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!

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