Apologies in advance for any tears you may shed while reading this Mesa-Phx Half Marathon race recap. But I promise they are both good and bad, so there is a balance! Typically my race recaps can get really long… and many times I enjoy looking back on those posts to remember exactly how I felt and what I experienced on race day — or the events that lead me to that race. I’d like to think today’s post will be different, because quite honestly, it’s all a fabulous blur… but I’m not making any promises.
First I’ll start by saying I had three goals in mind heading into the Mesa-Phx Half Marathon.
- Have fun.
- Cross the finish line and NOT feel like dying. (In other words, honor my body and not push it to it’s limits; hope all my cross-training and strength training paid off.)
- Beat last year’s time on this course which was 1:56:55, and the last time I raced this distance of 13.1 miles.
A time of 1:56:55 is not my PR; my PR is way back in 2013 and was 1:39:04. I highly doubt I will get to that speed again. So I needed to figure out a NEW place to start; a new set of goals for this year. This year is extra special to me, and I want to explain why.
As some of you may have read previously, on March 5th of 2016 our amazing dog Rocco passed away. Rocco lived a life filled with love, in a house full of joy and compassion. He was truly our furry child. I can’t believe he has been gone almost a year now. It has left a hole in my heart, which has been slowly healing over the days and months he has been gone.
After Rocco, the thought of running just didn’t appeal to me — at all. After he was gone, I didn’t run for 3+ weeks. It didn’t seem right. He was our boy, he was our family. We did everything together and now he was gone.
Our first run as a “family” of two, was a mix of emotions. That day on the trail I went from smiles to tears and back again — many times. It was a new world for Mr. ZR and I to explore. One where we weren’t burdened by the illness Rocco had been fighting for over 4 years, one where we could just focus on us.
Over the next 4 months I only ran about 15 times. Once my birthday hit in July, I decided to get back on the running wagon — but very slowly. I would run 3x’s a week, but only one or two miles at a time.
141 miles in 6 months (15 runs/hikes)
March – 2 runs, 8 miles
April – 6 run/walks, 31 miles
May – 6 run/walks, 20 miles
June – 1 trail race run/walk; 7 miles
July – 12 runs, 30 miles
Aug – 6 runs, 3 hikes; 45 miles
By September, I remembered I had registered for the 2017 Phx-Mesa Half Marathon. I wanted to be trained for the distance, so I set up a SUPER extended training plan to ease my body back into running regularly. I essentially took Hal Higdon’s “Novice 2” half marathon training plan, and doubled it. So what was originally a 12 week plan, I made 24 weeks. I allowed myself to walk in the first month, if needed. By October I was in the groove, but in November I got a cold and that caused me to take some rest days and skip some runs. Lastly, December is always a lower mileage month for me due to the holidays, but by Jan I was on FIRE and ready to really pick up my training.
418 miles in 6 months (86 runs)
Sept – 15 runs, 1 hike, 48 miles
Oct – 18 runs, 76 miles
Nov – 12 runs, 56 miles
Dec – 11 runs, 62 miles
Jan – 17 runs, 102 miles
Feb – 13 runs, 74 miles
I did it for me.
One more pivotal thing about 2016 I don’t want to glaze over. If you read my Heart Rate training update, you know that in addition to losing Rocco, we also decided to give one final big push towards starting a family. That was another reason it seemed to make sense to run less; to see if that had any effect on my conception chances. After giving it a solid 5 months of trying ALL the natural methods (you name it, we did it) we had both finally reached our limit. Unless you have ever tried for a family and been unsuccessful, there is no way I can fully describe it. Here are some words that come to mind, in a nutshell.
Failure. Flawed. Broken. Sick. Incomplete. Insecure. Sadness. Obsessed. Worried. Hopeful. Disappointed. Daily. Void. Lonely. Spinning. Weakened. Exhausted. Empty. Doubtful. Lacking. Self-pity. Fear. Darkness.
And then at some point, you say f#ck it. I’m done.
Six and a half years of feeling all those things, over and over again.
…feeling sorry for myself.
…living my life with a limiting belief on what I am capable of as a human being because I’ve let this define me for too long.
We’re done. And if I seem angry, it’s because I am. I am still processing this loss. I’ll probably be processing it for the rest of my life. But I will not let it stop me or define me.
Now I’m living my life to be healthy and fit FOR ME. I’m living in the present, not for the what ifs that MAY come down the road.
This race was my comeback. My road to healing. After the loss of Rocco and the loss of our potential family.
We are SURROUNDED by family — AMAZING families. So, we are far from alone. And instead of being pissed about what I don’t have and why I don’t have it, I’ve been focusing on what I do have and not wasting it. We have freedom — in more ways than one. I will not waste that.
Let’s celebrate that and move onto the race, shall we?
Mesa-Phx Half Marathon Race Recap
This part of the recap should be smooth as butter; because the RACE went as smooth as butter. I seriously couldn’t have asked for a better race day. Normally at the finish — at EVERY finish — I’m grunting and pushing and giving it all I have. But this year, despite the earlier headline above, it wasn’t just for me. But I’m getting ahead of myself!
I won’t bore you with packet pick-up or my pre-race head game, that stuff is pretty standard these days. But I will start with the realization that I knew a TON of people running this race. That’s one of the reasons I DO this race. It is local, and I’ve done it every year since the inaugural half marathon. (We all know how hard I worked for 26.2 in 2014. Yikes.)
The Mesa-Phx Half Marathon definitely holds a special place in my heart, and this year just added to the reasons.
Earlier in the week, one of my runner friends, Melissa and I agreed to meet at the 2:00 hour pacer, at the race start. We thought we’d stick together as best we could, to run a good race. We were both very clear that the other could drop the other if needed, and we genuinely both seemed good with that. Essentially, run our own race, but have a quiet shadow nearby — pushing us along — but no obligation to stick together.
I don’t know why, or how, but about 20 hours before the race, I just KNEW we were going to cross the finish line together. It was in my gut. We would come in under 2 hours too. Her PR was 2:01 and she just wanted to beat that. So it was perfect that we were right within the same finish time goals.
After packet pickup, I realized I had ‘2 hours’ as a finish time in my head — ‘2 hours, 2 hours, 2 hours’. But I needed to BEAT 2 hours; I needed 1:56 or FASTER. So I wrote 1:55 on the dry erase board in our kitchen, along with my bib number. VISUALIZE.
On race morning, lined up at the 2:00 pacer with Melissa, I told her I had 1:55 in my head. She gave me a look that said, ‘Oh man, I don’t think I can do that’. But deep down, I still felt like we both could. Yet again, we agreed to run our own races.
Melissa and I crossed the start mats, started our watches and our race was on! We stuck with the 2:00 pacer until the first water station at mile 2.5. I had been looking at my quarter mile splits and they were too slow if we were gonna meet the 1:55 time. Melissa and I were feeling good, so we pushed by the 2:00 pacer. It was a perfect way to start, by warming up and easing into the race. We just kept clipping along, side by side, mostly in silence while I listened to my music. At about mile 6.5 I heard an excited voice from behind… “I’ve been chasing you girls for the last half mile!” Slightly worried to see who it was, I looked and realized it was another runner friend, Amy! I was STOKED! There isn’t another runner who I’d be more happy to see!
We all got our excitement out, and then kept clipping along, 3 across now. I finally realized I should ask her what her finish time was. When she said 2 hours was her goal, I was stoked! Amy was just 5 months post-partum, had logged 1,000 pregnant miles and had been fighting for every post-partum mile to prepare for this race. A PR wouldn’t happen for her today either, much like me, but she was fighting for her comeback. (She has a great Instagram account, you should follow along.)
It was set, from that moment on we just kept pushing each other and ticking off mile after mile. And apparently at mile 9.87 I decided it would be a good idea to jump for the camera. LOL Melissa is 6752 🙂
By about mile 11, I think we all started to feel it a bit more. The last two miles became all of us taking turns sharing motivating words. If we kept pushing at that pace we were definitely going to finish under 2 hours and Melissa would beat her personal record (PR). It helped me to forget about any pain I was feeling and focus on making sure she got that PR!
In the final 1/4 mile, we decided it was time to push even harder and get to the finish line even faster.
I think at one point Melissa said, “I’m gonna puke” and I said, “No you’re not. You’re fine. You’re about to PR.” LOL #toughlove
WE DID IT! All three of us crossed the mat together. All three of us ran our own race, beat our own goals — but we did it together. If there is anything that the past 6.5 years have taught me, it’s that life is better with a team. Sure, you can always find a way to do it alone – but it’s so much better together.
The stars aligned perfectly for the 2017 Mesa-Phx Half Marathon, and I couldn’t be happier. Family comes in many forms. BRING IT ON 2017.
Final race stats below, finished in 1:55:53 (8:51 pace), so almost exactly 1 minute faster than last year’s Mesa-Phx Half Marathon race. I’ll TAKE it! Especially considering my fastest training run was a 12 miler which I finished in 1:55:17 (9:36 pace)! Amy finished in 1:53:19 (8:39 pace), she ran her first half faster than we did! I’m so proud of all of us! It seemed like A LOT of people had great races this year, PR’s were in the air. 🙂 Looking forward to the adventures 2018’s race brings.
Until next week!
Trust Your Gut.