Saturday, November 23, 2019

West Jordan City's The Great Gobbler 5K Race Recap - West Jordan UT




Official Time: 25:05
Placement: 3rd in age group (40-49)
Results: Soon
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: mid 30's, no wind
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: First Year


Mile TimeComments
17:49Faster than expected start, but felt like I was paying for it.
28:17Exactly what I expected to run on the second mile.
38:35Hurting bad here.  Working off of another runner
3.060:22Push it hard to the finish
Total Miles: 3.06 - 25:05


Introduction


It's been a long time since I've gotten a great deal on a race.  And I've been at it for a long time.  But I was looking for a race to do this weekend and was asking around.  A friend of mine sent me a link to a $10 race!!! With races costing upwards of $25 - $30, I began to wonder if this was too good to be true.

Or worse, a poorly run race with little to no support.  

Either way, I was looking for a race and this was pretty much the only gig in town.  Plus, it was less than 4 miles away from home.




The Race


The race started at 9 AM and I rolling in just after 8.  I was expecting a fiasco grabbing my bib, but again, easy peasy and well run.  

To top things off the race was headquartered at the Gene Fullmer Recreation Center, so we had some place warm to hang out before the race -- as well as clean bathrooms.

It was a nice recreation center, with a pool, weight room, etc.  Certainly one I'd consider joining.



Around 8:30 I did my warm-up and tried to figure out the course.  I had studied the course the day before and was a little worried on account that it had a TON of turns.  Would a $10 5K send me wandering the streets of West Jordan?  I would hope not.

I discovered that the course, to some extent, was similar to the West Jordan Green Eggs and Ham 5K I ran last summer.  I actually kind of knew the course!  

The race started around 9 AM -- again, unexpected.  These cheaper 5Ks, can sort of drift later and we were off.

I had warmed up but getting that first mile in felt like I was revving up a cold engine.  It has been a while since I had pushed the pace and I was really hurting.

The first mile took us into the West Jordan park and I was immediately reminded of memories of having done the Green Eggs race last summer.  I knew exactly where I was going -- and I wasn't in the lead, so I just followed the lead group.

I am happy to report I didn't get detoured or lost at all.  The had a police motorcycle leading the way and volunteers were at appropriate junctions.



That first mile seemed to take forever and I was sort of stunned to see a 7:45 roll up on my Garmin.  Not too bad.  Could I push it for the second mile?

When I normally run a 7:45, my next mile is almost always 8:10 - 8:20.  Again, I wasn't surprised to see a 8:17 flash on my Garmin upon crossing mile 2.

The course's miles weren't marked in any way and part of me wondered if the course would wind up short or long.  We had pretty much finished with the park at that point and were soon on a quiet service road of some sort behind the recreation center.  There was no one behind me and one lone runner in front of me.

My goal was to keep up with him, as he appeared to maybe be in my age group.

I steadfastly dogged him as we ran in stride.  I'd make some ground on him and he'd sniff me out and push on his accelerator and I'd dial it back.  He did appear to be in my age group and with 10 year age increments for awards, I wanted to stay close.

We eventually turned a corner and were on a rough gravely road.  Footing wasn't bad by any means but I wasn't getting any pounce.  I was anywhere from 5 to 10 yards behind my target.  I could tell both of us were hurting.

I checked my Garmin and while I could see the recreation center, I sort of sensed that the course might be long.  It just seemed we were so far away with less than a third of a mile to go.

Finally we exited the dirt road and jumped onto the unforgiving concrete.  Every time I gained ground, he met my advance and pushed it forward.  Looks like it was gonna be a sprint.

We finally turned the final corner and had less than 50 yards to go to the finish line.  Here was my chance and I broke into a sprint.  This guy clearly had another gear and despite my frantic efforts I couldn't catch him.  There was a chance I might've but I just didn't have the guts to go crashing through the finish line.



Conclusion


They haven't posted the results as of yet, but I figure I was 2 - 3 seconds behind the other runner.  And you know what?  He was in my age group.  I was 3rd -- he 2nd.  The race wasn't chip timed so hard to tell exactly how much apart we were either.

I walked off the efforts of the run and socialized a bit, taking a sip of water I had brought.  They had bananas, bagels, and water to drink.  Pretty standard fare for a low budget 5K.

Awards were done promptly as well.  The race directors really had their stuff together on this one -- from start to finish.

I was super happy to win 3rd in my age group and nab a medal as well as some pasta and sauce.  They had a lot of prizes to pick from, all under $5 or so.




Performance-wise, I did okay.  25:ish has roughly been my times for a 5K of a late, so again, just average.  I did talk to some people who's Garmin's measured the race at 3.11.  So I suspect it was a legit 5K.  

I did enjoy myself.  I was surprised from start to finish with everything.  For $10, got a timed 5K race (with police escort), an age group award and prize, a swag bag and a cool t-shirt (albeit it is cotton). I'd definitely do this race again next year.

Friday, November 22, 2019

2019 Las Vegas Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon Race Recap - Las Vegas, NV




Official Time: 2:04:51
Placement: 2708 out of 19,931 | 262 out of 1328 men (45-49), 1866 out of 8350 men
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 70's at the start. Mid 60's at finish
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2018] [2017] [2016] [2015] [2014] [2013] [2012] [2011] [2010] [2009]

Mile TimeComments
19:12Bunched in at the start but off to an okay start
29:28
39:19Consistent
49:17Back to the crowds here so got some energy
59:02

Garmin lost track of satellite here. Splits are way off
Total Miles: 13.?? 2:04:51






Introduction


Well, I admit, I am a bit of a streaker.  At the Las Vegas Rock 'n' Half Marathon that is.  I started doing this race back in 2009.  It was my first true 26.2 marathon and at the time I was in love with visiting Las Vegas and running.  I love following Nevada news and such, so it just seemed natural that I would want to run this one.

A lot has changed since 2009.  The first edition was a morning race in December.  After 2011 it became a night race held in mid-November.  And it hasn't let up.  It starts at 4:30 in the afternoon -- just as the sun sets.  The race also shuts down the infamous Las Vegas Blvd. so you get to run along wide street under the neon lit casino signs.  The race isn't cheap but the adventure and thrills of running in Las Vegas is a treat.

The race has changed its course from time to time, but largely it has been the same: start at the south end of the strip, run to the airport, turn around and run until you get to downtown Fremont Street.  If you are doing the full you go out into the boonies of North Las Vegas. Then you work your way back and finish in front of the rumbling Mirage volcano.

At this point, it is hard for me to say no to this race.  I am on a getting-shorter-every-year list of "legacy" runners.  And I am happy to report my name is still on the list.  And I'll try to keep going as long as I am able to do justice to the race.  It's kind of cool seeing my name on the list, even though it just means I am super consistent, not fast.




We left Salt Lake City early Saturday morning and made it to Mesquite, NV for a late breakfast.  It is the cheapest place for food -- 2 breakfasts is under $10.  I shied away from gambling before making the final 75 minute push to the Las Vegas Convention Center.  



As usual, the event boasts a large Expo.  It was filled with a ton of merchandise, swag and product samples.  I didn't see anything I had to have so it was a pretty quick experience, other than signing up for the Laughlin Nevada Half Marathon (Dec 6th).  That saved me $15, so well worth the boost visit.

Either way, it was about a 15 - 20 minute before I got back in my car and made the final drive to The Park Hotel (formerly known as the Monte Carlo) for the night.



The Race


With a race start at 4:30 in the afternoon, doing the Las Vegas Marathon takes a bit of planning.  Yeah, I could sleep in but making sure one stays off of their feet, dials in their food intake and stay hydrated.

I had breakfast fairly late, enjoying a stack of pancakes, coffee and an egg.  I followed that with some Wheaties in the afternoon and some Chips 'A Hoy cookies.  Yeah the cookies don't sound right, but they are bland, and a solid starch.  They usually work for me as a snack before races: easy to digest and filling.

I made my way from the hotel to the Start Village just shy of 3:00 PM.  Believe it or not, it was a solid walk -- at least a mile.  I wound up taking the tram from the Monte Carlo to the Bellagio, exited the Bellagio, took a pedestrian walkway across the strip and then followed the helpful volunteers to the rear end of Planet Hollywood.



I wound up killing about 40 minutes there before they queued us up into the first loading area.  Another 15 minutes we paraded out to the front of the strip (yet another mile walk) before we clustered into the starting corrals.  I was supposed to be in corral 8 and that's pretty much where I found myself.  Clearly some folks didn't get the message and clearly there were people of varying running abilities in the lead corral.



In year's past it took a LONG time from the start of the race until I could start running.  Usually in the neighborhood of 45 minutes.  This time, I was seated on the pavement for about 20 minutes or so before they started the race.  Within 5 - 10 minutes I was on my way under the setting Las Vegas sun.

I want to first say that it was warm.  I had broken a pretty good sweat just walking to and from the starting village. And I wasn't carrying any hydration.  I probably should've carried a bottle of water, but I didn't think I'd need it to be honest.  But by the first mile I was sweating and I was considering throwing away my trusty running cap (it's beaten to crap at this point).

There were aid stations at about every 1.5 miles.  I must say, the race organizers are no slouches when it comes to hydration stations.  Usually at the start of the race I have problems taking in fluids.  I usually take a tiny sip, and swish the rest.  I drank a little more, but I figured this heat wasn't anything to be too concerned about.

My first three miles I went out quite a bit slower than usual.  I wasn't feeling spot on and again, I was sweating pretty good.  The last 2 halves I had gone out at 8:45's.  This time, I was seeing 9's and 9:30's pop up.  The first miles are usually very crowded so it is hard to get into a good pace so I told myself I'd pick it up if I felt good at the half way point.

By mile 4 I had returned back to the starting line and my legs and breathing were fine but for some reason I just felt a little off.  Nerves perhaps?  All the memories of the bad races I've had here?  My epic marathon melt down from 2017?  Maybe all of the above.




I hit all the water stations and found myself looking forward to the next one.  By the middle of the race I was grabbing 2 cups of water.  I just felt really thirsty.

My Garmin at this point had lost track of my mileage.  I had heard a lot of people had their Garmin's fall off a clip at this point.  It was still semi accurate and my pace quickened here.  Not a lot, and I have no way to prove it, but at this point I felt that I had coasted long enough.  My legs and breathing still felt good.

This year's course seemed to have a LOT more Las Vegas Blvd on it then previous years and we only did a very tiny detour just east of Fremont Street.  It was at this point, though, with about 4 miles to go that I suddenly started to feel tired.



I am not sure what happened.  But I was suddenly really thirsty and I was running ragged.  More people were passing me, which is always disheartening.  I definitely wasn't walking and my Garmin was beeping every 3 or 4 minutes telling me I was running a mile in that time.  It was clearly confused.  I knew I was in the upper 9's as far as pace.  I nibbled on a Gu in hopes that it would give me some energy.




I finally reached Circus Circus and I knew that was the home stretch.  Just about a mile and a half to go.  But my running muscles were just off.  No turnover, I felt sick, I had gas, and simply put: I felt like crap.  I knew I was running in the 10 minute per mile pace and as people cruised towards the finish line, all I could do was trudge forward.

With about half a mile to go, I spotted the flames shooting from the Mirage's volcano as well as that of the finish line.  It couldn't come fast enough.

Purely for egotistical purposes, I pushed it the final quarter mile.  I was asking myself why.  My time was clearly not a PR and I certainly wasn't going to make my 2 hour time that I like to consider for a decent half marathon, but I did anyways.  I sort of ran out of gas about a 100 yards from the finish line, but I managed to make it look like I was finishing strong as I shuffled underneath the finish line banner.



Conclusion


Once I finished I walked off the wooziness of the run.  I circled around the immediate finish line wondering if I was gonna get sick.  I usually get this way after a run and pushing it the final quarter mile didn't help.

I leaned up against one of the barricades hoping I wouldn't throw up.  Once the waves of nausea passed I started to walk up the way a bit and felt another wave of nausea hit me.  I approached the medics and just hung out near them, in case things got bad.



I was dying for water and I also had to go to the bathroom:  bad.  Like emergency bad.

The medics didn't have any water and one reluctantly got one for me.  They also weren't on board with me using their bathroom, insisting that one was up about 50 yards from where I was.

After a solid 5 minutes -- and with the medics getting very concerned for me -- I got up and walked and got my medal.  Also another volunteer was handing out cold water.  I grabbed that along with the 90% empty one I had snagged from the medic.

Where were the bathrooms?

I looked high and lo, no bathrooms.

I kept going down the finisher's area, which is a solid HALF MILE.  No bathrooms.  I grabbed a endurance Gatorade from another volunteer and opened that and started to drink that.  I totally skipped the chocolate milk, bananas and chips.  Where the hell were the bathrooms?

I was already about 60% out of the corrals and I spotted a few porta potties.  However, they were behind the volunteer section.  I pleaded with the volunteer stationed there -- please can I use your bathroom.  It's an emergency.  I was seriously inches away from voiding in my pants.

"No sir,", she replied, "but there are some just up the way".

Long story short there were NO BATHROOMS IN THE FINISHER'S CHUTE.

I finally realized that I had three choices:

  1. Find someplace to hide in the middle of LV Blvd and go (that wasn't going to happen)
  2. Void in my pants (not if I could help it)
  3. Or get out of the chutes ASAP and make it into a casino and go.
I wound up doing option 3.  I somehow clambered over the Bellagio's barrier, walked up a set of stairs and made it through the north pedestrian entrance and somehow made it to their bathrooms in their mall.  I barely made it.



After the bathroom situation I wound up cleaning up, changing into some clothes and that night at dinner I had no less than 6 diet sodas, 2 coffees, 16 ounces of water, 32 ounces of Gatorade and I was still thirsty.

The race was bittersweet for me.  It was my 11th year of finishing and 11th year of being a legacy runner.  Hurray for me.  So many memories of the first time I ran this race in 2009 -- and who I was at the time, versus now, in 2019.  Some things have changed, some haven't.  It's been a solid streak and one I aim to keep going in 2020 (I already registered for the race).

I had mixed feelings on not doing the full marathon.  This now marks 2 years that I haven't run or attempted to run a full marathon.  My body, mind and soul really haven't been up to that challenge and after Sunday's race, I was glad I had stuck to the half.

My performance wasn't good.  I don't think I've ever really run well in the Las Vegas area.  I am not sure what it is but I am beginning to suspect it was a lack of hydration and there may be something in the water where my GI system just reacts violently against.  I had run the last two half marathons in well under 2 hours at higher altitude and this one -- well it just sucked.



I did hear some people say their Garmins reported 13.5(ish) miles.  I suspect too, that the course may have measured a bit long.  It is hard to say though on account that my Garmin clearly lost reception.

Overall, the start line organization was well done.  I was so much happier to be running sooner rather than inching towards the start line watching a dozen corrals ahead of me start racing.  It was still a mad house and people clearly were over estimating their abilities.

The finish line was nice (I wish I could've gotten pictures there but I was in such a hurry to find a bathroom that I didn't goof around with pictures) and the race had typical post race stuff.  But I am still miffed about the bathroom situation.

This year's medal had a moving part on it.  There is a roulette wheel on the medal that actually spins. Definitely makes it unique.  However, this year's medal seemed a lot smaller and less heavy that ones in the past.  I am not a medal freak by any means, but it was nice but I think I've enjoyed some of the others better.

Hopefully next year will be better for me and maybe one day I'll have a great race in Clark County, Nevada.

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.