It’s a race, not an event…

These were the words of wisdom from my coach at my last workout before flying down to Arizona for the Rock and Roll Arizona Half Marathon.  I had been whining about how long it was going to take me to complete the race.  I missed close to two weeks of training due to illness.  My longest training run was only nine miles.  My LSD pace was in the 10:30/mi range.  I told him that I’d be lucky to finish in 2:10, and it would likely be 2:15 or 2:20. He told me that I should be able to finish at the 2:00 mark – it’s a race, not an event.  Follow your plan and expect to be sore when the race is over.  I kinda smiled and said ok, and internally thought, “yeah right”.

On race day, I woke up at 5:30a to start fueling for the race.  I actually had a fairly decent night of sleep – an anomaly for me the night before a race.  The hotel café was open, so I ran down and grabbed a bagel and some fruit.  After eating, I started to mentally prepare myself, slowly going over my gear to make sure nothing was forgotten.  The cool part about this particular hotel – I could see the starting corrals from my window.  So I stayed in my room till about 20 minutes before the race (which meant no pre-race restroom lines!)

The temperature was a concern coming into the race with a cool morning expected then warming up fairly rapidly.  I decided to go with just a long sleeve shirt – no gloves or throwaway sweatshirt.  As I made my way to the starting corral, it was clear that I made the correct choice.  I wasn’t cold at all – in fact, I started to wonder if I’d be too warm by the end of the race.

My strategy for the race – try for negative splits.  Shoot for a 10:00 min/mile for the first three miles, 9:00 min/mile for the next three miles, and then listen to my body for the rest of the race. I planned to fuel much more frequently than I had in the past – a hammer gel every 3 miles.

And I was off! I started by following the plan, and held close to the 10:00 min/mile pace.  This was a bit foreign to me, as I usually go hard at the start before falling back into a more maintainable pace. The first three miles were easy, except for one small problem – I needed a quick restroom break.

The restroom break – there is a huge amount of strategy in this.  How long are the lines?  How many porta-potties are there?  How many people are in front of memaking future lines longer?  If I stop too soon, will I have to stop again?  After considering all the variables, I found a stop that seemed to have a good line/porta-potty ratio.  It still cost me around two and a half minutes…

At the three mile mark, it was time to speed up my pace to 9:00 min/mile. I was surprised at how easy this transition occurred.  In fact, I had to keep myself in check a bit as I was going too fast.  It was a good thing, as my legs started to fatigue a bit.  When I made the 6 mile mark, I tried to bump the speed up again and only got a little bit more.

Around the eight mile mark, the legs started to feel it.  At this point, all I could hear in the back of my head was “it’s a race, not an event”. I did a mental assessment of my body – my legs were tired, but they didn’t hurt.  Cardio wise I was not breathing hard (I did not check my heart rate at the time, but my watch put it in the mid 170s at this point, which is on the high side for me).  I decided  to hold a 9 min/mile pace until mile 10, at which point I’d push hard for the last 5k+ of the race.

I also remembered looking at the course profile – the end of the race was downhill, so picking up my pace would be easier.  So I crossed the ten mile mark and sped up, all the while the words of my coach repeated over and over in the back of my head.  My legs were tired, but I pushed on.  With about a mile left in the race, my legs really started to burn, I had to dig deep to make it.  My pace dropped off a bit, but not a ton.  I pushed through the finish line and looked at my watch…

2:01:10 – I guess my coach was right after all.

(my splits can be found here)


Walking around ASU

Spent the day walking around the ASU campus, getting a quick preview in case my oldest daughter Melissa decides to attend the school next year.

There is a big A on the hillside.


Walked by the football stadium.  They have it locked up tight, so I couldn’t get any pictures of the inside and had to settle for the big sign outside.


The UA/ASU basketball game was today, so there were tons of people around.  I should have picked up a ticket and watched.  Here is a picture of the arena:


The school itself was pretty nice – lots of open “mall” areas through the buildings.


There are orange trees all over campus.  Student volunteers harvest the oranges and send them out to get juiced.  The juice is returned and sold on campus.


Horses outside the business school.


Of course I had to hike up to the A.  Here is the trail map.


The “A”


continued to the very top…The river is dammed to create a small lake in town.


campus from the top of the hill.


and the most important message of all.


Ready to Rock!

I’m down in sunny Arizona to run the Rock and Roll Arizona 1/2 Marathon.  I left foggy Seattle on Thursday – wasn’t sure that I was going to get out on time.  When I arrived at the terminal, the flight prior to mine had been delayed for an hour already.  They did manage to get that plane out of the way and mine took off on time.


It is a pretty quick hop from Seattle down to Phoenix – in fact I didn’t even finish the movie that I was watching on the way down.  Quick does not mean uneventful.  I purchased some beef jerky for a snack on the flight…I cracked it open about lunch time and took a small bite and it tasted kinda funny.  I looked in the bag it was all moldy – yuck!  Fortunately I did have a few other snacks, so I didn’t starve.

The adventure didn’t stop there.  I picked up my luggage without issue, but the rental car was an entirely different story.  I went to the line and got through the agent ok, however, they were out of clean cars.  The agent at the counter informed me that a nice clean car would be ready in about 20 minutes.  I turned out to be closer to an hour.

I was heading down to Tucson to visit family, and the rental car delay allowed me to experience the Phoenix freeway system at the height of rush hour.  Once I cleared the traffic and grooved into driving, one of my contacts decided that it was time to no longer be in my eye properly.  I pulled over to address the issue without hitting anything (that I could feel, since I couldn’t see).

Finally made it down to Tucson and we headed out to a somewhat late dinner.  Had some yummy shrimp fajitas, with the worst waitress ever to go along with it.  She was slow, didn’t check on us (and when she did she spilled on me), and also didn’t seem to know how to work the credit card machine.  I was ready for Thursday to be done!

Friday was way better!  Got up, had a nice breakfast and then went shopping for a bit.  We went for a nice warm walk in the neighborhood (temp in the low 70s).  I took a few pictures of deserty things Smile



There is even a picture of me


Took off in the afternoon to head back to the Phoenix area.  Fortunately, there were no issues on the drive back.  The first order of business was to check in for the race.


Once I picked up my number, I moved into the retail area and purchased a souvenir shirt (nicer than the one in the race packet) and  a running hat (because I didn’t bring one).  The expo was fairly empty – I walked straight up to a cashier and paid.  The cashier said that it was crazy a little earlier in the day.  So I timed the expo pretty well.

After the expo, I checked into my room, which is right on the edge of the ASU campus.  I wandered over to Mill Ave searching for dinner and couldn’t decide between the bajillion restaurants.  Ultimately, I decided that going into a crowded bar full of college students on a Friday night was probably not a good choice, so I went to Jimmy John’s and got a sandwich.

Saturday I’m planning on an easy run – just long enough to get things warmed up a bit.  Then I think I will explore the ASU campus a bit.  This is one of the schools that my oldest daughter, Melissa, has applied to attend.