Phoenix Half, 1:15:55, 14th overall, 5th master. Benjamin got 1:15:33, 12th overall. I forgot to bring my watch, so no usual Fast Running Friend report. I bought a watch at Walmart the night before instead.
This race was a learning experience for us. I incorrectly assumed that since Benjamin was now older and his tempo runs were faster that would necessarily mean that his ability to hold the pace in the half-marathon would also be better. So I estimated he would be able to run 1:12 for sure, and with some luck 1:10. What I miscalculated was that when a young man matures his aerobic capabilities in combination with muscle power could be quite a bit of out of sync with the fuel capabilities. So when he hits a high gear, he sucks oxygen like there is no tomorrow, and goes fast, but he does not yet have the fuel stores. So he is good for a 10 K at a decent speed, and then bonks hard. This is exactly what happened to Benjamin. He went through the first 11.097 K ( 10 K away from the half finish) in 37:49, which is 3:24.5 per kilometer or 5:29 per mile, or 34:05 average over 10 K, so he was probably a little under 34:00 through the 10 K - new 10 K PR, and then he crashed hard suffering through the last 10 K in 37:44 - 6:04 average. I did not realize he could crash that hard thinking maybe 5:50s at the worst. But he was out of fuel badly, so it was basically like hitting a marathon wall.
My race went more or less as expected, except at the end when I caught up to Benjamin, I sacrificed a few seconds to help him. Then he found another gear and blasted the last half mile, so he beat me again, but I am happy with that.
We flew in on the "private jet" - Allegiant flight from Provo to Mesa and stayed with our blogger Burt and his family. He drove us to the start of the race in the morning. I warmed up 1.5, Benjamin did about 0.5. It was raining and there was some wind.
Mile 1 - 5:22. I guided Benjamin through the first mile, even took the wind for him until we found a couple of people to follow - Joseph Ekoum and David Harkin, both masters. We got to the mile in 5:22. This was too fast for me, but this was part of the plan. This was Benjamin's only second half, and I wanted to be with him in the beginning even if it would cost me later. In restrospect, both of us should have started slower to get a better time.
Mile 2 - 5:37 (10:59). I backed off and watched Benjamin and the other two runners disappear into the dark. This was perhaps the most difficult mile of the race for me. I worried that I had just fed my son to the wolves, I worried about him, and at the same time I was suffering the consequences of my fast start while fighting the wind and the rain alone knowing we still had most of the race ahead of us
Mile 3 - 5:45 (16:44). Very similar to the second mile.
Mile 4 - 5:49 (22:33). Got caught by Michael Anderson and Trent Tailor, was able to latch on. At first it was hard, but then I got into a rhythm and began to feel in control.
Mile 5 - 5:46 (28:19). Running with Michael and Trent.
Miles 6 and 7 - 11:31 (39:50). Still with Michael and Trent. Passed the start of the 10 K mat which registered our times in 39:10.
Mile 8 - 5:43 (45:33)
Things are fuzzy after that. The pace picked up after 7, the split for 8 is consistent with the effort, but then the next two miles average out to 5:32 if I were to trust the 10 mile split of 56:39. That would make the 5 K from 10 K start to this point 17:29 and the last 5 K 19:16. I am more inclined to believe the first 5 K was around 17:50 while the second 18:56. At 10 miles Trent and Michael dropped me. Soon after that John Reih passed me - I tried to latch on, but could not. At the same time around 9 miles I spotted a runner in front of me. My vision gets blurry when I run hard, so I could not quite tell who it was, but I knew that the most likely candidate was Benjamin. I hoped it were somebody else, but as the time went on I began to recongize Benjamin's form. Knowing that Benjamin was struggling made it difficult for me to race. I knew he was out of fuel, and I also knew of his state of mind. As I tried to think of what to do I involuntarily eased off. My brain was not working very well. What I should have done was instead of easying off is floor the gas pedal, catch up to him ASAP, and tell him to drink some Powerade at the next aid station.
I caught up to him somewhere between 11 and 11.5 and told him to latch on. I slowed the pace down to make it manageable for him. I knew that if I brought him close enough to the proverbial "barn" he would smell it and find some strength to kick. Jeff Turner caught up to us, and we were able to latch on. However, not for long - Benjamin's side ache was so violent that he started to scream. Interesting observation - the only time he gets this type of pain (on the right side) is when you would expect him to be low on fuel. He got it right after he finished the Thanksgiving 4 miler (not long enough to cause a fuel problem for a trained adult, but 5:17 pace at altitude for 14 year old can push the matter), then he got it when he did a 7.3 mile warm-up followed by a 3 mile tempo, and another time was in the last 1.25 miles of the 2x3 tempo workout - when he had almost 5 miles of tempo running combined with the total of 9.5 miles for the day on the odometer. And now at the end of this half. I have had a pain like this myself on numerous occasions in the marathon when I was low on fuel. Cannot find any research that backs this up, but I am suspecting it has to do with the liver being taxed to put glucose into the bloodstream.
I slowed down with Benjamin and Jeff opened a gap on us. However, Benjamin toughed out the pain and shifted gears. When he did I could not follow him but I cheered him from behind. He caught up to Jeff and outkicked him gapping him by 5 seconds. I do not know how I managed to let both of them open up so much gap on me - I did not really feel that tired. I suppose it was from the emotions of worrying about my son. I did not feel super-emotional on the surface, but apparently deep down there was more going on because I just could not focus on my own race. Jeff beat me by 17 seconds, Benjamin 22.
Then Burt picked us up, we went to his house, showered, ate breakfast, and drove back home. Made it to the Provo Airport in a rental car in 9 hours.
Some takeback from the race. We need to work on fuel. Some of it will come naturally with age, but I have thought of some good workouts. 10 mile tempo with 5 up the canyon at around 6:15 and the back down at 5:45. Our regular 2x3. And a 10 mile tempo down the canyon - see if Benjamin can run that one at 5:30 pace. Based on that we will set a time goal for Utah Valley. And of course, we need to watch the speed development and address it as needed.