Erik has been doing well at cross country meets. He has a loyalty to his team-mates and really cares how the team does, especially since they won several meets. So we waited to leave for St George until after his meet- the trade off for that was that we didn't have time to stop at Kim's. Emily skipped some classes to join us, then did all of the driving from Reno to St. George.
In addition to spending time together and running the fastest course I know, this trip was an excuse to see Pam's distant dad. We had a nice visit with Ron and Dianne then took him out to dinner at Olive Garden. Ron has lately had a rough go of it with multiple foot surgeries in the years since his accident. He may be able to get back to work in a month at Wal-mart. He was a good sport going with to packet pick-up where we met Esther who had managed just-in-time to get a ride down on her own. I thought it was important for the kids to know who Ron is, and he and Dianna seemed to really enjoy it. Pam used her clever web surfing skills to find a room at a local hotel close to the 5:30am bus to the start. They have bon-fires going in the dark near the start, but we didn't have time to enjoy them due to being stuck in a port-a-potty line that morphed into the starting throng. The weather was just warm enough at the start and not too hot until later in the day. There was even a strong tail wind!
There is up-hill off and on from mile 7 to 10, and a couple of other rises, but overall there is about 2500' elevation drop. Esther and Emily stayed together for the first few miles. In spite of not many long runs, Emily had a strong second half and finished with a Boston qualifying time. Esther had a solid performance, but it was a little off her PR. Pam followed a full training plan leading up to this, and her worries about making the cut-off turned out to be needless.
I knew from my workouts with the cross-country team and on my own that my longstanding goal of going under 2:40 was possible. I kept telling myself to take it easy for the first 16 miles, as I was a little ahead of my goal pace. I started ramping up the effort as I gained confidence that I wasn't going to bonk. Every mile I would recalculate how much I had left in my legs, and what my finish time might be. It was boost to see Zachary at mile 23. He needed a workout as well, so he ran 2.5 miles with me. I averaged ~5:35 per mile for the last 10 miles, which is faster than my flat 10 mile PR. My 2nd half was over 4 minutes faster than my first. I ended up 2:31:40 in 13th place, got a custom clock and $150 for the age-group win which will cover half of the gas but not the entry fees. They told me at the awards ceremony that might be the age group record, which I wanted to believe, but was way off. As early as 1982 a guy ran 5 minutes faster. They report an age-graded score for your performance and by that I had the 7th best out of ~5700. One of the guys 8+ minutes ahead of me turns 45 next year. Pam said "then you'll just have to go faster." Some dude in a hand-cycle finished in under 57 minutes.
That is likely the fastest I'll ever travel that distance, but I smile at how fast it is every time I think about it, which is frequently. Ken joked I could qualify for the trials, so I looked up the standard- another 12 minutes faster on a course with < 1/6th this elevation drop. Emily finished at 3:33:05 on her first attempt, which may have made Esther a little jealous. Esther ran 3:50:14. But at the finish she and Zachary were more excited to hear about the new age change for missions. Which made Emily significantly jealous. Pam was another success, exceeded expectations in a respectable 5:21:17. Her feet and one knee were killing her, and she was worn out, but I think she ended up being the least muscle sore of any of us.
Esther showed off her Utah driving skills and we made it to priesthood. We had tickets for Zachary and Erik to attend in person in the conference center, while I went to the tabernacle, which was great. We invaded Carl's, and enjoyed our short time with him. Sunday most of us got back in the conference center for the morning session. We saw our bishop in the parking lot, and got Esther back on her way to Provo while we motored home so I could work Monday.
It was great to have us all together conquering challenges and absorbing conference. We did have some car trouble when a suicidal fawn outside Reno broke the glass in a headlamp. The hood and radiator were dented but not broken.