Friday, May 30, 2014

I am in! Ready to run the Casper Marathon

Well, last night I registered for the Casper Marathon.  Unfortunately, I registered for the race before checking the weather.  Oops.  After clicking submit, I decided to check and right now they are saying there is a 30% chance of rain (with potential for severe thunderstorms) and a high temperature of 78 (a low of 47).  Temperature-wise, not a bad range but I am worried about the rain.  I am not sure if it would've stopped me from registering for the race, but it certainly would've given me pause.

It was hard not to run last night.  It was cool out and I needed a stress reliever.  I did wind up walking a few miles on the bike trail (2 to be exact) so I could let off steam there.

I always forget that the last couple of weeks before a marathon, I really watch what I am doing and eating.  The taper is always a test of patience and nerves and you really have to baby yourself in the last two weeks -- especially if you want to run well and feel fresh at the starting line.  I have to remember that basically there is NOTHING I can do in the final 2 weeks that will improve my running but only hurt it.

So this past weekend with the weather extremely nice I was just itching to go climb a mountain but I decided I didn't want to put any more strain that I had to on my system.  The last mountain climb I did I felt a little bit of tiredness until Wednesday.

Also, the crazy thing about the marathon is you start getting phantom injuries and you start to notice little aches and pains.  I woke up last night to use the restroom and as I wandered into the bathroom, I was concerned because my Achilles on my left foot felt tight. I probably spent the next 15 minutes examining it and was panic stricken that I might've flushed another race entry's money down the toilet because of a cranky Achilles.

Yes, I've had problems with my Achilles before and in my opinion one of the toughest injuries to overcome. Hopefully it doesn't rear its ugly head during the race (or after for that matter)

On another note, about a month ago, the Las Vegas 2014 Marathon had a virtual 5K race.  You basically signed up for it, promised to run a 5K on your own, take a picture of your Garmin or treadmill and report in with your time.  In return for this "free" event you got a t-shirt.

Excited for another piece of Las Vegas swag (I've got a lot of it) I signed up but never got a subsequent email on where to report my 5K run.  I remember the day of the virtual race I ran a 20 mile training run, so I certainly covered the distance.  Sadly there was no question / answer person to send an email to either.

Sadly I figured it was a lost cause and thought nothing more of it -- until yesterday.

In the mail was a yellow envelope that contained a brand new cotton t-shirt.  Cool!  One of these days I'll have to take a picture of all my Vegas marathon-related paraphernalia....

Sunday, May 25, 2014

More Little Cottonwood Hiking

No major hiking this weekend, however with the weather absolutely perfect, I re-hit up my new favorite hike -- the Little Cottonwood Canyon hike.

I was able to go a bit further this weekend.  The once flooded path had dried up and I was able to probably go another half mile up the canyon before it started to get wet again.  Given the fact I was wearing my good running shoes and I didn't want to over exert myself being that next weekend is marathon day, I decided to pass on going any further up the canyon.  I don't want to fatigue my legs any more than I have to.

Either way it was an absolutely perfect day for a lower canyon hike.  Painfully sunny and with temperatures in the low 70's; it was just ideal.

I hiked probably 2 miles, which was easy, being that this trail is a low grade climb, and wound up camping out for a bit and sat on a boulder and stuck my feet in a tiny tributary stream.  My Achilles tendons have been a little upset with me from time to time and the bone chilling water was just what they were clamoring for.  After the initial shock, they numbed up just great and I wound up having absolutely no further problems with them on the hike. Now I know why the elite runners sit in ice cold streams and baths after tough runs.

I did snap some more pictures.  Some of it is new territory, others are repeats.  It seemed like there was a lot more water coming down.  We had some rain early in the week combined with the rising temperatures, means that the snow pack at the top of the mountain is making its way downward.

There were plenty of people on the trail: from hikers, bikers and runners and I further enhanced my tan.

Enjoy the photos:

View from where I soaked my Achilles

View down from where I soaked my Achilles

View up from where I soaked my Achilles

Don't fall!

There are some giant boulders along the trail -- fallen from this peak, perhaps 1000s of years ago.

Running Updates plus one week until the Casper Marathon

My taper continues to be going fairly well.  I've managed to reduce my mileage without feeling too nervous and I had a solid training run on Saturday (10 miles at just about half marathon pace, about 1:27).  This is probably too much and too fast but this week is going to be extremely light in training and I was feeling pretty good.

The plan is for next Saturday for me to head out early to Casper Wyoming and run their marathon on Sunday.  I picked this race because I ran into some people on the bike trail that said it was a good, small town event and I would like to take Wyoming off my states list (WI, MI, NV, IA, UT, ID have been claimed).  I haven't been to Casper before and have driven through Wyoming twice -- first when I moved out here to Utah and the next time when I moved all my belongings from Illinois to Utah.  Sadly, I-80 is pretty desolate and boring so I am hoping that the detour I take through Casper will change my opinion.

I don't have a goal time for the race but I suspect I'll come in just above 4 hours.  I'll be at higher altitude (about 5700) and there is no way to guess what the wind and the temperature is going to be like.  I have my hotel booked and a list of things I want to do and see both before and after the race.  I aim to be back home Monday evening. On the list of things to do: Casper Mountain, Independence Rock, some museums, and Alcova Reservoir.  I am looking forward to seeing and doing something new, although I could do without the long drive (about 6 hours each way).  So I need to assemble my Cds and a friend of a mine from Tech Armor send me a car phone charger, so I can fire up Tune-In and listen to whatever I want as well with that.

Once I return from that race and assuming I am in one piece, I am looking at doing the Lamoille Canyon Half Marathon.  I had a fabulous trip back there last September and I am told the flowers will be out in force at that time.  The race date for that one is at the end of June.

I am also looking at doing the Wendover 5K on the 4th Of July.  Last year I discovered this race by accident and hadn't prepared for it (so I didn't do it).  I have a free hotel room for the 3rd, so I figured why not.  I think the race is on their bike trail, which is a tough course.  I've tried to run fast on it, but the altitude, dryness, sand and rolling hills make it a beast.  I suspect it will be a low key event, but anytime I can tie Wendover, a race, a buffet (or two or three), Nevada and gambling into a trip I am IN!

Next Wendover trip is the weekend of June 14th.  I have Beach Boys tickets (it's sold out too) and we may hit up either Jackpot, NV or Elko.

My last long run stats: 3 hours 15 minutes, 20 miles, 9:46 avg pace

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Grandeur Peak Wasatch Mountains Utah

Another perfect day for a hike and I was interested in finding a new trail.  One of the more popular canyons in the area is Millcreek Canyon and I started to Google around, looking for a new trail.  I discovered Grandeur Peak Trail.

The parking lot for this trail is located at about 2945 S Wasatch Blvd at the junction of the 215 and highway 80.  There is limited parking here but I was lucky and nailed a spot.

This trail, from a technical standpoint is easy.  Endurance-wise - not so much.  In about 2.75 miles you will climb 3300 feet.  There isn't a lick of shade on the trail either, so bring plenty of water.  You will be sucking wind as well as water nearly from the get-go (there is a working drinking fountain in the parking lot).

What you are rewarded with are beautiful views of the entire Salt Lake Valley.  Within a short while you can easily see Antelope Island, Stansbury Island, downtown Salt Lake, the University of Utah, and all the suburbs of Salt Lake County.  Absolutely stunning.

Also, you will be able to make out all the freeways, including looking at the tiny-looking semi's that climb I-80 out of town.

This trail seemed to be filled with hikers included several ultra marathoners who were using it as a training ground.  The trail is mostly dirt with loose rocks and it is run-able but I would advice against running downhill.  It is just way too steep.  I know I had to "butt-slide" down sections of it and I ate it once and got thrown head first into a pile of bramble.

Again, bring walking sticks, shoes that have some grip and plenty of water.  Also there are two ways from the parking lot to the top of the peak.  The lesser known trail is definitely easier.  I took that one up and you just have one hard climb and the rest of it is mild.  The other trail is probably slightly shorter, but it is has no respite whatsoever.  The easier trail hugs the gully to the left while the right one hugs the ridge going straight up.  They both lead to the same place though.

Enjoy the photos:

Clean up after your dog!

Getting higher...

Looking down on I-80.

Looking down on I-80.

South Salt Lake Valley

North Salt Lake Valley

Grandeur Peak is the peak on the right

Getting higher

Looking at downtown Salt Lake

Life at about 7500 feet

You can just see Mountain Dell Reservoir in the background

Mining operations along the i-80

View of the mountains in Big Cottonwood

Even higher

Yup, I started at the base

Rocks with lichen

Tough going down

I was up on the peak in the distance, far left.

Quick West Wendover Trip for 5/17/2014

Arguably, it is getting harder and harder to justify trips to Wendover - especially with the weather warming up and the canyon trails getting ready to hike upon.  However, I was looking for something to do and the 6x comps (along with a free buffet) was calling my name, so Shari and I decided to load up the car and head out for a day trip.

The plan was to get there for the breakfast / brunch buffet, have a meal, do some gambling and if luck would have it, have dinner and be home by 9pm-ish.

After a largely uneventful trip there (we left around 9:30) when we got there I was shocked to see that for the most part Wendover was ghost town.  With the 6x comps, I figured everyone would be there but Montego Bay was largely empty.  The usually long lines to swipe your card to activate the comps multiplier were only 1 or 2 deep (normally it is 10 people deep).

I had left over comps from last time I was there so I ate for free.  Shari got a discount and we had a nice lunch for the two of us for under $20.

After eating we decided to try our luck at Montego Bay.  Shari had a budget of $60 and by the time we left, she had blown through all of it, despite being up $72 at one point on Bally's new Phoenix game (Bally's has really stepped up their machines, they are truly works of art).  I tried my luck on a few machines and didn't get much action on any of them.  I would get a bonus round, but only get $15 on it.

We headed on over to the Rainbow, where I had had some luck in the past.  It was still fairly empty. Since the two of us hadn't had any luck I was beginning to have my doubts as to whether to continue to play the slots.  I heard over the intercom the poker room trying to start a limit $2-$10 poker game.  I was itching to play but unfortunately the 6X comps don't apply to poker playing (maybe next time I'll play).  I had some decent runs on the new Bally machines.

We took off for one final run at the Peppermill and while we saw a lot of people winning, luck continued to evade us.  Our budget was pretty much wiped out by 4pm and we talked about loafing around until we got hungry for dinner but as anyone who has been to Wendover knows: the party stops when your budget is gone.  There is nothing worse than the long drive home from Wendover after a sour gaming experience.  It would've been nice to have had a room though to go and recover in and sit in the Jacuzzi, but being it was Saturday we didn't have any freebies coming our way.

We wound up taking off soon after that.  While we got some nice comps for next time (we have close to two free meals), we were disappointed that there really wasn't anything terribly exciting to report on this trip.

Arriving at Montego Bay

Can't get enough of the blintzes

View of the dessert counter