Monday, March 31, 2014

I Went On A SMOKING HOT First Date

This is going to come as a shock to you considering:
1) My charming Justin Timberlake-like personality
2) My Will Smith-like charisma
3) My Arnold Schwarzenegger-like muscles

But.......I'm not quite the womanizer you might think.

Okay, we're all adults. Let's be honest with each other. I
1) Have the physique of Kermit the Frog
2) Have a pasty white complexion like chalk
3) Have the nerdy personality of Urkel. (Did I do thaaaat?)

Needless to say, I've only been on a few first dates in my life. Thankfully one of those suckers agreed to marry me. But on Saturday I went on another First Date. It was a running date with some other trail runners. These are some other local runners: Tiana, Jen, Kim, and Jesse. Oh, and some nerdy white boy that looks like Kermit the Frog.

First trail dates can be nerve wracking. "Am I going to get that crusty salt around my nose and not realize it?" "Are we going to come across a rattle snake and I will involuntarily scream like a girl?" "Is someone going to accidentally let out a little trail toot?" (Don't worry, if that happens when you're running with me I'll just ignore it.) 

We met together to run the Prospector and Church Rocks trails. These are a few of my favorites. We were treated to an awesome sunrise.

All sarcasm aside, I actually do get nervous sometimes to run with others because I worry that I won't be able to keep up. Things were fine on this run though. I got a kick out of hearing about Jesse running his first 50 miler lately.

We did in fact come across a rattle snake. Fortunately for the rest of the group they didn't get to hear my involuntary girl scream because the snake was dead.

I was so, so thankful to even be out running. My legs have recovered very quickly from the 100 mile race last weekend. This has probably been the quickest recovery I've had. That makes me happy. 

I decided that I'd run 9 miles. They were going a bit farther so I turned around and headed back on my own after a quick picture.

Some recent rain in the area has made the wildflowers burst with color. They were huge and just beautiful.

Here is a wider angle view of some of the trail. If you look closely you can seen some mountain bikers down below.

It seemed appropriate to wrap up the little shindig with a jump.

I have a hunch I'll be going out on a second date with these guys again soon. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Buffalo Run 100 Mile Race Report - 2014

100 mile races are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get. (Thank goodness for Forrest Gump. Otherwise I'd have no idea how to start this race report.) Maybe during the race you'll open up that symbolic box of chocolate and get some awesome friends to run with. Maybe you'll roll your ankle so bad that it will bring you to tears. Maybe you'll get to an aid station serving cinnamon rolls that taste just like they were hand made by Jesus himself. Maybe you'll have an unforgettable, incredible 100 miles. Our race this past weekend had all of those things.

The Antelope Island Buffalo Run is held on an enormous island surrounded by the Great Salt Lake. It is also home to tons of wildlife. In particular, tons of bison. Some of which served as a welcoming committee when we started the race Friday at noon.

I've run a bunch of races with Catherine and Clair. They are co-workers, but more than that they are just amazing friends. For many, many months the Buffalo Run has been our target race. I really wanted to be a part of helping them finish their first 100 miler.

Our race started great. The weather was a little cool but fine once we started running. The first 20 miles has the most climbing. Let's play Where's Waldo. Can you spot all four runners?

As we were running along I looked over and immediately recognized the guy who was next to me. It was Eric, a physician assistant that I ran the Zion 100 with a few years ago. I hadn't seen him ever since. We had no idea at the time how valuable his expertise would be as we cruised down the trail.

Eric is a wise, experienced ultrarunner so we picked his brain for tips as we climbed.

Catherine and I saw this funny dance video last week and I thought it was high time that someone make an ultramarathon dance video. I figured that could be pretty darn awesome. She concurred. So we got to this beautiful overlook, I switched on the camera, and she did a little dance.

Then the race changed.

In a crazy fluke of chance, Catherine landed wrong and her ankle twisting it in a direction that an ankle should never twist. Ankles shouldn't touch the ground. She fell to the ground. This was at mile EIGHT. Thankfully Eric with his medical background was right there when it happened. He felt around the area and said it would get swollen but with the degree of the sprain it wouldn't cause damage if she kept going.

I think most people would have dropped from the race. Catherine.....did not.

(Disclaimer: I'm not advocating running through an injury or doing something that would cause damage. Don't do something dumb just to be cool. She actually checked with a number of other medial peeps as well.) We continued down the trail.

Catherine said that she had a long chat with God at that point and prayed that everything would work out okay. I don't know what got into her, whether it was Divine intervention or maybe she snuck into my stash of Raisinettes and was on a sugar rush, but she ran like I've never seen her run before. She ran with strength and determination and grit. Clair and I just tried to keep up.

I saw my friend Jennilyn Eaton a few times out on the trail as she passed by. Every time I saw her she stopped, gave me a hug, and we talked for a minute about how things were going. Despite those occasional stops she went on to destroy the female course record with a time of 20:18. Props! (Her race report is HERE.)

One of the greatest parts for me during the race was having my wife Mel and my son Jackson helping out to crew at the various aid stations. After the race I thanked them for all their help. Jackson said "Well, I didn't really do much." I told him that he had no idea how encouraging and energizing it is just to see a familiar face. I was so grateful for their support. (Our dog Aunt Jackie came too. He was clearly interested in other things.)

It seemed like an unspoken agreement developed with Catherine. I think that when she made the decision to press on after the ankle sprain she didn't let it distract her at all. She kept running. Kept laughing. Kept joking. If you hadn't seen "the incident" at mile 8, you'd never know how uncomfortable she was. I was so impressed with her strength.

And then there's Clair. This guy is more than 20 years older than me! And yet he was running those trails like a teenager. He is proof that age is not a limiting factor in ultras. He was like the wise, supportive father of our group.

We got a good laugh when we saw a buffalo out in the distance and Clair tried to call him over with his red bandanna. (Mission NOT accomplished. Thank goodness.)

I wasn't about to complain after the Mile 8 Mishap, but I just couldn't seem to get in a groove for the first 20 miles. It seemed like I was having to exert way too much energy to keep up an easy pace. Things got worse and I bonked from miles 20-30. I think what put me into the bonk was poor drop bag planning where I picked up my warm night clothes too early. Then I ran the next 10 miles cooking inside the Easy Bake Oven I was wearing. I felt much better when the temps started to cool off.

My sweet wife and son were so great to come to an aid station even when it was the middle of the night. After all the races Jackson has come to help with he has become quite the crewing expert. I brought back the sock monkey hat that my daughter sent with me to this race last year.

We got to the 50 mile mark in the middle of the night. It was dreadfully cold and windy. We each picked up a pacer. Mine was my friend Danny Widerberg who I've gotten to know through racing the last few years. He kept us entertained with stories of racing, and transforming a broken life, and family. He said sometimes when he tucks his little boys in at night he will say "I love one of you so much," as he closes their door.....then gets to listen to them argue about which one is loved. Or if the kids act up he'll say "When your real dad gets out of prison I'm sending you right back to him." Ha ha! He got us through a solid 20 miles through the middle of the night. Don't let his bewildered look fool you, this guy knows his stuff.

Soon enough the sun was rising on our second day of the race. (To answer a common question: nope, we didn't sleep at all. Unless you count some occasional sleep walking in the middle of the night.) The sunrise over the Great Salt Lake was just stunning.

I picked up my second pacer Jared Thorley to join us for the last 30ish miles. Jared and I go way back with running. Our races (like THIS one or THIS one) sometimes don't end like we planned but we have fun nonetheless. Jared's experience was a great support to keep us trucking. The sunrise was so amazing that I couldn't seem to put my camera away.

It's nice to have a fresh face to distract you from the bone chilling wind and the sensation that someone is doing the Riverdance on your legs. Thanks Jared!

Around mile 85 I reached that inevitable point in a 100 miler when you are beyond exhaustion. Your feet are not happy campers. You would sell your soul for a shower and a bed. And you can not begin to fathom how you are going to go another 15 miles. That is an unbelievably daunting part of the race. The only thing you can do is be determined enough to keep putting one foot in front of the other. At that moment an aid station worker had cinnamon rolls. They tasted like icing-coated heaven.

We had all picked up pacers by that time and had a nice little caravan heading down the trail. Every once in a while we'd stop to stretch, laugh a little, and try to not fall over. This may have been the time when Jared was singing Kokomo by the Beach Boys. I was too weak by this time to pop him in the mouth.

Words can't adequately describe that feeling of happiness when after, in our case, just a hair over 29 hours of running, you see that goal that has taken blood, sweat, and tears to achieve......the finish line. We grabbed hands as we crossed the line and I told Catherine and Clair "You will never be the same from this moment on."

I was so incredibly proud of those two people I got to share 100 miles with. I know how hard they worked for it. I saw first-hand the obstacles they each overcame. We all helped each other through some very low points. It was unbelievably awesome to share that experience with them.

My mom came out to the island to watch the finish and brought my daughters also. It was awesome to have everyone there.

This was my seventh 100 mile finish, but this one means something different. Between family, friends, pacers, fellow runners, and my two running companions, this truly felt like a team effort; each of them playing a critical part in getting those belt buckles. Just like Clair and Catherine realized, I relearned that absolutely anything is possible.

NOW - would you like to see that epic 100 mile dance party video that I captured over those 29 hours? This is pure happiness. Pure awesomeness. (Please accept my humble apology for my obscene lack of dancing ability.)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Buffalo Attack! My Last Will And Testament

The Buffalo Run 100 miler starts at noon today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I ran this race last year also. I ran many miles of the race with my amazing friend Christie.

Within the first mile we passed a buffalo that seemed to be in a bit of a bad mood. We found out later that Christie's husband Wayne caught a picture of this grumpy buffalo giving someone a very forceful love tap against a fence. Don't worry, aside from a few bruised ribs he wasn't hurt. Would you like to see this incredible picture? Great, here you go. Props to Wayne for capturing this one!

So, while I don't plan to meet my maker at the feet of a buffalo this weekend, just in case I don't make it back alive I'd like to leave you with some personal belongings:

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 buffaloes, I taste like mushrooms and cauliflower and other yucky things. Don't eat me. Don't try to walk on me. Don't try to tickle me. Don't give me a love tap up against a chain link fence as my friends run away in fright.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Anniversary Of The Day Our Lives Changed

At my house our lives changed exactly three years ago.

Exactly three years ago I had my bags packed to head up to Salt Lake for my first ever 100 mile race, the Antelope Island Buffalo Run. My family was excited to go watch the excitement. I was finishing up a few things at work before we left when I got a call from my wife Mel. She was crying and I couldn't understand what she was saying. Then the phone disconnected.

Later I got a hold of her and through the crying I heard her say that she fell. I immediately rushed over to Instacare and learned that she was in the bedroom when her feet got caught in a cord, she fell.....and broke both of her elbows.

Both. Of. Her. Elbows.

Do you want to know what you can do with two broken elbows? I'll give you a hint - exactly nothing. You can't get yourself dressed. You can't scratch your head when it itches. You can't even go to the bathroom by yourself. The kids took turns feeding mom.

I felt so bad for her. That's when you find out what you're made of. On a side note, that week I learned how to use a flat iron and put mascara on her eye lashes. (Spoiler alert: I'm not good at either of those things.)

Needless to say, the 100 miler that weekend didn't happen. 

Thankfully a few days later she had surgery and finally was able to start feeling better.

So basically this time three years ago royally sucked. I wouldn't wish that experience on my worse enemy Justin Bieber.

But now it's three years later. And guess what I'm doing this weekend. I'm going back up to the Antelope Island Buffalo Run! And guess who is coming with me to help as my crew member extraordinaire. Yep. Mel. I'm so happy she'll be able to be a part of the adventure. I'm positive that it's going to be awesome.

She may wrap herself in bubble packing the day before the trip just in case. I'm pretty sure she doesn't want me doing her mascara again.

Monday, March 17, 2014

I Am So Lucky

Some friends like to go to vampire movies together. (I can't, for the life of me, understand why.) Some friends like to go to a Katy Perry concert together. (I can't, for the life of me, understand why anyone would want to do that either.) Some friends like to get together and eat cinnamon rolls until they are sick. (THAT one I can understand!) Me and my friends.....we like to get together and RUN.

I had some friends coming to town from northern Utah who wanted to see some of the awesome trails that southern Utah has to offer. I put the word out and had some locals join as well as some friends from northern Nevada that came for the run. I decided I'd take them to one of my favorites, the JEM Trail on Saturday morning.

It's a beautiful thing to see a bunch of friends strung across the trail.

It took a bit of huffing and puffing but I was still able to keep up with the group despite stopping to take like 60 pictures. I very rarely see another runner out here so I take advantage of pictures when I can.

After running for a while we stopped for a breather and a quick group picture. These fine folks are me, Carol, Jen, Gary, Karrie, Shane, Terri, Garret, and Ashley.

Jen said "I haven't traveled this far to not get a jumping picture." And it would be far from me to ever turn down a jumping picture. We tried three others and the total amount of air we got in those pictures was precisely......let's inches. We managed to get this one though:

The weather was basically perfect that morning.

We looped around the Hurricane Rim Trail to get back to our cars. Here's a photography trick: try shooting some pictures into the sun. That makes for some cool lighting.

This is my very favorite part of the trail with the towering Smith Mesa in the background.

I try to make sure I have a huge amount of fun on every training run or race. But this run was a whole different level of awesome. I had so, so much fun running, talking, and laughing with these guys. I wish I could take them on every single run I do. I feel so fortunate to live in such an amazing area and have such great friends. I am one lucky guy.
Southern Utah trail running

ONLY 4 MORE DAYS until the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 miler!!!!! CAN'T WAIT!!