Aramco Houston Half Marathon, it's Vega and Flanagan! by Larry Eder

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Shalane Flanagan, winning the Aramco Houston Half Marathon, taking the US half marathon champs in a new course record of 1:09:41, photo by PhotoRun.net.

A championship is more than just a race. If properly done, a championship should celebrate the great athletes in the event, add to the prestige of the sport, and inspire the fans who see the the great athletes challenge themselves. The Aramco Houston half marathon hosted the USA half marathon championship today, January 17, 2010. Aramco lived up to its previous reputation: great performances were everywhere! On the men's side, Antonio Vega won in 1:01:54, and Shalane Flanagan won the women's in 1:09:43, a new course record! Both runners ran fascinating races...

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Antonio Vega, shown winning the US championships for the half marathon, the Aramco Houston Half Marathon in a near minute personal
best of 1:01:54, photo by PhotoRun.net.

The night before the race, our photographer, Victah Sailer reminded me that it might make sense to find a heavy coat for my journey on the half marathon press truck. On Sunday morning, Jim Estes, USATF manager of the road race championships, told me that he always wore coats on the press truck, noting, " I get cold on the Peachtree press truck in July in Atlanta!" I wish that I would have listened...by ten miles, my fingers were so cold, that twittering was near impossible.

Men's Half: Vega Impresses!

The race went out conservatively, hitting mile one in 4:55. The front pack consisted of Patrick Smyth, Brent Vaughn, Antonio Vega, Tim Nelson, Joshua Moen, Josh Simpson, Matt Gabrielson. Josh Rohatinsky was near the front early.

The the race got going, with a 4:38 second mile! Vaughn, Smyth, Nelson, Moen, Simpson were all pushing up front. Following the front pack of fifteen, was another pack of 40, all beginning to fly.

"The pace was pretty even, after the first mile, we started running 4:40 miles.." noted Tim Nelson after the race.

Who was impressing? Patrick Smyth, the former Notre Dame runner, Josh Moen, Stephen Shay, Nicholas Arciniaga, Matt Gabrielson were all pressing. Looking most relaxed was Patrick Smyth and Antonio Vega.

The miles passed quickly. The pace was controlled by Patrick Smyth, Josh Moen and Brent Vaugh, with Antonio Vega, Tim Nelson all there.

Six miles were passed in 28:05, as Antonio Vegas and Patrick Smyth ran next to each other, with Brent Vaughn.

Smyth was running well, and runs very smooth. Vegas was right there, and we were asking ourselves, who would make the move?

Soon after that, Antonio Vega and Brent Vaughn began battling, with Patrick Smyth right behind.

Antonio Vega had set a personal at 8:07.8 for 3k on the weekend before in Minnesota. " I had spent the winter training on a treadmill, as the snow was pretty rough. But the pace was good in the half, and I felt pretty good," noted Vega afterwards.

Antonio Vega, who has given a lot up to train, trains hard, worked the miles from ten to the finish very hard. Hitting the ten mile mark in 47:15, Antonio did not look back, " my legs were getting heavy," over the last few
miles.

Antonio Vega held on for the win, running a personal best of 1:01:54. Patrick Smyth outkicked Brent Vaugh, 1:02:01 to 1:02:04. Tim Nelson,
the third placer at 10,000 meters last June at the USATF, fought his way back from a tough patch between five and ten miles, taking fourth in 1:02:11.

In fifth place, Stephan Shay, (brother of the Late Ryan Shay) ran 1:02:26!

Several good personal bests! Peter Gilmore, one of our top marathoners, ran a personal best, finishing eleventh in 1:03;52.

Antonio Vega was very positive, by pretty relaxed about his win. The $12k prize for this race would come in very handy, as Antonio,recently had his job reduced.

Almost better than the race prize purse was Antonio's recent sponsorship by Mizuno.

So, after a good month running on treadmills, Antonio Vegas used the rhythm that he practiced on the treadmills, to developing his confidence and leg speed. Two personal bests in one week, first a 3,000 meter in door and now a half marathon!

Antonio Vega also told RBR that his next focus will be the 2010 BAA Boston marathon!

Women's race: Flanagan Flies!

Shalane Flanagan has a bevy of U.S. records. With 3k, 5k indoors, and 5,000m and 10,000 m indoors, Flanagan is also the 2008 bronze medalist in the 10,000 meters. In 2009, Shalane had a tough year-some great races, some not so great.

Well, she has started 2010 off in grand style, winning her first attempt in the half marathon, the Aramco Houston Half Marathon, in 1:09:41, breaking the course record of Colleen de Reuck (1:10:41).

Shalane went out in 5:16, and had some company, in the name of Serena Burla, until about the turn around, just after seven miles. Flanagan was relentless, running a smart pace, but using her speed (she ran four of her miles right at 5:16 pace) well as she tested herself over the half marathon distance.

Shalane put twenty-seven seconds between her and Serena before the end, as Flanagan's time of 1:09:41 was the first of three course records in Houston on Sunday!

" I felt very good, a little cold, but the distance went by fast, " noted Shalane Flanagan after the race. " Sure I will race the 10k again, but this
was a good test, and it went well!" added an ecstatic Shalane after her race.

Shalane hit the finish line well, and looked fully recovered within minutes after the race. It is obvious that she can make a very good run for the American record. But today, she did what coach, Jerry Schumacher asked,
run for the win. Shalane laughed, " I listened to my coach today, as I am pretty impatient sometimes, and wanted to go faster."

Serena Burla ran a huge pb, in 1:10.08, with Amy Hastings in third in 1:11.19, Renee Metivier Baillee in fourth in 1:11.51 and Magdelena Lewy
Boulet, the winner from last year, in fifth in 1:12.22. Magdelena told the media that she just was not feeling all there, and was behind the pace from the start.

Today was Shalane's day. If there is any fear over the half distance she covered it well. Ironically, in speaking with Jerry Schumacher last night,
Jerry, as is his way, just smiled and said, " Shalane has a lot of good days
ahead of her." Enough said.

The Aramco Houston Half Marathon showed its good fortune again to another American distance great!

And great job by the sponsors, Aramco and the event team at the Aramco Houston Half marathon!

For the complete results, please look up aramcohoustonhalfmarathon.com

For more on the sport, please click www.runningnetwork.com!

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