August 25, 2013

2013 Top of Utah Half Marathon

I had one goal today - cross the finish line first and defend my 2012 title. So while I fell short of that (by a landslide), it wasn't due to a poor performance on my part... major tip of the cap to Riley Cook, who ran a fantastic race (1:05:16, narrowly missing the course record). In my opinion, the most impressive race anyone in Utah has run this year.

And speaking of impressive performances, I need to give a shout out to the firefighters who got the Millville Wildfire under control. A week ago, it looked like this race might not even happen. Their efforts saved a lot of homes, and gave us the opportunity to go out and compete today.

The field was pretty stacked (normal for this race now). The primary competition was Riley, Bryant Jensen, and John Coyle. I told myself I wasn't going to take the lead in the canyon, but the pace was slow in the first quarter mile and I felt uncomfortable running so close to everyone, so I took off - just over a minute into the race and put a small gap on everyone. It wasn't exactly a break for the tape, just an effort to string it out a little, and footsteps started to slowly come back to me. I led the first three miles and then Riley evened up to me and took the lead shortly after that. No one else was there, and I felt like we had a pretty good gap on everyone else. The run down the canyon for the first seven miles was the same as always - focus on running good tangents, feel that small headwind just after 5 miles, which turns into a tailwind a quarter mile later, etc. We were moving pretty quick (29:21 at 6 miles).

From the Herald-Journal
On Hollow Road (after 7 miles) we were still pretty close. I think it was somewhere around 8-9 miles where I just started to feel a little tired, and Riley put a gap on me after 9 miles (2011 deja vu, swapping Riley in for Paul). Once we got to the Millville hill I was probably a good 10+ seconds back and didn't feel like I had a chance to rally and win. I started doing the math in my head to figure out what I would need to run to break my best time on the course (never a good sign when you resort to that!)... and ended up losing a lot of time on mile 12 - his lead doubled from what I could tell. Finished just fast enough to beat my 2011 time by 1 second (1:05:39, full splits below). When I said I wanted to beat these times this fall, I didn't mean by only a second each, but its still better than not beating them at all.

Full Results. Four guys under 1:07, which I don't think has ever happened before. Says a lot about how deep and competitive this race is getting. I love it.

I'm happy with the fact that this is my fastest time on the course, but I'm never going to be completely satisfied with a second place finish. Keeps the fire burning...

If I had run low 1:05s today, I'd be looking to get in a flat half pretty soon to take a crack at the OT standard. I'm in the ballpark, but not quite in striking distance yet... moving in that direction, though. I feel like I've been making consistent progress all summer, and just need to keep plugging away. First things first - a short break from anything intense (~10 days with no faster running, just low intensity... and high altitude). Then I'll get going again with some races the weekend after Labor Day. Keeping my options open for the fall... Oct/Nov seems like the right time to attack the half-marathon again. My speed has improved, but I need to some re-incorporate some of the longer tempo runs so I can put the whole package together for 13.1 miles.

Splits from the last 3 years. Probably a little too quick down the canyon. Oh well, that's racing.
Also - I suck at mile 12 of this course, now that I've seen this.

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