One Fine Day at the Mesa-Phoenix Marathon & Half

On the last weekend of February, four RCTC teammates flew from cold and dreary Portland down to sunny Arizona for the Mesa-Phoenix Marathon and Half Marathon.

Juliana DePietro and Jaime Musgrave both ran the full marathon in stunning fashion, DiPietro smashing her personal best and goal of sub-4 hours with a finish of 3:55:01, and Musgrave besting her PR by over 15 minutes for a time of 3:40:43.

Krysta Gunvalson, who had initially signed up for the marathon, was unable to compete due to an injury, but made the trip down to support and cheer on her teammates, hand-painted sign and cowbells in hand.

Ashley Meagher, a competitive mid-distance runner in college, competed in what would be her very first half marathon, finishing in a speedy time of 1:31:19. We asked Ashley to share about why she chose the half marathon and recap her experience in Phoenix.

When I joined RCTC, I wasn’t sure what distance I wanted to race. I just knew that I missed running with friends on a regular basis and training toward something, not just running just to stay fit. I started to get back in shape in late summer and ran the cross country season, but then what?

There are plenty of jokes on the team about how I used to be an 800 meter runner in college, but where do you run that race now? As it turns out, the 800 meters isn’t a common race outside of the professional and collegiate arena. So as an aging runner, what does that leave…… the half marathon!

After cross country season this seemed like the next step in my training progress, and also, my teammates were already planning on running the marathon in Phoenix. So I signed up for the Mesa-Phoenix Half Marathon, blindly. I was more interested in the team travel than what was really ahead of me. I told my coach I wanted to run a 1:30 half marathon. When asked, why that time? I had no good answer besides, I think that’s a good time, right?

As I started my ten week training cycle, I had doubts about the aggressive pace I had set for my first half marathon, even on easy runs. I wasn’t used to the long burn of pain of running for an hour and thirty minutes. I was used to the excruciating pain of a quick 2:12800m. I can make it through a little over two minutes of pain, but an hour and a half?!? I continued to get stronger and learned how to manage the pain and be mentally tough for such a long time, but the doubts of running 1:30:00 was still lingering, even until the night before.

Ashley Meagher racing with pure grit at the Mesa-Phoenix Half Marathon

Race day was a great experience. I started the race with the 1:30 pace group and a friend, Erin. The weather couldn’t be more perfect and I was there with teammates, what could go wrong? Everyone always talks about the last 5k of the race, and as a newbie, I didn’t think much of it, until mile nine. This is when that pain that is so hard to explain, hit. All I could think about was keeping the balloons in sight from the pacers 1:30 sign, and I was able to do that until about mile 11. At that point, I was just hoping to finish the race. I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:31:18, 78 seconds off my goal, disappointing but happy about my effort.

Now, I’m looking to the future and wondering if the half-marathon could be my new “race.” I enjoyed the training cycle and the pleasure of the slow burn that happens while running this distance, and of course, continuing to train with my friends.🌹


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