Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Life Without Hostess

Hostess. Has. Gone. Out. Of. Business.

This is a post I never thought I would have to write. The realization that Hostess will never again be a part of my life is hard to swallow. (Even harder to swallow than all those Hostess-wanna-be products.)

Saying we will no longer have Hostess is like saying we will no longer have rainbows. Or grandmas. Or air.

Hostess reminds me of my childhood when our family would sit around the fireplace laughing, hugging, and talking about how awesome MC Hammer was. Okay. All of that is a lie. My parents never brought Hostess home to us. Something about not wanting to rot our teeth….or our blood stream turning into frosting. Blah, blah, blah. But still, Hostess has been part of my life ever since I was old enough to ride my bike to the grocery store with a pocket full of dust bunnies and allowance money.

There is the selfish part of me that is trying to talk myself down from the edge of the cliff. I can’t imagine a cold, dark world without Hostess Cupcakes. But even more gripping is the sad realization that my grandchildren will never be able to taste heaven. And by “heaven” I mean “Hostess Raspberry Filled Powdered Donuts”.

I still can’t believe this is real. I’m waiting for a press release from Hostess saying “Ha ha America! You’re on Candid Camera!” I’m fully expecting Ashton Kutcher to pop out of a closet to tell me I’ve been punked.

I will miss you Hostess. I will never forget you. You will always be a part of me. (Literally, thanks to all your preservatives.)

In the words of the wise philosopher Whitney Houston, “IIIIIeeeeeIIIIIII will always love you!” (Side note: I’d be willing to bet that this was the first time the words “wise” or “philosopher” have ever been used in the same sentence as “Whitney Houston”.) RIP Hostess.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Last Week's 44 Mile Run

What do you do when you have a whole day from sunrise to sunset free? (No, the answer is not "Sit on the couch in your sweat pants, eat countless bowls of Fruity Pebbles, and watch The Price Is Right and Judge Judy reruns all day.") (Although that does sound kind of fun. Except that I get sick of all the commercials for motorized scooters on The Price Is Right.)

So what do you do when you have the whole day free? Yep. You run. (I planned to go sunrise to sunset or 50 miles, whichever came first. I ended up going 44 miles.)

The day before Thanksgiving I had one of those days. I had the pleasure of running the first 20 miles with Matt Gunn. Matt is the race director for the Zion 100 and the Bryce 100. He is fast and recently finished 9th place at the grueling Bear 100. And he is one of the nicest people you could hope to know.

We ran around Sand Hill in southern Utah to check out an alternate course for the Zion 100 in case there is rain. I'll show you lots of pictures of the Plan B course on another post. But let me summarize by saying that it was awesome.

We reached the edge of this cliff that gave one of the most incredible views I've ever seen. I can't wait to go back here during the afternoon or evening when these red mountains really light up.

Not only is Matt a good runner, but he also has some serious hops.

Our route alternated between sand and slick rock and I kept thinking how fortunate I felt to be surrounded by places like this. People travel from all over the world to see areas like this in southern Utah, and I have it right in my back yard. I am very, very blessed.

After my 20 miles with Matt I explored some other dirt roads and trails. Every once in a while I'd go through some stretches where my legs felt tired and heavy but after a while I'd catch a second wind and feel good again. Some preservatives and food dye sprinkled with coconut may have helped.

I stopped a few times along the way to empty out my shoes which apparently have a built in sand magnet. And there was plenty of sand to attract.

I stopped back at my car every 10-14 miles to refill my hydration pack and get a few snacks. I didn't really eat too much during the day. It was one of those times when my stomach was growling but nothing really sounded too good to eat. I didn't have a sick stomach at all (thank goodness!), I just wasn't interested in eating. Candy corns instead of Gu packets? Don't mind if I do!

Aside from a few rabbits, the only wildlife I saw during the 44 miles was this critter:

I figured I better get in a jumping picture later in the day before the sun went down.

For me, time is a much more manageable concept than distance. Saying to myself "Okay self, let's go run 44 miles.".......sounds hard. To me that distance sounds difficult. But if I say "Okay self, you get to go run as far as you want and spend ten or eleven hours out on the trail."......that sounds fun. My mind deals with time much better than distance. I started the run before sunrise, and was about to finish the run as the sun went down.

Mother Nature had one last gift for me before I finished up. I think it was her way of saying "Hey, thanks for coming to hang out for eleven hours! We should do it again sometime. And thanks for those candy corns you accidentally dropped on the ground." I saw this beautiful sunset as I finished up.

"Heaven is under our feet as well as over our head." ~ Thoreau

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Awesome 1/2 Marathon Medal for Baker's Dozen

If you haven't already, you ought to check out the Baker's Dozen Facebook page - there is some funny stuff going on over there.

I'm very excited to show you the medal for the Baker's Dozen Half Marathon coming up December 15th. Remember - to earn the medal you need to run the half marathon, not the 5k. And these suckers are going to be BIG! If you earned a medal at last year's race - there are going to be that big. Only a week to register before fees go up! See you there.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Turkey Jive Half Marathon Review

This past Saturday I ran the Turkey Jive Half Marathon. My friends Jason Smith and Lyle Anderson created an organization called Underground Runner which will be hosting low-key, no-frills races. That's just my style! Here they are providing some pre-race instructions. (It's hard to take anything they say seriously when they're looking like this.)

Being a first time event, there was a small group of around 30 runners that showed up to jive. 70's costumes were encouraged and there was enough afro hair to cover the state of Michigan.

The thing I liked best about the race was that it was less like a race and more like a group of friends getting together to go run. I ran the whole time with my friends Karrie, Michelle, and Cherie. (This was BEFORE those dark storm clouds dumped on us.)

The course was an out-and-back and they jumped for joy when we reached the turnaround.

Me and my afro/polyester got in a little bit of jumping too.

We picked up one more runner, Melanie on our return. These guys were a blast to run with. I would take a casual race like this over one of the 40,000 runner marathons any day.

There was an awesome medal waiting for us at the end of the race. (The same company that made this medal is also making the medals for the Baker's Dozen Half Marathon. They. Will. Be. Sweet!)

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Trail Date With The Wife

Last week I spiraled into a state of deep depression and emotional turmoil when I found out that Hostess had gone out of business. (Kidding. Mostly.) Thankfully some fun running took my mind off of the despair.

On Monday November 12th I ran 6.5 miles with Mel and her sister Rach. Good times.
On Wednesday, November 14th I ran the 8.5 mile Grafton Mesa loop with Mel.
Saturday, November17th was the Turkey Jive Half Marathon. I'll give you a full race report tomorrow.

But I'd like to tell you more about my date with Mel running the Grafton Mesa loop. The first little bit of the trail is pretty mellow.

That mellow trail doesn't last too long though. Before she knew it, our climb up the mesa began.

Mel hasn't done too much trail running lately so I was worried that this trail might smack her around a little bit, but she handled it like a champ!

I took a little detour to scramble up a rock.

Mel told me I should do a jumping picture while I was up there. It was admittedly a little bit scary.

We made it to the top of the mesa and were provided with absolutely amazing views of Zion National Park. Runners are going to love this new section of the Zion 100 course.

Half way through the loop, the steep technical trail turns into a sometimes gradual but often steep downhill dirt road. I haven't confirmed this, but someone told me this section is called "Crybaby Hill". That name would not surprise me.

The end of the loop led us back toward Grafton ghost town.

We had so much fun together. If I could plan the perfect date, this would be it.

Our trail date ended with a trip to Oscar's Cafe in Springdale. Their "Murder Burger" was awarded Best Hamburger in North America by the Cory Reese Institute of North American Hamburger Research. Add the sweet potato fries and you'll be convinced that you have gone to heaven.

A Murder Burger a day keeps the Hostess depression away.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My HOSTESS Article in UltraRunning Magazine

Earlier this year I was asked by UltraRunning Magazine to write an article for them........about Hostess. It is with deepesty sympathy that I repost the article about my now extinct, beloved Hostess.

I vividly remember the moment I evolved as a runner. It wasn’t the moment I crossed the finish line of my first marathon. It wasn’t that moment when my mind was fuzzy and I staggered across the finish line of my first 100-miler. Nope, not the time I was running in a wind storm and my runny nose ended up in my eye lashes. My transformation came at mile 20 of a beautiful trail run in southern Utah when I stopped at my car to refuel with a pack of Hostess Crumb Donettes.

At this transformative period of my life, I already had a long-standing love affair with Hostess products. But I had never had the pleasure of using them to fill my veins with sugar during a run before. I stashed some in my car and planned to eat one or two Donettes instead of a Gu packet. But they were so good that I ate another. And then another. And before I knew it, I was standing with an empty package, crumbs down my shirt, and a stomach that audibly said “thank you for your gracious gift.” 

I was surprised how well my stomach tolerated the donuts in the middle of a long run. I was fully expecting a gastrointestinal revolt. I was so surprised in fact, that on the next long run I tried a Hostess Snowball. As much as it pains me to talk bad about something so delicious, I admit that the Snowball didn’t go over well mid-run. For you unfortunate souls who haven’t had a Snowball before, imagine a velvety cream center covered by chocolate cake covered by a thick layer of marshmallow covered by pink coconut sprinkles. I had a “No duh!” moment after I tried to run and my stomach didn’t feel very good. Shocker! I can think of nothing worse than a bad case of Snowball Gut. (Well, except for eating cauliflower or listening to Celine Dion. I believe those things actually are worse than Snowball Gut.)

Every year I organize a group of 50 friends to run a half marathon in celebration of all things Hostess. A requirement of the fun run includes eating a Hostess product every two miles, although “The Hostess With The Mostest” Award goes to the person who, you guessed it, eats the most Hostess. It’s not often that you can say you gained weight during a running event instead of losing weight! The “race” is enjoyed by everybody and nobody at the same time. 

After a great deal of trial and error, I’ve come to realize that the best Hostess product during running was my first Hostess product: the Crumb Donette. I only wish that these little morsels of heaven had a different name. I’d prefer that they just be called Donuts. I feel like I’m risking my Man Card by saying how much I love a food that ends in “ette”. 

According to Dr. Thomas Dansie at the Institute for Completely Imaginary Facts, “A Twinkie contains the superior combination of monocalcium phosphate, sodium stearoyl, and soy lecithin to fuel the demands of a grueling ultramarathon.” As ultrarunners, we are striving to extend our durability and longevity. It seems only fitting that we ought to consume products that contain enough preservatives to survive the apocalypse. 

Surely I can’t be alone in my desire for Twinkie-flavored Gu packets or energy bars that taste like cream-filled cupcakes with little white swirls on top. These would be a true revolution in ultramarathon fueling. Chia seeds are so 2009! Until then, we’ll have to subsist on Chocodiles and Ding Dongs. Is it important to eat healthy in training and racing? Without a doubt! I certainly eat more than my share of rabbit food. But is it okay to fudge a little with junk food while training for an ultra? I sure hope so. Otherwise I should retire right now.

My brother told me a funny story. He found out about this article on a flight home from Washington DC. He was sitting next to someone reading the magazine, and unexpectedly looked over and saw me standing there holding a Twinkie.

Rest in peace Hostess.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Grafton Mesa and Molly's Nipple

I don't have any races coming up in the near future. I positively LOVE having a bit of an off-season. I adore not having a schedule telling me how far I should run tomorrow. An off-season means:

1) No thought of doing something dumb like waking up at 4am to get in a training run.
2) Cheesecake? Don't mind if I do!
And the best part......
3) Run whenever you want. As long as you want. As far as you want.

I had a few great runs this week.
Wednesday, November 7th 2012: 9 miles - Grafton Mesa Loop. At points during Javelina Jundred a few weeks ago I considered that me and 100 milers were never, ever, ever getting back together. (Go ahead, try to get that Taylor Swift song out of your head now.)

But I think I'm getting over that. I decided I'd go explore the Grafton Mesa loop for the first time - part of the new course for the Zion 100. I fell in love with this trail by the time I'd climbed 500 feet up the mesa:

The first two miles are steep and challenging, ascending around 1,100 feet but the views were more than enough to make it worth the huffing.

Sections of the trail were rocky and technical but not horrible if you take it easy.

During the week one of my patients at work asked about my running. And then - in all seriousness - he asked if I lift weights as part of my training. If you've ever met me you know how humorous that question is. I tried to not laugh and said "No, I probably should do some of that." Does this picture from the top Grafton Mesa look like I spend a lot of time in the weight room?

Once you arrive at the top of the mesa, there is still more climbing to get to Smithsonian Butte dirt road which is part of the loop. Off to the side you can see scenery like this:

Eventually the trail connects to a dirt road allowing you to run next to Smithsonian Butte:

The loop ends back at the Grafton ghost town cemetary. I must say - I am so happy that this section is included in the Zion 100. This loop makes the incredible course even more amazing.

Friday, November 9th 2012: Monthly mile challenge at the elementary school. I ran with my daughter Danica and her friends. It's so cool to see kids having fun running. (You can see Molly's Nipple in the background which was my destination the next day.)

Saturday, November 10th 2012: 15.5 miles to the top of Molly's Nipple. Mercy, it was so bitter cold when I started running. There were storm clouds in the sky and I brought a poncho but left it in the car because it looked like the clouds were clearing out.

After about an hour of running I thought maybe I'd need that poncho. My goal was to reach the top of Molly's Nipple on the horizon:

My climb to the top was fun but I didn't stick around on the top too long because it was so windy and cold.

I was thankful that I avoided rain although on the return to my car I did meet up with the first snow of the year. Bleh.

And so ends a fun week of running. A great week of running. Pass the cheesecake.

"No doubt a brain and some shoes are essential for marathon success, although if it comes down to a choice, pick the shoes. More people finish marathons with no brains than with no shoes." ~ Don Kardong

Friday, November 9, 2012

More Pictures and Thoughs From Javelina Jundred

I put lots of pictures on my race report from that 77 mile run at Javelina Jundred almost two weeks ago. But there are a lot more pictures I haven't posted yet that I thought I'd share with you. My soul belongs in the desert so at a race like this, I feel right at home.

As I was standing at the starting line I had a realization: I Should Have Brought A Unicycle! I think I could have gotten away with it.

This shot is a mere 30 minutes into the race (before the blisters, nausea, and hallucinations where people start having conversations with Smurfs.)

The first little bit of the run is in the dark. One of my favorite parts of the race is seeing the sun come up to shed light across the desert.

To get an idea of how enormous some of the saguaro cacti are check out this runner near a cactus:

Many miles of trails at Javelina Jundred mostly non-technical. But there are definitely stretches that are more technical and tricky. I think it's a good mix.

Although there were lots of runners out on the trail, there were often long stretches (especially at night) where these were my only companions:

I smiled when I came to the part of the course where I saw this wilted, worn tree because I remembered it so vividly from last year's race. (You can see a picture of the same tree in last year's race report surrounded by some cool clouds.) There were certainly times when I felt like this tree.

After being engulfed by the scorching sun all day, it's hard to describe how happy I was at this point when the sun started to go down:

I mentioned that Mel came out to pace me starting at mile 62, and then sometime an hour or two later her nose sprung a leak. We had to laugh about it. A bloody nose seemed perfectly appropriate considering the other mishaps that had happened throughout the day.

Around mile 74 we reached the aid station called Rattlesnake Ranch. I knew it would be my last aid station of the race because I had already missed the cutoff. Grrrr. Then I saw this license plate on one of the cars at the aid station. It made me smile.

Mile 76 arrived. The last mile of my race. I had been on the trail 24 hours, and it felt like I was sleep walking as I watched the sun come up for the second time during the race.

The ending wasn't what I had planned, I didn't reach my goal of 100 miles. But I remembered this quote from Gordon B. Hinckley which perfectly summed up how I felt:
“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey…delays…sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”

I was thankful for the ride.