Thursday, March 31, 2022

2022 Riverton Fit for Life 5K Race Recap - Riverton, UT







Official Time: 24:45
Placement: 2nd in age group 25th overall
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Low 60's, 12 mph winds from the south west
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2021] [2018] [2015] [2014]

Mile TimeComments
17:32Off to a very fast start. Aided by a hill.
27:53Some head wind on the way back
38:44Had to climb about .20 of a mile -- 80 feet climb
3.090:35Crush it to the finish.
Total Miles: 3.09 - 24:45




Introduction


One of the spring races that fall on my racing calendar is the Riverton Fit for Life Half Marathon and 5K.  It comes at just about a perfect time as far as the weather goes. However, the weather can be a wildcard.  It is usually windy -- as most Marches are in Utah and it can also snow or rain.

So signing up for this race when it is cheapest is definitely a gamble.  I usually pull the trigger sometime in January, getting a fully supported half marathon for around $40.

You may be wondering -- "hey Eddie, the title says 5K but you signed up for the half marathon. What's up?"

Well, every since the Winter Striders 10K, I've been dealing with some hip, lower back, hamstring problems.  Since the time I've injured it, I haven't really gone beyond 6 miles and downhill running seems to bother it immensely.  Also, I haven't run over 8 miles since Las Vegas. 

So my confidence in getting 13.1 miles done without have to resort to a walk was nearly nil.  Doing a 5K -- I could get through. Even if I had to walk.  So when I arrived at the race, I was able to quickly change from the half marathon to the 5K.  My ego took a hit, but I think my body thanked me.



The Race

I arrived at the race site and was quickly able to get my bib, shirt and was ready to race.  I took a test of the weather: it was breezy and warm.  I was suddenly glad I wasn't running the half marathon.  A good portion of the course is southward and fairly exposed, so I know I would've hit a lot of headwind in the middle miles.




I did a brief one mile warm-up and it quickly became apparent that I didn't feel bad at all. In fact, I felt really good.  What sore hip, hamstring and back?  Maybe I could've done the half marathon after all.



It's easier to spot myself in race photos with this shirt.



My race started promptly at 9:15 and I had told myself that I'd go out at about 10K pace and see what I had after that. Was I racing? I told myself no, but you know how that goes: once a racer, always a racer. 

Those plans were dashed pretty quickly as I blasted through the park, jockeying for a decent position as we headed towards a road that would take us to the bike trail.

The 5K is primary run through a residential area, past a golf course, and then dumping you onto the Jordan River bike trail.  The first 1.55 miles of it follows the half marathon course and I remembered many parts of it from the times I've run that edition.




The first mile is along residential streets along the golf course.  Just at about the mile position we head down a steep hill -- just shy of a quarter mile in length.  It is a paved switchback and here I was able to let gravity pull me down towards the Jordan River Bike Trail.  I had to hold back a little because of my back, but it seemed to be happy this morning.

By the time I hit the flats, I was still feeling fast.  I had run a solid 7:30 mile and now I had the wind at my back.  I felt like I was running really strong -- how could I not after having executed a fast mile and with a 10 mile per hour breeze at my back.

I wasn't terribly familiar with the 5K course but I recalled most of it from the times I've run the half marathon.  As we came to the first aid station, I glanced at my Garmin and saw that I was half way done with the race.

Over-striding for the win!



I saw the runner ahead of me touch (or come close to the aid station) and turn around.  I got the impression that we were supposed to run a loop around the aid station but I saw exactly no one doing it.  Turns out, we *were* supposed to run a loop around the aid station.  I (and most others) probably shortcut the course by a good 10 - 15 seconds as a result.

Turning around resulted in wind blowing into me, which dampened my spirits.  I tried to find someone to tuck in behind, but I was running solo for the most part.  Also the thought of climbing the hill back to the start had me worried. 

My next mile -- as a result -- was just shy of 8 minutes.  Still respectable, but without the tailwind and the massive downhill, my pace was right where it should be.  Could I manage a fast final mile?

I had measured the distance on the downhill and it was just shy of a quarter mile.  I recalled how many times I had done hill repeats up hills and if I dug deep, I could get up it and then hammer it home.  

The hill eventually came and I got over it.  It was slow going at first and once I got over the steepest part, I wound up overtaking those that had charged ahead of me.  I focused on my form and just getting over it without wasting a lot of energy and when it became less steep, I got my turnover going and pushed a little harder.




By the time I hit the top I hit my next gear and took off.  There weren't many runners behind me now and there weren't too many to try and pass but I bore down, calculating if I could still have a decent race.  I dropped a young woman who was working with me up the hill and it felt good as I got cheers and greetings from runners still heading out on the race.

I knew the rest of the way back to the finish line and the wind was no longer in my face.  Best of all, the remainder of the course was primarily flat.

I had lost a lot of time on the hill and facing a bit of a headwind in the initial part of mile 2 through 3, but I made up a lot of ground on it in the last half mile.  The final quarter mile was a bit tougher, as I had to run through the park's grass.

It was painful, but I got it done.  In the past, I might have given up on myself, but the times I've done quarter mile repeats and strides when I was hurting finally paid off.  I gave it max effort as I sprinted the last hundred yards.




Conclusion


I wound up crossing the finish line in a relatively disappointing 24:45.  It is hard to compare this race to others that I have done -- it was the first time I've run this course.

Despite my pedestrian time (for me) I felt like I had run pretty well.  I ran the flat / downhill parts strong, and did the best I could with the uphill part.  Best of all, my back and hip felt good throughout the race.  This won't go down as one of the best runs of 2022 for me, but I'll take it as a moral victory.

I came in 2nd place in my age division (the 50 - 54 for the half marathon was stacked with talent year).  Unfortunately, awards were only given to first overall.  I was a little miffed about the course confusion at the turn around -- also I was told that the top 3 males all ran a good portion of the half marathon and as a result never placed.




I paid about $40 for the race -- expensive for a 5K -- but a bargain for a half marathon.  I was incredibly sad not to be able to run the half, but my back, hips and my endurance weren't to be trusted that morning.  I still got a nice shirt, a timed race, a well organized race, and a ton of post race snacks at the end.  Plus a pretty nice finisher's medal.  Plus I had a ton of friends there to socialized with.  With the beautiful weather, it was just a great morning for comradery and running.

They also had plenty of free photos to borrow as well.

I am glad I didn't follow my ego on this race and force myself through a half marathon.  I have a feeling I wouldn't have lasted more than 6 to 8 miles.  I was able to make the most of the race, succeed at it and not pay too much of a price physically on it.




Overall, I was really happy with my experience from start to finish.  I plan on being here next year -- once again to try the half marathon.



Upcoming Races


04/16: 2022 Eggs Legs 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
04/23: 2022 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
05/01: 2022 Reno Half Marathon - Reno, NV (Confirmed)
06/18: 2022 Lamoille Canyon Half Marathon - Lamoille, NV (Confirmed)
07/02: 2022 Riverton Country Mile 10K - Riverton, UT (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)
02/26: 2023 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)



Tuesday, March 22, 2022

2022 Lucky 13 10K Race Recap - West Jordan, UT






Official Time: 48:43
Placement: 1st in the 50-55 15th overall
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 45F, 15mph winds from the south
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2021] [2019[2018] [2014]



Mile TimeComments
18:12Hemmed in a bit but tucked in and biding my time with the headwind
28:12
38:11Consistency
47:59Got some nice tailwind here. Can I take advantage of it?
58:13Quarter mile here of into the wind. Sort of sucked the life out of me.
67:58Crushing it to the finish
Total Miles: 6.00 - 48:46







Introduction


During the Black Friday sales around Thanksgiving time, I wound up signing up for the Lucky 13 race - a St Patrick's Day themed race (of sorts).  I've done it pretty much every year since it's inception (It took a break it would seem after the inaugural 2014 race).   It is a local race that is held at a local shopping area in West Jordan -- just a few miles down the road from where I live.  

The course itself is held on the Jordan River Bike Trail and I'll be honest, I've run along the trail more times than I can count.  It is actually my training ground.  It seems weird to pay for a race that I can run on at any time but as someone who loves to race, it is like competing on my "home" court.  On the plus side, as well, there is no course anxiety -- I know it and where it goes.




The Race


I wound up getting my bib the day before the race. The packet pickup was at the Gardner Village shopping center. Running there was a bit of a shakeout run -- 1.5 miles each way.  It helped me avoid the lines and any stress about getting my bib / shirt.

I showed up about 45 minutes before the race, parked and went to the race start.  Normally, the race starts and finishes at a common area in the mall.  But the city is doing sewer work and the walkway from the center to the bike trail was blocked off.

The race started at a clearing about .15 miles from the normal start of the race.  It was windy and chilly but temperature-wise -- great running weather.  Also, unlike last year, the air was dry and not a downpour.  I missed the clean bathroom that the shopping center provided, and I am also happy the air and ground were dry.  It could've been a quagmire.

There were 3 races: 5K, 10K, and half marathon.  The half started at 9 AM and each other race started 15 minutes later.  My 10K started at 9:15 and I was off and running after a very brief warm-up.

I half figured that today wasn't going to be a personal record day.  It was too windy, but I could make a good effort and see what sort of time I could turn in.  My goal was to go out at a dedicated 10K pace (low 8's) and then give it all I had on the way back with the tailwind.

The wind, while strong, wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.  However, I was running with a fellow who was a bit bigger than me and running a little faster.  I wound up tailing him for a the first mile or 2 -- using him as a shield.  The strategy seemed to work -- holding onto a 8:12 pace for the first two miles.  I couldn't ask for a better time as far as what I wanted to accomplish.

The course is run along the Jordan River Parkway and is a paved, multi-use bike trail.  You are surrounded by scrub, shrubs and of course the north-flowing Jordan River.  It isn't the most scenic course, but it does have its charm -- and it is as flat as it can be.

However, all good things must end and eventually the runner started to pull ahead.  I was really hurting as I approached mile 3.  The wind had taken a lot out of me and the pace was now getting harder.  I couldn't wait to turn around.

The turn around was at the 2nd age station.  I was a little dismayed that it was at 3.03 miles.  I think if the course had been run from the shopping center, it would've been close to a legit 3.10 miles.

As soon as I turned around, the wind stopped and I felt a sense of renewed energy. Finally! 

It was empowering to get some cheers and greets from the 10K runners behind me.  I didn't see anyone in my age group (from my best guesses) anywhere close to me.  But still, I've been wrong about age before and while the last few miles I didn't see another person behind me, I still wanted to try and catch the runner ahead of me.




I did hit a stretch of head wind around mile 4.25.  It seemed like the longest half mile as I ran west near the Sandy City Golf Course.  The wind had been blowing form the south and also evidently from the west.  There was absolutely no way to take shelter.  Hence my mile 4 to 5 time is a bit of a dip.

I knew I was getting close to the finish when I got to the 5K turn around.  I was working on navigating my way through the multitude of 5K runners.  It was also encouraging to speed past the 5K participants.  As a racer, I really do enjoy feeling like an "elite" athlete -- although I am anything but of course.

The final mile I was pushing hard.  While I knew the course was short and no one was behind me, I knew I could calculate what a "real" 6.2 mile race would equate to.  I was loving the tailwind and I was still feeling strong, despite some occasional moments when I thought my heart would jump out of my chest.

Finally I jumped over the final bridge and hauled it to the finish line.  It was a bit disheartening to see that the finishing arch had come down  -- presumably from the wind but I crossed in 48:43 for 6 miles.

Looking a little windblown.



Conclusion


It is never really satisfying not to know your time for an official course.  But running calculators estimate my finishing time of 50:30-ish.  You just never know what final push I could muster up to shave a few more seconds off of it.  This is definitely a sold performance -- despite the difficult circumstances.

Either way, I finished first in my age group and 15th overall.  And to be honest, I felt fantastic when I finished.  Sure I was tired, but I still felt like I had run a nice race -- my splits were the most consistent they've been in a long time.




Post race refreshments included drink and ice cream sandwiches and fruit.  It was chilly but I managed to get 2 100 calorie ice creams down.  My car was parked a bit away, but I trekked over to it and grabbed warmer clothes and my phone.  By the time I got back, awards were being doled out.  

I really like the finisher / awards medals.  They are heavy and well designed. I love t-shirts, but I like the 100% polyester ones.  This was a blended one.  It will go into my St Patrick's themed race shirts collection (I have a ton of them).

Overall, I was happy with my experience.  $30 for a supported / timed 10K race isn't a bad deal.  It was also fun and I got to see a bunch of local running friends.  I'll likely run this race again next year.


Sunday, March 13, 2022

March 2022 Running Update




Miles Year to Date: 330 (3/13/2022)


Running Update


Training this year has been good.  I am averaging around 25 - 35 miles per week, with a max of 40.  A little light for my liking but still good enough to maintain half marathon endurance and yet have energy to work on my speed.

I admit, I race too much and this has gotten in the way of extra-long runs and prepping multiple times a week for races.  So I have to count my races as speed workouts too.

Injury-wise I am holding up okay.  A little bit of plantar fasciitis at times but it is still manageable. I am dealing with some hip pain, which erupted a week or two ago and flared up at yesterday's race.  I went for a shake out run this morning and it again made itself known. I had to do a 1.5 mile walk back home.  I am hoping it isn't serious.  It doesn't hurt for ordinary activities -- only when I run.

I am hoping it doesn't derail me too much.





Diet and Sleep

Normally, my sleep would be pretty good.  I go to bed at the same time each night -- about 9 PM.  Sleep is one of the most fundamental recovery tools.  I'll get up just a hair before 6 AM to start my day at 7 AM.

Unfortunately my sleep isn't the best.  It would be described as fitful at best.  I managed about 6 or 6.5 hours, which is definitely less than the recommended 8.  I try different schedules and patterns to no avail.  I think this is a key thing to work on.

My diet is still light years ahead of where it was in the winter of 2020.  I am still down about 10 - 15 pounds.  My scale tells me a different story each day.  When I do consistently get readings where I am a bit heavier than usual, it is a message for me to dial back the sweets and chips and get more vegetables.  I am refraining from eating out -- although I did have some high-calorie meals in Las Vegas.  But maintaining a healthy weight and eating the right food has definitely given me the energy to complete tough workouts.




Upcoming Races

03/19: 2022 Lucky 13 - 10K - West Bountiful, Utah (Confirmed)
03/26: 2022 Riverton Half Marathon - Riverton, UT (Confirmed)
04/16: 2022 Eggs Legs 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
04/23: 2022 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
05/01: 2022 Reno Half Marathon - Reno, NV (Confirmed)
06/18: 2022 Lamoille Canyon Half Marathon - Lamoille, NV (Confirmed)
07/02: 2022 Riverton Country Mile 10K - Riverton, UT (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)
02/26: 2023 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)

Saturday, March 12, 2022

2022 Winter Striders 10K Race Recap - Ogden, UT




Official Time: 54:36
Placement: 3rd in the 50 - 54, 33rd overall
Results: Here
Race Website:Here
Weather: Mid 40's -- no wind.
Garmin Dump:  Here
Previous Years:  [2017] [2016] [2015]


Mile Time Comments
1 8:10 Decent start -- some rolling hills.
29:21Okay already things are getting hard
39:21Not letting up at all
47:36If only the race was like this the entire time. Fast downhill.
59:44Did a flat loop and then have to climb back up a steep hill.
69:5480% of this mile was up hill. I actually did pretty well.
6.070:29Downhill to the finish. Last quarter mile or so was fun.
Total Miles: 6.07 - 54:37



Introduction


It's been a while since I've been to Ogden to run one of their race series.  Half a decade ago, I was a regular at their races.  The past couple of years though, I've had race conflicts, Covid-delays, or just too many races and not enough recovery to make the drive up there and participate.

This past weekend, I didn't have a race on my calendar.  I had some options -- drive down to Southern Utah and participate down there or sit it out.  I wanted to race but didn't want to spend the money and make the drive to Southern Utah -- having just been down there 2 weeks ago.

I had resigned myself to not racing and getting in a training run, which I was fine with.  However, I started hitting up some of my friends for ideas and discovered that the Winter Striders had their 10K.  I figured why not -- an easy drive, get the race done and maybe grab some food up there.  Sounded like a fun morning.  So I fired up the old web browser and signed myself up.





The Race


So the race is part of the Ogden Marathon series.  They have a 5K, 10K, half marathon and 30K designed to train you for the Ogden Marathon.  They also have a short course for those doing the half marathon.  In the past, they were well attended and extremely competitive.

I hadn't been there for a race of theirs (other than the Ogden Marathon) in quite some time.  The 10K course had changed and I noticed a bit less people.  Also there were no age group awards for this race (only for the entire series).  The course, in my opinion, was a lot harder then the predecessor, but still enjoyable and scenic.

I got there at 7 AM for the 8 AM start, grabbed my bib, used the potties a few times and did a quick mile shake out run. It was chilly but not awful -- with no wind.  I wound up wearing shorts, thin gloves and a long-sleeved tech shirt.  I also tossed on my skullcap running hat.  I was pretty happy with my running choices.




The race started on time and I was off running.  I had studied the new course a bit and I definitely remembered the 10 mile race which I had run a few years ago.  This course shared some of the same streets -- so I knew I was going to be in for a challenging race.

Sure enough, the first mile included a lot of rolling hills.  I felt comfortable as I started the race and told myself to be patient.  I had some idea of how the course was laid out, but I had a few surprises coming at me.  I was very happy with an 8:10 first mile. But how much slower was I was going to go?

Mile 2 and 3 hurt -- badly. I knew I wasn't even going to come close to last week's blistering 10K time of 50:34.  The hills were relentless.  Occasionally, I was treated to a downhill section, but primarily we were climbing.  None of the hills were back breakers but they were definitely hills.  I was gassed and sort of saddened to see 9:21 miles pop up.  I was running faster than that for my half marathon!

Finally we got to the highest point of the race and I galloped down Skyline Drive.  A steep downhill section.  I was flying.  Another guy next to me thanked me for pacing him and I said hang on tight, we gotta go up this thing on the way back.  I don't think he believed me.

The views were beautiful and I nailed a 7:36 pace.  Wow!  The problem was that I had some extreme muscle soreness in my left lower lumbar.  It lit up the side of my hip and lower back.  It hurt.  I cursed to myself more than once.  I wanted to take advantage of the downhill more fully, but every downhill section it let me know it was upset with me.  

After making it to the bottom of the hill, we had to do a flat section.  My legs were pretty gassed and the issue with my back turned to a dull roar.  It actually wasn't bad when I was running uphill or the flats.  And I was still holding a decent pace for the flat sections.  My endurance was still good.

However, the final 2 miles were all up the hill I had hit a 7:30 on, on the way down.  The first section around mile 4.25 was the worst and it seemed like everyone was walking or huffing and puffing hunched over.  I just worked on my turnover, kept a good form and worked my way up the hill.




The course was a loop and it was great to receive some cheers from those making their way down the hill.

At this point, I knew the way back to the finish line and I knew what lay ahead.  The hill -- that lasted well over a mile -- got a bit easier the further I ascended.  I could almost smell the finish line from about half a mile away and my turnover quickened.  I still had plenty left despite some fatigue in my legs.

Upon cresting the hill, I had a section of mostly flat / downhill.  Collectively, the runners around me sped up and our 9:45 pace suddenly dipped back into "real" 10K pace. 

There were no age group awards and I hadn't participated in the 5K race for this, so I wasn't eligible for any awards.  But still, my ego was on the line.  I pressed onwards and smashed the last quarter mile.  I flew under the finish line -- not feeling totally dead, but relieved I had gotten through this race.





Conclusion


So I ran a 54:30 -- a full 4 minutes slower than last week's flat race.  Granted, this race -- according to my Garmin had 700+ feet of elevation climb.  And the elevation was a bit higher.  Definitely not conducive for a personal record race.

None the less, harder races build character and everyone else had to run the same course as I did.  I sort of checked around what other people usually ran a 10K in and my time was in line with what others who finished near me were capable of.

The race set me back $33.  I got a t-shirt, a timed race with results, course support, and coffee / Hostess products at the end.  It was also a fun time with great weather.  I had registered the week of the race, so I wasn't expecting any bargains.  Overall, I was happy with my experience.

After the race I socialized and checked in with a variety of people and just enjoyed the crisp morning air. I didn't know anyone there -- I don't usually race much in Ogden, but runners tend to be a social bunch, so it was easy to chat other people up.

I am at a loss to say whether I ran well compared to other times I've done this race.  The 3 other times are easily comparable.  But this route only shared maybe 40% of the original 10K.  In looking at previous races, it would seem that there was less elevation climb than this one.  Still, it's hard to compare definitively.  

I am just happy to finish strong and get in a tough run in.  The hills build character!  Now, I just need to fix my back!






Wednesday, March 9, 2022

2022 March Madness 10K Race Recap - Woods Cross, UT




Official Time: 50:34
Placement: 3rd overall, 1st in the 50 - 54
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 40's, slight wind from the south
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2021] [2020] [2018] [2017] [2016]

Mile TimeComments
17:59A little fast but had a slight downhill
27:59Settling into the race. Still feeling good
38:06Finally the turn around -- let off the gas a little
48:06Still fairly consistent but I am definitely hurting
58:17
68:36Slight incline. No one to work with.
6.20       1:29Push to the finish
Total Miles: 13:05 - 1:53:49






Introduction


For the last half dozen years I've done the March Madness race in Bountiful - about 25 minutes north of where I live.  The location almost always changes every year (to some degree or another) but the race is the same -- a 5K, 10K or half marathon for a bargain basement price -- generally less than $30 for the half and about $20 for the 5K / 10K.

The race also supports the Bountiful Food Pantry, so the money raised supports that organization.

This year, the race was held at West Bountiful Park.  A few years ago, this was the race's headquarters and it moved a time or two to other locations near the Legacy Bike Trail. So large swatches of it remain consistently the same I've run the course (or variations of it) many times over the years in various weather conditions: from rain, gale force winds, to generally mild March weather.




The Race


I arrived at the park about an hour before the race and quickly grabbed my bib.  I made a few trips to the bathroom, did a short warm-up and declared myself ready to race.

I am in green under the arch.



Going into the race, I told myself I was racing it but definitely not all out,  My legs were still beat up from last weekend's half marathon and I definitely didn't feel 100% as far as racing went.  I still suited up for the event -- wearing my racing shoes (Saucony FastTwitches), light gloves, shorts and a t-shirt.  For appearances sake, I was in race mode.




The race started promptly at 9 AM and I lined up about 10 people behind the lead back and started running.

The race had about 200 people (the park's limit) and the participants were running one of three races: the 5K, 10K or half marathon.  It was hard to tell who was running what race but I just worked on keep a low 8 minute per mile pace as I made my way west towards the Legacy Bike Trail.

It took a little over a mile to reach the bike trail and I was hitting what I wanted to.  Despite my reluctance to run really hard, I felt it was easy to hit slightly above my target pace.  The first two miles went well -- 7:59s.  But could I hold onto this pace?

Stretch of Legacy Bile Trail -- approximately mile 1.33


The speedier 5K runners were already headed back and now I was running with the half marathoners and faster 10K runners.  As I got deeper into the 10K I saw a few lead runners heading back.  I don't think I made much of a mental note of how many of them that there were but there weren't that many.  It just looked like I was the only one over 40.

Leaving the Trail and heading back to the park


I reached the turn around point after hitting an 8:06 mile (I was slowing down a bit).  I looked over my shoulder to see if anyone was following me back towards the start line, only to discover that I was running solo.  I could barely make out another 10K runner ahead of me and I didn't see anyone behind me.  Was this it?

I was still feeling pretty strong but I had my doubts that I could hold the pace that I was running. Usually after the turn around is where the pain sets in and you know it is going to get worse.  It takes a lot of focus to maintain the pace.  But at the same time, with no competition, I let myself drop my pace a bit. 

As I made my way back, I was given words of encouragement from those behind me.  I felt like an elite athlete as I powered through another 8:06 mile despite the head wind.  While I was grateful, no one was behind me, I think I needed someone to scare me to not let up.

One of the spectators along the course.


I definitely had to dig deep from mile 4 to 5.  I kept willing myself forward.  If only I could get off the bike trail and onto the neighborhood streets again, I'd be so close (yet, I still had another mile to go once I hit that point)  The bike trail is mostly flat, but it isn't super scenic as traffic from the Legacy Freeway whizzed by me and all I wanted to do was see Pages Lane again -- at least then I'd know I was getting close.




The last mile is a bit uphill.  I knew it would be and it isn't anything substantial, but it wears you down.  Mile 5 is always the toughest of a 10K and I was still shocked that I couldn't see anyone behind me and once in a while I could make out another runner well into the distance ahead of me.  I still had no idea where I was in overall placement, but I figured I had my age group pretty well sealed.

Some of the spectators along the course.


Occasionally I passed some 5K walkers, which was motivating but again, I was running solo  I was dismayed and not entirely surprised to see an 8:30 mile come up on my watch as I lumbered towards the final quarter mile.




Despite not having any competition, I really pushed hard the last 90 seconds.  If anything, I could impress myself with a sprint-to-the-finish photo at the end.  I think I closed the final .2 of a mile at 5K pace.  It turns out I did have a bit more in me than I thought I did.

Crossing the finish line.

Conclusion


I crossed the finish line in a hair above 50:30.  The course was certified and measured 6.20 miles on my watch - so definitely a legitimate time.  Despite feeling pretty beat up before the race, I ran extremely well.  I had predicted I would finish in the 51's, so finishing nearly a minute faster felt good.

I was immediately handed a glass 3rd plate overall.  I knew they gave out prizes almost immediately upon crossing the finish line, but I was pleasant surprised to get this even cooler award (in the past they've given out mugs).  I also didn't think I would be recognized for 3rd overall -- I knew I had the age group win in hand though.  So definitely a bonus.

Plate, medal and smiling runner


The race had some snacks and I wound up socializing for a bit afterwards.  They had predicted some dire weather forecasts for the day, but all in all, it turned out to be a great day for running.  Mid 40's for temperature and only a slight breeze.  I know in the past I've run this race in gale force winds.

This race continues to be a bargain and one that I always put on my calendar each March.  It is cheap, well supported and professionally done.  The stakes are pretty low but I still enjoy it and it makes for a great test of fitness.  It is also a wonderful social event in that many runners of all abilities are able to participate and have fun.

Plate and finisher's medal.






Friday, March 4, 2022

2022 Las Vegas Half Marathon Race Recap - Las Vegas, NV





Official Time: 1:57:31
Placement: 1759th overall, 124th in 50-54 age division
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 50's at the start, upper 40's at finish.
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2019] [2018] [2017] [2016] [2015] [2014] [2013] [2012] [2011] [2010] [2009]

Mile TimeComments
19:10Off to a decent start. Crowded but just working away it
29:22Quick bathroom break. Holding back at this point
38:53Heading back towards the starting line.  This mile went too fast.
48:57
58:56
68:40Pretty much leaving the crowds. 
78:55
88:54Very consistent miles here. Feeling really good
98:48I knew at this point I had this.
108:43
118:43
129:04Now the struggle hits -- but I was still doing well.
138:57Consistent
13.171:26Cruise to the finish
Total Miles: 13.17 1:57:34




Introduction


Every year since its inception, I've done the Las Vegas Marathon (from 2009).  I am one of a handful of legacy runners who shows up each year and participates in this event.  Way back when, this was the site of my first marathon and the race was a morning race in December.

Over the years the race has changed a bit.  It became a night run in 2011 and as of this year, the marathon appears to be forgotten (it was never very well received).

I'll be honest, most of the years (if not all), I run a race that I was hoping for.  Either I haven't prepared properly, I go out too fast, I have stomach issues, the weather doesn't cooperate -- something invariably goes wrong. I usually have more bad experiences then good when it comes to running this race.

Leading up to the race, I was filled with woe.  What would go wrong? Why do I put myself through this?

So I started to reframe the race -- I get to participate in this.  I should have fun and enjoy the experience of running down the Las Vegas Strip -- at night.  Not everyone gets to do this and you've trained hard to be here.

So I set out with 3 goals for the day:

  1. Enjoy the race -- and run as evenly as possible. No blow ups.
  2. Run sub 2 hours
  3. Run sub 1:55


The Race


Packet pickup this year was held at Resorts World.  They had free parking and an easy-to-access area to pick up the bib.  It was crowded by the time I got there -- around 1 PM.  Fortunately, it was very easy to get my bib, circle around the expo.  I took a quick tour of Las Vegas's newest casino on the block.





I then basically had to lay low for the next 24 hours until the race started.  Las Vegas is walking town and distances are deceptively longer than they look.  That casino across the street looks like it is a 2 minute walk away, but sometimes the jaunt takes closer to 20.

The race starting village was located behind the Planet Hollywood -- much like the 2019 edition.  With the race starting at 4:30 and my loading time beginning at 3:45 PM, I headed over there a hair after 3 PM and found myself waiting in a large parking lot along with thousands of other runners.  They had some entertainment and more Porta Potties then I've ever seen before.  I managed to kill the time in short order before entering the first loading zone and then eventually making my way to the starting line, where I had to wait another 30 minutes before the race start.




In years past, the race started and it usually took a good 20 to 30 minutes before I started running.  It just took quite a bit time for each group to start running.  This year, I had jockeyed myself into a pretty good position and they also had a metered output of runners -- so more runners could start running sooner.  It seemed to work and within about 5 minutes of the race officially starting, I was running.






With my goal in mind of running consistent splits, I started off fairly conservatively.  People were passing me but I just maintained a fairly even pace.  I tried not to let the excitement of the race push me and I felt like I was doing a easy paced miles.  My heart rate felt easy and I definitely wasn't pushing it.  

I felt like 9:30 for the first 3 miles would set me up to pick up the pace.  Unfortunately, that didn't really go to plan.  I was a little dismayed to run 9:10.  




Midway through the start of the second mile I felt like my bladder was full.  I had probably peed a dozen times in the past 90 minutes but I think the nerves got the best of me.  I saw a set of bathrooms at the first water stop.  I decided to duck in and take care of business. I was actually shocked at how badly I had to go.  It probably set me back 20 seconds.

Having run this edition of the course several times now, I was relieved to make the first turn and start heading back towards the iconic Strip.  There aren't many turns in this race but mentally it was a dividing point for me.

It was warm and I was working up a good sweat.  I am not really trained for running in the heat but that would all change after the sun set.  But in the first few miles of the race I did wind up splashing some water over my head to keep cool.




I hit the pace I wanted to for the first 5K -- a hair over 27 minutes.  I was still feeling good, but experience told me that could change.  It was still early to push the pace and start racing.  Again: goal #1 was to finish strong no death marches.  My heart rate was still in the zone I wanted.




The problem was the crowd and cheering did start to work their magic.  Deceptively my pace quickened. I felt like I was running the same pace but I was stunned to see 8:45's show up on my watch.  Every now and then I dialed it back, but it was hard to contain as I was cheered on by random strangers.

I made my way north and eventually the crowds thinned out and the running got a bit more lonely.  Instead of crowds of people, I was now greeted by wanderers along the sidewalks and the occasional police man.  I was never really alone -- there were plenty of runners around me but the revelry of the strip got more gritty.  At the 10K point, it was definitely night time as well.




I was still holding the pace I wanted and in all honesty, I felt fantastic.  My splits were consistent and I felt like I could hold the pace indefinitely.  Always a good sign.

I was tempted to start "racing" at mile 7, but I decided to hold off a bit more.  Once I made the lollipop loop at the north end of the course and started my way back on Las Vegas Blvd I would up the pace a bit.

We finally made it container park and I witnessed the heat-inducing bursts of hot air from a mechanical cricket before making the final turn back to the Strip.  I felt great.  With 4 miles to go, I kicked it into a little faster gear.  I had this!  I visualized my normal 4 miles at home and how many times I had done 4 miles.  





I started passing people. Could I actually be having a great race?

I didn't really know -- at times -- what my pace was.  It had gotten darker and as I've gotten older I can no longer read my Garmin at night.  Occasionally if I passed under a well lit section of street I could catch a glimpse, but I could no longer really monitor my progress.  But I felt fast.

I lost a bit of energy on mile 11 through 12.  I've always struggled with this mile.  And in all honesty, I felt like I had run it a lot faster than 9 minutes.  I was hurting but still making ground and passing a few others that had gone out too quickly.  I could see the Treasure Island tower in the distance, and it seemed so close -- yet so far away.



Once my watch hit mile 12 I gave whatever I had left.  I still didn't have a good sense of what my overall time was (and to be honest I didn't care) but I wanted to finish strong.  That was priority #1 for me.  My watch was off by at least .05 of a mile (probably from zig zagging) and I took it a quarter mile of a time.




I could see the neon and pulsating lights in the distance.  The music grew louder and those around me also sensed the finish line getting closer.  The crowds had returned and I received more cheers from people.  I gave it all I had once I heard the familiar announcer's voice cheering people on.  

I cross the finished line, arms held high.  I did it!  I had what I would deem a "good" race.



Conclusion


I was ecstatic to see a 1:57:30 on my watch.  Definitely not my fastest half marathon time, but a decent one for the first one of the year for 2022.  I finished with a smile on my face, unlike the last few I've done where I've suffered the last few miles.  I had accomplished 2 of my 3 goals.

I took a few pictures of the finish line area and began my long walk out of the chute.  The finisher's area is no joke.  It is a solid half mile walk before you can exit the area.  

They had plenty of refreshments: chips, water, Gatorade, bananas, fruit snacks, etc.  One thing that was missing -- and it happened in 2019 -- no bathrooms.  Fortunately, I didn't have an emergency this year, but I could've / would've like to have gone.




So the race this year was done well.  The starting zone was done correctly, I was able to hit my paces early on and everything was just well staged.  I was miffed about no bathrooms at the end, but all things considered, this race was executed well.  

For me, I ran perfectly.  No, this wasn't a personal record -- not by any means -- but it was a huge confidence boost.  I was in shape to run a decent half marathon and I paced it perfectly and the last 3 miles weren't awful.  




I registered for this race way back in 2019 at the Expo.  It's been sitting in my back pocket for a while.  It is a pricey race, but all things considered, a value.  Given the logistics of this type of race, I was happy with my experience and price paid.




I was happy with the shirt and I got a new shirt when I registered for the 2023 edition.  The medal -- I'll be honest -- was a little smaller. It was heavy and it you can split the medal revealing 2 cards, so it was more than just a simple medal.  It probably won't go down as my favorite though.




Once again, I was buzzing over my race experience for several days after the race.  The joy of it was a bit diminished to see that over a hundred other men in my age division finished ahead of me, but I had done well.

Normally after racing this race, I am left wondering if I want to do the race next year -- or if it'll be my last one, but now, I can't wait!