Sunday, June 28, 2015

This week in running 6/21 through 6/27

Fresh Asphalt on "my" bike trail

DayMileage / WorkoutComments
Sunday4Easy miles today
MondayOffTotally needed a rest day
Tuesday9Warm out but got some distance in.
Wednesday7Again warm out - but got some random intervals of speed in
Thursday5Plodding along
Friday13Provo Midnight Half Marathon
Saturday7Easy - just getting in some miles.
Total miles for the week: 45 - YTD: 1190.75

Week's Summary

It has been a challenge to get my miles in of late.  It seems like almost overnight that someone jacked the temperature up 20 degrees and now Northern Utah is basking in a heat wave where average daily temperatures are in the mid nineties and above.  That means that I am forced to run early in the morning (which I sort of loathe to do) or I run at night and pay the consequences with less than stellar quantity of sleep.

Couple with that the fact that I have a hard time running with any sort of pace after eating dinner -- no matter how long I wait.  I usually wait about 4 hours before running but it still feels like I ate only a little while ago.  So at this point, it is largely all about surviving the summer and keeping up with some level of mileage.  I know Shari is pushing for us to move to Arizona "someday" and I am begining to feel more and more that so long as I am running that is NOT going to happen.

Race Story

When I went to the Provo Half Marathon this past weekend, I got a chance to talk to the race director there.  I've done a ton of his races and I always try to make it a point to shake his hand and say hello.  I also mentioned the fact that I saw him riding his bicycle in our neck of the woods marking the trail with mile markers a few days before his 50 mile race.

He replied, "Did you hear what happened to that race?"

I said, "No what?"

Well, apparently someone erased or covered some of his directional markings and put new arrows pointing in weird directions.  So he had people going all over the place.  And this is at mile 47 of a relay / 50 mile race.

I said, yeah I saw that.  I saw your markings and by Friday someone had scratched out yours and they directed them off the trail. I almost sent you an email about it but I figured you had to change the direction of the course for some reason.

He obviously was very perplexed and upset by this...

I know Murray City is VERY strict about anything that goes on their bike trails and it wouldn't surprise me that a trail guardian screwed with the markings.  I know, generally that any spray painted things on signs, bridges or on the trail itself, is gone within 72 hours.  So it wouldn't surprise me if someone took exception to the markings.

New Bike Trail

Well sort of.  The bike trail near my house (starting at 6400s and Winchester Park) is getting a new coat of asphalt.  There were several places in the trail where the tree roots were making the path bulge so this is a welcome repair.  I've always been a little hesitant to run on it in the dark on account it "could" be easy to trip on it (and I've seen a runner or two take a spill).  I really like how Murray City keeps up with the trail and I wish other cities up and down the chain did as well.

Upcoming Races

Here's my schedule:

07/04: Some 5K or 10K -- almost sure of it. Either the Basque festival 5K in Elko, NV or the Sandy City Race.
07/11: Dam 15 Miler in Jordanelle / Park City Utah (definite)
07/18: South Jordan Midnight 10K (probable)
07/31: Legacy Midnight Run - Half Marathon - Farmington Utah (very probable)
09/5: Jackson Hole Wyoming Marathon (very very probable - I booked the hotel)
10.18: Denver Rock n Roll Marathon or Duke City Marathon (planning stages, Duke City is leading the way)
11/15: Las Vegas Marathon (definite)

Dog Lake Hike - Big Cottonwood Canyon


With the temperatures soaring into the low 100's this weekend, it meant that I would certainly have to find something indoors to do  -- or head up to higher elevations where life tends to be a little cooler.

I had initially tossed around the idea of going out to Wendover for the afternoon, but with all the traveling I've been doing  -- and consequently the money spent -- I opted to spend it a little closer to home.

The Hike

I hadn't been to Dog Lake in a while, but if you want to see previous pictures and the write-up, go here.

I was really hoping to see a bunch of dogs, like last time.  People come up the canyon from the north with their dogs and it sort of becomes a communal activity: dogs fetching sticks, dogs barking at one another and just wandering around.  Unfortunately, there were just two dogs there today.  

I fully expected to see a moose there today as well.  Moose and dogs generally don't get along and just about every time I've gone up this trail, I've heard stories about how a dog tried to take on a moose.  The only time I saw any sort of wildlife was when I was leaving and saw a Big Cottonwood Police officer parked on the side of the road with its lights flashing watching a huge female moose on the side of the road.

The hike to the lake takes about an hour -- if you are hauling like I was.  While it was warm I didn't mind working up a sweat -- and I certainly worked up a sweat.  The first bit of the hike is a climb and then it is a gentle ascent from there.  However, the last half mile to the lake is a quad burner and one that will test your stamina.

There were a good deal of people on the trail, which is good because it tends to keep the wildlife away.  There also was a ton of wildflowers in bloom, which made the hike really nice.

Upon reaching the lake, I wound up soaking up the rays and polished off a 32 ounce Gatorade (it was so warm).  I circled the lake and found some more trails going north.  Curiosity got the best of me and I wound up exploring some of them.  One of the trails led to Butler Fork Trail, which I had been on before and the other one dipped into Millcreek Canyon, which is the next canyon to the north.

Either way I took a ton of pictures:

Looking south from where I parked

Heading up the trail

Nice area of wildflowers

Still going up

Glimpse of Dog Lake

Kicking back on the shore of Dog Lake

Where are all the dogs?

Where are all the dogs?

Exploring the trails north and west of Dog Lake

The smell of pine was insane here

Beautiful view of the Big Cottonwood Canyon

Colorado Colombine, I am told

Almost back to the parking lot.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

2015 Provo Midnight Half Marathon Race Recap

Official Time: 1:51:32.5
Placement: 5th out of 33 overall, 2nd out of 10 in the 45 - 49 age division
Results: Here
Race Website:Here
Weather: Mid 80's at the start, mid 75's at finish. No wind.

Mile  Time Comments
1-3 24:33 Very slow first half mile. Lots of congestion on a crowded trail
3-6.529:13It is hard to judge pace at night. Was feeling all right. Half way at about 56 minutes
6.5 - 12.957:36Died in the last 3 miles. So warm...
Total Miles: 12.9


It is that time in Utah where the temperatures have turned hot and the night racing has begun.  I did the Provo Midnight Run last year (which you can read here) and had a pretty decent time.  Looking for something to do this weekend I decided to hit the race up again.  For $65, I had a pretty good experience and ran reasonably well.  Also, I rarely make it down to Provo and they have a really nice bike trail system that I enjoyed running on last year.


Running a night race is always a bit challenging on what to eat.  Granted the race started at 10pm so I had some time to digest my food before the race started.  I opted for a decent-sized stack of blueberry pancakes (at 4:30) and of course a can of beets around 7pm.  

I hit the road around 8pm and almost immediately got into heavy traffic.  It looked like there were a pair of stalled motorcycles near the fast lane and they are doing construction in the area, so there was no shoulder for them to get themselves out of the way.  Consequently there was a good mile or two backup of stop and go as gawkers proceeded through the area.  What should've been a 30 minute trip took nearly an hour.

Packet pickup was a breeze and I had about 40 minutes to kill (which went extremely fast) before the race started.

The Race

The race started at 10pm and about 100 half marathoners headed down along the Provo River Bike Trail.

Initially, the route was congested and I was hemmed in by people running 2 and 3 abreast.  I knew from my past experience, though, that the crowds would thin out.  Sure enough, after about half a mile I was able to get past people and be able to run at my own pace.

It was extremely warm but the river seemed to help keep the temperatures cooler.  Part of me wanted to hold back because I knew that I'd likely pay a price for going out too fast.

Being that this was a night race it was extremely tough to figure out what my pace was.  Granted, I had my Garmin but having to fiddle with it, while watching out for roots in the asphalt on the trail just didn't work.  I also was carrying a head lamp and my iPod shuffle (no phone this time).  Occasionally I would check the distance (there were no mile markers) but I wasn't terribly concerned with my pace.

I was pretty happy with the first half of the race except I did go out a little too fast.  I didn't see many other people in front of me when I reached the turn around point.  Although I knew the final 6.5 miles were going to be a challenge.  While my breathing seemed fine, I just felt incredibly thirsty and my stomach was sort of "off".  Also too, I had gas -- luckily the racers were spread far and few between.

For the first half of the race I pretty much hung with a few guys who were my age.  I was trying to keep up with a 1:50 pacer but he got off to a good start and I suspect he was running significantly faster than 1:50.

However, as the race progressed I wound up dropping the guys I was working with and by the time I was at mile 6 I had a young man within ear shot of me and no one behind me.  I knew I had a good shot at finishing in the top 10 and if I could hold my pace without blowing up too bad, I should cross in under 1:49,

The second half of the race went well but I knew I was hurting and the last 5K was a crawl.  I just couldn't muster up a second wind despite my head wanting to.  I was working with the same young man (it was his first time on the course and he seemed to want to take every wrong turn).  I also wound up catching one of the first women in the race and we were swapping positions every half mile or so.  It was also nice to work against the outgoing and incoming 10K / 5K racers (who had started at 11pm and 11:30 respectively)

Part of me was sort of holding back too.  I was a little worried about having another episode like I did in Helena.  Also I was having problems seeing.  I think the blinding lights from oncoming headlamps and the constant adjustment I was having to make after being blinded by them made this a challenging race.

The trail wasn't too bad, but there were definitely a few spots were I stumbled on a tree root that was cracking the pavement.  Definitely during the darkened portions of the trail, I was using my headlamp.

The first third of the race was on bike trail near "civilization".  There were people riding skateboards and there were parks near by, so it was a well-used section.  After about 3 miles, though, the trail gets more desolate and you are definitely in the "boonies".  There is heavy tree line blocking most of the moon's rays, so it was challenging to see.  Also, near the turn around point, you are very close to Utah Lake and a camping area.

Since this was the second time I've run this race, I knew the course (it is flat).  However, I came to a dead stop at about mile 8 as the trail forked.  I hadn't seen the fork on my way out but there really wasn't any marking on which way to go.  I wound up waiting for about 15 seconds for the man I had just passed to catch up with me.  We wound up taking the right fork (I think both trails led to the same spot) but it was disconcerting that it wasn't marked well.  The rest of the race was well marked though and other than that one spot I wasn't worried about getting lost.

Finish line before the race started


Water stops were also at 1.55, 3.10, 4.55 and 5.55.  Gatorade, gels, and water were served.  A few of the stations didn't really seem to know what they were doing.  Also I practically fell on my face when I went through the second station -- they had put the trash can right in the middle of the bike trail without anything in front of it to indicate that it was there.  I saw it at the last second and manage to sort of hurdle my way over it.  That could've been really bad.

The course came out short according to my Garmin.  Granted there were a few spots where my Garmin sort of stopped working because I was under a length bridge.  The 5K and 10K courses were spot on.

I was really surprised at how well I finished.  My time wasn't what I was hoping for, but overall, I finished pretty high up in the ranks.  I also won my age group (the results show I was second, but I think the first place guy was in the top 3 so he was pulled out).

After the race, I grabbed some peanut butter sandwiches and drank a ton of Powerade.  I also kept moving.  I only felt a tiny bit of "wooziness"

Also just as the majority of people were hanging around getting food and beverages, the host hotel's lawn sprinklers went on, soaking a lot of people.  Luckily, people had spare buckets to cover the sprinklers but it did create a wet and soggy lawn.

The race had a TON of women.  If you look at the results they outnumbered the guys 2 to 1.  Also the majority of the folks were in their twenties.  There weren't a lot of older folks.

This race series has really upgraded their medals over the years.  In 2012 I ran a sister race of this one and got a plastic flashing medal, which was nice, but definitely not top of the line.  This year's medals are heavy, have flashing lights and have a nice ribbon on them.  Definitely a show piece.  The t-shirt follows last year's theme (at first I thought they were recycling last year's shirts but the date had indeed been updated).

I really enjoyed my race and I wish my time had been better.  I think part of it was stomach issues and another part was that it was HOT.  I didn't feel 100% once the race started and part of me wasn't really in the mood to race.  Part of it may have been residual effects from the Helena Marathon two weeks ago.  Either way, I did place well and came home with some good swag.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

West Wendover Trip for 6/20


Being that it was Father's Day (as well as Shari and my 18th anniversary) we decided to hit West Wendover to celebrate.  As usual, the Wendover Peppermill group that we normally patronage had sent us a bunch of freebies: a free room, 2-for-1 buffet, 5x comps and $10 in free play.  With nothing else on the docket for the day, it was a pretty easy decision to head west for the night.

The Trip

We left the house just after 10:30 or so.  We weren't in any hurry other to get there early enough to enjoy the brunch but still give us enough time to gamble and get hungry again.  The trip there was largely uneventful and we showed up just after 12:20.

We activated our cards and I let Shari play the $10 in free play.  In short, she didn't have much luck at all on the trip.  She didn't come with a very large bankroll and subsequently she just didn't have any luck.

Before lunch though, I sat at Fu Dao Le and managed to eek out a very small profit:

We at our favorite buffet: the Oceano Buffet at Montego Bay.  As usual it was super good stuff and the two of us ate for $18.11 using the two-for-one pass.

After eating, I waddled over to a Fu Dao Le near the sports book and stuck a twenty in.  It was touch and go and as my twenty started to disappear, Fu Dao Le suddenly became very active.  Next thing I knew, my $10 had turned into $100 and then well over $250.

It was funny in the fact that I had a pair of older women (and Shari) sitting next to me and they could tell I was excited whenever I hit a bonus round.  And I was getting them fairly frequently.  These weren't small $5 - $10 bonus rounds, but actually $75 and $100 bonus rounds.  I had my own cheering section and to be honest, we were creating quite a bit of a raucous.

The high point of my "run"

My final cashout

I wound up playing close to 90 minutes and I realized that once my streak was over, that it was time to cash out.  Also, my streak pretty much lasted as long as the cheering ladies who were sitting next to me were there.  As soon as they took off, it seemed like Lady Luck had disappeared.

At that point we checked into the hotel and got our room.  Since it was a holiday and we were celebrating our anniversary they upgraded us to a pool side view, which was really nice.

View from the room
I wound up chilling in the room for a bit since it was sort of too warm to go to the pool.  We have had some really warm weather in Utah and it felt like a hot air dryer outside.

Closer to 6pm I headed down for a swim and a soak in the whirlpool:

After cleaning up, Shari and I gambled and sadly I didn't have much luck after that.  While it was awesome we were earning 5x comps I just wasn't getting anywhere with anything I played.  Again, it was as if Lady Luck had left me behind.

We wound up eating the Sunday night buffet for absolutely free with our comps (we also had enough comps to eat for free next time we go too!).


I slept okay that night. However, it seemed like air conditioner couldn't keep the room cool enough and I wound up feeling like I was roasting.  

Since I had to be to work on Monday I woke up at 6:15AM, cleaned up, through my stuff in my bag and made the 100 minute drive back to Salt Lake City.  I was totally expecting a lot of traffic once we hit the city, but to be honest it was completely smooth sailing all the way in.  It was sort of depressing to leave Wendover in the morning before eating or doing a run, but it had to be done.

This trip, like the last, wasn't too profitable.  Despite my early run, I wound up losing about $100. Shari, we figured, lost about $50.  Considering we largely ate for free and had a free room (and it was entertaining) it sort of all balanced out.

Hopefully I have better luck next time though.