Monday, July 6, 2015

How To Run A Marathon Before Work

I've run a bunch of marathons before but never tried to run one before work. Until last week!

The idea was planted in my mind years ago when I read a blog post by one of my ultra running heroes Davy Crockett. Just for fun, just for a unique challenge, he woke up really early one day and ran a marathon before work. (I remember him saying that he did this when his wife was out of town so she wouldn't be able to tell him he was an idiot.) This guy takes conventional wisdom and throws it out the window.

Choosing to run a marathon was a spontaneous decision. The day before this I woke up early and ran a beautiful 10 miles before work while witnessing one of the most beautiful sunrises I've seen in years.

Had I been planning to run a marathon the next day I wouldn't have done 10 miles. But seeing the sun rise over Zion National Park was something I didn't regret.

So while I was driving home that evening I thought it might be a good day to try the Marathon Before Work. I felt like my training was at a level where I'd probably be okay getting in a spontaneous marathon. Should you choose to do this yourself, I have some tips.


You need to make sure you finish with enough time to get ready for work. Spoiler alert: when you go to bed at 10:00pm then wake up three hours later to run a marathon, the sound of your alarm clock might make you start crying.

Bug spray with at least 40% DEET for me. Mosquitoes look at me like a pre-teen girl looks at Justin Bieber. Clearly they like blood that is 72% frosting. Don't start running until you have sprayed so much bug spray that your legs glisten.

Live in a climate that, even at 1:00am, resembles running in a sauna while wearing sweat pants. Because if it doesn't feel like you are running on molten lava you're doing something wrong.

I ran a loop around the city that was around 8 miles, stopping back at my house twice to refill my pack.

It could get a little boring running by yourself for hours in the dark. I had some Ultra Runner Podcast, Trail Runner Nation, and Radio Lab podcasts to keep me occupied. I used the UltrAspire Omega pack, fueled with Tailwind and a Butterfinger, and wore Altra Torin shoes for the first time ever on a long run. These may have become my go-to road shoes. After many hours and a few times nodding off to sleep while running you'll see a hint of sunlight. You will feel very happy!

As the sun comes up, don't make eye contact with passing drivers. Between the bug spray on your face and sweat dripping into your eyes, it will look like you are crying. An advantage of running a solo marathon is that you don't have spectators lying to you. "You are almost there!" LIE!!! "You're looking good." LIE!!! It's best to just avoid human contact.

If you keep a conservative but steady pace, eventually you will reach 26.2 miles. (This time isn't completely accurate. I stopped my watch both times when I stopped to refill my pack and enjoy air conditioning for a few minutes.)

Congrats on finishing a marathon! A celebration jump is definitely in order.

Now that you have 26.2 miles on your legs and three hours of sleep, take a quick shower, get dressed, and head out for a full day at work. On your way there stop at a gas station and purchase the biggest Dr. Pepper money can buy. Because yeah. You're going to need it. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Deertrap Mountain, Cable Mountain - Zion National Park

I've been running trails in southern Utah for years. I've explored literally hundreds of miles around here. And yet I've only scratched the surface of what is available in the area. Even though the summers are rough here when temperatures range between eight and twelve billion degrees, I live in trail running paradise.

Last week my brother-in-law Matt took me to some back country trails around Zion National Park that I hadn't run before. Our first stop was Deertrap Mountain. I loved traveling winding paths through a blanket of green. 

Matt spotted this little arch as we were heading to the trail overlook.

I was following Matt when he suddenly stopped in his tracks. I looked up and saw a big family of bighorn sheep. By the time I got my camera out, almost all of them had bolted down a steep, sheer mountain of sandstone. We both held our breaths. It was scary watching them run down such a steep cliff. We didn't want to see a sheep make a misstep and then tumble to the valley floor. But none of them did! It was an incredible thing to watch. A few sheep stuck around for a quick picture.

We arrived at the overlook and saw Zion National Park from above. It was a different perspective than most tourists ever see.

Another viewpoint, and a prime location for a jumping picture.

Matt got in on the jumping action too. Note: there was no memo sent pre-run to wear matchy matchy shoes.

From there we headed to Cable Mountain. The trails weren't overly technical and there wasn't a ton of climbing. It was pretty runnable stuff. I was happy with how this picture turned out.

Earlier I mentioned our average summer temperatures. We got lucky and it was on the cooler side, only eight billion degrees. It definitely could have been much worse. I kept Tailwind in my pack for calories and electrolytes. (And one can of Mountain Dew for a mid-run treat.)

We made it to the edge of Cable Mountain and this old, wood structure. In the early 1900's they used these cable works to lower timber to the valley below. On the other side of where I'm standing is the edge of a cliff so high that when you look down it makes you want to throw up in your mouth.

Here is Matt with that throw up in the mouth sensation:

It was nice to check off a few new trails in one push.

  • ~ 14 miles
  • 0 bighorn sheep deaths
  • 8 billion degrees
  • 1 swimming pool worth of sweat
  • 4 Altra Lone Peaks
  • 5 throw-up-in-your-mouth-inducing cliffs
  • 100% purely beautiful trails

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

This Doesn't Happen Too Often

I struggle with running at this time of year. I still do it, but it kind of sucks.

It sucks because I live in a place so ridiculously hot that even Satan would find it inhospitable. That place is southern Utah. I swear, the heat is literally trying to kill me. I managed to get in some shorter runs and a few scorching long runs last week.

The first was a 20 miler up a long, steep, and sometimes rocky dirt road in Browse. I knew my only shot at getting in a chunk of miles was to start very early.

Mercifully I crossed a river a few times in those 20 miles. I took advantage of that opportunity to take my shirt off and soak it in the water before continuing on. When running in the heat, keeping water on your shirt or head makes a HUGE difference.

Near the river there were some beautiful wildflowers that I couldn't resist taking a few pictures of.

As I ran, the most peculiar thing happened. I felt really, really good. I don't know if everyone else is like this, but those runs happen very rarely where I feel like I could run forever. Earlier this year I had a knee issue that made me fear I would never be able to run normal ever again. So I was filled with gratitude that on a difficult, obscenely hot long run.....I actually felt good.

I ran farther than I ever had on this road before. I love that feeling of seeing things for the first time. I reached the top of a hill and had this Sound Of Music panorama open up in front of me.

And more cool flowers.

After almost eight miles I reached the old Browse ranger station. Apparently the station was built in the 1920s, and behind it is the only California Redwood Tree in Utah.

Rumor has it that the tree is more than 100 years old. The tree itself was a bit anticlimactic after all the beautiful scenery I had run through earlier in the day to get up there.

I explored a few other trails at the top, then headed back down without seeing another person the entire time. I love being alone in the middle of nowhere surrounded by awesomeness.

A few days later I ran a 14 miler. The night before, Mel and I went to see Jurassic World, eat popcorn, and sip delicious Diet Dr. Pepper. We got home late. We got to bed late. So we had a hard time getting our bodies out of bed in the morning. A late start meant that during those 14 miles I felt like a rotisserie chicken cooking in an oven. Mel joined me for the first three miles.

I am thankful my body is cooperating as I ramp up my miles. Even though each run feels like a sitcom called "Watch Cory Get Heat Stroke", the beautiful scenery around here helps distract me from the sound of my skin sizzling.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Rabbits Are From Hell

I bet you didn't know this but rabbits are from Hell. Rabbits were invented by Satan who then strategically placed those demonic animals in hidden locations on remote, desolate trails.

So this is how it works. A runner will be cruising down a trail, zoned out, minding his own business. Within a split second there is a rustle in the bushes and then suddenly one of Satan's house pets a rabbit will run right in front of you.

You will be scared to death because at first all you see is something darting out of the bushes. It could be something frightening. Like a mountain lion. Or a bear. Or Celine Dion. At the moment that spawn of Satan rabbit runs in front of you, you involuntarily scream like a girl. And then, even though nobody else saw, you suddenly feel really embarrassed about how you just acted.

I'm not going to say whether or not this actually happened to me during my run this weekend. I'll just tell you that I will NEVER, EVER, EVER have a rabbit foot on my keychain.

I ran in Browse, Utah for the first time. Haven't heard of it? That's okay. Neither has 99.91817374% of the population. As far as I could tell, the only thing on the Browse freeway off-ramp is a dirt road leading to the mountains. Sounds like just the kind of place I want to run.

The road is a challenging place to run. There is lots of climbing, some rocky sections, and so much heat that it felt like running through a furnace while wearing fleece pajamas and drinking hot chocolate. Still, it was beautiful. Dear trails: I love you too.

I know precisely nothing about yoga. But I'm pretty sure my hands (not to mention the nostalgic gaze) are all wrong. These kind of jumps are the hardest for me.

I was thankful that I was alone on the run. Because I must have looked fairly ridiculous running back and forth following a butterfly hoping it would land so I could snap a picture. Finally with some patience....mission accomplished.

Next time you are running alone, beware of mountain lions, bears, Celine Dion, and rabbits. You can't say you weren't warned.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

PURE HEAVEN - Trail Running In Southern Utah Video

I've been keeping a little project under wraps but now I can let you in on one of the coolest things I've been involved with lately.

A month or so ago I got an email from a professor at BYU named Chris Cutri. He is working on a film about ultra endurance sports and asked about coming down to southern Utah to shoot some footage with me and a few friends.

He asked for some trail suggestions so the first spot we hit up was Gooseberry Mesa. I showed up to meet the crew and was AMAZED at the incredible equipment they had. Chris was joined by stunning photographer Ty Arnold (check out his website HERE), one of Chris' students (sorry, I forgot his name), and incredible drone photographer Dane Christensen (his website is HERE).

I casually asked how much money in camera equipment was sitting in that van. Their estimate was nearly as much as the cost of my house! Their equipment made me drool.

It was fun to run with my friend and fellow southern Utah runner Emily Baehr.

I also met John Brown from northern Utah for the first time. Lots of fun and lots of laughs were had.

The whole project isn't complete yet, but Dane but together a video of his drone footage that is seriously awesome. I had so much fun showing these guys around the trails in my backyard. This video is proof that southern Utah is PURE HEAVEN for trail runners.