Park City Half Marathon, 1:14:18, first place. Today was Jenny's 7th birthday. Winning the race has a historical significance. I won Hobblecreek in 2000 about 10 hours after she was born. I do not always get to celebrate her birthday by winning a race, but I try.
Drove up with Ted and Jeff. Warmed up 2.3 miles.
Saw Bob Thompson. Bob is recovering from a calf injury, but knowing his previous fitness level, it was a possibility that he could cause some trouble, and definitely be able to run with us at least for a while. So I invited Bob and Jeff to share the lead every quarter. We went like that for two miles at about 5:45-5:50 pace. The course is a beast - starts at 6400 feet (Kimball Junction), climbs to 6900 at the half-mark (somewhere in the middle of Park City residential area), then back down the same way. About half of the way on gravel/dirt. Lots of 90 degree turns, and the narrowness of the trail makes them a true 90 - no room to swing out. To make things worse, the climb is uneven - some places flat, some near flat, some even slightly down, and some steeper, reaching perhaps a 3-4% grade, which really hurts at altitude anywhere, and on this course those parts are towards the end of the climb - a higher elevation for the steep parts, double trouble. So on that climb anything sub-6:00 is really good.
That pace was too much for Bob after two miles. I suppose he would have done relatively better at a lower elevation - the gaps in the aerobic conditioning from a forced break would have had less effect. Jeff and I went on trading quarters. Jeff was very strong and was making me suffer. By around 3.5 I knew that the only thing that would save me would be the distance to soften him up, and I hoped 13.1 would be long enough. Nevertheless, I was taking my turns every other quarter according to the plan. Our slowest quarter (off Garmin) during the entire climb was 1:34. At first I rarely saw anything slower than 1:30, but as the grade became steeper, I started seeing 1:31s and 1:32s more often. We would occasionally hit a 1:27-1:28 when it flattened out for a brief moment, or when Jeff would really turn up the heat on me.
We reached the turnaround in 38:56, and my Garmin 305 showed a reasonable distance, good sign. Most of the mile markers agreed with Garmin as well, another good sign. On the way down both of us press hard on our turns. I started seeing sub-1:20 quarters quite frequently. Saw Chris Rogers in third, he passed Bob, then Bob not too far behind, then a while later a group of runners and Ted. By around 8 we were in the thick of things - lots of runners going the other way.
I kept waiting for the distance to soften Jeff up, but it was not happening. I began to realize that I was dealing with a different Jeff. That is good news for his upcoming marathon in St. George. Today with no taper he could have definitely made it to 16 in one piece if not further, then it is only 10 to go. Additionally, St. George is a much more fuel efficient course. I've felt pretty bad on it around 13-15 and was still able to finish decent, without a forced premature cool-down. If I am feeling that bad at the same point in Ogden or Top of Utah, things do not look good, the cool-down is bound to happen.
With a mile to go, it was apparent that the race would be decided with a kick. We were still trading leads on quarters, but now it was more tactical and ferocious. Jeff is not a kicker, so he was trying to drop me with a fast pace. I am not a kicker in a 5 K, and I will not kick well off a faster pace, but in a threshold race (15 K to half-marathon) it is a different story. If the pace softens up to as little as 5 seconds per mile slower than my threshold, I will have a good kick. At 12.75 it was my turn to lead, but I figured waiting another 200 meters to take my lead would be fair game that late in the race. Jeff had soften up just a tad, and it was enough for me to have a kick. So I waited until I thought we had 300 meters to go, and then went for it. Jeff did not expect me to start the kick that early, so I was able to open up a small gap. I eased off a bit, then once we hit the grass, I realized I was in trouble - Jeff was closing, and he has done a lot more cross-country running than me. So I pushed as hard as I could, and ended up beating him by a second. The time on my watch said 1:14:20, the official time was 1:14:18. Jeff had 1:14:19. Chris was third with 1:16:59, and Bob fourth with 1:17:37 (I think). Ted was 6th with 1:23:37 (I think).
After the finish the announcer did not have us on his list, so he asked me my name. That 300 meter anaerobic interval at the end put me on the edge of losing my breakfast had I eaten one in the morning, but fortunately I did not, so there was nothing to lose, but I was still not able to talk. So I waved to him, and he said he would get to the business later.
One great thing about this race was the food. I think this race had the best food selection I've ever seen in a race. Lots of natural, organic stuff. I ate a lot.
Ran a 3 mile cool-down with Ted and Jeff. Then stayed for long enough for the awards ceremony, and watch the finish of the marathon. Dave Spence made a come back and won with a high 2:49. Steve Olsen was second with 2:53, Bill Cobler third with 2:57.
P.M. Ran 0.5 with Julia running and Joseph in the single stroller in 4:49, then 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny, plus Joseph in the single stroller in 13:27, then 3.04 in 21:30 with Benjamin riding along on a bike. Hit a bit over 120 miles this week, highest ever.