Saturday, March 24, 2018

2018 Riverton Half Marathon - Riverton, UT

Official Time: 2:04:30
Placement: 9th male in the 45 - 49, 146th overall
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 52 cloudy with strong winds from the south / south east (10 - 15 mph)
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2015] [2014]

Mile TimeComments
18:21Nice downhill start, so good pace
28:26Fairly flat here 
38:41Some up hill
49:12A few climbs here but had a tail wind
58:32Last good mile
69:07Heading into the headwind. Really tough
79:24Running along the bike trail. Exhausting with the wind
910:31Huge hill about here. Just wanted to walk
1010:04A little stretch of downhill. Tried to get into a rhythm again.
1210:28Please let the race be over
1310:43Was dehydrated and tired. Had a tailwind here but it wasn't helping
13.121:06Shuffled into the finish line
Total Miles: 13.12 - 2:04:29


It''s been a while since I've done the Riverton Half Marathon -- a city on the south side of Salt Lake County.  I always had fond memories of the race on account that it is probably one of my favorite courses.  

It seems like every year the race comes up and I am out doing other things.  This year I made it a point to do the race.  And I got in just in a knick of time to get the discounted race price of $40 (for a half, that's a steal).  

The Race

All week long they had been predicting everything from torrential rain to a blizzard.  In fact, the race director sent out an email during the week warning runners that the race could be canceled (I believe it was canceled a year or so ago).

Either way, the weather turned out to be pretty darn nice.  It was warm enough for a single shirt, shorts and throw away gloves.  I also opted to leave my Solomon water pack behind, presuming I'd use the aid stations and to be honest, it just wasn't that hot.  I also knew, as much as I would've liked to have, I wasn't going to take any photos on course.  So I was happy not to have the extra weight.

The only problem with the day was a pretty strong south wind.  I was hoping it wasn't going to be as bad it seemed, but it was worse.  But I'll get to that in a moment.

The race started promptly at 9 AM.  In years past, the race started in a different spot.  This time, it started on the grounds of the city park (which had nice bathrooms).  My hunch is people were complaining about impacted streets and there was construction along the home stretch, so they've changed the course quite a bit.

I hit the ground running and immediately my rib started to hurt.  Not from running too hard, but from last week's fall at the half marathon I did.  I had substandard training all week but I felt like I would hardly notice it today -- once again I was wrong.  

I don't think it slowed me down at all, but it was a present force, reminding me that it hurt to breath a little too deeply.

The first 5K went fast.  I was moving quickly and despite having done 3 half marathons in the past 3 weeks and having a busted rib, I felt alright.  I had a hint of fatigue in my legs but I had confidence that I'd be able to get through this race.

The race gets you down to the southern side of the Jordan River Bike Trail (compared to where I live) and there were some sections of the race that I had done just the week before.  Oh how I wish I could turn the page back to last week when I felt a little stronger.

I don't get to run on this stretch of the bike trail very often (I just always go north) and it is just as pretty but a little more barren then where I live.  It is also a bit more hilly.

We'd run a few miles on the bike trail, dip into a hilly neighborhood with some expensive houses and then hit the trail again.  I was tailing the 1:55 pacer as I knew that I could probably handle that pace.

There were a ton of turns on this course and all but one section was marked really well.  Plus the race had several hundred runners, so I was always within site of someone.  Memories of previous years I had done the race visited me as I tore through the miles.  Again, some of the course I didn't recognize, but a lot I did.  Mile markers were hit and miss.  They never 100% lined up with my Garmin but they were close enough.

Around mile 6 my race went downhill.  We hit the southbound stretch and there was no blockage of the wind at all.  It hammered me at what seemed like gale forces.  While it wasn't that bad and the forecast said it was 10 mph, my suspicion was that it was quite a bit stronger than that.  Everyone's pace was hit hard.

However, I seemed to fair poorly.  My legs felt heavy and fatigued (my lame brain idea of doing a half marathon every Saturday in the month of March likely the primary culprit).  My spirits were down as I people passed me with what seemed like playful abandon.  

The problem was that this southbound stretch lasted a good 4 miles.  And it just broke me down.  When I saw a turn off for the 5K, my head tried to talk me into calling it quits and just hoofing it back finish area and skulking away.  But I had set out to run a half and I was going to do.

My pace was hit hard here and I used a fair amount of energy trying to put something together.  But it just wasn't happening.

Also, I was thirsty.  They had good aid stations with water and Gatorade every mile and a half or so, but this stretch there weren't that many.  Also, it seemed like I couldn't get enough to drink.  I was cursing myself for not wearing my hydration pack.  

Around mile 10 I started to nurse a gel.  I figured it couldn't hurt. I suspect it was too late but it seemed to help a little, judging by a small pick-up in pace.  It was also at this point that I was done running south on the windy bike trail.

The last 5K is on some back roads (including a dirt road) towards the finish line.  There is one killer hill there but I think with the change in the course I didn't have to run all of it.  I was pretty toast though and after the 10.5 mile marker, I don't think there was another water stop.

I was really shot at this point and I was so tempted to just start walking.  But there was going to be none of that today and I forced myself on despite feeling really crappy and wanting to toss my cookies.

I had some friends cheer me in during the final .1 of a mile.  I really tried to turn on the jets for them but I felt like I was running through sand.  I just had no turnover.

I crossed the line in 2:04 and change.  It took a while for my stomach to settle down and I felt like I had run way more than 13 miles. But my Garmin said this course was accurate (various reports indicate it might've been long but my Garmin measured up nicely).

Finisher's Medal


This race is super competitive.  I've never even come close to placing in it.  Today was no exception and to be honest, I really didn't care all that much about my performance.  Sure, I am disappointed about it, but I was gassed to begin with.  I mean I have run a bunch of half marathons this month -- at race pace -- and I did well at 3 out of 4 so if I really cared deeply about my time I would've tapered better for this race. 

It does hurt my ego a bit to cross over the 2 hour limit, but after chatting with people, most people in my time bracket said they were 5 - 10 minutes slower....

Very unique color for my shirt

I grabbed some water and eventually a couple of chocolate milks and a banana.  In the past they've had a really good spread of food.  I am not sure what happened but there apparently have been some cutbacks.  I suspect some of the vendors offering free samples have backed out.

I socialized a bit and basically killed an hour at the finish line chatting people up and complaining about the wind. 

Once again, I really enjoyed the race.  It was very affordable, the medal was definitely nice and the shirt has probably the most unique colors ever on it.  And I love the course.  There was so much variety -- bike trail, residential roads, dirt roads and with the backdrop of the Wasatch Mountains and the Jordan River.

Hopefully one day I'll get back to the times I ran in 2014 and 2015... my performance on this one is one I'd like to forget, though.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Lucky 13 Half Marathon - West Jordan, UT

Official Time: 1:55:37
Placement: 14th male, 7th in the 45 - 49 age division
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 40's, 10 - 15 mph wind from the north, snow at end
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2016] (same course, different race)

Mile TimeComments
18:37Felt fast.  Nice tail wind though.
38:27Moving too fast.  Little did I know I had a tailwind here
59:04Water hazard here
68:51Banged up from my fall
78:55Massive headwind
9:04More headwind
99:28Heading wind and then had to navigate the water hazard
119:09Running on fumes
12.948:29Not much left
Total Miles: 12.94 - 1:55:37


I think at some point I had a coupon to sign up for this race and that is what drove me to sign up for another half marathon that I really didn't need to do.  But what can I say? I am a race junky and anything to get me out of the house on Saturday morning is well spent in my book.

Plus, the race is held just minutes from my house.  Like many of OnHillEvents races, they are held at Gardner village.  The village is a set of small shops that sell knick-knacks and gift items and it also borders the Jordan River Bike Trail, which is where the race starts.

I train on the north side of the trail and I rarely venture down to the south side.  So I could've easily run this course on my own without paying a dime, but there is something about getting a support run, with a time, and a nifty t-shirt and medal.

Plus, running this race gave me another blog entry...

The Race

They had been predicting dire forecasts all week for Saturday morning.  They were saying it was going to be gale force winds and rain.  I had thoughts of going into the race on Saturday and backing down to the 10K or even the 5K.  But over the years, I've suffered through many races and inclement weather, while never fun, doesn't really scare me.

Race morning showed skies threatening rain and the hurricane force winds were mild at best.  I opted to wear some throw away gloves, two short-sleeved shirts, and shorts.  I was 100% fine, except my hands did get cold on the way back.

I had picked up my bib the day before, so I rolled in 30 minutes before the race.  I could've shown up 15, but I figured it would give me a few extra minutes to use the bathroom.

They had a 5K, 10K and half marathon race and as ubiquitous as St Patrick's Day Races are, OnHillEvents had a pretty good turnout.

The race started at 9 AM sharp and off we went.

I didn't think there was much of a tailwind at the start.  I was wondering if I was going to get burned on the way back and I was constantly checking the trees and brush to see if they were swaying in the wind.  But it seemed fairly stable.

My legs have been shot most of the week.  I've been running about 30 miles a week -- plus racing a half marathon nearly every weekend.  So I wasn't feeling terribly fresh.

I wound up going out a little too fast though.  The 2-hour pacer was also going way too fast (at least initially) but despite an easy lope, the first mile went by in 8:30.  Would I pay for that aggressive pace later?

The race is held on the Jordan River Bike Trail.  It is a paved and very flat trail.  Occasionally we'd pass other runners, cyclists, or dog walkers.  It is a nice bike trail, but as far as scenery went, it wasn't exactly jaw dropping.

I cruised through the first 5K feeling pretty good but I felt like I was going too fast -- especially given my current "tiredness".  I tried to dial it back and managed to do so a little.

Around mile 5 we had to cross under a traffic bridge.  As you can see from the photo above, it was flooded, maybe about 3- 4 inches of water.  If it had been 70 or 80 degrees I would've plowed through it.  Instead, however, most people were using the retaining wall as a balancing beam to get over it.

My balance is terrible and to be honest, I was grateful for a "walk break".  I had two people behind me and I was constantly apologizing as I navigated my way across.

As soon as I got past the water I jumped down.  However, I totally misjudged the distance and I did a spectacular somersault on the pavement.  I think I fell on my side and I felt like someone had stuck a knife into my ribs.  My hips hurt as well, but not nearly as much as my ribs.

I took a deep breath and was like, "ouch".  A few people asked if I was okay, which I said, yes and I tentatively continued on.  I think the injury took a little more out of my confidence and it definitely hindered my pace.

The turn-around seemed to be placed a little short and just as soon as I saw it a woman running the other direction said, "watch out for the wind".  Darn it!

I turned around and suddenly I felt the wind.  We were in the open at this point and while it wasn't a gale force wind, it definitely slowed me up.  I dug deep and despite the head wind, I managed to maintain a fairly decent pace.

By the time I made it back to the water crossing (it was an out-and-back course) my rib was hurting me.  It would come and go throughout the race but it was rearing its ugly head again.  The racers had really thinned out at this point, so I could take my time crossing the hazard and I managed to cross the whole thing.

The final 3 miles were a grind.  I was gassed, my rib kind of hurt, and the wind just seemed to be enough of a presence to make life difficult.  To top it off, it start to snow.  There wasn't any accumulation but my hands were frozen and my skin was turning a bright red.

I was passed by two female runners in the final 3 miles but other than that, I was running solo.  I'd turn around and look behind me, but there wasn't another runner in site.  I was just so relieved just to be done and I came in with a fairly respectable time despite having to walk through the water hazard, which probably cost me a minute.


I am reasonably happy with my time.  I knew beforehand it wasn't going to be a stellar race.  I am just too fatigued and over trained right now to run a PR worthy time.  Still, I had fun despite bruising a rib.

The course wasn't anything special.  I've run it before and I could run it every day if I ever decided to run south.  It was quite simply an affordable race and I got a new t-shirt and finisher's medal.  Alas, I figured I'd be a shoe-in for an age group award, but the 45 - 49 age division was stacked.  When I was running I saw the runners coming back on the out-and-back course I figured I'd be lucky to place.

The course was well marked -- there was only spot I was a little confused on where to go, but he had the major intersections crewed by friendly volunteers.  There were several aid stations as well and appropriately marked intervals.  I do suspect the course was a little short but there were some stretches where I ran under bridges which might've affected my GPS.

Post race food was typical: sports drink, oranges, bananas, peanut butter sandwiches, and Fat Boy Ice Cream Sandwiches.  I was too cold to eat much, but I grabbed a banana, spent some time socializing and once I figured out that I wasn't in contention for an age group award, I took off.

Overall, it was a nice race and I am glad I did it.  I am still suffering from a bruised rib which makes coughing, sneezing, and even sleeping painful.  However, I will be fine.  It isn't cracked and it is certainly one for the story telling of my running adventures. 

Performance-wise, I'd give myself an okay grade. I didn't run stellar but it also wasn't a major disappointment, especially given the circumstances.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

This Week in Running 2/18 - 3/10

Miles Year to Date: 390


I haven't done a weekly update in a long time.  Suffice to say I've been running -- and racing.  I've dialed back most of my longs run and have been running quite a few half marathons -- turns out I've signed up for a half marathon each Saturday in the month of March.

So my training has been going okay, although the constant racing has sort of prevented me from getting in a super long run (over 15 miles).  I am still logging about 40 - 50 miles a week, however, after Saints and Sinners I did very little running.

I still would like to do a half marathon, but my training, while decent hasn't really seen a long-long run in a while.  Part of me is still finding fulfillment in doing halves and 5Ks, but part of me really yearns for the accomplishment of running 26.2.  The question is, do I want to commit to a more stringent training regime and am I ready for the pain of miles 20 - 26?

Time will tell and I suspect life is going to get a little complicated.  Stay tuned!

Closing in on the March Madness Half Marathon

Upcoming Races

03/17: Lucky 13 Race Half Marathon - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
03/24: Riverton Half Marathon - Riverton UT (Confirmed)
04/07: Emigration Canyon Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Maybe)
04/07: Summerlin, NV Half Marathon - Summerlin, NV (Maybe)
04/14: Biggest Little Half Marathon - Reno, NV (Maybe)
04/14: Trail Running Festival - Fruita, CO (Maybe)
04/21: Salt Lake City Marathon (Half) - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed (2018))
11/11: 2018 Las Vegas Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)

Chuckawalla Trail and Beck Hill Trail Hike - St George, UT

At Turtle Wall


After my half marathon on Saturday I was itching to do an entry level hike.  Shari isn't much of a power hiker and with my dead legs I wasn't in the mood for a marathon hike either.  So I did a little bit of research and discovered the Chuckawalla Trail just on the outskirts of St George, Utah.

The trail can be found by going here.  There is plenty of parking and even a pit toilet.  The trail is part of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve  and is free.  I didn't see any drinking fountains, so be sure to pack appropriate hydration.

You can do a variety of hikes here, from about 1 mile out and 1 mile back (to Turtle Wall) to going further.  I wound up doing the Chuckawalla Trail and then did part of the Beck Hill Trail.  You can follow my hike on my Garmin Route.

The Hike

The hike is fairly mild and easy.  It is great for families and you probably won't be alone while hiking.  The trail is very popular for those wanting to put in some miles, to dirt bikers, and to those wanting to tackle climbing the red rocks.  The trail is also very runnable -- although some stretches are sandy.

The trail was well marked and I had decent cell reception the entire time.  There also was minimal elevation climb.  The trail is not shaded at all, so take into account the temperature.  

The Chuckawalla Trail is about .9 miles.  You'll come to a cross roads at that point (the juncture is also a loop) where many families seemed to like to hang out.  As about a tenth of a mile to the left is an arch as well as a rock formation so that sort of looks like a turtle (to me, it looked like an elephant)

This is a great stopping off point and there is plenty of enjoyable views here.  We wound up doing a bit of the Beck Hill Trail.  This trail heads north and winds its way into a valley surrounded by large red hills (or mini mountains if you will).  If you love looking at natural rock formations, this section will be right up your alley.

Overall, I really enjoy the trail.  It wasn't terribly hard and we did occasionally run into people in the outer limits.  This trail doesn't take much effort and is great for the novice hiker.

Enjoy the photos!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

2018 Sand Hollow Half Marathon - Hurricane, UT

Official Time: 1:53:09
Placement: 6th male, 1st in the 45 - 49
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 40's, slight wind from the south.
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2016] [2015]

Mile TimeComments
18:39Felt harder than it should
38:49Was worried I was going too fast. Seemed hard
58:31Started getting into the groove. Split off from full marathon
68:55Prepping myself for a hill
79:19Long hill here, but eventually some decline
8:26Got to go down hill I climbed.
99:06Had to propel myself now
108:55Long stretch of flat
118:32Worked off of another runner. Could smell the finish line.
12.97:48Pushed it hard to the finish
Total Miles: 12.90 - 1:53:08


I've been itching to do another destination road race.  One fairly close race is doing the Sand Hollow Marathon down in Hurricane.  Last year, I believe, they introduced a half marathon and this year they again offered not one but TWO half marathons.

Hurricane is a fairly small, rural town that most people drive through on their way to Zions National Park.  It is also home to Fast Cory.  However, there is a lot of cool things to do here and it is fairly scenic.  I love visiting here.

The first half did half of the marathon course, which includes a long hill.  That one you get to see the Sand Hollow Reservoir, which is a reservoir just on the outskirts of Hurricane. 

The half I did, the "Fast and Flat Half" follows the other two races for the first 5 miles before splitting off to another section of town.  Having run the full marathon twice and having seen that part of the course, I opted to run the new course.

The Race

I rolled into town on Friday night.  I was there early enough and picked up my race packet and met the race director (again).  Nicest guy and he really cares about his race.

I was staying at the Wynngate in Hurricane (highly recommended!) and I wound up sleeping pretty well. I woke up 2 hours before the race, ate and took care of my bathroom needs before making the 15 minute walk to the starting line.

I wound up hanging around for all of about 30 minutes socializing with the other runners. We had access to the local recreation center facilities, so it was dry, warm and with clean / flush toilets.  The race started exactly at 7 AM and off we went.

The first few miles of the race are flat and fast.  The race is also fairly small -- I was running with the full marathoners and my "Fast and Flat" group.  You are basically running down residential streets and making your way to the south side of town where Molly's Nipple is located.

I recognized some of the course from the marathon but he has since changed the race route (it used to do a big loop, now it is an out and back). 

I was running about 8:40 minute miles, which seems to be my standard pace these days for a half.  However, today it felt harder.  I began to wonder if I was going to crash and burn.

Around mile 4 we were into farm country and I could see horses and smell manure.  In all honesty it was a beautiful run. 

The race is held on city streets and many of the busy intersections had crossing guards.  It was still early in the morning and Hurricane is a sleepy little town, so there was never much to fear in terms of traffic.

Around mile 4 I started getting into the groove.  I was working up a pretty good sweat but my pace was coming down.

Just around the mile 5 marker, we split off from the marathoners.  I figured that the majority of runners would be joining me on the half.  However, 90% of the runners took a right -- meaning they were running the full!  The turn off was super wall marked and even before the race started, the director informed everyone where to go.

I looked to my left and there was hardly anyone running the half marathon.  I actually had a good shot at winning my age group.

The spurred me on and around mile 6 we started to ascend a hill.  It wasn't a back breaker by any means -- it was just a long slow grind.  I was maintaining a decent pace but I could feel my energy just fade.  I popped a gel and that seemed to help.

The hill seemed to take forever but I was enjoying a new route and seeing some stunningly beautiful houses.  Also the smell of sagebrush smelled awesome.

At the summit of the hill we had to run down a small section, get aid at the aid station and then climb the small downhill section.  Luckily after re-summitting the hill we got a glorious fast downhill mile.

Unfortunately that was short lived. And the flats started again.  For a few miles I was really struggling.  There wasn't anyone to work off of and the nearest people were about a quarter mile in front of me.  Also this stretch there was some traffic.  I had a pretty good shoulder to run along and the cars also had plenty of room to move over.

Finally, another woman passed me and I wound up working with her.  She had an awesome steady pace and that perked me up for a few miles as we headed into the home stretch.

The final 5K or so was part of our out and back but it all seemed so different coming from the other direction.  Luckily, I remember running sections of it from the previous times I've run the marathon.  It was comforting to know I was going into the home stretch.

I was pretty tired coming in and I knew I had top 10'd it.  Since the course was out and back in a stretch, I had seen the lead back.  I was hoping to get very low 1:50's given the course was flat and I was running at a lower altitude.  However, I think the early miles had cost me some time and despite a second wind late in the race, I just couldn't must up some faster splits.

I crossed the finish line to a small, but cheerful crowd.


I am not sure what happened to the race distance on this one.  I think my Garmin was pretty much lining up with every mile marker until about mile 6.  I talked to a few people after the race and most of them said they felt the course might've been short.  However, I have had problems with my Garmin in this area before and even one person said he app just sort of gave up tracking her GPS.  

I really liked the new section of course.  While I didn't get to see the Sand Hollow Reservoir, I found the country farm road running to be pleasant.  I also loved the "desert smell" in the early morning.

The course, for me, was well marked except for one tiny stretch.  Luckily I had other people to watch where to go.  Even if I had been running solo, I think I could've figured it out.   However, at the hotel I did run into a few runners who did the hill challenge half and they wound up running about 3 extra miles.  Their turnoff wasn't as clear, which is always unfortunate.

Post race spread included some fruit, bagels and chocolate milk.  In years past he's had more substantial food.  Given that I finished around 9:00 AM, my guess is that the local pizza guy wasn't making pizza just yet.  I wound up grabbing some snacks and drinking a bit before heading out.

I really like this race for it casualness.  I didn't have to wait for any big awards ceremony.  They just checked my finishing card, handed me a mug, took a few pictures and congratulated me.  I love small races.  It was like bing-bang-boom, I was done and sent on my way.

I paid about $60 for the race a few weeks before the event.  I had a coupon code when I had met the race director at the St George Half Marathon.  So I saved a lot of money.

I got a pretty nice shirt and the medal has definitely been upgraded over years past.  There was ample course support -- about an aid station with great volunteers every 1.5 - 2 miles.  I carried my own hydration, which I used a bit but I could've gotten away without it.

My performance was so-so. I think I still haven't recovered from last week's half and I think I was had the pre-race jitters.  I have some stress at work and I think that sort of got into my head.  The hotel was a great choice though and I had slept well and I really had zero pre-race hang-ups about where I needed to be and when.

This race is a good one.  It is small, no frills and like always, enjoyed it.  There were people from Las Vegas and Northern Utah as well as some people who had traveled long and far to the race.  My only concern though was whether I had really run 13.1 miles.  My hunch is that it probably came up a bit short -- I'll have to trace it out on MapMyRun.  I did love the course though and would run this one again.