Vegas 2016 – Day 3

After a tough day of running on Saturday, my wife and I wanted something easier for our recovery runs on Sunday. We knew there was a paved path that paralleled the Las Vegas wash, and ran very close to where we are staying. We also knew that we didn’t want to deal with the same type of heat that we dealt with yesterday, so we were out the door by 6:45 am and on our way.

IMG_4220Because I was pretty beat up from the trail, and the recovery from heat exhaustion, I kept it very, very slow this morning. I needed at least 10 miles today, to make up for missing a run last week. We had decided to do an out-and-back to keep it simple, and my pace was about 2 minutes per mile slower than my usual pace. I’m pleased to report that everything went very smoothly, and in a couple of hours we were back in our room feeling good and ready for the day.

Once we were cleaned up we met up with some additional family and had a wonderful pontoon ride on Lake Las Vegas. The weather was beautiful today, and riding in a shaded pontoon was amazing. Compared to Minnesota lakes, Lake Las Vegas is only moderately sized, meaning we circled very slowly around the entire lake in about an hour. Even places like Lake Harriet in Minneapolis are bigger. But, when you’re in a state where lakes (and water in general) are a rare commodity, a place like Lake Las Vegas is quite the oasis from the desert.

IMG_4224After the boat ride we all went for some lunch, and I got to have a very nice and large black-n-blue burger. After lunch we bid farewell to the extended family, and my wife and I headed out on our own to hit a local taproom, Bad Beat Brewing. Once there, I ordered up a flight of their in-house beers and got to sampling. Overall, their beers were adequate, however nothing terribly special. Their Amber was quite good, as well as their Hefe, but their IPA was very, very dank, and their German Pilsner was completely sulfuric and undrinkable. I then grabbed an 8 oz pour of one of their guest beers, a Gose from Sierra Nevada, which was delightful.

As we were pulling out of the parking lot we noticed another taproom across the street that has just opened up. I would have loved to have stopped there as well, but I was already feeling a bit full of beer, and decided we’d save that for another trip. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing and preparing to head to the airport for a midnight flight back home.

Overall, this was a really nice trip. We got some running in, including a race, drank some good beer, had lots of great food, and spent a lot of time with family. Even though I had a rough Saturday afternoon with the heat exhaustion, I can’t really complain, since the rest of this trip was nice and relaxing. Pulling into the Twin Cities at 6 am on a Monday morning will be tough, so I’m thankful I preemptively took the day off of work. Tuesday will come soon enough, and then it’s back into the swing of day-to-day life.

Vegas 2016 – Day 2

Saturday is race day! The plan was to complete two races, as part of the Blood, Sweat and Beers trail race. They offer the option of doing a race in the morning (of various distances), and then doing another race after dark. My wife and I signed up for some various distances and arrived at the start line early Saturday morning.

IMG_4204I signed up for the half marathon in the morning, and planned to do the 10K at night, whereas my wife planned to do the 10K for both races. The races take place in Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City, NV; which was a beautiful setting, although challenging to run. I launched my half marathon race at 9:30am, which frankly was a bit late in my mind, considering it would mean we would be running in the heat of the day in the desert.

The half marathon course consisted of 4 major climbs, one of which was the lead-up to the first aid station. The second and third climbs were loops that extended from the first aid station and back again, with some major climbs back up to the aid station. The final climb was the most annoying part of the course in my mind. After the third time through the first aid station, we were directed all the way down to the highway in Boulder City, and then had a long, slow, 2 mile climb back up to the finish line. This aggravation was compounded by the fact that you could see the finish line parking lot in the distance for almost the entire 2 miles, but you kept curving around and going up and down, making what seemed like very little visual progress.

IMG_4216I had hoped to cross the finish line in 3 hours, but the course was very rough, rocky and hilly, so I didn’t make it across the line until 3:23. The heat of the day was really starting to get to me, and I crossed the line very crabby. I grabbed my free beer and found a chair to sit in and stew. My wife had completed her 10K in pretty good time, but also agreed that the course was very rough. I drank my beer and then we headed into Boulder City to get some lunch.

This is where everything took a bad turn. As we sat down at the restaurant I started to not feel very well. My wife helped me to the restroom where I collapsed onto the floor, grasping the toilet. I then slowly lowered myself onto the floor and essentially passed out for a moment. My wife was a champ and took my pulse, and got wet rags on my head to cool me down and get me back awake. Needless to say, we left the restaurant and headed back to the resort where I started to feel crappy again. I managed to rest a bit and take a nice shower and crawl into bed for most of the afternoon.

IMG_4217I had been incredibly diligent this morning to make sure that I was drinking enough water, and wetting down my head as much as possible. However, I was taking in very little electrolytes, and my wife’s theory is that I had actually flushed many of my electrolytes in my system with how much I had drank. That, in combination with what was most likely some heat exhaustion, combined to make for a very rough afternoon. One of the pitfalls of travel running, and not being acclimated to a different climate.

Needless to say, the second race of the day never happened. By evening time, I was feeling pretty good, so we went to dinner with the family, and then sat at the bar for a while and just relax. Sunday is our final day in Vegas, and hopefully I’ll feel well enough to do a gentle run in the morning. Otherwise, we’ve got some plans for lunch and eventually back to the airport for a red-eye home.

Vegas 2016 – Day 1

I awoke Friday morning in what is becoming a familiar location, near Lake Las Vegas. We’re out here for a long weekend to visit family, and run a desert trail race on Saturday. Friday, however, was just for hanging out and exploring.

We started the day looking for some breakfast, and because everything around where were staying was closed, we ended up at a breakfast buffet at a nearby hotel. We then decided to check out a couple museums in town. The first place we hit was the Atomic Testing Museum, near the campus of University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
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This museum displayed the history of the atomic era, and the development of America’s main testing site near Las Vegas. Despite living through the 1980s and the Cold War, there was much about the early history of the atomic era that I wasn’t aware of. In particular, the number of underground tests that continued until 1992. Overall, the museum was very educational and well worth stopping at. For many of us who lived in an era of nuclear weapons, it’s important to realize what those weapons took to create, and what they cost us as a society, and to the individual engineers involved.

As a bonus, this museum also had a side exhibit about Area 51. There wasn’t much to say about this particular exhibit. The “mystery” aspect was kinda cheesy, but overall it presented a mostly complete history of the Roswell incident as well as how the UFO culture developed in the 60s. Once we finished walking through the exhibit we headed for our second museum stop of the day.

IMG_4199That next stop was at the Pinball Museum, a large warehouse nearby FILLED with old pinball machines, and classic arcade games. We each grabbed a few bucks of quarters and played some great games. I even got to play some classic pinball machines unlike any I’d ever played before. In particular it was fascinating to see an old mechanical scoring mechanism that would advance as I got various bonuses.

Once we finished with our museum trips we headed to a running store where the packet pickup was for our race. Before that we stopped at a Whole Foods for a little light lunch, and I discovered that some Whole Foods have bars in them. For lunch I got to try a very nice saison from a California brewery.

IMG_4201We picked up a bit of nutrition for the race tomorrow at the running store, and then went out back to the packet pickup. As we got in line to pick up our bibs we quickly realized that this race company isn’t nearly as organized as other races we’re used to working with. There were a ton of issues with people getting their bibs, and 20-30 minutes later we still didn’t have everything we needed.

First, they never sent out bib numbers to participants, and the only thing the volunteers had were sheets that were in bib number order. So that meant they had to look for people’s names on multiple sheets to see what number they were. Then, they had to look through boxes of bags to find the correct bag with the bib number on it (instead of having a stack of bibs, and generic bags that you combine when the person shows up). Then they couldn’t find all the bibs, so my wife is having to wait until tomorrow, at the race start, to get her bib. Overall, the entire experience was frustrating and amateur. I’m hopeful that the experience at the race tomorrow will make up for the bad experience today.

At this point in the day it was time for a nap, before heading to a casino for some dinner. It was a nice first day in Vegas, and Saturday is going to be filled with running, beer, and then more running. All of which is taking place in much warmer conditions than back home in Minnesota.

Trip packing

Packing for a trip is always a bit of a small adventure. First, there’s the element of planning that goes into it; knowing how many days of clothes to bring, and what types of clothes. Then, there’s the spatial component; trying to figure out how to get everything to fit in the smallest numbers of bags. It’s truly a mixing of the liberal arts and the sciences!

All of this is compounded when you’re a runner, and you’re planning on running and racing when you’re on vacation. Not only do you need to figure out your regular street clothes, but you also need to deal with running shoes, clothes, hydration equipment, GPS watch, and massage sticks for after the race. It’s all worth it though, especially if you’re getting to run someplace different and cool, like the desert. Well… maybe not ‘cool’ when talking about the desert.

 

Norseman Distillery Cocktail Room

In the last legislative session in Minnesota, there was a tiny ray of hope that our state can make some progress when it comes to silly alcohol restrictions (like Sunday Sales). In the liquor bill, they added language that allowed for craft distilleries to have their own cocktail rooms. This change means that distilleries can now operate similar to a brewery and serve their own product on site, direct to the consumer.

Last night my wife and a few friends and I headed down to the new Norseman Distillery Cocktail room to sample what they had. The place is in an old brick warehouse and it feels very warm and homey. They provide table service, so you simply walk in and find a place to sit. Although Wednesday night was a bit light for traffic, the past weekend was apparently wall-to-wall people.

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When you sit down the server brings you out some water and an amuse-bouche. The amuse-bouche changes nearly every day, so you never know what you’ll get. Wednesday night was a very simple gin and lemon seltzer that tasted amazing. The rest of the menu is a selection of drinks that feature the distillery’s signature rum, vodka, and gin. I ordered a drink called a Hoover, which contained rum, fortified wine, and orange. It was a really great drink, with an aroma that was out of this world.

They also offer a simple cheese pizza if you need some food, as well as a selection of “driver drinks”. Since we had plans for afterwards, I just had one drink this time, but I saw a few others on the menu that also intrigued me. I’ve always been more of a beer guy, but with a cool environment, and creative flavors like you find at a cocktail room, I could certainly find myself being a repeat visitor to Norseman.