Sunday, March 28, 2021

2021 Riverton Half Marathon Race Recap - Riverton, UT

Official Time: 1:51:34
Placement: 32nd overall, 1st in age group
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Low 40's, 5 mph winds from the south.
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2018] [2015] [2014]

Mile TimeComments
18:40Off to a conservative start. Warming up here.
38:50Some hills at this point to reach a section of flats
58:13Mostly downhill
7       8:19Holding on to a decent pace on the bike trail.
98:43Recovering from a a climb here.
108:38Really starting to feel it here.
129:24Legs felt wobbly here
12.998:25Gut it out to the finish.
Total Miles: 12:99 - 1:51:30
(note I didn't start my watch until about 10 seconds after the race started)
(Also note, that most people's Garmin's recorded 13.14 to 13.27)


One of the highlights of the spring racing season is doing the Riverton Half Marathon.  It tends to be a well-attended race that is very affordable (about $35 if you sign up early enough) and is a good test of your spring fitness.  The race is a challenging, but very doable course set in south Salt Lake County.

Last year it was a victim of Covid-19 and not held.  In 2019, I was supposed to run it.  At the last moment I dropped to the 5K and while warming up, I re-injured my hamstring.  So I haven't run the race since 2018, where all I remember was that it was super windy and not fun at all to run.  I ran it in a very humbling 2:04.

The race's weather can be questionable -- with March being a virtual wild card as far as what you'll get for weather.  I wound up signing up well in advance to snag a $40-ish race entry and crossed my fingers for a good weather day.

The Race

I rolled into the race site around 8 AM.  Packet pickup was a total snap and I had my bib, shirt and a giant swag bag filled with goodies in no time at all.  That left plenty of time to get anxious over the pending half marathon (for some reason I was very nervous about this one).  I used the bathrooms a few times and did some easy drills to loosen up.  The 45 minute wait soon passed.

Like most Covid-19 races this was a start when you feel like it.  They told people to start running at 9 AM and you had until 9:15 AM to start the race.  I wound up jumping into the race within a minute of the start.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten to calibrate and sync my watch.  I almost came to a complete stop to let it find the satellites.  Fortunately it synced right away and off I went.

My goal in this race was to keep all my splits under 9 minutes per mile and go out fairly easy.  This course is challenging in that some sections involved rolling hills.  Most of it is flat, but there are definitely some challenging parts. 

I started off and was tucked in with a few other runners -- including one guy who I presumed was my age.  We wound up running together for about 3 miles before I picked up the pace ever so slightly.

I was pretty happy with my early miles.  While mile 2 to 3 was a challenge on account that it involved running up some hills.  While they were intense they didn't last long and I was still fresh.

The race was started at the city park and quickly jumped onto the bike trail.  After a mile or so on the bike trail you jumped into a hilly subdivision before running a mile or two on a flat but somewhat busy street.  We were thinned out at this point so I was never in any danger and there wasn't much traffic.  I loved these stretches as it allowed me to run at a fairly consistent pace without having to adjust for hills.

Finally, we ducked back into a subdivision and ran back on to the bike trail.  We would eventually do a bit of a figure-8 and loop back on the miles we started at.  I don't normally run this far south on the Jordan River Trail, but I knew where I was.  Memories of the windy 2018 haunted me and I was counting my blessings that the wind was pretty much negligible.  

At this point I was also running with a married couple that I know on my normal route.  I've never run with them, but I've chatted with them.  I really have to give them a lot of credit. Our paces were fairly identical and this year's race wasn't as well attended so if I hadn't been running with them, I would've been running solo for most of the race.

Around mile 6 I was feeling a little off. My legs were tired and my stomach clearly was having fits.  About par for the course as far as running a half marathon.  I was worried that I was going to really suffer starting at mile 10.

However, I just worked on keeping my breathing under control, and calming nerves.  I had just run a  half marathon 3 weeks ago, so I knew I had the legs to do it.  I just needed my head to be convinced.

The bike trail is really pretty down there and occasionally we'd pass by cheering stations.  Mostly, I think they were just bystanders who happened to be on the bike trail that morning, but every little cheer helped.  

Around mile 9 is a giant hill.  You can see it looming in the distance and everybody knows about it.  It's enough to slow you down and mentally it can bring you down a notch.  I saw it and groaned.

Fortunately, I've been doing a fair amount of hill training.  I am not going to say I blew up the hill but it just didn't seem that bad.  Also, I forgot that on the flip side is a delicious downhill, which I coasted down.

At this point, it was just me and the couple.  In some cases, I wouldn't have been even sure if I was on the right route.  But I just followed them and eventually we exited off the bike trail and headed westward into a subdivision.

Mile 10 is usually my Achilles heel as far as half marathon racing goes.  This is usually where my splits start to tank.  I had carried about 8 ounces of Tailwind with me and occasionally sucked down a Powerade at the latter aid stations.  I also had a GU on me -- but I wound up not using it.  My legs just were tired.  I kept trying to imagine myself powering through a fantastic final 5K and finally cracking the 1:50 barrier again (my 6.55 split was around 55 minutes).

Unfortunately, the final 5K is a grind up hill.  Also just shy of mile 11 is a hill -- tiny by all accounts, but steep and upon getting to the top of it -- my legs felt like rubber.  It took a solid quarter mile before they got unglued.  I was almost ready to walk.

I was now running with my friend's wife while he put ground on me.  Also his wife obviously had another gear too (or maybe it was just my pace fell off at this point).  But I found myself trying very hard to keep up.  I would occasionally look behind me to see if anyone was behind me, but there was absolutely no one.

Finally, we were in the final home stretch.  I could see the police cars a good 3 quarters of a mile down the road where we'd make the final turn.  I kept imaging myself somehow knocking out a final 5 minutes to finish the race but my legs were tired.  But looking at my final split, you can tell I did kick it into high gear.

The final push was intense and while I knew I wasn't going to hit sub 1:50 I gave it all I had.  


It took me a bit to catch my breath when I finished.  I was hunched over taking deep breaths waiting for the nausea to pass.  I quickly donned my mask and grabbed my medal.

I looked down at my watch to see a 1:51:30 on it.  I added a few seconds for my watch malfunction and I was tickled pink with my result.  With my recent race results, most charts put me as being capable of a 1:51 half marathon.  But achieving it on this course, I would've doubted my chances.

Again, I believe the course is legit.  MapMyRun and others measures it even on the high side.  So I think I may be capable of even more.

I sauntered over to the results area and again was stunned to see that I had won my age group.  I wound up snagging a pair of blue-tooth headphones.  I don't normally run with music, but I can probably find a use for them.  I am not sure if my time would've qualified for a win under a year where the normal amount of people are in attendance (probably not) but I am thrilled with the end result none the less.  I believe this is the first time I've won anything at this race.

The medal and shirt were both very nice.  I love a good tech shirt and this one was a long sleeve one.

Post race refreshments included fruit, sports drink, chocolate milk and candy bars.  The swag bag was also chocked full of product samples and even a buff.

Overall I was very pleased with my experience and performance.  Every spring I have this one lined up on my calendar and it was nice to get this one done.  I definitely remember this version of the course (they had a few different routes over the years) and this is probably the first time where I finished with a smile on my face.

My training is working out and I am finally making improvements on my times.  I think this race largely went to plan.  Yes, the final 3 miles were grueling, but overall, my splits went with the terrain.  I was slower on the uphill sections and faster on the downhills.  

I am excited to see what comes next!

Sunday, March 21, 2021

2021 Lucky 13 10K Race Recap - North Salt Lake City, UT

Official Time: 49:42
Placement: 1st in the 50-55 6th overall
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 45F, 20mph wind from the northwest, rain
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2019[2018] [2014]

Mile TimeComments
18:24Off to a conservative start. Chilly and needed to warm up
28:09Settled into a nice pace despite the headwind.
48:05Turn around with a tailwind. Just what I needed
58:03Tiring but just powering to the finish
67:57Wow. Shocked at this split
Total Miles: 6.12 - 49:41


At some point this past winter I got a nice offer to sign up for the Lucky 13 race put on by OnHillEvents.  I have done it for a few years and it is a nice race in early March.  

Normally this race is held at Gardner Village in West Jordan.  However, due to some construction on the bike trail, it was moved to North Salt Lake and run on the Legacy Bike Trail.  I've done a lot of racing at this bike trail and while it isn't the most glamorous place to run. On the flip side, it is flat and I know the course.

I opted for the 10K race.  It is a good distance but doesn't really beat myself up too badly.  I usually have a slew of half marathon races in the spring.  Also, the weather can be super iffy in northern Utah in March.  This year, I was counting my lucky stars when Saturday's weather rolled around: windy, rainy and chilly.

The Race

I rolled into the race around 8:10 AM for the 9 AM start.  There was kind of a line up to collect one's bib / shirt but fortunately it moved fairly quickly.  We thankfully had shelter under a building's porch to protect us from the drizzling rain.  As I stood there waiting in line, I was trying to figure out what to wear.  My plan was to go out in shorts and one shirt -- maybe two.

By the time I made it back to my car to make my final preparations -- as if on queue -- it started to rain -- hard.  The weather forecasters had said it would pick up at 9 AM and sure enough it did.  Suddenly my decision on clothing changed.

I wound up going with shorts, 2 t-shirts and a windbreaker.  I also had a ballcap on and thin gloves.  It was a pretty good choice actually.  Anything more would've been too much and less -- I would've froze.

There was another wait before the start of the race.  With Covid-19 restrictions in place, it was a staggered start.  And the half marathon started first.  There were about a 100 racers and they had to be queued up and let off in about 10 - 20 second increments.

During this time I tried to keep warm and dry and did a few warm-ups.  It was definitely the worst warm-up I've ever done.  My main motivation was to stay as dry as possible.

It wasn't until about 9:20 that I actually was able to run.  And off I went.  I really just wanted to be done as soon as possible.  I believe there was a real threat for hypothermia.  I know I've run through a lot worse but there was an absolute bit of nervousness when I left.  I was even toying with just doing the 5K.

The first mile I felt extremely stiff.  My Achilles was sore, my hamstring was tight.  Crap, this was going to be an awful race.  The wind wasn't too bad but my hands were already cold and my legs were cherry red.  I felt very sorry for the half marathoners who in all likelihood going to be out there for 2 hours (or more).

I kept telling myself, just get it done.  I passed the first mile marker in a respectable 8:24.  I was being hit with a headwind but it wasn't too terrible.  My goal was to hit low 8 minute miles for the first three and hammer it with what I had left in the final 3.

As I headed north along the paved bike trail, I passed a few of the slower half marathoners.  Once in a while a speedy 10K runner would be heading back or passed me, but it was a pretty lonely going for me.  I had the din of the traffic on the legacy freeway and parks and residential areas on my right.

Finally, I hit the turn around and received the cheers and way-to-goes from the 2nd aid station crew (bless the volunteers at this race).  It was under a pedestrian bridge and I ran through the tunnel, touched the turn around sign and headed back.  

What a difference!  Suddenly the howling wind was at my back and every step brought me a little closer back towards the finish line.

With the wind at my back, I hit the proverbial accelerator.  I was logging some decent splits and suddenly the notion of hitting one of 2021's goals of breaking 50 minutes became a bit of a reality.  

I got a bit of a boost upon hitting the 5K race's turn-around point.  Some of the later starters were still running and working on chasing them down and passing them give me some motivation to dig deep.  I didn't really have anyone chasing me and the one guy who was ahead of me had left me in the dust.

I was definitely running out of endurance by mile 5.  When I reviewed my splits after the race I had figured mile 5 was going to be my worst, but it wound up being my best. I think the smell of a sub 50 minute 10K pushed me a little more.  

I was ecstatic to cross the finish line in 49:42.


Okay, so my time was sub 50 minutes -- for this race.  I figured the course was going to come up a bit short as the turn around came around at the 3.06 mark.  I had hoped my Garmin might be in error and that magically it would get a bit closer to the official 6.2 mark, but it held true: 6:12.  Given that I needed to run another .08 of a mile, I am guessing my time was closer to the 50:30 mark.

I hadn't taken any hydration for the race -- you simply didn't need it. Although I had carried a tiny 8 ounce flask of water with me just in case.  

There wasn't too many people to celebrate with when I finished.  It was still raining and those that had finished the 5K had already left and there were only a handful of people who had done the 10K.  I knew I had about 10 minutes before I was going to start getting chilled.

Post race refreshments included a pre-bagged fruit (oranges and a granola bar).  There was also water / Powerade at the finish.  I wound up socializing for a bit before running back to my car and heading home.

Overall, I was happy with my experience.  I want to say I paid about $25 for the race.  I got a nice medal and shirt.  I just wish the race had been a full 10K.  

This was also a good test of "I can do tough things".  The weather was less than pleasant and there was always the thought I was going to wind up with hypothermia.  But I've certainly run through worse and I made it out the other side with more confidence.

This was also a confidence booster in that the weather wasn't exactly the most conducive for a fast time, but I turned one none the less.  This is an indication to me that my training is coming along nicely.  I am hoping good things continue in 2021.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

March 2021 Update


Selfie post run out near West Wendover NV

Year to Date Miles: 368.25 (as of 3/12/2021)


Well, another 8 weeks of training down.  The weather here in northern Utah continues to be really nice.  There have been very few days where it was bad but this year has been the mildest I've experienced yet.  Also couple it with the fact that less people are driving and the air quality hasn't been that awful either.  

In fact, the last few months has seen me running pretty much every day.

Desert run out near West Wendover, NV

Training Updates

So with the lull in races and generally not willing to travel these days I've been able to focus on training.  My weekly routine more or less looks like a semi-long run (8 - 12 miles) or virtual race.  I can't say how much I really appreciate the free virtual races that the Humana Rock 'n' Roll Series is putting on.  I've also been doing at least one speed workout: either a tempo run, hill repeats or some sort of interval / repeats session.  I also try to conclude some of my runs with strides, which seem to help.  I run at about 95% effort for 30 seconds, recover for 30 seconds and repeat.  Over time, this time sandwich has gotten easier for me

I do have to be careful with the virtual races on account that I can get myself into a training hole pretty quick by over racing.  They are free so there isn't any harm in entering them, but at the same time, if I go 100% in on them, I don't recover enough for in-person or harder workouts later in the week.

I have fought off a few niggling injuries and am still dealing with a sore upper hamstring issue -- since October.  I think it is caused by too much sitting and then going out and running.

This past week saw me take a bit of a breather.  Last weekend's half marathon took a bit out of me and I haven't quite been able to feel springy just yet.  


I've gotten addicted to watching YouTube videos on running.  I am not new to running by any means.  I've been at it for over 20 years.  But getting advice and most importantly inspiration from YouTube runners has enabled me to take some best practices and incorporate them into my running.  Some of my favorite are:

  1. Ben Parkes -- 2:25 marathoner
  2. Sarah Place -- Ben's partner and another solid runner with cool videos.
  3. This Messy Happy -- Another British runner who coaches his wife and himself to some incredible times.
  4. The Running Channel -- All around solid advice and fun videos all about running.


The weight loss continues to remain off.  I am down about 19 pounds from last year.  I wasn't terribly heavy to begin with, but I was heavy for a runner.  By dropping the weight, I've seen my times come crashing down.

Part of my downfall pretty pandemic was eating out too much: buffets, restaurant food, etc.  Plus the free candy they had at work didn't help.  I thought I could out run over eating but over the years I'd gain a pound or two.  And I wasn't making any progress with my running.

Since I started working from home, I've flipped the script.  I eat a very conservative breakfast, eat dried fruits and nuts and maybe 1 cookie for a snack.  I have a normal, homemade lunch followed by a 30 minute walk.  I'll have a light snack midway through the afternoon and top it off with a dinner that is loaded with vegetables.  I am now addicted to salad.  

I do have some 100 calorie desserts but overall my sugar intake is way down.

This is definitely resulting a calorie loss and it is showing up in my running.  I used to avoid hard workouts and wasn't seen any progress.  Now, the workouts seem to be getting easier and I look forward to challenging efforts.

Upcoming Races

03/20: 2021 Lucky 13 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
03/27: 2021 Riverton Half Marathon - Riverton, UT (Confirmed)
04/03: 2021 RUN SLC 15K - Salt Lake City, UT (Doubtful)
04/10: 2021 Eggs Legs Race 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
04/XX: 2021 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed) - Virtual
04/24: 2021 Recycle Run 5K - Bountiful, UT (Maybe)
05/08: 2021 May the Fourth 10K - Farmington, UT (Confirmed)
05/15: 2021 Ogden Half Marathon - Ogden, UT (Confirmed) -- Virtual
12/04: 2021 Laughlin Half Marathon - Laughlin, NV (Confirmed)
02/27: 2022 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas (Confirmed)

Sunday, March 7, 2021

2021 March Madness Half Marathon Race Recap - Woods Cross, UT

Official Time: 1:53:54
Placement: 25th place overall, 4th in the 50 - 54
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Low 50's, 20 mph wind from the south.
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2020] [2018]  [2017] [2016]

Mile TimeComments
18:27Off to a decent start. Honestly, I was trying to hold back here
38:21Just ran a 25:20-ish 5K? At the start of a half marathon. Oops
68:3152:11 was my 10K time.  Crazy and too fast, but how much did the win play here?
7       8:26
88:28Last of the good miles with not a lot of wind
109:10Into a headwind -- without a lot of blockage for it.
129:28The wind just kept getting worse. So humbling.
139:35Slow grind to the finish
13.050:22Finally done!
Total Miles: 13:05 - 1:53:49
(note I accidentally paused my Garmin for a bit during the start of the race)


Just about every March, I sign up for the March Madness Half Marathon.  It is probably one of the better bargains as far as racing goes: if you sign up during its initial week, it is a $30 race.  Plus, it also supports the local food bank.

The only drawback, about the race is that it usually is a wild card as far as weather goes.  Every year I've done it, the race has posed certain challenges, whether it be rain, cold or wind.  That's just normal life in Utah for the month of March.  This year, I suspect was pretty close to ideal -- with one exception: the wind.

Either way, I am good with it and it is an easy drive and usually a good time.  The race also sports 3 distances: a 5K, 10K and half marathon.  Having just done a successful solo half marathon this past winter I decided I'd give the half marathon another go this year.

The Race

The race was held at the Mountain View Park Trailhead along the Legacy Bike Trail.  I've done a race or two at this park before and have run along the trail from time to time in other races or even on my own (Note: some course photos are NOT from this particular race)

Race start was at 9 AM and I got there just after 8 AM.  Packet pickup was easy and the race started promptly at 9 AM.

The weather was sort of chilly -- at least while waiting in line to pick up my bib.  I had shorts and a single shirt on with a running jacket.  I knew I was going to ditch the jacket though.   There was a decent wind from the south but it didn't seem that bad.  Would the race actually have semi-perfect weather for the first time in its 6 year history?

I wound up going with the shorts + 2 t-shirts and some cheap gloves.  I regretted after a mile or so wearing the two shirts.  I was feeling pretty warm.

Most of the racing charts put me finishing around 1:52 or so, given my training times.  I had also done some trial half marathons on my own, finishing each around 1:53.  I was definitely concerned about the wind but it didn't seem that bad.  A few years ago I did the half and got pummeled by it on the way back.  The memory of me shambling back to the finish still haunts me today.

The race starts off by heading north along the Legacy Bike Trail.  My goal was to hit the first three miles at 9 minutes / mile.  I definitely wanted to bank energy for the return trip and start off easy.  I was monitoring my heart rate too to make sure I wasn't working too hard.

I wasn't too shocked to hit the first mile at 8:30.  I didn't feel like I was the benefit of a tail wind, but I was.  My heart rate was about where I wanted it to be as well.  I tried to dial it back a bit.

Suffice to say, I completely failed at holding it back.  I went through the first 5K in about 25:20, which was 5K race pace a few months ago.  And to make matters worse, I went through the first 10K in 52:10.  But it was easy and I was running with a bit of a tailwind. 

As I was running I kept looking at the vegetation around me.  It wasn't moving much so I figured I wasn't going to get slammed on the way back.  

However, around mile 5 as we ran along the bike trail near I-15, we did get a headwind.  I commented to the guy running next to me, "Did the wind just shift?".  He was just as confused as I was.  

I was feeling pretty worn down by the time I got to the half marathon turn around.  I had run a series of 8:30's and felt like if the wind didn't hit me, I could probably go sub 9 for the rest of the race.  When I did turn around, however, I was greeted with a gentle breeze but nothing too crazy.  Whew, maybe the wind wasn't going to be a factor.

I felt pretty strong and my times were going better than expected.  I knew I had gone a bit too fast but I could hang on.  However, once I reached the 8 mile mark, the wind hit me up.  I've certainly dealt with worse but it seemed like I lost all hope.

Suddenly, maintaining my 8:30-ish paced seem a lot harder.  A guy who was tailing me for most of the race suddenly dropped me and I kept looking down at my Garmin in hopes that the pace I thought I was running was actually wrong.  Nope.

I kept just plugging along in hopes that I'd get a break from the wind.  Every now and then it did die down a bit but not for long.  Also every little hill that I had gotten the benefit from on the way out, now seemed like a giant one.

The final 3 miles were humbling.  All things considered my pace wasn't too awful -- it had slipped from 10K pace down to about marathon pace.  Every step just seemed to take forever.  A few other runners slogged by me at the end too.  We each mumbled something derogatory about the wind.  There were less than a 100 half marathoners and the ability levels really was across the board.  Most of the time I had someone within eyesight of me but as the race progressed -- particularly in the latter miles -- I was running solo.

Finally the end was near and while there wasn't much left.  However, with each step I got a little closer.  I was doing math in my head and at this point given my energy level, all I wanted to do was finish sub 1:55.

I finally made a short / sharp turn and crossed under the March Madness flags.


First the good: I ran a 1:53:54.  This was my best half marathon time for a non-short course (the race was 13.10 -- remember I accidentally paused my watch during the start) that I had run since 2016.  I was really excited about this.  While the last 3 - 4 miles were grueling, I had turned in a very good time.  

Now the bad:  Every age division -- except mine -- I would've place.  After reviewing the outcome, my age groups (50-54) was the toughest.  I would've needed another 4 minutes to win at least 3rd place.

After finishing I was totally spent.  I caught my breath and I felt just sick to my stomach.  The 10K and 5Ks were pretty much all gone and there were only a handful of runners hanging around.  I wound up making a dash to my car to get a Pepsi, which settled my stomach.

As usual, post race refreshments are better than your average race. They had fruit, milk and water but they also had pizza and cookies.  My stomach was definitely not having much of that  But I did grab a banana (which I barely could get down) and a chocolate milk for later.

Overall, for the price paid on the race, I was happy with my experience.  I enjoyed the course and the challenge and I turned in a half way decent time despite the high winds (which Garmin said were 20 miles per hour).  The mile markings lined up with my Garmin and there were 5 aid stations (I carried my own in 2 8 ounce flasks of Tailwind).

This bodes pretty good things for 2021 for me as I keep re-achieving times I previously ran half a decade ago.  After finishing and patting myself on the back, I was wondering, when is the next one?