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)

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Sandy City Turkey Trot 5K Race Recap - Sandy, UT

The Calm before the storm

Official Time: 24:03
Placement: 3rd in age group, 30th overall
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: mid 40's with no wind
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2013] [2014] [2021] [2022]

Mile TimeComments
17:31Crammed at the start - but nice little downhill section
27:43On to the bike trail. Spurts of fast in here. Feeling good
38:09Payback time on the hill.  Finished strong though
3.090:34Smashed it to the finish
Total Miles: 3.09 - 23:59

Beautiful morning at Lone Peak Park


Finally, I get to run the Sandy City Turkey Trot 5K on a regular basis!  In the past, this race always conflicted with the Las Vegas Marathon and I could never do it.  

This race is part of the Sandy City race series and culminates the year.  Usually their races conflict with other races that I do, but they put on a well-organized event at a very reasonable price.

With nothing on the agenda this weekend, I decided to jump in -- in part because it is a well attended race and also as a social event, as usually a lot of my local-area friends are there.

The Race

The race is held at Lone Peak Park.  It is a popular park that offers a trailhead to the Dimple Dell Trails and is home to the 5K race.  There is plenty of parking and 2 pavilions that offer shelter and bathrooms.  

The course was the same as last year's event, so I knew what I was in for:  a half lap around the perimeter of the park, followed by about a mile of slight downhill, residential running and then an out-and-back section along the bike trail.

Initial Park path at Lone Peak Park (after the race)

The 10 AM race start offers a chance to have a leisurely morning.  I really like it for winter races as it gives it a chance to warm-up a bit, have ample food, and ease into the day.  It clearly doesn't work for summer races, but this was nice in that I could sleep in a little longer.

The drive to the park is about 15 minutes and packet pickup was a snap.  I was also able to snag prime parking and get a 30 minute warm-up.

I had my doubts about the race.  Since Thursday I have had to deal with sciatica or a pinched nerve.  Either way, I was not in good spirits and I figured on the way there I'd at least pickup my shirt and if after a warm-up running was going to make my condition worse, I'd stop and simply go home.

Fortunately, the more I warmed up, the better I felt.

I wasn't sure if I was racing when I lined up at the start.  Was I going to mail this in? Or was I going to race it?  I decided I was going to ease into it and back off if I felt anything wrong.

The race was jammed at the start. With nearly 200 runners in attendance and no chip-start, a lot of people who probably shouldn't have been at the front, where at the front.  I would say the first 100 yards or so took some navigating as we ran around the eastern perimeter of the park.

By the time I exited the park -- about 0.25 miles into the race, it was smooth sailing and I settled into a quick pace.  I did glance at my watch to catch the distance from this spot to the finish line so I knew how much more I'd have to go when I returned -- 0.28 miles on my watch.

The first mile is the most fun though because there is a gentle downhill.  A few people cheered us on from their yards.  

I was running pretty well and despite a little tightness in my hamstrings, I was running really strong.  I decided I was going to "race".

One of my goals on this race was to win an age group award.  Granted, the outcome on that is based upon who shows up, but every year I've come in 4th in my age group.  I was hoping today I'd be able to change that.

By the time I had jumped onto the Porter Rockwell bike trail I was at mile 1 and hit a 7:31.  A great time!

We made our way north on the trail and I was trailing some runners and there weren't many behind me.  There were two little baseball fields we had to lap though, which involved a series of tight turns.  It helped break up the monotony of the bike trail, but those turns did cost me a bit.  

I did get a glimpse of the front runners: one guy who I suspected might be in my age group (he was) and mostly high school aged students.  I was still running strong though and I thought back on my training over the summer, knowing that I could handle this race pace.  Making that mental connection really helped.

Digging deep in the last mile

Finally, I made the lap around the second baseball field and I was pointed back south and into the home stretch.  I was still running fast and keeping up with a few runners who were ahead of me. It was nice not to be running solo -- as I didn't see anyone tailing me.

Mile 2 came up as a 7:43.  Rock solid and fast despite not a lot of downhill and some turns.

I knew mile 3 was going to be the hard one.  The fatigue was settling in and there were some up hill stretches that took my pace down a notch.  I did get some cheers from the people making their way out, which was nice to receive but it was lonely running.  The people I was tailing put some ground on me and I looked behind me and there was no one.

Not an easy section.

Around mile 2.25 or so, the course came to a T-intersection and it wasn't well marked as to which way to go.  Also, up until that point, all the turns had marshalls or signage.  The front 3 runners took a left.  They seemed to doubt that but they were going to go with it.  I looked at the sign that was there and I figured out that was NOT the way to go.  

I wound up hollering at the runners that did go that way and I was reassured with my decision on account that I saw a police offer a quarter mile down the street waving me on.

As I sped by myself down the road I looked over my shoulder and saw that the runners followed suite.  I now had competitors tailing me.  Although none of them looked to be in my age group.

Finally I re-entered the park and I knew I had less than a quarter mile to go.  A stroller pushing runner who had made the wrong turn had passed me (always humbling) and another runner who I had met before the race passed me.  He was one of my target runners who I had been tailing for the first half of the race.

The finish line is in sight in that last quarter mile, but it is on the other side of the park.  You can hear the announcer yelling people's names and can see people sprinting to the finish.  I was working hard at this point and the hills in that last quarter mile had taken away some of my pace. Once again, I was picturing myself doing the final strides of an easy run -- knowing I had the finishing kick to hold it in.

I quickly glanced at my watch in the final stretch, trying to see if I could possibly finish in under 24 minutes.  It was going to be tough -- I was at 23:20 with a little more than a 10th of a mile to go.

I gave it all I had and crossed under the Sandy City inflatable arches.  23:59 on my watch!

All smiles after the race.


My official time was 24:03.  There was no chip timed start -- only a chip timed finish.  For not feeling 100%, I was overjoyed with my time and my race performance.  The course also seemed to be a legitimate distance. Last year I clocked 3.14 on the same course and this year: 3.09.

In looking at other runner's Strava captures, my pace followed about the same as there. A strong first mile, an average second mile and then a bit of a slow down due to the hills at the final mile. 

I made a beeline to the results camper and printed out my results.  3rd in my age group.  Finally, I had broken the streak and placed!  That made my day even better.

T-shirt and age group award

I wound up socializing a bit and getting photos of other runners as they came in.  They were very quick with awards, which was nice to see.  They definitely are a well-organized bunch!

For first place they had a Bundt cake that was made by a local bakery.  2nd place saw the winner received a Costco pumpkin pie.  Me, I got 2 coupons for a free appetizer at a local restaurant.  I was told everyone got one of those in their pickup bag.  Also we each received medals for our age group.  I was a bit disappointed in the prize, but I was happy to get a medal and recognition.

For $30, I got a well-organized race.  I love their Thanksgiving shirts -- just wish they were of the technical material.  The cotton ones are usually relegated to the back of the closet -- only to be pulled out when I have a Thanksgiving related event to go to.  I think there was water at the end and some energy bars for snacks.

I like the course -- it is fun and challenging.  It also changes frequently so I was never bored.  Other than the one turn, the course was well marked and I felt safe when running it.

I really enjoy this race and plan on being here next year if I am able to.

Upcoming Races

11/18: 2023 Snow Canyon Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)
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)
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)