Sunday, January 28, 2018

This Week in Running 1/21 - 1/27

DayMileage / WorkoutComments
Sunday13Easy long run
Monday5Fairly easy 
Tuesday7Medium paced run
Wednesday103M Warm-up, 4 miles at half marathon pace, 3 miles cool down
Saturday4Desert run / hill climb in Wendover, UT
Weekly: 42 YTD: 157

Week's Summary

This week was sort of a blah week.  The weather was fairly good but I didn't seem to have a lot of energy to run. 

My Sunday long run, however, went well and I was turning in some decent splits near the end of it.  I've been using Beet Performer for key workouts and races.  As far as beet juices go it isn't awful tasting, but it isn't something I'd sip on a cool day while reading the newspaper.  It seems to have a very mild (if any) performance boost to it.  There isn't any caffeine in it -- it is just filled with nitrates that open blood vessels, allowing you to process oxygen better -- at least that is the science behind it.  It seems to work -- whether it is a placebo effect or there really is something to it, I am not sure.  It does, however, make going to the bathroom afterwards "interesting".

I also used my juice before Wednesday's key workout.  Normally I like to do 2 miles at 5K pace, but opted instead for a slightly altered workout of a long run.  It was one of those nights that I felt like running long at a good clip versus a gut busting speed workout.  It paid off and it felt good to run at a quick pace without going all out.

My overall volume was also solid.  Good enough to maintain my endurance fitness as well as put me on the cusp of easily training for a marathon.

Cat Update

I almost always run at the same time, same place during the week.  I get off by 4 PM, I fool around at home fro a bit and then head out by 4:30.  By 4:45 I pass by a place where I've been feeding a cute little feral that I've been calling Fluffy.  I've known this cat probably for 2 years. 

Times are lean for the ferals.  With the ground covered by snow, I think they are short on food.  The mice that they thrive on, probably don't come out so they are hungry.

"Fluffy" knows my schedule and for the past few weeks she has been a regular customer.  I leave food and within a few minutes she appears (after I've stepped away) and it attacks the food.  It is a brief feel good moment for both of us and it gets me out the door on days I don't necessarily feel like running.

Wendover Run

If you've ever driven from Salt Lake to Wendover you've probably seen the graffiti along the I-80 and wondered about it.  It turns out that graffiti was (often times) written by WW2 serviceman back in the 40s while they were developing the atomic bomb that ended the war (at least that's the story I am told).

I have run through that area many times and it is just an immensely beautiful area that not too many people know about.  It isn't hard to get to and a morning run is often a treat.

I was running there on Saturday and was going to go for a short run.  Normally I get sucked into it and my quick short run turns into a long run.  However, I fully intended to keep it short.

As I was running, I spotted a hill or peak that I had run by countless times but never actually climbed.  Since I was on a short run, I decided to see what was up there and what the views were like.  Also, I had spotted what looked to be a pronghorn antelope at the top.  It has been a while since I've seen the antelope.

The climb was sort of tough (but actually coming down was tougher) but it was safe and afforded some incredible views of the salt flats, Wendover and the surrounding canyon.  I also scared about 5 pronghorns who were highly suspicious of me (very few people venture out that way).

I got some good pictures -- I just wished I had brought a better camera with me.  I had my old phone and the picture quality isn't the greatest.

Here are the photos I took:

Upcoming Races

02/03: South Davis Recreation Center Sweetheart's Day 5K - Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
02/10: Candy Heart 5K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
02/17: Saints and Sinners Half Marathon - Boulder City, NV (Maybe)
03/03: March Madness Half Marathon - West Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
03/18: St Patrick's Day Half Marathon (6 Tunnels Half Marathon) - Las Vegas, NV (Unlikely)
04/21: Salt Lake City Marathon (Half) - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed (2018))
11/11: 2018 Las Vegas Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

This Week in Running 1/7 - 1/20 - Plus Desert Run

Looking at the Virgin River, Mesquite, NV

DayMileage / WorkoutComments
Sunday16Tough long run
Monday5Easy run tonight
Tuesday7Medium paced run
Wednesday5Fairly easy run
Thursday4Medium paced run
Saturday13St George Half marathon
Sunday9Desert run in Mesquite Nevada
Tuesday5Medium effort with some speedy parts
Wednesday52 miles in 16:05, rest easy
Thursday9Medium paced long run
Saturday5Snowy weather. Just logging miles
Weekly: ?? YTD: 115

Week's Summary

Well this past two weeks have been filled with running.  The mild winter continues here in Salt Lake and that has allowed me to continue a full round of training.

In winters past I had to limit my training or reduce the amount of miles because of icy or cold (which rarely stops me) conditions.  In fact, most days I can get away with a very light jacket, shorts and thin gloves.

This week also saw my inaugural race for 2018.  I felt there were a lot of positives but at the same time it was slower than last year.  So in that regard it was disappointing to me.  I had real hopes that somehow I'd be able to get the same or even slightly better than last year.  Hopefully this isn't a pattern for 2018.

My long run to start the two weeks wasn't the greatest either.  I started off full of enthusiasm but I really faded.  All my previous long runs have been pretty good, but this one, I was hurting midway through and it didn't leave me with much confidence.

I also didn't do a lot of speed work leading up to the half marathon.  For whatever reason, any "umpf" I had in my legs was absent.  I also felt like I was getting sick with a cold (there is a nasty bug going around that so far I've managed to dodge).  Luckily, it didn't seem to impact my race (much).

However, this past week I forced myself (I dislike speed work and would rather plod along) to get my usual 2 miles at 5K pace in.  It felt harder than it should but at least my time was reasonable and it counted as quality miles.

Desert Run

Last Sunday I decided to go on a run.  I was in Mesquite for the weekend and I wanted something to do.  I had just done the car show and sat in the jacuzzi and in my infinite wisdom I thought it would be a good time to go for a run (on half marathon dead legs no less).

So I made my way out of the hotel with 28 ounces of Gatorade and figured maybe I'd get 4 - 5 miles in.  I started off trying to find a new route I hadn't taken before and just wound up running a mile around a cookie-cutter subdivision.

I finally made my way out and found a familiar section of the Bunkerville Bike Trail.  I had done this trail before and it wasn't terribly exciting.  I did, however, see some cars coming off of a side road.  I wound up checking with some walkers and they said it was kind of a cool road that lead into the desert.

So I jumped on that.

What followed was a challenging but oh so delightful run along a dirt road.  I figured for sure I could make the Arizona State Line.  I ran 3 miles from that sign and figured I was officially in Arizona (I came to a split in the road).  Turns out, however, I was about a quarter mile shy of the official border.

None the less, it was a pretty interesting and scenic run.  A lot of the sports / desert vehicles were giving me a big wave.  I guess they don't get many runners way out in the middle of nowhere.  It also gave me a chance to go shirtless.

I barely made it back however.  Sitting in the jacuzzi and being in the sun (it wasn't super hot) got me dehydrated.  Once I hit 9 miles I walked the final half mile (or so) back to the Casablanca.  To make matters worse, I had the furthest possible room from where I was located.

I knew once I got to my room that I had a nice Coke to drink that would set me straight.  Unfortunately, my key card no longer worked.  So I had to walk all the way back to the front desk (at this point I was ready to be sick), and have security walk me back to my room since I didn't have ID with me.

To make a long story short, I didn't pass out, although for a while, I thought I was going to.  Dehydration sucks!

Here are the photos I took along the way:

Upcoming Races

Finally some races on the horizon!  They may be short (5Ks) but they are something to train and shoot for.  Definitely looking forward to them.

02/03: South Davis Recreation Center Sweetheart's Day 5K - Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
02/10: Candy Heart 5K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
02/17: Saints and Sinners Half Marathon - Boulder City, NV (Maybe)
03/03: March Madness Half Marathon - West Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
03/18: St Patrick's Day Half Marathon (6 Tunnels Half Marathon) - Las Vegas, NV (Unlikely)
04/21: Salt Lake City Marathon (Half) - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed (2018))
11/11: 2018 Las Vegas Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)

Monday, January 15, 2018

2018 St George Half Marathon - St George, UT

An awful picture of me but it is what it is.

Official Time: 1:54:12
Placement: 153rd Male out of 319, 14th out of 34 in the 45 - 49 age division
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Crisp, mid 40's at start, warmed up to low 50's. Light SW wind.
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2017] [2016]

Mile TimeComments
18:59Fairly flat start. Easing into the race
28:51A little bit of hill here. Did better than I expected I would
38:40A few small hills here. Seemed bigger than what they were
58:42Let the real hills begin. Eat a gel at this point.
69:07Pretty much a steady grind up
78:57Finally crest the top of the hill.  All flat or downhill from now on.
8:20130 feet of downhill
98:24Into a groove
108:39Feeling really good
119:00Don't remember much of a climb here but my pace certainly does
128:28Flat here. Really trying to push hard
138:41Not a lot left. Just kept focusing on that last mile.
Total Miles: 13.11 - 1:54:14


Each winter the race scene in Salt Lake City gets pretty barren.  In fact, pretty much from Thanksgiving until early February there aren't many races to do.

So come the second weekend of January, I head down to southern Utah for the annual St George Half Marathon, apparently the longest running half marathon in Utah.

I believe this race is also managed by the same people who do the venerable St George Marathon.  However, I don't think this course is as nearly as iconic.  The east side of St George isn't exactly known for it's mountain beauty.

The temperatures in St George in the winter are often ideal -- about 10 - 15 degrees warmer than the northern part the state.  The problem is getting down there -- if there is a snow storm traveling the length of the state can be treacherous (nearly 300 miles).  Luckily, this winter has been very light in terms of bad weather so I plunked down the money, made cancel-able hotel reservations and put it down on my calendar.

The Race

The night before the race I got off of work early and made the trip down south.  It was smooth sailing pretty much the whole way.  

Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling top notch.  All week I had been feeling under the weather.  I felt like a solid cold was coming on and on the way down I had the heat cranked up and wondering if I was getting a fever. 

The drive was largely uneventful and I rolled in just shy of 7 PM and I got to the EXPO at the Dixie Events Center -- a beautiful building.  It was easy check-in and I said hello to the Ogden Marathon people as well as the Sand Hollow Marathon people before heading out to the Black Bear Diner for dinner.

I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn -- practically in front of the starting line, which was just awesome.  With a race start of 9 AM, I pretty much slept in until 7:45, ate, used the restroom to my heart's content and then walked to the starting line.  After nearly 10 hours of sleep, I felt like a brand new man.  No lingering cold or anything.  Was it pre-race nerves?

I wore throw-away gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, sunglasses (a must!), a hat and shorts.  I should've went with short-sleeved but overall I was happy with what I wore.

The race started at 9 AM after the national anthem and within 30 seconds of the start I was running.

Almost immediately my knee felt cranky.  I was beginning to wonder if it was going to hold up throughout the race.  Luckily, it just needed some time to adjust and after about a mile I didn't feel it again.

The first 3 miles or so are in a budding business area.  So you are running by a few hotels, dentist offices, and other locally owned small businesses.

There is some budding morning traffic, but the race organizers are pros and I never felt hindered or not safe.  

After about 3 miles you dip into a well-to-do residential neighborhood.  It is all city street running here and there are some minor rolling hills.  There are also some sections that are also downhill.  I was banking energy and kept holding back.  I also felt pretty good -- not top notch but good.

Miles 5 - 7 are probably the most challenging.  While the scenery changes a bit -- you are running by a nice golf course -- you do get a little bit of the iconic red rock / nature scenery to make you forget (a  little) about the hills.  They start off innocently enough but they culminate just short of the 7 mile marker.  Luckily, once you are done with this section, the rest of the course is pretty much down hill or flat.

Mile 7 is almost all downhill and here you can really pick up a head of steam.  It also becomes the part of the course where I now have to decide if I am going to race or just finish.

I had banked energy at this point and I felt pretty good.  So I started to nudge my pace up a bit to take advantage of the downhill.  I rattled off my fastest mile as we approached the bike trail.

I love the bike trail section too -- especially seeing the valley and the mountains in the distance.  I tried to get my phone out for a picture but it wasn't cooperating and I didn't want to waste time.  Also, there is a stretch up against the mountains that was slightly slippery.  So I had to really watch out for black ice.

At this point too, you are close to the finish line, but you really have close to 5 miles to go.  It is sort of disheartening to think the lead pack is just about finishing and I still have about 40 more minutes to go (at least).

Looking at my official splits, it looks like I passed a lot of people in my age group.  I had saved quite a bit of energy and while i was hurting I wasn't dying.  Normally around mile 9 or 10 I just want the race to end -- not this one.

I truly enjoy this race.  You get so much variety --hills, bike trail, residential, city streets, etc.  And there is half way decent crowd support as well (nothing like a major marathon but people are out cheering you on).

I was pretty gassed as I was closing in.  I sort of gave up a bit when I realized I wasn't going to get below last year's time (about a 1:52).  Still, I would make a respectable showing and I was completely dead.

It was pretty awesome to cross the finish line -- a bit of redemption for doing a long after failing in Las Vegas about 2 months ago.


Overall, I was pretty happy with everything.  I wasn't dead and I held a fairly consistent pace throughout the race.  I slowed down during the uphills but picked it up when the terrain permitted.  My pace was 8:43 throughout.

I don't normally set a pace and try to run it.  I almost 100% run on feel.  I know basically what I am capable of and know the price to be paid for going out too fast.  The conditions were simply ideal and I felt like a ran a fantastic race.

After the race, I grabbed some Gatorade and some oranges (I love oranges after a race) and wound up meeting a fellow runner that runs the Murray Bike Trail. I wound up making small talk and eating a little food for about 15 minutes.

It was after 11 and my checkout time at the hotel was noon.  I still needed to shower, pack and head out.  Again, I love staying at the Hilton.  It is less than a 5 minute walk from the finish line.

I love this race and as long as I am in Utah and healthy and able to run, I'll make it down here to run it.  All told, I got a first-class race, accurate distance / timing, support (although I didn't get any Gatorade until near the middle miles -- luckily I carried my own), a very nice t-shirt and a heavy-duty medal for about $55. 

The race is one of the premiere early-season events and I was happy with everything from start to finish.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

This Week in Running 12/31 - 1/6

DayMileage / WorkoutComments
Sunday5Solid run on the bike trail to wrap up the year -- at 10pm!
Monday12Solid 10 min / mile pace. Sore though.
Thursday84 at 8:30 min / mile tempo run. Speedwork!
Saturday4Easy because it was slushy and icy out
Weekly: 29 YTD: 24

Week's Summary

This past week was definitely a cut back week.  The past few weeks I had been running a lot and so this week there wasn't a lot left in the tank.  It was also the end of the #RWRUNSTREAK.  The streak is a challenge put on by the fine folks at Runners World Magazine.  The challenge is to run from Thanksgiving until New Year's Day -- every day -- and at least for one mile.

I successfully completed it this year.  In fact, I had started a little early and the shortest run I did was 3 miles.  It was such a relief (and also kind of hard) to stop the streak this week, but I do think streaks like this up your risk of injury and burnout.

I was scheduled to do a midnight 5K on New Years Eve.  I regret not doing it but a couple of things happened:

  1. I got really anxious.  I couldn't hike, couldn't run and I was more or less resting for the race -- on the couch.  All day.  And that drives me absolutely bonkers.  
  2. The race wasn't timed or recorded in any way.  Questions like "What's the point" ran through my mind.
  3. I was falling asleep
Finally, around 9:30 I said screw it, threw on a pair of shorts and a light jacket and just did 5 miles on the bike trail.  It was such a relief to go out and exercise.  There wasn't another soul out on the bike trail and it felt "wrong" to be running that late but ultimately it was just what the doctor ordered for me.

I also did a bit of a different workout this week.  I wasn't "feeling" my normal 2 miles at 5K.  I felt like I could do a longer run with slightly less speed and that's what I did.  I suspect I had about another mile or two at that pace before it would've caught up with me but it felt incredibly awesome.

On a Side Note

I haven't reported too many gambling trips of late.  They really haven't been that noteworthy.  They have been fun, but nothing really happens that is too terribly exciting.

I did however have a short but very profitable run of luck this past weekend.

Shari and I went to Wendover -- we really weren't in the mood for it, but they had sent us a free room offer and I had booked it a few weeks ago on a whim.  I figured we could cancel at the last minute if we opted not to go.

I have a few trips planned in the next few weeks and I was worried about forking out more money and being in a deficit.  However, we pretty much eat for free out there so if lady luck wasn't on my side I figured I'd call it an early night.

So we arrived just shy of 6 PM and I dropped Shari off at the Montego Bay hotel so she could get us a table at the buffet (which usually gets busy on a Friday night).  My job was to quickly get us a room at the Peppermill hotel (about a mile down the road).  We usually like quieter rooms and your preference on a room is mostly on a first-come, first-serve basis.

So after I get the room keys, I opted to go into the casino and at least activate my player's club card.  So after doing that I saw a lone Fu Dao Le machine and figured what the hell.  I'll put $40 into it.

So I go through $40 in a few minutes and got some entertainment out of it.  I figured I'd better go to Shari who had gotten a seat at the buffet and was waiting for me.

I was like nah, another quick $20.

So I hit the machine pretty hard, opting to go for a few $2 bets.  Well one of them came in and I got a $250 bonus round.

I was pretty excited and I almost cashed out.  I was *really* hungry but I know Fu Dao Le can go on hot streaks.  So I wound up playing fast and hard again, this time going a little higher ($3.68 a spin).

I got another bonus round!

It started off innocently enough but then the babies came out -- basically an interstitial which indicates something good is about to happen.  And it did.

I didn't have time to get a picture but basically I got a 3x multiplier and the rest of the screen was filled with beautiful yellow Queens.  I figured I'd get maybe $800 - $900 for it.  No.  Try about $1600!

Let's just say I let out a 4-letter word of exclamation and I got really excited.

Again, I was hungry.  Like almost light-headed hungry.  Unfortunately, when you win over $1200 in a single pull you have to will out tax forms.  So after the bonus round finished I had to sit there for 15 minutes waiting for them to get me my paper work, and more importantly, my money.

After getting paid, I wound up trying to hit it again, to no avail.  The machine was pretty much dead.

The rest of the weekend I didn't have much luck, just the occasional $50 bonus round.  Just glad I came out ahead this trip.

Upcoming Races

01/13: St George Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)
02/03: South Davis Recreation Center Sweetheart's Day 5K - Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
02/10: Candy Heart 5K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
02/17: Saints and Sinners Half Marathon - Boulder City, NV (Maybe)
03/03: March Madness Half Marathon - West Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
03/18: St Patrick's Day Half Marathon (6 Tunnels Half Marathon) - Las Vegas, NV (Unlikely)
04/21: Salt Lake City Marathon (Half) - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed (2018))
11/11: 2018 Las Vegas Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)