Tag Archives: Las Vegas

All Training and Racing Makes ActiveSteve Dull

Hey all! Before I embark on another few big adventures (starting with a 125km Trail Running Race at the UTHC, and followed by 3 weeks in NEPAL!!), I wanted to take things down a notch. Specifically, I wanted to address any concerns people might have that I spend all my time training and racing. Truth is, that is only one part of my busy, fun life! I can assure you all that I have a lot of other interests, and that I definitely do my share of relaxing and recovering (sometimes more than I should methinks… I *could* be on the podium more I suppose if I tried…). With that, I bring you a short post on a few fun things I did in the last week.

First off, I got on a jet plane and headed to Vegas, baby! Now, ostensibly, I was there as part of my job, attending a conference on the mobile wireless industry, but it was Vegas nonetheless. And, seeing as I have a couple very good friends who live down that way, I was able to head down a few days early, stay with them, and have some quality pool and trekking time!

Slideshow from Vegas

Bring on the Fun

In addition to visiting them and taking in the strip, I also managed to sneak away with Troy to the nearby Red Rocks park to do a little bit of light trekking and test out the 4×4 capabilities of Troy’s Jeep Liberty. We brought a couple of the dogs along with us and made a day of it. I think my favourite part of visiting this part of the world is the fact that Mexican food is plentiful, and delicious. I’m a bit of a taco fan, and managed to each Mexican almost every day down there! Add in the tasty new beers I sampled, and cool gadgets I saw at the conference, and it made for a relatively enjoyable “work week”. The only downside was the fact that I spent most of the late nights catching up on real work from the office!

Troy and Otis

To cap off my week down there, I was extremely fortunate to score a ticket to see Love, the Beatles-music inspired show from Cirque du Soleil. This was a really amazing show with spectacular acts and awesome music. My biggest challenge while at the show was trying to figure out exactly where to focus my attention. There were acts on the stage, acts high up in the air, and other acts in the wings pretty much the entire 90 minutes. I think I could watch the show 3 times and still see new costumes and feats!

The second bit of fun that I wanted to share actually straddles the line between fun and racing. On a whim, I volunteered to be what is known as a ‘Beer Bunny’ at the Ottawa Beer Run. When I read the description of the event, I realized that it is what I’ve been training for my entire life :-). You literally run from brewery to brewery, sampling the beers, and finish off at a big post-race party with even more beer!

Slideshow from the Beer Run

Ready to Start

All in all, we were visiting a total of 5 breweries for my ‘wave’. There were two route options, so of course I chose the longer one, at 15k (I pushed closer to 17k with some back-and-forth running I did with my group). As a beer bunny, I was more of a ‘crowd control’ and ‘beer shepherd’ dude than a pacer. We had to try and get everyone to each brewery in a certain amount of time, and also make sure they all cleared out after about 20 minutes. In addition, since the course wasn’t marked heavily, nor were there any road closures for it, the 4 ‘pacers’ in my wave spent time going back and forth making sure everyone made the right turns and were having a good time!

Cheers from Route 2 Wave 1

All in all, it was a BLAST! I definitely want to do this one again in future years, provided it works into my always-busy schedule. It was fun chatting with people and helping them get to that next beer that was always waiting for them. My wave visited Lowertown Brewing, Mill Street Brewery, Kichessippi Brewing (in a ‘mobile’ location on Bate island), the Clock Tower, and finished off at Beyond the Pale. Some of the bars even had snack food waiting. For example, at Clocktower, not only were we early tasters of the seasonal Pumpkin Ale, but we also had POUTINE!! Does this event not sound like a match made in heaven?

Although the weather had started out quite foul with heavy rainfall the entire day before and overnight, when we actually hit the road, it was barely raining anymore, and the sun even poked out a few times. All in all, it was an ideal time to run. Also, there was no pressure whatsoever. No timing chips. In fact, we would end up bunching up when the group hit red lights that we had to wait together at before moving along. If you are looking for a little motivation to do a longer run, I highly recommend this. With the entry fee, you got a nice tech t-shirt, 5 stops at breweries to have at least 8 ozs of beer at each, and a really cool medal that doubles as, what else, a bottle opener!

Checking in for Beer

To round out the fun of that event, Deanna also volunteered to be a ‘Brewery Captain’ at Mill Street, helping us get our bibs punched and beers drank before sending us off to the next venue. That meant we re-convened at the finish line, and I could enjoy a few more beverages before having her drive my tipsy self home :-).

All in all, this was a great way to cap off a week of relaxing and recharging, especially in light of the next race looming on my calendar. Although I still have a sore foot on account of plantar fasciitis, I’m planning ton complete the 125km race and live to tell the tale! Then after that, some quality time celebrating my wedding anniversary in the high Himalayas! How’d I get to be so lucky?? Stay tuned for more exciting tales…

Enjoying a Little Rest and Relaxation

Greetings sports fans. This post is definitely well overdue, but as you can guess by the title, I was really more focused on the R&R then I was writing a blog post 🙂 One of the best parts about deciding to take a couple months off was the fact that it would give me the chance to do a little bit of traveling. Of course, I promised Deanna I wouldn’t take any really long or exotic trips. The longest I was booked to go anywhere was Las Vegas for 2 weeks. In addition, I booked a week in Nova Scotia to visit and spend time with my dad. This post will give you a little taste of what these trips were all about, and the fun I got up to during the trips. And of course, there will be lots of pictures! Read on if you feel like heading about several national parks in the U.S. and brewery tours, along with great hikes!

NOVA SCOTIA

First up in my trip itineraries was a weeklong trip out east to enjoy some Maritime hospitality from my dad and his wife in Pictou, NS. Of course, I grew up on the east coast, so heading back that way is always a bit of a blast from the past and a chance to catch up on the gossip and the comings and going of Pictou County. While the primary purpose of this trip was to spend time with my dad, it was obviously not the only thing I did while there. For a few pictures and a little taste of what I got up to, check out these pictures:

Running along in the open air taking in the smells of the ocean was of course one thing I did. In addition, I found out that a new craft brewery had opened up not 5km away from dad’s house. Uncle Leo’s Brewery. I convincedIn dad to join me in some tastings and meeting the owners. Some nice brews, and they keep it simple there, which was nice. I liked their porter best. I also had a chance to borrow a light and fast XC mountain bike and joined an old friend from some mountain biking in an area I never been to. I was pretty impressed with the level of riding that can be found now in the county. I’m sure it didn’t exist when I was growing up. But then again, mountain biking really didn’t exist at all!

One of my only real ‘needs’ of going out east was making at least one day trip to Cape Breton. Rather than do a whole loop of the highlands this time though, I opted to just get dropped off at a trailhead in the Mabou Highlands area, and proceeded to spend a few hours hiking and running in the hills and to the ocean. It was a great getaway. Dad and Nicole spent the time having a bite to eat and touring by car in the area. Once we were all back together, we visited another craft brewery (Big Island Brewing), then drove to a brew pub in Antigonish for supper. All in all, a great day. In addition to those activities, I squeezed in few visits with old friends (including a mini grad class reunion at a pizzeria serving up the famous Pictou County Pizza. Oh yeah, and in that week, I somehow managed to simultaneously sell our current house AND buy our new place in Chelsea! A bit challenging to do all the negotiations while out of the province, but we pulled it off!

LAS VEGAS AND SURROUNDING AREAS

After Nova Scotia, after a tough 4-day adventure race and after the stress of buying and selling a house was done, it was time to really unwind. To do that, what better place to head to than Sin City? Flights are cheap, and I actually have a couple old and dear friends that now live down there, so I had a built in HQ for all the crazy desert adventures I had planned. Vegas itself really wasn’t high on the agenda for this trip. I was really taking advantage of the proximity to the amazing sights including the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Death Valley, Red Rocks Park, and the Hoover Dam. Yup, there was no shortage of things to do And thanks to Troy being free the whole time, I had someone to share some of the experiences with.

For a few of the days, the focus was on sampling new beers, playing pool and disc golf, and lounging in the pool and hot tub in the hot Vegas sun. Although temperatures up north had already started falling, it was still full ‘summer’ in Vegas! I managed a bit of running in it, and also Troy and I wandered off to the Red Rocks area for a nice little day hike with great views of the city in the desert. Before and after a weeklong trip to the parks, we did find time to hit the strip twice, with a focus on music. We hit the Brooklyn Bowl to catch the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, which was amazing, and also later in the trip a visit to the Las Vegas Country Saloon to see Hank 3, which was certainly interesting, with his split of classic country and in-your-face punk! Obviously though, the highlight would be the road trips out of town.

First up was a day trip with Troy’s car out to Death Valley. We left early in the morning on a weekday and made good time to get there. Skies were pretty grey, so temperatures were nowhere near the highs that they warn you about. We even went on several hikes in the full sun. It was clear that this isn’t a place to be trifled with, but given the lower temps, we were fine. We made our way all around the valley, hitting up Badwater, and the Devil’s Golf Course, as well as visiting the sand dunes. These were all pretty cool. However, our final stop was high above Badwater at a place called Dante’s Peak, which is where a surreal thing happened. It rained! And hailed! Yup, one of the driest and hottest places you can find, and I got caught out on a peak with a crazy storm with lightening, and watched the rain pouring into Death Valley. Good thing we weren’t exploring any slot canyons!

Next up in the adventure was renting a car for a week so we could immerse ourselves in some of the bigger national parks. First up would be the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We had tried to visit Zion first, but it was absolute madness there! Instead we decided to head to the farthest point on our itinerary then make our way back over the week. The North Rim was also pretty busy, so we had to set up our campsite about 12 miles out of the park. No big deal, but man was it COLD in the morning. We had FROST on the tent! We also learned from a ranger that instead of paying for camping, we could just drive on forest service roads and camp for free without permits! Our second night we did that, managing to find a spot RIGHT ON THE RIM OF THE CANYON! Yeah, for free. With a nice fire pit, and amazing views. What a discovery.

In addition to the cool camping spots, we were obviously there for some hiking. Originally, we had planned on making an overnight trek down to the Colorado via a remote route, but discovered all the overnight permits were spoken for. We re-planned the trip, and instead did a nice long out and back hike via the North Kaibab Trail. We also hit the Angel Point trail, as well as another cool trail along the rim at sunset near Imperial Point (highest vertical point in the Canyon). When people say that the views are awe-inspiring, they aren’t lying. I loved every minute of the outdoor adventure in the Canyon, and tried to take pictures that would do it justice. Some were ok, but really, it is best experienced in person.

The second major stop on our mini-tour was Bryce Canyon. Ironically, I hadn’t originally planned on visiting that park, as each park carries with is entrance fees, etc., so I had planned to just visit two parks. However, in the end, Troy picked up an annual parks pass, giving us access to all parks, so we figured what the heck! Plus, armed with our newfound knowledge around ‘free camping’, we got a line on some nearby forest camping we could use. I must say, I’m REALLY glad that we did make the trip here, as Bryce Canyon is an amazing sight, particularly the amphitheatre section. The colours and formations of the sandstone and hoodoos here is nothing short of otherworldly.

My one takeaway from Bryce was that the scenery was probably more spectacular than the Grand Canyon, but from the perspective of hiking trails, Grand Canyon took the cake. That’s not to say that we didn’t hike though. We did in fact spend most of the day hiking all around the canyons, with every twist and turn leading to more gorgeous colours and shapes. It was definite eye candy all the way. After a full day hiking there, we drove off to a nearby national park where we found another amazing campsite with some cool hiking trails around it. We hiked high up a hill yet again over supper to enjoy another amazing sunset. We lit up out third fire in 3 days, enjoyed a couple beers, and turned in for the night.

Thursday took us to the final stop in the tour: Zion National Park. Zion was pretty much my real reason for making this trip. I had seen it on various tv shows, and others had commented on how amazing this park was, so I HAD to visit. I was NOT disappointed. We arrived quite early in the morning, allowing us to nab a camping spot early, and head out on shuttle buses to explore the park. Zion is unique in that visitors can’t drive in, they have to actually take shuttle buses operated by the park to the trails and views. This protects the region, and manages traffic flow. It worked as advertised and in no time we found ourselves at the Angel’s Landing trailhead. I can’t say enough about this hike. It takes you up, up, and up, finally following a knife edge ridge trail that features chains to aid hikers. The views from the top? Well, you can see some images above. I LOVED it. Troy had turned back earlier on account of a bit of vertigo, so I was on my own up there, and for the rest of the day.

After Angel’s Landing, I basically boogied my way to almost every single front-country trail in Zion National Park. This park is pristine and gorgeous. After seeing all the front trails, I realized that I will HAVE to come back and spend more time doing some of the overnight hikes that are available here. In addition to Angel’s Landing, there was another trail that follows the West Rim trail of the park to a place called Sentinel Point. Sadly, it is closed on weekdays due to maintenance. However, I learned that it would be open on Friday! Lucky me, since I’d be there in the morning :-). This was dumb luck, as we’d intended to spend Monday and Tuesday here, when the trail would have been closed. And I must say, of the entire week’s trails, this was probably my favourite. The view from the top pretty much defines for me the quintessential end of a hike. I was the first on the trail in the morning, and the first to summit at this, the highest point in the park. Sadly (or happily), my camera batteries were dead before I even started hiking, so I have no actual pictures. This just means that I’ll have to go back with Deanna to take her to the top to see the sights herself.

All in all, this trip hit all the high points for me in a vacation. I got to spend time with friends. I relaxed in the sun and played my heart out, board games, pool, disc golf, hiking, running, and biking. I saw amazing new sights forged by mother nature, and by mans’ own hands. I left feeling relaxed and ready for anything. Las Vegas may be known as Sin City, but I think from here on out, I will only see it as a jumping point for amazing adventures in the Southwest. There is still so much more for me to experience, and the flight prices are awesome! That’s it for my R&R, so stay tuned for my post on my next race, which was the County Marathon….

My Days as a Bachelor are Numbered

Hanging on the Strip

Well, it’s time for one of my infrequent departures from race reporting to bring you a slice of my life outside of the ActiveSteve personna. As the title implies, and as most of you are no doubt aware, I’m engaged to be wed later this year. As a result, my good friends were of course keen to have a bachelor party for me. Given my rather hectic race and training schedules in the summer, I had requested this happen on my ‘off-season’, which is really only a few weeks in March/April :-). Luckily, this timing worked for everyone else as well, and plans were hatched to fly down to Las Vegas for an extended weekend in Sin City. Yes, I know what they say, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but who actually believes that any more? I will obviously gloss over the gory details, but will give you an idea of how it all unrolled. And yes, there *are* pictures to check out. Now read on for the Reader’s Digest version of the extended party.

Some of the ‘Shareable’ Pics

There are some advantages to getting married a little later in life. The bachelor party options are probably one of those. Given everyone’s status in life, people tend to be a little more comfortable in spending a bit of money to head out of town. Although I would have been completely happy to stay in town and have a single crazy night, the consensus from the guys was that they wanted to leave town. With growing families and responsibilities, everyone seemed quite keen to just get away for a few days. Our original thought had been either Austin or New Orleans, but after some digging and pricing, we decided Vegas was probably the easiest solution. It also helped that one of our good buddies from years gone by lives there now!

Once the venue was selected, we did our best to get as many people onboard as we could. In the end, there were 9 of us, and I can assure you that things would have only gotten more complicated with more than that. Even at 9 people, there was a lot of ‘kitten herding’ going on. After all, everyone was at different levels of sobriety and had different ideas of what we should be doing at any given time. Eating, gambling, hanging poolside, drinking, catching a show, or just wandering the strip aimlessly were all viable options 24/7 while down there!

Ironically, much like a race, just getting there proved to be a bit of a challenge for some. Ontario was hit by a very late-season snowstorm, which looked like it may wreak havoc on some of the flight routings through Toronto. Three of us were booked on a 9am direct flight from Ottawa, which was not impacted at all. We also convinced Kev to re-book his afternoon flight (which was supposed to go through Toronto) to join us, just to be safe. 2 others were already in town for a conference / poker tournament, and of course Troy lives in Vegas. That left only my best man Matt, and Dave. Matt made it unscathed on Thursday night late. Sadly, poor Dave spent a VERY long day Friday making his way to join us! Luckily he made up for it by partying hard on Saturday 😉

As far as activities go, we had no real plan going into the weekend. As you can imagine, most of the time was spent just wandering around, hitting some casinos, enjoying bad food and tasty drinks. Probably the best part of the whole weekend was the fact that we were able to both start and end the weekend away from the madness of the strip at our buddy Troy’s house. There, he has a great pool and hot tub in his backyard, the perfect place to relax with a beer in hand and enjoy the warm southern sun. And boy, was it sunny! We had 4 days of perfect weather. Sunny skies and temperatures between 24 and 30 degrees Celsius. I had great intentions of running every day, but ended up only making it out once for a run and to hit the gym. An extended bachelor party simply isn’t conducive to training! Kev can further attest to this.

As far as lodgings on the strip, we split into two different resorts. We had a giant suite at the Elara (behind Planet Hollywood), which was perfect for congregating. We also had a room booked at the MGM Grand, so that we’d have access to the amazing pool there. We spent two of our afternoons just hanging out by the lazy river and watching the world go by as a group. It was awesome. We also managed a couple good meals out as a group too. Once to the fun Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas, where it’s Oktoberfest all year! That same night, we also made it to the Double Down Saloon, a place I’ve always wanted to check out. Another night, we headed out for a carnivore’s delight at the Samba Brazilian Steakhouse at the Mirage. All the meat you can eat, served non-stop on giant skewers! Awesome!

I’d like to thank all the guys once again for making it out to Vegas with me to celebrate the end of my ‘bachelor life’. As Deanna knows, I have no reservations about this life change! Truth be told, I’m pretty sure I’ve been bachelor’d out for quite some time, but who doesn’t like an excuse to party with no regrets for 4 days? I kept up my end of the bargain by having a beer in hand pretty much the moment we landed (headed straight to airport bar), to the moment we left (I had a beer in a paper cup at the gate while waiting to board!). However, I’m also happy to report that thanks to our collective ‘maturity’ I was never forced to endure embarrassing bachelor party traditions, but instead just encouraged to have a good time. That’s not to say I didn’t sleep with 1 eye open just in case though! And of course, thanks for the good memories that I’ll keep to myself for years to come 😉 I definitely have the best friends in the world, and consider them all part of my family.

With that out of the way, it’s time to focus on the race season now. The season officially starts this coming weekend, May 5th, in Huntsville, at the 8 hour Frontier Adventure Challenge, which I’ll be racing solo and reporting on. Let the fun continue…

A Little Sinful Spring Fun

Greetings friends. So have you figured out what this post will be about yet? Well, here’s a hint; normally what you do there stays there. Yep, that’s right, I just got back from spending nearly a full week in Las Vegas. The occasion for such frivolity? Well, I was actually on the company nickel for this trip. I was attending the 2011 National Association of Broadcasters conference. Sound dry to you? Well, apart from the yearly CES show, this is one of the biggest conferences in the states. Estimates pegged attendance at over 90,000 people. How insane is that? In a word: insane. I was the only attendee from my work, and unfortunately, I didn’t know a single person at the conference. I know a fair number of people in the telecom industry, but not the broadcasting space. As such, this wasn’t going to be the typical Vegas trip. In spite of that, i managed to do some fun things, and will tell you about those things. Also, I took a few pictures while there, which I’ve split into two sets: Natural Fun, and Hotel and Conference pics. After you’ve checked them out, read on for the rest of the post.

When you hear Las Vegas, no doubt your mind travels to unspeakable acts, flagrant abuse of alcohol and sound judgment, great shows, and general ostentatiousness. However, the Vegas experience is much different when you are all on your own and know no one. There really isn’t much excitement in wandering the strip alone, bumping into all those people who ARE enjoying the ‘authentic’ experience. For my part, I was arriving in town at midnight on a Friday night, so the crazy was in full swing on the strip. I checked into the Mirage, and then decided to head out for a little stroll. I quickly realized this really wasn’t my scene at all. I had barely arrived, and was already trying to figure out how to get out. It then dawned on me that a car rental was in order for Saturday. Although the conference was starting on Saturday, there were really no sessions that were relevant to my work, so I decided to get a Saturday for me. Plus, I had to squeeze in a 28km run, and doing so in town would NOT be fun.

Luckily, by having a look at the maps and doing a bit of quick research, I found the perfect place to get away. Red Rock Canyon, a mere 20-25 minutes away from the strip to the west. This park is far away from the frenetic pace of the strip. No neon out there, just the awe-inspiring lightshow of the sun on the canyon and mountain walls. There is a 15 mile scenic loop that goes around the park, with lots of spur routes for hiking. So the plan was set. I’d get up as soon as I could on Saturday, rent a car, and head out that way. I got a mid-size car for the price of an economy car, and headed out for my day of natural splendor. It was the right call for me. I hit a grocery store on the way out of town for a bite to eat, as well as grab supplies for the rest of the week.

Once at the park entrance, I parked my car on the side of the road and ran to the actual entrance to pay my $3 entry fee for a walk-in. I figured why pay for the car entrance when I had no intention of driving anywhere in there. So what about the run you ask? Well, apparently in Ottawa, it was hovering around the 15 degree mark. In the Red Rock Canyon park? Well, it was more like 5 degrees! Luckily, it started out quite sunny, and I was running such that I gained about 1000 feet of elevation to get to the high passes. So I kept warm enough in spite of not wearing too many layers. The other thing I really enjoyed, apart from the views, were some of the people I met on my way. A lot of cyclists go out that way to train, and some of them stopped to chat with me as well. With one couple, i was actually running faster than they were on the uphills, but they’d obviously pass me on the downhills. The cat and mouse game was kinda funny. Further on, i was met by a few cyclists that were actually down from BC who had done Ironman Canada. Wanna see a full map of the ride with some pictures? Well then, check out my custom Google map!

The weather never really got any warmer in my long run. Quite the opposite in fact, as I had to laugh out loud when the snow hit! Yup, that’s right, what started as a few flakes of the white stuff actually turned into full-on proper snow flurries. This did not dampen my mood at all though, since I was absolutely loving being out there. When the run was done, I headed back in and made my way to the visitor center to see the displays on the park. It was quite well done. Back to the car I went, and on to my next outdoor stop. Well, a shopping stop. I hit the REI (MEC equivalent in the States) where I’m a member. They were having a 20% off a single purchase promotion, and I decided I’d finally replace my old hiking boots that have seen my through many adventures. I actually ended up getting another pair of Garmont’s, but this time, a full Gore-Tex model. In chatting with one of the employees, I was quickly convinced to make the 1hr drive to Hoover Dam before wrapping up my adventure day.

I showed up at the Dam as the sun was starting to dip behind the mountains. But still plenty of light to see this modern wonder of the world. In 2010, they actually opened up a big ‘bypass’ bridge which runs parallel to the Dam itself. With that, tourists now have the opportunity to walk out onto the bridge and look straight down into the dam itself. I was too late to have an actual tour of the Dam facilities, but with the bypass bridge, I still had a great sense of the scale of this concrete and steel depression-era masterpiece. I also didn’t bother driving across the Dam. Once that was done, I made one last stop to cast my eyes towards Lake Mead for a bit while I enjoyed a muffin. All in all, a perfect day in my mind. Well, not quite perfect. it WOULD have been perfect if I’d been able to share it with Deanna, but still pretty darned good.

The rest of my week was more typical i suppose. I filled my days with the conference, getting up each day before 7am. Learned a few things, saw a lot of really cool toys of the trade for television and audio production, and was generally mind-boggled at the scale of this event. It would literally take 15 minutes just to walk from one session to another in the sprawling Las Vegas Convention center. That doesn’t even talk about the exhibit floors themselves, of which there were 4 giant halls!

My evenings were spend usually trying to squeeze in a dip in the pool or hot-tub at the Mirage, or doing some running in the cardio center. Then it was always a matter of finding some food. I didn’t do any really fancy dining, but did enjoy my little forays out into the strip (for short periods). As a non-gambler, there really wasn’t much else to amuse me. The smoky atmosphere was annoying, and the air of semi-desperation and optimism clung to the air as well, and didn’t leave me feeling very inspired. I’d contemplated trying to catch a show, but that didn’t work out either. Most were sold out, or otherwise, not things I wanted to pay for. Instead, I enjoyed the free shows on the strip, and on one night, treated myself to live music at the BB King blues bar, where the Memphis All-stars were playing. That was a nice break.

My one night of ‘authentic Vegas’ happened sort of unexpectedly. I got a text on Tuesday from Andy telling me that he and Irene-Ann were in town for the rest of the week, as they were heading to the Arcade Fire show at the Hard Rock on Thursday. Good timing, as I happened to have 3 VIP passes to Lavo, a night club at the Palazzo, which was hosting an official NAB party that night. Seeing as night club access is usually $30 or more, we decided we’d see the ‘night club’ scene there. It was my first-ever Vegas night club, as I’m more of a ‘dive bar’ kinda person. Ha ha ha. Oh, and did I mention that it was open bar from 10-11 for us? This resulted in some poor judgement and some accelerated alcohol consumption. We stocked up on extra-strong beverages, and I made friends with a bouncer, as well as with a VIP table host who had just dropped $2000 for a couple tables for his clients. It was kinda cool chatting to some of the people that make Vegas go round. Sadly, the latter parts of the evening are somewhat shrouded in mystery for me. I know there was a small bar somewhere in Treasure Island that we ended up at, as well as some 3am instant messages I sent to Deanna, and of course waking up fully clothed! Oh yeah, and severely regretting the choice to see how many free drinks I could drink in an hour.

That left me with Wednesday and Wednesday night. I still made it to the conference at a decent time of 9am, but I was not feeling well at all. The whole day was miserable, but I had no one else to blame than myself, so I just sucked it up. That night, I took a quick 1 hour nap at suppertime, then wandered out to the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace to do a bit of light shopping for my sweetie. Upon return, a quick little video Skype with Deanna before she headed off to bed. I was so wiped that I opted to just pack my things and order room service. Ironically, it was one of my nicest meals of the week, which I got to enjoy on my own room while watching Batman Begins on the TV. Yeah, I know, not very sociable, but if you were in my shoes, I’m willing to bet most of you wouldn’t even have been able to get out of bed that day.

Well, in a nutshell, that pretty much sums up my trip to Vegas. I’m proud to say that I still got in all my training runs (although I missed my biking), and came out no worse for wear or any further behind on mortgage payments or anything. Ironically, the only gambling I actually did was put in the single dollar bill that Deanna had given me into a slot machine. Sadly for her, it wasn’t a winner. As I finish this post, I’m high in the sky flying back to Ottawa, with a lightening storm flashing off in the distance to my right. The week was pretty good, but after 6 nights, I’m very much looking forward to getting home and crawling back in to my own bed with a nice warm body next to me! So with that, I’ll sign off.

The ‘Lost’ Vegas Weekend

Howdy world. Well, I suppose I’m breaking some cardinal rule of Las Vegas by writing this post, but lets just say I’ll stick to the relatively family friendly aspects of the trip to share with you all. To save you the wondering, yes, I did see ‘The Hangover’, and yes, things went down a little like that. Not quite to the extreme, but there were some interesting moments for sure. In respect of the code, I’ll keep this post short and to the point, and just give you an overview of the whole trip. For a great overview, just click your little fingers over to my flickr site and peruse some pictures and video from the weekend. Then come on back and read the whole sordid tale, including the why, the where and the what.

So first, the why needs to be addressed. Simply put, why not? Well, more to the point, Matt will soon be a father, and the way we see it, it’ll be a lot more difficult for him to get away and party for the weekend when diapers need changing. Also, a few other guys were keen to make the trip. As for me, well, I’ve only been to Sin City for work, so giving it a whirl on a weekend seemed like a good idea to me. Timing was good based on my training and race schedule, so off I went.

Next, the where? Well, apart from Las Vegas generally, we were specifically heading to a 2-bedroom suite at the Planet Hollywood Towers. With 6 of us going there, it made more sense to just try and find a big suite rather than go for multiple rooms with the possibility of adjoining rooms, which wouldn’t be guaranteed. The price was pretty much the same as any other hotel, but gave us a whole bunch of better features. Don’t believe me? Check out the video tour clips here and here. Yup, we had two great bedrooms, one with king size bed, other with a queen. Full kitchen and bar area, dining room, two bathrooms, including a jacuzzi, separate showers rooms, etc. Oh yeah, and the living room? How about a huge high def theater formed by the blinds becoming the screen? Oh yeah baby. Vegas! Washer, dryer, washing machine, the works. I really can’t tell you all how awesome it was. I highly recommend it if you are traveling with 4 or more in your group.

So, that leaves the what, doesn’t it? Well, we came to Vegas with a very detailed plan: no plan. Other than having booked tickets for a few shows, we were flying by the seat of our pants. Speaking of which, one of our group, Jeff, had never actually been in a plane till this trip, or a rollercoaster, we took care of both. With 3 and a half days to wander the strip, you’d think we’d cover more than we did, but such is life when you’re herding drunken kittens 🙂 Let’s take a quick walk through the daily / nightly of our trip.
First night? Well, after a bit of hanging out in the room enjoying some delicious beers, we headed to the nearby strip, and the Harley Davidson Bar, for more delicious beers. Back to hotel form sweet suite poker, before hitting the night hard. Ironically, even though we were all beat form the 4am wake-ups and long flights, this turned into one of our craziest nights. We first hit a casino for a bit, then hit El Diablo, where food, beers, and a few tequilas were consumed. After that, we’ll just have to censor the remainder of the evening. We all lived.

Next morning was quite rough. I woke up unsure where I was, and scared to find someone sleeping next to me. Luckily it was Matt, and I remembered where we were. Shook myself out of bed, and headed out for a run. 24k later, I arrived to the smell of bacon. The lads had gone foraging and scored breakfast stuff and were cooking. I was then reminded of a little chore I had to take care of, so headed to Home Depot. For the record, the wall color there is “Classic Tan”, use flat paint. Couple guys his poker tourney while the rest of us wandered around a bit, then decided to hit a hot tub at Planet Hollywood. Yup, craziness ensued, and a number of other things are censored from here. That night, we grabbed quick pizza, and headed to the Hard Rock for out big show, the Experience Hendrix Tour. Slow start, but well worth the price of admission. More madness ensued, night becomes censored once again after the show. I do remember one highlight, which was hitting the Fatburger for food, and then seeing Dick Dale, a legendary surf guitar guy at another show, before killing time at New York New York.

Few more hours of ZZZs and we were up again, and planning our 3rd day in Sin City. We started by watching The Hangover (seemed appropriate) on our giant screen. After that, again, some went to play poker, rest of us decided to do the strip right this day. We started by grabbing those giant novelty drinks (2 extra shots of 151 proof rum for $2? Why not!), and wandering the streets like everyone else. It soon became obvious those tasty drinks pack a punch. We solved that by marvelling at the modern engineering of the crazy casinos like the Bellagio, and the Venetian. Hunger stuck us again, and we found a place called Strip Burger outside, and had a great feast there, before making our way to Circus Circus. Oh yeah, that was a bit crazy too. Lots of fun though, and the only place where I won anything, a little teddy bear. It made my day. Back to the suite, and gear up for our last night. This time, we were checking out Galactic at another Hard Rock bar, and decided to do supper properly at the Vegas Hofbrauhaus. Yup, proper Oktoberfest fun before a night of funk to cap off our crazy weekend. Censoring follows, but ended sometime with me in the Jacuzzi on the 28th floor, with a couple beers, and a bag of popcorn. Delicious! Night ends.

Final morning, slow waking, but luckily we had spare bacon and toast to cook up to take the edge off. Oh, and some Caesars and Mojitos. Just what the doctor ordered (well, that and the Ibuprofen). We sadly had to make our way to the airport now and get back to real life. We were all sad to go, but at the same time, recognized that staying too many more nights would likely be bad for not only our physical health, but probably our financial health.

So ends the story. It was a great weekend with a great group of guys. Definitely hope to do that again sometime. Thanks guys! Now, back to training and getting ready for the Boston Marathon, which is my next race. Later all!