Sunday, March 29, 2015

Weekend West Wendover Nevada Trip for March 28 - 29

Me with my big win!


Shari and I had planned a quick Wendover getaway for a bit.  We hadn't been there in a while and it was a comp multiplier weekend, so we figured why not get away.  Unfortunately, we booked it sort of late in the game and the only thing affordable (and not sold out) as far as hotels went was the Rainbow.  We opted to get the cheap wing, which is still nice, but definitely dated compared to the rest of the resort.

So after my very successful half marathon on Saturday, I rushed home, posted a recap and then headed out the door for Wendover.  Before leaving, we made a quick pit stop at the bank and got some extra spending money and sped off with an easy and uneventful trip west.

First Stop the Peppermill

We didn't have to be anywhere in particular upon arriving in Wendover.  Shari has always had decent luck at the Peppermill and usually it is the least crowded out of the group of casinos we visit.  We activated our cards and got our 6x comps going.  We also entered our cards into their drawings contest, which would give us the opportunity to either win $500 in free play or $1000 cash.  It was a long shot, but still worth hanging around for.

I wound up putting in some money on various machines and got a few tidy bonuses or big wins, but nothing to write home about.  Before too long though, I had re-invested my winnings which soon turned into losses.  I was a fixture at all the Fu Dao Le machines, as usual.

$41 win on Fu Dao Le on $1.28

$12 bonus round on .38 bet.

Shari didn't come with much money but I gave her some and she hit two red envelope bonuses within minutes of each other.  Before I knew it, she was clutching nearly $200 in her hands.

Shari's $108 Rise of Ra Red Envelope Win

Shari's $104 Red Envelope win on Fu Dao Le
The final score after leaving the Peppermill an hour or so later was me, down about $80, Shari up about $140.

Montego Bay

I was sort of sore about losing and to be honest I was cranky.  It was now just after 4pm and I had been up since 4am (not to mention I had slept poorly the night before).  We had talked about going to the Salt Flats Cafe but since we had earned a fair amount of comps over the past hour we decided to take the plunge and visit the Montego Bay Oceano Buffet, which is my go-to choice for food while in Wendover.

We decided to circle the place a bit before eating and I wound up dumping another $20 and change into video blackjack or Bally's Wonder Woman machine (which I have not seen payoff in any meaningful way as of yet).

We got into the buffet just before the SLC bus arrived and I was filling up on a made to order tuna steak as well as whatever other seafood delights they had out.  Sadly, I filled up rather quickly and didn't make my usual dent into the buffet's profit margin.  Either way, between the two of us, we ate like royalty for about $20.


Since our host hotel was the Rainbow, we scooted over there and checked in painlessly.  At this point, I really just wanted to lay down.  I was down over $100 and my luck was just terrible.  

As we were walking back to the car to get our luggage, I spied a vacant Fu Dao Le machine.  I was like WTF, why not.  So I put in a $20 and bet the minimum: thirty-eight cents.  Up comes the wild row and depending upon how much you have, you have a chance to pick a random prize.  Normally when I bet that low, I rarely get the pick'em prize, but this time it triggered.

Shari had caught up to me at this point and was incredulous about me winning something (and hopefully me shaking off my sour puss mood).  She implored me to pick the areas in the middle, since she had seen other people do it with a modicum of success.  To humor her, I did.  I picked the middle ones and before I knew it, I had 2 Maxis (at a 10K win), 2 Majors (at a $1K win) and 2 Minors (about $120).  If I picked well, one of those good prizes could be mine.  I picked another tile and bam, the machines goes nuts and I hit a major for $1050.  I've seen it happen before with 38 cent bets, but Shari and I were astounded.  We were high-fiving each other and causing quite a commotion.  As it incremented my money, Shari snapped several pictures of me sitting in front of the biggest win of my gambling life:

I took my ticket and wound up putting in another $60 bucks and about 15 minutes later I cashed out with another $200 after a nice Red Envelope payout.  I just about passed out when I went to the cashier's counter and had the attendant count out 12 one hundred dollar bills:

We had a corner room at the Rainbow and luckily it was super quiet.  We've stayed in Wendover on weekend nights before and had carousing people hoot and holler in the hallways late at night.  I slept like crap though on account I was pretty jacked from my wins and a certain someone wouldn't let me crank the AC low.

Rainbow Morning

As usual, I got up pretty early and decided to take my player's club card down and activate it for the day.  On the way there I saw a Rising Dragon game with a huge red envelope jackpot ($192).  They rarely get that high and I figured why not, I am ahead.  So I put in a $100 and played max ($2.75).  I wound up playing for 15 minutes but other than earn a lot of comps,  I got an unexciting $35 bonus round.  I came very close to hitting the red envelope bonus three times, but the machine was simply teasing me.  This will probably be the last time I go all in on Rising Dragon. I didn't hit the red envelope.  Disgusted, I put in a twenty into a neighboring Fu Dao Le and made a $20 profit on it.

Sunday Morning Run

The pool wasn't open yet, so I opted to go for a run at on the Leppy Hills Trails, on the other side of the freeway.  I was pretty beat up from yesterday's half marathon and I didn't want to twist an ankle on the rougher trails that lead out to the desert.  I finally ran into someone out on the trail though (a dog walker).  First time for everything, I suppose.  

This trail is perfectly groomed, but there is a lot of rolling hills and at its apex, I suspect you are a good 500 feet above where you started at.  One of these days I'll take my Garmin out there and get some elevation readings.

I cleaned up and for the first time ever Shari was waiting for me to get ready.  Luckily  I am a quick piece of work and 20 minutes later we had the luggage loaded.  I think we each pissed away twenty bucks at the Rainbow before heading off to breakfast.

I had a two-for-one buffet pass so we wound up eating for $18.  I love their Sunday breakfast and I had a TON of food.  Shari couldn't believe how much I was putting down and when I left, I probably could've eaten more.  Once again she abandoned me out of boredom (and perhaps embarrassment)


After breakfast we mosied over to the Peppermill.  Shari wanted to do one final blast of gambling.  We also hung around for the noon time drawing.  My luck continued to be sour and I wound up throwing in another $20 or $40 with not a lot to show for it.  Shari had similar luck.

Soon afterwards we opted to head home and we had a pretty uneventful drive home.


Well, I had a lot of fun.  Food, between the two of us, was about $40 (excluding tips) for two nice meals and the room was $99 plus tax and resort fees.  I left Utah with just about $400 and I came home with $1200.  Shari wound up breaking even all together and best of all, we have about $30 in comps coming our way, so our next meals will likely be free.  I was disappointed that my wins weren't more spread out but that Saturday night was truly magical and one I won't soon forget.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

2015 Striders Winter Race Circuit Half Marathon - Eden Utah Race Recap

Add caption

Official Time: 1:48:24
Placement: 15th out of 30 (45 - 49 age group), 157th place out of 660+
Results: Here
Race Website:Here
Weather: Low 30's - No wind, warmed up to mid 40's

Mile Time Comments
1 8:00 Enjoying the downhill - felt stiff though
28:04Downhill and really pretty course
37:58Still more downhill. I know I am going fast, but I am also coasting downhill
58:05Kind of flat now
67:57Little bit of downhill but not a lot. This is where the race begins after the "easy" miles
77:57Maintaining a solid pace
88:19Some up hill and I lapped my Garmin late, probably 1.03 miles.
98:10Rolling hills here.
108:08More rolling hills. Somehow managed to maintain my pace
118:51I felt dead here.
128:38Forced myself to pick up the pace.
138:51Wow, didn't realize I was running this slowly. 
13.151:13Course measured long on my Garmin but pushed it in.
Total Miles: 13.15


As I am preparing for my marathons, I am looking forward to doing a bunch of halfs marathons to keep my speed and race focus dialed in.  This weekend, I selected to do the Winter Striders Half Marathon.  This race is part of a series which includes a 5K, 10K, 10M, half and 30K.  It culminates with their marathon in May.

I've run the Winter Striders 30K before and I haven't been back up to the Eden / Huntsville area in quite some time.  I always forget how peaceful and pretty it is.  It is no wonder they call it Eden, as it does seems like a picturesque version of heaven.

The Race

This was an early race! The race started at 7:30 and since it is about an hour drive, I was up at 4AM and left the house by 4:45.  I arrive just before 6AM, which wasn't good.  Their bib pickup was only open until 6:15 and I had to be on a bus by 6:30.  I also got one of the last parking spots so I made it just barely in time.  After about a half mile walk I finally found the bib pick-up and within a few minutes had my bag and shirt.

I then jumped on a bus for about a 25 minute ride to the top of the canyon.

The temperature in the valley was hovering in the upper 40's but in Eden, the temperature read 32F.  Luckily there was no rain or wind, but it certainly was a chilly morning.

I had to wait an excruciating 15 - 20 minutes to use the bathroom.  For as many runners as they had, I felt like they really didn't have enough bathrooms.  I suspect some people used the adjacent fields.

Race start area

Race start area

Race start area

Race start area

Race start area

Starting line

I had about 3 minutes to spare after using the bathrooms before they announced the call to throw your gear bags in a truck.

I opted to wear my baseball cap, two t-shirts, my thin gloves and shorts.  My hands were frozen at the start but after a few miles I was running while carrying my gloves.

The first 5 - 6 miles are mostly downhill and it is tough to hold back.  I found myself running 8:00 min / mile comfortably so I just went with it.  I was pretty pumped up with my KPop tunes (I am on a Fin KL Kick of late)

The race is held on the main drag and they had the traffic pretty well protected.  However, I don't think a lot of the locals are happy about the races up there. I've seen it more than once where an angry pick-up truck driver is a little careless around the runners.

There are some stunning views of the Pineview Reservoir and the whole area is just tranquil and fairly rural.  This half marathon also follows the first 13 miles of the Ogden Marathon.

Taken while running

Taken while running

Taken while running


I haven't run sub 1:50 in a LONG time.  I knew it was going to be a good day from the start (perhaps the beet juice ritual is working).  Granted, I had a 500 foot elevation drop to help, but I felt pretty good throughout the race with the exception of the final 2 miles.  I think all the miles I've put on my legs just made them unresponsive and the downhill and had just beaten them up.

After the race I collected (my very cool) medal and ate a slew of oranges (I am on an orange kick of late).  I didn't really know anyhow, so I wandered back to my car and took off.  They really did a good job with this race and I'd be happy to do it again -- although it was a little on the pricey side: $60...

Old buildings in Eden

Old buildings in Eden

Old buildings in Eden

A little bit of Pineview Reservoir

Finisher's Medal

Friday, March 27, 2015

This week in running 3/22 - 3/28

Day Mileage / Workout Comments
Sunday 8Recovery run
Monday 7 Medium effort with drills and strides
Tuesday 11 Medium, was dead at the end though.
Wednesday 5 Just enjoying the day.
Thursday 7 Progression run, 9:30 to start, 7:45 at end
Friday off About 5 miles of walking
Saturday 13.25 Winter Striders Half Marathon
Total miles for the week: 51.25- YTD: 628.5

Week's Summary

Pretty mild week in terms of running volume, but that is to be somewhat expected.  I knew going in that it was going to be a little bit of a cutback week, being that the Sand Hollow Marathon is slightly more than 2 weeks away so technically I am dipping into my "taper" period.  I sort of get off on how many miles I run and when I don't hit some super stellar amount I get a little dejected.

That being said, though, I did need a recovery week.  That and I am racing a lot, and with the extra miles at race pace, means I do have to be careful not to overtrain or become injured.

I did get slightly rededicated to doing at least some core / abs work.  After my runs, it has been incredibly nice just to hang out in the park and do planks and various exercises I've picked up in running mags.

Ogden Marathon

I am officially in!  I bought my friend's bib for $60 and paid the transfer charge of $25, so that means I'll be ready to run on 5/16.  Hopefully it won't be as rainy as 2013's edition.  If you haven't run Ogden before, it is worth traveling to and is such a pretty course.  It is a net downhill, but that doesn't mean it is flat.

New Shoes

I broke down and bought some new shoes.  These days I burn through them pretty quickly.  That's the unexpected cost of bumping up your miles.

My go to shoe is the Brooks Adrenalines and have worn them for nearly a decade now.  I am slightly disappointed with the 2015 edition though.  Normally, I just buy them and am as happy as can be, but they have certainly changed this year's edition.  The toe area seems to be a bit tighter (not good for someone battling Morton's neuroma) and have made the heel area pretty roomy.

I may have to hunt down a pair of '14 edition or switch brands altogether.

Upcoming Races

3/28: Winter Striders Half Marathon  - Huntsville Utah (definite)
4/4: Debating on racing, there are two half marathons going on, but I may sit this weekend out.
4/11: Sand Hollow Marathon - Hurricane Utah (very Probable) -- Booked the Hotel!!
4/18: May go for broke and do the SLC marathon or West Mountain Marathon
4/25: Winter Striders 30K - Huntsville Utah (18.6 miles) (probable)
5/16: Ogden Marathon - Ogden Utah (registered).
6/13: Helena Governor's Cup Marathon (in planning stages)
7/11: Dam 15 Miler in Jordanelle / Park City Utah (definite)
9/5: Jackson Hole Wyoming Marathon (very very probable - I booked the hotel already)
11/15: Las Vegas Marathon (definite)

Monday, March 23, 2015

West Wendover Trip for 3/22

Overcast skies in West Wendover


We've been talking about making a West Wendover / gambling trip for quite some time.  The last time we hit a casino was when I went to Vegas on my way to Arizona to run the Desert Classic Marathon.  Shari hadn't been to Wendover all year.

I suspect we would've gone sooner but so far this year Wendover has been stingy with their Sunday comps.  Sure we could get $5 free play and a 2-for-1 buffet but we needed just a little more to make the 110 mile trip worthwhile for us.  Not to mention, I had some hospital bills I had to pay.

So Shari thought I was joking when I said, "Hey let's go to Wendover" after eating a stack of pancakes and running 8 miles.  But I was serious and said if we could be ready to roll in less than 15 minutes, then "I was in".

So no less than 15 minutes later we were at the bank getting a few extra bucks and then hitting the I-80 at 83 mph on our way to Wendover by 11:30 am.


Normally when we go to Wendover our first stop is Montego Bay for a buffet.  But since we had just eaten we could start right in at the slots.  The Rainbow is usually our last stop, but today it was our first.  

Shari and I went our separate ways and stuck a few bucks into our favorite games.  I usually don't do well at the Rainbow but my luck was actually pretty good.  At one point I was up about $50 but I managed to play for over an hour and "only" be down about $30 - $40.  While I hate to be down money, I felt like I had gotten a good amount of entertainment.

The comp of the day was the Krazy Kiosk game.  Basically you play a few bucks, go swipe your card and you get a random prize.  Personally, I think the reward is geared with how much play you've done in the recent past.  You can win everything from tier points to free play.  I wound up snagging $5 in free play and Shari got 30 tier points (which aren't too worthwhile to us since we'll easily make gold level but it will take some serious effort to get to the next level).  We also printed out our 2-for-1 buffet pass and another $5 free play coupon.

Screen full of jacks for a $27 win

$33 bonus round win

Montego Bay

My stomach started to growl soon after 3.  With all the running I am doing, I am constantly hungry.  It is a running joke at work at how much food I have stored in a drawer.  Since our favorite buffet in West Wendover is Montego Bay, we made the 1 mile drive over to the state border.  I was disheartened to see the buffet closed until 4.  My stomach was doing some serious growling and some times I could feel my blood sugar running on "E".

We opted to gamble a bit to kill some time.  Shari wasn't winning but I managed to put a dent in my losses by playing some low stake video black jack.  I also dared my luck on Super Red Phoenix and scored a pretty nice win:

By the time it was ten minutes to 4pm we sauntered over to the buffet line.  I was surprised at how long the line was to get in.  It wasn't a terribly busy day but it seemed like everyone in the casino was ready to eat.  Luckily the line didn't take more than 15 minutes before with sugar-depleted hands I was filling plate after plate.

I did set a new record for eating.  Normally, I eat 3 plates of food followed by a dessert (like a slice of cake) followed by fruit.  Today I crushed that.  Shari was so tired of watching me eat for over an hour she got up and left me.  This was the second time in my life where they started to clean the table while I was getting more food.  I was afraid they were going to throw me out. Maybe there's room for me in the Professional Competitive Eating Circuit:

Plate #1

Plate #2 - Can you tell I like shrimp?

Plate #3

Plate #4 - I pulled the slice of pepperoni off

New Cake! Never seen this one before. It was good.

Ate 85% of the eclair.  I felt like I was pregnant when I left.


With stomach full (at least for about an hour -- seriously), we decided to end the day at the Peppermill.  It was pretty quiet there and I could pick out just about any game I wanted to play.  Normally my luck at Peppermill has been hit and miss, but today it was really good.

First stop was to the Super Red Phoenix, where I got lucky on a $1.10 spin and got a bonus round.  I nailed a $63 bonus round:

I plunked a fresh twenty into its neighbor: Super Rise of Ra and scored another $50 bonus round:

I wandered around and wasted a few extra bucks into some non-paying Fu Dao Le machines before I came back to my original bank of machines.  I nailed a nice $70 bonus round before moving onto another Fu Dao Le machine and getting the pick'em bonus for a $28 minor win (just about had a heart attack when I missed by one pick the $900 major jackpot).


I was up about $50 for the day so we decided to call it a day.  Shari lost about $60 and wasn't having any luck.  Overall though we ate very well for under $20, got some free play and I came home a few bucks richer.  Also, we got about 5 hours of entertainment for our efforts.

The ride home was uneventful.  I managed to snap a quick picture of the Bonneville Salt Flats.  Sorry for the dirty car window, but it was unplanned and I was trying to capture the mirror-like water on the surface:

About mile marker 6 on the Utah side heading east, looking north