Goal for this race was to beat last year's time (2:44:43) and hopefully get into the 2:42:00-2:43:00 range. I haven't raced a lot this year and every race I have done has been less than spectacular for me, so I didn't have a lot of confidence, but I did put in some solid training since the DesNews marathon and was hopeful to be near what I did last year in this race. I was nervous, excited, and had doubts I could run as fast as I wanted.
Wind was blowing in the right direction at the start and it was a little chilly, but I was wishing it would be colder. Saw Ryan Jonson while waiting for the start and it sounded like we had similar goals. I figured I would see him during the race (me passing him or him passing me).
Last year's splits in parenthesis
First half 1:23:31 (1:23:37)
Second half 1:20:40 (1:21:06)
Miles 1-7: 6:20, 6:33, 6:03, 6:07, 6:11, 5:57, 5:54 (6:20, 6:23, 6:01, 5:58, 6:04, 5:56, 5:57) Ryan and I lined up right next to each other and little did I know at the time, but we would end up running stride for stride the whole race until the last turn. Started off and just tried to get into a rythem. My mile two split scared me a bit, cause I knew I was faster than that last year on that mile. Tried not to worry too much that my splits were a bit higher than last year and ultimately as we dropped down into Veyo we started to pick things up. I was doing okay, and Ryan seemed to be just fine as well. These miles went by fast.
Miles 8-13: 6:52, 6:41, 6:32, 6:52, 6:33, 6:17 (7:05, 6:45, 6:44, 6:56, 6:33, 6:17) One of my goals was to get through this next section a bit quicker than last year. We started up Veyo and we actually passed quite a few people, which got me a bit nervous. Got up Veyo and started up the next climbs. This section actually went by pretty quickly and overall I was still doing pretty good and feeling okay. Ryan was still right next to me. He was on the left and I was on the right and that's how it stayed the whole way. In fact, if I found myself on the left I would purposely get to the right (OCD). It was now apparent that we were going to be sticking together as long as possible, and up until now it was helping both of us. Crossed the half mark at 1:23:31, which I knew was about 6-7 seconds faster than last year, but a bit slower than what I was hoping....but I was fine with it. Started to get a hot and I was dumping water on myself at every aid station now.
Miles 14-20: 6:15, 5:59, 5:52, 6:05, 6:08, 6:28, 6:14 (6:13, 5:57, 5:53, 6:01, 6:03, 6:26, 6:11) Next up is Snow Canyon, which is one of my favorite parts of the course. Ryan and I had synced up with 2 other guys at this point in time and would stay that way until the big drops around mile 16 or so, and they slowly gapped up. I didn't hear anyone close behind us and up ahead were a couple of people, including the lead woman. It was going down Snow Canyon where my legs started to protest a bit. We were cruising pretty good, my legs could feel it, and I got a bit scared. Started up the last big hill on 19 at the Ledges and I think both Ryan and I were struggling a bit. I was so glad to get to the top.
Miles 21-26.2: 5:56, 6:19, 6:06, 5:58, 6:11, 6:13, 1:35 (6:00, 6:16, 6:12, 6:13, 6:19, 6:37, 1:23) We get some more good downhill on this stretch and I was pretty pumped to see both of the sub 6 miles, but the race is slowly turning into a fight for me. Ultimately I was good up until about mile 24, and then I'm really struggling. This is really where running with Ryan paid off. We had been fist bumping every mile marker since about mile 20. I was doing anything to keep up the motivation to keep the pace up. Around 24 I was vocalizing to Ryan that I was hurting. He would tell me that he was feeling just as bad, but to keep up. Around mile 25 Ryan reached back to fist bump, but I was just far enough away I couldn't reach him, but I caught back up. That last mile was a killer. We were able to pass a few people in the last mile or so, and as we rounded the last corner Ryan gapped me a bit. I was so happy to be done and couldn't believe I had kept a pretty decent pace those last two miles. Ryan finished in 2:44:03.
Really, my race was very similar to my race last year, except I held things together better at the end. It was a bummer not to break 2:44:00, but at the time I was just glad to be done. This is a 32 second PR. I'm really happy with how it went. Obviously running with Ryan made a huge difference. My guess is that I would have been a couple minutes slower had I been running solo. I'm looking forward to taking a break and letting my body heal. I owe a lot of credit to Matt, Mike, Scott, Reed, Chris, etc. Training with them has made all the difference for me, not to mention the fact it is just a lot funner to run with them that it is to run solo. I think it's becoming apparent that for me to make another breakthrough (crack 2:40:00) I will need to do a few things diffently, but for time being I'm looking forward to some down time.