Rock & Roll Arizona 1/2 Marathon Race Report

Friday night Kev and I flew out to AZ and met up with some college buddies of mine to have a few drinks, trash talk a little and get primed for the race on Sunday. Getting in at 3am the next morning probably wasn't the best race preparation, but I was really just hoping to finish the race at this point because of my IT band and calf issues. Looking back at my training log I had only put in five runs during this month and two of them were days before the 1/2.  When we woke up, Kevin and I just did a little 3 mile tune up run and my IT band and calf were on fire. I just ignored it and hoped for the best the next day. We stopped by the EXPO, registered and I was able to talk to Meb a little. When I was freshman in HS, he was a senior and he was just blowing everyone away. I remember him breaking 9 mins in the 2 mile on a cinder track all by himself. Stud! Afterwards we picked up some dinner and watched the Packers embarrass the Falcons and when we got home my buddy Irving and I taped up our legs with some Kinesio tape. I had tried it once before and I really felt it made a difference. It has elasticity, it's waterproof and there's tons of tutorials online that you can follow to make sure you're taping in the right place for your injury.

Me and my buddy Eric pictured just
behind me in yellow.
 Early next morning I was up -had a cliff bar, a banana, some coffee and sipped on some Nuun until we got there. I forgot how much I love big races. I hadn't been to one on this scale since my first R&R marathon in San Diego. This was on a different level though.  There were almost 20,000 people in my race. Nuts! Kevin and I did a little 2 mile warm up and my legs were actually feeling good and pain free for the first time in months. I was excited and ready to race. The gun went off and everyone sprinted off as usual. My original plan was to hit 5:45's, but I knew with the lack of running and lost fitness it would be unrealistic to run my goal of 1:16. Instead I was just shooting for sub 1:20, average 6 min pace and just finish!

Fiddling w/my IT band brace
 The 5k came quickly and easily---going through at 18:48 (6:03 pace) so I decided to pick up the pace a bit. I was really paying close attention to my heart rate which was at 172. I knew I should be hovering right around 175 or so which I think is my Lactate Threshold zone. I came through 10k at 36:43 (5:54 pace) and I still felt pretty good. Not only was I taped up, but I was also wearing my IT Band brace that I bought recently. Although I felt like it was working, it kept slipping down my leg and I fought with it for the first 6 miles and eventually just took it off and held it the rest of the race. It's crazy that when you break your rhythm how much it can effect your heart rate and pacing. Every time I fiddled with it, my heart rate shot up about 3 beats and my pace fell off. Good riddance! Hope the leg holds up.

For the next few miles I was still feeling smooth and effortless popping out 5:52-5:55's with ease. I took Cliff Shot Bloks at mile 5 and mile 10 and taking in just little amounts of water at the stations. I like the Cliff bloks personally because they fit easily in your pocket and you can kinda just slowly eat them and chew on them so you don't have to be totally out of breath trying to suck down a GU. I went through 8.5 miles in 49:54 (5:52 pace) and 10 miles at 59:17 (5:55 pace) and was passing a ton of people. This is where I made a bad decision. I decided to just go for it and try and break 1:17. I knew at this point if I just averaged 5:40's for the next 5k that I could pull it off. So I hit mile 11, looked at my split--perfect 5:39, my fastest split on the day. Then I started hitting the wall at around 11.5. My legs got very heavy, my heart rate bumped up over 180 and I started struggling. It's crazy how quickly it can happen. I worked on keeping my form, trying to pass the next person in front of me and then 1:16 became out of the question. Great, how bout 1:17--that's still possible...With a mile to go, I knew all I needed was a sub 6 and I had it in the bag. I've been doing it all day, but my legs would not have it. On the final stretch I saw 1:17:46, 47....I tried to change gears and as soon as I did they gave out on me and I had to walk just to stay up and kinda shuffled my way in to a 1:18:06. Love the Hurt!

Afterwards I caught up with Irving who won the relay with Eric with team name: "Free Wesley Snipes" (so sweet) and grabbed a banana, our photo op and walked towards our group. About 5 minutes later I was feeling it, my legs started giving out on me and I started getting really cold. The medic came over helped me over to the tent and gave me some salt tablets, cytomax and light massage. It was really weird---I probably pushed too hard, but I was loving it and just so happy to run pain free. I can't believe my legs survived the pounding on the concrete.

Final results:
10th in my Age Group
52nd overall (out of 19,200)

I really enjoyed the distance. Even when I was competing I had never run a 1/2 marathon, so this is now my PR. I can't wait to do another one with some proper training and prep. Maybe San Dieguito? After the race we hit the beer garden and then a sports bar to watch the games, talk about the race and take it all in. Fun weekend. Time to take this running fitness and get strong on the bike and swim!

Some more pics from the weekend:

Eric and I (notice his relay baton--sweet!)

Kev, Eric, myself, Irving and Brad celebrating with "VH" at the finish

Great times in Arizona!
You can see a few more pictures of me in agony here.

Glad to be back with the fam and ready to get this triathlon season started!


Anonymous said...

Nice work, James. You da man for running a sub-1:20 on your first half attempt. Do San Dieguito... I'm already signed up. They serve beer at mile 12 and have a great beer garden at the finish.


James Adams said...

Dude, I just realized San Dieguito is next month. I thought is was later in the year...I'm thinking of America's Finest though. I'm having problems recovering this week...Too much pounding!

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