Is it possible?

Date: August 25, 2013

Distance: 10.85

Time: 1:44:45 (9:45 pace)

In preparation for the Big Cottonwood Canyon Half Marathon, I planned to complete a ten-mile training run yesterday that followed the last ten miles of the race course. (I’ll spare you the details about taking a wrong turn that added almost a mile to my planned route).

The course promises to be fast.  The website includes quotes from all sorts of runners reporting PRs (personal records) and BQs (Boston Qualifying times) at last year’s race. The fast, downhill course is pretty much the only reason I decided to run another Utah race instead of “saving myself” for other states. That, and the fact it’s close to my house and being held during a perfect time of the year to be racing down a scenic mountain canyon.

At my age, I have no idea how many more races I’m capable of so I’ve got to spend my racing miles allowance judiciously. Still have to get through 27 more states.

from Google images

from Google images

Months ago, when I registered, I had a tiny little thought in the back of my head suggesting, “You might be able to get that sub-2:00 time you’ve always wanted.” Despite the fact that my fastest time (2:03) was in 2007, and my last several races have averaged 2:18, I still haven’t given up that goal.

Yesterday’s trial run gave me an indication of what I might expect come race day–three weeks out.

The half marathon course will begin about 8 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon, so I went about 5 miles up for my planned ten-miler. After leaving the mouth of the canyon, the course heads west, through residential areas, and ends at Cottonwood High School. The last five miles are mostly flat–with just a gradual descent. It’s those first miles, however, that allow for screaming fast times.

While I have averaged a 10:30 minutes/mile pace in my last five races, my first five miles of the training run were completed at 8:56, 9:05, 8:33, 8:42, and 8:47.  I was shocked when I would glance down at my Garmin and see how fast I was running–especially since I wasn’t breathing hard at all. If I could run an entire half marathon at an 8:33 pace, I would finish in 1:52!  No, I fully realize that won’t happen. There’s no way I’m running an entire race at 8:33. Still, I felt so incredibly good during this run, I realize that the 2:00 time just may be within reach. My pace for 10.85 miles was 9:45/mile and that pace would allow me to finish in about 2:07.

In three weeks, is it possible to shave off some more time? I really, really hope so.

I will admit to being incredibly sore today. My quads and calves are hurting and I feel upper glute/lower back muscles I didn’t know existed. The speed and the downhill course resulted in some achy muscles. I also admit to not having worked out at all for six days in a row this past week. I know, I know, skipping workouts will not get me to sub-2.

I’ve got to resolve to eat well, sleep well, and closely follow my training plan if I’m going to make that long-time goal of under two hours.

Now that I know the course (no more wrong turns), I’ll follow it for next week’s 11-mile training run. That will give me an even better indication of how I might do come race day.

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