Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Year in Running

The Numbers

Total Miles Run: 2388.5
Average Miles Per Day:  6.54
Longest Run: 26.8
Total Number of Races: 33
Total Race Miles Run:  463.1
Marathons: 8
States taken off my state's list: Montana, Nebraska, Arizona and New Mexico
Half Marathons: 12 (two races between half yet under a full)
Race Log:  http://www.athlinks.com/athletes/27561730

Best Race (Performance): Ogden Marathon
Worst Race (Performance): Las Vegas Marathon

Reflections on Marathons

Arizona Desert Classic:  I felt I ran really well here.  Course wasn't necessarily "fast" but it felt good. Was really happy I did this one.

Sand Hollow Marathon:  Beautiful but died in the heat and hills at the end.  Could've / should've done better.

Ogden Marathon: Kicked butt!  First sub 4:00 hour marathon in a while. Would've been faster if I hadn't swallowed a bug.  Perfect conditions for me.

Governor's Cup:  Wilted in the heat.  Loved the race but had that medical issue at the end.

Jackson Hole: Perfect running conditions.  Course was long (to me) and I am sure the altitude took a lot out of me.  Loved the race though.

Monument Marathon: Great first half.  The hills and heat killed me in the second half.  Beautiful race though

Duke City Marathon: Loved the way I ran this one.  My time may not have been spectacular but all things considered I ran even splits and really only faltered on the last mile or two.

Las Vegas: Note to self: don't eat a lot in the days before a marathon.  It will come to haunt you. Not the way I wanted to wrap up the year.

Reflections on the Entire Year

Thanks to a super mild winter and spring, I was able to log a TON of miles.  I had made a challenge with myself to attempt to run at least 2000 miles this year.  Normally I run around 1800 - 1900 but I never cracked the 2000 mile barrier.

This year, I not only cracked it, I demolished it.  

Normally, when I start running as many miles as I do I break down.  I get injured is usually what happens.  This year that really didn't happen.  Sure I had a minor bout of something, but I didn't wind up with anything that took me out longer than 3 days.

So did all the volume help?
Yes and no.  I had pretty good endurance throughout the year and I could almost jump into a marathon on any given weekend.  I also managed to qualify for the marathon maniacs as well (level 3) given the amount of marathons I ran in a calendar year (if you count 365 days, then I ran 9).  

But on the flip side, it did make my legs a bit on the tired side.  I had a hard time, particularly in the summer, mustering up the energy and strength to do the quality workouts.  More often then not, my runs were at an easy or medium pace which don't lend themselves to making one faster.

I should mention too that my training runs were pretty much limited to the bike trail.  To say that I know just about every nook, crack and cranny of the paved path might be an understatement.

That being said, however.  I had a great time doing as many races I did.  I tried to pair a lot of my destination races with doing fun things: visiting the hot springs, eating some place new, or simply seeing a new city.  Races were the excuse to try new things.  It also got me more invigorated about running and racing and seeing what levels I could perform at.

We shall see what 2016 brings, so stay tuned!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

2015 Year in Review


Most regular bloggers write a year in review.  For me, it helps me look back at what I did in 2015 and start formulating plans for 2016.  It also engages, you the reader, in seeing some of the cool things that this world has to offer.  

If you are new to the blog, it might give you a jumping off point to see what I did and perhaps find that inspires you.

To say that I was busy in 2015 would be an understatement for sure.  

Looking back at my goals for 2015, I am really impressed with how many of them I did, and how many of them got ditched for something else. There were very few weekends were I felt I wasn't doing something and this year was truly jammed.

So without further ado, here I go.


2015 was definitely about running and was the driving point of most of my trips, plans and goals.  

I'll do a more in depth post on this aspect once the final numbers are in, but as of this writing, I'll surely surpass 2400 miles for the year.  My goal was 2000 miles and my previous bests were around 1850.  That will roughly be 6.5 miles every day for an entire year.  I was called an animal or a nut or cautioned that I'd get hurt but it kept me healthy, sane and allowing me to pretty much eat whatever I wanted.  Sometimes you have to break the rules a bit to grow.

This year, I also ran more races than I ever have.  By my count, I ran 33 races this year; everything from 5Ks to marathons.  My times ranged all over the place, from good to bad, but this was one year where my results didn't decline from the previous year.

Two blogs really inspired me to take my running up a notch.  

I'd encourage you to take a look at Jim's 50 (marathons) After 40 Blog.  He is a guy my age who turns in some fantastic times. Simply put, reading about his journey, I upped my mileage and got semi-serious about my training.  His slogan of "Be Great Today" were words I tried to live by.

Another blog that I get a lot of value out of is Rebecca's 50 Half Marathons in 50 States.  This is someone who clearly races a lot more than me and most importantly enjoys the journey.  Reading about her adventures certainly made me appreciate the fact of toeing the line most weekend.


Wow, I did a lot of travel this year.  There were some towns that I didn't make it to there were a number of places that I managed to explore that if you had asked me at the end of 2014 if I was going to visit, I would've said, "huh?"  Kind of funny.

January:  Phoenix Arizona - visited my brother and ran a marathon.

February: Dabbled in Vegas on the way home from Arizona
April: Hurricane / St George Utah and ran the Sand Hollow Marathon and visited Mesquite Nevada
June: Made it all the way to Helena Montana.  I had never been to Montana before.  Wow!

July: Went to Elko, Nevada and Wells Nevada.  Spent the entire 4th of July weekend there.  I had an absolutely fantastic time.
August: Drove through Nevada until I reached Reno.  Got to visit Carson City, Virginia City and points between.  Most people think I-80 in Nevada is boring.  I was enthralled by it.  Also got to stick my toe in the water (so to speak) in California again.  Visiting Reno was a dream come true for me and seeing the government offices in Nevada was a dream come true (yes I am a Nevada nerd).
September:  Drove to Nebraska for the Monument Marathon. This trip was totally unexpected, unplanned and unforgettable.  I also got to visit Jackson Hole.

October: Made a trip through south eastern Utah, stopped in Towaoc Colorado and visited Mesa Verde National Park. But that was only a stopping point for our ultimate destination: Albuquerque, where I would run another marathon.
November:  I made my annual pilgrimage to Vegas for my 7th running of the Vegas Marathon.
December: Returned to Elko Nevada for their Snowflake Festival.

This also doesn't include all the mini getaways to Wendover, which admittedly I probably went to, too often.  But I did make the most of it by enjoying the food and stepping out into the desert for a morning jaunt.

I ran 8 marathon this year and managed to take out Nebraska, Arizona, Montana and New Mexico off my 50 state's list.  Unfortunately, I am running out of states that I can drive to and the price and time to get to the others is getting more expensive.


If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that I like to go to casinos.  I am not a big gambler my any means and I certainly keep my play at a level I can afford and still have fun.  I try to take advantage of the perks they throw you, namely cheap rooms, tons of good food and entertainment.  

2015 was no exception and I took full advantage of it.  Granted, in the long run I was paying for the experiences but it was fun.

I also won the most money I've ever won in one sitting -- winning over $1000 on a 38 cent bet.

There were also a bunch of trips where I couldn't win crap either.  I choose to forget about those.


I know my employers know about this blog but I can honestly speak that most days I really enjoy going to work.  While no job is perfect, I don't loathe going to work like I have had in the past few gigs.  Keep me busy, show me a bit of respect, praise me when I do well, and encourage me when I fail is all I can ask for (as well as having coworkers that I get along with). 


Well, I took the plunge and signed up for Facebook.  Gah, I said I never would but I did.  I really wanted to interact with businesses and so forth but it is a nice way to keep in touch with people I've met at races and hikes.  Wow... I have lots of people in my friend's list who I didn't know existed a year ago.

One of my goals for 2015 was to make a closer friend (or two) in Utah.  I've somewhat succeeded in this -- I definitely have more friends who live in the Salt Lake area than I had in 2014.

I also made a number of friends by being a regular on the Jordan River Bike Trail.  Sort of funny -- you run every day at roughly the same time and you wind up meeting people walking their dogs, running, or simply going for a walk.  A quick conversation can quickly lead to at least someone to nod a hello to or more.


I did a lot of hiking this year.  Not as much as I did when I moved here, but this year I did a few new trails.  In Utah, especially in the Salt Lake area, there is NO shortage of hikes -- and all within a reasonable drive.

I also rehiked a lot of trails that I've done in the past.  Sort of fun being more acquainted with them and helping tourists / newbies who happen to be on the trail too.

I also did some serious hiking up in Jackson Hole, which has countless trails!

Also, one of my hiking pictures wound up netting me a state-level prize.  The Life Elevated folks who run the state board picked one of the photos I submitted as one of the best and sent me a prize package.  I've won a few things from contests in my life, but this one was one I really got excited about.  I love to share my passion of capturing nature at its best and to be recognized for it was certainly cool.

Pretty sure this was the prize winning photo of Red Pine Lake


To those reading this, I hope you take time to think about what you want to do and then actually do it.  Many of us would love to do something but never take the steps into seeing it to the end.  Or we balk at the work it might require.  Not all plans are feasible (money and time often being one of them) but that doesn't mean you can't do something on your bucket list.  If you don't have a wish list of things you would like to see, experience or do in your life time, make one today.

One my other unspoken goals was to not sit at home. You certainly won't remember all the times you sat on the couch watching reruns of CHiPs as quality time when the year is over. 

Having made conscious decisions as to what you'd like to do and actually implement them made this time of year easier to recall all the cool things I have done.  I have no regrets this year, other than I wish I had done "more", which is sort of funny.  I've had people ask me if I ever like "sit around" and the short answer is not really.  I really absolutely get frustrated doing "nothing".

I hope in 2016 you adopt that attitude -- you'll only get one shot at life -- and there are no do overs.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

This week in running 12/13 - 12/19

DayMileage / WorkoutComments
Sunday4Easy on the streets of Elko, NV
MondayOffNothing - major snow
TuesdayOffAnother day of rest
Wednesday72 sets of 2.25 at roughly half marathon pace
Thursday7Pretty much a repeat of yesterday
FridayOffDidn't really have time
Saturday7Leppy Hills Trail Run
Total miles for the week: 25 - YTD: 2312.5

Week's Summary

Well this week was finally a "rest" week.  Some of it for good reason.  About a week ago I was on a run and saw a chunk of wood / mulch in middle of the bike trail. Being the civic minded person that I am, and fearing another runner might trip on it, I kicked it to the side of the trail in passing.

Not a big deal right?

The problem was that this piece was unexpectedly harder and thicker.  After I kicked it, I was like "That hurt!"  I kept going and eventually the pain subsided.

2 days later (or so) my foot, at exactly the same point started to really hurt.  Like a dull, non-stop ache.  Fearing a stress fracture, I opted to go to the doctors -- which I rarely do.  He examined me and didn't suspect a fracture, but told me to take it easy, hit it with some anti-inflamatories and give it a few more days.

A week later (as of writing this) it is about 80% better.  I can definitely run on it, but it still has a dull ache from time to time.

Couple this with the fact that about 10 - 15 days ago I slipped while running on a fiberglass bridge that they have on the bike trail.  It was a result of the year's first frost and as I was rounding a corner on it, my feet went out from under me and I landed shoulder first on the ground.  I was able to dust myself off but since then my shoulder has NOT been happy.  This includes having some pinched nerves that run down the length of my left arm.  It is exacerbated by sitting.... which is what I do for a living.

So I've been injured but it isn't an actual running injury.

Leppy Hills Trail Run

Shari and I saw the Pam Tillis / Lorrie Morgan show in Wendover on Friday night.  As usual, on Saturday I opted to hit the trails outside of town.  It was a beautiful, but chilly morning for a run.  I finally did spot another living thing on the trail:  a jack rabbit!  I think other than some ATVers and a dog walker, I've never seen anything out on the trail.

The trail is really challenging to run on.  There aren't many flat sections and just to get to the pinnacle of the trail is a good 500 - 1000 climb from town (broken up over a few miles).  As usual, I got a bunch of pictures:

Jonesing for a Race

This time of year is really challenging for me. Part of me knows I need to take some down time.  Another part of me wants to work on my speed again.  And another big part of me wants to race -- anything.  

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending upon how you look at it) there aren't many races coming up.  Utah winters are largely unpredictable so much like the midwest they do tend to try up this time of year.

Either way, I have the spring to look forward to and the cooler weather certainly makes it more convenient for running (I much prefer cold weather running over hot).

Upcoming Races

01/16: St George Half Marathon (Maybe)
02/06: Winter Striders 5K (Confirmed)
02/13: Sweethearts 5K (Confirmed)
02/20: Winter Striders 10K (Confirmed)
03/05: Winter Striders 10 Mile (Confirmed)
04/02: Winter Striders Half Marathon (Confirmed)
04/23: Winter Striders 30K (Confirmed)
11/13: Las Vegas Marathon (Confirmed)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Elko Nevada Trip Recap


Faithful readers may recall that I visited Elko, Nevada last winter and stumbled across the downtown Elko Snowflake festival.  I had a fabulous time and this year I did my research and figured out what was going on and where to be and when -- so a trip was planned and executed.

We are big fans of the Red Lion Hotel and Casino and they've treated us fairly low-rollers well. Given that we play a fair amount at their casino, they are willing to give us discounted rooms.  So every now and then we gather our coupons up and make the 250 mile journey out in the desert to visit the city.

It also didn't hurt that I found a local 5K running on Saturday and figured why not.

Now most people from Salt Lake look at Elko as a place to get some gas before finishing their trip to Reno.  Me?  I discovered that there is a lot to do here and I have never had a bad time there.  It is definitely slower speed than most towns but if you know where to look, there are some great places to eat,  hike and play.


After work I packed some things and headed west along I-80.  In most cities, traveling on a Friday night would be bad news.  However, traveling along the west corridor is smooth sailing.  Once we got out of the Salt Lake area I was cruising at a good speed.  

With it getting dark so much sooner it was hard to enjoy the barren scenery but we made excellent time.  We also knew we'd gain an hour once we arrived in Elko, since they are on Pacific time.

Along the way Shari and I debated about where to eat.  We thought about hitting up Wendover but Shari isn't a seafood fan and I really didn't want to gorge at the buffet.

So we decided to try Luciano's of Elko.  We had tried to eat there last year, but they were closed on account of the Snowflake festival parade.  It looked like a really nice Italian place and it had been a while since I've had really really good Italian food.

Me post meal at Luciano's Elko

Despite getting there fairly late, we did have to endure a 20 minute wait.  Luciano's was quaint but loud.  It was a full house.  I found up getting some stuff shells with shrimp.  I would eat here again but it was a bit on the pricey side.  I loved their tomato sauce and would love to see a red sauce with clams / linguine on their menu:

After eating we drove over to the Red Lion, got our room coupons and settled into our room.  We wound up going down to the casino.  I wound up pretty much breaking even while Shari scored big on a Lucky Leprechaun game:

I was pretty wiped out from the drive and we called it a night around 10:30.


We got up fairly late -- at least later than I had hoped.  I needed to get a meal in before my 1pm race.  Unfortunately I didn't get started eating until almost 9:30.  For convenience, we stopped in at JR's Restaurant, across the street from the Red Lion.  We've eaten there before and the food is good and so is the service.  It also didn't deter us that we had a $4 coupon...

I wound up getting an omelette with hash browns and toast.

After eating we ambled over to Jc Penny's and loafed around in there.  I normally hate shopping but Elko is so low key and no crowds that I actually don't mind it.  

Afterwards we drove under the freeway and checked out the new Roadhouse Casino.  I had read in their newspaper that they had opened a new one.  It was pretty small.  I wasn't terribly interested in anything they had but Shari played a bit and donated money to their cause.

I then navigated our way over to the Gold Dust West.  I had wandered in there before and it was a nice, although characterless casino.  Just seemed to be a giant box with slot machines in it.  They do, however, have a huge selection of newer machines.  We had about an hour to kill before I had to head back to the hotel to get ready for the race, so we signed up for their loyalty card and I wound up winning about $40 and Shari took home nearly a hundred.  She was doing quite well on her Lucky Leprechaun game.

At 1 PM I ran the Ugly Sweater 5K.  I returned back to the hotel and cleaned up some.  We grabbed a quick bite to eat the Red Lion Starbucks -- enough to hold us over until our dinner.  We gambled a bit more but nothing terribly noteworthy happened.

Around 4:00 we went downtown.  Last year, we totally missed the Snowflake Festival parade.  I am not a huge fan of parades on account that parking and finding a seat is just more trouble than it is worth.  Elko -- that's a different story.  We wound up killing some time in the old casinos down there, where despite their promise of being "liberal slots" they wound up taking most of money with very little in return.

Around 5pm the Snowflake Festival parade started and despite just sort of "showing up" we got decent ringside standing area.  The parade was pretty generous in giving out candy, soda and even stuffed animals to the kids.  I wound up snagging some candy for the kids around us too.  The parade was about 30 minutes long and worth showing up for:

We had talked about eating at Dos Amigos Mexican restaurant but with the crowds dispersing and a growling in our stomachs, we opted to hit up the Coffee Mug.  Despite a ton of people in the downtown area, it was busy but not lined up the door.  I was expecting a long wait for food and service but I was completely surprised with how quick everything was.  I ordered a spaghetti linguine with shrimp.  It was good but a little greasy.  It filled me up though.  For the price, I'd definitely go back but I think primarily it is a breakfast place.

Shari and I wound up going back to the Gold Dust.  My luck pretty much was souring at this point, but Shari was cleaning up on her Lucky Leprechaun.  She wasn't afraid to go big in terms of bets and was winning enough to keep ahead of the game.  After a bit, we felt somewhat obligated to give the Red Lion more of our attention since they continually give us some perks.  I wound up winning and losing about equally there and Shari wound up making some small profits on various machines.  We also loitered around the casino in hopes our names would be drawn for their hourly drawings, but we were out of luck there.  We also had a chance to listen to a live country band that was actually pretty good.  They also have a dance floor as well....

View from the room


On Sunday morning I was greeted with a somewhat snowy and icy morning.  About an inch of snow had fallen overnight and a thin layer of crackily ice was over the sidewalks.  It was in the upper 30's though and I wound up going for a run.  I got some nice photos of Brothel Row and some aerial shots of the downtown Elko area from a residential area:

Ice Sculpture

I figure I got in around 4 easy miles.  All in all, it was a beautiful morning for a run and also surprisingly I ran into a few other runners out for an early run.

After cleaning up, we gathered our stuff and drove 100 miles to West Wendover. The drive was pretty uneventful and other than a bit of slickness outside of Elko, we flew along at a good rate.  I can't say this enough, but the drive between Elko and Wendover is just relaxing and also beautiful:

We had a 2 for 1 buffet pass and some free play to use in Wendover.  We wound up eating pretty well and doing some gambling.  My luck was again hit and miss, but mostly miss.  Shari was itching to play her Rebel Wild game which she is having a good streak of luck on.  She went big and wound up winning a lot while playing.  They weren't running any comp specials except 4x tier points.  We aren't anywhere near the next tier so it was pretty meaningless to us.

Gambling-wise on this trip I didn't do well.  While I didn't learn my shirt I didn't come out ahead.  Shari wound up winning about $250.  High-risk, high reward.  

None the less I really loved making this trip and will likely do it again.  It was fun to experience some new restaurants and get away for the weekend.  I was also lucky to pair it with racing a 5K.