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)

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