Saturday, February 24, 2018

RunnerCon 5K Race Recap - Farmington, UT

Official Time: 24:47
Placement: 5th male
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 20's, wet with slick ice in spots. No wind
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: First year for me

Mile  Time Comments
1 8:19 Off to a cautious start. Very slick first quarter mile
2 8:12 Better footing here. Paying for not doing a thorough
3 8:11 Not much left but I held on and pushed it.
3.04 0:04
Total Miles: 3.01 - 24:47


Sometime early this winter OnHillEvents decided to throw together a runner's convention.  It was meant for runners like myself to meet up with race organizers and vendors. Other organizers have had other conventions like this in the past and it is usually combined with a 5K race.

The race was cheap and that was my primary motivation in doing the race.  Also, it was close to me, about 30 minutes north of my house and at a familiar location:  The Legacy Events Center, where I've either run by or had races held in the past.

The Race

I rolled in about 40 minutes before the race start.  Josher Hansen, runner and blogger extraordinaire was there handing out bibs.  Judging my the pre-registered list, it looked like it was going to be a small race.

This was a bit of a recycle race.  Since the race was so cheap ($10) you were given a shirt from a previous race.  The pickings were pretty slim for XL sized shirts.  I grabbed a Large shirt that was at best a medium-sized shirt.  It'll go to a friend or something.

I did a little bit of a warm up and chatted up with some of the other runners.  Conditions were slippery.  I looked at the starting area and it looked like a slick sheet of icy snow.  It had been plowed, but part of me wished that they hadn't.

Photo taken after the race

So I did an abbreviated warm-up after being told the rest of the bike trail was slippery.  I had pretty much written the run off as a training run.

I stripped down to my shorts and a medium weight jacket and the race started slightly late, but not a big deal.

I wasn't warmed up and suddenly slipping into 5K pace seemed very painful.  I was gasping for breath and it just felt incredibly hard.

Footing was difficult and I think everyone but the lead guy went out with a bit of caution.  The first quarter mile or so was on the service drive and that was slick.  However, after that you jumped onto a short stretch of bike trail that had been semi-shoveled.  If the rest of the race was like this I would be fine.

That stretch only last about 100 yards or so before we got to freshly plowed bike trail (the Legacy Bike Trail).  And you know what?  It was smooth sailing.  It looked slippery but it never was.  I realized that I could actually have a decent race.

I clocked the first mile just over 8 minutes.  It hurt a lot and I was laboring hard, but I told myself I had this -- it was just a 5K and I was already 33% done.

I was in a solid 5th place and I'd hold that position for the entire race.  I tried to keep up with the lead woman but she dropped me soon after the turn around, which was an aid station.  I do think they were set up a little early as my Garmin read just shy of 1.5 miles.  Now, I had started inside one of the warehouses at the Events Center so maybe the Garmin had had problems syncing initially, but after some brief conversations with others, it would appear the course might've been short.

I dug deep and on the back section I noticed that there wasn't another male near me and the next competitor was a woman and she was at least a good 30 - 40 seconds behind me.  The next male in front of me was long gone and there was no way I was catching him.  I just needed to hold my pace.

I had a goal of going sub 25 minutes.  Given the footing and a brief stop at an intersection, I had my doubts as to whether it would be doable.  Mile 2 was faster than mile 1 and that gave me confidence.  I just needed to make sure I banked a little bit of time for mile 3 where I'd have the ugly footing again.

I felt like I was dying and I glanced at my Garmin and realized it had me running a sub 8 minute mile.  This gave me a boost as I re-ran the route I had just done.

I was so happy to hit the home stretch.  I did a quick peek to see if anyone was behind me and was satisfied no one was closing in.  I ran in under 25 minutes, which was good given the conditions of the day.


I grabbed a finisher's medal, which was another recycled medal from the Layton Marathon.  I've run it before and it was a nice trinket / souvenir.

There were some exhibitors at the race and I made small talk with many of them.  I also socialized with some of the other finishers.  Their times were slower than usual as well and they blamed it on the adverse traction.  It was also cold.

The attendance at the conference was pretty light, but the speakers and some of the exhibitors didn't make it until 10.  I hung around for a bit and looked at the speaker schedule and most of them didn't really work for me.  I think if I lived in the area I would've cleaned up and come back for some of them, but I was sort of chilled and wanted food / drink.

Overall, I had a good time and I got what I paid for: a low key, timed 5K race.  I didn't see any race coupons for future races, which I think will help pay for this race when I enter other ones, but I suspect there'll be several good discounts in my future.

I am also happy with my time.  It is another positive race experience despite me not running much at all this week and eating all the wrong food throughout the week.  The 5K is a true test of fitness.  The pain level is so much higher than the longer races but fortunately it is over quicker.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

McDowell Sonoran Conservancy Hike - Scottsdale, Arizona



On Presidents Day I was visiting the Scottsdale Arizona area.  I had the entire day to myself and wanted something to do.

Part of me wanted to go back to the Lost Dutchman State Park and take on some other trails. However, I had memories of visiting the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy area last year with my brother and we had done about a mile to a mile and a half of it before bailing out (it was raining).

It was a fairly mild hike and definitely beautiful.  I pulled up the above website and made a plan to visit.

The Trail

The trail is probably one of the best runner trails I've come across in a while.  There are some rocks and baseball side boulders embedded into the dirt, but I figured the trail easy to run on.  I did come across several trail runners.

Being that it was a holiday, the trail was loaded with dog walkers, casual hikers, families and more adventurous types like myself.  On the main Gateway Loop Trail, I came across other people every few minutes.  This part of the trail is a 4.5 mile loop.  The trail has some minor climbs to it, but it is great for the beginner hiker or dog walker.

However, I took a spoke and did the Windgate Pass.  All told, I did 9 miles and you can check out my route here.

There are far less people who venture off the Gateway Loop trail.  I only encountered about half a dozen people.

The trail is extremely easy to follow.  There also isn't any water on the trail, so carry enough based upon the weather. 

I visited Inspiration Point which offers a beautiful view of the Scottsdale valley and then I proceeded to Windgate Pass.  Windgate lived up to its name -- it was hollowing wind there.  You get another view of the Scottsdale Pass as well as "no man's land" further to the east.  It was very peaceful there.

There are several loops you can do so be sure to pick up a free map at the parking area.  There is also an incredible amount of cactus in the area which add a unique element to it.

This is a great hike to go on if you are a beginner or casual hiker.

Siphon Draw Trail - Lost Dutchman State Park - Apache Junction, AZ



While visiting my brother in Tempe Arizona, we opted to check out the Lost Dutchman State Park, in Apache Junction.  Apache Junction is about 30 minutes east of Phoenix and is fairly easy to get to.  The park is about 10 minutes from the freeway and with a $7 entry fee we were provided a map and a plan.

The visitor parking lot has clean bathrooms as well as water.  We were visiting in the winter, which meant really good temperatures.  I would NOT want to hike this park in the dead of summer.  There isn't much shade and the trail does get challenging.

The Trail

The trail starts off innocently enough.  We started from the visitor's lot and made our way along the dirt trail.  The gap in the mountains kept getting closer.

Visiting on a Sunday we encountered several trail runners as well as plenty of hikers.  There are several trails here for entry level and basic hiking.  The Siphon Trail, however, is a bit more challenging. 

We hadn't done our research into the trail and little did we know about this one.  After a mile or two the trail started to make its ascent into the Lost Dutchman Mountains.  The trail does become challenging.

Eventually you come to the first major challenge.  It is a lot of scrambling, getting on all fours and really working your cardiovascular fitness as you climb up almost a sheer wall.  I was able to do the climb (and subsequent descent) with regular running shoes.  Although my brother was in less than great shoes and he really struggled.

The 2/3rds of the way to the Flat Iron portion of the trail is where many people call it a day.  We opted to call it a day as well.  I had gone through a fair amount of water and I was definitely more worried about getting back down versus going up.  My brother was also struggling and the view that we had already earned was good enough.

The final stretch of the trail apparently is not maintained.  Although plenty of people had gone to the plateau at the top.  I watched several groups clamber up and down the remaining stretch and it was slow going and if not a bit dangerous.

My suggestions would be for those who go after the first summit is: 
  1. Bring extra water.  The push to the first spot was a lot of work. There isn't a lot of shade and while the temperatures were mild, I had gone through a lot.
  2. Wear good shoes.  Even with decent running shoes, some of the stretches were difficult to manage.  Something with good traction is best.
  3. Be prepared to scramble.  This means getting on all fours and putting yourself into some funny positions.
  4. Wear gloves.  I saw a few people with gloves on and they definitely had an advantage over those without them.
Overall this was a good hike.  I suspect it took us about 90 minutes at a fairly leisurely pace to reach the first summit.  The next day, I was surprisingly sore.  The climbing and putting myself into precarious positions really took a toll on me.

The views from the hike are outstanding and is a "must-do" if you are an adventurous hiker visiting the Lost Dutchman Park.