Sunday, October 30, 2011

What NOT To Eat

"When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on, or we will be taught to fly." ~ Patrick Overton

All week long I’ve been expecting a camera crew to show up at my house and say “We’re filming a documentary called ‘How NOT To Eat When Training For An Ultramarathon and you would be perfect for the show!”

Seriously, I have gone off the deep end this week. I’m sure my arteries are starting to get clogged with brownies and Halloween candy. I need to fix this quickly. It will be mighty embarrassing if I start sweating frosting during the big race in two weeks.

Monday, October 24th 2011: 5 miles @ 11:05 minutes per mile.
Tuesday, October 25th 2011: Rest
Wednesday, October 26th 2011: Rest
Thursday, October 27th 2011: 3 miles @ 11:00 minutes per mile.

Friday, October 28th 2011: 16 miles @ 11:33 minutes per mile. I felt like I was really dragging for the first half of the run but loosened up after about eight miles. This was my first run using gaiters which help keep rocks and dirt out of your shoes. The MENS gaiters I ordered don't look quite as manly as the online picture where I ordered them. Oh well. They're flashy and bright and I've decided I'm going to like them, in spite of their un-manly-ness.

After my long run for the week I indulged in a cardiologist's nightmare: carne asada fries. (Yes, there is a load of fries and cheese under that meat.) Forgive me, for I have sinned. I felt guilty afterward. Dear body: I'm sorry, I promise I'll do better next week. I promise.

Saturday, October 29th 2011: 8 miles @ 11:31 minutes per mile. I ran around the Sheeps Bridge road and Jem Trail near Zion National Park. The leaves in the area have started changing:

The scenery along the Virgin River was spectacular with the fall colors.

I think the leaves still have some changing to do so I will try to get back there over the next week. Pictures don't do justice to how beautiful it was.

This was one of the best runs I've had in a while. I loved every minute of it and I didn't want to leave.

On a side note, we added a new member to our family a few weeks ago: a Boxer named Ace. He is a good dog and our family has fallen in love with him. I'm still lobbying to change his name to something a little more unique. Like Geraldo or Jorge (pronounced Hor-hay). Can I get your support on this?

I can't believe that the 100 miler is less than two weeks away. Right now I'm not really feeling nervous or scared. I'm more anxious and excited. Really excited. Plus.....the aid stations have pumpkin pie!!!! This. Is. Awesome! I have a firm belief that every race should include pumpkin pie.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hurts So Good

Yesterday was my reward for arriving at the taper for the Javelina Jundred: I got a massage from the premier sports massage expert in southern Utah. Her client list includes people in record books. She is g o o d. And I wasn't scared to see her this time. Which was different than our first visit earlier this year. Allow me to repost an article following that visit:

There is a principle I have always lived my life by: I, Cory Reese, will never get a massage.

It just boils down to the fact that I don't want no one's hands on me. I just don't. But after the ultramarathon on Saturday my knees and legs were feeling ultra-achy. I decided to abandon my life principle and call the person who does sports massages for runners on the St. George Running Center team. Her name is April and I've heard she can make grown men cry.

I'll be honest with you: I was scared to death to go see April. Remember, I don't want no one's hands on me? And....I'm a grown man.....and I didn't want to cry.

So April starts doing her sports massage thing on my legs. I thought to myself "Hmm, this isn't so bad." And then April found the sweet spot - part of my leg that hurt just by looking at it. She zoned in on the sweet spot and I believe I levitated four inches off the table. Nowhere in the fine print did I see that she did the massage with Tasers. She continued to find many more sweet spots.

I heard April say, with a tone of slight surprise, "Oh, your legs are pretty tight." I really enjoyed my conversation with April as she smushed my muscles into peanut butter. I laid there trying not to levitate off the table, and it hurt so bad, but holy Moses, it felt so good.

She finished doing her sports massage thing, I stood up, and the greatest thing happened: I could bend my knees! It was glorious. It was a huge difference. I feel much better. My legs are still sore, but I have to remind myself that this is likely because I ran an ultramarathon three days ago.

So I officially abandon my anti-massage policy. I will certainly go see April again. Her rates are very reasonable - if you're in the southern Utah area you can schedule your own awesome Taser session by calling her at 435-773-7297.

I am proud to say that I, Cory Reese, did not cry.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I Survived Hell Week

"You hear about how runnin' ultras is all mental; well, I sure wish it'd hurry up and get mental, 'cause it's feelin' awfully physical right now." ~ Ken Loveless

I survived Hell Week training for my first 100 miler in three (3!!!) weeks. Over the last two weeks (which includes five rest days) I ran 143 miles. I really don't know if I'm trained adequately or not, but at the end of the week I felt a sense of peace that I've done the best I could with the time I had available and didn't compromise family time during my training. I'm feeling cautiously optimistic for the Javelina Jundred.

Monday, October 17th 2011: 6 miles @ 10:41 minutes per mile.

Tuesday, October 18th 2011: 13 miles @ 11:39 minutes per mile. I wasn't madly in love with the idea of waking up at 3:45am to run a half marathon before work, but it wasn't anything some Mountain Dew couldn't fix.

Wednesday, October 19th 2011: 31 miles @ 12:14 minutes per mile. It was 86 degrees outside and it felt like I sweated every ounce of water out of my body. My blood probably resembled hot fudge. ( fudge.) The good news is that it feels like my body is handling heat much better. It doesn't bother me much anymore.

Thursday, October 20th 2011:

Friday, October 21st 2011: 20 miles @ 12:19 minutes per mile. 83 degrees for this run but a slight breeze made it feel much better. The last mile was the fastest.

Saturday, October 22nd 2011: 3 miles @ 9:50 minutes per mile.
But enough of this running jibber jabber! We also did some fun family activities this past week. One of my favorite things to do every October is go to Staheli Farm, complete with a petting zoo, pig races, and a corn maze. I think it has Disneyland beat as the happiest place on earth.

At the petting zoo this pig smiled at me. I think it was because he was planning to go wipe his dirty snout on my daughter's leg. She didn't think he was nearly as cute after this little stunt.

They had a bounce house-ish thing that the kids could jump on and the girls pulled off this jump. Certainly a proud fatherly moment.

On Saturday while Mel was in Las Vegas for the Ragnar relay race I took the kids on my favorite hike in the world: Taylor Creek which is part of Zion National Park. The autumn leaves were absolutely incredible.

The kids were troopers. They made it the whole five miles. It was a little chilly toward the top and one of the kids matter-of-factly said "It's so cold that I can't feel my feet."

I love this picture of my youngest hooligan Kylee. She grabbed a huge pile of leaves and threw them up in the air and had a blast watching them rain down.

I made them head bands out of some reed plants which thoroughly impressed them. They looked at me like I was MacGyver. We had tons-o-fun on the hike.

I'm feeling better than I could have hoped for the amount of miles I've been running. I very, very often think back to April and a disastrous 50k, or May when my knees were so screwed up that I barely beat a marathon cutoff by 18 minutes. Sometimes I get a little choked up thinking about where I'm at with running, considering that not too long ago I couldn't run. I just feel so thankful and I don't take running for granted. I feel like each mile is a blessing.

And now........LET THE TAPER BEGIN!!!!!!!!! Hooray!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hoka Mafate Review

When I showed my new Hoka Mafate shoes to my seven year old daughter her eyes lit up. She said "Dad! You can be a clown for Halloween. And you can wear those shoes!" She has a point.

I had been intrigued by the Hoka shoes after seeing lots of top ultrarunners wearing them. They are the complete opposite of minimalist shoes. I love the book Born To Run. I've read it at least four times. I admire people who wear minimal shoes. But I'm very nervous to do anything that puts me at a higher risk for stress fractures. I ran 20 miles in the Hokas right out of the box and was in heaven.

The best way I can think of to describe running with Hokas is like running on bubble padding. Your feet still have support but more cushioning. Compared with other shoes, Hokas look heavy and bulky.

So I weighed them. My Saucony TR4 trail shoes weigh 12.8 ounces each. But the Hoka Mafate only weighs 12.3 ounces each! I was surprised by that.

I was also worried that being higher off the ground would make an ankle sprain more likely. I actually haven't had any more trouble with that than I normally do running trails. The Hokas run a little small so I bought a half size bigger than I normally wear.

I have been running in these for a month now. I wanted to have plenty of experience with them before I told you about them. I have experimented with them a lot. I have run 10 miles in my Sauconys then switched mid-run and wore the Hokas for 10 miles. Another time I ran 10 miles in the Hokas then switched mid-run to Sauconys and ran another 10 miles. Doing this showed me how dramatically different the shoes are.

My biggest hesitation in buying the shoes was the $170 (gulp) price tag. When I found them on sale I decided to take the plunge. That was one of the best decisions I've made all year. (They have a road version called Hoka One One Bondi B.) Plus the Hoka Mafate has more cushioning if your legs spontaneously jump into the air.

I can't minimize the enormous price tag. That is a crazy price to pay for shoes. And if I didn't have a discount and wasn't running high mileage I'm not sure I could justify the cost. But in training for my first 100 miler, these shoes have positively saved my feet and knees enabling me to do lots of high-mileage training.

Now I just need to add a wig and big red nose to my clown costume.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Standing On Molly's Nipple

"I wasn’t a truly genuine trail ultrarunner until March 7, 1992 at the Wild Oak 50 near Harrisonburg, Virginia. It was a rainy day and simultaneously, while I was piddling on the run, chewing on an energy bar and washing it down with Mountain Dew, my nose was dripping and I farted. That was the ultimate defining moment in my trail running career, if not my entire life." - Bob Boeder

A few days ago I mentioned that I had an adventurous 20 miler. So here's the story. Anyone who has driven through our city on their way to Zion National Park has seen Molly's Nipple. I don't know who Molly is, but it's not hard to understand how this mountain got it's name:

I had never run to the top of Molly's Nipple before so I figured that would be a good destination for my 20 miler. (It's not nearly as daunting coming from the back side. I followed these directions.) The dirt road is easy to navigate until the last few miles where it gets more rocky and technical.

But the view from the top is breathtaking. This is Hurricane, Utah where I call home:

The Nipple overlooks the Hurricane airport and it was cool to see airplanes flying below me:

I spent a few minutes eating a Snickers bar and enjoying the scenery before heading back.

I had been running for a few miles back toward my car when I ran directly over THIS!

I instantly had the involuntary response of screaming like a girl. I wasn't as scared when I turned around to see it wasn't a rattlesnake. It was about three and a half feet long and stretched across the trail. He stayed there patiently while I took a bunch of pictures.

After my close encounter with a rattlesnake a few weeks ago and now this, I'm starting to feel like The Snake Whisperer.

I finished the 20 miles averaging 11:35 minutes per mile and was amazed how good I felt during the whole run. It was 85 degrees outside and I kept thinking "How in the world am I feeling this good?" Going slower pays dividends. Every mile I run on dirt makes me dislike running on the road even more. This was such a fun run.

After running 20 miles in the heat there are a series of requirements you must foll0w:
1) Get in your car.
2) Drive to the nearest gas station. Do not pass go. Just get there.
3) Walk inside and buy an ice cold Coke.
4) Disregard the people who can't seem to take their eyes off your dirty, sweat-crusted face. They will think to themselves "Gosh, that guy looks like he just got back from 'Nam!"

Sunday, October 16, 2011

35 Miler and Eating My Weight In Junk Food

"Common sense is necessary....more so than high tech. Race to the finish not race from the start, pace yourself, run your own race and don't get sucked into someone else's, walk when you need to, run when you can, eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we will hurt." ~ Keven Sayers

Monday, October 10th 2011: 5 miles @ 10:30 minutes per mile.
Tuesday, October 11th 2011: 10 miles @ 11:25 minutes per mile.

Wednesday, October 12th 2011:
35 miles @ 12:37 minutes per mile. This run was so beautiful that I couldn't help but take tons of pictures. I ran along the Arizona Strip dirt road and some other side trails. The moon was almost down when I started running:

Take my word for it, these pictures don't do justice to how amazing the scenery is in this area. The deep red mountains against the deep blue sky just can't be captured by a camera.

I always start this run wondering if there will be anything to photograph that I haven't already. And yet there is always something new that I've never seen before. Even the different lighting or clouds make each trip unique. We got lots of rain last week and I loved how some grass cut tracks through the mud:

I focused on going very slow to conserve my energy for the long run. When I felt like I was at a comfortable pace I slowed down even more. If I'm going to make it through 100 miles I will have to take it very easy and never exert myself. My jumping was a little rusty - it took me four tries before I got this (bonus points for my farmer tan):

There are rarely any flowers here, but with the rain they sprouted up all over. An inconsiderate bug may have (did) crawl up my shorts as I was sitting on the ground to take this picture:

Earlier in the year I ran 34 miles at quite a bit faster pace. Initially I was a little discouraged but then realized that when I ran that far earlier in the year it was around 25 DEGREES cooler. But this time I ran through the heat of the day, and the high temperature for the day was 83 degrees.

In the last few miles I took a new side trail. It was a steep two miles in deep sand but the view from the top was worth the sand I got in my shoes:

Right before I got back to my car I came across a large puddle of water where I could see a reflection of the mountains:

Including my running time plus time stopped to stretch, go to the bathroom, and refill my water, I was out on the trail for more than eight hours. When I finished, I didn't necessarily feel good, but I also didn't feel bad. I felt like I could have gone father if I wanted to, but another 65 miles is kind of hard to wrap my head around.

Thursday, October 13th 2011: Rest. I felt starved for calories. During the day I ate toast, a Butterfinger, a maple bar, an In & Out combo meal, a taco salad, and cheesecake. Now if that isn't a reason to run, I don't know what is!

Friday, October 14th 2011: Rest.

Saturday, October 15th 2011: 20 miles @ 11:35 minutes per mile. I felt so good during this run and took lots of pictures that I'll show you in another post.

This week was a big psychological boost for me in preparation for the ultra. By slowing my pace a little I was able to cover lots of miles and never felt sore. I've noticed that my focus has become doing each run smartly so that I can recover quickly and be ready for the next run. I feel good.

Are you watching baseball playoffs?
Without a doubt! Nothing better than baseball in October.

Is junk food one of your weaknesses?
I never met something from the bakery that I didn't like.

Ever had a close encounter with a bug?
Having a bug crawl up my shorts wasn't as bad as when my hand got stung by a bumble bee and got so fat that my hand looked like the Nutty Professor.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fotography Friday

Is it legal to put a few completely un-running-related pictures on a running-related website? Maybe on Fridays I'll put a random photo that has no sweat attached.

I snapped these at Kolob Reservoir right as the leaves were starting to change:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

If You're A Slow Runner...

I have no running skills. The word "Fast" in is enormously sarcastic. "Fast" and "Cory" are polar opposites. Technically they shouldn't be in the same sentence together.

So....what I lack in running skills, I try to make up for in jumping skills. Here are a few photos from the recent St. George Marathon.

Around mile 20:

Crossing the marathon finish line. Mel said she wanted to jump across with me but ran out of energy so she jumped in her head:

"The difference between a jogger and a runner is an entry blank." - George Sheehan

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why Run 100 Miles

My first 100 mile ultra, the Javelina Jundred, is exactly one month away (Cue butterflies in the stomach). I've been wanting to tackle a 100 miler for more than a year now, but a few things happened that made me decide now is the time.

1) I'm ready for the unknown. After doing maybe a dozen marathons, I'm pretty sure now as I stand on the marathon starting line that I'm going to be able to finish. The 100 mile ultra is something completely new and different. I'm intrigued by the unknown. Ultrarunners say you experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I want to see what that's like.

I'd be a liar if I said I'm confident that I'll be able to finish under the 30 hour cutoff. I really don't know. (I'm guessing that anyone attempting their first 100 would be lying if they said they were confident that they could finish.) But I DO know that I'm going to plan to race smartly, and give everything I've got to make it to the finish.

2) The Javelina Jundred in particular sounds like so much fun. All the race reviews say it is like a 30 hour party. A "javelina" is some kind of wild pig but it's pronounced "Havelina". Race directors played on this "J" that sounds like an "H" by saying it's a Jundred mile race. It is held on a weekend close to Jalloween. Some of the aid stations are Jeadquarters and Jackass Junction. The whole experience sounds just plain fun.

3) I'm slow. I knew I was going to sign up for the 100 after getting a PR at the Top of Utah Marathon. I had trained hard, was well-prepared, and was confident in getting a personal record under 4 hours 25 minutes. I hoped to get around 4 hours. And yet I crossed the finish line in 4 hours 24 minutes. It was a bittersweet moment. I was happy to get a PR, but disappointed that it was by only one minute. One sissy minute.

A light bulb went off. I realized that I'm just not a fast runner. Maybe I'm not ever going to be fast. But maybe I could use that to my advantage because I do have endurance. During an ultra you don't need to be fast, you need to be steady. This is right up my ally. I've run 50k and 50 miles so now I'm ready to go for the whole enchilada.

I have this strong desire to show that an exceedingly average runner can still accomplish something big. I'm excited for this new adventure. I can't wait to jave fun, run with my whole jeart and soul, and jave an excuse to eat all the Jostess my stomach can jold. Ja ja ja.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Most Miles Ever - 75 This Week

"Any idiot can run a marathon. It takes a special kind of idiot to run an ultramarathon." ~ Alan Cabelly

Monday, October 3rd 2011: Rest. The benefit of doing the St. George Marathon on Saturday at mock-turtle pace was that I didn't feel one bit sore afterward. I took a rest day just to be safe.

Tuesday, October 4th 2011:
5 miles @ 10:25 minutes per mile. I ran so early in the morning that I must have still been asleep. I don't remember anything from this run.

Wednesday, October 5th 2011: 30 miles @ 11:56 minutes per mile. I ran on the Warner Valley dirt road. I heard that a storm would be coming into the area. Even though it was overcast when I started, it kind of looked like I would miss it.

During the long run I listened to talks from the recent Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints conference which kept my brain occupied. I had two destinations that I had never run to: the Warner Valley Dinosaur Tracks and Fort Pearce. The trip to the dinosaur tracks (around 10 miles) was fairly uneventful. I kept an easy pace and focused on never getting out of breath. I was happy that I took it slow enough to not break a sweat until around 10 miles.

The dinosaur tracks were okay, although probably not worth making the trip again. The coolest part was knowing that I was standing in the same spot that I dinosaur had stood thousands of years ago.

On to the highlight: Fort Pearce. I took a wrong turn and ended up wandering around for a few miles but finally found the fort after running about 15 miles. It was built in 1866 during the Black Hawk War. I've been reading a lot of local history lately so I was excited to check this place out.

I only stayed a few minutes then headed for home. There were darker storm clouds rolling in which made for good pictures but also made me nervous.

I started to feel a bonk coming on at about mile 20. I knew why. I wasn't sticking with my fueling plan. In ultras they say to eat 200-300 calories per hour. I wasn't even close to that. In my whole 30 miles I only had:
4 Gu packets
2 Vespa packs
1/2 peanut butter sandwich
60 oz. water
and then my saving grace at mile 20:

I also didn't drink much because I was nervous that I would run out of water. After I ate the Snickers my stomach tied up in knots but thankfully eased up after I walked a few miles.

At around mile 21 the skies opened up and the rain started pouring. Within minutes I was soaked to the bone and freezing cold. Those were a long couple hours sliding around in the mud before getting back to my car. When I got back to my car I had run 27 miles. I was frozen and desperately wanted to be done. But even more than that I wanted to accomplish my goal of 30 miles. So I kept running. I'm glad I didn't give up.

Thursday, October 6th 2011: 10 miles @ 10:53 minutes per mile pace. I ran crazy early in the morning so I could be home in time to get the kids ready for school. It was cold enough that I could see my breath. It feels like we went right from summer to winter.

I decided I wanted to take a rest day Friday, so on Thursday night I did 4 miles slow and easy. Here is proof of how cold and miserable it has been the last few days: I RAN ON THE TREADMILL. Doing 4 miles on Satan's Sidewalk was so boring that I almost started crying. For much of the run I practiced fast walking since I'll be doing plenty of that during the ultra. Even watching a baseball playoff game didn't make the treadmill any more enjoyable.

Friday, October 7th 2011:

Saturday, October 8th 2011: 13 miles @ 12:12 minutes per mile. I ran around the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve and left really early while it was still dark. It was cold and windy and I didn't get into a groove until the sun came up:

This week I got good training for the upcoming ultramarathon by running on tired legs. I figured out that starting last Saturday, during a six-day stretch (which includes two rest days) I ran 75 miles. That is the most miles I've ever done in one week. Not a single one of those miles was fast, but I'm thankful my body seems to be holding up well.

Do you like running in the rain?
Normally I love it, except on trails when it gets muddy.

Is the treadmill the most evil invention ever?
Why, yes. Yes it is.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

St. George Marathon 2011 Review

I present to you...The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of the 2011 St. George Marathon:

The Good: At three photo points photographers told me they got some awesome jumping pictures. One even called me back to show me a few of my jumping pics.
The Bad: The hottest temperature at the starting line in race history. No bueno.
The Ugly: My fluorescent orange thrift store trucker hat with a pom pom on top.

At the expo the night before the race I was able to see this year's poster given to all 7,000+ runners. I was thrilled when I learned that they were using one of my pictures for the poster!

On race morning we boarded our bus for the starting line. We had no idea that our driver was about to give us a taste of the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland. Whoa mama. It was fun to meet up with our whole gaggle of friends. Obviously this is before the race started because we're all still smiling:

I found this awesome fluorescent orange hat years ago and I break it out on rare occasions. The finishing touch is a bright orange pom pom on top. When was the last time you saw a hat with a pom pom on top of a hat? Ultra-classy.

I was looking forward to running the marathon with my wife Mel again. She has been training well and thought she may be ready to break her PR of 5:26. Whenever possible during the race, I ran on a dirt shoulder instead of the road which makes my knees happier.

We reached the town of Veyo at mile 7 which is arguably the hardest part of the course. Not because of the dreaded Veyo hill. But because you pass a restaurant where you can smell the sweet breeze of bacon and eggs. It tempts you to quit the race and walk into the cafe. Instead we decided to just have some oranges and Gatorade at the aid station. Bleh.

We were still feeling good when we arrived at the Veyo Hill. It is steep and long, and you can walk up it almost as fast as you can run up it. Here is Mel running a little stretch of the hill.

Still feeling good after Veyo, we thought we were pacing well and were right where we needed to be with time. There is nothing like being part of an enormous group with a collective purpose: keep putting one foot in front of the other until you reach the finish line 26.2 miles later.

You know who was great? All the volunteers were great! No, they were even greater than great. They were the greaterest. I am always amazed at how kind, helpful, and happy each of the hundreds of volunteers are. I tried to thank every single volunteer I saw. You know who else is awesome? Our neighbor Mel who hung up lots of signs along the way:

We listened to the same radio station as we were running. I felt a little sheepish as we were singing "Another One Bites the Dust" on the radio at the same moment we happened to be passing a guy. He probably thought we were ultra-jerks.

I would now like to introduce to you the most beautiful section of scenery there ever was in a marathon - Snow Canyon:

We had some good, some bad, and some ugly when we got to Snow Canyon. The Good: Clouds had rolled in creating absolutely perfect lighting to take pictures of the scenery. I was in heaven.

The Bad: Despite getting in plenty of training, Mel had IT band and knee problems slap her across the face hardcore starting at mile 12. Mile 12. This is so not good to be unable to run when you still have another gut-wrenching 14 miles to go.

The Ugly: The nail in the coffin was when she had to start an antibiotic yesterday that made her very sick to the stomach. She started dry heaving around the same time her knees acted up. I was pretty sure it was only a matter of time before she was wearing bananas and Gatorade. (Sorry. Was that a tad too descriptive?)

Mel kept saying over and over "Just go. You can leave me. I'll be okay." And I kept saying "No. I'm not leaving. We're doing this together." Still, she told me to go ahead. Eventually I got right to the heart of the matter and said "Listen. This is going to be hard. But you can do it. I'm not leaving you so you don't even need to say it anymore."

By this point Mel was discouraged, frustrated, distraught, and hurting. I knew exactly how she felt. At the Ogden Marathon in May, I beat the race cutoff by a comfortable (cough, cough) 18 minutes. I have done the marathon death shuffle for 10+ miles worrying if I would make the finish line before the cutoff. I felt her pain. But we remembered our friend Carol who we had seen a few hours earlier at the starting line. She is starting chemotherapy AGAIN on Monday and doing this marathon was her way of saying "Screw you cancer!" That makes it hard to feel sorry for yourself.

I was so impressed and inspired by everyone I saw around me in those last 8 miles. I am inspired by all you fast runners, but have you ever had the experience of being surrounded by all those back-of-the-packers who have been out on the course for six hours and every step is pure agony? Incredible. I was amazed by all these people slowly shuffling to the finish.

The community support for the St. George Marathon is unequaled. One person had a table in their front yard full of different kinds of food with a large poster that said "Free Food, Take What You Want". People bought packs of bottled water and stood on the sidewalk giving them away. A mile later, people had filled baggies with ice, then stood on the sidewalk with their cooler giving ice to runners. I thought Mel may start crying tears of joy. These people weren't at aid stations. They were just there being nice. It. Was. Awesome.

I held Mel's hand the last 4 miles to keep her moving. She said if I hadn't been with her she would have quit at Snow Canyon. She said the pain she was feeling may have been worse than childbirth. She said it felt like her whole body had a migraine. But she kept walking. I was so proud of her.

And then 6 hours and 35 minutes after starting the race, we crossed the finish line together. (Yes, I jumped across.) It was 88 degrees when we finished, and we earned some hefty sunburns along with our medals.

During the race I told Mel approximately 382 times how excited I was to get to the finish line so that I could eat obscene amounts of ice cream. I managed to get down 2 king-size ice cream sandwiches. I think I could have done one more but might have ended up wearing it later.

I was happy to cross the finish line with my wife (and my pom pom hat). She endured hard things and didn't give up and definitely had something to be proud of. In finishing the St. George Marathon, I also finished the Utah Grand Slam - completing at least 4 Utah marathons over the summer months. Finishing the Grand Slam was my main goal for the year so I got an awesome Slam medal to join my awesome St. George Marathon Medal.

Now it's time to get down to business and put the finishing touches on training for my first 100 Miler coming up in a month and a half. But I think we'll always remember the amazing journey we had together at the 2011 St. George Marathon.

"The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy...It is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed."
~ Jacqueline Gareau, 1980 Boston Marathon champ