This might be a little long…so, settle in with your coffee, friends!
I wanted to start writing this on Sunday after the race, but I decided to give myself some time to process it. I am not happy with how I ran this race. I do not believe that this race shows what I’m capable of doing–physically, sure, but mainly mentally. I fell apart. I bonked. I bonked hard. But, we’ll get to that.
The Fiesta Bowl Half Marathon and 5k is held in Scottsdale, AZ near the Civic Center. It’s a loop course, which is great for people with spectators. Jeff was able to see me take off at the start, walk half a block, and watch me cross the finish line. The Half Marathon start is separate from the 5k, and the 5k starts five minutes after the half.
It was very easy to pick up my bib and shirt. The only real issue I had was with the (lack of) facilities. There were a few real bathrooms nearby, but the lines for them were absurd. There were about 10 porta potties, which just didn’t seem like enough for the 1100 half marathoners + 5k runners (not sure how many there were). I was waiting in line, and when I got down to ten minutes before the start time, I ended up popping a squat in a bush nearby, since there was no way I was going to make it in time if I continued to wait.
The race takes you down Scottsdale Road for about 5 miles and then you begin to loop around. The first 8 miles are on the street, which has one lane blocked off for the runners and it got a bit tight in sections. At one part, I got blocked in and had to jump up on the sidewalk to get around the group. It also gets to be kind of bothersome when you catch up with the walkers (they allow walkers to begin about an hour or so before the official start, so I started catching up to them around mile 5 or so) and have to start dodging them. The last 5 miles are on a bike path that goes through golf courses and a park before bringing you back to loop around to the finish line.
Overall, I think the race is extremely well run. The volunteers were very friendly and helpful. There was one table around mile 10 where the volunteers (all kids about Jr. High age) were just standing there talking and making the runners grab cups of water off the table–THAT was annoying, but that is really my only complaint. And the porta potties.
It’s a good race that I really enjoy running. So, let’s get to that.
Jeff and I were able to find parking nearby, and got to the start area a little after 7am. I picked up my bib and swag bag, and then decided to hit the bathrooms. After that, we started walking to the start and I ate half a Picky Bar. This was about 5 min before the race. Which, in hindisight, was not a good plan. The start occurred right on time at 7:30am. It was chilly–in the low 40s, so I had on a long sleeve and shorts. I got kind of warm towards the very end, but for the most part, I was pretty comfortable.
The first mile felt fine. I was worried I was going too fast, but I felt good. I got a little swept up with the rush of the race, but it didn’t worry me too much. My breathing was steady and I didn’t feel like I was going too fast.
Almost immediately after I crossed the first mile marker I got hit hard with a killer side stitch. Like, bad. I slowed down, slowed my breathing and tried to get it under control. It lessened around mile 3 and was gone by mile 4. I think it had a large part to do with that Picky Bar I ate so quickly before the race.
Around mile 5, I wasn’t really sure what I was doing–pace wise. I didn’t know what I should be targeting, so I was just running as hard as I could at a pace I thought I would be able to maintain. Things were starting to get hard, and I never felt like I was getting into a rhythm. I think I was pushing too hard, trying to run faster then I should have been.
Around mile 6 is when the 1:40 pace group caught up to me. I tried to settle in to draft them for a bit. I figured if I could just hang on to them, I would still be able to run a sub-1:40, since I had banked a bit of extra time and started after they did. I had my gel around here as well, and just tried to ease in.
The pace group started to pick it up and I started to struggle. I just couldn’t hang with them and I let them get away from me.
Man. I was trying so hard. During miles 9-12 I just kept telling myself “Hang on for under 8:00. You can do that”. And then the time just kept clicking and clicking and I was slowing and slowing…During mile 12 there was this awful “hill” (it was an incline from a bike path. I think we all know those don’t actually constitute as hills) and moment where I was convinced I was going to hurl. So, I stopped. And walked.
OH THE SHAME! I was so unhappy at this point I almost started crying. I was so mad for not running the way I wanted to and that I couldn’t make my legs work the way I was expecting them to.
Mile 13 I tried to push it. I told myself, “one more effing mile. You can do that.”
At least it was under 8 minutes.
I crossed the finish line in 1:42:35 (chip time–Garmin was a little different).
I don’t actually know if it was a PR or not–I didn’t keep the seconds on my other race, so I don’t know what to call it. Garmin said my pace was an average 7:48 and I do remember it being 7:50s on the race previous, so I guess it is? Technically? It sure doesn’t feel like it though.
I’m a smarter runner then this race shows. I think the main mistake I made was overestimating my fitness level, and underestimating the distance. After running three marathons, I’ve gotten kind of jaded. I definitely thought to myself “Oh, well I’m just running a half.” There is no “just” about it. A half marathon is STILL 13 miles and that is a considerable distance.
1:42 is not a bad time by any means. It’s still a really solid pace, and I’m not upset about the time. I’m mostly upset over how I let myself get swept away with the notion that I should have been running faster then that. Hell, two weeks ago I ran 5 miles at a 7:40 pace and wrote on the blog that I wasn’t sure I could maintain that for 8 more. But, there I was on Sunday thinking I could easily maintain a sub-7:40 pace, and instead of listening to my body, I kept pushing and pushing and was spent with 5 more miles to go.
On the flip side, it helped me identify the things I really want to work on in the coming weeks. Mainly my fueling–as I have a feeling this played a role in the way I bonked on Sunday (and it’s something I really struggle with)–and running fast. Currently, I dedicate one day a week to speed work, and I think I need to change that. I’m going to start incorporating some miles at MGP during my long runs, and incorporating either a tempo, progression, or fartlek run on my longer runs during the week. I think this will really help me get a lot more comfortable running at the pace I’ll need to maintain during the marathon.
After having a day to digest the race, I can appreciate the crappiness. I’m mad at myself for not running intelligently, but it was humbling. My ego is checked, and I know I have a lot to do before I toe that start line in Mesa on February 28th. And I’m ready to work.