Monday, September 30, 2013

The Wicked Thorn Trail Run at Galena Fest

This past Sunday was my second year participating in The Wicked Thorn 7.25 mile trail running race which took place at the Galena Creek Park (on the way to Lake Tahoe via Mt. Rose Highway). The Galena Creek Recreation Area is a great place to mountain bike, hike and snowshoe (in the winter) with breathtaking views of the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest.
The park is a quick 15 to 20 minutes' drive from Reno depending on whether you're driving from downtown or from the airport. Next time you visit, take a walk through the aspens or go on a challenging day hike through the forest along the creek and have a picnic. There are beautiful the photos of the Jones Whites Creek Loop Trail here:
At Galena Fest before the race with friends.

The Galena Fest is growing every year and starts with the Bloody Thorn competitive mountain bike climb to the summit of Relay Peak overlooking Lake Tahoe. There's also food and beer booths, other vendors, and live music for families to enjoy.

I have to admit, I did not feel like running the race this year and could not get excited about it. But I had already paid for registration and so I told myself it would be a training run at the least. My friend, Joan, was also there to run so I would not be at the race alone.
The course was out-and-back with a loop around Jones Whites Creek and had about 1,400 feet of elevation gain. As usual, the start of the race was brutal because it was a climb for the first half mile of up to 14% grades. Then there was relief for half a mile before climbing again of grades up to 22% (you can see in the race profile, 15 minutes into the race).
Not having a pre-race warm up made it even harder to run the first few miles. I usually do not warm up before races anyway but I also know that I do better after a one mile jog before regular runs. So you can imagine that for the first three miles into this race I seriously wanted to just stop, turn around and go home. But I kept going, spurred by the thought of the embarrassment I'd face from being the first to cross the finish line and having to say I dropped out. So instead I kept following the single track trail behind other runners all the while telling myself I am NOT running this next year!

Perhaps the views, such as these, that kept me going.  I thought at least it was sunny and I was outside doing something active.  On the bright side, the longer it took to finish, the more time I would have had a cardio workout.
Photo credit: Galena Creek Visitor Center
Photo credit: Galena Creek Visitor Center
After three miles I crested the hill and knew the rest would be a descent to the creek and relatively flat. I was more familiar with the trail at the point and so I made up my mind to run a better time than I did last year.

I really surprised myself when finished 9 minutes 17 seconds sooner than I had clocked last year. I had a slow start in this race and dragged my feet for so long that after the turnaround point, I started to pick up the pace and pushed myself to make up time. I knew I was not going to win but I was not going to lose to my time last year because then I would really hate myself for not putting forth the effort.
My friend ran with me for the sprint to the finish.
I ran SO HARD I thought I would never catch my breath after I crossed the finish line. I had set a new personal record (PR) of on 1-mmile (it may have been during the downhill but it was the fastest pace I've held for a mile) and a PR on 1k
Nearly collapsed running 1 minute 20 second min/mile faster than last year.

Unlike in last year's Wicked Thorn, I did not cross the finish line with a smile on my face but with a grimace and a mouthful of sport beans I couldn't swallow and then was gasping for air until I recovered. But I finished, 9 minutes and 17 seconds faster than my time last year!!

Wicked Thorn 2013: My finish time was 01:21:00 at a 11:12 min/mi. pace. I came in 91st out of 210 runners who finished within the 2 hour time cut off and placed 24/55 in my age group (Female 30 - 39 years old). 43.3% overall, 43.6% in age group.

Wicked Thorn 2012: My finish time was 01:30:17 at a 12:32 min/mi. pace. I came in 130th out of 177 runners who finished within before the 2 hour time cut off and placed 22/36 in my age group (Female 30 - 39 years old). 73.4% overall, 61.1% in age group.

Don't ask me yet if I plan to run next year. ;-)  I have a year to think about it, LOL.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Oktoberfest in Squaw Valley

On Saturday, John went riding while I caught up around the house. Then we went to Oktoberfest in Squaw Valley to celebrate the coming of October. We grabbed commemorative cups to drink beer from the beer garden and then snagged ourselves some tasty bratwurst and kraut. There was a 20-piece Bavarian band on the main stage to entertain the crowd and many other contests and activities. The bratwurst tossing contest was pretty funny to watch. It was a gorgeous day and after the festivities, we were ready for October.
Bratwurst and kraut on a toasted bun with caramelized onions, sauteed peppers and fixins'.

The Sign Said...

My office is at the end of the hall where I sit in a corner and it is very hard for my co-workers to see if I am at my desk or away from my desk. Today, John and I got a sign to put on my office door so that it will be very easy for my colleagues to tell if I am in ...or out. :-)


Saturday, September 28, 2013

YNAB You Need a Budget Discount Code

If you use my referral code, it will save you 10% or $6 and I will earn $6 for a future upgrade.
To get your 10% or $6 discount for YNAB Personal Finance Software:
  1. Go to:
  2. Click: ‘Take me to the store’ button
  3. Click ‘Purchase’ on top
  4. Now you will see the discounted price!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fall Season

Like clockwork the fall season is here. The leaves have turned and the average daily temperatures are cooler. Even on the mountains, there is a light dusting of snow!
More and more knee high boots and scarves are being worn on campus.
Reno scenery
More and more people are outdoors to enjoy the cool, crisp air and fall season.
fall wreath
I will miss summer but I am looking forward to the changes to come. On our front door, we've put out a fall wreathe...
...and the pumpkins on the porch wait patiently to be carved.

We look forward to Oktoberfest! The music, brats and krauts, games, entertainment, and beer gardens!
At home we can finally use our fire pit and roast marshmallows on the toasty flames. Fall also means wine tasting time!

In other news, Street Vibrations is in town and so Virginia Street through downtown Reno is closed.  A couple weekends ago was the Reno Air Races which I was really lucky to attend for two days. It was so much fun!! More on that later.

Friday, September 20, 2013

How I got in trouble with the trash can.

Picture this. The side door that leads into the garage of our house is inside a 6-foot tall wood fence that is usually locked. On trash day, we unlock the fence and drag the trash bin through the fence gate to the street or push it through the side door into the garage and down the driveway.

On this particular morning, I open the garage door, start my scooter and back it out of the garage. Seeing that trash pickup had already passed by, I thought I would quickly roll the emptied trash bin off the street to put it away. I left my scooter running to warm up since I would only be a minute and retrieve the container from the street. I was going to roll it into the garage and through the side door but since John rode his bicycle to work, his car was parked in there and the pathway was too narrow for the garbage bin to go through.

So I roll the trash bin around the side of the house through the unlocked fence gate and stand the bin on the concrete slab landing next to the side door. Feeling accomplished I locked the gate (the lock is on the inside of the fence, on the yard side) and proud of myself that I remembered to lock the gate. I had forgotten to lock the gate the last time and a little birdie let me know ;-)

Now I can go on with the rest of my day. I proceed to go through the side door into the garage but the door was locked from the inside. I am unable to go through the fence gate because I just locked it. I have no keys on me. All of my keys are on my scooter which I can still hear running in the driveway. I had just locked myself in the yard!! The patio door in the back is also locked--there is no way into the house.

I climb onto the trash bin and look over the wooden fence. It is a long way down onto the other side and upon landing, I would surely twist an ankle on the smooth river rock landscaping. How was I going to get out of here?? Meanwhile, I wondered what our new neighbors must be thinking if they were looking outside to see me clamoring over the garbage can trying to get over the fence--with my scooter helmet still on.

Eventually I got myself out of the backyard and was relieved to be riding my scooter and on my way to the office.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Virginia City Camel Races

After John rose before the crack of dawn to go with me to see the Great Reno Balloon Race one day, I doubted whether he would want to attend the Virginia City Camel Races the next day but somehow I convinced him to go and we were both glad we went.  

The International Camel Races is a three day event held in September at the living ghost town of Virginia City, Nevada. Filled with great food, drinks, and entertainment it is a must-see event when visiting Reno-Tahoe-Sparks, NV. It was our chance to see camels, ostriches, emus, zebras and chickens race!!

There were different seating areas and, in my opinion, all have great views of the arena where the races took place. You can ride a camel for a lap inside the arena for $5. Then settle down with a heaping pile of fries or nachos or ice cold draft beer (which was what we did) and listen to the live musician/entertainer as the fun begins.

After the introduction of the camels, zebras, and ostriches the rounds of races started.
Video of camel racing.

Video of ostrich racing.
These Dromedary Camels have a single hump and, unlike the two-hump Bactrian Camel, will not spit on you.

Racing Zebras

Sitting on the bleachers can get painful after an hour or two so bring a pad to sit on. We originally started sitting there but moved to the folded chairs for more space and breathing room (those chairs were much more comfortable). Also, bring an umbrella or a wide brimmed hat for shade. It can get hot out there.

I am so glad we went to the camel races this year; it a lot of fun! You'll must watch the videos in this slideshow of the races.
Reno-Gazette Journal article:

Monday, September 09, 2013

2013 Great Reno Balloon Race

One of my favorite times of the year is when the Great Reno Balloon Race (GRBR) is in town. The GRBR is the largest free hot air ballooning event in the world and for three days, you can look up in the sky and see a rainbow of hot air balloons floating around.
Balloons can be seen along N. McCarran Boulevard near UNR campus.
A balloon floats over downtown Reno, near the Circus Circus.
This year, John was in town so we got to go together. On Saturday, we woke up before the crack of dawn to watch the Glow Show (and other highlights of the event) where the balloons light up in the dark to illuminate the fields like a beacon of light for spectators. If you don't want to struggle to find parking or walk among a mass of people kicking up dust from the trails of the Rancho San Rafael Park, it is necessary to get there by 4:30 a.m. Once you are on the field, you can stroll along Balloon Boulevard to find breakfast, coffee or shop for souvenirs.  Or you can get up close to the balloons, pilots and crew to watch 'em prepare for the flight.

After the Glow Show is the Dawn Patrol (seven balloons qualified to fly in the dark because the change in atmospheric conditions can be drastic as the sun begins to rise makes it dangerous to fly) the balloons twinkle and glow to choreographed music like fireflies in the night). It is also a time of the morning where it gets really cold; I'm amazed to see how many adults and children wearing t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops. I guess I haven't acclimated yet, LOL. So dress in layers to stay warm and then you can peel off as the sun rises and the day gets warmer.

Then there is the Mass Ascension Launch of nearly 100 balloons after the singing of the national anthem and T-6 formation fly over. This is the "race" part where the balloons play a game of Poker Run; they fly around and drop bean bags onto oversized cards. The closest bean bag to the center of the card wins it for their hand.

What a neat event to experience in person! These photos just don't do it justice but I hope you enjoy them.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Hungry Valley

For a few hours today, the smoke from the Rim Fire appeared to let up so we took the opportunity to ride our bikes together. We headed north to the Reno/Sparks Indian Colony.  There is a steady climb of about 4 to 5% grade for two miles leading up to the Hungry Valley Community of the Paiute, Shoshone, and Washoe Indians.  I usually don't like hills but there was little traffic and it was so quiet out there that it was easy to keep a steady pedaling rhythm.  It was kind of therapeutic.  And although there was more traffic along Eagle Canyon Drive today than typical because of the Annual Numaga Pow-Wow, all (but one) of the drivers gave us plenty of room on the road when they passed by.

We would have loved to stay for the celebrations to enjoy the native foods and watch the event activities including a drum contest, team dance and chicken dance but neither of us remembered to carry cash or a payment card. Besides, the 31 miles we rode and 2,000 feet of climbing was enough (for me) for one day.  I am so out of shape, LOL.  When I lived in Vegas, I would go out and ride 78 miles on Saturday and then 56 miles on Sunday--on my own.  But I have to admit, I have not ridden regularly in Reno as I had in Vegas.

So after we rode home, we showered and freshened up and went to eat at Men Wielding Fire in downtown Reno.  I was craving some ribs but we didn't want to deal with the crowds at the Nugget Rib Festival again and knew the restaurant would have some ribs.
Probably the best onion rings I've ever had!
We had a nice lunch and afterwards ran some errands and then came home to spend more time with our cats. They love having us home and we love to be home with them!
For a day we thought the smoke would stay away but it was once again pretty bad in the afternoon. It feels and smells like you're walking around a smoky campfire. Except you cannot walk away from it to get fresh air because the smoke is everywhere so you just have to stay indoors. In some places you can see ash falling out of the air. It has made it difficult to do anything outside like running or cycling. Some people who work outdoors wear dusk masks (because of the microscopic pollution from the wildfire in the air) and the schools keep the students inside during recess because the air quality is so unhealthy.

There is a patio atop the building where I work that my co-workers like to go sit and eat our lunches. On any day you can see from mountain side to mountain side as far as you can see but this is what it looked like earlier this week.

The sunsets are pretty though.
Click to view larger panorama photo.
 The sunrises are eerie...with a gloomy feel. The sun casts a red light on the walls each morning.I think we are getting use to it by now. We are past the point where we were sick of the smoke. I hope it clears up soon. I can see the leaves on the trees turning and fall will soon be here so I would like to enjoy the season before winter comes.