First from Eagan, first of those born on 1/19 – my results sheet and bib from the 1996 Bloomsday 12K in Spokane
- Rhode Island
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
(I think this is accurate)
Spirit of British Columbia over, Spirit of Vancouver Island on the way back
When the good people at Grandma’s Marathon announced plans for the 40th anniversary of the race, I perked up when they said runners who registered early would get a special jacket. When they published a picture of the medal, I signed up right away.
Guess I’m still a sucker for nice bling.
Lots of other people were apparently excited by this year too, with 9,100 runners selling out the race for the first time in quite a while. This was my eighth Grandma’s (and 26th marathon), but I hadn’t been up there to run since 2011. Love the race and how the city embraces the weekend, so I’m not sure why I waited so long to return again.
With my work schedule completely out of control right now, I was not nearly as prepared for this race as I would’ve liked to be. I did get in long runs of 17.5, 21.5 and 15 miles in the weeks leading up to the race, but there wasn’t much in the way of short weekday runs (or any cross-training or speed work). Add in my Garmin dying the week of the race and a forecast for hot and humid weather and my time expectations for this race went out the window.
My A, B, C and D goals were all very low-key: get an official finish under seven hours to get the damn medal, beat my worst Grandma’s time (5:26:54), keep it in the fours and, finally, try to beat my Des Moines time (4:37:23). Three out of four was pretty good on a day when the weather warning flags went from green to yellow to red to black as the day went on.
We stayed at my sister’s apartment again and I got dropped off downtown to catch the train to the start. I thought getting there at 4:50 was plenty of time, but the line to board was already down the street. Capacity must be way higher than it seems, though, as everyone in line before me only filled the front half of the train. Talked with three other runners on the way to Two Harbors, including a friendly woman from Colorado and a sixty-year-old gentleman who is a fan of the Galloway run-walk method.
We arrived at the starting line just before seven and I actually waited in line for a port-o-potty (which I think is a first for me). Maybe I missed it, but I don’t think they did the flyover before the start (which was always a highlight for me). Looked around a bit to see if I could find anybody I knew, but decided to head to the chute when it got crowded. No real announcement to start this year either – everyone just started moving slowly to the line and we were off.
Running without a Garmin was strangely liberating. I just wanted to take it slow and let my muscles take over instead of my brain. The only anxiety I had was due to the 4:15 pacer, who I traded places with twice. This race doesn’t have many clocks on course, so I knew I hit the halfway mark around 2:10. After that I had no idea until mile 25, but I knew I was going slower the second half because of walk breaks through each water stop to rehydrate, take on ice and sponges and pour water over my head (all tricks I learned the last time it was too hot).
As I’ve said before, this race takes on a whole new feel when you enter Duluth city limits after mile 18. The crowd support is amazing and they helped me run non-stop from the last water stop at mile 25 to the finish line, where I finished in 4:47:36 (10:59 Minute Miles). Full results can be found here, including my official splits (10K – 59:02, 13.1M – 2:10:22, 20M – 3:30:47 and 25M – 4:34:45).
Next up: Afton Trail Run 50K on July 2
Last week I had two different people ask me if I missed the casino world. After some inner reflection, I realized I do a little bit – it’s an exciting industry filled with a lot of great people. I still enjoy visiting places like Mystic Lake and figuring out which machines are new, how they change floor layouts, what types of promotions they run to attract more business and other aspects of the operation (which I still feel is one of the best around).
This also made me realize that I never wrote up a trip summary from last fall’s Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, held way back on September 28 – October 1 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. I hadn’t planned to attend this event originally, so my hotel choices were a bit limited and I ended up at the newly branded LINQ (formerly the Imperial Palace). While the location is great, I don’t think I’ll be going back there again. Nothing majorly horrible – I just prefer other resorts.
G2E is a huge show and I was lucky enough to attend five times during my casino career. The same companies and people are usually present every year and you have the added benefit of the Vegas Strip as a backdrop. This usually leads to a number of great (free) parties and the 2015 edition was no different. This time I held back a little on the drinking side of things, but was excited to finally see the inside of Tao, Lavo and Omnia. It was also great fun to spend time with Vanessa, Jason, Ryan, Peter, Shannon, Mike, Jenn and EJ. Hope to see all of them again at some point.
On the business side of things, I love evaluating new slot machines. As you can see in the photo gallery after the jump, licensed theme games continue to be extremely popular. My favorite new titles were The Simpsons, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey and Cirque du Soleil Kooza (a natural for Vegas slot floors if there ever was one). Games I felt were duds include Caddyshack (dislike 3×3 reel games), Frogger (complete waste of a license, poor gameplay, major let down from normally strong Konami) and Space Invaders (skill-based arcade games will only work when you have controls as good as the originals, IMO).
A few other items I remember from the show floor include seeing Pitbull promote his new Playboy slot machine (along with multiple Bunnies), a James Bond-themed welcome party and the Ultimate Chef Showdown judged by Cake Boss Buddy Valastro and Gavin Kaysen’s mentor, Daniel Boulud. I also had an interesting discussion at the MICROS booth (now owned by Oracle). Turns out I’m not the only one who feels the merger has basically destroyed what was once a solid, reliable business partner.
Speaking of food, I had quite a long list of Vegas restaurants I wanted to visit. I was hoping to hit db Brasserie at the Venetian right away, but they were “out of food” by the end of lunch that day. Spots that were open: Hash House A Go Go at the LINQ, Giada at the Cromwell, Bouchon at the Venetian and Yusho at the Monte Carlo. All were wonderful.
Ended up taking a red-eye home, so I had a lot of time to walk around various properties on the last day of the trip. I hiked over to New York, New York to get a glimpse of the new arena being built by MGM and AEG (now called T-Mobile Arena). The new hole in CityCenter where The Harmon used to stand was a bit dramatic. I also stopped in at the Bellagio Gallery of Art and took in the Picasso – Creatures and Creativity exhibition (for free, thanks to MyVegas).
Perhaps this post was best left unwritten, as now I just want to go back again…