I had trained for the full marathon, but opted for the half in order to optimize for a strong finish in the Utah Valley Marathon on June 14th. The half marathon started at 8:00. I would guess there were 70 of us. My training was good, the day was perfect and everything aligned for a strong finish. I was hoping to beat 2:30. I had run the same course a week prior as part of an 18 mile run and had finished the course in 2:50. My friend John Aznar asked where I planned to make up the 20 minutes. I told him I would not talk to a guy on the trail for ten minutes as I had done and that I thought with rest, I could drop another 10.
I felt good the entire way. It is a steep course with 2400 feet of elevation gain. I learned a lot on the run. I followed one guy who was careful to cut to the inside of every turn to minimize the total distance. The guy, call him Bob for now, had clearly done several of these runs. I suppose all of the cutting to the inside of the turns adds up by the end of the run.
I learned that sometimes you are better off walking really steep stuff. It is all about energy conservation. I got passed on a hill by two guys on a steep section. By the time I got to the top, seconds after they did, they were doubled over, heaving and I was able to start running again. I never saw them for the rest of the race.
Maybe the biggest lesson is that it is really hard to pass people on a narrow trail while running down hill. I was slowed by two groups that I could only pass when the single track turned into double track. I can descend fast and lost some time on the two largest descents.
Finally, I learned that placement is a big deal for some people. I saw Bob, bobbing along near the end of the race ahead of me. I was pushing pretty hard at the time and passed Bob in the last fifty feet. I crossed the finish line seconds ahead of him. As I was standing in line to get my shirt and a bowl of chili, Bob tapped me on the shoulder and asked my age. He was relieved that we were not in the same category because I would have bumped him in the rankings.
I crossed at 2:23 according to my GPS. I am delighted with the result and look forward to more races this summer, in the fall, and, well, forever.