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 Scottsdale, Arizona Sunday December 4th, 2011
Half Finishers Medal
The T Shirt Click to Enlarge


Once again we participated in this long running event spanning 24 years held in Scottsdale, near where we work. There were a record number of runners in all events this year, the Half Marathon alone had over a thousand, and the 5k was an astounding 1100 or so . I was so sick the weekend before and during the week that I was pretty sure I was going to miss this one. I made the decision to do it the day before on Saturday, and in the end I came in only a minute behind my fastest ever, and still held my Boston qualifying pace right up to the very end!

The Event

We arrived again at 5:30am, and got a great parking spot in the darkness before the race. It had rained all week, and was still wet in places. Lucky again with the weather? Yes! It was totally clear, and 41 degrees. The next day it snowed in Payson. Runners just kept on piling in, and we knew then that this had become a really major event. After enjoying the pre race social experience, I started to get ready for the 7:30 half marathon race start. I still felt a bit queasy, and told Dawn and David who came too - that I was going to start very easy, and probably end up walking half of it. But at least Id get to the finish line and be part of this excellent event.

I warmed up on a side road, and felt pretty good just before the race. I decided to start at around a 9 minute moderate pace for the first mile, and see how it went. We all lined up at 7:30, I stayed to the middle of the pack. When the air horn went off, the roar of excitement and pounding of running shoes hit a crescendo, and the first mile lay ahead! I took it easy, slow and steady. By mile 1, I caught up to David moving along at a fast clip, and staying the course - steady as a pedigreed race horse. I felt great! No problems with the stomach at all. So what the heck - I accelerated. That was the last time I saw David until the finish. I held for the most part a fast 7:45 pace, and when my average hit 8 min/mile, I backed off around mile 5 as we headed slightly up hill along Gainy Ranch subdivision. When we turned back onto Hayden road, the final 5 miles of flat, curves, and park hopping began. I still felt good and didn't want to push it too hard and crash. So I cruised at a comfortable fast pace into the final miles and came in to the finishing chute with an 8:16 pace, a few seconds slower than the pace Id have to run to qualify for the Boston Marathon in a 26 miler. Dawn was obviously shocked - somehow I didn't seem so sick with the flu now! And I did feel pretty good coming in at 1:48, one minute slower than my all time fastest at last year at this race.

David came in shortly after that, and we took some shots of him coming in too. I think he really liked this race too, his first time on this one. (David lives in the Phoenix). We walked around the finishing area, but never saw David again, he was somewhere in the growing finish coral crowd. We watched other runners coming in that we had seen in other races, and thats how my 57th race to date went!


Before the Race
Hundreds of runners gather in the early morning twilight
The starting line (Which is facing the wrong way)
Race Start - Half Starting line (Lumix)
Race Start! Im way in the back because I dont know how the flu has affected me - yet...
Im in Yellow with a orange hat in center
Im just to the right of center
Dressed for the holidays!
Kiosk area during the race
And now Im coming in - the last straight away
Heading in to the finish full speed!
David coming in!
Finish Line Photos/After the Race (Lumix)
Victory against all odds!
THE red tree we see near the start every year is turning fall colors.
During the Race - Stealth cam images
Heading out along Scottsdale road
Now through Gainey Ranch
Heading into the sunrise through the sun lit palm trees
Almost to Hayden road
In the park next to Hayden road see the runners up ahead of me?
Running through the park fast and flat!
Heading under the bridge
Last shot heading into the last mile

GPS Data
The Denver Rock and Roll Marathon Event Denver, Colorado Sunday October 8th, 2011
Half and Full Finishers Medals
The T Shirt Click to Enlarge


This was our first time we had participated in the Denver Rock and Roll events, and not only did the race go well for us, we also had a great time visiting the Natural History and Dinosaur museums in the area. Dawn completed her fastest Half Marathon so far, and I tied my fastest Marathon ever set in San Diego this year. The route was hilly and had many steep sections, but was scenic and toured the best parts of the city.

We arrived Thursday evening after work in Denver, and would be fresh the next day for the Expo and the first Museum trip.
Friday we drove the route first, since we had not done this one before. The route was mostly flat in the city and surrounding area, but the second half became more rolling and had some very steep hills. At the end of the marathon at mile 25, a huge long hill which was very steep would be a problem! The Denver Natural history Museum was next, having a huge T-Rex exhibit. There we saw a fabulous array of fossils, minerals and huge robotic dinosaurs. On the roof was a telescope set up to view the sun, so we took a fast look at the solar action as well. There were also lots of space and astronomy exhibits and a really big gift shop. With that done, we headed over to the Expo after lunch and picked up our packets. Crowds were thin on Friday - perfect. We spent several hours at the Expo, and bought a few cool items. We then went out for dinner and back to the hotel for the night.

The next day - Saturday we were deluged with tons of rain. This was not good with the Marathon the next morning! We drove to Woodland Park, at an elevation of 8600 feet to the big dinosaur paleontogy museum up there. It was snowing when we got there, and continued all the time we were inside. The museum was fabulous, and while smaller than the one in Denver, had superb specimens including the huge "Sue" tyranosaur. Another great gift shop! When it was time to leave, 12 inches of snow were on the ground! Fortunately the vehicle we rented was a 4WD and we had no problems heading back to rainy Denver, much lower in elevation at 5200 feet. What would tomorrow bring?

Race Morning

We got up at 4 am, and looked outside - not a drop of rain was falling, and the sky had totally cleared. It was cold and humid however. Radar showed no rain anywhere. We were dressed and out the door by 4:50 and walked about half a mile to the starting line. Not too many runners had shown up yet, but soon thousands would arrive in bus loads. We probably can get to the race start a bit later, not much was going on at that point. The starting time was 6:55, and about 15 minutes before the race, me and Dawn went separate ways to our corrals. I had corral 7, for an estimated completion time of 4:15 and Dawn had corral 13 for her race walk on the half. They all started in waves, and I only had to wait about 10 minutes before our coral hit the starting line. It was a very cold 32 out, and this was the first race I had run in two layers.

The marathon route took us through the city over and over through central streets, side streets and finally rural subdivisions before heading out through a big park with tons of huge trees and lakes. By mile 12, the Half marathoners split off and went to their finish line. There was a lot less of us Full marathoners, and when the split occurred, one minute I was with thousands, and the next I was with dozens! It was awesome. Now we could concentrate on our speed, form and push our limits without worrying about tripping on the runners in front of you. My pace accelerated to around 9 minutes per mile by mile 20 to make up for the slow crowds at the start. Then the steep hills start. By mile 25 it was really hard and my pace had dropped a bit. But I ran the entire distance no problem. That last mile after the horrible hill at mile 25 was rough. I came in at 4:16, tying my fastest marathon effort in San Diego four months before. Dawn came in on the Half in 3:32 beating her effort in San Antonio by several minutes.

After the race, and we cleaned up we went out for dinner. The next morning, we met up for breakfast with David Garcia, who works where Dawn works, and we talked runners talk and all bout our races. David did the Half and feels he is really ready now to take on another marathon. Go David!


Before the Race / Expo
Going into the Expo!
Packet pick up inside the Expo
Cashiers all lined up ready to take your cash
So many things to see and buy for the Runners!
Sign at Expo entrance
Heading upstairs to Expo
View from our hotel room window Where are the Rockies??
Laying out my running gear for the next days challenge
At the Paleontology Museum 12 inches of snow while we were inside!
Race Start - Half/Full Starting line (Lumix)
Me at the starting area
Dawn ready to tackle her second Half Marathon
Race Half Marathon (Lumix) Note: Because the Half had the same route as the Marathon for the first half, these photos show both races. This is good since my camera had problems.
At the Starting Line
Looking back at the race walkers
Sunrise - and the start of the race!
Moving up to the start line
Moving into the City
Passing the Train Station
Down town is coming fast
Heading toward the City
Coors Field Ballpark
Rural Area
Into a rural area
Really big house
Looking ahead to the hordes of racers
Through the park
Along the lake
The Brooks Man
Nearing the end on a back street
Finish coral before I came in
Waiting at the finishing corals
During Marathon (Stealth Cam) - Non Clickable (bad focus)
Running into the sunrise!
Into the Light
Mile 8
Through the park
Nearing mile 20
Racing past mile 22
Finish Line Photos/After the Race (Lumix)
Chris after the Marathon
Main concert at finish. "Smashmouth"
Concert 2
Chris in the finish area
Dawn in the finish area
Dawn proudly displays her hard earned medal !
Getting ready to leave finish park
Walking away from finish area
One last look
Rockies on the flight home
GPS plot for run
The Groom Creek Classic Groom Creek, Arizona September 24th, 2011
Bronze Medal I won for age division
The T Shirts Click to Enlarge


This was the first time we had participated in this event, after doing the Flagstaff Half for several years, I wanted to try this smaller, and perhaps more scenic run out. This event has a half marathon, 10k and 5k. It is held on back forest roads just outside of Prescott, in the small town of Groom Creek at the fire department there. But its a very tough one! You plunge a thousand feet in elevation, turn around at the half way point and then run back up the steep hill back to the start to finish the half marathon. We both did very well on this one, and I can see us doing this one again next year.

Saturday Morning

We left Payson at around 4:15 and it took just over 2h to get to Groom Creek. By then the first light of dawn had begun and as the sun came up we parked down the dirt road and walked to the Fire Station where the event was being held. We picked up our packets then, and got our race bibs and a bag of mostly paperwork, but a few items such as a water bottle and pain gels might be handy. All three races had different color bibs, so you could tell just by looking who was running what.

As the half marathon start time of 7:30 approached, I warmed up on a side road, still recovering from the last bit of a pulled leg muscle from one of my adventurous 20 milers in Flagstaff. Fortunately, it wasn't a problem, and I was able to race moderately fast without any issues. Dawns race started an hour later, and while neither of us had set any time goals, we had a rough idea how long it was going to take, and we would be coming in around the same time for our two separate races to the same finish line. How's that for planning?

The race instructions were given and basically told us not to get lost on the turn near the end. But no one ever did this time. The half started with a horn from the PA system, and we were off! There was some up hill in the beginning, but then the long down hill blast started. Some of the long runs in the back woods dirt roads I was hitting sub 7 on my pace quite often. I knew that the trip back up would be very slow indeed. We passed through many ponderosa pines and pinions and junipers too. the scenery was gorgeous! And while the we did not achieve the extreme altitude changes you get on the Whiskey Row full, the views of distant ridges and mountains was breathtaking for sure. There was around 85 of us in the half, and I was near the front of the mid pack. For the first ever run on this one, that is where I planned to fall in. Next time I can p ush a bit harder and shave a few minutes off and maybe get the silver medal.

The turn around was in the middle of a straight slightly up hill portion of the dirt road. Round a cone we went, and then back toward the Fire House, 6.5 miles away. And it was quite an uphill slog! Some places I was going so slow, like a 12 minute pace. But I never had to walk, and passed a lot of Valley runners not used to the altitude or hills. We had to run back up to 6500 feet elevation, and it was rough. The final mile was level or down hill, and made for a fast finish. I came in at 2:01, and that was good enough for a third place bronze medal in my age division in addition to the "dog tag" style finishers medal. Dawn had a great time doing the 10k, and set her PR for this event to 1h 35m.

After the races, we had some decent food, and won a few raffle prizes (two $30 off coupons at a local sun glass store). We left there very satisfied we had a lot of fun that day and went to lunch, then to the sunglasses store to claim our prize!


Before the Race
(Lumix/Stealth Cam)
Runners getting ready for the race
Pre race festive atmosphere!
Race director at sign up table
Runner picking up T shirt
Hats and shirts for the fire dept for sale
The food table for after the race is coming together.
The fire station at Groom Creek
Race Banner
Runners gather near the start of the Half
Im in orange, can you find me?
Waiting for race start
Minutes before race start
The guy up front here won the race
Race Start - Half (Lumix)
Off to an adventure ahead!
Heading into the woods up ahead
Race 10k (Lumix)
After I left, the scene at the fire house
Lining up for the 10k
The 10k group heads down the road!
Here Dawn comes!
Racing into a fast finish!
During the Half Marathon (Stealth Cam) - Shooting while running all out is quite a challenge!
Heading out at sunrise, up hill at first
Nearing the top of the first hill
Distant views of surrounding hills
After the turn around, heading back through the woods
Uphill trek all the way to the finish!
Finish Line Photos/After the Race (Lumix/Race photographer)
Just after I came in the area around the fire station
Water, coffee and some sort of strangely colored substance
Running icon Debbie Goodwin
Run coordinator
Checking official results
Handing out the medals for the fastest runners. (me included!)
Announcing the winners
Finish Line shot
Wearing the bronze! Third place in 50 - 59 div.
Finish Line shot
Above: GPS Data from the Half
The Big Brother Big Sister Trail Half Marathon & 5K Flagstaff, Arizona August 13, 2011
Just before the Half Started
The Tech Shirts Click to Enlarge


We rate this event as one of the very best trail runs in the State of Arizona, Neal Weintraub and his team have put together once again an exciting and scenic race. The weather was perfect, no rain in sight. We arrived early Saturday morning and as the sun came up, watched hundreds of dedicated trail runners roll in, all of us looking forward to the dry cool conditions and festive atmosphere. After seeing our friends David and Christie Bluestein, Neil and others, I lined up with great anticipation near the front of the starting line. The race started at 7:30, and after a short jaunt along the paved road, we hit the trail and the long up hill first two miles began. From last year, I knew to moderate my pace for this first part, and then pour it on later for the rest of the race. My pace at the 2 mile point was around 10:30, then after that 7:30 to 9 minutes per mile depending on the rugged hilly terrain. This year I finished the fastest I have done in five years running this event, in 2:05 giving me hope I can break 2h in the coming years! But time is not as important on this scenic trail race, as is having a great time and taking in the outstanding views. Also, we have made more friends on this event than nearly any other. Dawn did very well in the 5k, coming in on 43 minutes.


Before the Race

(Lumix/Stealth Cam)

Last minute sign up tables and packet pickup
Wheeler Park - where the race starts and ends
Runners coming in to register
The starting line before the race start
Gathering before the race
Neil gives pre-race instructions
Shot of me at the start line by David Bluestein
David and Christie talk to a friend
Starting chute
Neil giving race instructions from the front side
The last few minutes before the start of the Half
Standing in line at the starting line of the Half
Race Start (Lumix)
The Start of the Half! I am in center in red
Passing by at the race start Im in RED.
View at race start from the rock wall. Im still in red.
Race Start 5k (Lumix)
Lining up for the 5k
Minutes before race start
Dawn race walking in to the Finish line at BBBS 5k
During the Half Marathon (Stealth Cam) - Shooting while running all out is quite a challenge!
Just after the race start, heading out toward the unpaved roads
Down the trail we go, uphill very steep for the first 2.5 miles
So steep, nearly all racers are walking this short section because it was so steep
The first aid station is coming up
Then back into the deep woods!
On top of Lowell Mesa the highest point of the run
Just to the right of the tree is a white telescope dome. Why do the trees lean when you are running? Because the camera is a "progressive scan" CCD.
Then the most scenic part of the race, heading directly toward the 12,600 foot San Francisco peaks
Heading toward the peaks
Flat straight away to pick up speed
Back to steep up hills along the trail
"S" shaped path through the dense woods near mile 10
Last mile before the finish runs very steep downhill to the pavement
Finish Line Photos (Lumix/Race photographer)
Dawn heads to the finish line
Here I come really excited I have set a new PR!
Final quarter mile
Heading toward the finish Neil is cheering me on!
Final thrust. I beat my PR by nearly 10 minutes set years ago!
Food table at the finish line
Neal announces race winners
The male overall winner Micheal Smith
Female overall winner Sarah Wagner
After the Race - Photos on the way back home (Lumix)
Bald Eagle on dead tree at Lake Mary is looking straight up
Dry Lower Lake Mary
Mormon Lake flowers by Dawn 1
Mormon Lake flowers by Dawn 2
Mormon Lake flowers by Dawn 3
Mormon Lake flowers by Dawn 4
Mormon Lake flowers by Dawn 5
Mormon Lake flowers by Dawn 6
  Full Medal
  Prog. Medal
The San Francisco Marathon Full and Progressive Events San Francisco, Ca July 30, 2011
Coming back across the Golden Gate Bridge from the north side
The Tech Shirts Click to Enlarge
Marathon Racing Shirt
Progressive Shirt You can see the bridge engraving better here
Shirt Logo on back bottom
Back of Marathon medal showing coaster rubber feet


July in Arizona is a great time to get away from the intense heat and rains and go to a cool climate and do a marathon! This was the first time we did the San Francisco event, I signed up for the Full Marathon and Dawn did the Progressive Marathon, which ends with a 5k at the event to complete the full 26.2 miles from training. The weather was typical, 53 at race start and climbed to a cloudy mid sixties by mid afternoon. A far cry from 112 and a huge dust storm back in Phoenix.

Friday, the Expo Event Day

We arrived Thursday evening after a 2 hour flight after work to the city, and our hotel was chosen to be around 1 mile from the race starting/finish lines. That part of town is not the greatest, the area is filthy, old, and full of drunks and bums. I think they could have chosen a better area to start this race. Friday morning we went over to the Expo, and found a big line at the entrance. It looked like we were going into some old warehouse, but inside was set up fairly well for the packet pickups and expo. We bought a few shirts and jackets with the marathon emblems on them and headed out of the hot building to drive around a bit and see some of the route. It was a cloudy, foggy day and we got some shots of the bridge, the ocean and bay. The Starting area was right on the coast,and just about right under the Oakland Bay Bridge, the other big bridge across the harbor. The best dining was on the north side of the bridge where it was not crowded with the city scape.

Saturday, Sight Seeing the Area

Better weather on Saturday. We drove the beaches, did the redwoods in the Muir forest and got much better shots of the bay. Again, a decent meal was had on the same plaza we found on the north side of the golden gate bridge. We had never seen the redwoods before and the forest trails were totally gorgeous. The trees are really huge and the bark a stunning reddish color that is unique. The gift shop of course had lots of stuff made out of red wood for sale in it. I got some great books on the areas geology and Dawn got some collectables for friends and family.

Sunday - the Races

We got up at 3am Sunday morning, and were out the door by 4. Dawn dropped me off at the race start about one street over from my coral, and I walked over to the coral area, which was still in the dark morning light. Dawn took the car back and got ready for her event, which was several hours later. This worked out really well. It was pretty disorganized compared with other races Ive been to. There was no food or water available, so you had to bring with you everything. You basically showed up, and at the right time, get into your coral for the race wave your assigned to to start. Mine was about 45 minutes after the Elites went off at 5:30, and so it was starting to get light out. The sky was very cloudy and it was dark even after the sun came up! But 55 degrees would be a good starting temp for the marathon. I signed up for wave 7, about in the middle since this was the first time at this new race. The time came, and the start was somewhat unsensational with an announcer on a bull horn basically saying 1,2,3, go! But the crowd was good and we were all having a great time at the start. We headed in the dim twilight along the beach front westward and toward the golden gate bridge entrance. The run was basically flat until then, but the ramp up to the bridge was a wicked side road that really slowed me down. I figured Id make it up on the fairly flat bridge. They closed half the bridge off for us, and one lane was for the north bound runners, and the other for the returning ones. When we passed the toll booths on the south end, I hit a massive crowd of runners - the thousands of us would not fit in one lane and so it was moving along so slow, like an 11 minute pace. So much for a fast run! The returning runners were going much faster, and I think I should have signed up for the 4 hour group instead. OH well. We crossed the mile long bridge in fierce wind and wet cold. Then at the far north side, turned around at the look out and came back. It was still so dark out that my camera was not taking clear pictures yet. On the south side, I was so glad to get out of the wind. After going back past the toll booths, we swooped southwards toward Golden Gate Park. This densely forested park was beautiful! Eucalyptus and sycamore trees, and lush greenery for several miles. Hard to imagine it was put in back in the 1800s on the top of a huge sand dune field. That was by far the best part of the run for me.
The last 6 miles - the toughest part, was filled with difficult hills and unexciting dense city scenery. At this point I knew there was no way to make up for the lost speed on the bridge so I just came in at a good pace, not killing myself to make up time. Still, a nice 4:35 finish for this first run was even better because I ran the entire distance, never hit "The Wall", and came in feeling great at the finish line. It had "warmed up" to low sixties by then and was getting comfortable. A huge dinner plate sized medal was waiting for me too, with three rubber bumps on the back to let you use it as a drink coaster as well. Never got one like that before!

Finally there was plenty of food and drinks at the finish. It was really packed with thousands of full, and second half marathoners. Unfortunately, they ran out of half medals at some point and some were not too happy. Dawn didnt get one either, and will have to have it mailed to her at some point. (They LOST the medals!)

We met up at the finish line at a giant sculpture of a rocket ship, and Both of us did very well in our events. Overall, the race itself was decent and had its highlights as far as scenery goes. The weather was a bit too windy for my likes, but thats better than a blistering hot windless run where your dying at the end. The event could certainly use some improvement in how its run, but we have seen far worse. (Read: First year San Antonio) Our accommodations were not optimal, but its very difficult to choose a hotel without having been there before. We will know better if we do this one again.

Monday, the Return trip

Monday was the return to Arizona, and it was still the same, hot, dust blown and raining! Home sweet home...


The Expo on Friday
Before the Race
(Dawns Lumix)
Waiting in line at the Expo
The sign at the Expo
Shirt pickup
The bib and packet pickup area
Dawn marks her cloth goodie bag with her race number for use at the drop off before the race start
Crowded "Official" San Francisco race store
Finally, the Expo main area where the regular vendors are
Friday/Saturday - Touring the Area (Dawn - Lumix)
Me standing at the giant bow and arrow near the starting line
Dawn in front of the Oakland Bay bridge
Looking down the boardwalk along the bay where we will be starting the race on Sunday
Bronze cast on display of a saber toothed cat fossil - found in this area!
The board displaying the paleo fauna in the area millions of years ago
Fire boat parked at the bridge
Huge tower next to the Bay with stacked houses
Heading toward Pier 39
Pier 39 Bay side Shops
What a thing for a hungry to come upon - a Fruit stand!
Sea Lions on the bay at the shops
Ferry Station
We then drove to the north side of the Golden Gate bridge and got this view from the view point area
The city of San Francisco across on the south side from us
Driving on the Golden Gate Bridge
The bay from an elevated lookout point on Hawk Hill on the north side
Sailboats on the bay
We will be running by this point on the south side when heading towards the bridge
The lookout again on a cloudy Friday
Me standing in front of the "Radiolarian Cherts" on the north side - Jurassic marine sediments
On the beach we saw this hole in the island near its base
Waves crashing on the beach (Rodeo Beach)
Next to the lighthouse overlook - it was closed. :(
But on the walkway to the gate, the bay view was awesome
Poppy on the path
Entering the Redwoods
Giant redwood tree about 20 feet in diameter
Cluster of Redwoods
Standing next to the smaller one on the trail
Interpretive sign for the redwoods forest
Then off to the beach overlook
Ocean view
Coastline from the same overlook
Then down to the beach and sand! Stenson Beach
Uncrowded beach - or trick photography?
Friday/Saturday Touring the Area (Chris - Canon 10D)
At the lookout on the north side of the Bridge.
Looking back from the lookout, zooming in. The lanes we ran in were on the left half side here.
On the south end, as seen from the north lookout, you can see the toll booths we ran through!
Dawn points out the location we are at when we visited the Muir woods.
Giant redwood tree from the base
Redwood leaves are small and feathered.
Dawn in the Redwoods gift store. So many cool things!
My best view of the bridge from the lookout on the north side up on top of a hill.
Sunday - Race Day Before the Race and Marathon Start (Dawns Lumix)
Me waiting for the race to start It was quite chilly!
Dawn at the starting line
Illuminated bridge at night at the starting line
Minutes before the race start Im ready!
Seconds before the starting gun...
My wave 7 start (4:30 group)
There I go in the middle with the orange hat! See the rocket in the background?
At the starting line in the dark glowing light spheres are over the top of us!
Moving finally towards our wave 7 start. Its REALLY dark out from the clouds.
Running along the beach at the begining.
The last horrible hill just before the bridge is up ahead.
Coming up to the toll both
Going northbound on the bridge. Wall to wall runners - going soooo slowly...
Going north. I just cant pass anyone my time is blown...
Nearing the end of the north trek up ahead
Turning around at the lookout on the North end.
And back to crossing the bridge, now going south. The right side is still open to traffic
Clearest shot I got going across.
Coming up to the toll booth again
Going along the shore again
Along the highway - up, up, up...
And up to an arcing turn. See all the runner ahead?
Cutting through the city
Now entering the Golden Gate Recreation area
Sycamores and Eucalyptus
After we leave the woods, they TORTURE us by running us past the finish line for the fist half marathon. Were only half way - 13 miles to go!
Police support as we near the big city
Last park run
The final few miles through the City
Half a mile from the finish. Half the marathoners are walking now. (Not Meeeeee)
Sunday - Race Day The Marathon (Race Photographer - ONLY 320 Sized, non clickable)
Finish line shot 1
Finish line shot 2
Mid race 1
Mid race 2
Mid race 3
Mid race 4
When I came off the bridge
Sunday - Race Day The Progressive Marathon (Dawns Lumix)
Waiting for the 5k to start
Getting closer to the start line
Race walkers
From the pack of race walkers
AT& T park
Park 2
While the race was on, the fire boats shot water on the bay for us!
The finish line before I came in
Race Afternoon - Finish Line Photos (Stealth/Dawns Lumix)
Inside the finish area, lots of runners are wearing the space blankets they provide for the wind protection
The finish coral.
The end of the Progressive Marathon
Finish line shot. In the background you can see the blue balloons that were lit up when we started.
Standing at the starting line in the daylight
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 15k and 5k Trail Events Flagstaff, Az June 18th, 2011
The Tech Shirt Click to Enlarge

This year, the Gaspin in the Aspens trail 15k and 5k events were held on Saturday June 18th at the usual Nordic Center in Flagstaff. With no clouds in sight and temperatures in the 50's the prospects were good for a big turn out (sold out at 350) and fast and exciting times. There were a few more injuries this year but on the bright side, the amount of food available at the start and finish was absolutely awesome. We both did a PR this day and came away with some great running tales to tell. (Note: This was my 54th official race - The number of races I have run now exceeds my age!)

Race Morning
We arrived at around 6:45 after a 2h 15 minute drive from Payson. Already scores of runners had arrived and we proceeded to pick up our bib and technical shirts at the tables behind the Nordic Center. The shirt this year is a big departure from the previous black cotton T's, a stunning white poly technical fabric that was not loaded up with ads. This will be great for the upcoming summer running season. As we neared the 8am start, I warmed up by running in the woods trails around the center. This year, I was wearing for the first time the latest model of Brooks Cascadias which I had not yet trail tested. This year they also had timing chips in the bibs and moved the starting gate, 180 degrees from previous years start at the chalk line or duct tape line. With a hundred extra runners this year for the first time, the event is acquiring cult status for the locals, and we were all looking to a fun but challenging run that day.

The Race
The race started at 8am and the 15k runners went to the right onto the trail, and the 5k went straight. The first 2.5 miles is grueling. The hills are very steep, and you go uphill from 8000 feet at the start in a fast clip, which soon turns to increasingly steep up hills. I never do great at this part, but after the peak, it is either level or down hill. I hit an 8 minute pace in the flats and made up for the slower start. The finish is fast and furious with that last half mile a real killer after beating your legs up on the hills! I came in 7 seconds faster than last year at 1:30:11 despite some serious problems I had with the new shoes. (they have been exchanged). I think Neils finish line cheering really brought me in for this new PR. (He's the race director of the Flagstaff Running Series).

Dawn race walked the 5k to a new PR as well, blowing 2 minutes off her last several years times and coming in at 1:47. The 5k had many obstacles and hills, and considerable "cow pie hazards". Thats the trail - You can come across anything! After the race, we watched the other runners coming in, and the raffle prizes being handed out. We both left this year with a sense of accomplishment and respect for what they are trying to accomplish with the proceeds from this event.

Notes for Next Year:

- More Hill workouts for two months before race
- Dont try new trail shoes that have only been road tested  ; )


Race Day
Before the Race
(Dawns Lumix)
When we arrived the temperature read 6C = 43F
The new start/finish line gate with chip timing
Pre race nourishments (Yum)
Awards and medals for race winners and age group aces. (I wasnt one of them)
Gibbous moon setting at Nordic Center
Runners lining up to pick up bibs and racing shirts
From the distance we see the Nordic Center, activities tent and Starting line
Warming up down the trail
And coming back
Just before race start of both 15k and 5k. 100 more runners than any past year!
Neil holding it together...
The finish line about half an hour before I came in
Race Day - 15k During the Run on the Trail (Cell Phone Camera)
Hundreds of runners heading into the woods
Now THIS is trail running!
This is about as good as trail running ever gets!
Race Day - 15k The Races (Dawns Lumix)
Trail Racing at its finest! Gaspin in the Aspens (Bret Sarnquist web site)
Final blast to the finish!
Race Afternoon - Finish Line Photos (Dawns Lumix)
Raffle prize give away
Finish line shot my seventh PR this year in a row!
Dawn after her fastest Gaspin 5k ever!
One of the runners with ice packs on here ankles after the race. A common sight...
Tim announces the winners after the runners come in
Family, friends and runners wait for the trail runners to come in
Ok, I wont be getting an age group award - THIS YEAR.
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge


The San Diego Dodge Rock and Roll Marathon San Diego, California June 5th, 2011
Marathon Finishers Medal Click to Enlarge
  The Marathon Tech Shirt Click to Enlarge


A year of many changes, with the race getting better each year since I have been running it for four years. I cant imagine more perfect weather for this one, it was around 60 at race start, clear skies and just enough breeze to keep the later parts of the run tolerable. Near race finish was around 70, making good conditions for my 6th PR in a row this year. It was also the fastest marathon I have run yet, and based on the experience with this race, I have made changes in my training again this year, to incrementally move toward the ultimate goal of a sub 4h marathon in the near future.

Friday - Pre Race and Expo and sightseeing

We arrived at the expo when it opened at 10am, to beat the crowds that would pouring in by the tens of thousands later. Not only does every single runner in all the races have to pick up their race packets here, they bring all their friends and the general public. We both picked up some great running/walking gear and saw some very informative exhibits. We then headed over to Coronado Beach to see the ocean, have lunch and do some photography.

Saturday - Lay back and visiting Dawns Sister Sheri

A day to take a rest from all the walking around Friday, and get fully fueled with carbs for the run the following day. In the morning we headed over to a huge Road Runners Sports Store where I actually stood in the concrete prints of one of most famous runners of the past who had a significant influence on my current training - Alberto Salizar. We headed over to Mark and Sheri's new place for an amazing pasta/spinach meal that I will never forget!

Sunday - Race Day

Once again, Dawn dropped me off at the staging area at the huge park next to the immense starting line at 4:30am. It was chilly, with a slight breeze and at this point, only a few hundred runners had arrived yet. I walked around familiarizing myself with the changed layout, and found the UPS bag drop off trucks for my stuff later. I sure it was to preserve the peace with the locals, but there was no music playing yet. The half and full marathons start together, at the same starting lines. I was in coral 15 this year, a bit closer to the front of the line and about a quarter mile from the starting line. Behind me were the corals for the slower runners, and at the rear the hordes of race walkers!

I ate constantly small meals right up to race time. As the sun came up, bus loads of tens of thousands of runners came in and the park was filled with the sounds and sights of a monstrous event, the laughing, training discussions, and loads of runners just sitting still in the grass conserving every last ounce of energy for the race to come. Food in the form of bananas and bagels were everywhere, but still the absence of coffee or warm drinks was a low point. How hard can it be to heat up ten thousand gallons of water anyway? ;) By an hour before race start at 6:15, the loud music began to play in the gigantic spread out PA system. Low key music at first, and then it became more up beat as the race neared. As 6:00 approached, we all head over to our corals and it was once again a huge mad house of a seething mob of atheletes all trying to get to their assigned places all at the same time! Ten minutes before the race start, the rock and roll began to really pick up and you could feel the rush of adrenalin all around. Every ones heart was pounding and the excitement of what was about to begin was overpowering.

When the elites took off at 6:15 the air thundered with music from Queen and our energy exploded. Ten minutes later I was over the line and on my journey of 26.2 miles in the San Diego morning breezes and heading toward down town. The run loops through many parts of the city, along the beaches and through some more rural housing subdivisions. The "big hill" at mile 10 is easy this early in the race, but will take its toll later. We parted from the Half Marathoners earlier this year at mile 4, and the group thinned down to nearly 1/10 its original size. The Half is a tremendously more popular event for sure. But now with the crowds thinned, we could concentrate on our race paces and goals as we zipped by the ships, sail boats and city scapes. I tried several different paces this year, starting slow, leveling out at a moderately fast pace and maintaining this as long as I could. I made it through Fiesta Island in good shape this time, and the last few miles I slowed very very gradually to a slower speed finish but in record time for me. I spent a lot of time during this race testing my paces for the upcoming Denver and PF chang races to see what felt like my "run forever pace" at various distances along the course. This will be a great aid to planning my training for the next half a year.

The finish line was typical, but without the mountains of bananas I saw last year lined up on half a dozen tables. Instead, they had other fruit offerings and many new food bars to try out. I met with Dawn, Mark and Sheri at the "S" meeting area, and we headed off to a one mile walk (slowly!) back to our motel. After cleaning up, we headed out to lunch where I ate anything other than - pasta! Then we went to the Light house.

Monday - The flight home

Its always fun to see the runners at the airport heading back home after the race. Probably half the plane heading back to Phoenix was runners, and while most looked great, many were either moving very slowly or limping still. We got back in phoenix around lunch time and headed back home later in the afternoon before the sun set.

Notes for Next Year:

- Finishing with a 9:30 pace would be an ideal goal
- Eat Gels first, then ultra fuel second.
- Conserve energy more for after Fiesta Island


At the Packet Pickup Friday Morning
Going into the Expo
Picking up Race Bibs and Shwagg bag
Exhibits at the Expo
Running Exhibits
Down Town San Diego Where we will be running on Sunday!
Sightseeing San Diego Friday afternoon
At Coronado Beach tidal pools area
Small Crab on the rocks
Sea Anenome
Everywhere down town you can see these signs
Race Day - Marathon During the Race (Stealth Cam) Note - I dont slow down when taking most of these shots, they are taken while running marathon race pace...
Approaching sun rise
Along the UPS truck path
My coral is 16 for a projected 4:15 finish time.
You can see the starting line dead ahead moments before the gun goes off.
Heading toward the big city
Science center loop
Through the park heading to SD
The city is now dead ahead!
Aid station in the city thousands of water cups everywhere
On to the freeway
The big arches at the Balboa park
Freeway running downhill full speed!
Keeping a good pace along the freeway
Runners on overpass as we cross paths
Heading out of the city
Along the bay
Around mile 17
Rural area
Toward Mission Bay
Mile 22
Heading toward Fiesta Island This is where the hardest part of the run begins.
Desolate Fiesta Island. Long. Hot. Uphill.
Feel my pain
After the finish line - in the secure finish area.
All 4:16 and faster marathoners and 2:08 half marathoners are here
So ends another great year in San Diego!
Race Day - Marathon During the Race (Dawns Lumix)
At mile 7, First comet the Wheel Chair racers
Next the Elites at the front of the pack.
And here I come about 15 minutes later I have the orange hat in center!
Heading toward down town
On Fiesta island - you can see me
Closer I have orange hat at mile 23
Here I come into the finish!
Determined to PR...
Race Afternoon - Finish Line Photos
At the "S" meeting pole, after my fastest marathon so far!
To Lighthouse Point with Mark and Sheri on Sunday
Looking into the harbor from the light house hill
Big Sailing ship
Visitor Center sign
The old lighthouse is now a museum
The spiral staircase in the lighthouse From bottom to top: Alyssa, Mark, Sheri, Me
Pelicans on the shore below the lighthouse
Sheri and Mark
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 Prescott Whiskey Row Marathon, Half & 10k Prescott, Arizona May 14th, 2011
10k & Marathon Finishers Medals Click to Enlarge
  The Marathon Tech Shirt in running pose Click to Enlarge
  The 10K T Shirt (The arms are running) Click to Enlarge


A truly awesome year for this amazing event, this was the 33rd time for the long running Whiskey Row, with well over 1500 participants in the Full Marathon, Half Marathon, 10k and 2 mile fun run. The weather was a bit warm, but with the early 5am start - it was about as good as you can get with starting temps around 50F and totally clear blue mountain skies. We both did very well time wise this year, I slashed 10 minutes off my marathon time, and Dawn did a very respectable 10k race walk.

Pre Race and "Expo"

Friday we took off work and drove out to Prescott in the morning to pick up our race packets and do some nature photography in the area the day before the race. We drove out to Watkins Lake to shoot the granite dells and islands in the lake, along with the wildlife in the bird sanctuary area at one end of the lake. Water levels were up and we had plenty of great shots under crystal blue skies. The bird area was a plus, we photographed Hawks, Red winged black birds and even a Bald Eagle soared over head briefly for few quick shots. After lunch when it was too hot to be baking in the 80 degree sun, we headed over to the YMCA and picked up our race packets. The "Expo" was quite meager - and consisted of a few booths and tables. We did however get to visit one table for the upcoming Groom Creek Half event which Ive signed up for in September. This is another trail run like this one, with more extreme altitude changes in the deep woods.

An early dinner, and we went back to the motel in Prescott to get our stuff ready for the next morning. A quick check on the weather report showed it was going to be a fabulous day indeed!

Race Day

Once again I went for the 5am early start to both run with a thinner crowd and beat the heat which would hit around the end of the race, at the worst time. We got up at 3:30 and left the room at 4:30 to drive over to the race starting line in town. Not much time to really warm up, the 5am early start group gathered at the starting line, and there were lots of them! about a third of all marathoners take the early start for many reasons and we had over 40 marathoners ready to go at 5am. Dawn would be stating her 10k at 7:30am, two hours later but would finish shortly before I come in - perfect timing.

The cool morning felt chilly in only shorts and a short sleeve running shirt, but I knew once I got going and the sun came up it would all change. The race started with a loud air horn and down the street in the morning twilight we went! It was still too dark for taking quick photos - in fact the first few are really blurry. But plenty of light to run by, about a half hour before sun up. After a few up hill slopes in town, we hit Copper Basin road in a few miles and the really hard up hill run began. I would be climbing two thousand feet or so to the 10 mile point, then down a thousand feet to the turn around at 13.1 miles. Then back up again to the peak - and down in a mad dash to the bottom in Prescott to the finish line near where we started at the Prescott Courthouse.

The long dirt road keeps getting steeper and more rugged as you climb. By the time your near the peak at mile 10 or so the huge tall Ponderosa pines are all around you and the road is full of potholes and washboard. Then it grades to a four wheel drive path on a very harrowing cliff face run that gives you views unlike anything else. You feel like your flying, looking down thousands of feet on your left to the low valleys below. You would be in the clouds on a rainy day. My goal this year was to make it to the turn around with better than last years 11 minute per mile pace. I hit the turn around in about 2:10 and at a 10:20 pace. That would leave me more time to get to the bottom faster!

The hill back up to the peak is very difficult and was slow going! but once we arrived, the aid station at the top had food and drinks at the ready. I flew past and started the wild 2000 foot - 10 mile run down hill as fast as my legs could carry me. Once you get to the 6.5 mile half marathoners turn around, you hit the hordes of halfers. The next hour you spend passing as many as you can in your flight down the hill to the paved parts in town. Then hordes more! The half marathoners are joined by the 10k bunch and it gets crazy in the last miles. The final mile into town is really tough, its a long up hill final thrust to the finish line with way too many cars driving about giving the police a tough job. Finally the finish line appears and with every ounce of energy I had left I came in with a new PR, my 5th one now this year in a row at 4:36.

Dawn was there waiting taking shots of me coming in, and we both met up at the finish line (she looked way too fresh and energetic compared to me).

Dawn had done well too, coming in at 1: 34 and already had her stunning copper colored star around her neck. This years finishers medals for the marathon were insanely huge, a giant star with some rather cryptic letters engraved on them. I got 4th place in my age division, one away from a 3rd place winning medal! Maybe next year...

Notes for Next Year:

- Vomeros worked great, no need for trail shoes
- No need for camel pack, belt worked fine
- More hill workouts 3 months before race
- Early start to beat heat.  If cold - normal start.


At the Packet Pickup Friday afternoon
Picking up my race bag (Me in blue)
Dawn in line to pick up her bib for the 10k
See all the shirts hanging up? Each one is for all the years the race has been run and each one is a different design for that year.
Out taking Nature Photos Friday afternoon in Prescott (Dawn - Lumix)
Indian Paint Brush
Granite Mountain, the largest mountain in Prescott
At Watkins Lake photographing the scene
Kayakers on the lake
Lake view 1
Bay View 1
Lake in the granite boulders
Sign at the lake We took this trail to shoot the birds
Bee on New Mexico Thistle
Sego lily family
Along the trail
Red Winged Black bird
American Coot
Red winged black bird
Along the trail
Cliff Rose
Out taking Nature Photos Friday afternoon in Prescott (Chris - Canon 10D)
Watkins lake with the water up in the Granite Dells 18mm
Tree/Rock Island 300mm
Cormorants on rock in lake 300mm
Bald Eagle Flying over! 300mm
Red Winged Black Bird - Male 300mm
Red Winged Black Bird - Female 300mm
Race Morning - At The Starting Line of the Full
The Courthouse at night
Down town Prescott at night
Getting ready for the race minutes before
At the starting line, near 5am I am in the middle in yellow
First light in town
Race Morning - At The Starting Line of the 10k/Half
The start of the Half Marathon was next (we did not do this one)
Waiting for the start of the 10k
Prescott !
The start of the 10k is close
10k start
Waiting for the first Half and Full marathoners to come in after the finish of the 10k
Race Day - Marathon During the Race (Stealth Cam)
Heading out of town toward Copper Basin road - still very dark out!
Last paved part in housing development
Along Copper Basin road in the Ponderosa Pines at the 6.5 mile turn around for the Half Marathoners Sun is just barely up!
Self portrait in a sun beam along Copper Basin road - steep up hill all the way
Aspens starting near 7000 feet
Another self portrait as the sun comes up slowly. Running up, Up, UP!
I can just see the 7000 foot peak aid station up ahead...
Yes - it is really the highest point in the run!
Looking down into the valley from 7000 feet elevation at the highest point in the Whiskey Row Marathon
Now heading down in the shadows of the mountain to the drop 1000 feet to the turn around
Rough road ahead
Back in to he sun light - very steep now
Pine forests all around Thumb Butte in the distance
Final turns before the end
LAST aid station just at the turn around
And FINALLY the 13.1 mile turn around is in sight!
Now heading back up wards to the 7000 foot peak
Terrible up hill to the peak
But the view is unbelievable!
Coming to the 7000 foot aid station again
Looking back behind me at the other runners - now mostly halfathoners
Back in toward town, what a sight to see at mile 23...
Screaming down hill to town as fast as your dead tired legs will carry you! about mile 24...
Mile 25 - more steep down hill
Mile 26 - almost near the end. The finish Line is just up ahead...
Race Day - Marathon During the Race (zazoosh photography samples)
OH No, not that photographer again...
Smile and look happy
Even though I cant feel my legs anymore!
Coming in to the finish
Finish line shot - A new PR!
Race Day - 10k During the Race (zazoosh photography samples)
A determined road racer concentrating
Heading in to the finish!
Oh no - dont look down at your watch - the photographer will get you!
Finish line triumph!
Race Afternoon - Finish Line Photos
Me coming in for the last tenth mile of the Marathon
A new PR! 4:36 - ten minutes off last year.
Dawn after her fast 10k
The huge party after the runners start to come in
Relaxing after the marathon
Last look at the festivities at the finish line
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge

Above: You can see the run goes up hill rather steeply in some spots for the first 2.5 miles. You would then think that the race would be an easy down hill run from there. But no, its a roller coaster of rolling hills until you run just short of Tuzigoot National Monument hill. Its relatively flat to the finish from there.

The Brian Mickelson Half Marathon & 10k Riverfront Park in Cottonwood, Az April 16th, 2011
Half Marathon 2nd Place Medal Click to Enlarge
  The Event T Shirt Click to Enlarge
The weather was nearly perfect this year for the Cottonwood race. This time of year, it is always possible it could be hot at 3500 feet elevation, however we had starting temperatures in the upper 30's and by the end of the race it was in the low 70's. Hundreds of runners showed up this year for all events, 85 for the half and 184 for the 10k events. Dawn came in at 1:31:58 on her 10k race walk, and I shaved off 4 minutes off my Half time from last year at 1:49, making this my fourth PR in a row for this year!

This might be the perfect combination of road racing, trail racing, and some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Arizona. The half started at 7:30 again this year, and we zipped through toward town and up a long up hill to the top of the hill going into Cottonwood. A charming western style town, the very fast downhill streak through town was heightened by scores of fans and spectators on this early Saturday morning.

About 40% of this run is off road, and we found ourselves several times leaving the pavement and onto some hard core trail racing. Steep hills, loose gravel and big rocks along with deep dips into creek crossings and along flood washes. Then back to the roads for more fast paced action. Then off road again for more trail punishment! This continues to the last fast paced road parts where we run thorough Dead Horse State Park - and directly into the 10k group in the same lane - make some out and back loops and off to the finish line back where we started. A fast paced very challenging road/trail run the will satisfy any runners desire to do something REALLY different!

This is the first year I ran with my Cascadia 4 trail shoes to deal with the rough off road portion. This worked out well, I was still able to maintain a fast pace with these very light shoes and came in averaging an 8:20 pace overall, not bad considering how wicked the trail part was in sections. So I beat last years 3rd place for my age division - came in 2nd out of 10 runners in the 50 - 54 age group. Dawn did very well in her race, with 50 racers coming in behind her!

Overall, a fantastic run, especially since I did not get the flu again this year the day after the race. I think Im past that "tradition" now.
After the race, we headed over to the Sizzler steak house and had a celebration meal for our accomplishments for that morning. Then off back to Payson over the Rim to enjoy the rest of the weekend!


At the Packet Pickup
Packet pick up tables before the races
First you get your bib, then t shirt
Early morning, the runners are gathering!
Race Morning - At The Starting Line of the Half (Panasonic Lumix)
Singing of the Star Spangled Banner before the start of the race
Dane Mickelson says a few moving words before the run about his father which the race is named for
Half marathoners waiting for the start
Me in center with yellow hat. I think Im in a trance at this point...
Lead bicycles ready
Police escort ready
Race Morning - At The Starting Line of the 10k (Panasonic Lumix)
The huge turn out for the very popular 10k race
Everyone is getting ready for the big event!
Dawn does a self portrait as she carries up the rear with the race walkers
Race Day - Half Marathon During the Race (Stealth Cam)
The sun coming up at the starting line
Looking back at all the Half runners
The race is on! We start by heading toward town up a steep hill
Running thorough Cottonwood
Then out onto the main road with tons of steep hills
Next we turn right on to the road to the Monument - it then gets steep down hill - a "quad buster" for sure
Crossing the bridge over the river
Heading out toward the distant cliffs in the Verde Formation
Through the low hills, and doubling back, faster runners on right
Now Im turned around an can see the slower runners on my right
On the road at Mile 5
Heading just short of Tuzigoot Indian ruin, then we turned around
Now heading back toward the first trail head
Long down hill to speed up the times a bit !
And now the rugged trail portion
What did I tell you? I did my best to put in an 8 minute pace here
Steep down hills into the woods
Racing through the woods as FAST AS YOU CAN RUN !
Then the really bad hill, with big slippery rocks. Oh man, there goes my 8 minute pace!
A short road jaunt to this trail head
Ripping through the meadows full bore
Onto a dirt road and a turn around at a farm
Then around the lake - a totally awesome view !
While I was running here an Osprey slammed into the water and grabbed a huge fish!
The stunning scenery is not to be easily forgotten
Oops - were not alone on this trail...
Back on to the road and into Dead Horse State Park
The final quarter mile to the finish line too bad they had the sign backwards and it said "start" when you crossed it...
And a new PR this year 1:49
Race Day - The 10K (Lumix/Action Sports Images)
The runners of the 10k rounding the first curve
Out on the main stretch toward town
Fire truck passes
Race walking on the right, runners on the return trip on the left
Blue Huron at the lake
Cotton wood trees along the road
The stunning white cliffs of the Verde Formation
Horse corals
Old Ranch House?
Race Afternoon - Finish Line Photos
Me at the Finish line (the sign is still backwards)
Dawn after her fast finish
The posted results so far were still incomplete
The live band at the finish line
Taking it easy after the race
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge
Above:  This roller coaster
ride for a run spans over 200
feet peak to peak, yet the 
constant up and down is certainly
not conducive to a flat out fast
The Run for Ryans House Half Marathon/10k March 5th, 2011
Marathon finisher Medal Click to Enlarge
  The Event T Shirt Click to Enlarge
This is my 50th Race, and the weather was nearly perfect. We left the house at 4:20AM and arrived an hour before the start of the Half Marathon event at 7:00. It was cloudy, but no rain was in sight and a cool but perfect 48 degrees. You can easily park very near the starting line on this one, which takes place at DC Ranch in Scottsdale - a ritzy neighborhood with premier small stores and shops. This year the Half was going to be a brand new route, with less altitude change all at once and making all sorts of crazy turns everywhere on back streets, in parks and through the Market Place. Dawn did the 10k this year and race walked it in 1:30 - her fastest 10k ever! I gave the Half a good hard effort and came in at 1:50.

Before the Races

When we arrived it was still dark, and we first took a walk down the street between shops and found the Half start had been moved down to the other end of the street, and the new 10k event was to start at the same location. But I would be coming in under this bridge at the end, which was visible for about half a mile away so you could gauge your efforts in the final minutes. After I got the rest of my race gear on, I did some fast repeats in the side street to prepare to run fast. The Half started at 7, and the 10k at 7:25. There was nearly 1800 runners/walkers in all the events!

The Half Marathon

460 Half Marathoners lined up just as the cloud dimmed sun came up in the east. The race started with an air horn, and we were off on a run which I had never seen before and had no idea on how hard or easy it was going to be! I held my self back in the initial rush off the starting line, and settled into an 8 min/mile pace. The down hills in the beginning fool you into wanting to run much faster. The route made a big double loop, We headed due south on Pima road which was flat or mostly gradual down hill. Cutting across Legacy Blvd eastward to Thomson Peak Parkway, headed south to Bell road where the second big loop on McDowell Mountain ranch road then north. Thats where things started getting really crazy with wild turns, tons of up hills and runs along concrete sidewalks in parks and along ravines - often with pedestrians coming right at you! Oh well, where would the challenge be otherwise? You certainly lose five or ten minutes off your time from this Im sure. While there were some steep down hills to deal with, most of the run it seemed was very long miles of up hills. Some were so steep that my pace slowed by a minute per mile just to plod to the top. With this many up hills I knew by the half way point it wasn't going to be a record PR setting half, but a challenge. Knowing now what the route does, I might have gone faster on the down hills to compensate. A thought for next time!

The run consisted of gorgeous desert scenery running through huge fields of cactuses, and desert plants, expensive homes and well kept stores. This was a nice mix of nature and city and there was never a dull moment. Combine this with the all to plentiful side walk runs in small parks and along side roads made for a wild ride. Coming in to the finish this year was a mess as usual, and add to that the hordes of 10k and 1k fun runners at the same time and well, you get the idea of the pandemonium! I finished fast until I got to this mass, but probably didnt lose more than a minute at the end.

The 10k Event

This event shared the north loop of the Half Marathon route and ended under the bridge as well. Since it started an hour later, I passed Dawn in the last mile, cheered here on and then left to go on to finish my run. I was able to wait at the finish line and get some shots of her coming in at the end.

After the Races

The Half Marathon medal is house shaped, and quite unique. We both got a nice event shirt with purple and teal designs on them. The race finishing area was like a huge party, every one crammed into a small market square. They had large computer monitors scrolling the race results in the middle updated as runners were coming in. I did better than half of the runners my age group and next year - if I can do it a few minutes faster, would be in the top 5 or so. I think this is possible, since I have let up on my speed work since PF Chang and have been concentrating on my marathon training. We both came away from this one with some great numbers and look forward to the races next year!

Notes for Next Year:

- Throw in a few more track workouts in the weeks before the race at 8 min/mi

- Some fast up hill work outs would help too.


At the Packet Pickup
The small expo in a parking lot near the race starting line on Friday
Some running clothing, drinks and information on the Ryans House Project
Here is the actual packet bib pick up booth.
Race Morning - At The Starting Line of the 10k (Panasonic Lumix)
The sun is not yet lighting the scene, but perfect cool temps will make for a great race day!
Waiting in line for the 10k race to start
Race Morning - At The Starting Line of the Half Marathon (Dawns Panasonic Lumix)
The scene as it just barely gets light out along DC Ranch strip
Last minute registration for the 10k and 1k
Runners moving around in the cool morning temps
Here Dawn got a shot of me warming up. I am in the center with an orange hat I do sprint intervals to get ready for a fast paced start.
Half marathon starting line near race start
Minutes before race start, you can see me (circled in red) all dressed in yellow - amonst my "fastest" colors...
The police escort at the start line
Seconds before race start. You can see me in yellow exactly under the red tent in the middle
Race Day - The 10K (Lumix/Action Sports Images)
The race map posted at the event
Dawn race walking to a new all time PR!
Nature trail through park on the 10k route during the race
Coming in to the finish line - a new ALL TIME PR of 1:30 - Wow!
Race Day - Half Marathon During the Race (Action Sports - NON CLICKABLE)
Starting the Run
Along the race route. Hills, hills, hills!
See the saguaro cactus just behind me?
Pushing the pace
Desert scenery mid run, now Im in mid foot striking mode.
At the finish line - a new PR on a new route! 1:50 time.
Race Afternoon - Full Marathon Finish Line Photos
Me relaxing after this hard fast paced run
Dawn is all smiles after her fast accomplishment
Finishers and family gather after they come in to the center square of the market place
Runners trying to see thier official times on the computer screens set up at the finish
One last look at the finish line
More runners coming in under the bridge
The parting shot
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/10k February 20th, 2011
10k finisher Medal Click to Enlarge Marathon finisher Medal Click to Enlarge
  The Event T Shirt Click to Enlarge

Before the Race

Extreme weather would nicely sum up this years event. In the week before, weather forecasters were predicting a huge winter storm would be hitting Arizona for both Saturday and Sunday - just in time for the race. Would all our carefully planned arrangements and all the months of training be totally blown by this set back, or would we be lucky again this year and dodge another weather bullet?

I picked up our race packets this year again at the Road Runner Sports store in Tempe after work Friday. This works out great, since we don't have to blow half a day Saturday going down to the expo. This year I was again doing the marathon, and Dawn would be race walking the 10k event. The great thing about this year is for all events including the 10k and 8k trail run everyone would be getting a finishers medal at the finish line.

Saturday, it rained on and off all day long, with periods of hail in Payson. That afternoon, we headed down to Gilbert to the Hotel to be much closer to the race start in the early morning. It poured all night long. But by 3am, the rain stopped and it started to dry out some. When we left the hotel at 4:10am to go to the drop off for the marathon busses, it was still not raining but very humid. After dropping me off, Dawn headed over to the parking area near the race start for her 10k event. There, we found out that the 8K trail run was too muddy and they would combine it with the 10k on the road. This made for tons of runners at the starting line!

Race Day

When I arrived at the starting line, the camp fires were all going and it was damp from the nights rain, but the sky was starting to clear! As hundreds of marathoners came in by the bus load, our spirits were lifted as the early morning light revealed no rain in sight. I sat by my campfire on a blanket with other runners and we talked about everything from training to food. It was fantastic. A 68 year old next to me was doing his 300th marathon. Wow. About ten minutes before race start, the whole bunch of us headed toward the staring area, along a dirt road at the Peralta trail head. It was 48 degrees and slightly windy. Good so far! The race started with a gunshot in the darkness, and we headed into the cloudy sunrise down the road surrounded by stunning desert plants and cacti. The air was filled with the scent of wet succulents and desert grasses.

After 7 miles we hit the main paved road and headed off to the main part of the run. We passed through housing subdivisions, down main streets in town and twice along the freeway with passing cars cheering us on. I held a very steady pace of 9:30 per mile all the way at this point, even with the long challenging hills and dips. The last 5 miles of this run is grueling. It is all long up hills with few level spots or downs. This is where your time for the run is really determined, how much you have to slow down to slog up the tough slopes. I was able to hold on to better than 10 mins/mile, but the last mile was extremely tough going with the steepest hills. I came in to the finish line with a 9:48 pace, faster than any other previous marathon. My 11th marathon time was 4:18 - My fastest one yet despite the challenging route. I never hit "the wall" or walked even once. A fantastic race for sure. Dawn came in at one of her fastest 10k's ever, in 1:33.

At the Finish Line

After I came in, Dawn met up with me, having just photographing me coming over the finish line. we started to head over to the food area, and a huge storm was racing in directly at us. within five minutes, the storm hit with gigantic winds, and a 20 degree temperature drop. The rain started pounding. We ran for the car and made it in before the main storm hit! Oh those poor marathoners still out on the course! That would have been me last year since I came in 30 minutes this year. We drove off in the rain and wind, and headed over to Chilies in Mesa for lunch. We sat in the restaurant watching out the window at the wind and rain, feeling very lucky that day!

Racing Notes:

- did 12 mile tempo runs 9 - 10min pace for 10 miles

- Max long run 20 miles

- 3 gels for first half, Ultra Fuel for 2nd half

- Bagel, 1 banana for breakfast


At the Packet Pickup

Packet pick up at the Roadrunner sports store in Tempe
Race Morning - At The Starting Line of the 8K/10k (Panasonic Lumix)
The starting line and the few 7min/mi runners line up
8min/mi group - this is where I would have started if I ran this 10k...
9 min/mi group - the slower runners always seem to be happier and have more fun...
11 min/mi group
Dawn started in the rear of the pack with the race walkers - obviously the most fun group of all ;)
Superstition mountains at race start
Would it rain on us?
Race Morning - At The Starting Line of the Marathon (Aiptek and Blackberry Phone & Action Sports)
One of the most memorable scenes of this event is sitting in front of the campfires before the race.
Attempted shot of the numerous campfires at the starting line.
Shot by Action Sports of campfires and Superstition mountains in background.
The Starting line in near total darkness!
Race Day - The 10K (Lumix/Action Sports Images)
And the Race is on! Heading up steep hill
Heading toward the mountain cloaked in rain clouds
Dawn holding her pace
Pushing the envelope!
Race walking with Lora
Passing though the "Wall" about mile 3.
And a fast finish at 1:33 one of Dawns fastest 10k's ever.
Race Day - Full Marathon (Aiptek, Action Sports)
Giant puddle to run around on Peralta trail road (very low light still)
Heading down Peralta road through the desert
Marathoners in one huge line running toward the Superstitions (Action Sports)
Passing the photographer at mile 5
Holding a good pace is EXCITING!
Seven miles of desert and now we near the paved road
Heading onto the highway
Just exited the highway
Plugging along at a 9:30 pace - the fastest I have ever held in a Marathon.
The second turn onto the highway again
Heading up the first of many up hills - Aid station ahead!
Into a housing subdivision
The "Wall" at mile 22. It is chasing me but NEVER caught me!
The very long up hill trek in the last 6 miles - Mile 21 marker ahead...
Last terrible long hill before the final turn to the rodeo grounds and finish line around mile 25
Coming in to that finish (in blue)
Final finish line burst of speed
The clock reads 9 seconds higher than my actual chip time since I was not at the very front at race gunshot.
The final chip time was 4:18:54 - my fastest marathon I have ever run in 11 marathons!
Finish line shot - as the wind and rain was approaching rapidly...
We made it with not a drop of rain on us, once again we were very lucky and had a totally awesome race experience. Sign me up for next year!
Race Afternoon - Full Marathon Finish Line Photos
The "actual" Lost Dutchman?
Feeding frenzy at the finish area - as the huge storm was rolling in
When we got home, we had over 5 inches of snow only hours after the race.
5 inches of snow in Payson same day!
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 8:00 pace for most of the run.
The PF Chang Arizona Rock and Roll Half Marathon January 16th, 2011
  The Half Marathon finisher Medal Click to Enlarge
  The Event T Shirt Click to Enlarge

The weather this year for this longtime event was superb. At race start temperatures in the high 40s and a hazy cloud filled sky. Over 28,000 runners participated in both the half and full marathons, and about 90% of them did the half. This year again I did the the Half, while Dawn worked the Full Marathon water/aid station along Hayden road next to the General Dynamics plant where she works along with a dozen co-workers and friends. Our good running friend David Garcia did the full again this year and did very well also. For me, this was the fastest race I have ever run ever - at any distance. I held an 8.0 minute mile for whole run and came in at 1h 45m - a few minutes faster than my "Boston pace". We all had a fabulous time and the temperatures warmed to over 74 degrees after the race, some 5 degrees above normal for this time of year.

Friday - the Expo

We left at lunchtime early from work this day and headed over to the convention center in down town Phoenix to attend the running expo and packet pickup. Again, Brooks was the primary sponsor, and we got some Brooks apparel. I got a stunning white running shirt with blazing orange highlights and an matching totally orange hat. I feel so much faster in bright colors, Im not sure why. :)

My race bib was in the 22 thousands since I was qualified for the second coral again for my projected race finish time. Only one other coral proceeds me before the Elites line up. But I planned to really earn that placement this year.

Sunday - Race Day

We tried something a bit different this year, we parked at the ASU stadium next to the finish line at 4:30 am, and I got on the bus to the starting line park, and Dawn walked about 3 miles north to the aid station. After the race I would go back to the vehicle and drive up to the aid station and pick her up. This worked great. When I arrived at the park between Jefferson and Washington streets, I first headed over to the marathon starting line on Washington and checked it out. That was where the action was this early, the Full started an hour earlier at 7:40, so runners were already gathering around and the music was blaring. Next I headed over to Jefferson and found the Half Marathon starting corals. It was lonely - no one was there yet and I could look all the way up the street from the last coral to the starting line way up half a mile ahead. The long walk to the coral I was to start in - #2 took me right up to the starting line,and I looked back along that long road where soon tens of thousands would be packed in.

I then worked my way back to the food tents and loaded up on on more carbs, and then over to the giant anchor (USS Arizona) planter next to the marathon starting corals. There I found David, same spot as last year. He again was going to do the full marathon while I was doing the half. We talked up to about 15 minutes before the full started, and I left him to his challenge ahead. Then waited for the sun to come up, and soon it was time for me too to head over to the UPS trucks, dump my jacket and head over to coral 2. This was well over a quarter mile from the UPS trucks. A disadvantage of being fast I guess! I arrived at the starting line around 8:15 and did fast sprinting repeats in the adjacent parking lot. then it was time. There were 20,000 runners this year doing the half, and I was up front with the fastest runners. The air horn went off at 8:30 and the elites were off. The a minute later It was coral 1, then another minute and we were off!

My goal this year was
very aggressive. I wanted to hold the fastest pace I had ever tried in any race before from start to finish, 8.0 minutes per mile. We started off and was with a REALLY FAST group of mostly 25 - 35 year olds. We blasted off the start and for the first mile at about a 7:45 pace we settled into our 8 min per mile pace and held that hard pace for the next 12 miles of long stretches, curving turns and finally near the end lots of long up hill stretches that made that pace nearly impossible for me. But after mile 10 the route was either level or down hill and I made up easily for the slower 8:30 pace I held on a few of the worst hills. When I finally came over the finish line my GPS read an 8:01 pace and 1:45. My final official chip time was 1:45:28 - the fastest paced race at any distance I had ever done. When that huge gorgeous finishers medal was put around my neck, I was ecstatic - I had beaten last years time by 4 minutes and every one of the 15 runners from Payson that had come down to run the half by the same amount. I placed within the top 10 percent in my age group, better than last years 25%. The tempo runs are paying off finally!

As soon as I stopped running, my legs started to seize up and I had to keep moving. I made my way back over to the parking lot across the street and actually found the truck fairly quickly. A long loop on the freeway to avoid the closed roads and soon I parked next to the aid station Dawn was working at. She was handing out drinks at that point along the full marathon route. We watched the 4:30 sign go by and waited for David. Before long, he came by too and we waved him onward. He was doing very well this year too. The perfect weather was really making a big difference. After that, we left and headed off to Lunch. What a fantastic race! Next year I will have to decided if I will be running the full or half again. Such a tough choice!

Next Year:

Based on my performance in the half, I feel compelled to try a speed run on the Full Marathon next year. Could be my fastest Full ever???


Race Morning - Before the Race
Marathon Aid Station

Drop off time. Here is a shot of me as I headed off to the bus to the starting line.
First light at the Aid station along the Full Marathon route. Gathering for final instructions.
The Sunrise was a typical spectacular Arizona style.
Instruction before the race
More Instructions
The final Instructions
The long view down Hayden road - waiting for the first super fast Elite marathoners!
The General Dynamics Aid Station
Race Morning - At The Starting Line of the Half Marathon (Blackberry Camera Phone)
The view at first light from my coral 2 looking toward the staring line.
Back behind me - half a mile of more corals for slower runners!
Coral 2. Everyone here who is running are amongst the fastest runners in the race.
Coral 2. We all expect to do an 8 min/mi pace - or faster.
Race Day - Back at the Aid Station Along the Marathon route at Race Start (Lumix)
Getting the cups ready with water.
And here comes the First Marathoner - Josh Cox
Josh Cox - who won the marathon this is near mile 22.
The next Kenyan runner
(No photos DURING this fast run, it was all or nothing for speed!) Race Afternoon - Half Marathon Finishing Line (Blackberry Camera Phone)
Finish Line photo - After my fastest race ever.
In the finishing area - everyone here is an 8, or sub 8 Half Marathoner.
The barrels of drinks
My favorite color shot - Zillions of bananas!
Leaving the finishing area
The UPS trucks where we pick up our pre race clothing.
The finishing area - All half marathoners so far.
Race Afternoon - Full Marathon Aid Station During the Race (Blackberry Camera Phone)
I then drove to the aid station where Dawn was working and here is the rows of tables of drinks
Dawn hands out drinks for the thirsty marathoners!
2010 Runs Page HERE Includes the following: The Fiesta Bowl Half Marathon December 5th, 2010 The San Antonio Marathon Full and Half Events November 14th, 2010 The Flagstaff Half Marathon Flagstaff, Arizona September 25, 2010 The BBBS Half Marathon Flagstaff, Arizona August 14th, 2010 Gaspin in the Aspens 6/19/10 The San Diego Marathon June 6th, 2010 The Whiskey Row Full Marathon Marathon, Half, 10k, 2mi May 1st, 2010 Brian Mickelsen Half Marathon Half Marathon & 10k April 17th, 2010 Run for Ryans House Half Marathon & 5k March 6th, 2010 The Lost Dutchman Full Marathon - February 14th, 2010 The Sedona Half Marathon - February 6th, 2010 PF Chang Rock and Roll Half Marathon - Jan 17, 2010

2009 Runs Page HERE

Includes the following:

The Fiesta Bowl Half Marathon
Scottsdale, Arizona - December 6th,  2009

San Antonio Marathon
San Antonio, Texas
November 15,  2009

Rim to Rim  Run
Across the Grand Canyon, Arizona
October 2, 2009

The Flagstaff Half Marathon
Flagstaff Nordic Center
September 26th,  2009

The BBBS Half Marathon
Flagstaff, Arizona
August 8th, 2009

The Gold Coast Marathon
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
July 5th, 2009
Gaspin in the Aspens
Flagstaff Nordic Center, Arizona
June 20, 2009

Circle the Peak
Payson, Arizona
June 6, 2009
Trail Run/Walk by Dawn

The San Diego
San Diego, California
May 31st, 2009

Rim to Rim Run
Across the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
May 15nd, 2009

The Whiskey Row
Half Marathon
Prescott, Arizona
May 2nd, 2009

The Brian Mickelson
Half Marathon
Riverfront Park in Cottonwood, Az
April 18th, 2009

The St. Patties Day
8k and 1 mile fun Run
At Kiwanis Park, Tempe
March 15th, 2009

The Lost Dutchman Marathon
Apache Junction, Az
February 15th, 2009

The Sedona
Half Marathon
February 7th, 2009

2008 Runs Page HERE

Includes the following:

The San Antonio Marathon
San Antonio, Texas
November 16th, 2008

The Bisbee 1000
Bisbee, Arizona
October 18th, 2008

The Rim Challenge Half Marathon
Payson, Arizona
October 4th, 2008

Flagstaff Half Marathon
Flagstaff, Arizona
September 27th, 2008

Big Brothers Big Sisters Half Marathon
Flagstaff, Arizona
August 9th, 2008

Huffin & Puffin 8 mile Race
Payson, Arizona
July 12, 2008

Gaspin in The Aspens
June 21, 2008

Rim to Rim Grand Canyon Run
May 18, 2008

The San Diego Marathon
San Diego, CA
June 1, 2008

The Whiskey Row Half Marathon
Prescott, Az
May 3rd, 2008

The Lost Dutchman Half Marathon
February 17th, 2008

The Sedona Half Marathon
February 9th, 2008

 2007 Runs Page

Includes the following:

Rails to Trails Run, Prescott Az.
November 17, 2007

Bisbee 1000 Stair Climb, Bisbee Arizona
October 20, 2007

Rim Challenge Half Marathon
October 13th, 2007 Payson Arizona

Rim to Rim to Rim Grand Canyon Run
October 4 - 6, 2007

The Flagstaff Half Marathon, Flagstaff - Nordic Center
September 22nd, 2007

White Mountains Half Marathon, Eager 
September 15th, 2007

Big Brothers and Big Sisters Half Marathon in Flagstaff
August 11th, 2007

Gaspin in the Aspens Trail Run 15K 
June 16, 2007

Rim to Rim to Rim Grand Canyon 
May 18, 2007

Miami Copper Crawl
April 22, 2007

Sedona Half Marathon
 February 10, 2007

Payson Rim Challenge Half Marathon November 3rd

Grand Canyon - South Rim Kaibab trail to Phantom Ranch and up Bright Angel trail