Thursday, December 28, 2023

2023 Year in Running

In Mesquite Nevada - along my favorite stretch of bike trail

Total Miles: 1898

I am very happy with the total.  I would've liked to have hit 2000 but given how much I raced and the training I did, 1900 miles is a good consolation prize.  

Products of the Year:

I found three products that made a huge difference in my running.  First off, though, I should state that I am not really a product hound. Meaning, I pretty much have run with the same type of equipment year after year.  I suspect seeing some of these items on YouTube convinced me to give them a shot.

The Zipper Flip Belt: I used to stash my keys under a tire during a race and I'd go running without a phone.  Now -- I don't have to worry about it.  This belt holds gels, keys, and even a phone.  Usually while running, I forget it is even there.  I don't always use it, but it's been a nice addon for races and long runs and it is super secure -- even hotel keys don't slip out of the back of it. Well worth the investment.

Brooks Glycerin: I went to the store seeking a more cushioned shoe over my steadfast Brooks Adrenalines and I was sold on these.  The shoes aren't pillow soft but they are a definitely a smoother ride over the Adrenaline shoe.  I found myself working less hard and ran faster for my easy runs with the shoes.  They also lasted MUCH longer than the Adrenalines... with my first pair hitting over 425 miles (and I suspect I could've gotten more out of them). These might make my new daily trainer over the Adrenalines.  The downside is that they are slightly more expensive (about $20)

Saucony Endorphin Pro 2s:  There are later editions to this shoe out, but I got these last year during a blowout sale and I bought them on a whim -- sight unseen.  Normally the shoe runs for $150 or more -- and I got a pair for $89.  After my initial run with them, I came home and immediately ordered another pair.  I could run significantly faster compared to even the speedy FastTwitches and they became my go-to race shoe.  I used them for nearly every race after the St George Half Marathon and I think I got a nice boost from them. It took a bit for my feet to get used to them, but the times I was turning in were awesome.  By the end of the year, I had snagged another 2 pairs of shoes and managed to make the initial pair work for over 400 miles.  Just an incredible product for the money.

How Things Went

I set out with some pretty ambitious goals for 2023.  Most of them I successfully completed:

Work on Speed: Very Successful.  Throughout the year I made it a point to at least once a week do some sort of speed session.  I collected several from YouTube and implemented them frequently.  This is the one thing I am most proud of:  I was dedicated to working during my daily runs.

Smash 24 for the 5K: Mildly Successful   I ran several sub 24 minute 5Ks throughout the year.  My stretch goal was to hit 23:30.  I had higher hopes for even faster times, which I didn't hit.


Keep doing Easy Miles: Very Successful.  Most of my runs were at the zone 2 heart rate.  I embraced the 80 / 20 (80% of my miles are easy, the rest are work).  I over raced though which interfered with this ratio.  The 80% helped me bulk up my mileage without causing undo stress.  I am happy to report that I also didn't suffer any significant injuries this year either.

Embrace Racing Longer Distances: Very Successful.  I don't recall ever setting out to do this specifically but this I did well -- running  8 half marathons.  I had some grand visions of potentially running a full marathon, but I never committed to it.  I did way too many of these races, but it felt good covering that distance.

Do Strength Training: Mildly Successful   For the most part I was successful at this.  More or less, it depended upon my energy levels and what was on TV.  But I was more consistent than not and I think it is one reason why I stayed injury free this year.

Do a Destination Race: Successful.  The one race I did that qualifies was the Cedar City Half Marathon.  It wasn't quite a "new" destination but it was a race I hadn't done before and it did require a hotel stay.  I thoroughly enjoyed it despite having a tough race.

Goals for 2024

Race Less:  This sounds very easy, but for me, it is a bit of a "do I really want this?".  The short answer is that it is probably for the best.  I can't think of many races that I did in 2023 where I felt 100% rested.  I think largely it was because I carried a fairly large training load and I went into every race thinking it might be my day to PR.  Some races have more meaning than others and I need to learn to hold back on races that don't offer a lot.  This will allow me to train a bit harder throughout the week and not get overly fatigued from racing too often.

Do a New Race: The question is which one?  I definitely will need to start to do some race shopping to successfully complete this one.  Also the asterisk next to this one is that I should try to do one that isn't local -- some place new.

Run 1750+ Miles: This one just takes consistency and staying injury free. This really is a "given" in my yearly goals and not much of a stretch goal

Goal Times:  This is the area which will require work / dedication and is my primary focus for this year.  My goal times for the year: 23:30 for the 5K, sub 49 for the 10K and 1:51 for the half marathon.  All presume flat, certified courses.  By building up a solid base and doing my weekly speed sessions, I think this is doable.

Clean up my Diet: This year saw the return of all the weight I had lost during the pandemic.  The culprit to some extent is the return of eating out at restaurants too much.  I also bought too much junk food for around the house.  The weight I've gained -- about 15 pounds -- has definitely slowed me down.  I need to get back to basics and watch my portion control.

Upcoming Races

01/13: 2024 Virgin River Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)
02/10: 2024 South Davis Recreation Center Sweethearts 5K - Bountiful, UT (Confirmed0
02/25: 2024 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)
03/02: 2024 March Madness 10K - West Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
03/30: 2024 Eggs Legs 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
04/202024 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
04/27: 2024 Apple Blossom 10K - Santaquin, UT (Confirmed)
05/27: 2024 Run of Remembrance 10K - American Fork,  UT 
06/01: 2024 Utah Valley Half Marathon - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
07/242024 Deseret News Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed
08/17: 2024 PC2PG 10K - Lindon, UT (Confirmed)
09/07: 2024 Cedar City Half Marathon - Cedar City, UT (Confirmed)
09/28: 2024 Witch Run 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
10/19: 2024 Haunted Half 5K - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
10/26: 2024 Haunted Half 5K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)

Thursday, December 7, 2023

2023 Race Summary


By far my favorite photo of the year


I was busy this year!  I didn't really intend it to work out this way, but I simply couldn't turn down a chance to race it would seem.

I did have some opportunities to run on the cheap -- or even free.  It started with some of the Black Friday deals that came out in 2022. I snapped up any bargain race I could.  I also know a timer, who would occasionally give me an entry into a race (part of his contract).

Had higher hopes at the Riverton Half Marathon

Number of Races Run (35)

  • 5Ks: 17
  • 10Ks: 10
  • Half Marathons: 8

Most of the races were 5K / 10K distances, which was my primary focus for the year.  Late in the year and early, I wound up doing a few half marathons as well. I found the half marathon getting a bit harder.  A decade ago, I could mail one in and get it done without too much stress.  Now, they are a bit more work and take more out of me.

The over-racing did take a toll on me, particularly in the summer.  I'd race on Saturday and try to run long on Sunday.  Sometimes I could do it, sometimes I couldn't. Usually by Tuesday I could attempt a speed session and then the rest of the week would be prepping for the next weekend's race.  I'll be honest, the racing did interfere with some quality sessions and my weekly training.

I love to toe the line and get a t-shirt, medal and see friends.  It was fun at times and other times I asked myself why I was putting myself through this.  I never felt 100% recovered at most points in the year.  I remember standing at the starting line at some of the races and asking myself, "Why am I here?"  Mostly the answer came back as "This is what I do and this is what I train for".

Overall Performance

I am pretty happy with my times this year.  With consistent speed training, remaining injury free, and the Saucony Endorphin Pro 2's on my feet, I ran well.  I had higher hopes but overall my times are in line with what I was training at.

I've found that as I get older, my ability to perform great gets harder and harder.  I've raced for nearly 20 years now, so ultimately I'll probably never reach where I was at when I was in my 30s.  I do think I can get faster though, which was the goal for 2023.

I dedicated the year to speed work and smart training sessions.  The speed sessions in particular helped and built my confidence and pain tolerance.  I also boosted my mileage up to about 40 miles per week.  I think I could've gotten this even higher if I had dialed back the races a little more.  While it wasn't quite the breakout year I had envisioned, I do feel like I am a stronger runner than now compared to where I was at the start of the year.

Below, I have listed my best and worst race performances of the year.  These events are in no way reflective on the race organizer.  It is a day where I showed up ready to race and either something good came out or something didn't work out.  I have excluded the super fast downhill races, for the most part.  While just about any massive downhill race can be considered a great race due to the usually fast times, I don't think they are reflective to how I ran.

Overall, though, I am really happy with the way my race season turned out in 2023.  I raced a lot, felt like I ran well and improved.  There seemed to be more focus in my training and I really enjoyed the experience throughout the year.

Best Race Performances:

Run SLC 5K

The year started off with a bang on this race.  I set out a goal of running sub 24 and despite it being very cold, I ran really well.  This race is fast and I believe a measured course that is truly 3.10 miles.  While my time was pretty much the same as when I ran it in 2022, I felt like I was on target for hitting my goal of running a 23:30 5K.

Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon

I hadn't run particularly well for my inaugural half marathon in 2023 and I've only run "well" in Las Vegas one or two times, so I had my doubts that this race would make it to my list.  But for the second year in a row, it did. The race started off without a lot of excitement and I was able to settle into an easy relaxed pace.  As the race progressed, my pace got a bit faster.  It was aided with a tailwind and a new pair of carbon-plated shoes.  I was still running strong well into the race, despite now having a headwind and late in the race I decided to really push.  What did I have?  I managed to finish with a 1:54 -- not exactly a stellar time, but I felt like I had finished strong and persevered through what is normally "not a good race" for me.  Honorable mention goes to the Salt Lake City Half Marathon as well.

Utah Valley 10K

This is the one race I put on the list that was downhill.  The course was also short, according to my Garmin.  However, it wasn't an insanely downhill race and I felt that the way I ran it and pushed hard at the end, gave me a ton of confidence in that I was heading in right direction.  I was also coming off a great 10K at the Eggs Legs Race, so I knew my training was going in the right direction.  I still remember the young man who paced me in the last mile and made me not give up.  Hopefully I'll run into him again.

Worst Race Performances:

Virgin River Half Marathon

So the year started off not so hot.  I stepped into the Virgin River Half Marathon and it was a new course.  Armed with some decent training, and a lot of confidence, I expected this race to go well.  It did for about the first half of the race. After that -- the wheels slowly fell off.  My initial pace was fine, but it just wasn't there and I knew it.  Perhaps my endurance wasn't the greatest, but I remember the last 2 - 3 miles being dreadful.

Snow Canyon Half Marathon

This race was a tale of two races.  And I really wanted to PR here.  I felt rested, well-trained and I knew the course. The weather was cool with only a mild headwind.  This the day for a PR.  

The first 15K were a blast ... running the downhills at near 10K race pace.  The final 6K?  There were times were I just wanted to sit on the side of the curb and cry.  I got it done and my overall time wasn't bad, but it could've been so much better. 

Lindon Days 5K

This was a race I had no business racing.  I think a friend was going to be there, it was cheap and there was nothing else going on that Saturday.  The course was hilly, long, and I had raced a lot in the past few weeks.  I remember feeling just awful at the starting line and questioning myself why I was there.  From the get go, it wasn't there and it was a race that left me frustrated with myself.

Upcoming Races

01/13: 2024 Virgin River Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)
02/25: 2024 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)
03/02: 2024 March Madness 10K - West Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
03/30: 2024 Eggs Legs 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
04/202024 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
04/27: 2024 Apple Blossom 10K - Santaquin, UT (Confirmed)
05/27: 2024 Run of Remembrance 10K - American Fork,  UT 
06/01: 2024 Utah Valley Half Marathon - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
07/242024 Deseret News Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed
08/17: 2024 PC2PG 10K - Lindon, UT (Confirmed)
09/07: 2024 Cedar City Half Marathon - Cedar City, UT (Confirmed)
09/28: 2024 Witch Run 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
10/19: 2024 Haunted Half 5K - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
10/26: 2024 Haunted Half 5K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)

Thursday, November 23, 2023

2023 South Davis Recreation Center Thanksgiving Day 5K Race Recap - Bountiful, UT

Bountiful Thanksgiving Welcome Sign

Official Time: 24:12
Placement: 2nd in the 50 - 54, 78th place
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: mid 30's, slight breeze from the east.
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2022] [2021] [2018] [2017] [2016] [2015] [2014] [2013] [2012]

Mile TimeComments
17:28Hemmed in at the start, but went wide and got into a nice pace
27:56Some uphill here.  Still doing okay though
38:15Mostly uphill. Felt like I was running faster
3.090:31Speed to the finish
Total Miles: 3.09- 24:13

Welcome sign at the race


Some time, over a decade ago, when I first moved to Utah, I discovered the South Davis Recreation Center race series.  They offer 3 races throughout the year and the last one  is their Thanksgiving Day Run.

It is an affordable race held at the South Davis Recreation Center and I know the course very well -- in the last decade I've probably run it over 25 times.  

I've always run the 5K and it is a good test of fitness as I can easily compare race times from previous years.  

It is a low stress race with a nice environment and a place to stay warm at before and after the race.  The race has grown over the years and it is nice seeing this one became a big event.

The Race

I showed up about an hour before race time (8:00 AM) and I managed to snag a decent parking spot.  With the race this well attended and people showing up at the gym, parking was at a premium.  

I managed to get my bib and put in an order for a t-shirt. Apparently they were out of stock of men's shirts:

I wound up doing a quick warm-up -- I'll be honest it wasn't terribly inspired.  My legs were still shot from the Snow Canyon Half Marathon that I had just run days before.  I did get loose though and just shy of 8 AM I lined up and got ready to see if I could hang on for a 5K.

It was chilly and during my warm-up I had worn a light jacket, but immediately before the race I had ditched it behind a barrier. That left me with a long-sleeved shirt, short-shorts, and thin gloves.  This was perfect for the cool but fast feeling weather.

The race started off about 5 minutes late which sort of took away from the benefits of my warm-up.  Also, the first few hundred yards are tough to get off to a good start: a  lot of newer runners crowding the front.  But I was patient and soon enough I swung wide into the middle of the 200 N and kept running fast.

This race starts off fast -- with a nice, gentle downhill through the residential streets of Bountiful.  Both the 5K and 10K race start at the same time and after about a mile, the 10K runners fork off to the left while we continue running north.  I was running comfortably hard and as usual, I felt in control.

I ran the first mile in 7:28, about where I expected I would.  

Was this my day? I still felt strong, I wasn't dying, but I also knew the rest of the race was going to be challenging.  

Bountiful Park

Around mile 1.25, we head east and we begin the ascent.  The course has a net uphill and this was just the start.  A few runners passed me as my pace dropped a bit, but I felt like I was still running strong.  I just kept picking landmarks and working towards them.

The first aid station is exactly half way through the race, and I flew by it.  I patted myself on the back, as most times I am usually dying at this point.  Granted, my pace had slowed, but I didn't feel like I had a monkey on my back.

Finish line area

The first traffic light on N Main Street is where my Garmin rings up 2 miles.  I was a little shocked to see 7:56.  Not terrible, but I felt like I was still running sub 7:50.

I still had the hardest part of the race coming up.  I could see another traffic light in the distance and I knew once I hit there and a little further, the finish line would be in my grasp.

A few people passed me but I didn't let it get me down.  I had the power to get through this and I worked on keeping my form good and my turnover fast.  It was hard and I had no idea what pace I was running, but I knew I had more to give.

Closing stretch of runners

Finally I reached the summit of the hill, jumped onto the sidewalk and started to push towards the finish line.  I could hear the rumble of the crowds and a few people had lined up in the final quarter mile or so of the race.  It was nice to get some cheers from people.

With the hills over with I pushed the pace.  A few of the people I had been working with overtook me, but they clearly weren't in my age group.  I glanced at my watch and saw that I probably wasn't going to break 24 minutes on this course -- which was my A-goal.

Finally I made the final turn and sped through the finish line.

All smiles at the finish


My official time was 24:12 -- about the same time as I ran in February and last November.  Not quite what I wanted to see, but at least I am consistent.

After studying my Garmin, I did realize that my heart rate seemed significantly lower.  Was it that Garmin was off or am I making fitness progress?  Throughout the race, I never really felt like I was dying, and at times I felt like I was holding back in anticipating that I was going to fade out.  There seemed to be another gear that I was just afraid to switch into.  So I have mixed feelings about my performance, as per usual.

Medal + Pie!

It took awhile to figure out that I had placed 2nd in the 50-54 age group.  I managed to snag an apple pie.  The finisher's medal was very cool -- as to be expected.  My shirt will arrive in the mail soon.  They seem to regularly run out of shirts.  

They had an epic spread of food -- some pumpkin pie, muffins, bananas, oranges, hot chocolate, sports drink / water.  Although by the time I got there it was largely picked over (I was too busy socializing and getting photos).

Post race photo

Overall, I was happy with my experience.  This race is well organized for the most part.  The start was a bit late and the awards took a while to tabulate, but there is place to stay warm and the race generates a good friendly crowd.


Upcoming Races

01/13: 2024 Virgin River Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)
02/25: 2024 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)
03/02: 2024 March Madness 10K - West Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
03/30: 2024 Eggs Legs 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
04/202024 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
04/27: 2024 Apple Blossom 10K - Santaquin, UT (Confirmed)
05/27: 2024 Run of Remembrance 10K - American Fork,  UT 
06/01: 2024 Utah Valley Half Marathon - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
07/242024 Deseret News Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed
08/17: 2024 PC2PG 10K - Lindon, UT (Confirmed)
09/07: 2024 Cedar City Half Marathon - Cedar City, UT (Confirmed)
09/28: 2024 Witch Run 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
10/19: 2024 Haunted Half 5K - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
10/XX: 2024 Haunted Half 5K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

2023 Snow Canyon Half Marathon Race Recap - St George, UT

Official Time: 1:54:24
Placement: 28th out of 67, 746 out of 2054
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: low 50's, breeze from the south
Course Map / Garmin Route: Here
Previous Years: [2019]
Cool YouTube Video: Here

Mile TimeComments
18:16Nice start. Easy going and feeling comfortable
28:19\Settling in and feeling good. Gentle downhill
38:00The decline is picking up
47:45Entering Snow Canyon -- the views get prettier and prettier
67:53Definitely feeling it -- the downhills is slowing up and I have get back to running easy
88:41My legs are feeling rubbery.  Trying to hold on but I know it is going to get tough
98:42Last good mile
109:04Just shuffling along
1111:41Potty break here and was doing a fair amount of walking
129:55Expected this mile to be worse.
139:37Somehow managed to run this entire mile.
13.060:30So happy to be done
Total Miles: 13.06 - 1:54:25

At the packet pickup


Sometime late this summer I wound up signing up for the Snow Canyon Half Marathon.  In the past few years I've signed up for this race, only to have my weekend thwarted by Covid scares or something else coming up.  Either I've had to eat the registration or I think in the case of last year, I was able to defer it to another race.

Either way, this year I fully intended to show up and  run faster than I had done in 2019 (1:55:09).  I put in a solid training block building towards over-running the 13.1 mile distance and having enough endurance to really turn in a great time.

Taking a walk around the area - St George LDS Temple

The race is put on by the folks who do the Virgin River Half Marathon (formerly known as the St George Half Marathon - January edition) and the famous St George Marathon.  The local recreation department does a world-class job of organizing this race.

This race is best known for it's jaunt through Snow Canyon State Park.  This park is a popular tourist attract and is on the edge of the city limits of St George.  The race starts just north of the park and runners doing the half marathon get to run the paved service drive down and through the park.

Finally, this course is fast -- for the most part (more on this later).  With about a 2000 foot drop over the 13 miles, you can really turn in a fast time -- if your quads can take the beating.

All the people behind me at the starting line.

The Race

I got into town on Friday afternoon -- just shy of 3 pm.  I had made the 4-hour trip from Salt Lake City to the southern part of the state.  I actually made fantastic time.  I wanted to get there early on account that the earlier you got there, the better opportunity you had to pick your bus departing time.  The first bus would leave around 6:30 with the final bus leaving at 7;15.  The race started at 9:00 and during that time between arriving and starting, you have to sit in a cold field.  I managed to get on the 7:00 AM bus and I had about an hour and fifteen minute wait upon arriving -- not exactly the worst but I'd rather have it shorter.

Rainbow sighting upon arrival.

The weather for the race was looking iffy all week.  The air temperature wasn't looking bad, but the threat of a rainy race was looming.  I was NOT looking forward to a potentially long wait in a cold field while sitting / standing in rain.

So when I left Salt Lake, I was packed with just about every possible thing I could find to keep myself warm and dry.

Greeted by state / country flags for those in attendance

Fortunately, though, the rain threat vanished.  I think we got a few sprinkles and that was about it.

The wait at the start went quickly and with over 2000 runners, the bus loading and parking situation was staggered so I had absolutely no problems.  I had had quite a bit of anxiety prior to the race about the entire situation.

Making our way to the holding pen

The race started promptly at 9 AM and we were off.  I had lined up behind the 1:55 pacer but with an initial downhill start I quickly pulled ahead.  My breathing was in control, I felt good and I didn't feel like I was going out too quickly despite a bit of a headwind.

Memories of when I ran this race in 2019 filled my mind.  It had been a number of years and I had some vague recollections of the first few miles.  I had studied my splits from last year, so I knew these miles were going to feel easy. 

Ready to start. Should've brought sunglasses.

I wasn't surprised to blow through the 5KM in a fast time of about 25 and change.  With a downhill and easy stride, I felt really good.  Although, arguably, my pace was nearly 10KM race pace.

Despite the headwind, I was very comfortable in a short-sleeved t-shirt, Saucony Pro 2's, and shorts.  I had some thin gloves that I wore initially but at some point I wound up putting them in my pocket.

Mile 4 was the first aid station -- in my opinion it was kind of late in the race for an aid station.  I felt a little dry from the get go and for whatever reason, I didn't quite get enough at this aid station.  I think I wound up taking a water and missed most of my mouth.  I wound up digging into one my watermelon gels.  I only would wind up eating about half of it.

Coasting for the first few miles.

This was also the fastest part of the race as we were greeted by the epic view of Snow Canyon's north entrance.  With the early morning sun, it was just a beautiful site.  My pace quickened and I found myself ahead of the 1:50.  Was I going too fast?  I was now into my A-goal for the race, could I hang on?

The next 4 miles were what I came to run:  fast downhill and awesome views.  I could tell people's enthusiasm picked up and my pace quickened.  I was suddenly running pretty close to 5K pace.

Near the tail end of the canyon we were greeted with the largest ever-made American flag that was flown.  It was absolutely huge and a site to see.

Enjoying Snow Canyon views

You can see the flag in the distance

By the time we got to the bottom though, I felt winded.  I was definitely working too hard and despite the pace feeling easy I forgot to check in with myself.  My quads felt like they had been bashed and as the hills started to turn into flats, my head couldn't grapple with the fact that running wasn't going to be easy.

Largest flown American flag

Mile 8 and 9 I knew where the last of the good miles.  I was still running okay but my breathing was labored and I was working way too hard.  I had hit another aid station but I still didn't manage to get a lot to drink. I think I was too eager to dive into a restroom but it turned out that they were all full, so I continued to run.  So up until this point, I really only had a few sips of hydration and maybe a third of a gel.

Despite suffering immensely, mile 9 to 10 wasn't that bad from a pace perspective.  I had definitely slowed down, though.  My head wanted to run faster but my body was like no way.  There was still some downhill as we made our way down a gentle decline along the bike trails and ultimately into the surrounding neighborhoods.

Somewhere around mile 11 I decided I needed to stop.  I had had to go to the bathroom since about mile 5 (#1) and while I think I could've held it, I just felt that I needed a break.  I was at the penultimate aid station and I did manage to get a solid gulp of Gatorade in.  While in the bathroom, I realized I had to go a bit more than I thought and even during the break, I could NOT catch my breath.  

Upon exiting, I resumed running but quickly ran out of gas.  I wound up doing a run-walk method for most of this mile.  Even the slightest hill caused me to pull off to the side and walk.  This was infuriating to me. I had worked so hard to build my endurance and here at mile 11, I was resorting to a walk. 

The 1:50 pacer had gone by and at some point the 1:55 pacer encouraged me forward and not to give up.

Finish line crowds

I simply wanted to give up and sit on the curb and cry.  That's how low I felt.

Slowly, though, I started to get my energy back.  I somehow managed to cobble together a marathon-shuffle type of run for the final mile.  In fact, in the last mile, I didn't walk at all despite some uphill sections.  The pace wasn't fast but I was getting it done.

Finally, I could hear the din of the finish line and we entered the service drive of the high school.  I could hear the announcer calling people's names and there was a nice line of spectators (in fact, I have to say the last 4 miles did have a fair amount of cheering people).

The finish line is on about a 100 meter stretch of the high school's track and I threw whatever I had left at making it to the finish line with a smile on my face.  It wasn't easy but I was so thankful to be done -- and crossing with a time of 1:54:25 -- not exactly what I was hoping for, but certainly not the worst.

Group of finishers


So this was NOT how I wanted the race to go.  I knew the course was fast and the downhill wasn't that intense, so I was hoping to turn in a fantastic time.  In fact, given what I was running in training, I figured this race might go down as one of my top 3 performances of the year.  However, that wasn't the case.

So what went wrong?

  1. I didn't hydrate well enough before and during the race.
  2. I didn't eat the rest of the gel, despite feeling a bit hungry at the start
  3. My pace was too fast during the downhill section -- as I forgot to check in with myself during the mid part of the race.
After finishing I grabbed my medal and got some water and simply sat on the side of the track.  It was a madhouse at the finish as most of the 2 hour finishers were coming in, which is about where most people do finish.  

I was upset with myself but also at the same time, I got through it.  And overall, my time was about where I've been at most of the year.  Still, I was far short of my A-goal, I did finish in under 1:55.

The race organizers had set a record with attendance at the half marathon, with over 2000 participants.  This is a long-running race (I see results going back over a dozen years) and to see this many participating was nice to see.  

Happy / not happy.

Post race refreshments included sports drink, water, bananas, fruit gels, and chocolate milk.  I think there were some granola bars as well.  They were plentiful but nothing out of the ordinary.

I really liked the medal -- high-quality and definitely worthy of a big name half marathon.  The shirt was also well designed -- although a little loose in the arms.  The swag bag also contained a lot of stickers and flyers for more events.

Finisher's medal and long-sleeved, collared shirt.

This race was a little on the expensive side -- I want to say around $80, but I got a well organized race from start to finish.  

I highly recommend this race.  The course is absolutely beautiful -- even the residential running.  There is decent crowd support and the aid stations are armed and ready to assist you.  I am not a big of the wait prior to the race, so it is important to prepare for any type of weather.  This year, they did have heating lamps, but they were hard to acquire.  Fortunately I was prepared and had a good experience waiting for the race to start.

Pro-tip: Be sure that you bring a different colored gear bag.  Just about everyone used the give-away bag, which made it harder for volunteers to find your bag.  I used the bag but wrapped it in a bigger clear bag (from the Rock 'n Roll race series) and that made it a snap for them to retrieve my bag.

Also another pro-tip: is to consider parking at the elementary school versus the high school. Getting out of the race site can be a challenge, but it looked like it was less of a challenge from this lot versus the high school lot.

They did give me a coupon code for 2024 Races (STG2024) so I may wind up registering for next year.  I had a wonderful weekend and despite not hitting my goal, I am still buzzing over the excitement of the race.

Upcoming Races

11/23: 2023 South Davis Recreation Center 5K - Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
01/13: 2024 Virgin River Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)
02/25: 2024 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)
03/02: 2024 March Madness 10K - West Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
04/202024 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
06/01: 2024 Utah Valley Half Marathon - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
07/242024 Deseret News Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed
09/07: 2024 Cedar City Half Marathon - Cedar City, UT (Confirmed)
10/XX: 2024 Haunted Half 5K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)