Striders Half Marathon today. Weather was absolutely perfect for fast running: clear, cool (~45-50 degrees), and no wind. The course has a good layout for fast running: Gentle downhill for 7 miles, followed by small rolling hills for the last 6. My training and racing has been good lately, but my only worry was whether or not I was recovered from Del Sol. I didn't feel very spunky for most of the week, although I was feeling better on Friday.
I jogged around a for about a mile before the race, and everything felt pretty good. Competition at the starting line looked to be excellent: Joe, Bob, Steve, Sasha, Neal, and others who I did not know as well. I was most worried about Bob and Joe, although I had a strong gut feeling that Steve would bust out this race and bring some competition as well.
Special guest Jeff Galloway started the race. Although I'm not a big fan of his methods, I do like what he has done for the sport and all the new people and exposure he has brought. So that was neat. I took to the lead of the pack from the gun. I'm not sure why I did this, as I usually like to hang back, but today it felt right. The first half mile was probably the slowest of the race, due the the race starting on an uphill. Once we crested the hill, I got my coveted downhill, and opened it up to try to get into my race rhythm and also to start stringing out the pack, which seemed too large and was making me uncomfortable.
We soon broke out into a pack of 6: me, Bob, Joe, Sasha, Steve, and Neal. First mile was long (5:52). I think I heard Sasha's GPS beep around 5:25 or so, but not sure. We kept rumbling down the canyon, and I felt very smooth. Mile 2 was 5:12. That's better. I wanted to hit 5:15's in on the downhill, figuring I could hold 5:25's on the last half to come in at 1:10. Mile 3 was 5:15. Mile 4 was 5:10. Still feeling very very good. By now I wasn't hearing Sasha's beeps, so I knew he had dropped back. I was still leading the pack with Bob, but could count a total of 5 shadows, so I knew Joe, Steve, and Neal were still there.
Mile 5 was 5:12, Mile 6 was 5:13. Nothing hurting, good rhythm. I felt confident that I would at least not fall apart on the last half. Hamstrings were a little tight, but the calves were good and breathing was easy. By the end of Mile 6 there were only two shadows, just Bob and I.
Mile 7 was 5:09. We turned the corner in here somewhere to start our circumnavigation of Pineview Reservoir. No more downhill. Rats. We'll see what the "rollie-pollies" (as Bob called the rolling hills) would do to our pace. Right now I knew I was on pace for 1:09, if I could just hold it...
Mile 8 was 5:13. Apparently losing the downhill would not be a killer. Still working with Bob, but rather surprised we had broken away like that. Running out front makes me paranoid.
Mile 9 was 5:35. Mile 10 was 5:06. I imagine 9 was long and 10 was short, but none of the race mile marks were that trustworthy anyway. Regardless, 5:20/mile pace for two miles, which I could dig.
Bob fell back a little during Mile 10, and I started laboring in here more as well. But I still felt strong and decided to make a big push over the last 5K and finish off the race. I've only won one road race in my life (PC Marathon), and I always get scared when I'm leading. My hands were also pretty numb by this point, and it was difficult to push my watch button to get splits, so I decided to just forget it and do mental math instead, as the watch was a distraction.
Mile 11 was 5:25. I had lost a good amount of leg power by now, and started focusing very hard on increasing my turnover to compensate. Whenever my speed lapsed, I would throw another surge to keep my mind and body focused on the task. Mile 12 was 5:20. Better. By now I was making weird noises, as I usually do late in a race when I'm pushing hard. Fortunately no one was around to make fun of me. Still running paranoid though. I pushed as hard as I could the last mile. At this point I wasn't sure if the course would be short, long, or correct, but either way I would hate to barely miss 1:10.
I turned the last few corners, and knew I must be getting close, but couldn't see the finish line. Finally turned one more corner and had a 200m straight shot. At this point I knew I would break 1:10, but still tried to finish it off hard. Final time was 1:09:27, a new PR by 3:20. Split for last 3.1 miles was 16:28, meaning my last 1.1 miles was somewhere around 5:12/mile-pace.
Bob finished 2nd (1:10:11), then Steve (nice job!, 1:10:57), then Joe (1:11:26), then Neal (1:11:49). Fast times on a fast course! Full results are here. I'm amazed how fast they get these results up!
Cooled down several miles with Bob and the Logan crew, then did another mile on my own. The more I cooled down, the better I felt, but this race definitely worked me over. Judging by how I feel as I type this, I will be sore tomorrow!
Needless to say, I was thrilled with how today went. I knew I was capable of breaking 1:10, but it's a huge release and monkey off my back to actually do it. Also I'm pumped about winning the race amongst such strong competition. In my experience, you only get a couple races a year, or every couple years, where everything just "clicks", and you can tell your body what to do, and it obeys. Today was one of those days. The last day I had like that was St. George in 2005.
According to a race calculator, my time equates to a 2:25:30 marathon, so I suppose my next goal is to break 2:25 at the Ogden Marathon. I still have to register for the race, but I'm for sure planning on running it now. I definitely need to put in some more miles and long runs first, and I plan to hang in the upper 80s to 90 for miles over the next four weeks before my taper.
My new blog mascot is Multiple Man (see photo). Multiple Man was one of my favorite comic book superheroes when I was a kid. He a fairly ordinary guy (couldn't fly, no superstrength, etc.) with one and only one superpower: he could create multiples of himself (dopplegangers). Over the next four weeks I need to be Multiple Man in order to juggle work and family, and still get in my training and proper sleep. Time management is key. And yes, I will be doing "doubles" several days a week now too.
(Burn: 110 miles)