Thursday, November 26, 2020

2020 Fall Update

 Current Mileage: 1596 (as of 11/26/2020)

Running Update

Well another summer season has come and gone.  Can I just say that this past summer was the "Summer of Suck"?  Between the oppressive heat, Covid-19, racial tensions, election drama -- it was just a miserable summer, especially for running.  It also hurt that there were very few races.  Fortunately, Utah -- the state where I reside, allowed some races to occur.

This summer had a few positives though.  I stayed healthy -- both physically and mentally and was able to get a full summer of training under my belt. Once the cooler temperatures hit I was able to boost up my long run and my weekly miles:  from the low 30's per week to low 40's.

In addition, with me working from home and very reluctant to eat at restaurants, I've managed to go from just shy of 190 pounds to 172 - 174 pounds.  This has made the biggest difference in my day to day runs.  I just try to eat smart, snack less on junk, and get a walk in after lunch to recharge for the afternoon.

Also, as I write this, I am running about 6 to 7 days a week with a weekly mileage of just over 40 miles per week.

Virtual Races

My last race of the year was (or will be) the Trick or Treat Trot 5K.  I had visions of doing the Bountiful Turkey Trot (which I signed up for) and making a road trip down to Laughlin to do the Laughlin Half Marathon.  

But with Covid numbers increasing rapidly, I haven't felt comfortable going out and doing much of anything.  So as a matter of safety for myself, others, and those I care about I have been resorting to "virtual races" 

Generally speaking, I am not going to pay for a virtual race.  I've got enough t-shirts and medals throughout the years, so that doesn't inspire me.  What does, however, is when they post / rank the results.  

But when an organized sets up a "real" virtual event, make me sign up for it, and then hold me accountable for my time?  You bet, I'll do the hard work and race.

I have found that the Competitor Group's / Rock 'n Roll Group's virtual races work for me:  They have posted workouts and virtual races -- and they are free.  Naturally, they encourage you to buy stuff to celebrate your experience but they do post the results.  And, during their Black Friday event, I did wind up purchasing their Las Vegas bundle, mostly because I have all their other t-shirts from my legacy streak of running the Las Vegas Marathon.

Granted, I am at a distinct disadvantage being that I run at 4300+ feet of elevation versus someone living in Florida or California.  But it is all for bragging rights and I do try to improve my times.  So hopefully forcing myself to run hard, I can come out stronger / faster in spring of 2021.

Recently, I've run a 52:45 10K, 25:15 5K (windy) and blasted through a 1:58:55 half marathon (windy conditions).  I was shocked at the half marathon on account it was windy and to be honest, I didn't set out to run fast.  It just sort of happened.  

These are legit distances using my Garmin, so the courses aren't long or short.  And best of all, they are safe, I get to set the distance, time when I run -- and best of all, they are free.

Mental Challenges from 2020

Another aspect that I haven't written much about is the mental challenges associated with living in 2020, the year of Covid-19.

Since March 16th, I've been working from home.  I've gotten used to it and I don't miss my 15 minute commute, but I do miss seeing my coworkers.  It is one thing to chat via Slack or Zoom but it is quite another to drop by their desk or having face-to-face meetings.

There is also the constant stress of wondering at every sneeze, clearing of the throat or sniffle that I am coming down with something.  Also, the avoidance of everyone at all costs and giving everyone 6 feet of clearance.  When and if this passes, people's attitudes towards illness and being close to people will change.

The other side effect that I am dealing with is that I don't go anywhere -- and if I do -- I am constantly on guard.  How can I minimize contact with people, am I taking too much of a risk?  So since about March, I haven't really done much of any road trips or destination races.

Also there is a lot of nostalgia.  Facebook (and just having a decent memory) makes me recall places I had been a year ago.  For instance, on Thanksgiving weekends in the past, I ran the Bountiful Turkey Trot and then ran off to Wendover and then to Elko Nevada.  This year, I *could* do that but it comes at a high risk; one that I am not comfortable taking.

So right now, my only really fun outlet is the occasional hike and my daily run.  It makes for some monotonous days.

Upcoming Races

Not much upcoming for races.  The race directors, however, are starting to send out specials.  I'll see how many I decide to take advantage of and what the plan is for 2021.

03/27: 2021 Havasu Half Marathon - Havasu, AZ (Confirmed)
04/03: 2021 Eggs Legs Race 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
04/XX: 2021 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
05/15: 2021 Ogden Half Marathon - Ogden, UT (Confirmed)
11/XX: 2021 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Canceled)

Saturday, October 31, 2020

2020 Trick or Trot 5K Race Recap - Centerville, UT

Official Time: 24:19
Placement: 46th overall, 3rd masters.
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 40F,  no significant wind
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: New to me

Mile TimeComments
18:17A long hill after about half a mile.  Took some climbing to get up.
27:46A short climb and then a gentle downhill.  I was cooking here.
38:01Keeping up with the young runners here.  Doing pretty good.
3.030:12Speed to the finish.
Total Miles: 3.03- 24:17


Halloween weekend is always a popular race weekend.  October and running just go together -- well like peanut butter and chocolate.  

This weekend I opted to keep thing simple and do the Trick or Trot 5K Race in Centerville UT.

The other race that was going on this weekend was a much bigger race at twice the cost.  Plus, I had already done the sister race last weekend.  

This race supported the local high school track team, so I could feel good about doing this one and it was a much smaller race, so my risk of getting Covid-19 was probably less risky.

The Race

I rolled into the race site - at the Centerville City Hall, about 45 minutes before race start.  I think I was one of the first to get my bib and shirt.

I wound up running about a mile beforehand to get warmed up.  I felt good and my warm-up didn't feel sluggish at all.

Given that this was supporting high school team, the majority of attendants were high school age.  I think there were only a handful of runners who were old enough to vote...

The race started at 8:30 and I was about 15 - 20 yards back from the starting line.  Most of the skinny high school kids were toeing the line.  I knew I wasn't going to be able to hang with them for very long.

Sure enough the race started and the lead pack was gone in an instant, running sub 6 minute miles.  I had eyed my competition (I had presumed ten year age increments but anyone over 30 was in a collective group).  At the start, those in my group got a good jump on me and I figured I'd be lucky to reel them in.  Fortunately, I did... but it took nearly a mile...

The race started off near city hall and went south and then took a quick right turn down to Main Street.  Pretty much the entire race was right turns.  I was a little worried about navigating my way through this race.  There wasn't anything online about it and Centerville can be hilly.

About half mile into the race, we came to the first climb.  I was warned this was here and it wasn't a crazy uphill, but it was enough to take my fast pace and turn it into an ordinary pace.  

Finally after ascending the hill, we headed south.  There was a bit more of a climb here.  The area seemed familiar to me.  I didn't think I had ever run in Centerville before, but it turns out that the Handcart Half Marathon goes down that way.  Normally, I'd be dying at this point (about mile 9 or so) but in a 5K, I still had plenty in the tank.

I had totally missed my split for mile 1, but I felt like it was fast.  I hit mile 2 in 7:45.  Anytime I see a 7 for my mile split, I know I am having a good race.  I still felt solid as I kept working on passing a few other runners (who had definitely thinned out at this point).

Usually mile 2 through 3 is where the wheels come off in my race.  But I think running with young adults a third of my age definitely stoked my competitive edge.  

I kept glancing at my watch.  We were running along Main Street and occasionally I jumped on the sidewalk if traffic or other runners were blocking me.  Having never run the course before, I wondered if the race was going to be short -- or long.  But I spied the orange cones in the distance for the final 2 turns and I knew the course was going to be a legit 5K.

The last quarter mile I was really hurting, but I pushed it anyways.  No one was behind me but I was working with 3 other teens and I wanted to make a good showing for us masters runners.  Unfortunately 2 of them pulled past me, but I managed to beat one of them -- who turned out to be one of the 5 zombies one was supposed to beat.


I was really pleased with my time.  Anytime I can go sub 25 minutes I am tickled.  But going sub 24:30 -- even better.

I did get some reports that the race was a legit 5K.  However, I think a lot of the race was  measured from running on the street.  Us middle of the packers had run parts of it on the sidewalk, which probably cut a bit of distance from it (also there was some traffic that made it a bit difficult or unsafe to run on the street).

Running the .07 extra, my time would probably be around 24:45 or so.

Post race refreshments included water.  This was a budget race with the proceeds going to the track team I wasn't expecting much. It would've been nice to have some bananas around.  There were two aid stations powered by candy and ... water.

I paid $20 for the race.  So a bargain.  I got a shirt as well.  An interesting Halloween one, but cotton, so likely to see light use.  I did pick up a tech shirt for $5 in their clothing sale.  

I didn't stick around for awards.  They had a kid race going on and it was taking a while.  As I write this, I don't know how I finished. But given that the majority of the race was run by local area high school track / cross country runners, I know I did well in my age group, but not terribly well over all.

So I came away with this race feeling really good.  With Covid-19 really in full swing right now, I am having less confidence that races are a good decision.  Other than a Thanksgiving Day race, this may be it.  So I am happy to more or less wrap my 2020 race season with this race.

Monday, October 26, 2020

2020 Haunted Half Marathon (5K) Race Recap - Salt Lake City, UT

Official Time: 25:15
Placement: 2nd in age group, 43rd overall, 35th male
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 40F,  less than 5 mph wind
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: New to me

Mile TimeComments
17:34Very good start. Shocker!
29:32Hill from hell.  Not fun here. I expected hills but not this bad.
38:08Legs felt like Jello but overall not a bad finish.
Total Miles: 3.0- 25:17


With Covid-19 still hovering around the area, races are semi-far and few between.  Instead of a multitude of races each weekend, there is generally only one or two.  

I think under some encouragement and looking for something to do, I opted to jump into the Haunted Half Marathon 5K.  I got the same awesome medal as the half marathon at a quarter of the distance (and about half the price) and I didn't have to expose myself to a bus ride.  I knew this race was going to be a fairly large event but so far I have done well reducing my exposure.

I have run this race's sister -- in Provo back in 2015.  Runtastic, the organizer, can be counted upon to pull off a big event, with high-end swag and a fun race.  

So I signed up for the Salt Lake edition of the race and decided to give this race a go.

The Race

I had a friend pick up my bib the day before the race, so race morning was pretty easy: just find a spot to park (at the Hogle Zoo), warm-up and race.

It was a brisk day but not cold enough where I felt I needed to wear anything special.  I did throw on some cheap gloves and doubled up on my shirt, though.  That was more than enough.

My warm-up went well and I felt like I was ready to have a good race.  

The area in which the race was being held is hilly.  I had sort of looked at the course the night before and saw that the first mile would be slightly downhill, followed by several good climbs on mile 2 before a gentle coast down to the finish.  

Around 8:30, we assembled at the start and to greet us was a hill (see above picture).  I had no idea what lay beyond that hill, but I knew I had to be warmed up and ready to get up to the top of that if I wanted a decent race time.

I started about 15 seconds back and off to the side in order to avoid as many people as I could at the congested start.  There wasn't a staggered start but merely, a ready-set-go.  

I jumped in and quickly got off to the side as I made my way up the hill.  There were a lot of folks who probably shouldn't have gone to the front of the race, but the hill quickly sorted out the runners from the participants.  

When I reached the top of the hill, I was gassed.  I glanced down at my Garmin -- about .25 of a mile into the race and oh my gosh, I just wanted to catch my breath.  Had I already ruined my race?

Fortunately, after summiting the hill, the race indeed go downhill.  I gathered some strength and started to pass people left and right.  I felt great.   I was shocked -- no stunned to see mile 1 come up so quickly and at a 7:34.  Did I really have a shot at a "really" good time?

I felt a little gassed after hitting the next quarter mile but still felt good -- until we rounded a corner and there was the dreaded hill.  It was nothing but up up up. 

My blistering pace came to a crashing halt.  Others around me started walking and I was tempted to do so as well -- but this was a 5K.  No time to waste!

I was enjoying the street race.  We were running through a mature neighborhood with some very well-to-do houses.  I was wondering what they thought of us all running through their neighborhood.  I was in the top 50 or so, but there were hundreds behind me.

I managed to keep my form up as I ascended the hill from hell and got to a flat part.  That should do it, I thought to myself. How much harder could it get?

Just as I was working up a full head of steam again, we turned on another corner and lo and behold -- another hill.  This one seemed less steep but just as long.  I mumbled under my breath to the guy running next to me... what the heck.  He just laughed -- he was just as gassed as I was.

Mile 2 chirped on my watch and I looked at it with dread. 9:30.  I half expected to see that split on my watch but seeing it for a 5K... yuck.  There was close to 180 feet of climb though, according to my Garmin.

Mile 3 - I was in the home stretch.  The mile markers had been slightly off so part of me was wondering if the course was short... like .1 of a mile short.  I had surmounted all the hills and now I had the gentle decline -- only to be interrupted with the occasional roller of a hill.  But my legs felt like Jello and I had a growing nausea boiling in my stomach.

Finally, we turned yet another corner and I was greeted with the hill I had climbed at the start of the race.  Sweet donwhill!

I scanned behind me and I didn't see many people that looked like they were in my age group.  You just never know though.  Some of the folks who were half my age flew by me, but I didn't see anyone in their 50s.  Maybe I'd have a shot at a coveted age group award.

I turned the corner and ran through a black tunnel with hanging "cob webs"  Not sure I would want to be in that tunnel in this Covid era, but that was the course...  Fortunately it was short lived and I burst through the other end to round my final corner and cross under the finish line.

The finish line


I wasn't too surprised to see 25 minutes and change on my Garmin -- despite the short 3 mile course (versus a regulation 3.1 mile course).  This course was hard!  And people were talking about it.  It's not that I wouldn't run it again, but it was probably one of the hardest 5Ks I've done in a while.

I was greeted at the finish line with a medal and typical post race refreshments: Powerade, bottled water, bananas, oranges and ubiquitous Halloween candy.  There was food for purchase by some food trucks as well.

They also had some Mexican entertainment for the Day of the Dead celebrations.  Many people were dressed in costumes as well, which made it fun to see who dressed up as what.

They had a booth to get your results and I was pleased to earn 2nd place in my age group.  Double medal day.

And let's talk about the medals:  they were awesome.  Heavy duty and uniquely designed... everyone was oohing and ahhing over them.  I am not a major medal freak but these were definitely worth getting excited about.

The swag bag was also stocked full of fliers and product samples.  I like the tech shirt and it was high quality.  Just wish the name of the race (and distances) were a bit more prominent.

This race was a blast.  Covid-19 definitely put a damper on it though.  With sky-rocketing numbers, I just didn't feel comfortable.  Most people wore masks before and after the race, but there were just a LOT of people.  

I suspect the race might've measured a bit longer and been an official 3.10.  However, I think a lot of folks probably ran the tangents too well and my Garmin probably didn't pick up my distance while I was in the black tunnel.  People (including myself) were definitely running strategically on the road by rounding the corners.

Overall, my performance was decent.  It is hard to say with any certainty how I would've run given an official 5K and on a flat course, but I felt really good most of the time.  My weight loss is paying dividends and my distance and speed work is also helping.

This race wasn't cheap.  $40 for a 5K is on the high-end.  If I had registered earlier, it would've been far cheaper, but I was late to the party.  Overall though, I got a great and fun experience.  I came into the race thinking this might be it for 2020 as far as racing goes, and left asking myself when the next one is.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

2020 Antelope Island 10K Race Recap - Syrase, UT

Official Time: 53:06
Placement: 2nd in the 50-59, 17th overall
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 57F, sunny, 10 mph wind from the east
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2018] [2015] [2013] [2012 (Full marathon)]

Mile TimeComments
18:31Hit immediately by a hill. Ouch!
28:40Fairly flat and then some downhill
39:13Slow grind to the turn around slowly climbing
48:13Get to go down the hill. Fun mile here
58:57Now have to re-ascend the downhill from mile 2.  Oof!
68:50Last quarter mile was a fast downhill, but I was just so dead
6.090:38Go all out towards the finish
Total Miles: 6.09 - 53:05


Races are at a minimum this year, thanks mostly in part to Covid-19.  Fortunately, the state of Utah does have some races and this past weekend I opted to do the Antelope Island 10K.  

Antelope Island is an island just north west of Salt Lake City and is a state park.  It is very popular with cyclists and site seers.  There are some hikes as well as nature walks in the area.  Generally it is a very popular place to go with some incredible views.  It is also home to a herd of buffalo, so one must take caution when visiting the island -- as encounters with them are real and potentially dangerous.

I've done various editions of the Antelope Island races.  It was the site of my first full marathon in Utah and I've done the half a few times.  The past few years I've stuck with doing the shorter distance races.  I just haven't felt prepared to do anything longer than a 10K.  In years past it was known as the Layton Marathon.  When it moved to be run on the island entirely, it switched names and is now called Antelope Island Marathon.

This year's race started in yet another location -- the west side of the island.  I hadn't really been to this side of the island, let alone run on it, so part of the route would be entirely new to me.

The Race

I arrived just after 8:15 AM for the 9 AM start.  Packet pickup was purposely staggered and it easy to get my bib, use the facilities (and send off the half marathoners).

It gave me plenty of time to do a shake out run and get a layout of the area.  One thing that made me realize that this was going to be a hilly race was that immediately after starting we would have to ascend up a hill -- that just looked daunting (it turned out to be slightly longer than a quarter mile).  I definitely wanted to be warmed up and ready to run when the race started.

The race started at 9 AM but with Covid restrictions, we were started in cycles of about 10 seconds.  So we lined up roughly to pace, and the race director would send off a runner.  The next person would walk up, they would record your number and off you'd go. 

I had warmed up pretty well and I surprised myself by taking on the first hill fairly aggressively.  I wound up passing a couple of runners in the immediate minutes of the race.  

The hill was short lived fortunately and I tucked the knowledge that I'd have a cruise to the finish experience on the way back (the course was out and back).

The race leveled out for a while and I hit a decent pace and felt very comfortable running.  I hit the first mile comfortably at 8:30, which was better than I figured.

Mile 2 was nice in that I got a nice, long downhill.  Part of me was worried though on account that I would have to come back up that hill at mile 5.  Usually by mile 4.5 I just want the race to be over.  But I went with it 

Mile 3 seemed like the longest.  We were now running on the main drag of the island and it was a climb that never seemed to end.  While it wasn't like the first hill, this one was just a solid grade up.  Some of the leaders of the half marathon, marathon and 10K were already coming back.  It was disheartening to see them running downhill while I was doing my best to reach the summit.

Finally I hit the turn around. I glanced down at my Garmin and saw that the course was likely going to come up short: about 3:05 miles instead of the requisite 3.10.

It was a joy to run down the hill that had taken a lot out of me and it was also energizing to get some cheers and hellos from people who were trailing me.  I knocked off one of my fastest miles as a result -- my only wish was that the rest of the race was going to be like this.

Unfortunately as soon as I turned the corner to hit the last 5K back, I hit a stone wall.  The hill that I had taken advantage of at mile 2-ish was staring me in the face.  And it seemed so daunting.

The next mile and a half or so were a blur.  I was hurting bad.  My legs felt like Jello and I couldn't wait for the finish.  I felt like by pace would hit around 10 minutes per mile, but I am happy to report that it wasn't that bad -- it just felt that bad.

Finally, the blessed downhill and finish line came into view.  The finish line and people milling about looked so tiny from my vantage point.  I looked behind me, and I couldn't really tell who was in my race (was the guy on my tail in the half or was he running the 10K).  Either way, I gave it all I got.

My legs don't really move as fast as they used to.  I have plenty of endurance, but my turnover isn't that great and the (much) younger guy flew by me in the closing seconds.  I don't think he was in my race let alone my age group but still -- it is a race... and I have my pride.


I crossed the finish line in a somewhat disappointing 53 minutes.  But if I take into account the hills that I had to conquer, it wasn't that bad of a race.  My Garmin is reporting about 380 feet of elevation gain throughout the 6 miles (including 380 downhill).

I really love the island and half the reason why I do this race is I get a chance to drive around and snap some pictures.  Most of the pictures from this race recap are post race pictures and not of the course.  However, a lot of the course does visit the spots I photographed.  

I wound up taking second place in my age group.  I could've walked the entire thing and gotten the same result.  There were only 2 of us in the 50 - 54 age group.  

The medal was definitely more impressive than years past.  It was heavy and beautifully designed.  The shirt had a nice design as well but it was the cotton / polyester blend, which I am not a fan of (I like 100% polyester).  Still the race shirt will work for short runs or knocking around on the weekends.

I was handed a bag with my finisher's medal and some snacks.  There was bottled water to drink.  As usual for On Hill Events there was a cooler filled with ice cream sandwiches.  Definitely a crowd pleasure and they taste great after a hard run.

I walked off my nausea and socialized a bit.  Awards are no longer a ceremony but you more or less get in line and they give you your award, if you've won one.  Much quicker and easier but with less fanfare and excitement.  I managed to safely socialize for a bit while wearing my mask before taking a drive around the island.

Overall, I ran fairly well.  I have nothing really to compare it to.  This course was brand new for me so I can't say I would've run faster in years past.  I did run a 51:09 in 2018 but the course was definitely easier than this one.  

The views on this race were great; hopefully it is evidenced with the photos I've attached.  It was an awesome Saturday morning and while the island had plenty of guests on it, it wasn't that crowded.  I did get to see some buffalo as well (including one that was a little too close to the race course during the race).

I paid about $40 for the race about a week or two before registration ended. Given I registered late in the game, it was an okay price to pay.  Fortunately, I had a coupon to help knock down the price.  But the price was fairly standard for a late registration 10K.  Plus, my bib worked as a free park pass.

If this race is around next year and I have an open slot in my calendar, I would definitely run this one again.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

2020 Witch Run 5K Race Recap - West Jordan, UT

Official Time: 25:09
Placement: 2nd in age group, 18th overall
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 70F, 15 mph wind from the north / north west
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2018] [2019]

Mile TimeComments
18:05Off to a decent start. Had tired legs so was happy with the first mile
27:54Wow, I rarely run a faster mile 2 than mile 1.  Where did this come from?
38:03Hurting at this point, but an 8:03? No way
3.151:06Cruise to the finish.
Total Miles: 3.15- 25:09


Each year around late September, I do the Witch Run, held at an eclectic shopping area called Gardner Village in West Jordan UT.  It is a super convenient race being that it is a mere 3 miles from my house.  

What makes this race fun, however, is that it is held at night and the temperatures wind up being significantly cooler.  I don't necessarily run well at night, but it makes for a change of pace and after the race there is a festive atmosphere.  This race is usually well attended too by the casual runner.

However, with Covid rearing it's ugly head, this race -- which was going to introduce a half marathon and 10K (and an earlier start time) it was reduced to a 5K -- with the earlier start time.  I had originally signed up for the 10K (way back in 2019) but was okay with the distance change.

The Race

I arrived at the race well before my 5 PM start.  I had picked up my bib the day before so it gave me ample time to find a good parking spot, get a few additional photos of the starting area and time to warm up.

It was warm and I had done a pretty aggressive hike the day before, so I was feeling sore in a lot of different areas.  My warm-up went well but it was absolutely minimal.  I honestly expected this race to be a lackluster performance.  I just wasn't feeling speedy at all.

The race got off to a slightly later start (approximately 5:05).  Before the race we had estimated our finish times and so we roughly lined up (6 feet apart) in that order.  There was about 15 seconds of intervals between each runner, so at least we started off at relatively the same pace.

The first mile involves a lot of turns and going under a street via a rickety part of the bike trail.  The Jordan River Trail people have installed some bouncy plywood that makes it a little awkward to run over.  Fortunately, it is pretty short lived but the first quarter of a mile is always tough.  You want to get going but you are changing directions quite a bit.  I also had caught the guy who started before me (and I suspected he might be in my age group too).

Once I got into the groove, I felt like I was holding a decent pace.  As I was running, however, I was trying to figure out which way the wind was blowing.  I thought it was coming from the west, which would mean virtually no impact on the run (since it was primarily a north / south race).  

It was great running weather and I felt in control during the first mile as I zipped along the bike trail.  I was passed by 2 people, but whom I would trail for most of the race.

Typical stretch of bike trail, but not part of the race.

I was so busy running I really didn't pay too much attention to my first mile split but I knew I was running pretty quickly and the soreness from yesterday's hike: it was gone.  But could I hold this pace?  I really wasn't sure.

The course is an out-and-back along a standard issue paved bike trail, which I have run many times for this course's 5K (it was one of my first 5Ks when I moved here in 2012) so I had a great deal of confidence in how far I had to run and exactly where the turn around was.

Sure enough, around the corner I hit the turn around, still feeling pretty good (the trail actually dead ends here).  I circled the cone feeling like I am going to have a really great race, only to get hit by the wind.  Every runner's nightmare....   I figured the wind would be short lived on account that I was running slightly west -- but no, it was more or less in my face for the rest of the race.

I tried tucking in behind the second place girl but to no avail.  I'd get close and she'd pull ahead.  Obviously, she was out to beat me. 

It was great getting shouts of encouragement.  Over a 150 runners and walkers of all abilities were working the same bike trail I was.  My name was called out a few times and I waved or gasped a cheer to others I knew.  While probably not terribly Covid safe, it was nice to see everyone.

The final mile is usually where I fail.  Again, I totally missed the Garmin alert for mile 2 but I glanced at my watch shortly afterwards and realized I was running pretty close to 8 min / mile.  

I dug deep and I knew my form was sloppy.  I was hurting but I was on target for a decent race after all.  And I knew this was a legit 5K -- it definitely is not a short course.

I wound up catching another runner who might've been in my age group about 15 seconds before the end of the race (I suspect he may have beat me though with the delayed time).

I wound up crossing under the Halloween themed arch in a hair over 25 minutes for a 3.15 mile course.


After crossing the finish line I looked at my watch.  I was disappointed to see a 25 minutes on the screen.  But the overall distance was 3.15 miles, translating to a "true" 3.10 mile race, it winds up being about a 24:43.  

The last few years I've been hitting well over 25:30, so this was a breakthrough -- mostly because I am about 15 pounds lighter than last year.

I was handed my medal and some treats in a bag and a bottle of water.  I waited about 5 minutes before seeing if I had placed.  I wound up taking second place in my age group, which sort of shocked me.  While I had seen some runners who looked like they were in my age group I didn't see any of them ahead of me in the race.  I suppose that's the drawback of a staggered start.

I paid $25 for the race during a Thanksgiving / Christmas special.  I was happy with the amount paid and had a good time at the race.  Given the festive nature of the race, I really had a good time and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite annual races.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

2020 Rock the Canyon 10K Race Recap - Provo UT

Official Time: 55:12
Placement: 3rd in the 50 - 59, 35th overall, 23rd male out of 100 runners
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 50 degrees, no wind
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2019]

Mile TimeComments
110:11Killer start. Up a service drive and then nothing but up for about half a mile.
28:18Once I recovered I had 160 feet of downhill. If only the rest of the course was like this
310:04Now over 200 feet of climbing.
49:07Mostly flat here. Did some small up hill and down that are not covered on the Garmin
58:38    Gentle downhill back to the start
68.21Mostly downhill here but was pretty gassed to take advantage of it.
6.080.33Crawl to the finish (Video here)
Total Miles: 6:08 - 55:15

Sample hill we had to run


Last year, I ran the second edition of the Rock the Canyon 10K, at the base of the Wasatch Mountains in Provo, Utah.  The race struck a cord with me and while it certainly wasn't my best race, it was definitely a challenge.  In short, this race has some serious hills.

Last year's race took us from the east side of town to running by BYU (west side) and then coming back up to the east side.  The first few miles were fast, then flat and finally all uphill in the final miles.

This year had some changes.  Instead of running west (primarily) we went north.  Very little of this year's race was identical to last year's.  So it was yet another way to explore Provo and see the sights, and most importantly get out of the house for a t-shirt, finisher's medal and bananas!

Hiking area to Rock Canyon on the left

The Race

I rolled into the race site, at Rock Canyon Park, at about 6:45 AM for a 7:30 AM start.  Packet pick up was subdued and of course socially distanced and with masks.  I snagged my goodie bag and t-shirt and bib and warmed up.  Despite our warm summer, it was a chilly -- almost perfect morning for a run.  

The race assembled at 7:30 and I lined up in the back.  Being that it was chip timed and Covid-19 a real threat, I figured I'd have the same strategy as the last week's Pun Run: let everyone start off and I'll chase everyone down.

Run the upper bank before dropping to the finish line.

Last year there were some very serious (i.e. fast) runners at the race.  This race's attendance was significantly down from last year, but there were still plenty of speedy runners and I watched them put some serious distance between myself and the rest of the pack.

The first half mile was brutal.  "What did I sign up for?" kept echoing in my head.  We had to run up a quick service drive, then flat and then up another hilly service road which led us to a dirt trail.  Normally my first mile is the fastest -- this one, not so much.  It was humbling.

Once I got onto the dirt trail, however, my breathing settled down and I was able to pass some of the runners.  It was time to make up a little bit of time.

We had put up a bit of a climb and we were treated to some beautiful views of Utah Lake and the Provo Valley from the trail vantage point.  This is why I came to run, I told myself.

Mile 2 got us on a sweet downhill.  I had settled into a decent pace at this point and while I knew there were hills to come, I used a little extra energy to take advantage of easy running.

The course was well marked with cones.  There weren't a lot of volunteers on the course but there were ample cones and road dots to indicate where to go.  I was worried about not finding my way around given the thin number of runners and my lack of familiarity with the area but I was never hurting on where to run next.

The course, other than a stretch on the trail, was primarily on surface streets surrounded by million dollar houses.  It was such a treat and the scenery was so pleasant.  There also wasn't much traffic so despite the rolling hills, it was fun to run.

The middle miles were fairly flat and while my legs were pretty spent as a result of running two previous 10Ks in a week, so I didn't have quite the get-up and go I was hoping for.  I was trying to chase down a few women in front of me and I couldn't see anyone chasing me down, so the urgency to really push it wasn't there.

One very interesting part of the course was the turn around.  We reached a point and then turned around and ran into a tennis court area.  The issue was that we were at the top of a hill and you took a series of paved switchbacks to the tennis course and then ran around the tennis court and then climbed back out!  My legs felt like Jello on the way back up.  

The final mile and a half were flat or downhill.  My pace which had been lackluster suddenly picked up.  I know I wasn't going to get a PR on this race, but I wanted to beat last year's time -- even though this course was entirely different from that one.  

Finally the park came into view and last year we simply entered the park and ended.  This year, however, we had to run a lap around the park and then drop down into the park and finish  The woman I had been chasing had pulled ahead of me and try as I might I wouldn't be able to catch them.

I cautiously looked behind me and there was a runner, about my age, a hundred yards behind me.  He was moving in quick.  Part of me knew he had me and he was no where near me when the race started (it was chip timed) and likely started behind me.  But I was going to give it a shot to not let him pass me.

I tried to get my legs to go faster but I couldn't go any faster. My legs were rubbery and I just wanted to be done.  I almost wanted to weep when the runner passed by me with 50 yards to go.  Hopefully he wouldn't cut me out of an age group award.

I crossed under the finish line in a hair over 55 minutes.  Definitely faster than the high 56 minutes from last year.  I was wiped out but I was thrilled to have taken time off last year's time and conquered the canyon.


After the race, I wound up walking off the haziness and stepped aside to recover.  I had a small flask of water I had carried, that I sipped from now that the race was over.  Since Covid has begun, I have been bypassing the water stations.  Just out of an abundance of caution for myself and the volunteers.

I wasn't dehydrated by any means given the cooler temperature, but once I felt up to it, I went to the relief area and grabbed some cheese sticks, chocolate milk, and a pair of bananas.  They had a pretty nice spread of snacks but it wasn't quite the same without the pancakes.  Once again, another victim of Covid.

Once again, I was pretty happy with my performance and it would appear I won my age group in the 50 - 54 age group, but 3rd in the 50 - 59.  Either way, an age group award (just need to pick it up down in Provo).

This race was well organized.  There were volunteers at the age stations and at tricky locations throughout the course.  Despite all the turns, I never felt lost or unsure where to go.

The course did appear short however.  I am okay with that though.  This isn't really a PR-worthy course so I was there just to get out and run.

The medal was ho hum but to be expected.  They upgraded the t-shirt from a cotton one to a technical one, so I'll definitely wear it for other runs.  I paid about $40 for the race (about 3 weeks from race date) and I felt like I had gotten a good bargain.

I enjoyed my time and was one of the last to leave.  I was totally tempted to re-run sections of the course to get some pictures of the hills and views.  

This race will certainly come up for me again to run next year and if my calendar is clear, I'll definitely be there.