Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Running With Our Obese Poodle Named Aunt Jackie

There is a fever spreading at our house. And the only prescription is more cowbell. (Name that reference.) Actually it's a running fever. Family members are getting dirty and heading out on the trail with me. It's catching on! (And by "catching on" I mean that it's happened once. But I think it's going to happen more.)

Last week Mel and Jackson joined me for a fun jaunt around the Gould's Rim Trail.

The conversation started the same as many others. "I'm going to go out for a little run." Then I said to Mel "Do you want to come?" Then hesitation. She was thinking about it! So then I started my political lobbying. "Come on, it will be fun! I'll sing you Neil Diamond songs while we run! Because seriously, who doesn't love some 'Forever In Blue Jeans'?" But the convincing statement was "We can bring Aunt Jackie." Mel will do anything as long as it involves our over sized black cotton ball dog Aunt Jackie. And Aunt Jackie will do anything that involves being outside.

Next on the agenda: ask Jackson if he wanted to come. Again, a little hesitation. But then he agreed.

And so off we ran. Me. My wife. My kid. And a big, over sized black cotton ball.

I actually planned to take them to a different trail but it was closed for a bike race. Gould's Rim was nearby and the trail is pretty runable so it was a perfect alternative.

It didn't hurt that Gould's Rim is beautiful.

Here is the really crazy thing - 98% of runners in my area have no idea that awesome trails like this are about six minutes away from home. That six minute drive is just about the best thing you could do all day.

It's unfortunate that Aunt Jackie clearly wasn't having any fun.

We had a lot of fun together. I tried to make sure the pace wasn't crazy and that a large amount of fun would happen in hopes of getting them back out on the trail with me again soon.

At the end there is a little ramp you have to cross over to get back to the parking area. Aunt Jackie wants nothing to do with that nonsense and I eventually have to give in and pick him up to carry him across. That dog is notorious for stealing food off our counters so he is really heavy. Aunt Jackie needs to lay off the cupcakes.

Monday, April 28, 2014

What You Can Do On A Trail Besides Run

A while ago my friend showed me the website www.gravityglue.com. It has pictures of some simply incredible stacks of rocks that this guy Michael Grab makes. Before you do anything else go check out the website. Go to the "My Work" link then "Stone Balance".

Prepare to have your mind BLOWN.

Since becoming enthralled with the website I've spent a little bit of time trying to make my own rock cairns out on the trail. Here are some I made recently.

So next time you're just not feeling it on your run........stop, grab some rocks, and get to work!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

My Favorite Running Shoe Ever: Altra Lone Peak

I have run in many different shoes over the years but one stands out above all the others: the Altra Lone Peak 1.5 shoes.

I keep some of my old pairs of running shoes for yard work and after wearing the Lone Peaks I honestly can't believe that those old shoes were comfortable. All the Altra shoes are zero drop meaning that there is no drop from the heel to the toe. But don't confuse that with being minimal. The Lone Peak has plenty of cushion to keep feet happy.

For me the two biggest selling points were 1) the wide toe box with lots of room for your toes to spread out to keep your feet comfortable and decrease blisters, and 2) the tread on the bottom of the shoes. They have great grip to handle everything from smooth to the most technical trails.

I have worn them for entire 100 mile races and never had any issues. It's an honor to help represent a company that puts out such awesome shoes. Run (and jump) on my friends!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Unexpected Animal That Scared Me While Running

A few days ago I told you about my run to one of the most spectacular views ever.

An interesting thing happened as I was heading back to my car. This huge shadow passed over me and I immediately jumped.

You have to understand, I didn't see anyone else while I was out there. The area is isolated and desolate. So to suddenly see a huge shadow coming up behind you is freaky. I quickly jumped and looked behind me.


But then I looked up as this enormous bird passed over me.

I'm not a bird person. With my limited knowledge I was pretty sure it wasn't an eagle or an ostrich. The consensus from the people who've seen the picture say it is a turkey vulture. Plus, a vulture seems appropriate considering the pace I was going.

This pterodactyl bird was so amazing to watch. It flew nearby for at least ten minutes. It would circle overhead for a while, then fly a bit farther away but still within sight. If you look closely you can see it flying on the horizon.

I recognize that if an alleged turkey vulture is hanging around this long, I must have appeared as though I was standing on death's doorstep. It's not everyday that someone can say their pacer on the run was the Grim Reaper! Nevertheless (that word has got to rank in the top ten vocabulary words that are never used), watching that bird soar through the sky was seriously beautiful.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Views That Are More Amazing Than The Movie FROZEN

I have this secret trail in southern Utah. It ALWAYS involves some route finding. ("Route finding" is code for "you will inevitably spend part of the time wandering around the desert lost.") I endure this route finding because I love the views at the end more than my daughters love the movie Frozen.

The trail is basically miserable. It is mile after mile after mile of steep, unrelenting, soul destroying deep sand. It feels like if you stand still too long you will find yourself up to your armpits in sand. And the last thing you want is sandy pits. Serious chaffing. On this visit the wildflowers were blooming more than I've ever seen here.

The cacti were blooming too:

After trudging through endless mountains of sand you get to some pretty cool slick rock sections. Inevitably there is some "route finding" up here too.

There are little natural arches like this all over the place.

It's fun to run through this kind of stuff.

The clouds that were rolling in were a photographer's DREAM.

Time for some Altra Olympus / slick rock parkour!!!

Finally I arrived at my destination. The views up here are some of the most spectacular I have ever seen.

Standing on the edge of these towering cliffs is always one of those experiences that leaves me speechless. Like it's the first time in forever. (I know. It doesn't make sense. Tell Disney that.)

Notice: upcoming staged running picture. Let it go.

It's been a while since I've stood on the edge of this cliff. I've missed it. I was so happy to be back.

The Piano Guys filmed a video of their song called "Paradise" on these very same cliffs. That video has 25 mmmmmillion (nope, not a typo, it's seriously 25 MILLION) views. You can watch the video HERE. It's no wonder they chose such an epic location for the video.

I stopped in this little shady nook for a few minutes to eat lunch before heading back. (Lunch = a pack of Honey Stinger chews and a waffle. It's no In & Out Burger but it will suffice.) It was getting pretty toasty outside (mmmm, toast), so I needed a little time to cool my body off. No building a snowman on this trip.

Sometime I ought to take a group of peeps on a tour up here. As payment I will gladly accept brownies, cinnamon rolls, or a couple pair of earplugs to have handy when my daughters start singing songs from Frozen for the eight bajillionth time. I guarantee you won't find views better than this.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Few Of My Pictures In UltraRunning Magazine! and Blood Moon

I forgot to tell you but I got a cool surprise when I opened the previous issue of UltraRunning Magazine: a two page spread of a picture I took at the Javelina Jundred 100 miler!

That race definitely was a "Sonoran Scorcher". In the following pages there was another picture I took plus one that Mel took of me while I was running the race.

I am so happy to be associated with such an awesome magazine. I feel really, really thankful.

In other news, we had a cool visit last week from fellow Altra Ambassadors Kathy and UltraPedestrian Ras who asked us to babysit their car for a few weeks while they spend some time on the 800 MILE (!!!!!) Arizona Trail going for a fastest known time.

My kids were interested in hearing their cool stories. Before they left they gave the kids a few stickers. I had finished the Zion 100 the day before their visit and can attest that this sticker is true:

And finally, in completely un-running related news, I went out Monday night to take pictures of the "blood moon" eclipse. I was not an enormous fan of setting my alarm for 1:30am to go catch the eclipse, but I suppose that's what Diet Dr. Pepper the next day is for. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

These Things Don't Go Together

These words don't go together:

1) "Michael Bolton" and "Enjoyable"
2) "Cauliflower" and "Delicious"
3) "Kids" and "Clean House"
4) "Cory" and "Boston Marathon Running Partner"

Well, on Saturday the words "Cory" and "Boston Marathon Running Partner" DID go together. Yeah, they went together like oil and water.

Here's how things went down.

I'm a member of this cool running group called Wasatch Mountain Wranglers. Most of the peeps are in northern Utah. Sometimes I like to post pictures of my sunny southern Utah runs to contrast their miserable trudge-through-snow pictures. So this northern Utah runner, Matt Clark, emailed me and said something like "Hey, me and my wife are going to be in St. George over the weekend. Want to run?" 

Me: Something like "Well, sure! My Kermit the Frog legs are still recovering from the Zion 100 last week but I think I could eek out some miles." I'd never met Matt or his wife Wendy before, and what he failed to tell me was:

1) Matt has run the Wasatch 100. (That automatically means you're seriously hardcore.)
2) Wendy is running the Boston Marathon next week. (That automatically makes means you're smoking fast.)

It's fun to show people around new trails. The Prospector Trail is one of my faves so I figured that would be a good one to show them around. I'm kind of a photography nerd so I look at things like the amount and size of clouds as the first sliver of light appears in the morning. As I was driving to the trail I knew from the clouds that we'd be in for a sweet sunrise. Within a few miles I saw that my hunch was right.

This is a great trail to hit at sunrise because as the sun starts to come up it makes these red mountains explode with light.

Now let's get back to the point of the story. I'm out on this little trail jaunt with 1) a hardcore runner who has done the Wasatch 100, and 2) a smoking fast runner who is doing Boston next week. The closest accomplishment I have to theirs is that I once at three packs of Twinkies without throwing up. So while they're looking fresh as spring tulips, I feel like I'm breathing through a straw and I'm sweating like a politician at a town hall meeting. As we were talking, my words resembled more like gasps than sentences.

At the turnaround point we took the obligatory out of focus selfie and I repressed my urge to say "Would you guys mind if I just lay here on the trail and take a nap for 20 minutes?" Of course some of this was just residual fatigue from running 100 miles a week earlier. But some of it was that they are just really good runners.

Our route back was when the true magic happened. We enjoyed the type of lighting that doesn't come around too often when the sky, the mountains, and everything around us was glowing. It was stunningly beautiful.

This story has a happy ending: I didn't die. I didn't nap or cry. It was totally fun. It's great for me to be pushed a little. It's awesome to meet new people. And it's sweet showing people around some new trails. Here are some words that DO go together: "Saturday morning trail run" and "awesome"!