Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Next 100 Miler - You're Better Than You Think

Last year I dressed up like a clown, ran 78 miles, and got my butt royally kicked at the Javelina Jundred. You can read about that humbling disgrace HERE. As I laid on the ground in pain whimpering like a baby after not finishing the race, I vowed not to return. And yet that race is so fun. I couldn't help myself. I signed up for the race again coming up in October!

I ran the Corner Canyon 50k with my friend Catherine. She is a fellow social worker that I work with. That race was her first ultra and she was hooked. She will be running Javelina as her first 100. This. Is. Awesome.

My scrawny chicken legs carried me 51 miles last week. (With muscles as enormous as mine, it's safe to assume that nobody has ever accused me of using steroids or performance enhancing drugs.)

Monday, July 22nd: 8 miles early before work.
Tuesday, July 23rd: 5 miles speedwork.
Wednesday, July 24th: Pioneer Day 5k with the fam.
Thursday, July 25th: 10 miles way too early before work.
Friday, July 26th: 5 miles, legs were very slug-like.
Saturday, July 27th: 20 miles.

Here are a few highlights from the week:

On Monday I was joined by my friends Shane and Karrie on a jaunt through the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. Hot, muggy, and beautiful.

Tuesday night I went out shooting a lightning storm. It was right overhead so I watched most of the show from my car. I wasn't in the mood to play with electricity. But I did get a few pictures:

Wednesday was the Pioneer Day 5k. Pioneer Day is a holiday in Utah. It celebrates the pioneers who settled our state. (This is code for: an excuse to take the day off from work, go to a parade, have a barbecue, and watch fireworks.) Our whole family ran the 5k race in the morning. I decided I ought to dress up like a pioneer to run the race. (Lesson learned: It's hard to run in jeans.) My partner was my youngest daughter Kylee:

Kylee was amazing. She has a stride that looks like a real runner. (Unlike her father.) After about a mile she looked up and with an unconcerned look said "Dad, I can't feel my legs. Can you?"

We were the first ones in our family to make it to the finish line so I was able to take a picture of the other kids finishing. Jackson came in next. I never said one word about it, but it was a proud moment when he jumped across the finish line:

And then Danica approached the finish line. And with absolutely no prompting....she jumped too!

We had a great time. And I'm pretty sure that I won't run in jeans again for at least 365 more days.

That night we played with sparklers. What do you get when you add sparklers, three kids, and an open shutter on your camera?

Friday night a huge storm rolled through our area. I went out searching for lightning but didn't get any pictures. Instead I witnessed one of the most amazing sunsets I've seen in ages. The clouds looked like they had been painted across the sky with oil colors.

Saturday's 20 miler started as a group run. I ran the first 11 miles with Shane, Karrie, and Mel:

I was anxious to run on some dirt after that and went near Gould's Rim. A torrential rain storm the night before left the roads and trails soaked. And exceptionally muddy. It was like running in brown Crisco.

It also left some cool puddles that reflected the sky.

I don't know about this whole 100 mile business. I think it is impossible for your legs carry you 100 miles. I've run 100 milers. And I still think it's impossible. I often remind myself of Leadville 100's race director Ken Chlouber who said "You're better than you think you are and you can do more than you think you can!"

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Spartan Races and Ultramarathons Are Dumb

Spartan races are the big thing in my neck of the woods right now. For those of you unfamiliar with a Spartan race, it is basically an obstacle course up to 12 miles long. Obstacles include difficult tasks like climbing a big wall, running through mud, and watching an entire episode of The Golden Girls.

I’ll be honest with you. I don’t understand the appeal of Spartan races. So you’re telling me you get to climb under barbed wire and throw spears for twelve miles? Um…..okay. Thanks, but no thanks. Add Spartan to the list of things I’ll never do (including a Ragnar relay, a Rock and Roll Marathon, and eating sushi).

Wait a second before you send your hate mail. I don’t mean to ruffle any Spartan feathers. After all, you guys are strong and could beat me up, give me a weggie, and steal my lunch money. What I’m getting at is that my sport is kind of pointless and dumb too.

I came to this realization at work a few days ago. One of my patients heard that I run 100 mile races. She is a sweet, older lady who reminds me of my grandma. She called me over with a look of concern that reminded me of how a parent would look if their child said they wanted to grow up to be a carnival worker. She wanted all the details. The conversation went like this:

Concerned Grandma: Someone said that you’ve run 100 miles. Is that true?

Me: Yes.

Concerned Grandma: And I heard you’ve done this a few times.

Me: I’ve finished four 100 milers and then started two more but I didn’t finish the whole race.

Concerned Grandma: How many days does it take you to run 100 miles?

Me: It’s not spread out over days. You start in the morning and keep running until you’re done the next day. Most of them have a limit of 30-35 hours.

Concerned Grandma: Does a car drive next to you to make sure you’re okay?

Me: No, the races are on remote trails out in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes you’re all alone in the wilderness for hours without seeing anyone else.

Then I stood there with my words hanging out in the air. Uh oh Cory. Do you realize how idiotic you just sounded? Wilderness? Alone? For HOURS?!?!? Hurry Cory. You’re losing her.

Concerned Grandma: Do you see wildlife? Bears?

Me: Yes, lots of wildlife, but no bears. I’ve only seen bear tracks. (Stupid Cory! Why did you have to say that last part?!?)

Concerned Grandma: Don’t your knees hurt?

Me: Yea, my knees feel really sore in the later parts of the race.

Concerned Grandma: And your feet?

Me: Well, those hurt pretty bad too.

Concerned Grandma: Do you sleep during the run?

Me: No. That’s one of the hardest things about a 100 miler for me. After only seeing by the light of your head lamp, your brain starts to go a little crazy by around 2:00am. I get really, really tired, but when I stumble I wake myself up from the sleep walking.

I finished that sentence and she just stared at me. It was at that moment when I realized my logical reasoning had jumped the track. The appearance of common sense was shattered beyond repair. I thought about trying to change the subject. “Hey, remember when Saturday Night Live was funny?” Instead I just smiled and said “I know, it sounds strange.” I told her to have a good day as I walked away feeling sheepish.

So to all you Spartan racers: your sport still sounds really dumb to me. It sounds lame to swing on ropes and dodge tasers. But I fully endorse you calling ultramarathons really dumb too.

Experiencing pain so intense that it has made a grown man (me) cry……alone in the dark in the middle of nowhere…….bear tracks…….it’s hard to explain but I really love this ultramarathon thing. I love it. I live for it. It is who I am. The finish line of my first 100 miler transformed me and I will never be the same.

Monday, July 22, 2013

My Fears With Trail Running

This past week was about as fun as running gets. (Alright, the track workout wasn't that fun. Neither was that flash flood warning. Okay, the attack of the killer gnats wasn't exactly my idea of a good time. But other than that, it was a great week.)

Monday, July 15th 2013: 5 miles. I took my friends Shane and Karrie on their first visit to the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. Judging by this picture, it looks like we sent each other a memo before the run saying "Lets dress like a pack of fluorescent markers!

Tuesday, July 16th 2013: 5 miles at....wait for it.....wait for it.....THE TRACK! It seems like the last time I did a speed workout at the track was when MC Hammer was popular. There was a sweet sunrise over the track but an even better sunset that night across the Desert Reserve:

Wednesday, July 17th 2013: 6 miles. Mel and the girls went to a play. My son was at a friend's house. Any time I have a free hour or two without the family I grab the running shoes. Even if it is 98 degrees outside. I haven't been to Gould's Rim for quite a while. I forgot how much I love that trail. As I was heading back, Gooseberry Mesa started glowing on the horizon.

I got back to the car right as the sun was setting.

Thursday, July 18th 2013: 3 miles. I could not drag my sorry self out of bed. I only had time to run a fast 3 before work.

Friday, July 19th 2013: 5 miles. I decided I'd try to make peace with the Hurricane Rim trail. Me and the Hurricane Rim are not BFFs. Much of the trail is pretty technical. And I had my worst fall ever there. I was cruising down a steep hill and my foot caught a rock. Life suddenly went into slow motion and I did an exact Superman impression as I flew through the sky.....before giving a big, wet smooch to Mother Earth.

My other traumatic event on the Hurricane Rim was at mile 90 during the first Zion 100 race. Hmmm, might have a little PTST from that point of the race. So I don't love this trail. But it's close and easily accessible. There was a storm coming in making for some cool clouds. This is Smith Mesa in the distance:

Mid-run my wife called and said there was a flash flood warning posted with lots of lightning coming in. My only two fears with trail running are 1) rattlesnakes and 2) lightning. Since I know that the trail has been trying to kill me for years, I didn't hesitate to cut my run short. Take that Hurricane Rim! I didn't want to run on you anyway.

Saturday, July 20th 2013: 14 miles. I made a mistake. The power went out the day before and when I set my alarm clock I set it for 4:40PM instead of AM. Spoiler alert: I didn't wake up at 4:40AM. That set my run back an hour and a half so I didn't have time to go as far as planned.

I tried out a new jump. In my day they used to call this "Indian Style", but my daughters inform me that in school this is now "Criss Cross Applesauce". I present to you the aerial version of criss cross applesauce:

My destination was an inferno of heat in the middle of the sun Warner Valley. I used to run here all the time but haven't been back for ages. I love the scenery around here. I'll start going back more often.

With around three miles left in the run I found myself in the middle of clouds of gnats. They were swarming me like 10 year old girls around Justin Bieber. I loved it 0%. They were EVERYWHERE. I kept wiping them off my arms, legs, and face. They were getting in my eyes. My nose. My teeth. Did I mention that I loved it 0%? When I got back to the car I started wiping them off my face. Then I looked in the mirror and saw they were all over so I snapped a picture.

I am so amazingly lucky that there are hundreds of miles of trails within a 15 minute drive of my house. You could run a different trail every day of the month. This never gets old. This much fun can't be called training.

Lessons Learned For the Week
1) Who needs a head light when your neon shirts glow in the dark?
2) Avoid trails that are trying to kill you.
3) Pay attention when setting your alarm clock.
4) Douse your body with sun screen AND bug spray.
5) There are more enjoyable, better tasting forms of calorie replacement than gnats.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Got to Live Book Review - Highly Recommended

A few years ago I signed up for my first 100 miler, the Javelina Jundred. Prior to running the race I meticulously studied the course – that hot desert trail winding up, down, and around the McDowell Mountains in Arizona.

Somewhere in the midst of my obsessive compulsive studying of the race I came across this guy known as McDowell Mountain Man. I remember that he was trying to maintain a consecutive streak of days running. I thought he was crazy.

I finished that race. All 101.4 hot, sweaty miles of that race. It’s now two years and a few 100 milers later. And I just had the pleasure of reading a new book from the McDowell Mountain Man himself, Jay Danek. His book is called Got To Live: 923 Days to Remember.

I’ve read plenty of running books and Got to Live is among the best. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that if you’re reading this review, you’re a bit of a runnerd like me. You’ve probably read your share of running books too. Here are some things that make Jay’s book stand out:

1) Jay isn’t a natural born athlete. He doesn’t have one of those stories where the guy was running a 4 minute mile when he was in first grade. He took up running later in life and it’s clear that his accomplishments didn’t come easy.

2) He has a personable, articulate writing style that makes the pages of the book speed by.

3) Jay’s story is compelling. The book is a detailed account of his motivation to begin running, experiences from races, and an amazing 923 day streak of running at least four miles per day.

The crux of Jay’s story was a phone call in 2008 from a brother to tell him that his father had died of a blood clot. Jay was very close with his dad and the news threw him into a spiral of depression, weight gain, and unhealthy living.

His concerned wife Traci intervened after seeing him gain 45 pounds in the following months. A gift certificate to a local fitness boot camp spurred Jay’s desire to make a course correction. And then Jay found trails and a new life began.

Around this time Jay conceived of an idea that only an ultrarunner would be crazy enough to think of (although at that time he was only able to run a few miles). He decided to run a streak of 923 days to honor his father who died on 9/23.

Try to wrap your head around this: run at least four miles a day for two and a half YEARS! Some of these days were during 100 mile races. That’s cool and all. But I’ve run 100 miles. And the next day I’m curled up in fetal position on my bed praying for a visit from the angel of death. The day after Jay’s 100 milers……he ran. I can’t imagine this.

The last day of his streak ended on the same trail where the story started, in the McDowell Mountains. There is an ending to this streak of 923 days that is too amazing to spoil in this review. It’s a twist I didn’t expect. And it gave me goose bumps.

What is as hard to imagine as running 923 days – is how it must have felt to – not- run on day 924. It made me smile to read that Jay did indeed rest on day 924. No running. A meaningful tribute to the life of his father. And after that day of rest Jay started running again. Another unbroken streak of days running, now at 287.

An inspiring story like the one in Got to Live is too good to be scripted. And yet this is no script. This is the real life of an everyday runner who has gone on to inspire other everyday runners. Like myself.

If you run (let’s be honest, you do, if you’re this far into the review, you run, and because of that we’re kindred runnerd souls, so let’s hang out and go get a Slurpee together), I’m sure this book will inspire you too.

You can pick up Got To Live: 923 Days to Remember at Amazon ($10.79 for the book or only $4.99 for Kindle). You can also check out Jay’s website at

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Twinkie Fun Run - The Hostess Comeback Party!

Twinkies. Are. BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let's celebrate! Let's run! Let's celebrate and run!

A few weeks ago I ran a marathon on this one mile loop around my house in the middle of the night. It was fun. Let's have a big running party and run around the loop. I'll bring the Twinkies. Here are the deets (that's fancy teenager lingo for "details"):

When: Friday night, August 2nd

Time: 8:00pm - 12:00am

Where: My house in Hurricane, Utah (email me at if you want to join the party but don't know where I live.)

How Far: As far as you want! You want to run 1 mile? Awesome! Want to go for a marathon? Sweet! I'll make a cool prize pack for the person who runs the farthest. I will have a big white board where you can write your name and how far you ran.

Awards: If you run a half marathon or farther I'll let you take one of my piano CDs. The person with the most miles will earn a trophy. (Likely a little league trophy from the thrift store.)

Timing: This is NOT a race. NOT a race. Just a training run. A neighborhood fun run. Bring your Garmin and keep track of your miles or how many loops you run.

Bathroom: You can use our bathroom downstairs if you want. Don't worry, our poodle is friendly.

Safety: If you're planning to run into the night make sure to bring a head light or flash light so cars can see you. 

Aid station: I'll have a jug of water, a jug of Tailwind, some Twinkies (hopefully!) and a table set up in front of my house. Your entry fee is to bring some kind of treat to add to the aid station. It doesn't need to be Hostess stuff. Maybe a plate of cookies, a dozen donuts, or a vegetable tray. Wait, leave the vegetable tray home.

Guaranteed to be the most fun you've had since your last vacation to Disneyland. Make sure to bring a treat for the aid station. Bring your friends and come prepared to celebrate the happiness of running and Hostess.

Monday, July 15, 2013

I've Got Something To Brag About

I've got something to brag about. No, not that time at work when I almost, BUT DIDN'T pass out during our annual blood draws. No, not that time when I nearly died of heat stroke while running a half marathon dressed as Nacho Libre.

I had two runs this past week that were worthy of bragging. They both followed the same pattern:

1) Eat a large dinner. Don't stop eating when you're full. Stop eating when you hate yourself.
2) Top that off with a cookie.
3) As soon as you finish your gluttony, strap on the running shoes.
4) Make sure it is 102 degrees outside. No more. No less.
5) I dare you to try and keep that chicken teriyaki in your stomach when it is begging to come out. Good luck with that my friend.

This week I did that! And didn't throw up! I know, I'll wait a minute for the applause to die down. Spoiler alert: running doesn't get more miserable than this. It's good training though. During an ultra you feel extremely blessed if you're only feeling this crappy. I felt like I was going to melt. Not dying is what I have to brag about.

I got in 48 miles of running this past week - a 4, 5, 5, 6, 8, and 20 miler. The 20 miler on Saturday was a jaunt around the bottom of the Little Creek Mesa area. I had fun exploring some new places I had never been before.

There was some flash flooding the day before which made some sections a bit soggy. Usually this river bed is dry as a bone but on Saturday it was flowing with brown mud that looked like a river of melted chocolate.

It was another sweltering run. When I finished it was 88 degrees. I probably should have packed a little more water. I was starting to run low so I had to conserve. Combined with the hot running I was feeling slightly no bueno by the end. Plenty of fun was still had.

On a side note, I got the July issue of UltraRunning Magazine in the mail and saw that they printed a few of my pictures! They ran a few from the Buffalo Run 100 miler. It's cool to be involved in a big publication like this. Running 100 miles may not be the easiest way to get pictures in a magazine.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Nipple's On Fire

Saturday night I ran a 10 miler to the top of Molly's Nipple. I am not a fan of trail running at night. ("Not a fan of" is code word for "hate".) It's something I need to get better at. I started running right in time to witness a stupendously amazing sunset.

It was crazy, crazy windy and there were some storm clouds on the horizon which thankfully brought the temperature under 100.

I kept thinking over and over how lucky I was to be surrounded by this beauty. I am spoiled that this wilderness is only 15 minutes away from my house. I am at home in the desert.
I was hoping to at least get to the top of Molly's Nipple before it got dark but daylight was fading fast. (Maybe because the light was so great that I had to keep stopping to take pictures.) And then the sky really lit up. It looked like it caught on fire.
Not too difficult to tell how Molly's Nipple got it's name.

Only one sign of wildlife the whole time:

I reached the top and saw the lights of my town below. It was cool to think that one of those little pinpricks of light was my house:

I called my wife while I was up at the top. I told her to go outside and see if she could see my light. She could, and told the kids to come outside too. I could hear them yelling in the background. She said they were excited to see my light at the top and wanted me to hear them yelling. Very cool that I could be ten miles away from them in the middle of my run and still be able to have my family see me. I will definitely do this night run again.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Most Scenic Week Of Running

Last week I ran 25 miles and hiked another 5ish. Every single mile was just amazing. I think if a non-runner had joined me on any of these runs, they would have been converted.

Here are some of the highlights. On Tuesday I did a 5 miler around the Jem Trail at sunrise.

The sunrise was so beautiful that it gave me goosebumps (despite the fact that it was already around 90 degrees).

I got a new camera the day before so I took it on the run with me and tried a few jumping pictures. It worked like a charm.

I was given a sneak preview of what heaven looks like. (Proof that you can run in heaven despite it being hot as hell.)

On Wednesday we were in Salt Lake for a family vacation. Before the family woke up I went for a five mile jaunt around Corner Canyon. The high amount of cookies and Diet Dr. Pepper on the drive to Salt Lake the day before made me run like a slug on Benadryl.

Thursday me and the fam went on a hike in the Wasatch Mountains to a place called Cecret Lake (not a typo).

Friday we took the kids to Timpanogos Cave which includes a serious hour long death march up the mountain. The kids less than loved the 1,000 foot climb in 1.5 miles. The awesome cave made them forget how miserable the hike was.

After we got home Saturday night I headed out on a night run to Molly's Nipple. The experience of this 10 miler deserves its own post. The sunset was one of the best I've seen in a long time. Here is a sneak preview:

I feel so blessed. Running has been giving me so much lately. This was the most scenic week of running I've had in a long time.

"Far away, there in the sunshine, are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they may lead." ~ Louisa May Alcott