I had been eyeing this race all summer as an opporunity to finally break 16 in SLC on a fair course. I've broken 16 twice at running of the leopards and also 4 times on the track at sea level.
All week my legs had been feeling pretty tired from running down big mountain on Saturday so my expectations were low. I had no real reason to think that I would be able to approach the barrier. I saw a bunch of fast guys at the start and I just throught that I would stick my nose in there and try to compete. The result was...compelling.
I've had this nasty habit all summer of running these wonderfully relaxed opening miles at super fast paces and then fading badly. I have started with the leaders at EVERY circuit race i have done this year. At the start today, I was simply outclassed. There was Teren, obviously. There was Jamal Tongo, who typically beats me by a minute in the 5k. There was Brandon Hebbert (1:05 and 1:06 half marathons this summer and also a two minute crushing of me on Memorial day). The "slow" guy was Jake Krong who has run 14:37 and 2:21 this summer. And yet in the first mile there I was running with them. My legs felt very tired, with my quads still feeling some fatigue, but that was my only discomfort. I was a little confused as my breathing was fine and my stride felt natural and I was running next to some of the best road racers in the state.
I thought that maybe we were starting out slow, but this was not the case. I fell off the leaders right before the mile, which I reached in 4:53. On that course, a 4:53 first mile corresponds to about a 14:59. I assumed the first mile must have been downhill, but it was actually uphill. Anyway in the second mile and could feel my legs just loosing power. I just do not have that type of speed endurance.
I actually maintained a decent pace the rest of the race and only got passed by Nate Hornok. I barely missed out on sub 16, but I was totally shocked at how well I did. In fact, I was convinced the course was .1 short until I got home and measured it. The course tool reported that it was maybe 15 seconds slow compared to flat. This is pretty exciting as I wouldn't even call this an especially good day or anything but it is close to my best ever 5k (15:26 flat, sea level).
I think that after I recover from this marathon (hopefully at some point in 2011), I will work on my speed endurance a little. Once that happens, I will hopefully be able to stay with these guys all the way to the finish (and beat them).