Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Last Will and Testament

The Bryce 100 is a mere two (no, not a typo) days away. Last night my kids offered to paint my toe nails so that I won't see if (when?) they turn black.

If by chance you'd like to follow my progress during the race, my sweet wife may be posting occasional updates on my Facebook page HERE. It starts Friday morning and ends Saturday evening.

This whole ultramarathon thing is all fun and games.......until someone gets their face clawed off! The race director Matt Gunn posted this picture from the course a few days ago. These are BEAR TRACKS. (Also not a typo. Bear.)

I don't anticipate dying from a bear attack during this run. There will be plenty of runners ahead of me to clear the bears out. But just in case, I would hate to perish without leaving all of you kind blog readers something personal. You'll just have to divide this stuff among yourselves.

I, Cory Reese, bequeath to you kind blog readers:

1) That box of pottery in the garage from my college ceramics class. (My wife will be SO happy that you're taking this off our hands.)

2) Anything you can find in our treat cupboard. Top shelf. Between you and me, there are a few bags of Cadbury Eggs up there.

3) If you're lucky, I think there may be some boondoggle key chains from my days as a young scout. And who doesn't love a good boondoggle key chain.

4) I'd offer our grass trimmer but that thing is such a piece of garbage that I'd have to pay you to take it.

5) My collection of CDs from high school. (Hope you like Boys II Men, Depeche Mode, and Hootie & The Blowfish.)

Please be respectful of each other. I don't want to be causing a lot of fighting for my stuff. That's not how I want to go out. (Dear bears, I taste like mushrooms and cauliflower and other yucky things. Don't eat me.)

Monday, May 27, 2013

My List Of Things That Are Awesome

This past week was a very low-key taper with the Whole Enchilada ("Whole Enchilada" is code word for 100 miler) coming up in a few days. In fact I only ran twice. The first was that 3+ hour run around Bryce Canyon. The second run was an easy 6 miler on Saturday. I learned that levitating pictures are hard!

I ran on a side route from the Jem Trail. I've ran here so many times that I think I could do these miles with my eyes closed, but I still love it every time.

Let me tell you something awesome: the Bryce 100 is coming up FOUR days! There is the option to do 100k (62 miles) but if things go okay, I'll be shooting for the 100 miles. The race is going to undoubtedly be awesome.

Would you like to know my list of other things that are awesome? (Spoiler alert: if you answered "no" you should click over to another website because I'm going to tell you in just a second.)

1) The Bryce 100 coming up in a few days
2) Obscenely fake Santas
3) When you get an eyelash out of your eye
4) The Five Second Rule
5) Laughing so hard you can't breathe
6) The smell of rain
7) Sneezing three times in a row
8) Electric blankets
9) Nacho Libre
10) High fives
11) The middle of a cinnamon roll
12) The sound of kids laughing when tickled
13) Naps
14) Scott Jurek
15) The sound of coil doorstops
16) Handlebar moustaches
17) The moonwalk
18) Hostess crumb donuts (Dear Hostess: We miss you.)
19) One time when I was young, we went to a cake auction to raise money for the scouts. Everyone brought a cake to sell. This kid in our neighborhood named Butch brought, to be blunt, the ugliest cake at the cake auction. I'm sure he felt bad when he saw all the other cool cakes. My dad bid the highest amount at the whole auction for Butch's cake. That was awesome.
20) A few nights ago the weather was so perfect that we brought our couch on the front lawn to hang out. It was the greatest of evenings.

Do you have anything you'd like to add to the list of Things That Are Awesome?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bryce 100 Course Preview

A few days ago I was able to make a jaunt over to Bryce Canyon to check out some of the course for the Bryce 100 coming up in eight (gulp) days. My friend and I started at the 50 mile location - Crawford Pass. This little sign welcomed us. I was anxious to see what "Most Difficult" looked like. (Other things that are most difficult: only eating half of a donut, or listening to music by Celine Dion.)

Within a few minutes of running, bright red cliffs and hoodoos started showing up.

My partner in crime was Jared Thorley, my running companion for the Moab 50 miler and lots of other training runs. It was clear that RD Matt Gunn had spent plenty of time on the course clearing out deadfall.

What was so drastically different from the trails I usually run around Zion is that there was SHADE! Having some cover from the trees and doing a mountain run instead of a desert run was awesome.

Jared is sporting some pretty impressive face fur. (Admittedly, I'm jealous.) The Bryce 100 is his first 100 miler and he said his wife will be at the finish line waiting for him.......with a razor.

The single track everywhere we ran was pristine. I could tell that not too many people have ever traveled across these trails. I was madly in love with all this amazing scenery surrounding us.

There were some pretty good climbs along the way but the trail surface ideal. The Zion 100 has some really technical, really rocky trails with a grand daddy amount of really challenging slick rock. But at least for the miles we ran at Bryce, the trails were soft, compact dirt that were much less technical than Zion.

Some of the miles made me feel swallowed up by an expansive forest. Some miles had views of wide valleys in the distance. But my favorite miles led us around the base of just incredible red cliffs. I'm fairly confident that this is what heaven will look like.

I had been doing a bunch of driving and had also done a full day seminar for work the day before. This led to a bad combination of 1) Too much Diet Dr. Pepper and 2) Too little water. That dehydration caught up with me a few hours into the run when, despite an ideal 60ish degrees, I was sweating like Lance Armstrong at a drug test. I could not get enough water in me.

I kept thinking how among all the people I've run with, Jared most closely parallels my running style. He seems to want to talk at the times I'd like to. And he seems to have an inner sense of when it's best to shut up, suffer, and get through it. The only difference is that one of us looks like Grizzly Adams in running shorts.

The course has lots of low brush and I'm sure we'll all finish with our share of scratches on the legs. I don't own any, but if you have calf sleves this would be a good race to use them. There are also lots of little loose branches on the ground. I learned to not follow too closely behind the person in front of you. Otherwise you might get a case of BTLS (Branch Through Leg Syndrome).

To get some perspective of the wide expanses of the trail, here is the Where's Waldo Runners Edition:

I think the Bryce 100 is going to be an incredible race. If the miles I spent on the course are an indication of the race in general, we are in for a treat.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Feelings From the Back of the Pack

My boy Jackson is working on his cycling merit badge. After work on a warm May evening I joined Jackson and his crew of scouts on their 15 mile ride (they work up to a 50 miler!).

I talked with the merit badge counselor before the ride and offered to bring up the rear so that he could lead the group. A crisp line of bikes strung ahead of you is a beautiful thing. And even as the ride began, I could see one boy struggling to keep up.

Terrence was on a little single gear BMX bike. He pedaled and pedaled to the point of exhaustion before slowing to a crawl to catch his breath. Repeated over and over. All while the the rest of the group sailed effortlessly far ahead.

When we reached the big hills, Terrance’s legs were fried. His slow pedaling soon became slow walking. I rode next to him as he walked. We had lots of time to talk together. The rest of the group was so far ahead that we couldn’t see them.

Terrence was so far behind. But you know what? It wasn’t because he wasn’t trying. He was working hard. Actually harder than the rest of us, who had the luxury of things like….gears.

I felt a bond with Terrence as we lingered at the back of the pack. Because really, we are kindred souls. I know the back of the pack well. In nearly every race I run, I am well acquainted with the back of the pack. I know that little sting of frustration when I am working hard but I am so far back. I know that little taste of discouragement when, despite your best efforts, everyone is cruising up ahead like they are riding ten speed bikes.

I contend that those of us in the back of the pack really are working as hard as the people in the front. Who knows, maybe harder. Maybe we just have really crappy BMX bikes. Maybe we’re the brave ones, those of us who take the risk to register for a race we’re not sure we can finish. Maybe we have more fun back there. (I bet we do.) Take that fast people with your fancy ten speeds!

When we finished the ride, Terrance said “That was fun. Thanks for staying with me.” He didn’t know how familiar I am with the back of the pack. I actually don’t know how to be anywhere else.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Last Big Week Before 100 Miler

Hmmm......eleven days to the Bryce 100. In a way, this does not seem real. This can't be me. I'm the guy who dreaded that 1 mile fitness test in college. I hated running. And now I'm trying for my 5th 100 miler. If I wake up and this was all a dream, then wow, that was a really fun dream.

This past week was my last biggish week getting ready for Bryce. I got in a 3 miler, 4 miler, 9 miler, 10 miler, and 17 miler. I'm pretty proud of myself that I didn't die during that 17 miler earlier in the week. It was 95 degrees and the most climbing I could pack into 17 miles.

I ran to some cell towers at the top of a mountain in Toqerville for the first time. Lots and lots of climbing. But the view from the top was pretty awesome. That line across the picture is a freeway down below.

I saw my first snake of the year, just a little one. As I pulled out my camera the snake slithered right toward me and into the trees. Well played snake. Well played.

After the cell towers I ran to Toquerville Falls. Out in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the bone dry desert is this amazingly beautiful waterfall. I seriously love this place.

I was positively melting by the time I got to this point. It was good though because I wanted to get in a fair amount of suffering during this run. Before a 100 miler it's good to get plenty of experience with bonking. I took my shirt off and soaked it in the water which cooled me down for a mile or two. I didn't want to leave our mini Niagra Falls.

Non-running update: Jackson has a few little league baseball games each week. I'm sad there is only one more week in the season. Nothing I'd rather do with my evenings.

Saturday was the 10 miler. I took Mel for her first visit on the Church Rocks trail.

Church Rocks is a fun mix of packed dirt, sand, slick rock, and dodging bazillions of grass hoppers.

Trail running is a fun way to spend time with your wife.

11 more days until the next big adventure. Only 11 more days.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Amazing Zion 100 Race Reports

Since the Zion 100 3+ weeks ago, some incredible race reports have been popping up. I wanted to give you links to what I consider the best of the best.

Andy Pearson @ I Even Ran This Far - Awesome pictures and a vivid description of what it feels like to be toward the front of the pack. Some really great writing.

Matt Cecill @ Project Talaria - I am fascinated at how it's possible to go from feeling so horrible to so good during an ultra.

Jill Parker @ Run With Jill - One of the most touching, personal reports I've ever read. It's one of those that will choke you up. I made a cameo in her race report. I'm proud to call Jill a friend.

In case you missed it, you can check out my race report HERE. That 100 mile adventure is one I will never forget.

(One more race report from the Buffalo Run 100 by my friend Ryan. He was a great cheerleader when I saw him at mile 83. His report is the definition of how to execute a 100 miler! Full of lots of great tips. You can see his report HERE.)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Really Funny Race Signs

While I was running the Zion 100, we came across a few miles of trails that were peppered with some of the funniest race signs I've ever seen.

I knew it would slow me down a bit if I stopped and took pictures but I couldn't help it. They were too good to pass up. I now present to you these supremely awesome signs:

I got to an aid station and asked who was responsible for these hilarious signs. It turns out it was my friend and incredible aid station volunteer ShaRee Hirschi. The laughing ALMOST made me forget that I had another 65 miles to run!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Some Of The Most Beautiful Trails I've Ever Run

I forgot to mention - the fine folks at Tailwind Nutrition drew a winner for the recent contest. The winner was Josh Bryant. Congrats amigo!

It has been three weeks since the Zion 100 and there are three weeks until the Bryce 100. I'm hoping I have another 100 miles left in this chicken legs of mine. This past week was fun with a 6.5 miler, 8 miler, 13 miler, and a 30 mile bike ride. Here are some of the week's highlights.

The highlight of last week was my long run. I went to the Chuckwalla Trailhead for the first time. I didn't know anything about the trail and thought I'd  spend some hours exploring. Within one minute I came across my friend and coworker Will finishing up his mountain bike ride. He offered to put on his running shoes and show me around.

Will gave me the grand tour including some sweet cliff edge overlooks.

We checked out this cool cave.

I have always been pretty sure I lived in the most beautiful place in the world. After my time on these new trails, I am convinced.

I was so glad to have Will show me these places that I would have never found on my own.

Will took me on an out-and-back route. He ran 5ish miles with me to a spot that was close to his house. He then ran home and I ran back to the trailhead (plus checking out some other trails) by myself. I managed to get lost and wandered around for about ten minutes before finding the trail again. There were some dark, ominous clouds rolling in.

I had to pinch myself. The scenery was simply incredible. I was in heaven. It would have been a shame to leave this area without a few jumping pictures.

Right around this time those ominous clouds started to dump. The rain was pounding and the trail seemed to disappear. I ended up getting a little lost again and wandered around in the pouring rain for 15 minutes looking for the trail.

Getting lost was the best thing that could have happened. I stumbled upon this AMAZING section of trail lined with bright yellow flowers. I stood in the rain for 20 minutes until the pouring let up and I could pull out my camera for a picture.

The rain made the red really pop out. I have never been so happy to be lost.

There are lots of trails that spur off Chuckwalla. I think I explored almost all of them plus some that aren't on the map. I can not wait to go back there again.

On Saturday I joined Jackson on a 30 mile bike ride along with ten other scouts who are working on the cycling merit badge. They work up to a 50 mile ride! Wow. We had a blast.

Things on tap for this week:
1) Get in a last good, long run before Bryce.
2) Plenty of NBA playoffs! I hardly ever watch TV but I can't get enough of this.
3) Watch this funny Tonight Show gas station video a few more times.
4) A helping of Ben & Jerry's cheesecake brownie. A life without ice cream isn't worth living.