Saturday, May 28, 2016

This Week in Running 5/22 - 5/28

DayMileage / WorkoutComments
SundayOffRecovery from the Ogden Marathon
Monday5100% easy
Tuesday5Just an easy run here
Wednesday5Medium paced
Thursday7Actually a solid run with the last 3 miles at tempo pace
FridayOffWalked several miles though.
Saturday14Long run along the Jordan River @ 9:30 pace
Total miles for the week: 36 - YTD: 1000.5

Week's Summary

Well this week was primarily about recoverying from the Ogden Marathon, which I did last Saturday.  I took most of the week early, primarily just burning calories and making sure nothing was broken. During the last few miles of a marathon, generally speaking, my gait doesn't look very good so naturally I am using muscles I don't normally do -- often at the risk of injury.  So you never know exactly what is going to be hurting.

I am happy to report that other than some tiredness, it was definitely all systems go.

I had a solid run on Thursday.  I started off at a medium pace and at the turn around a guy, about half my age, was coming up behind me.  He was working at a decent clip and I figured I'd try to stay ahead of him.  I suspect he figured out what I was doing but either way, the final 3 miles of my run was definitely pretending I was being chased.  I *really* need to find a training partner.

No Racing This Weekend

I actually didn't race this weekend -- and it wasn't because there weren't any races in town.  Actually there was a half marathon about 3 miles from my house on the route I generally run on every day.  My heart sort of broke on this morning's run as I saw the initial lead pack of half marathoners and later full marathoners making their way south along the trail.  

On the other hand though, the pressure was off for me this morning and it was nice to give a thumbs up to the runners.  It was also interesting to take stock of the runner's facial features. You could tell who were having a good race and who were suffering.  I ran into most of the full marathoners around their mile 12 (or so) and I could tell right away who was having a good race and who wasn't.

The marathon was the Jordan River Marathon and it looked lightly attended (like less than a hundred people for the half and full).  I would like to run this one at some point as it is practically in my backyard.  However, it is sort of at a bad time of year:  the race market is flooded at this point AND late May tends to be warm.    

1000 Miles

I hit 1000 miles for the year.  According to my calculations, I am running about 6.7 miles a day.  I am down from last year, which is okay in my book.  I am still running a lot and staying injury free.  

Upcoming Races

06/04: Oquirrh Mountain Half Marathon (maybe)
06/??: Looking at the Lamoille Canyon Marathon. Perhaps Casper again?
06/24: Utah Midnight Half Marathon - Provo Utah (Confirmed)
10/09: Lake Tahoe Marathon (Very Probable -- hotel booked)
11/13: Las Vegas Marathon (Confirmed)
04/15: Salt Lake City Marathon (Confirmed) (2017)

Friday, May 27, 2016

This Week in Running 5/15 - 5 /21

DayMileage / WorkoutComments
Sunday7Easy run
Monday4100% easy
Saturday26.5Ogden Marathon
Total miles for the week: 41.5 - YTD: 964.5

Week's Summary

Did I really run only 4 times this past week?

First off, I was really tired.  If you review my blog, I've basically run 7 races of longer than half marathon distance in a period of 8 weeks -- only taking Easter weekend off.

Suffice to say, after the Fireman's Half Marathon, I was pretty dead all week.  In fact on a few of my 4 mile easy runs, I was gassed.  I began to think -- wow if I am struggling to run 4 miles, how in the world am I going to be able to run 26 this coming weekend?

Sure enough, the Ogden marathon really didn't go as planned.  And I think to some extent it is because I've done a LOT of racing without a lot of recovery.

Now, I can pretty much "mail in" a race and call it a day.  But I honestly do care about my times and while I like to do races merely to do them, I know that is not the way to get the best performances.  Along with racing / training, one must take some recovery time.

So as hard as it was, I am not racing this coming weekend (gasp!), despite a half and a full marathon right by my house.

I am hoping to get in some easy miles this week and build myself up to my next "A" race.

One more good thing that is happening is that the Utah weather continues to be fairly cool for late spring.  This has enabled me to get in some more quality miles at a quality pace.  I hate summer heat and this extended cool period has been a boon.

Upcoming Races

06/??: Looking at the Lamoille Canyon Marathon. Perhaps Casper again?
06/24: Utah Midnight Half Marathon - Provo Utah (Confirmed)
10/09: Lake Tahoe Marathon (Very Probable -- hotel booked)
11/13: Las Vegas Marathon (Confirmed)
04/15: Salt Lake City Marathon (Confirmed) (2017)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

2016 Ogden Marathon Race Recap - Ogden Utah

Official Time: 4:24:04
Placement: 767 out of 1559, 467 out of 838 of men, 53rd place in age group
Results: Here
Race Website:Here
Weather: low 40's at start with light rain, swirling wind.  Warmer and sunny at end.
Garmin RouteHere

18:55Off to a decent start. Felt a little fast but I am going downhill
69:08Into a groove.  This is about the pace I wanted to hit
99:43Blasted by wind and some rolling hills begin at this point
129:57The half way point can't come soon enough. Buffeted by winds
1410:45Bathroom break at the half way point. At this point I think my Garmin was a little confused
1510:42Hills begin here
179:36I think my garmin lost connection here. 
1910:05Enjoying the down hill part. Really wish I had more in the tank to take advantage of them
2210:22Some how able to run this pace despite feeling like I am crawling.
2410:40At this point I wanted the race to be over. So tired, so miserable feeling
2511:42How many more quarter miles left?
26.565:58Finally finished.
Total Miles: 26.56* - 4:24:04

*My Garmin appears to have lost connection in a few spots and I think it kept assuming I was running while using the restroom.  After about mile 13 all splits are questionable.


I am not 100% sure why I signed up for the Ogden Marathon.  Sure, I am trained to run a marathon, but I've just finished a pretty lengthy series of long-distance races and I was bordering on the burned out line for quite a while.

I think when I thought about it, I noticed that the weather was good and I figured the course was a fast one and after all I had done the winter training series, so why not just go and see what happens.

I had also done the 2013 and 2015 editions and I didn't have the best race in 2013 but did extremely well in 2015.  I was hoping to perhaps close out my crazy race series with a bang.


I used an extended lunch hour on Friday to make the roughly 45 minute (one-way) trip to Weber State University to pick up my bib.  I remember back in 2013 when I picked up my bib the packet pickup was in the museum at the Union Station -- it was cramped and really wasn't conducive for browsing.  In the past two years it has come along way and there are now plenty of vendors and stuff to check out.  Either way, since I was on my lunch "hour" I grabbed my packet took a quick look around and headed back to work.

I had toyed with getting a hotel room but in the past I have been unable to sleep and it really only saves me about 30 minutes of drive time.  I figured I'd save the money and just get up a bit early to hit the race.

Despite sleeping at home, I only slept marginally better and was up before 2:45.  I had to get ready (eat) and be out the door by 3:20 AM-ish to make a bus in downtown Ogden.  Previous experience has taught me to get there around 4:15 and I've never had any problems finding parking.  In fact, the last 3 years I've parked about 5 minutes away from the finish line and in roughly the same spot.

By 4:30 I was on a bus and 15 minutes later we were on our way to the top of Ogden Canyon.  I wound up chatting with a fellow runner on the way up and we compared notes on marathons and such.  The bus was HOT... it was like everyone was afraid to put their windows down. 

I had brought a bunch of clothes and supplies as experience had taught me I had a good 90 minute wait.  The cool temperatures and mild sun forecast had turned into a prediction of rain and wind -- and threats of thunder storms. I was a bit relieved when I saw that the deluge was nothing more than a sprinkle.

Since I was on one of the first buses I had a pretty good opportunity to find a nice spot by the fire, of which they had many.  I put on my warm clothes and put up my umbrella and pretty much vegetated for the next 70 minutes.  Unfortunately I didn't get to meet anyone up at the top and it was just nice to sit there, although the smoke from the wet fire didn't exactly help with breathing.

Thirty minutes before race time I used the bathroom and got my stuff into the bag truck before lining up at the race start.

The Race

The weather site had predicted that the rain would stop around 8AM.  With a 7:15 start I figured I'd have to endure an hour, at most.  Turns out, the rain would last well until mile 17 or so.  Compound that with swirling winds that almost never seemed to be at your back.  I knew I was going to be hurting in terms of being overheated but the fear of hypothermia did set in.

I had toyed with going out lightly dressed -- just tech shirts, but I opted to keep my faithful windbreaker which has served me well through many marathons.  I also went with some throw away gloves and two tech shirts and a hat.  Within a few miles my gloves were soaked through and my feet were wet.  

By the half way point, I was thoroughly soaked but not terribly cold.  Sure my hands were cold and my fingers made it hard to fish out gels out of my pocket, but my core wasn't bad.  However, I was worried about getting hypothermia.

The first few miles are downhill and I took it easy.  I hadn't been feeling 100% all week -- not in terms of physical health but just "tired".  And I knew that very likely today was going to be challenging.  I wanted to hold onto 9 minute miles, recover a bit in the middle miles and then have enough energy to bang it down Ogden Canyon (starting around mile 17).  Around mile 7 you are introduced to Huntsville / Eden and the course has more rolling hills.  The wind at various points was in your face or at your back.  It was hard to judge where or what it was going to do.  

Crowd support during the middle miles was iffy at best.  I expected it to be thin.  The Eden area isn't heavily populated and I suppose having 1500 runners tying up traffic in your bucolic neighborhood doesn't exactly bode well for us.  But a few did brave the elements to cheer us on, which was appreciated.

That plan was going pretty well up until about the half way point.  At that point I was pretty tired and while I had hit my half way split of roughly 2:02 I felt like my leg muscles were simply dead and not responding.  It was as if the cold air had frozen them.  Also, the rain was more intense at this point and I couldn't even enjoy the scenery.  So I kept thinking about how tired I was and how cold and miserable it was.

I did make a bio break at the half way point.  I managed to drop my Gu on the floor of the bathroom, which meant it was going in the trash.  My hands were so cold and I was so wet that I was fumbling with everything.  Luckily the race had PLENTY of support. They had the Cliff-bar GU brand, which I don't use regularly.  The vanilla tasted fine but seemed to not sit well with me and I didn't want to chance an emergency bathroom break.

I also saw a few people heading to shelter as well and aid station crews were asking if people were alright.  I suspected a lot of people who hadn't layered up with the clothing were calling it quits and that mentally made me nervous.

After the half way point, there is a bit of a climb and it is a grind here.  I knew it was coming but it is always tougher.  You want to see the top of Ogden Canyon but yet it is still a few miles away.

By the time I reached the top of Ogden Canyon I was really desperate.  At least for the next 5 miles I knew I could get some nice downhill and hopefully make up some of my time.  But hope as I might, my legs were just dead.  The rain had largely stopped and the canyon was cool and shaded.  It was kind of fun watching the roaring Ogden River on my right as I made my way down the canyon.

I was totally downtrodden when the 4:15 pacer passed me.  I had hopes that I had banked enough time to at least get 4:0X, but I didn't even have the energy or spirit to try and make some ground.  I just wanted the race to be over.

Only photo I took on the course
The final 4 miles or so is on the Ogden bike trail.  There is plenty of crowd support along here and in the past I've managed to eek out some decent miles.  Here, with no downhills (it was largely flat), I was forced to churn away.  I was being passed by lots of runners and I just wanted to finish so badly. 

The weather had turned from chilly and rainy to almost warm and sunny.  In fact, I was now overheating.  With a wet jacket (that was getting drier) and two shirts I was now overdressed.  I wound up taking off my jacket and carrying it the final 3 miles, which wasn't fun.

I had only managed to get down about 1.5 gels on my run and that might've been part of the problem. Also in the early miles I found myself not thirsty per say, but grabbing Gatorade at the aide stations but not really drinking it.  I'd take a sip, swallow some and mostly spit out the rest.  So I really think I was dehydrated and under fueled by the time I desperately crossed the finish line.

I do believe I saw Bart Yasso who helped push me to the finish.  He was a guest at the race and I think he was watching the 4-hour-something marathoners finish.  


Well, this race didn't go to plan at all.  I just struggled almost from mile 7 until the finish.  I ran into a similar situation when I ran the 2013 edition.  I think in 2013 I was under trained.  This version, I am over trained and have done way too much in the past few weeks. 

With two not-so-good races in the past few weeks, it is probably time to take notice and take a bit of a break from racing.

That being said, the organizers of the Ogden Marathon did a fantastic job.  They had plenty of aid stations that were well-stocked with enthusiastic volunteers.  The aid stations had Gatorade, water and gels and food.  Also there were plenty of bathrooms.  I only had to wait about 5 - 10 minutes 30 minutes before the race start to use one.  Also, there were plenty of on-course bathrooms.  

The waiting area, as usual was a bit lengthy, but the time went by fast.  I am glad the rain wasn't worse.  It could've been a monsoon and there is very little shelter to be had.

The shirt was nice.  The woman's version is a purple and the men's was a black long-sleeved shirt.  Very thick and has the Ogden city logo on it.  Sort of wish it had said "marathon" somewhere on the front of it in more prominent letters though.

The finisher's medal is a heavy duty one and one that is worthy of the price of admission (I registered about a week before the race closed, so I paid about $115).

Nice sign of rain at the finish

The finish line was teaming with cheering fans.  It was nice to get a warm reception.  

They had plenty of food and drink at the end.  They had the usual bananas, orange slices, sports drink and chocolate milk.  They also had Pepsi, which certainly quelled my churning stomach.  I grabbed not one, but two Pepsis and circled around until I felt like my stomach was going to be okay and that I'd be able to get my gear.  

I didn't really explore the finish line.  I was pretty miffed by my time and while I wasn't distraught, I really felt I should've been done better.  Gear claim was a snap and I got my stuff and actually this year I remembered where I had parked and had zero problems finding my car.  In the years past I've had to ask people where Brewski's Bar was in order to find my car.

Overall, though, this race won't have very fond memories for me.  Definitely not because of the organization or the course but it is all on me.  Yes, the weather was challenging, two I hadn't really fueled very well through the race, and three, I've been doing a LOT of long distance racing without much recovery.  So it all added up to a fairly predicable "slow" marathon.  

In reality, I was doing this one to do it, but at the same time, I do care to some degree about my time.  This race was definitely a wake-up call that I need to dial it back -- at least for a bit in order to recover.

Overall though, if you are reading and want to know if you should do this race, I would encourage you to do it.  The course is very scenic and the volunteers at the aid stations are among the best I've seen in a race.  I still dislike the long way at the start, but in the point-to-point races they seem to be par for the course.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

This Week in Running 5/8 - 5/14

Funny things I see on my run

DayMileage / WorkoutComments
Sunday10Felt great today. Rainy and sort of chilly.
Monday5100% easy
Tuesday8Medium paced with a fast finish
Wednesday81 mile warmup, 5K in 25, 4 mile cool down.
Thursday7All easy
FridayOffRest day - 3 miles of walking
Saturday12.75Unified Firefighters Half Marathon
Total miles for the week: 50.75 - YTD: 923

Approaching the finish line at the half marathon

Week's Summary

I was really motivated this week.  Having coming come off an age group win (even though it was a small race) I felt empowered to really take my training up a notch or two.  I had a wonderful 10 mile run in the drizzle on Sunday.  Only a few die hards were on the trail and I felt like I got in a decent workout.  I wasn't wearing a watch or GPS, so I don't know what my pace was, but it felt strong.

Tuesday, I was going to do a speed workout but I had had a big lunch and it had sat in my stomach for a while.  It also made me feel sluggish and despite coming home from work and resting for an hour didn't give me much gumption to go out and do it.   I did make up for it and did a 5K "time-trial" of sorts on Wednesday.  It wasn't an all out 5K but I definitely was working.  My pace was probably somewhere slower than 5K but faster than 10K.  What was nice, was at the end I felt like I had at least another mile or two at that pace.  My splits were 8:00, 8:07 and 8:11.

This coming week will be a taper week.  All the racing and hard training are starting to take a toll on my body.  I don't have any huge goals for the Ogden Marathon other than to finish strong.  We'll see how the weather is and how things go and work from there.

What, No Race Pictures?!?!?

I got an email from the Colorado Marathon people the other day congratulating me on my accomplishment and a link to some pictures that they had taken at the finish line.  Awesome, I thought, let's see what they have.

I searched for my bib number and got no hits.  What?  The pictures were ordered by time and were of the finish line.  Figuring all I would have to do is look for roughly 11:07(ish) and I'd find myself.  I browsed the pictures before and after and still nothing.

Then I noticed that for about 15 minutes, from 11 until 11:15 there were NO pictures taken.  

I am not heartbroken over it.  I have a lot of pictures of me running, so I'll live.  Just strange.

Upcoming Races

Well, I took the plunge and signed up for the full Ogden Marathon.  I've done the race in 2013 and 2015, both rainy years.  The weather -- so far -- looks decent.  I wouldn't mind a little bit of rain -- I run best when it is wet and cold(ish).  That race will put the final word on the race circuit I've done this winter / spring.

06/??: Looking at the Lamoille Canyon Marathon. Perhaps Casper again?
06/24: Utah Midnight Half Marathon - Provo Utah (Confirmed)
10/09: Lake Tahoe Marathon (Very Probable -- hotel booked)
11/13: Las Vegas Marathon (Confirmed)
04/15: Salt Lake City Marathon (Confirmed) (2017)

Unified Firefighter's Outreach Half Marathon Race Recap - Herriman Utah

Official Time: 1:57:55
Placement: 19th overall, 3rd in the 45 - 49
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Upper 50's at start, upper 60's at finish.  Swirling winds from the south.
Garmin Dump: Here

Mile Time Comments
1 8:40 Taking it easy as we climb about 92 feet
28:06Enjoying the downhill
38:12More downhill
48:58Mix of up and down -- bathroom break here too
58:28More downhill
79:02Running into some head wind here. Legs felt like glue
99:33Back to some climbing
1110:32At this point I wanted to die.
1211:16Lots of climbing here and I was in bad shape
12.727:58Finish with a marathon shuffle
Total Miles: 12.72 - 1:57:53


Yes, I know I am racing a lot.  And now is the season to do it.  In Northern Utah, you can pretty much run a race every weekend during the spring.  And while I knew I probably shouldn't, this race was fairly close to home and sponsored by a charitable organization.

So at the last possible moment this week, I registered for the Unified Firefighter's Outreach Half Marathon, which was being held about 15 minutes south of me in Herriman Utah.

I wound up picking up my bib at the Salt Lake Running store on Friday afternoon, which made it super easy and stress free come Saturday before the race.  Pretty much park, use the bathroom a time or two and then run.

The Race

The race started a little late -- about 5 minutes late due to some announcements and bag pipes ceremony.  It was interesting and I really didn't mind.  The race was very low key for me and I had zero expectations on the race other than to run it and see the sites of Herriman.

Herriman is a burgeoning city a most of it is filled with very nice houses or houses under construction.  It seems like Herriman, despite it being over 140 years old, is now the place to move to.

I ran into a friend of mine named Josh, who was a pacer for the 1:40 group.  He had run the race last year and I asked him about the course.  They had advertised it as flat, but my Garmin would sort of say otherwise.  I came up with 429 of elevation gain, most of it at the end or very beginning.

My legs have been pretty dead due to high mileage and a lot of racing and from the get-go I knew it was going to be a challenging race.  Also, the sun was rising and there was no shade.  Conditions weren't going to be good for a PR day.  Also there was some wind which I was hoping wouldn't be a factor.

I got off to a good start and was dogging the 1:50 pacer.  I knew it would be a stretch to keep up with her, but if I could keep her in my sites, I'd be happy.  Unfortunately, I lost her after a bathroom break at the first stop and never saw her again.

By mile 4 or 5 I really felt like I was laboring.  My legs were dead and I could feel it getting warmer.  Unfortunately, this race had a total of 3 water stops: one at mile 3.5, 6(ish) and 10(ish).  I wasn't carrying anything either and soon my mouth felt super dry.  Each water stop did have gels though, which was a nice perk.  There were a few places where the city was watering their lawns with industrial strength sprinklers, which I gladly ran through to cool off.

The course was run through the residential areas as well as some of the roads around town.  There were police presence at the major intersections and I was never impeded with my pace.

The course was a bit difficult to follow though.  I talked to a few people who had taken a wrong turn or who were confused on where to go.  Luckily the guy I was following for most of the race was easy to follow.  They did have volunteers at the intersections that might cause confusion but there were a few that I would've missed had I been running on my own.

Around the half way point, I was starting to really wear down.  The wind had gone from a gentle push on my back to blowing directly in my face.  Also feeling extremely warm and dehydrated didn't help as I pushed up the hills.  I was in desperation mode for the last two miles as it was on a bike trail that made an ascent up to the finish.

Luckily, no one was behind me for as far as I could see but I was furious when the 2:00 hour pacer passed me (he was way off schedule).

I was never so happy that a course was short (I measured it at 12.72 miles) and that it was over.  Just not a good race for me on any level.


After the race, I greedily sucked down a bottle of water.  I grabbed my (awesome) medal and went to my car and got a Powerade I had stashed there.  I felt awful and sort of woozy.  I honestly think I was on the verge of heat sickness.

I had a meal ticket which allowed me to have a free entree from a food truck.  I chose the Matterhorn Food Truck and got a decadent slice of French Toast that was pure sugary goodness.

I stuck around for a while killing time.  They weren't doing any age group awards but the day was just nice to sit around and socialize.  They had fruit and sports drink to snack on too and the 5K had drawn a really nice crowd, so there were plenty of people.

Overall, this race was hit and miss.  The t-shirt was (high quality) cotton and didn't actually advertise you ran something.  I love the medal -- probably one of the best I've gotten in a long time.  The 3 aid stations were well-crewed and offered gels, but 3 is too few for a half.  They need at least one more, if not two more.

I missed not having any age group awards as well.  I may have qualified for one.

The course was okay.  I think I had run on sections before during the South Jordan Marathon (which dips its toe in Herriman) so some of it looked familiar.  But as far as beautiful views, not a whole lot.

I'd probably run this race again.  Mostly as a training exercise.  I paid $60 for it a night before registration closed and for a half marathon experience, I got what I paid for.  Plus the money went to a good cause.  The food truck food voucher was also nice.  Just hope they get a "real" tech runner's shirt for next year.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Colorado Marathon Weekend Recap


As usual, after every road trip where I run a race, I like to recap the entire weekend.  This is mostly for my sake (and my mom's) who like to read the little things that happen.

I am not going to recount much about the race here but read on if you'd like to learn more about my weekend in Fort Collins and Black Hawk.


From Salt Lake to Fort Collins, it is about a 7 hour drive.  I wanted to get there somewhat early on account to make the Expo and pick up my bib.  Having a bit of a cushion also would help with any unforeseen delays.

We wound up leaving the house around 8:30 and had smooth sailing as we headed east along I-80.  Once we crossed into Wyoming the weather started to get dicey.  It had been threatening rain and an hour or so into the trip it started to rain.  Once we got a bit further into Wyoming that rain turned into snow. 

Those living in northern Utah know that I-80 can get shut down and it can be hours or days before it'll open up.  Luckily, the snow wasn't accumulating much but it still slowed us down.  

We wound up eating at a gas station Denny's in Rawlins, Wyoming.  Not my favorite Denny's but the food was served quick and we were in and out in a half hour.  I wound up getting a garden omelette which wasn't bad at all.  I also got gas there.

By the time we got to Fort Collins, the snow had given way to rain.  On a side note, it seemed like someone had taken an ugly stick to Wyoming.  Most people think Wyoming is a beautiful place -- and a lot of it is, but I-80 definitely is not. Once you cross into Utah (going west) on I-80 the scenery gets remarkably better.  The same can be said once you cross the border just south of Laramie into Colorado. The barren landscape goes from plains to red rock and pine almost immediately.

We arrived in Fort Collins around mid afternoon and I had no problems finding the Hilton -- the host hotel and packet pickup area.  

The Hilton was pretty expensive and as much as I would've liked to have stayed there, I wound up booking the Candlewood Suites -- about 5 miles down the road.  This place was truly a suite with a kitchenette, a separate "living" room and a nice bedroom.  It made it super convenient in the morning to fix my food without waking up anyone.

We wound up eating at Carrabbas Italian Grill, which was just around the corner.  Good stuff and they had plenty of bread to carb up on:

I wound up trying to sleep around 9 pm.  I took a sleep aid, which didn't help and if I was lucky I got about 3 or 4 hours of very fitful sleep.


In the morning I woke up and ran the Fort Collins / Colorado Marathon.

After the marathon, I quickly got myself situated and headed back to the hotel.  I had arranged a late checkout and had anticipated getting out of the hotel by 1 pm.  However, I was super quick and had my stuff bathed and packed up by a little after noon.

I was fairly hungry and had been looking for something local on the way back.  I had spotted Inca's Mexican Restaurant and decided that I was in the mood for Mexican food (which I never eat before a race).  Turned out to be a good choice.  The had epic portions and the food was reasonably priced.  While not my favorite Mexican restaurant of all time, it fit the bill.

Shari hadn't seen much of Fort Collins other than the restaurants and a few short drives, so I took her to the finish line area of the race.  At this point it was after 1 and the race was in the cleanup process.  The finish line had been torn down and everything was being packed up.

I spent some time wandering around the downtown area, window shopping and checking out some of the old buildings:

For a Sunday, the downtown area was well trafficked with people and cars.  I didn't see anything I wanted to buy but it was interesting to take in the town and all that it had to offer.

After goofing around for about an hour we decided it was time to head to Black Hawk.  We had a room booked for two nights at the Ameristar.  For a Sunday, the drive there was pretty busy but nothing major in terms of traffic -- compared to Salt Lake, though, the freeways were busy.  I have noticed that Colorado drivers in general, tend to be pokey and don't use the passing lane -- for you know -- passing.  

The drive to Black Hawk -- once we were past Golden -- was interesting.  The canyon resembled the one I had just run down -- although the river was on the other side and there seemed to be a bit less snow.  There were a ton of places I was itching to go hiking but I was sort of anxious to lay low for a bit.

Upon arriving we grabbed our luggage and went to check-in, only to find that our room wasn't ready.  They told us to come back in 20 - 30 minutes and it should be ready.  So I checked the luggage and then we messed around in the casino for about an hour.  The casinos in Black Hawk seem to all have self-service pop and coffee machines, which was nice for someone semi-dehydrated.  

I wasn't having very much luck despite the casino having most of my favorite games.  I was really excited to see so many of them but really frustrated to find that they were so tight.  I'd put in $20 and it would be gone in minutes.  By the time we were ready to eat dinner, I was done nearly a $100.  Shari's luck was mildly better, but not much. 

The Ameristar is definitely the crown jewel of Black Hawk and we were blown away by the cleanliness and beauty.  Just a gorgeous casino:

By the time we attempted to check-in again, we discovered that our room still wasn't ready.  Granted, rooms became available and people would take them but our luck wasn't good.  We protested a bit and were granted an upgraded room (free of charge).  It was on the second to the top floor with a gorgeous city view.  Just an awesome experience and more than made up for the wait.

View from the room

View from the room

View from the room

The room itself.
I needed to relax so I decided to hit up the pool  They had an incredible sauna up there with some super power jets.  As I was getting in the pool, a couple was up there smoking pot.  Welcome to Colorado I guess.

After cleaning up, we gambled a bit more before hitting up the Ameristar Buffet.  I was surprised -- for a Sunday night they had crab legs for dinner.  It was super pricey and the crab legs were not cracked.  Luckily, we had a nice waitress who showed me some tricks of the trade on how to crack a crab leg without using the provided tools.  The buffet was pricey and the place wasn't super busy, so the food turnover wasn't great.  Hence, the food just wasn't warm or very fresh.  It was also a pricey buffet -- at nearly $30 a pop.  They did have kimchi, which I have never seen in a buffet before.

After eating, I was incredibly tired.  I think we circled the casino for about another hour and continued to piss away money.  I got fed up and decided to stop... if their machines were going to be that stingy, so was I.

I actually slept pretty well and the views of Black Hawk were incredible from our room at night:


In the morning, we woke up and decided to hit the buffet.  I had done zero research into the best buffets in town but for $12 or so, the breakfast buffet at the Ameristar wasn't too bad.  Again, the crowd for a Monday morning was really light.  They had a pretty good selection of food and I certainly do leave hungry.

After eating, we made the one mile drive to the next town and explored the city of Central City.  We wandered around the stores and did a bit of gambling.  We quickly found out that our gambling dollar went a lot further and we were getting a lot more action.

The town definitely had some character left over from its mining day.  But now it seemed relegated to a lot of ma and pa casinos.  They did have one of my favorite machines, Dragon Spin, which I've only seen in Vegas.  

After exploring Central City we made the drive to Nederland.  Again you can see the pictures here.

I was actually doing fairly well gambling wise now and upon arriving back at the hotel I hit up the sauna again.  I spent way too much time in there but it felt good on my marathon weary muscles.

We had heard good things about the Majestic Hotel and Casino.  People were saying the slots were loose, it was big and they had a good buffet.  Turns out all three things were true.  We thought about driving, but I said to Shari, let's walk.  That was a good choice, as we stumbled through several more casinos on the way there and back.

The Majestic did have an offer -- earn 20 points (or so) on their loyalty card and get a free dinner.  20 points turns out to be about $20 or so, so it was super easy.  And best of all, I turned a profit!

The buffet had more crab legs and a lobster tail to boot (one to a customer)!  Shari didn't want hers so I wound having two.  The buffet wasn't huge by any means but they had everything I wanted.  And once again, the employees just about everywhere at those casinos were friendly and helpful.

I wound up winning including this hot spin: 

We didn't wind up back at the hotel until close to midnight.  We kept finding yet one more casino we wanted to walk through and invariably we'd grab a soda at one of the free dispensers or try our luck on one of our favorite machines.  I think only in one place I didn't come out ahead.


We got up somewhat early and decided to go back to the Majestic for breakfast.  They were significantly cheaper than the Ameristar and they were open much earlier.

It was a ghost town in the there but we each ate for like $7.  It was about the smallest breakfast buffet ever ,but there was enough food to keep me filled up.  And I couldn't really complain about the price.

We waited for our food to settle and gambled a bit.  I wound up hitting a nice red envelope win to top things off!  Helped to go home about $135 richer.

The trip home was actually one of the more enjoyable drives I've taken.  I'll close with the best photos I took as we drove by places such as Vail, Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction.

It is sort of interesting to see the landscape change, however, from "Colorado" -- kind of green, mountainy pine to more desert as you get closer to Moab.  I really wasn't bored despite the 7.5 hour drive.

Overall I really liked Colorado.  It looks like an awesome place to live and this was a trip I'll certainly remember for a while: