Wednesday, August 29, 2018

2018 Ruby Mountain Trail Half Marathon - Lamoille, NV

Official Time: 3:54:00 for 14.78 miles
Placement: 1st male.
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Low 40's at the start, upper 60's at finish
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: First time at this race


How could I resist this race?  It fit perfectly well into my calendar and it was located in one of my favorite places on earth: Lamoille Canyon.  Lamoille is located about 25 minutes south of Elko, NV -- about 200 some odd miles from Salt Lake City.

I've hiked most of the trails there and it has been a solid year since I've done any hiking.  The Ruby Mountain Relay / Trail race primarily caters to team relays and some ultra runners.  However, this year they added a solo "half-marathon" event.  Typically half marathons run around 13.1 miles, but this race was at least 14.5 and probably closer to 15 miles.

The concept of the race was pretty low-key and easy to follow:

Just show up around 7:00 AM, check in with the race director and then start one of three loops.  Once you finished your loop, return to the race director, tell him you finished and then let him know when you were starting the next loop.  Your total time was clocked but while at base camp you could drink, eat and recover a bit.

There were 3 loops:

The Liberty Pass Trail: a 6.8 mile loop up to Liberty Pass (around 10,750 feet elevation)
The Lamoille Lake Trail: a 3.8 mile loop up to Lamoille Lake (a subset of the Liberty Pass)
The Island Lake Trail: a roughly 4 mile loop up to Island Lake.

The Race

I rolled in around 6:30 AM, earlier than I expected to get there.  There definitely was a different vibe than what I was used to at a race.  With it primarily being a relay race there were plenty of people camping and basically lounging about waiting for their turn to run.

I talked to a few people and used the restroom before going to the starting line to figure out how things worked.  I quickly found out that if you were a solo runner (me) you basically could start whenever.

So I went back to my car, put away the stuff I didn't need and grabbed the things I needed and used the restroom one final time.

Liberty Pass highlighted

Liberty Pass

I opted to go for the hardest and longest route first.  I was starting at about 9000 feet elevation and had to ascend to around 10,750.  

I really didn't know what to expect.  I had hiked the trail a few times and the footing wasn't too awful but I knew it was going to be tough.  Plus it had been a while since I had done any serious hiking / workouts at 9000 feet of elevation.

So I started off tentatively. I had a long way to go and I am not a trail runner nor am I in the best shape.  I had hoped to run most of the uphill and power hike what I couldn't do.

Almost right away I was breathing hard but I just took my time watching where I was running and making progress.  In fact, I felt like I was doing better than I expected.

There were a few other people running various sections of their route but for the most part I was running alone.  I just knew I needed to get to Liberty Pass.

The trail was well marked and already well defined.  They had some flags on them and some blinking lights for the night runners.  I knew where I was going and about the only confusing spot was the Lamoille Lake turn-off.

Eventually I came upon Dollar Lakes.  They were amazingly tranquil and I just wanted to stop and take a break and look at them.  It was a beautiful back drop against the Ruby Mountains.  I was actually surprised they had water in them:

I was pretty tired at this point and my running was started to already stutter.  I was trotting the flats at this point and definitely power hiking the steeper inclines.  I knew it was going to be a long morning, but overall I was fairly happy with my pace, which was hovering in the 12 - 18 minute per mile zone.

Eventually I came across the first checkpoint: Lamoille Lake, but I didn't need to check in there.  I had at least another 2 miles or so before I came across the Liberty Pass check.  I was still largely running solo but I had passed the occasionally relay walker.  The temperature was still cool and not too warm (I was wearing shorts and two t-shirts).

The trail got a lot more rocky and steeper as I passed Lamoille Lake.  I more or less at this point was power hiking more than I was running.  The air was certainly thinner and my breathing was pretty labored.  My legs felt good though but my ears were ringing a little from the elevation.  I was starting to wonder if I was going to be able to finish this without hurting myself, passing out, or puking.

After a series of switchbacks and scrambling up rocky trails, I finally crested Liberty Pass.  I love the view from up there.  It was chilly up there with a stiff breeze coming across the top of the pass.  A runner had warned me that the checkpoint was sort of hidden and off to the right and off of the main trail.

I am glad she told me that as I might've run right on by.  Luckily I spotted the volunteer with a flag and his cot at the edge of a rock formation.  He said I was the first solo runner there -- did I actually have a chance at this?

I stopped, drank a little Tailwind and took some photos:

Liberty Lake Below

I told the guy I just wanted to keep running to the canyon below there (I had only been down there a little in the past) but he said that was forest property and we weren't allowed to race there.

Sadly, I made my way back down the rocky trail before reaching Lamoille Lake again.

Here the trail deviated from the original trail I had taken up.  It led to the Stockman Trail, which I had heard of before, but never hiked.  I believe it is primarily for horses to use and is an alternate route to Lake Lamoille.

It was far easier running down on this trail than it would've been going down the way I came.  It was more grassy and single track and a less steep.  I was actually running at this point and while I couldn't go all out on account of the ruts in the trail, I was beginning to have hope of actually surviving this race:

I had been pursued by another solo half marathoner for most about the last 2/3rds of my ascent to Liberty Pass and along the way he passed me on the way down.  I was happy to let him go.  I really didn't want the pressure of competing.  I just wanted to experience the trail and get through the race without worrying about too much.

At base camp, I refilled my water bottle with some Gatorade I had brought.  I saw that my competition went for the Island Lake Trail.  I had wondered if I should do that one for my second route as it tends to get a little warmer on that trail, but I wanted to run solo.

So I went back and more or less repeated the first route I had taken except, I only had to go up half way to Lake Lamoille.

Lake Lamoille

The second trail for me was the 3.8 mile loop for Lake Lamoille.  I had hopes I'd be able to run it like I had for the Liberty Pass trail, but as soon as I had to climb anything more than a molehill, I resigned myself to power hiking.

I just didn't have a lot left and I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have anything for the Island Lake trail.  I was just winded and sweating profusely.

I had dumped one of my shirts off at the base camp, so that help and I found myself hitting my water bottle a lot more than I had for the first go-round.

A few other runners plodded by me and there were some speed demons that roared by me.  I was so jealous, but I remembered that many were coming off of lengthy breaks as they were part of a relay team.

I reached Lake Lamoille and checked in with the volunteers there.  They recorded the time I arrived and wished me good luck as  I made my way down the Stockman's Trail.

Once I was heading downhill it wasn't too hard to get into a running motion again.  Before I knew it I was back in base camp and ready to start on the Island Lake Trail.

Coming off Stockman's Trail for the second time

Island Lake Trail

I was pretty woozy at the base camp as I chugged what was left of my Gatorade and refilled my water bottle.  At this point I was rapidly going through my bottle as the temperature increased.  I was tired but I knew that I was going to finish.  The question was how much was it going to take.

The Island Lake Trail is roughly a 2 mile uphill climb that goes to an lake with a tiny island in the middle of it.  You can see a ton of photos here.

I pretty much sauntered to the trail head and ran a few hundred yards before succumbing to a power hike.  I was gassed at this point and while my pace was okay, it was definitely dwindling.

I've hiked the trail several times and the views are really nice as you ascend switchbacks.  There were some day hikers who were super cool about letting me pass them and there were occasionally other runners climbing the hill.

I was really struggling once I got about half way.  I was taking greedy gulps of my water bottle and actually by the time I had reached the lake, I was out.

Picture taken at the top of Island Lake
Island Lake

I was so happy to see the cheery volunteers at the top, who took my name and time.  They had plenty of cool water which I sucked down and refilled my bottle.  I was so tempted to hit the lake.

I chit chatted for a while with the volunteers.  I was honestly in no hurry and was wondering if I'd be able to run down.  It was pretty steep and I was just gassed.

However, once I started to make my way down, I realized I could run and for the most part, I did run all the way back down.  I love the downhill portions and I made pretty good time actually.

However, once I hit the Road's End Road and I had to run to the finish line, I just ran out of gas.  I just plodded along, and casually walked under the finish line.  I think the volunteer who was collecting times didn't realize I had just finished, but I did.


After I finished, I found a bench and just sat there.  It had taken me nearly 4 hours to finish the race.  I was sort of surprised it had taken me that long because it didn't feel like 4 hours had transpired.  Had it really taken me what it kind of takes me to run a full 26.2 marathon to run a hilly 14.75 mile run at elevation?  I guess so.

Finisher's belt buckle

The race had a TON of food: pancakes, eggs, ice cream, fruit, drinks and strawberry milk.  I cautiously ate and drank as my stomach was super touchy.

I chatted with various runners from Utah and Reno and I wound up killing a good 45 minutes after the race socializing and enjoying the 78 degree sunshine.  Despite a slow time, I had a nice runner's afterglow and a huge sense of accomplishment.

Customary shirt
Then my name was called and it turns out -- much to my amazement -- that I had won the male half marathon race.  If you do look at the results though, there were less than 10 solo runners, so my changes were okay to begin with.

Cool prize

That was a nice ending to a tough day.  Again, totally unexpected.  This is the second time I've outright won a race in Elko, having won the Ugly Sweater 5K in 2015.

Days later as I write this, I am still on a "high" after running this.  Yes my time wasn't super great, yes I had to do a lot of walking, but it was such an awesome experience.  I love Lamoille Canyon and I got to experience all my favorite trails there in one morning.  It was humbling to be blown away by a lot of really efficient trail runners but I managed to get through it and I did run quite a bit of it.  Perhaps I'll start to do some of my training on trails.

The race was expensive: $80 + service fees but considering what I got, it was money well spent.  The logistics and time it took to set this up obviously makes the race an expensive one to put on.

They also had great post race refreshments and I spent a lot more time than usual after the race hanging out and enjoying myself.

Would I do this race again?  Yes, definitely. 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

2018 Green Eggs and Ham 5K Race Recap - West Jordan, UT

Official Time: 26:13
Placement: 5th Male, 1st Masters, 1st in the 45 - 49 age group.
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Upper 70's, warm with breeze from the south
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: First time at this race

Mile TimeComments
18:09Didn't expect this slow of a start. No bueno
28:28Legs weren't springy today. 
3.090:42Tried to haul ass to the finish
Total Miles: 3.09 - 26:09

The Park Grounds. We ran loops around the park.


This weekend there were a TON of races of the area.  3 half marathons and several shorter races.  I didn't think I was quite ready for a half marathon and 2 of the 3 were downhill ones.  Downhill races, while great for overall times, are tough on the body and I just tend to avoid them.

So I trolled over the and stumbled upon the Green Eggs and Ham Race.  It is a Dr Seuss themed race and it was just a few miles down the road from my house.  It wasn't just a fun run -- with awards and medals at the end and I've been focusing on shorter races this summer (and needed one for my virtual 5K in the Arizona Sunrise Series) So I figured why not jump into it.  It was close by and I know the race director at OnHillEvents.Com.

Typical stretch of sidewalk on the course

The Race

I rolled into the race site with plenty of time to spare.  A mere 7 minute drive from my house to the Veteran's Memorial Park in West Jordan.  Despite it being that close, I had never been there before.  

The race called for 3 laps of just over 1 mile around the park.  It was held entirely on sidewalk.  Not the greatest course in the world but at least it should be fast with virtually no elevation loss or gain.

I figured the race would be small and sure enough it was.  There were maybe a 100 people there at best.  Bib pickup was a snap and I grabbed my Dr Seus hat and shirt and spent about 20 minutes warming up.

The race, as usual, started right on time and almost immediately, upon running I felt like it was a lot of work just to run fast.  I had warmed up and everything but my legs weren't feeling it and to be honest, my motivation wasn't there.  No age group awards on account that the race was so small and I saw 3 blazing fast runners pull ahead of me.  Darn it, any chance of a post-race award vanished.

Still, I dug deep and kept working my way around the park.  Only one guy passed me and every now and then I checked behind me and there was NO one behind me for quite sometime almost throughout the race.  I was chasing down the second place girl and I was hoping I could at least use her for motivation.

The first loop went by quick and any fears about missing a turn or getting misdirected stood unrealized.  I was dismayed to see my Garmin chirp out an 8:09.  I knew I was running slower and struggling but this was the ugly realization that it was true and not a figment of my imagination.

I told myself the second mile would be faster and I tried to work it up a notch.  But I just felt off.  The second place woman was pulling ahead of me and I tried to push hard but it wasn't coming.

I almost wanted to walk when I completed the second loop.  I was breathing hard and I knew the last mile was going to be a rough one.  Also, I was a little tired of the course.

Also I had to navigate around a lot of the 5K walkers / slower folks -- some who had bunched up and were walking as a family.  It wasn't terrible and I got some support from them, but I had to jump off the sidewalk from time to time to dodge them.

Finally, I completed the last mile and I didn't even both to look at my time.  I knew it wasn't good.  I pushed it as hard as I could even though there was no reason to.  I suppose I was hoping to just skirt the 26 minute barrier but I just couldn't do it.


I wasn't super upset when I finished but I knew it wasn't a terribly good 5K for me.  I had done a total of 17 miles on Thursday, a mere 48 hours before and while I feel pretty good I am sure my legs are still recovering.

I almost left since I wasn't due for any awards, but as usual I recognized a few people and decided to socialize.  I was pretty much the last person to leave the area.

The race had a hot breakfast of ham and eggs (of course).  Being a vegetarian, I only got a tiny portion of eggs.  They did have a nice chocolate milk though, which is always refreshing.  Also, I got a finisher's medal, which was actually nicely designed and a high-quality medal.  Shirt was cute too.

I registered at the last minute for this race, so I paid dearly for it.  About $40.  Pretty expensive for a 5K but it got me out of the house and I had fun and entertainment.  It was an honest course too and measured up nicely.  Every now and then it is nice to do a low-pressure 5K and use it as a speed workout.  Maybe next time I'll remember not to do a long run so close to a 5K.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Running Update For July - August 2018

At the Bellagio Gardens in July

Miles for the Year as of August 13: 1176.25

It's been a while since I've done a running update and I had a few minutes tonight and figured why not crank out an article.

So how is my running since returning to Utah?  Not too bad.  Although my endurance is completely gone -- it would seem.   I lived in Phoenix for nearly 60 days and my longest run there was about 11 miles.  The last 2 of it was done at a shuffle, largely because I was dehydrated.  Suffice to say training for distance in Arizona -- particularly in the summer -- was tough.

I have been trying to build my mileage back up as well as my endurance.  With the Las Vegas Marathon coming up in November, I sort of feel like I am behind the 8-ball as far as training.  Looking at some of the training charts, though, reveal I am pretty much on target.

The weather in Utah is warm but not insanely hot.  We have had some bad air though from the surrounding fires.  California's largest wildfire's smoke has drifted into Utah causing really poor air quality.  So my training has been hit and miss.

I have been getting anywhere from 30 to low 40 miles per week with usually a short race and a long run on the weekends.  Doing a 13 mile long run seems to be a challenge though.  Hopefully that will change.  I am using the shorter races as speed workouts.  I haven't really seen much of a change in my overall times though despite a steady diet of short races.

I know what I need to do to get marathon ready though.

Other than some general fatigue / soreness, I feel pretty good.

Bad air quality in Eastern Nevada


My weight hit a high of 188 pounds in Phoenix.  I am not sure why, but it seemed like as soon as I hit town, the scale creaked at a 188.  When I came back, I've been routinely seeing 184 - 185.  Not sure what happened or if it an altitude thing.  But I have been focusing on eating better and really watching my portion sizes.

Done with Marathons?

I've sort of lost count of the number of marathons I've done.  Yeah, I know I can go over to and count but it is somewhere around 27 or 28.  Last year's marathon left a bad taste in my mouth and I really haven't had a burning desire to run another one.  I had signed up for the 2018 edition of the LV Marathon last year.  This will be my 10th time participating in the race and each time I've done the marathon.

Presuming my training goes well, I'll attempt this marathon.  I suspect, though, that it'll be my last one.  I don't have a strong passion for it any more (full marathons that is) and clearly I am not getting better at it.  Also the payoff has gotten less for me.

I could totally be wrong.  Maybe I'll have a great race or the spirit of the marathon will come back, but the last half dozen marathons haven't been very "fun" experiences.  But I am sort of bracing myself to say, I've done enough.

Cat Update

Faithful readers may recall that for the past year or two (or more) I've been feeding a feral cat on the bike trail on a near daily basis.  When I first ran into the cat I couldn't get near it, but anytime I left food, the food would be gone -- sometimes in minutes -- but always by the next day.

In the spring, we had a pattern down.  The cat would wait for me at a ditch around 5 PM and I'd swing by and drop food.  It would give me a cautious meow before eating the food in the safety of the tunnel.  In short, I never was able to touch it or pet it in any way.  Remember this is a feral cat... the same as a wild squirrel.

When I left for Arizona, I was concerned about the cat and made arrangements with several people in order to feed it.  And it did get fed.

When I got back, I spotted it but our times never really synced up.  There is plenty of mice to be head, so I suspect it hunts every day and doesn't need my assistance.

The other day I was walking along the trail and I spotted it in the open field and I wound up dropping some food for it.  It watched me for some time, meowing and basically excited to see me.  Then the surprising thing happened -- it came up to me and started to rub against me.  Frankly, I was shocked.  This cat had NEVER done that before.  It was very emotional to have this happen and made all the efforts that I have done over the past few years worth it.

In the subsequent weeks I haven't seen it but as the weather gets cooler and the hunting gets a little tougher, I am sure our routines will get synced back up again.

Back in Utah

In short, I am tickled pink to be back in Utah.  I reported on this before, but pretty much everyday I want to wake up and kiss the ground.  When something is just a bad fit and you just need to get out, your freedom is priceless.

I still need to take advantage of the things here.  I've only done a few hikes since being back but I've already been to Wendover twice and done a hike or two.  I also have my running route.

I am still discovering people who don't know that I am back and they are shocked to see me as I sort of had sad good bye to the area and in all honesty had gave up on ever coming back.

Moving to Arizona was a bit of an expensive experiment.  I had to leave my current job, try a new one and then come back to my old job (luckily I am on good relations with everyone) and I had invested in license plates, driver's license, and paid a bit of money for food and rent. 

I did get some new life experiences and came to realize what is important to me and what makes me happy.  So in some respect, while painful, I learned something about myself and about life as a result.  Sometimes you learn a little when you make a mistake or a wrong turn and this is one area where I felt like I grew a bit.

Since I've been back though, I almost, want to kiss the ground.  I am definitely very grateful to be back.

Upcoming Races

08/18: Arizona Sunrise Race Series 5K #7 - (Virtual) Phoenix Area, AZ (Confirmed)
08/18: Green Eggs and Ham 5K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
08/26: Ruby Mountain Relay Half Marathon - Lamoille, NV (Confirmed)
09/01: Midway Swiss Days 10K - Midway, UT (Confirmed)
11/11: 2018 Las Vegas Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)
01/19: 2019 St George Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)