Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mesa Falls Marathon Part 2 - Race Day

Race day finally arrived.  After verifying that our large group in the group site had not blocked the route and ensuring the restrooms had plenty of toilet paper - I'm still a campground host - I got ready for the race.  I laced up my over-worn shoes.  I was tempted, when I found both Lube Stick and Blister Pads in my race packet, to use them.  But I remembered rule #1- nothing new on race day - and resisted.  I drove into Ashton and caught the bus to the start line at Bear Gulch.

There were 191 runners in the Half Marathon.  Remembering my running etiquette, I started at the end of the pack.  I had decided that my strategy would be to hang back on the trail and catch them on the hills.  Looking back, I think this cost me a couple of minutes.  I did pass quite a few racers on the hills, but could have really opened up on the trail if there hadn't been so many slower runners in front of me.

At about mile 8 I caught up with a couple of runners – Ryan and Tricia – that seemed to be running at my pace.  They appeared to be in their forties.  Ryan welcomed me and commented that “it’s nice to find your pace group friends.”  As we chatted about kids and her grand-kids, I realized that Tricia was not forty-something; she was fifty-something.  I had to beat her.  I made my break at the aid station on the last mile.  I crossed just ahead of her.  I took second place in our age group; she took third.  I gave her my coupon for a Huckleberry Shake for one of her kids.

My final results:
Time:  2:05:39
Finished 2nd of 8 in my age division
Finished 30th of 119 women (top 25%)
Finished 64th of 191 overall (top 34%)

Lessons learned for the next race
1.  Buy a new pair of shoes at least six weeks before the race and run in them.  That way I’ll have a choice on race day.
2.  Start in the top third of the pack.
3.  It’s OK to be friendly – but all’s fair in love and racing.

My goal for the next half-marathon:  finish under 2 hours.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mesa Falls Marathon Part 1 - Training

I had wanted to run the Salt Lake Half Marathon last April, but when we learned of our early start date for our camp hosting job in Warm River, we had to push another trip into the slot formerly reserved for the race.  So I was delighted to learn that I could run a half marathon right here in Warm River – in fact – right through our campground.

I've been calling this my first half-marathon, but in reality it’s my second.  My first was the Molestus Mini-Marathon, Ogden, Utah, in the summer of 1977.  I don’t remember my time.  I do remember that my brothers, who promised to run with me, left me in the dust in the first 30 feet of the race.  All’s fair in love and racing.  I also remember being grateful to them for making me train on the 30th street hill.  I got shin splints on that race, hung up my running shoes, and didn't run again for 25 years.

But back to the present.  I modified the training schedule from the Wasatch Training Group for the timeline leading to the Mesa Falls Half, which was August 24.  I trained on most of the course, making sure nearly every training run included the hill into Ashton.  I didn't go too far up the railroad grade trail – scared of bears.

On my 12 mile training run, August 14, my right foot started to hurt.  Yikes!  I knew what was happening.  My running shoes had too many miles on them.  Unfortunately, ten days ‘til race day didn't give me enough time to break in new shoes.   Rule number 1:  nothing new on race day.  Suck it up, buttercup!

I did have plenty of training runs left to try the new food supplements members of the Wasatch Training Group recommended.   I liked both the Sports Beans and the Honey Stinger Chews; settled on carrying the Sports Beans because they were the easiest to manage.  I just dumped the package into the pouch on my water belt.  No trash; no sticky mess, and easy access to pop one in whenever I wanted.

I stayed with short runs between the 12-miler and the race.  Training done.  On to the race….

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Warm River History

One of our more frequently asked questions here at Warm River is, “Where is the place where you can feed the fish?”  I learned the answer to that question the first week we were here – two stops signs, turn left, cross the bridge and pull over.  It seems to be a tradition of the families that camp here regularly.  They take large bags of bread, cereal, dog food, etc., pile it in the back of the pickup with all the kids and grandkids, and off they go.

Last Wednesday, I finally took the stale hamburger buns out of the microwave (yes, I use the microwave for bread storage) and we went to feed the fish.  The area is clearly marked.  No fishing.  No swimming.  No wading.  No float tubes.  The fish are free from every stress in their lives, and they are huge.  We tossed chunks of bread into the water and watched the fish grab them as quickly as they hit the water.

The fish-feeding site has a large historical marker titled, “Warm River – A Place of Community on the Frontier.”  What?  Warm River was once a town?  And there I thought we were famous only for our campground.  Here’s a brief history of the once-thriving community of Warm River:

Rounding the curve, music fills the air.  A moment later, a festive string of colored lights appears.  That was the sound and sight that greeted many people coming into Warm River.  They were headed to the Rendezvous Dance Hall where the sound of laughter and the aroma of hamburgers filled the air on a Saturday night.

The Rendezvous was the creation of Fred Lewis and his wife, Bertha.  Fred incorporated the Town of Warm River in June of 1947, and Bertha became its first mayor.  Warm River’s legacy dates back to 1896 when settlers arrived from Europe establishing farms and ranches.  Years later, Warm River was the stopping point for many travelers on a slow journey on a narrow muddy road to Island Park and West Yellowstone, Montana.  In 1907 Warm River’s popularity soared when the town became one of the stops for visitors traveling along the Oregon Short Line Railroad to West Yellowstone.

During the next sixty years the town in the canyon with its community of farmers, ranchers, and lumbermen grew quietly.  In 1957 the new highway to Yellowstone was completed, bypassing Warm River.  The town faded into the shadows, leaving only memories of a time when Warm River was a place of community and friendship.

The old railroad line is long gone, but the trail it followed remains and is popular with hikers and bikers.  Several summer homes now sit on Dance Hall Drive – the last traces of the town of Warm River.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Warm River Campground Overview – Tent sites

Warm River Campground boast 13 beautiful tent sites, most of which are set in a field with grass and trees and have great river access.  All the tent sites at Warm River are walk-in sites.  We have a large parking lot for the cars.  This can present a challenge to campers, as the National Forest Service Food Storage order mandates that all food be secured in bear proof containers – mostly this means your car – when unattended and at night. 
T12 and T1
We’ll start our review of the tent sites with site T12.  This is another site that was added on after the fact and not renumbered.  In my opinion this is our best tent site.  Lots of shade, but furthest away from the parking lot – which means you have the furthest to haul your food at night.  First come – first served.
Site T1 sits next to site T12.  A little closer to the river; a little less shade.  First come – first served.

Site T2 has two tent pads.  It sits a little further back from the river. 
First come – first served.

Site T3 is right on the river and is hidden from the other site by a large copse of trees.  Not much shade, but people like it for the privacy and the proximity to the river.  First come – first served.

Site T4’s tent pad is tucked away between the trees.  First come – first served.

Site T5 is the tent site closest to the restrooms.  Good or bad?  You decide.  First come – first serve

Site T6 is partially shaded and is reservable.

Site T7 has two tent pads and can be reserved as a double site, which means you can reserve T7 for up to 16 people.  It is completely shady.

Site T8 can also be reserved as a double site, and is also completely shady.

Site T9 is very close to the parking lot.  It has partial shade.  Reservable.

Site T10 is, in my opinion, our best reservable tent site.  It has lots of
shade and is close to the river, the parking lot, and the restrooms.  It is very popular with day users; we have to put an orange cone on it on the days it is reserved.

Site T11 borders on the group site and is in full sun. The reservation site neglects to mention anything about shade in its description of T11, and our customers are often disappointed.  The site is often reserved by the people who reserve the group site for additional tent space.  Reservable.  Caveat Emptor.

Site T13 is the only tent site that is not on the river.  It is also the only
T13 Entrance
tent site where you can park your car right next to your site.  We've been known to sell this site to small trailers and campers when the RV sites are full.  When we first arrived and spring had not yet worked its magic, the site was brown and very unappealing.  Now it sits among lush greenery and is quite a beautiful site.  We jokingly refer to it as the Honeymoon Suite.  First come – first served.

So now that you have all the information to make an informed decision on your campsite at Warm River, only one decision remains.  When are you coming to camp with us?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Warm River Campground Overview – RV sites

We've been at Warm River for 13 weeks now, and have come to know the personality of the campground.  We have 28 total sites.  This post will feature the 15 RV sites. I’ll cover the tent sites in my next post.

Site 1
Site 1:  Mostly sunny with a beautiful riverfront that is great for kids to get in and out of the river.  Canoe not included. Is being right next to the camp hosts good or bad?  You decide.  Reservable. 

Site 2:  Full shade across from the river.  Right next to the maintenance couple.  First come – first served.
Site 2

Site 3:  Mostly sunny, good river access.  Reservable.  Similar in appearance to Site 1.

Site 4
Site 4:  Mostly shady, across from the river.  Has a tent pad and lots of space.  First come – first served.  

Site 5:  Mostly shady, on the river side but access is more toward site 3.  Has a tent pad and lots of space.  This is the best site for larger RVs.  Dog not included. First come – first served.
Ty at Site 5

Site 14:  Yes, site 14 is in the lower loop – between sites 2 and 4.  It was added on and the Forest Service did not renumber the sites.  Lots of space and a tent pad.  First come – first served.  
Site 14

Site 6
Now we’ll move across the wooden bridge to Site 6:  A double site with good space for RVs, vehicles and with additional space for tents.  Great river access.  This site has lots of privacy if you want it.  It shares a large lawn with site 9.  Reservable.

Site 7:  A double site with a tent pad.  Site 7 has less space for vehicles, but has great shade.  Reservable.  I couldn't get a photo of site 7 - trailers and their tow vehicles always seem to be in the way.

Site 8
Site 8:  Across from the river.  Mostly sunny, some lawn at the site.  Reservable.

Site 9:  On the river.  Mostly sunny.  Shares the lawn with site 6.  Has a tent pad and grass for additional tents.  First come – first served.
Site 9

Site 10:  Beautiful view of the river, which makes it a very popular site for single RVs.  Mostly sunny.  No tent space. First come – first served. 
Site 10

Site 11:  Across from the river.  Mostly sunny, a tent pad and some lawn at the site.  Can stretch a longer power cord to the power box at site 12 for an additional $5 per night.  First come – first served. 
Site 11

Site 12:  Our most popular non-reservable RV site – the only one with both power and water hookups.  Costs $6 more than the non-electric sites.  First come – first served.  People wait in the parking lot for this one.  No photo available - the big trailers are always in the way.

Site 13
Site 13:  Our most popular reservable site; reserved for the foreseeable future.  Has a fenced patio with steps leading down to the river.  Beautiful views of the river.  Has electricity. 

Site 15:  If I were in marketing I would tout this site as being our only pull-though site.  The site is in the parking lot.  It does have a great story – a family from Rexburg suggested a campsite be added in that location because it’s at the halfway point of a river float.   First come – first served.  Or, as often happens, it’s last to arrive gets this one.  No photo.  We sometimes forget we have this site, and that's what happened when I took the photo tour for this post.

Next post we'll take a look at the tent sites.