First of all, before I get into today’s half marathon, I wanted to take a minute to thank you for the feedback I received on my body composition testing, etc. last week. The comments were insightful and I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. I learned a lot and it sort of gave me a boost in this monotony of maintenance. It is helpful to always have a focus and work towards something – and now I have that. Focus has definitely been lacking over the past few months.
So I have had this half marathon on the schedule for some time now. As part of the Runner’s Den training group, the entrance for the 3TV 10K & Half Marathon race was included in our training fee. I have participated in 8 of the group training runs, which was OK, but I didn’t always run the full distances or do the training runs per plan during the week. There were a lot of reasons for this but mainly a) I wasn’t ready to start in on another training plan b) the scheduling of the training runs on Saturday mornings often conflicted with my kids’ activities and c) it was just plain hot outside still!
I am cheap, however, and a free race is a free race. I had completed 10 miles (partially walking it) during one of the Saturday morning training runs and felt pretty good afterward. This was enough of a boost to make my decision to do the half marathon instead of dropping down to the 10K. Over the course of the last week though I’ve been really questioning this decision since I am fighting a chest cold. A friend of mine suggested taking Mucinex DM to clear some of the crap from the back of my throat and upper respiratory area and that does seem to be helping.
In my new attitude about most things, I decided to just go with the flow today. I did get my running clothes and gear laid out last night so I wouldn’t be too rushed this morning. I woke up at 5:45AM, got dressed and ate a whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter, sliced bananas, and a sprinkling of mini chocolate chips – my new go-to pre-long run breakfast. It seems to hold me pretty well and not cause any tummy upset. I drove down to the race starting line which was in downtown Phoenix and paid to park close by. If I was nervous about anything, it was that I remembered how much pain I was in after my only other half marathon last January. I was so grateful that my husband and kids were there to “rescue” me and drive me afterward. Since the race start was so early and I really just wanted everyone to have a rare lazy Sunday morning sleeping in and staying home, I told my family that I didn’t really need them there. But my husband was on stand-by if I needed him to drive me after the race.
The weather was gorgeous and I didn’t need a sweatshirt or anything to keep me warm before the starting gun. Perfect race conditions. I ran the 10K of this race last year (which has a 9AM start) and it was HOT. No cloud cover and the sun beat down on me the whole time. It was strangely overcast today and it was ideal.
I looked like I had a pharmacy in my car pre-race though. I used Nasonex to clear out my nasal area, I took the Mucinex DM, 2 puffs on my asthma inhaler to clear out the chest cold as much as I could. I coughed and coughed in my car just trying to open up as best I could.
I wasn’t overly impressed with this race last year but this year I could see the charm. It was a mid-size race but everything was just much more casual that the Rock n’ Roll series races with many thousands of people there. There were no corrals – but there were pacers that were easy to find. Parking wasn’t a hassle…everything was just easy.
I was incredibly relaxed and had absolutely no expectations. I felt really good as we
started running and noticed the 2:45 pacer seemed to be nearby. My PR (and only other half marathon) time was 2:30 last January. I didn’t feel like I could keep up a 11:30 pace this time so I knew I would be slower than that. I decided to attempt to stay near the 2:45 pacer and just secretly hoped that I would stay under 3:00 – although, again, if I had to exceed that, then so be it. Things felt good though and I moved along pretty well.
Around mile 2 I spotted a guy that looked familiar, but I couldn’t figure out why. I thought maybe he was from the training group. There was a photog riding along in a cart next to us and he shouted out “hey David” – the runner was pretty animated. Then it occurred to me that it was David Rodriguez, the husband of one of the original 12 From Fat to Finish Line runners. There is a Facebook page based loosely on this group and many of my teammates from Ragnar SoCal participate on it since our 2 captains were on this original team. I knew about David because he, obviously, is from Arizona and so we have had a few Facebook conversations on the posts about local races or events. Anyway, I cut over to run next to him for a minute and introduced myself. He was super nice and, as I suspected, he knew John Hulsey (our Ragnar team captain) as well as the folks from Kilty Pleasures, who I’ll be running Ragnar Trail with this next week. So that was fun 🙂
I ran about 4 miles straight then took a short walk break. The 2:45 pacer was behind me, so that felt good. I continued running and took short walk breaks after every mile or so, or at the water stations. I felt good and the weather helped with that too. Around mile 8 or so though, I experienced the same knee pain that I had in the last half marathon. This is so weird though because I never ever have this leg pain when I’m on training runs. I have no idea why it starts. I was concerned since I still had 5 miles left but a walk break at that point seemed to help it go away, or at least get better.
About that time the 2:45 pacer caught up to me and passed me. Damn. I have really decided not to worry too much about pacers though because they seem to have running agendas completely different than mine. This guy was running 11:00 miles but then would walk for quite a bit. After I figured out his strategy, I realized I could keep up with him. And so, going back and forth, I stayed with him until the last mile. The 10K leaders were cruising past us at this point and that was sort of exciting. They were so fast. It was fun to be feet away from them, although I had to be extra careful I didn’t mess them up. I got my final wind for the last push to the finish line and stayed ahead of the pacer all the way in. I crossed the finish line just under 2:45 but my chip time was 2:43:58….a 12:31/mi average which was OK considering how much I walked.
I’ve never seen a finish line video before but I found this of me crossing the finish line on the race website: http://results.chronotrack.com/athlete/index/e/11439489
Some mom ahead of me decided to bring her toddlers onto the race course for the last 20 feet or so, I thought I was going to run into them. Not a great idea – just my opinion….
Part of me didn’t like having a race 13 minutes longer than my one and only half marathon PR, but I need to remember that this time last year I only ran the 10K of this same race. The running season is just barely getting started here in Phoenix since the hot temps just broke this week! I’m not even sure if I care if I get a PR this year. This race was really helpful because it gave me my confidence back. I can finish a race and not feel like crap when its done. I was so much more relaxed about the whole thing – I didn’t even use GU’s – just a few ShotBloks along the way. It was nice to just run and have a feeling of accomplishment. That’s all.
I went over to the post-race area and got a banana and a Clif Bar then headed back to the finish line. I had a few friends running the 10K and it was fun to see them cross and chat for a bit. I also had a friend running the half marathon so I stuck around to see her cross as well before heading home.
I’ve got 3 more half marathons planned this year. They don’t seem as daunting any more. I’ll need to work out a training plan though – the timing is sort of weird for traditional plans – but I do have a base already in place, especially after today.