Monday, May 6, 2024

2024 Sandy City Fiesta Days 5K Race Recap - Sandy, UT

View from the summit of the first hill

Official Time: 26:24
Placement: 2nd in the 50 - 54, 11th out of 117
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Low 50's, sunny and 17 mph wind from the south
Garmin Route: Here
Previous Years: First Year for Me

Mile TimeComments
18:46First half mile was fairly flat -- off to a good start until I had to climb
28:48Mixed mile -- some flat but last chunk of this was uphill
38:28Didn't realize this but I was running into a headwind. Totally gassed as well. Did get a fast downhill stretch
3.040:19Pretty much done at this point. Just wanted it to be over.
Total Miles: 3.04- 26:23

5k Race Day


Well, I got roped into another race.  To be honest, I was itching to get into another one.  I wanted to get redemption upon last week's race and I found a reasonably priced 5K just a few minutes from my house.

I've done a lot of the Sandy City races in the past -- they are generally well organized, affordable races that showcase their park system and bike trails.  They are low on frills but offer a low stress environment to get in a race.  Most years I do their Thanksgiving Day races so I am familiar with their setup.

The Fiesta 5K race is used to celebrate the holiday of Cinco de Mayo and has a Mexican theme to it.  It is a community event, lightly attended and just a great way to get in a speedy time trial.

Setting up the start line

The Race

The race, this year was held at Falcon Park -- a soccer park located in the heart of Sandy in a well-to-do-neighborhood with scenic views of the mountains on the east and west.  I got there about 45 minutes early for the 9 Am start.

You couldn't ask for better weather: comfortably warm, sunny and what felt like just a mild breeze.  The air was also fairly crisp -- perfect for a spring 5K.

Race start route

I grabbed my bib and did about a mile warm-up.  I got a sense of the course and I made sure to tackle the hill -- which is the longest one of the race at a mere half mile into the race.  It was definitely a workout as I made my way up it and I ran to the top to see just how far it went.  I knew I'd have to go out a bit conservatively at the start so I wouldn't die on it.

The first hill climb

The race started promptly at 9 AM and I took off.  The race is popular with a lot of younger folks and I watched as they bolted out in front of me and I started to build into race pace. The first half mile felt great -- all my aches and pains disappeared and I quickly got into 5K race pace -- about 7:45 miles.

View from the park perimeter

As we made our way through the neighborhood and around the east end of the park, I was greeted by the hill, which I knew was going to steal any chance of me having a great race.   I had already dropped a number of the younger folks and was working with a few other runners. Everyone's pace dropped off a cliff and some of the stronger hill runners overtook me.

I was huffing and puffing as I shambled up the hill.  At least the views were nice but I was too focused on just maintaining good form and getting over this first hurdle.

Finally I made it to the top and at this point I was in uncharted territory.  I didn't really know what lay next other than we did have yet one more hill (I was assured it wasn't as bad the first one).

Mile 1 rang up at 8:45.  I was dismayed and at the same time expected that.  I'd get the hill on the way back, so I was really hoping in the last mile I'd be able to get back some of the time I had expended climbing the hill.

After getting to the top, I quickly found my race pace.  I was back in the 7:55 - 8:15 range.  I passed some of the runners that had overtaken me.  Maybe the next hill wasn't going to be that bad and I could run fairly well during the next 2 miles.  I barely remember the route, but it was residential and well marked.  We were running on the street with the exception of the last quarter mile, which was on paved parkway trail.

Home stretch

Just as I was getting my confidence back, I rounded yet another set of turns and we were finally heading back.  I had actually studied the course beforehand and I knew I I didn't have much left.  The problem was, I hit the next hill.  This one definitely wasn't as bad as the other one, but it was steeper yet shorter.

I reduced my speed and just made my way up it.  

The problem is, once I got to the top, I had absolutely nothing.  I was breathing hard and I felt like I was running fast, but my sense of pace was totally distorted.  I was chasing down runners and a few overtook me.  I was growing frustrated.

Turn into the park

This part was flat and my pace was more akin to half marathon pace but I felt like I was running at least 10K pace.  My Garmin shows that at this point I was running into a headwind, but to be honest, I don't really remember it being that bad.

Fortunately, I wound up doing my good deed for the day.  Around mile 2.5 we had to make a right hand turn to head back down the giant hill and back to Falcon Park.

I saw the route arrow but I think it had gotten turned or it was showing runners to make yet another lap around the 5K loop.  In addition, I think at the start of the race, we had passed this intersection and a course marshal had been positioned there. He was no longer at his post.

A few of the runners had made the turn but had decided against it and were coming back to start a second loop of the 5K block.  It was causing a few of the other runners to think twice and follow likewise.  A situation of monkey see monkey do.

Speedy downhill

I had studied the course beforehand and I knew that we were no more than half a mile from the finish (and we were at mile 2.55 or so).  I also remembered that we were going to get the benefit of the downhill part.

I loved running the downhill stretch but despite it feeling like a "forever climb" to the top, the descent was just too short.  Before I knew it, the joy of running effortless for just a brief moment came back to "I must power myself to the finish".

Before I knew it, I was guided onto the park's walking trail (I think the marshal had moved to this position) 

I was working to chase down some of the front runners ahead of me, but I was just frustrated at how winded I was.  My legs were heavy, my breathing was ragged and I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest.  I kept working towards the finish line.  I was recalling all the times I had wrapped up hard workouts with a few 30-second strides, but I just couldn't find it.  I'd start, dig in for 5 - 10 seconds and then bail out.

The finish line looked to appear to be at the park's pavilion, but I had found the timing mats about .05 of a mile from that point, even though the course was a smidge short.

Smiling at the finish.


So I was way beyond upset with myself. I am not a drama king, so I kept it to myself, but I was upset.  I figured my time was going to be in the 24's but after the first 2 miles I knew that wasn't going to happen.  And I figured for sure I'd have a fast finish, but it was only marginally so.  I guess you could argue I negative split this race and that may be a silver lining in this one.

On the plus side, I finished 2nd in my age group and 11th overall.  Granted it was a small race (there was a bigger race down in Provo and one in the evening) but I'll take my wins any way I can.

After collecting myself and running back on the course for photos of friends and the atmosphere, I began to take stock on my performance.  It was a very challenging course and with two large hills. I knew this wasn't going to be any sort of PR day.  I've also had a lackluster training buildup and have lost significant fitness as I've had to deal with injury and illness.  This race had "slow time" written all over it for me.

The Awards await

There are definitely going to be rough races -- even 5Ks and this was one of them.

I did brush it off though -- I had finished, I didn't give up, I got the pleasure of running in some new areas and I got to be with friends.  Also the weather was just so nice.

Post race refreshments included water (and I think they even had 2 aid stations on the course), and some snacks.  Fairly typical of a $30 race.  The crew manning the route, awards, and pre-race bibs were fantastic.

No finisher's medals, but awards were there for the top 3 overall and top 3 in each age group.  Being in 2nd place, I also got a succulent plant.  First place received a plant and a Mexican soda and 3rd got a soda.

The t-shirt was nice but 100% cotton.  I'll probably only wear it around when I am bumming around the house or for very shirt runs.  I love their designs -- I just with they were more suitable for athletic wear.

Shirt + finisher prizes

Despite my performance misgivings, I had a good time and it stung but I also knew the course wasn't going to lead to a fast time.  Some days are like that and it makes you appreciate the fast days.  Until next race!

Upcoming Races

05/11: 2024 Run Farmington 5K - Farmington, 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)

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