A.M. Top of Utah Marathon - 2:41:32, 6th place, 1st master, this was my slowest time out of the 15 that I've run it, but it was good enough for the masters course record. $500 cash prize - this is Cache (Cash) Valley indeed.
Now details. Stayed with Steve Anderson. Placed the bottles of EmergenC mixed with dextrose on the course at miles 7, 14, 17 and 21 the night before. Then went to pick up the bib and they told me they were doing bottle service for elite runners this year. Will know better next year.
My goal was to get the master's course record of 2:42:10. It appeared maybe that the goal was too easy, but I knew it was not a given. Lately I have not been as fit for a number of reasons that I am still trying to sort out. The possibilities are the lack of fast running volume with too many miles at 8:30 pace and not enough at 6:00 or faster, or just plain getting old. During the race I knew after 3 miles that the goal would not come easy.
Mile by mile:
1 - 5:43 - felt good
2 - 5:49 (11:32) - felt harder, cause for concern
3 - 5:43 (17:15) - maybe I can get into good rhythm
4 - 5:48 (23:02) - not much of a rhythm
5 - 5:52 (28:54) - trouble ahead
6 - 5:56 (34:50)- yes indeed trouble ahead
7 - 6:05 (40:55) - got the bottle
8 - 5:55 (46:50) - actually was quite happy with the mile since I held the bottle and took sips out of it the entire time
9 - 5:58 (52:48) - still holding the bottle, drinking it slowly. Figuring it is better to run 5 seconds per mile slower now that I want to than lose 10 seconds or more per mile after 20 due to dehydration or low fuel. Learning something about fluid absorption. A little sip goes in well, the next one right after does not go. However, a minute later it goes in just fine. I think that is worth the inconvenience of having to carry the bottle for a couple of miles. With practice in training, maybe, I can learn to lose only 3 seconds per mile instead of 5, and maybe absorb better.
10 - 5:58 (58:46) - Still holding the bottle. The race is not going great, but at least I am running sub-6:00. Let's focus on the positive.
11 - 5:54 (1:04:40) - somewhere around here I decided to drop the bottle. I actually liked running with it - it kept my mind off the fact that I had a long slog ahead of me
12 - 6:06 (1:10:46) - very quick VPB
13 - 5:54 (1:16:40) - still sub-6:00
Half in 1:17:17. Realizing that there is a very good chance that my modest goal of the master's course record may not happen.
14 - 5:52 (1:22:32) - that is the time to get to 15 by, not 14! And 5:52 for that mile is not a good sign at all. But at least I am still at sub-6:00 average, and actually not feeling too terrible - just cannot go fast.
15 - 6:03 (1:28:35) - two events during this mile - grabbed my bottle, and got passed by John Heslop. Could not latch on, not even a chance, he was actually running.
16 - 6:07 (1:34:42) - not super happy with this, but I have to take what I can get. I am actually not feeling bad, just cannot run fast. Maybe a 17-year-old spirit takes some time to adjust to a 40-year-old body and learn how to drive it? Wasn't there a movie about a mother and daughter switching places?
17 - 6:16 (1:40:58) - can I get to 20 miles under 2:01? If yes, I'll have a shot at the master's record unless I get passed by some mystery master, of course, which can very well happen at this pace. Got the bottle.
18 - 6:22 (1:46:20) - I do not really want to finish the race. But I have to find my way to the finish - with this traffic it would be faster to run than to get a ride. I do not want to run more marathons. I think I've run enough. OK, you are the first master, and you can still get the master's record. There is prize money on the line. Maybe even a course record bonus. But who cares? I do not care about prize money that much anymore, I get enough from my job. I do not care about the course record. Wait, remember what you told the first-time marathoners that you rode with on the bus? "You must have a plan when you get to mile 18. It must be a realistic plan. Speeding up at 18 is a plan that is incomplete. You must plan for disaster. You must plan for getting to mile 18 and not wanting to run anymore. Think of yourself as a soldier that has been captured by an enemy and is being injected drugs to reduce his will power and make him talk. You must make your decisions before you get there, and you must be loyal to those decisions." I remembered that my decision was to keep running at the fastest pace I could manage regardless of how I felt. I also did not want to come home and tell my children that I was headed to win some money but I dropped out of the race because I just did not want to run anymore. So I just kept running.
19 - 6:38 (1:53:58) - this mile actually cheered me up. It was uphill and faster than 7:00. Yes, I remember in 2003 I ran it in something like 5:54. But today was a different day. 6:38 contained a promise of a sub-2:42, and that made it worth running the rest of the race for me.
20 - 6:43 (2:00:39) - I was quite thrilled to be under 2:01 at 20 miles. Now just another 10 K in 41 minutes and I've got my goal. But if it is 42 I do not get it. That is discouraging. 42 minute 10 K is sub-7:00 and I am not sure if I can go signficantly sub-7:00 for the rest of the race. But I just managed a 6:43 uphill, and the next mile is downhill.
21 - 6:27 (2:07:06) - grabbed the bottle during this mile and never parted with it until maybe half a mile to go. For almost 5 miles after this I found solace in the bottle and drank my troubles away.
22 - 6:42 (2:13:48) - that plus 7x4 gives me 2:41:48 at 26 so around 2:43:00 finish, which would not make me too happy. So I'd better run quite a bit faster than 7:00.
23 - do not remember the split. James Moore joined me during this mile and it was a huge help mentally to have someone by my side.
24 - 13:25 for 2 miles (2:27:13) . I added 14 minutes and got 2:41:13. That cheered me up. This means about 2:42:30 for the whole thing, and by now I knew that I could find the strength to put a 20 second gap on the 7:00 pace over the last two miles, and then just sprint with all I've got and dip a little under the record. I got passed by Jason Howe which was actually good because I know had a visual target in front of me. I could imagine that he was coming back to me even though quite opposite was true, but it did not matter - any mental or visual trick at this point is good as long as it makes you run faster.
25 - 6:39 (2:33:52). I should be at the finish already. Back in 2003 I would have been at the finish a mile ago. Oh, well, at least now the record is quite tangible althought still not 100% certain. The last mile was uphill. I rarely run mile 26 slower than I do mile 25 even on equal terrain, and here I have downhill helping me.
26 - 6:22 (2:40:14). Gave it everything I had. It was not much, but enough to seal the record.
The longest 385 yards of the day - 1:18 - 5:56 pace - 2:41:32. With spectators cheering, and knowing that when I crossed the line I had the right to collapse and lay there until somebody came to carry me, the right that I should not abuse, but the thought of that privilege can release some speed, I went as fast as I could.