Saturday, April 27, 2024

2024 Blossom 5K Race Recap - Santaquin, UT

Rowley's Red Barn - the Race Headquarters

Official Time: 25:50
Placement: 2nd in the 50 - 54, 15th out of 304.
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 40's, rainy, no wind
Garmin Route: Here
Previous Years: 2023

Mile TimeComments
17:48Fast start, slightly downhill.
28:45Mixed mile - first third fast, then quarter mile throw slippery mile and then back up hill
38:45Long grinding hill.  Holding steady but definitely not killing it.
3.070:30Push to the finish.

Total Miles: 3.07- 25:50

Normally what we run


This past Thanksgiving, I wound up signing up for a bunch of races at a discount price.  One of them was the Blossom Run.  I had had a good time running it in 2023 and decided that it was worth the nearly one hour drive down to Santaquin to experience the event.

I had originally signed up for the 10KM race, but due to a variety of circumstances (more on this in a subsequent post I suspect) I decided to drop to the 5KM race.  I haven't been feeling up to my peak performance of late and decided it would be best to shorten the race.

The race is held at Rowley's Red Barn, an apple orchard along the I-15 freeway.  They allow the race organizer to hold a non-technical trail race around the perimeter of their property.  It is hilly, challenging and very scenic.

10KM runners off to a good start

The Race

This year the race course was altered significantly.  I was sort of sad about it but at the same time relieved.  We've had a lot of rain recently and that meant a very muddy course.  I was onboard with a race like that, but I know that many aren't and I suspect the property owners didn't want hundreds of runners tearing up their property.

The race was now a road race that started at the barn, ran north along the freeway's frontage road and down a little road behind the orchard's property.  At least my street racing shoes were going to be applicable.

On the way there, the driving was rainy and I was half expecting the worst during the run.  I had brought appropriate gear but it is always a mess running in "wet".  

Fortunately by the time we got there the rain had been reduced to a drizzle.  

I managed to get my bib in short order, use the porta-loos a few times and do a brief warm-up.  I managed to get some photos of the 10KM race starting as well.

The 5KM started at 8:30 AM (the 10KM had started at 8 AM).  With us running down a semi-busy road, we had to assemble more or less single file.  To complicate matters, many of the 10KM runners were coming up the same road to start their second lap.  Fortunately, I caught a break with the traffic and other runners and got off to a good start.

I haven't raced in a while and I really wasn't sure what I wanted to do in terms of pace.  I started off cautiously and soaked in the cool air and downhill nature of the race.

I felt solid and my pace came to me naturally.  There weren't many other runners that took the initiative of starting near the front and I figured I had a small chance of placing in the top 3 of the race.

It wasn't long (about half a mile) before we made a series of two lefts and proceeded down a far less traveled road behind the apple orchard.  I had never experienced this road in any fashion - but it was lined with older homes, the apple orchard's processing plants and open fields.  While running along here I recognized some of the sections I had run during the trail edition of the race on the orchard's property.

The first mile sailed by in 7:48 -- I was shocked to be honest.  I hadn't really glanced at my watch and was running entirely by feel.  I knew I had benefited from the gradual downhill though.  Only half a mile to go before the turn around.  5Ks are so much easier than 10Ks.

I had sort of given up hope of placing in the top 3.  A few other runners had passed me at this point and also I was unsure who I was competing against.  All of the 5K runners were getting mixed into the 10K runners.  I hadn't seen anyone that looked like they were in my age group though.  Perhaps top masters would be my consolation prize.

The next third of a mile was still a gentle downhill and I saw where we would make a right turn, go up the street a few hundred yards, turn around and come back.

What I didn't expect that this small section was entirely --- wet, slippery mud.  My smashing pace came to a complete halt.  There was no way I could run remotely fast in the quagmire and I didn't want to be the one that slipped and fell.  Other runners had already broken ground on it and it was just a matter of getting through the roughly quarter mile of mud without falling, gassing myself, or losing a shoe.

An aid station and a cone marked the beginning of the return trip.  The turn around came a bit short, according to my Garmin -- coming in at 1.53 miles.

I wasn't wiped out -- and in fact I still felt pretty good.  The "rest" of working through the mud had actually helped me recover because I had dropped the pace (about 10:30 pace).

Upon exiting the mud and heading back, I saw just how much I had benefited from the start -- it was a  long grinding hill and now I had the weight of wet mud on my shoes.  Fortunately, the mud flew off my feet but I was now really having to work.  There were no longer going to be any "easy" sections.

Mile 2 -- unsurprisingly, rang up at 8:45 -- thanks to the mud pit.

I was still working with 10KM runners and trying to make out some targets with the 5KM runners ahead of me.  But the hill and lack of race training really were starting to take a toll.

I finally made the final 2 right turns and once again, I could see nothing but a climb to the finish.  The Red Barn and finish arches were in the distance and I looked at my watch -- at least .70 of a mile away... so far and yet so close.

So close to the finish line.

I knew it wouldn't be much longer before finishing but my legs just felt heavy and unable to respond.  I knew I was redlining on the heart rate and while my effort felt fast, my pace was anything but.  I tried to envision all the times in my harder sessions of really working that final rep and calling upon my inner strength to get me there.

The finish line arches came closer and closer and I kept trying for that finishing kick.  But it just wasn't there.  I was running up hill and to be honest, I didn't feel the need to solidify my position.  In fact, I think I stopped running a few feet from the finish line -- I was just spent.


So I knew this wasn't going to be any sort of PR day.  In fact, I even said that to a runner once we entered the mud pit, "There goes my PR".  

I glanced at my watch upon finishing and saw an unbelievable (in a bad way) 25:50.  I think I had been under the impression I was going to get low 25 or 25:30 at the worst.  

On one level, I was happy to finish and considering what I've had to deal with since my last race, I was just ecstatic to have gotten this one done without any sort of drama.  My competitive side (and ego) was whipping myself -- you are slow and not fit.

I grabbed my jacket, which I had tossed over onto an apple tree and sauntered over to the car and got into some warmer clothes -- it hadn't rained, but I was definitely going to catch a chill in nothing but short-shorts, a t-shirt and thin gloves.

I wound up socializing with people for about 20  - 30 minutes before they started to dole out the awards.  Fortunately, I managed to get 2nd in my age group -- so double medal day.  During the ceremony it had started to rain but fortunately I had an umbrella.  Always nice to get something -- especially at a fairly large race -- for my efforts.

Post race refreshments were as usual -- drink, bananas, granola bars, and ice cream.  To be honest, I wasn't too hungry (or thirsty) after the race but did grab a granola bar and string cheese stick.

I think everyone was lamenting how difficult the course was.  The mud pit definitely had slowed people up and the hilly nature.  In perusing the results, I can see that people generally finish a solid 60 - 90 seconds slower than usual.  That would put my time within more of the realm of where I feel I should be.  It still stings, but this is a difficult course and I've never run particularly well at this race due to its nature.

Overall, props to the medals.  They are big and solid.  The t-shirt was nice but again, not a giant fan of the polyester / cotton blend.  There was also a $5 charge for bib pickup.  Normally I'd get the bib pre-race but it was more economical to pay the fee versus making a 100 mile drive (round trip).  Given I got a bargain during the Black Friday sale, I have no complaints about my experience -- I do miss the trail course though but sometimes you have to roll with the punches.

For those that have never done this race, I definitely recommend it.  It is unique, pretty, well managed and definitely an experience you won't regret.  Also the Red Barn sells snacks and fruit and you are supporting a local business ... just a fun experience.  For a bunch of very cool course photos, be sure to check out my Fall Race report.

Upcoming Races

05/03: 2024 Sandy City Fiesta Days 5K - Sandy  UT (Confirmed)
05/27: 2024 Run of Remembrance 10K - American Fork,  UT (Confirmed)
06/01: 2024 Utah Valley Half Marathon - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
06/29: 2024 Taylorsville Dayzz 5K - Taylorsville, 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)