Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Birthday + Costco Cake + Friends + Trail Running = AWESOME!

I had a birthday on Saturday and am now a few short years from being over the hill. During which time I will have a mid-life crisis that involves wearing hipster clothes, becoming a skateboarder, buying a Corvette, and adopting an ostrich for a family pet. 

But until then I'll enjoy my youthful years. I decided I'd like to have a birthday party out on the trails of southern Utah. So I purchased the largest cake that Costco sells, and hit the trail with some of my best running friends.

We took turns carrying the 10 pounds of chocolate-flavored high fructose corn syrup. My friend Steve opted to put his party hats in his shirt instead of on his head.

My friend Jeremiah Barber is an absolutely stunning photographer. His work is just remarkable. You ought to go visit his website HERE and see some of his awesome stuff. Jeremiah took all the great pictures in this post. 

It doesn't happen too often in southern Utah, but we even saw some snow!

We ran on one of my favorite trails in the area called the More Cowbell Trail. It's an easy run with awesome views.

It wouldn't be a birthday run without a jump or two.

It's amazing how quickly miles pass when you're laughing and joking with friends. Or maybe I was just focused on the upcoming cake break.

As I've mentioned before, one of the coolest parts of the More Cowbell Trail is that there is an actual cowbell you pass. This was a perfect spot to stop for cake. Some of us sported some Altra love.

Jeremiah caught this jumping picture while I was holding the cake. I prayed that I wouldn't stumble and end up smashing the cake.

I had such a great time with these guys. Experiences like this make it fun to get older!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Reese Family Christmas Letter 2015

Merry Christmas from the Reese family! You could say we had a pretty awesome year – in large part because we at the “World’s Best Corndogs” food truck. (The foot long corndogs taste so good you almost forget that in a half hour it will feel like you swallowed a Gremlin.)

In March we added a new member to our family, a Great Dane puppy we named Little Debbie. She is now approximately the size of a teenage giraffe. Unfortunately she has learned to open doors with her nose. She also loves pizza…which she will snatch off your plate if you turn your head for a split second. Our poodle Aunt Jackie finds her highly annoying and relishes the days when he could lay on his bed without being bothered by a teenage giraffe. Here are some updates on the rest of the fam: 

Ky is in sixth grade. She participated in the History Fair this year and got 3rd place with her group. She earned the prestigious Great American Award which required things like memorizing the Gettysburg Address, memorizing the US presidents, and doing community service. She continues to play the piano and this year began playing for the school choir. The highlight of her year was starting gymnastics and she is already doing amazing things. She has the neatest, tidiest room you could ever hope for from an eleven year old. She knows every song on the pop radio station and has progressed from the “I love Justin Bieber” stage to the “I hate Justin Bieber” stage. She excels at being the peace maker in our family.

Dani is in seventh grade and has been busy as a Peer Mediator at school as well as playing the piano for the school choir. She had quite the special request for her birthday. Instead of asking for presents, she asked for dog treats and toys to take to a few local animal shelters. She had so much fun delivering her loot to the shelters, and the famous Best Friends Animal Sanctuary wrote a story about her for their magazine. She also became an official pre-teen by getting braces. In her science class she got to dissect a shark. I don’t know what to say about this. Awkward? Just when you thought dissecting a frog was disgusting…

Jackson is in ninth grade. He has been diligent going to Crossfit throughout the year with Mel and this year both Jackson and Mel ran their first ultramarathon – 31 miles at the Jackpot Running Festival! He continues to play the piano and played with the school band and jazz band throughout the year. He went to his first Jackson Browne concert in August. In July we took a guy’s trip to Phoenix to go to two Arizona Diamondbacks baseball games. We stayed in a crappy motel with bedbugs (wish I was joking), and got Churro Dogs at the game – a churro wrapped inside a donut, covered by frozen yogurt, chocolate, and caramel. (I again got that “Oops, I swallowed a Gremlin” feeling.)

Three days a week Mel wakes up at 4:45am to go to Crossfit with Jackson. The number 4:45am gives me the dry heaves. They are super awesome. She continues to work at the Intermountain Healthcare Surgical Assessment Center. (Say that ten times fast.) But her biggest accomplishment is that she hasn’t died yet from working full time and doing full time nurse practitioner schooling. She is shooting to graduate in August when all her hard work will pay off. Many a night has been sponsored by Rockstar energy drinks when she comes home from work and then sits at the computer doing homework late into the night. She is unequivocally amazing. I might add that she can make peanut butter bars delicious enough to make you weep.

I am still working as a dialysis social worker which I love. I started the New Year at the 72 hour Across The Years race where I managed to run 205 miles and have conversations with Care Bears. During the year I ran a chunk of other ultramarathons as well as my first ever Grand Canyon Rim To Rim To Rim run. I became the only person to ever run a quadruple St. George Marathon and finished the Wasatch 100 a comfortable (cough, cough) 35 minutes before the cutoff. Baby boomers, eat your heart out. I met Marie Osmond this year through coaching her nephew. Oprah: you’re next. I planted garden boxes again and everything was a miserable failure…except for the tomatoes. I can grow some mean tomatoes. Here are a few journal entries from the year:

April 27th: Last weekend Jackson went on a scout campout and Mel and the girls and I went to Las Vegas for a concert. The tricky part is that Mel had a nice room reserved at a hotel but our dog babysitter Ashlyn was out of town. We didn’t want to leave Little Debbie home so she changed our reservation to a hotel that allowed pets. Wow. This place was borderline horrific. We walked in the room and the girls started crying because it stunk so badly of smoke. The room was gross. Just gross. Hairs in the shower. Sheetrock screws on the bed sheet(???). A cigarette burn in the sheets. Dirty table. It was just gross. Mel tried to get us a different room but they were sold out. We even considered just driving back home after the concert but ended up staying. It was miserable but I just kept reminding the girls that this would be an experience we would look back on and laugh.

May 19: Kylee told me a cool story this morning. Her school class had their class auction yesterday and Kylee had the most money out of everyone in her class. One of the things they can buy is lunch with the teacher. Kylee talked with Mrs. Nixon and realized that she had enough money to buy lunch with the teacher for almost everyone in the class, and Mrs. Nixon agreed to cover the rest of the kids that she didn’t quite have enough money for. I was yet again impressed with Kylee’s selflessness and kindness toward others.

June 15: When I got home from work I was joking with Dani and Jackson about how after being groomed, Aunt Jackie looked like a reindeer so I started calling him Blitzen. Then I started joking about how Debbie was like a Shetland Pony. And then I started calling her My Little Pony. Then I sang the My Little Pony song. I thought I was so funny….as the kids stood there staring at me stone faced. Finally Jackson said “Dad, you’re not funny if nobody else is laughing.”

September 16: On Thursday Jackson said “Do you think I should try to make some money this weekend?” I didn’t know what he was talking about. Then he said he might audition for Hurricane’s Got Talent. So he tried out Friday, and made it through to the finals which were on Saturday. On Saturday we went to the performance and he played Saturday in the Park by Chicago. It was basically amazing. He played it flawlessly. I was so impressed. When the final judging was announced he won first place in his division and took home $100! So cool!

We are so thankful for all our blessings and for our wonderful friends and family. We hope you have a seriously amazing Christmas and a happy New Year! Love, the Reese Family

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Training To Suffer At The Track

The Across The Years 72 hour race is coming up in less than two weeks. AHHHH!

The course is a one mile loop in Phoenix around the spring training facilities for the White Sox and Dodgers. It's actually really nice. It circles a pond, and there is some sidewalk but mostly smooth dirt trail. (You can see course pictures from last year's race report HERE.)

I think race-specific training is SO important. My training has targeted two areas:
1) Training my legs to run.
2) Training my mind to "get in the zone" and stay focused when the course starts to get mundane.

So for my race-specific training over the last few months, I've done most of my running at the middle school track.

In the past month, 110 of the miles I've run have been on this quarter mile track. (I just realized that's a total of 440 laps - ha ha!) I love the middle school track because it's dirt. My feet are always happier on dirt....even if that dirt is a track.

For a few of those miles I've been joined by some really hairy training partners that have horrible breath. Training partner number one: Aunt Jackie.

Training partner number two: Little Debbie.

On many of those miles, I've been able to get "in the zone", tune out everything around me, and just keep running hour after hour.

But a hefty chunk of those miles have been quite miserable. I go really early before work and run for hours. Or at night after the kids go to bed I go run for hours. I've run that track in rain, snow, and wind that blew so hard it almost knocked me down. Many of those miles were when it was bitter, stinging cold outside.

The following picture is during one of those times when my body felt frozen to the core. I wasn't having fun. At all. And that's EXACTLY what I wanted to happen in my training. I wanted to get used to being miserable and get better at learning how to suffer because there is absolutely NO doubt that I'll need those tools at Across The Years when things start to get ugly.

When things do get ugly, which they undoubtedly will, I'll remember moments like this. I'll remind myself that I trained for this! I'll acknowledge the suffering.....and then keep moving forward. (Hopefully!)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Life: Some Happy Things, Some Miserable Things

Here are some things I need:
1) A few more hours in a day.
2) A few more hours of sleep every night.
3) A Redbull that tastes like cinnamon rolls instead of battery acid.

I assume this is pretty normal but life feels like I'm riding on a supersonic roller coaster.....except that the amusement park worker forgot to check your seat belt, and you don't realize the seat belt isn't strapped until the roller coaster is upside down and you're just trying to hang on so you don't tumble to the ground and make a big mess on the pavement.

Okay, but I'm serious here. Tell me you have this roller coaster feeling sometimes too???

Here are some happy things, and a few miserable things going on in life right now:

I signed up for the Across The Years 72 hour race coming up in a few weeks on December 29th! I can't tell you how excited I am for this. It is three straight days running a 1-mile loop to go as many miles as you can. Last year when I ran it I got up to 205 miles. (You can read the race report HERE.) I'm going to try to beat that number this year.

I started working at a dialysis center 11 years ago. Every day I meet with people who had big plans for life...that suddenly got derailed by starting dialysis. So I've adopted a philosophy that if something is worth doing, do it now because you don't know what tomorrow holds. I only have a few things on my Life To-Do list. One of those things is to go to a Bruce Springsteen concert. I am literally happier than a kid in a candy shop - last week I bought tickets to my first Springsteen concert coming up in March!!!!

Another exciting thing: I got my hands on the brand new Altra Olympus 2.0! They are some of the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn.

I really love how Altra improved the tread on the Olympus shoes. They now have a Vibram sole and I think these suckers will grab the trail like claws. I look forward to many hundreds of miles with these shoes on my feet.

On the slightly miserable side of life, Mel is in graduate school right now earning her Nurse Practitioner degree. To be honest, I feel bad for her. She is either at work, or home in front of the computer doing homework. I'm not exaggerating - that is her entire life. It keeps me busy also because I manage all the household stuff, cooking, cleaning, taxi service for the kids, yard work, etc. We need to make a paper chain to count down the months until she is done in August!

The other miserable thing is that we have a Great Dane whose sense of smell is as big as her body. Little Debbie loves to snatch food from the counter or table when you're not looking. We joke that our house doesn't have Dennis The Menace, it has Debbie The Menace.

She has perfected the "Hey, I'm innocent!" look whenever she gets in trouble.

Despite the roller coaster life we're living, I'm so thankful for all our blessings. We have jobs. A warm house. Food in the refrigerator. Occasional cinnamon rolls. Love. We have everything we need.

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Memo To My Past Self: Stop Being Such A Baby

A memo to my past self who, as of last week, hadn't run to the top of the Toquerville mountain at night:

Hey self, stop being such a baby. Put on your big boy pants, suck it up, and be brave. 

Here's how it works, self. You know that big mountain you can see from your house? The one in Toquerville that has a cell tower at the top of it?

At night there is a light on that cell tower. Probably so airplanes don't fly into it. You can see that light from dozens and dozens of miles away. It's like a star in the sky shining every night high on the mountain. You've run there many times during the day, but always been too scared to run there at night.

You know what you should do? You should run up there at night just to have the experience of standing next to that light in the darkness. It would be kind of cool to see that light at night and know "I've been there! I've stood next to that light alone in the night!"

So on Tuesday night, drive to Toquerville, park the car, and begin the long, steep ascent up the back side of the mountain. You'll have a bit of a hard time seeing because with every labored breath, a cloud of steam will fog your vision. When you come a cross a lone shoe, be sure to take a picture of it just in case someone finds your camera in a pile of mountain lion poo after you've been eaten alive.

It will be scary at first as you leave the comforting glow of the city lights on the horizon and journey into the darkness alone. Just a fair warning, you will feel apprehensive when you hear a pack of coyotes howling with laughter in the distance. It will be really cold, really dark, and a really good excuse to reward yourself with Ben and Jerry's afterward.

When the coyotes howl, just turn your music up louder. Fortunately Bruce Springsteen's singing will hypnotize you long enough to forget that your hand is holding a rock to throw at the first coyote who tries to take a chunk out of your calf. Those Walmart gloves you're wearing will rub your nose raw since it will be dripping like a leaky faucet.

The howling coyotes will never get close to you, but just to make sure, you'll sing loudly and often make noises. You will yell "Yeee haw!" and then immediately smile because you'll be reminded of your friend Clair who always yells "Yeee haw!" during ultramarathons when things start to get ugly and you have to work really hard to convince yourself that you are having fun.

Finally your long trek will bring you to your goal. You'll be standing next to that light high on the mountain that you've seen from a distance every night. It will be awesome!

You will see your whole city on the horizon and the lights of St. George 30 miles away. You will call your family from the top of the mountain and tell them to go outside to look for your headlamp. When they're outside you'll flash your headlamp and the kids will be on the other end of the phone yelling "We see you Dad!! We see you!!"

You will feel proud of yourself for being brave and climbing the mountain alone in the dark. You will spend a few extra moments on top watching your breath freeze in front of you and feeling thankful for fun running adventures like this. (And thankful that a mountain lion hasn't eaten you. So far.) And every night afterward when you look up at that light high on the mountain you'll smile.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Just Some Thanksgiving Cowbell

I realized I had neglected to share some pictures from a fun run on Thanksgiving morning. We headed to my go-to trail when introducing new people to our trails: the More Cowbell Trail.

I went out with local friend Angel, new friend Tyler who is writing a book about southern Utah trails, and my old friend Jared Thorley who has selflessly helped me get through MANY rough spots in MANY 100 milers. We understand each other on an unspoken level and may be twins separated at birth.

It was a cold, crisp morning perfect for burning off some pre-gluttony Thanksgiving calories. (This run helped justify one too many pieces of pie later in the day.)

We rang the cowbell as we went by....because not doing so invites really bad running karma. The people who don't ring the bell are the ones who get eaten by mountain lions or lose their car key somewhere on a 20 mile run, or get the runner's trots. Ain't nobody want them runner's trots so you better just ring the bell.

In closing, here is a picture of me, Angel, Jared, and Tyler....who were all a few pounds heavier later that day.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Baker's Dozen Half Marathon Next Week!

The Baker's Dozen Half Marathon is my contribution to the world of running. It has been so rewarding to see the race grow from a small underground running event to what it has become today. One of the things I strive for each year is to have an awesome medal. I couldn't be more happy with how this year's medals turned out:

This isn't your average half marathon. The course is on a 3.2 mile loop so after each loop runners must eat a treat from the Sugar Shack. We'll have everything you'd expect to find in heaven, including cupcakes, donuts, cookies, and Twinkies. When you get in the car to drive home, your clothes will fit tighter.

Yesterday we released an AMAZING race video produced by Alex Santiago. You can check out his website HERE. His concept for a video is hilarious. I think you'll like it.

I have a few more openings for the race next Saturday, December 12th in Hurricane, Utah, right on the doorstep of Zion National Park. You could hop on a plane and be here in a jiffy! If you want more info, you can check out the race Facebook page HERE, or visit www.bakersdozenhalfmarathon.com

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Things I'm Thankful For In Life

With Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow I am reminded of the many, many things I have to be thankful for. 

Here's the way I think this post would work. My wife Mel would read it, look at the pictures, then get to the end of the post and get a slightly sassy attitude. She would say "What? You're not thankful for the dogs too?" So I'll avoid disappointing her and get that out of the way first. I'm thankful for these 4-legged creatures who steal loaves of bread off the counter when we're not looking, leave Sasquatch-sized poops in the backyard, and wake us up in the morning barking.

But in all seriousness, their food thieving is reaching all-time levels. Don't you dare turn your head when there's a piece of pizza on your dinner plate. By the time you turn around, that piece of pizza will be in their mouth, digested, and sitting in a Sasquatch-sized pile in the backyard.

I am so incredibly thankful for my family. I love them so much. We have the normal struggles every family has. We have fighting and tantrums and grumpiness. We have arguments about keeping the house clean. We have impatience. We all have our flaws. We are each like a broken piece of pottery, but love holds us together. 

I'm thankful for my amazing wife Mel.

I'm thankful for my son Jackson. 

I'm thankful for my daughter Danica.

I'm thankful for my youngest, Kylee.

Each night when I lay in my bed I think about how blessed I am to have each of them in my life.

This is going to sound absurd, but EVERY single time I stop at a gas station to buy a soda I feel so, so thankful. (On days that involve ridiculously early alarms to get out of bed, followed by many miles running, then going to work, that soda gets even bigger.)

I don't feel gratitude because of the caffeine hit. I feel so thankful that I live in a country where simple pleasures like soda are available. I think about countries where they are lucky to have some dirty water to drink. I think about how there are people in the world who would give anything to have a drink of cold soda and I'm reminded how fortunate I am. I love my country. I think about people living in poverty who don't have the financial means to walk into a gas station and hand over a dollar bill for a cup of empty calories. I think about how blessed I am to have a dollar to spare for a drink. I'm not exaggerating. I really think about all these things every single time I walk into a gas station. 

My heart swells with thankfulness. I hope you and your family have a positively awesome Thanksgiving from me and my house to yours.