After a super nice dinner last night at Jeffreys, I sleep well and wake up Saturday morning by 6am. Karen and I are staying in the Entrada room at Cliff Rose Flats. Nicely appointed room with a Moab theme; a couple of blocks from the park where I pick up the bus for the race start, and where the race ends. I’d consider staying here again.
I gear up and head over to the Red Rock Bakery for a couple of coffees. Karen is up too. I buy coffee here every year because it’s good and the Irish guy running the place is cool to talk to. Upon returning to Entrada, I eat some sheep’s milk yogurt, breakfast bar, and a Naked juice. I top my coffee off with some of Karen’s and head over to the buses at 7:30. I spill some of the coffee onto my fleece warmups on Hwy 128. It’s a bumpy ride in school buses.
It’s a long wait for the start. The half doesn’t launch until 10am. This event needs time for the logistics of busing 4000 runners up the canyon. I don’t find Keith until 9:30. I find him at the gear truck. We reluctantly strip down to the minimum race gear and toss our bags in the truck. Keith leaves on two ugly, long-sleeve t-shirts that he plans to leave on the side of the road before the gun fires. Smart way to stay warm. I have my share of ugly shirts. In fact, I have the same ones Keith has.
It’s only cold when the wind blows, which is randomly gusty. The temperature is in the upper 40s. The gun fires and we cross the starting line fairly quickly as we are lined up only about 30 yards back. Still, the first mile is crowded. This is one of the most crowded races ever. Hwy 128 is extremely narrow and without shoulders. One side is mostly bordered by a 2000 foot cliff. The other by a drop into the Colorado River. I’m hoping to run faster than last year’s 8 minutes for the first mile. My Garmin captures a 7:20 at mile one. I probably didn’t need to run quite that fast. My goal is to average a 7:30 mile for this run.
I’m able to run faster as the crowd thins out and record a 6:56 for mile two. I don’t really want to break 7 minute miles so I try to run with a bit more discipline. I don’t feel winded though, although I’m breathing a bit heavy. Mile three comes in at 7:07 and mile four comes in at 6:58. A bit fast but steady. I see Abby at this time but she slows down at the water station and I don’t see her again. I finally smooth out my pace a bit in mile five which comes in at 7:23. Both miles six and seven are 7:33. Exactly what I want to run. I want to hold this pace. And I seem to be doing just that.
I see these times after uploading them to Garmin.com. I stop looking at my watch after mile two because I lost the GPS signal and don’t trust the results. I don’t feel like I need the Garmin either. At least not while running. I do like reviewing my splits online after the race. I know I’m running well because I’m breathing hard while my legs don’t feel heavy. So no oxygen debt. This is like walking a tight rope and I’m walking it without a net. Well actually I do have a net. If I hit oxygen debt, I’ll slow down.
I don’t know how long I’ll be able to hold this pace. Doubtful for the entire distance. I could slow down now to save energy. That’s a typical strategy when you’re racing a heat and simply need a certain time or place to qualify for the next heat. I’m not doing that. And because this could be my last race for a fairly long time, I’m just going for broke. I’m going to run hard until I can’t anymore. That happens soon enough.
I run mile eight in 7:31 and the ninth mile in 7:26. This feels great. I’ve been passing runners non-stop the entire course. The tenth mile leads uphill and is paired with a wicked wall of wind. My pace drops dramatically. I know about this hill and was prepared to accept slowing down for it. This massive wind was not anticipated and I didn’t expect to slow down quite this much. A few runners pass me and makes me question if it isn’t something else. They have the same wind and hill. I pull out a gel in case this is a nutritional thing. I finish it before reaching the top. My pre-race plans included the hope that I could fly down this hill. That doesn’t happen and I run mile ten in 8:03. A dramatic thirty second slow down.
The 1:40 pace sign catches me – I’d passed them somewhere in the first half. I resolve to run with them. Since I started a minute or two behind them, hanging with them will have me under 1:40 – which is exactly what I want. Then a freakish thing happens. My hat blows off and I have to turn around to chase it in the wind. This is probably good for a ten second hit to my pace, but I keep running hard. I finish mile eleven in 7:50. I don’t catch back up to the pace sign though.
Two more miles remain. I think I have it in me to run faster, but I’m content to hold my pace. I’m not sure if I’ll meet my goal of running a 7:30 pace. I don’t care too much now because I ran some really satisfying miles. Mile twelve comes in at 7:44 and the final mile in 7:49. A bit off the 7:30 pace I want but I ran enough well under. My Garmin and the official race results are oddly off more than usual. My Garmin captures my total time in 1:39:18 and a 7:29 pace. The race results show a 1:39:19 and a 7:34 pace. I imagine the pace from the race is correct and the Garmin was off from losing its GPS for a bit. Doesn’t matter much. I didn’t beat last year’s time but was only about 30 seconds off. You can never compare these races apples-to-apples, because of the wind. In my mind, I ran about like last year and met my pace objectives almost spot on.
Karen and I meet up for dinner tonight with the rest of Jabe’s Running Team at the Cali Cochitta where a number of them are staying. Half the runners in this pic live in my neighborhood. Shoot, many of them on the same street. We figure, if we add in Fred (not pictured), eight runners are from Tenacity Street in the ‘hood. Most everyone seemed to have a good run today. The wind did not spare anyone. Likely all will be back next year.