ROCK N ROLL ARIZONA HALF MARATHON
I decided to take one last shot at an OT-qualifying time, even though I didn't feel quite ready. But that's what happens when you run out of time. I knew going in that it'd be a long shot to qualify here. The course is not ideal for a PR. It's not crazy hard, but it's a gradual uphill for 9.5 miles and it's not quite at sea level. Ideally, you'd want pancake flat and sea level. But, I procrastinated and by the time I decided to give it a shot, Houston was no longer accepting elites. So, Rock n Roll Arizona it was.
I made it quick, fly out Saturday, hit the Expo, eat food, check into hotel, wake up, race, shower, check out, and fly home. They had places to park at the start line, but I was paranoid it'd fill up and I'd have nowhere to park, so I got there pretty early. I reclined the seat and napped for 30 minutes before getting out and doing a short warmup.
The race got out quite quickly. There were several 1:03 or faster guys in the race. I was ranked 18th according to PRs. I wanted a bit of a conservative start, as I seem to race better that way. I turned the autolap off on my watch and manually took splits at the mile markers. This turned out to be a mistake as the markers were all over the place! One of them said I was running 4:09/mile pace and another 6:25/mile pace, just totally unreliable. So, I'll post the Strava splits instead.
I got out in probably 20th place with a 5:03, and it felt harder than I hoped it'd feel. I got behind Nick Hilton and another guy and tried to find a groove, we hit mile two in 4:57. That was the pace I needed. The two guys I was drafting behind slowed in mile 3 as we hit 5:03. But I wasn't too concerned yet. Mile 4 was 5:07. Now I was worried. We had dug quite a hole. Hilton surged and I went as well, but not as hard as he did (I think he ended up running 1:05:07). I hit mile 5 in 5:00. All these miles are uphill so far. Nothing too serious 5-25 feet per mile. But enough to slow you down 3-5 seconds a mile. In mile 6 I said, "It's now or never". So I surged up the hill here trying to hit a split under the required 4:57 pace. I ended up with a 4:58, just couldn't quite get the pace and wouldn't again the rest of the race.
That surge kind of did me in. It was just holding on as best as I could after that. I did pass quite a few people from 5k to 10k, but after 10k I only passed two guys and got passed by three I think. But I did beat a few guys that are already qualified with sub-1:05s. Mile 7 was 5:11, still up hill. Miles 8 and 9 were the biggest climbes, though still nothing outrageous, just 40 feet per mile, but at that point it was just draining. At one point I thought the hills were finally done and then we turned into the biggest one of the race and it just crushed my soul! Miles 8 and 9 were 5:16 & 5:17. At 15k you turn back down after a 180-degree turn and it's mostly downhill to the finish with one small hill along the way. But I was too tired to take advantage of the downhill. I ran mile 10 at 5:08 and 11 at 5:07. Miles 12 and 13 I had all but given up, just running very weak mentally. I split 5:12 and 5:14. At the end there was one guy just ahead of me and two guys trying to pass me, so I mustered up a kick and ran 4:18/mile pace to the finish to pass the guy ahead of me and hold off the others for 14th place.
I grabbed some food, grabbed my gear, walked a half mile back to my car, and drove back to the hotel immediately without lingering at all after the race. Despite all this, the OT time wasn't the only thing I missed by two minutes, I got back to the hotel at 10:02 with breakfast ending at 10:00. Dang! Since I missed breakfast, I decided to cool down afterall from the hotel.
So, no olympic trials for me. That's ok. It was fun to chase. I feel like the only real shot I gave myself was Chicago though. That was the only sea-level race where I was really on point fitness-wise and weight-wise. Today I was getting into shape, but not quite there. I am also 4-5 pounds overweight right now (holidays man!). But I feel I have unfinished business in the half marathon. I wanted to run 1:05 to qualify, but even more I just wanted to prove to myself that I could. And I still think I can, so I will keep trying for that goal.