pay off and my speed has increased markedly.

After warming up, I worked my way thorough the crowds to the front. As I passed through each coral, decreasing in number I kept thinking how awesome it was to be right up front. No longer a mid packer, I was now a Front Packer! When I finally made it to coral #2, I was only a hundred feet from the starting line, and a dozen or so Elites which were at the very front. I was besides my self standing amongst several hundred of the fastest super fit runners. As the race start neared, the master of ceremonies Arizona Senator John McCain gave us a short speech and they did a quick interview with some of the Elites. Then the Pledge of Allegiance came, and the starting gunfire for the Elite pack. About a minute later, corals 1 and 2 were given the go, and as we passed over the electronic timing strip, our shoe sensors started our own personal timing for the official record. There would be more strips to run over at periodic intervals so we could analyze them later.

Running the Half

The pack I was with didn't mess around. We all held a fast 8 - 8:15 pace for the most of the race. It was almost ALL UPHILL for most of the race. A few places we all really slowed to around 8:30, but I was on the flats and the occasional down hill keeping around 8:05 for a pace. Lets face it, the inner city was not too scenic but it was pretty cool running down wide major streets with no cars on them lined with tons of palm trees. Near mile 10 the hills got pretty intense and most of us slowed down, bringing our times down. As I passed mile 10, and could see the red rock buttes where the stadium and finish lines were in the distance for the first time and I pushed with everything I had left to sub 8 occasionally. I knew at that point I could possibly PR, yet with the nasty long up hills it was going to be very hard. At the last mile marker, it was 1:41 and I had to run the last mile as hard as I could to go sub 1:50. I came in to the finish line one minute faster than my last Fiesta Half run at 1:49:05, and managed to beat my fastest half race pace by 2 seconds per mile, at a finishing pace of 8:18.

After jumping up and down for joy as I passed the finish line, I picked up my finishers medal, a huge square Arizona style medallion. The finish lines for the Half and Full were on opposite ends of the stadium and converged at the huge football stadium. Tons of food and drinks, energy bars, and some really weird stuff I didn't even want to put in my mouth. Dawn showed up right after that, we then watched the 3:15 Full marathoners come over the line. and we walked around the finishing pavilions picking up a few souvenirs and buying some last minute things. Finally, We left, and had an early lunch at the Panda Express and headed home, both of us tired and having had a great time that day!

Hot off the Press

The Payson newspaper that week covered the event on the Sports page, and it is then I found out that out of 16 Payson area runners that participated in this event, I was the fastest in the Half Marathon of all the Payson runners! Here is a clipping from the online version of the paper, you can see the article in full at the top of this write up in a clickable thumbnail.

16 from Rim Country in P.F. Chang runs By Max Foster January 20, 2010
Tom Cooka was the only Rim Country runner to compete in P.F. Chang’s Rock ’n’ Roll Arizona Marathon, but the half-marathon drew 15 from Payson.

In all, the two events attracted about 32,000 entrants.
The lengthy runs were held Jan. 17 on Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale streets packed with bands belching out their finest tunes and fans yelling encouragement as runners huffed and puffed their way along the winding course.

The 79-year-old Cooka finished the 26.2-mile marathon in 5:48.49 and was fourth in his age group.
Cooka, a retired Santa Fe railroad employee from Winslow, competes in about every local running event as well as ones around the state and the nation.

At age 50, he was a member of the Northland Pioneer College track and field team.
He is a frequent competitor in the Senior National Olympics and once was a member of the Tonto Apache Track and Field team with fellow athletes 60-years younger than he.

Among those from Payson who entered the half-marathon, 51-year-old Chris Schur was the fastest and the only one to turn in a sub two-hour time. He finished in 1:49.04 and was 121st among the 1,479 in his age division.

Carrie Colvin, a 29-year-old PHS alum and former Lady Longhorn track and field team member, was clocked in 2:03.42 and was 447th among the 2,355 in her division.

Amity Justice, 36, finished in 2:04.11.
Others who broke the three-hour barrier were Mike Foil (2:13.04), Rachelle Christian (2:13.43), Karen Howard (2:48.14) and Christie Varner (2:22.36).

In the half-marathon for men, Simon Bairu set a course record of 1:04.08 while defeating U.S. half-marathon record holder Ryan Hall who was clocked in 1:04.08.

Deena Kastor, the U.S. marathon and half-marathon record holder, shattered the race record by more than five minutes with a time of 1:09.43.


The Day Before Race Day - Saturday Blackberry Phone Camera
Heading over to the Expo at the Phoenix Convention Center
The huge convention center in Phoenix
The enterance of the Expo
Race Day - Sunday Stealth Cam II
7am, still dark out thousands of runners wander about
This was the scene just before race start in my coral 2.
Looking back behind me, the tens of thousands of runners gather
This is it - my coral is now full and you can see how exclusive this fast super fit group is! John McCain is on the right on the overhead walkway
And were off!
Still pretty dark heading down a residential area
Police escorts leading us onto the major streets
At the 10k (6 miles) point settling in to a very fast 8:05 pace
Heading into massive crowds totally cheering us onward !
Past the halfway point
Mile 10 - Uphill !
We can see the buttes up ahead where the end is One more mile...
Going over the Mill Avenue bridge - just up ahead is the last stretch!
Dawn in the center at the full Marathon aid station along Hayden Road
Race Finish - ASI photography images (not clickable.)
Arrow points at me in this still from a movie camera at the finish line.
Crossing the finish!
Almost to the finish line, crossing the bridge
Crossing the finish line!
Race Day - Sunday After the Race Stealth Cam II + Sony P10
Finally after the finish line, in the secure finish area
Mountains of food for the exhausted runners
All the runners you see here are the fastest over the line over 20,000 haven't even come in yet from the Half.
Wow! I could just jump into this pile of bananas !
I finally figured out which way to go to the gear check where I picked up my warm up clothing.
Next I headed over to the Family reunion area to meet Dawn.
Giant inflatable PF Chang Bistro Mascot. (PF Chang is a resteraunt that sponsors this event)
Gear Check at a huge line up of UPS trucks!
Around the ASU stadium Tempe Butte
The Stadium we finished next to
Final Shot for this race a tired but exuberant runner!