16 January 2015

Winter training in Utah for a winter race in Texas

What's the single best thing to do when winter training in Utah for a winter race in Texas?  Go to Santa Catalina Island, CA!

Annie and I when to Catalina for our honeymoon, and it was easy access from our hotel to get up into the amazing trails and dirt roads that crisscross the island. It was a perfect week of winter training (and not a bad honeymoon either).

Stopping to enjoy the view atop
one of Catalina's highest points,
Blackjack Mountain

Single-track above the ocean

Along the Trans-Catalina trail

But now back to Utah. Registering for warm-climate winter races has backfired on me before. It always sounds nice to get away to a warm climate during winter, but the reality is there are often difficult training conditions in the harsh winters at home. So I've been relatively under-trained at my previous attempts to race during the winter. Once I even had to skip the warm, out-of-state race I was signed up for because a winter storm in Pullman kept me from getting there.

I guess I haven't learned, though. I am registered for the Rocky Raccoon 50 in Huntsville, TX next month, and I hope to have a strong race. My buddy, Buzz, will be racing Rocky too. It will be his first 50, and he's hoping to race strong too.

This is my first winter in Salt Lake City, so I was a little uneasy about what training would be like. But so far it hasn't been a harsh winter, so training has been fine. Not great, but better than most winters.  Yes, there have been some days when the infamous Salt Lake City inversion has trapped nasty smog in the valley making it not so fun to run outside. And yes, there was been a storm that kept me inside for a day (30mph winds, sub-zero windchill...but it was a rest day anyway!). The mountains, for the most part, have been too snowy to 'run' -- lots of good hiking with an occasional trail that's packed down enough to run. Since I'm training for a flat and fast 50, I need to get some actual running in. There are a couple of parks near our house that have ~1.5-mile loops, so I've been using them mostly for my mid-week stuff.

Antelope Island, in the middle of the Great Salt Lake, has been a great place to find some runnable trails. There's a 29-mile, all dirt loop around the island that was mostly snow free last week. It was a good training run.

Antelope Island and a foggy sunrise

Bison traffic jam

Great single-track
A bison standing guard on the pass
Lonely dirt road on Antelope Island

Lonely dirt road on Antelope Island

So, I feeling pretty good for Rocky. I certainly won't be in peak fitness, but I'm happy where I am right now considering that it's the middle of winter in Utah.

Grandeur Peak trail with Sadie
Keep running!



  1. Not bad at all.❤️

    + I love that solitary bison photo. You should submit it to the antelope island brochure pictures committee. :)

    1. Makes you want to go for a run out there, doesn't it?

  2. Great pictures! I'm SO sad to miss Rocky. :( And I'm excited to run at Antelope Island with you someday.

    1. Yes, looking forward to taking you out there for a run!