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.

Monday, September 7, 2020

2020 5th Annual Labor Day Pun Run 10K Race Recap - Lehi, UT

Official Time: 51:02
Placement: 7th overall male, 5th in the 45 - 99 age group
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: mid 60's no wind, smokey air
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: First year for me

Mile TimeComments
17:47A little bit of a drop here, but off to a rock solid start
28:02Rolling gentle hills.  Still surprisingly good start
38:18How much longer can I keep this pace.  Still felt mostly downhill
48:11Wow, insane.  The hills aren't really slowing me down.
58:23    Miles are starting to add up now.  Still a good mile
68.37Definitely the worst of the hills here. Still good
6.211.39Push it hard to the finish!
Total Miles: 6:21 - 51:02


For the last few years I've seen the Labor Day 5K / 10K Pun Run come up in my race calendar.  And every year -- mostly because I've run a race on Saturday, I pass on it.

But this year, with races at a premium due to Covid cancellations, I opted to jump into this one.

The race is help on Labor Day and is started at Olympic Park in Lehi, UT -- about 25 minutes south of where I live.  The course is on the Jordan River Trail put in an area I've never run in.  The race course is around Thanksgiving Point, kind of a touristy spot / shopping center and I rarely make it down there.

So mostly out of curiosity and for something to do on the holiday weekend I plunked down my money and jumped into this race.

The Race

A few days before race start they announced that the 10K was lightly attended and therefore only the first place overall winner would win something.  I've won a race or two, but generally speaking the odds of me winning any race isn't very likely.  

Also, with no age group awards AND having just run a 10K less than 48 hours before, I didn't have super high expectations for myself.

Although during my warm-up, I actually felt pretty good.  There was no soreness, no stiffness, just a little bit of nerves.  Again, I wasn't trying to win this race (looking around, I realized it wasn't realistic) but I'd go into it, give it a shot and see what happened.

The race started a few minutes late and I quickly realized that I did NOT want to start with the mass of people.  There were about 150 people huddled around the starting line and with Covid a dark reality, I didn't want to be apart of that.

Fortunately, the race was chip timed and just as they were assembling people to the starting line, I opted to actually use the restroom one last time.  Just as I was getting out, they started the race.  It was a good minute or so before most of the people had started so I quickly took off, passing the walkers and those pushing strollers.

I felt like an elite athlete as I worked my way up, easily passing 50 - 75 people in the first half mile.  I probably expended a little extra energy for my efforts but that was okay.

I was shocked -- actually flabbergasted to see a 7:45 appear after the first mile.  I felt good -- but not that good.  The course seemed slightly downhill so I chalked it up to the slight downhill.

I knew I was going to pay a steep price though.  I even commented to a few runners who ran aside from me that we were going to die on the way back.  

The course was run on the Jordan River Parkway Trail.  It was a standard 8 foot wide, paved trail lined with desert shrubbery.  It smelled nice and there was a beautiful view of the north flowing river to our left most of the race.  It was all new to me, so I was constantly astounded by the views.

Mile 2 had me concerned.  Another 8 minute mile! How long could I continue this?  Would I be walking back to the starting line because the uphill on the way back would kill me. Daunting thoughts crossed my head.

On the plus side, at mile 1.55 I hit the turn around.  Most of the runners were running the 5K (I think a 6 to 1 ratio) and only a few people proceeded past the 5K point.  It was also spot on accurate, so I knew very likely this was a "legit" 6.20 mile run.

Mile 3 saw me slow down a bit.  I remember an hill or two here and again, I didn't have a lot of confidence that I was going to be able to hold this pace.  I felt like I was going to regret what I was doing.  Finally I hit the turn around point  -- just at 3.10 miles.  Perfect.  This was going to a PR worthy course.

The next mile had me concerned.  I had had a bunch of downhills and now I'd be paying a price on the way back.  

I was working with a few runners but as the race proceeded the 2nd place overall woman slow put ground on me and she became a distant target.  The few people I had passed also stayed in my rear view mirror.  So I am totally not sure what possessed me to try so hard.  Perhaps it was because I was turning in rock solid splits.  Again, I had my doubts -- the return route "seemed" mostly uphill AND I was still pretty gassed from Saturday's race.

I kept surprising myself.  Mile 4 and 5 flew by, with decent, but not insanely fast splits.  However, mile 5 to 6 would present the biggest challenges.  The mile that had let me have a fast start was looming ahead and there was a pretty decent pair of hills I would have to cross.

I kept focusing on maintaining my form though.  And when the hill presented itself, I simply worked my way up as fast as I could.  Yeah my pace was slower, but once I reached the top, I found myself returning to race pace.

The final third of a mile was a straight shoot to the finish line.  I was passing a few walking 5K races at this point and I glanced down at my watch and realized I had a very decent shot at exceeding my expectations on this one.  My lifetime PR for a 10K is around 40:30.  Since I've turned 50, my times have been about 52 - 53 minutes -- on a good day.  Today -- I was going to hit upper 50 minutes or low 51 minutes.


When I crossed the finish line and clicked off my watch, I saw a 51:02 pop up.  I was very excited to see that.  I had run a 5.90 mile 10K on Saturday only 20 seconds faster.  This was a legit 6.21 miles and my best time in a VERY long time -- and on a fairly challenging course.

It took me a bit to recover as I was doubled over trying to catch my breath after a final push.  I heard a few "Nice work Eddie".  

There were no finisher medals for this race.  It was a charity race and for the most part a "fun run".  I normally don't do those types of runs, but I really enjoyed this one and it gave me a chance to see a really nice part of the trail system.  I am very tempted to go back at some point and do a long run there.

I signed up about a week or so before the race start but found a coupon for it that saved me a few dollars.  For $40 I got a well-organized race, a t-shirt, food / water at the end (watermelon, bagels and grapes).  They also had a raffle prize thing going on, but alas, I was not a winner.

Overall, this may be my "A" race for the year.  I was very pleased with my performance and every time I felt like I didn't have much left, I dug down, pushed the pace and kept going.  I think it helped to be running some place new, focusing on my running and also enjoying the sites and smells of the trail.  I was very fortunate to have cool weather for the morning.

I am not sure I'd do this race next year, but if I feel up to it, I might give it a go again.  It was something new and I ran really well.  I just wish Covid hadn't made a mess on this to make me hyper sensitive to socializing.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

2020 East Canyon 10KM Race Recap - Morgan UT

Official Time: 50:50
Placement: 9th overall, 1st in the 50-54 age group
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 68F and no wind
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: First year for me

Mile TimeComments
18:12Wow, fast start. Feeling good
28:17Continuing going. This course is flat and I am feeling good.
38:54Okay definitely paid the price.  
48:28Got a bit of a second wind here
58:55    Again, some tough miles here.
5.918.02Closing in on the finish.
Total Miles: 5:91 - 50:51


I haven't really been to Morgan Utah.  The closest I've gotten is when I hike East Canyon and I make it to the Big Mountain Parking lot.  And I always ask myself -- what is beyond there?

Well this year, with Covid in play, I decided to find out.  Normally, I do the Swiss Days run out in Park City, but the festival was shut down on account of the pandemic.  That left me with pretty much one choice today:  the East Canyon 10K put on by OnHillEvents.  

Normally I'd jump into the half marathon, but my training hasn't been rock solid all summer.  Unable to do much of my training on the bike trail and also because of the high heat, my mileage is at an all time low.  I am, however, trained for a 10K and so I ponied up the money and jumped in to give this race a shot.

Morgan is kind of in the North East quadrant of the state.  You have to take a circular route to get there -- as the crow flies it probably wouldn't be too bad, but with a mountain range in between the Salt Lake Valley and Morgan, you have to take a roundabout way there -- also at about 50 miles (one way).

Fortunately it was smooth sailing and I left just after 7 AM for the 9 AM start.

The Race

Packet pick up was a snap and by 8:15 I was ready to run.  However, with a 9 AM start, it gave me ample time to socialize and warm up.  Morgan is a definitely a small, rural town on the edge of civilization.  It was chilly (about 50 degrees when I arrived) but you could tell it was gonna be a warm one.  The sun was out and I was admiring the hills and mountains in the area.  

As I was warming up, the faster full marathoners and half marathon runners were finishing.  It was kind of cool to see them coming in and just as the 10K started, there were even more runners coming in.  It was interesting to see who was having a good race and and who were feeling the mounting miles.

The race started slightly late -- maybe 9:10 or so but we lined up roughly according to pace and the race director started off in about 10 - 15 second increments.  As soon as I started running I tore off my mask and tucked it in my pocket.

With Covid these days, I am using my own hydration -- avoiding the hand-outs they have at the race.  I had a small 12 ounce flask of water in my pocket.  It probably slowed me down a bit but it was nice to have it when I needed it.

The first mile took us out of the Morgan County Fairgrounds and had us head into town.  There were a long row of classic, old school storefronts along here.  There was definitely some history here:

But before we got into the downtown area we turned a corner and went to a residential area and finally a bike trail.

As I ran the first mile I gave some encouragement to the fast finishers of the other races and dug in deep to really push it.  I was really enjoying the cooler temperatures and the new scenery.  I was pretty jazzed to see an 8:15 mile pop up on my Garmin after the first mile.

After reaching the 5K turn around, we were on a main drag.  It was flat and kind of interesting seeing schools and some homes.  I was catching some of the runners that had started in front of me and I was still holding a decent pace.  More and more racers were coming in from the full and half marathons as well.

NOTE:  From here on out, the photos posted are of the half and full courses, which I drove after the race.

From mile 2 through 3 -- I was definitely feeling it.  I was paying a price for going out too fast.  Also, I was no longer really racing against anyone.  A woman who had started before me was ahead of me and I wasn't making much ground on her and literally no one was behind me.  

The 10K turn around was the 2nd aid station.  When I reached it, I saw the sign on it saying 10K turn around.  I glanced at my Garmin and saw that it read 2.96 miles(!).  I asked the volunteer -- are you sure this is the turn around? And she replied "yes".  I had also seen the woman in front of me turn around here as well.  Drats, another "short" race.

Oh well, I somehow found the energy to kick it up a notch as I headed back towards town.  I was really happy to see a mid 8 minute mile flash on my Garmin upon crossing mile 4.

Mile 4 to 5 has us back along the main street.  It was tough running here.  Occasionally I passed a struggling half marathoner or full marathoner but I was just hurting at this point. I did get passed by a couple of other runners who definitely had more in the tank than I did.

Finally I hit mile 5 and I was back on the bike trail and just a few minutes from the finish line.  Part of me was grateful for a short course.  This was definitely not a PR day for me but I really turned it up a bit as I turned the final corner and cruised towards the finish line.


My Garmin read 5.91 when I crossed the finish line.  Definitely a quarter mile short of a full 10K.  I did talk to a few other people and some got over 6 miles.  I'll have to re-run the route through another tool to see what it measured.

Post race refreshments included water, an orange, delicious Fat Boy Ice Creams, and string cheese.  Usually there is more of a free-for-all with post race food, but with Covid restrictions in place, there were some limitations.

I won my age group (only 2 of us) and came in 9th overall.  It was a small race, with only about 50 runners.  The medals were very nice and heavy.  The t-shirt was kind of generic and I am not a fan of the 50/50 cotton / polyester shirt (I prefer the 100% polyester "tech" shirt). 

I paid $40 for the race.  I got a decent race and a fun morning.  And I got to see a part of Utah I hadn't seen before.  I wound up making a long 100 mile route around Emigration Canyon to see a variety of sites.  I took the long way home and took some photos of the reservoirs and scenic area.  I hadn't driven that area at all and was always curious what was beyond the area I had seen before.  

Definitely worth.

The tough question is, will I do this race next year, or Swiss Days....