Monday, July 30, 2012

Lots Of Jumping (And Misery) This Week

"The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare." ~ Juma Ikangaa

 Monday, July 23rd 2012: 10 miles @ 10:59 minutes per mile. The time on my alarm clock started with “4”. That is sick and wrong.

Tuesday, July 24th 2012: Pioneer Day 5k! This is the first (and hopefully last) time I have ever run a race in jeans and a cowboy hat. My friends Lyle Anderson and Jason Smith had equally uncomfortable clothing:

This is the first race we have ever done as a whole family. The kids were really excited about it BEFORE the race started. (AFTER the race……not so much.) Mel ran with the girls, a niece, and our friend's daughter. Only a few tears were shed over those 3.1 miles.

Eventually everyone found their way to the end. Jackson wanted to jump across the finish line. There were large quantities of donuts waiting for us and the kids were in heaven. It is remarkable how deep-fried trans-fat can erase the pain of three miles.

Afterward I ran 5 more miles @ 10:53 minutes per mile in Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.

Wednesday, July 25th 2012: 24 miles @ 13:02 minutes per mile. I went to the Warner Valley dirt road for some non-technical, easy (cough, cough), fast (cough, cough) miles. But here’s a useful nugget of info: when it is 836 degrees outside and four bajillion percent humidity, there is no such thing as easy, fast miles. I knew by mile three that it was going to be a long, not-so-enjoyable run.

You know those runs where you start bargaining with yourself because it sucks so bad? “Just cut the run short and you can make up the miles tonight. Or tomorrow. Or the day after never. Plus…what is the point of this? You could be sleeping right now instead of trying not to die.” I hoped a cheesy jumping picture would get me out of my funk. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t.)

I was out in the middle of nowhere and you’ll never believe what I saw……A HUMAN! Seriously! A HUMAN! I have run hundreds of miles out here and never, ever seen another runner. I was so happy to see another person out enjoying this area that I could have hugged him. But that would have been gross. And sweaty. And slightly awkward.

The humidity was suffocating. All you east coast runners who live with this all the time….wow. I bow down to your supreme awesomeness because if I had to run in this all the time I would find a new hobby. There were some big puddles of water that had some sweet reflections of the clouds. Check out this stick in the water.

Here is my philosophy on running: Running MUST be fun. MUST. Occasionally it is okay to take one step across that line if you’re training your body to build and adapt. But this run was way, way too many steps across the “Fun” line. I’d go so far as to say it was downright miserable for all 24 miles.

Thursday, July 26th 2012: Nothing.
Friday, July 27th 2012: 5 miles @ 11:42 minutes per mile. I got a harsh reminder that I didn’t re-fuel and re-hydrate adequately from the 24 mile sauna run. I felt like a slug the whole time. That night I went on an hour and a half bike ride with Mel which was a lot of fun.

Saturday, July 28th 2012: 10 miles @ 13:40 minutes per mile. I took my friends Jess Jensen, and Shane and Karrie Nielson to the Guacamole Trail. The trail is challenging in some sections but the scenery is great.

The trail involves following little rock towers which can be hard to spot. More than a few times we ended up just standing there trying to figure out where to go. It was pretty funny to watch. Even though it slowed us down, I liked how it felt more adventurous. Later the gang reached the top of this slick rock ridge:

Karrie said that in honor of the Olympics, she brought medals for whoever had the best jump in a jumping contest. I decided to go for the High School Cheerleader Reject pose. I resisted my urge to call for a re-do.

I felt good for the whole run. For better or worse, the Never-Jump-Like-This-In-Public jump earned me a medal......made out of a Hostess Cupcake! A great run is always even better when it ends with Hostess.

I bumped up my mileage a little bit this week because I realized that I'm close to getting 200 miles of running in a month for the first time ever. I have a few more days and a few more miles so I think I'll make it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Running With My Peeps. Literally.

Recently I found a box of marshmallow Peeps in the back of a cupboard. After rejoycing in my good fortune, I decided to take them out on the trail for a mid-run snack. Against the background of the red mountains, the Peeps are bright enough to burn your retinas.

It was fine with me that the peeps had become a little crunchy. No matter how long these heavenly morsels sit in the cupboard, you can't kill delicious.

I would like to meet the person who thought "You know what? Marshmallows look so boring! Lets get creative and shape the marshmallow like a bird. And you know what? Marshmallows aren't sweet enough. Lets cover them with a coating of dyed sugar." I think this person deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Running Partner Is A Tarantula

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

Monday, July 16th 2012: 4 miles @ 8:58 minutes per mile. I'm not ashamed to admit that 8:58 per mile is sometimes enough to trigger chunky burps.

Tuesday, July 17th 2012: Rest. 

Wednesday, July 18th 2012: 12 miles @ 12:55 minutes per mile. I've heard that the Guacamole Trail is a mountain biker's paradise. The trail is only about 20 minutes from my house so I thought I'd give it a run for the first time. Much of the route is on slick rock and little pools along the trail were filled by an earlier rainstorm. This made for some great reflection pictures.

Even though some sections were fairly technical, the scenery more than made up for the slower pace and difficulties.

This trail is right up against Zion National Park. I saw this little rock window and put Zion in the background:

It was hot as the devil's lair out there and I was more than a little tempted to take a dunk into one of the little pools along the way.

For me, the hardest part of the Guacamole Trail wasn't the technical difficulty, it was actually FINDING THE TRAIL! The route was marked with rock cairns, but sometimes I would reach one, then stand there dumbfounded trying to find the next one. I'll give you an example. Can you find the rock tower in this picture? Right. Neither could I.

In all honesty, most of the trail wasn't too hard to find. Even though the trail is not fast, it is definitely fun. And I will definitely go back. On my way back to the car I was joined by an overly big and overly friendly running partner:

Thursday, July 19th 2012: Rest.

Friday, July 20th 2012: 20 mile walk! My wife and I were in charge of Youth Conference for our church group this year. We had planned to walk 14 miles from Hurricane, Utah to the St. George Temple. Our group of 65 headed for the trail at 3:00am (OUCH!!!!) to try and beat most of the heat.

But as we got driving down the dirt road to our starting point, things got ugly. A flash flood last week washed out large portions of the road making it impassable to cars. We decided there was no other option but to start at the washed out section, but this added an extra 6 miles to the trip.

We walked for hours by the light of our flashlights until we were treated to an amazing sunrise:

After more hours of walking we finally reached the crest of a hill and saw the St. George Temple ahead of us. We took breaks along the way, and finished after nine hours when the temperature had reached 101 degrees. I am so inspired and proud of the youth and leaders who were part of this experience. That sense of accomplishment from walking 20 miles is something they will be able to keep with them the rest of their lives.

Saturday, July 21st 2012: 6 miles @ 13:08 minutes per mile. Let me tell you amigos, I was exactly 0% excited to go out running after finishing the nine hour walk a few hours earlier. But I had already planned to go out with my friends Shane and Karrie Nielson and didn't want to back out.

We ran around the Jem Trail. The first few miles felt like my legs were cement, but things loosened up and we had a fun run together. How much fun you ask? This much fun:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I Got Centerfold Of UltraRunning Magazine!

Life has been crrrrrrrazy busy lately so I just cracked open the July issue of UltraRunning Magazine. I was thumbing through the pages and then got to the centerfold. I realized it was a picture I snapped during the Buffalo Run 50 miler!

I got goosebumps thinking about what an amazing blessing running has been to me. Not only was the race itself such an awesome experience, but to have others get a taste of that experience in the magazine.......I just feel very thankful. I am so, so thankful. I noticed a few of my other pictures as well.

I really love this magazine. It has been known as "The Bible of ultrarunning" for 30+ years. There are three things that they do so well in each issue:
1) Informative, educational, and inspiring articles.
2) Great race reports (often from the race directors).
3) They post the finishing times of ALL finishers of the ultramarathons. Not just the top three finishers. They include EVERYONE. First place to last place. I think it's pretty symbolic of ultramarathons in general. The races feel so inclusive. Slow runners respect fast runners for their amazing abilities. Fast runners respect slow runners for their grit and determination.

If you're looking for inspiration or considering going beyond 26.2, you ought to subscribe to UltraRunning Magazine. I'm not sponsored by them and I get nothing if you subscribe. From one runner to another, this is worth checking out.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Running While Sleeping and Bonking At Work

Monday, July 9th 2012: 5 miles @ 10:31 minutes per mile. Early in the morning. Pretty sure I was asleep during the entire run. Those of you who have trained for distance races understand that it is possible to run while being sound asleep.

Tuesday, July 10th 2012: 5 miles @ 10:38 minutes per mile. I may have been asleep for this one also.

Wednesday, July 11th 2012: 10 miles @ 11:08 minutes per mile. I remembered that I am not madly in love with the idea of waking up early enough to run 10 miles before work. (Although I was madly in love with the fat cinnamon roll I ate for lunch. Unshockingly, I bonked at work around 3:00pm when the sugar wore off.)

Thursday, July 12th 2012: Nada

Friday, July 13th 2012: 22 miles @ 13:02 minutes per mile. I ran to the top of Smith Mesa and got to the rim right in time for one of the most incredible sunrises I've seen all year:

I sat on a rock for about 15 minutes to watch the sun rise and try to get the lava out of my lungs. There was a total of 3,636 feet climbing during the run, with some very steep sections that are lung-burning on the way up and knee-crunching on the way down. I was more than willing to take a little break at the top.

The clouds were rolling all over the place and some areas looked like an ocean flowing across the sky.

The only other time I have run up here was during the Zion 100. I got goosebumps seeing some of the same scenery that I saw during that race. That was one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences of my life.

My pace for this run is not at all accurate. I stopped my watch when I stopped to take pictures. And, ladies and gentlemen, I took more than 100 pictures. Whoops. This area was so beautiful that I couldn't help myself. I didn't cross any fences that I shouldn't have.

I don't think too many people go up this direction. I only saw one solitary soul over those five hours running. It was a very senior citizen who stopped to ask if I needed a ride. (Remember that line from Dumb and Dumber: "Senior citizens, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can serve a purpose!") I appreciated her concern. I passed some cows who seemed just as surprised to see someone up there:

I was feeling overheated by the end, but thankfully we had a cold spell come through so it was only in the 90's. (I'm serious. That is a cold spell here.) The clouds gave some much-appreciated shelter from the sun for most of those 5+ hours. I will definitely be running up here again.

Saturday, July 14th 2012: 3 miles @ 13:17 minutes per mile. I ran with Mel and this was the first time she's been out running for a few months. We had a good time. And in summary, I'll leave you with this awesome quote by John Bingham:

"If you run, you are a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you've been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get in. You just run."

Friday, July 13, 2012

Watching An Amazing Sunset From The Trail

Last Friday evening I saw storm clouds in the sky. That hasn’t happened in our area for months! I knew it may not be smart to go out running the night before a race, but I couldn’t help myself. I knew the lighting would be perfect for some good pictures.

I ran six miles on one of my favorite trails ever. It’s a little connector path to the Jem trail. The setting sun really lit up Gooseberry Mesa.

I kept stopping along the way as the clouds were shifting and throwing light in different directions. In the last mile I stood on the edge of a rim watching the storm roll in and I knew I was seeing something special.

All too soon the sun went down. I didn't want the run to end. It is difficult to go back to running on roads around houses and neighborhoods when there is scenery like this only a few minutes drive away.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Quitting Job To Become a Pro Cake Decorator

This week is a three-ring circus at our house. All the kids have their birthdays this week, two days apart. We have a tradition of letting each of them choose a design for their birthday cake. My youngest daughter Kylee was facing a difficult decision. She didn’t know if she wanted her cake to be 1) a sock money, or 2) a dolphin.

I was feeling a bit like Vincent Van Gogh one night (except that I have two ears) and suggested that she have BOTH – a sock monkey riding a dolphin! She got a huge smile on her face and the decision was made.

Unfortunately the day arrived when I had to pay the piper. My obscene lack of artistic ability was put to the test as I attempted my exemplary work of art. So I present to you……a sock money riding a dolphin:

She watched intently during the whole decorating process. As I completed the final lines her face beamed with pride. The moment I finished, she started clapping. Thank goodness. Because I was about to apologize that her cake looked so silly.

Mel constructed the cake for Danica who decided to not combine two species and just wanted a monkey cake.

Jackson was the easiest of all, wanting a Better Than Anything cake.

I admitted to Mel that I was thinking about quitting my job and becoming a professional cake decorator. She didn’t go for it because obviously that idea is more ridiculous than a sock money riding a dolphin.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Chased By A Cat and Saved By Coke

"Runners can get through the weary and lonely hours only if they are at peace in themselves." ~ Ayers

Monday, July 2nd 2012: 3 miles @ 8:40 minutes per mile. I tried to push toward the end and finished the last mile in 7:53. Generally my pace is similar to an obese rhinoceros so I was very happy to see that 7:53.

Tuesday, July 3rd 2012: 20 miles @ 12:15 minutes per mile. Tuesday night was the only time I could squeeze in a long run this week. When I headed out, it was a positively miserable 99 degrees. I did the Sand Hollow loop which includes some great scenery along the way.

After a few miles I noticed that I was running with my shadow:

I had plenty of time to myself on the long, lonely roads. For the first couple hours I only saw a handful of cars:

Out of the blue I saw a car up ahead with flashing lights and a honking horn. As it got closer I could hear cheering. And then I realized that it was my family! They were on their way home from Walmart and drove out to find me. I thought that was so thoughtful. I refilled my water, grabbed some Oreos, then started running again as the kids cheered “Go Dad! Go Dad!” Best. Aid. Station. Ever.

I was kind of in the zone running along oblivious to what was going on around me. But I happened to look over and see this incredible scene of the sun setting across a field. It was just beautiful. I stayed there for about 10 minutes taking pictures.

Around midnight I arrived at a gas station. I was tired and burning hot. I didn’t have any money with me, so I decided I would stop at the gas station and ask if I could fill my water bottle with Coke, then I would come back later to pay. The girl looked at me sweating my guts out in the middle of the night, laughed, and said “Go fill up your bottle. Don’t worry about it.” I was so thankful I could have hugged her.

I finally made it to the home stretch. Thanks to my shot of Coke, I was ready to run for another four hours. Not.

Lucky for me, it was downright chilly 88 degrees when I finished the run. By then it was July 4th. I loved the fireworks we went to that night.

Friday, July 6th 2012: 7 miles @ 10:49 minutes per mile. Early morning run, chased by two dogs and later got chased by A CAT! For a few minutes I was chased by a cat! I wish I had my camera with me. Hilarious. That was a first. Unlike the dogs, it didn't try to bite me.

That night I ran another 6 miles @ 10:55 minutes per mile on the Jem Trail. The storm clouds I saw were incredible. I took lots of pictures worth a separate post in the next few days.

Saturday, July 7th 2012: Hurricane Trails River Run. The review is HERE.

My primary goal was to get in 40 miles for the week. My secondary goal was to get chased by a cat. Everything went perfectly and I achieved both goals.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hurricane Trails River Run Race Report

It's been a long time since I've actually "raced" in a race. Usually I just go for a good time. But at the Hurricane Trails River Run this morning, I decided I'd push myself to see if I was a man or a Muppet.

The course includes 515 feet of elevation gain over four miles but most of the course is fast and runnable. Basically you run down a canyon to the river bottom and then run back out. The first mile ticked away at 8:18 and I was feeling good. But we hadn't gotten to the tricky parts of the trail yet.

Since I've been doing almost all training on trails, I felt right at home when the trail got more hairy and technical. This race was radically different from the 100 miler in May. In the ultras, you have to be very patient and not let yourself get into the danger zone. But for this race I felt comfortable pushing the whole time. The only problem was that I was sweating roughly the same amount as if I had a sleepover in a sauna.

Finally we got to the meat of the course where you climb a few hundred feet in 1/2 mile. That hill is nothing compared to the Zion 100, but enough of a climb to get your attention. I caught a few people at this point.

We had one last climb before the home stretch which seemed to be a good excuse for everyone (including myself) to take a little walk break to catch our breath.

And before I knew it, the finish line was in sight. One last kick and I was there. Not even any chunky burps.

My friend Tom Dansie is the race director and I appreciate the time he put into the race. Additionally, race directors earn serious bonus points when you see something like this at the finisher's table. I ate until my stomach threatened to make a deep-fried mess on my shoes.

My friend Cherie Santiago (a guru at UltraSpire, and one of the most giving people you could ever hope to know) designed the shirts. It is an unspoken rule that you never wear the race shirt on race day. Which is exactly why I wore it. At the end my shirt looked like it was sprayed with a fire hydrant.

I loved the Hurricane Trails River Run. I love the atmosphere of races. I love trails, and how when I pass somebody they say "Good job" and I love telling someone "Good job" when their legs have more kick and they pass me. I love pushing my body to see how much it is capable of. I love the feeling of crossing the finish line knowing that I worked hard. And I definitely love stuffing myself with doughnuts at the end. Yes. I definitely love the doughnuts.