9th Annual Pecan Classic & Season Recap

Applefest half marathonIt was September 2009, just one year after I went on a Caribbean cruise in which I gained 10 pounds in one week. To lose the weight I began running and over that next year, I had run a 15k, 10miler, 3 half marathons, and 2 marathons including the Boston Marathon (3:38) and the New Jersey Marathon (3:26). On September 26, 2009, I ran the Applefest Half Marathon in a time of 1:32:50, just one week before my main goal. My goal was to break 3:10:59 at the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY and truly qualify and earn my spot for the Boston Marathon, the most prestigious marathon in the world. I had chosen to race a half marathon one week before my goal marathon with a purpose: to give me the required leg speed, mindset, and belief heading into my main goal. And it did. According to Jack Daniels PhD, my half predicted me to run a 3:12:42. I ended up running 3:08:47 on the net downhill course and top 10 Boston Qualifying courses in the country. I had done it, I had achieved my goal through my focus, determination, and belief in myself.

As a self-coached athlete, I took the same approach in planning this season. Since, I lack the natural competitive nature of the best athletes, I would race myself into that mindset and use those races as quality sessions to propel my body forward. So in June, one week after my 9:45 IRONMAN Cairns, I ran a 1:29:17 half marathon (12.8miles) including a 19:57 5K during the race in very cold weather and a 10.6mile fun-run at 7:15/mile, a week later. We moved from Australia back to the USA, moved into a new house, started a job, and stress was mighty.

The first race of the season was Breeze in the Trees 5KM during the first week of being in Arizona and living out of a hotel. I went 21:16 good enough for 1st A/G, and 11/175 overall. Then, we went up to 7,000’ altitude in Flagstaff, AZ for the MountainMan half-ironman. It was my worst race ever and in a sense, harder than Kona. I ended up 4th A/G, and 17th overall. But, I turned it around being the overall winner of 136 athletes in the Tri for Acts of Kindness sprint triathlon running 6:59/mile for the 3.6mile run. Next, the Bartlett Lake Olympic triathlon; known as the hardest Olympic triathlon in Arizona, I took 3rd overall of 23 and 2nd in my division. Next up, the Oro Valley Sprint Triathlon; 5th Overall of 164 and 1st in my A/G. Then, onto 70.3 Arizona;  a new Personal Best of 4:29, 2nd in my A/G, and 9th out of 1,269! The next week I led from the 400meter mark at the other hardest Olympic triathlon in Arizona known as the Patagonia Lake Triathlon; I was the outright winner for the 2nd time this  season and unofficially set the course bike record by a couple of minutes. THE NEXT DAY, I raced the TMC Get Moving Tucson Half Marathon in 1:34 which gave me 2nd A/G and 29th of 561 runners. And that leads me to yesterday’s race the 9th Annual Pecan Classic only 5minutes from our home in Sahuarita, Arizona; 1st A/G, 5/281 Overall.

9th Annual Pecan Classic Race Report

The week lead up phase was Peak, Week 2. I had covered 10 hours of training in the days before the Saturday race including 2 key Brick Sessions. Fiona flew to Australia the day before for studies so I headed to the casino came home late and had some Scotch. I woke up at 6:30AM, had 3 waffles covered in Syrup and a RedBull but my legs felt a little stiff so jumped on the bike trainer for 10minutes at easy effort. I left shortly after and drove the 5minutes to the Green Valley Pecan Orchards where the Pecan Festival that draws nearly 30,000 would commence once the 5KM was over. Check in, meet some new faces, and the air was brisk. The crowd was massive and I was wearing my USA singlet in honor of Veterans Day. We headed to the start. I had no expectations but I would run as hard as I could from Start to Finish.

The twenty-ish ahead of me started and I started passing them within the first hundred meters. At the first turn I was in around 10th place. I started picking them off, sustaining my speed and by the 1 mile mark I passed the last runner, I’d make a pass on. I could see the eventual winner way far up followed by 3 other people including one girl. The guy ahead of me, Robert McFayden was 50-100meters but I couldn’t bridge the gap; my legs were working as hard as I could go. First mile was 6:20 through the flat, dirt track alongside the Pecan Trees. I skipped the aid station and I knew my HR was super high. I was definitely anaerobic (without air)! Mile 2 was 6:31. I didn’t feel I had slowed down much but must have been the light headwinds out of Mexico. Mile 3 and I am starting to lose a little mental focus as I’m flat out and can’t catch Robert. 3rd mile 6:32 and straight shot to the finish line. I finish in a time of 21:35 for the 3.3 mile course on pace of 6:28/mile. I quickly looked at my Garmin; 20:04 5K split, damn. HR was 157/avg; that is incredible. Cadence was 173, that’s decent too. At awards, I was disappointed to realize that I missed out on the Overall leaderboard prizes by 12seconds. But, I don’t believe I could have pushed harder on the day. But, happy with the hand made medals. The race volunteers were great, the race organizers, and it was nice to meet some new people.


Yes, more analysis!

  • Cadence: 5K was normal for me but if I want to get faster, I need to pick that up to 180.
  • HR: The highest HR in 2years, 10months when I ran a 17:39 5KM on a treadmill. A higher HR is a culmination of fitness (fatigue and form) but also intensity. Being able to push this hard clearly shows me that I’m coming into race form and ready to per
  • Pace: It’s the fastest 5K since I went 19:44 nearly 3 ½ years ago.
  • Comp: Fellow Sahuarita athlete Lauren Reasoner went 19:39 for the Breeze in the Trees 5K back in July; I was 1:36 behind her in 21:15. In the Pecan Classic I was 34 seconds behind her. Another view is that for the 2 races Lauren went paces of 6:20/6:21 but I went paces of 6:51/6:32.


One week from today I will descend the stairs into Tempe Town Lake in pursuit of IRONMAN ARIZONA. It’s been an interesting season covering 362 hours of training split 18% swim, 51% bike, 31% run, 4% lift. All volume has reduced this year and this season to only 16.5 hours of training per week. Year-To-Date, 425,000meters swam, 7,500 miles biked, 1,543 miles ran over 791 hours. But, I am stronger, faster, and fitter than I’ve ever been with a race strategy and mindset that I never used over my last 11 IRONMANS. This will be interesting. “Watch this space”. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.


My first ever IRONMAN. June 2012, 5th A/G, 65/891 Overall

Coach Sydney as always told me what to do!


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