Based on heart rate data, I could have pushed harder and maybe knocked off a couple more minutes. I think a 1:40 was possible. Maybe. But I might have pushed too hard and blown up finishing slower. Who knows. What I do know is I felt good all race, always in control, and I had plenty left for a 2+ mile push at the end. That's a win. Nine minutes faster than last year. Another win. No injuries and ready to train again. Big win!
What was different this year?
#1: Weather. It was cool and dry (48F at start). Past years have been warm and humid. The race started 30 minutes earlier too--nice change.
#2: Training. I did more 10+ mile runs leading up to this race. That helps a lot. Plus I focused much more on pure aerobic training (low HR), rather than intensity and speed.
#3: Discipline. I held back at the beginning. Kept patient in the middle, then finally let it rip in the last 2 miles. Probably should have pushed just a bit harder all race. Oh well.
Extra bonus: First race in my Hoka Rincon shoes. They were awesome!
Maybe I'll get it all perfect next year.