A.M. Executive summary: Salt Lake Marathon, 2:34:07, 6th pace. Windy day, slow times. Overloaded field, got outclassed into the no money land. On the positive site, collected nice LDR circuit points for being first in the circuit, and for the first time in my life (out of 43 marathons) ran a negative split on a non-St. George course. Talk about being a slow learner.
Details: Stayed with Adam and his family the night before. That made it very nice for getting to the start as he lives right next to it. Met up with Kory, and Dave Holt at the start. A pack of Kenyans/Ethiopians at the start, Shin Nozaki, Alexander Thomas, Matt Harmer. Trouble, but hopefully there will be enough Kenyan DNF's / jog-ins to make top 5. In all truth, though, I need to work on being fit to race those guys honestly, being able to beat them in the half marathon to begin with, rather than counting them at the start and hoping enough are going to have a bad day.
Adam made a nice map of the Salt Lake City Marathon on the Course Tool, so when I say the mile was supposed to be X it means based on 2:30 pace projection and the elevation profile the Course Tool thought this how fast I was supposed to run it.
We started with the Star Spangled Banner. Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave? You bet, it was waving quite a bit today in the wind, you could see it all over. I wish they had sung the second verse as well, it would have been even better:
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Half and full marathon started together, so that was nice. Relaxed through the downhill first mile with mild headwind in 5:49 (target 5:31). Perhaps too much relaxation. Adam and Kory fell back a bit. I motioned to them to catch up, but they thought the pace was too fast. So I made a move and caught up to the Kenyans accompanied by some half-marathon runners. Next mile was 5:39, it was into a more significant headwind, but not a complete killer (target 5:44) . On the third mile the Kenyans were done with the warmup. Nate Hornok, who was running the half at first went with them, the later came back to me. The headwind was the same as in mile 2. Got 5:49, target 6:02. Good, lets hope not too good.
On the fourth mile we turned on 21st south and headed down a nice 4-5% grade. I passed Nate and did not care. Finally no headwind, but not for long. So I figured I'd make up some time. Got 5:04, target 5:11. Eased off on the next mile, Nate caught up to me, we chatted a bit, I sat on him for a quarter or so. Then at around 4.6 it was time to say goodbye, it was half-marathon turnaround point. So I was left alone. Could see Alexander Thomas up ahead. A little further Shin and a Kenyan that fell off the lead pack. That is a good sign for me. Kenyans, the type that come to the caliber of Salt Lake Marathon races usually hang on with the leaders until they literally cannot go any further at that pace. Next mile in 5:31, projected 5:22. Why so slow? But the split at 5 was 27:53, only a second slower than 2:30:00 projection.
Hit the Sugarhouse loop. This has been one of my least favorite parts of the course. Today it ended up being my favorite part of the stretch between 5 and 13 miles. Next favorite was the climb on Keller Lane between miles 8 and 9. The reason being not that all of a sudden I've become a terrific hill runner. Rather, those were the only sections on that stretch that did not have headwind today.
Mile 6 in 6:01, target 6:05. Encouraging. And then the wind got stronger. Do not remember my splits on the next few miles, but I got to 9 in 52:24, losing to 25 seconds to 2:30 projection. I believe I gained a couple of seconds on the Keller Lane mile (from 8 to 9). Mile 10 was supposed to be 5:37. Good luck with that headwind, only 5:57, 58:21 at 10 miles, last 5 in 30:28. Followed by a 5:59 for mile 11 that was supposed to be 5:25! Either the headwind picked up on that mile or I wore myself out trying too hard on mile 10.
No worries, though. I had already realized that 2:30 ideal conditions effort today would not result in a 2:30 time today, and not just for me, but for everybody else as well, and I was going by effort while making a mental note of what kind of split that effort produced rather than stressing out about not hitting a target split.
Mile 12 was 6:01 vs target of 5:49. Mile 13 6:25 vs target of 6:08. That is where we got the full gamut of adversity - headwind + uphill. 1:16:46 at 13 miles, 1:17:25 at half-way. The 2:30 guy put a good 1:34 on me on that stretch between 5 miles and the half.
No more headwind, tailwind all the way back, or at least so I thought. On mile 14 just a cross-wind, but it feels so nice to be running downhill and with no headwind. 5:42 on the next mile, target 5:36. Not bad considering I had to shift gears from 6:25 pace earlier. Next mile in 5:36, target 5:25, followed by 5:34 right on target. I think the tailwind helped on this one finally. The weather started getting uncomfortably warmer. Mile 17 was 5:49, target 5:33. I think that is where the subtle fatigue of battling the wind in the earlier miles started to catch up to me in combination with a temperature that was not that warm (maybe 65 degrees), but being not used to it from the winter training took its toll. Do not recall my splits in the next 3 miles, but I got to 20 in 1:56:41, 2:15 behind the 2:30 guy. Passed a Kenyan, and then Alexander Thomas.
Discovered a new way of fighting the fatigue. Loud grunts. Found them to be very effective. Ran the next 5 K in 18:43, and incidentally the last one in 18:43 as well. Worked my way through a crowd of half-marathoners. Saw Ryan Gurr. He told me I was in 7th place, and gave me the update on who was ahead and how they were doing. Not much hope. However, I anticipated that the weakest Kenyan/Ethiopian in that pack will either DNF or jog in, but only one. And sure enough, with about 1.5 to go I see him walking. Suzanna Thomas was there on a bike and yelled that I am now 6th or maybe 5th. So this Kenyan (his name is Festus Kioko), heard that, caught up to me and then pulled ahead. I got right on his tail, and I got really mad. I decided I'd sit on him, and then we'd duke it out in the kick, and he would have to work to beat me. Shortly afterwards he either remembered that there were 5 guys already ahead or for some other reason decided the fight was not worth it, and went back to the jog-in/walk-in mode.
2:34:07 at the finish, 1:17:25 first half, 1:16:42. Genna Tufa won in a very close race in 2:23:10. Race results are available at http://racecenter.com/.
P.M. 1 with Julia in 10:57, 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 13:13, then 1 more with Benjamin in 7:43, which gave him 20:56 for 2.5. Toyed with the idea of running another 4 to repeat Clyde's feat of running the same number of miles as the same number of years I was going to turn on Monday, but my body told me 31 miles for the day would be plenty, and I decided that being more fit for Ogden and other races was more important than hitting a magic number in training. So we can say that I made it to 31 with 26 at marathon pace, and then my age got to me :-)