Thursday, June 27, 2013

Clik Elite Jetpack Review - Awesome Camera Pack!

The folks over at Clik Elite make the finest camera bags on the market. These kind people provided one of their models, the Jetpack, for me to take out on my photographic adventures. I wanted to put this bag through the ringer and see how it held up in real world outings.

For the last few months I have taken the Jetpack everywhere. We've spent many hours in the desert bonding together.

We've hunted for wildlife shots together.

And we've even spent lots of quality time take pictures around the house. You could say that me and the Jetpack have become BFFs.

Allow me to take you on a personal tour of this camera bag and I'll show you why I love it so much. There will be drinks and light refreshments at the end.

First of all, this pack is comfortable. In college, one of the courses I took was about ergonomics. ("Ergonomics": a fancy, slightly nerdy word meaning that you're making something more useful, efficient, and comfortable.) I'm sorry to go all English literature on you. I'm just saying, this bag fits your body and the construction makes sense. Take, for example, the shape of the straps and the padded back:

The best part of the Jetpack is the wide variety of pockets. There is space to hold anything you could ask for. There are so many pockets that I've officially designated one The Butterfinger Pocket. Inside the main compartment there is room for a camera, a few lenses, memory cards, and even a designated slot for a laptop or iPad.

There is another smaller compartment on the outside with more room for memory cards, pens, notepads, a phone, and just in case you need it, there is room for more Butterfingers.

Every part of the camera bag is well thought out and useful. Even the sides of the pack are handy with compartments to hold water bottles, and Bungees that could hold a small tripod or trekking poles.

For me the thing that stood out with the Jetpack compared to other camera bags I've owned is the quality construction and materials. The materials are sturdy and built to last. Clik obviously wanted to make the best quality product possible.

I think if you only keep your camera around the house to take those obligatory family pictures when Aunt Marge is in town, this is probably more bag than you need. Although if your camera sees the light of day, or if you have a few lenses, or if you want a comfortable way to carry your camera when you're out and about, I highly recommend the Jetpack. This will be the last bag you'll need for a long, long time.

If you want more info on the Jetpack bag, click HERE. Or to visit the Clik Elite website and check out their other camera equipment. Enjoy!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Running A Marathon Through The Middle Of The Night

I am inspired by runners who are constantly pushing the ceiling of what is possible. One of my running heroes is a local Utah guy named Davy Crockett (really).

Davy is no spring chicken. (He is 54, is that officially past the "No Spring Chicken" category?) And yet this guy cranks out 100 milers like a bionic man. (FIFTY FIVE 100 milers to be exact.) And fast! Just for fun, he will run a marathon before work. A few days ago he got off work and ran 62 tough miles through the night. Just amazing.

Guys like Davy prove that anything is possible! We let beliefs about what is possible hold us back from what we're capable of becoming. Maybe we are capable of so much more than we know. I think Davy would say we are. (You can read his blog HERE.)

I want to be Davy when I grow up. I thought I'd do something like Davy (=crazy) by running a marathon through the night after I got the kids to bed on Friday night. My wife was at work so I didn't want to be too far from home. I decided I'd run a marathon by doing a 1 mile loop around my house 26.2 times.

I got the kids to bed then put my aid station on the front lawn. These were the snacks at my aid station. (I felt slightly sheepish buying all this junk at the store.)

I got started a little later than I hoped, about 10:00pm. It was 89 degrees when I started running. As I was finishing my first mile I saw a person in the middle of the road coming up. Turns out it was my son Jackson. He wanted to come out and cheer me on for a lap before bed. He gave me a hug and said "Good luck dad." He's a good kid.

Later my friends Shane and Karrie drove past. They stopped to say hello and ask what I was doing. Then they volunteered to come and join me for six miles! It was great to have their company for a while out on the hamster wheel.

They ran with me until almost midnight and then I finished the rest of the run solo. Except for some, um, cheerleaders (?) during each lap. There was a house with some slightly questionable, slightly intimidating characters out on their driveway hanging out. They were out there when I passed during Ever. Single. Lap. Let me tell you my friends......that was awkward.

I haven't run this far on the road for almost two years. (When I did the St. George Marathon last year I ran almost 22 miles on the dirt shoulder.) After the highly gnarly Corner Canyon 50k last week, these smooth miles on the road were a breeze. I would take trails any day, but the road was nice to let my mind zone out and I could just run.

It is customary during long distance runs to have a few thoughts like "Wait a second. Why am I doing this?" I certainly had a few of those but thankfully they passed quickly. I try to make sure my mind doesn't get stuck in negativity. It wasn't hard this time because I really was having a good time.

Around mile 23 my legs started to try and cramp on me but I just turned my music up louder and told my brain to ignore my whiny legs. I cranked up Mumford & Sons. (I have a man crush on their album Babel.)

A little before 3:30am I rounded the corner of my last lap. I finished the Middle Of The Night Marathon in 5 hours 28 minutes which included a few stops to talk to neighbors, some stops to check on the kids, and a quick stop to change shoes.

I actually enjoyed the marathon. It was fun to run through the night by the light of the moon. It was nice to not run with a hydration pack. I liked having snacks and drinks available whenever I wanted them. I can see myself doing this again. I figured I better do a celebration jump at the finish line (front lawn).

May we all adopt a little bit of Davy Crockett inside us!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

If You Have A Rich Uncle......(The Transrockies Run)

I have found my dream race: The Transrockies Run! Check out these details:
  • 6 days covering 120 miles
  • 20,000 feet elevation gain
  • Completely spectacular miles through the mountains of Colorado. Here is a picture from Great Running Races:

This seriously sounds like my definition of heaven. The race is coming up August 13th. One slightly minor detail.......the race is, um, $1,499.

Here is where your rich uncle comes in. Let's say, hypothetically speaking, that you have a rich uncle looking to spend $1,499 for a worthy cause. Then your rich uncle should donate that to a homeless shelter. That is much more worthy.

But let's say, hypothetically speaking, that your rich uncle has already donated to the homeless shelter and he is looking to support something much less worthy than a homeless shelter. Well, here's my email:

You want me to write an article about the race for a magazine? Done! You want pictures? Sure! I'm offering a lifetime supply of my wife's amazing peanut butter chocolate brownies to the first taker.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Widowmaker - Corner Canyon 50k Race Report

You want to know what is awesome? A race with a climb so gnarly that it is called "Widowmaker". Welcome to the Corner Canyon 50k! I ran the race on Saturday with my two friends and coworkers Clair and Catherine. Good news - none of our spouses became widows!

I ran the race last year and loved the great race support and beautiful, challenging course. This year some course changes made the race even more challenging. Standing at the starting line, you can see Widowmaker in the distance mocking and taunting you. Challenge accepted Mr. Widowmaker.

I was excited to run with Clair and Catherine who work with me. We agreed to start together but would have no hard feelings if someone was feeling good and wanted to go ahead. Catherine is a fellow social worker.

It was nice and cool in the morning though we knew we would be in for some warm weather when the sun came up.

My absolute favorite part of the entire race is the beautiful miles that wind through the trees. Miles of smooth, rolling single track covered by a canopy of green. Trails don't get better than this.

I was thankful to not be feeling any after effects from the Bryce 100 and we glided through the miles having a blast. These were the easy miles. The hard work was yet to come.

I didn't wear a Garmin so I don't know for sure, but I think it was around mile nine the climbing began. Real climbing. The kind of climbing that you will tell your grandkids about. We reached the top of one ridge and were rewarded with great views of the surrounding mountains.

After a hefty dose of climbing we gave back all that elevation with some steep, rocky descents. I stayed in the back of the train and let Clair and Catherine determine the pace. I was so impressed with how strong and steady their running was even on technical trails.

Over the last few months I have gotten used to a slow but steady 100 mile pace. This race was a great opportunity for me to go faster. I liked that feeling of pushing a little beyond what was comfortable. Eventually we reached Widowmaker - where legends are written. In all the races I've ever done, Widowmaker is the longest, steepest I've ever set foot on.

I'll bet these next two miles took us an hour. The key was to not look up and see how far there was to go. You have to try to ignore the fact that there is a chemical fire going on in your lungs while your legs are full of cement. Just. Put. One. Foot. In. Front. Of. The. Other. I was so happy to be with my friends. We seriously laughed the entire race.

And then just to keep things interesting, when we got to the top of Widowmaker we were welcomed with this little bump. Look closely and you can see little dots of runners going up.

Good news - we made it to the top! No widows were made during the running of this race.

Hard work earns you big rewards. The views of the valley down below were beautiful.

It was scorching hot as we made our way down the trail. Catherine said "If I had a pack of Ramen noodles I could put it in my hydration pack. The water is so hot that it could boil the noodles." At the next aid station the kind volunteers loaded us up with all the ice we could have asked for.

Speaking of volunteers, this race had the best of the best. They don't get any better. Each aid station was plentiful and well-stocked with anything you could hope for. The last aid station is literally the light at the end of the tunnel.

The last three miles were smooth rollers through a sea of green.

We were so excited to arrive at the finish line. And though nobody said it, I think a little part of each of us didn't want the race to be over. We had so much fun together over those 32 miles that I didn't want it to end. I caught this finish with Clair and his grandson. Priceless.

What meant so much to me was running the whole race with Clair and Catherine. We were able to help each other through our low points and have fun the entire time. I would not change a single thing about our adventure together.

This race was tough! Those are some  hard, hard earned miles. And yet the harder something is, the greater that sense of accomplishment you feel at the end. Thank you Corner Canyon 50k for that huge sense of accomplishment.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Course Pictures for St. George Marathon

Recently I spent some time taking course pictures for the St. George Marathon. A storm had just passed through the area leaving me with some of the coolest clouds I've seen in a long time. This was definitely one of those lucky moments where I happened to be in the right place at the right time. Here are some of my favorites from the marathon course:

"I've learned that finishing a marathon isn't just an athletic achievement. It's a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible." ~ John Hanc

Monday, June 10, 2013

My Son's Bryce 100 Race Report

I was so excited to have my 11 year old Jackson come and help crew for me at the Bryce 100 a week or so ago. He was excited when I asked if he wanted to write a race report. So here is Jackson's report and some pictures he took during the race:

4 A.M. was when it all began! "Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep," was the sound of my dad's alarm going off. It wasn't supposed to wake me and my innocent mother up but unfortunately it did. My dad shut the alarm off and got in his race clothes and headed out the door saying good bye as if he wasn't going to make it back alive! He met his friend Jared at the front of Bryce View Lodge (where we stayed, however was not the greatest hotel because they did not have working ice machines which are the GREATEST part of staying at a hotel) and they made their way to the starting line.

At 7 A.M. I couldn't wait any longer! I had to wake my ever so tired mother up. I chomped up my Honeycomb cereal and hopped into the car as we hoped to meet dad at the Proctor Canyon Aid Station (2nd Aid Station, Mile 19). We took a long dirt road past beautiful Tropic Reservoir and turned at a road that would take us to the aid station. The directions said to go down the summit 2 miles then turn left. If we would have done that, we wouldn't be here today! We traveled on a very rocky, and uncomfortable road that made you want to vomit (saw some of that on this trip) for over 12 miles until we reached the highway at nearby city, Hatch. "$*@#, how did we miss it?" my mom said! Cuss words flew from the mouth of my mom. It was not a pretty sight!

Very disappointedly we made our way back up to the ever-so famous dirt road. We drove again on this road even farther than last time and turned on Blubber Creek Junction and made our way up a twisty road to the Blubber Creek Aid Station. There we met some of our friends Cherie and Alex Santiago and their kids had come up to run the Blubber Creek Aid Station. We were surprised to see just them. They had invited several others but nobody showed up. My mother and I decided we would help keep things running and things kept pretty smooth. However, one bullet took some blood out of us. It was when Mike came into the aid station! Mike was a nice man just a few minutes in front of Jared and my dad but when he came into Blubber Creek, he was extremely dehydrated. He needed to be in shade and the only place where shade was located was inside the crammed tent! He sat down on a camp chair and had dry heaves and almost made my mom barf herself! Finally, after an hour, Mike continued his journey in the race just as Jared and my dad were coming in. When I saw my dad, I could tell something was NOT good. The stomach. The thing in the human body which can mess EVERYTHING up. We tried to get him to eat, but all he could manage was an orange slice, a bite of banana, and about 10 Goldfish. We generously refilled his pack with an AWESOME drink. Tailwind. And with that, he set off to the Kanab Creek Aid Station!

We exited the Blubber Creek Aid Station in our gray Dodge Durango and made our way out to the Kanab Creek Junction and followed a dirt road for many miles. We reached the aid station and set up camp chairs and waited for Jared and my dad to come in. Personally, this was my favorite aid station. Lots of people had come to this aid station because it was fairly accessible and there was great scenery near the aid station. There were lots of people cheering on the runners which made a swell environment. We had predicted to wait numerous hours but were surprised to see Jared sprint into view. My dad was not with him! I wondered how far back he was but minutes later I said "Is that dad?" Sure enough it was my Hostess-Loving dad! We had been keeping my dad's sister, Hollie updated (she paced my dad in the Zion 100, another great race). She told us that Coke was the secret to get him feeling better. I came up with the name "Miracle Juice" for this life-saving drink. We gave him some Coke, Ramen and some more Tailwind. Then he and Jared happily left the Kanab Creek Aid Station!

We then started the drive to the next aid station and the most accessible one, Straight Canyon Aid Station. We got there with lots of time to spare. We waited about an hour until we saw Jared strutting down the hill leading the the aid station. And like Kanab Creek, my dad came in minutes later. They sat down together and I managed to get my dad to drink some more Coke and a hot, fresh bean burrito! Again we refilled his pack with Tailwind but the two didn't want to stay long and headed for the next aid station, The Pink Cliffs. This was VERY hard to drive on so we decided to just go to the next aid station, Crawford Pass.

We made our way up to Crawford Pass, the halfway point in this race. This is where they would turn around and make their journey to Ruby's Inn. We waited a long time and hung out with Jared's family. After multiple hours we saw Jared hobbling up the hill to get to the aid station. We chatted with him for a minute and then my mom and I decided we would go get my dad. We started walking and shortly after we found him jogging down a hill, still with that stupid knee bugging him. At the aid station, my dad knew he wasn't going to make it to the finish and even if he did it would take him at least until past 6 O'clock the next day. He couldn't decide what he should do! Drop, finish, or 100k? He said he would probably drop at 100k which was going all the way back to the Straight Canyon Aid Station! Jared was feeling really good at that moment in time so the two carried on. My dad said early on in the journey back to The Pink Cliffs, there is a big hill. My dad told me Jared felt really bad and decided he would not finish all 100 miles.

It was getting late so my mom took me back to Bryce View Lodge and we went to bed. My dad got a ride home with Jared's family and luckily the awesome race director, Matt Gunn, had given the runners a 100k option to drop at Straight Canyon. We went to the finish the next day to see some of my dad’s friends finish and to get his cool 100k finish prize. My dad was so nice and he decided to give me HIS prize! That was a really nice thing for him to do!

The Bryce 100 was a GREAT race! It was a VERY hard race but it was great! We were all surprised to see Mike finish after vomiting multiple times!

My dad did a very good job and also all of you guys reading this who paced or ran the race, GREAT JOB!!! Everybody thank Matt Gunn for all his hard work in making this race possible! Good job Cory!!!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Running A 50k Next Week - Join Me!

I'm excited for an impromptu race next Saturday June 15th in Draper, Utah: the Corner Canyon 50k! I will be there 1) giving hugs, 2) blessing babies, and 3) signing books. Keep in mind, I haven't even written a book so bring your own and I'll be happy to sign them. (Preferably not the Bible, because that would just be really weird.) Heck, I'll run the race too.

I ran the race last year (they have a 25k option too) and it was a blast. First of all, the course is beautiful.

The race director, Johnny Runner is an amazing cancer fighter and ultrarunner. Last year he was out running despite having a chemotherapy port in his chest! Talking with him afterward was without a doubt the highlight of my race.

Some cool bling at the end never hurts either.

This year, race proceeds will benefit cancer fighter Amanda Dorais. I visited her Facebook page Fighting With Amanda and left inspired and amazed. Pure. Inspiration.

If you want, you can read my race report from last year to see how much fun the race is. And if you want to join me at an awesome impromptu race, visit the Corner Canyon Ultra Trail Run website and register. I'll see you there. Bring your hugs, babies, and books.