Sunday, November 29, 2015

This week in running 11/22 - 11/28

Sporting my new Thanksgiving 5K shirt

DayMileage / WorkoutComments
SundayOffHiked about twelve miles
Monday7Easy tonight. Legs were dead from the hike
Tuesday9.25Solid run throughout. Beautiful night for a run
WednesdayOffResting up for the 5K
Thursday3.5Bountiful Thanksgiving Day 5K
Friday6Chilly and Hilly run along the Utah / Nevada Border
Saturday1310 miles at a solid clip, final 3 I was pretty gassed
Total miles for the week: 38.75 - YTD: 2189

Week's Summary

This week I decided to dial back the mileage a bit.  It was also a week with a 5K race in the middle of the week.

I really wanted to do well at the 5K and I felt like I ran a pretty decent race.  However, I think the elements were a bit against me.  With a strong wind, it made it extra challenging and I figure that is what cost me my chance of getting under 24 minutes.

This race does serve as a painful reminder that I need to buckle down and do the following two things:

1) Drop a bit of weight.  When I was 165-ish is when I raced extremely well.  These days I am pushing 175+. Ten pounds may not seem like much, but it is 10 pounds of extra blubber.

2)  Work on my speed.  I do a lot of runs between half marathon and marathon pace (which is a comfortable pace for me for 5 - 7 miles).  I should be doing a few more workouts where I actually push myself a bit.

Scenic Run

Our annual Thanksgiving tradition these days is to held out to West Wendover, NV.  We don't have any family here in Utah and so my obligations are minimal.  We take advantage of that by heading to the casinos across the border.  They have a wonderful buffet for Thanksgiving.  We also get to stay for cheap and in general get a chance to blow off some steam for a day or two.

One of my favorite things to do is to go exploring in the desert north of town.  Friday morning, my 46th birthday by the way, I decided to throw on a pair of paper thin gloves, a windbreaker, a hat and shorts and head out into the desert.  The problem was that it was 23F with 20 mph northern winds.  Guess which direction I was running?  North.

I managed to survive the run and I did dip into an adjunct canyon where I was sheltered from the wind for a bit.  I tried climbing a trail that led to what I presume is a scenic overlook but the snow and ice were sort of bad.  I was starting to get worried that I was actually going to freeze to death out there (note there is no cell phone service just minutes out of town).

Luckily the run back into town was all downhill and with the wind to my back.  The 3 miles back were awesome.

I did manage to get some wonderful pictures of Leppy Peak and the surrounding snow covered canyon:

Upcoming Races

12/12: Elko Snowflake Festival 5K (Elko, Nevada -- maybe)
02/06: Winter Striders 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)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

South Davis Recreation Center Thanksgiving 5K Race Recap - Bountiful Utah

Official Time: 24:32
Placement: 3rd in age group, top 40 finish
Results: Soon
Race Website:Here
Weather: Lower 30's with 20 mph eastern wind
Garmin DumpHere

Mile Time Comments
1 7:47 Hemmed in at the start. Saving energy for the last half. Downhill though
28:06Turn a corner and go into the wind. Ugh. Uphills start too
38:06I was actually running quite well here. Did not die
3.080:31Push to the finish
Total Miles: 3.08 - 24:32


Every year I make it a tradition to run the South Davis Recreation Center's 5K.  There are other races closer to me but I really enjoy this race.  They give you a really nice experience for a whopping $20 and is probably the best bargain there is when it comes to Thanksgiving races.  I also know the course like the back of my hand, having run it at least half a dozen times.

The Race

I didn't have too many expectations for this race.  I felt good but I knew it was going to be sort of tough on account there was a strong wind coming from the mountains to the east.  At times, throughout the course, it seemed to be in your face and at other times it was at your back.  Most of the time, though, it was blowing you to the side.

It was also pretty cold.  I wound up wearing shorts, a t-shirt and my wind breaker.  I sort of wished I had brought a hat but in my haste in leaving I had forgotten it.

I rolled in around 8 AM and got my shirt and swag bag.  As usual, it was pretty easy and it was filled with lots of goodies, including a nice tech shirt.

Nice long sleeve shirt

I wound up making small talk with people until 8:45.  I did a warmup and changed into my running gear.  I was in the chutes by 9AM.

Unfortunately the race didn't start until 9:10.  They are almost always late at this race for starts and whatever warm up I did was pretty much for naught.  By the time the race actually started my quads felt so stiff and it took a good quarter mile to loosen up.

My goal in this race was to coast the first mile and dig deep the subsequent miles.  Starting at about mile 1.25, the race goes uphill.  They aren't back breaking hills but it is a gentle rise.

When the wind was blowing in my face, I managed to tuck behind someone.  I still had a lot of power left for the final mile.  Normally I have to grind on this but I was actually passing people and for the first time I ran mile 3 the same as mile 2.  I probably should've pushed it a little harder in the middle miles.

I didn't really know what I was running despite my Garmin.  I was just really focused on running as fast as I could and not get too hung up on time.


I crossed the finish line in 24:32.  I thought for sure I was going to break 24 as my pace seemed really solid.  Again, I had really been studying my pace throughout the race though other than peaking at mile 2 and mile 3 pace.

I was one of the first to finish (there were lots of kids and families running the 5K) and I had a chance to get my results.  Initially it said I was in fourth for my age group, which would've knocked me out of contention for a prize.  However, in the past, I've been burned before and if someone in my age group finished in the top 3, I would be bumped up.

Finisher's Medal

It was a LONG wait -- over an hour before they posted the results on a wall and sure enough I had been pushed to 3rd place.  I had to wait a bit more, while huddled under a gas lamp with 30 other runners until they called my name to get my pie.  They really need to get awards handed out sooner.  Lots of people hadn't dressed for the elements (I had had time to go back to my car and get fresh clothes and a heavy jacket on).

Other than the organizational snafus (a late start and lengthy wait for awards) this race is one I'll likely continue to do.  Again, for $20 it is a super nice 5K.  They had fruit, Gatorade and Corner Bakery came out and had muffins for everyone.  I really like the finisher's medal too... nice touch.

I am disappointed with my time -- as usual.  It isn't out of line considering my other 5K times of late and being I've done so little speed work.  Also, I think I held back a little too much at the start.  Looking at my previous results on the same course, I think I took it too easy.  I also have to account a bit for the strong winds.  Most people felt they hindered more than helped.

I am happy to finish in the money though and the pie should be the trouble I went through in waiting to get it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Burch Hollow Trail - Millcreek Canyon, Millcreek Utah


This past Sunday I was looking for a hike to do.  Of late, I've been exploring Millcreek Canyon.  It tends to be a little lower elevation and thus should have a bit less snow.  Also, this is the time of year to venture into it on account there are generally less people willing to put up with the cold temperatures.  The canyon seems to be a super busy place for runners and hikers alike.

I made the 15 minute journey to the canyon and drove another few miles to the Church Fork Trailhead parking lot.  The parking lot is about 4 miles from the entry gate and is clearly marked.

A few weeks ago I did the Church Fork Trail that took me to Grandeur Peak.  This time, I took the trail east on the Pipeline trail for about 1.5 miles.  I then had to take another spoke for another 1.5 miles before taking another 2 mile hike to the top.  I definitely could've parked in Elbow Canyon and gotten a lot closer.

Either way, the Pipeline portion and the spoke trail are reasonably flat and were suitable for running.  In fact it was still fairly busy with a variety of runners and dog walkers.  Once I jumped on the official Burch Hollow Trail, it became a bit more arduous.  With the elevation climb, the trail got thinner and I saw less and less people.

Despite the 28F degree weather at the start, I quickly tied my jacket around my backpack.  I certainly didn't need it on this hike as I was working up a pretty good sweat.

The trail was muddy as we've had some snow in the past few days and the sun had melted most of it.

The view from the top was worth the effort it took to get up there.  I got some awesome views of Gobbler's Knob and the canyons on the other side of I-80.  There is definitely more areas to explore up there but it was snowed in and I hadn't really brought a lot of supplies up for that long of a hike (I had anticipated about a 5 mile hike one way).

Coming down was a joy and I managed to run / walk most of it.

Enjoy the photos!

The View from the top -- looking at East Canyon

The View from the top -- looking at East Canyon

Typical segment of trail

The tough ascension part

The View from the top -- looking at East Canyon

The View from the top -- looking at East Canyon

The View from the top -- looking at East Canyon

Looking at Gobbler's Knob from the Burch Hollow Trail

Sunday, November 22, 2015

This week in running 11/15 - 11/21

DayMileage / WorkoutComments
Sunday26.75Las Vegas Marathon
Saturday14Garmin Dump - 12 at 9:13 pace
Total miles for the week: 59.75 - YTD: 2150.25

Week's Summary

This week was all about recovery.  Being that I ran the Las Vegas Marathon, I was feeling pretty heavy legged up until about Friday.  Most of this week's runs, with the exception of Saturday's were easy and just enjoying the cool fall weather.

On the plus side, I did finish my eighth marathon this year.  While it certainly didn't go to plan, I am not distraught over it.  I just wasn't as excited about it this year and I suspect I was a little burned out and tired.  It also didn't help that I way overate in the days leading up to the event.

I still enjoy running, but I definitely need a break from marathon running.  I've done 4 since September so it's been a busy fall.

The question is, though, what I am training for and what is my next goal?  I guess time will tell, but I am enjoying staying fit and seeing the sites.

Upcoming Races

11/26: South Davis Rec Center Turkey Trot (5K) (Confirmed)
12/12: Elko Snowflake Festival 5K (Elko, Nevada -- maybe)
02/06: Winter Striders 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 (Maybe)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

2015 Las Vegas Marathon Trip Recap

Yours truly standing outside the Mirage


Half the fun of going to a different city to run a marathon is the process of having fun before and after running the race.  Las Vegas is a city I know pretty well and one I always enjoy visiting.

Mostly this account is something for me -- something that I can look back a year or two down the road and remember all the little things I did while visiting Vegas.  

Friday November 13

The plan for Friday was to make it to Cedar City, UT.  Cedar City is about 3.25 hours south of us on the I-15.  

I got off of work at my normal time and even managed to squeeze in a very short shake out run.  Upon getting back home, I finished the last of my packing, ate and then jumped in the car just shy of 7 PM.  I had checked the traffic and it looked heavy -- particularly through the point of the mountain where SLC county and Utah county connect.

I got on the freeway and it war largely smooth sailing -- for a whopping three miles before it came to crawl.  As far as nightmarish traffic goes, this was relatively short-lived and after getting into Utah county it was largely smooth sailing.  Unfortunately, it take about 30 minutes more than usual.

Around 10:30 we made it to the Cedar City Super 8.  It didn't look like much from the outside, but it sufficed for a quick night and it was only like $60. We slept pretty well, with the exception of a knock on our wall and a random hang-up on our motel phone... perhaps the walls were thin and our neighbor heard us talking.  Either way it was creepy.

Saturday November 14

We got up pretty early and our first destination for the morning was to hit Mesquite, Nevada.  I am a fan of the Virgin River Casino Buffet.  It is cheap and good (as far as cheap buffets go).  It would also serve as a fuel stop.  I did grab a quick snack at the Super 8 breakfast, but I was clearly saving room for the "real" meal.

It was really nice to only drive a few hours and hit up the casino.  We were there for the tail-end of breakfast, whereupon they shut down the buffet for an hour for lunch.  We ALWAYS run into this problem and I never get the hours straight.

Luckily we dodged the Saturday morning breakfast lunch (which included the entire Elko football team) and we ate for $15.  Delicious.

The Virgin River Casino hasn't updated many of their slot machines since the last time I was there.  I played a little bit and wound up winning a tiny bit on Wonder Woman.  Virgin River had been sending us free buffet passes and free play vouchers all summer, but we had nothing so we didn't stick around very long.

We drove the final hour to Vegas and I got my bib / t-shirt for the Vegas Marathon:

I made the arduous trip to the Linq Hotel, using my trusty phone's navigator to make my way to the parking garage.  The Linq Hotel's parking lot is the absolutely worst.  They have these huge, load bearing poles in the middle of their lot which makes parking a total pain.  They were marked up with previous victims and I was super careful not to wreck my car on one.

The hotel was nice though.  The room was a bit cramped, but a lot better than I thought it was going to be.  The front desk was also super cool in getting us to a quiet room.  At first we were over the outdoor band's stage but they moved us to a much quieter room.  Props to them. In fact, I am happy to report that I slept great every day I was there.

Shari and I then wandered around.  I was not impressed with the Linq's Casino.  It was obnoxiously loud and I noticed a lot of the familiar machines that I like to play didn't have progressive jackpots on them.  They were all stuck at the minimal jackpot payout.  To me that is a sign of a super tight casino.  I didn't gamble more than a few bucks there (on video blackjack) and took my business across the street to the Mirage.

I discovered that Bally's had another game similar to Fu Dao Le called Dragon Spin.  I actually win a nominal amount each time I played this and the mini jackpot seemed to trigger quite frequently.  Fu Dao Le, my favorite slot machine was a total bust the entire trip.  I really need to find another machine.

For dinner, we had a 2-for-1 pass at the Mirage Buffet.  We met my friend Dennis, who is a runner friend of mine from Illinios.  The Mirage buffet was decent but needs help.  They cheaped out on the crab legs -- they were thin and required some work.  The food was lukewarm at times and for the money, it seemed barely worth it.  I did eat quite a bit though.

Afterwards we headed over to the Bellagio to see the fall garden.  Normally this is incredible, but this year it seemed ho-hum.  Still, it is free and interesting:

 Dennis, Shari and I then went to Dennis's place.  He lives over at the Veer and we were treated to some amazing views of the strip from the 37th floor:

Imagine this being your view from your treadmill

Sunday November 15

I woke up fairly early, fully intending to eat a mild breakfast in preparation for the marathon.  We both wanted to try the legendary Hash House a go go.  However, it was a solid hour wait.

We decided to make our way over to the Harrah's Buffet. Normally, I don't eat a buffet before a marathon.  I know better to eat a massive meal even 8 hours before racing.  However, the buffet had zero line and I told myself I'd eat a solid breakfast but not kill myself there (I normally don't leave a buffet until I am stuffed).  I certainly didn't eat $25 worth of food but it was convenient.

We killed some more time around the area.  Around noon we started our journey to Mandalay Bay, where the race would start at 4:30.

I wound up gambling a bit at Monte Carlo. I dumped $20 into Fu Dao Le and lost it fairly quickly, but again, had a nice run on a Dragon Spin.  

Upon arriving at Mandalay Bay, I sat in the sports book while Shari did some shopping.  We eventually gambled a bit and I couldn't win for the life of me.  Shari, however, found a Fred Flintstone game that she had massive paydirt on.  In total, over the course of an hour or more, we managed to pull nearly a $1000 out of it.

A little twenty dollar bill decided to have babies
At 4:30, I ran the marathon, which you can read here.

After the race, I cleaned up.  I used to be pretty decimated after a marathon, but I think the mega-miles I've been running enable me to at least walk around without limping after a race.  While I was certainly chilled, a hot shower helped.  We decided to try the Hash House a-go-go and only had a 20 minute wait.

Their selection for vegetarian stuff is pretty limited, but they have HUGE portions.  I was finally stymied by a Las Vegas restaurant portion sizes.  I had a pumpkin pancake which was the size of my head.  To be honest, it was a bit too much and normally after a marathon my appetite is completely shot.  I was only able to eat about 50% of it...

We wandered around a bit more before turning in for the night.

Monday November 16

In the morning, I woke up and we had plans to eat at the Bellagio buffet.  We had another two-for-one pass.  Best of all, the comps desk said we had a $50 food credit coming our way (we aren't sure how we got this) and we could use the VIP line.  Very nice.  

The Bellagio buffet was delicious, as usual.  Their buffet seems more like fine dining then a hog fest and I really enjoyed their food.  We also discovered they serve Douwe Eggbert Coffee.  I don't normally drink it, but this stuff was smooth.

I gambled a bit more in the Bellagio and had zero luck.  

We returned to the Linq and grabbed the car and headed out to Summerlin.  We have a few casinos we like to hit and we had another 2-for-1 dinner pass for the Red Rock Resort in west Summerlin.

After some initial traffic we arrived at the Suncoast.  They have a huge casino and it had been about a year since we had last stepped foot in the place.  Not much had changed and I found one of my favorite slot machines: Leonidas, which I managed to eek a very small profit out of.

I finally did get a long run of action on a Multi-Strike Video Poker game.  I managed to hit 4 deuces several times on high pay lines.  At one point, I had nearly $200 in the machine.  I did cash out with a solid $100 profit.  I swiped my card before leaving and found out they had given me a free lunch buffet due to my play.  Ugh, so tempted.

By the time we took off it was dark.  Luckily, we weren't far from the Red Rock Resort.  This hotel is absolutely stunning and high-class.  Neither of us were hungry, so we killed nearly two hours in there circling the casino.

I managed to make some money playing video black jack.  In fact, most of the trip I was pretty successful in sticking money in and making a few bucks in profit.

I also let my hair down and played a Britney Spears slot machine.  We had witnessed a guy who started with $20 cash out with over $500 playing it.  It seemed to be popping the bonus round a lot.  After he left, I jumped on it and actually had a lot of fun playing it.  The bonus round did come up for me quite a bit, but I never made very much profit.  As goofy as it looked, I would play it again.

Around 8 o'clock we sauntered up to the buffet.  It wasn't too bad and it was quiet.  The food was hit and miss but mostly hits.  They had an excellent made-to-order spaghetti station and the desserts were good too.  The place is just stunning too.

Like I died and went to heaven
Sporting my Vegas Marathon shirt

After getting back to the hotel, I killed some time in the Flamingo, winning a few bucks at video blackjack.  Like a typical Caesar's casino though, the machines didn't allow splits or double-downs, so I gave them very little play.  I really liked what they did to the Linq Park.  They did a great job:

I wasn't happy with what they did to O'Sheas.  O'Sheas used to be kind of a hole-in-the-wall casino that was dated.  Sure it was a dive, but it had its own sense of charm.  

Now it is an Irish bar with insanely loud music.  I don't know how one would interact with the dealers that work there.  I guess I am too older now.  It was also filled with beer pong players...  I wonder how the beer tastes after the ball has fallen to the ground a dozen times:

Tuesday November 17

We were planning on eating at the Virgin River casino again, but since we had $50 in resort credit to use, we decided to go to Mandalay Bay.  Their buffet is often overlooked and we had zero line when we got there at the prime time.

Their buffet was good although to be honest I wasn't terribly hungry. I think I was totally "buffet'd" out.  For free, though, it was a good meal and they had some unique items included dried fruit and some deep fried french toast sticks that were oh so yum.

I tried my luck on Shari's lucky Fred Flintstone game, but I got zero on it. Frustrated, we decided to head on our after wandering through the Luxor and doing a tiny bit of window shopping.

We also saw that they were promoting an upcoming boxing match.  I know next to nothing about this sort of stuff, but it was sort of nice to see some of the hoopla:

We made a quick pit stop in Mesquite to see if we had any free play on our cards.  We didn't but I managed to get on a semi-hot Wonder Woman slot machine and made out with a small profit.  Not wishing to press my luck further and leave on a high note, we took off and made it back to SLC by 8:30 PM.


Well, Shari came back a big winner.  She left with about $100 and came back with just shy of a thousand.  I didn't fare as well.  I made some small profits, but I took a bath playing fu dao le and trying to get Fred Flintstone to hit.  I think I've had my run on Fu Dao Le and it is time to switch.

We ate most of our meals at a discount too.  We both play a lot of MyVegas on Facebook and if you are willing to invest a few minutes, it can save you a lot of money on your trip to Vegas.  Best of all, we still have points to eat for cheap next time we go.

It is still amazing to me to see the transformation of Vegas.  It is definitely geared for a younger crowd.  The gambling is a lot tighter and a lot of the casinos have started to cheap out on the food without lowering the price.  

We still had fun though and look forward to returning on New Years Eve!