I raced The Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon this past Sunday. It had been a while since I had done this race, as I’ve said December is a tough month work wise for me, and I don’t always do the best training through it. This year I was doing good, a solid spree of 6 day a week training, 2-3 quality runs per week. Until about December 20th. After that, the holidays, and some tiredness and a dash of slacking off got me out of the habit for a couple of weeks.
Even though I knew I was under-trained, I knew I could go the distance. It was going to be a beautiful day out and my plan was to enjoy the experience and put up the best time I could that day.
I rode the Phoenix Metro Light Rail down the the race, there’s a stop right by my work. Parked in my spot, paid 2 bucks and rode easily down into Tempe, it is nice to be riding on the train seeing the traffic you’re not dealing with. I actually got down to the race much quicker than I thought I would, I have no prob;em with this: running late to races stresses me out and I hate to start the day like that…
I’ve become a pretty spoiled Phoenician when it comes to temperature. even wearing the long-sleeved shirt I planned to ditch before the race I was cold while drinking my coffee. Fortunately I had a decent amount of time, and went for a maybe 1/2 mile run near the start, got the legs moving and I wasn’t cold anymore!
I was in start corral 3, so once the gun went off I started the running playlist, stashed the phone, and ditched the long sleeved throw away shirt. The first half mile or so was pretty congested but I manged to keep a sub-9 minute pace with a lot of weaving around. By the time we came to the first turn things were starting to get sorted out, and I ended up being around a few people I saw the whole race.
There was one woman who I ended up pacing with the whole race, we seemed to be running a very similar pace. I hope I did my part pulling us along through some stretches and up the big hill, but she was cranking it out towards the last few miles and it kept me going, probably owe her a beer.
Once the congestion of the start waned I settled into a pretty good 8:30ish minute pace that I was able hold for most of the race.
Overall it is a very urban course, especially the first half but it’s great they have bands every mile. Saw some friends doing their cheering from a local bar at about 5 miles, always nice to get some cheers from people you know, I didn’t take part in the beer that had been offered…
I just kept cranking out the miles, and pretty soon I was past 9 miles getting ready to head up the biggest hill on course. It felt easier than I thought it would overall, I set a good pace and I kept the heart rate at a reasonable level. The top of the hill makes 10 miles*, and the band they had there was awesome.
* apparently the course was set-up incorrectly and not at the certified distance.
They had like 8 huge drums , cranking out a cool rhythm, perfect to motivate you up the hill and back down towards the last 3 miles of the race.
I had to fight the last mile or so to keep a decent pace, that makes me feel I ran as good as a race as I could have.
Across the bridge, make a right and you’re inside the chute and headed to the finish line. I stopped the Garmin, grabbed my medal and walked to the hangout area next to the lake.
Grabbed my free beer and watched the band for a while, it was a beautiful day outside!
Rula Bula, an Irish Pub in Tempe, is my standard post Pat’s Run place for a beer so I stopped by there for a quick Guinness!
After that I hopped the light rail and headed back home. After a shower and some relaxing I went out to the local bar with my wife, and had a burger with a fried egg on it! Not a bad day.
Overall I’m happy with my race. Yes, I wish I had finished of my training properly. I definitely feel like I could have gone 1:45ish, but that didn’t happen and I still put together an enjoyable race I was ok with.
I had a fun day and I do love crossing finish lines!