My sixth time running this race. So far, there have been 3 windy years (2009,2011,2013). I actually haven't even written a race report for the last 2 years. Two years ago, I was close to winning this race. I had the lead up until the giant hill and then Brian Masterson destroyed my over the second half of the course. That was my last race before everything fell apart. Last year, I was totally buried in 27th. I actually ran a little slower this year, but placed 13th due to 25mph winds gusting to 35mph. There is an added difficulty in that the more exposed parts of the course are also the parts that run into the headwind. Here are some people who ran the race both years. There is a halfway split both years and about a 4.2 mile split for this year.
Based on this table, it's pretty safe to say this was a better performance than last year.
I started off in about 30th-40th place in the first mile (5:58). I was anxious to find a nice pack to run with to help with the wind, but after a mile we go up the first of many hills and the race started to break apart. I was in no-mans land in mile 2 (5:54 net downhill) which had some really nasty cross winds. At mile 2 I was still somewhere in the 30s. The third mile was uphill and had a brief tailwind (5:56) I passed maybe 10 people in this mile. I hit 5k in 18:25-depressingly one of my better 5ks of the year. I picked it up as I got into the Mt Baker Tunnel (5:52) but I had to bridge a gap to the next group. My legs were already feeling weak and I knew it would be asking a lot to continue to run 5k pace.
Got out of the tunnel on Lake Washington Blvd and really started to feel bad. This was the only other place where I felt a slight tailwind and I tried to make the most of it. I caught and passed a few more people but it was getting very spread out. Next two miles were only 11:59 and I could feel myself weakening. After I passed mile 6 I could only see two more people ahead of me, Kyle Hedges and Ben Rush. Mile 7 has a mini precursor hill in it. I felt I climbed the hill strongly but my quads weren't prepared for running fast down the other side. I ran 6:10 which is a reasonable split. I then only managed a 6:53 for Mile 8, should have been 10 seconds faster on that mile, but I was not losing ground on the people I could see. In Mile 9 (5:52) I made a big push to pass Kyle and Ben to make sure they couldn't latch on. Mile 10 is a gradual climb (6:06) and I couldn't see anyone ahead of me.
I just tried to survive the final 5k. I was completely by myself and there was a lot of wind wipping around. Last year I had been in a pack of 3-4 during this stage and so I probably closed much faster. I ran 6:24 for mile 11 (head wind, climbing) and then a 12:29 for 12-13 (wind up and down).
Due to all of the bridges and tunnels, this course is immune to accurate course tooling. My estimate is that it is about 2minutes slower than flat, roughly canceling out the effect of sea level vs slc altitude. Putting this together, it seems that perhaps I can run a 1:17-1:18 flat half in SLC.
I think I'm gradually learning how to train and run with my circulatory problems, but it will take some time to rebuild my fitness. Aerobically, 5:50 pace felt pretty reasonable, but my legs aren't used to running fast for that long. Time for long miserable winter tempo runs.