Thursday, March 30, 2023

2023 Riverton Fit For Life Half Marathon Race Recap - Riverton, UT

Official Time: 1:58:02
Placement: 4th in age group, 82nd overall
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Low 30's, 15 mph wind from the west.
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2022] [2021] [2018] [2015] [2014]

Mile TimeComments
18:37Solid start. Traction at the start wasn't good but settling in
28:40Nice and consistent - on the bike trail
38:46Had to climb about .20 of a mile -- 80 feet climb
410:46Hilly stretch here. Pulled off the course for a wardrobe change.
58:21Time to play catch-up.
68:26Nice downhill stretch
78:36Setting back in
98:40The miles are settling in. Happy with my pace
109:07Big hill. Fortunately get the downhill.  Surging a bit in spots though.
138:55Some hills and mud
13.322:44Final push to the finish. Last 100 yards or so were in snow.
Total Miles: 13.32 - 1:58:02


Well another March racing season comes in and I find myself signed up for the Riverton Half Marathon.

Around New Years I always get the bug to sign up for this race.  It is usually pretty -- less than half of a normal half marathon.  So it is a pretty easy race to say yes to.  In addition, it is fairly close by and not a lot of fuss to participate. 

They offer a 5K and a half marathon.  I always sign up for the half and if I can't do the half, it is easy to drop to the 5K.

I've done the race several times and for a while they course kept changing.  It always started near the Riverton City Park, but due to construction issues, the course would wind its way through South Jordan, Bluffdale and Riverton in a slightly different way.  The last few years, however, the course has settled in with the same one: starting at the park, dipping on the Jordan River Bike Trail, back into a subdivision, back to the trail and finally a hilly uphill route back to the starting line.

The other thing about this race is that the weather is always a wild card. This year would definitely be one for the books as well.

The Race

I had had someone get my bib prior to the race, so I got to the race site around 8:30 AM for the 9 AM start.  There  is plenty of parking so it was pretty easy to kill the time prior to the race.

I did take a bathroom break to get a sense of the weather conditions and it was cold and windy. All week, the Salt Lake area had been experiencing squalls:  quick microbursts of snow and wind.  The snow accumulations were about 1 - 2 inches (which would soon disappear).  I was really worried that one of these squalls would come and make running miserable.

So upon returning to my car, I put on a pair of tights and tossed on my windbreaker.  I had been planning on just going with 2 t-shirts, shorts, a skullcap and heavy gloves.

The race started promptly at 9 AM and we were off and running.  The starting line, fortunately, didn't match the rest of the course.  Despite all the snow we had had during the week, the course was mostly clear throughout.  There were an occasional puddle or bit of ice, but 99.9% of the course you could run without much fear of slipping.

So the first 100 - 200 yards were a grind but it was smooth sailing as soon as we hit the pavement.

My goal was to run the first 3 miles at very conservative split.  I knew what I was in for, having run this course a few times in the past (including bits and pieces from other times I had run it). 

This course is not flat (for the most part). There are several really fun downhills and some uphills.  I was feeling good for the first 5K until I realized that my decision to wear tights was not in my best interest.

I was really warm and every few minutes I had to reach around and pull them up.  Even my jacket felt warm, but at least that was tolerable.  I kept hoping it would get better but eventually I made the decision that at a good opportunity, I'd pull off the course, ditch the tights.  This would involve unknotting my shoes, taking off said tights (which were tight ones), and reattaching my shoes.

I made the decision around mile 4 and it cost me a solid 100 seconds.

I had been running with the 1:55 pacer and he had completely disappeared.  The 2 hour pacer had also come and gone (who I felt was running closer to 1:55 pace).

I made it a point to at least catch up to the 2 hour pacer.

I had done the initial set of hills and now I got a bit of paycheck as I sped down 1300 West.  The wind was a mild factor and I had company.  The 100 second rest actually had helped me a bit, as I had had a chance to clear some of the lactate that had been building up. I found that the downhill and the threat of not finish under 2 hours gave me encouragement and my pace quickened.

Soon the 2 hour pacer came into view.  I knew I was eventually going to catch him.  I continued to make gains with a bit of tailwind, but the faster than usual pace was taking a toll.  Right before the final set of hills I did catch a glimpse of the 1:55 pacer, which was my goal for the race.

I was also running out running buddies.  A large group had been surrounding the 1:55 pacer and now I was sort of in no man's land.  There were a group of 2 hour runners behind me and a group of 1:55's and a smattering of runners in between.  I was still passing a number of people and I was counting down the time until we got off of the Jordan River Bike Trail and back into the Riverton subdivisions.  I still had over 3 miles to go but mentally it was a "change" and it would mark the final hurdle of the race.

My pace had dropped off and while I had had a gel, my legs were tired and I was still feeling warm.  And I knew we still had a few more hills to go: the final 2 miles involve some hills -- and soon I'd find out a dirt road.

With all the rain and snow we had had, Lover's Lane -- normally a very dry quarter mile of dirt road -- was a near quagmire.  My almost new Endorphin Pro's were soon splattered with cold mud.  A few times, I had to slow down in order to not lose my balance.

I knew the race wasn't going to be what I wanted.  I certainly wasn't going to catch up to the 1:55 pacer. I was kicking myself for having worn the tights -- in fact, all through the race was cursing my bad decision.

I tried to remain positive and hoped to turn in a final fast mile, but despite the gentle downhill, I was running into a headwind.  I tried valiantly to double down on my pace but the final insult to injury was coming back under the finish line -- with the final 100 yards in 1 - 2 inches of snow.  I was warm, tired and just nothing left. 

But I did finish, in 1:58!


So I have very mixed feelings about my race performance on this:

1) I lost about 100 seconds in ditching my tights.  This cost me in overall time.
2) The course was long -- about .22 miles on most people's Garmin's.  So I probably took up an extra 2 minutes.  Looking at previous editions of the same course, it would appear we were misdirected down a road and there was a mini out-and-back around mile 10.75 that wasn't there last year.  This would definitely account for the additional quarter mile.
3) I ran fairly consistently. Yes, my pace slowed up at the end, but overall, it was a fairly even effort with no massive death march at the end.

So on paper, my time is "blah".  But if I presume the course was 13.1 miles and I crossed 13.1 miles at 1:56:20, I take off 100 seconds my time actually becomes a little different (dare I say 1:54-ish?).  I know I am trying to rationalize my experience, but given the hilly nature of the course, the wind factors and higher elevation, my race actually went really well.  About on par (or even better) with the other half marathons I've done recently.

I was feeling pretty good when I finished and managed to get to the car for warmer clothes in quick order.  I also was able to go back to the starting line and get some photos and food, which consisted of bananas, orange juice, chocolate milk, muffins and Cliff Bars.  All in all, a pretty decent spread of food for a low budget race.

The medal was nice and the age group prizes (which I didn't win) also were nice.  I like the shirt design but it is a hybrid cotton one.  I like the 100% polyester ones, but this year's shirt will see some lighter running in.

Again, my overall time wasn't the greatest, but I felt strong throughout the race.  The last 2 miles were a grind, but that was to be expected with the gradual uphill and dirt roads.  I was still passing people at the end and not many were over taking me.  I just wish I had gone with a lighter outfit from the get-go.

The Saucony Endorphin Pro Speeds 2.0 are an incredible shoe with the energy return and spring that they offer.  They are a huge confidence boost when I lace them up.

You'll probably find me at this race next year.  The course is enjoyable, well organized, and budget friendly.

Upcoming Races

04/08: 2023 Eggs Legs 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
04/22: 2023 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
04/29: 2023 Blossom Run 10K - Santaquin, UT (Confirmed)
06/03: 2023 Utah Valley 10K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
06/24: 2023 Taylorsville Dayzz 5K - Taylorsville, UT (Confirmed)
07/29: 2023 Timp 10K - American Fork, UT (Confirmed)
08/19: 2023 Rock 'N Roll Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
09/23: 2023 Witch Run 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
10/21: 2023 Haunted Half 5K - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
10/28: 2023 Haunted Half 5K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
03/03: 2024 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)

Sunday, March 19, 2023

2023 Vineyard Gold Rush 5K Race Recap - Vineyard, UT

Official Time: 23:31
Placement: 2nd in the 50 - 65, 13th overall
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 28F - breeze from the east
Course Map / Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: First year for me

Mile TimeComments
17:32Off to a good start. Feeling comfortable
27:55What seemed like gale force winds coming from the east. Felt like I was going slower
37:43Regrouped and got a bit of a tailwind
3.050:17Sprint to the finish - which seemed to come super quickly.
Total Miles: 3.05- 23.31 


I normally do the Lucky 13 Races each March on this weekend.  I needed something a little new to do, so I opted to give the Vineyard Gold Rush 5K race a shot.  They also have a 10K.  The race's course is identical to their November race, The Vineyard Blizzard Race, which I have run for the past 2 years.

The race was priced reasonably -- about $20 or $25, with no t-shirt and while it was a bit of a drive, it just offered a little variety to my spring race schedule.  I was tempted to sign up for the 10K, but with the plethora of 10K and half marathon races I have lined up, I felt that a shorter distance would be best.

The Race 

The race is held at the Vineyard Grove Park -- a community park that has summer water activities, and a skate board area, etc.  There is also a pavilion, bathrooms, and ample parking for the race.

The race course is a community run.  It was well marked and makes a figure 8 around the Vineyard community, which is mostly new construction houses.  It isn't the most exciting course, but it is flat and fast.

I got in just shy of 7:45 for the 8:30 AM start.  Packet pickup was a snap.  I got an opportunity to take some photos of the 10K start, which started about 15 minutes prior to the 5K. I got in a decent warmup despite the 28F degree weather.  It was slightly windy but didn't feel like it was going to be much of a factor.  I tossed aside my warm-up gear at 8:25 and lined up under the arches for the start.

The race started promptly at 8:30 and it starts off running west.  I felt like I was going to be one of the faster ones at the race, but I quickly was put in my place as about a dozen runners sped past me.  It is easy to get caught up with a fast start in a 5K and I find that I am usually running faster than I think I am, so I told myself to be patient.

I wound up passing a few of the fast starters and my confidence grew that I was on target for a decent race.  I could hear the wind swirling around me, but so far, it wasn't really a factor.  I knew the course, so I knew where to turn and when, which again, helped me determine where to put the hammer down.

I was shocked -- and a little worried -- after seeing the first mile's split: 7:32.  I was still breathing well and I had put in some solid efforts, so I felt like today may be my day.

Reality hit me as soon as I made the first east bound turn.  Strong winds hit me in the face. Where did this come from?  It seemed like I was running in a wind tunnel.  My pace dropped off considerably and my heart rate climbed.  

I tried to find someone to draft off of, but this was a fairly lightly attended race.  I was picking off another runner or two but I got swallowed up by some of the faster runners.  I just couldn't find anyone who was running my pace.

My 2nd mile was my slowest, hitting a 7:55.  I was expecting to see an 8-something. I could see in the distance the turn off where we'd hook around a small park and make our way back to the finish line -- and at that point I knew I'd be able to finish with a nice tailwind.

From previous versions of this run, I knew that the age group awards were limited.  In fact, only the first place runner would receive a medal in their age group.  I had scouted out my competition prior to the race and I figured that the runner directly ahead of me was my competition.  I had been chasing him most of the race and early on in the race, I had given up hope that I could catch him.

By mile 2.5, we were running side by side and a little further on, I had put a few yards on him.  I was speeding along and with the tailwind, I felt really solid.  Could I salvage the race after a slowish second mile?

As the finish line came into closer view, the runner behind me started his sprint.  I just couldn't respond.  The finish line was still far enough away that I could just gut it out.  Had I been within a 100 yards, maybe I could've given him a run for the money.  But I just couldn't find that second gear.  I think this was mostly mental, as he was clearly sprinting fast.

I crossed the finish line in 23:31.


So my watch measured the course short.  I've run this course 2 other times, coming at 3.09 and 3.05.  This race came in at 3.05.  I used MapMyRun and it came in over 3.10.  So I am not sure exactly what I ran.

Either way, 23:31 is a fantastic time.  I ran the Thanksgiving race in 2021 in 24:30, and last November I ran the same course in 24:05.  So definitely signs of improvement.

The race had a wonderful spread of post race food.  Lots of pre-packaged food: bananas, oranges, granola bars, fruit gummies, etc.  They had water and energy drinks to rehydrate with.

I think there were two water stops as well on the course. Neither of which were needed for me. I could see them being a little useful for the 10K.  

The course was well marshaled with route arrows and volunteers at important corners.  

So I should be really happy with my time. I've put in a ton of work, I ran well, and I confident coming into the race.  For a flat course, I didn't benefit from any big hills and the wind didn't really benefit me very much.  But was this a legit 5K?  Hard to say.  Either way, even if it was .05 short, I could simply add on another 20 - 30 seconds, which would still put me just under 24 minutes.  But what if this was 3.10 miles?  Is this a bigger sign that I am making really nice gains?

Either way, I was happy with my experience despite losing out to the guy who flew by me.  The race is budget friendly and it harkens back to the day when 5Ks were simple.

I didn't really have any mementos from the race, other than the bib and a $1 dollar coin.  I didn't win anything in the raffle.  So I sort of felt deflated after the race.  But I am happy with my time and the improvement I am seeing each time I run this course.

Upcoming Races

03/25: 2023 Riverton Half Marathon - Riverton, UT (Confirmed)
04/08: 2023 Eggs Legs 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
04/22: 2023 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
04/29: 2023 Blossom Run 10K - Santaquin, UT (Confirmed)
06/03: 2023 Utah Valley 10K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
06/24: 2023 Taylorsville Dayzz 5K - Taylorsville, UT (Confirmed)
07/29: 2023 Timp 10K - American Fork, UT (Confirmed)
08/19: 2023 Rock 'N Roll Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
09/23: 2023 Witch Run 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
10/21: 2023 Haunted Half 5K - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
10/28: 2023 Haunted Half 5K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)

Saturday, March 4, 2023

2023 March Madness 10K Race Recap - North Salt Lake, UT

Official Time: 49:59
Placement: 10th overall, 2nd in the 41-99 age division
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 30's, 14 mph wind from the south
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2022] [2021] [2020] [2018] [2017] [2016]

Mile TimeComments
18:02Off to a decent start. Holding back, feeling comfortable
28:07Fatigue setting in. Wind seemed to be holding me back.
38:04Trying to save it for the second half
48:07I realize now the first half had a tailwind, now into the headwind
58:12I knew I was slowing down. Seemed to be a bit of uphill here
68:20Struggling at this point
6.15       1:07All out in the final push.
Total Miles: 6.15 - 50:01


For the past few years I've done the March Madness races.  They are a low-budget race benefiting the Bountiful Food Bank.  They offer a 5K, 10K, and half marathon distance.  If you register early enough, you can generally get in for under $25 for any of the distances.

The race is pretty low key and is held on the Legacy Bike Trail -- Davis County's answer to the Jordan River Bike Trail.  It is a fairly flat, multiuse paved bike trail that borders the Legacy Freeway.  It isn't the most exciting course, but it is an honest course.

The Race

I got the race start with plenty of time to spare for the 9 AM start.  It gave me an opportunity to snap some photos.  It also enabled me to do a solid warm-up -- going about a mile and some drills.

Knowing that I have a full schedule for March, I opted to do the 10K.  With last week's half marathon still fresh in my memory, I was going into the race in a fatigued state.  I was almost tempted to switch to the 5K. But the longer I warmed up, the better I felt.

There was a bit of wind -- turning what should've been a mild morning into one that was chilly.  I had dressed pretty heavily for my warm-up but ditched most of my clothing once the race started.  I wound up going with 2 shirts, short-shorts, a beanie and thin gloves.  I was completely comfortable for the entire race.

As stated above, I was coming in fairly tired.  I had a big question mark in my mind wondering how long I could hold 10K pace.  And I knew the wind was going to be a factor.

The half marathoners started at 9 AM and the 10K runners started 5 minutes later.  I felt comfortable as I slipped into a strong but not all out pace.  I didn't even check my watch very much in the first mile and was pleased to see an 8:02 flash after the first mile.  Exactly where I wanted to be.

Stretch of the Legacy Bike Trail looking north

There were only about 80 runners in the 10K and I wound up chasing 2 guys in front of me for most of the race.  At the turn around I was able to pass one of them but the other one eventually put some distance on me.  There really wasn't anyone chasing me down either.  

I got a sense the wind was blowing in my face on the way out.  Boy, was I wrong.  I was sort of holding back in the first 3 miles on account that I was just trying to get the miles in and work through the wind and I'd get the boost on the way back.  At this point, the wind wasn't terrible but I could hear it rushing by my ears.

Flying through the 5K half way point, I knew I was hurting.  Too early!  I was still holding onto a decent pace but not being 100% fresh was starting to catch up with me.  I tried to stay relaxed, surging at times as I picked off some of the slower half marathoners.  Mile 2 saw another low 8 minute mile.  Right on target!

As mile 2 wore on, I saw some of the leaders of the 10K returning.  I knew I was getting close to the turn around.  Mentally, it is always a relief to hit that point.  I was still running low 8's but I knew I was going to run into problems, especially if the wind was going to be worse on the way back.  The turn around cones were just shy of 3.10 miles (on my Garmin).  

As soon as I started to run south, the wind doubled down.  I had been in fact running with a tailwind, despite the feeling that it was hitting me.  Rats!

Mile 3 to 4 still saw me turn in a decent split.  I was hitting low 8 minute miles, could I turn in a sub 50 minute 10K?  There was hope but with the wind, I had my doubts.

At this point I had passed one of the guys I was chasing and the other guy clearly had been holding back.  He became more and more of a small dot in the distance.

4 to 5 saw my pace drop a bit.  I felt like I was running on fumes and at times my steady pace would come to a halt, and I'd have to regroup a bit.  I was still doing okay, with another 8:12 but I had been hoping to negative split this race.

I was dragging at the end.  I knew sub 50 minutes was within my reach but the wind had clearly doubled down.  And when the finish line came into view over the crest of a hill and I thought I'd have a fast finish, the wind hit me like a hurricane. Where did this come from?

As I got closer and closer to the finish line, I realized that sub 50 was within my reach.  When my watch buzzed 6 miles, I gave it everything I had.  And I crossed in 49:59!


So I was thrilled to get under 50 minutes.  It has been a goal of mine since 2022.  I probably would've gotten there had I not gotten sick and had a back injury.  

The course, for me, came in a little short.  6.15.  I saw another runner on Strava complete it in 6.16 and another in 6.22.  Every year that I've done this one, it has been accurate.  This year's course was different from the previous years (it seems to be held at a different park along the Legacy Park trail every year).

The race is budget friendly.  So there are no t-shirts, just a finisher's medal, and if you are lucky, an age group award.  They do have a great post race spread of food.  They had pizza, bananas, cookies, granola bars, water, and a few other snacks.  

They do have a drawing / raffle.  For each can of food you bring for the food pantry, you get an entry.  I won the best prize: a handmade St Patrick's Day wreath.  It was made by the race director's wife and it now rests proudly on my front door.  Absolutely a great prize.  

Overall, it was a tough race.  It's probably why I don't feel overjoyed about my time.  It wasn't a smooth race at all and the wind really punished me.  Also given my fatigued state, I should be happy.  Again, I wasn't fully committed to "racing" this race.  I was just giving as much effort as I could but I was okay with holding back a little.

I love this race and would like to continue doing it.  Although I suspect next year, the Las Vegas Marathon is going to conflict with it.  

Upcoming Races

03/18: 2023 Vineyard City Gold Rush 5K - Vineyard, UT (Confirmed)
03/25: 2023 Riverton Half Marathon - Riverton, UT (Confirmed)
04/08: 2023 Eggs Legs 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
04/22: 2023 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
04/29: 2023 Blossom Run 10K - Santaquin, UT (Confirmed)
06/03: 2023 Utah Valley 10K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
06/24: 2023 Taylorsville Dayzz 5K - Taylorsville, UT (Confirmed)
07/29: 2023 Timp 10K - American Fork, UT (Confirmed)
08/19: 2023 Rock 'N Roll Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
09/23: 2023 Witch Run 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
10/21: 2023 Haunted Half 5K - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
10/28: 2023 Haunted Half 5K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
03/03: 2024 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)

Friday, March 3, 2023

2023 Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon Race Recap - Las Vegas, NV

Official Time: 1:54:25
Placement: 1526th overall, 1177th male, 118th in the 50-54
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Upper 40's, 12 mph wind from the south
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2022[2019] [2018] [2017] [2016] [2015] [2014] [2013] [2012] [2011] [2010] [2009]

Mile TimeComments
19:02Pretty casual start. Easing into the race. A bit of a headwind
28:53Just working my way through the course.
38:38Finally a bit of a tailwind. So much easier.
58:38Making my way past the starting line.
68:40Still enjoying the tail wind. Definitely very consistent and feeling good.
78:37Debating on when I want to pick it up a bit.
88:41Ending the tailwind. It's now or never.
98:31Working my way through the downtown area. Felt great. Push the pace!
118:31Still getting some shelter from the wind.
128:50Into the wind. Wishing there was someone I could draft off of.
138:59Yes my pace was slower, but the effort was there. Just keep going.
13.171:10Gut it out to the finish. Done!
Total Miles: 13.14 1:54:25

Entrance to the runner Expo


So without fail, every year, I do the Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon (or Marathon).  I am one of about 50 or so runners that have done the race every year since its inception in Las Vegas (2009).  

At first, I was all about the marathon, but as time has gone by, I can no longer run marathons as much as I'd like and eventually they discontinued the full, opting simply for a 10K and half marathon.

I've never run particularly well in Las Vegas -- with the exception of last year (2022), in which I ran 1:57 for the half marathon.  It was the first time completing the race that I felt like I had run "well".  In fact, last year, it made my top 3 best race performances.

I had signed up for 2023 in 2022 at the expo, so I was committed to seeing if I could recapture the success I had had in 2022.

I left Salt Lake City for Las Vegas bright and early on Saturday morning and made the 5.5 hour drive to Las Vegas.  It was smooth sailing and it went quickly.  It also gave me plenty of time to walk about a mile from the Bellagio hotel to the Resorts World hotel (and back) to get my bib.

The expo was well organized and I was easily able to get my bib, look around at some of the vendors and items for sale and get out in a reasonable amount of time.  It was noisy but I've been to more crowded expos.  I didn't see anything I had to have either.

Runner Village

The Race

The Las Vegas Half Marathon is a night time race.  It starts at about 4:30 PM -- just as the sun is getting ready to start.  You still have about 45 minutes of daylight before it starts to get dark.  Being in the second wave, my start time was closer to 5 PM, so I had even less daytime running.

Las Vegas weather in February can be a wildcard.  It can rain (as it did for the 5K the night before) or it can be warm or cold.  As with most spring time races, the wind can also be a factor.

On the way to the race start

This year the air temperature was brisk -- coming in at around 48 degree Fahrenheit.  There was a strong wind coming from the south -- about 12 mph.  It wasn't constant but it definitely reminded you that it was there.

Dialing in your food for the day is always challenging. In the past, I never really got it down.  In the days leading up to the race, I'd overeat and wind up feeling bloated.  Last year, I managed to get it right and this year, I pretty much followed the pattern that I did in 2022:

1) Stay off my feet.
2) Eat a normal breakfast (omelet / coffee / hashbrowns)
3) Eat a light lunch -- consisting of pretzels, cold cereal, a banana, Tailwind and a few cookies.  
4) Take a shower and do some stretching.

I carried a few snacks to the starting line as well -- just in case I was delayed a bit.

I wound up wearing a simple t-shirt, shorts, and thin gloves.  I was beginning to doubt my wardrobe choice while waiting for the race start in the massive runner village behind the Planet Hollywood casino.  Fortunately, there were patches of sunlight, which I greedily took advantage of.

The runner's village was a bit more chaotic than the previous year.  There seemed to be less room, less bathrooms and more people congregating near the entrance to the race start.  Even those whose bib numbers were significantly later in start time hung around a very thin entrance to another holding pen.

I saw the elite group head off and then eventually the first group.  The first group had just finished heading towards the starting line -- which was at least a half mile walk -- before they called my group.

It was packed and very slow going.  I wasn't that far away from the entrance but it took forever.  The security that was present were checking everyone's big and with a narrow entrance, only a few runners could go through at a time.  There were several thousand in my corral and it seemed like we'd never get through.

Finally I did get sucked into the main flow and another 5 minutes later I was walking towards the starting line.  I quickly used the bathroom and enjoyed the atmosphere as I power walked to the start.  They really dressed up the route by having music playing and decorations.

Venetian day before the race.

I wasn't in too much of a hurry -- as I figured I'd have another 15 - 20 minute wait before I actually started.  But I was in for a bit of a shock.

As I got closer to the starting line, I realized there weren't many people.  Normally, 1000s of runners would be shoulder-to-shoulder waiting for the announcer to send their groups out.  There was absolutely none of that.

There were maybe 50 - 100 runners milling about, doing strides, drills, or like me, walking to the starting line.

When I got there, I could simply start running. No fireworks, no cheer leading going on, just start running.  Did I miss something?  It was the most anti-climatic start of a big race I had ever experienced.  It was nice that I didn't have to wait -- in fact I could've gone back and warmed up a bit more but the vibe / energy wasn't there.

So I just started. 

I felt the southern wind blowing in my face as I ran.  There were a few runners that I had to meander around, but for the most part I could settle into a decent pace.  I think some of the runners helped break up the wind but it was definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Mirage the day before the race.

I kept telling myself to be patient, be strong and get about 2 miles out before we'd turn around and I'd get a nice tailwind -- for at least 7 miles.

The first 2 miles I ran in around 9 minutes.  Right on target for about a 1:58 half marathon.

I was wearing my carbon-plated shoes and I felt light and fast in them.  I had put in some longer runs in them.  They don't have a lot of support in them, but I knew I could run 13 miles in them.

It was incredible seeing the elite runners fly by me on the other side of the road.  Their stride was so smooth and effortless.  Eventually, more of the regular runners started to make an appearance.  I had finally caught up with all the people and it now felt like a mass participation race.

Around mile 2.25 I rounded the corner and started to run northward. The airport was now on my right and Mandalay Bay and Luxor were starting to appear on my left.  I could see the entire Las Vegas Strip before me.  In the dusk, it was so beautiful with the darkening sky and the lights just starting to come out.

Bellagio "Lake" Morning of the race.

I turned to the runner next to me and mentioned how much easier it was to run with the wind at my back.  He agreed -- I was actually working up a bit of a sweat.

The next 6 miles I felt even better.  I was working on passing people and keeping a consistent pace. I'd slowly bump up the effort. Nothing crazy just yet but just running under 8:45.  Was I going to fast?  Should I turn up the pace?  I had run 8:30's in training without blowing up too badly.

I was worried about pushing too hard too soon. I knew at some point I was going to pay a price for the tailwind.  I kept looking at the palm trees that lined Las Vegas Boulevard to see if they were rustling in the wind.  Had it died down?

The downtown area can be a little rough. The crowds had thinned and the glamour of the city high-end casinos turned into pawn stores, wedding chapels, and other small businesses.  

The organizer has plenty of music on the course. I don't remember too many bands, but I do remember many DJs.  A couple of them were playing songs that really got me motivated, which helped just as I normally feel my pace start to slip.

While the race was a night race, there is enough light to see clearly.  I was never worried about tripping on something or hitting a pothole.  I was so focused on running evenly and in control.  The miles just seemed to slip by.

Around mile 9, when I reached the downtown area and started to make a series of turns before heading back to the strip, I decided I was going to really crank it up a bit.  I wound up pushing it to 8:30's.  I really started to reel in runners.  Normally, I go out too fast and wind up dying at the end, with the humiliatingly feeling of being passed. By now, I was in charge.

Caesar's Palace Day Before the Race

Around mile 10 I was heading south again.  Just a 5K to go.  While there was some wind, I was being sheltered by it from some of the buildings.  I was I going to dodge a bullet? Maybe the wind had died down.  In fact, at times, I felt like the wind was at my back.

Mile 11 I was slapped back to reality.  I could see Circus Circus and the final miles laying ahead of me.  I had the will and energy and my effort doubled down.  I was still passing people, but occasionally a speed demon would work their way past me.  But for the first time in a long time I was having not a good race, but a great race.

My pace, however, did suffer the last 2 miles.  The wind was intense.  I kept looking for someone bigger than me to draft off of.  The problem was that most people were running significantly slower than me.  The few that were passing me, I tried to keep up but simply couldn't.  More often then not, I had to fend for myself.   

The effort was there -- I knew I was running at least 8:30's but the wind had me running 8:50's.  And I was getting fatigued mentally and physically from fighting it.  I was counting down the quarter miles, thinking about how many times in training when I was hurting, I could just grind out one more quarter mile.

I didn't have a lot left when the finish line came into view.  The wind had gotten the best of me.  I was sort of afraid to look at my watch too, to see where I was going to come in at.  I had seen my most recent splits and spiritually, I was crestfallen.  But still, I was trying to save every second.  The Fashion Place mall came by, then Treasure Island and finally the Mirage.

I crossed under the finish line -- having run 13.14 miles in 1:54.  I could hardly contain myself -- a fantastic race!

Time to celebrate at the Bellagio Buffet


This race exceeded my wildest dreams in terms of performances.  I had 3 goals on this race:

1) To finish
2) To finish under 2 hours
3) To finish in 1:55 to 2:00
4) To finish under 1:55

I hit my top goal.

I had put in a fair amount of work into the race -- a lot of longer runs with speed thrown in.  But I had my doubts about this race.

In the past, I've had issues with my stomach or weather or being undertrained. But those things never surfaced this year.  The weather was windy, but I want to say it worked to my advantage.  Most of the course was run northward and with a southward wind, I got a gentle push for a lot of the race.

The few southbound miles at the end were a bit sheltered from the wind, so I didn't have to content with the wind except for the final 2 miles and the first 2 miles.

I also had the added benefit of the Saucony Endorphin Pro 2, which made the running feel easier.

While the last 2 miles probably cost me 60 - 90 seconds, I felt that my time could've been further improved.  I should've started my speed-up at about mile 6 or 7.  I was feeling pretty good here but I wasn't really sure what I had until mile 9.

I haven't run this fast of a legitimate half marathon since I did Riverton in 2021.  

After finishing, I was feeling fantastic.  Usually I am pretty gassed and want to just sit down, but I was over the moon in terms of emotion.  I wound up taking a bunch of photos of the finish line -- having run with a phone in my FlipBelt.

I was so excited that I almost forgot my finisher's medal.  If I hadn't seen one of the volunteers I would've totally forgotten.

They had plenty of refreshments after the race. Gatorade, water, chips, bananas, and other snacks.  They even had wine spritzers of some sort which I almost grabbed by mistake.

It was getting colder by the minute now that I had quit running. I hadn't stashed a bag and the foil blanket that I had grabbed was helping only a little.  One of the downsides to the race is that there is quite a walk to the exit -- nearly half a mile.  

I was still glowing by the time I made it back to my room.

Overall, I was very happy with my experience.  Packet pickup was convenient and easy. The shirt was nice and the medal was cool.  The volunteers on the course were enthusiastic and excellent in supporting me.  My only gripe about the race was the starting village and the cluster-mess it was to get out of the runner village.  Also another demerit was that there were once again NO bathrooms at the finish line. 

I did sign up for 2024 and I am looking forward to seeing what next year brings.

Upcoming Races

03/04: 2023 March Madness 10K - West Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
03/18: 2023 Vineyard City Gold Rush 5K - Vineyard, UT (Confirmed)
03/25: 2023 Riverton Half Marathon - Riverton, UT (Confirmed)
04/08: 2023 Eggs Legs 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
04/22: 2023 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
04/29: 2023 Blossom Run 10K - Santaquin, UT (Confirmed)
07/29: 2023 Timp 10K - American Fork, UT (Confirmed)
08/19: 2023 Rock 'N Roll Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
09/23: 2023 Witch Run 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
10/21: 2023 Haunted Half 5K - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
10/28: 2023 Haunted Half 5K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
03/04: 2024 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)