Saturday, June 28, 2014

2014 Provo Midnight Half Marathon Race Review

Where: Provo, Utah
Time: 10pm Friday on June 27th
Distance: Half Marathon (actually just shy of 13 miles according to my Garmin)
Time: 1:50:53 (Results)
Place: 3rd in Men's 40-44, 13th overall in the men's (out of 37 men)
Temperature: Low 70's with negligible wind

On Friday, I choice to do the Provo Midnight half marathon.  Normally I do the one up north (which is in a few weeks), in Farmington / Bountiful but I was jonesing for a race.  Due to some financial issues (car repairs) I opted out of going to Elko for their half marathon and chose this one instead.  Made sense.  $80 for the race instead of hundreds for gas, hotel, and the race itself (plus don't forget I'd probably do some gambling out there too).  $80 is still pricey, but worth a night of entertainment (I didn't get home until 2AM)

This race is held on the Provo bike trail.  I would say only about 33% of the route was well lit.  The rest you had to either use your cell phone, head lamp, or the provided glow sticks to help you get around.  Luckily the course was fairly simple and there was only one spot where I nearly went straight instead of left (I saw one sap go straight and called out to him, but he had headphones on.  Hopefully he figured it out).  I had a head lamp from the inaugural Las Vegas Night Marathon from 2011.

The course, may have been slightly off.  However, I am not sure how my Garmin reacts to the total distance when it cannot reach a satellite.  There were a few sections of the course where you are running in a tunnel.  Either way, when I finished my Garmin was 12.95.  Given the lost connection in the tunnels, the race may have been just a bit short.

The race started off with out a hitch at 10pm and my goal was to pretty much see what I had, run evenly and crush it at the end.  I had a really lousy training run on Wednesday and I was worried I was going to get hit with a subpar performance.  Other than some tightness in my right hamstring, I want to say I hit my goals.

For those whose who haven't run a night race before, it is hard to gauge your pace.  Sure, I could've diddled with my Garmin every half mile but that is work and distracting.  The few times I did look at it, I was hitting around 8:25 miles.  For most of the race, I locked onto that pace and held on.  My hamstring hurt on a few of the uphills but it didn't really stop me.  Well I can't prove if I ran even splits, it certainly felt like it.  Normally I go gang busters the first few miles and crash and burn around mile 9.  Then by miles 11- 13 I am shuffling along.  This time, other than some tiredness I was cruising all the way until about mile 12.25.  At that point the monkey was on my back.

I am itching to re-run this course sometime during the daylight hours.  From what I could tell, I was running on the outskirts of Provo on a tree-lined bike trail.  We were nearly always running beside the Provo River, so you could hear the water gurgling beside you.  You also got to run within shouting distance of Lake Utah.

Most of the race I tagged along with other people.  I had my headlamp so I was helping other people when it got dark.  I was with a group of 40-something's for the first half of the race and eventually I dropped them after the turnaround (I wanted to run with a group so I wouldn't get lost).  I tagged along with a pair of 20-somethings but they pushed the pace late and I couldn't keep up.  The last few miles were pretty much solo. What I like about this race is they have 5K / 10K races also going on that get started at 11pm and 11:30pm respectively.  So as I was getting closer to the starting line, I was running with 10K / 5K people.  It gave me a lot of motivation to know that I was 10 miles into a race and still passing 10K.  It also was a sanity check to make sure I was still on the course.  In fact during the last mile I was 100% alone and was worried I had run off the course, luckily, I heard the crowd cheering for the finishers at the end to keep me from going into a panic.

This was a pretty small race -- about 100 people for the half and a bit more for the 5K / 10Ks.  I could definitely tell though that more and more races are attracting women.  It seemed to me that the women outnumbered the men at this race 2 to 1.

I did have the experience of running under a trestle bridge with a roaring freight train just a few feet above my head.  A very unique experience.  Also during the race, I saw a guy running with his small dog -- a Pomeranian.  I was pretty amazed a dog that small could do the race but she was as happy as she could be.  After the race, I talked to the owner.  In 4 short years, the dog had completed 22 marathons, was wearing a Marathon Maniacs t-shirt and had done a few 50 mile ultras.  Incredible.  The guy even had a cool neon leash so you could see where she was at.

Overall I am happy with my effort.  It was solid, even paced with no death march at the end.  I ate well beforehand, which unlike last year where I ate way too much before the race and was ready to hurl after 6 miles.  My speed is down, but that may likely be because the course was dark and I am still recovering from the marathon.  I am just pleased I felt strong throughout the race.

All smiles after the race (I had changed at this point, I had worn a lot less)

Waiting for the race to start. Wasatch Mountains in the background

Waiting for the race to start. Wasatch Mountains in the background

Finish Line

Typical stretch of bike trail

After the race.

Me on the podium

Finishers medal and 2nd place age group (I got moved up one because another 40-44 year old had placed in the top 3)
They blink too.

The cool ultra runner Pomeranian

My Finishers Card


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