March 18, 2013 by UtahMan&Wife
We just returned from our weekend get-away to sunny St. George, Utah and are happy to be able to report that we are now the proud finishers of a full 10K (6.2 mile) race! This means that we are “movin’ on up” folks with our fitness, and one step closer to (hopefully) completing our Half Marathon scheduled in July.
Our “March Madness” race choice was The Spectrum 10K held annually in Ivins, Utah (10 min. drive outside St. George) which includes the chance to run the first 3 miles inside stunning Snow Canyon State Park. We chose this race primarily because
- We wanted to do a 10K for our March 2013 Race-Per-Month Challenge
- It made a perfect excuse for a road-trip to escape the dreary and chilly North and embrace some warm Southern sunshine.
- We’ve been to Snow Canyon once before, fell madly in love with it, and vowed to return.
True to form, St. George and the Spectrum 10K didn’t disappoint! We arrived to enjoy perfect warm, sunny weather and we had a fantastic race experience.
Here’s a little recap:
It was “March Madness” weekend. Although commonly used in reference to the annual college Basketball tournament this term is also randomly used in St. George for the weekend when College Spring Break converges with several big baseball, volleyball and soccer tournaments – not to mention the Spectrum 10K race. Needless to say, trying to book a hotel room even a couple of months ago proved a giant challenge. We usually like to stay in the Best Western Coral Hills, but when they had no vacancy they kindly referred us over to the Ambassador Inn, which in turn kindly offered us their last available non-smoking room. Happily, we got the Luck ‘o the Irish on this hotel! It was spotlessly clean, comfortable, spacious, provided a free breakfast, had a lovely swimming pool, AND they happily accommodated us with a free late check-out so that we could return after our race for one final (well-needed) soak in the hot-tub and a long refreshing shower before hitting the road.
The Ambassador Inn in St. George gets two big thumbs up from us. The only down-side was that due to the busy week, hotel room rates were doubled and sometimes tripled. Unfortunately we ended up paying MUCH too MUCH over our allotted budget for a hotel. Oh, well. Can’t win ’em all.
All racers met at Ivins Park and were transported by school bus up the canyon to a drop-off point for the race start. We forgot to grab our MapQuest print-out of driving directions to Ivins and took the wrong turn, so we were glad that we left the hotel a little early! Luckily some local folks setting up a yard sale gave us some directions and we made it with time to spare.
We were on the first bus to depart for the canyon. It was a short drive – only about 15 minutes. There was a slight breeze and local folks may have found chilly, but since it was already in the 60s it felt great to us! Since the race provided clothing drop-off, wife brought along her cheap long-sleeve T-shirt to wear until it was time to line up.
The starting line was surrounded by some cool rock formations that several people decided to climb. We couldn’t pass up the chance, but were careful where we stepped so as not to turn an ankle or fall to our death (a sure way to destroy a perfectly good race day). We were glad that we scaled the red rocks! It provided a beautiful vista of the canyon, a nice photo-op, and helped naturally warm up our muscles.
Here’s a little background on Snow Canyon courtesy their official website:
Contrary to its name, winter visitors will rarely find any “white stuff” at this 7,400-acre desert park. Named after Lorenzo and Erastus Snow, early Utah leaders, Snow Canyon offers 16 miles of hiking trails, technical rock climbing, horseback riding, year-round camping, nature studies, wildlife viewing, and photographic opportunities galore. All of this is set against a stunning backdrop of towering sandstone cliffs in red and white, and peaks and valleys of jumbled black lava rock interspersed with serpentine sandy washes.
When you become a “runner”, (or at least pretend to be one by participating in road races) you quickly learn that one of the best parts of the event are the PEOPLE that you meet! This race was no exception. We were lucky enough to meet Sherry as we climbed around on the cliff. Sherry told us how she has lost 92 pounds over the past year through making healthy lifestyle changes! Now, she is participating in races at the encouragement of her personal trainer!
How cool is that?
Here’s a BIG SHOUT OUT & a HIGH FIVE to our new friend SHERRY!! Keep up the great work, girl!
Racers began to line up at about 8:45 am for the 9 am start time. We chose a spot about 4th of the way back so we wouldn’t get completely crushed by faster runners. Wife ran to the clothing drop-off van and was snagged by a gangsta hamster for a photo-op at the starting line (yes, you read that right).
There were 843 registered runners for this event, which made an impressive showing as we wound our way down the canyon’s scenic trails, but was not too overwhelming for the trails and roads.
The race course was paved the entire way and people spread out pretty quickly. We didn’t ever find it difficult to pass someone. The trail was clearly marked with mile markers, signs, and directional arrows and there were water stops (with Port-a-potty) at both mile marker 2.75 (right outside the park), and about mile 5. Roads outside of the park were clearly marked with safety cones. There was a bit of road construction going on this day between miles 3-4 leading to the entrance to the canyon, but that actually was helpful for runners to slow down auto traffic. Instead of getting frustrated for the long wait time, we saw lots of drivers and passengers rolling down their windows and cheering us on. Thanks, people of Ivins. That was cool!
The course has a primarily down-hill feel to it, with a couple of flat areas winding through some beautiful [multi-million-dollar] subdivisions, and eventually we turned a corner and could see the finish line at the end of the road! By now, the sun was shining really warm and our muscles were screaming, but there were a lot of people cheering us on the side of the road, which helped increase our speed and “sprint to the end”.
UtahMan took off like a wild banshee at the Starting line. Mustering my “past running life” wisdom I paced myself and figured I would catch up to him pretty quickly once he exhausted himself. But, after the first water-stop there was no UtahMan in sight. I began to get slightly worried. He was STILL ahead?! By mile four I was equally impressed and annoyed that he was sustaining such a fast pace. By mile five I was downright determined to catch him no matter what it took! After all, I was the one who had been training harder for this one, so I deserved to beat him! I upped my pace even though my legs and lungs were beginning to burn. Right about then, I overheard someone say we were at 42:00 minutes so then it crossed my mind that I could actually finish the race SUB 1 hour! YES! So, instead of “Catch UtahMan! Catch UtahMan!” my new mantra became “Under an hour! Under an hour! Under an hour! Come on! You can do this! Push! Faster!”…I OWNED this one! So, when I finally crossed the finish line and saw the clock at 1:02:something I was totally bummed! aaakkk!! So close…and yet so far…
I figured the Man was hanging out eating apples & oranges, enjoying his victory dance and preparing for bragging rights…but, I couldn’t find him. I took advantage of an empty potty, and then as I walked back past the finish line area LO AND BEHOLD…there was UtahMan just crossing!! What the heck?!?! He was BEHIND me?! Turns out, he experienced some common tummy trouble at the first water stop and had used one of the latrines. Unbeknownst to me, I had passed him up before mile 3 all along! ha ha ha!! That totally made up for not beating my 1 hour goal (well, almost totally. I’m still bummed about that) I can’t complain about having nearly a 10 minute mile pace! And, now I have a new time to beat.
Wife Final Stats: 1:02:46.3 finish time. Pace 10:06 mile, placed 25 out of 49 in age group, and 558 out of 848 overall.
I must give a shout out to the Utah men’s basketball team – winning four of their last five games. They reached the semi-finals of the Pac-12 tournament – with wins over Oregon State, Oregon (ranked 19th at the time) to end the regular season, and then beating USC and California before losing to Oregon in the tournament! It bodes well for the future and shows that “Coach Kodiak” has the team headed in the right direction. Go Utes!
UtahMan Final Stats: 1:05:44.9 finish time. Pace 10:35 mile, placed 35 of 39 in age group and 610 of 843 overall.
Next Race = Thanksgiving Point 5K, April 27th, 2013