Sunday evening I ran a 1:04.19 half marathon. This was done the hard way by myself meaning I was skulling it out the last few miles as the legs were shot. The race was run under the lights, along Las Vegas Boulevard (aka The Strip). I was very pleased with the competitive fire I showed in the last couple miles as I gutted it out trying to stay with Mr. Quigley. Hartmann, Lehmkuhle, and Carney were staging a battle about 150m ahead while Houseworth had cleared out the field around 7 miles. That kid looked really, really smooth and efficient. At one point I felt as if Quigley and I were gaining on the three others, but alas we were not and had to fight off some young lad named Tapia the last half mile. That was not an easy course as there are plenty of turns and the last half had a slight incline with a wind in the face.
The part that sticks out the most from this particular footrace was not the gleaming lights of the MGM Grand or the Ballagio, but at mile three when Jason L. cocked his head to the side at an extremely weird angle, pursed his lips, and scratched the side of his head basically telling himself enough was enough; time to string out this field of pretenders.
So he went and naturally I went and the 4:33 mile strung the pack down to who I thought would be there in the first place (+ the winner Houseworth). So now it was 6 of us through 10k in 29:20. It was the same pack for another half mile or so. I felt extremely good just before 10k and threw in my own surge, but by miles 7-8 things were broken up and it wasn't me who caused it. It was the young gun. I ran with Jason Hartmann and Sean Quigley for a small while as James and Jason L. had given chase to the youngster Sean Houseworth. Hartmann and his mentronome running style just weathered the storm and ended up realing them in and going on to claim runner-up status. I can see why that guy is such a fantastic marathoner as his cadence, breathing, rhythm, and intent focus never changed; from my vantage point anyway.
The last 5-6 miles the legs were tight and heavy...definitely could tell the marathon miles were there. The wind was cold. The slight uphill seemed like I was climbing Everest. But I competed and was reminded that the Marathon will be a long process in January and that I need to keep my composure early on and stick to my own race plan. Letting other people dictate what you do in a marathon race sometimes can be a small recipe for disaster. In contrast, in a half-marathon I feel like a few more risks can be taken for greater reward although going out so fast and ending up having to skull it out the last few miles down the Vegas strip may prove otherwise. But I wouldn't want to have run that race any other way and was happy I threw punches as long as I could at those boys.
After a complete day off from running today I am looking forward to really hammering out the next month or so before it will be time to spend a couple weeks freshening up the legs. I am pretty sure I will just do all my training here in Minnesota and I don't really have a problem with that. I will be able to really grow out the beard hardcore and let the red shine through.