Saturday, November 29, 2014

This week in running Nov 23 - Nov 29

Day Mileage / Workout Comments
Sunday 7 Medium pace with final 3 at half marathon pace. Some guy made me push the last 3.
Monday 5 4 of it at tempo pace. Awesome week so far.
Tuesday 5 Medium pace. Enjoying the cool but not cold weather.
Wednesday Off Several miles of walking today though
Thursday 6 1M Warm-up, 5K in 24:09, 2M cool down.
Friday 8.25 Awesome run north of West Wendover.
Saturday 14 Average pace of about 9:30.  Wind worked me over pretty good.
Total miles for the week: 43.25- YTD: 1688.75

Week's Summary

Quite an awesome week in terms of pace and mileage.  Normally, northern Utah is in a bit of a deep freeze this time of year -- with usually a layer of snow on the ground.  We seem to be the exception to the rule in terms of cold weather.  We are unseasonably warm.  There's no snow in the valley and most of the time it is shorts + t-shirt weather when it comes to running.  Although I will admit to using my wind breaker to keep me nice and toasty.

I ran a really slow (for me) 5K on Thursday.  The Sandy 5K that I ran in 24 minutes a few weeks ago apparently wasn't a fluke and might be the new normal.  Time for me to devote a day or to speed training and eating healthy food.  It could be that I turned a corner in terms of being able to eat whatever I want and not gain weight.  I am about 10 pounds heavier than what I want to be, and 15 or so more than my optimal race weight. More on that in a subsequent post.

I think it is also that I cannot train as hard.  The altitude here really sucks the wind out of you and makes running hard that much more difficult.  It is a snowball effect: if you can't train as hard you lose fitness and that becomes your new normal.  And it keeps going until presumably at some point, I'll be a plodder.  That's not what I want.

New Age Group

Well, I am 45, so now I go with the 45 - 49 age division.  I haven't really paid too much attention to see if they are more competitive (or not) than the 40-44.  I guess I'll find out.  I definitely know I got my butt handed to me when I turned 40.  There were a TON of guys that were extremely competitive and it seemed like they came out of the woodwork.  I still like to compete for age group awards although lately I've been focused on doing destination races and just finishing (i.e. the marathon).  I still am trying to do the 50-states deal but I don't think it'll happen in my lifetime, but I am working on doing as many as I can.

Upcoming Races

I did sign up for the Sweetheats 5K.  I got in for $15, but the race isn't until February 8th.  I am also in for Vegas Full Marathon in November 2015.  Also we are heading to Arizona in late January (Super Bowl Weekend as a matter of face) and they have a full marathon there too (although very small).  I'll do that if the conditions are right.  Too bad I won't be there for the Phoenix or PF Chang marathon.

There are no immediate races I am planning on doing though.  I keep checking and there are a few down south but I think the local race scene is pretty much dead until next month.  I'd travel to Southern Utah for a half marathon at this point but it's got to be the right one and at the right time.

Finally, I am still looking at a destination spring marathon: Helena Montana or Fort Collins Colorado are currently the front runners.  We both want to check out Colorado as that is a potential place we may want to look at moving to (some day).  If you have any suggestions let me know.  I still flirt with going back to Illinois and knocking that state out in May as well.


No major injuries to report.  Calf twitches once in a while, but nothing serious.  Am starting to get plantar fascitiis some more.  Time to get my orthotics out again.  For the most part, though, I feel fantastic.

Picture of the Week

Here is another photo of Friday's run in the desert.  I love running out there, but I always worry when I head out.  I am one twisted ankle, snake bite, wild animal, or deranged weirdo out there away from something bad happening.  I am smart and let multiple people know where I am at (and have a cell phone) and when I'll be back, but still.  As they've said in the movies: Scream all you want, no one is gonna hear ya.  I also don't think there are many runners in Wendover. I've never seen a fellow jogger out there.  Although the high school does have a track team and I've met their coach (several times).

Thanksgiving West Wendover Trip - The Perfect Day


Well, with Thanksgiving upon us, Shari and I decided to hit up Wendover for a quick getaway.  We don't have any family out here so Thanksgiving really isn't something we get together with people with anymore.  

It was my birthday and I could call the shots, and I did.  I started the day out with a 5K Race in Bountiful, came home, showered, threw some clothes into a bag, grabbed a quick bite to eat and hit the road by noon. 

We've been blessed with some awesome weather and the ride out there was a snap (traffic was a little busy up until Tooele, but after that it was smooth sailing).  


We arrived just shy of 1:40 on Thursday. and the parking lot was actually pretty full.  The Peppermill concert hall had a sold out show that evening (Saigon by Night) and there were a bunch of other empty nester types there eating and gambling.

We took care of our bathroom needs and activated our comps for the day (3x).  Upon swiping my card, I got $20 worth of resort credit for it being my birthday (Thanks Wendover!) I also printed out a 50% off buffet coupon and my $10 in free play.  I was surprised they honored the coupon for the buffet because they had raised the price of the buffet given it was a holiday with premium offerings.

We jumped in line and got seated within about 7 minutes.  I was absolutely ravenous, having only had a Power Bar and a bagel all day.  The cost of the buffet for both of us: $20.

We were lucky to have gotten in when we did.  About 10 minutes afterwards the line was backed up with about a twenty+ minute wait.

Here is the food I ate:

I could live on the spicy shrimp

I don't eat turkey (or chicken, port or beef for that matter)  - I haven't since the early 90's so I definitely cleaned up on the seafood.  After putting myself into a food coma we decided to do some gambling.


I loved it when I put my card into a magic and it would wish me a Happy Birthday.  Pretty funny actually and a nice touch.  Only the new machines did that.  Initially I went on a tear winning some small amounts.  Nothing to get super excited about, by the Fu Dao Le gods definitely were wanting me to have a happy birthday.  I mostly had good luck at Montego Bay and Peppermill.

Check out the # of free games (27)

Another high amount of free games
I am happy to report that Montego Bay did get a bunch of new machines.  In each of their resorts they had at least one (and sometimes two) new banks of Bally machines.  They also had a cool Wonder Woman game that I was itching to try (featuring clips from the 1970's show).

My luck eventually started to turn and my mighty profits were starting to take a tumble.  It got a lot worse when I went to the Rainbow.  I never have any luck there.  I am also sad to report that they closed their poker room.  Now there is just Montego Bay's (which I think only has no limit games) and the Nugget.

Thursday Evening

After taking a beating (we were down about $100 for the both of us -- Shari had had zero luck) we moped back to the Montego Bay and got our free room.

I headed out to the Jacuzzi and took a long soak.  The weather was absolutely perfect (low 40's with no breeze).  I had the place to myself and it was really enjoyable just to sit and relax.

Both of us were still pretty full from the buffet.  While we had comps to get another buffet we opted instead to go to the cafe.  This was about 40% cheaper than hitting the buffet and it turns out the portions are huge (I barely finished mine):

My Breakfast Burrito



I couldn't really sleep most of the night.  I was exhausted but I think the jacuzzi had me slightly wired.  I have insomnia problems as it is, but I was tossing and turning most of the night.

I got up early and did my traditional run in the desert.  Before I did though, Shari encouraged me to take $20 and put it into a machine.  After activating my card for the 5x comps, I hit up a Fu Dao Le machine. She is under (the false) belief that machines are hot after being paid a lot so I put $20 and wound up making a small profit on Fu Dao Le.  Nice way to start the day.

When I got back Shari put in some money into one of the new machines called Cool Jewels.  It is made by WMS and seems to want to jump on the Bejeweled / Candy Crush fascination.  It is fun to watch.  It seems like it gives a fair amount of your money back and you can play for a while on it.  Shari racked up a lot of nice casino points while on it and even managed to make a profit.

I was ravenous so we ate at the buffet.  This was totally comped: score $30.  More unadulterated food porn here:

I love this seafood stew stuff. With Crab legs too!

After eating I did what I've never really done before.  I went up to a Dragon Rising Game and put in $100 and bet max.  This is one game that you really have to bet max ($2.75) on to really make money on.  I've watched people play it and you can do well on it but the trick is to bet the maximum because the best pay outs only come from max play.  Normally I am a low roller, but I figured why not.

Four spins later I hit the bonus round and I was $80 richer.  Yeah me!  I wound up playing a bit more on it before cashing out with a tidy $50 profit.

We gambled a bit more but my profits were slowly dwindling.

We briefly talked about going to Elko for the night.  We were already half way there and with the roads as clear as they were I figured why not.  However, I really didn't want to go if we weren't winning.  I am sad to report we didn't go and we weren't winning.

We headed over to the Peppermill and I couldn't win for the life of me. Shari had some luck on her Cool Jewels game but put all of it back into a Rise of Ra game.  She was betting aggressively too, hoping for a bonus round, but the machines at the Peppermill were incredibly tight. A lot of other people were winning, but sadly luck wasn't on our side at all.

We hung out there for a few hours before deciding to head home.  We did make reservations to come out during Christmas, so we'll be there as well.  Free rooms too.  


Food: about $40  
Gambling Loss: about $200 for both of us total.  
Room: Nothing.
Fun trip and I loved running the desert.  Wish the gambling gods were kinder to me.  I ate extremely well too...

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Morning Run on the Salt Flats - Rishel Peak

Rishel Peak in the distance


One of things that I love to do when I am in Wendover is go for a morning run  There is nothing like waking up, traveling up Aria Blvd on the Utah side and heading into the hills.

Stations of the Cross along Aria Blvd

We've been having some awesome weather of late and while the temperature was in the low 30's, it felt significantly warmer.  I wound up putting on a tech jacket, gloves, shorts and a t-shirt.  I am happy to report I was perfectly warm.

I woke up at about 7:30 and finally rolled out of bed and hit the road by 8AM from the Montego Bay Resort.  I stopped by my car and took a few swigs of water and took off under I-80 and up into the canyons.

The Run

I've done most of this run several times before.  I mostly wanted to see what the terrain was like while hugging the southern portion of the Leppy Hills.  One of my goals is to run around the mountain: a jaunt of about 15 miles total. 

I am a little nervous about this as you do lose cell phone connection once you get behind the mountains.  If / when I do this, I'll be sure to carry plenty of fluids / gels.  The ATV trails are easy to navigate (in most cases) but there are some significant climbs.

I felt a little sluggish from yesterday's 5K but after a mile or so I felt fine.  I was really enjoying the sunrise over the southern salt flats:

After a few miles in, I was greeted by my trusty friend, Volcano Peak:

I wound up deviating a bit to the north and east.  I was trying to reach a point where I could see the salt flats from this portion of the canyon and I largely succeed.  I did a little trail blazing (mindful of rattlesnakes) and after a series of really tough climbs I managed to reach a glorious view of Rishel Peak:

View of Rishel Peak

Area to the south of Rishel Peak
To the north of Rishel Peak

It took me a good 45 minutes to reach that point and I spent a good amount of time enjoying the view.  I made excellent time in getting back to the Montego Bay because the trip back is largely downhill.  

It is a little unnerving out there.  You can hear the hum of the traffic from I-80 in the distance, but there is very little living things out there.  I've never seen another person and while I've seen a bird or two, animal skat and evidence of teen parties, it's always sort of scary.  But solitude can be nice.

Heading back to Wendover

Heading back into Wendover

South Davis Turkey Trot 5K Race Recap

Me post race

Official Time: 24;09
Placement: 2nd out of 10 (in age group) 49th out of 689 finishers
Results: Here
Race Website:Here
Weather: Low 50's, negligible wind
Last Year's ReportHere


What Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete for a runner without fulfilling the obligation of doing the local Turkey Trot?

Since moving to Utah, I've opted to do the South Davis - Bountiful 5K.  Why you might ask?  Well

  1. It's cheap -- only $25
  2. It's an honest course.  The first mile is mostly downhill while the last mile is uphill
  3. The really offer a lot of perks, including a high-quality finishing medal and a swag bag that just can't be beat.  I almost feel guilty taking all the race stuff.
We've had some really pleasant fall / winter weather and Thanksgiving Day 2014 was out of this world.  It was definitely shorts + t-shirt weather.  My hands tend to get cold, so I put on some gloves as well.  But I was completely comfortable both before and after the race.

New Age Group

November 27 also marked my 45th birthday -- and a new age group.  I remember when I turned 40 I was filled with dread because the 40-44 age group, at least in Illinois, was probably the most competitive.  Suffice to say the age group awards slowed to a drip upon turning 40.  When I was in the 35-39 age group, I could pretty much walking into any race and get something (except for the really huge ones).  

I guess things will get better as I get older.  I am just really thankful that I can still compete and do well.

The Race

Sorry guys, I forgot my Garmin.  So I have no idea what my splits were, as there were no mile markers either (I was carrying my phone and set the timer).  I do remember seeing the "half-way" point and looking at my phone and seeing the timer say 12 minutes.  I wasn't too happy with that, as normally I finish quite strong in this race.

Pre-race start.

Packet pickup

Long sleeved t-shirt

I started off semi cautiously on this one.  I had done about a mile warm-up before hand and I didn't feel that awesome.  Also one of my goals was to not die at the end.  Each time I've run this course, I manage to run the first mile extremely fast, hang on at mile 2 and then crawl to the finish.  I am happy to report that didn't happen this time.

Lining up near the front. Tons of behind me.

The race started a little bit late so by the time it did start I wasn't really warmed up.  The start is congested as both the 10K and the 5K start together.  Luckily after about 100 yards, the route does open up to a full road:

Mild downhill for the first mile or so

Took these pictures post race
The last mile is a grind up hill.  I wound up getting passed here a few times.  I really wish I had my Garmin with to know what I ran the last mile in.  I felt strong and in control for most of the race.  

Race Finish

After the race, I wound up going for about a 2 mile cool down jog.  I knew I was going to be eating a LOT later and the more calories I could burn the better.

After coming back to the race finish I put on some warmer clothes and checked out my results.  Score!  I finish 2nd in my age group; garnering a cool prize: a pie!

My pie! Yeah!

Finish line is off to the left

Waiting for awards

Finish line

Age group awards

Very nice Finisher's Medal


The race seemed to be over in just a short matter of time.  Sometimes the 5K is just a nice race: 20-some odd minutes and you are done.  

I finished in 24:09, which I am not thrilled about.  The conditions were fairly ideal too: no wind, low temperatures, so I was really shooting for something in the low 23's.  It looks like I have some serious work to do in order to get back to my top 5K form.

I did finish strong though and maybe I left a little bit too much in the tank as I've forgotten how to race a 5K.  I've been primarily focusing on longer races and I am still unsure what I have for a 5K.  

This will likely be one of the last races I do this year, so I can at least focus on dropping some weight and improving my speed throughout the winter.

Also, I took advantage of their sweet deal and signed up for their Valentine's Day Race (another 5K) for a whopping $15!  Yeah!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

This week in running Nov 16 - Nov 22

Day Mileage / Workout Comments
Sunday 26.25 Las Vegas Marathon
Monday Off Just porking out at the buffets and gambling
Tuesday Off Returning home and gambling.
Wednesday 4 Sore and just easing into the workout.
Thursday 4 Sore and just easing into the workout.
Friday 4 Feel the need to burn calories
Saturday 11 Hauling in the last 3 miles or so.
Total miles for the week: 49.25- YTD: 1643.5

Week's Summary

I finally knocked off the 2014 Las Vegas Marathon.  I PR'd for the year in terms of marathons, but it is a far cry from the 3:38's I used to run.  Hopefully this winter I can buckle down, drop some weight and sharpen my speed.  Too many long runs have converted all my fast muscles into endurance muscles.

We are still having some remarkable weather here.  While it has been chilly, there is no snow in the valley and overall the temperatures have been in the mid 40's.  It'll be interesting to see how runnable the bike trail remains this winter.  The neighborhood in which I live isn't very conducive to road running.

My Saturday morning run went well.  A lady made me drop the hammer though.  I had stopped at about 3.5 miles away from my house to fill a water flask up with water at the bathrooms.  I resumed running and a woman jumped onto the trail at about the same time I did.  She was pushing a pretty solid pace and not to be outdone, I matched it.  I kept my distance and trust me when I say it wasn't a creepy thing (I was leading and she was dogging me)  None the less, it made me push the pace and what would've been a leisurely final 3 miles turned into one where I was really pushing it.  Thanks lady!

I had a nice weekly total too.  Always exciting when I nearly crack 50 miles.

Upcoming Races

Believe it or not, I was looking for a race this weekend.  Call me stupid, but I have running fever.  I was actually trolling the race sites looking for a half marathon.  It probably wouldn't have gone so well -- my legs are still shot from Vegas.  There were only a handful of 5Ks and the near half that I was dying to do was in Overton, NV -- about 5 hours away at the Valley of Fire (put that one on my wish list)

However, the race scene here is pretty much dried up.  Sure we have the Turkey Trots coming up but it looks pretty bleak from now until February.  I'll definitely keep an eye on things though.

I am doing the Bountiful / South Davis 5K on November 27th.  I registered for that race a month or two ago on the last day I could to nail a $20 price tag.  I've run this race every year I've lived in Utah and they do a good job.  The course is a fair one and starts off with a mild downhill and the last mile, just as things start to hurt, is slowly uphill.

We are also planning a trip to Arizona around the end of January.  Turns out there is a full marathon there.  If I can get in the training, I am going to take Arizona off my state's list.  It looks like a really small marathon, however.   I wouldn't mind doing the RnR version but we aren't going to be there during that time and we'll be too late for the Phoenix Marathon.

Finally, I am registered for the 2015 Las Vegas Marathon.  I got a nice deal of $99 + $10 for service fees at the Expo.  That price will easily double by next fall.

I am also starting to identify other races I'd like to do and hopefully as the plans solidify I can disclose where and when I'll be running next.

Photo of the Week

First off, I am somewhat famous.  Check out this article.  If you look closely at the picture at the top of the screen you'll see me just entering the picture on the right.  That photo is from the 2013 Las Vegas Marathon.  I'll be signing autographs for $20 a piece.

Finally, this morning, it was sort of gloomy and overcast, and the snow is a lot lower on the mountains, but I did manage to get this picture at about 5.5 miles down the bike trail:

Tuesday: The Final Day in Vegas


Well, Tuesday was the last day for Vegas.  I couldn't believe that I was actually going to come out ahead.  In fact, I can't remember the last time I ever went to Las Vegas and came home with more money than what I left with.  Sometimes I manage to barely break even, but this trip was truly momentous in the fact that I was coming home with a profit.  And I wanted to keep it that way.

We got up sort of late and took our time getting ready.  We decided we were going to go back to the Suncoast for breakfast.  When I had left the casino yesterday I had had a coupon for a free breakfast.  I figured Shari would have one too.

We took off just shy of 10:30 and made it in no time at all to the Summerlin Suncoast.

Last Morning in Vegas

We swiped our cards and discovered that all the goodies we had from the previous day were pretty much gone.  I figured that you had to gamble to a bit so I went over to Leonidas.  Begrudgingly, I put in $20 and hoped for the best.  The second spin, I almost got the bonus round and on the 4th, I nailed.  This time I actually got a nice win of $25 for a 40 cent bet:

Naturally I took the money out and checked the points on the card.  Still no free buffet.  We were gambling exclusively on Shari's card, because we had used the points off of mine yesterday for the 2-for-1 deal.  We tried a variety of machines and made a few bucks or lost a few bucks.  But still no free buffet.  We checked at the player's club counter to see how much we would have to play and it was at least a hundred bucks.  One, we really didn't have time for that, Two I was starving and actually getting slightly light headed and Three, I wanted to leave a winner.

We wound up eating breakfast (actually lunch by the time we got there) for about $15.  I once again got my Mongolian Shrimp freshly made.  I ate like a champ there.

The Trip Home

We left Vegas a little after 1pm with the goal of stopping Mesquite for one last hurrah at the Virgin River and to get gas.  

I had a weird encounter with the Nevada Highway Patrol.  I was in the carpool lane on the freeway when the NHP came up behind me and tailgated me.  I couldn't get out of the carpool lane because there was a solid white line.  I was going 65mph, the speed limit, and this guy was riding my ass.  Eventually he flew by me and shot me a very dirty look and 1/4 mile later pulled a speeder over.  

We sort of wondered if he was trying to see if I actually had two people in my car.  Shari was slouching in the seat.  Either way, his actions were pretty reckless and in my opinion, not very courtesy, safe or professional.

We made it to Mesquite in an hour or so.  I got off on the wrong exit and we wound up taking a tour of the business route.  I discovered that my faithful Rebel gas station that I usually fill up at is the most expensive one -- by a lot.  If you go into town gas is about 20 cents cheaper.  Last time I make that mistake.

We jumped into the Virgin River Casino and swiped our loyalty cards for potential free play.  Alas, nothing.  I got double my ticket entries for some drawing I would not be attending and Shari got a free hot dog that she wasn't going to eat.  

I played my Incredible Technology castle game and quickly nabbed a ten dollar profit on a bonus round.  I then went to the Planet Moolah game that I had had my big win on Saturday and plopped a twenty into it.  Nothing... not even a few dollar bonus round.

We took off soon afterwards.  The trip was incredibly boring on the way home, but I was already mentally preparing the next big trip.

Food for the day: $20 ($15 at the casino and $5 for a Culvers stop (I had a free meal coming my way).  

Gambling Win / Loss: Broke Even


From a gambling standpoint this was an awesome trip.  I had used a lot of my cash for tips, small purchases and such, but I figure I came home with more than $250 than I left with.  In total, we ate for about $125 as well.  Try doing that in any major city and see where you end up.

We had a lot of fun and we did a lot of things -- off the strip.  While I didn't win very much in Summerlin, I did get a chance to eat for a lot less than what I would've paid on the strip.

We are planning another quick pass through in late January / early February.  So we may break up our trip by spending a night in Summerlin.

The marathon was also a blast and I am happy to report, if I am healthy, I'll be running it in 2015.