Running my first Half Marathon – Going the distance – Peoria – 04-19-2014

I graduated from Grad school in the Spring of 2013. The last 6-8 months of courses + internships + job search meant, I had pretty much given up on all physical activity. That coupled with the fact that I was stuffing Subway subs down my face and eating out of vending machines (yum, that dinner consisted of chips and snickers bars) on stressful days, meant that I had become a sloth. I took a much needed vacation for about half of May and the whole of June, and going back home after so long meant I was treated to some excellent food and a lot of rest.

By July, I had joined work, and because July can be scorching in Phoenix. coupled with some Jet Lag after a long vacation back home to India, I was pretty much tired most days, and slept in. August came, and although sill hot, I renewed my commitment to physical activity. I just wasn’t feeling in shape – and that’s a terrible feeling when you have been physically active all your life. So, one fine day in August, I decided to go cycling in Tempe. One thing lead to another, and I found some nice canal paths that I liked riding on, and fueled that interest more. Pretty soon, I was cycling regularly. I kept on till December when it starts to get cold (well, not that cold, but still). Somewhere during this time, I decided to enroll in the Phoenix Half Marathon – you know, so I could have a goal and hopefully train towards it. Also, since December was cold, I had to give up cycling, and run on a treadmill instead. I haven’t run distances since I was in my 8th grade, and so it was nice to have the cycling going before I attempted to run 13.1 miles. While I was doing my undergrad back in India, I had a decent walking routine that took me to a beach and back daily. After that, I guess sports mostly kept me fit. Of course running is painful initially- your body hates it, and forces you to give up. I started slow – running at about 5mph. My goal wasn’t to complete the half in any specific time – which is what most people will tell you their goal was when they ran their first.

The Phoenix half marathon was on March 1st, and I decided to register for it. I thought with a couple of months to go for the event, I should be prepared. I did some running and cycling in December, followed by more running and cycling in Jan’14. I think I got some kind of a training plan online – it was a very simple plan, with breaks two days a week, long distances on weekends, and getting miles in on weekdays.  Training was going pretty well into February, and by 2nd of Feb I had managed a 11 mile run, feeling confident of the race, when I caught a cold and knew I wouldn’t be able to make the race. I requested the organizers to defer my race to which they kindly obliged. I was also bicycling 32 miles to and from work, so ya, the training was definitely not going bad. From 20th of Feb to 14th of March all my workouts were pretty much washed out. (It’s nice to be able to see that kind of data from Endomondo. Of course I recollect I had cold, and didn’t want to risk it.) Taking breaks always sucks when it comes to running, and restarting was again going to be painful – so I again started with hiking, walking and cycling. (well, you know, everything but running. 🙂 )

As soon as I missed the Phoenix half, I was on the lookout for a next race that followed soon afterwards so that all my training (in spite of what I will claim was a fairly busy work schedule.) didn’t go to waste. I found this race in Peoria, and although a drive, it was still something I wanted to do. In hindsight, this was probably a good first race. The participants were limited, the event was well organized, and I wasn’t overwhelmed. March was a bad month with respect to the amount of training I got, but hey I got some. By the first week of April, I was back running and even did a run of 11 miles in ~2:08. Not too shabby. But once again, work struck back, and I had to miss workouts 2 weeks into the event. Somehow managed hikes on weekends, and a few walks and runs here and there.

Race Day:

Anyway, the D-day arrived, I woke up in decent time, and drove to the start point at Rio Vista Community Park. It’s a beautiful if you happen to stay close by and haven’t visited it yet. Google maps did slightly annoy me by making me drive in loops even after I had reached the venue, but that frustration was soon over.

Anyway, here’s the endomondo data of the run,

https://www.endomondo.com/embed/workouts?w=vbMm0RHMpeA&width=580&height=600&width=950&height=600

There was some elevation gain, but not too much. I also had to take a pee break somewhere in there 🙂 yikes – over-hydrating. (somewhere in the middle of Mile 8 as evidenced by the lap time.) The last 2 miles were hard. I had run 11 miles and some schedules advice you to keep the 13 for the day of the race. WORST ADVICE EVER! I would have much preferred having done 13 miles a couple of times before the race. Anyway, I struggled through the last 2 miles, and tried sprinting at the fag end to be within 2:30, but as luck would have it finished a few seconds late. (I don’t remember the official chip time, but it was better than what Endomondo showed.) Not the time I hoped for, but not too bad either. I could have gone faster initially, but wanted to conserve some fuel for later in the race – unfortunately having that fuel didn’t help later in the race. By April, Phoenix was beginning to get warm, and though the weather wasn’t bad at all, it wasn’t ideal.

There were bagels and bananas at the finish line – yay! After I got home, I had bath, treated myself to a nice big lunch and a milk-shake, and slept like a dog while also wincing in pain. I somehow managed to hurt my left knee either during the run or immediately afterwards, and that’s been a niggle for a while now. All in all, a good first race.

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