PR Legs: Tucson Half Marathon Report

by hillarybiscay

Good legs are such a funny thing: sometimes they show up when you least expect them, and sometimes you take them for granted, and they go missing. Although I had been planning on it for some time, I almost didn’t race the Tucson Half Marathon yesterday. After my bike crash at the half ironman the previous weekend, I had been a hot mess. Even after the initial couple days of crazy-soreness subsided, my body seemed to be working in overdrive, trying to heal—just doing bike and run workouts that normally would have been no big deal, my heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest. I was sleeping the days away and still tired, had a headache that wouldn’t go away, and had been making daily visits to super-chiro Dr. Eric at The Joint.

In short, it wasn’t looking good for a fast half marathon, which was my objective in entering this race. As my training partner Sam pointed out, I am usually more than willing to give any race a crack, however ill-prepared I may be, so the fact that I was considering not even starting this race that I’d already entered said something about the pathetic state that I was in. On Saturday, I had to make a decision, though, and Coach said I should just do the run, which in the worst case would be a long run with friends.

Thus the mental re-framing: yes, this was a race, but without my own expectations for running fast, it was just 13.1 miles of road between start and finish, and that I could do. I reconciled the worst-case scenario, which I figured would be me running 7:30/mile pace, feeling like my heartrate was 180, and hating my life for 1.5+ hours. In other words, nothing I hadn’t survived before. Many times. Suddenly it became, why not race—at least I might be able to accomplish a hard training session.

tucson half

Disrobing—SMASH long-sleeve tee came in handy!

Then the good legs appeared—to my own surprise most of all. Honestly, I was running the first mile of the race and couldn’t feel my feet or my legs because it was so flippin’ cold. So I didn’t know what kind of legs I had. But when I looked at my watch near the end of that mile and saw 6:09/mile pace on the Garmin, I had a sneaking suspicion that good legs might just have snuck up on me.

I was running this pace and I wasn’t forcing anything –for non-speedster me, that usually means good legs. Of course there were a few more miles of wondering whether I was going to blow myself up running like this, but truly I felt great and the pace was coming much more easily than it usually does. After awhile, I trusted it, I trusted my legs, I smiled, and loved it!!

half mountains

The second half of the Tucson Marathon course takes you straight towards a stunning view of the mountains against the early morning sky; it was just awesome. I was truly able to take it all in and appreciate so much the fact that my body was cooperating on this day. After a half marathon sufferfest the previous month and the half ironman debacle the weekend beforehand, I could appreciate a “good legs day” even more and reminded myself to enjoy every minute of this “good pain” because it was hard-earned.

I crossed the finish line in 1:25.00—or painful-in-the-bad-way for being literally one second away from 1:24! But having never been in the 1:25s before, and to do it on the most unexpected day, I was thrilled.

Then I hopped in the shuttle to get to my car and back out onto the course to look for my athletes. Birthday girl Karina (celebrating with a smashfest, of course) in the half marathon proved too speedy for coach’s stalking skills, but I did manage to find fellow Mighty Trojan swimmer Barry and make sure he kept it honest for the last 10+kilometers of his marathon (This course is awesome for bunny-hopping by car by the way.) . . . Indeed he was doing us proud: Barry’s 30 minute–hello–marathon PR was the icing on the TeamHPB cake for the day!

What a difference a week makes!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Bre December 10, 2012 at 11:42 pm

congrats on rocking it and won’t be long before you crush 1:24! and the “flippin cold” temp better have started with the word negative followed by a number…haha 😉


Damie December 11, 2012 at 12:09 am

Hil! Look at you!!!! That is awesome!!! RUNNER! Ps, I have insomnia (damn!) so I am going to spend it scouring your blog for more food ideas/links! Congrats again!!!!


Angelina December 11, 2012 at 3:40 am

Woohooo. Great race. Huge congratulations. All the hard work is paying off.


Nancy December 11, 2012 at 6:01 am

Nice work H!!!! Gettin there!!


Jenny Davidson December 11, 2012 at 6:59 am

Wonderful – glad you had such a good day out there!


Marvin Dittfurth December 11, 2012 at 8:07 am

Good post and thanks for sharing the experience. The event was not unlike experiencing races as an elder athlete. Gone are the days of the PRs. People pass me in droves. The awards ceremony is half over by the time I finish. Lots of body parts are stiff, uncooperative, or just downright hurt. So, finding a reason to be out there requires some searching, and that searching has lead me to this: I do this because I still can and I do this because it is inextricably intertwined into who I am.


Janice Biederman December 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm

I agree 100%. Hillary’s report reminds of the times I’ve considered skipping a workout but ended up doing it anyway and surprising myself with a (usually modest) PR.


Andree December 11, 2012 at 11:26 am

You amaze me 🙂


lucy francis December 11, 2012 at 11:36 am

Great news 🙂
But hoq cold was it really? I’ve got -4 celsius right now to deal with on my run 🙁


hillarybiscay December 12, 2012 at 8:35 pm

yeah i’m a wimp with cold and mostly it was just my being inappropriately dressed 🙂 definitely nowhere near -4!! 🙂


Christie December 11, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Hi lady! So fun to meet you this weekend 🙂 Congrats on your speedy race!!!

I posted the picture on my blog. Thanks for the swim advice too!


hillarybiscay December 12, 2012 at 5:25 pm

yay! love this! love your blog, too…reading up now! cannot wait to follow your journey. awesome to meet you and dad and congrats again on a massive PR!


IB December 12, 2012 at 10:55 am

Maybe that unexpected rest week ended-up being the right taper?!? Great job.


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