Utah Valley Half Marathon Race Recap 6/10/17

Pretty scenery in Provo Canyon

Utah Valley Half Marathon promised us scenery and a fast downhill course. And for me they delivered on their promises.

I admire bloggers who write nice, concise race recaps. That is not me. But you can check out for some that aren’t quite as wordy as mine: Marcia @ Marciashealthyslice, Holly @ Hohoruns, MB @ Tutusandtennies, Teresa @ Findingfabulousatfifty, Zenaida @ ZenaidaArroyo, and Kristy @ Runawaybridalplanner. Otherwise, hold onto your visors for an in depth review of my Utah Valley Half Marathon experience.

Packet Pickup
Packet pickup was simple, even if driving around Provo wasn’t so simple. For a relatively small city — only about 20,000 more than the city I call home at the moment — there was a surprising number of multi-lane, traffic filled roads.

You needed to give the volunteers your bib number, which none of us had received, but there were books to look it up. We were all very pleased with the lightweight 10th anniversary edition jackets. You could also purchase a race tee if you wanted one (I did not).

Meeting new & old blogger friends

Packet pickup was at the expo at the Convention Center, by the way. After picking up my bib, I almost immediately ran into Holly @ Hohoruns and her son, who had fallen prey to one of the salesman at a booth. I lost Holly as we walked around the small but well stocked expo. Not long after that I ran into Marcia @ Marciashealthyslice , MB @ Tutusandtennies, and met Zenaida @ and Teresa @ Fitandfabulousatfifty.

We made a reservation with California Pizza Kitchen at the expo for our carb loading dinner.

Perfect weather & outfit

The weather & dressing
Race day was forecast to be pretty perfect race weather (for me). The fly in the ointment? We had to get on buses at 4 am to take us to the start (the race started at 6 am).

And of course I was debating the whole hydration vest or not decision almost until the last minute. Which also meant worrying about underarm chafing. 

Basically the decision on which top to wear was taken out of my hands. I thought I had packed a regular bra at the last minute so I could choose to wear a top without a shelf bra, but I couldn’t find it. So Super Girl Tank from Skirtsports it was! Third time was the charm, apparently, there was no chafing and it was the perfect choice (use code SPRINGCPT20 for 20% off almost anything Skirtsports).

I wore a Sparkleskirt on the bottom — what can I say? I like to sparkle on race day. Newton Motions carried me to the finish line (although I think they’re getting close to retirement).

The big problem was knowing it would be cooler that early, especially as you go up 1000 feet to the race start. And it was — it was a chilly 40 degrees and we had some time to kill. Thankfully I’d brought a throwaway hoodie. Actually, I also brought throwaway sweatpants which I kind of regretted not wearing!

We also met up with Kristy @ Runawaybridalplanner who had quite the tales to tell from her Grand Canyon Rim 2 Rim race. And she very sweetly fished out my sunglasses from the pocket in the back of my vest after I’d stupidly hooked everything up already — thank you, Kristy!

Enjoyed the “running” water

My Race Plan
Rachel @ Runningonhappy asked me if I wanted a race plan, and of course I said yes (even if, again, I didn’t exactly follow it). Mainly I worried about going out too fast because of the downhill (spoiler alert: for some reason this was not a problem).

I’m going to put in my actual lap times with the race plan times below (so it will be 11:30 AP, which stands for average pace/11:20 RP – which stands for race plan).

So how’d that work for me?

  1. Mile 1: 11:56 AP/11:45 RP. I didn’t notice my time for this mile. No idea why it was so slow; in the end, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have fallen apart if I had started out a little faster.
  2. Mile 2: 11:57 AP/11:40 RP. It was still a good downhill, so again, no real excuse for the slowness. Yes, I was being cautious but obviously overly so. I know it takes me a couple of miles to warm up typically, but I regret starting this slowly.
  3. Mile 3: 11:54 AP/11:40 RP. A somewhat flat mile. Pick it up already Judy!
  4. Mile 4: 11:17 AP/11:30 RP. Oddly there were some rolling hills this mile. Or maybe that helped me finally get into some kind of groove. I’d been behind the 2:45 pacer for a while; I was thinking to myself it just wasn’t my day and it wasn’t a goal race anyway, even if in the back of my mind I knew there was a good chance of a PR. Why it didn’t occur to me that I was well ahead of a 2:45 pace I don’t know. I can’t do math during a race! But even if I know my time goal (and I didn’t have one, other than a maybe-PR) I still do my best.
  5. Mile 5: 11:17 AP/11:30 RP. Decent hill, but then I’m used to hills.
  6. Mile 6: 11:08 AP/11:30 RP. Another decent downhill. No real idea why it was almost the fastest mile of the race, other than the middle miles tend to be my best.
  7. Mile 7: 11:27 AP/11:30 RP. Another decent downhill — why the slow down? The one thing I struggled with was a weird pulling sensation on the outer part of my right calf off and on during the race. At times I was being cautious because this wasn’t really my goal race and I didn’t want to injure myself. It was off and on. I kept trying to figure out what might make it go away, but the only thing that really did seem to make it go away were the flatter sections.
  8. Mile 8: 11:25 AP/11:30 RP. More rolling hills & the last big downhill.
  9. Mile 9: 11:16 AP/11:30 RP. You’re still going downhill by this point, but they’re small downhills. To me it felt mostly flat. I like flat..
  10. Mile 10: 11:14 AP/11:30 RP. This was the point where I suddenly realized it could still be a PR. There was a pacer a bit in front of me, but too far away for me to read her sign..
  11. Mile 11: 11:30 AP/11:20 RP. So I’ve just realized I can PR yet I slow down!
  12. Mile 12: 11:23 AP/11:10 RP. Still trying to pick up the pace. I realize it’s the 2:30 pacer ahead of me.
  13. Mile 13: 10:58 AP/11:00 RP. You can see that finish line for a while. I kind of wished I’d looked behind to see the mountains  but then again I was chasing down that PR! I think I passed the 2:30 pacer in this mile. Pacing is a hard job and one I would’t want.
  14. Last .19: 9:55 AP/Sprint to finish RP. And with a final sprint I caught it. 2 minute PR, baby!
Sprinting for that PR!

2:30:30 — Official Time
11:29 Average Pace

Yes, we ran past Bridal Veil Falls

Was the race well run?
Yes, I was very impressed by the organization of this race. Packet pickup was easy, making a dinner reservation at the expo is genius, loved the 10th anniversary jacket, the buses worked like clockwork. I can’t speak to aid stations as I didn’t use any, although I did note the very long portapotty lines during the race (thankfully I didn’t need them).

Sign says “Finish Strong”

My only quibble was that I seemed to miss a lot in the finisher chute, but that may just be me being in my usual post-race fog. I didn’t get my results, I didn’t see (and therefore didn’t get) the massages, and Mr. Judy complained that it wasn’t really spectator friendly (indeed, he totally missed my finish — first time that’s happened).

We all loved the medals & jacket


  1. Small expo but stocked with what you need & some cool stuff, too.
  2. Ability to make a dinner reservation at the expo.
  3. Really nice jacket with thumbholes (although a bit tight around my hips).
  4. Scenic.
  5. It was nice running along the small river in Provo Canyon
  6. Free photos — although I’m waiting on that!
  7. Towards the end of the race, as it was warming up, there were some sprinklers on the side of the road — they were actually in kind of a PVC square you run through — I didn’t use one but it was also pretty genius.
  8. I’m not a bling-whore, but it is a really nice medal.
  9. Meeting old & new blogger friends, including Kerry @ Yogaontherun, who sadly was unable to run the race

Of course no race is perfect. The downsides:

  1. The elevation (starts at about 5200 ft).
  2. The very early wakeup to catch the bus.
  3. I wasn’t super impressed with the town of Provo which had a surprising amount of traffic.
  4. Very little spectator support until the end of the race.
  5. Long portapotty lines during the race.

I may be smiling — doesn’t mean it was easy!

What I learned
The hill repeats with the emphasis on downhills that Coach Rachel @ Runningonhappy had me doing before this race seemed to do their job: no quad problems at all. And I felt fine immediately after the race, and no DOMs, either.

Elevation makes your normal pace feel like you’re actually running much harder.

They say that if you race within your first 24 hours at a new elevation you won’t notice it as much, although I think the fact that we’d been there a week was actually helpful. I know I didn’t sleep well the first few days, probably a combination of elevation plus time change. I’d had mild flu like symptoms in the evening and mornings but felt fine once we got up and moving — also for just those first few days.

I had quite a few good nights sleep before the race, though.

I joked with Rachel @ Runningonhappy that I was following the Everest plan — you know, they acclimate by going up, staying a couple of nights, coming down, going up further, and so on.

I did my last long run the day after we got to UT, at about 5000 ft. Then we moved on to Bryce, which was 8000 ft and I ran one day there, too. Then we went to Zion, which is only 3-4000 ft (although very hot!). And then Provo around 4000 ft.

Can hiking prepare you for a race? Worked for me!

 Final Thoughts
Of course we were hiking like crazy people all week long, but we also were cautious to start out with short hikes and slowly lengthen them as the week went on — do too much, too soon, and you can pay the price with altitude sickness. Our last day of hiking was Thursday, 2 days before the race, and we did 2 hikes that day and I also walked around town in search of my UT mug (which I finally found) — to the tune of almost a half.

That elusive UT mug & a bumbleberry pie hole

I wouldn’t recommend someone who is new to running halfs do that, but I do feel as you have a bunch under your belt you can be more active beforehand. Plus it takes your mind off of things. It worked for me in both AZ and UT, anyway!

I was happy to have the opportunity to run this race for free, although I would say that it is well worth the race fee. We both totally enjoyed exploring UT, although we just barely scratched the surface (and you can expect more posts about UT in the future).

I am also glad I had the chance to run a race at elevation. Yes, it was tough. Yes, I think coming out ahead of time is the way to go for me. I’ve eyed races at elevation before, and now I know that I can do it (although elevation can get you at any point!).


This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup


Half #17, State#15: 6/5- 11 Weekly Wrap

We spent the week before Utah Valley Half hiking around southern UT. Nothing super strenuous although some trails were definitely challenging!

I’m joining up with the Weekly Wrap from Holly @ Hohoruns and Tricia @ Misssipppiddlin so we can all inspire each other to stay active.


Workouts update

  • Monday: Hiked Bryce Point to Inspiration Point, Bryce Canyon 
  • Tuesday: Hiked Sunset Point to Queen’s Garden to Sunrise Point, 4.5 “easy”run
  • Wednesday: Hking in Zion: Lower Emerald Pools to Grotto Trails
  • Thursday:  Hking in Zion: Watchman & Riverwalk
  • Friday: Drive back from Zion, rest, carb loading with other bloggers 
  • Saturday: Utah Valley Half Marathon 
  • Sunday: Recovery

Mileage: 17.6 (-9.1)

JY = Jasyoga
TM = Treadmill
YFR = Yoga for Runners*
WU = warmup
CD = cooldown
SB = Stationary Bike
YFPR = Yoga for Pain Relief
YTU = Yoga Tune Up Lower Body*

*Disclaimer: Amazon affiliate links; I will make a small amount of money if you buy through these links

Running updates 


Running at 8000′ is no joke. Especially not uphill halfway and in 80 degree heat. Oh, after hiking 4 miles earlier. 

The good news is when I turned around and went downhill it was more confidence building. 


Running downhill at 5000 feet elevation is not a easy as you might think. 

I worked hard for my PR!

Favorites of the week

Another great racecation in the books.  

Just a few images; ones taken with my iPod – there’s lots more in the real camera!

And that’s a wrap 


This week I am also linking up with the Sunday Fitness & Food Linkup brought to you by Ilka @ Ilka’s Blog and Angela @ Marathons & Motivation.

Let’s get the conversation started:

Best dessert recently? 

Ever done a race at elevation? 

Toughest recent race?

Where can we meetup?

Were you aware that Deb @ Debruns is so kindly running a race linkup now? The purpose is so bloggers (well, anyone, not just bloggers!) can link up with one another at their races. How cool is that?

The bling doesn’t come with the dog, but it does glow in the dark!

Best Damn Race NOLA Half Marathon
If you decide to join me in NOLA, you’ll also get the chance to meet Tricia @ Mississsipiddlin’ and MB @ Tutusandtennies. Three for the price of one! Plus, NOLA.

The race is March 26 and you can register here.

Run beautiful Utah with me

Utah Valley Half Marathon
Didn’t win my raffle for a free entry to the Utah Valley Marathon (or 10k, or half — I’m running the half). You can still take 15% off your race entry by using code crj15 (disclaimer: I make a small amount of money from everyone that registers using my code).

Again, you get the chance to meet me and MB. And Marcia @ Marciashealthyslice and Debbie @ Coachdebbieruns. And a little birdie told me there might be a few more bloggers thinking about coming.

Darlene, Wendy, and Erika all have some race entries they’re raffling off, too, so check out their sites.

The race is June 10 and you can register here.


Wineglass Half Marathon
Mr. Judy has given me all sorts of ribbing over the years about the fact that with 5 years of running halfs, I have yet to run one in the state I call home (for now). I’m hoping to rectify that this year by running the Wineglass Half with a whole group of runner friends. I have never heard a bad word about this race — and like Utah, it’s net downhill — without the elevation!

You could meet me and Darlene @ Myfirst5kandmore at this race.

The race is October 1 and you can register here  — but hurry — it sells out!

So there you have it: my halfs for 2017. So far. Of course I run some shorter local races, too, but no one ever seems to want to come here. Can’t say as I really blame them! Make sure to post your races to the linkup because running is always more fun with friends.

Deb Runs

I am linking up with Deb and her race linkup today.

Setting the bar high


Today our hosts are asking how much is the most you would pay for a race. I think the most I ever paid was about $125 or so for Las Vegas (my first!). And I’ve gone as low as $35, I think — and pretty much everywhere in between — including free — thank you, Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner!

In addition, I have an exciting announcement to make at the end of this post!

FOMO over your Christmas beach vacations
My races are often our vacations. The discussion usually begins with “is there somewhere you’d like to go?” — if there is, no doubt I’ll find a race there. If there isn’t, well, then you get to come along with whatever crazy idea I’ve concocted.

We don’t typically go anywhere over Christmas break though. No kids. Too much chance of bad weather. So while you might be drooling over my racecation in October, I’m totally green eyed with jealousy over those beach vacations. Because I love me some ocean.

A race about so much more than an entry fee

I was going to say that it would be nice to go do a race by the ocean when it wasn’t off season, but then who am I kidding — I don’t want to race in heat and humidity if I can avoid it! We got so lucky in Panama City Beach.

It’s more than a race, it’s an experience
That’s how I view it, anyway. When you make your races your vacations, even if you have a bad race, hopefully you still have a good vacation (although if you’re in pain, that part can be difficult).

And if you have a good race, well, it just makes your vacation that much more memorable! You can’t always put a price on everything you get out of a race.

If you have a bad race? Well, hopefully you’ve still had a good vacation. When I first started chasing 50 states, mostly we’d put the vacation portion of a racecation after the race. So that I could be (hopefully) rested for the race. Unfortunately, if I ended up injured during a race, that makes enjoying the rest of the vacation difficult — and that’s happened a time or two.

I think that’s a good strategy, though, when you’re are getting started with a long distance goal race. Because that rest is super important when you’re not really used to that distance.

Will run for beer . . . not, LOL!

Once you have several under your belt, and are running regularly, I don’t think it’s quite as important. Of course you should be resting some before a race, but I was pretty darn active before Craft Classic Phoenix (running, hiking) and it didn’t effect my race at all.  It also helps you if you’re changing climates — it gives you at least a few days to acclimate to the new temps/humidity.

Do I have a race cap?
Probably not, although Mr. Judy might have something to say about that! Of course the race fee is only part of the overall picture. But it’s not the whole picture; not to my mind, anyway.

There’s a line from the movie “Practical Magic”, where Nicole Kidman’s character says: “What wouldn’t I do . . . for the right guy?”. I’m not saying that I’d go quite that far for the “right” race, but I don’t run 12 halfs a year. Or 7 . . . or 5 . . . I usually only run about 3 halfs a year.The race entry fee is just one part of the equation.

View from the Utah Valley Half Marathon

Wouldn’t you like to join me in Utah?
My next half marathon is the Best Damn Race New Orleans, but I’ve been dithering about whether or not to do another late spring/early summer half marathon. I got excited about the Glacier Half, but then lodging was a problem. We were thinking about picking one in WA, since we have family there.

And then the Utah Valley Marathon reached out to me. They offered me two free entries into the race (stay tuned for your chance to win one of those free entries — possibly tomorrow; of course I will be using one of them myself) and a discount code for anyone else that wants to join me.

Utah wasn’t really on my radar, except for some serious FOMO over the photos I see from my IG friends. I’ve never been to Utah, and it looks stunning. This race is great practice for the Wineglass Half, too, as you have to take buses to the start (a first for me) and it’s mostly downhill, like Wineglass.

Use code crj15 for 15% off of your entry into the Utah Valley Half Marathon on June 10, 2017. Disclaimer: The Utah Valley Marathon provided me with a free entry, and I will recieve 10% of the revenue from anyone that signs up using my code.

Tell me in the comments:

How high would/have you gone to run a race?

What else do you consider before signing up for a race?

Wouldn’t you love to race Utah with me?

I’m linking up with with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.

Tuesdays on the Run