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
88:54Starting to get fatigued.
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


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.


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


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.


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.