Saturday, February 13, 2021

2021 Sweethearts 5K Race Recap - Bountiful, UT

Official Time: 24:10
Placement: 3rd in age group, 27th overall male
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 39, 5 mph winds from the south (felt like from the north)
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2020] [2019] [2018] [2016] [2015] [2014] [2013]

Mile TimeComments
17:31In control start -- slight downhill so I could gradually get into the race
27:58The grind starts here.  Slight uphill to get back to the start.
38:08Kept focusing here - get up the hill and then crush it to the finish
Total Miles: 3.08 - 24:11


For the past half dozen years I've done the Sweethearts 5K race in Bountiful Utah.  It is a bit of February tradition for me on Valentine's Day weekend.

It is a very affordable race -- usually around $15 - $20 and close by.  I've run the course at least a dozen times by now so I know how it works.  Plus, you have the nice recreation center to stay warm in should there be bad climate weather.

The Race

I rolled into the race site at about 8:15 for a 9 AM start.  Packet pickup was a snap (as usual) and I had my shirt and swag bag in no time at all.

Last week's 5K I felt like I didn't do enough of a warm-up prior to the race.  I decided this race I was going to do a proper warm-up.  About 30 minutes before the race I did about 10 minutes of warm-up: leg swings, dynamic range motions, etc and then another 10 - 15 minutes of a gentle run followed by some strides up to 5K pace.  

I sauntered over to the starting line for the 9 AM start and was worried I'd cool down too quickly.  Fortunately, the race started on time and the staggered start happened pretty quickly -- I was off and running within about 15 seconds of the start.

It was rainy / chilly but not deathly cold.  I opted to go with a skull cap hat, long sleeved technical shirt, shorts and thin gloves.  I had worn a marathon jacket to warm up with and ditched it at the race start.  I had toyed with the idea of running with the jacket but I am so glad I lost it.

The first mile of the race is very fast.  It is a gentle downhill down a residential street.  You get to enjoy that downhill for about 1.25 miles.  If the entire race was like that I'd be thrilled.

I kept an eye on my watch but as usual, the first mile felt very easy.  I held back a little as my heart rate started to climb because I knew the second half of the race was the more challenging part.

I was excited to see a 7:30 flash on my Garmin after the first mile.

Things started to get real as I turned the corner and headed east.  I could feel the lactic acid building up and saw the next right turn at the top of a small hill.  Usually at this point reality sets in and I start to slow down.  I was continuing to pass people although and I was feeling better than I thought I would be at this point.

The second half of the race is mostly uphill (with the exception of the last third of a mile or so).  There is a decent climb from miles 2 to 2.5 where I usually hit the wall.  And you can see the hill the second you make the right turn.

I just focused on doing quick turnover for my feet, making sure my arms weren't swinging wildly (they tend to come up in the latter portions of the race).  Fortunately I had some company and people to work off of.  And the number of people passing me was fairly minimal.

I didn't catch the time on my Garmin when I hit mile 2 and I was trying to do math in my head as to what the split might be.  I was worried it was in the 8:15 / 8:30 range and my chances of getting a great time were ruined.

Mile 2 to 3 is where I really have to focus.  Fortunately, I had a guy next to me who was pushing the pace and trying to keep up with me.  Anytime either one of us accelerated, the other would counter.  My breathing though seemed to be more in control and if it wasn't for the gradual grind of the uphill, I think I would've had another gear to really push it.  I was being patient despite my pace on my Garmin showing I was running about 8:30.

When I got to the top of the hill, I had about .3 of a mile to go.  I really hunkered down at the that point.  The final stretch is a slight downhill followed by some flats.  I actually felt "fast" and my turnover increased.  I started to put some ground on the guy that I had been running with.  Unfortunately there wasn't anyone within eyesight to catch but that didn't stop me.  

I didn't even look at my watch as I rounded the final corner.  I had a feeling I was going to knock off maybe 10 - 15 seconds off of my 5K time but I looked up and saw 24:2X on the timing screen.  Then I remembered, I had a good 10 - 15 seconds delay before starting.

I passed under the finish line arches and stopped my Garmin to see a stunning 24:11 on it!


Wow what a finish.  I could've jumped for joy.  Looking back at my previous times on Athlinks, I haven't run this fast on legitimate course since 2016.  

I've had some good signs in my training that I was going to have a good race, but I didn't expect to make up this much time.  Last year, I ran the race in a sluggish 25:55.

I grabbed my medal and re-masked up after the race.  Instead of recovering, I wound up doing a slow shuffle back over to the starting line (about a quarter mile away) to collect my discarded marathon jacket.  I felt that good!  I still felt like I had quite a bit more energy to even go faster.

With Covid-19 restrictions in place, there was no award ceremony.  I think you have to go collect your medal at the recreation center.  I actually don't mind that as it allowed me to go home right away and not hang around in damp conditions.

There was water and bananas at the finish.  I wound up not socializing very much -- again Covid-19 stuff going on.

I can't say how ecstatic I am with my time.  The course, I think, measures up to 3.10 (I had another person's Garmin say it did).  But I am finally starting to see the benefits of doing the harder workouts: intervals, long runs, eating right and core workouts.  Hopefully this is a positive trend that will continue into 2021.

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