The headline of this post could be “Area Man Fails to Achieve Goal in Race.”
I completed the P.F. Chang’s Rock ’n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon in a respectable time: 2:08:15. For my first half-marathon—or, really, for any amateur runner’s half-marathon—it’s quite an accomplishment. That will be my lasting memory.
Still, I can’t shake this twinge of disappointment. Fact is, I didn’t do what I set out to do, what I told you and everybody else I was going to do. Considering my goal was to break 2 hours, I was quite a bit off. I’m looking at two main reasons why.
1. Ready… set… oh wait! I have to pee!
I read a column that said I should drink one to two cups of water right before the starting gun goes off. I had a 16 oz. bottle with me that I drank right before the gun went off. I assume the idea was to put water in my stomach that I’d need for the race. So I drank the water. Problem is, because I was in the 16th starting group, I didn’t actually cross the start line until about 30 minutes later, which was more than enough time for the water to go through my system.
As we approached the start, group by group, I kept looking over at the portable toilets. Would I have enough time to get there and back? A quick glance at the lines and I knew my answer was no. I held it. But I was distracted. I wasn’t even a mile into the race and I dashed for the first set of porta-potties, killing probably 2 minutes. Then I spent the next couple of miles making up for the lost time, which was a mistake. I probably burned too much energy too early. Oops.
What I can do next time: Drink that water, but make sure it’s right before I start.
2. Crash at mile 10
Right after mile 10, when I should have had the finish line in my mind’s eye, I was trying to will my body to take the next step. Finally, I slowed to a walk. I made sure the walk was brief, like 15 seconds, and then started running again. Then another stop. And another, etc., etc.
My body had given up and there was nothing I could do about it. A 15-second walk here and a 30-second walk there, and I could feel my 2-hour goal quickly slipping away. I had lots of time toward the end of the race—the final 2.5 miles took FOREVER—to wonder why I hit a wall. This had never happened in 10 weeks of training that included runs of 8, 10 and 12 miles. Best I can tell, I didn’t eat well enough the day before; it doesn’t take a master’s degree in nutrition to make the connection.
The week leading up to race day I focused on modest portions of carbs and protein and turned up my nose to most sweets and anything else I thought my body wouldn’t need. Result: I lost 2.5 pounds in the six days leading up to the race.
Did trying to eat better actually cost me?
In all of my training, I never paid much attention to what I ate. Why I chose to throw out that thinking at the last minute, I’ll never know. By concentrating so hard on eating well, I’m sure I didn’t eat enough.
What I can do next time: Don’t change what’s been working during training. Or, consult a nutritionist for a prerace prescription.
So … what’s next?
My half-marathon finish has definitely got me thinking about the full marathon. Not in a “I can totally do it” way but in a “There’s no way” way. Like an aging pro athlete contemplating his retirement, I’m going to spend a few weeks talking with my family and friends and then decide what next. The Rock ’n’ Roll franchise includes some 10 races around the country. One upcoming race is in San Diego in early June, but that’s too close to my wife’s due date for comfort. I can’t possibly go gallivanting off to Southern California while she’s about to pop.
But there is a race in Los Angeles in October and in Las Vegas in December—maybe I can do the half again then. And maybe, depending on how I’m feeling and how my training is going, I can stretch for the full in Phoenix. I have until early registration closes in summer to think about it.