First serious race since Des News in July. I had been looking forward to a good race at Berlin, but my hip completely blew out on me a few days after Des News, and I had a grand total of 3 legitimate runs of more than 4.6 miles in the last 7 weeks before Berlin, so I showed up completely out of shape and jogged my way to a 2:55 there. I was finally able to start running again in November, so I had pretty limited time to get in shape for Phoenix, but I put together a ton of long runs and a few very high quality workouts in Dec/Jan, capped with a negative split 20 miler in Sacramento at 6:03 pace 20 days out from the race, which was surprisingly easy despite being run on tired legs in rain and wind. After that, I felt that I would be able to run sub 2:35 fairly easily on the fast Phoenix course and just needed to stay healthy and maintain fitness for the last weeks before the race. 2 days later, I came down with the flu pretty badly, which made any running, particularly long running, feel awful. I decided to strike a balance between resting up to get healthy and running enough to not lose much fitness. Come race day, I still wasn't really good to go, and I woke up with a splitting headache, chills, and body aches. I decided the only thing to do was to just go for a PR and I could DNF if I really felt terrible. I'd rather go for it and blow up than not go for it.
The race started and my head pounded with every step, chills and aches through my body, and a little difficulty breathing from phlegm draining down my throat. A mile or two in, I was fairly certain I wouldn't be able to make it more than a few miles max, but I just figured I'd click off mile after mile until I died. Around mile 8, I stopped having mucus interrupting my breathing, and I finally started to feel some confidence that I could manage to survive a full race and not implode,. My 10k and half splits were 36:54 and 1:17:40. I noted that while my entire body felt awful at the half, my legs were still quite fresh. I started to have a little difficulty keeping myself motivated around mile 18, and I started giving up a little time, with a few miles at 6:07 to 6:11. I probably didn't need to run that slowly, but I wasn't quite focused. I hit 20 in 1:59:47 and knew I could still beat my 2:38:52 PR, though I should have been focused on picking it back up and breaking 2:37. I was a little lazy from 21-24 with splits of 6:10, 6:03, 6:13, 6:13, then decided to pick it up or I might end up with a 2:38 again, so I closed with 6:03, 5:56, and the last bit at 5:32 pace. This brought me to the end at 2:37:45, a PR by a little over a minute.
Reflecting back about a month later, I'm mostly happy with this race. I wish I had been a bit mentally tougher from 18 to 24, and I could have had a 2:36, but I raced pretty close to my potential for the day. Can't be too mad about getting sick... it happens. I think I had a 2:33 or 2:34 in me a few weeks out from the race, but it makes it easier to improve when I run Chicago in the fall. I was a trainwreck for 2 weeks after the race, and even jogging a few miles would mess me up for the rest of the day, so I just took off 10 days straight starting 4 or 5 days after the race. I'm happy to say I'm feeling great again, though I feel like I have some work to do to get back in shape at this point.
Up next is a semi serious running of BOSHO trail running in early April, but the main focus of the season is the Stillwater Half Marathon in MN in late May. I've got some unfinished business there after completely imploding and running a 1:16 there last year.