Despite the tragedy surrounding race weekend, it went pretty well. Everything prior to the expo was a bit of a blur. I quickly picked up all of my race swag and headed out to wander the expo for a few hours. I picked up a few safety items — a Brooks night running jacket and a few blinky lights. Also managed to replace a few of my iFitness water bottles since I seemed to have lost the top to one of them. I even loaded up on a 24-pack of Gu that I was able to pack back onto the plane. After sitting through one of the pre-race chats, I headed out to lunch/dinner and then quickly retreated back to the hotel.
Oddly enough it was one of the best nights I’ve had before a race. I got a full 8-9 hours of sleep. In the middle of the night I had somehow dreamt that I saw a bright white light. It started out as a faint glimmer, and as I stopped to examine it, the light moved closer and got brighter until eventually my entire field of vision was engulfed with it. I immediately woke up and for some reason, had bike helmets on my mind. I grabbed some water and headed back to bed. It was only later that I realized that the vision of sorts may have been related to my friend’s cycling accident.
Race morning, I headed into Tempe with a flood of other cars. I scored some parking really close to the start/finish line at Tempe Beach Park, which is the Ironman AZ swim start location.
The race started off without a hitch. In the middle of the crowd I felt a bit melancholy and sad. I tried not to cry like the day before but I couldn’t help but shed a few tears thinking about Ron. The peppy runner girls got weirded out by me and headed to another part of the corral. Oh well. What cheered me up was that I was next to a guy who was extremely happy to be there: he was dancing and had a huge, goofy smile plastered on his face. After examining his bib it turns out that he was a legacy runner, having ran the same race for 10 years in a row. I guess he had a plenty good reason to be happy!
It started off nice and cool. I tried not to overdress but I think I did. I was definitely still on Seattle weather, because I had my thermal running leggings and a long-sleeved shirt. I nixed the windbreaker at the last minute, since there didn’t seem to be any winds a-blowing. I started regretting the decision to overdress at around mile 7 or 8, when the cool air lifted and made way for desert warmth. I savored the sun and the heat, knowing that I’d very well miss it when I got back to Seattle.
I want to say miles 7 through 10 was probably my most favorite miles of the entire race. Not only was it the most scenic, but the motivational signs really helped. It was right along here that I thought of Ron the most.
This sign choked me up the most. It’s hard to see what good can come out of a friend’s death. I am sure in time it will make sense but for now, I guess all you can do is have faith that he did not die in vain.
Running while choked up is really hard. It’s the whole “mind over matter” game. The minute I told my body to relax, it did. The minute I let my emotions get a hold of me, they literally choked me. It continued for a few miles but eventually I was able to get my bearings and get a move on. I had a finish line to reach for Ron. I eventually crossed it — 17 minutes faster than my last half marathon at the beginning of December. I attribute my time to 1) Ron, 2) all of my training, and 3) going vegetarian.
I headed out for my ritual reward meal…In-n-Out, strategically placed within a mile of the finish line. I gobbled everything in the sun. I felt like the weekend was finally picking up.
Got my first dual-race medal, the Desert Double down. I’m excited about the 9 other Rock n Roll races I’m planning to run this year. Yay tour pass and ambitious goals!
Then, that evening, I headed out of Phoenix. It was a crampy, rough ride back to Seattle, but the scenery was gorgeous.
Overall a very steady and quick pace. Well, at least it was quick for me. Now if I could only sustain that type of effort over twice the distance. Now that’d be pretty nice!