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.