Monday, September 30, 2013

Bring On 52.4 Miles!

Five days until the St. George Marathon. I'm very excited with a moderate dose of scared. I am madly in love with tapering.

Monday, September 23rd 2013: 4 miles @ 10:09 per mile
Tuesday, September 24th 2013: Nothing
Wednesday, September 25th 2013: 10 miles @ 13:18 per mile
Thursday, September 26th 2013: 4 miles @ 10:22 per mile
Friday, September 27th 2013:
Saturday, September 28th 2013: 5 miles @ 11:49 per mile

My favorite (and by far the hardest) run of the week was Wednesday's 10 miler. I ran sections of a bunch of trails including Paradise Rim, Turtle Wall, and the Gila Trail.

This is only my second time on these trails and I saw new things that I hadn't noticed last time including this cool little red rock arch. I angled my camera to get a plethora of sun flares. (I award myself 17 bonus points for working in the word "plethora").

 Setting moon over the red cliffs:

This week I drove the course of the St. George Marathon to get an idea of what it would be like to run it in reverse. Wow, I didn't realize how steep downhill the course was until I looked at the possibility of running up it. While I was checking out the course I saw this healthy fella on the road:

At this point I think I'll go for a double St. George Marathon on Saturday. I'll start running at the finish line around midnight, run all the way up to the starting line, and then the regular marathon with my wife and a large gaggle of other friends doing the race. (My friend called this "STG to the 2nd Power.) I'm nervous but I think I'd regret if I didn't give it a try. Then I'll have three weeks to recover for the big dance - 100 miles.

We got some Booyah shirts for the race to honor my friend Braydon Nielsen. I took mine for a test run when my wife and I went running on Saturday. There are going to be lots of these shirts out on the course on race day. Can't wait to see that. (Joining me is our dog following a bad haircut. That's what you get for stealing YET ANOTHER loaf of bread off the counter Jack!)

I'm really excited for Saturday. A few years ago I helped the St. George Marathon with voice over stuff for a cool video they were making. Here is that video. You can hear me saying things like "Running is the stupidest hobby ever!" This is a great taste of my hometown race and what it's like to run a marathon.

Bring on 52.4 miles!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

St. George DOUBLE Marathon???

Last year I read Brian Beckstead's race report from the Boston Marathon Double. He started running at the finish line, ran all the way to the start line, then ran the marathon. 52.4 miles to be exact. I've been intrigued ever since.

The St. George Marathon is coming up next Saturday and I'm considering trying for a St. George Double Marathon. The thought of this gives me chunky burps.

Here is the kicker. Going UP the course would be killer. Runner's World ranked St. George as the fastest fall marathon because it is so steep downhill. (Check out the pictures from my race report last year.) Losing more than 2,700 feet during a race sounds fun. Climbing those 2,700 feet first sounds daunting.

The tricky part is that once you start there is no backing out. And it would be rather embarrassing to not get to the starting line before the race starts. I think it would be a good last long run before the Javelina Jundred in four weeks. I'm not committing yet (I'll probably go back and forth a thousand times in the next eight days before the race) but at this point I'm leaning toward giving it a try.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

When Things Don't Go The Way You Wanted

Monday, September 16th 2013: 8 miles @ 10:56 minutes per mile
Tuesday, September 17th 2013: 3 miles @ 8:15 minutes per mile
Wednesday, September 18th 2013: 10 miles @ 11:44 minutes per mile
Thursday, September 19th 2013: Nothing
Friday, September 20th 2013: Nothing
Saturday, September 21st 2013: 27 miles @ 15:36 minutes per mile

My friend Catherine and I had high hopes for Saturday's run. She is signed up for her first 100 miler, the Javelina Jundred at the end of next month. I'm so excited to run the race with her and we planned to get in a good long run. I invited some friends to come and join us out on the trail. We had a fun group of runners out on the trail.
A great sunrise greeted us in the distance. I am a mosquito magnet and this morning was no exception. My friend Karrie called me a running citronella candle because as long as I'm running with them, the mosquitoes will swarm me and leave everyone else alone.

There were some warning signs that it could be a rough day. I got bit by a scorpion or spider or something on Wednesday. My toe got all red and puffy trying to look like Nutty Professor. My wife said she has had patients in the hospital with stuff like that. (It's feeling much better today.) And then as we were heading down the trail my friend Amber did a Superman leap into the air and left some chunks of flesh as a souvenir on Mother Earth. Our destination was Molly's Nipple in the distance.

Catherine and I kept the pace moderate since we would be running all day and let the faster runners go up ahead. It was cool to see when they reached the top.

Catherine wanted to get some desert training to prep for Javelina and loved the view from the top.

You can see the shadow of Molly's Nipple with the sun rising behind us.

We figured we needed a jumping picture with everyone at the top of Molly's Nipple. Even though I got exactly 0 feet of air in this shot, this picture makes me smile. We were having a good time. This is myself, Amber, Nicole, Michelle, Treasa, Brooke, Liz, Shannon, Karrie, Catherine, and Shane.

Then we made the steep, technical scramble back down.

The way back was downhill and much easier and faster.

Everyone finished the 13 mile route to Molly's Nipple then headed home while Catherine and I continued the run. I showed her around the Jem Trail and some of it's connectors. This is not a horrible place to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Catherine's knee had become as grumpy as a senior citizen whose cable goes out in the middle of a Murder She Wrote marathon. It was a crazy fluke thing because she ran so strong when we did the Mid Mountain Marathon two weeks ago.

She has the kind of personality that is happy and positive even when things aren't going according to plan. I was laughing the entire time we were running.

We continued making our way through the desert but were taking it easy to keep the knee in check. These trails around Gooseberry Mesa are seriously incredible.

We got to the edge of a mesa and took a break to enjoy the view. I saw Catherine sitting there soaking things in and I knew she was feeling discouraged. Today wasn't going to end the way she hoped. We concluded that it would be best to end the run early to not make matters worse.

I felt sad for her. Catherine is a better runner than me and I hated seeing her struggling. I intimately know that frustration of having knee issues that get in the way of training plans. I've been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt. In fact I have an entire closet full of those t-shirts. But because I am so ridiculously familiar with that frustration, I have tons of experience (way more than I'd care to have) working through it. So I felt comfortable assuring her that things will work out. Things will work out. With the fitness base she has established, 5 weeks is plenty of time to recoup before Javelina, get feeling better, and be completely ready to tackle that 100 miler. I can't wait to watch as she crosses that finish line and earns a buckle.

So when all is said and done, maybe the day DID have a good ending. Granted, we didn't get as many miles as we hoped and she'll need to give that knee some TLC for a few days. But we got some good time on our feet enjoying some absolutely incredible scenery. We laughed a ton. We both spent time with our spouses on the first part of the run. We didn't throw up or meet any rattle snakes. And our run ended with a fun jumping picture. When life hands you lemons, take a jumping picture.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Trail Running Is Like Meatloaf

The fine folks at are looking for ideas on why trail and ultra running are so awesome. Here are my thoughts:

My mother-in-law makes some positively amazing meatloaf. I don’t know what’s in it and I don’t want to know. I like the mystery. (I can only assume that ingredients include a mixture of sunshine, rainbows, and unicorn sparkles.
Trail running is the same way. There are lots of little mysterious elements that make it so seriously wonderful. Allow me to transform myself into Martha Stewart (never mind, I’ll skip the prison time) and expound on three ingredients that make meatloaf, I mean trail and ultra running so awesome.

Ingredient #1 – The Scenery
Sure, you can see some beautiful stuff running on the road. I mean those parked cars and miles of endless white line on asphalt are nice to look at. But there is nothing that can match the beauty of a trail weaving through the aspens or climbing to the top of a mesa and seeing the expanse of nature surrounding you.

Ingredient #2 – The Uncertainty
Unlike the safe, predictability of road running, you never quite know what you’re going to get out on the trail. My mom’s meatloaf is not very good. And by “not very good” I mean – if you gave me the choice between eating a rusty radiator and mom’s meat loaf…..I’d choose the radiator. (I’m sorry mom. But you always taught us to be honest. Plus I’m trying to win a Scott Jurek vest from Ultimate Direction here.)

The point is that sometimes your experience on the trail can be as bad as an episode of Golden Girls. And sometimes it is a magically delicious experience (sorry, Lucky Charms for breakfast). I love that feeling of knowing that every run can be an adventure.

Ingredient #3 – The People
Runners are awesome people. Runners are family. But I experienced a new level of amazing when I got into trail and ultra running. For example, my friend Christie was running her first 100 miler and was crippled with horrible blisters. A guy helped her clean her feet, bandage the blisters, and get her back on her way. He wasn’t a family member. Not an aid station worker. He was another runner. In the middle of his own race. That, my friend, gives me goose bumps.
I love this sport. And good meatloaf.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Awesome Group Run This Saturday

My friend Catherine who I ran the Mid Mountain Marathon with a few weeks ago is coming down to southern Utah for a last really long run. She is running the Javelina Jundred too (her first 100!). We'll be running all day and shoot for 40ish miles.

If any of you would like to join for some of the miles we'd love to have you hang out with us. We'll be leaving my house in Hurricane Utah at 6am on Saturday the 21st. (You can email me at if you don't have my address.) We'll drive to the trail which is 10-15 minutes away.

The itinerary is to first run to the top of Molly's Nipple. It's 13 miles of mostly dirt road and nothing too challenging. I think most people will just be doing this first chunk of miles, a bunch of peeps have never been to the top of Molly's Nipple before.

The view from the top isn't too shabby either. (Group jumping picture at the top??)

After that I think we'll spend some time on Gould's Rim. It's a fairly level trail and most of it isn't too technical.

A run in this area wouldn't be complete without some miles on the Jem Trail.

There are lots of side trails around here to get extra miles. I've probably run more miles here than anywhere else in the world.

You can join for as many or as few miles as you want. I think it will be fun.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Well, That Was Really Awkward

This past week featured some seriously stunning scenery, 15,600 feet of climbing over the last eight days if you include Saturday's Mid Mountain Marathon, and one of the stranger experiences I've had while running.

Monday, September 9th 2013: 6.5 miles @ 18:48 minutes per mile
Tuesday, September 10th 2013: 9 miles @ 14:27 minutes per mile
Wednesday, September 11th 2013: 4 miles @ 13:30 minutes per mile
Thursday, September 12th 2013: 4 miles @ 13:10 minutes per mile
Friday, September 13th 2013: Nada
Saturday, September 14th 2013: 4.5 miles hiking at Yant Flat (I'll show you those pictures soon)

During the first part of the week I was at a work conference near Snowbird, Utah. That was a very difficult work conference because for the entire day I could see the trails of the Rocky Mountains beckoning me from outside the window. Those trails were begging me to come and hang out.

When the conference ended on the first night I ran to my room, did a Superman style quick change of clothing, and drove over to the Red Pines Trail. I've only been here one other time and I was anxious to get back.

Did you see that 18:48 minute pace for this 6 mile run? Well, let me explain why. First of all, I stopped to take a bunch of pictures. Second, that is a challenging, technical, boulder-hopping trail climbing 3,742 feet. And third, the Rocky Mountains went all Candid Camera on me and removed every ounce of oxygen from the air. I was running at nearly 10,000 feet as opposed to my home of around 4,500 feet. I was wheezing like a walrus with emphysema.

I made it to Red Pines Lake in the crisp evening stillness and spent some time trying to coax air into my lungs enjoying the scenery.

The views up there were just spectacular. If God were a trail runner, this is where he would be getting his miles in.

Eventually that emphysema feeling went away and it felt a little less like breathing through a straw.

My next task became getting down the mountain as quick as possible before the sun went down. I had my head light but didn't really want to use it on such a technical trail. Here is a little tidbit of completely useless information: on really technical trails, I'm usually slower going down than going up. I'm not in the mood for a sprained ankle. I made it down in the midst of a sweet sunset.

The conference continued the next day also. As with the first day, I did a quick change and headed for the hills in the evening after the conference. This time I went to the White Pines Trail for the first time.

The trail was a little less technical with a little less climbing (I climbed 3,425 feet over nine miles). It was equally beautiful.

The leaves are already changing up there. Pretty soon that trail is going to be covered with golden leaves.

I decided to turn around before getting to White Pines Lake. There was a big storm rolling in that I didn't want to tussle with. I had another ulterior motive. One of the few restaurants at Snowbird, a pizza joint, closed at 8pm. I didn't make it back in time the night before and preferred to not have another dinner of Ramen Cup of Noodles.

On my way back down the mountain I came over this ridge overlooking the Salt Lake valley being lit up by the setting sun. It was just incredible to watch. I stood there for a few minutes enjoying the view and was so thankful that I turned back early otherwise I would have missed this.

I believe the goosebumps I got were from the amazing views, not the cold air that was making my fingers numb.

Finally I went speeding down the trail. My brain yelled "Cory - don't miss the pizza again!" I hadn't seen a solitary soul the whole time. Until suddenly I saw someone standing in the middle of the trail down below. Then I got closer and saw it was two people snuggled up very closely making out. They didn't budge as I ran right past them. That......was really awkward.

The Happily Ever After ending to the story was that I made it back to the pizza place with 5 minutes to spare! Pizza tasted much better than Ramen noodles.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pictures From Wasatch 100

This past Friday I had the opportunity to spend some time on the course of the Wasatch 100. I'll admit, what I saw confirmed that this race won't be going on my bucket list. I am no where near man enough to tackle that beast.

I was at the Big Mountain aid station and wandered a few miles up the trail to take pictures. It was a scorching day - the hottest in race history. I got a bit choked up seeing some runners deep inside the pain cave. I know that pain cave well. I really admired their bravery.

One of my highlights was seeing my friend Danny Wilderberg. The heat was really getting to him. And yet her persevered and finished the race!

A few more shots from Big Mountain:

I think this quote summarizes the spirit of 100 mile races:

Huge, huge congrats to all the finishers of the Wasatch 100!