Wednesday, February 28, 2024

2024 Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon Race Recap - Las Vegas, NV

Official Time: 1:57:08
Placement: 1745th overall, 1344 male, 134th in my age group
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Low 60s.  Slight breeze from the south
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2023] [2022[2019] [2018] [2017] [2016] [2015] [2014] [2013] [2012] [2011] [2010] [2009]

Mile TimeComments
19:08Off to a conservative start. Easing my way into the race
29:03Still timid and holding back
38:55Heading north now. A bit of a tailwind but didn't really feel it.
48:52Felt like I could take off but still too early
58:44Consistency still holding back
68:48Have left the main area, not as much crowd support but feeling good
78:44Should I go now?
88:44Holding steady
98:47Upon completing this mile I told myself -- let's go
108:42Short lived effort to "go".  Just didn't feel it and I didn't want to blow up
118:53Holding steady
129:03My head was like let's go -- but my body wasn't ready
139:12Fished out my phone at some point to film a really crappy ending.
13.191:32Cross the finish -- finally!
Total Miles: 13.19 1:57:13

Me at the Expo


Every year, I am pretty much locked into the Las Vegas races.  I got into this race in 2009 when I ran my very first marathon (3:41 I believe).  At the time, I was infatuated with Las Vegas.  I had heard there was a marathon there (that got very lukewarm reviews). I was training with a marathon group and had visions of running a full marathon and weeks before the race, I wound up booking a flight from Chicago to Las Vegas and registered for the race.

I struggled during that race but it soon became a yearly tradition: train with the Chicago marathon people and hold onto my fitness for a bit longer and do the marathon.  I never ran particularly well in Las Vegas but for some reason I kept coming back.

This year was like all the others: I had to come back. If nothing more than to keep the streak alive of having run this year every year it has been available since 2009.  There have been lots of changes over the years: it is now a night race, it has changed hands a few times, and the marathon is now gone and in its place is a 10K.  But the same thing still remains: they close down the famous "Las Vegas Strip" and over ten thousand runners get to "own" it.


I arrived in Las Vegas via a 5.5 hour drive down I-15 from Salt Lake City on Saturday for the Sunday night race.  Packet pickup was at the Resorts World Hotel and Casino on the north end of the Strip.  I was staying at the New York Casino, which is where the race start was and is also located on the south side.

I managed to snag my room, get my luggage situation before making what I thought was a fairly quick walk to the north end.  I figure it might be 3 miles round trip.  Suffice to say I woefully underestimated the journey:  it wound up being close to 7 by the time I got to the race headquarters.

What's left of the Mirage's Volcano

It was an enjoyable walk, but current I suffer from sciatica and walking and standing for long periods of time aggravate it.  By the time I had got my bib, took some photos, circled through the expo and made my way back to the hotel, I was wiped out and my hip was aching.

Packet pickup was a snap and while I was there for the mid afternoon rush, it wasn't terribly crowded like I've seen it before.  I didn't spend much time at the expo, other than to get some samples of Biofreeze and check out some of the exhibitors.  There really wasn't too much I haven't seen before though, so for the most part it was a very quick in and out.

I wound up walking a bit more even after getting back to the hotel and my hip was definitely not happy (the hip is the source of the sciatica / nerve pain I am experiencing).  It has never bothered me, but tonight it was off the charts bad.

I wound up getting a decent night's sleep though after eating dinner and gambling a bit.

In the morning, my extremities were tingling a bit -- against more nerve issues and just pre-race nerves.  Even sitting at the America CafĂ© in the New York hotel, I could feel my hip telling me I had walked too much the day before.  From experience with this race, I knew I had to eat a fair breakfast but I didn't need to gorge.  I went with last year's breakfast: a basic omelet and the traditional sides.

I gambled -- and lost some more money -- before retreating to the room and dosing up on Aleve.  My nerves -- both mental and physical were on edge.  I definitely knew I had it in me to run well, I wanted to run well but my body was -- I think -- telling me to sit this one out.  Again, I think it was anxiety but I couldn't discount the typical nerve pain I've been dealing with for the past 6 months.

I wound up relaxing, watching basketball on a non-HD TV and eventually diving into my tried-and-true lunch of fruit, cold cereal, pudding cups and a few bland cookies.  I've used this "lunch" for the past two years with great success... it suffices for energy, it is easily digestible.  I was basically following the same pattern I have used for the past 2 years, which again, has served me well.

With a race start of 4:30 PM and a loading time of 3:45, I wound up heading to the "Park" area between the Park Hotel and New York, New York around 3:15.

Getting ready to race

The Race

I wound up waiting for about 15 - 20 minutes in the area near where my blue loading zone would be.  I was fortunately in corral #1, which meant I'd be in the first wave of runners to start.

The loading process was fairly chaotic and it took a solid 15 - 20 minutes of shoulder to shoulder people before I could enter the "secure" area / loading area for corral #1.  I quickly jumped into the bathroom, which I managed to just in a nick of time.  With 5 minutes to spare, I shouldered my way to a respectable distance from the start and waited for the run to start.

Despite nearly 45 minutes of standing my hip and back were not bothering me.  I think thanks to a healthy dose of ibuprofen and acetaminophen.  In fact, I was surprised as my nerves settled down a bit.  I had a bit of tingling in my left foot but I was fully operational.

At 4:30 the race started and I, along with about 3000 corral #1 runners who were running the half marathon or 10K proceeded forward.  In fact, I think this year was the quickest I went from waiting to running in terms of when the gun went off.

My goal for this race -- like the others I've done recently, was to go out at about 2 hour pace but slow bump up the pace as the race progressed -- and how I was feeling.  It was warm -- about 60F but there was only a light breeze.  I knew it was going to get cooler as the race went on and the sun set, but for now, it did feel warm.  A big change from the 30F-40F weather I am used to.

I was wearing nothing but shorts and a thin tech t-shirt.  I was running in my Saucony Endorphin Pro 2's.  I was wearing a tried and true kit -- even my shirt has been lucky for me.  I was armed with two gels as well, one caffeinated, one not, which I was planning on using around mile 6.

I started off conservatively, nailed my first 5K spot on.  I have run every inch of this course many times before so not a lot was new.  We did head south until we passed the airport and the Welcome to Las Vegas sign before making a U-turn and heading back towards the strip.

It was congested running, but I never really felt hemmed in for very long.  I was just working to settle into the race and see how my body was going to relax with the nerve issues I was dealing with.

I was concerned in that it felt warm and my mouth felt a little dry.  I wound up using just about every aid station on the course, taking a bit of the Mortal sports drink they were serving and once in a while throwing water over my head.

Around the 4 mile mark we were heading north, the sun was setting and the crowds were jubilant and offered a wealth of support.  I would probably argue that this race is the most fun to run in regards to interactions with the throngs of people.  Sure, some are drunk or carrying on but there were plenty that were offering eye-to-eye acknowledgement with an encouraging word.

I felt my pace increase ever so slightly here as I was buoyed by their support.  In fact, I had to reign it in a bit.  It was a little early to be pushing the pace -- but I was clearly running exactly what I had hoped for.

I wound up tearing into a Tutti Frutti Roctane GU.  I needed the jolt of caffeine despite it being a late night race.  I hoped I wouldn't regret it with having problems sleeping later (I didn't).

The race did get a bit lonely as we sped down the strip towards Fremont Street and the older part of town.  The crowd support diminished and those that were around were less vocal.  It was also dark at this point.  The road was still well lit and I was never concerned about tripping and falling.  I still felt strong as the music got more interesting.  I was overtaking a number of runners.  I felt like I might want to really bump it up a notch, but I still wasn't feeling ready.  I still had around 5 miles and I felt like the pace I was running was okay.  I decided mile 9 would be my "go" mile.

I knew that I needed to pick up the pace to get the time I wanted but I also needed to temper it with that I didn't want a death march 5K at the end.  The last two half marathons I was able to smash the final 4 miles but there was some doubt in my mind.  Was it too hot? Had I not hydrated enough?

We were thoroughly in the downtown area and I saw the second turn of the race.  You basically hang a right and run a lap around a downtown area before coming back onto the strip and heading back to the finish line.  For me, this signaled that I was getting close -- despite having about 4 miles to go.

My Garmin beeped 9 miles -- time to go!

I kicked up the pace - just a bit more and wound up getting a pretty good surge.  But for the most part, it was short lived.  I think about half a mile later I was back to running what I was running before -- about 8:45's.  I felt like I was running 8:30, but the effort started to weigh in on me.  Again, it was warm, I felt a bit dehydrated, I had a bit of headwind and it just wasn't there.  Mentally, I was like "Go!" but my body wasn't having any of it.

I made peace with the situation.  I told myself there'd be a chance that it just wasn't going to be there, despite being well tapered for this event.  I just didn't want a slogfest for the final 5K.  8:45's it would have to be.

The other racers were on the other side of the boulevard and it was nice to get encouragement from them.  There were still some spectators but overall it was quiet running, pot smoke, and shadowy running.  Fortunately, I knew how much longer I needed to run and I kept picking out landmarks ahead -- knowing I just needed to get to the Bellagio to call it a day.

I was still overtaking other runners, which was empowering, but my pace was slowing up.  Again, mentally I willed myself forward and I wasn't exactly hurting, but the power just wasn't there.  I think I had settled into that 8:45 pace for so long that I couldn't find that next gear to get me out of it.  Also, the 8:45's seemed harder to hold as my heart rate increased and the exertion level reached higher levels.  Perhaps I was dehydrated.

I wound up pulling out my phone out of my FlipBelt in hopes of getting a few photos and video of the finish.  Suffice to say, I love to watch YouTube, but I am definitely not adept at filming anything.

This wound up costing me a bit of time as I slowed down to fool around with the camera, but overall it was only a minor distraction in the grand scheme of things.

I kept knocking off landmarks: Circus Circus, Resorts World, The Fashion Mall, Treasure Island, The Wynn, The Mirage.  Finally, Caesar's Palace came into view and I knew I just needed to run past that and the finish line would await (in previous years the finish line was at the Mirage but during to the starting location change, this year the finish line was at the north end of the Bellagio).

I pushed it hard the last quarter mile.  At this point, I didn't really care what my time was -- it wasn't what I wanted but I wanted to be done.

It's always a massive party when you finish and this one was no exception.  With all the neon, the Bellagio fountains exploding to the side and thousands of people cheering you in; it is just a wonderful experience.


Upon finishing, I grabbed a medal and a bottle of water. We had timed it just about right in that we were treated to the Bellagio fountains.  It was almost a perfect finishing setting -- exploding jets of water, music, flashing lights and cheers from spectators.  This is why I do this race!

I wasn't in terrible shape after the race.  There have been a few in the last 12 months where I simply collapsed at the end and sulked for a while.  But this one, I was able to keep moving, take some photos and share the experience with everyone else.  I actually felt pretty darn good.

I was given a bag, which contained post race refreshments: a banana, gummi fruit, a granola bar and some chips.  There were some photo opportunity spots as I made my way south towards the exit. 

I hadn't checked any gear, but it looked like a pretty easy process to collect whatever you had dropped off.  It took a good quarter mile (or so) to finally find a very small gap in the protective barriers to make my way out of the race pen.

I wound up cutting through most of the Cosmopolitan hotel before finding ample space to walk back to my hotel -- about another half mile walk or so.  My hip was silent despite walking.

The Exit area of the finish chute.

I sort of wish I had had another bottle of water though and I was certainly missing the chocolate milk or at least some Gatorade.  With the sponsor being Mortal Drinks, they didn't really have an electrolyte-based drink that I really felt I needed.  I was a little worried about getting woozy. I probably should've grabbed another bottle of water, but when I had been given the water, I figured there'd be another hydration spot (other than beer or wine, I never found it).

With a time of 1:57:08, I was a little unhappy with it.  It wasn't terrible and I've definitely done worse but I was shooting for something in the 1:53's.  I just didn't have the confidence that night to close the deal.  Perhaps it was not enough hydration, the heat or maybe just the sciatica issues I was dealing with, but I think confidence-wise I didn't think I had it.  Perhaps all the times I've not run well at this race weighed in on me as well.

The medal was nicely designed and a bit different from the other ones we've been handed out to over the years.  Definitely lighter feeling but this one was a bit bigger. I liked the t-shirt and it is one I'll wear.  I also got another (cotton-based) one for registering early for 2025 (see ya next year Las Vegas!)

The race support was fantastic. The volunteers crewing the aid stations were simply fantastic.  The corral loading process was better than last year, but still kind of a mess (not sure how to do it better but there could be better ways I suppose). The expo was definitely energizing but for me, there really wasn't much to see or do.  It used to be significantly bigger with more independent race organizations showcasing their races, but it just seemed less interesting and less runner related in some cases.

Post race refreshments were standard issue.  I had registered for the race a year in advance -- paying $99 plus the service fee to participate.  Well worth it given the environment and nature of the event.

Despite my fears and anxieties about even finishing, I did complete the race and by all accounts, I do think I paced it very well.  No death marches, no "gosh why do I put myself through this" moments and I had fun.  This race, unfortunately, won't make my top 3 yearly race performances (races where I ran well) but it definitely won't go down as my worst.

I am really looking forward to year #15 in 2025!

Upcoming Races

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)
02/23: 2025 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)

Sunday, February 11, 2024

2024 South Davis Recreation Center Sweethearts 5K Race Recap - Bountiful, UT

Timers setting up for the race

Official Time: 24:52
Placement: 2nd in the 50 - 54
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 29F no wind.
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2023] [2022] [2021] [2020] [2019] [2018] [2016] [2015] [2014] [2013]

Mile TimeComments
17:38Gentle downhill at the start. Slightly congested, holding back a little
28:09Felt like I was running faster
38:27Always tough to run the final stretch here. Hilly
3.100:55Didn't press stop on the watch.
Total Miles: 3.10- 25.11

Chilly Morning with Snow Capped Mountains


One of my annual traditions is to run the South Davis Recreation Center Sweethearts 5K - a Valentine's Day themed race.  I've done the race over 10 times now and it is an annual tradition for me.  

There aren't many races in the winter months in the Salt Lake area but this one always falls on my radar.  It is cheap, well run and I know the course.  I use it to test my fitness at the start of the year to see where I am at.

This year, I got a nice deal on the race and once again showed up in Bountiful, about 30 minutes north of where I live, to toe the line for yet another winter 5K.

Calm before the race

The Race 

The race is held at the local recreation center. I showed up at 8 AM for the 9 AM start and quickly snagged my bib.  I used the restrooms, socialized a bit, before commencing on a 1 mile warm-up prefaced with some drills.  

Packet Pickup

My 5K fitness has been in question -- I haven't felt particularly fast and while my half marathon races have been fabulous so far this year, I had sincere doubts about pushing a fast 5K.  My goal was to run pretty close to last year's time (24:13).  My suspicion was that I was going to get close to it, but probably not surpass it.

The race started just a hair after 9 AM and I quickly took off.  It was congested, as usual, but it thinned out pretty quickly.  Despite, the cold, I was completely comfortable in short shorts, thin gloves and a short-sleeved t-shirt.  I had ditched my hat and thin warm-up jacket moments before the race.

The first mile is mostly downhill. It isn't a screamer, but everyone hits that one fast.  It went by fast and it was effortless -- if only the entire race was like this.  I ran it in 7:38, a little slower than I felt like I was running, but I felt like I was conserving energy for the second half of the race.

Gentle downhill to the start

Around mile 1.25, the races veers east and that is more or less where the fun / easiness comes to an end.  It is a gradual climb for the next mile that only gets worse throughout the race.  My legs suddenly felt like leg as I saw the gradual climb.  I knew it was coming, though, so it wasn't a surprise.

I felt like I was running strong and zipped through the aid station at the half way point.  I wound up passing a few runners and despite the fatigue, I felt like I was having a good race.  I didn't want to discourage myself by glancing at my watch every 30 seconds.

On my cool down, but the gentle uphill is like this.

Mile 2 rang up in 8:08.  Not where I wanted to be, but by all measures, about where I expected to be.  The problem was though, the final mile is always the toughest.  The hill summits up Main Street and it is just a slow steady grind.

I was working with a few other runners and I managed to pass by yet a few other ones.  I didn't see anyone in my age group, but with a fairly large start, I figured there had to be someone in my age group ahead of me.

The grind to the top

I kept pressing on and when I finally jumped on the sidewalk to make my way onto the final quarter mile, I told myself to push -- hard.

There wasn't much left and I looked over my shoulder and there wasn't a soul that I could see.  And there wasn't anyone in front of me that I felt I could catch.

Last 100 meters or so to the finish.

I did tear into the final tenth of a mile and flew under the finish line.  Before finishing though, I looked up at the time -- knowing it had probably taken me 5 seconds to start -- and saw a 24:4x.  What? Could I have been mistaken?  I had no idea what I had run but I suspected it was around 24:30.

Post race photo


So my disappointment reigned supreme at the end.  24:52 was my official time -- a full 40 seconds slower than Thanksgiving and last year.  

I got my medal and congratulated those around me.  I managed to quickly recover though and despite the freezing temperature, I was completely comfortable for some time.

I sauntered over to the refreshment area and grabbed a hot chocolate (which I must admit wasn't too smart after a 5K)  I found a QR results scanner and found myself solidly in 2nd place.  The first place runner in my age group is a local legend and managed to run a speedy 18:15 (or so).  

I did a cooldown and grabbed some photos of the course.  Part of me was happy that I had placed and placed reasonably well overall, but at the same time, I wasn't happy because I didn't hit my goal.  I quickly got over it as I enjoyed the cool morning air.

Awards were dolled out in reasonable order. I grabbed an overly green banana before leaving.  For post refreshments they did have water / sports drink, fruit (bananas and oranges) and some baked good.  For the price I paid for the race -- about $25, I was happy with my experience.

For age group awards, they had the traditional Teddy Bears.  I love them and have a small collection of them.

I liked the shirt and medal -- both high-quality and the vibe of the event was fun and low key.  Despite the cold in the air, the weather was actually quite enjoyable.  The course, while open to traffic (and a fair amount of it) was marshalled well and there was on aid station on the course.   

Being that this is an annual tradition for me, I'll be back next year.  The price is right and the timing of the event is perfect for me.  I just hope to turn in a better time.

Upcoming Races

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)
02/23: 2025 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)

Friday, February 2, 2024

2024 Sun Half Marathon Race Recap - Santa Clara, UT

Waiting for the race to start

Official Time: 1:53:31
Placement: 3rd in the 50-54 age division, 52nd overall
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere (race date 1/27/2024)
Weather: Mid 30's no wind at the start, finish in the mid to upper 40's
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2020]

Mile TimeComments
18:43Gentle downhill start
38:43Being consistent and daring to go a little faster
69:10First real hill.  Still holding a decent pace.
78:24Fast downhill here -- 150 feet of decline
88:52A bit of a climb here -- a short but steep hill.
98:32Time to step it up.  
108:17Starting to run fast.
119:24Long, grinding hill
128:21Mostly flat -- time to finish strong
137:56Awesome final mile. 90 feet of decline and the smell of the finish waiting for me
Total Miles: 13.13 1:53:27

Abandoned structure along the course.


So 2 weeks prior to this race I ran the 2024 Virgin River Half Marathon and astounded myself with an amazing time of 1:54:15.  I felt like I could've run the course faster despite having a fairly lackluster lead up to the race.  

Running the Virgin River Half Marathon

After the buzz of the race began to where off, I began to question myself -- was it a fluke or was my fitness really where I hoped it would be?

I had a bit of race fever and buoyed with the thought of being to run faster than I thought I began to look for another race.  Given that the Salt Lake area is pretty devoid of races, particularly half marathons in the winter, I wasn't given much of a choice locally.  I did spy the Sun Half Marathon in St George.  It seemed to fit the bill -- a fast course, warmer weather, a beautiful area, and I had run it before in 2020.

I did some research and some soul searching.  Did I really want to race again?  Make the four hour drive?  I found a decently priced hotel, made sure it was within the budget and ponied up for the last minute race entry (about $85).  I was set for another, hopefully, epic weekend!

Waiting for the race to start.

The Race

The race hasn't changed much since I did it pre-Covid.  My how the world has changed in the last 4 years.  I remember the course being mostly downhill, but not crazy downhill.  My Garmin indicates that I ran about 900 feet of downhill, but to keep things honest, there was about 425 of uphill.  

Anticipation before the start

I had picked up my bib the night before at the St George Running Center and I arrived at Archie Gubler Park at 6:30 AM to jump on a 7:00 AM bus.  There was plenty of parking and I could chill in my car for a bit before loading on to the bus for the 20 minute (or so) ride to the start.

I had brought a fair amount of clothing.  I knew that the starting area wasn't going to have much for amenities and there is nothing worse than waiting for a race to start and freezing.  I was quite comfortable though and I wound up making small talk with people and seeing familiar faces.

Run4Fun Group from FB

In 2020 the course came up a bit long on my Garmin (13.30).  This year, we started close to a quarter mile closer to the finish than the previous year.  I knew that we were going to have an accurate 13.10 miles (the mile markers also were spot on).

Taking care of pre-race nerves

A few minutes before the race, I took off all of my warmer gear and was ready to race in the slightly cool air:  shorts, a single t-shirt, and thin gloves.  I was perfectly attired for the race -- although I'd probably recommend sunglasses.

The race started promptly at 8:30 and we were off running down a lightly traveled canyon just a mile or so south of Gunlock Reservoir.

I stuck with the 2-hour pacer for the first mile or two.  That had been my strategy 2 weeks ago at the Virgin River race.  But I knew I could run faster and while the 2-hour pacer was going a little faster than 2 hours (on account of the decline) I wound up pulling ahead.  Part of me was wondering if I was making a mistake -- was I pushing too quickly?

I don't normally pay attention to my heart rate on a race (it's always too high) but my breathing felt good and I didn't feel like I was straining in the slightest.  My pace was good and not crazy.

The first few miles flew by and memories of the course came back from 2020.  It was so peaceful and the sunlight was playing off of the red rock canyon.  Around the 5K point, the runners joined up on Route 91 -- an older freeway.  We had a good portion of the shoulder and traffic was still light.  I was enjoying the easy pace and the mostly downhill part of the race.  My pace was improving and I still felt in control.

Mile 6 or so was the first "test".  Here was a decent hill and it took a bit to get up and over.  It was nearly a half mile long.  I remained patient and conserved energy here.  I was still within my goal of a 2-hour half marathon thanks to having banked time.

The closer we got to civilization, the more traffic there was on the road.  It sort of lost its coziness and peacefulness.  Fortunately, unlike in 2020, there was a new bike trail put well off to the side of the road.  This made it a lot safer and I could focus on running versus wondering if a speeding car was going to take me out.  

The course support was really good -- and hydration stations were about every 2 - 3 miles.  For the temperatures of the day, it was perfect.  There were pockets of spectators -- mostly cheering on family members, but for the most part it was solo running.  Occasionally I'd get passed by a full marathoner, who had had a 90 minute head start but I was slowly picking off other half marathoners.  And my pace was quickening.

I wanted to start my pickup a bit sooner on this race and around mile 7 I was moving well.  I was aided by some downhills.  I had also consumed a Roctane GU and I think the jolt of sugar and caffeine perked me up.  There was a hill that made me slow down but overall, I was very pleased with my pace.

Mile 10 - So hard

I had visions of smashing the final 4 miles and it was also at this time I passed what I thought was a person in my age group.  I had hopes that I'd place in my age group, but having studied the results from the past few years I knew I had what I figured to be a 50-50 chance.  It all depended who showed up and if I got lucky.

I definitely remembered mile 10 through 11 from 2020.  It is where you leave the highway and you have about 5KM left to run.  That mile is where things are starting to hurt. I still felt really strong and plowed up the hill. I saw the 10KM turn around and did the math in my head and knew that this course should come in right at 13.1.

Visions of running 8:30 or so were playing in my head as I ran up this mile-long, gradual hill.  I dared to look at my watch and I was well over 9 minutes.  If there was a heartbreak hill to this race, this was it.  My heart rate was definitely spiking as I willed myself to run fast.

It was only discouraging me, though and I told myself to be patient.  I remembered that once I got to the top, it'd be flat and then a final fast mile.  Sure enough, upon the summit, I was back on the flat section and I could feel my confidence and pace quicken.  A solid 8:21 rang up on my watch.

I was running with the outbound 10KM runners.  It was nice to see them coming along and I was still reeling in a few other runners.  I knew I was on for a good time.

Home stretch -- finish line to my left

The final mile is through a well-to-do section and it is primarily downhill and fast.  I couldn't ask for a better mile.  I gave it all I had as I slalomed down the twisty drive. I hit my fastest mile of the race -- a but 8 minute.

I was cheered by a throng a well wishers as I closed in to the finish line.  A sharp turn and a short distance later, I had finished.

Final stretch

Crossing the finish line!


To say I was ecstatic would be an understatement.  I smashed this race -- running faster than the previous half marathon.  This course came in accurately and my final mile was the fastest of the race (okay it was downhill but still).

I still felt good too -- there wasn't any death march on this race and I could've put in another mile or two.

The moment of truth came though -- had I placed?  I wound up looking up the live results and I found myself 3rd in my age group.  Would it hold though?  Was there someone who started behind me who would beat me?  No.  I was really happy -- always nice to go home with an additional medal and a bit of bragging rights.

All Smiles after a successful race.

I managed to get some snacks in me: fruit, granola bars, sports drink and ice cream sandwiches.  There was a really good crowd at the end -- with a 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon, the race was well attended and there was a lot of excitement.

It didn't take long to hand out the awards and it was nice to socialize with runners.  The morning was absolutely beautiful.  Sunny, not a cloud in the sky and a comfortable 50-something degree weather.  I probably should've hung out a bit longer but once I got my award, I decided to head back to the hotel to get cleaned up.

Overall, I had an awesome time at this race.  Not only was my running a success -- my fitness for a half marathon *is* there, but the morning and course was absolutely beautiful.  I just felt so fortunate that I was able to experience the beauty of Southern Utah.  Also, I didn't kill myself running the race: my pace was controlled and at no point did I feel like the wheels were coming off.  What a difference it makes when you run a half marathon like that versus some of the final miles of my half marathons in 2023.

There's been a lot of improvements to race since 2020 -- namely the safer route that avoids some of the fast traffic along the 2-lane highway.  The race was also well supported with ample aid stations and bathrooms.

I kept asking myself why did I wait so long to run this race again?  Hopefully I'll remember this experience next year and make the journey back down to St George to run this race.

Upcoming Races

02/10: 2024 South Davis Recreation Center Sweethearts 5K - Bountiful, 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)