Saturday, June 22, 2019

2019 Strawberry Days Guns and Hoses 5K Race Recap - Pleasant Grove, UT

Official Time: 24:36
Placement: 29th male, 32nd overall, 1st in the 45 - 49 age division
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 50's, very light wind from the north
Garmin Dump: Forgot Garmin
Previous Years: [2013]

Mile TimeComments
3.124:36Forgot my Garmin
Total Miles: 3.01 - 24:36 


It's been a while since I've stepped into the Guns and Hoses 5K in Pleasant Grove Utah.  In fact, when I signed up, I thought I had been there, maybe in 2015 or so, but it turns out it has been since 2013!

The race weekend was a little light for me.  There was a super expensive half marathon, which seemed to have the biggest draw and there were a handful of 5Ks around town.  But I found this one to be the cheapest and a good way to test my 5K speed.

The race also started early (7 AM) so by 5:45 I was out the door and headed south on I-15.

The Race

I got there in about 30 minutes and I think I was one of the first at the race start.  I was wondering if I had driven there on the wrong weekend because there were so few people.  I pretty much sauntered up to the race check-in area and got my shirt and bib. 

I warmed up with about an easy mile of running.  The race was held in the downtown area that was definitely older.  I spotted a few historical buildings and really old houses along my warm-up.

It was at this point that I forgot my Garmin.  It rattled me a bit.  I just felt like I was forgotten something.  In fact, instinctively throughout the race and my warm-up I was feeling for my Garmin.  I thought about downloading an app for my phone, but my phone is actually quite large these days and I really didn't want to be bogged down holding a phone.

I wasn't feeling too spry and was worried that this was going to be a sub-par race for.  Last time I didn't wear my Garmin I totally misjudged my pace.

The race started a few moments late, but no big deal.  It starts off in the middle of downtown and there wasn't much fanfare.  Just a huge gunshot or explosion and off you went.

The race starts with a gentle uphill.  The air seemed a bit thinner as well.  I live at 4300 feet of elevation, in Pleasant Grove it is 4600.  Probably mostly mental though.

I got off to a good start.  Again, I had no idea what pace I was running, I just knew that I wanted to go as strong as I could and was running by 100% feel. 

I was in my Saucony Fasttwich shoes, which made me feel light of food.  Any tiredness / sluggishness I was feeling at the start vanished.  It always does when the race gun goes off.

There were no mile markers on the course but I had vague relocations on where the course ran from last time.  I remember the cemetery and some of the residential areas.  It is sort of amazing that I haven't stepped foot in the town for nearly 6 years and how much I do remember.

The initial uphill start of the race didn't deter me and I was able to get aggressive on some of the downhills and yet maintain a decent pace (I think) on the uphills.

The weather was absolutely perfect for running.  It was cool and about 55 degrees.  The sun wasn't intense (yet) and my legs actually felt really good.  By now, I have a pretty decent sense of distance and I was generally correct on how much longer I had to run. 

At the half way point, I felt like I had reached the summit of the town.  And since this was a looped course, I figured I was going to get some downhill.  Sure enough what I felt was the final mile was mostly downhill.  It wasn't crazy fast, but it was a gradual downhill and I took advantage of it.

I still had no idea what I was running.  The few people that had passed me weren't wearing watches and there were absolutely no mile markers or timers on the course.

I noticed that the streets were rapidly approaching 100 South.  That is the nice thing about Utah is we strictly adhere to a grid system for street numbering.  Generally speaking every 1000 is about a mile (give or take).  And it helped to see the roads dropping from 1200 to 1100 to 900.... 

Finally I could hear the crowds cheering and I could see the flicker of the timing clock.  Thank goodness!  I was running with a pack of younger folks and we were definitely fighting for every second.  It is always nice to have someone push you to your best.

The finish line came in a blink of an eye and I was ecstatic to see a 24:3X on the clock.


I was really happy to finish.  I had done WAY better than I expected I would.  Again, I had no idea what my pace was and how much further I had to go.  I just simply ran as hard as I could for as long as I could.

I quickly asked around what everyone's Garmin said was the distance.  I seemed to have recalled that the course was significantly short last time I ran it.  One of the first guy's I asked said it was 3.06.  Another two people said it was 3.01.  I am probably going to go with a hair over 3 miles on this race.  

Each participant was awarded a coin.  Looking back at my 2013 post, it looks like it is their tradition.

My car was parked just down the road so I went there and grabbed my camera for some finish line photos.  They also had a huge bunch of glazed donuts (going with the police theme).  Delicious.  They had plenty so I grabbed one for a post race treat and one for the road.

I didn't see any other post race refreshment other than water.  I always bring my own hydration so I had some Gatorade in the car.

The shirt is of a nice design but it is cotton so I probably won't wear it much. 

For $20 I got what I paid for.  I wish they had age group awards, but I think they only recognized the top finishers.

My race performance was solid today.  Even if the course had been accurate at 3.10 miles, I suspect I would've come in around 25:15 or so, which is about standard for me these days.  I am not running a lot of speedwork right now so before the race I had visions of seeing a 26 minute race.

Monday, June 17, 2019

2019 Lamoille Canyon Half Marathon Race Recap - Lamoille, NV

Official Time: 1:54:26
Placement: 19th Place overall, 3rd in the 45 - 49
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Upper 30's at the start, mid to upper 50's at end
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2018] [2017] [2016]

Mile TimeComments
19:05Ouch, first quarter mile is uphill.... at nearly 9000 feet. Gasp for air!
38:26Cruising down hill
57:54Fast miles. Almost felt out of control here. Altitude was making short of breath
78:51A little bit of up hill here. Getting some fatigue in my legs
88:13Last of the downhills.  Got a bit of a second wind here
119:27Now some rolling hills
1310:04Felt horrible here

Total Miles: 13:07 1:54:26


Well if you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I have a special affinity towards Lamoille Canyon.  It is a little known canyon just south of Elko.  Locals know it as a great place to hike and fish but outside of Elko County, it gets little attention.

Lamoille Canyon is just a beautiful area though and I look for just about any excuse to go there -- either for a hike or for running.

So it didn't take much thought for me to jump into this year's edition of the Lamoille Canyon Half Marathon.  It is one of my favorite yearly events and it is also one of my favorite races of the year.  Just getting out of town for a long week, running in my favorite canyon and the whole experience just resonates with me.

Race Setup

I took off on Friday afternoon after excusing myself at work at the half way point.  I was on the road by noon and made the hour and 40 minute drive to Wendover. We did a bit of gambling / sports / buffet eating betting before heading into Elko, another 90 minutes from Wendover.  It is a super easy drive and the speed limits are fast.  I thoroughly enjoy the drive and it never gets old for me.

Packet pickup was at the Elko bike shop and I hit rush though and it was a solid 20 minutes to get my bib / shirt and swag bag.  It seemed like everyone decided that around 4 PM was a great time to get their bib.

We did a bit more gambling and relaxing.  We grabbed dinner at JR's Restaurant -- across the street from the Red Lion.  No more buffets before a race for me.

I slept like crap despite a nice room.  I've never slept well before this race -- and it's not because of the hotel -- it's just being in an unfamiliar area.  If I got 4 hours of sleep, I was lucky.

The Race

I was up at 4:15 AM and out the door by 4:45.  I made the 30 minute drive in no time at all and grabbed a great parking spot near the finish line.  Was one of the first to cycle through the bathrooms before jumping on a bus.

I know when taking a bus ride to a race it is super smart to get in the front.  My bladder was overactive and thank goodness I was first off the bus.  There were only about a hundred of us up there but 3 bathrooms.... 

After using the restroom, I did some socializing and did my best to stay warm.  As you can see from the photos there was a decent amount of snow up there and the temperature was in the mid 30's.   As a veteran of the race, I knew what to expect and had the appropriate attire.

The race started promptly at 7.

The first quarter mile is just awful.  You starting off running to the circle at Road's End (elevation around 8800 feet) before turning around.  I always tell myself to take it easy and not stress out about it but running at the elevation and just starting your engine, so to speak, is just plain cruel.

Luckily the pain is short lived and I can get my breath again as the downhill starts.  I had dressed down to shorts / t-shirt and cheap gloves.  I was perfectly fine with this.  And soon enough, from being chilled, I was working up a good lather.

The first few miles flew by.  In a blink of an eye I had blasted out a speedy 5K at just under 10K pace.  Gravity was assisting me as the course progressively gets more downhill.  Although, I felt like my breathing was a bit labored and I summed it up to the elevation.  I simply felt like I wasn't getting enough oxygen.

For the most part, I was within talking distance of someone during the early miles.  As the race went along though, the runners got more dispersed.  But it was nice to have company for the first 6 miles or so.

The canyon had caught fire last year and it was sobering to see all the damage.  The upper areas hadn't really been affected by the fire, but as we descended down the canyon on the service road, I was witness to the damage the fire had caused.

The snow gave way to burned out trees and scrub.  The grass was coming up and some of the trees might survive, but many were charred and leafless.  It was really sad seeing my favorite canyon in somewhat of a ruin.  On the plus side, the rivers and waterfalls were plainly in sight and it was comforting to hear the water splash or roar over the rocks.

I started to come out of my funk midway through the race.  As I descended, I got more oxygen in me and I started to hydrate more at water stops and using some of the hydration I brought for myself.  I toyed with taking in a gel, but really didn't feel the need for it (in hindsight I probably should've used one).

Part of me wanted to keep running in the canyon but part of me was looking forward to getting out.  When I could finally see Elko in the distance, I knew the race's end was coming and to be honest after the quad pounding of nearly 3000 feet of elevation decline, I wanted to give them a break.

Unfortunately, exiting the canyon means that there are rolling hills coming, including some hills that might be easy peasy on fresh legs, but would spell disaster on dead legs.

I knew this was coming and braced myself for it.  I actually felt like I did okay and while my time wasn't too bad on those first couple of hills, it was demoralizing because I was so used to coasting and not having to work on maintaining any sort of pace (this race is hard to have any consistent pace due to its nature).

I wondered how the marathoners -- who started an hour before us -- were fairing on the rolling hills after running all that downhill.  I really don't think my legs would've tolerated that.

The final mile is always the toughest.  There is just nothing left.  My quads were shattered, I was thirsty and the sun was beating down on me.  It wasn't a terribly hot day but the sun just felt intense.  Couple that with the fact that you have to run now and not just coast, it makes the final mile hard.

I kept looking behind me to see if anyone was coming as I fell into a death march pace.  I willed myself to go faster but my legs just felt like lead.  My ego was at play here and I tried but I couldn't muster up anything.  I kept looking at my Garmin.... please.... 

Finally I could see the flags for the entry in Lamoille Grove Park and to be honest, I almost walked the last .1 of a mile.  I was just "done" but with pictures being taken and again with me ego, I pushed and let the crowds bring me in.


I wasn't sure how I did compared to last year.  I seem to recall finishing around 1:53 and figure my 1:54 wasn't too awful.  I later learned I had finished in 1:50.  Talk about a bruise to the old running ego. 

Definitely my slowest race.  Given though that I put on a bit of weight during my running hiatus due to a hamstring pull and the fact that I am just starting to get back to regular training, it wasn't too surprising with my time.

Post race refreshments are always good.  They had chocolate milk, ice cream, fruit, sports drink, and chips.  My stomach was touchy so I kept to the basics.  They also had pancakes.

I know quite a few people in Elko, so it was great catching up and talking to folks who had run the marathon.  Again, I have no idea how anyone has 13 more miles in their legs after blasting down that canyon.  I am not sure there was another mile or two left in me at the end of that race.

I wound up nabbing 3rd in my age group.  Luckily, the guy who normally comes in first (and I get second) was a no show, otherwise I would've been out of the money (so to speak).

The medal is cool.  It isn't anything fancy but it is definitely personalized for the race and commemorates the rebirth of the canyon after the fire of 2018.  They also had a cool Lamoille Canyon t-shirt.

I paid about $60 for the race.  This is the going rate for a half marathon these days and considering all that I received I was satisfied with what I was charged.

Course support was good.  They had gels, fruits, water and sports drink at about every 2 miles starting at mile 3 (the premiums came later in the race).  The mile markers were off and got more off the further the race went.  Fortunately, overall, the race is accurate in overall distance.  Bag drop was also stress free as well.

My race result isn't what I had hoped for.  It makes me sad / angry as this course is fast.  But considering, I've been eeking out about 2 hour half marathons the past 6 months, my result is not surprising.

I will likely do this race again next year.  It just a joy to get out of town and experience the canyon.  I probably would've hung out at the post race awards / festivities a bit longer, but hotel check out time was coming so once awards were over, I headed out.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Riverton Intermountain Hospital 10K Race Recap - Riverton, UT

Official Time: 52:02
Placement: No Official Posting
Results: No Official Posting
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Upper 40's, 10 mph wind from the north
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: New To Me

Mile TimeComments
18:29Fairly moderate start
28:25Have the course figured out.  Upped it up a notch
38:46Not a strong mile. Had some self-doubts
58:40Trying to push a bit more
68:50Was running okay but legs were tired.
Total Miles: 6.03 - 52:02


This past weekend I was looking for a race to do.  There were a bunch in the area and 2 of them were downhill ones.  I am not into downhill racing that much.  The times are often really good but they aren't a true time and in my opinion when you run downhill you are upping your chances of injury.  In addition, I have my one downhill race of the year next weekend.

So when I discovered this little race just south of me, I jumped at the opportunity.

It is hard to find too many races that cost less than $20.  These days most 5K / 10K races are at least $30 (or more).  The pre-registration fee for this one was $15 -- with the service fee I was in at under $17.  For a $10K that's less than $3 a mile.

My expectations were pretty slim as a result but this was the 10th annual race, so I had hopes that at least it would be managed well.

The Race

I rolled in about 45 minutes early.  A lot of the small races can be a mess getting your bib and to avoid long lines I like to get there early.  I was one of the first to show up and I got my bib in a few minutes (about 15 minutes before the race started the line had certainly ballooned up).

About 20 minutes before the race started I ran about half a mile to get loosened up and work my way around the course. I had had a little bit of buyer's remorse on this one as it turned out the 5K would be running 2 laps around the hospital while the 10K runners would run 4(!) times.

The course isn't exactly oozing with sexiness either.  It was just a service road that circles around the hospital.  They had come up with a route that would be about 1.51 miles for each loop.

The course was pancake flat and to be honest it wasn't awful - although by the 3rd lap, I wanted to be done.

The first lap was more or less just working my way into the race.  I started off right on target, nailing an 8:30 pace.  From what I had gathered, about 90% of the field was running the 5K and there were less than 15 or so running the 10K.  As I passed the finish line for the first time I was sort of kicking myself for not signing up for the 5K.

The second time around I was definitely feeling it.  I suddenly just felt tired.  My pace hadn't dropped off that much but it suddenly felt like it was actually work.  I think it was a bit of the doldrums of running the route for a second time.

I did get a little bit of excitement working off some of the slower 5Ks who were just finishing their first lap but the faster 5K-ers had already left me in the dust.

The third lap I knew what I was in for and I got a bit of a second wind.  At this point, the walkers were the only ones left on the course (and a bunch of children / families).  I was trading places with one woman runner and a friend of mine was about 30 seconds ahead of me.  I was desperately trying to catch up to her but she had gotten off to such a good start and I just simply couldn't make any ground on her.

The course was well marshalled and despite all the turns I was never at a loss as to where to go.  It was also nice to see the volunteers multiple times as they cheered me on and encouraged me to finish strong.

The final lap I felt a lot more confident but I still didn't have a lot left.  I greeted many of the volunteers and said I was done.  The course was also significantly more vacant.  This race wasn't a huge race by any means -- maybe 150 tops but at this point 90% of the 5K people had finished.  I kept trying to make up some ground on my friend but the distance had gotten too much.

The final stretch I kept telling myself to push hard.  I could see in the distance the cones where I would turn right and finally finish. I crossed the finish line in just over 52 minutes.  However, in my opinion, the course would've probably been accurate had we touched the finish line each time we ran by it so it appears to be short by just about .15 of a mile.


After crossing the finish line I grabbed some Powerade.  They had a ton of bananas and since most of the runners had already left (again the field was mostly 5K runners) they were giving away their extras.  I grabbed a bunch and spent some time socializing.

I was surprised to get a finisher's medal.  I think I had read that there was one, but I wasn't counting on it.  It was pretty decent -- and again for a $15 race, I didn't have super high hopes for any swag.  (Props: the Swag bag contained a portable phone charger as well!)

They had the standard offerings for finish line food: Gatorade, bananas, oranges, chocolate milk and granola bars.

My expectations for the rest had been exceeded.  I haven't paid $15 for a race in a very long time and I clearly got my money's worth on it.  My gripes are fairly simple though:  the course was pretty dull and there wasn't any course support.  Luckily the air temperature wasn't that warm but near the end it would've been nice to take a sip of something.  Had I known that I probably would've stashed a bottle along the course and taken a quick swallow around lap 2 or 3.

Overall, I ran okay.  Definitely not my greatest race but I ran fairly consistently.  I definitely find that 10Ks work my speed and endurance.  I used to dislike them but now I am finding that they are some of the best "training" races for me.

Again, for a bargain basement race, this was a good experience.  I'd likely do it again if the course was different and this weekend was open in my calendar for next year.