Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My December 100 Miler Next Week - Across The Years

In February I set a goal to run a 100 miler per month for 12 months in a row. I've now got 10 months down and am all set for December's race called Across The Years in Arizona.

I'm really excited about this one. This is the first timed race I've ever done. Most races are based on distance. You're done after you've run 26.2 miles. Or 50 miles. Or 100 miles.

But Across The Years is different. It is the nation's premier timed race. There is a 24 hour race, a 48 hour race, a 72 hour race, and a 6 day race. It's on a one-mile dirt track and you just run as far as you can in your allotted time. You can take breaks when you want. (Or not.) You can sleep when you want to. (Or not.) You're done when you want to be done.

I signed up for the 72 hour race. I haven't really trained for this style of running and of course it requires a completely different mentality from grueling, mountainous trail races. But I think it will be fun. (It reminds me of the 100 miler I ran around the high school track in July.)

My plan is to get to 100 miles and then see where things go after that. Hopefully I'll tack on a bunch of extra miles after 100. The farthest I've ever run is 101 miles so I'm shooting for a distance PR. I'll try to get away with short naps in those 72 hours if my body cooperates and just hang on for the ride.

Get this: in the 6 day race last year, race winner Joe Fejes ran an incomprehensible 555 MILES!!! (Click HERE for a great article about his win.) I am really looking forward to having a front row seat to what these amazing runners can accomplish.

My race starts Monday, December 29th and ends January 1st (hence the name Across The Years). Can't wait!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Our Overly Revealing Family Christmas Letter 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Reese family!

We spent New Year’s Day 2014 with 60% of the family barfing. This was an omen for the rest of 2014. Had I known it at the time, we would have spent the New Year having barf bags surgically sewn onto our chests. (Our middle child indulged in the raw vegetable tray at the New Year’s party before one such…..how should I say this…..outburst.)

Here is a brief summary of everyone in the Reese gang:

Jackson got hissing cockroaches this past year for Christmas. I don’t know what to say about that. Except that they are gross. And it wasn’t my idea. We fulfilled his lifelong dream and went to a Billy Joel concert. Speaking of that, Jackson has become quite the piano prodigy. This year he was a finalist in Hurricane’s Got Talent playing Billy Joel’s New York State Of Mind on the piano. It was beautiful enough to make a grown man cry. He has taken up CrossFit with Mel and now they speak CrossFit language together while the rest of us have no idea what they’re talking about. (Push jerks? Thrusters? Kipping? Are you making these words up as you go along?)

This is Dani’s first year at the intermediate school and she is one of the piano players for the school choir. (They are the only school in the area that uses student pianists.) She earned the Great American Award. (Which isn’t a huge surprise because we’ve bred the kids to be great Americans their whole lives by feeding them a steady diet of apple pie and bald eagles.) She almost died on April 1st when I skillfully installed an air horn onto our refrigerator for April Fools Day. We’re thankful she’s still with us.

Kylee is the top dog at school this year being in 5th grade. She did Science Olympiad at school with Dani and they both won awards. She continues to take piano lessons along with the rest of the offspring and did an absolutely stellar job of helping keep our garden alive this year. She is the peacemaker of the house and is so compassionate and giving. It’s up for debate which she loves more: her family or her sock monkey collection. She is a connesour of Old Maid and Mancala.

Aunt Jackie the Poodle
Our dog Aunt Jackie is cute and loving………and mischievous and disobedient and has a raging addiction to sugar. If you take your eyes off your food for more than two seconds it will be in Aunt Jackie’s mouth. He is an avid kitchen counter surfer and he had a light bulb moment one night when he realized that he could pee upstairs and then not have to go outside in the cold wind. From then on the stairs are barricaded at night.

Mel and I received the Congressional Medal of Honor for surviving our sixth year of teaching the 8 year olds in primary at church. She has been working as a nurse forever but recently went back to school to get her Bachelor’s Degree and finished a 2-year program in three months! After years of working in the Intensive Care Unit she became a nurse navigator for the Surgical Assessment Unit at Intermountain Healthcare. (Try saying that ten times fast. Or even one time slow.) She will now be starting nurse practitioner schooling. I have been so impressed with Mel and Jackson’s dedication to staying healthy. These guys wake up at 4:45am to go to CrossFit before going to work and school. She agreed to stay married to me when I overcooked our Thanksgiving turkey to the point that it looked like it survived a nuclear attack.

I’ve worked for the University of Utah Dialysis Program as a social worker for 10 years now. One benefit to covering four dialysis centers is that I get to go to Mesquite, Nevada which has a Popeye’s Chicken restaurant. And I believe their fried chicken is made by angels. During the year I’ve been happy to work with Altra, maker of some mighty fine running shoes. In February I set a goal to run a 100 miler each month for a year so I’m now at 10 for the year. I’ve done some scenic races like Grand Canyon 100 and Zion 100. But also some I organized myself like a run from Salt Lake to Provo and back, and a 100 miler at the high school track in July when temps reached 107 degrees. After 100 milers runners earn a belt buckle. (Spoiler alert: you can buy a belt buckle at Walmart for $11.99 and NOT have to run 100 miles.)

This year we were fortunate to take a few family vacations. Last Christmas our family present was a trip to Universal Studios and Knott’s Berry Farm which we went to in January. We went on rides, tried to not become certifiably crazy driving in California traffic, and spent $32 (no, not a typo) for a crappy pizza at Knott’s Berry Farm because there was nothing cheaper. Ahhh, the sweet smell of tourist robbery.

A few months ago we went on a short cruise to Ensenada, Mexico. It’s hard to be humble about the following fact: during the three days we were on the ship I consumed 19 (no, not a typo either) ice cream cones. I consider it one of my finest achievements. We really enjoyed getting to see some of the culture of Ensenada, spending time together, and eating enough churros to make our stomachs beg for mercy.

So I guess you could say 2014 has been a pretty awesome year. (Except for that time when the main water line to our house broke. And all those times someone in our house was barfing. Those things were slightly less than awesome.) We are so thankful for your kindness and friendship. Merry Christmas from our hissing cockroaches to yours! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

UltraRunning Magazine - Fueled By Twinkies

A while ago I was asked by UltraRunning Magazine to write an article for them........about Hostess. Yes, I was called by an executive at UltraRunning Magazine......and was asked to write about Hostess! Serious props to them for being lighthearted and thinking outside the box. Here is the article from the magazine:

I vividly remember the moment I evolved as a runner. It wasn’t the moment I crossed the finish line of my first marathon. It wasn’t that moment when my mind was fuzzy and I staggered across the finish line of my first 100-miler. Nope, not the time I was running in a wind storm and my runny nose ended up in my eye lashes. My transformation came at mile 20 of a beautiful trail run in southern Utah when I stopped at my car to refuel with a pack of Hostess Crumb Donettes.

At this transformative period of my life, I already had a long-standing love affair with Hostess products. But I had never had the pleasure of using them to fill my veins with sugar during a run before. I stashed some in my car and planned to eat one or two Donettes instead of a Gu packet. But they were so good that I ate another. And then another. And before I knew it, I was standing with an empty package, crumbs down my shirt, and a stomach that audibly said “thank you for your gracious gift.” 

I was surprised how well my stomach tolerated the donuts in the middle of a long run. I was fully expecting a gastrointestinal revolt. I was so surprised in fact, that on the next long run I tried a Hostess Snowball. As much as it pains me to talk bad about something so delicious, I admit that the Snowball didn’t go over well mid-run. For you unfortunate souls who haven’t had a Snowball before, imagine a velvety cream center covered by chocolate cake covered by a thick layer of marshmallow covered by pink coconut sprinkles. I had a “No duh!” moment after I tried to run and my stomach didn’t feel very good. Shocker! I can think of nothing worse than a bad case of Snowball Gut. (Well, except for eating cauliflower or listening to Celine Dion. I believe those things actually are worse than Snowball Gut.)

Every year I organize a half marathon in celebration of all things Hostess. A requirement of the fun run includes eating a Hostess product every three miles, although “The Hostess With The Mostest” Award goes to the person who, you guessed it, eats the most Hostess. It’s not often that you can say you gained weight during a running event instead of losing weight! The “race” is enjoyed by everybody and nobody at the same time. 

After a great deal of trial and error, I’ve come to realize that the best Hostess product during running was my first Hostess product: the Crumb Donette. I only wish that these little morsels of heaven had a different name. I’d prefer that they just be called Donuts. I feel like I’m risking my Man Card by saying how much I love a food that ends in “ette”. 

According to Dr. Thomas Dansie at the Institute for Completely Imaginary Facts, “A Twinkie contains the superior combination of monocalcium phosphate, sodium stearoyl, and soy lecithin to fuel the demands of a grueling ultramarathon.” As ultrarunners, we are striving to extend our durability and longevity. It seems only fitting that we ought to consume products that contain enough preservatives to survive the apocalypse. 

Surely I can’t be alone in my desire for Twinkie-flavored Gu packets or energy bars that taste like cream-filled cupcakes with little white swirls on top. These would be a true revolution in ultramarathon fueling. Chia seeds are so 2009! Until then, we’ll have to subsist on Chocodiles and Ding Dongs. Is it important to eat healthy in training and racing? Without a doubt! I certainly eat more than my share of rabbit food. But is it okay to fudge a little with junk food while training for an ultra? I sure hope so. Otherwise I should retire right now.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Zion National Park Photo Dump

We live about a half hour away from Zion National Park. Even living so close, there are enormous amounts of the park that I've never experienced before. The day after Thanksgiving my brother-in-law Matt showed me around some new spots. Here is a photo dump of some of the cool things I saw that day:

Check out this sweet slot canyon!

Me and my son Jackson:

This is Jackson, my niece's husband Nick, and brother-in-law Matt:

And finally my favorite picture of the trip. I know they're all over the place, but I've never seen one in Zion. She gave me a subtle smile as if to say "Go ahead my friend, take some pictures. It's cool. But if you get any closer I'll put one of these horns through your abdomen."

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My Dislike For Costco, Hot Pockets, and PTSD

I survived a trip to Costco. ON THE WEEK OF THANKSGIVING. That is at least 140% more impressive than running a 100 miler. Costco on the week of Thanksgiving combines two of the things I hate the most: 

1) Shopping
2) Enormous crowds of people who you get trapped behind....because they aren't moving....because they have created a log jam of humans....because they just HAVE to get a sample of a Hot Pocket. 

But seriously. What has humanity come to when we are willing to stand in line at a sample table to get a little bite of a Hot Pocket? (Although Costco does have one enormous redeeming quality: pumpkin pie.)

Another thing I did over the Thanksgiving break (besides cooking a turkey to the point that it looked like it had been through a nuclear attack) was to run. 

One run was at the high school track. This was the first time I had been to the track since I ran a 100 miler there in July when it was 107 degrees. (Unfortunately that 107 number isn't exaggerated.) Stepping foot on the track again triggered a bit of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I promptly fell to the ground and started whimpering and sucking my thumb. Then I jumped over people.

Those people were my wife Mel and my daughter Kylee. It was totally fun running with them. Until we decided that the only thing more fun than running around the track in the cold morning air was to NOT run on the track in the cold morning air and go drink hot chocolate instead.

The day after Thanksgiving I went on my first real run in a whole month. Back in February I set a goal to run a 100 miler each month for 12 months in a row. (Right now I'm up to 10.) After I finished the Javelina Jundred at the first of November I gave my body an extended break. I did a few very short runs and did some hiking but basically I didn't run for four weeks. 

So on that day after Thanksgiving I went to my home trail. The place where I fell in love with running on dirt. It's called the JEM Trail. Dear JEM Trail: You. Complete. Me.

The temperature that day was exactly what the temperature will be in heaven. It felt so, so good to be back to real running.

Can I tell you why I love running trails like this so much? Because there is no Costco. No people standing in front of you standing still transfixed by slippers. No Hot Pockets.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Sad Resemblance To National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

My weekend was the opposite of boring. And by "the opposite of boring" I mean that it was embarrassing, adventurous, and downright frightening.

Here's a confession for you: I've never cooked a turkey. Well, until Sunday. And then I cooked the crap out of a turkey. My wife was at work. I was in charge of making food. This is NEVER, EVER a good idea. EVER.

So I take the turkey out of it's skin-tight bag. Spoiler alert: an uncooked turkey is beyond disgusting. You're telling me I need to stick my hand into a bird's orifice and pull out the neck? And the gizzards? Can we go with Plan B and just get Little Caesar's?

So I cook the turkey. And in my defense it didn't have one of those popper-outer things that tells you when it's done. I took the turkey out of the oven and it looks a chainsaw massacre happened in my oven. You know that scene from the movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when Clark Griswold cuts open the turkey? It was EXACTLY like that. Did I mention that extended family were coming over for dinner? This is what the turkey looked like. BEFORE I cut it. Fail.

Later that night I was walking into my bedroom. I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. Then I looked down. AND SAW A SPIDER CRAWLING UP MY SHIRT TOWARD MY NECK. I involuntarily let out this little yelp that sounded not unlike a four year old girl. I slapped that spider off my shirt, whipped off my shoe, and smashed it. And unfortunately my wife heard my little baby yelp.

I took Jackson and Danica to the Prospector Trail. I couldn't count the number of times I've run here. It's one of my all time favorite trails. It was unbelievably awesome to take them there and show them around.

We saw this big rock on the side of the trail and Dani said "Can I climb up there?" Once she got up she said "Dad, you should come up here too!" And at that moment the lighting was beyond perfect.

It seemed only appropriate that we get a jumping picture along the way. A family that wears Altra shoes together stays together.

In a highly unusual twist of fate there was almost no whining the whole time. I believe the last time that happened was, um, let me think.....never.

We got back to the car as the sun was setting. The sunset was the perfect ending to a perfect adventure.

There was no complaining about the absence of a bathroom. No crying after a trip and fall. And no screaming because a spider was on them. (The scream as the result of a spider would be the next day. And the scream would be from me.)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Red Mountain Trail In Two Words

I visited the Red Mountain Trail in southern Utah for the first time last week. The highlight of the trail is an incredible overlook of Snow Canyon State Park. Here are some views from the trail....two words at a time.

Striped rocks.

Pretty technical.

More climbing.

Snow Canyon!!

Same pose.

Incredible views.

Very high.

My legs are still recovering from the Javelina Jundred so I didn't go very far. And I didn't go very fast. Instead of getting lots of miles I took it easy and made a few rock towers.

Don't fall.

If you're in the St. George area I'd highly recommend checking this one out. There are lots of offshoots of the trail to get more miles. (Or you can start off on the wrong trail and get some bonus miles like I did.) You can see more info on the Red Mountain Trail HERE.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Race the Baker's Dozen Half Marathon Coming Up Soon!

One of my favorite adventures of the year is being the race director of the Baker's Dozen Half Marathon each December in southern Utah. This year the race is being held on 12/13/14. (Yep, that date was chosen on purpose.)

The Baker's Dozen Half Marathon is your opportunity to combine some of the best things in life: 1) Friends,2) Running, and 3) Sugar! 

The race is a social, fun event where runners race a 3.25 mile loop course allowing them to interact with other runners during the whole race. Half marathoners will run the loop four times and have the incredible fortune of passing the aid station (affectionately known as the "Sugar Shack") at the end of every loop.

The medal is ENORMOUS and seriously amazing. But.....you have to earn it. Not only do you run 13 miles, but to earn a medal you must also consume a treat each time you pass the Sugar Shack (3 times total). Volunteers will verify your gluttony, so don't register for the race if you don't plan to eat some calories. 

The Sugar Shack will include all the foods you would expect to find in heaven including donuts, gourmet cupcakes, scrumptious cookies, and Twinkies. So let the training begin! (And by "training" we mean "Bring on the maple bars!")

If by chance you want to take a little vacation to southern Utah next month to run the greatest half marathon this side of the Hostess factory, you can get more info about the race and register at www.bakersdozenhalfmarathon.com or visit the race Facebook page HERE

I'd love to see you there!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Javelina Jundred Race Report - 2014

Three years ago I stood at the starting line of the Javelina Jundred so scared that I couldn't see straight. It was my first 100 miler ever and I was fairly certain I would die. ("Hmmm. Who should I leave these Boys II Men CDs for if should I pass away?") But I didn't die. And my love for ultramarathons began.

I returned to Javelina again over the weekend hoping to make it my 15th 100 miler. I drove down to Arizona with some of the nicest guys I know, my friends from the Ultra Adventures crew. (Think Zion 100, Grand Canyon 100, Antelope Canyon, etc.) This is George, Rick, myself, Turd'l, Mikey, and Matt the night before the race.

One of my race highlights happened the night before the race when we got to chat with Gordy Ainsleigh, the pioneer of 100 mile ultramarathons. (And is it just me or does Gordy not look exactly like the lovable sasquatch in the movie Harry And The Hendersons???)

The Javelina Jundred is always held on the weekend closest to Jalloween so many people wear funny costumes. I saw this awesome Three Amigos shirt from INKnBURN and knew that's what I'd wear.

Out of the Ultra Adventures crew that I traveled with, Turd'l Miller was the only other person actually running the race. The others came to crew and pace. Turd'l and I started the race together and worked to stay very conservative. At one point I looked behind us and saw only one other person! That patience pays off BIG TIME later in the race.

Turd'l burst my bubble a little bit as we were running and he said that my hat looked less like The Three Amigos and more like Jessie from the movie Toy Story. Ouch. And true.

There was a 100 mile option and a 100k option, and between those two distances there were around 700 runners. Wow! I didn't see many of them at first though because I couldn't stop admiring one of the most amazing sunrises I've ever seen. It was stunning.

One slight concern was that it wasn't cold at all in the morning. And you know that if it's not cold in the morning, the day is going to be toasty hot. But that sunrise? That sunrise? Simply beautiful.

The day did indeed get toasty hot. But not nearly as toasty hot as last year's race when I felt like a piece of raw chicken sprinkled with 11 secret herbs and spices and then dropped into burning hot oil at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Despite being hot, this year's weather was the best I've seen in the four times I've run Javelina.

Javelina is a series of 15.3 mile loops through the desert. On paper this race seems like an easier 100 miler. There isn't a ton of elevation gain. Most of the trails aren't very technical. Great aid stations. But let me assure you that there is no such thing as an "easy" 100 miler. There's no way around the minor detail that a 100 miler is......well......100 MILES. I believe the race generally only has 45-55% of runners finish. This is a typical view of the course:

Turd'l and I ran on and on. Hour after hour. After hour. Sometimes we'd travel in silence. But most of the time we were joking and laughing. Turd'l is a funny guy. (The first time my kids ever met him, they asked me afterward "So his first name is Turd and his last name is 'l?" Then my daughter asked me to change her name to Monk'ey.)

Mid day I caught a once-in-a-lifetime picture. Some members of the Tarahumara Tribe came to run the race. I stopped to take a picture of the scenery then saw that Arnulfo Quimare from the book "Born To Run" was coming up behind me. It was a beautiful thing to watch his running flow.

I had the expected and usual low points during the race. I think it's pretty normal to, for example, get 40 miles into a race and think "HOW IN THE WORLD CAN I KEEP DOING THIS FOR 60 MORE MILES?!?!??! PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY BASH MY HEAD IN WITH A CROWBAR." It is incredibly, incredibly difficult to tune out that mind chatter when you start feeling tired and sore and you just want to stop.

It's amazing how your brain can come up with dozens of legitimate, reasonable, justifiable reasons to stop. It's amazing how utterly horrible you can feel in those low times. But what is always even more amazing to me is that a lot of times those lows pass and you start feeling okay (or even good!) again. It doesn't make any sense to me but I know it's true.

Another highlight was being able to spend some miles with one of my running heroes Ed "The Jester" Ettinghausen. No matter how many times I run with Ed I always leave feeling more impressed and inspired. He is the World Record holder for most 100 milers in a year (this was his 31st 100 miler this year!!!). But he is also so kind and encouraging to everyone. He runs races with a cowbell to cheer for other runners along the way. Total class act. I'm proud to call him a friend.

At mile 45 my friend Rick came out on the course to pace me for 30 miles. Rick is one of the kindest people I've ever met. Here is one of many examples to prove it. During the race we met Jenn Thompson who was bit by a rattlesnake TWICE while running recently. We met Jenn in the middle of the night alone and she said she was really struggling with PTSD from the snake issue. She had six more miles to finish the 100k and at the moment I was moving okay but she was having a tough time. After a few minutes I turned around to tell Rick that I would go up ahead but that he could stay with her to get her through the race. But when I turned around they weren't there. Rick had already made the choice to stay behind with Jenn. He knew that at that moment she needed his help more than I did. He is quite the incredible human being.

Matt Gunn, the race director for the Ultra Adventures races volunteered to pace me the last 25 miles of the race. He is at least 3/4 mountain goat and could have run those 25 miles twice as fast as I did them. After six loops and 92 miles there is one last partial loop and runners are given a glow necklace. I can't describe how amazing that feeling is to get that necklace. You could buy one at the store for ten cents but when that necklace means you're almost done with the race, it is priceless.

When we were a few miles from the finish line a Kelly Clarkson song came on my mp3 player. I added it to my music not because I seriously dig Kelly Clarkson but because she reminds me of my family. Last year we went to a huge fireworks show where Kelly Clarkson sang so her music always makes me think of my kids. And after you've run 95 miles your emotions get pretty raw. And then you have a conversation with yourself on the trail that goes like this: "Please don't let Matt turn around to see me crying while listening to Kelly Clarkson."

The second sunrise of the race was equally spectacular. I was so humbled and thankful that Rick and Matt would be willing to spend all those miles with me and help me finish the race. I have some really amazing friends.

Finally after 27 hours and 9 minutes I jumped across the finish line and was handed this cool piece of metal.

One of my very favorite parts of the weekend was making a 100 mile dance party video. I'm really happy with how it turned out. Here is proof that despite passing through times that feel like the lowest of lows, running 100 miles can be a RIDICULOUS amount of fun. Enjoy!!!