at the top of utah

i’m writing this from my hotel room in logan utah.  yesterday, i ran my fastest marathon so far : 3:40:24.
i’d highly recommend the race to others.  it was beautiful – the first 14 miles wound down through blacksmith fork canyon.  there were lots of volunteers on the course, always plenty of gatorade and water available.  when we came into town the traffic was controlled.  and the people in town were very very friendly to the 2000 runners and their families who invaded (quite a few came from out of town).  can’t say enough nice about the race.
up front i need to say that the first 18 miles were downhill.  and that 1-2% grade was definitely a factor.  i think all of my mile splits were under 8:50 – many of them were closer to 8:15.  also – until the late miles, i kept my heart rate below 160.  going downhill definitely helped that.
but i negative split too.  i ran the first half in 1:51 and the second in 1:49.  that meant i held back on the hill, and turned it up on the flats.  also – i  ran at least one sub-8:15 in last few miles.  that’s when my heart rate was pushing 175, and my legs were jelly.  that’s where i think my training was the big factor.  after running poorly at deadwood in june, i revisited my regimen.  i structured my running a lot more – doing at least one speed workout per week (two when i wasn’t running really long).  until i got hurt right before top of utah, i kept to the schedule faithfully.  doing all of those 800 meter repeats gave me the confidence to know that i could speed up when i needed to.
however, the bigger difference was the form changes i implemented based on danny dreyer’s chi running book.  five or six times yesterday, i checked in on my cadence, confirming that it was constant (around 79-81).  several times per mile, i made sure i kept a straight spine and that i had a bit of a forward lean.  then i’d soften my legs and think about how my foot and arm motions formed two wheels.  each time my heart rate would rise, i’d shorten my stride a bit, and breathe air into the bottom of my lungs (trying to relax).  these are all little things, but they added up to more efficient running.
not sure what race is next – i’m going to enjoy this one for a bit before deciding!

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