Come January, most are found loading up on firewood, cautiously salting their icy driveways, and tirelessly counting down the winter months until spring thaw. Here in Arizona, the season for outdoor adventure and relishing in an evening on the patio is among us, and take advantage of it we do indeed. Typically, the weather hovers around the mid-sixties or seventies in the Phoenix area, offering an abundance of sunlight, sporadic rain and wind, producing what most would describe as perfection.
Let’s not be coy; a good part of the succulence of our season rests upon the realization that here, in the Grand Canyon State, we’re treated to something most other regions aren’t currently enjoying. We all find unique ways to get out and enjoy, of course. For me, a recent endeavor– the PF Chang’s Rock N Roll Arizona Marathon & Half Marathon- took the recent medal for outdoor indulgence worth noting. A little context, please…
There’s got to be a reason this race is the third largest in the nation. I found myself pondering that claim as I lined up at the race start Sunday in Tempe, adorned with a scarf, gloves and jacket. I was actually quite warm, but was it the nerves? Pulling my phone out of hiding, the temperature showed 56 degrees. It was 7:20 in the morning. Perhaps I overshot the dress code for a half marathon. No matter, the start gun was fired, and the race had begun.
I trotted alongside thousands of runners, admiring the morning light and what proved to be a gorgeous Arizona morning. Before long, I had hit my stride, flinging off my gloves and scarf, and filing into each turn the course took me. Crowds cheered us along, enormous mountains surrounded us, and the warm breeze greeted all present, as if we were made to be running the marathon this morning, on this day, and in this place. At mile nine or 10, I recall breathing deep and thinking – you’re not out of breath, you’re not cold: you’re simply here today to have fun and enjoy yourself.
And enjoy myself I did. After finishing strong, I met a group of fellow Arizona runners at a local favorite – Four Peaks Brewery – and celebrated the accomplishment of the marathon, the electricity of the day, and the pure brilliance of good, local beer. It was a lovely Arizona day in January, and this – this is only a tale of one.
Now’s the time to enjoy what the state has to offer – whether the many diverse statewide races, hikes into the Grand Canyon, spring flowers, or the roars of Spring Training Baseball in March. Get out, and make the most of it.
Rebekah Bell is an avid traveler and runner who tries to soak up as much of the Arizona sunshine as possible.