Welcome to Tucson!
It's been a while since my last race report... even though between my triathlon and Tucson, I had two other halfs (American Discovery Trail Half- 2:18 and Long Beach Half- 2:18)... both were disastrous, and to be honest, I had no real desire to hash them out, and break down what went wrong.
Given those craptastic races, I knew going into Tucson that I wanted redemption. To prove to myself that I'm a better runner than my last two races showed me to be.
The trip didn't start off auspiciously... I knew I had to be up early to make my flight- and in my infinite wisdom, I failed to turn my alarm ON. Thank God, I have a natural tendency to wake up when I need to, and was only half an hour behind. Still... when you have a 75 minute drive to the airport, minutes matter, and I knew I'd be cutting it close. Or so I thought. I *ahem*, have a bit of a lead foot... and the 75 minute drive took me 60 minutes to do. Huh? What? Nothing to see here...
Friday was all hanging out in Phoenix- shopping, kicking back, and enjoying family. Resting. Keeping my mind clear of any and all distractions (something that has always been a terrible problem for me...)
Saturday afternoon we finally headed out to Tucson. Let me be honest here... the drive from Phoenix to Tucson was like a trip through the butthole of the Southwest. Ugly may be an understatement. YAY for good music and even better conversation. :)
Oh... and Tucson? Your race expo sucked donkey wieners you may want to have volunteers who aren't assnuggets. K? Thanks. Switching from the full to half involved a pissed off old dude who acted put out for having to help me, and the teens sitting with the shirts were worse. Wheeeeee.
But hey! The view was nice!
Finally, we got to the hotel (a whole 'nother skanky adventure... note to self- NEVER go cheap when you're only staying one night... lesson learned.), and then hit Carrabas for a carb loading feast. One last run to pick up Gatorade, a banana and a powerbar for breakfast, and then we were back in the room for some sleep. Let me say now that whatever race nerves may plague me, falling asleep (and staying asleep) are never issues for me before my races. I was asleep by 8:30, no issues.
We were up again by 4:30 am, and after eating my breakfast and drinking some Gatorade, we were on our way to the bus drop to take me up the mountain to the race start. (Did I mention the Biosphere is up that way? No? Well, it is. Cool, huh? Yeah, well... it's about the only cool thing out that way, so work with me here!) I slept again on the way up the mountain, and when we got there, it was COLD and pitch black out. I drank some water, some more gatorade, and hit the porta potties (three times, actually). About 30 minutes before the race, I did a warm up run, and on the way back up to the starting line, was blessed to see this:
A simultaneous moonset and sunrise over the desert mountains... breathtakingly lovely.
The race started uneventfully. I knew there was a slight uphill to start, so I had a hard time hitting my assigned warm up pace of 9:35- I was kind of all over the place the first mile. Once we started the downhill, I hit my pace, and held it for the assigned three miles. I took water at each stop, and at the 30 minute mark, took my first Gu. (the water and Gu are important... previously I was a 60 minute, and every other water stop kind of runner...)
Miles 3-10 were an assigned 9:25 pace. I found myself holding it, and letting my mind wander. Things like... wow, this is a narrow course (we ran on the shoulders); holy crap, don't twist your ankles on those pay-attention grooves; did that guy wink, or does he have sweat in his eye; oooh, pancakes, yeah, I want pancakes; etc, etc, blah blah blah. Seriously. My mind was everywhere BUT my run. Which is good... and bad because when I looked down, I was running at a 9:00 pace, and my average pace was down low. Too low. I started to panic. Tried to slow down a little. Slowed down too much. Couldn't find my pace again. At mile 11, the constant barrage of rolling hills was getting to me on all levels, and when the first real hill hit, I fell apart. Walked up the hill. Then couldn't reactivate my legs. Mile 11 saw me going down to an 11:54 pace for the mile. WTF.
Then my race angel found me. Some random runner chatting me up. Asking if I was ok (I was crying). When I told him I was close to a PR, he gently, but clearly told me to HTFU and move my ass. So I did. Pushed through the pain, and by mile 12, found my legs again. Hit a second nasty hill just after the mile marker, and walked again. And heard him telling me to move, move, move. So I did.
And by mile 12.5, I KNEW that a PR was doable. So I pushed. And pushed. And pushed to the puke threshold all the way to the end.
New PR, BABY, yeah! Chip time was actually a 2:07:14!
Bib, bling, and kick ass arm sleeves!
Old PR- 2:08:33... new PR- 2:07:14!! OMG! HELL YES! I've had the old PR so long, I was starting to wonder if it was a hump I wasn't going to be able to get over... but thanks to some last minute coaching, a lot of heart, and a sweet race angel, I did it!
Holy shit. I did it. I have another goal in mind for my next half. But for now? I'm going to enjoy this PR and now even mention the next one. Merry Christmas to me- thank you Santa, for getting me the PR I asked for!