Monday, January 30, 2012

50 Miles, Fog, Wind, and Karate Kid

"My doctor told me that jogging could add years to my life. I think he was right. I feel ten years older already." ~ Milton Berle

Monday, January 23rd 2012: Rest. I wish I ran in the morning. The clouds were unreal. Here is a view from my driveway when I left for work:

Tuesday, January 24th 2012: 20 miles @ 11:58 minutes per mile. I had the chance to run with Mel which was fun. It poured rain the entire day before so there was no way we could do a trail run. It was really foggy when we left our house which made for some cool pictures.

We did a six-mile loop together which took us past an enormous church orchard. The lighting was so perfect that I told her to keep going and I would catch up with her in a minute (or 5) after I stopped to take some photos.

I had planned to do a 20 miler so after we finished our loop I headed out for 14 more miles by myself. It was INSANELY windy. I have only dropped out of a run and called for a ride once. But I considered packing it in early this time.

When I was running into the wind, it felt like running in a swimming pool. My legs were churning but my body wasn't moving. I was getting bombarded by flying tumbleweeds. In fact, I shot a short video clip to show you! The end of the clip was when I really got pounded:

My wife is so awesome. She knew it was freezing cold and blowing like a tornado - so she even drove out to make sure I was okay. And.....she had Taco Bell waiting for me when I got home. I pretty much love her. True love is when you have Taco Bell waiting for someone who gets home with snot in their eyelashes.

Wednesday, January 25th 2012: 9 miles @ 12:06 minutes per mile. I wanted to see how my body would hold up to a longer back-to-back run. My knees were achy at first but surprisingly improved as the miles went by. I did another 4 miles on Satan's Sidewalk the treadmill in the evening.

Thursday, January 26th 2012: Quality time with the dentist. We have a love/hate relationship. I hate his drills, he loves my checkbook.

Friday, January 27th 2012: 6 miles @ 11:25 minutes per mile. By far the hardest part of this run was dragging my carcass out of bed so early in the morning. My body wanted to be in bed still, and I felt like a slug for the whole run.

Saturday, January 28th 2012: 11 miles @ 11:13 minutes per mile. I ran most of Gould’s Rim for the first time which has incredible views of Gooseberry Mesa:

As I was running I suddenly saw a shadow speeding up behind me. In a split second I thought “Oh great, I’m going to be dinner for a mountain lion.” I jerked around while simultaneously screaming like a little girl……and then a guy on a mountain bike sped past me. +1 for embarrassing moment while running.

The route had lots of fun little rollers as well as the funniest trail sign I’ve ever seen:

I barely made it back to my car before the sun went down. This provided me with the perfect lighting to channel my inner Karate Kid:

I was happy to reach my goal of running 50 miles for the week. Granted, my pace was similar to the speed of a walrus after being shot by a tranquilizer gun. But still.

35 of those miles were on the road! I haven’t run that many miles on a road during a week for at least four months. And 4 of the miles were on a dreadmill! I haven’t run that many miles on a treadmill for at least four months. It was a good week.

Next Saturday I’ll be doing a beginner trail run on part of the Jem trail including a secret side trail that has some amazing views overlooking Zion. Probably around 6 miles, probably around 9am. Email me ( if you’re interested!

Friday, January 27, 2012

This Is Inspiration

I came across some pictures from a trip we made to Hawaii a few years ago. One of the most amazing things I saw in Hawaii was at the airport as we were preparing to fly home.

I stopped in one of the airport stores to buy some candy (shocker) to get me through the long flight. When I got to the checkout counter, I noticed that the cashier was shorter than my child. And then I handed her my candy bars. Immediately I saw that she had no hands. And yet it wasn’t a setback for her at all!

She scanned the candy, took my credit card, swiped it, punched in a few numbers, then handed me my card and the candy. I was mesmerized. She was able to do her job just as quickly and efficiently as someone with two hands could do.

But the thing that stood out to me most was her smile. She was so happy! What seemed to me like a limitation was no limitation for her. She wasn't whining about her challenges or her hard lot in life. She was beaming with joy.

I left the store and walked ten minutes to our terminal. But I couldn’t get this person out of my mind. Our flight was leaving soon, but I didn’t want to forget this amazing lady. I decided to run back to the store. I told her that I was inspired by what she was doing and asked if I could take her picture. Without hesitation she said yes. It’s easy to see the happiness pouring out of her.

I hope I can be more like this lady. I want to turn my weaknesses into strengths. I want to work hard for the things I believe in. I don’t want ANYTHING to hold me back. I want to complain less and smile more.

No more excuses to hold us back from everything we can become!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Balancing Family and Running

Sometimes I have someone ask how I balance family time with my training for marathons or ultramarathons. Here are my suggestions for balancing family and running:

1) Like most of us, I'm not a professional athlete. I have a full-time job. I'm a husband and father. Those are my priorities for time. But I think it's possible, even with those considerations, to put in the time needed to train for an endurance event.

2) We all have the same number of hours in a day. When something becomes important to you, like running has become to me, you make the time.

3) One of my ultrarunning heroes is my friend Carol Manwaring. One day when I was picking her brain about ultramarathons she said something that has stuck with me: "I think almost anyone could do this if they spent less time on the couch in front of the TV." If you're struggling with finding time to exercise, look into how many hours a day/week you spend in front of the TV.

4) I do most of my training early in the morning or at night when the family is sleeping. That way my running has less impact on the family. If I didn't do races, my kids might not know I'm a runner because I'm usually back from my run by the time they wake up. I've gotten used to functioning on a little less sleep (and a little more Diet Mountain Dew).

5) If possible, get the family involved. Sometimes I'll take the kids to the track with me and we run around together. Sometimes I get the chance to run with my wife which I love (but she won't wake up as early as me).

6) If your training takes you away from family for a few hours, make it up to them. Sometimes I'll say to Mel "Would you mind if I leave for three hours to go run, and then tonight I'll watch the kids while you go out with your sisters?" I have even agreed to go to a chick flick with her after I got back from a Saturday run. Go me.

7) Marry a supportive spouse. Mel is the most supportive, encouraging wife I could ever ask for. I can't tell you how thankful I am to know that she always has my back with the running stuff. I would never be able to be as involved as I am without her support. She rules.

It can be easy to get consumed by training for a big event coming up. In the end though, I think family time has to be the priority. When it comes to family, saying that "Quality time is more important than quantity" is a cop-out. As a therapist, I can attest that quality AND quantity are important for children and a marriage. I try to follow the idea that "No success can compensate for failure in the home."

That's only my $.02 about finding that balance. I'm no expert, but this seems to have worked out for me so far.

Are there other tips you have for balancing family time and running time?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hypothermia, Suffering, And A Rainbow

"A man must love something very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well." ~ G. K. Chesterton

Monday, January 16th 2012: 10 miles @ 12:19 per mile. I ran on some trails near Jem. Beautiful. And death-defying. (Just kidding mom. I'm a wuss. It wasn't nearly as scary as it looks.)

Tuesday, January 17th 2012: 3 miles @ 10:09 per mile. I went to a big hill then just ran up and down for three miles. When I got to the top, I had to stand there for a minute trying to coax the molten lava out of my lungs. A peculiar thing happened after two miles. The macaroni and cheese from a few hours earlier started begging to jump back out of my stomach to have a rendezvous with the sidewalk. This hill is hard. Maybe next week I'll have a Hill-Naming Contest.

Wednesday, January 18th 2012: Rest. (If you can call eating a gas station hot dog "rest".)

Thursday, January 19th 2012: 9 miles @ 11:53 per mile. I woke up obscenely early to run before work. No bueno.

Friday, January 20th 2012: Rest.

Saturday, January 21st 2012:
13 miles @ 12:24 per mile. This run was more miserable than listening to an entire Michael Bolton CD. It was raining hard in the morning and I contemplated running 20 miles on the road. Heck, I was even desperate enough to consider (gasp) the treadmill.

But in the end I decided to put on my big boy pants and go to the Diamond Ranch Academy dirt road. It became an outright downpour and I was quickly soaked. The wind was blowing like crazy. If my parents had seen me out there, they would have slapped me. The dirt around here is terrible when wet. It quickly turns into an inch of modeling clay on the bottom of your shoes.

After a few hours of running a funny thing happened. This van pulled up and drove next to me while I was running. The guy rolled down the window and said "Are you okay?" I told him I was fine. The lady next to him seemed very concerned. She asked me twice if they could give me a ride. I reassured them a few more times that I was okay before they drove away. That was nice of them. And funny. Here is what the road looked like:

I've told you before that I like to run by myself. But I had a partner join me for this run. His first name is Hypo and his last name is Thermia. And I must say, Mr. Thermia is a punk. My clothes were drenched to the core and I was shivering. Every cell of my body was miserable.

But here's the thing: that's why we train!!!! Our training is what teaches our body how to handle difficult situations. It builds us up mentally and physically. We can call on that during a race and we will be prepared. I think that's the purpose of training: teaching our body that it's okay to suffer a little.

And then something incredible happened......the rain let up! There was even a glimmer of sunlight!

Suddenly all that misery was repaid as a beautiful rainbow stretched across the sky.

The storm broke and blue skies appeared. I saw an incredible view of Gooseberry Mesa from Gould's Rim which I had never run before.

So in the end I ran 35 miles for the week. I hoped to be higher, but these were some pretty hard miles so I'm happy with how it went. I drained the hot water heater a few times this week trying to thaw out after running.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Celebrity Sighting

Here are just a few of the random events from the past week:

On Wednesday I was so crazy busy at work all day and didn't have time to stop and eat lunch. Finally at 3:30pm I had a five minute break. Barely enough time to run across the street and get a gas station hot dog. (Just the thought makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit.)

Hot dogs have a special ability to corrupt the taste buds. That taste stays in your mouth for hours, despite how much Diet Mountain Dew you drink or how much gum you chew.

If Wheaties are indeed the breakfast of champions, gas station hot dogs are the lunch of champions. Research shows that eating three gas station hot dogs per week will cut your marathon time by seven minutes.

Later that night Kylee and I went on a walk and saw an amazing sunset:

I stayed outside for a little while later and the sunset got even more psychedelic:

Saturday night the whole fam went to the Dixie State College basketball game and had a blast. We got to sit behind this guy who kept us laughing all night:

We also had the honor of having Cee Lo Green officiate the basketball game! What a privilege to have someone with such television and pop music fame gracing us with his presence.

If, by some crazy fluke, this really isn't Cee Lo Green, it is at least his twin brother. Now get out there and eat your hot dogs!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Newspaper Article About My 100 Miler

Last month The Spectrum Newspaper wrote a story about my 100 miler. I felt a little sheepish when writer Garrett Faylor called to do the interview. I didn't tell him my little secret that there are much more talented athletes around. He summarized the whole experience so well and really seemed to catch the vibe of the ultramarathon. Here is his story:

Reese Exceeds Realm Of Ordinary

Ultra is typified as to go above and beyond what is ordinary. For many people, running a 26.2 marathon might fall into the extraordinary category. Cory Reese, a 33-year-old man, from Hurricane, got into running the same way many folks have - by watching others do it.

After reading a newspaper article and seeing photos of the St. George Marathon, Reese decided a marathon was something he wanted to try. Three years and a dozen marathons later, Reese finished a 100-mile ultramarathon in November, and has leapfrogged the zone of ordinary into the realm of the extraordinary.

An ultramarathon is considered to be anything above the standard 26.2 miles, and are usually 50 to 100 milers. "26.2 is an arbitrary number. People think that the body will explode at 26.2," Reese said. "A big part of ultra is realizing that we're capable of more than we know."

Reese spent a significant number of weeks training, amassing upwards of 75 miles. Unlike marathon training where runners will normally peak within a few miles of their 26.2 target, Reese said that his longest run totaled 35 miles, leaving him 65 to go and a lot to think about.

"It's a hard hobby to explain," said Reese. "You're pushing yourself mentally, physically, pounding your body. One hundred miles is really pure stupidity." Reese was not the only one lured by the challenge.

The Javelina Jundred 100-mile Endurance Run in Fountain Hills, Arizona attracted almost 400 people to sign up. Nearly 300 made it to the starting line, and only about half of those runners reached the finish line. For Reese, and presumably many others, it wasn't pushing himself that was most difficult, but holding back when he thought he could go faster. "In a marathon, you're running fast the whole time. In an ultra, you never run fast, you have to conserve," he said.

As the race wore down Reese's mind played tricks on him. He hallucinated the sight of an upcoming aid station. And while he was happy to wind through the red sand desert unscathed by tarantulas, coyotes and rattlesnakes, one of his most treasured sights was finding a real, unimagined aid station. "You can't run that far without eating or replacing calories," Reese said.

Another big difference between marathons and ultras: bean burritos, Mountain Dew and Oreos replaced Gatorade and protein bars. "The aid stations were like a Costco," Reese said, still rejoyceful. "I loved the pumpkin pie."

Reese said another benefit of the race was that the looping path allowed for runners to interact. Novices were able to cross paths with elite runners and everybody helped cheer on one another. "With the marathon, you have so much support. With ultras, sometimes it's you and just you for hours," Reese said.

Unlike the St. George Marathon, with school bands and families lining the streets chanting and cheering, Reese's hundred-miler ended quietly, with a few high fives and a belt buckle that reads: 100-Mile Finisher.

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Body Is 70% Chex Muddy Buddies

"If you can't fly, then run.
If you can't run, then walk.
If you can't walk, then crawl.
But whatever you do, keep moving."
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

I think Martin Luther King, Jr. could have run an ultramarathon.

Monday, January 9th 2012: 3 miles @ 11:29 pace. I don't remember anything about this run. I may have still been asleep.

Tuesday, January 10th 2012: 3.6 miles @ 10:00 pace. Right as I walked out my front door, my friends Mandie and Jess were running by. Generally I'd rather run by myself but I couldn't pass up going with these guys. I knew I'd be laughing the whole time. I particularly enjoyed Mandie's story about her child dropping a 4-letter swear word at church.

Wednesday, January 11th 2012:
14 miles @ 13:27 pace. This was the first time I've ever run on Gooseberry Mesa. (HERE is a good map and directions.) Let me tell you something amigo: those were a challenging 14 miles. In case you think I'm trying to blow smoke up your skirt, notice the "EXTREME DIFFICULTY" sign here:

I did most of my run on the south rim. The first few miles were alright, but the scenery really improved when the trail came to the edge of the mesa.

Many of the miles are on slick rock with no sign of a trail. Fortunately a path is very well-marked with dots of white spray paint. They are fairly close together and are easy to follow. Here is a picture of one of the markings:

It was a bit windy up there. (And by "a bit windy" I mean "I think I just saw a low-flying locomotive.") Finally I arrived at The Point and the view was spectacular.

My apologies to any co-workers who may be reading, and now have a mental image of what I look like wearing tights. Sorry about that.

If you're considering jumping off a cliff (which I certainly considered last week after hearing about the Hostess bankruptcy), this would be the place to go.

Thursday, January 12th 2012: 6 miles @ 11:14 pace. I felt like I could have gone longer but it was way past my bedtime and I had to get up early the next morning for work.

Friday, January 13th 2012: Rest.

Saturday, January 14th 2012:
17.5 miles @ 12:17 pace. I felt really good for the first half but started to drag on the way back. My legs felt like they were out of juice. Maybe it's because I far exceeded the Surgeon General's Warning about how much Chex Muddy Buddies a human should consume in one week.

I ran on the Warner Valley dirt road and caught the sunrise lighting up the red mountains in the background.

On my way home I stopped at Burger King and bought two chicken sandwiches. They were completely unhealthy and utterly delicious. This was an amazing post-run meal.

Do the rest of you guys crave junk food after a run?

Chex Muddy Buddies: great food, or the greatest food ever?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Picture In Ultrarunning Magazine!

I have some exciting news! I have a half-page feature of a picture that I took at the Javelina Jundred 100 miler in the new issue of Ultrarunning Magazine!

I've been sitting on this little secret for a month now. I knew a picture was going to be in the magazine, but to actually see the page was really cool. This is the first time I've had a picture in a national publication.

You can read the article HERE. I also heard some bad news today: Hostess filed for bankruptcy! I may need someone to talk me down from the edge. Start buying some Twinkies peeps!Link

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Failed Attempt To Be A Hippie

"Running is a big question mark that's there each and every day. It asks you 'Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'" ~ Peter Maher

I was off work on Monday, January 2nd and got in an early 10 miler @ 13:17 per mile that morning. I found an off-shoot of the Jem Trail that I had never run before. The views were beyond words. I got goosebumps. I can't wait to go back here.

Later in the day I took the offspring to the park. We had a blast playing Monster Tag (I know, I hadn't heard of it before either). I laughed so hard that my stomach hurt and my eyes were watering. We had so much fun. As we were leaving we took a picture together. Correction: we took 3 pictures together. The first time we were all on the ground. But on the third try I got one of my favorite pictures ever:

I also shaved after my failed attempt to become a granola-loving, tree-hugging, hippie with a long flowing beard. Don't you know? To become an elite ultra runner, you must have a long beard and long, flowing hair similar to Jesus. (Just kidding. Mostly.) I think I've come to terms with the fact that I'm not meant to have a Burt Reynolds moustache. (Pardon me while I go cry in the corner for a minute.)

On Wednesday, January 4th I did 12 miles @ 12:37 minutes per mile on the Prospector Trail in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. I had never run here before and the scenery was so beautiful.

My favorite part was when I turned off Prospector to the Church Rocks Trail. The trail was moderately technical and I climbed a total of 2048 feet during the run. I had a bit of difficulty finding my way on some slick rock sections so I added my contribution to the other trail markers out there.

In the month of October I ran 270 miles. I could do a 12 miler in my sleep. But after taking it easy the last few months I have lost some fitness and endurance so now a 12 miler has me crying Uncle.

Friday, January 6th I woke up early and ran 3 miles on the road before work. After work Mel took the kids shopping so I figured I'd take advantage of a few free hours to head out again. It was starting to get dark so I packed my headlight and headed back to an area near Sheep's Bridge.

I finished 8 miles and 1050 feet ascent @ 11:59 per mile. I had so much fun. When the sun is setting it really lights up the red rocks. I had to keep stopping to get pictures of the moon.

My knees are starting to feel much better, but endurance still leaves a little to be desired. I think I'm moving in the right direction though.

I must admit, even though the sunset was beautiful, I wasn't very excited to have the sun go down.

I'm not a huge fan of trail running in the dark with all the twists and turns, rocks, and uneven surfaces. I also get a little creeped out being in the middle of nowhere by myself, worried that I am going to become dinner for a jaguar.

But I made it home safe. A jaguar didn't eat me. Heck, a jaguar didn't even lick me.

Have you ever gotten lost while running?
I've gotten twisted around on trails a few times but nothing too major.

Anybody else had failed attempts at growing facial hair?
I wish I could grow a fat handlebar 'stache.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 Year In Review

I am quite certain that 2011 was pretty much the most awesome year ever. Except for that time I was in an airport when Gloria Estefan came on the overhead radio system and there was no way to escape. I had to listen to the whole song. That wasn't awesome.

In 2011, running took me to places I never could have imagined. If you had told me at the first of the year that in 11 months I would be throwing up a cheese sandwich after just running a 100 miler, I would have said you were positively nuts. But, in fact, I did run a 100 miler in November. And then threw up a cheese sandwich. Here is my Running Year In Review (HERE is our Family Year In Review). Click on any of the links for the whole story and pictures.

January: Mel and I flew to sunny freezing California on a whim to run the Southern California Half Marathon. Our hotel room smelled worse than an overflowing septic system. A few weeks later we ran the St. George Half Marathon together where some hooligans crashed our starting line picture:

February: The wife and I ran the Dogtown Half Marathon together. I was dared to wear a sassy sequin hat during the race. Challenge accepted. Real men wear sequins.

February was also the month where my writing got a bump from an article on Runners World Online. And so began my quest for a respectable jumping picture.

March: Easily the craziest month of the year. The day we were supposed to leave for my first 50 mile race Mel fell and broke her elbows which required surgery. So instead of doing the race, I ran 50 miles on my own. I started running in the middle of the night to finish 24 miles then went right to the Sand Hollow Marathon to run the last 26. I also got my favorite race picture ever:

Even though I ran 50 miles, my conscience will only let me count it as a marathon since it wasn't an official 50. Jackson completed a kids race that day and ran the last mile with me. It meant a lot to have Mel waiting at the finish line. Looking back now, I can smile at this picture which looks like we all got hit by a bus.

April: A week or two before the Red Mountain 50k my knees threw a big temper tantrum. That was the first time I ever thought "Hmmm, maybe I shouldn't do this race." In retrospect I, um, shouldn't have done the race. Running an ultramarathon on already-crappy-knees didn't help matters. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment making it to the finish line, but learned a valuable lesson that I need to listen to my body better.

May: Mel and I had a blast volunteering as Catchers at the finish line of the St. George Ironman. I helped some incredible people after they crossed the finish line, including an awesome lady who ran the marathon in Crocs!

I also ran the Ogden Marathon. Knees were still working on feeling better, and I finished the marathon a comfortable (cough, cough) 18 minutes before the cutoff. Thankfully there is a Hostess store across the street from the finish line. Cupcakes make everything all better.

June: I ran the Utah Valley Marathon which was super hot. An Otter Pop at an aid station may have saved my life.

July: Another year at the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon. I also ran the Deseret News Marathon for the first time. Toward the end of the race you run on the street with Utah's largest parade, the Days Of '47 Parade. I loved that section and gave a High Five to every single person I saw:

August: I ran the Moonlight Half Marathon then the South Valley Half Marathon the next week. I ran next to a guy who looked identical to Yanni.

September: I had trained hard and was expecting to crush my 4:25 marathon PR at the Top Of Utah Marathon. And in fact I did crush my PR! If by "crush" you mean 1 minute. Yep. All my hard training got me a PR by one sissy minute.

It was a bittersweet PR, I wanted to be faster. It was after that race that I decided speed isn't my thing, I was going to go for distance. And I signed up for my first 100 miler.

October: Ran the hometown St. George Marathon, one of my favorites. I felt really honored that they used one of my pictures for the marathon poster for the second year in a row:

November: And now we reach the big enchilada. The You're-Going-To-Throw-Up-A-Cheese-Sandwich-After-This-One race. The 100 miler...the Javelina Jundred. Usually my writing is laced with plenty of sarcasm, but I'm being truthful when I say that this really was a life-changing experience.

This race was by far the hardest thing I have ever done. This was the best pain I've ever felt. This was the most fun I've ever had in a race. This is one of my happiest achievements. I will always cherish the belt buckle I earned at the finish line. (HERE is the full report.)

December: I threw a half marathon party complete with 50 good friends, lots of laughs, and a hefty supply of junk food.

When all is said and done, I did at least a half marathon each month, and finished the year with
7: Half Marathons
6: Full Marathons
1: 50k
1: 100 miler
I learned so much this year as a result of my training, racing, and running adventures. I could not have asked for anything more. I feel so, so thankful. I can't wait to see what is in store for 2012!