Saturday, April 29, 2023

2023 Salt Lake City Half Marathon Race Recap - Salt Lake City, UT

Official Time: 1:53:47
Placement: 14th in age group
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Low 40's, cloudy
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2018] [2017]

Mile TimeComments
18:40Some rolling hills here but easing into the race.
29:27Bathroom break - felt like I was working too hard
37:57Really nice downhill
48:18Love this part of the course. Can just coast
68:54Long grinding stretch of a hill. Surprised my pace wasn't slower.
78:21Recovery mile here
89:04Another round of uphill. Felt like the race was slipping away
98:31Was about to rebound. Definitely working here though
118:19Somehow got a bit of a second wind
138:41Grind to the finish
13.262:07Course felt extraordinary long.  Was pretty gassed but pushed it to the finish.
Total Miles: 13.26 - 1:53:49


So for the past 2 years or so, I've had the Salt Lake City Half Marathon race entry sitting in my back pocket.  I had registered after the 2021 virtual one at a nice price but couldn't do the race in 2022 due to a back injury.

So it finally came due and I had to use it or lose it.  

I really enjoy this race -- it is one of the premier races that run in the downtown area of Salt Lake City and it is well attended and very competitive. It isn't on par with a marathon major, but this race definitely draws a crowd.

Packet pick up is on the Friday before the race at the downtown convention center.  They have a mini-expo as well.  It was easy and well organized.  I spent about 15 minutes there before heading back to work.

The race also offer free public transportation to the race site.  Your bib is good for the light rail system and it drops you off right at the door step of the starting line.  For a big race, the logistics are really easy.

The Race

I thought I had given myself plenty of time to get to the race start -- getting on the local train at 5:30 AM for the 7:00 AM start.  The trains just seemed slow.  I remember in years past arriving with about an hour to spare but this time, I arrived with less than 25 minutes.  Note to self:  get on an earlier train and take the red line.

I managed to use the rest room, ditch my warm-up clothes and before I knew it, it was time to line up and hear the national anthem.

It was cool out but not cold and I wisely selected a baseball cap, light gloves, shorts and my neon pink shirt (much easier to find myself in post race photos).  

It took about 4 minutes for me to get started on the race but once I did I realized I should've cycled through the porta-potties one more time.  I had to go.

Miles 1 through 3

The race starts at the university and the first mile or two is through a very well-to-do neighborhood.  There are some hills here, some take a bit of effort to get up.  It is also here that you are at the highest elevation of the course -- just shy of 5000 feet.  I hadn't done much of a warm-up and it took a while to get my breathing under control but I was feeling fresh.

Around mile 2 I made the decision I had to use the bathroom. My bladder was definitely full.  Fortunately there were a bank of restrooms at the first water stop and they weren't heavily in use.  I was able to get in and out of one in 30 seconds.  More time than I'd like, but I got it done.  I felt a little bad about it, but it was necessary.

Eventually the expensive houses (and views of the downtown area) gave way to a canyon drive.  This is probably everyone's favorite section as you are treated to a nature paradise and here you get the biggest drop.

Miles 4 through 6

My pace definitely quickened and it suddenly became a joy and less laborious to run.  I was surrounded by people and I was feeling good. It didn't take much effort to hold onto a very low 8 minute per mile pace.

The road had been damaged by a lot of the snow we had had this winter and you could hear the water running at a quick pace.  It was just a pretty experience.

Finally, the canyon gave way to the section of town called the Avenues.  There are a lot of really old, stately buildings along the route.  It is here that it comes due to pay the piper for the downhill section.  There is about a mile of a slow grind, culminating with an even steeper climb.  

Also, if you know the city, you know you are pretty close to the finish line, but you still have 7 more miles to run.  As the hill took its toll a part of me wanted to jump off the course and find my way there and call it a day.  Mile 6 was one of my slower miles.

Miles 7 through 9

This isn't a very scenic part of the course but you run down some usually busy roads lined with older, smaller houses.  The crowds here are also fairly supportive.

There were some sections of the course that involved a bit of hill climbing but nothing serious.  They did take their toll though as the fatigue was building up in my legs.  I had a feeling that the race might go poorly at this point.  I just wasn't feeling "fast" despite wearing the Saucony Pros.  Every time I glanced down at my watch at a mile marker, I was surprised though that my pace was still -- darn good.

It was also at this point that I started to get down a caffeinated gel.  I figured it couldn't hurt and in fact it did give me a bit of a boost.

Miles 10 to 13

After rounding the curve at the southernmost part of the course, I knew I was going to have a decent race.  The gel gave me a boost and I knew that I could still run a decent 5K at half marathon pace.  The course became slightly familiar as I went through even older section of town.  It was also at this point that we ran along the perimeter of stately Liberty Park.  

The course had leveled out for the most part and my pace was finally consistent.  I was hurting but I still felt I was going to be able to go sub 1:55, which was my goal for the race.

From previous experience and reports, I knew my Garmin wasn't going to be reliable.  One year I did it, my Garmin was correct but this year, the mile markers were consistently off from my watch.  At first it wasn't very noticeable but as the race went on, it was off by .03, .08 and finally nearly .2.  The course is certified and I knew that the likely the run down the canyon had probably caused an issue.

After exiting the park, I could almost smell the finish line. There was a mile left and my legs didn't have very much pep.  My pace had slowed down but was still solid for the time I was shooting for.

My watch flashed 1:52:30 or so upon hitting 13.10 and my final time for the course was 1:53:49 -- including roughly a 30 second bathroom break.


Overall, I was pleased with my performance.  I had set out a goal of hitting sub 1:55.  I knew I was capable of that.  The course definitely can be a speedy one, but there are places on the course were it keeps you honest, with some fairly intense, long grinding hills.

I wouldn't describe the course as "fast" but it isn't a back breaker.

I was also happy that I felt good at the end.  I wasn't dying of thirst and I was able to socialize a bit, grab a medal, and take some photos of the finish area -- which was near the downtown courthouse.

I had wrapped my phone in a fairly large bag in case it rained and I was able to use it to snag some food at the end.  If you were willing to wait, they had made to order pancakes by Kodiak.  They had chips, fruit, granola bars, a variety of drinks and product samples.  If you are so inclined, they had a beer garden and entertainment.

My ride had arrived though, so I didn't stick around too long.  I did manage to get my drop bag fairly quickly.

Overall, we had great weather.  All winter we've had rainy, unseasonably cold weather.  I think everyone was worried that this race could've been a mess (especially considering last year's downpour).  But fortunately, the weather was pretty much picture perfect for half marathon running.

Timewise, this was my best half marathon so far this year.  My time was better than Las Vegas's race but I didn't get the massive second wind that I felt I got in Las Vegas.  I was kicking myself for having to use the rest room as well -- mile second mile should've been in the upper 8's at the worst.

I felt I paced the race really well and while I had my doubts as to whether it was going to end disastrously, I didn't give in.

I was happy with the race experience.  If you register for the race early, it is a well worth the price for admission.  If you wait too long, however, it does get expensive.

I am signed up for 2024, so I am looking forward to toeing the line next year.

Upcoming Races

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)
06/24: 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)
04/202024 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)

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