Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Watch My Friends on Jay Leno Friday Night!

In my other life I'm a piano player and have been fortunate enough to become friends with some incredible musicians over the years.

A few of those friends are The Piano Guys whose videos have a collective 145 MILLION (nope, not a typo) views on Youtube. (Take that Justin Bieber!) Jon Schmidt plays piano, Steven Sharp Nelson on cello, and Paul Anderson is behind the scenes coordinating everything. Want to know something positively awesome?

They are going to be on Jay Leno this Friday night, September 28th!

When was the last time you saw a piano/cello duo on Jay Leno? I think the last time that happened was, um, never. Insane, crazy success couldn't happen to nicer guys. As a teaser for Leno, here is one of their recent songs (a la Bourne Identity):

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Run Across America Completed!!!

In June I had the privelege of running with Chris Praetzel. Chris was in the midst of doing something unbelievable:


What was remarkable was that Chris was doing the run completely self-supported. No support crew or van full of gear. All he had with him was what he could pack into a baby stroller. His purpose was to raise awareness for organ donation.

By the time Chris arrived in southern Utah he had already run 500+ miles but had another 2,500+ miles to go. We offered to let him spend the night at our house as he passed through town and it was an experience I don't think my kids will ever forget. (You can read about our experience HERE.)
I have exciting news to report. After 125 days and more than 3,000 miles, Chris arrived on the other side of the country in New Jersey yesterday! I am speechless. I can't image what his journey must have been like. I am so thankful that we got to spend 1 of those 125 days with him. Congratulations Chris!

Monday, September 24, 2012

I Like People Who Run Like A Turtle

I am pleasantly surprised with how quickly my legs recovered from the Almost-50-Miler last week. The day after the race, my legs felt like I jumped off a nine story building, poured gasoline on them, and then lit them on fire. But a few days later I was feeling fine. I've still been conservative for the week just to make sure those chicken legs of mine have all the time they need to recover.

Monday, September 17th 2012: Nothing.

Tuesday, September 18th 2012: I did my part to keep the running gods happy and volunteered to help with a trail maintenance project in Confluence Park.

Wednesday, September 19th 2012: Ran for one hour. I dropped my girls off at gymnastics Wednesday night and realized that I had an hour free before I needed to pick them up. The Hurricane Rim Trail was a few minutes away so I decided to take advantage of that free hour.

It was a 100% spontaneous run. Luckily I was already wearing some trail shoes because I was wearing a new pair around the house to break them in. (Montrail Bajada shoes. I'll give you a review after I put some more miles on them.)

I had to give myself a little bit of therapy to work through some Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because the last time I was on this trail was around mile 90 of the Zion 100. My recent visit was much, MUCH more enjoyable.

Thursday, September 20th 2012: Nothing.

Friday, September 21st 2012: I got three runs in for the day. First was 5 miles @ 10:00 minutes per mile before work. In the last mile I crossed a guy who was at least 65 years old, had an enormous smile on his face, and was running slow as a turtle. That sight made me so, so happy. I love to see people who obviously really love running. It's not a chore. They don't care about pace at all. They just love the fact that they are running. I have a special kinship with my turtle brothers and sisters.

Later in the day I went to the elementary school to have lunch with my daughter Kylee. Once a month the kids have a reward program if they run a mile during their lunch break. This day happened to be the mile challenge so I got to join Kylee and her friends for my favorite mile of the week.

That night my wife traded me a night on the trails in exchange for a girl's night the next night. I decided to go to Leeds, Utah around 20 minutes away to run through the Dixie National Forrest for the first time. There was lots of steep climbing but mostly on non-technical dirt roads:

Even though it was getting late in the evening, it was still 91 degrees. It felt much better once the sun started to go down. I apologize that my hydration pack makes it look like I'm wearing a saggy bra.

Thankfully as soon as the sun went down the temperature cooled off a lot.

I ended up running 10 miles @ 11:56 minutes per mile and was treated to a great sunset as I finished the run.

Saturday, September 22nd 2012: 30 minutes on the exercise bike. Bleh. The fun part of the day was that our family got to staff an aid station for a local 5k. This is the awesome sunrise that runners got to see. Wowzers.

One older lady got to the aid station toward the back of the pack and was happy as a clam. She said the race was her way to celebrate a knee replacement three months ago. Incredible! It was cool to see my kids so enthusiastic to help the racers.

Would you like to know what else is great? Alf is on Netflix and my kids are hooked. We've been having lots of Alf nights at our house lately. And that is awesome. (Are you an Alf lover or hater?)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Moab's Alpine To Slickrock 50 Miler - DNF

On Saturday morning I found myself surrounded by scenery that took my breath away (unless that was the altitude). I was running Moab's Alpine To Slickrock 50 miler, and didn't realize at the time that my day wouldn't have a very happy ending.

We met at the Slickrock Trail bright and early in the morning to take shuttles to the starting line. Moab is one of the most amazing places in the world.....even in the dark.

It was chilly at 5:30am as we waited for the race to start. I stood at the starting line with 30 other runners nervous and anxious. We all pushed to the back of the pack. Nobody wanted to take the lead.

Within three miles the excitement had started. We were climbing up the first of what would be many huge mountains. And then we saw runners heading back down. Some course markings got sabotaged so the trail we were on came to a dead end. As a group we held a tribal council (we didn't vote anyone off the island) and decided to follow the ribbons showing the wrong way to go. (The Wrong Way ribbons ended up being the right way.) We only got a few bonus miles.

A quote from the race website says this is "an ultra that will leave even the most seasoned runner wishing he had trained harder!" (Note to self: they weren't lying.)

One area I loved was a long stretch of rocks just begging to twist an ankle, but well worth the risk to enjoy the scenery.

Not surprisingly, the pace around these parts was not too speedy.

One of the things I enjoyed most was being able to run the whole time with my friend Jared Thorley. Jared is optimistic, funny, and can tackle steep, technical downhills like a bushy haired mountain goat.

The timing of Moab's Alpine to Slickrock (MAS 50) could not have been better. The aspen leaves were changing and the hills looked like they were on fire.

We knew the first half of the race would be grueling so we planned to be conservative and save our legs for the second half. We kept a steady pace, but with the relentless steep climbing, the energy slowly seeped out of our legs and was replaced with cement.

After seven or eight hours my stomach wasn't feeling tremendously awesome. With each Gu packet I ate, I was sure it would bring on barf. I was also a tad concerned about my heart rate. My heart had been pounding the whole time. It was that heart pounding that you can feel in your head. Jared mentioned that he was feeling the same. All the while, the scenery was nothing less than spectacular.

The mountains were intense. In the first thirty one miles of the course we climbed 14,778 feet! To put this in perspective, the Javelina Jundred climbs 5,200 feet over one hundred miles. This race climbs 14,778 feet in thirty one miles!

Despite stomachs not feeling good, hearts pounding in our heads, and legs full of cement, I noticed that there was never any complaining. Only optimism and gratitude to be where we were in that moment.

Along with plenty of steep uphills, we also had our share of steep downhills. At one point my foot caught a rock and I ended up pretending to be Superman flying through the air. Except my landing was much less graceful and resulted in a mouth full of dirt (plus a great view looking up).

Our climb from mile 28 to 30 ended up being the nail in the coffin. We climbed almost 1,500 feet and one of those miles took 46 minutes. Nope. Not a typo. We had a 46 minute mile which included sitting on the side of the trail after realizing that we couldn't make the cut-off. It was discouraging to realize that today would be my first ever Did Not Finish.

We finally reached the aid station after 11 hours and 31 miles at 5:00pm. We had exactly 30 minutes to be at the next aid station around 9 miles away or else we would miss the deadline and be pulled from the course. Our day was done. Then we had the dreaded drive of shame to get back to the finish line. 16 runners made it to the finish line.

Moab's Alpine to Slickrock was every bit as grueling and epic as it is billed to be. The course will put you through the meat grinder and make you thankful that you bought life insurance. And the aid station workers will be incredible. And the course will be very well marked. And you will be surrounded by some of the most amazing scenery your peepers may ever see.

And what about that DNF I have next to my name? Well, that sucks. I hate those three dumb letters. But I'm at peace knowing I gave 100% and did the very best I could. It's humbling to know that sometimes your 100% won't get you exactly where you hoped. Sometimes everything doesn't go according to script. Sometimes you will fly through the air like Superman, and end up chewing dirt while you stare at the sky. Sometimes life will remind you that the journey is more important than the destination. And what an awesome journey it was!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

When You Hate Running

I signed up to do a 50 miler on Saturday called Moab’sAlpine To Slickrock. One report I read said the difficulty level of the race is 9 on a scale of 1-10. The elevation certainly confirms that I may be crying at some point during the race.

I decided to do the race as a last long training run before the Javelina Jundred 100 miler next month. So I’ll do the 50 miler, then three weeks later the St. George Marathon, then three weeks later the Javelina Jundred.

I really love running. I seriously love being out on the trail for hours. I love the whole race experience. I really, really love those things.

Most of the time.

But inevitably at some point in a race I hate running. I seriously hate it. I am convinced that running is the stupidest hobby since collecting Garbage Pail Kids cards. And then I talk myself out of whatever race I have coming up. I never want to run again. I never want to do a race ever again. I think most of us go through phases like this whether in training or in races.

So what do you do when you reach that point when you decide you want to stop running and take up stamp collecting? Here are my suggestions:

1) Eat a Hostess product. (Actually, this is my first solution to any of life’s dilemmas.)

2) Remember that there are peaks and valleys. It's okay to go through some rough patches. In order to have the good, you need to have a little bad. 

3) Remind yourself that the harder the task is, the bigger will be that sense of accomplishment you will feel when you are done.

4) WAIT. Don’t make any immediate decisions. When your brain starts saying “Ugh. I want to drop out because running is dumb.” Or “I’m never doing a race ever again because only idiots run for hours on end.” just tell that part of your brain to shut up. Chances are that the low point will pass. Maybe it will take a while. But it will pass. 

5) Slap yourself and remember how fortunate you are to even be able to run. I work with lots of sick people who would give anything to be able to run for a mile. You are blessed. Don’t take it for granted.

6) Then, for good measure, eat one Hostess Donette.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Toquerville Falls and US 24 Hour Running Record

First and foremost, I used Random Number Generator to choose a number between 1-134. Verified by my daughter, the winner of the Peeps and CD pack was comment #2 which was.....SupermomE12! Email me your address and I'll send you the diabetes in a box. (

This past week was a nice and relaxing taper for the Moab Alpine to Slickrock 50 miler coming up on Saturday.

Monday, September 3rd 2012: 6 miles @ 12:52 minutes per mile. We were in northern Utah for Labor Day and I was able to run on the Draper trails with my brother Kenny and my friend Susette. We only had around a dozen near death experiences when mountain bikers came flying down the trails.

The weather was perfect. Even a little cold when we started. I don't remember the last time I felt cold while running.

Tuesday, September 4th 2012: 3 miles @ 8:34 minutes per mile. I've been trying to do a short push your body to the brink of vomit workout speed workout each week. When I got home I collapsed on the front lawn trying to get the lava out of my lungs, and hoping neighbors wouldn't drive by wondering why I was crunched in fetal position in the front yard.

Wednesday, September 5th 2012: 11 miles @ 12:09 minutes per mile. I ran to Toquerville Falls for the first time. That was definitely one of the harder runs I've done in a while. The road was really rocky and there was lots of steep climbing. (Over the last two weeks I have had around 10,000 feet elevation gain on runs.)

The crazy thing is that I was feeling freakishly good the whole time. It was one of those rare runs where you feel like you are floating through the miles. Along the way there were some forks in the road so I wasn't sure I was going the right direction. I felt more confident when I came across a shoe tree.

Something disturbing happened while I was running. I was listening to the classic rock radio station and they played two songs that came out when I was in high school! What's up with that? Am I really that old? Do I need to schedule a mid-life crisis? Don't worry. I will send them some hate mail. Jerks.

Finally I made it to Toquerville Falls as the sun was coming up. It is like Niagra Falls in the middle of the desert. But smaller. And with less water. And no tourists. And no keychains that cost $9.99. (Yep, I was one of those suckers. I paid $9.99 for a keychain. And while we're on the topic of keychains, what kind of fool pays $9.99 for a keychain? In my defense, that happened in my younger years. Even before those "classic rock" songs came out.)

I walked around and explored a bit. There were lots of little frogs all over.

If you are looking for a challenging run with lots of rocks and hills and a great reward at the end, Toquerville Falls should be on your list. I'm looking forward to going back again.

Saturday, September 8th 2012: 7 miles @ 10:28 minutes per mile. Went out on the Jem trail and listened to the country station to boycott "classic rock".

Did you know the World 24 Hour Championship was over the weekend? The goal: run as many miles as you can in 24 hours. Mike Morton set an American record running 172 (YES, 172!!!) miles. Just the thought of 172 miles in 24 hours makes my toe nails turn black.

"Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up." ~ Dean Karnazes

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

PEEPS Giveaway!

A while ago I posted some pictures of some marshmallow Peeps I took along on a trail run. The next day I got an email from Just Born, the company that manufactures Peeps (as well as other awesome candy like Hot Tamales and Mike and Ikes). Ellie Deardorff from Just Born said she would like to send a care package.

A few days later I got the most amazing package in the mail with all the different types of candy they make! That's like having a box of heaven show up on your porch.

I resisted my impulse to start unwrapping packages and eat the entire box of candy similar to how Cookie Monster attacks a jar of cookies. (Although I did do that with a few boxes.) I thought I’d share some of the loot with you.

So I’m going to give some away. I’ll send you a chunk of the stash, including some boxes of fresh, soft Peeps. (Fresh Peeps in the middle of summer!) I will also throw in one of my piano CDs.

To enter the contest, just post a comment saying what your favorite kind of candy is. You’ll get an entry for each comment and can add as many as you’d like. Hope you like lots of different kinds of candy.

I’ll close the contest this coming Monday, September 10th. Best of luck to all you fellow candy lovers.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Scary Running Last Week and Upcoming 50 Miler

I'm excited - I signed up for a race coming up called Moab's Alpine To Slickrock 50 Miler.'s coming up NEXT WEEK!

Monday, August 27th 2012: Nothing.

Tuesday, August 28th 2012: 4 miles @ 8:58 minutes per mile. I realized that I've got the endurance thing down, but I have completely neglected any speedwork so I'll work on that. I understand that 8:58 per mile for many runners is a slow, recovery run pace. You could run that fast after eating two chili dogs and a box of Benadryl. To those of you in this category, I'm jealous. Because 8:58 over 4 miles makes me want to throw up.

Wednesday, August 29th 2012: 4 miles @ 9:28 minutes per mile. I found a big hill then ran down it. Then up it. Then down it. Then up it. And so on.

That night I went on a 3 mile run with Mel, Jackson, and Ace. See if you can figure out which member of the group I'm describing:

1) One member wanted to stop every 4.8 seconds to go to the bathroom. (No, not me.)
2) One member whined for the entire three miles.
3) One member wanted to strangle the other member who whined the entire three miles.
4) One member wore a flourescent shirt and had just drank a green smoothie before the run. His stomach felt like he had just eaten two chili dogs during the run.

Thursday, August 30th 2012: Nothing.

Friday, August 31st 2012: 8 miles @ 11:25 minutes per mile. I planned to run to Toquerville Falls for the first time, around 12 miles round trip. There was lots of rocky, difficult climbing and I plan to go back here for some hill training. After a while I noticed a storm rolling in on the horizon:

I like running in the rain and loved the temperature cooling off a bit, so I just kept climbing. But within minutes the clouds got darker. And then the clouds turned to a solid wall of rain. It was the most distinct sheet of water I've ever seen.

I was a little more apprehensive to keep going when I saw that. Then the sky grew even darker and lightning started cracking all over. I decided I'd better pass on going to Toquerville Falls so my wife wouldn't have to hassle with filling out paperwork for my life insurance policy. The lightning around me was one of the few times I've ever been scared while running.

Saturday, September 1st 2012: 9 miles @ 11:49 minutes per mile. We were up in northern Utah for a family reunion and I took advantage of running some of my favorite trails in Corner Canyon, home of the 50k a few weeks ago. I searched for the hilliest routes which include some awesome views.

Running here is so different from the desert where I usually run. There are trees!

And instead of running in red, I get to run through a canopy of green!

It is so strange to see other runners out on the trails, that hardly ever happens in my neck of the woods dirt.

Just a heads-up. There is going to be a give away here tomorrow. I would bet my body weight in sugar that it will be the best give away you've seen in a while. It's going to be big. I hope you're hungry.