Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pictures from Grand Teton National Park

With the Gand Teton National Park enterance just a few miles from our hotel, we slept in a little bit this morning. At 8am our group met for breakfast before heading up the road. Our first stop was a very nice visitor center. We spent a few minutes shopping and taking a look at the model of mountains while Laura conferred with the rangers to figure out what we'd do for the day.
Our first stop was Taggart Lake. When we pulled into the parking lot we could not see any water. We had to actually hike to this location. The weather was a bit annoying: jackets would be required for a few minutes, then the clouds would part and the sun would heat us up. Fortunately Laura picked a long, but not challenging trail. Each turn brought us beautiful mountain and forest views.
We made it to the lake without incident. It was gorgeous.
The trail is a loop so we didn't have to make the return trip the same way. Most of our way back to the car we followed a stream.
On our way to lunch we stopped at a pullover lot to take in the mountain glacial formations. Lunch in the park was lackluster (actually had) - prepackaged sandwiches from the Jenny Lake Visitor Center Gift Shop. There appeared to be a lot to do in the Jenny Lake area, but some of us were itchy for some relax time. We skipped the boat ride to the far section of the lake and decided to go to a few of the vantage points. We spent some time on the rocky shore tossing sizable rocks in the water for the fun of it.
As the day progressed and we visited scattered gift shops members of our crew were picking up the 100th anniversary sweatshirts. It got to the point where Dave and Lee were the last holdouts and Dave caved first. We decided our final nature thing of the day would be to see the Snake River. With beer on our kids we came up with the plan to drive out of the park to the bridge the runners crossed on the marathon course. It was only a mile or two away from Q Roadhouse. After taking in the river we visited Q and took up residence on our picnic table from Friday night.
The Grand Teton National Park is a place we would definitely visit again. There are several lodges within the park that offer boat rentals and paddle boarding. There's a ton of beauty with every turn making this a perfect spot for a mountain/lake getaway.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Morgantown Marathon 2016 Race Report and Video

Here's Holly's Morgantown Marathon Race Report. Video and Dave's comments follow the report.
West Virginia has a couple of marathons to choose from. I had my eye on the Freedoms Marathon but due to scheduling I decided to try the Morgantown Marathon instead. They had their first running of the race last year and the reviews were pretty good. They decided to redo the course so course maps were not up when I signed up. That was unfortunate. They said it was hilly, but I figured how bad can it be? I’ve done some really hilly courses: Big Sur, Atlanta, Knoxville, and New Hampshire. I was wrong, oh so very wrong.

We got in to Morgantown Friday night and went to Morgantown Brewing Company for dinner and had some beer. We then hit up Apothecary Ale House and that was a fun place with a good beer list. We finished up at Applebee’s because where else would we end up? As we were driving around, it was dark, but that didn’t stop me from realizing that there were a ton of hills and they were long and steep. I was pretty sure I was going to die. Our Uber driver even agreed with me.

Saturday was a rainy morning and we did a drive around Dorsey Knob Park. Next we hit the expo which was the only negative of the race organization. It was in the middle of nowhere! We had trouble locating it on our navigation systems. The expo itself was small, but everyone was super friendly and the shirt was a very nice long sleeve quarter zip.

After the expo we headed downtown for lunch and of course one more brewery (actually two: Mountain State and Chestnut). Again we were now driving around in the daytime and I could really see the hills and I was even more certain I would die. We had my traditional pasta dinner at Puglioni's and I tried to go to bed early.

The weather forecast for Sunday was a 90% chance of Thunderstorms. Luckily when I woke up it had rained overnight but looked good for now. I was probably going to get wet at the end of race but I hoped for the best. The start was a quick drive from our hotel the Hampton Inn. They started promptly at 7 am, my only complaint was no national anthem. I was also a bit nervous for this race because my hamstring has been bothering me since the Jackson Hole marathon, 2 weeks prior. So between, the hamstring, predicted storms and killer hills, this means Holly’s head is not in a good place. It was a downhill start which was a nice way to ease into it. The first half of the course was not too bad. It was rolling for the first 5 miles or so then some big hills and I started walking up the hills and running down the hills. I was feeling pretty good, but it was hot and humid, and I was soaked early on. The humidity was really draining me.

After the first half things get ugly. The hills get bigger and I get more tired. I pretty much mentally threw in the towel around mile 14 or 15. I was done and didn’t want to do this anymore. It’s been awhile since I have been in that place and it’s not a good place to be when you still have 11 miles to go. I started walking more and more until that was all I was doing. This was a big mistake. I really should have tried to get my head back in the game. I wasn’t feeling great due to the humidity so I was worried I wouldn’t finish so I talked myself into taking it easy. But it wasn’t easy. It was harder. I’m not used to walking that much and my shins were killing me.

I also had my bib rip around the halfway point and was trying to repair that so I didn’t lose it. Also I itched my back at one point and this caused my bra to come unclipped. This was not the back part but the part that slides in at the shoulder blade. This is pretty much impossible to fix while you are wearing it. I was panicked. I kept trying to fix it and couldn’t get it. There was a cop car up ahead and I was going to ask him if I could sit in the back of his car and try and fix it. Thankfully by some miracle I was finally able to get it back together. At this point it was just comical.

I was very happy to see our friend Erinn who was volunteering at a water stop. She had a sign for me and got all the volunteers to chant my name. It was a great pick me up!
Dave was doing a great job of following me and was being very supportive. I was going so slow. Towards the end they had popsicles and I was so happy. I had an 18 minute mile while I was enjoying that popsicle! Good thing because I needed to save whatever energy I had left to walk up the last ridiculous hill. I finally made it to the top and actually ran it in to the finish. I was so happy to be done, but I now only had 45 minutes to get back to the hotel and shower and checkout. I chugged half a beer and jumped in the car. The medal was nice and the volunteers for this race were really great, except for the one at mile 18 who said “Only 8 miles to go”, UGH, that is far! If you want a super challenging race with tons of hills then this is for you. This is now going to the top of my least favorite marathon list, beating out the Indiana indoor track one. Super tough and I’m glad it’s over. And as they say, “Yes it’s hilly!!”

Dave's Comments
I flew to Pittsburgh a few days early for work reasons. I had to drop off my work rental car an hour before Holly was supposed to land and pick up our new car. Of course her flight was delayed due to mechanical reasons. She wiggled herself onto another flight, but it would be a few hours later than planned. So to kill time I found the nearest brewery. Insurrection Aleworks was in a non-descript building in a working-class suburb. Inside the restaurant was nicely decorated and the food coming out of the wood oven smelled great. I had time to have two great sour beers and some tasty chicken wings. Eventually we made it to Morgantown and decompressed in a few local establishments.

At lunch on Saturday I picked up a drink stirrer shaped like Mr. Jack Daniels. Holly had to deal with impromptu puppet shows the remainder of the weekend.

Race day navigation was hard. Most of the race occurred on back roads or neighborhoods. Almost every branch of law enforcement or national guard were out blocking roads. The early portion of the race bottlenecked a whole neighborhood for at least an hour because the half course repeated back onto itself while marathoners ran a different route. In some sections I passed Holly a few times but there were no turnoffs. The town traffic circle was closed so I had to go way out of my way to get back on course. Good thing we did this the day before getting to the expo and I had landmarks: notably the airport and the strip club.

Watching the race in downtown was surreal. The only spectators were me and a man that I guessed was homeless. He didn't seem too into it. Some of the roads in older parts of town were narrow for a kid's pedal car let alone a regular vehicle. Snacking options were lacking. There were a few options near Mile 1, then nothing until town and mile 10. Mile 15/16 had a few fast food choices then nothing again until back in town for mile 24. At the finish line I was able to buy a beer.
To visit our friend Erinn, who was stationed at a waterstop on a closed road, I had to walk up a steep hill for a 1/2 mile. This was not the worst hill I saw on the course so it showed me how brutal this race must be.

We left Morgantown as quickly as possible. We figured out that we had enough time to get to The Church Brew Works - one of my must-see breweries. It's housed in a church built in the early 1900's that was closed in 1993. The food and beer were good as usual (not much changed since Wednesday).


Monday, October 17, 2016

Charity of the Month: Avon Breast Cancer Foundation

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.

September: In September we supported the Grand Tetons National Park Improvement Fund with a $125 donation. This will help fund needed improvements to the guest areas so many others can enjoy this beautiful park. This link will describe the project.


October Charity of the Month:

Avon Breast Cancer Foundation: New York Walk to End Breast Cancer

To be fully transparent we've been late the last two months writing the Charity of the Month posts. The New York 39 mile Walk to End Breast Cancer was held this weekend making this post a tad out-of-date.

A Team AllEars (our Disney-related charity running team) teammate of ours, Christine, participated in the event. We love seeing how our teammates continue to tie charity to their running/walking lifestyles.

As members of Team AllEars we helped raise +$330,000 over a five year period to help fight breast cancer and find a cure. We have been directly impacted by the disease - parents, other family members, and many friends have fought the disease. Some of them did not win their battles.

Even though the physical walk event is over, the fight against breast cancer isn't. Visit Christine's page and consider giving a donation.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Too Many Pictures from Yellowstone National Park

After the Jackson Hole Marathon we decided it would be a great idea to spend a few days in nature. Day One would be a trip up to Yellowstone National Park with our friends (Stan, Pam, Tom, Molly, Lee, Laura). We knew the trip would be the "highlights of the southern entrance" given it was a 2-2.5 hour each-way drive from our hotel.

We started our morning with 5am wake up calls and a 6am rollout. We split into two cars and let Lee's car lead us (he's been here before) through the closed guard stations to our first stop: Jackson Lake Lodge. We arrived at sunrise and were treated to nice bathrooms, a Starbucks coffee stand, and an amazing view of the Grand Tetons.

The road we were on had just reopened after being closed due to the fires they had in the area. You could see the marks on the road where the fire jumped across to continue its destruction. We passed a large fire camp that had several helicopters at-the-ready to combat the flames. At one of the overlooks we could see and smell the smoke.

We took a short break at Kepler Falls. We timed it right to be able to see a geyser go off in the distance.

We arrived at Old Faithful early enough to have an easy time parking. After store/bathroom breaks we discovered we had lots of time before the famous geyser would blow again. We took a short walk around the area and visited the Old Faithful Lodge. We split from the rest of the group so Dave could use his fancy new tripod for shooting Old Faithful. Unfortunately it was a very cloudy day and the geyser mist blended perfectly into the grey clouds. Sadly, after the explosion, we sat there thinking "that's it?"

Turned all settings up to eleven to show the detail in the mist

We made the wise decision to get lunch when the cafeteria opened. Later on in the day the place was jammed. After lunch we hiked up to the overlook to see Old Faithful blow from a distance. While waiting we were entertained by a chipmunk and other geysers blowing in the distance.

Old Faithful predicted times are +/- 10 minutes. On our first viewing it was pretty much dead-on. This time, +10 minutes. We had a pleasant hike through the woods as we made our way back down to the geyser walkways and paths. For people who ran 13/26 miles the previous day they were sure putting the miles in today. We were pretty beat by the time we made it back to the gift shops.

We took the cars over to the Grand Prismatic Spring. The area was nuts. Cars parked everywhere on the side of the roads. We waited about 20 minutes to park. Once there the cloud cover got thicker and at times it drizzled. We really didn't get to see the full rainbow-colored effects. For decent pictures of the spring go to google images. Our photos are not that great.

Our final stop of the day was Yellowstone Lake. There were several springs right at the water's edge. Apparently people used to cook fish over them. In this area we saw 3 elk that were not stymied by the raised platforms keeping guests from the hot springs. They crossed right over to get to the springs for drinks. The slight drizzle was turning into rain. Time to leave Yellowstone.

The ride back was long. The whole group was looking forward to settling down with beer and burgers. Of course we had to hit a pull-off right at sunset with an amazing view of the Grand Tetons.

We had one more detour about 5 miles out from the hotel. A few cars were stopped on the narrow road. We strained to find the attraction in the woods and were ultimately treated to glimpses of a bear cub in a tree. Dave had put the big camera away in the trunk so the only camera we had available was the little point-and-shoot. The photos prove we saw a bear just as well as any picture proves Bigfoot exists.

We made it back to the hotel and went to the burger / craft beer joint attached to the nearby Four Seasons Hotel. Everything was great, just not cheap. After dinner we hit up The Mangy Moose for a nightcap. Why not extend a long day when another one is coming again tomorrow? We had a great time touring Yellowstone and were looking forward to touring the Grand Tetons the next day.