The week leading up to the race I was dealing with a cold that turned into bronchitis that ended my taper by Tuesday and sidelined me till race day. I drove out to Tempe from San Diego the day before the race. I know it’s a no-no but as I do more and more half marathons I’ve realized that I don’t take them as seriously as I take my triathlon races. The expo was just as crazy as every other Rock N Roll branded race which seems to become a staple of it. Which is good, I like seeing the growth of running and people becoming more active. Although that is not without it’s downfall of having too many people on the course. After I was checked in at the hotel and stretch the legs a bit, I was able to hang out with my old buddy John Saturday night so it was a good distraction from never running this race before. I got a decent night sleep with all the coughing and woke up at a decent hour as well. I probably should have studied the race course but I figured it’s only a half marathon and I’ve done several of them prior. I looked at the course enough to know that aid stations will be 2-3 miles apart and there would be at least 1 GU station most likely out of GU, so I brought my own.
I took a shower like I normally do and just felt calm for the race and didn’t even really think about how cold it might be. Got a banana and some yogurt from the breakfast downstairs, which I probably should have ate more. It was a good mile walk to the start line and I wanted to get out early in case there was a huge crowd that might cause me to be late. Got there with hardly anyone around (If it wasn’t for the visible start sign I almost thought I was lost) and I was able to catch up with an old high school buddy Damien (It’s always nice to see friends when you travel for races). I was in corral 11 since I seeded myself at a 2:20:00 start time and as the time ticked downward more and more people showed up to where it was insanely packed. Thankfully I was at the beginning of my wave and wouldn’t have to fight through the crowds out of the gate. The gun goes off and I started way too fast and slowed down a bit to settle into a comfortable 9 min/mile pace. Things were going well and I was feeling great minus my feet being cold and feeling like pegs. But low and behold around mile 2 I caught up to the mass of walkers who seeded themselves too fast. As I expended more energy than I wanted to so that I can go around them or tell them I’m on their left or right I got really frustrated at these people. If you’re going to walk, move to the sides don’t walk down the middle of the lane. I can respect you’re out there walking for a cause but you need to be respectful of other people as well. Anyways as the miles ticked off away with ease I noticed something I’m at mile 7 and things seemed to be going really well. I also wasn’t battling my usual “This Blows” mindset. Even though I had some pains on my heels from what turned out to be my Achilles being chafed to hell from my shoes. By mile 10 it hurt to even slow down for my 1 minute walk. Between the constant uphill between what seemed to be mile 7-9 and being stuck with walkers that I had to weave in and out of I was getting spent. Thankfully the rest had to be downhill or at least level right? Thankfully it was and then I actually looked at my time on my Garmin and knew I was going to beat my Las Vegas time when I saw mile 11. I was jazzed, I didn’t really feel the need to push it anymore since it was already hard to breathe and my Achilles were bleeding all over my shoes. I finally crossed the finished line. 2:14:21 is what was on my Garmin and I’ll take that. I even got another medal for doing Las Vegas and Arizona back to back. Yeah I’m an over achiever.
I had to walk back to the hotel which was just insane and every step hurt worse than the next. But I had to shower and get on the road back to San Diego. Surprisingly enough all I wanted to do was swim in the pool for a while. I will say that the drive from Tempe to San Diego is boring. I think my brain clocked out during the drive since I can’t remember portions of it. Looking back I think had it not been for all the people and the chafing I could have broke that 2 hour mark. I think I will have to work even harder now so that I can break that time come Oceanside 70.3. If I can do that and keep my bike to a 3 hour that should put me at a sub 5:30:00 finish!