Phoenix, the cosmopolitan heart of Arizona, basks in sunshine and warm temperatures all year long. With gorgeous red rocks, blue skies and bright sun-rays, the dry weather makes this a great area to run. I spent last weekend there and decided to do a couple of 10ks as part of my marathon long runs. Over the two days I wanted to get 60K done so looked up the local races. I found a charity race on each morning, within running distance of my hotel.
I was staying in Tempe which is a the same distance from the Phoenix airport as downtown Phoenix, and offers some great options for running. Tempe Town Lake, is in the heart of downtown and adjacent to the Arizona State University campus, has a wonderful running trail along each side. Quiet, peaceful and a nice change of scenery are all great ways to describe what you will experience here along this narrow, man-made lake. You can run a 3.5 mile stretch along the lake, or make a complete loop for 7.5 miles. On the south (Tempe) side, are downtown Tempe, Beach Park, and the university. On the north side, there’s access to Papago desert Park and its wonderful trail options. Its one of the most run-able cities I have stayed in.
Even in Autumn races start early in Phoenix as temperatures can go over 30 degrees in October. On Saturday morning I was up at 5.30 AM to run the 10K down to the start of the race. My aim was to run a small bit faster than marathon pace but do it after already running 10K. I got down to the park around 30 minutes before the start dying from thirst. It was 24C at 6.30 AM. The race was to raise funds for the green berets so we stood for the obligatory flag ceremony and national anthem at the start. There was a couple of guys that looked like fast runners at the start but within 5 minutes I was out on my own around the two lap course. 35 minutes later I crossed the line with 4 minutes to spare on the 2nd place runner. I hung around to pick up a nice medal , drink all the electrolyte drink and have a few chats before running back to the hotel a and spending the rest of the day exploring.
Sunday was long run day. 32K on the cards. My race today was for Maggie’s place. A good charity that supports disadvantaged expecting mothers and those with young kids. The race was planned to start at 8AM, however it was delayed due to some ferocious thunderstorms overnight. I wanted to time this one so I wasn’t hanging around before the start of the race.
I timed it pretty well but this time I knew standing on the start line that this was going to be tougher. The race was around the lake. The pace took off at 3.15 for the first few kilometres with 2 runners ahead. I would have loved to race at that pace but after a heavy day the day before and with another 12K to do iI settled into my 3.25-3.35 pace. The race goes allot quicker when the pace is comfortable. It was a great course with nice scenery and good local support. With 800M to go I managed to get back on terms with the 2nd place runner and turned on the after burners to out kick him in style. I finished in 35.10. After a quick drink it was time to cool down and finish that last 12K of the long run. Another fun race. I finished pretty happy with 2 races in a 2 days Lanzarote style.
A “must do” in Phoenix is to plan a run amid the rocks during sunrise or sunset, to enjoy the spectacular light.