Tuesday, December 31, 2013

#RWRunStreak - Runner's World Magazine Running Streak Challenge Completed

Normally, I am not a big follower of goofy workouts in magazines.  Sure, I love a good speed work plan and have used many from two of my favorite magazines: Runner's World and Running Times, but unless there is something compelling to be gained from a workout, I tend to ignore them.

However, in a recent Runner's World magazine article they urged readers to try to run every day from Thanksgiving to New Years Day -- at least one mile (you can read about it here).  My interest was piqued to say the least.  I think the longest streak I've ever done has been about 7 days, maybe 10 at the most.  I didn't have anything planned for this time of year and figured it might be interesting to try and see if I could do it.

While I do have one more run to do tomorrow, I have successful run every day.  In fact, I've run - since Thanksgiving - a total of around 175 miles.  My longest run was 14.5 miles, my shortest 1.  I ran on the days I moved every one of my belongings from my apartment to a storage shed (and literally exhausted).  I ran on snowy / cold days. I ran on bike trails, roads while dodging cars, in the smoggy Utah air, in slush, in the desert, and even on the accursed treadmill.

I am not sure I would do the streak again.  Granted, I made a few twitter followers out of it.  I found that while I enjoyed the challenge, it isn't something I would want to "do" every day and it would likely get in the way of normal race training.  It also sort of screwed up my scheduled "downtime" that I was hoping to take this December.  Normally I run 5 days a week (a normal week is about 35-45 miles), so it's not like I don't run enough.  Also running 1 mile isn't worth the resulting shower that ensues.

Also, as the days wore on, I felt my hips and knees feel more and more sore.  While my easy days were super easy, I was continually flirting with injury. The bottom line, the most important streak to me is staying injury free.

The experience is worth bragging about and I feel like I gained something out of it -- perhaps a little more mental strength than anything.  The fact that I could run every day, without getting injured and still get in some quality runs was empowering to me.  It also taught me to pay attention to my body and realize to take my easy days easy and hammer it on the days where I knew I had to make it count. It was fun posting my workouts on twitter and seeing other people and the locales they were running in as well, so the social aspect was a bonus.

I did capture a few pictures along the way and have shared them here:

Enjoying a wintery run on the Jordan River Bike Trail in Taylorsville, Utah

Enjoying a wintery run on the Jordan River Bike Trail

Enjoying a wintery run on the Jordan River Bike Trail

Enjoying a wintery run on the Jordan River Bike Trail

Enjoying a wintery run on the Jordan River Bike Trail in Murray, Utah

A place to refuel (Midvale Utah)

My favorite and most memorable run: Leppy Hills in Wendover, UT

The run that started the streak - the Thanksgiving 5K in Bountiful

Posing for a picture.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Quick West Wendover Trip for 12/29/2013

Let's face it folks, I am going absolutely insane with hotel living.  With only two rooms of living space, a lousy internet connection, and one of the two rooms off limits because god-forbid someone is sleeping or playing computer games, my options for entertainment are limited.

On Sunday, I had enough and decided to head on out to West Wendover for a day trip.  As much as I would've liked to have spent the night, Shari was a no-go.  We would've have had to leave at 7AM for me to get back to work in reasonable order and she didn't want to do that.  So another desert run will have to wait.

Either way, the drive from Salt Lake City to Wendover was stunning -- at least near Salt Lake.  There was a heavy layer of frost on all the trees.  I wish I could've pulled over to the side of the road along the freeway and taken a picture of the bike trail.  It was like a cool winter wonderland.

We made the trip in just over a 100 minutes with smooth sailing throughout.

We pulled into Montego Bay and quickly printed out a free buffet pass, $5 free play and activated our 6X comps, and entered into the $1000 drawing.

I saw that the IGT Centipede Games were largely unplayed and had high jackpots.  The hitch with these games is that old people play them, realize that the bonus rounds are skill-based, panic and leave.  Every time they fail to complete the levels, the bonus goes up a few bucks.  When I arrived, the bonuses were pretty high -- ripe for milking.  I am told that the bartenders and other people monitor these games and play them when the bonus rounds are high so I jumped into the saddle.

I never was a decent centipede player, but I did manage to complete all 3 levels and get the scorpion bonus, netting a nice $70 bonus to start the day.

We pigged out on the buffet and did some more gambling.  We then headed on over to the Peppermill where I discovered they had my Leonidas slot machine.  Like an old lover, I was drawn to it and easily through a $100 throughout the day on in it.  Sometimes I won and profited $20 - $30, sometimes it took my $20 and didn't even give me much action.

Either way, Shari and I did manage to earn another 2 free buffets thanks to our 6X comps.  So all in all, we ate two super nice buffets for about $10 (excluding tip).

I was hesitant to bet on football but I plunked $25 on the over (41.5 points) for the Cardinals / 49ers game.  The first half they scored 24 points, so I figured I'd be a shoe-in for the final 18 points.  However, they both didn't score much but luckily the game went into overtime at 20-20, so so long as their wasn't a tie, I was a winner (and sure enough I was a winner).

Lady luck wasn't with us.  Although I did fairly well, making my money last a lot longer, Shari's luck ran sour pretty much from the get go.

We didn't leave until a little after 7pm, so it was dark all the way home.

No crazy pictures this time but I did snap a few to share...  Despite losing about $100 between the two of us, we had a good time and it was awesome to simply get away for a day from hotel living.

First haul from the Centipede Game

Plate #1 - food porn!

My big haul from completing all 3 levels on Centipede

Skobe Park - West Wendover, NV

Wendover Airport in the distance

The Wendover "Strip" at night.

Me posing in front of Montego Bay's Christmas tree - notice the post-buffet "glow"

View from the buffet
Enjoying dessert


Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday 12/20/2013 in West Wendover Nevada

I woke up at 8:30, which is late for me.  I slept pretty well. Instead of the stuffy hotel I've been living at, I had a nice cool room and plenty of room in a bed without being bothered by pets every few hours.

I looked at my phone and the temperature was 16F.  Cool, good enough for a run!

The Awesomest Run Ever

I threw on my tights and a sweatshirt and headed out of the hotel.  I went up Aria Blvd and I wanted to see more of what lay beyond to the east of Wendover.  I had hopes that I would make the world famous Bonneville Salt Flats but sadly it was a LOT further than I thought it was.

None the less, I headed east and followed a service road until it veered off towards a summit (another satellite post) and I took a wide ATV trail into the bowl-shaped valley below.  There was no trace of human activity there... no other footprints, no tire treads, just me and the crunching sound of snow under my feet.  I felt fairly safe and had my cell phone with me, but granted, if I had slipped and cracked my head open there wouldn't be any around to find me for quite some time.

I wound up trailblazing a bit but more or less stuck to the ATV trails, which seemed to go on for miles.  From the best that I can tell, I ran about 9 miles, total, maybe 10.

I was completely comfortable and set my destination for Volcano Peak, one of the largest and most beautiful peaks on the Utah / Nevada border.  I came within a mile of it, and I would've liked to have climbed it, but I had left the hotel too late to reach it.  In addition I wasn't carrying any gels or fluids with me.

Either way, it was just a wonderful run.  The snow was sparkling like diamonds and the views of the salt flats to the south was just stunning.  This was all new territory and it was a total pleasure to be out there.

I didn't see any other signs of human or animal activity except the occasional jack rabbit track.

The terrain was varied and in some areas I had to walk it for fear of slipping on some of the steep slopes but for the most part footing was extremely stable.  I was out there for about 90 minutes.

In the distance is Wendover, Utah. I have just run from there.

The salt flats to the south.

Trudging forward to the east and climbing!

Volcano Peak ahead. I'll be running there!

Part of the trail in the valley

Looking south at a summit.

Getting closer to Volcano Peak

Looking south at the Salt Flats

I ran from between those two mountains.

Looking north from where I ran to.

Still a ways to go to Volcano Peak - I made it to the summit.

Climbed a summit just short of Volcano Peak.

Yup, I ran from the valley below those two mountain peaks

Cave / Grotto with evidence of camp fires

Time to head back

Almost back to town

Wendover Cemetery

I think this was near the Catholic church. Didn't check it out.

Back to Montego Bay

Wrapping up the Wendover Trip

After cleaning up and loading up the car we hit up the buffet.  It had been a while since I had been to the Friday morning buffet.  I think with the high number of Catholics out there they dole out the fish.  I was pleasantly surprised to find all kinds of muscles, shrimp and even a Diablo seafood type of entree.  They also had jalapeno shrimp and lots of other seafood.  I wound up cleaning up pretty good there.

With our comps we wound up eating for about $5 for the two of us.

So given our room was free and we ate for nearly free, we had a really nice experience and it was good to get away.

I wound up sticking in another $40 into the machines.  The past two trips when I've played my last few bucks I've wound up staying there for several hours because I get on a hot streak.  Sadly, today, that didn't happen.  Once that $40 was done, we took off.

The trip home was easy going.  They still had a little bit more cleanup to do on the freeway but for the most part I could put the car in cruise control and just kick back.

Overall, I had a fantastic trip.  The running totally rejuvenated me and it was nice to see some of the back country.  While lady luck was cruel to us we still had fun and plan on going again at some point in the near future.

Here is the obligatory food porn:

Yummy food after a 9 mile run.

Crab legs... yummy!

View from our seats at the buffet

Thursday West Wendover Trip - 12/19/2013

You may be thinking, wow Eddie, you are already living in a hotel, why would you want to go to another hotel and stay at another one?

Well the short and sweet answer is that this night in Wendover was free.  I also had a free buffet coupon burning a hole in my pocket, and about $9.00 worth of comps that I wanted to use by the end of the year.  So we figured why not.  Plus, instead of sleeping in a full bed, we had the luxury of sleeping in a king-sized bed.

The Trip There

I had made the reservations on Monday and noticed that snow was in the forecast.  I figured maybe an inch or two, but nothing serious.  However on Thursday it was coming down -- it was the wet stuff too so it made driving tough.  In short, what should've been a 100 minute drive took a little over 2.25 hours.  While the speed limit is 80mph on highway 80, it was 45 mph in spots.  Only once we got within eyesight of Nevada did it get to about 80mph and even then you had to hit the breaks because of some of the drift.

Thursday's Run

We left at about noon and arrived just after 2:15.  We checked in and we looked at the buffet and they close for an hour at 3pm so we decided just to wait until dinner.  That gave me the opportunity to get in at least a mile run.

For those that have followed this blog, I have done primarily Nevada side runs.  I've done both the north and south side of the western part of town.  I've never gone up Aria Blvd into the Leppy Hills.  I've been itching to do that side for a while and decided I might as well explore that side of town.

They have a thriving little community there.  A tiny movie theater, some apartments, mobile home stuff and some well-to-do houses.  All of them overlook the mountains, Montego Bay, or the salt flats.  Just absolutely stunning views.

The road up there starts off all uphill.  Just a nasty climb.  It was actually fairly warm in Utah and while Salt Lake City had been pounded with snow, Wendover had been spared it seemed.

I was really amazed with the views and did a little bit of exploring.  While that day was my rest day, I didn't really put in major miles, just a mile or two at best before heading back to Montego Bay.

Leppy Hills on Aria Blvd Wendover, UT

Climbing the hill, West Wendover below.

Communication tower

Highway 80 at the summit.

Looking down upon Wendover, UT

At the summit, looking down on Wendover, UT

At the summit, looking east

Looking at the salt flats in the distance.

Thursday Night At Montego Bay

After showering up and changing my clothes, I hit the casino floor.  It wasn't quite 4pm yet and I wasn't terribly hungry yet for my dinner buffet.  We activated our 5x comps and I went over to find my lucky King Leonidas game, only to find it was gone.  We asked some techs who were installing another machine and explained that Interactive Technologies owns the banks and they are constantly rotating machines in and out.  In its place was a few Easy Money machines and a Robin Hood game.

I gave the Robin Hood game a go and wound up winning a few bucks on it.  Nothing major, but enough to keep me coming back.  I also dabbled with the IGT Centipede game.  Sort of an interesting concept in that you play the slot machine and when you go to the bonus round you get to play Centipede for money.  I am not too good at the game, but managed to get some nice bonuses.  Before dinner I was up about $40 or so while Shari lost quite a bit.

I ate dinner and managed to inhale 5 plates worth of food.  I had worked up an appetite with the run and the dangerous drive out there.  I had a free buffet coupon and with our initial gambling and what we had before, Shari and I had a good quality buffet for a total of $1.20.  You can't beat that.

Shari was frustrated with Montego Bay and decided to go to the Rainbow where she has had better luck.  It is just a mile drive down the road so we went there.

My luck turned sour there and I put in about $40 and didn't get very much action at all with it.  Shari didn't have any luck either.

After an hour we went back to Montego Bay and my hot streak continued and by the end of the night (around 11pm) I was maybe down $20 or about even.  Shari didn't play much more as she was down on her luck.

We kept checking our comps and at 5x bonus we were getting a nice bonus.  By the end of the night we were pretty close to having another pair of buffets for the morning.

We called it a night at about 11pm and overall we were pretty happy.  The casino was a ghost town -- I think the weather had scared people away so we practically had the place to ourselves.

One of my few hot wins on the Robin Hood Game

Roof was leaking on the 7th floor at Montego Bay

Atari Centipede Slots