Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why I Never Need To Go On Vacation Again

Our family went on a cruise to Mexico a few weeks ago. We saw some seriously beautiful things. Stunning sunsets. The incredible ocean. Amazing views. It was obvious why people travel here to see everything.

After our vacation we drove home to southern Utah. As we were nearing home I was taken by just how beautiful MY home is. I don't need to go on vacation to see beautiful things because it feels like everyday I'm surrounded by the most amazing scenery in the world.

Just to prove my point, I took my camera on my drive to work. I wanted to give you a glimpse into what I have seen on my 30 minute drive to and from work everyday for the last ten years. I didn't drive anywhere special. These views are on my route. Every. Single. Day. It doesn't get better than this.

This is one of my favorites:

I like this one too:

"Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don't need to escape from." ~ Seth Godin

Monday, October 27, 2014

10 Tips To Train For An Ultramarathon While Vacationing In Mexico

A week ago our family went on a short cruise to Mexico, land of beautiful sunsets, crappy fountain drinks, and cheap Chiclets. It was also be a prime opportunity to get in some training for a 100 miler, the Javelina Jundred (also known as Sweat Fest 2014), coming up in precisely FIVE days. I'd like to give you some tips for training I utilized while on vacation:

1) Spend six hours in a cramped car driving from southern Utah to Los Angeles where the boat departs. You will be forced to tune out the relentless whining of grumpy kids which resembles a yapping chihuahua barking in your ear for six hours. That experience will teach you to tune out the screaming your legs make at mile 85 of the ultra. (Bonus points if you get stuck in traffic in the absolute armpit of the United States where they just threw up a bunch of leftover letters on the street sign.)

2) Try sleeping on a cruise ship. Crunch a family of five into a room the size of a filing cabinet. Good luck on that sleep thing amigo. But don't worry, the sleep deprivation will prepare you for the race.

3) Admire the amazing sunsets while sitting next to the pool watching people so drunk that they are barfing on their feet. Trust me, you'll see more people staggering sideways, stumbling, and barfing on their feet during an ultra than you'll see poolside.

4) Eat obscene amounts of ice cream cones. (I ate 19 ice cream cones in less than three days to be exact.) Your body will need those fat stores to burn off during the race.

5) Get some training miles in running on the track. (It will become one of those "It sounded like a good idea at the time" experiences. Like that time you got food from the questionable street corner taco stand.)

6) After a few laps notice the sign that says it takes 16 LAPS to make a mile. Realize that 16 laps on a swaying cruise ship sounds 0% enjoyable. Decide to stop running and take a jumping picture instead.

7) Get a spontaneous speed workout. This will be accomplished by dodging the droppings from the roughly nine bajillion birds flying around.

8) Try running on the treadmill for the first time in years. Promptly remember that running on Satan's Sidewalk is pure and utter torture and that you could be eating ice cream cones instead of this running nonsense. Take a picture then head to the Lido Deck for ice cream.

9) Wear a sweat shirt from a previous race. Pictures will look like you're heat training. (Leave out the fact that you're actually wearing a sweat shirt because it's a little cold at night.)

10) Spend time with the kids. They're moody just like you'll be during the race. One minute they're happy. Next minute they're crying. Then they're hallucinating a conversation with leprechauns who have hair like Kenny G and smell like Nacho Cheese Doritos. Oh, wait. That's just you at mile 94.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Southern Utah's Bearclaw Poppy Trail

This week I ran the Bearclaw Poppy trail in southern Utah for the first time. I got to enjoy one of the things I love most - being out in the middle of nowhere without another soul in sight.

Mucho hot + trails that aren't too insane = perfect training for the Javelina Jundred next week.

Another first: I had entertainment from a stunt plane off in the distance.

In the weeks before a summer race I try to really step up my heat training. "Step up my heat training" is code word for making myself really, really miserable to prepare for the late stages of a 100 miler when I feel, well, really, really miserable. I go in the heat of the day wearing a long, dark shirt so that it feels like I am running through an Easy Bake Oven. That heat training pays off on race day.

Bearclaw Poppy is rated as a "Must Ride Classic" by Utah Mountain Biking. There were countless rolling hills and the trail isn't technical so I can see why mountain bikers love it. I saw a few while I was out there.

I liked the Bearclaw Poppy and the scenery was good. There were lots of trails that branched off with many more miles to explore so I'm sure I'll be back soon. I think it's so cool that for as many trails I've explored and thousands of miles I've run out here I still feel like I've only scratched the surface of what this area has to offer. I never feel bored. Every run feels like an adventure.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

New FastCory Bio by "It Just Gets Stranger"!!

I am excited to announce the coolest thing to happen to the website since that Scott Jurek jumping picture. There is a new bio on the "About Me" link. But this isn't just any ordinary bio. This was written by the Jerry Seinfeld of the internet, Eli McCann from the website It Just Gets Stranger! Eli is brilliant and it's quite the honor to have his write-up. (Even more impressive considering a minor detail that we've never actually met in person.) Here is the bio Eli wrote:

Having spent a lifetime researching Cory’s life in order to write his biography, in 2014 I was finally able to fill an entire twelve-volume set, which I entitled “Fast Cory: What is He Really Running From, and GREAT RECIPIES AND IDEAS FOR CAR GAMES!”* Below I provide you an abridged version to give context for the nonsense he writes on about running absurd distances.

Cory has a wife. Apparently one with an amazing amount of patience and an uncanny ability to not murder a husband who sets an alarm clock for an ungodly hour each day so he can go on training runs across the continental United States before getting to his job where he works as a social worker. Which is not as fun as it sounds. Unless you think it sounds like someone who helps people in bad situations and NOT like someone who goes to parties and tells mildly humorous anecdotes, like I thought when he first told me his job title. In which case, his job is exactly as fun as it sounds. Interestingly, Cory had to obtain a Master’s Degree for this, which consisted of two years of post-grad sitting in a room with overly-emotional people, saying “and how does that make you feel,” and then pretending to write things on a clipboard. If nothing else, this will be excellent practice for when his three children are all teenagers at the same time.

Cory comes from a long line of very interesting people. For example, his great great great great great great Aunt Jackie used to churn her own butter. In fact, a good chunk of his ancestors actually lived without electricity for several centuries. It is this very unique background that has provided Cory the fortitude to persevere through all obstacles, ESPECIALLY THE ONES HE BRINGS ON HIMSELF BY SIGNING UP FOR THE RIDICULOUS 100 MILE RACES HE DOES. His connection to family history is also what inspired him to name the family dog “Aunt Jackie.” Actually I don’t know whether that’s true. I mean, he does have a family dog and that family dog’s name is truly “Aunt Jackie.” But I have no idea why. The dog is a man. And yet these people named it Aunt Jackie. NOT THAT WE’RE JUDGING BECAUSE THE DOG CAN BE WHATEVER IT WANTS AND GOD LOVES EVERYONE. But seriously. They named their male dog “Aunt Jackie.”

So far he sounds like a likable person. But there is a catch. One which I’ve mentioned a couple of times already. Cory runs 100-mile races. No, that is not a typo. No, this is not a drill. Yes, he should be imprisoned for this. Yes, you should call your congressman today.

Cory’s 100-mile races have taken him anywhere from 22 hours to 35 hours to complete. And in case you don’t understand how long that actually is, I just did the math and discovered that that is enough time to listen to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” on repeat between 392.07 and 623.76 times. AT A TWEEN PARTY. AT FULL VOLUME.

As you probably expect, running 100 miles straight is terrible for you. In fact, when Cory took 35 hours to complete the race that one time, he actually hallucinated and had a full conversation with the Care Bears. And I know what you’re thinking: “Oh my gosh, yes please!” But let me remind you—he had to run 100 miles to do this. Not worth it. I can hook you up with some amazing food poisoning or stomach flus or Ebola that will get you the same results without having to take a single step out the door.

We don’t really know why he does this. Some suggest that it’s because he needs to justify the absurd amount of cake he consumes, which has gotten so out of control that the last time he gave blood to the Red Cross, they just shipped his donation directly to Hostess to inject into their next batch of Twinkies.

Despite it being unfathomable that Cory is able to run these races, we, the readers of his blog, are happy that he does. Because what he writes about them is funny and interesting and inspiring in its own special way. Inspiring, because nothing in life seems that hard when you compare it to exercising to Celine Dion singing about the Titanic for more than a whole day.

Because Cory is so good at presenting this world that most of us are too lazy and too reasonable to explore ourselves, he has been able to write for and contribute photographs to UltraRunning Magazine. And anyone who reads his blog and sees the beautiful images he posts is not surprised that his creativity has been appreciated elsewhere.

Cory’s blog is fun. His family is beautiful. And his life goals are confusing. So please read.

*Because I haven’t actually met Cory, and because I was too lazy to do more research than a quick scan of his social media presence (WHY ALL THE CAT PICTURES?), I ran out of things to say about him after one page. So I had to fill the remaining 11.99 volumes with information about which I’m an expert.

  ~ Eli McCann from It Just Gets Stranger

See, I told you he was good! You can go read more of his writing at HERE. I'll get you started if you'd like. Here are some of my all time favorite posts on It Just Gets Stranger. I guarantee you will be sobbing with laughter.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Tale Of The Three Unwise Men - Runner Edition

I'd like to tell you a tale of the Three Unwise Men (and give a few tips on how to hopefully avoid being unwise).

I met the Three Unwise Men at the Bear 100 a few weeks ago. We had plenty of time to become acquainted in the first 12 miles of the race. The trail was almost vertical. It was a straight climb up for 12 miles. It was like being in a fun conga line. For hours. But without the Caribbean music. And instead of people downing shots of alcohol they were downing shots of Salted Caramel Gu.

When you're in an hours long conga line it's fun to talk with other runners. I was next to the Three Unwise Men and we talked about some of our favorite races. I found out that the Three Unwise Men were all friends and planning to run the whole race together. And I learned that for each of them this was their first 100 miler.

In those steep climbs there was almost no running. It was so early in the race that it would be foolish to exhaust your energy with 90 more miles to go. But you know who was doing some running? Yep. The Three Unwise Men. I could hear them panting and out of breath. Not smart.

They got to the first aid station before me around mile 10. I grabbed a drink and a few pretzels and got on my way. Soon afterward we reached a long, steep descent. I ran alone for a long time. And then I heard runners coming up behind me. It was the Three Unwise Men. They must have spent quite a while at the aid station. They were barreling down the trail as fast as they could go. The exact thought I had as they screamed past me was "Those guys aren't going to finish the race. They are destroying their legs. This isn't going to end well." I hoped I'd be wrong.

At mile 30 I could see some runners up ahead that I was catching. One was walking like Frankenstein. The others were shuffling uncomfortably. As I got closer I saw that it was the Three Unwise Men. I passed by and asked if they needed anything. I never saw them again for the rest of the race and learned that they all dropped out of the race.

The Three Unwise Men made some really, really dumb mistakes. They ruined their chances of finishing within the first 20 miles of the race. I'm not putting them down at all because I have made those same mistakes and many, many others numerous times. Take, for example, the Javelina Jundred in 2012. I made really dumb mistakes that left my legs destroyed and writhing in pain in the middle of the night. I didn't finish that race.

I am far from being an expert. I still have so much to learn. After finishing fourteen 100 milers here are some tips I've learned that apply to racing, whether you're running a half marathon or a 100 miler.

1) Pace yourself. Trust yourself to go uncomfortably slow early in your race. It's so hard to be patient and hold back at the start when everyone else is speeding by in an adrenaline filled frenzy. But being patient in the beginning will pay ENORMOUS dividends later on in the race.

One of my most memorable experiences was at the 2012 St. George Marathon when I paced very conservatively early on and was able to go fast at the end. In the last 7.5 miles I passed 436 runners and was passed by 2! (Cool chip timing can show stats like that.) It was an unbelievable feeling to be going so fast at the end instead of doing the marathon death shuffle for the last 7 miles like I had typically done before.

2) Be aware of where you are at in the race. In a 100 miler I really make an effort to NEVER let myself get out of breath for the first 30 miles. In that time I also NEVER bomb down hills at full speed. Don't blow up your knees and quads when you still have half the race to go.

3) Bank energy, not time. In my first marathon I felt so good in the first ten miles that I went faster than my planned pace thinking that if I was feeling good I might as well bank some time for later in the race. So, so dumb! That brilliant strategy resulted in a ten mile death shuffle. It would have been much smarted to bank energy instead.

4) Be smart at aid stations. Nothing can pile on minutes (or hours) to your finish time like delays at aid stations. When you're nearing an aid station make a mental checklist of what you need to do or grab. Then when you get to the aid station, be quick and purposeful. Unless I'm stopping to dump out dirt or rocks from my shoes, I try to never sit down during a race.

The distance of a race is a hard enough obstacle. Don't make the race harder on yourself than it already is. Reaching the finish line of a race gives a huge sense of accomplishment and you want to do as much as possible to put the odds of getting there in your favor. Do whatever you can to avoid becoming one of the Three Unwise Men.

Monday, October 13, 2014

100 Mile Recovery: Eat Rabbit Food and Cookies

My recovery after a 100 miler always includes a week off of running. Not even a mile. I eat lots of healthy food. You know, the kind of stuff you would feed rabbits. I also eat way more than my share of junk food. I'm a cookie fiend. I figure my body worked hard. It deserves an ample supply of cookies. So in summary:

  • No running.
  • Eat rabbit food.
  • Eat cookies.
So after the Hurricane Hundred a week ago I took a break from running. I ate lots of fruits and vegetables rabbit food, and ate chocolate chip cookies, cheesecake, pumpkin pie, and a hot fudge sundae. And by Saturday I was ready to run again. I had quite the awesome running partner with me on this one: my son Jackson.

Jackson is new to trail running so whenever he comes along with me I make sure to take him to the prettiest spots I know. This time I took him to one of my favorite spots. I'm not sure this particular route has a name but it is an offshoot of the JEM Trail in southern Utah.

It was pretty warm. (And by "pretty warm" I mean "ridiculously warm".) And it was pretty bright. (And by "pretty bright" I mean "ridiculously bright".)

We laughed. We talked about the baseball playoffs. And soccer. And the Utah Jazz. Jackson said "Wow, to be a trail runner you have to be good at parkour!" 

The scenery around here is just so amazing. These are the views you see on the course of the Zion 100.

We saw one surprise guest:

Jackson likes to take pictures too and snapped these ones which I thought turned out awesome.

I don't take this stuff for granted. I fully realize how incredibly fortunate I am to live in such a beautiful area. And I'm fortunate to spend time with my family doing stuff like this. I have a lot to be thankful for. I couldn't count how many times I've run here and it never, ever gets old.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hurricane Hundred Miler Report - 2014

So.....I ran a solo 100 miler over the weekend. It was hard. I ran many of the trails around Hurricane, Utah so I decided to call it the inaugural Hurricane Hundred.

I was certainly hesitant to run the Hurricane Hundred, mainly because the grueling Bear 100 was only six days earlier. But I've got this nerdy streak going on where I've tried to run a 100 miler a month which I had done for eight months in a row. Our family is going to be really busy in October. So if I wanted to get a 100 in for October it had to be that weekend. I've never tried to do two 100 milers six days apart.

I started the run in Warner Valley where the scenery is simply beautiful. But after only three miles I considered bailing out. I just wasn't feeling it. My legs were stiff, a little achy, and had absolutely no energy. Of course it's not too hard to figure out why. I sat down on a rock at three miles and had a heart to heart talk with myself. Do I keep going or end the streak? The absolute top priority in ALL my training and racing is to keep my body in good shape and avoid injury to the extent that I avoid Katy Perry music - which is a lot.

I sat thinking for a bit and figured I'd go a few more miles before making a final decision. Finally, thankfully after about 8 miles my legs loosened up and I felt much better. I thought "Maybe I CAN do this." I stopped to check out some dinosaur tracks in the area.

By midday it was toasty hot reaching 86 degrees. I had my car parked in a central location that branched off in different directions. I had lots of water, ice, and treats in my car and would stop to refill my pack every 15-20 miles which worked well. I spotted this guy near the car and thought the markings looked cool.

I really, really love races because of the camaraderie and the opportunity to spend time with other awesome runners. I also really love these long solo runs too. It's fun to have no specific course, no cutoffs, no aid stations, no pressure, just running for the sake of running. Because running is awesome.

In the late afternoon I was feeling like someone popped me inside an Easy Bake Oven. The heat was zapping my energy. Then I came up a hill and saw an old, familiar friend. On top of a rock I saw a little pile of rocks that I had stacked last time I was here.....almost 10 months ago! (You can see that old rock tower HERE.) It was a long time ago that I forgot about the rock tower I had made. It had fallen over but the rocks were still there. I stacked them again and smiled. Next time I'll add another rock to the stack.

Some of my route was on trails. Some on dirt roads. And some of the miles were on no trail at all.

I listened to Trail Runner Nation and Ultra Runner Podcast and never felt bored being out by myself hour after hour. Each time I run here I stop at this same spot to admire the view. The contrast of colors always looks so awesome.

I stopped again on the return trip back.

I would have killed for a bit of cloud cover. Just a little bit of shade. But alas......nothing except a trail of white behind an occasional airplane up above. Come on Mother Nature, work with me on this one.

Once the sun started to set and it got slightly cooler I started to catch a second wind.

Mel and Jackson wanted to run some miles with me so after 42 miles on the trails I drove a couple minutes back into town and met them at the middle school track. The best part about the track is that it's dirt. I had a lot of fun running five miles with Mel and Aunt Jackie the dog.

After Mel left my 13 year old Jackson came over to do some laps. He said he was planning to stay all night. He would run for a while then take a nap when he got tired. I agreed and it was great to have him there with me. I couldn't help but think about the time when he stayed with me all night in July when I ran 100 miles around a track. He is a good kid.

I admit that in the middle of the night when I was so tired and sore and beginning to fall asleep while running, it was tough to look over at the grass and see this. I desperately wanted to curl up on the blanket next to him and take a nap.

In the very early morning Jackson woke up and got some more miles in. He ended up doing a total of 13 miles. I'm so proud of him and his dedication to working hard.

After Jackson was done running I still had 10 more miles to get to 100. I decided to stop the Garmin and drive a few minutes up the road so that I could finish the run on some trails. I decided to go to Gould's Rim, a trail that is close by with beautiful views.

Years ago when I was running on Gould's Rim I found an ancient artifact called a Van Halen cassette tape. I couldn't help laughing at the thought of someone being so upset at realizing that their Van Halen tape must have popped out of their Walkman when they were out on the trail. I put the tape in a secret spot and I go see it every time I'm on Gould's Rim. It was still there on this visit:

After 26 hours and 28 minutes I finished the Hurricane Hundred and my ninth month in a row of doing a 100 miler. I really can't wrap my head around the fact that my body was willing to run two 100 mile runs six days apart. I'm just a guy who likes to eat pumpkin pie, drink Diet Dr. Pepper, and watch Major League Baseball playoff games. I'm not some kind of elite runner with a sculpted, muscular body. You only need one look at me to know that.

So what I'm saying is that bodies are amazing. We can do some really awesome stuff. It wasn't too many years ago when I gave up on my goal of running a marathon because my knees wouldn't let me get past six miles. (That happened a few years in a row.)

I'm thankful that bodies adapt. God knew what he was doing when he built us. So if you have a goal with your running, go for it! You want to go for a half marathon? Great! Do it! You want to run a 100 miler? Sweet! Do it! Because that sense of accomplishment from running and working hard is awesome.

"If one could run without getting tired, I don't think one would often want to do anything else." ~ CS Lewis