A.M. Provo River Half Marathon - 1:12:08.6, first place. Curt called me last week as said he had signed me up and given bib #1. So I had to run and live up to the expectations.
Sarah prayed last night that I would run comfortably and alone. The important part of her prayer was answered - I did win, but it was not comfortable, and I was never alone. Which is good, I think, because a contested win teaches you more than a solo tempo run.The Lord gives you what you need, not necessarily what you asked for.
Come to think of it, the run was not that uncomfortable. I never felt like was done, could not hold the pace, etc.
I warmed up 2 miles, then saw Justin Park. He had run 1:10:41 in the Utah Valley Half this year, so I knew he was in good shape. We agreed to work together for as long as we could taking leads every 2 minutes.
At the start, Jon Kotter and Ian Hunter, who were not in the race, but just doing a hard workout along the race route, joined us. Justin and I stuck with our plan, while Ian and Jon ran with us, sometimes a little behind, sometimes a little ahead for the first 4 miles, then dropped us.
The splits in the first 4 miles, according to Curt's marks were 5:03, 5:07 (10:10), 5:26 (15:36), 5:09 (20:45). Maybe the third mile was a bit long, and the fourth a bit short, but I think the 4 miles were more or less accurate. They are down a fairly steep grade, and are quick.
Then it flattened out, but still some gradual downhill sections with flat breakups. Our split at the official 6 mile mark was 31:55, so 11:10 for 2 miles. Could have been right. I timed us on the triangle marks, and we were going somewhere in the 5:30-5:40 range.
The next mile was about a quarter on a mild downhill slope, and then the rest of it uphill and into the wind. It was Justin's turn to lead, and I wanted to pass him because he started going very slow and it felt too easy. I was also getting concerned that if we went that slow somebody might catch us from behind. Then I said to myself, just wait until it is your turn to lead, you'll find out why Justin was taking it so slow. I did. Having somebody to hide behind when you have a headwind makes a lot of difference. My effort on Justin's turns eventually normalized as the wind subsided.
We had mile 7 officially in 5:48 (37:43). I think it was short. We were barely moving on the uphill part. Next mile in 6:02 (43:45). Could possibly have been right, as we were done with the uphill and turned around. The next mile was long, possibly to make up for the short mile earlier. It was all downhill, we were on the move and we ended up with only 6:00 (49:45). This was followed by another short mile - 5:15 to hit the 10 mile marker in 55:00. I knew this one was short for sure because the triangle marks clocked us at 5:31. But mile marker 10 was more or less correct in sum.
At this point Justin started struggling, which surprised me some. He sat back for 4 minutes. But then he recovered and led at a good pace, so I rested behind him for 4 minutes.
Next mile was definitely short, 5:02 (1:00:02) - triangles showed around 5:34, followed by a long mile to make up - 5:58 (1:06:00), with triangles showing 5:36. Incidentally we covered my 3 mile tempo course in 16:41 which is not a bad time for the end of a half marathon.
At this point Justin was sitting back, and I decided it was time to start racing. I think when two runners are about equal, they should work together rather than actively try to break each other until the last mile. Maybe last two miles. But no more than that. The place outcome will be the same - the stronger one will be ahead, but early racing will hurt the times of both.
I knew that Justin's kick was better than mine. Therefore I needed a safe 5 second gap with 400 to go in order to win. I was OK with the pace we were going, but did not feel like I could pick it up enough to break him by running up front. Nevertheless, that was my only option. So I focused on the calf push off, and it resulted in a speed up of about 5-10 seconds a mile. This proved sufficient. I gapped him a little. Then I heard that he had closed it some, and got seriously concerned. One more push, smooth and steady. This time he did not cover the gap, but it was far from over. Without a sizable lead he can eat that gap with his kick. So I kept pressing with two purposes in mind. Increase the safety margin, and fatigue and demoralize the competitor to take the sting out of his kicking fangs. Running is an interesting sport. Most of the race you are working together. But then you start to race, and you are using mean tactics against your friends. They do the same to you. But when you finish you are still friends.
With 400 to go I said, there is no way I am losing this race, and started the best kick that I had in me. It ended up being good enough, and I won by 6 seconds.
Ran a 5 mile cool-down. Pace another runner. His name was Matt Chadwick. He ended up with around 1:46, but that included a long bathroom stop. He is planning on joining me next Saturday for a part of my run.
Kids ran on their own. Benjamin did 4, Jenny and Julia 1.5, Jacob 0.25.
P.M. 1.5 with Joseph.