Saturday, February 29, 2020

Mesquite Nevada Trail System


I discovered the Mesquite Foothills about a year ago while looking for hiking in the area. I didn't want anything too crazy, as Mesquite and the surrounding desert area can be fairly remote.

The Foothills trail is a bit of a picnic area followed by about a mile or so of trails.  It is fairly popular with the locals.  There is a bathroom located at the site as well as benches and a covered area for a picnic.

The trail meanders and there are signs guiding you, but it is easy to just sort of blaze your own trail.  And after about a mile, the main trail just abruptly ends.  It does allow you to scramble a bit further where it ends in a dead end where apparently a car that fall off the surrounding mesa crashed.

You can also return to the main road (Lower Flat Top Drive) at various points too.

After the Sun Half Marathon I decided to hope on over and get in a quick walk.  I had done the city trail plenty of times and had often looked at the ATVs ascending a dirt road above me towards the buttes that dot the city's landscape.

Finally, I decided I'd hoof it up the dirt road and see what was up there.  It would've been much easier with a vehicle but within a mile  I had reached the top (and there were a few other hikers who had made the walk).  Incidentally, the parking lot for this trail is located a few hundred yards south of the entrance to the Foothills parking lot.

If you really love the desert, you will love exploring at the top of the mesas.  The trail is very well defined but it is definitely not one you want to do in the dead of summer.  There is no shelter and no water.

For a February day in the upper 50's, it was fun poking around and looking at giant crevices in the earth and cactus.  There is also plenty of cresote and desert brush up there.

This trail was also highly runnable, once you got to the top.  In fact, if I hadn't just eaten and had a pair of shorts on me I would've done some running up there.

Here are some photos of the city trail and the trail above the city trail:

View of Mesquite from the city trail

Another view of a giant rift

I don't think these are wild horses

More trails exist going south

The hill you will have to climb to get to the top of the ATV trail

This Month in Running - February 2020

Miles Run: 245

Running Update

So far this year, the running has been hit and miss.  I've been managing about 30 miles per week.  However, early in January while running a routine 11 mile run, my hamstring tightened up.  It wasn't as bad last last year's full-on pulled muscle, but it hurt.  I shuffled home the final 2 miles.

Unfortunately, this sidelined me for the Phoenix Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon.  I did make it down to Phoenix and I had hopes that things would come together and I could get through it, but I went for a 4 mile shake out run the Friday before the race and it was a no-go within 2 miles.  I had a lot of consternation over whether to just limp through, but I opted to play it safe and not do it.  It always hurts to miss out on a race, but I have no regrets and I absolutely did the right thing.

It took about 2 weeks for me to feel close to 100%.  Fortunately I could still walk and I aggressively treated it with foam rolling, walking, and cherry juice (which is apparently a nature anti-inflammatory).

I am still logging miles on the bike trail most every day.  The Salt Lake Valley hasn't had that much snow this winter, so the trail conditions continue to be pretty decent.  In fact, this winter has been the best for running in terms of air quality and trail conditions that I can remember.

So right now I am playing it conservatively as far as training goes.  I still have a bit of a hamstring issue (I managed to get rid of the runner's knee) but I haven't really done any dedicated speed workouts on account that does aggravate things.

I am also playing it somewhat cautiously with my upcoming racing schedule.  I have two destination races, and while I can cancel them and get off relatively pain free, the destination races are almost always the most fun, so I'd like to be healthy for those.

Still no marathon training.  The injury has sidelined me from really putting in the serious mileage, so right now I am maintaining what I have and if the motivation strikes, maybe I'll ramp up for one, but right now I am content to just leave it be.

Upcoming Races

03/07: 2020 March Madness Race 10K - West Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
03/14: 2020 St Patrick's Day Half Marathon / 6 Tunnels Half Marathon- Boulder City, NV (Confirmed)
03/28: 2020 Riverton Half Marathon - Riverton, UT (Maybe)
04/04: 2020 Havasu Half Marathon - Havasu, AZ (Confirmed)
04/11: 2020 Eggs Legs Race 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
04/18: 2020 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
04/25: 2020 Summerlin Half Marathon - Summerlin, NV (Maybe)
05/02: 2020 May the Fourth Race - Farmington, UT (Maybe)
05/03: 2020 Reno Half Marathon - Reno, NV (Maybe)
05/16: 2020 Ogden Half Marathon - Ogden, UT (Confirmed)
06/20: Lamoille Canyon Half Marathon - Lamoille, NV (Probable)
07/04: Fourth of July Spring Creek 5K - Spring Creek, NV (Probable)
07/24: 2020 Alien Midnight 10K - Farmington, UT (Confirmed)
08/01: Ruby Mountain Relay - Lamoille, NV (Confirmed)
08/15: 2020 PC2PG Race 10K - Lindon, UT (Confirmed)
09/26: 2020 Witch Run 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
10/10: 2020 Antelope Island Race - Syracuse, UT (Maybe)
11/07: 2020 Snow Canyon Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)
11/15: 2020 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)

Monday, February 24, 2020

2020 Salt Lake Track Club 15K Race Recap - Magna, UT

Official Time: 1:22:13
Placement: 122nd overall, 8th in the 50 - 54, 83rd male
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 30's, sunny.
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2015]

Mile TimeComments
18:30Solid start, but probably going out too fast
38:34Consistent start -- if I can just hold it
48:35The turn around can't come soon enough.
58:48Finally the turn around. Race is half over but I am pretty gassed
69:03For a flat course, this felt like a slow grind up hill.
79:12Come on finish line
99:07Mentally trying to run faster but legs weren't responding
Total Miles: 9:32 - 1:22:15


Well, another Saturday, another race.  

The pickings are usually pretty slim for February races.  The weather is fairly unpredictable in Utah.  You could have perfect weather or a chance snow storm come in.

This year, we had pleasant weather and it was completely dry.  So I decided to get in a bit of a speed workout by doing the Salt Lake Track Club's 15K race.  This is a 100% certified course that is flat and also doubles (I think) as the State Championship race for the 15K distance.

To say there were a few fast runners would be an understatement (the winning time was in the 48 range).

I wasn't expecting much from myself on this race other than to see how far off I was from when I ran this in 2015, which seems like another lifetime ago, and to get a bit of faster running in.  The 15K is actually a pretty nice distance.  It is far enough where it tests your endurance, but doesn't wear you down like a half marathon does.

So I sort of went after this race as if I was running a half marathon, but I could be a little more aggressive with the pacing.

The Race

The race started at 9 AM and I rolled in just after 8 AM.  The race was held at the SaltAir Pavilion, which is a venerable site in Utah, having survived floods.  It is an older building and judging from the interior, some of the original stuff probably remains.

Today is serves as an event venue and a concert hall.  It is on the shore of the Salt Lake (about a half mile removed).  They have clean toilets and a place to stay warm, which was a nice bonus.

I was able to quickly grab my bib and shirt and I laced up and sat in my car for about 15 minutes before beginning about a mile warm-up.  My hamstring hadn't been bothering me and I felt good, although last week's half marathon was still weighing on me a bit.

The weather was cool -- perfect for running actually.  I had originally come wearing two shirts, but I dropped done to one.  I was in shorts and throw away gloves (which I pocketed after about a mile).  I also had sunglasses, as the early morning sunrise was a bit bright.

The race started on time and I was off and running.  I knew I didn't have much of a chance to win anything.  I hadn't done the 5K nor the 10K in the series but I was still trying to do myself proud.  I had looked my results from 2015 and I had hit a 7:45 mile for the first mile.  My training is nowhere near that but I was a bit surprised at hitting an 8:30 for the first mile.

I felt good but I knew that was a little fast.  I tried to solace myself that this was only a "15K" and even if I went out a little too fast I wouldn't pay too dearly.

The first 3 miles I hit at super even splits.  I felt really good, although I was breathing a little harder than I should've.  There were about 450 runners and I was never by myself for the first half of the race.  Also, little did I know, that the first half had a slight downhill.  The surface of the earth is very flat in that area and while there was only about 25 feet of elevation gain / loss in the race, the first half definitely felt fast.

At about mile 3.5 I knew I had gone out too fast.  I intentionally slowed down a bit as I hit the first water stop and swished a bit of cold water in my mouth.  My competitive spirit was still strong though I only slowed down a whopping 6 seconds.  By the time my Garmin chirped that I had reached 4 miles, I was begging to reach the turn around.

The course is run on a frontage road that hugs the I-80 freeway.  Occasionally a semi would drive by honking its horn.  To my left was the Great Salt Lake, not a very impressive site given how far away it was as well as Antelope Island.  It isn't exactly an exotic race course, but again, it was closed to traffic and I could concentrate on running.

I almost wanted to hit my knees when I reached the turn around point.  Thank Goodness!  

When I turned around, though, there was a bit of wind (not much) and the course on the way back just looked uphill.  Again, this course measures fairly flat but it was like a whole new course.  Who put this hill here and why didn't I get to run down it?  Even a runner next to commented on it.

By the time I hit the 10K part I was willing myself forward.  I was pretty gassed and I kept telling myself that any second now I'd pick it up and crush a fast final 5K.  In some ways I felt like I was running faster than what I was actually running and at other times, I felt like I was running in quick sand.

Finally at mile 7.5 or so I could see the SaltAir in the distance.  Why did it seem so far away?  I could also see the freeway signs saying the exit to the SaltAir was in a mile.  So close yet so far away.

Fortunately, the number of other runners around me had dwindled.  I wasn't really picking off to many other runners and in contrast, only a few shambled by me.  I had gotten some positive vibes in the middle of the race from runners who were still heading out (kind of makes you feel like an elite runner) but at this point it was fairly lonely running.

Finally, the finish line came into view and according to my Garmin, it measured 100% spot on.  Awesome!  


The post race area had water and Gatorade.  It wasn't a terribly hot day so I didn't need a lot, but it felt good to actually swallow hydration rather than rinse my mouth out (which I have a tendency to do during a race).  I actually felt really good at the end.

My hamstring had bothered me a time or two, but for the most part I felt rock solid.  It certainly wasn't a death march and despite going out pretty fast I more or less hit the average time I was shooting for (about 8:45).

I sauntered back to my car and put on some warmer clothes and hit the SaltAir for coffee and bananas.  They had a variety of other snacks but it was typical post race stuff.

They only had a finisher's medal if you had done the entire series (5K / 10K / 15K).  They actually looked like really nice medals but alas, this was a one and done race for me.

This race hearkened back to my days when I was really competitive.  I am no longer fast -- not even a little bit.  It was inspiring to see people of all ages in the front ranks pouring it on.  There were guys my age in the top 10 as well as a sprinkling of whippersnappers.

I wasn't here for any medal or age group award.  I was simply here to test myself on an honest course and at an interesting distance (I think in my running career this is only the 2nd 15K I've ever raced).

I paid about $40 for the race.  I got a well organized event, a polyester / cotton blend shirt and a decent experience for most of my Saturday morning.  If this race fits into my schedule again and I feel like competing, if it is only against myself, you'll find me here again.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

2020 Sun Half Marathon Race Recap - Santa Clara, UT

Official Time: 1:59:13
Placement: 2nd in the 50 - 54 age group, 32nd overall
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 30's, sunny.
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: First Year for me

Mile TimeComments
18:40Gentle downhill - down the park road.
38:35More downhill - very fast start. Felt easy at this point. 
69:25First uphill section.  Temperature starting to get warm.
89:07More flat section here. Had a looming up hill coming
99:22Mentally fatigued at this point and a hill to climb
1110:03Slow grind up a hill. Pretty gassed and not sure how much I had left.
138:58Downhill through the residential streets.
Total Miles: 13:26 - 1:59:15


Last year, the Sun Marathon had come up and it was yet another race in the St George area.  This time of year, there are quite a few races that entice us northerners to come on down and enjoy the cleaner air and warmer temperatures.

Sometime during Thanksgiving, OnHillEvents sends out an email blast with their forthcoming 2020 races at pretty ridiculous prices.  Since I had missed this year's edition of the St George Half Marathon (in January) I decided to pony up for this race.  It was a 3rd annual race and a course I hadn't done before.  Also word on the street was that it was a good race.

So I decided to do it.  A new race, a chance to get warm, and a chance to test my fitness.  I usually run well in warmer temperatures and this race boasted a mostly downhill course.  Definitely a way to get my confidence up.

So I took off from work a little early on Valentine's Day and made the 3.5 hour trip to Cedar City where I'd spend the night.  Prices in St George were ridiculous so I opted to stay about an hour away the race start and save myself $70.  It would definitely be an early morning though.

The Race

The race's pick-up zone was at Gubler Park in Santa Clara.  It is a multi-use park primarily serving the community for baseball games and such.  I was one of the first ones there and managed to snag a decent parking spot and get my bib in short order.  I managed to kill about 30 minutes before loading a coach bus and heading to the starting line.

I was a little nervous for this race.  I have been plagued with some hamstring issues that get aggravated the longer I go.  They also don't like uphills.  I've also been battling some runner's knee.

To make matters worse, my training hasn't really been really solid for a half marathon.  Maybe 25 - 35 miles per week with a long run of about 9 miles.

So in my mind, it was going to be a 50-50 chance of this being a 6 mile run followed by a 7 mile limp to the finish.

We had about an hour to kill at the race start.  It went quickly as I made small talk with fellow runners.  They had a good number of runners from all over the place -- even some distant travelers.

The race started promptly at 8:30 and we were off.  

I had sort of gotten a good idea of what I was in for on the bus road to the top.  I was relieved to note that the race was downhill. It wasn't crazy downhill, but enough to give you a 15 - 20 second boost per mile.

So I wasn't too surprised to see my early miles turn in some 8:30 times.  I wasn't even trying that hard and just letting my legs flow forward and gravity take me down.

The course was warm when we were in the sun but primarily at the start we were in the shade, which made it chilly.  But after about half a mile, I reached a very comfortable running temperature.

The course first miles of the course is the best part.  There isn't a lot of traffic, there are some cows on the side of the road and you are following the Santa Clara River.  You are also surrounded by desert, red rock hills and desert scrub.  I was really enjoying this part of the course and the miles just melted away.

After a little over 5 miles you head on out to Old Highway 91.  At this point, an hour into the race, traffic is starting to get a little more pronounced.  Most drivers are headed out of town and you are running towards them on a shoulder, that at times was barely wide enough for a bike.  I didn't have any problems with drivers getting close to me but I was constantly aware of them.  

We passed by the Shivwits Reservation and had a few up hill sections at this point to contend with.  I smelled the beginning of the end with the hills and wondered if my endurance was going to hold.  Also, we had some down hill running, but at this point, it was primarily flat.  This part of course had some nice view of the Red Rock Conservation Area in the distance, but up close, there wasn't a lot to look at.

The air was definitely warmer and I was regretting wearing two shirts instead of one (I also had a hat, shorts and gloves, which I quickly pocketed).

There was plenty of hydration stops of water and Powerade.  I carried my own -- just in case.  I like to be able to take a drink willy-nilly during a half and I think having a little extra hydration and Tailwind in me helped.

Just shy of mile 10 -- with 5K to go we hung a hard left into a residential section.  It was a very slow grind up hill.  The occasional house resident in the area cheered us on, but it was sort of lonely running.  A few marathoners, who had had a 90 minute head start, passed me.  It is always humbling to be passed by a full marathoner when you are just running the half.

We were getting closer to the Red Rock area and despite the hill and not a lot of desert scenery, I enjoyed running in the residential area. 

There were only about 150 half marathoners in the race so most of the race I was running solo.  Again, occasionally a full marathoner passed me but for the most part, the nearest person was either a 100 yards behind me or ahead of me.

Finally at about mile 11 we made another turn and we were in the home stretch.  The 10 KM and 5 KM runners had started and they were headed out.  It was a little bit of a boost for me to get some encouragement from them... just as I was fading.

The last mile was more downhill.  I was a little concerned though as some of the race markers disappeared here.  Was I going the right way?  I had no idea where I was and part of me was holding back out of fear that I had missed a turn.  My watch kept getting closer to 13 miles and there was no sign or sound of the finish.  

I got word from someone walking their dog that I was almost there and that gave me encouragement I was going the right way.  Finally, I passed the last group of houses before seeing the park's entrance the finish line to my right.  Thank goodness!

I pushed it with whatever I had left and crossed the finish line in under 2 hours.


Post race food consisted of orange, bananas, peanut butter and bread, Powerade, Water, and of course ice cream sandwiches.  I always bring extra food for myself, but I didn't need any.  

I was surprised at how good I felt after the race.  My hamstrings had given me a few concerns about what I was asking them to do on substandard training but they had held up magnificently.  My runners knee, while having a wrap around my knee, also was feeling fantastic.

I was able to wake off the post race wooziness I feel.  In fact, I hardly felt any at all.  The weather was absolutely perfect -- maybe upper 50's by the time I finished and I loved sitting on the rocks just watching runners come in while working on my tan.

Turns out I won 2nd in my age group -- so it was double medal day.  Granted the race was small, but getting some recognition for a race is always a bonus.

My performance -- was actually outstanding all things considered.  I felt better than expected at the end.  The course measured long (about 13:26 - 13:30), according to people's watches (after my informal poll).  I believe I ran about .15 mile extra, which might be anywhere from 90 to 120 seconds of additional running.  So my time was really rock solid all things considered.

Overall, I pretty much have great things to say about this race.  I tend to run well in St George (with the lower elevation and cleaner air a major factor) and the weather was absolutely perfect.  I was "glowing" with personal satisfaction on this one and was excited about the course, running something new, and turning in a fairly decent time with fairly decent splits (considering the hills).

I would definitely do this one again and I am penciling it in for 2021.

Monday, February 10, 2020

2020 Sweethearts 5K Race Recap - Bountiful UT

Official Time: 25:55
Placement: 5th in age group (50-55), 31st male (out of 94), 47th overall out of 240
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 35, 10 mph winds from the south
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2019] [2018] [2016] [2015] [2014] [2013]

Mile TimeComments
17:54Off to a decent start -- helped by a gentle downhill
28:35Time to get serious as the course starts to climb
39:01Course always hurts at the end with a slot grind to the finish.
Total Miles: 3.06 - 25:5


Pretty much every year around Valentine's Day, I head on up to Bountiful for the Sweethearts 5K race.  It is a very affordable race put on by the South Davis Recreation Center, located in the heart of Bountiful.

I always register for this race right about the time I do their Turkey Trot race, since it winds up being just over $15 for a fully supported race, with finisher's medal, a decent shot at an age group prize, and a nice post race social area.  Plus, they always have nicely designed tech shirts that I make use of.

The Race

I showed up about 45 minutes before the race and found the parking lot a little icy.  We had had freezing weather the few days prior so I felt my shoes sliding around a bit in the shady areas.  Would this race have difficult footing?  I would certainly hope not (hint, footing was not a factor).

I grabbed my shirt very quickly, used the bathroom, and laced up for the race.  Despite the freezing temperatures, the air temperature for this race wasn't too bad.  While my Garmin reports that it was in the mid 30's; I want to think it was closer to 40.

I opted to go with thin gloves (which I pocketed half way through the race), a long-sleeved shirt, sun glasses, hat, and shorts.  I was perfectly fine.

The race started promptly at 9 AM and we were off running down one of Bountiful's main drags.  If you want to see photos of the course you can browse on previous editions of the race but suffice to say, it is a residential run, which the final mile and a half or so, a slow, uphill grind to the finisher's line behind the recreation center.

I haven't done much speed work and unfortunately I am a good 3 pounds heavier than last time I did this course (and I've done this 5K course at least a dozen times by now).  I didn't have high hopes during my warm-up.  Also, I've been battling a hamstring injury (again) that threatens to become angry at times.  It stopped me dead for about a week or two a few weeks ago and I think I've finally turned the corner on it.

The first mile, I felt good -- as I should -- as I spend down the race course.  If only I could hold this pace.

I was running with the usual suspects so I knew this pace was good.  And to be honest, I was a bit shocked to see a 7:54 pop-up on my Garmin after mile 1.  Not bad, but a far far cry from the 7:15's I had run on the first mile years before.

Miles 1 through 2 things get serious.  After about a quarter of a mile you are no longer given the benefit of the downhill and in fact, you start have to pay back what you borrowed in the first mile.  My pace and form crumbled.  I still felt pretty good though but people were passing me and I knew I was going to pay a price for going out too fast.

I don't think I even bothered to look at my watch when it beeped when I hit mile 2.  I had glanced at it a few times and I knew I was running somewhere in the low to mid 8's.  I looked at my overall time and hoped that I could get into the low 25's if I just picked up the pace in the final mile.

Unfortunately the final mile is where the hill really kicks in.  It isn't a massive, back breaking up hill, but at mile 2 of a 5K you should be hurting and this hill doesn't help.

I was slightly miffed when I rounded the corner and started to see the finish line and saw an evil "9" pop up on my Garmin.  9 minute mile?!??!? Nuts.

The course usually winds up short (I've had other people say they came in at 3.10), but every year I run it with a distance of 3:07 or so.  I must run the tangents really well.


I crossed the finish line with a time of 25:55. Sure beats a 26 but this race wasn't what I was hoping for as far as my overall time.  I use this race as a barometer for my general fitness and it is clear I need more speed work and have to drop a bit of weight.  However, I am battling the hamstring pull, so the amount of hard running I can do is limiting and I have to keep the mileage on the lower side to avoid aggravating it.

The race has some nice post race food -- gourmet bundt cake cupcakes (which were insanely delicious) and your typical post race spread of water and fruit.

This year, the race timer had it so you can quickly get your race, and unfortunately I placed 5th in my age group, so no prize this year. So it was a quick social visit with many of my friends before hitting the road.

The finisher's medal is a generic one.  With the coronavirus going on in China, the manufacturer couldn't meet the order of the "nicer" medals, so apparently they are going to be mailed out at a later point.  This one will suffice, but usually this race has some nice medals.

Once again, I have work to do if I am going to get serious about shaving some seconds off my time.  Yes, I had some challenges for this race: 1) first race of the year (more or less) 2) injury (runner's knee and hamstring issue) and it was a tiny bit windy / icy.  That being said, the injury really sidelined my training, I think, which lead me to a flat race.

Suffice to say, I'll have other opportunities to run better and once I am 100%, I can trust my body and nail the times I want.  But this one, for all intents and purposes, was kind of a speed workout to see where I was with my training.