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Tucson Half Marathon - Run


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Tucson, Arizona
United States
40F / 4C
Overcast
Total Time = 1h 21m 31s
Overall Rank = 20/1153
Age Group = 35-39
Age Group Rank = 2/
Pre-race routine:

Tucson is roughly an hour and 45 minute drive from my home in Scottsdale. In years past I'd elected to stay in Tucson Saturday night but this year chose to drive down the morning of. I had arranged with the RD for my friends to pick up my packet and they left it at the registration desk for the host hotel.

Woke up at 1:30am, had some steel cut oats and coffee and was on the road by 2:20am. Drive to Tucson was uneventful and we arrived at the hotel at approximately 4:15am. Grabbed packets, another cup of coffee and then made our way to the parking area where we would board the buses for transport to the starting line.
Event warmup:

Hopped off the bus and noticed right away that it was windy and lucky us, the wind was straight out of the south. Guess which way we were running? Yep, towards the south.

Spent 10 minutes warming up with a few short bursts to race pace. Downed a gel 15 minutes before the start and then with 5 minutes to go made our way to the starting line.
Run
  • 1h 21m 31s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 06m 13s  min/mile
Comments:

My goal for this race, if everything lined up perfectly, was to run a NY time which meant breaking into the 1:18 marks. I knew that would take perfect conditions and execution but felt it was still a realistic goal. Secondary goal was just to run a sub 1:20 for the day. When I first felt the headwind we would be faced with I started to question the ability to go 1:18 but felt sub 1:20 was still doable.

At the gun I went out with a lead pack of about 40 that splintered into three distinct groups within the first half mile; the lead studs that I had no business running with, another group of about 10 and then a pack of six or so just up ahead of me. I was running with one other person and immediately put my focus on hitting my times and seeing who I could reel in.

My target was to run around a 6:10 or so first mile and then settle into running around 6:05-6:00 minute miles. After the second mile I could see we were in fact reeling in the small group in front of us and the person I was running with was surging all over the place. One minute he's pulling away, the next I'm passing him. I knew he was already well on his way to being shelled and just kept steady. Shortly we caught that first group and I saw my friend Chris running in the middle of it. The wind was driving straight into us so I tucked in behind them to spare some effort rather than leading out. Unfortunately they were running more around 6:10 to 6:15 and I knew that wasn't going to get me where I needed so I reluctantly pulled out and went around, dropping back to around my target 6:00 mm pace.

Sure enough, the sound of footsteps next to me started to vanish and I knew I'd lost my running partner and was on my own. I could see a group of five or six now a ways off in the distance and made them my next goal to slowly reel in.

The wind wasn't brutal but it was prominent enough to cause some extra effort running through. It was pretty steady probably around 10mph and would gust up a touch here and there. We would fight this for the first 6 miles or so and then it finally died down. One other thing to note, the run was lonely.

Tucson is always a fairly lonely run for the first 1/2 of the race as there is nowhere for spectators to park on the roadside, in fact it is prohibited. Combine that with a new course layout from mile 8 on that ended up going through small residential neighborhoods rather than the main street through the commercial area of town and the very cold, for us in Arizona, temperatures and there wasn't a big showing of cheer support. The volunteers at the aid stations were awesome though and made as much noise as possible.

At mile 8 I saw the turn for the detour and immediately cursed the hill I saw it turned into. Thankfully the major part of the hill wasn't realized as we made a quick right but it was still a small climb that killed a little bit of pace. Finally cleared the grade and the next mile was a mix of flat and some ever slight descent. It was through here that I began to reel in that group in front and quickly disposed of the trailing guy as he was breaking and step by step pulled in a super speedy girl. We ran side by side for the next mile until we hit the first big hill.

Where did this hill come from? This was certainly not in the plan and I immediately knew my sub 1:20 was definitely in jeopardy as this was going to really slow some pace and damage my legs with 5k left to go. Put my head down (figuratively) shortened the stride, pumped the arms and put in a solid effort to climb the hill. I never looked at my pace here because I knew there was nothing I could do about it and that whatever I saw I would be frustrated with. Finally crested the hill, passed the next person and spotted another speedy girl just up in front of me. It felt good hitting that downhill and I tried the best I could to let me trashed legs run loose as possible and try to gain some time. That was short lived for about a 1/4 mile as we were then faced with an even larger hill. Attacked this one the same way and just put in the best effort I could. Halfway up the hill I managed to go by that rabbit and after hitting the top I saw two more people about a quarter mile up that would be my next rabbit.

Now the good news was the hills were done, the bad news though was my legs were trashed and I knew I'd lost at least a minute to them. Finally around 2.5 miles left to go I quoted Jesse Pinkton to myself "run, b!tch" and made it a point to embrace the pain for the last fifteen minutes. Unfortunately the best effort I had left in me were 6:00 minute miles, just could not find another gear for the run in, I was done.

Made a right, then a left and the right turn into the finish line was just up the road. I'd closed a little bit on one of the two that were in front of me but I couldn't close it fully and crossed the line seeing 1:21:xx on the clock.
What would you do differently?:

Hard to say as I ran the absolute best race I had in me. Perhaps some course recon would had led me to alter my starting strategy and if I could try it again I'd get closer to the front and tuck in behind the group that was running 5:55-5:50. Allow them to do the work in the wind, push myself a little harder than I wanted but bank some time for the hills that I wasn't aware were coming.

It sounds like a decent plan but who knows, that could leave me shelled for the hills and I could have lost even more time. At the end of the day I think the biggest benefit I could have had would have been someone or a group to help punch through the wind and save some effort. But you don't always get that in a smaller race and you can only use what you have.
Post race
Warm down:

Not much. Watched a friend finish and then started to freeze so I went and grabbed my drop bag and put on some warmer clothes. Grabbed some water, waited for my cousin to finish (stud ran a 1:34 on ZERO training) and then we grabbed some food. Stood around freezing for another 30 minutes until I could pick up my AG award and then we boarded the bus to head back to the lot and drive home.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Nothing. Went as fast as I could given the day, the conditions, and the fitness I had.

Event comments:

Last thing to note is the satisfaction of finally executing a race to a T, both mentally and physically. I suffered at a few points, found a dark place and sucked it up like a boss and pushed through.




Last updated: 2013-11-18 12:00 AM
Running
01:21:31 | 13.1 miles | 06m 13s  min/mile
Age Group: 2/
Overall: 20/1153
Performance: Good
Course: Tucson is normally a pretty big net downhill, point to point course starting at the Biosphere and heading South into Oro Valley. This year though there was some construction that forced a course detour at the 8 mile mark and some pre race recon could have been very beneficial. The usual course set up has the route falling for the first 9.5 to 10 miles then it flattens, one short climb and then fast and flat into the finish. Turns out the new course has you falling the first 8 miles (old course) then a turn into a moderate climb, flat, some falling from miles 9-10 and then two grueling hills shortly after mile 10 that made legs cry. After mile 11 it was flat the rest of the way in.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Evaluation
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

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2013-12-09 11:49 AM

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Expert
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Scottsdale, AZ
Subject: Tucson Half Marathon


2013-12-10 2:33 PM
in reply to: #4910521

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Master
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University Park, MD
Subject: RE: Tucson Half Marathon
Nice work on the 1:21. That's a good time.

(Though I'd be hesitant about complaining about the wind when you're doing a race with 1000' of descent. )
2013-12-10 5:09 PM
in reply to: colinphillips

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Expert
3145
2000100010025
Scottsdale, AZ
Subject: RE: Tucson Half Marathon

Originally posted by colinphillips Nice work on the 1:21. That's a good time. (Though I'd be hesitant about complaining about the wind when you're doing a race with 1000' of descent. )

 

Ha!  Definitely not blaming the wind but it was out there

2013-12-26 2:31 PM
in reply to: thebigb

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Veteran
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Austin, Texas
Subject: RE: Tucson Half Marathon

Regardless of results (which, by the way, were pretty dang speedy!), executing any race over ~45' "to a T" is a great accomplishment.  Nicely done!

And I'm going to take that quote with me out on the roads next year, for sure.  

Matt

2013-12-26 2:31 PM
in reply to: thebigb

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Veteran
2842
200050010010010025
Austin, Texas
Subject: RE: Tucson Half Marathon

Regardless of results (which, by the way, were pretty dang speedy!), executing any race over ~45' "to a T" is a great accomplishment.  Nicely done!

And I'm going to take that quote with me out on the roads next year, for sure.  

Matt

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