Monday, January 20, 2014

Rock and Roll Arizona Half Marathon Race Report!

So, I somewhat kept the fact that I was not only running a race but possibly going for a PR under wraps. Either real or manufactured, I didn’t want the perceived expectations throwing me off my game. Whether that is what did it or not...I had an AMAZING personal best race this weekend in Arizona.

Time: 1:24:19 (PR by 3 seconds shy of 4 minutes)
Place: 83 / 13407 (Top 0.6%)
AG Place: 14 / 783 (Top 1.8%)
Pace: 6:26/mile (9.3mph)

In spite of Jamoosh not liking verbose race reports, strap in your giblets kiddos, because this one is a bit of a long one. (Not really, but who am I to miss an opportunity to associate Jamoosh with giblets?)

I knew from the onset that race weekend was going to be BUSY.  Work is a bit bonkers, I had a work friend visiting, and I was in full on dad mode.  In spite of that I was going to try to make the most of my (freaking ridiculous) $135 entry fee and enjoy the sights and sounds of Arizona’s largest race.

First things first: Expo.  I headed out of work a bit early on Friday, ran to the airport to pick up my work friend Natalie, and went directly to the expo.  I really like rock and roll expos because they always have SO MUCH stuff.  This year was quite a bit smaller than in years past, but it still provided enough sugar to kill a small horse.

I knew the duckface made me look fast

One of the things that was new to me was Brooks' booth and all of their contests.  Previously they had a circus theme.  Now, it is some sort of jungle theme complete with a bull riding style shoe (seems like a good way to sprain an ankle pre-race to me) and a WII-fit mat that you race on.  I wasn't about to tempt fate by pinwheeling off of a mechanical shoe...but I was game for handing Natalie a resounding loss in the WII-fit mountain climb game.  Yeah, that didn't happen and I came in last.

Pushing Natalie off of the mat in a failed effort to win

Of course, PF Changs didn't disappoint with the obligatory booze at the expo. Because I guess nothing says prerace like martinis out of a plastic cup at 3pm!

It isn't a rock and roll expo unless you're drinking!

Finally, probably the best part of any Rock and Roll expo is the dress up booth. I'm sure I'm on some mailer for life after having had this picture emailed to me....but what can I say? TOTALLY WORTH IT.

Just another day at the office. Notably, only the hat wasn't mine. Look, I like to look pretty.

The race actually started a bit later than I remembered at 7:50, but for some reason my later than normal 5:30 alarm was a bit jarring. Normally I'm up at 4:00am, but have been burning the candle at both ends.

I think my face says it all. Blarg

My training has honestly been a bit up and down.  I have just started to add speedwork in over the past 3-4 weeks but have been doing tempo and marathon pace for the last 6 or so.  The point of all of this was that I really was okay with easy running it in, which lead to very little pre-race stress. This meant that I was my normal annoying self while everyone else freaked out around me.  Everyone except Dr Dribble who dribbles two basketballs in almost every race you've ever ran.

Dr Dribble, Dr Dribble's balls, Dr Dribble's pecks, me

 Seriously, you can't take me anywhere

Miles 1-3.1: (20:33 5K, 6:37 pace, 6:37 overall pace thus far) Clop clop clop clop
When people asked me beforehand how fast I was going to run, I said somewhere between 1:26 and 1:30. The honest to goodness plan was to start out around 6:50 pace and at mile two, see how I was feeling. If I was feeling good, gently squeeze the speed down to 6:30s and if I was feeling like I had giblets strapped to my legs, pull the ripcord and easy run in to a 1:30.  If I am honest, for the first two miles I sort of felt like a horse that was trotting along - lots of up and down movement and not the fluid strides of a thoroughbred horse. No comment on other similarities between myself and a prized race horse. But, around that two mile mark I smoothed out a bit and dropped the hammer.

They certainly don't mean ME with that huge disclaimer, do they? This was approaching mile 12, running 6:05ish/mile

Miles 3.1 – 6.2: (20:16 5K, 6:31 pace, 6:34 overall pace thus far) You’re not fooling me, Arizona. This is ever so slowly uphill. Bastards
With the Pandora station “summer hits of the 2000s” ringing tunes of years gone by in my head, I started knocking out the miles.  The goal was to stay right around 6:35, but I found myself clocking in miles between 6:25 and 6:35. I had found a pretty good groove and my legs were finally starting to warm up.  I found that one of the most challenging things about racing a half marathon is that I get in my head a bit with cold “heavy” legs at the starte when all I need to do is hold the course and let them warm up.  Eminem reminded me of that on many occasions via summer hits of the 2000s – that I should “lose myself in the moment”.  Which, I guess I did for the most part.

Miles 6.2-10: (24:31 3.78mi, 6:28 pace, 6:32 overall pace thus far) Stupid race putting a stupid hill at stupid mile 9 and I swear if I hear Eminem one more time I’m going to kick him in the Slim Shadies
In a normal race, these miles would be some of the hardest.  In the rock and roll Arizona half, they are most CERTAINLY the hardest. They’re all uphill with a crescendo of a hill around mile 9.5. To be clear, I’m talking a hill by Arizona standards – like 200 feet. :)  They weren’t fun, but I still managed to continue my upwards climb of pace with most miles clocking in around 6:20-6:25. I hooked up with a runner around the half who actually told me “let’s run together, it’ll make it easier”.  I feel like I always want to say that to people in races, but rarely do.  Either way, the company was nice because stupid Pandora was on some ballad kick mixed with even MORE Eminem songs. Look dude, we get it. You’re angry at your mom. LET IT GO.

Miles 10-finish: (19:04 5K, 6:08 pace, 6:26 overall pace thus far) [Inaudible grunts] Downhilllllll
Thankfully, just like Eminem’s career, what goes up must come down. The last 3 miles were ALL downhill. It was a thing of beauty. Often times when this is the case in races, I’m so fried that I could be rolling down Mt Everest and not gain any speed. (See also: St George Marathon)  This time, however, I did have a bit of hitch in my giddy up and was able to glide down the hills all the way to the finish. There was grunting, posing for the on course cameras, and lots of grimacing.  The pictures should be epic. All miles here were less than 6:10 pace with the last 0.14 at 5:20 pace. Eek.

After I finished and staggered around a bit, the funniest thing happened.  The guy I was running with asked for my number!  (Read: I think I was picked up!?!!)  Not really, he was just looking for someone of similar pace to go out and run with. Obviously, because I am lonely I gave it to him.  We'll see if he actually calls!  SWOON!!

Finally, to cap off a great weekend, I hooked up with a few old runner friends I don't see nearly often enough (RunningLaur and EMZ) and a blogger super star who was in town for the marathon (PavementRunner).

Myself, RunningLaur, EMZ, and Pavement Runner.... oh, and my son doing an AWESOME photobomb in the corner. Chip off the old block - love him so much.

All, in all this was an amazing race.  I ran a full 2 min faster than the very best I thought that I could. Which makes me wonder, how fast would I be if I were in peak training mode?  Time will tell I suppose as I’m scheduled to do the NJ Marathon in late April!


BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

Good job!!

Sweet and Savory by Sarah said...

That's great that you got a number! Classic!

Awesome job on the race. A 4 min PR is pretty dang impressive at your speed!

Jamoosh said...

Awesome run. Now keep your virtual hands off my giblets.

The Running Nurse said...

You make me sick! haha How can you run so fast??? Congratulations! said...

NJ MARATHON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now that we got that proper blogging technique out of the way. I am so happy for you and this is such a seriously awesome time. You are fantastic.

Also that last photo blogging meetup. I'm a jealous blogging hater. I'm glad you understand and 96 (?) days until NJ. Get jazzed.

Pat said...

great report. I loved the course. Even the hill at mile 9 wasn't so bad, because I got to see the other runners going down and it gave me some hope.

ajh said...

Love the photo bomb! Great job in the race. Awesome PR.

Jesica DAvanza said...

Congrats on a super speedy race and an awesome PR. And thanks for all the laughs as I read this :)

Gracie said...

Congratulations! Huge PR for you and solid race.

Kayla Moothart said...

Way to go! Funny thing... I ran a PR yesterday of just under 4 minutes to get a 1:34:17!

Sue's Ramblings said...

Congrats! You're a baddass!

Laura said...

Question - are you joking or serious about drinks at the expo? I've done about 8 Rock N Rolls and never seen drinks at those expos. (Or actually, never seen any alcoholic drinks at ANY expo.) Where am I missing these?!

Amortya Ray said...

That's a crazy pace! I haven't raced a half since September. I am NOT looking forward to running 13 miles in 23 degree weather!

Robyn said...

Great report, and great race. Congratulations! You sound like your old, happy-runner self in this post. I'm glad for you.

Michaela said...


Redhead Running said...

Love the photobomb, and CONGRATS on such a speedy race! Hell yeah PR!

Pam said...

Your son's photobomb was my favorite part of this post. LOL

Congrats on the PR!

Are you doing the full or the half in NJ?

2cupsnrun said...

Thank you for the report, and that is an awesome PR, would love to read about your training.

David Duitsman said...

Congrats on the awesome race. BTW, I think you set a record for pics of your tongue. :)

Kathy said...

what david said. :) your mile pace is my kilometer pace. :)

GREAT job!