Thursday, June 22, 2017

2017 Shires of Vermont Race Report and Video

Here is Holly's Shires of Vermont Race Report with Dave's comments and video.

Back to Vermont again thanks to the jerk race director from Vermont Cities. See my report from that one here. I really did not want to go back and do that one again and was very pleased that the Shires of Vermont marathon was back on again after a year hiatus. I had heard good things about it and was excited to run it. Then I saw the course profile. Holy hills! I was doing this one three weeks after Reno and knew I would either be beat up or more ready to run. If you read that report you know I fell during that race and I was still feeling the effects from the fall and was a bit worried.

Once again Dave will handle the pre race fun, but we did stop in a cute little town at a church for packet pick up the night before the race. One of the volunteers started chatting with me and she was so nice. I was not the only one looking for VT marathon redemption and she assured me that this was going to make up for it. We hit a pizza place for my traditional spaghetti and meatballs and went back to the hotel. We didn’t have to get up too early as the race didn’t start until 8 and we were only 10 minutes from the start. This is a point to point course that starts in Bennington and ends in Manchester. The race started at Bennington College and it was nice to have a place to wait with real bathrooms. A trumpet player played the national anthem and we were off and running. All 60 of us. Yes, 60.

It was a small race and I was soon bringing up the rear. I was with one other woman for a while, but I was in last place. No big deal for me. But I’m sure for some it would be difficult. As soon as I passed a water station or a mile marker sign on the road they would start packing up or pull the sign. I got to know that same volunteer whom I chatted with the night before pretty well as she was in charge of pulling the signs.

The course was GORGEOUS. Hilly, but GORGEOUS. I was doing ok, but the first miles were mentally tough for me. The hills were ok, but I knew the tough ones were still to come. We were on a hard packed dirt road for quite a few miles, but I didn’t mind it, since we were running through some pretty woods. We got to about the halfway point and got to run through a covered bridge! Dave ran through with me, carrying the GoPro of course. Now the huge hill was next. It’s a category 5 hill, which if you follow bike racing you know what that means. I walked up it and it was a nice break mid race for my mind and body. After the top is was downhill for several miles and that was great.

Miles 16-20 are my toughest miles mentally and to have a nice downhill for those miles was perfect timing. I was feeling good and the hard part was over. We got in to the town of Manchester and I was slowing down and was starting to get hungry. One more uphill here that was pretty tough, but soon I was approaching the finish line. I didn’t finish in last, but pretty close! I received a super cool handmade medal and they had plenty of post race food: chocolate milk, baked potatoes and watermelon.

The volunteers were AMAZING. The best I have ever seen. They were very energetic and enthusiastic. There were also some guys on bikes riding around and checking on us and they always had an encouraging word. Also one woman volunteer was driving around and she asked if I needed anything and I asked if she knew if the Nuun energy drink they had at the aid stations had caffeine, since I can’t have caffeine. She didn’t know, but said she would find out. She drove back about ten minutes later and let me know that they didn’t. I couldn’t have asked for better support. I highly recommend this race. I’m so glad I decided to do this race as my Vermont do-over. Small races really are my favorite and the people running this race know how to do it.

Dave's Comments

We had another nice long flight delay for this trip and landed in Albany pretty late. By the time we arrived in Bennington the only thing barely still open was Wal-Mart. We had a fine dinner of wine and Lunchables. The next morning we were trying to determine what the area had to offer. Turns out not a lot. Manchester had some shopping and dining, but that was about it. We checked out the Battle of Bennington Monument commemorating the defending of an important weapons cache during the Revolutionary War.

After checking out the area from a high place we drove 90 minutes to a brewery. The drive was very scenic and the location of Long Trail was right on a pretty riverbank. We stayed for one beer and then drove some more towards Harpoon's Windsor location. Another great spot along a stream with a few other local shops and distillery in the complex. We enjoyed lunch with our friends Charlie and Karen. Dinner was at Ramuntos Pizza, which was one of the few places in town we found spaghetti and meatballs on the menu. They had a great beer selection and some decent NY style pizza.

Long Trail

Race Chasing on Sunday was pretty darn easy. Not many people in the race and the roads were very lightly traveled. The only food I could find on the course was at mile 1.5. After that it was self-sufficency. Surprising fact since this race went through a few shires. With no real stops and a very open course I spent a lot of time looking at trees. After the race we had some really good burgers at Madison Brewing in town and went back to Ramuntos for a different beer selection. Bennington closed down early on Sundays so we spent the rest of our evening at Chili's near the hotel.

Our plan on Monday was to browse Troy, NY. We heard it had an up-and-coming downtown. If this is true it's not apparent driving around. We altered our plans and checked out Druther's Brewing in downtown Albany before heading back to Troy for lunch at Brown's Brewing. Both were housed in old warehouses and made some nice improvements in the spaces.

Check out the race video below to see some great scenery and watch us go over a covered bridge.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Lake Tahoe and Virginia City

While out in Nevada for the Reno Downtown River Run Marathon we had the opportunity to visit two nearby tourist sites: Lake Tahoe and a Virginia City.

Lucky for us our friends Lee and Laura were with us to do all the navigating and driving. We occupied the back seats and took in the views. We reached the lake via Route 50 and took the southern route towards Stateline. We originally thought about doing the gondola ride up the mountain but decided the $45/pp price was a bit too steep (ha!). We parked in town near the marina to get a good long view of the lake.

That's a sailboat mast. Someone had a bad day.

Our next stop was the Taylor Creek Trail and Visitor Center. The center was closed (too early in the season) and some of the trails were inaccessible due to flooding. The trail still gave us access to beautiful meadows, forests, mountains, and lake shore.

After our pleasant walk around Taylor Creek we headed up the mountain to Emerald Point. About 1/2 of the tourists in northern Nevada were here to take in the view.

We were all getting hungry and needed lunch. How lucky were we to find a brewery just nine miles away? Tahoe Mountain Brewery was perfectly situated in Tahoe City. The large town park and lake was just across the street. We enjoyed a great lunch and some excellent beer. We walked around the park for a few minutes before heading back to Reno.


Dinner that night was at Campo in downtown Reno. Food was average but the beer list was good, wine selection seemed ok, and the room was nice. We were offered wine while waiting for our table - nice touch. We were entertained by prom-goers (about 30 of them) having their pre-dance dinner and paying the waiter individually.

The day after the marathon we headed to Virginia City. Dave had never heard of it, but the town was made famous by its silver mining in the 1800's. Its fame was boosted by the TV show Bonanza. Town was pretty dead on an off-season Monday with many businesses still closed for the winter. We walked the length of the main street to the school and an active mine. We also visited the shooting gallery, town museum, visitor center, and a few shops. We learned that at one time this was the richest city in the U.S. and Mark Twain started his writing career at the local newspaper. Lunch was pizza and local beer at the Red Dog Saloon. It was worth the time to visit the town even though it was a bit of a tourist-trap.

Our final visit on this trip was to Great Basin Brewery since it was near the airport and we had enough time for one more. The more interesting part of the visit was leaving. We put another item back into the trunk of Lee's SUV and exited the strip mall onto a busy 6 lane road. About ten seconds in the trunk flies open and half our luggage tumbles onto the street. Lee pulled over while three of us ran into traffic to save the bags. Dave was really scared his camera, lens, and iPad were toast. Thankfully all electronics were fine and only the bags suffered minor scratches and tears.


First picture Dave took after the luggage incident.

We are now on our way to have another adventure with Lee, Laura, Stan, and Pam. Dave and Lee are in charge of the car so we will be sure the hatches are battened-down.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

2017 Reno Downtown River Run Marathon Race Report and Video

Here is Holly's report for the 2017 Downtown River Run Race. Video and Dave's comments follow.
Before we begin the report we need to note that Holly's 50 States marathon quest was a featured story in the Reno Gazette-Journal.

There are not many choices for a marathon in Nevada. The Las Vegas one would be fun, but it starts at 4pm and I really dislike running at any time other than early morning. The Hoover Dam one sounded great, but it was a double loop course and I have tried to avoid those as they can be pretty boring on the second loop. I zeroed in on the Downtown River Run in Reno. It sounded like a pretty course along the river and it was a small race which I prefer. I also figured Dave would enjoy the gambling! Unfortunately a week before the race they announced the course would be changing due to all the bad weather they had during the winter. It would now be a double loop course. UGH! We were meeting our good friends Lee and Laura for the weekend and we were excited to see some of the sights. Dave will cover that in another post.
We all stayed at the Harrah’s in Reno. It was located right at the start/finish line so super convenient. We met in the lobby 20 minutes before the start and still just waited there until about 5 minutes before because it was a bit chilly. Lee and Laura were doing the relay with me. Laura was up first and without much fanfare, no national anthem, the race started. We were both noticing how winded we were. We were at elevation, 4600’ or so, but we both felt worse than we did in Jackson (Wyoming) which is a higher elevation. We were trying to chat with each other and it was difficult to form a complete sentence, it was pretty comical. Thankfully my breathing settled down, but it took about 6 miles. The course was very pretty with mountain views all around and we ran through some nice neighborhoods and parks. We were going a bit too fast and I kept trying to slow myself down and it just wasn’t happening. I would pay for that later. Dave and Lee were doing a good job race chasing but had some trouble due to the course map not being super precise with road names.

The first lap was completed and I said goodbye to Laura and hello to Lee to run with me to the finish. I was doing ok, but the altitude was getting to me and the too fast start as well. I had to psych myself up around Mile 18 and said, of course you are tired, it’s a marathon, and it’s supposed to be hard. That helped and we continued on.

Things were going better until Mile 21 when we turned onto a downhill portion and I tripped. I fell face first and landed on my right hand and knee. I had some serious road rash but the worst was the calf cramps that occurred at impact. I was screaming bloody murder and poor Lee thought I broke my ankle. I finally was able to get out cramp and he tried to help stretch it out. Super painful, honestly the worst pain of my life. It finally subsided and I got up and we started slowly going again. We met up with our race chasers who were by an aid station. Unfortunately, the aid station didn’t have any band aids or anything so we just rinsed off the cuts as best as we could and got going. Our race chasers met up with us again and they had some band aids. I was hurting and the running was few and far between for the last few miles. Lee was great and stuck with me, even though it hurts his knee to walk more.

We finally got back into town and saw the glorious finish line. We finished! I wasn’t sure when I went down if I would be able to but we did it and I was very happy. We went over to the med tent and they were packing up, but some very nice young firemen took great care in cleaning out my wounds and bandaging them up. I have to say that I felt very safe on this course. There are many races where I can run for a quite a while and not see anyone. This race had a few motorcycle cops constantly going up and down the course checking on us. I was grateful for this support. The race was a good small race and I would think it would be even more beautiful if we would have been able to run the whole course as intended along the river trail. I would recommend this race, just try and stay on your feet!

Dave's Comments
The double-loop course made this one easy to follow since you only had to really learn about 7 miles worth of road. Lee and I were thrown off in the beginning by a surprise road closure. We turned down a residential street that intersected their path, but the running trail was fenced-off from the community. We did not catch Holly and Laura until around mile 4. From then on it was a piece of cake. Snacking options on the course were horrific. One cafe/coffee house was the lone business selling food on this stretch of road. Not even a gas station. As usual I was self-supplied and feasted on Diet Coke, Salt and Vinegar Chips, and a granola bar.

After the race we took in Reno's growing beer culture. We had lunch at Brew Brothers in the El Dorado Hotel and Casino. What a difference from Harrah's! This casino was nice and had many more of the modern slot machines than Harrah's. The beer was non-eventful but the food was very good. Our second stop was a few blocks away at The Depot. They were both a brewery and distillery housed in a beautifully restored train station built in 1910. The beers were good quality, just not much in our preferred dark/non-hoppy category. The food coming out of the kitchen looked great.

Based on closing times we could only hit one more brewery of the two choices on the block. We walked passed Lead Dog to visit Under the Rose because UTR offered more darks. This was our favorite place. Under the Rose is housed in a metal-walled warehouse from the mid 1930's. While enjoying our beers we took advantage of their games including giant Jenga, Candy Land, and bocce on a full-sized court.

With Under the Rose closing at 6:00 we had to find another place for beers. Laura and I discovered Siri's Casino across from our hotel while race chasing. The small casino offered many craft beers on tap as well as a full line of daiquiris just like a Fat Tuesday's. It didn't have the best atmosphere, but the beers were good and a decent price. Dinner was back in the hotel at Joy Luck Noodle Bar. Not the best Asian food, but good enough for what we wanted. One entree could have fed 3 people comfortably.

As far as gambling - we hit a few slots and had some exciting wins which were mitigated by losses at $5 a time here-or-there. Successful trip in-the-fact we only lost about $20.