This morning I did the Blacksmith Fork Freedom Run 15K. This race has been around for a while, and is put on by the Cache Sun 'n' Snow folks (same people who do Top of Utah Marathon/Half). It's a local race that I've wanted to run, but the stars never aligned until this year, as I am actually healthy, and I am not doing the USATF Circuit, which are the two things that usually get in the way.
Got up at 5:00AM, ate two bananas, an apple, and a cup of coffee in the car. Carpooled with Cody over to the start line, which is the same start line of the TOU Half, about midway down Blacksmith Fork Canyon.
We were the 2nd car to arrive at the start line (bad omen), but at the time that meant very easy parking and no portapotty lines. Checked in without trouble, used the portapotties, and did a 2-mile warmup, up the canyon.
Unfortunately, the race was not equipped to handle the hundreds of people who showed up after 6AM, and the packet pickup line became VERY long. Although we thankfully did not have to wait in this line, it quickly became obvious that the race would not start even close to the scheduled 7AM time. But this gave me more time to use the portapots, and I ended up with another 5-star race.
Course layout is downhill for about 10K, flat for a short segment, then large uphill about a half mile long, and then the last miles are flat or slight downhill with a downhill finish. So it's an aided course, but the hill 2/3 of the way through it keeps the race honest, as does the elevation. No turns in the entire route which is nice. Sometimes you get a big tailwind coming out of the canyon, which can really help.
The race ended up starting around 7:20 or 7:25AM, which was not as bad as I thought it would be. At the start line were Josh Steffen, Carson Cambell, and a bunch of high school kids, among others. Last year, the high school kids were quite fast, so you never know. I had no real goals for this race, other than to have fun, enjoy the morning, and push my body if it wanted to be pushed. In the past, I would try to fun an extra race one week after my peak, and they usually ended up in me feeling very flat. A lot of fitness and "pop" can be lost in a week, especially when you drop your mileage like I had done this week. But whatever.
When the race started, I initially tucked behind Josh, but after about a 1/4 mile, everyone cleared out, so then I pulled up alongside him, and we ran side-by-side for the first 3 miles. We chit-chatted some, as it was actually the first time I met Josh (yet another 5:15/mile introduction). During the first mile I felt quite horrible, and Mile 2 was pretty bad too, but by Mile 3 by body was evidently cleaning out whatever junk was in there, and I was starting to hit a rhythm and even breathe less hard as I picked up the pace. Miles 1-3 were 5:15, 5:24, 5:15.
During the 4th mile, Josh dropped back, and once he dropped, I started pushing a little bit more, and my body responded well, so I kept pushing for the rest of the race. Tangents were kind of tough to get, as there was a mother and two little kids riding bikes in my vicinity for most of the canyon, and the littlest kid kept getting in the way of my tangents. So eventually I just pushed him down the ravine into the river. Kidding, kidding. No, eventually I outran him, no violence needed. At least he was outdoors, getting some exercise; better than most kids. Maybe he will take up running some day.
Miles 4-6 were 5:04, 5:03, 4:56. Running time was 31:00 at 6 miles, so about 32:10 for estimated 10K.
By about 10K, the course left the canyon, flattened out, and then began climbing the large hill into Hyrum. We never got the coveted canyon wind at any point, but no real headwind either, so that's okay. I was getting hot at this point, though, and really looking forward to the second (and final) aid station. I tried to keep a strong pace up the hill. Finally got to the aid station, but was breathing way too heavy at that point to get anything down, so I just dumped it on my head instead. Mile 7 (which was about 1/2 flat/downhill and 1/2 uphill) was a 5:13.
Finally crested the hill and tried to get momentum again. I knew once I got to the light at Hwy-165, I would get a slight downhill again, and then a big downhill during the final 800m. Saw the Red Rooster of Providence near the intersection with Hwy-165, and he ran with me for about a quarter mile. And I got back to a slight downhill. But Mile 8 was 5:25, so the last half of the hill definitely took its toll.
But I did finally get a good rhythm near the end. Hit 5:03 for Mile 9, which had a really nice downhill into "downtown" Hyrum. Finished out the last 0.32 in 1:34. The clock time had me at about 48:26, the "official" results had me at 48:51, and my watch had me at 48:14. Obviously, there are some timing issues with this race, and I will go with my watch time. Hopefully they will get those chip times fixed for everyone. But I know my real time, and the course seemed accurate, so that's enough for me. It's a PR by 30 seconds, over my Indy Mini split, so I'm happy with that, especially just one week removed from Seattle. I ran hard today, but did not kill myself, and the last 6 miles were by myself. So I think I'll recover well, and then continue doing 40-50 mpw for a few more weeks for a continued physical and mental break. It was a fun race, and I'm glad I ran it.
Results are HERE, but times are off by 35 seconds, so subtract 35 seconds from what you see.
Happy 4th of July!