Sunday, September 25, 2016

2016 Jackson Hole Marathon Race Report and Video

Here is Holly's Jackson Hole Marathon report with race video embedded at the end of the post.

The first marathon of the fall marathon season was finally here! It has been a long summer of training and I was ready to race again. Dave will cover the pre and post race portion of the trip in separate blog posts. We met up with three other couples (Stan and Pam, Tom and Molly, and Lee and Laura) in Jackson for the race and a few days of National Park touring.

The full marathon and half marathon started in two separate areas. Tom and Pam were doing the half marathon so they took a shuttle bus to their start line in the middle of nowhere. Dave drove Stan, Lee, Laura and myself to the full start line in downtown Jackson. Stan and I were doing the full while Lee and Laura were going to do the marathon relay. The start was easy with the exception that the announced full service restrooms were not open as advertised leaving only two port o potties for all the racers. We thankfully got in line early! The start was right on the square and the weather was perfect. We were soon off and running.

Jackson Hole is at 6300 feet of elevation and we were all well hydrated. The first mile was uphill and we were all feeling the altitude. I was sucking wind! The other marathons I have done at elevation started with a nice downhill so I never really noticed being winded. After a few miles our breathing did get back under control.

This was a really beautiful course! The beginning miles took us through a beautiful park on a trail by a river. It was stunning. The rest of the course was a combination of road and paved trail. All of it was very pretty with mountains and wide, open spaces all around us. We were really enjoying the run. The elevation was affecting us though. I know that by the time we got to the halfway point and said goodbye to Laura and hello to Lee for the second half my legs were really tired. We decided to take our time and enjoy the day. We put in a few more walk breaks but overall we all were feeling good. By this time Pam and Tom had finished the half and met up with Molly and they joined Dave and Laura to cheer us on to the finish. It was pretty awesome to have such a big cheering section for those last miles. The last water stop even had an official beer stop. Ice cold beer of your choosing, with several styles to choose from, even for us back of the packers!

We had a short uphill climb through grass to get to the finish line and we were all very happy to be done. Great finish area right at our hotel, the Hotel Terra. This hotel worked out great for the race. The finish area had snacks and beer! We all sat around for a bit and had a beer and ate some food before deciding we needed to get some more substantial food. I can’t say enough about how great this race was. The communication before the race was great, the packet pick up was easy, a beautiful course with plenty of water stops all with wonderful volunteers. A great finisher medal and shirt and did I mention the scenery? I would now put this as my most scenic marathon, just ahead of Big Sur.

Dave's Comments

The one thing I learned this weekend is that my camera's image sensor needs a good cleaning. Aside from that we had a lot of fun pre/post race. Three couples arrived in town during lunchtime. We picked Liberty Burger (part of the Blue Collar Restaurant Group) for lunch. They had some great burger/sandwich builds along with a few local beers on tap. After hitting the "expo" in the Chamber of Commerce office we checked into our rooms at Hotel Terra and met up with Pam and Stan. On the way to dinner towards town we stopped off for beers at Q Roadhouse and Brewing. We had a nice time enjoying their picnic table area that was also home to a farm stand. Dinner was at Pizza Artisan (part of the Blue Collar Group) near town. They gave us a huge private room for the eight of us.

Race Chasing was fairly easy. With about 300 people in the full marathon and a great trail system throughout town the roads were wide open. My only pressure was to get Lee to the relay point on time. Snacks were available when we wanted them and bathrooms were easy to find. As Holly mentioned, the course was beautiful. I took way too many pictures (not unusual).

After the race we needed lunch. We were planning on Snake River Brewing in town, but upon checking their website we found out lunch ended at 3:00. We called an audible and went to Bubba's BBQ solely based on the fact Stan and Pam went there 13 years ago. This Blue Collar Group property was fantastic! After eating we walked around a few shops including Grand Teton Distillery and CocoLove chocolate store. We had a drink at the Silver Dollar Bar (lots of great Jackson history displays) and walked around the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. We watched the Jackson Hole Shootout - a cowboy show held 6 nights a week in town square. Dinner was back in our resort area at the Mangy Moose. I logged a lot of hours in there over the weekend.

Here's the video. It's a fun one.

 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Charity of the Month: National Park Services / Grand Teton NP

Charity of the Month is a way Team Tizzel is helping to support some very worthy organizations. As part of this program, we will dedicate a post to a charity that we will sponsor through the month by donating Holly's training run money.

August: In August we supported two charities with $125 donations to honor the wishes of a friend that passed away. Ellen asked for donations to be made to St. Jude Children's Hospital and we chose to also donate to the National MS Society to support research to find a cure for the disease she lived with for so many years.

September Charity of the Month:

National Parks Services / Grand Teton NP Foundation

We recently returned from a long weekend in Jackson, Wyoming. Holly ran the Jackson Hole Marathon with a few friends. Afterwards we all spent two days touring Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP.

We didn't grow up in families that camped or did a lot of nature things for vacations. The only National Parks we toured as kids were close-by things like Gettysburg or Washington DC. Since Holly started the 50 States Marathon challenge we've been seeing a lot more of our country including several National Parks. We've come to enjoy our visits and the uniqueness of each site.

When we pulled up to the park gate we had the option to pay $30 for a Yellowstone pass, $50 for a Yellowstone/Grand Teton pass (7 days for the full car load), or an annual NP pass for $80. We know more sites are in our immediate future so we bought the annual pass. To put this price in perspective it costs a few hundred dollars for a Disney annual pass for one person. We can take a carload of people into parks for a year for $80. Good news is the parks are affordable to see on their own, bad news is they typically aren't in airline hub cities so getting there may be a bit pricey.

When checking out the NP site for donation options we noticed they had a specific project for the Grand Teton park. We chose this project to commemorate our visit for this month's charity. This link will describe the project and the link below takes you to the donation site.

Grand Teton Project

 

Friday, September 9, 2016

San Diego Weekend: The Beer

In our last post we covered our impromptu trip to San Diego that happened because friends ended up with extra tickets to Stone's Beerfest. Before, during, and after the fest we found ourselves in some of the local breweries - and didn't even scratch the surface. There were three breweries within a mile of our hotel that we never visited. In this post we'll cover the breweries we did visit, along with the impressive Stone Beerfest.

Pizza Port's Ocean Beach gave us a great selection of beer to choose from in a surf-town casual atmosphere. The order process was a single line walk-up counter. At the time we arrived the line was long enough to give us a chance to figure out what we wanted to try between house-made beers and guest taps. Signage was cute with well-designed name cards, but they took a while to read through. The two lists combined offered a well-rounded selection of styles to choose from. We ordered 1/2 pints of their blueberry sour and coffee porter. Both were very enjoyable. We loved their pizza - excellent NY style crust.

Coronado's production tap room was a fun stop. The large production area was off to one side and towards the back of the building - white walls mixed with stainless steel equipment. The taproom was in a corner with mid-tone wood paneling and neutral walls. Want to see a bunch of dogs? Come here. At least 5 dogs were in the building at any given time. We had three flights between the four of us with a dozen of their 15 offerings. Some were good while others were a bit experimental. We picked a few IPAs and our tongues were burning from the hops.

The visit to Ballast Point was interesting. The location we went to was in a strip mall. On one side of the location was a home brew goods store, the middle Ballast Point merchandise, and the third section the taproom. The walls were adorned with nautical art and murals taken from label artwork. At the counter you could see about 30 different tap handles. They displayed their offerings on two TV monitors: hoppy on one monitor and all-other on the second monitor. Since the only Ballast that seems to make its way towards Illinois is Sculpin we took advantage of the situation and tried the scotch ale, porter, coffee sculpin, and other malty offerings. They offered a variety of pour sizes giving us lots of options for tasting.

Our visits to Karl Strauss and Stone's Liberty Station were more focused on food than beer. We've had a bunch of Karl Strauss products at Disneyland so nothing new to us here. The selections at Stone were decent with a lot of their own beers mixed in with guest selections.

Intergalactic was a stop all about the beer. Their industrial center/corporate park location was no thrills except for a few sci-fi posters and murals. The beer fully compensated for lack of ambiance. With names like Walking Carpet you can't go wrong. All beers were excellent and the cucumber wheat was a standout. The time spent with Dave's family was an added bonus.

The focal point of the weekend was Stone's Beer Festival. Lee and Laura purchased all-access tickets that gave us two three-hour sessions and the opportunity to try up to 20 rare beers (2oz pours). Other options were to do only one of the sessions, skip the rare beers, and to have some add-on rare tasting sessions with brewers. All proceeds went to charity. Each session included unlimited two oz pours of beers. A "VIP" lanyard punch-card would get us our 20 rare beers.

The setting of the festival was California State University @ San Marcos - a commuter school with buildings terraced on a hillside that has beautiful views to the lower valley. It made us question our choices of college locations: West Lafayette, IN and Potsdam, NY. The festival was scattered throughout the school's terraces.

Happy to be here

Before we arrived we remembered friends were riding Jungle Cruise in Disney all day as part of a fundraiser. On one hand we were thinking "suckers, we're drinking beer all day" but on the other hand we admired their dedication. We decided to donate $1 to their charity Give Kids the World for each beer we tried (Results at the end of the post). It helped us stomach some nasty IPAs knowing that it was "for the children". Since we did not think catching cooties was a possibility the four of us ended up sharing tastings. More sampling meant less time on line.

Upon arrival we checked in and picked up our glasses (don't break it or your day is over), maps, programs, and rare tasting lanyards.

We headed deep into the fest so Dave could get in line to try Russian River's famous Pliney the Elder - one of the most sought after pale ales. The line was twenty-deep so Holly, Lee, Laura diverted to other tents for tastings while Dave waited (less than 5 minutes). The verdict: It's nasty! Like chewing on dandelions and pine needles at the same time. The rest of our party agreed and we dumped the remainder. There were some nice sours at the next tent that helped cleanse the pallet.

The festival had a few food trucks and bands scattered about. The campus had pointy cacti lining the walkways and one false move gave you such a poke. There was a big tent with plenty of tables and chairs plus a few photo opp locations. We enjoyed mugging for the photo booth. Since we did not think cooties were a possibility the four of us ended up sharing tastings. The fest-goers were a respectable group - folks just out having fun tasting beers. We really did not see anyone drunk and/or disorderly.

IPA face

Our friends told us in years past this was essentially an IPA event. That is still the predominant style, but we found there was a bit of diversity in the offerings this year. Fruit and sour beers were scattered about and stouts/porters were mostly found barrel-aged or imperial (some were in the 19% alcohol range). A few cider makers were present and they had some outstanding products.

Halfway through Session A we met up with Kristina and Matt (Lee and Laura's friends) and their cousin joined up during Session B. We were having too much fun sampling beer, chocolate, insanely good brownies, and just enjoying the day.

Between Session A and B there is an hour break. This is when we (and many others) hit the rare beers section. Surprisingly nothing here really wowed us. Too many over-alcohol barrel-aged beers or over-hopped belgians. We didn't get more than 7 or 8 punches on our rare cards due to the longer lines and our lack of interest in the offerings.

Photo booth trailer - it was broken so the person running it used our cameras

Having the two session ticket was perfect! We had a chance to try everything - more than once if desired. Most tents were a walk-up or just a few people in line which helped expedite tasting.

After the festival we had dinner at a pizza place walking distance from campus.

The Stone Fest was an extremely well run event. Sampling was efficient and the variety of offerings was amazing. Drinking water was always in eyesight and there were several craft sodas available for when you needed a break.

Dave took notes of everything we tried on the festival guide and transferred them to the festival guide PDF pages. Highlighted items are beers we tried. "Tried" can mean a tiny sip from a friend's glass, a few sips from your own, or you went back a few times because the beer was that good. Our tally, which was calculated over pizza, was 100 even. After a recount it appears we squeaked in 103 unique beers/ciders/wine that day.

Click to open in a new window and see the detail

 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

San Diego Weekend: The Non-Beer Portion

Our friends Lee and Laura live in San Diego and have suggested we visit during the Stone Beer Festival. We decided we would plan to visit in 2017 since they were going to host another couple this year and we did not want to add any further logistics. The other couple decided not to make the trip and we got 3 weeks notice they were open and tickets available for us. Airfare looked good, hotels downtown were reasonable, and we had a vacation day floating around we were trying to figure out how to use. It seems like that day found its purpose.

Our plan was to fly in Thursday night in time to hit The Gaslamp Quarter for dinner and drinks (we stayed in the Hilton Gaslamp). What actually happened: we had a 4 hour flight delay and landed at midnight. We were up against heavy plane traffic at O'Hare, an expiring flight crew/returning to gate for a new pilot, staggered take-offs due to weather, and the San Diego landing curfew. At least we did not have to come in Friday and miss out on more of the fun. As Holly put it, we just missed going to bars (and Dave's argument back was we missed a chance to view a turn-of-the-century historic district in poor lighting).

Lee and Laura picked us up Friday morning for a fun-packed day. The first stop was the world famous San Diego Zoo. A volunteer took our photo at the welcome sign for the price of taking his survey. Arg! Holly had 3 must-sees today: koalas, pandas, and otters. We were able to accomplish all three quickly. We had some other great viewing opportunities of polar bears, elephants, lions up close, meerkats, and weaver birds actively building nests. Lee marshaled us to the zookeeper talk at the maned wolf exhibit which was quite enjoyable.

We decided to save nearby Balboa Park for a future trip in favor of lunch. We hopped in the car and headed to Ocean Beach's Pizza Port location. The slices were NY style with excellent crust. They make their own beer as well as feature many guest taps. Perfect lunch pick! Afterwards we walked over to the beach and hung out for a few minutes watching the crowd take in some of the last days of summer break.

Next stop was Cabrillo National Monument for an incredible view of San Diego, Coronado, and the sourrounding area.

Our next stop of the day was Coronado Brewing's production location/taproom. Great dog-friendly place in an out-of-the-way industrial area. Across the street was Christmas Warehouse. You like to decorate for Christmas? This is the place. Lee got some inspiration for this year's outdoor display.

Next up, a visit to Ballast Point Brewing at their Home Brew Mart location. Another nice location (more on beer in a future post). We then headed to a Thai restaurant for dinner before our tour guides dropped us off at our hotel. We wanted to take in a bit of Gaslamp District activity before bed so we went out for a drink at Cat Eye Club. It was a small well-themed tiki bar very close to Petco Park.

The next morning we traversed the Convention Center steps to make our way to the Embarcadero. We browsed a few Seaport Village shops, took in the WWII memorials along the walkway, then spent some time on the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. We explored the brig, engineering and communications section, toured the Admiral's Quarters and pilot ready-rooms, and browsed all the aircraft top-deck. Holly declared we were going to watch Top Gun when we got home.

The rest of the day was dedicated to beer so we will leave that out for another post.

On Sunday we decided to Uber over to the Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island. The town looked charming enough to spend a few hours exploring. "The Del" is one of the grand resorts built in the Victorian era. We are not sure if Disney ever states it's the inspiration of their Grand Floridian Hotel, but it is pretty darn obvious. We were surprised at the use of dark wood in the lobby and commons area. We walked the grounds and the connected beach before settling in on a bench with a breakfast cocktail.

We headed back to the mainland to meet up with our hosts Lee and Laura (thanks Lee for all the driving over the weekend). Our first stop was Karl Strauss Sorrento Mesa for their craft beer brunch. This is a hidden treasure of a location with a Japanese garden tucked in the middle of a corporate park. Many food items were made using beer including pancake syrup and beer-battered fish. All the food was excellent and the price of admission included either one pint of beer, a pre-selected flight of four IPAs (we all passed on that one), or bottomless mimosas. We were lucky enough to get a table against the koi pond.

Our next stop was Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Lee was nice enough to drive us up the windy hill road vs. making us hoof it up like so many hikers were doing. At the top of the hill was a visitor center with some small displays and great views of the valley, ocean, and plants; including Torrey Pines. We honestly had no idea there was such a thing. Dave thought Torrey Pines was a town or just the golf course named for someone - like Pottersville in It's a Wonderful Life.

Lee braved traffic and nearly-dead jaywalkers to show us the town and beach of La Jolla. Lots of beautiful homes were packed together to form streets of architectural mish-mosh creating almost a new style of Modern-Spanish-Craftsman.

It was time for another beer stop. We arranged to meet Dave's cousin and her husband at Intergalactic Brewing. This no-fuss taproom has a nice selection of unique beers with sci-if inspired names.

Our final stop was at Liberty Station for dinner at Stone Brewing's World Bistro and Gardens. This is the standard all brewpub restaurants will be held to. Beautiful courtyard beer garden, bocce courts, high-end fixtures and lots of natural materials. The beer list is a balanced mix of Stone's products along with many other guest beers. As the sun was setting the air definitely got cooler and the patio heaters started clicking on. It was approaching the time for us to get to the airport and depart on our red-eye home. Sleeping on the plane was not too difficult.

We are anxious to return to San Diego because we didn't even scratch the surface of all the area had to offer. Maybe next trip we can convince Lee and Laura to take us to Tijuana.