IMS Arizona Half Marathon Race Recap

Spoiler Alert:  Pretty big half marathon PR for me on an honest course.  I finished in 1:21:54 which was good enough for 3rd place female and 9th finisher overall.
I am going to basically copy this recap straight from my running blog in order to save me from repeating myself.  It was a really great day for me in Arizona on Sunday and above all I walk away from the experience feeling incredibly blessed and very thankful.  Thankful that I have a body that allows me to run.  Thankful that I have such an incredible support system.  Thankful that so many people believe in me.  Thankful that Ibelieve in me.  Thankful that new and exciting opportunities lie ahead.  Thankful! 

I never want to take running for granted and I always want to remember why I started running.  Setting new PR’s, getting faster, and achieving success is fun and exciting but running is so much more to me and I never want to forget that.  Now onto the recap.

I am still processing this race and trying to wrap my head around the idea that it actually happened. It’s still a little surreal to me but let’s get to the details.

Background: I signed up for this race in July because I saw a deal on fb for $40 for the full marathon. I called my friend Heather that lives in Phoenix to see if she was on board. She was and so I signed up and decided it would be the perfect time of year to get out of Utah. I didn’t know much about the course or the race besides the fact it was a total no frills race and it was in Feb in AZ. I switched to the half marathon (smart decision) in January after battling some injuries after TOU.

Pre-race: I wanted to PR (1:28 on a flat course) but I also felt I was capable of 1:25 so that was the goal. My training had been different (more laid back) gearing up for this race than ever before but I knew I had worked hard and I felt ready.

Nutrition: Mostly noting this for myself for future reference. 3/4 plain bagel & a banana pre-race (55 grams carbs?), 20 ounces of Gatorade & 16 ounces of water. Gatorade at every aid station except the first and last (maybe 1oz total in my mouth at each station…plenty on the face) and a gel at mile 7.5. Oh and the 5-hour energy 10 min before the start!

Splits: 6:22 (slowest mile), 6:13, 6:11, 6:11, 6:14, 6:10, 6:11, 6:14, 6:20, 6:09, 6:16, 6:16, 6:12, 5:38 (50 seconds).

Elevation: 186 loss / 48 gain

Report: 1.8 mile warm-up with a few strides before wishing my friend Heather good luck and lining up at the start. There were a few girls that looked fast and a couple of people talking about going for sub-1:20. I was wondering what in the heck I was getting myself into but managed to stay incredibly calm. Staying calm is critically important to performing well in my opinion. I had looked at the course map a few times and some people I met on the bus ride up told me there was a hill at mile 7 and 12.5. I decided before the race I would run on effort and did not calculate goal splits. The race started and I managed to hang back and let people go. Little did I know that my first mile would be my slowest of the entire race! I started as 5th place female and eased into a comfortably hard pace. The first mile felt awkward and hard and it took me 3 miles to find a grove and feel like I was in control and not forcing my body. I was in 3rd place by mile 2. The weather for the race was perfect but there was an 8mph headwind that was annoying. It was not a big deal but just enough to be annoying. At mile 3 I caught up to a tall guy with bright pink socks (Steve) and did my best to draft off of him. I hit the 5k in a little over 19 min and decided at that point to not hold anything back. I was not really following my plan of 6:25 minute miles and realized I was risking blowing up but I wanted to take the risk. Why not? So I just went for it and continued to run off of effort. I hit the 10k in 39 minutes still tucked right behind pink socks friend. The effort was starting to get to me and I contemplated slowing down. As we came into an aid station and I caught back up to pink socks friend he mentioned that the female Arizona Ironman Champion was not too far ahead and then said “how cool would it be to catch her”. Although I never actually saw her and had no idea how far ahead she was those words sparked some sort of fire in me and gave me just the boost I needed to fight and keep pushing the pace. Runners were very few and far between and besides me and pink socks friend Steve there was only one runner I could see ahead. We finally managed to catch white shirt guy at mile 9 and after seeing his back for 9 miles I was so excited to reel him in. He was very supportive and would end up working with me until the finish. The effort was getting harder but my splits were coming in consistently and I just continued to work as hard as I could. I hit mile 10 at 1:02:30 and thought about slowing down and just running a 5k in 22 minutes and still reaching my goal of 1:25 (moment of weakness). Or I could really see how tough I was and run a sub-20 last 5k! I wanted to see what I was capable of and I really fought for every step that last 5k. I had caught white shirt guy and stayed in between him and pink socks dude. Having these two to work with was incredible helpful. This was a small race with very little crowd support. My feet started bothering me at mile 11 and my calves were screaming at me but it felt good! This is what I work my butt off for; I train for these moments of complete pain when you are pushing yourself so far outside of what you ever thought you were capable of. This is what it is all about. I managed to stay focused and ran with my heart. I kept repeating in my head and out loud (poor white shirt guy) “run with your heart” “run with your heart”. The little hill at mile 12.5 was not too bad (freeway overpass) and I powered up it and then flew into the finish with the biggest smile on my face. My friend Emily was cheering at the mile 13 mile marker and since my family wasn’t at the race it was so great to see a familiar face. I was beaming from ear to ear as I crossed the finish line and was so incredibly happy!

After talking to the first & second place girls and my friend Emily I jogged back to mile 12.5 to run my friend Heather in. 1.2 mile cool down.

Post-Race thoughts: Still processing a lot of this. I feel disappointed when people ask if I won and I have to respond that no I didn’t win but I did run really well. Hard to explain to non-runners that winning was not the goal. I am so incredibly happy with the way I ran and at the end of the day I am only out there competing against myself. By far the coolest thing about it all is that I paced 6:15 for the race which is the Olympic Trials Qualifying pace. I want to keep working hard and make that dream a reality!

The race was perfect and everything I dreamed it could be but the trip to Phoenix was memorable for so many reasons more important than the race.  So many magical things happened and it is so crazy how people fall into your life for a reason.  I now this to be true and I cannot wait to post more about the trip in the next few days. 

Thanks for reading my shenanigans!