Sunday, April 26, 2015

This week in running 4/19 - 4/25

Day Mileage / Workout Comments
Sunday 10.75Kicked some serious butt today. No watch but felt fast. Probably 10 miles at half marathon pace or better.
Monday 10.75 Dragged myself through this workout. Started out slow and was dead at the end
Tuesday 10.75 Came back to life today. Picked up the pace as I progressed.
Wednesday 5 Easy running with dead legs
Thursday 7 Started out slow and then had a fast finish for the last 3.5 miles
Friday off About 5 miles of walking.
Saturday 18.75 Winter Striders 30K Race in Eden Utah
Total miles for the week: 63- YTD: 809

Week's Summary

I was shooting for overall volume this week -- with the Ogden Marathon in less than a month, I needed a strong week of just miles.  This is all coming off of a marathon less than 2 weeks ago as well -- so I had to approach this a bit cautiously.  I would've loved to have gotten a few more miles in, but I didn't want to come to the 30K race on Saturday dragging.

I certainly wish the marathon was only 30K.  Usually during a marathon I am good until about mile 20(ish).  Having a race that ends just before this mark would allow me to go a bit harder without having to worry (too much) about bonking.

Other than a little bit of a neuroma that speaks up every now and then, I've been feeling pretty good.  I've been foam rolling, stretching and doing my "core" work after most every run.  I feel like that is helping as well and it does get easier the more I do it.  It is sort of nice after a run to do my planks and such in the grass at the park.

This week will sort of be more of the same but a little bit of a cut back.  In 3 weeks time I'll be posting about the Ogden Marathon, so somewhat officially a taper has begun.  Unfortunately, I discovered the best hotels in Ogden are fully booked that night.  I am done staying at dives so I'll probably be staying in Layton.  It will still be a super early morning, with a 5AM bus ride to the top of the canyon.

I was going to do the Salt Lake City Marathon or the West Mountain Marathon last weekend, but after a week of just feeling flat and dead I opted to skip it.  With a full schedule coming up, I didn't want to risk injury or having a 4:30+ marathon.  That would not have helped my confidence at all.

Upcoming Races

Looking for something to do next weekend, I decided to pony up for the North Ogden Half Marathon.   Usually 2 weeks out from a marathon you do 12 miles.  So I figured why not do 13 on a hilly course and see the sites?  Plus it'll give me a good excuse to go to the hot springs afterwards.  I was going to do this race last year but wimped out on it or the weather turned sour -- I forget which.  Hopefully I was one of the first 250 to sign up, otherwise no shirt / goodie bag.

Here's my schedule though:

5/2: North Ogden Half Marathon - Ogden  Utah (registered)
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)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Striders Winter Race Circuit 2015 - 30K Race Recap - Eden Utah

Official Time: 2:40:48
Placement: 65th place out of 320, 6th in 45 - 49 age group.
Results:  Here
Race Website:Here
Weather: Upper 30's at the start, upper 40's at the end. Some wind but didn't hinder me.

Mile Time* Comments
1 8:30 Nice even start
28:30Feeling good, but wondering if I have it today
38:30Okay, getting into a groove. Did 5K in a little over 25 minutes
48:30Picking up the pace despite being paced
58:30In a rhythm
78:40Favorite part of the course, quiet farm-like neighborhoods
98:40Locked in with a 8:30 pace group
108:30Leave the pace group
118:30Feeling a little tired... do I have it today?
128:30Suddenly got a second win. Maybe that second gel hit it.
138:30Feeling incredible. Crossed 13.1 in roughly 1:53
148:30Still cooking
158:30I know I was hurting here a little, some minor hills
168:00Definitely remembered this mile. Gentle downhill on a dirt road. Kicked it up a gear.
178:30Done with the dirt road, starting to hurt a little
188:30Another second wind. I can hold it to the finish, but hurting in spots as I run on the bike sidewalk.
18.658:30Crushed it at the end... could've kept going at the pace I was holding.

Total Miles: 18.65

* Note: My Garmin didn't have a charge in it so times are estimates.


In preparation for the Ogden Marathon, which is exactly 3 weeks from today as I write this, I opted to do their 18.6 (30K) race.  This is the finale in the series and they score you on each individual race as well as the entire series (5K, 10K, 10M, Half Marathon, and 30K).  Since I had done all the other races with the exception of the 5K and I was looking for something to do on a Saturday and I jumped in on this race.  It would be a good excuse to get me out of the house and visiting a really beautiful area of Utah.

Gentle readers may recall that I did this in 2013, which you can read about here.  I was a little surprised when I ran this year's edition, as the course had changed a bit but essentially it gave you a tour of Eden and Huntsville Utah.  At this time of year, this mountain valley town is incredibly pretty and I always enjoy making the journey there. route with elevation profile.

The Race

I left the house at about 5:20 and made it to the race site at 6:20.  The race started at 7:30 and I remember the last time I was up there for the half marathon, I was pressed for time.  So I made a mental note to get up there a lot sooner.

For breakfast I had a good sized bowl of Wheaties, an iced tea and I of course downed a can of beet juice and the beets.

I was pretty much the first one there and got really great parking.  I also was the first to use the bathroom, which was nice.  I wound up using it again and they had an abundance of bathrooms and the lines moved pretty quickly.

Sunrising over the mountains

Milling about the start

Before the race I powered on my Garmin only to discover that it read "Battery Low".  I know I had charged it after the marathon I did two weeks ago and I figured, oh well, it'll last a couple of hours.  Nope, it shut itself off exactly 1/4 mile into the race.  Try running a long distance race like a 30K without a Garmin.

So I fired up my phone's timer, queued up some upbeat KPop music and consulted with people as we ran who had Garmins as to whether the mile markers were on.  I was told they were so I could loosely gauge what my splits were by looking at my phone and doing math.  Believe me -- not the way to go.

Gentle up hill on a dirt road

During the first couple of miles I was definitely running 8:20's to 8:40's.  The course has some rolling hills but there really wasn't too many really challenging hills.

I wound up making a 30 second (or so) pit stop at mile 5.  I really had to use the bathroom and so I found an open porta-potty and took care of business.  Around mile 9 or so I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to hit it again (had gas issues).  Luckily, the runners had spread out a bit at this point so I could emit without pissing anyone off and was fortunate I didn't have to stop yet again.

Also around this time, I locked onto a group of runners.  Two women and two men.  I checked with them and they were running 8:30's or so and had Garmins.  I asked if I could tag along and we wound up running about 1.5 miles.  I was hoping we'd be able to finish the race together because I know my ego wouldn't let me get left behind.  They let me know they weren't racing, but using the race as a training run.  However, it was nice to have company and someone dial in the pace.  Unfortunately, they all stopped at a water stop and I continued on.

I began to have doubts whether the marathon I had run 2 weeks ago and this week's high mileage would kill my legs.  I am happy to report, that mostly they held up nicely.

I had a bad mile or so in the middle but the second gel I had must've kicked in and by the time I crossed mile 13, I felt like a machine.  My stopwatch was roughly telling me I was running low 8's and once I hit the dirt road on the way back I had a slight downhill and I wound up picking it up another notch.

Enjoying a downhill

Once I got off the dirt road, I really started to feel fatigued.  I'd go through periods where I was rocking and then I had to back off.  I was still passing a few people who were gassed.  I rarely have this sort of strength at the end and it was empowering.

The finish line -- well after I had finished

I wound up crossing the finish line in roughly 2:40:50.  I suspect I would've beaten my 2013 time if I hadn't used the bathroom and had a working Garmin.  Either way, I was super jazzed with my performance and best of all, I felt like I could've done another 2 - 3 miles at the pace I was running.

Update:  My 2013 time was actually 2:42, so I did beat my time. It has been a LONG time since I've run a race better in a latter year versus an earlier year given the same set of circumstances.  Doubly excited now!

Finisher's medal and shirt that will go to a fellow office worker.


This was another successful race, in my opinion.  I really think downing the beet juice really helps and having up beat music keeps me motivated.  The beat is pretty fast and the music is positive, even though I don't understand much of the lyrics.  

I have used the beet juice for about four races and each race has been successful.  It doesn't taste good  and I almost have to choke it down, but if it works.  For 70 cents a can I am running better and getting some additional fiber / vegetables in.  Score for me.

After the race I wound up making small talk with fellow runners.  I also met and got to talk to the executive director who coordinates the entire series.  

This race wasn't a huge event as it is pretty close to the marathon and usually only full marathoners do it.  I would guess about 300 people were there.  The folks that did attend were friendly and there was plenty of food and drink.  There were sporadic people cheering you on throughout the race and you got a big "hurray" when turning the final corner.  Water and aid stations were well supported and roughly spaced out every 2 miles or so.

I paid $60 for the race, which included the service fee a few days before the event - which I felt was a fair price.  I've been giving the shirts out to people at work since they use the same shirt for each of the races.  I was sort of sad to see the same medal given out that they used for the half, but I'll live.

Overall, I felt wonderful.  While I saw a bunch of people laying in the grass groaning and moaning, my legs really felt good.  Even several hours later, I feel like I did a 15K, not a 30K.  So all the additional miles seem to be paying off.

After the race I toyed with going to the hot springs, but I didn't really bring all my gear that I usually like to bring.  I've been putting a lot of miles on the car as well, so I pointed the car south and hit up the Layton Golden Corral again.  The folks there missed me as I haven't been in a few weeks.  Luckily they still remember me.  I didn't eat a huge amount, but I did it justice.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Nevada Weekend Getaway

The Metropolis Arch


Well with Shari in Washington for the week taking care of her mother, it left me alone for the weekend with not a lot on the agenda.  I had had thoughts of doing another marathon and going for my maniac status, but truth be told, I had run dead-legged most of the week and I knew that if I did dare to do a marathon that it wouldn't be the best experience.  Also with a lot of other big racing goals this season, I didn't want to jeopardize things with an overuse injury or even burnout.

With Shari not being a super big fan of Elko and me wanting to hit the open road -- plus having received a bunch of coupons for free "stuff" in Nevada I made some calls, set up my trip and after a hard day of work on Friday, at about 4:30pm I took off on the I-80 and headed due west.

Friday Night

My trip there was pretty uneventful. Traffic died way down after I got out of Salt Lake proper and was reduced to a trickle once I got past Wendover -- it seemed like just me and a handful of semis.  I almost stopped in Wendover for the seafood spectacular buffet, but the whole goal of this trip was to try and do some new things.  Midway between Elko and Wendover however, I was nibbling on a few snacks I had brought.

The three hour trip went by fast and I am always stunned with the natural beauty west of West Wendover.  This was only the third trip I've made that far and it went by quickly. I truly just enjoyed driving on the open road in a straight line with the cruise control enabled.

I arrived at 6:30 Pacific time (I gained an hour) and ran over to the Player's Club area at the Red Lion Hotel and Casino.  To activate my free room I had to present my player's club card and my coupon.  A few minutes later I went and checked in and got my absolutely free Friday night room.  In addition, they gave me a free breakfast pass (up to an $11 value) for being a Red Lion member. 

If you haven't stayed at the Red Lion, it is well worth it.  Also the rooms are almost like a suite, with nice furnishings and very comfortable beds.  The place is well kept up and everyone working there is super friendly and helpful.  It is my go to place when I am in Elko. 

I quickly cleaned up and decided I'd give the buffet a chance.  Last time I had their buffet I thought it was so-so.  It was definitely a far cry from Wendover's but I was curious to try their seafood buffet.  I got in for $27 minus an $8 coupon I had as being a player's club member.  They have a huge selection of seafood, but the crab legs are crack your own.  They are still meaty and worth the effort:

I went in for plate after plate of crab legs.  In fact, I filled that silver pail to the brim once and they had to replace it.  They also had the best coconut shrimp I've had in a long long time.  

I think I caught some stares from the people next to me at the counter because they asked me if I was from the coast.  I replied, "No, why?" and they said they saw how expertly I was ripping into the crab legs and figured that I was a pro.  I said no -- just someone with a lot of buffet practice.

I sat there for 90 minutes filling my pie hole.  Truth be told, it was sort of embarrassing because I am a total glutton.  If you like seafood this is a good buffet -- if you don't, then you will be disappointed (so don't do it on a Friday night).

I scoped the casino and decided to play my old favorite: Fu Dao Le.  They had a pair of these machines that I rotated between.  For a while I was up about $20 but as the night wore on the bonus rounds became far and few between and were paying only minimal amounts.  One of the highlights on the night was this $40 hit:

I did try my luck with a Planet Moolah and that ate my twenty faster than I could blink.  By the time midnight rolled around, I was down about $100.  I guess I was paying for my room after all.

Dejected, I turned in and hit the sheets.


In the morning, I started my day off with a morning run.  You can read about it here.  After cleaning up and packing my stuff in my car I decided to hit the buffet.  The buffet was about $15 and with my coupon, I wound up eating for about $5.  Score another one for me.

There buffet is definitely a lot smaller than Wendover's but I liked what they had and definitely made a killing eating plate after plate and sucking down Arnold Palmer's (Iced tea with Lemonade).  

Plate #1

My perch at the counter
I decided to do a little gambling before heading out.  I wanted to let the food settle and use the bathroom if needed.  I had a full day ahead of me and it is always good after a big meal to let it digest a bit.

I jumped on my Fu Dao Le machine and figured I'd toss in a few more bucks.  What the hell, I figured, the Red Lion had been good to me, if I won great, and if I lost, I'd consider it a tip for the treatment they had given me.

Luckily I had some good fortune.  I got a nice pick'em bonus and once again found myself with 2 picks for the mini (about $20), the minor (about $120) and the major $1000.  I was scared to death of picking the mini and my heart began to pound like crazy with the thought of scoring another major.  I did get the minor and I wound up leaving the Red Lion with a total loss of about $60.  Well within my budget.

After collecting my winnings, I headed to my car and went to the South Fork Reservoir State Park.  You can read about it here.

After spending a good 2 - 3 hours there, I gassed up the car and headed east.  I had booked a room at the Rainbow and I took a break midway through the trip to visit Metropolis, Nevada -- a ghost town just outside of Wells.  You can see the pictures I took here.

Just before 7pm I rolled in West Wendover and checked in.  I also had a free room coming my way for Sunday, so I opted to keep the room until Monday morning -- at least I'd have a room to spend all day in if I so chose to.

I cleaned up and made the trip over to Montego Bay.  The line-up for the buffet was insanely long and I wound up killing time in the casino checking out the sports book and watching people gamble.  Luckily they processed people really quickly and about 30 minutes after arriving I got into their Saturday Night Spectacular.  The Saturday night buffet isn't cheap and while I could've used comps to pay for it, I decided to bank those and just pay the $24.  I made a killing there, although I felt like I filled up quick enough.  Their freshly made tuna steaks are the best though.

After eating, I realized that Montego Bay was insanely busy and I couldn't really find a free Fu Dao Le to play.  Usually the Peppermill is a lot quieter so I went there.  It too was fairly busy, but not as bad.  I wound up finding an unoccupied Fu Dao Le and stuck a $100 bill into it.  Unfortunately I got virtually nothing for it.  It was very frustrating and I wound up playing a good 20-30 minutes.  The woman next to me was winning like crazy and had tripled her money since sitting down near me, while I continued to feed the kitty so to speak.

Peppermill got a face lift -- new carpeting and more airy feel

Disgusted, I went over to the Rainbow and played some low rent video blackjack and just circled the area.  I had basically allotted myself about $100 to play and I had reached my limit.  Dejected, I went to bed.

At first I thought I had been stuck with some noisy neighbors as I could hear typical 20-something hi-jinks coming from somewhere.  Luckily just after I hit the sheets they disappeared and I never heard from them again.


I had brought a ton of running gear with me and I had had hopes of going for a desert run and hoping to hit Pilot Peak.  But I was exhausted and I just didn't have it in me.  I flipped back over and slept for a bit longer.  Around 9AM I showered and headed over to Montego Bay for their breakfast.

I had printed my 50% off coupon for the buffet and I think the lady didn't understand it -- as she let me in for free.  I tried to explain it to her but she was like, no go on... Score for me... I ate for free!  

I was wearing a SoJo Marathon shirt that had the words "Marathon" in big letters on it.  I think it caught a lot of attention and I was inhaling food like it was my last meal.  As I was eating a piece of chocolate cake another couple came up to me and were like "Oh it is so good to see you eating some junk food.  We saw you eating all the healthy stuff and you are so thin and we couldn't believe how much you were putting down".  Celebrity status -- attained!  Now, I just need to get kicked out of a buffet for eating too much and my life will be complete (sarcasm off).

I killed some time in the casino and won and lost a few bucks playing blackjack.  I got a decent bonus round on a Fu Dao Le that I saw hemorrhaging money the day before:

After my food had settled, I went to the third floor and got in the outdoor sauna.  I got a nice sun tan and unfortunately I felt the sauna was too warm.  I did meet a couple and we swapped gambling stories.  I think I was there for about 90 minutes.

I headed back to the Rainbow and cleaned up a final time and cased the casino one last time.  I think again I made a very small profit playing another Fu Dao Le and decided I wanted to leave on a high note.

The trip home was pretty uneventful but relaxing as I just listened to a Tom Leykis podcast (I am a P1) and coasted home.


I did a lot of things on my 2015 bucket list.  I got a chance to do the South Fork Reservoir and I found a ghost town that has always intrigued me.  I always enjoy going to Elko and got a chance to explore some new areas there as well.  There is still so much more I want to see and do there.

I also ate -- for the entire weekend -- for about $50 excluding tips.  We are talking premium food here boys.  I also got to stay in a really nice hotel -- for free.

From a gambling standpoint, it wasn't the best of trips.  I figure I was down about $140, give or take $20.  Considering the entertainment I received, I guess not a bad trip, but I certainly would've liked to have come home in the black, not in the red.

I still think Fu Dao Le is "my" game and while at times I feel I've been there and done that in terms of playing it, it still offers, in my opinion, the best value for a low rent gambler like me.  It can be as cold as an ice queen but can explore with money if you catch it at the right time.

I am not sure when the next Wendover trip is, but the Brett Michaels show is on my radar.  As a long-time Poison fan and having seen him in 2010 at the Vegas Marathon, he puts on a great show and I want to see him again.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Saturday Morning Elko Run


Faithful readers know that one of things that I just love to do when I head out of town is to go for a run in a new area.  While I've done a series of runs already in Elko (here and here), I still like to get out and explore.

While I didn't want to do a rinse and repeat of my other runs, I only had a limited amount of time and I hadn't really explored the north side of the city.  With that in mind, I headed out with my phone's GPS and tried to get "lost"

The Run

I managed to get in roughly 7 miles and I've retraced my route as best as I can remember above.  I was going to do a typical run of visiting the downtown area and brothel row, but I've already been there.   So the first opportunity where I could, I headed north and discovered some really nice neighborhoods.

I also got some elevation so I could photograph the Elko Valley.

I did also find Elko's other main casino called the Gold Dust West, which is located on the west side.  While the interior was nice the outside was pretty dull looking.  I don't think security liked me coming in, circling the place and leaving as they followed me out and were checking me out as I shot a photo from the parking lot.  Ooops.

Either way, I did have a fantastic run on a fantastic morning and got some great shots of the city:

Elko Valley

Elko Valley

Elko's mainstream shopping district

Gold Dust West Casino

If you look closely you'll see security by the building giving me the evil eye

Stockmen's Casino

Brothel Row

Brothel Row

Elko Courthouse

Radio station -- with no DJs

Heading into the home stretch

Metropolis Nevada - The Ghost Town


While kicking back in my hotel room recharging after a gambling spree, I was leafing through the brochure about what there is to do in Elko County.  I really only had a limited amount of time left in the day so going on a massive hike or an out of the way place was pretty much out of the question.

Then I discovered an entry for Metroplis Nevada.  Just north west of Wells Nevada, a bit of rubble is all that remains of once a prominent town.  Settled in 1911 and abandoned in 1920 this is a visible reminder of what might have been in the hard scratch desert of Nevada.

Metropolis Nevada

I'll first state this was a PAIN to find.  The only sign for Metropolis was on the edge of Wells.  Using the GPS on my phone I figured that if I simply went down Metropolis Road that I would magically find the site.  

Sadly, this wasn't the case.  

The road leading out of town is a rough black top punctuated by some ranches and long stretches of barren and bleak land.  I was kind of worried about getting lost out there but I did have constant cell phone connection.  Also, I was on the only stretch of blacktop, so getting back was fairly simple -- just don't take any dirt roads.

Metropolis is located about 14 miles northwest of Wells and by the time I got to 14 miles and hadn't seen a sign for it nor any indication I was getting closer had me worried.  Luckily, I managed to flag down a guy cruising by in his pickup truck who told me I had passed it and that I had to make a turn down a dirt road.  So much for any signs.

About as bleak as it gets out here.

Following his instructions and some anxiety later I managed to find Metropolis.  Within a few minute another car pulled up and they too had spent a lot of time looking for it.  If Wells wants this to become an attraction and attract tourists, they could at least provide signs.

Sadly, all that remains of this once promising town are the husks of two buildings.  Sadly, a lot of it is in disrepair and has fallen to vandals.  There was trash strewn all over the place and some of the walls had been spray painted.  

Still, I was left wondering how did they build this way out here and what possessed them to think that farming was a good idea in the middle of such a bleak landscape.  It certainly had a peaceful beauty to it and there were a spring or too, but certainly not ideal farming.  It is no wonder they abandoned it after 9 years.

Either way, this was a quick trip and I easily spent a good 20 minutes photographing the area.  If you like old, creepy Nevada "stuff" this is a must-do.  Just be sure you know what roads to turn off to find it.

Roughly the way to Metropolis. Follow 8th street out of town