I really hadn’t planned on doing this race because it was an hour and a half away, a downhill course, and I already had plenty of races lined up in the coming months. But this half was the only one in Utah’s USATF Road Racing Circuit and I needed the extra points if I wanted to hold my ground. Plus, I was given a free entry and thought I’d have a shot at least a little prize money.
The course had a 655 foot drop so I knew a PR was probable, but my main focus was just to place as high as I could for the points – truly a race just to race. The weather turned out to be perfect with a little chill at the start, but comfortable once I got moving. I almost forgot what it felt like to run and not feel hot.
The first female took off and I wasn’t about to chase her. I ran with second for the first mile until I saw our split at 6:03. Though I wanted to start fast to take advantage of the gravity factor, I admitted it was a little too fast and I backed off. I focused on trying to give my hamstrings and glutes a workout even on the decline, and tried to level my effort on the few inclines. Miles 2-5 were 6:13, 6:14, 6:21, 6:10. There were a few guys here and there, always at least one in my sights ahead, but for the most part I was running alone.
I thought I was feeling a little too good at this point, so I eased into a little faster pace. Miles 6 and 7 were 6:05 and 6:08. The course then flattened out a bit and I slowed. Fourth female was no where to be found, but I wanted to keep pressing. There was still a lot of race left. Miles 8-10 were 6:18, 6:22, 6:22. My goal at this point was to keep my paces under 6:25 for the last few miles, but mile 11 was 6:36 – whoops! Maybe sub 7-min miles? I began to worry a bit that fourth female might be coming to chase me. The 12th mile went uphill and I was spent. My watched buzzed with a 6:55. I needed to finish better than that and I only had one mile left. I was getting excited to finish third, but sensed that maybe someone was behind me. I couldn’t hear anything, no footsteps or breathing so I thought I was just being paranoid. When the finish line was in sight, I turned my head just to see and 50 feet behind there she was! It was almost over and I couldn’t let her catch me. I sprinted to the finish ignoring the last mile split. I beat her by just 12 seconds. Mile 13 was 6:25 and the last tenth was 27 seconds. I wanted to vomit.
It was a small PR, but more importantly I got the points I needed for the circuit. I was happy with how I ran and felt (minus those darn 11th and 12th miles), and had another successful half nutritionally.
This race will probably be in the racing circuit again next year, so I can’t say I won’t ever do it again. However, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone wanting to just run a nice half marathon unless you live nearby. With the exception of a lane on the highway on about half a mile of the course, it was completely open to traffic. It wasn’t marked that well either. I was thankful that I could always see at least one guy ahead of me making turns. There were several times where there were no signs and only spray paint on the road that blended with typical construction markings. The other organization aspects of the race were fine, but with announcing all the individual age group awards that were five deep, the post race festivities took longer than necessary.
Time – 1:22:39
21st of 888 overall
3rd of 541 women
1st of 80 in age group