Second half-marathon harder than first

I completed half-marathon number two this past Sunday, running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona in 2:09:39. Below are my official race stats. I finished 6,557th out of 21,990 half-marathoners (3,704th out of the 7,939 males).

Keith's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona 2009 half-marathon results

You may remember I had a much faster time for my first race, the Bellingham Bay, which I ran in 1:56:56. I started this last race strong, on pace to finish in 1:52:00 through mile 8. So, how did I end up averaging a minute-per-mile slower finish than before? First take a look at the following video—courtesy the Nike+ data I collected during the race—to review my splits.

As you can see, things started well enough but quickly fell apart around mile 10. That is when I started experiencing massive cramping in my left hamstring and right calf precipitated by severe dehydration. It got so bad, I ended up walking on-and-off for roughly 10 minutes of the race between miles 10 and 12. I started taking in a lot more fluids at each station and, by mile 12, I was able to run the rest of the way.

How did I get dehydrated despite the equipment and attention I invest in proper hydration during training and on race day? Two reasons:

  • First, it was expectedly warmer in Phoenix than any other place I have run since the summer but I didn’t realize how much the heat would affect me. By the end of the race, it was sunny, mid-70s. Compare that to the 9° temperature in Chicago or the 30-40° temperatures in Seattle these past few months. Also, it was much cooler the morning I ran the Bellingham Bay and the hydration plan I used then did not translate to this race. Oops.
  • Second, I had not fully recovered from the virus I caught over the holidays. Mentally I felt ready to have a good race and physically my body felt strong, though a little hot, until mile 8. That was the point the first signs of dehydration and muscle fatigue set in. I previously explained how getting sick derailed my training. Suffice it to say, getting back to a 7 mile “long” run after two down weeks of being sick didn’t fully prepare me to run 13.1 miles a few days later as I had hoped.

I’m not down about my time. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. I am proud I finished strong. Even more, I’m proud I went from not running at all a little over a year ago to completing my second half-marathon. What’s more, I did it surrounded by Arizona Cardinals fans as the home team spoiled the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl quest. I’m still smarting from the 44-6 shellacking the Eagles gave my Cowboys to end our playoff hopes. Given my recent rants, how would it have looked for the Eagles to make it to the Super Bowl again without T.O.? Yes, even after a 44-6 beatdown, I will continue sprinkling hate flakes on Eagles nation. I digress…

I have already registered for my next race, the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half-Marathon, taking place right in our backyard on Saturday, June 27th. Training should be interesting with a new baby and all but I’m sure TB will be supportive. Who knows, maybe she will run too.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona half-marathon this weekend

It has been almost an entire month with no new posts. Besides traveling to Chicago for the holidays, contracting a serious virus to end 2008, being laid out with a 102° fever to start 2009, caring for a pregnant wife I got sick with my germs and driving a few high-priority projects to completion since returning to work last Monday, I have spent this week convincing my body it is physically and mentally ready to run another half-marathon in 3 1/2 days.

Before heading to Chicago on Christmas Eve, my training was going great. I ran three times during the five days we were there celebrating Christmas with my in-laws, despite severe, 9° temperatures and icy road conditions. I was ready for the race and ready to begin gradually decreasing my mileage each week leading up to the race. Decrease mileage I did, but it wasn’t gradual. I got so sick the Sunday after Christmas and ended up on prescription meds and confined to the couch/bed. I went from running 28 miles per week to running 0 miles for two weeks. Not good.

Earlier this week, I went for my first run since falling ill. It wasn’t pretty. While I managed 4 miles in just under 39 minutes, at the end my legs felt like linguine and I nearly coughed up a lung. I took a break to let the shock wear off and my next run was 5.1 miles in 45 minutes. I felt much better during and after that run but didn’t feel like I could run another 8 miles, which is what I will need to do this Sunday. My plan is to work up to at least a 60 minute run this week and hope everything comes together in the desert. Thankfully the course is flat and the weather should be mild at 60-70°.

Just how big is this race? Over 35,000 registrants, about 100 bands performing live along the course and national television coverage on FSN (schedule TBD). I pinched the video below from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona site. They make running 26.2 and 13.1 miles look so fun.