Monday, August 29, 2016

Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Review from Amazing Southern Utah

I've been running in Altra shoes for many years and have loved supporting them as an ambassador for three years now. A few days ago when the new Lone Peak 3 shoes showed up on my porch, I knew I needed to break them in on one of my all time favorite trails in southern Utah.

The first thing I had to do was test their jumping abilities. I'd rank them high on their jump attributes.

I have this secret spot that most people don't know about. The views are basically ridiculous (as you'll soon see). Every time I go here I earn myself some bonus miles. (Which is just a nice way of saying that I get lost.) My route included lots of sand and plenty of slick rock. The shoes handled everything I threw at them.

The new Lone Peak has a stone guard built in which is nice. The upper part of the shoe feels more durable and they maintained the wider toe box which has been huge in helping me prevent blisters over the years.

My favorite thing about the shoe update was the tread. I went up some pretty steep slick rock and it gripped perfectly going up and down.

I made it to one of the coolest view points on the planet. I'm convinced that when people die, the gates of heaven swing opened and the view looks like this:

I hung out at the top, at a Snickers bar (that was a melted mess because it was nine bajillion degrees outside), and enjoyed the amazing scenery that surrounded me.

Years ago I wrote that the Lone Peak was my favorite running shoe ever. And yet the shoe continues to get better and better. I look forward to many more amazing miles that we'll share together.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Behind The Scenes Of My Book Cover

Back in June I did the photo shoot for the cover of my upcoming book "Nowhere Near First". I was super lucky to have award winning photographer Jeremiah Barber in charge of the shoot. (This guy has some STUNNING photographs. You can check out his website HERE.)

We decided we'd head to Snow Canyon in southern Utah. The scenery is so amazing there that it's impossible to take a bad shot. (Even if you throw a nerdy, gangly ultrarunner into the picture!)

Katy Perry apparently heard about how remarkable this place is because she shot her new music video for the Olympics in Snow Canyon. (And this video has 37 million views??? What??)(Unfortunately we weren't there at the same time. Because a jumping picture with Katy Perry would be funny.) Not hard to see why she came here.

I managed to talk Jeremiah into doing a jumping picture. Mark this down as the first ever jumping picture with a tripod and gigantic camera in hand.

He got lots of great shots. It was challenging to go through them all and narrow down the favorites.

But in the end, one picture stood out to everyone involved with the book project. That picture ended up being the book cover and I freaking LOVE how it turned out.

I am so excited to announce that the book will be released on September 5th! You'll be able to pick it up on Amazon or Kindle and then it will branch out to other distribution options. I can't wait for you to read it!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Badwater Ultramarathon Pictures You Have To See To Believe!

Running the Badwater ultramarathon a few weeks ago was undoubtedly the hardest thing I've ever done. It was also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. You can read about my experience and see my pictures HERE.

But I wanted to share some Badwater behind-the-scenes shots from my crew member Jud Burkett. Jud is a remarkable photographer and did an amazing job capturing the spirit of the 135 mile race through Death Valley.

The morning of the race, we decorated our van to say Team Fast Cory. (Our van was large enough to carry a casket. You know, just in case.)

The race started at Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the western hemisphere - 282 feet below sea level. We had a bit of time before the race started to catch up with old friends and meet new friends.

The most common question I'm asked is "How hot did it get during the race?" The night before the race we had a pre-race meeting at Furnace Creek. The official thermometer showed 121 degrees at 6:00pm. My crew taped this thermometer on the back of the van. This shot was taken after midnight.

During the first sunrise of the race, I was running past the stunning Mesquite Sand Dunes. Jud caught this jumping picture right before the sun rose over the horizon bathing us in fiery hot magma.

I've heard that the pavement can get up to 200+ degrees during the race. It's enough to make your feet feel like they are about to spontaneously combust. Around mile 50, Mel did a bit of doctoring with some hot spots on my feet.

That mountain range you see in the background of the following picture....we climbed that. The ascent up and over Townes Pass was long, steep, and brutally difficult. The descent was equally steep and my legs felt like they were right on the brink of going into wild spasms. (Fortunately I was able to hold them off.)

We approached Panamint Springs Resort at mile 72. If you look half way up the picture, you can see a little clump of trees and cabins. There ain't much to look at. Except they had cold showers! If you had asked me to pay my firstborn child for a cold shower at that point, I'd gladly pay up since it was around eighteen BILLION degrees.

After a five minute cold shower and a change of clothes, I visited renowned foot care specialist John Vonhof to fix some hefty blisters I had given birth to. It didn't tickle. You can see I'm gritting my teeth.

From there, we embarked over the second mountain range of the race toward Father Crowley Point. This is my amazing friend Clair Coleman joining me for this section.

The second night of the race was so profoundly difficult that it's hard to put into words. I was so gripped with sleep deprivation and exhaustion that every step seemed to take a monumental effort. It sounds strange but such a smothering exhaustion can physically hurt. This shot with me and Mel is less than flattering but it's real. And it's a good representation of how I was feeling. I may or may not have had some eye leakage.

It felt like it would NEVER come but we FINALLY made it through the second night of the race and saw the second sunrise. I was infinitely grateful for my friend Toby who got me through some very difficult miles on that second morning.

Mel has noticed that when I'm really, really struggling during a race, she always notices that I have my hands on my hips. Since she pointed that out during a race a few years ago, I've started to notice it too. As we neared Lone Pine at mile 122, my hands were undoubtedly planted on my hips. (Meanwhile, Clair, who is more than two decades older than me, looks as fresh as a daisy! That I may have been asleep during this picture.

I'd like you to meet Jud, the taker of all these amazing pictures. Jud was the opposite of my exhaustion. During all the steepest climbs of the race Jud was with me. (Toby took this shot of me and Jud.)

Badwater starts at the lowest point in the continental United States. But it also climbs three mountain ranges and ends at Whitney Portal, more than half way up Mount Whitney...which is the highest point in the continental United States! Over the course of the race, we climbed a total of 14,600 feet! This was the beginning of the last climb up Whitney Portal Road.

Someone told me that parts of that last climb were at an 18% grade. (If it's on the internet, it must be true!) Whatever the grade was, I have never seen a road so steep for so long. (HOLY OUCH.)

By this time, we were thousands of feet higher than the starting line. Theoretically it should have been cooler, but the road had recently been resurfaced and the heat from the hot tar was radiating up through the soles of my shoes. For me personally, leaving Lone Pine to climb up Whitney Portal Road was the point in the race when I felt the hottest.

At one point on the climb I told my crew "I need two minutes with a chair." That two minute nap was wonderful. (Seeing this picture from Jud made me love my crew even more. Seeing their thoughtful concern and care in moments like this was so touching.)

Mel joined me for the last few miles of the race. I can't express how thankful I am for such an amazing wife. She was 100% solid support leading up to and during the race. That last mile of Badwater with her was a moment I will never forget.

After 45 hours and 135 miles I experienced the fulfillment of a dream. I found myself at the finish line of Badwater.

There was a celebratory jumping picture and fortunately I managed to stick the landing and avoid collapsing into a pile of melted skin and bones.

Race director Chris Kostman handed me the Badwater belt buckle and finisher shirt.

Badwater was so crazy hard. And it was equally so crazy rewarding. It felt so good to have months of hard work, countless miserable hours in the sauna, early mornings, late nights, and long training runs pay off. Badwater reaffirmed my belief that we are capable of hard things. We are capable of so much more than we could imagine.

Do me a solid. Go find Jud on Facebook HERE or on Instagram @judburkett. He did such an awesome job of capturing the good, the bad, and the ugly of Badwater.