Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Be Smooth: AZ Run Results

If you are looking for an excuse to run in costume, the Rock N' Roll series accepts you.

These Rock N' Roll series runs are extremely popular. The Expo was at the Phoenix Convention Center, where the packet pickup lines had runners numbered 1 through 40,000 (I believe). 40,000 runners in one race! Wow! There were over 26 corrals, 7 UPS trucks for the marathon gear drop, and a whopping 32 UPS trucks for the half marathon gear drop. That's a lot of gear!

If you've never run a marathon or half before, and are intimidated because you think people will win and you will lose (which is silly anyway) - consider one of these. They are really fun - many people with many different goals and fitness levels.

Back to the point.

My PR goal was reached this weekend at the Arizona Rock N' Roll half marathon, although about 10 minutes faster than expected. 01:57:35

I most likely reported my best half marathon time when I registered, so I was placed in corral 3. I definitely should have been in corral 6, but I'm not going to complain about being closer to the start line. During the first 3 miles, I kept my gait slow and steady and let probably 2,000 people pass me. People-watching from the front is one thing, but from the back is also quite interesting - mostly I'm obsessed with others running form. Some people tread lightly, others stomp, some knees knock together, some feet shoot out like ducks. All of these people, out early in the morning, trying to accomplish something wonderful. The greatest thing about runners is we come in all shapes and sizes. Just because someone doesn't look like an athlete or they decided to wear their pajamas to the race, doesn't mean they can't pass you.

I stopped about 4 of the 6 aid stations, and when I say stop. Yes, I took a breather behind the line of water volunteers and tables. Just for a second. Then, I'd look out for other runners, and jot off.Big feat for the race. I stopped at the facilities at mile 7. I didn't really have to go, but I never had the courage to do it before. So, I did. Probably another 200 people passed me. I didn't care.

Mile 7 is when I tend to feel really awesome! So, I picked up the pace and saw some of the people who passed me while I was indisposed. That's when I knew I just wanted to be done. Mile 8 through 10 were fantastic. At mile 10 I passed a woman running with her coach. Her coach was motivating her to keep to her pace and end goal of 1 hour 55 minutes. I yelled a bit of encouragement to her as I passed. It occurred to me then that I could probably run my slowest ever and still finish in under 2 hours. So, I gently pushed the last 2 miles.

"Slow is smooth, smooth is fast," is a phrase I learned from a friend of mine who spent time in the Air Force. Although it refers mostly to shooting, racing is also all about smooth. Another friend of mine turned me on to Go online and watch Mr. Smooth on your computer screen - watching him is quite calming. The point is, the more comfortable you are, the faster your body will allow you to move. The second you try and rush, the more at risk you are to make mistakes (slowing down, giving up, or causing injury). On the other hand, if you go too slow, you are dead in the water. In the military, you would literally be dead.

The race this weekend taught me a lot about my personal threshold. I was astounded what I could do when I really put more effort into enjoying myself rather than pushing myself. Instead of giving myself permission to slow down, I really just gave myself permission to be smooth.


  1. Awesome!! I love your line: Just because someone doesn't look like an athlete or they decided to wear their pajamas to the race, doesn't mean they can't pass you.

    Good for you - and thanks for the swim smooth website - it's awesome for a skill-less swimmer like me to see a stroke profile. Lis went through a few things with me last night too, we missed you. It sure was cold though!

  2. I think I might need some more formal swimming lessons again this year - there are a million little things I could improve upon. Sorry I got caught up at work last night. I'll be back swimming in the cold in no time. :)

  3. "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast" I love this. We say the same thing on the bike. Think about your cadence and hart rate, relax, "sit and spin" and you'll go faster and longer than if you try too hard!

    As for pure enjoyment, I think this is one thing that is definitely lacking from my riding. I'm always trying to kill it, break personal records, catch the person up ahead on the road. Sometimes it's much better to sit back and enjoy the scenery!

  4. Thanks Suzanne for the "slow is smooth, smooth is fast"lesson. That is very helpful for an "over thinker like me