Thursday, November 7, 2019

2019 Snow Canyon Half Marathon Race Recap - St George, UT




Official Time: 1:55:08
Placement: 287 male out of 597, 561st overall, 26th out of 53 in the 45 - 49 age division
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Low 40's, sunny and warmed up near the end
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: First Year for me

Mile TimeComments
18:54Warming up here. Toes were frozen
28:37Settling into a pace.
38:12Hitting the meat of the downhills
48:09
57:55Wish all the race was like this. Fast downhills
68:03Nearly 300 feet of drop
78:23Course is starting to level out now
88:51More or less on the flats. At this point, I was just tired.
98:52
109:11Grinding away.  Felt really tired at this point.
119:52Garmin reports no uphills, but there were some.
1210:02Gassed at this point
139:42Doing whatever I can just to finish
13.050:20Thank goodness it is overt
Total Miles: 13:05 - 1:55:09



Introduction


One of the most popular November races in the Utah area is the Snow Canyon half marathon.  It is located in St George, where the weather tends to be about 15 degrees warmer than the northern part of the state.  Being that the Salt Lake area was getting its first taste of colder weather, it was refreshing to head down and "warm up".

The Snow Canyon race is also popular in the fact that the meat of the race is held on the service road through the Snow Canyon State Park.  The park is a popular destination for visitors in the area as it offers stunning white, sand and red rock formations, climbing and hiking opportunities.  It is just a beautiful area to visit.

Also the race bills itself as downhill and fast.  It isn't a crazy drop and I've certainly ran faster downhill races but this one was nice in the fact that it didn't burn my quads out like other ones I have done.

Either way, I was looking for something to do and decided to make it a long weekend by including this race.  Also, this race normally is the week before the Las Vegas Rock 'N Roll marathon and hence I am generally reluctant to do it just on account of logistics.  This race was scheduled 2 weeks before my annual Vegas jaunt so I decided to knock this one off my bucket list.




The Race


Packet pickup was held on Friday.  The race allows you to pick up your bib on race morning, but I took half a day from work and got down there by 3 PM.  I love their venue for packet pick-up.  It is clean, spacious. and I actually knew a vendor or two.  I was in and out in about 15 minutes.

I did NOT sleep well before this race.  I normally don't while on destination races.  Sleeping in a different bed, wondering if my alarm is going to go off and worrying about all the details of finding parking and the race's location kept me tossing and turning most of the night.  I think I may have slept about 3 - 4 hours and was not well rested when I woke up at 5 AM.

I had my re-race food (Wheaties) and a couple cups of hot tea (for the caffeine) and packed my gear.  I brought a ton of warm gear too -- not for running but for the long wait.  And boy I am glad I went with the heavier stuff.

I drove about 15 minutes to Snow Canyon High School and easily found good parking.  I was there at about 6:15.  The buses loading period was from 6 AM until 7 AM with urgent warnings of "get there early".  With the race starting at 8:30 and probably a 20 minute bus ride, I loafed in my car as long as I dared before jumping onto a school bus at just a hair over 6:30.

The bus ride seemed to take forever as it headed out of town and into the outskirts of St George.  I couldn't really tell where we were going but the houses gave way to barren desert and grassy fields.  We were dumped off at a Red Mountain Trailhead which doesn't have a lot of amenities

It was cold... I am so glad I brought my heavy gear for the roughly 80 minute wait.  I found a clump of dirt / hay to sit in (the parking lot had no pavement) and just sat there shivering and trying to stay warm.  I had my running gear on, plus tights, a sweat shirt and a warm running jacket on and I was still cold.  My toes were frozen by the start of the race.

Fortunately the time went by quickly and with about 12 minutes to spare, I made about a quarter mile walk to the starting line.  Along the way I started to take off my clothes -- reluctantly, as it was still chilly.  But I knew as soon as I started running I'd be fine.



Ultimately, I went with cheapo gloves, shorts, a hat and a long-sleeved t-shirt.  My only mistake was wearing a black shirt, which seemed to attract the heat of the sun as the day warmed up.

The first two miles was mostly run to get some feeling back in my toes.  I hit the paces I wanted to, about 8:30.  It was run along the highway and we had an entire lane dedicated to ourselves.  There were a slew of runners so I was never running by myself and I settled somewhere near the 1:50 pacer and the 1:55 pacer.

I felt pretty good despite not sleeping well but I could feel a little fatigue in my legs from last week's half marathon.

The first 7 miles of the race are primarily downhill and just shy of the 5K mark we entered into the Snow Canyon State Park area.

At the state park, the run gets a lot more scenic and pretty.  I didn't take any photos of the race while running (I was attempting to race the course and not carrying a phone or any hydration).

The state park is known for it's beautiful white and red rock formations.  It is a popular tourist attraction and normally costs about $7 to enter.  Today, I had free entry to at least run down the service road.

It was a joy to run down the road surrounded by natural beauty and the cool / pleasant morning air.  Also it helped that the course was downhill, so I was knocking off low 8 minute miles.  No wonder this course boasted that people could achieve some fast times.

I worried about going too fast.  I was about 30 seconds per mile faster than I'd like to be, but with the downhills, I figured I'd just go with it.  However, the fatigue in my legs was building up.  I had a feeling I was going to pay for it in the latter stages of the race.

After exiting the canyon, the course winds its way through the neighborhoods of St. George.  We were jumping onto bike trails, sidewalks, and finally the road for the final 4 miles or so.

My Garmin output leads one to believe it was a gentle downhill but in reality there were a bunch of "micro hills".  At this point, my legs were dead and I was feeling listless.  The course was still interesting to me, but I wanted to be done.  I couldn't make up my mind if I was carb-depleted, dehydrated, or what.  Maybe it was a little bit of both.

It was disheartening to be slowly swallowed up by runners as they passed me.  My once glorious 8:30-ish pace was creeping into the 9's and then humbling me into the 10's.

It was hard to enjoy this section of the course as we ran by chic desert house dwellings.  I was hurting and sort of wanted the race to end.  There wasn't much left in my legs and the downhill sections were clearly over with.



The final mile couldn't come any sooner as I shambled my way into the high school's parking lot.

I was greeted by a large group of cheering folks as I hustled under the St George Races blue and yellow arch with a decent time of 1:55.

Conclusion


I grabbed a medal as I walked on the high school's track towards the refreshments. I wasn't feeling that well and my stomach was sort of in a dizzy.  The temperature was definitely warmer but not insanely hot but I think a combination of being overly tired and slightly dehydrated had me feeling weak.

I grabbed some Gatorade (I think Endurance formula judging from the salty taste) and circled around waiting for everything to return to normal.



Post race refreshments were chocolate milk, muffins, and potato chips.  Once my stomach had settled down enough I was able to eat some of the food but it took a solid 15 minutes before I felt well.

The medal was a big one and well designed.  From top to bottom, I really enjoyed this race.  The shirt was well designed and high quality.  And I absolutely loved the course.  It was pretty in all aspects and despite the final 4 miles being a slog and less glamorous than Snow Canyon, it had its own charm as well.

I wish there was another aid station closer to the start.  The first one was at 4 miles and I think that sort of lead to a bit of dehydration.  There were amply stocked aid stations, however, roughly every 2 miles.

The course's mile markers were also way off.  The first 10 miles or so they were about .1 of a mile short.  Suddenly around mile 11 or 12 it was right on target.  Ultimately the course came in at 13.05 for me.

I loved this race.  Even writing this a few days later, I am still kind of on a "buzz" from my experience.  The course was fast, scenic, and well-organized.  From start to finish, I was happy with my race.  I just wish I had been a little more fresh for running, rather than having so much fatigue from last week's race.

Hopefully I can swing by next year.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

2019 Halloween Half - Ogden, UT




Official Time: 1:58:34
Placement: 11th in age group, 85th overall, 65th male
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Low 40's, some north wind
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: First Year for me

Mile TimeComments
18:38Gentle downhill through a residential street. Just warming up.
28:27More downhill here. This might be a good race.
38:52Hit some wind here.
48:34Finally out of the winds and onto the bike trail.
58:38Steady pace.
68:52Dialed it back here. I think there was a hill or two
78:36
88:54Starting to get fatigued.
99:02
109:11
119:21Some more rolling hills
129:30Simply put, I felt okay here but my legs weren't turning over
139:30Last mile was kind of grueling.
13.272:24Way long course....
Total Miles: 13:27 - 1:58:34



Introduction


Halloween is a big race time in northern Utah.  It is pretty much dominated by the Halloween Halves in Emigration Canyon and Provo Canyon.  Those particular races will draw over a 1000 runners and they charge an awful lot of money for the race.  They also have a long wait from the bus ride to the start of the race... so there are a bunch of turn offs for me.

That being said, another player came into town offering a Halloween race.  Their advertisements caught my eye on Facebook and I decided, why not.  It was quite a bit cheaper, and it was the second annual race, and I hadn't heard of too many complaints, so why not.





The Race


The race was held up in Ogden, about an hour north of where I live.  I've had a lot of great races in Ogden and it holds a special place in my heart.  

I rolling in just shy of 6 AM. They had told everyone to get there early if you hadn't gotten your bib the day before.  I was one of the first there and it was a snap to get my bib.  

I killed a little bit of time before jumping on a bus at 6:30 and beginning a 15 minute bus road over to the local high school.  It was pretty chilly and I had bundled up with a lot of extra clothing.  I had kill about an hour there.  I had company so the time went by fast.  I was glad I had bundled up with tights and a sweat shirt and medium weight jacket.  It was chilly just sitting on a curb waiting for the race to start.

The race started promptly at 8 AM.  I just barely made it through the bathrooms one final time before the race started.  

I started off cautiously as we made our way north along the golden-leaved tree lined streets.  It was an absolutely perfect day for running.  There was a chill in the air, but not terribly cold and the air was clean.  It was picturesque running weather.

I went out in shorts and a long-sleeved shirt and a hat.  I had throw away gloves as well, which I wore for about half the race.  I saw a lot of people bundled up, but I was perfectly happy with what I went with.  I was neither chilled nor overly warm at any point in the race.

I wasn't sure what I was in for during this race but I knew a lot of it was going to be on the local bike trails.  It took about 3 miles before we finally reached the head of one, near the mouth of Ogden Canyon.  I realized I was running the same course as the Ogden Marathon and the Jurassic 5K.  

I was moving pretty good and with the weather being perfect, I felt like I was in for a good race.  My splits for the first 25% were spot on with what I wanted to run and I wasn't feeling any undo fatigue, which I had been worried about.



The bike trail was perfect for running.  They are filled with more trees than my Jordan River Trail.  With the fall colors in full swing, it was just stunning to feel apart of nature.  Also, this race course followed the river at various points so there was a stream.  

With about 300 or so runners, I was impressed with the number of spectators.  There just seemed to be a bunch out giving us cheers.

For about 9 miles, I got the pleasure of running on the bike trails.  There was very little "street" running after the first 3.  I was a little worried about losing my way on the trail, given that after about the 7th or 8th mile, I was running solo.  I could occasionally spot someone in front of me, but there wasn't anyone behind me.  Fortunately, the organized had spray painted where to turn -- and to be honest, there weren't many turns on the course.

By about mile 8 or 9, I knew I had reached my limit.  My consistent 8:30's were turning into 8:50's and 9's.  That's a tell tale sign that I was running out of gas.  I had a gel with me, but I didn't feel like I needed it.  My stomach just felt "full".  

I was starting to do math with my Garmin as to what my finish time would be.  Initially, at the half way point I felt like if I could hold it together, I could eek out a sub 1:55.  But knowing how I run, I knew it was going to be in the 1:57's.

The bike trail was slippery in spots with leaves, but it never affected my running that much.  There were just so many cool places to run along, underneath train tracks, tunnels, paths that lead off into the brush.  I would've loved to have stopped and taken pictures but I was racing and didn't have my camera.

The final mile was probably my least favorite.  We exited the bike trail and were rewarded with a view of the backside of WalMart.  Ugh.  We were on sidewalk at this point and I knew I was getting close to the finish.

I figured the race was going to be long.  The mile markers from the outset were off, by at least .1 of a mile in most cases.  Sometimes races "correct" themselves by the time you reach the finish, but as I plodded along, willing my legs to go faster, I didn't see the finish line getting any closer.

My Garmin beeped mile 13 and the finish line was still well off.  I made a mental note of where 13.1 was (about 1:57).  I just wanted to be done as a trio of runners flew by me.

I gave the final push to the finish line and crossed in under 2 hours, my Garmin reading a 1:58.



Conclusion


This was a good race for me.  I really felt like I had run well here.  The course was largely flat, with some down hills, and I felt it was an "honest" course, in that the downhills weren't exaggerated.  I haven't done many long runs this year so the fact that I faded in the last 25% of the race was of no surprise to me.

My first 7 or 8 miles were run brilliantly.  I was very even paced and felt like I was in total control.  The last 3 miles, my head wanted to go faster, but my body wasn't willing.

The race had several water stops along the way -- at about 2 mile intervals.  They had water and Gatorade.  They were amply staffed and were appropriately placed.

The mile markers were off.  And I suspect I know why.  The race needed to start at the high school and finish at the parking lot of a drive-in movie theater.  Short cutting the distance on either end would require the race to finish or start in the middle of a road.  Most people's Garmin watches read that the race was 13.26 or 13.27 miles.

The race's medal is a honking big one.  My photo probably doesn't do it justice.  It is heavy and will give you a neck ache if you wear it too long.  I liked the theme and design.  The t-shirt design was also a winner for me but it was a cotton shirt.  So it'll be relegated to short runs and casual wear.

Post race refreshments included fresh donuts, water, candy and chocolate milk.  I wound up drinking two of the high-calorie chocolate milks.  

Awards were done very quickly, which is also nice.

Overall, I really enjoyed this race and would definitely do it again next year.  It was priced reasonably (about $50 - $60) and the course was a gem.  The organization was also rock solid.  My only complains were the cotton shirt and the long course.








Thursday, October 3, 2019

2019 Witch Run 5K Race Recap - West Jordan, UT




Official Time: 25:45
Placement: 1st in age group, 11th overall
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 50, slight rain. Night race.
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2018]


Mile TimeComments
18:07A little hemmed in at the start, but running okay
28:13Hit the turn around and lost a few seconds but was hurting here
38:15Running by myself mostly. Fairly consistent splits.
3.141:09Lots of turns in the final haul but cruising to the finish
Total Miles: 3.14 - 25:46


Introduction


Last year, I ran OnHillEvents Witch Run.  And during the awards ceremony I won a free entry to this year's event.  So when the race rolled around this September, I signed up.  I think this was my first comped race ever.

The race is held at Gardner Village and is used to kick off their fall / Halloween celebrations.  They really go all out decorating the storefronts with lights and spooky stuff.  Every year I am blown away with how much they do to prepare the village shops.

Gardner Village is also conveniently located about 2 miles from my house.  I probably should run as a warm-up there, but it starts at 8 PM and it makes it a chilly run on the way back.  However, I did pick up my bib on Friday night, so I was ready to go when I rolled into the race site at 7:15 for the 8 PM race. 


The Race


All week, the weather forecasters were saying it was going to be raining -- hard.  Fortunately, it didn't.  There was some rain throughout the day, but nothing major.  However, even during the race, there were dark clouds hanging over the area.

Occasionally, while I was doing my warm-up, it started to run and I was cursing myself for not bringing something semi-water proof.  Oh well, it was "just" a 5K.

The race started at 8 PM and the race had a good turnout.  Just lots of people in costume.  The themed races generally don't draw the big-time competitors.  So I lined up near the front and once the gun was fired, I ducked under a very small arch and began making my way to the Jordan River Trail.



The race is a 1.55 mile out and back on the Jordan River Bike Trail. I train / live near this trail, but on a stretch further north.  I've run on this section of the trail many times so even though it was dark, I knew where to go and what to expect.

With so many runners - and many first time racers it was clogged initially.  However, after less than a quarter mile I was with folks running my pace.



I hadn't done that much of a warm-up and it kind of showed.  I was breathing hard as we ducked under a road and made our way south along the trail.  There are a lots of turns and small hills to begin with, but once you are done with that, it is nothing but straight and flat.

Being that it was dark, I had a hard time checking in on my pace.  It just seemed like work to slow down, find the light button on my Garmin and check it.  Normally during a race, I can just glance down... but my focus was on running and not tripping.  Occasionally I'd throw on my night light to verify I wasn't going to trip on anything but there was enough light that that wasn't too much of a concern.


After a mile, the crowd had thinned out and I found myself running with a young woman -- probably no older than a young teenager.  She was holding on to a decent pace and I was using her to motivate me.  And every time I tried to gain ground on her she'd push a little extra harder.  Perfect! Just what I needed.

However, just shy of the turn around point she seemed to run out of gas.

I figured I was close to a top 10 position judging by the number of runners coming back and I was so happy to see the volunteers at the turn around.  I went around the turn around point and ran back, only to be greeted by all the runners behind me.  It was cool seeing all the folks behind me as I received support and accolades.  It just made me push harder.

Another 3/4ths of a mile I ran into the walkers.  90% of the runners / walkers were on their side of the 6 foot wide bike trail.  Occasionally someone would drift over to my side and that's when my head lamp (now a hand lamp) came into action.



The last part of the race I was hurting.  The 5K, in general, is just painful from start to finish but the last mile always hurts the most.  I wasn't really near anyone so gaining ground on someone wasn't really an option.  There was someone coming in from behind but I had enough ground on them that it would take a while for them to catch up.  I had a sense I was going to finish in the low 25's on account I had checked my splits whenever my Garmin dinged that a mile had passed.

I was so happy to see the finish line but a little dismayed to see almost 26 minutes had elapsed by the time I crossed under the spooky arch.



Conclusion


I was a little miffed that my overall time was slow, but it was a night race.  While it seems like you are running fast at night, it is harder to judge your overall pace.  The weather, however, was perfect.

After the race there were a ton of people I knew, so it was social hour.  I wasn't too surprised to see that I had won my age group.  The race is mostly filled with younger folks, families and social runners.  Themed, night races tend to draw that sort of crowd.

Post race refreshments included fruit and ice cream sandwiches.  There was also sports drink / water, but I had stashed my own supply in the bushes before the race.



Overall, it was a nice, low stress evening and I came home with two cool medals.

See ya there next year.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

2019 Take it to the Lake Half Marathon Race Recap - Ely, NV




Official Time: 2:20:07
Placement: 6th out of 7 males.
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 30's, no wind.  Got up into the low 50's by the finish
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2014]

Mile TimeComments
19:59Slow start up hill and at high altitude.
210:52The grind continues
310:52
411:46More hills
513:02
614:43One crazy hill after another.
714:57Finally reach the pinnacle of the race.... 
88:15Let the downhill and fun begin
98:20Over 300 feet of drop each mile from 8 to 11.
108:24
119:06Not as much drop here and I was feeling a little winded.
128:40Back to a decent mile
139:21Uphill on the service drive here.
13.141:40Cruise to the finish.
Total Miles: 13:14 - 2:20:03



Introduction

5 years ago I ran the Take it to the Lake Half Marathon in Ely, Nevada.  It was a small race at the time and certainly challenging.  The race back then started at Cave Lake State Park and ran down to the highway before having to run back up.  It started at about 7500 feet elevation, went down to about 5500-something.  It was challenging and warm and I remember most of the return trip to be a sufferfest.

For those not in the know, Ely is a little mining town just north of the Great Basin National Park in rural Nevada.  There isn't a whole lot out there and is about a 3.5 hour drive from Las Vegas or Salt Lake City. But it is a beautiful part of the country and one I enjoy going to.


Me at packet pickup pointing to where I'll be running


The race is held Saturday morning at 7:30 AM.  I got into Ely on Friday afternoon and stayed at a local hotel about 20 minutes from the race start.  I did NOT sleep well.  I usually don't sleep well the night before a race in a hotel in a strange city.

So I got up at 4:45 and hit the streets by 5:15 and made the 25 minute drive to the entrance of Cave Lake State Park.  I had to be on a shuttle by 6 AM for the roughly 30 minute drive to the race's start -- some 13 miles up along a dirt road on the Success Loop.


The Race

It was a long wait in the shuttle.  There were only about 15 of us in the race and 11 of us crammed into a Suburban.  It was definitely more comfortable than standing in a field for an hour waiting for the race start (the temperature was in the low 30s). 

I was bundled up and had brought a ton of winter gear.  I didn't plan on running in the heavy gear, but I was anticipating a long wait and I didn't want to freeze.

The time in the van passed fairly quickly as the dozen of us made small talk.  After a while, we started driving up the dirt road.

One of the main reasons why I did this race was to see the Success Loop -- a 33 mile road that goes behind the mountain range on Ely's East side.  It is pretty remote country and I had heard rumors that regular cars couldn't make the trip.

The drive took about 30 minutes and the road was a bit rough at times but our driver knew what she was doing.

With the sun coming up, it gave me a chance to survey the course.  I knew from the course map the race provided that we were in for about 6.5 miles of climbing -- from an elevation of 7500 to just over 9000.  Fortunately once we reached the summit, we'd have about 1500 feet decline.  I was happy to note that the downhill was the most stunning part of the course and the uphill part -- just didn't seem that bad.  However, I did realize that miles 4 - 6 were going to be the toughest parts.



We had about 20 minutes to kill before the race start.  I stretched out and used the single porta-pottie that was available.  It felt more like a training run than a race, but with only 20 people or so, that's the way it was gonna be.

The race started at 7:30 and running felt hard.  At 7500 feet of elevation, the air was definitely thinner.  I had stripped down to running gloves, shorts and a short-sleeved shirt.  Thank goodness I went with that.  While it was a little chilly, it wasn't bad and I felt like I had made a good choice.



The lead pack took off and for a few miles I had a shot at 3rd place overall.  But the next two guys quickly over took me.  They were only giving out top 3 awards and with a race this small, I wasn't expecting age groups.  

I was content to keep going at my conservative pace, because I knew few miles were going to be challenging.




With me out of contention for any awards I settled into a comfortable pace.  Occasionally I'd take out my phone and take a photo of the area.  Despite my slow pace, I felt good about it.  I was holding back and I had hopes that maybe I'd stick around to maybe another person or so and catch them on the downhill.

The course -- as advertised -- was dirt road.  The initial miles were graded / smooth dirt.  I was worried about getting stones in my shoes, but it wasn't that bad.  I didn't get any bounce, however, from the ground.

I was glad to be running solo the entire race.  I was hanging around with one young woman for a while but she was much better at handling the hills.  She was able to power hike up some of them -- when they got bad -- while I just shuffled up them.  I am not sure which was more efficient but I ran the entire for the first 6.5 miles.



The open fields after about 3 miles turned into shaded aspens and pines.  I loved this section of the course.  The hills were definitely upped a notch and my head was swimming with a lack of oxygen at times.  Occasionally I'd look behind me only to see the ground I covered.  There was no one else behind me.  Once in a while I'd catch a glimpse of the woman I was chasing, but I was by myself.

I thought the hills wouldn't never end, but finally they did.  Thanks to the shuttle ride to the start, I had time to take some mental notes of when the hills would end.  It was a moral booster to see the scenery change to the point where I knew the hills were just about done.

Almost to the top


Finally, I reached the start of the 10K race.  There was a water stop / bathroom there and the 10K was advertised as all downhill.  While I still had 6.2 miles to go, I knew I was on the homestretch now.

My motivation to race suddenly picked up too as my turnover increased.  Gone were the 14+ minute miles.  Now it was time to fly.  Thanks to the gravity assisted hills, I was no longer grinding at death-march marathon pace, but 10K pace.  It felt great.



There still wasn't any men in front of me, but occasionally I'd see the woman below me zig-zagging down the road.  I had hopes of catching her -- nothing more than for my own ego, but she clearly was enjoying the faster pace as well.

The road at this point got a little more rugged.  It wasn't terrible for running, but you had to sort of pick and choose your path.  I didn't lose any time on it, but I had to concentrate on where I was running to avoid tripping on a rut or having to work extra hard by running in a ditch.

It was sunnier at this point but thanks to underdressing, I was completely comfortable. I had throw away gloves but I opted to keep them.  My hands tend to get cold, even in warmer weather.  I also got the slight scent of the Ruby Mountains -- it is like a sweet, flowery smell.  I love it and it seems to only pop up in the Rubies (although I must confess to smelling it around in Utah but it seems mostly present out in Nevada).




The mile markers in the race always seemed off -- by about .20 of a mile usually.  I was really worried about the course being long. I was sipping Tailwind and drinking from the aid stations, but my training hasn't been that awesome for putting in major miles.  Fortunately, the race measured pretty close and I didn't have to run an extra quarter mile.

Around mile 11 or so I started to encounter some of the 10K walkers.  It was an ego booster to fly by them and receive a bit of encouragement from them.

The final stretch of the race is a bit cruel and I remembered it from the last time I had done the race.  After 12.5 miles of running on dirt, you find yourself on red asphalt.  They had a volunteer to help you turn left and then you have a nasty incline.  Distance-wise it isn't more than .1 of a mile but it is pure up.

The final hill


I started to run it in hopes I could power my way up.  But my legs were just dead.  And despite my best efforts, I was going only a fraction of a bit faster than a pair of 10K walkers in front of me.  So I just power hiked up it.



Upon reaching the top, it took a big effort but I wasn't going to disappoint my "fans" and not run through the finish line.  Fortunately, after a bit of flat running you have a massive downhill to finish near the shores of the lake.



Conclusion


I finished the race in 2:20 and change.  My overall time wasn't too surprising and I knew it was going to be a slower half marathon.  While I did get over 6 miles of downhill, I had more than 6 miles of solid uphill.  That is hard to make up.  Also consider the elevation and the lack of oxygen and I had more of an adventure / fun run, rather than something I could try and "race".

I was surprised at how good I felt. I haven't done many long runs so I wasn't sure that I would even have the endurance to do this.  I've put in a few 10 - 13 mile runs, but not a lot of "over distance" training.



There was an aid station every 2 miles.  They had some sports drink and the half way point had gels.  I am glad, however, I carried my own Tailwind.  Having the extra calories helped and I wasn't dehydrated when I finished.  I also dressed correctly... I was never over-warm nor cold.

For a very small race, this event was a gem.  The aid stations were manned and amply supported.  There was never any doubt about where I was to run (it was hard to take a wrong turn but they even had markings on the odd-ball locations).  My only gripe, perhaps, was that the mile markers never seemed to line up with my Garmin until the end.

The race, like in 2014, had a post-race BBQ and raffle.  I had disappeared to my car after the raffle had started so I may have won something.  But I wasn't in the latter group that was being chosen.  They were also cool in that they had veggie burgers for me to eat.  In fact, I had two.


The weather after the race was absolutely perfect.  It was sunny, not too hot, with a pleasant breeze.  The picnic was on the shores of the Cave Lake, so the setting was picturesque.  

I paid close to $70 for the race.  I thought it was a steal considering all that I received.  I got a finisher's medal, t-shirt, a well supported course, a beautiful course and plenty of post-race food.  Yeah, the course is challenging and probably not PR worthy, but I really enjoyed the scenery and would probably put it as one of the most scenic half marathons I've done.



Hopefully this falls into my calendar again next year.  This was a great weekend and I had a lot of fun.



Sunday, September 15, 2019

2019 Run for the Nuns 5K Race Recap - Holladay, UT




Official Time: 26:00
Placement: Unknown
Results: Soon
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 60's, no wind
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: New to Me


Mile TimeComments
19:05First third of a mile was definitely uphill. Slowed me way down
28:15Got some downhill here as I picked up the pace
38:24Some rollers but primarily downhill here
3.040:14Push to the finish as it was downhill.
Total Miles: 3:04 - 26:00





Introduction


The Salt Lake area had a big race this weekend --- the Big Cottonwood Marathon, which basically steals the thunder of any other races that are planned during the weekend.  In fact, there were very few races in the area, except for this one.

This race definitely stands out on account it is held on a Sunday, which almost no races are held on a Sunday here.  But this race was held for the benefit of the Carmelite Nuns.  They have a fair that is going on in order to sell goods for their order and it attracts an early group of people.  Plus the entry fee goes to support the cause.


The Race


The race was easy to find -- just a minute off the freeway.  Holladay Utah is probably best known for being a haven for the wealthy.  There were a ton of older large houses that lined the main drag and the street was tree-heavy and shaded. 

I got there fairly early and managed to snag a decent spot.  Bib pick-up was a snap and within 10 minutes I was back in my car.

On account they were anticipating a large crowd for the fair, they had a ton of bathrooms, so there was never a line and the race, from what I saw, was fairly small -- maybe 100 - 125 people.

By 7:30, I decided to get in a mile warm-up and get a sense of the course.  I was warned that the start of the race feature a bad hill and upon looking at it I didn't think it was that.  Sure it was a hill, but it wasn't a killer one.  I did note that the return mile was mostly going to be downhill.  

The race started at 8 AM.  I am always hesitant on charity races on account that many are poorly run.  This one -- they knew what they were doing from start to finish.

Sure enough the first 1/8 of a mile was up hill and I figured that was going to be the end of the "big uphills".  I was quickly proven wrong.  We hung a right and got a very brief respite from the hill only to be encounter an even larger, more steep hill.  Really? We have to run up that?  How did I miss this on my warm-up?

Originally I had started out in 5th place, but quickly I was swallowed up by the crowd -- there were a lot of high school aged runners and clearly their much lighter body frames could take the hill much quicker than I could.

Finally, after a half mile or so, we reached the top the hill and we got a bit of a downhill.  I quickly found my groove and started to pass some of the runners who had went too fast.

I wasn't too surprised to see a "9" flash on my Garmin after the first mile.  There definitely was a penalty to be paid for hills at the start.  I just hoped I had enough in my legs to take advantage of what I would hope to be the downhill second half.

The course featured a lot of twists and turns in the residential areas in which we were running.  There were volunteers at critical corners but if I hadn't been following anyone I would not have known where to go.  

I was able to get back some of my lost time on mile 2.  There were a few rolling uphills but for the most part, it was a fast mile, with it primarily being downhill.  Maybe if I could hang on for the last mile I'd have a decent and not too embarrassing of a race.

I figured mile 3 would be fast but there were once again a few uphills.  Just when I was working up a head of steam I'd hit a tiny roller that would ruin my pace.  So frustrating.  With about 3/4ths of a mile to go though, I was in familiar territory as having warm-up on the course at this point.  

I quickly looked behind me and saw that no one was chasing me down but I was working against 3 people that were probably half my age.

The last quarter mile was primarily downhill and I really worked at it.  I didn't really know what my overall time was but I knew the race was going to be slower than usual for me -- thanks to the hills.

I flew into the finish line and clicked off my Garmin -- turning in a 26 minute 5K.  Definitely slower.



Conclusion


As stated, I wasn't too surprised with my time.  On a flat course I can knock out a 24:55 or 25:15.  This course was a lot more challenging.

I grabbed some water and chatted up some of the folks I had run with.  They had water at the end and breakfast consisting of eggs, potatoes and sausages were served.  They had a very interesting grape lemonade that was worth a repeat trip.  In addition, they had bagels and fruits.  All good stuff.

I was hoping for age group awards.  Sometimes these small races have them -- sometimes they don't.  This race apparently didn't have them.  They just gave out awards to the top 3 in each gender.  To be honest, I'll be lucky to see overall results.



I paid $25 for the race.  I got a pretty nice tech shirt -- I was expecting a cheap cotton one, but this one was nice.  They even had a drawing at the end with so many prizes that I actually won a pair of cordless headphones.  I definitely needed a pair for some of my driving trips.

My performance wasn't the greatest, but given the nature of the course, I wasn't expecting a PR race.  I did run as well as I could and despite being gassed after half a mile into the race, I managed to regroup and do okay.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

2019 Rock the Canyon 10K Race Recap - Provo, UT




Official Time: 56:37
Placement: 4th in age group, 62 overall, 44th male
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 60's, sunny, no wind
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: New to Me


Mile TimeComments
19:06Hemmed in and I felt like I was gasping for air at the start. Not a good way to fire it up
27:27Fast downhill
38:26On to the flats
49:32Was gassed at this point. Pretty much all up hill from here.
59:20Grind up
611.12OMG, hills non stop here.  Nothing but climbing
6.221.39Last quarter mile was primarily downhill.
Total Miles: 6:22 - 56:44




Introduction


A friend of mine turned me on to this race.  The race calendar for this past weekend was kind of light so my choices were sort of slim.  I haven't really felt "half marathon worthy" of late and so a shorter race was what I was looking for.

I heard the race was fairly hilly but how bad could it be?  Well I would soon find out.





The Race


The race was held on the east side of Provo in a park called Rock Canyon Park.  The park is mainly a multi-use field nestled at the base of the Wasatch Mountains.  It sports beautiful views of the mountain range as well as Utah Lake. 

The race actually served as a circuit race for the Salt Lake area.  To say there were fast runners there was an understatement.







I got there with plenty of time to spare, and grabbed my shirt and bib and basically killed an hour waiting for the race to start.  I circled through the bathroom and did my warm up drills as I admired the 360 degree views. 

I hadn't run that much during the week so I figured I'd be spunky to race, but I was anything but that.  I just wasn't in the mood to run / race.  But I had paid my race entry and I've always had pretty decent races when I've run through Provo.

The race had a really decent turnout, in part that it was a circuit race.  Minutes before 8 AM we assembled in the parking lot, got some brief instructions and soon we were off.

Almost immediately I was gasping for breath.  I was cursing myself for not doing a more comprehensive warm-up.  I also attributed it to being at slightly higher altitude. 

I was almost thankful when the trail we were on narrowed down so that only 2 or 3 people could run abreast.  Naturally this forced everyone to slow down.  The break was short lived but it was enough for me to re-group upon hitting the road.  It didn't help either that the start of the race was an up-hill as well.

Upon hitting the road I was able to dial in a pace and soon I got to enjoy the first down hill section of the race. I wasn't surprised seeing my Garmin flash a 7:30 mile. 

I knew I was right on target pace-wise on account I was tailing a woman I usually finish about even with.  In fact, throughout the race I was within 20 - 150 yards of her. 

I was enjoying the race quite a bit.  It was all new territory as well ran down the hill.  I turned to a woman running next to me, though and stated that we were going to pay for it on our way up, though.

Mile 3 was a gut check.  We were entirely down with the downhill section and now we had a section that involve a little bit of uphill but mostly flats.  My quads were pretty shot and my legs weren't feeling that responsive. 

I wasn't too surprised to see my pace drop from speedy to a fairly pedestrian 8:30 pace for mile 3.  And yet, I knew I had the hardest section of the course coming.

Mile 4 was a climb and while it wasn't that bad I figured maybe the rest of the course would be like this.  But I had studied the map with the elevation profile and I knew the worst would come.

The race was held primarily on residential streets.  Some times we ran on the side of roads and other times on the sidewalk.  There were police at important intersections and the occasional volunteer at quieter ones.  I was rarely in doubt of where to run because I was always within eyesight of someone and they had placed markers that led the way.

Mile 5 through 6 was where the insanity started.  I turned a corner and there was a monstrous hill.  Me and the runner next to me both were like What the Heck...it was steep and other runners were clearly running up it.  This race was cruel... at mile 5 of a 10K you put a monster hill?  Come on!

I ascended that at a shuffle -- hurting every step of the way -- only to turn a corner and find another hill.  I almost came to a walk as I saw many other people do in front of me.

I kept looking at my Garmin in hopes that I would reach mile 6, when I pretty much knew that the hills would be over. 

Finally mile 6 came and I knew that I was now close to being done.  There was a good down hill here and I knew once I entered the park.  In fact, I totally got a second wind and flew to the finish line.




Conclusion


I wasn't too surprised with my lackluster time.  I figured I'd hit about 55 minutes given the difficulty of the course.  Even some of the elite runners there said don't worry about your splits as this course was anything but flat.

They had finisher's medals, which was nice.  Usually races don't award finisher's medals for 10Ks.  It isn't fancy but it's something to take home.

Finisher's refreshments were water and bananas.  They had some pancakes, but after the run, they didn't seem very appetizing.   

Results were printed out and easily obtained.  Unfortunately I placed 4th in my age group.  They may have done top 3, but I basically cleaned myself up and took off.



Hard to have any take-aways on this race.  The course was really fun to run believe it or not.  They also had 3 water stops, it was properly marshalled and the course was fairly accurate.  The mile markers were pretty close to spot on but as the race went along I was coming up short.  I had hopes that it might be a little short but actually it turned out to be a little long. 


The shirt was a standard cotton one.  It was nicely designed but I probably won't wear it much.  (What has happened with tech shirts of late?)

I would do this one again.  It was a little expensive -- about $40 plus the usual service fees and taxes but I registered fairly late in the game.

If my race schedule was empty, I'd run this one again.  It was well organized and definitely challenging.  But this race isn't for the faint of heart... or those looking for a PR.  The course though was top notch though.