On Sunday I ran another half marathon, this time in Phoenix, Arizona. The original plan was of course, to run the full marathon, but as I mentioned in my previous post, my training did not go as planned. I actually felt under trained even for the half marathon. With great encouragement from Justin, my co-workers, and friends, I was going in with the hope of beating my first half's time of 1:58:22, but in the back of my head I was wondering if that was possible.
Mindy, Michelle, and I met up on Saturday night with my Aunt and Uncle for dinner. We had the traditional pasta dinner the night before the race, and skipped the wine. After returning to the resort, the three of us headed down to the hot tub to relax our muscles and help us wind down early. Mindy and I had been drinking so much water during the day that I was certain we would be up all night. On the contrary, I have never slept so well. We were in bed by 9:30 only to be up at 5:30 the next morning. Michelle dropped us off about two blocks away from the central meeting point at 6:40am. Many thousands of runners were milling about in the dark, drinking coffee and trying to stay warm. It was in the upper 40's (Fahrenheit) with just the slightest breeze, and mostly clear skies overhead. At 7:30 Mindy went to join the other Marathoners (7,372 registered) and I was left on my own until my race started at 8:30. I chatted with a few people, one being a young woman about my age who was running her fifth or sixth half marathon. I asked her whether or not she planned on running a full someday. Her response: "I don't think so. Every time I finish a half, I think, 'turn around and do that again? No thanks!'" Ha! Well, that sure is one way to look at it.
When I had registered, my goal was to finish in 1 hour and 55 minutes, right around three minutes faster than my previous half. I found my area, which had about 800 other runners (21,458 finished the half). We would be the fifth group taking off after the official start of the race, at about 8:35.
It wasn't hard for me to set my pace. I kept telling myself not to take off like a rocket (as I had done in Whitefish) so as not to wear myself out. I reached the one mile mark just after eight and a half minutes, and was feeling great. Around three miles or so, I noticed that both of my knees hurt a little bit, which wasn't too surprising, considering the small amount of running I had been doing the past several weeks. Around mile seven, my knees were in the same condition, and I also noticed some stiffness in my lower back and left hip. Overall, I was still feeling pretty good. I wasn't out of breath at all, and I was still keeping an average of just over an eight and a half minute mile pace. I was on track to finish on time.
Around ten miles, I thought, Wow, this is going fast! That's when I hit a wall. I wasn't overly fatigued, but my legs were tired and a bit sore. This is also when I started to think that I wasn't going to beat my first race time. I starting giving myself a pep talk, that 3.1 miles is nothing...that it's only 26 more minutes of hard work, then I would be done. I looked at my watch one last time at the 12 mile marker...13 minutes until my goal would be lost. Piece of cake. I could do it.
And I did. I crossed the finish line at 1 hour, 55 minutes, and 32 seconds. Exactly 2 minutes and 50 seconds faster than my first half marathon, and right in sync with what my registration goal was.
After the race, I stretched my sore muscles, and drank plenty of water. The stiffness in my legs only got worse as the day went on. Instead of celebrating with wine (as I had done the first time) I had a couple of beers in the evening, but only after several ounces of water. Monday morning found me still sore and stiff, but not nearly as bad as I remembered from last September. Today, My quads are still sore, but I'm already thinking that a run tomorrow evening will be great.
Now the only thing that I have to decide is which race is next?