I hope to have a full race report for Halfmax soon, but here’s a snapshot of the National Championship race out at Lake Mead…
Halfmax came exactly as advertised (more on that in a bit) and I’m *almost* happy to report that I got what I went out there to get (more on that in a bit, too).
The Halfmax course was brutal. The hills were more than alive. This course will no doubt go down as the toughest course I will ever do. I seriously cannot see a more challenging course anywhere. That plus the dry heat made it a bear, a brutal bear. I found it amusing that the land was so hardened by the heat of the desert. The amusing part was that in order to beat this course, you had to be just as hardened and tough and long-surviving as the land on which the course laid.
First the swim. The swim was, without doubt, the most beautiful body of water I have ever dipped a toe in. It really was something else, as you know too.
As for the bike, there is only one word that does the course justice: brutal. The bike was brutal. The hills were more than alive. I’m happy to report that I handled the bike course without any issues. The hills were alive but didn’t get me. They slowed me down, alright, but they could not take me down. Even on the last climb up into Boulder City, a 4 mile trek climbing nearly 2000 feet, the last mile of which was at 8% grade, I came through very strong. It was the first race ever where I saw people walking their bikes up hills, but that’s because those athletes were part of the adjoining Olympic distance race who I happened to lap. There is no comparison to that bike course, as you know. I mean, you couldn’t even place Mooseman or Timberman, or even if you combined the nastiest sections of either, to the course out in Vegas. It was that tough. And slow. There were no flat sections, and that’s no exaggeration. But you knew that already.
By the time I hit the run course — seeing carnage all over the place — the dry heat cranked up to an arid 90F, that’s when things got ugly. I held strong through mile 7, but the course prooved much too tough. There were no actual “hills,” but everything was a mile or two long gradual, each climbing 400 to 500 feet. Those long up “hills” were absolutely brutal. Honestly, I would have faired much better on a true hilly course like Mooseman. Much better. Crawling for two miles up 500 feet was no joy. The slow down for me started on all up hill sections after mile 7. I still pulled off a 1:40 half marathon split, but it wasn’t what I normally run. It was that tough.
As for what I went out to Vegas for, I think I got it. I came in 10th place in age group of all Official Qualified athletes. Top-10 get slots to the World Championships as part of Team USA. But the reason I’m still holding my excitement is that USAT has yet to officially announce the qualifiers. And because I actually came in 11th place age group in the entire race, which included General Entry athletes who are NOT eligible for Team USA slots, I will reserve excitement until word comes down.
I am hopeful. It was tough. I seriously pulled 10th place out in the 3 miles, and then made my move in the final mile. I’ll have to tell you about it sometime.
USAT tells me they will make an announcement shortly.