Thought for the Day

Saturday, May 1, 2004

Whiskey Row Half Marathon 2004

I had toyed with the idea of running the Whiskey Row Marathon this weekend, in spite of not having trained for it. Some time in the past couple of weeks I decided just to do the half. The Whiskey Row Marathon was included in a Runners world list of the toughest five marathons in the country.
The Half would be a challenging run, but I was sure that it wouldn't kill me. I decided to "train through it" more or less. I didn't do anything especially tough the past week, but I did my doctorvals on Tuesday and a six mile tempo run on Thursday.
Saturday I got up at 3:15 am, had a little breakfast and some coffee, and drove the 120 miles North to Prescott. Prescott, AZ is at an elevation of about 5200 feet, and the marathon climbs to 7000. The elevation reached by the half isn't much less. The marathon goes over the top of the mountain, down the other side, then back over again. The half just goes up almost to the top.
The weather was beautiful. It was chilly in the early morning, but not so I had to wear more than a tee shirt and shorts, and I don't think it got up to 60 F all morning. The course gets out of town very quickly, and goes into the forested mountain roads, so there is more shade than for most of the local Phoenix races.
There was no chip timing, so I started pretty close to the front, but I managed to contain my enthusiasm, running it as if it was just a long traing run, and hit the first mile in 8:02. Those first couple of miles were just gently rolling, as much down as up.
I thought to myself that as soon as I started having to work hard, and I got a feeling of how the altitude and lack of real preparation was going to affect me, I could decide if I wanted to really race, or just take it as a training run.
We hit the first steep climb at about 2.5 miles, and I started to chug up it.
About five people passed me, and I started to think, "Training run..."
But after that, most of the climbing was more gradual. I passed more people than passed me. I was feeling as good as could be expected, and I didn't see anyone doing any better. I was racing it.
Right before mile 5 it got very steep again, and stayed that way. But I knew we were close to the turnaround, and it would be all gravy after that.
These were my first half splits:

1. 8:02
2. 7:36 15:38
3. 8:22 24:00
4. 8:10 32:10
5. 9:14 41:24
6. 9:38 51:02

halfway 56 something

On the way back, I was just cruising downhill, trying to let gravity do all of the work. I passed the 6 mile mark going in the other direction before I realized that the only mile markers on the way back were the same ones we had on the way out.
The mile from 5 miles left to 4 miles left I did in 7:02. The one from 6 to 5 was steeper, and I'm sure it was faster, but I didn't get that split. Here's how it went downhill:

5 miles left - 8.1 miles out: 16:07 1:07:09 (7:40 pace from 6 to 8.1)
4 - 9.1: 7:02 1:14:11
3 -10.1: 7:31 1:21:42
2 -11.1: 7:33 1:29:15
1 -12.1: 7:27 1:36:42
0 -13.1: 8:19 1:45:01

I was 5th in my age group, but 1st and second in that age group were 4th and 5th overall. I was 36th overall out of 353 runners. That was a very respectable time for that course, and I'm very pleased with my race.

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