It happened! I went under 1:09! Also, by Ukranian standards I am now a КМС (Candidate Master of Sports) in the half marathon, which is a big deal. The standard was 1:08:30. The breakthrough seems to be a combination of getting 2 years older, and upping the daily mileage to 12.
Like usual for this course, the first 4 miles were a little slow. My splits were (roughly) 5:15, 5:20, 5:15 and 5:10 to make 21:00 at four miles. Then I picked it up, and ran 5:01, 5:02 and 5:04 to reach 7 miles with 36:07. Teren was with me for the first 4, then fell back, but caught up to me around 7. Something about the transition from the canyon to flat made me develop a sideache. I was pretty worried about that, and said a prayer. It went away after a mile or so, and I was able to catch Teren around 9 miles. My split at 9 was something like 46:35, so 10:28 for those two miles (mile 8 was off).
After catching Teren, I was still feeling good. I could see 5th place ahead of me. Money on the road. The next mile was in 5:11. making 52:46 for 10 miles. This was by far the strongest I have felt this far into a half marathon. I guess the evening runs have been making a big difference. Around 10.5 I caught 5th place, then set my sights on 4th.
The hills in the Top of Utah Half are cruelly positioned - right at the end when it hurts the most. Yet I was able to do 5:23. 5:40 on the hills. Ben Van Beekum was a good sport and acutally helped to pull me when I caught up to him around mile 11 - thanks Ben! Then on the last 1.1 stretch, I did a little over 5:30, which ends up being 5:00 pace. Definitely a miracle for me at the end of a half!
I'm very happy with this race, and am grateful there are so many good races in Utah and such strong competition. Definitely would not have run that time on my own! Most of all thanks to my Dad for his dilligent coaching and putting up with all of my whining about workouts and such.
This was perhaps the only half marathon I have raced where I didn't experience some sort of blowup in the last 3 to 6 miles. It was a new experience.