Friday, December 31, 2021

2021 Running Year in Review






Total Miles:  1672.5

Wow! What a year.  This year wasn't really all about miles.  All the big races were canceled due to Covid-19 in the early spring and I wasn't training for any marathons.  The number of half marathons had also dwindled.  So I basically had to maintain my endurance and work on my speed.  I also made it a point this year to only run 5 days a week instead of 6.  I am not sure I was that successfully in this endevour, as I get anxious if I am not training / running hard.

I really have to say thanks to YouTube for inspiring me to get faster.  With my weight loss from 2021 carrying over to 2022, I was already a bit lighter on my feet.  This enabled me to see results faster from my speed workout sessions.  I was fairly successful in doing at least one or two hard workouts (also depending if I had a race that weekend) a week.  I am normally reluctant to do speed work -- let's face it -- it is like going to the dentist. You have to do it if you want to be fast and it is painful and it is work.

So my longest run of the year was probably 13 to 15 miles.  My weekly mileage was also 40 - 50 miles in the winter / spring and then dwindled in the summer to about 30.  Finally, it increased a little more in the fall / winter, but compared to previous years, my miles were modest.

A big game changer for me this year was running in the morning during the summer months.  Years past, I'd give it a go for a day or two but it never really stuck.  This year, I got up early most days in the heart of summer and knocked out my mileage.  What a difference in running in 60 degree weather versus 90 degree weather.

This kept me fit.  I am normally reluctant to run very hard in the summer as by the time I start to run, it is 8 PM or so and it is simply too late in the day to push the pace.  But starting the day off with a run made all the difference into having a strong fall season.



Races (includes virtual): 

5K12
4M1
7K1
5M1
10K11
12 Miles1
Half Marathon7



2021 saw the return of racing after the wipeout that Covid-19 caused in 2020.  It started with a trickle at the start of the year as races were hesitant to begin but as the year got on, more races showed up.  There were only a handful of "new" races for me this year, I relied upon my normal schedule, which is fine.  It gave me an opportunity to compare this year versus years in the past.

First off the good news:

Best Races Performances

Riverton Half Marathon (1:51:34)

Lamoille Canyon Half Marathon (1:48:21)

Provo City 5K (24:19 - course was long - approximately 23:30 for 5K)


The race I am most proud of this year was the Riverton Half Marathon.  I had put in a solid training block in the spring and the weather was very cooperative.  My pacing was spot on and I had a married couple to work with in the middle miles when things usually get tough.  I was shocked when I got the time that I did and even better, I won my age group.  

How could I not have a good race at the Lamoille Canyon half marathon?  Cool temperatures and a fast downhill race.  So I expected to hit a really good time.  But comparing myself to previous years, I was a bit faster.  I think if I had put in more miles in the lead up to the race I would've done better.

Finally, the Provo City 5K.  This course was a mild downhill.  The course, in my opinion was long (and according to my Garmin), but if I look at what I did the 5K in, it was a PR kind of day for me.  


Worst Race Performances

Dimple Dell Half Marathon (2:11:09)

Rock the Canyon 10K (56:19)

Laughlin Half Marathon (1:59:13)

So in no way do these races reflect on the organizers.  It just wasn't my day at the races.  

I will say my training for Dimple Dell and Laughlin were minimal at best.  I had mailed in some long runs but my overall volume was down.  I like to hit a couple of 40 mile weeks -- at a minimum -- before a race half marathon and I was hitting at most 25 - 30.  Also both races involved hills, especially the Dimple Dell one.

The Rock the Canyon 10K was a bit heartbreaking.  A very hilly 10K and the weather wasn't cooperative.  That was the first race I didn't exceed in the previous year's time (granted this course was slightly different from the previous years).

I also suspect I did too many races this year.  It sabotaged my weekly training and I couldn't get the miles I needed to build a more solid base.  I was recovering from the race early in the week and then tapering for the weekend's race.  So I couldn't get many quality miles in.




The stat I am most proud about, however, is that I took my times back to 2015 - 2017 or so.  Each year I've gotten progressively slower.  Let's face it -- Father Time always wins in the end, but I managed to turn back the clock and attain performances I haven't seen in a while.  Since I am repeating many of the races I've done in the past, I can compare my previous times.

This year I committed to taking recovery a bit more seriously.  I dialed back the overall volume of running.  I also upped the more race-focused training.  So instead of running 6 days a week at an ordinary pace, I varied my training.  I actually was a frequent resident of the local hills and found various interval workouts to do.  This was a huge shift for me as I am more prone to doing 5 miles medium paced most days.

Finally I did nail in my diet.  Was I perfect? Hardly.  But I was better than usual.  With my office closing down I now work from home.  This allows me to snack smarter and I don't eat out as nearly as I used to.  


Goals for 2022

So originally for 2022 I figured I'd shoot for a full marathon.  It's been since 2017 and my last marathon was a very tough to swallow DNF.  I really don't want my career as a marathoner to finish like that.

I was thinking of building up and starting to train for the Salt Lake City Marathon this year.  It is something that is close, I know the course, and I have time to prepare.  

However, after doing more soul searching, I decided it wasn't something I was really willing to put the effort into.  I am really enjoying racing frequently, and for some strange reason, I am enjoying training hard and doing speedwork.  Go figure -- after 20+ years of racing / running that is probably a first.

So what are my goals for 2022:

  • Consistently run 23-something for 5Ks.  In short improve my speed!
  • Bump up the mileage a 10 - 20%
  • Ditch the junk food -- especially the salty chips.
In 2021 I was doing the footwork towards improving my times and the results speak for themselves.  I am doing a lot of the right things. So it's time to continue to build on that.




Upcoming Races



01/15: 2022 Saint George Half Marathon - Saint George UT (Confirmed)
01/23: 2022 Sojo Break the Freeze 5K - South Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
02/27: 2022 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas (Confirmed)
03/05: 2022 March Madness 10K - West Bountiful, Utah (Confirmed)
03/19: 2022 Lucky 13 - 10K - West Bountiful, Utah (Confirmed)
04/16: 2022 Eggs Legs 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
05/01: 2022 Reno Half Marathon - Reno, NV (Confirmed)
08/20: 2022 Provo Canyon to Pleasant Grove 10K - Lindon, UT (Confirmed)
10/01: 2022 Witch Run 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
10/22: 2022 Haunted Emigration Canyon 5K - Salt Lake City (Confirmed)
10/29: 2022 Haunted Half Provo 5K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)

Monday, December 20, 2021

2021 SoJo Santa Sprint 5K Race Recap - West Jordan, UT






Official Time: 21:24
Placement: 2nd in the 50 - 59, 17th out of 110 runners
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 28 degrees, slight wind from the south
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: Inaugural Race


Mile TimeComments
17:55Fast first mile - slight downhill got me rocking
27:52A little bit of a detour from the usual course, but still solid
2.745:40Last mile is mostly a gradual uphill. 
Total Miles: 2.74- 21.28







Introduction


Since I did the Rivalry Run this past summer, I've been doing a lot of the South Jordan race series races.  They are locally run races that are put on by their recreation department.  They tend to be affordable, low key, close to home and just fun.  

So I managed to sign up for their winter race series for $35.  I get a bunch of virtual runs and 2 in-person races.  Both include t-shirts and medals.  It is something to do when races are at a lull during the chilly winter months.






The Race


The race started at 10 AM.  The past few winters we've managed to dodge a lot of snow, but this past week it dumped a good 6 - 10 inches in the valley.  The race director had worked on the paved Jordan River Parkway throughout the week to ensure that we'd have a safe course.  In addition, at the last minute, he changed the course so that we wouldn't have to contend with ice.

Unfortunately, the course was going to be significantly short.  A lot of the southern part of the trail was still iced over.  So as I toed the line on Saturday morning, I knew the course was going to be pretty short.  On the plus side, we did have access to the Mulligans Golf Course clubhouse, so there was a warm place to hang out and flush toilets (always a perk!)

I had run a little more than a half mile into the course and I was a little dismayed to find some sections of the course iced over.  It wasn't terrible but definitely I'd be taking some of the turns and shaded sections a little slower than normal.

Also, I just felt "fatigued" during my warm-up.  Was it the wind? The chilly 28F air?  Too much racing?  I was just struggling and to be honest as I waited for the race to start I honestly didn't feel like racing, let alone running.

The race did start and I gave myself permission to just do a tempo run.  The course wasn't in the greatest shape, it was cold, and there generally wasn't anything on the line.  But once the starter started the race, I bared down.

After the first quarter mile, I thought I was just gonna start walking.  My heart rate felt really fast and I figured I was going to crash and burn after a half mile.  I just regrouped and focused on my turnover.  The course was short, so I could get through this.




We made our way south on the bike trail and I tucked in behind another runner, but all things considered I was doing okay.  I was a little shocked to see a 7:58 pop up on my Garmin after the quick first mile.  

Maybe this wouldn't be a bad race after all.

Another quarter mile took us to the turn around.  The course indeed was going to be VERY short.  I had heard rumors of it being 2.90 miles, but this was going to be a lot shorter.

I was working with a few other runners, but I was maintaining my pace nicely. Part of the return route took us along a sidewalk route.  There was barely enough room to pass people and I could look to my right and see other runners making their way south along the trail.  

Finally, we exited the sidewalk and returned to the bike trail.  I now had a very good sense of how much further I needed to run.  

Despite the course being short, I was now in full race mode.  I was out of any sort of contention for an award (it was 10 year age increments and a guy in my age group was well ahead of me)   Another person in my age group was behind me, so I was only racing for pride.  

I have been doing a lot of speedwork and I knew I could handle the pain that is associated with the final mile of a 5K.  

I finally crossed on the 106th Street bridge, did a short hill incline and the finish line came into view.  I glanced at my watch and saw just how short the race was....  I just sprinted to the finish -- finishing as strong as I have for a 5K in a long time.






Conclusion


I was actually really impressed with my race.  The footing and conditions weren't the greatest but I had run fairly consistently and I felt like my pace was increasing a bit as the race progressed.

My time for the race was 21:24.  Converting this to a 5K results in about a 24:33.  Totally on par with what I am running for a 5K this late in the season.  Despite not wanting to run / race, I actually did okay.




There wasn't much as far as refreshments went.  Just bottled water.  I definitely wasn't thirsty and to be honest for a sub $20 race, I had low expectations for the post race perks.  The race was held at the local golf course and they did have hot chocolate for runners.

I love the medal and the shirt is definitely something I'll wear.  I don't have many Santa running shirts, so this definitely fits with the season.

The race was well organized and there were plenty of volunteers along the course, so that there was no chance of getting misdirected or lost.  I wish there was a more expanded award system, but this was just a run to test my speed.  And let's face it, there aren't many races in December and January, so I'll take what I can get.


Thursday, December 9, 2021

2021 Laughlin Half Marathon Race Recap - Laughlin, NV




Official Time: 1:59:13
Placement: 86th out of 337, 56th male, 12th in age group
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Upper 40's, slight wind from the north
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2019]

Mile TimeComments
18:11This mile went better than expected. Fairly flat
29:05Slight uphill here -- keeping good form and being patient
39:26Worst of the initial hills. Just focusing on getting it done.
49:33Bathroom break for 20 - 30 seconds and then begin the downhills!
57:57Making up some time fast!
67:59 
78:14Hill lets up a bit -- now I need to power myself
810:15This hit me hard. Up a big service drive and my legs were shot
99:21 Slight incline here. I was desperately trying to get something going.
108:40Could I salvage this race?
119:20Back down to the dam. Just shuffling along
1210:43Running along the bike trail -- with some inclines. I hated this mile
139:49Forcing myself to give it all I had.
13.070:35Just get it done.
Total Miles: 13:07 1:59:12






Introduction


So way back in 2019 after completing my first Laughlin Half Marathon I decided to go for the double race medal and getting the Lake Havasu Half Marathon done.  If I ran both of them, I'd get an extra medal.  Having never been to Lake Havasu Arizona, it sounds like a cool plan.  The race was scheduled for April and it would be something new.

Unfortunately Covid-19 came along and postponed the race.  Early this year (in 2021) the race was scheduled to happen but I did not feel comfortable traveling.  With kind consideration from the race director, I was able to transfer the race entry to 2021's Laughlin Half Marathon.




When I ran the race in 2019, I had a great time and it was a challenging and unique course.  While the course is challenging, I wanted to do better on it and I put the memory of it in my back pocket to do again some day.  So I had absolutely no qualms about doing it again.  What's not to like: running, gambling, good food, desert scenery and all around fun!




The Race


The race started at 7 AM on Saturday 12/4/2021.  I found myself searching for the shuttle bus that would take me to the race site a little before 6 AM.  Memory served me correctly -- and the bus was in the same spot as it was last year.  I had picked up my bib at the packet pickup the day before, so I was pretty much set to run.  

The bus ride was fairly short.  It took us about 10 minutes to reach the high school where the race would start.  We had access to the high school gymnasium to stay warm in.  On the plus side, we had clean bathrooms as well.  The time went by quickly and there were plenty of people to socialize with.

The race started promptly at 7 AM.  We assembled out in the front parking lot, got some basic instructions and off we went.

The first mile of the race involves basically running a long lap around the school.  You wend your way around the school's parking lot before going down a service drive.  Whereupon  you do a lap around the high school's track and then returning back up the service drive.  

I hit the first mile in a pretty quick low 8 minute mile.  A bit too fast but on target given that the first mile was somewhat downhill.  I did take note that the next 2.75 miles were going to be challenging; I definitely remembered that from last year.




Those miles definitely are cause for pause.  It isn't a crazy ascent but you are definitely climbing.  Fortunately, you are still fresh into the race, and you've had a bit of a warmup.  I knew that the uphill would be short-lived and that I would get to the top and have some insanely fast miles coming back down.

I worked on maintaining my form, being patient and trusting that if I could just power through these miles that the sweet downhill reward would be just ahead.  I worked with some other runners so that helped.

I finally reached the summit of the main road at mile 3.77 -- just like I did 2 years ago.  I did realize that I had to use the restroom and at the top of the hill there was a porta pottie.  I had been flirting with whether I needed to go or not (#1) and I knew if I didn't go, I wouldn't be able to concentrate.  Fortunately the portable was empty and I took 30 seconds off my race to conduct my business.  

Concerning to me at this point was how out of breath I was. Had I gone out too hard?  The brief respite was actually pretty good for me.

I jumped out of the bathroom and I was immediately greeted with a beloved site: nothing but downhill for as far as the eye could see.  I took off down with this stretch with renewed vigor.  I had gotten through the worst part and the rest of the race would be comparatively easier.




The next 3 miles or so were a delight.  I was hitting 5K paces with ease.  My breathing was easy and I was just coasting along.  If only the entire race was like this.

I did about 1.5 miles along the main "highway" into town followed by a left hand turn into the Davis Dam / Pyramid Canyon area.  This is probably the prettiest stretches.  You can see the casino-lined town of Laughlin below you and after turning into the park's entrance you can see Davis Dam as a tiny white dot below.




The race became "real" upon reaching the bottom of the service drive.  I had forgotten that upon arriving to the bottom there were a few hills.  I thought there was maybe one, but I forgot the first one was quite long and steep and it was followed by a grind above the dam and up into Arizona, where the turn around lie.

My legs suddenly felt like Jell-O.  And while that mile wasn't too bad - pace-wise, every inch of it hurt.  My once easy pace was suddenly very hard.  And it didn't end upon reaching the top of the service drive to the top of the dam -- it continued.  I had conveniently forgot about this part.

My pace grew worse and I was dying to ask the front runners who were flying by me on the downhill how much further I needed to run.  Eventually, though, it did come and I turned around the coned off turn-around (and I was suddenly in Mountain Time and in the state of Arizona)  Finally I could recoup some of my time on the downhill back into Davis Dam Park.

Davis Dam



Unfortunately I was gassed.  I was in the marathon shuffle mode where every step seemed to take a lot of energy.  I was doing well, all things considered but my race at that point might as well have been over.

By the time I was down with the returning downhills and making my loop around the city park at the base of the dam, I was drained.  I kept willing myself forward and overall -- my miles splits at this point where still somewhat okay -- they came very hard-earned.

The next 2 miles are along the river walk bike trail.  It is actually really pretty.  To your right is a wall of dirt hills and to the left is the Colorado River.  You are surrounded by desert vegetation along the paved path  There are some stretches of hills -- particularly as you get near the edge of town.  And here I recorded one of my worst miles.  I just had nothing left.  I just wanted to be done.




The final mile is kind of cool -- you drop into north end of town and run along the bike trail before finally doing your last mile or so on the "Strip".  You are surrounded by casinos, a few spectators and businesses.  It isn't as cool as running at night along the Las Vegas Strip -- but it is a unique experience.

You do have one lane entirely to yourself and at this point I was intermixed with some of the 5K and 12K runners.  But it was a bit of a depressing feeling -- as I was being passed by many other half marathon runners who still had gas in the tank.

Finally the finish line drew near (the race is certified so I knew that I was going to have to run 13.10 miles) and I crossed under the finish line with a deep sigh of relief.




Conclusion


I really had visions of running this in 1:53 - 1:55.  While my training hasn't really been endurance-based, I felt I had done enough long runs leading into the race (each weekend doing 9 or 10 miles).  Also I was coming from 4500 feet elevation to about 500.

So I think not having a lot of endurance in me caused me to run out of gas at mile 8 or 9.  On the plus side, I did beat my time from 2 years by 2 minutes (more if you exclude the bathroom break).  Yet, I was still disappointed.  I was shooting for a strong end-of-year half marathon and I should've adjusted my expectations upon the course.




I grabbed some water (weird -- it was in a can of Liquid Death -- apparently they make water) and a banana and grabbed my medal.  The weather was absolutely perfect with only a bit of wind and I enjoyed just sitting on a retaining wall and watching runners cross the finish line.  The after glow of a race that was run hard (but not necessarily well) was just a joy.




After I recovered a bit, I ventured to my room -- I was staying at the finish line hotel -- the Tropicana of Laughlin, so it was a quick 10 minute shuffle and back.  I grabbed my camera, took some photos of the finish line and settled into a post-race rest mode.  I sat in the sunlight and enjoyed the weather and just people watched.




Post race refreshments included chips, cookies, fruit, water and beer.  They actually had a really nice spread of food and there was plenty to go around.

Overall the race was well worth it. I had registered ahead of time, so the price was reasonable, the medal was huge and the t-shirt was nicely designed.  I really enjoyed the course -- although it is challenging.  The views and the chance to run near the dam are unique and make this race travel-worthy (most of the runners were from California)  

There is definitely more downhill then uphill (at least according to my Garmin) but you really need to be prepared for the hills scattered throughout the course.

The medal's inner circle spins.


I really enjoyed the race and I would love to do this one again.  The organization was spot on and the mile markers were pretty accurate.  There was plenty of support and ultimately it was a pretty cheap getaway (all things considered), especially after taking advantage of the race discounts for the hotel.  It is a bit of a drive from Salt Lake City (7.5 hours) so it is a commitment.