Top of Utah Marathon, 2:35:19, 8th place. One phrase summary of the performance is "better than embarrassing" or "it could have been worse without being the worst I've run in the last few years".
Going into the race I had a few issues. Undertrained due to foot and recent sickness, and inflamed attachement of plantar to the heel in the left foot (Josse helped me figure that out tonight, and scraped/massaged it as well). Two weeks ago I experienced fuel issues in the last 5 miles of a 20 mile run which should not have happened and were probably the result of being slightly out of shape. On the positive side I felt my form has smoothed out from running on grass, and the leg power felt decent.
I debated between two options for the race. Keep HR at 152 or try to go out a bit quicker and survive. I do have a tendency to crash at the end some even if I go out slow. At the same time I was curious to see if maybe I'd be able to overcome that tendency. 20 minutes away from the house I realized I had forgotten my HRM. This made the decision easier, so it was go out quicker and hang on.
The field was loaded. 4 Kenyans at the start. Paul, Nick, no Seth, Steve, Jon, Vance Twitched, Joe Wilson (out of shape, but you never know), Bryant Jensen from Weber State, and Eric Held who has improved dramatically in the last year.
I followed Paul and the Kenyans. The pace was quick but not insane. I considered backing off after 3 miles when Paul pushed it and we hit a 5:21, but then he got some water and dropped back behind the Kenyans who did not want to go faster. For a good reason - they were out of their own (2:14) or even Paul's shape! So I stuck with the pack a bit longer. We went through 5 miles in 27:11. Then in the sixth mile Paul hit the gas again and I said now is the time to back off and run my own pace.
In about a mile or two Nick caught up to me, and I followed him until 10. Then it was time for me to get refueled. Aaron, Nan Kennard's husband, brought the bottles to me. I backed off and let Nick go. 10 mile marker was wrong. I remember it being wrong last year as well. My time was 54:50, but it was probably closer to 55:40.
When I backed off from the lead pack one of the Kenyans had already lost his wheels and was behind. I caught up to one more and we were running together, but I knew he was done. Then when Nick caught up that helped me separate myself from that Kenyan. But there were two more ahead, plus Paul, plus Bryant. Not good for a sore footed undertrained man, but that's life.
1:13:03 at the half. Then a tailwind picked up and carried me for a couple of quick miles. 5:29, and 5:39. 1:23:39 at 15. Eric Held caught up to me, but then fell back.
Got my bottle at 16 from Aaron, enjoyed it.
I was feeling decent and maintained a slightly sub-6:00 on the Hollow Road and all the way to mile 18. Felt good on the uphill. Ran the next two miles in 6:15 and 6:20. 20 miles in 1:54:05. Got another bottle at 20 from Aaron, enjoyed it as well. Aaron gave me an update on Nan - 1:20 at the half. Perfect. On pace for a course record, and she would need to close in 1:15 to chick me if things do not go so well. So I am relatively safe.
Figured I was headed for a 2:33 maybe a little under. However, then there was a surprise.
Next downhill mile in 6:11 instead of 5:55. Legs do not want to move, no motivation. And then a complete disaster - 6:51. No, not quite complete. Next mile in 7:00 or so! Odd. The foot started complaining. Not good. I considered dropping out. There were several reasons I did not. I believe if you get a comp and can finish without damaging your health you should, and I felt that in all honesty I could finish without serious health damage. I also thought that there was a remote possibility of somebody from the lead pack dropping out or royally blowing up, which then would put me in the money. It was my 11th time running the race, and I wanted to keep my streak of sub-2:40 finishes. And, not the least important - in my state of mind I could have gotten lost trying to find a short cut to the finish and end up running close to 26 miles anyway.
Of course this was enough for Eric to start closing. I regrouped and picked it up to 6:40. Probably the sugar from the honey kicked in. Then Eric caught up to me around 24, and then Jon passed both of us as if we were standing still shortly before 25. Well, we were standing still, so no as if. Eric used the commotion to pull away from me, and I had nothing to respond with.
I believe I saw 2:27:21 at 25 and 2:34:01 at 26, so another 6:40 mile. Could be worse. Tried to reel Eric in, but did not have the strength. Set a goal to beat my Five Finger time at Utah Valley (2:35:46), got to have some kind of goal even when the race is falling apart. Pushed as hard as I could in the last 385 yards. Got 1:18, that is actually 5:56 pace, not too bad.
At the finish we had Paul in 2:23:07, Josephat Chemjor 2:25:08, Sammy Nyamongo 2:28:12, Nick 2:28:46, Bryant 2:31:10, Jon 2:34:16, Eric 2:35:00. In 9th place Vance Twitchell 2:39:05 and Tylor Monson 2:39:22. The entire top 10 under 2:40. Interesting result from prize money increase in the current economy. Paul's winning time was very solid, but it was slowest win since after 2005. But if I remember right, first time 10th place was under 2:40. I suppose the conclusion is that what the winner will run is sufficiently unpredictable and correlates less with the prize money, but the depth of the field correlates a lot stronger.
Paul's win was very impressive. I suspect somehow he managed to become 2:13 guy currently wearing a 2:23 guy's clothing. Or I should say this. He's always been a sub-2:13 guy, but the clothing was so thick that he appeared to be slower. It is nice that he is willing to serve as a guinea-pig for the rest of us to learn from documenting his trials and how he overcomes them.
Nan ran great. 2:44:10, new course record. Her last 10 K was faster than mine by about a minute. It is one thing to have the math tell you you can run a good time, but actually running it takes you to a new level.
After the race once the endorophins wore off my foot started to fuss a lot. I had a hard time keeping up with Cody and Adam walking to the car. Even though both of them fell apart a whole lot worse than I did in the race I could not keep up with them walking and had to ask them slow down.
P.M. Kids ran their usual distances on their own with Sarah's supervision. The times got messed up except for Benjamin's which was 17:27.