I traveled up to Great Salt Lake to run in the Salt Lake Track Club Winter 15K. This very flat race starts at historic Saltair and runs east along the frontage road that parallels I-80. It then turns around and returns to the start.
I was using this race as a nice long tempo training run as I enter my taper week for next Saturday’s Old Pueblo 50-mile race in the Santa Rita Mountains near Tucson Arizona. My goals for today were to beat my last year’s 15K PR of 1:08:27 and win my old-fart age group of 50 years and older.
I arrived in time to do a warm-up run. I never warm up for ultras, but I have discovered that warm-up runs are critical to do well in these short runs. Rand Nielson called out a hello and we ran two miles together talking about our upcoming ultra race schedule.
Everyone gathered for the start and the start siren was sounded. For the first half-mile, I tucked in behind Mary Ann Schauerhammer, the eventual winner among the women. But after a half-mile, I had to back off into a more sustainable pace. My first mile split was what I wanted, 6:29. During mile two, a group of 4-5 fast young women passed me. A tall runner also passed me and I observed that he tucked in behind a big runner and used him to draft. I decided to try the same trick and joined in the train for awhile. I finished mile 2 in 6:46. Doing good.
In my mind, I knew that last year my mile average ended up being 7:22, so I was determined to try to keep all my mile splits under that pace. I finally had to jump off the drafting train and started to slow a little bit more. I was being very careful not to burn out my lungs today, and so far I was being successful.
My mile 3 split was 7:06. At the 5K aid station I grabbed a quick drink and was on my way again. I finished mile 4 in 7:13, which was my slowest mile of the race. The first-place runners came toward me and I was pleased to see that they were less than a mile ahead of me at that point.
Then, something great happened. I finally warmed up. My breathing and heart-rate were under control. I also noticed with all of the hill training lately that my quads were very happy to be pushed harder. I kicked it up a notch and felt pretty good. I reached the turn-around in 32:22.
It was fun now to see all the runners behind heading toward me. I heard several “hi Davy” greetings being yelled toward me. It looked like the next person in my age group was about two minutes behind me. I finished mile 5 in 7:09. I then passed a couple runners. Mile 6 was done in 7:01. I was surprised, and now knew I could shatter my PR if I just hung-on. I kept my focus and was determined to not get lazy at this point. I was surprised to see that my 10K split about a minute faster than my PR!! Wow, things were really holding together for me today. I knew that there was only 5K left.
I concentrated harder to keep the same sustainable pace. Mile 7 went by in 7:00. Very nice. Saltair came into view poking up on the shore-line of massive Great Salt Lake. The waterline is far away from the building, as the lake level is more than 5 feet below its historic average level.
I was bound and determined not to fade at this point. Mile 8 went by in 7:08. I was in the home stretch. Mile 9 was reached in 7:10. I looked behind me and no one was catching me, but I still kicked it into gear telling myself to finish strong. I crossed the finish, feeling great, at 1:05:15. I had beaten my last year’s PR by more than three minutes! Sweet.
I didn’t stop, I turned around and ran the course backwards until I found my buddy, Jim Kern about 1.5 miles from the finish. We had a good time running together and I encouraged Jim on. He finished in a little over 1:35. I received a first place ribbon for the 50-54 age-group.