On our way to the race (well organized, free electric trolley) it began to drizzle but it never rained very hard. The start of the race was at the scenic Olympic Legacy Bridge (on the campus of the University of Utah). Despite a lack of corrals or pacers (which we use to determine where to place ourselves within the mass of runners) the race started without a hitch. After a brief mad-dash to jockey for position, Kristin and I locked in a comfortable pace and were enjoying the views of the snow covered mountains. The pace felt good and apparently the elevation (~4,800ft) wasn’t really affecting us on this net downhill course. After some laughs about a fellow runner ripping a “farmer’s blow” (i.e. holding one nostril with his knuckle while blowing with the opposite nostril) and adding fellow runner Gary Fuller to our running crew (Gary was struggling a bit so we gave him a “come run with us” tap on the shoulder), we locked our sights on the final 5k. As we hit the 11 mile marker Kristin nervously pointed ahead to what appeared to be a never ending gradual hill. Our legs were beginning to tire, but our spirits were good and Mike gladly led the charge up the hill. Once we reached the summit we avoided the urge to plant a flag in the name of running, and decided instead to turn on the after-burners and see if we could squeak out a PR…and we did! We didn’t expect to set a PR on this course, but apparently the conditions were right and your bodies responded in route to our fastest 13.1 mile trek to date!
Highlights: Lending a hand to fellow runner who we saw walking but were able to bring back to life and help finish strong in 1:48, and conquering a net downhill course with two fresh PRs!
Tip: If you are coming for the Salt Lake City Half Marathon, we would strongly recommend the Marriott Residence Inn downtown. The location is central to almost everything you will want to do in the downtown area (no more than 0.5 miles to any destination) and you won’t have to worry about parking.
Day 1 (Friday):
Carlucci’s Bakery is a great lunch stop for a hearty homemade sandwich. Fresh baked bread complete with roasted turkey breast, sprouts, tomatoes and Dijon mustard. While the bread was too big to fit in my mouth (had to remove the top piece) and the Dijon mustard literally cleared my sinuses (made with a bit of horseradish sauce), the sandwich was quite tasty. We also split a small red velvet cupcake for desert, but the frosting was 100% butter cream and a bit too heavy for our taste.
Kennecott Copper Mine (Bingham Canyon) is reportedly one of a handful of man-made objects that can be seen from space, the open-pit mine is over 2.5 miles wide and more than ¾ of a mile deep! Since the mine opened about 100 years ago over 18 million tons of copper have been extracted – more than any mine in history. It was really cool to see the mine in action, as we stood at the visitor’s center we could see hundreds of massive dump trucks slow at work (slow because the mine is so steep it looks like the machines are just crawling to get in and out). The facility is quite impressive and the company appears to be very focused on maintaining a sustainable ecosystem around the mine while also supporting the local arts and cultures. Put this towards the top of your to-do list if you’re visiting Salt Lake City – it’s not everyday you see something as unique as this mine.
There are multiple places to access the Great Salt Lake and while the smell of sulfur is over-powering it is worth a quick stop to walk on the water (the second highest salt concentration in a body of water in the world). Walking on the beaches feels more like walking on a wet sponge than sand and is a very unique experience. While it was too cold to swim during our trip, I’m not sure either of us would want to reek of sulfur for the rest of the day.
Cucina-Toscana is a decent Italian restaurant for dinner. I tried the chicken satimbocca (three small chicken breast slices filled with prosciutto, fontina and spinach) and Kristin had the veal marsala. Both were good, but a bit expensive, especially considering the portion sizes (our waiter said the half portion was more than enough, but it was bit small and we ended up eating a fair amount of bread). The Chasing Tail golden ale (locally brewed by Squatter’s) was decent for an extremely light beer with mild flavor.
Day 2 (Saturday - Race Day):
Time after time we keep coming back to the tried and true post-race Rueben. The meat at Wasatch Brewery (Park City) was incredibly tender (Kristin did find a few fatty pieces but I plowed through my sandwich without noticing any) and the sandwich really hit the spot. We paired our Ruebens with four different 5oz beer samples. The brewery offers several seasonal and microbrews worth a try. The Polygamy Porter (“Why have just one”) was decent but the name was better than the beer.
Tip: Wasatch doesn’t offer a beer flight tasting, but every person can order two 5oz samples for $2 each.
Downtown Park City is a great place to walk around, grab an interesting coffee from Java Cow (we tried a honey latte, which was surprisingly good), and browse the local specialty shops. A lot of interesting sculptures/art in and around the downtown area - I really liked the brown bear but Kristin preferred Loosey Moosey.
While we didn’t pack the skis (Kristin is quickly convincing me that I need to learn how to ski) we did make a quick stop at the Park City Mountain Resort to watch some skiers/ snowboarders flying down the mountain. Kristin explained the chair lift concept to me and I have to admit I am fairly confident I would face plant either getting on or off the lift. We’ll save our ski adventures for another day.
The Utah Olympic Park (Park City) is home to the downhill ski jump, bobsledding, the loge, skeleton (head first loge) and a few other insane winter sports. The complex is entirely free and definitely worth a stop. The bobsledding track is quite impressive to see and to think that people are racing down at 70mph+ inside a thin sheet of metal shaped like a bullet. In addition to looking at the tracks the park offers a free museum with several interactive exhibits centered around winter sports. The exhibits were fun and informative (Utah gets more powder snow that most anywhere in the world due to higher salt concentration in the area, which increases the “fluffyness” of the snow).
The Copper Onion is likely the best dinner we had during our trip to Utah. We enjoyed a small platter of fresh olives and bread and small carafe of a daily special light white wine. The beef stroganoff was outstanding (super tender and full of fresh, exotic mushrooms) and is only rivaled by my mom’s recipe. Kristin tried the spicy bucatini pasta (prepared locally at Caputo’s Deli) which was also quite tasty. The atmosphere was lively, the service was great and the food would keep us coming back. Highly recommended.
Squatter's Pub has a great downtown location, with limited diner seating but plenty of room at the bar. Unfortunately the first two draft beers I ordered were both out (odd for a brewery) but once I tried Kristin’s Emigration Amber Ale I was sold. This is a very tasty beer, but we both agreed that Red Rock’s beers were better.
We are both desert hounds and were thrilled to see Capo Gelateria, a gelato shop, (a lighter version of ice cream) in downtown Salt Lake City. Kristin went with “The Godfather” (double chocolate infused with red wine) and I tried a fruit sampler of blood orange, pineapple and mixed berry. Very fresh and a nice cap to the evening.
Day 3 (Sunday):
Utah state law prohibits breweries from offering tasting tours, so the next best thing is to find a microbrew pub and enjoy a nice cold beer. We stopped in to the Red Rock Brewery for a taste of the Hibernian (Irish Red) which we both said was likely our favorite beer in Utah. The following day we stopped in for an early lunch (be aware that your options for food are much smaller in Salt Lake City on Sunday’s) and were both happy with our choices. I tried the sausage grinder (similar to a hand rolled calzone filled with cheese, marinara and two spicy sausages) and Kristin sampled the omelet of the day (tomato, ham, onion and cheese with a side of potato wedges covered in cheese and bacon). Both meals were good and paired well with the Cream Stout (a bit like a lighter more carbonated Guinness).
Downtown Salt Lake City is very accessible and a great place to spend an evening walking around. We made a quick stop by the Energy Solutions Arena (home of the Utah Jazz) and snapped a quick picture with the John Stockton statue, checked out the shops at the Gateway (converted from the old Union Pacific terminal to a modern outdoor mall with several unique shops), and visited the state capital building.
Tip: While a walk to the capital building is not far from downtown be aware that you will climb a massive hill to reach the building (I guess that’s why they call it capital hill). Safety First - grab a bright orange flag at any cross-walk and wave it like mad as you cross the street - both a fun and safe way not to get hit by a car (a must try).
Temple Square is the world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), Temple Square includes a variety of impressive buildings and sights. We were fortunate enough to attend a live broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (live broadcasts are on Sunday at 9:30am). The acoustics in the Tabernacle were outstanding and all religions/beliefs will enjoy this free 30 minute show. We also took a quick tour of the Beehive House (Brigham Young’s residence in the 1850’s), which was informative but not overly impressive. The Temple is quite an impressive building from the outside – but is not open to visitors (i.e. non-Mormon).
Utah Half Marathon Medals
April 16, 2011: Salt Lake City Half Marathon