Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Day 5K Turkey Trot Race - South Davis Rec Center, Bountiful, Utah

Today I raced the South Davis Rec Center's 5K: in an effort to burn some calories before over indulging today.  The race offered a kids' 1K dash, a 10K and a 5K.  I opted for the 5K on account that after running a marathon two weeks ago, I didn't want to go too nuts with the distance.

I've run their races before and they do a good job.  They are chip timed, they have finishing medals, and you have the comforts of a full-sized health club to use for preparation.  It is also easy to get to, about 25 minutes from the apartment.

The weather was only mild wind (negligible) and at the start it was probably in the upper 30's / low 40's.  I was in a long sleeved t-shirt, shorts and gloves and was fine throughout the race.

I didn't have any huge expectations on my performance this race.  Less than 2 weeks ago I did a full marathon and since then I haven't really done any quality workouts, let alone sharpened what left I have of my speed.  Looking at last year's results I figured I'd have a shot at an age group award.

The course starts off somewhat downhill - the first mile loses about 75 feet.  While I wanted to start off conservatively, it is hard for me to keep it in check and I rattled off a 6:45 first mile.  After about 1.25 miles the hills start and you basically have to make up for all the initial downhills.

I don't have the speed endurance that I've had in the past and I watched as my 7:00 minute miles turned into 7:30's and then 8:30's.  The last mile is absolutely brutal with about 100 feet of climbing stretched over that final ascent back to the recreation center.

I finished 3rd in my age group with a time of 23:22.  I am very disappointed with my time (I was hoping for sub 23) but overall I'll take it, all things considered.  Also, if you look at what I did for the Sweet Hearts 5K on the same course, I am EXACTLY the same: Race Results.  Go figure.

I did snap some pictures of their cool gym area.  If I was a Bountiful resident I would certainly join this gym.  It has racquetball courts, basketball, indoor track, treadmills, indoor hokey rink, wall climbing, weights and lots of pool areas.

With my age group place I wound up winning a pie.  While everyone gets very cool medals when they finish age group winners do take home a pie.  I chose Lemon Cream Pie...

I have signed up for their Sweethearts 5K in February so I am hoping to make some sort of improvement as I try to focus on speed and work on my mental toughness.

Long sleeved Race t-shirt

Bountiful Mountains

South Davis Recreation Center

South Davis Recreation Center Pool (closed)

Basketball Course

Indoor track where I warmed up.

Part of the weight room

Very cool finishers medal

Post race

Post race

One of these pies would be mine!

My "win"

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Running: What's Next?

First off, I seem to be recovering pretty well from last week's marathon.  Normally, most recovery programs suggest that you do no running the first week after a marathon and ease into it the second.  I've never really paid too much attention to post-marathon plans, though; if I feel like running, I go for it.

So this weekend I did a pair of 8 milers at medium pace.  Finishing each one in about 72 minutes.

On Saturday I got up and hit my favorite bike trail.  My phone said it was 29F out, but when I got to my normal parking area my car read 23F.  I was dressed in heavy gloves, a sweatshirt, a skullcap, and of course shorts.  Immediately I raised a lot of eyebrows and even some remarks as I ran by other runners who were bundled up... shorts?  At that temperature?  I even had one other runner stop me and ask me if I was sane.  Lol.  I just said I was from Chicago....

I was 100% fine, although I should've double up on the undies.  Luckily there wasn't any wind going on, otherwise I would've been in a heap load of trouble.

Fearing all the snow on the mountains, instead of hiking I hit up the bike trail again.  Before I did though, I checked out our house that is under construction: they have doors on it now, the roof is about to be installed and I saw signs of insulation installation.  It still looks like I am going to be living out of a hotel in 3 weeks, but they are making progress.

So what's next?

Well I do plan on racing a 5K on Thanksgiving.  I just need to pony up a few bucks.  I'll probably do this one: Bountiful Thanksgiving Run.  I've done a lot of their races before and they do a good job.  I know the course as well.  I thought about doing the 10K but my legs really are in no position to race that.

As far as 2014, here is a list of races that are likely to happen in early 2014, in order of probability of me doing them:

1) Moab Half Marathon 3/15/2014
2) Summerlin Half Marathon 4/12/2014
3) Salt Lake City Full Marathon 4/19/2014
4) Six Tunnels Half Marathon - Boulder City Nevada 3/15/2014

That isn't all the races I'll do, just the *big* ones.

I did take some pictures of my run today.  Most of them I've posted before in some variation but it is sort of sad to see all the trees without their leaves, but I do like looking at the snow-capped mountains.

I believe that's Mount Olympus in the background

I will live about 5 minutes from this park.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Las Vegas Marathon Bellagio Fall Gardens Trip

One of our "must visits" every time we go to Las Vegas is the Bellagio Gardens.  This is one of the few free attractions in Las Vegas that is truly worth visiting.  The gardeners at the Bellagio really do a fantastic job there, year after year.

We had figured we would see the Christmas display.  Instead, we got a rare opportunity to see the Fall Gardens.  There were plenty of spectators there, but we managed to get some great photos.

Here are the pictures:

Bellagio Fountains in full swing.

Bellagio Fountains in full swing.

Bellagio Fountains in full swing.

Bellagio Fountains in full swing.

Bellagio Fountains in full swing.

Bellagio Front Entrance

Bellagio Lobby Ceiling

Behind the Bellagio Front Desk

Water Fountain in front of the Bellagio Gardens

Cornucopia in the Bellagio Gardens

Treant in the Bellagio Gardens

Scarecrow in the Bellagio Gardens

Thursday, November 21, 2013

2013 Las Vegas Marathon Race Recap / Review

I arrived at the starting line at about 4:10 and now had to wait about 20 minutes before the race gun went off.  I felt pretty good and relaxed, but you never know what you are gonna experience until you get a few miles into the race.  I had some apprehension because I had a growing need to pee, despite going twice in the past hour. 

To make matters worse, with the Las Vegas sun setting, I began to question not bringing gloves.  I do have a problem with Reynaud’s Disease, where my hands can get extremely cold and painful and almost always am afflicted with it, especially during and after marathons.

The race started promptly at 4:30 with a lot of fanfare and excitement. I started running within 10 minutes (your time doesn’t start until you cross the starting line) because I was in corral #6.  You start the course by heading away from the strip, towards the airport for about a mile, before making a U-turn and heading back north.  I went off at a super conservative pace of about 9:30 – 10:00 minutes per mile. 

The route was congested but I didn’t have any problems getting around people who clearly should’ve been lined up in the back or who had already started walking.  There’s plenty of space here and there were only a few spots in the race when I felt like I couldn’t run the pace I wanted to.

By mile 2, the urge to go to the bathroom was weighing heavily on my mind.  I knew I had better take care of business soon.  Luckily just before mile 3 I found a vacant port-a-pottie (talk about a miracle) and took a good 30 – 40 seconds taking care of business.

I found myself pretty warm: my hands were fine and I had worked up a good head of lather at this point.  I had opted for shorts, my fuel belt, and 2 short-sleeved shirts (one top of the other).  That outfit proved to be best, although I probably could’ve gotten away with just 1 shirt.

I crossed the 5K mark in just a hair over 30 minutes, despite the bathroom break.  While I was a little slower than I’d like, I was happy I hadn’t busted out of the starting line too fast. I still had more than 23 miles to make up a little bit of time.

Running the Las Vegas Strip is an experience that every runner should experience – especially if you love Las Vegas.  The crowds were very supportive and there were plenty of signs.  My favorite was “1 out of 100 marathoners poop their pants – are you that 1?”  Made me giggle for the entire race.  Another one was “You have trained longer for this than a Kardashian marriage”.  Bingo. Also, “Run now, Buffet Later”  I was feeling good and enjoying the experience of once again taking on the Strip.  I hit the 10K portion in exactly an hour.  Again, a little slower than I had wanted, but still easy and at least an even split.

I was hoping to hit the halfway point at about 2 hours and then try for a negative split.  From everything I’ve read that is the best way to approach a marathon and I was hoping for a 4 hour marathon.  I wound up hitting the 13.1 mile marker at 2:03.

At this point, the course starts to get somewhat hilly, including a 2 mile climb up near the North Las Vegas airport. In addition, you are in North Las Vegas running down what appears to be some “iffy” streets.  Granted, there was a good police presence there, but I’d hate to put in a training run along here.  Some of the residents did come out to cheer us on, but for the most part it was pretty sparse.

At this point, I knew that if I wanted to hit my time, I’d have to up the pace a little.  What was nice – and this is a first for me – is that I was passing people – many people – in the latter stages of the race.  Normally my pace drops precipitously as the race goes on, but I felt my pace get slightly faster. 

I wasn’t lapping my miles on my Garmin, but I was making good ground.  I do remember seeing some of my miles though getting around 8:30 / 8:45’s.  I was still feeling good and had gone through 3 gels by mile 18 and had used about half the fluids in my fuelbelt.

Around mile 22, you come back and run down Fremont Street.  Running down this light infused tunnel is nothing short of a religious experience.  You have party-people to the left and right in fairly close proximity cheering you on, offering high-fives and you have some decent band support as well (including an 80’s metal cover band).  I know this was a major motivator for me.

Around mile 23 you leave Fremont Street and suddenly you are on a forlorn and darkened street that sort of resembles a super-wide alley.  There’s no crowd support here other than the occasional homeless person and you can see the lights of the casinos – but they are still about a mile or so away.  The runners had thinned at this point, maybe 50 yards separating each runner.

Here is where the wheels came off.  Try as I might I couldn't get going again. I thought about trying another gel but all I had were caffeinated ones and I didn’t want to be up all night.  I suddenly saw my 4 hour marathon goal start to be questionable.  My 9 minute miles suddenly were anywhere from 10 – 12 minutes and I was chugging the last of my Gatorade in greater gulps.

Suffice to say the last 5K was tough.  I never walked, but I was definitely out of gas.  I crossed the finish line in 4:14:17, which is a decent time given the bathroom break and to be honest, it’s about where my training said I would finish.

Shari spotted me coming across the finish line and was able to hand me my gloves and a sweat shirt.  Normally I freeze after a run and thankfully I had these to keep me warm.  Finally I could enjoy some of the post-race spread without shivering.  I fought an initial wave of nausea and dizziness after finishing (normal with all the blood pooling) and a medic asked me if I was okay.

I grabbed a bottle of water, Gatorade, chocolate milk and some protein bars and pretzels.  To get out of the finish corral required some effort.  While the finish line was right in front of the Mirage, I had to walk a good quarter mile (if not more) to the south end of Caesar’s Palace to get out of the enclosed area.  Then I had to walk all the way back on the crowded sidewalks to the Mirage.  It probably took me a good 30 minutes.  To be honest, the walk did me good, but I wished I had gotten out of the sooner.

You can go to to see my results as well as photos taken during the race.

Walking through the Mirage was like being greeted to a hero’s welcome. Dozens of people saw my medal and congratulated me.  There were lots of other people with medals too – some had already cleaned up and were out and about (probably half marathoners). 

I cleaned up and took a long bath.  We called to see if the Mirage buffet was open and sadly it wasn’t.  My ritual of a post-race buffet was not going to happen, so I made a meal on my pretzels and a protein bar and wound up hitting the sack about 30 minutes later.

I have attached photos of the medal and shirt.

This medal glows in the dark

Me modeling the Las Vegas Marathon 2013 shirt

Las Vegas Marathon 2013 Tech Shirt

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Las Vegas Marathon - Race Day

I woke up early on purpose.  My marathon bib entitled me to 50% off the Mirage buffet and I figured with that price I could not totally pig out and still get my money's worth.

So Sunday morning I headed down to the buffet and ate at the "bar" with a bunch of other guys.  I think I paid about $15, which is still a lot of money but considering it was their Sunday champagne brunch, I was getting my meal for a bargain.

I kept mostly to starches and ate enough to be full, but I didn't need to waddle out of there like I usually do.

My plan was to lay low, drink plenty of fluids and be ready to jump on the free Mirage shuttle to the race site, which was over near Mandalay Bay.

I headed to the sports book and placed 3 bets, I took the Lions over the Steelers (lost), Bears over the Ravens (push) and the Saints over the 49ers (Push).  I got their early enough to get a seat and managed to sit through about 3 quarters of the first game.  I chatted with anybody who sat next to me, including a guy who worked for Competitor Group -- the owners of the Las Vegas marathon.  It was very interesting to hear what goes on in preparation for the marathon ... I suppose if I wasn't involved with computers, working for a group like them would be a blast.

The cigar smoke in the sports book was horrendous (they really should ban them).

A little after noon I headed across the street to Casino Royale.  They have a Subway sandwich place in the back and I figured no one would know about it.  Boy was I wrong.  There was a good line-up of about 30 other runners getting in their final meal.  They were pretty quick and I managed to get down several helpings of soda and a 6" subway.  I kept my food pretty bland as I didn't want stomach issues and I didn't want to be burping up stuff mid-run.

I got dressed and headed for the bus, which were starting to leave at 2:30.  I got to the bus loading zone a little after 2:30 and I got there just in time.  Not 15 minutes after I arrived, hundreds of other people starting showing up.  I had to wait about 15 agonizing minutes before the second set of buses arrived (pre race anxiety).  I met a guy from Sweden and we swapped running stories.

The strip was closed down at that point but the running group did an incredibly wise thing.  They let the buses run the strip, which made traveling the mile to Mandalay Bay nearly instant.  But it was creepy.  Seeing Las Vegas Blvd completely devoid of traffic made it seem like something out of a Stephen King Novel.

This was also the first year they had the band play for everyone before the start of the race.  In years passed, they played after or just for the half marathoners.  I managed to catch the All American Rejects.  I am not a huge fan, but what I heard sounded good.

I managed to hit the john twice more and just soaked up the rays of the fast dwindling sun.  I met a few people, striking up conversations with anyone who was near, since I was solo at this point.

Sadly I didn't have a camera for this but the race started promptly at 4:30 and I was off an running at about 4:40 being I was in the 6th corral...

Mirage Sports Book

Mirage Sports Book

Setting up the finish line

Setting up the finish line

Hanging in Vegas - Pre Marathon

Friday: Shari and I rolled into Vegas a little after noon.  To save me a trip later, we headed straight to the convention center to pick up my marathon bib and packet.  I think it has been since the early 90's when I worked for the now defunct Mindcraft Software that I've been to the convention center.  I don't remember much of it other than it is on the east end of town, right off the strip.  Getting there wasn't a problem and while parking was slightly cramped, we managed to get a free spot and picking up my bib was a painless event.

I spent some time shopping the aisles.  I was tempted to buy a new pair of discounted Brooks shoes, but to be honest they weren't much differently priced than the ones I've bought at the local shoe store.  Plus I had just bought a pair, so I really didn't need any new ones.  With money flying out the window for the house, it was best that I said no.  I was tempted to get a jacket as well, but once again, I already have a marathon jacket from 2010, so I am not sure what a new one would do for me.

The highlight of the trade show however was getting my picture taken with the flamingo girl.  I used to have to buy one of those photos -- back when they had them post race.

After spending an hour there we headed to the Mirage and checked in.  I liked our room but I guess I was expecting more.  The Mirage has always been an upscale hotel to me and my hopes had been set that we'd get a mini Aria room.  I will say that the room was large -- especially after paying a visit to Amanda's Harrah's room.

The room wound up being very nice.  My complaint though was that on Friday and Saturday night you could hear / feel the reverberation of the bass from 1 OAK night club.  Even though we were on the 5th floor, the music didn't stop until 4:00AM.  Maybe it was from the anxiety of the marathon, but I could not sleep much Friday and Saturday night.

Shari and I did jump into the Buffet of Buffets from Harrahs.  They gouge the poor tourist on the weekend and for the two of to eat on any of their buffets for 24 hours was close to $140.  Ouch.  We started the process at Planet Hollywood and had breakfast at Harrah's and Flamingo.  I believe I was able to milk 4 meals out of it.

My luck pretty much continued Friday and when I went to bed I was up a few bucks.

Saturday: I high tailed it over to Flamingo and jumped into a $2-$4 spread limit game of Texas Hold'em.  I put down $60 and played aggressively with the first half and then tightened up with the last.  I wound up winning one nice pot, but a guy took me out with a straight flush against my two-pair.  Jesus.

I have to make a complaint.  Caesar's (or at least at the Flamingo) has taken away ALL perks for poker players.  Cracked Aces, gone. Bonuses for quads -- non-existent. That Straight Flush? Zilch.  I almost got up and left then and there.

The rest of the day went downhill gambling wise.  All my luck: just gone.

I concluded the day with some of Shari's friends at the Venetian.  We ate at Canaletto and I'll be honest, this was a good restaurant with adequate portion sizes.  For once, I didn't leave an upscale Vegas restaurant clamoring for more.  I had the seafood pasta and they did a good job with it and had generous portions of seafood.

I will say this about the Quad Hotel formerly known as Imperial Palace.  They have done a really nice job remodeling the place.  I hadn't stepped a foot in there since the early 90's because it was a pain to get in and out of.  Their "people flow" was spot on and I like the airy, walkway.  I think there's hope for that place.

I wound up hitting the hay fairly early while Shari got into Frank Marino's Diva Show for free.  I wanted to rest up for the marathon and to be honest, I was sort of anxious and in a surly mood (no thanks to my "outstanding" luck.

Las Vegas Convention Center

Check-in For the Las Vegas Marathon

Brooks shoes display

Bib / Packet Pick-up

Hells Yeah

Hells Yeah

I miss Silver City -- a lot.

Room at the Mirage


Planet Hollywood Spice Buffet Crab Legs

Planet Hollywood Spice Buffet Crab Legs

Rod Stewart Imitator Dealing Blackjack at the Quad

Breakfast Buffet at Harrah's

Venetian Christmas Tree

Flamingo Lunch Buffet

Barriers coming out the night before the marathon

Venetian Christmas Tree

Canaletto Seafood Pasta

Canaletto Basic Marinara Pasta


Venetian Canal