AM- Top of Utah 1/2 marathon today. I want to first brag about Marci. She ran this race in 2005 in 2:21, and was doubting if she could beat her time. She crushed it in 1:49:58, finishing in the top 20% of all finishers! Good job, babe!
I have done this race more than any other (5 of the past 7 years) and really use it as the primary means to gauge my fitness. I have gotten faster every year, though my places have gotten steadily worse (2003 1:16:49 3rd, 2005 1:15:36 1st, 2007 1:14:12 3rd, 2008 1:11:37 5th). Last year was a great race for me, one of those days where everything clicked and I felt amazing. I have put in more miles this year so was hoping to be near or faster than last year.
Caught an early bus with Marci and I ran down to the secret elite staging area/private bathroom (a nearby picnic area). I had it to myself for 45 minutes as I jogged around, stretched next to the river, and repeatedly used the bathroom. It was a peaceful scene before the coming chaos. Jogged to the start and saw quite the stacked race- lots of guys from the circuit (Taren, Seth, Nathan Hornock, Aleksander, Albert Wint, Joe Wilson) plus a big FRB crew- Paul, Cody, Adam, Walter, Scott, Matt, Allie, et al). They told us pre-race that we had to run in the right lane down the canyon rather than running the tangents, which I would guess added at least 20 seconds to the times. They have never made that request before. Weather was nice- mid-50's, overcast.
The race finally started and we quickly sorted into our places. Walter and I ran near each other for a few miles before he dropped back, leaving me alone in 7th place, with only Nathan and Albert in view, plus occastional footsteps behind. I ran the whole race this way, ~10-40 seconds behind Nathan and Albert. Splits down the canyon were 5:20, 5:27, 5:29, 5:28 (worried that my splits were too slow here), 5:18, 5:17 (that's a bit better- 10k split of 33:25, which is close to my PR and 45 seconds faster than Des News 10k last month), 5:19. Felt good with just slight sideaches down the canyon- I didn't seem to have a faster gear that was there last year, but it wasn't incredibly hard to maintain this pace. We had a moderate tailwind for a few miles at the bottom of the canyon, though not as strong as I hoped.
I hit Hollow Road and I finally had put a gap on everyone behind me. The road flattens out a bit, with splits of 5:30, 5:33, and 5:36. Mile 10.5-12 climbs a bit, then mile 13 downhill to the finish. Nathan and Albert had steadily increased their lead to about 35 seconds, when all of a sudden I noticed Albert starting to come back to me after mile 10, though he was still a long ways ahead. Mile 11 was 5:42, total time of 1:00:03. I remembered being at 59:59 last year at this point, so just a hair behind. Albert was coming back even more, and I caught him just after mile 12 (5:51), moving into 6th overall. I did my best to convince him to drop by running a 5:20 for mile 13 and 30 seconds for the last bit. Total time was 1:11:46, 3 seconds ahead of Albert, 90 seconds behind Nathan, and 9 seconds slower than my PR.
All in all I am satisfied with my race. Last year was an amazing, A+ type race. This year was more normal, maybe an A-, and I was only 9 seconds back. I'm sure I would have PR'ed if we could have run tangents, but that doesn't really matter. All in all, this is probably a better relative performance, plus I wasn't ever straining and never felt overly tired, which is a good sign for TOU in 3 weeks. I will say I think I am near my limit for this race- it may be possible for me to break 1:11, but I think I have pretty much maxed out my results. I'm not sure if I'll do it again, since I plan to focus on trail races after TOU this year. It is a great race that has grown phenominally in both numbers and competition- my winning time from 2005 would have put me in 15th place today.
I didn't get to stay around to talk as much as I would have liked with all the FRB-ers but there were some great performances- Paul(!!!), Adam, Cody, Walter, Matt, Scott, Allie... the list is long. Sorry I didn't get to see all of you more, especially the SLC guys Adam and Walter. But congrats to everyone today.