Thursday, November 23, 2017

2017 South Davis Recreation Center Thanksgiving Day 5K Race Recap - Bountiful UT





Official Time: 25:20
Placement: 44th male, 1st in the 45 - 49, 59th overall
Results: Soon
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 40's and comfortable
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2013] [2014] [2015] [2016]


Mile  Time Comments
1 7:59 First mile down hill
2 8:18 Some up hill here but bearing down.
3 8:35 Most of this mile is a gentle uphill. It isn't much but it looks tough
3.07 0:27
Total Miles: 3.07 - 25:20


Introduction


Since 2012, the South Davis Recreation Center located in the heart of Bountiful Utah is my first stop on Thanksgiving Day.  It is a short drive from my house and a dirt cheap race.  If you register before the dead line you pay around $20 and get way more than you deserve.

This race is also well attended, so you feel like you are part of something.

There are some fast runners there so the race is competitive and family-orientated.



The Race


I rolled in around 7 AM and grabbed my parking spot (which people would be fighting for in another 30 minuets) and my bib / shirt.  I was really excited to see that I got a nifty personal "massager" stick.  I was totally going to buy one and now I was getting one for free! 



It was easy and well organized.  Soon I was stashing my stuff in my car and using the indoor, clean bathrooms at the recreation center.

I did about a mile warm-up and I wasn't feeling particularly fast.  My legs just didn't seem to have much spring to them.  Pre-race nerves?  One can only hope.

The race started (as usual) a few minutes late.  There wasn't a whole lot of corral management as there were walkers and slower runners in the front (it was chip timed) but the hold-up probably amounted to all of 15 seconds or so.  By the time the first quarter of a mile was done, I was in my groove and able to run the pace I wanted to.




The first mile is most downhill -- not canyon cruising downhill, but definitely a fast mile.  At about .75 of a mile the 10K runners drift left while we continue down the main drag for about another half mile. 

At this point the course gets tough.  You no longer have the downhill and you have to make up all the downhill you got initially and then some.

I know the course well, having run this race and their sister Valentine's Day race many times.  I was hoping to hit the 2 mile marker at 16 minutes but went through in around 16:15.  The lack of speed work I have done was costing me.

The final mile is along Main Street.  It is a commercial corridor with some houses, banks and apartments.  The race organizers do a pretty good maintaining this section so that you can run through the intersections.  Also given that the race starts at 8 AM there isn't much traffic.

Also you have to crest a bit of a hill.  It just looms in the distance.  Looking at the elevation profile it isn't too bad but mentally it is a hurdle.

I kept on running as fast as I could and the finish line came into view as soon as I rounded the final corner.


Conclusion


I was somewhat happy with my time (show me a runner who is happy with his time and I'll show you a liar).  I haven't done much speed work as I have been battling a knee injury.

I ran last year's race about 20 seconds faster.  I thought I had finished in about the same amount of time.

All 5K and 10K runners get this cool medal

I grabbed my finisher's medal (which competes with some of the marathons I've done) and grabbed something to drink.  From previous runs I knew the line for refreshments would get long (and it got really long later). They had the typical food offerings: oranges, bananas, bagels and water and Gatorade.

I sauntered back to the results area and was delighted to see that I had finished first in my age group.  I did NOT expect that at all.

The race is really slow for getting out awards.  I was done a little after 8:30 and it took them until almost 9:45 to start doling out the awards. My patience was rewarded with a HUGE pumpkin pie. I am not a pumpkin pie fan but I will be by the time I finish this one I will be.


As always this race is a bargain and it will continue to be a Thanksgiving tradition for me.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Centerville Canyon Hike - Centerville, UT



Introduction


The other day I was looking for another hike to do - nothing too strenuous and nothing too high -- on account we had gotten a bit of snow recently.  I don't have a lot of snow hiking equipment and I wasn't sure how bad the 7000+ elevation zone was.

So I talked to a coworker who had mentioned that they had recently done the Centerville Canyon trail (also known as Deues Creek Trail).

Centerville is located about 25 minutes from my house so it was kind of a no brainer for me to do.  I had done several other trails in the area including Steed Creek and Farmington Creek Trail.  

Like the other trails in the area I opted to park in a parking lot rather than chance my brand spanking new tires against a fire service road.  I think the dirt road was driveable but I really wasn't willing to risk wheel damage.

To get to the trail head I took the I-15 north to Parrish lane and exited east.  I went to the road dead-ended and then took a short drive up a paved single lane road and parked at the top.  I then walked about a third of a mile to the north Deues Creek trail head:


The north trail climbs above Deues Creek and is more sunny.  The trail was easy to follow and I had a pretty good idea of where to go.

Rather quickly you are greeted with a view of a nice waterfall.  You can take an unofficial detour and visit the base of the falls (and also a juncture to the southern part of the trail) but I don't recommend it.  It is rather steep and I wound up somersaulting down the final 10 feet.

I did take the official north trail and at a copse of trees it joins the southern trail.  From there on out, the trail reminded me a lot of Adams Canyon.  I had already done most of the elevation and at this point it was fairly smooth sailing.  You can see my route here.

The trail also became heavily shaded.  It was comfortable on the way in, but once I was inside the canyon, the temperature dropped a good 5 degrees.  Also as I progressed I encountered a bit of snow.  Not a lot -- maybe an inch, but definitely slowed me up.

The trail was very easy to follow.  There is some hanging brush but you'll know you are heading the right way.  About every half mile or so a mile marker will appear.  In addition, there are a little campfire sites. 

You'll also cross over Deues Creek several times.  There are several spots with about 18 inch wide man-made bridges you'll have to balance upon.  They were in good shape and despite my less than dexterous ways, I made it across without getting wet.

You will also likely encounter the trail's creator there.  I know my coworker had and I ran into "Jim" (I believe that was his name).  Nicest group of people you'll ever meet on the trail.  They offered me food and drink (which I had plenty of) but I hadn't brought any gloves and my hands were frozen.  They saw my plight and gave me some to borrow (which I returned at the end of my hike).  I even got a chance to talk and ask questions while sitting by a nice warm fire.

This trail is pretty quiet.  I only ran into the trail's creator.  On the way back, I ran into a few people just starting the trail and there were a few people on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, but in the furthest reaches of the trail: no one.

And it sort of spooked me.  Near the end, where I suspect the falls were (I didn't actually reach the fabled falls) the trail got gnarly.  If it was a dry (no snow / ice) day, I would've easily braved the trail conditions.  But today, hiking in nothing more than some worn down pair of running shoes, I decided against getting on the evening news.  Some of the trail edges hovered about 6 - 8 feet above the creek and I could see myself easily falling in and not being able to get out or hurting something.  Having not seen anyone else on the trail, I was really nervous.

I'd like to finish this trail and actually see the falls (I don't think they are as spectacular as Adams) but I want to say I've hiked it.

I found the trail to be about 2 miles each way.  I started my Garmin at the parking lot, so I wound up doing close to 6 miles.

Also this trail would likely be ripe ground for rattlesnakes.  I chose a good time to venture out but in the summer months I'd be wary of them.

Enjoy the photos:























South Trail head sign

 




Wednesday, November 15, 2017

2017 Las Vegas Marathon Race Recap - Las Vegas, NV






Official Time: 2:22:52*
Placement: N/A*
Results: Here
Race Website:Here
Weather: Upper 60's, light wind.
Garmin RouteHere
Previous Years: [2016] [2015] [2014] [2013]

MileTimeComments
110:02
29:54
310:00Right on target
49:51
59:38
69:24Too fast here. I think the cheering crowds got the best of me.
79:45
89:48
99:48Dialed it back
1010:03
119:52Paused my watch for about 30 seconds.
129:43
1310:02
1410:55Legs felt like lead
1510:30
1610:22These miles aren't too bad. Maybe I did panic
1711:23Had to run the final 5K of the Half course. Just felt horrible -- physically and mentally
1811:41
1913:20The final 7 miles of the marathon would've looked a lot like this.
19.444:12
Total Miles: 19.5 - 4:23:46


Introduction


Since 2009, I've done the Las Vegas Marathon.  It has become a bit of a yearly tradition in which I wrap up the year.

In the past, I've done the marathon as sort of a "fun run".  That is if you can call running 26.2 miles along the streets of Vegas fun.  The scenery and vibe make it a chance for me to sign off on the year in terms of running.

I train to complete the race but I rarely have ever used it to go for a personal best.  I love visiting Nevada and this is just one way to sort of have fun and get in a run.

This year was slightly different.  I have only done 1 other marathon this year (some would argue that is one too many) and I really wanted to go off on a high note.

However, one drawback was my training leading up to the race had been inconsistent.  I had gotten what I would call the minimal amount of miles in but certainly not the level I would've liked.



Pre-Race


I rolled into Vegas just after noon.  The marathon Expo was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  In years past, parking had been brutal. I think the last two years I basically left Shari in the car while I bolted in there and she struggled to find a space.  This year -- despite the large attendance -- there was ample parking.  Perhaps there was only one conventioneer at the place.  Either way, it was easy-peasy.


Shirt and bib pickup was a snap.  I might've bought something but the lines for the official merchandise were super long.  Plus I have a ton of souvenirs and more t-shirts then I know what to do with.  I walked around the expo seeing if they had anything I couldn't resist.  I found some 2 year old shoes that I would have liked, but I managed to dodge the impulse to buy.

I did find my name on a quilt that they had made featuring all the names of the runners: 



I also signed the neon, glow-in-the-dark banner that was to be hung during the race wishing Vegas to be strong in light of the recent tragedy.

I took off and made my way over to the Bellagio where I would be spending the night.  I wound up wandering around the Strip for a bit and eating at Margarittaville at the Flamingo (props... good food).



The Race




One of the treats about the Las Vegas marathon is that it is held at night -- with a start time of about 4:30.  So if you think of Vegas as a raging inferno, you would be right -- if you were thinking of summer time.  In November the temperature tends to be reasonable, especially at night.

I was blessed with temperatures in the upper 60's and only a very mild southern wind.  I was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt and I was fine.  I had toyed with the idea of carrying throw away gloves for later in the race, but I figured it would stay warm enough.

The old starting line was near Mandalay Bay at the fairgrounds.  Due to it being a crime scene, the race organizers had to quickly adjust the race.  This year, the starting line was in front of the New York hotel and culminated at the old finish line -- the Mirage.  

So there was some juggling around with the course at the last minute.  I definitely LIKED this course.  I hung out in the Monte Carlo after taking the tram from the Bellagio.  In years past I had to hoof it about 50% of the way to Mandalay Bay (which is a long way) but this year, it was easy.

The Monte Carlo was flooded with people and one poor bathroom was deluged with people.  Around 4:00 PM I jumped into my corral and probably found one of the last places to sit. There's nothing worse than standing around for 30 minutes waiting for a race to start.  I killed time chatting with a lady names Denise (I think) from Boston.

Before I knew it, the race started and within about 5 minutes I was running.  I had been placed in the 7th corral and all in all it wasn't too bad of a wait.  In years past I had to wait about 10 - 15 minutes to start.  

I didn't have any hard and fast goals.  I had looked at some of my training runs and decided that I would be happy with a 4:20 - 4:30.  I was at lower elevation, the temperature was pretty moderate and I felt good -- no seriously nagging injuries, I wasn't feeling sick, I had eaten the right food all day and in the past 48 hours and I was hydrated.  So I figured I'd hold on to 10 minute miles (or so) and hang on for all I had once I hit 20.  Maybe the Running Gods would bequeath me with a negative split.



The first 2.5 miles had no music -- with the exception of a quartet (I think) playing sad violins in memory of the 58 who died in the mass shooting on Oct 1, 2017.  It was a somber and sad moment as we ran by the Vegas welcome sign.

I had been hemmed in initially but I actually didn't mind it too much.  I wanted to hit 10 minute miles and I was largely successful.  I was hoping to hit about 31 minutes per 5K and I think the crowds sort of spurred me on at miles 5 and 6, I was largely on target.



It was warm, but not as warm as years past and as I settled into my pace I just found myself pretty happy to be running and present.  There were times this summer when I was battling my knee condition that I wondered if I'd be here -- running a full marathon.

It was good getting all the cheers from people -- but Vegas can sort of be a lonely place -- and I felt alone.  I saw a lot of people running together or groups of runners and fans who had signs, but it was unnerving to me.  Random strangers cheered me on, which helped, but it wasn't the same.

I had made a pact to myself to run marathon pace until mile 11.  At mile 11, the half marathoners ran the final 2 miles to the finish line, while I would run another 13 (or so) out in North Las Vegas.

I made a mental check at 11 and I felt good.  Not terribly great, but strong enough to finish.  I did have to use the restroom though and had been itching to use one for a while.  But given the large number of runners (they said there were 3000 full marathoners and over 40K for the entire weekend's races) I didn't really have time to use one -- until mile 11.

I jumped in and took care of business but let's just say the bathroom situation was a bit more alarming than I thought it was going to be.

I ran another mile and I felt the urge to go again.

Did I have some bad water?  What was going on?  There really wasn't another water station for another 2 miles and by the time I made it to 13 I felt my pace going to hell.  Running a 10 minute mile suddenly seemed hard -- very hard.

I grabbed a drink and actually waited outside a porta potta until the person in there go done.  I took care of business and this time it seemed worse than the first time.  I was also pukey / fainty feeling.

I started to panic.  Did I have what it took to run another 13 miles?  Did I really want to do a dead man's shuffle for the remainder of the race?

I recalled the last 5 (or so) marathons I've done and the agonizing memory of suffering the last X miles came rushing up. There is nothing more painful than wanting to just be done but having to endure 13+ minute miles.

I opted to be done.  My job at that point was to get back to the 11 mile split point and just do the half.  I could live with a half.

So at judicious points I turned around and made my way back.  I also tore my timing chip off so as to make sure I didn't go through anymore marathon check points.  I really didn't care about officially finishing.

I finally made it back to the half marathon course and jumped back in at 10.  Did I really have to run mile 10 again?  It just put a further damper on my spirits.

To make matters worse, I was wondering if I was doing the right thing.  I had totally just did my own thing.  I wasn't going to wait to jump on a bus but what I was doing just felt wrong... I knew I couldn't cross the marathon finisher line but I had 100% done the half marathon course.  I felt like a criminal as I slinked along.

I was swallowed up with the walkers and 11+ minute per mile crowd.  I was shambling along, feeling kind of crappy but watching my splits slow climb from mid 10's to 11's.

I was ravenously thirsty as well.  I had quaffed my Tailwind and a gel and was working on another gel but nothing was sitting well and I was double fisting drinks at every aid station.  Around mile 18, my calves started to cramp.

The finish line finally came and I crossed -- with my Garmin reading that I had run about 19.5 miles.  Crestfallen, I realized I would only get a half marathon ribbon for my efforts.

I was surly when I finish.  I chugged water and just kept right on going.  I tried to get a marathon finisher's jacket but that was only for marathon finishers (doh) and I was further humiliated and humbled.  I felt really low.



I didn't even want my picture taken and I could hardly look at my finisher's medal. I still get remorseful looking at it. I didn't even want to share in the joy with some fellow runners (I usually can commiserate with other runners).


More than anything, I just wanted a do over.

I wound up making a beeline back to the hotel and went back to the room.  Shari wasn't expecting me for another hour (at least) and she was surprised.  I related my tale to her and I wound up hitting the shower and drinking a Coke.

We were hemming and hawing about where to go eat when all of the sudden I felt that wooziness pass over me again.  I sat in the bathroom for a while and thought the worst was over.  Then it hit me again and next thing I knew I was heaving into the toilet.

I have NEVER thrown up from running. Never.  And I haven't for the past 20 years.  But that night I did.  Luckily it was pretty short lived but I was done for the night.

With aching legs and an upset stomach and a mild headache, I slept restlessly that night trying to reason and explain to myself just what exactly happened.


Conclusion


I still have problems looking at the medal and shirt.  I really didn't do what I set out to do.  It makes me angry and disappointed.  I am a marathon runner and I am supposed to be tough and to endure.

I've run a lot of races -- maybe close to 200+ of them.  And no matter how much each one hurt, I finished them.  Even if I had to walk them or shuffle.  

Sunday night's race was the first time I had to bail on a race.  And it burned and hurt.  

Had I pulled the plug too soon?  Had I panicked?  What went wrong?  I didn't make the usual mistakes -- no overeating.  I don't drink / do drugs.  I had slept well the night before.  My training hadn't been totally useless.  I had tapered correctly and my legs for the most part felt good.  I wasn't over trained.... What if I had run the whole thing?  Would I have wound up in the hospital with dehydration?  Would I have made the 5 hour cutoff? 






I think there were signs on the wall though:

  1. My last few training runs hadn't gone well.  The last 12 miler I did (during taper week) felt hard.  This should've felt like a warm-up.  It didn't.
  2. During training runs at 9:30 pace, I would be good to go for about 12 miles.  Then my pace would drop.   While I was running easier and lower elevation my body seems to know that half of it is done and it should slow down.
  3. My confidence wasn't high.  I had a bailout plan and I was on the fence about dropping to the half from the time I started my taper.
  4. My really long long run was done in late September.  It should've been done in October.  My October long runs were 16 to 17 miles.
  5. My base training had been light. Most plans ask 40 - 45 miles per week.  I do better with 60 - 70.
  6. It was warm.
So I had my hissy fit and since then the blow has softened as I've gotten perspective on it.  I think it was helpful for me to see that the Rock 'n Roll people recognized that I had at least done a half marathon and I was in the official results.  So I can say I have participated and finished some distance in all 9 of their Vegas races.

Overall, I love the shirt.  The medal is unique.  The die in the middle rotates and I bet the medal glows in the dark.  It is also pretty heavy.

I paid $99 for the race -- at the expo last year.  So I got a nice bargain. I would've gotten a nice marathon jacket had I actually finished the full marathon.  They were asking $200+ for Expo registration...

I have to hand it to the organizers.  They scrambled after the tragedy to reroute the course and put on a world-class event.  And they succeeded. I liked the course -- no more sketchy neighborhood east of Freemont street.  Water stations were properly manned and equipped.  The corrals were cramped but still good.  There were bathrooms on the course but they did tend to be occupied.  I suspect I would've had to wait at least one or two persons in the early miles.

I also felt safe.  They had a ton of police presence and even a  helicopter flying over us.  I never felt not safe.  I have to give out a huge thank-you to the organizers, the police and all the wonderful volunteers.

My performance, however, will leave a big black mark for a while.  When I crossed the finish line I honestly didn't care if I ever raced again. In fact, I dare say, I hated running.

Is the marathon a distance too far for me?  I think I'll have to ponder that one.  In the meantime I am signed up for next year's full marathon.  So maybe there'll be redemption and I am not afraid to toe the line for a 5K.

There'll be good days and bad days and this one was one of my darker ones.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Flag Rock and Patsy's Mine Hike - Farmington Utah



Introduction


I was looking for a fairly easy hike this past weekend and I opted to do Flag Rock.  I had seen a bunch of runners using the trail as a training ground and figured I could hike it.

The trail, from the firebreak road is about 2 miles to the top and fairly moderate in terms of incline.  There were a few sections where I was gasping for breath, but for the most part it was mild.  The trail was easy to follow and you can see your destination for the trail head: basically an outcropping of rocks with a tall American flag at the top.

There are two ways up to Flag Rock.  You can approach from the north or the south.  If you come from the south, you'll be able to run into Patsy's Mine, an old mine that presumably Patsy dug into the side of the mountain.

I parked my car in a dirt parking lot just north of the trail.  (Here is my Garmin capture, which I started at the top of the trail and took the south side down back to where I parked).  I suppose I could've drive closer to the trailheads but I didn't want to risk puncturing one of my brand new tires.  My hunch is that a passenger car could drive, but definitely more inclined for a 4-wheel or truck type of vehicle.  Also there was limited parking at the trail head but there were room for about 10 - 12 cars at the dark parking lot (and more where the paved road was)

One of the trailheads

One of the trailheads
There is only a spot or two for water (with filter) and there are no bathrooms.  The trail had about a dozen people on it (it was chilly and threatening rain).  

I would recommend taking the northern route up and then taking the southern way back down and include Patsy's Mine on your agenda (about a 2 minute detour).

The views of the Davis County valley are incredible and there is a nice payoff for your efforts.  All in all, I probably spent 2 hours there and got in a decent workout and some stunning pictures.

This one is well worth the effort and trip.  And you are also near the Steed Creek Trail head as well.




















Patsy's Mine

Patsy's Mine