Tuesday, October 30, 2007

YMCA Half Marathon

This week I really tried to watch my calories and I think I got a bit dehydrated too. This morning was the 39th Annual Downtown YMCA Half Marathon and I wanted to make sure my fueling was just right. I woke up at 5:20 am and ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich. I forget who, but that's someone's sandwich of choice on race morning. You know who you are. I packed 4 gels. Three of them were Carb Booms, which I was trying for the first time. One was a PowerBar double espresso gel, which I really like. None of it helped.

As you can see on the chart, I bonked at around 9 miles. We started in South Mountain Park and immediately got on the street and left the park. The first mile and a half was downhill. It was hard to hold back and I was running some of it below a 9 minute pace. I slowed down and hoped I could conserve my energy, since I had to climb this hill on the way back.
Here's a view of some of the runners visiting vendor tents before the races.

Running out of the park you pass the horse stables.

And Scorpion Gulch. This isn't used anymore. I guess you could call it an abandoned tourist trap. About two miles into the run we got off Central Avenue and onto the canal. The asphalt was not in good shape all along the canal, but we did have great views of the mountains to the south and downtown Phoenix to the north. I ate my gels at 3, 6 and 9 miles. On the way back I got to talk with several runners. This kept me occupied, but I was feeling fatigue in my calfs around mile 9 and was reduced to walking. Two weeks ago I felt great the entire run. I think I started this race dehydrated and it just got worse until my legs felt like lead. I walked more than I ran the final three miles. Going up hill into the park you run along the open street and in car after car you see runners eating bagels, drinking Gatorade looking into your eyes and feeling your pain. They finished along time ago, I still had some unfinished business.
And since this was a training run of 14 miles, I knew I would have to do 9/10 of a mile after the finish line. I turned left into the Parks parking lot and I could see the finish line and 3 runners in front of me running, but running slow. I decided that I wasn't going to walk across the finish line. And, if possible I was going to pass the other runners. I kicked it in gear. Checking my garmin later I see that my pace went all the way down to 4:54 at the finish line. I passed two of the runners easily and the third one I passed with the official at the end pointing toward me. I passed her too.

What did I get for my troubles?

An apple and some Gatorade. My garmin said I finished 13.1 in 2:46:30. The official time was 2:49:05. Either way, far from my PR of last week.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Casa Grande Half Marathon

My car's thermometer read 47 degrees Fahrenheit as I was driving south into the desert. By 7 am it wasn't much warmer and I was deciding if I needed to wear my 'Ohio State Buckeyes' sweatshirt for the first part of the run.

Note to self: buy some cheap sweatshirts at goodwill for future events. I did that for two earlier halfs.

I wasn't willing to lose my OSU sweatshirt and I was getting used to the temps. I got down their about 40 minutes early. Perfect to get my bib number, tee and go to the bathroom. I got to the starting line as the announcer told us that the half marathoners should go to the line. There was between 30-50 runners. It was a small race. I think the photo shows the full field.
At 7 am we were off and running. After a few hundred yards I checked my garmin and it said 8:30 pace. I as mad because I thought my garmin was on the Fritz again and I wouldn't have data. Then I realized that I was flying with the rest of the pack and it was right. I quickly slowed down, but still did a sub 10 minute mile 1.

Note to self: when running with a small group be extra careful you don't start off fast.

This is the test track we ran on. It was around miles 11 and 12. I had just eaten a double latte gel and was glad to be back on the campus of Central Arizona College, so this was a good place to be.

At around mile 9 you run by these old buildings. I think they used to be motel rooms. Now they might be good for fire wood.

From miles 5 thru 9 you got a view of these mountains. Beautiful Arizona desert views.

Miles 4-6 you ran next to the cotton fields. I guess caterpillars like cotton, because they were all over the road . Thousands of them and thousand more caterpillar stains on the road way. I ran these two miles looking at the ground to avoid these poor guys.

Home for the caterpillars. The cotton fields.

The back half of the race I walked some. My garmin says I walked a total of 1.16 miles for 18 minutes or 8% of the race. It felt like I walked a lot more than that.

It also said I jogged 87% of the time and ran 4% of the time. I think running is anything faster than 9:30 pace. Jogging is between that and 13 minute pace.
I was pretty happy with my race. The first 7 miles I only stopped briefly at two aid stations and walked once to eat a gel. The second aid station I had to sit down and remove my shoe. I found a pebble.
Mile 8 was tough and I did most of my walking then. But, soon I was back on track and kept moving. The last 2 miles was sort of an out and back and I got to see a few runners that were ahead of me the entire race. I passed a couple runners and then got to see who was behind me as I headed for home. I think 4-6 runners were between me and the truck with the slow runners sign. Not sure if they were calling us slow or telling traffic to slow down. The course was open to traffic.
After 13 miles, I kicked it up a notch and finished with loud cheering from all those that finished before me. I crossed the finish line at about a 6:45 pace. Another Vanity Fartlek.
My PR for the half was 2:42:48 at the Valley of Gold HM in Tucson last March. I wanted to do a 2:39:39 or better, but was doubtful I could pull it off.
Today I ran a 2:34:49 according to my garmin. I think the official time is a couple minutes more. Not sure how that could happen. But, either way it's a PR!
Note to readers: I took all the pictures after the race. I even staged the running/walking pics of me. My time would have been much worse.
PostPost: My official time is -
there were 35 civilian runners and 21 police/fire runners. I finished ahead of 4 of them. On the way back in I high fived everyone behind me and later went out to the course and cheered 3 of them in. You might notice they butchered my last name. No big deal.
Not sure how there was a 2:32 difference in the official clock and my garmin. I started the garmin when the starter said go and I crossed the start line within seconds. My garmin does have some stopped time and I know it paused at a water stop. So, I'll use their time as my new PR. I set PR"s for 2 miles, 3 miles, 4 miles, 5 miles 10k, 10 miles and of course the half.