29 November 2014

On the road again...

I got in my first bike ride today since the Ride 2 Recovery.  Sarah and I checked out a different part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and rode 23.78 miles as an out and back from the Echo Bay Campground.  It is a bit farther north than where we normally go to at the lake and was pretty scenic with a lot of awesome rock formations on the drive there. It felt good to get back on the bike and my calf didn't bother me.

25 November 2014

1200 miles

I got in four miles with Black Jack this morning and he is turning into a good running buddy, especially on the days he decides he doesn't need to sniff everything at the start of the run. 

The four miles pushed me over the 1200 mile mark for 2014.  I took a little bit of time today and looked at my running history on MapMyRun.  In 2013, I ran 754.2 miles and in 2012, I ran 413.3 miles.  This means that I have passed my combined 2012 and 2013 total with a month still to go in the year. 

You get out of it what you put into it and right now, I am putting a lot into it.

24 November 2014

Trails of Glory

Be dirty and get some trail!

a prerace view of the finish line
On Saturday, I ran my final race of the season, Desert Dash's Trails of Glory.  It was held on the trails of Cottonwood Valley on the west side of Las Vegas.  The following distances were available: 8K, 12K, half marathon, 30K and marathon.  For my season finale, I opted for the 12K (mapped long at 7.6 miles).

I originally registered for this race months ago and planned on have a lot of time post-St George to train specifically for it.  As free races at longer distances came up, I realized that this was going to be more of a fun run and it was. I even went so far as to not take my Garmin.

Packet pickup was simple.  It was held at McGhie's which is a (primarily) bike shop in Las Vegas on the day prior to the race.  At it, I got my shirt but did not get my bib.  Oddly, bibs were not given out and had to be picked up on race day near the starting line.

On race morning, I showed up at the trail head around 7:15 AM and found parking in a small dirt lot immediately off the highway.   After that, I went over and waited in line for my bib.  While waiting, I watched the volunteers set up the finish line aid station and a lot of folding chairs. I also checked out the massive inflatable duck with the Santa hat on its head.  Once I got to the front of the line, I got my bib and went back to the car to hang out for a bit until it was time for the race to start.

The half marathon, 30K and marathon were scheduled to start at 8 AM with the 8K and 12K starting 15 minutes later.  With that in mind, I left my car at 8 AM and walked to the start line to find out that 8 AM was when the race directors gave directions to all of the runners in the three longer distances.  It took 8-10 minutes and then they were off.  At 8:15, the 8K and 12K runners were all directed to the start line to receive our directions and a safety brief.  After that, it was race time.

I just ducked under the Duck Tree.
The race started in a paved parking area and after a very short run across it, there was a bottleneck at the trailhead and we slowed greatly as all we merged down to a single file line.  Once I got onto the trail, the fun began.

I enjoy running downhill on winding singletrack and that is how this race started.   The first two miles were a nice winding slightly downhill section.  At Mile 1, we passed the Duck Tree (see picture) which is named as such because we have to duck to go under it on the trail and, well, it has been covered with rubber ducks.

Everything was going smoothly until I reached the 3 mile mark.  At this point, several trails intersected and along with everybody ahead of me, I went straight.  Apparently I was supposed to turn right.  I realized it about half a mile later when I came across a larger road and realized there were no trail markers.  I back tracked to the previous intersection and luckily, guessed correctly on which way to turn.

After that, I knew that my time and placing were shot and throttled back the pace while I enjoyed a lot of nice scenery on the long uphill (3.5 miles) section.  At about the official 5 mile mark, the course met up with the 8K route and markings once again became good.  After that, the route was easy to follow and the final 2.5 miles flew by pretty quickly with the final mile being a fast downhill through more winding singletrack.

At the finish line, I got my finisher medal and grabbed some water and a muffin from the aid station. After that, I called it a day and wandered back to the car to go home.

Today, Desert Dash posted all of their photos for the runners to download and reuse.  Unfortunately, official times are still not available as the organizers specifically sort through the 12K times.

Update: I got my official time this morning and ended up finishing in 1:12:23 which put me right in the middle of the pack.

Trails of Glory finisher medal

17 November 2014

REVEL Canyon City Marathon

As I mentioned last month, I won a free entry to the REVEL Canyon City Marathon through Race Grader. REVEL is a relatively new race series started up by Brooksee which now has two event series:  the REVEL Race Series and the Goldilocks Running/Cycling Events.  Both REVEL and Goldilocks are currently in three cities with Salt Lake City being the one common location between the two series.  I was very impressed with the organization of this event (loved the fact that we got free pictures from the race) and would gladly run a race with this company again.

the marathon medals
Right from the start, this was a quality event. REVEL's website was chocked full of useful information with zero dead links and the registration process was simple.  After registering, I began to receive frequent, but not in-box flooding, e-mails that kept me updated on packet pickup and race day specifics.

On Friday afternoon, Sarah and I made the drive from Las Vegas to Azusa for packet pick-up at the race expo.  Packet pickup went smoothly and after getting my packet, I was instructed to step over to a monitor to test the chip on the bib which was a nice feature. Another nice thing with the bib, besides having my name on the front (always a nice feature), was that it had all of my emergency contact info printed on the back.  The expo itself was a small event with local vendors.  We had hit up the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas expo before starting our drive so we didn't spend much time there.  However, it is interesting to note that Hokas and Altras are now the two dominate shoes that I am seeing at expos.

The next morning, we got up at 4 AM and Sarah dropped me off at the buses around 4:45.  I got straight on a bus without any waiting in line and began the 1+ hour commute in the dark to the start line.  The bus arrived there shortly after 6 AM and I stepped out into the brisk air of the Crystal Lake Camp Grounds which is in the San Gabriel Mountains within the Angeles National Forest.  The Crystal Lake Cafe was open for people to purchase hot chocalate and a hot breakfast and there was an outdoor fireplace to keep us warm.  There were also a decent number of port-o-potties, enough for the 623 runners plus volunteers/race staff.

At 6:45, I shed my sweatshirt and fleece hat, placed them inside my drop bag, placed that bag in the equipment truck, donned my Las Vegas Triathlon Club visor and went to the start line.  At exactly 7 AM, we were off.

feeling awesome on the downhill
The course took an immediate right turn after the start line and proceeded uphill for 1/4 of a mile.  After that, it did a 180 degree turn and went downhill for the next 13 miles with an elevation drop of approximately 4700 feet over that distance. Predictably, it was very fast and without feeling like I was pushing too hard, the first half of the marathon was covered in 1:52:14 (an 8:34 per mile pace - Yikes!) which is 5:41 faster than my half marathon PR set back in April.  After that, the course leveled off a lot to more of a rolling downhill and my pace came back to reality.

The course was very pretty.  With the starting altitude being approximately 5700 feet, we were treated to an awesome view of being able to look down on the clouds and then descending through them at approximately the 3.5 mile mark. The road had a lot of switchbacks during the first half and provided scenic views of the valley as we broke through the bottom of the clouds.  We passed a lot of interesting fauna and I was amazed at how large the yucca stalks were.  It was also neat to see multiple dams and the different ecosystems that sprouted up on the downstream side of them.  I also got a kick out of not seeing any houses until we passed one subdivision in the final four miles and then entered Azusa inside the final 5K

the final stretch
As we ran the course, more evidence of how well organized the race were presented. The mile markers were extremely obvious and were large inflatable structures.  For the marathon, they counted down and for the half, they counted up.  The aid stations were approximately every two miles starting at Mile 3 and were all well stocked with a variety of supplies.  There were also motivational signs spread all over the course that were part of the REVEL branded image.  I especially liked the "Suck it up, Buttercup" one at Mile 17 since that has become a catch phrase for Sarah and me with training and racing.

The finish line and area was also full of snacks and volunteers.  After getting my massive finishing medal, I was given a damp washcloth and water and was treated to a wide variety of snacks and drinks. Picking up my gear bag was also very quick and easy.

So how did I do?  I finished with a PR of 4:24:56 which was 9:06 ahead of my St George time from last month.  I also finished in a lot of pain.  My right calf bothered me on all flat and uphill sections and around Mile 19, I began to get an ache in my right hip (felt like the socket area) that progressed from a dull ache to full blown pain in a few short miles. The end of the race was rough and I caught myself uttering Jens Voight's "Shut up legs!" quote more than a few times.  My phone battery died at the 23 mile mark and I stumbled through the last 5K at a 12:21 pace without knowing how fast I was really going and hoping that I wouldn't blow a PR.

Check out the size of that medal!
I was elated to see the time on the finish line and mustered out a little bit of a kick to finish 386 out of 623 runners.  After exiting the chute area, I hugged my wife and cried a little bit from the emotion of this race (the elation of a PR plus the disappointment of not getting a sub 4:22 (10 minute pace)) and the physical pain I was feeling in my hip.

It is two day later and I still have a lot of soreness in my legs - more than I did from my first two marathons.  However, the hip ache went away after a shower and the four hour drive home.  Despite the nice PR, running a short notice marathon is something I will have to put more thought into if the opportunity comes up again.

This was my last big race with December and January completely race free.  I do have a 12K trail run next weekend but expect to take it very easy on that one. I have a series of races booked in March, April and May and am looking for something good for both Sarah and I to run over President's Day Weekend in February.
a selfie with my support network

11 November 2014

Veterans Day running...testing the legs

I put in 10.2 miles of running this morning with my wife.  We didn't push the pace too much until the final mile. I was a little nervous about how my calf was going to hold up but it felt fine on the run once it had warmed up. It was a little sore and stiff yesterday to the point where I was noticeably limping at times when I got up from my desk but it was feeling much better as the evening went on.

I am going to take tomorrow as a rest day and get in an easy 3-4 miles on Thursday.  Friday will also be a complete rest day as I give the legs a break with the REVEL Canyon City Marathon on Saturday.

09 November 2014


I missed a turn somewhere on the course today on the Veterans Day 11K and reached the finish line with the GPS only showing 4.76 miles.  Sarah and I notified the race officials and self-DQ'd.

My disappointment level is pretty high.

08 November 2014

Ride 2 Recovery - Honor Ride

Today was the Ride 2 Recovery Honor Ride in Las Vegas. Sarah and I opted to do the longer of the two rides:  the 63+ mile ride...our first metric century ride.


We loaded up the car with the bikes and gear and headed downtown to the start line which was across from the Luxor on Las Vegas Boulevard.  Once we got there, we unloaded our bikes and went to check in.  We filled out the standard waivers and got our bibs and t-shirts.  After that, we went back to the car to switch shoes and put on our bibs.  One small problem presented itself.  We forgot out bib belts which meant we had to use safety pins and put holes in our shirts.

Waiting at the start
After that, we took our bikes over to the start area where I racked mine while Sarah took her's to the mechanic from Pro Cyclery to knock out some minor pre-ride maintenance on the chain.  Once that was done, she racked hers next to mine and we went to look for and talk with friends who were also riding.  Eventually, we walked back over to the racks to find out that they had fallen over.  Sarah's bike had been moved along one of the walls and mine had been moved to another rack.  That rack eventually also fell over and I moved my bike to the wall by Sarah's.

Before the race started, there were a lot of munchies available.  I ate a bagel and a muffin and scratched a bit on a Great Dane while we waited for the time to tick down to the start.  At approximately 8 AM, the organizers began to usher the approximately 650 riders to the start line.  While we waited with our bikes, route instructions and safety tips were given and at approximately 8:30, a color guard from a local JROTC unit brought the flag forward and the National Anthem was sung.  Shortly after that, we were off.

The Course

Nearing the finish
The start was interesting.  It was slow going so I kept a foot down and shuffled along until we turned onto Las Vegas Boulevard and I was able to clip in.  The first six miles that we were on the Boulevard were pretty neat.  We rode north through the Strip with our northbound lanes closed to traffic and police were blocking traffic at all of the intersections. At the 6.4 mile mark, we turned onto Washington and headed east through a series of stoplights.  At that point, the course was no longer closed to traffic and rules of the road applied which meant that there was a lot of stopping at intersections as we continued east.  At the 12 mile mark, we stopped at the first aid station but after seeing the wait for the port-o-potties, a decision was made by the group to continue on.  At 12.5 miles and after a short climb, we turned north on Hollywood for a short mile before heading east on Lake Mead Boulevard.  Once we turned onto that road, we began a 2.5 mile climb, our first big climb of the day.  However, once we reached the top, we were treated to primarily descents over the next 8 miles. Shortly after Mile 24, we turned onto Northshore Road and began a series of road changes that had us mostly climbing until Mile 39.  At that point, we were treated to a mile of downhill before climbing for the next nine miles.  Shortly after Mile 49, we began a mainly downhill or level ride to the finish.  Shortly after Mile 54, we turned back onto Las Vegas Boulevard to finish our bike ride north.  The right lane was blocked of for us but there were still some issues with drivers not making the smartest decisions as they entered/exited the restaurants/shopping areas around Mile 60.  As we reached the finish, we made a final right turn off of Las Vegas Boulevard into the chute and received our finishers medals.

Post ride photo
Aid Stations

I can't speak for the first one other than to say that it was crowded.  However, the next two (Mile 33 and 53) were well stocked with snacks and drinks.  A suggested improvement for the organizers is to have a sign at the turnoff so people actually know that it is the aid station since both were a little ways off the road and were missed by a few riders.

Post race

After we got our medals, we went over to a Ride 2 Recovery backdrop and got some photos of us with our bikes.  Once that was done, we loaded our bikes up and switched out of our cycling shoes.  Next, we went to enjoy some post race refreshments.  The post race meal consisted of hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, chips and Gatorade...clearly the lunch of champions. There was a live band playing while we ate.

Overall impressions and final thoughts

Overall, it was a well organized event.  The aid stations were well stocked and the support was great.  Personally, this ride was a challenge because I have never rode that far on a bike and I am really not a fan of extended hill climbs.  However, it went well and I see me doing more organized rides in the future.  Physically, I feel alright.  I don't have any saddle soreness and my legs feel good with the exception of my right calf which feels like I may have strained a tendon.  I noticed it after my ride last Sunday but it feels like I definitely aggravated it today.

04 November 2014

Mizuno - First Impressions

I ran 10.9 miles this morning to put my first miles on the new Mizunos.  The run was primarily on sidewalks and blacktop with a few very short sections of dirt/gravel trail.

They felt light on the feet and had a little slip in the heel when I first laced them up.  I noticed it while walking pre/post run but it did not bother me during the run.

The soles are noticeable thinner than I am used to. This isn't a bad thing but it is definitely something to think about on days when part of my runs go on a little more hardcore trails for parts of the run.  Also, I felt a ridge on both feet that ran along underneath the outer edge near my little toes.  That isn't something I expect to feel in a shoe that is advertised as neutral.

These definitely are not going to replace my Hokas as a pair of distance trainers and racers.  However, they will be a nice mix with my ASICS as trainers on my shorter runs and due to their weight, will make a nice racing shoe on shorter races.

02 November 2014

River Mountains Loop Trail

I biked the River Mountains Loop Trail clockwise today with my wife and a couple of friends.  I have run and biked parts of it for training and races but had never completed the entire 34 mile trail until today.  The trail itself is nice - paved and free of cars.  The climb up the hill from approximately Mile 24 to Mile 30.5 was a little rough but I reminded myself to "suck it up, buttercup".

01 November 2014


This morning, the family and I got up early and trucked crosstown for the PHAST.

For my wife, this triathlon was a redemption race.  She crashed on the bike last year and it stands as her lone DNF in a triathlon.  This year, she raced hard and ended up finishing the sprint distance course in second overall for women.  It was a great way to finish off a long triathlon season that saw many trips to the podium for her in the Athena division.

My youngest son raced the kids short course triathlon.  It is hilarious watching a string-bean of a nine year old flexing on the side of a pool with his friends but once he entered the pool, he was off like a torpedo.  He did a great job on all three components and had a lot of fun while finishing fifth out of sixteen finishers.
flexing post-run

After he finished, it was time for the 5K fun run (untimed) and Kyle and I started running.  Unfortunately, we (along with everybody else) missed a turn marker as the volunteer at that spot directed us in a different direction.  We ended up running two loops, slightly over two miles, and then Kyle stopped to hang out with his little brother while I went out on the run course to run with and cheer on Sarah and run another two miles with her.

Post race was nice.  A lot of Las Vegas Triathlon Club members were at the race so there were a lot of friends to talk to and there were a lot of drawings for items donated by sponsors. We ended up getting elastic laces, socks, a water bottle and a pair of Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3 shoes which are my size.  I look forward to mixing them in with my ASICS and Hokas.

Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3 - Size 10.5

October 2014

October ended up being a big month.  It was my largest month in terms of total mileage with a combined running/cycling total that broke the 200 mile mark.  The running total was 113.46 miles and the cycling total was 87.12 miles for a grand total of 200.58 miles.

Given the big running and cycling events scheduled for November, it will be interesting to see what mileage looks like in another 29 days.