Race Report – P. F. Chang’s Half Marathon 2014

Pre-race: I woke up early this morning, showered, shaved and got dressed. I was staying at the Embassy Suites down in Tempe which made transportation logistics easy. After a series of race-jitter-morning-motions (TMI), I was down in the lobby at around 6:35AM to catch the 6:45AM bus. The bus-driver dropped us near the race and after checking my gear back, I was at the race start by 7:35AM.

I ran into Jamie (I blogged about Wototo back around Christmas; she is the one who organized that event). Jamie’s teenage daughter was in my corral (3) and doing her first half marathon!

Mile 1: Lately, I’ve had some trouble during my training runs during the first mile. My breathing and rhythm are off and my mental toughness is not quite there. Today was no different. I questioned today’s race from the get-go. My breathing in the first mile was labored and uncomfortable. It didn’t help that my heart-belt unsnapped suddenly and I had to struggle to resnap it back on. Try maneuvering an iPod headphone cable, a race-belt and two layers of clothing while you thread the race-belt loop back into place; all this while running at 8-minutes-per-mile. It was stressful and it took me a few seconds to get it right, but I succeeded!

Miles 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6: At the beginning of the 2nd mile, I found my rhythm. The course is flat with slight uphills for these early miles and the weather was quite perfect. The sun was rising to our right as we ran north and thousands of people had lined the streets to cheer us on. I ran briskly; faster than my expected pace. I felt good.

Mile 7: I was at around 55 minutes into the race when I decided to eat the stinger waffle and eat my salt pill. I saw the water station coming up and unzipped the SpiBelt to retrieve the stinger. As I did, all 3 salt-pills went flying out. I ran for a few steps before realizing this and had to turn around to pick up the nutrition. I was frazzled. As I bent down to pick up the salt pill (I needed only one), I cursed under my breath for losing precious seconds. It ended up being my first mile above an 8-minute pace, and set a negative tone for things to come.

Miles 8 and 9: My issues continued during this uphill section of the run. First, my heart-belt came undone again. This time I stopped to adjust it. It took me 20-30 long seconds to get it right (or so I thought), but it was tangled with my race belt. It came undone again. I stopped again to adjust it but gave up. It dropped down to my waist and hung there. Heart-rate monitoring was out the window for the rest of the race. As I entered mile 9, I had given up mentally. I was jogging at an easy pace now. Mile 9 has a steep uphill which did not help my mental condition. I was slow and huffing. I just wanted to get this race over with.

Mile 10: After the U-turn at mile 9.5 (or so), the course is pretty much all downhill. We all picked up our pace as we descended. I thought I would get a second wind and started passing people. Right then, I saw Colleen and Shelly taking pictures. I had to stop and say hello. It slowed my overall time down, but at this point, I did not care!

Miles 11, 12 and 13: I continued to run at an easy pace. I was tired, I was cranky, I was not enjoying this. I finished strong only because the finish is all downhill.

As you can see, I finished a 3+ minutes above my expected pace in spite of a relatively strong 7 miles.

Thanks to Will, Kristi, Shelly, Colleen and Kristen for stopping by to cheer me on. Thanks to the entire LLS team (especially Dave, Megan and Emily) for everything you they every day for LLS/TnT.

It was not a good race for me. It was hardly a race actually. I am demoralized about the Phoenix Marathon (March 1, 2014) as I write this. I need to finish in 3:30 or better to qualify for Boston. With today’s race, I put my chances at less than 5%. I have a bit more than a month left; I better work hard!

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