Gordon Hayward. What we saw, but didn’t quite “see”.

Proudly, I was raised a Jazz fan, through the Stockton & Malone era (as a Jazz fan, I couldn’t be happier knowing I was able to see them live, and yell at the T.V. for that era).  I have seen probably the worst, the middle, and the best we have had as a franchise in Utah.  For those “worst” years, it’s teeth grindingly brutal.  How sports can impact our attitude and feelings is something I fail to understand.  It’s one of the things in our life that is so far out of our control, yet, it impacts us (maybe just me?) in ways we (I) can’t seem to control.  Feelings, attitude, our spending, agenda, if you “sports”, your schedule sometimes revolves around your team’s schedule.  We love our sports, we love our team, we learn to love our players.

Weeks leading up to this past week, I was a fairly confident Jazz fan, under the impression that Gordon was staying, and we would continue doing what we set out to do last season…bring the championship, finally, to Utah.  On July 4th, one of my personal favorite holidays (being a July 1st birthday, Independence Day immediately becomes your favorite) was side swiped, and to put it lightly, blind sided and drug out.

Leading up to this past week, unfortunately, the writing was on the wall, but we failed to see and read it.  Gordon & family gave us countless signs.  Call it as you will, maybe you see it differently, but they had plugged the idea that Utah just may not be on their radar for the 2017-2018 season.  How so, you ask?  Let’s take a look.

Example 1)

Those #stayward billboards.  Remember when Garrett Jones started the gofundme.com for these??  #stayward

Hayward interview  <— Hayward’s interview after hearing of #stayward billboard idea

Donate $ to charity, no billboard <— And here’s his noble response to the campaign.  Great move on his part to donate to an amazing cause.  As far as his future here though.. reading between the lines, was his mind already leaning to Boston?

Example 2)

The infamous social media photo of the Hayward daughter dawning the clover shirt…In June.

Future Boston supporter?

What’s with the green heart?!

Now, obviously, this is a stretch, since it’s an article of clothing, and it was from St. Patrick’s Day.  Robyn, but why did you delete it?  You know it’s the internet.

Example 3)

Boston chants Hayward’s name

Look passed the “racist” remarks by Jae Crowder.  Boston knew Hayward’s contract was nearly up.  Boston knew Hayward had ties to Stevens (we’ll touch on that here in a moment), and Boston knows, they always know, when they are nipping on the heels of bringing another championship home.  Their city has been blessed with NUMEROUS championships, whether it be hockey, baseball, or football.  They have a reputation for winning, and you can’t argue with that.  The feeling Crowder must of had, hearing the crowd chant a player from the visiting team, must have really got under his skin I’m sure, but I find it hard to believe the idea of it being tied to “racism”.  Isaiah Thomas? Ortiz?  Blount?  Butler?  Mookie?  Are any of them ever booed at games?

Come on man.

Look, I’m not trying to sway anyone from side to side, but I truly think this “decision” was made long before we knew, and probably long before Gordon truly knew.

Actually, here.  Want some sad Jazz fan reading?  Want your perspective on this from the Jazz brass?  Here’s what the Miller’s, Dennis, and Snyder went through these last few days.

Inside the Hayward deal

Ah yes, and the Stevens/Hayward past?  Was Danny Ainge looking for this reunion for the two?  Stevens was Hayward’s old coach at Butler, who from the beginning, was there for Gordon.  I get it.  The man who first saw you up and coming, could see the potential, could see the desire, witnessed the passion first hand and saw all the hard work, day in, day out, before the NBA happened.  I get it, we see it.  We understand Gordon.

Stevens/Hayward reunited

But why, why, was the exit so brutal?  I wouldn’t have guessed, after meeting this guy a few years ago in an Albertson’s (AFresh Market?), that this would be the guy who would create such an emotional roller coaster for Jazz fans on July 4, 2017.  He fit our game plan, he was a perfect role model, he grew to be our all-star, and he was the face of our club.  To drag the exit out, possibly delaying Utah the chance to make other free agent moves, this was cold man.  That Player’s Tribune article, that was heartbreaking.  Lots of time spent on that, and hopefully it wasn’t spent during the hours of the “leaked” exit rumor.  Haven’t read it?  Oh man…read below.

Hayward’s Player’s Tribune article

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In closing, tough deal anyway you look at it from a Jazz fan.  Did we lose time to land potential free agents to fill the gaps?  Did we do all we could to keep Gordon on the team?  No matter what Utah did, was there truly any way to actually keep him here?  Maybe we won’t ever know?

For now, as Jazz fans, we accept it, love it or hate it, and look to the future.  If you haven’t caught any footage of our boy Donovan Mitchell in the summer league…

Mitchell’s bright Utah future

Let’s not forget about Rudy…

Gobzilla highlights

Fellow Jazz fans, we’re going to be ok.  Boston just acquired an incredible player in Hayward.  But, we have a young core of talented players, and our future sure is bright.  #takenote

Bryce Canyon 50 miler…

Disclaimer:  Before I dive into this head first, my goal here isn’t to provide a reason for people to say, “that’s not for me”.  My experience, I’m sure, will be different from yours in many ways, so think of this more as a, “I’ll do my best to make sure that isn’t going to be me”.  Done correctly, it could be one of the most amazing adventures in your lifetime.

Until this past weekend, I had never ventured down to the Bryce Canyon or Zions National Park area in all my nearly 31 years in Utah.  If you live in this state, or have the opportunity to visit here, do yourself a favor and add these to your bucket list.  The views will leave you speechless.  The hoodoo’s are so mysterious and incredible, how they stand the way they do is fascinating, simply put.  The mountain goats are fearless as they scale the slick mountain sides and approach the roads to graze with zero cares in the world.

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The day before the 50 mile run, we ventured into Zions National Park for some views, a little hiking (not sure if that was a good or bad idea before a 50 mile race), and an escape from reality, which was desperately needed at the time.  On the way there from Panguitch, UT, we made a stop at one of the many rock shops on the way to the National Park.  They sure do love their rocks down there, as I’m sure they have an abundance of many different kinds in the surrounding area.  We grabbed a couple souvenirs, some for the family, and pressed on to the park.  Needless to say, if all the roadside shops pass you by, and you make it through without stopping at at least one of them, you have far greater self control than us…either that, or I’m very sorry you missed out.

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Zions did not disappoint..besides the $30 entrance fee (which ultimately we’d pay anyway to be able to continue to enjoy things like this for many years to come).  The weather was a little on the hot side, but made for a perfect, clear day to see as far as the mountains would allow.  How some of the sights and formations are created on this earth are mind bending.  The lines, curves, and colors that have been created over the years on the rocks and ranges are gratifying.  At one point, we pulled the car over to snap a couple photos of a small mountain goat family picking some leaves off a nearby tree.  They surely made sure to keep a couple eyes on us while we were there, but after a short while, they made their way back up a steep mountain face and carried on with their day.

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Later that day, we made our way to the race expo by Ruby’s Inn.  The expo had a fire going, where people could roast marshmallows to make one of the world’s best desserts known to mankind.  The drop bag station was lined with everyone’s bags of survival for the following day, and vendors where lined up showing off their products for the runners/spectators to demo and purchase.  Each race entry came with a meal ticket that was attached to the race bib, and the expo had a few different options on how to use your ticket.  We ate, spent a few minutes putting together our drop bags for the next day, and made our way back to our motel room in Panguitch (say what you want, I’m fairly certain our motel has been featured on Cops, on numerous occasions).  That night, we watched the movie “Everest”, which may not have been the best choice, seeing as how it was based on a group of people trying to survive the elements of nature, but in an exact weather opposite scenario from what we were about to run in the next day.

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The next morning began at 3:00 A.M., an hour later than the previous weekend when we got up for the Utah Valley marathon, so that was a treat!  Got ready and made our way to the shuttle buses, where we heard that out of the 212 runners that signed up for the 100 mile run, over 100 runners had taken themselves out of the race, voluntarily and involuntarily, due to the heat and exhaustion.  It left us with an uneasy feeling right out of the gate, but we had pre-race adrenaline flowing so the idea of getting a DNF was at the very back of our brain.

We reached the start line with a little under half an hour before the start, which to me was perfect.  I love not having to stand around and stare at my watch, counting down the minutes until the gun goes off.  Once it was go time, we all spent about the first mile or so in a single file line until the trail opened up.  It was interesting beginning a race this way, and I’ll tell you right now, looking back, I was not 100% mentally prepared for this race.  I was far from ready from having the aid stations spaced anywhere between 8-11 miles apart.  I wasn’t ready for the altitude difference in what I normally trained on, and I surely wasn’t ready for anything the next 12+ hours was about to have in store for me.

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(Above) Course map and elevation of the trail.  Over the entire duration, over 10,000 feet of elevation gain.  This graph makes it look so silly….but was not silly.

For the first few miles, I was having some shin pain that made itself noticeable after the Utah Valley Marathon the week before, and as I’m now writing this, I am beginning to realize I don’t always make the best decisions in my life, and my planning skills are sometimes poor.  I probably shouldn’t have logged 26.2 miles the week before attempting my first 50 mile race.  So, fast forward to aid station at mile 22.5, the sun has been doing serious work the last couple hours, and we’re all feeling it.  I had 1/2 a can of Coke, and it was maybe to date, the best 1/2 can of Coke that has ever touched my lips.  But, with the shin pain present, I think I made the mistake of asking if anyone had an ibuprofen.  A kind lady gave me two, and I threw them down not thinking that 3.5 miles later, I would regret it, severely.

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Around 26 miles in, I found myself hunkered in the shade of a bush-tree, feeling incredibly dizzy, which led to me laying down and clearing my stomach in 5 valiant, very aggressive upchucks.  My wife made her way back down to see what I had going on, told her my tummy was a little angry and I needed a rest.  We had moments before, passed a lady passed out on the side of the mountain, who was requiring some help.  As I laid there, a man from an aid station came running down the trail, looks at me and goes, “you’re an ugly girl”.  I looked up and laughed, and he said he was looking for a woman in distress, we told him she was about a mile further down, and he headed back down.

Mile 33 aid station.  The stretch we just ran was nearly an 11 mile gap between aid stations, and if I could put a pin in it, this is where the main event commenced.  Upon arriving at the 33 aid station, I was feeling the worst I’ve ever felt in, almost ever.  Dizzy, exhausted, and apparently, getting dehydrated.  Over the course of the day, my body had taken in over 8 liters of water.  Apparently, 8 liters wasn’t enough, and the heat in the high 80’s, low 90’s, probably didn’t help either.  The volunteers at the aid station made me a cup of pickle juice with ice cubes, and at the time, the worst thing I think I could have drank.  But looking back, it may have been responsible for leveling me out….momentarily.

Well, that didn’t last long.  Mile 34ish, there I am again, in my mile 26 position, laying on the side of the trail.  Up to this point, Lacey and I had ran the entire race together.  But, at this point, without a small break, I wasn’t moving on.  She said we should go back to mile 33 and call it a day.  Now, this just wasn’t going to happen.  For me, I didn’t have a problem with that outcome, but she had logged crazy mileage during her training, and with all that had happened the week prior, with her grandma passing, I know she was there with a purpose.  She had a set of wings on her to help her finish, and I knew she could do it.  I told her to go on, and I would make my way back down to 33.  She didn’t believe me, and I’m pretty sure she knew deep inside, I wasn’t going to go back.  But, she pressed on, and I pressed my lifeless body further into the dirt on the side of the mountain.

As I laid there, I truly thought if I didn’t move, I would pass out.  I had a bag of amino acid powder in my backpack, so I took it out, dumped some into my mouth, and took a few good pulls of water from my Camelbak, and pulled myself together.  Stood up, joined into another pack of runners for the next few miles, and tried to keep my eyes on the prize.

Well, the last 3-4 miles until mile 42 were without water.  Mainly due to me taking those big rips from the bladder back on my trail bed I created back on mile 34.  Every corner I took, I would imagine the aid station on the other side, and for all those 76 corners I feel like I took, the aid station continued to hide.  But, in what I believe was the 77th corner, there it was.  I had never been more excited to see a tent in my entire life.  I reached the station, headed straight to the water area and filled my bag up.  I took a couple minutes to catch my breath, and paced back and forth by the trail.  One of the nurses approached me, and asked if I was ok.  I said I felt awesome, that was a lie, and I told her I needed to lay down for a bit.  As I laid there, I got the mile 26 feeling, which required me to lay back up, found a tree, did my best Tim Tebow kneel impression, and had another upchuck session.  The outcome on this session was much different from the previous, as the previous I stayed alert and didn’t fully come to with an IV connected.

As I began to think a little more clearly, I was covered in a blanket, sitting in a folding camp chair, with 3 aid station members watching me.  I was shaking, supposedly my color was poor, and they kept saying the word “dehydrated”.  I laughed.  I was so confused.  They asked if I had anyone there I knew, and I said yes.  Normally, I wear glasses, because I’m practically blind.  But, I saw a girl with the same calf sleeves Lacey was wearing, and I was surprised, because I thought Lacey was way ahead.  I was like, “right there, that’s my wife”.  The aid station worker called her name….which was Emily, and told her to come over.  As she approached, I realized Emily was actually Emily, and not Lacey.  With all these facts in front of us, this wasn’t looking good for me.

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Once the IV was nearing it’s end, I asked the crew if I could make my way to the finish line.  Their reaction time in telling me my day was done, there wasn’t a delay.  My bib was pulled, and I ended up taking a truck back down to the finish.  Game over.

Lacey was able to finish the day with her first 50 miler under her belt.  How excited and proud I am that she was able to accomplish such a crazy feat on a day like that, was amazing.  She probably could have ran farther, she says she couldn’t have, but I’m sure she could have.  She’s the toughest girl I know, and will continue to be a running legend in my eyes.

It sounds so ridiculous at first, but even though I didn’t cross the line, I got to see and experience so many different things that I never thought I would ever see or do.  An ultra marathon on any resume is impressive.  Any run, ANY run, is impressive.  Whether a mile around the block, or 42 miles until you pass out by a tree, enjoy every mile.  Look around and see all the things you’re running by.  Enjoy it.  As bitter as I am about not finishing, I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to be there with my lady and all those other crazy runners who thought that day was perfect for another run.

A DNF is an interesting addition to my highlight reel, one I’ll never try to forget, and to be quite honest, I wish I remembered more of it.  God bless the volunteers at aid station 42 for bringing me back to life, or for keeping me alive, either way, I’m grateful for each and every single one of them.

I had a riot, and I’ll make my way back to conquer that monster soon.  Until then, I will cherish every drop of water I have readily available, and never take it for granted for as long as I live.

Pacing for Utah Valley Marathon 2017

Had the chance to get my very first pacing experience yesterday for Beast Pacing @ the Utah Valley Marathon in Provo, UT.  I was the 4:25:00 pacer, and it was quite the experience.

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I’ve had some memorable experiences with pacers in the past who have kept me on track to meet/exceed my goal time for a race, and I thought the world of them for it.  The mind will tempt and tease you at parts in a race, thinking if you just go a littler fast for X amount of miles you’ll finish WAY ahead of your goal, and you end up huffing and puffing and walking because your body overdid it way too early.

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Being set on a specific time was at times pretty tricky.  I told everyone at the start, that at each mile mark, I would be calling out a number (ex. -4 or +2) and the meaning behind the minus and plus was we were either over paced (-) or under paced (+) and the next mile would reflect those numbers.  Started with about 22 people in the cluster, so for those first few miles, it was pretty packed together.  There were about 6 guys and 3 gals that hung by me pretty good the duration of the marathon, which made it more enjoyable being able to converse with them to make the time go by.  I had an extra salt tab about 15-16 miles in, and one of the 50 year old’s running with me was mentioning he thought he was beginning to cramp.  I passed the salt tab his direction, hoping it would ease his possible dreadful home stretch later on.  About 2 miles later, he was saying the symptoms were hardly noticeable now, and whether it have been mental or the salt tab was actually doing work, he was feeling better.

The views throughout the canyon were incredible.  I’ll never get sick of our mountain ranges here in northern Utah.  You just can’t beat them, anywhere.  I’m very biased, having lived here my entire life, but show me a flaw in our views if you can find it.  The day was a little cold at the start line, but once the race started, the cold didn’t exist any longer, and it surely didn’t take long to wish it was still cold either.  The sun would periodically hide behind the ranges, but about 80% of the race was in the sun, making for a few extra cups of liquids throughout the stations and the internal prayers to the higher powers to be gentle and prolong any cramping/exhaustion until post race.

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The last 2-4 miles are the killer on this course.  Not so much the elevation +/-, but the way it plateau’s and goes on, forever.  You stare down the road of the finish for easily at least 2 miles, wondering if the sights you see are truly even existing.  There is a building right before the finish line, with a huge banner on the top, that says “Finish Strong”.  If you are finally close enough to read it without squinting, and can see the logo of the Utah Valley Marathon on it, the overwhelming feeling of relief sinks in, knowing you did it.

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I get goosebumps just reliving all my finishes across those timing pads.  Being able to work and train so hard to accomplish your goal, something you at one point never, ever would have thought you could do, continues to be a reality, finish after finish.  All the cheering, the crowds, your fellow runners and your supporting cast, without all of them, the experience just wouldn’t be remotely close whatsoever.  The volunteers, the race directors, and the law enforcement monitoring the streets while the race moves on, there are so many hidden factors going into your big day, that I tend to overlook when I’m sitting on my couch, saying forget today’s run, I’ll just run tomorrow.  They are out there, while they could be doing anything else in the world, but they are there helping people enjoy a day they worked incredibly hard for, and they are there supporting, ensuring you have the best possible experience you can.

Many thanks to everyone who has, continues, or considers volunteering for one of these events in the future.  Ultimately, it couldn’t be done without so many moving pieces coming together.

Finish time:  4:24:04

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Loved every single minute of it.

A week of long runs, that I’ve thoroughly missed

Being back into a pair of running shoes was something I missed for those couple of months battling through that confusing injury.  I’ll take waking up sore, and missing toenails, over watching people log miles in my daily commute, any day of the week.

I was flipping through some activities on RunKeeper this morning, looking at some of the training runs I have been able to check off for this weekends upcoming Utah Valley Marathon, and the following weekend’s 50 miler down in Bryce Canyon.  Having been off the training for so long, not quite sure how the 50 miler down in Bryce is going to go.  But, it’ll be a step at a time and worst case scenario, it goes MUCH slower than I hoped for, but the views will be an experience in itself.  I’ve personally never been to Bryce Canyon before, so this will be exciting regardless.

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Drive Road Rally 2017

Cars.  Speed.  Adrenaline.

Saturday mornings should involve all 3 of the above, in any order.  But, they are the most effective when all 3 are involved, having one missing, especially the cars, is crucial.

I had the opportunity to co-pilot with my brother, who owns a modified Subaru BRZ, on a Poker Run rally through northern Utah, and it was nothing but an amazing adventure from start to finish.  The lineup ranged from Nissan’s to Audi’s, and Volkswagen’s to Ferrari’s, with some of the coolest, most down to earth car fanatics we’ve ever met.  Everyone who brought their investments had their vehicle looking in tip-top shape.  Specks of dust were nowhere to be seen inside Luxe Auto Spa in Salt Lake City, Utah.  They pampered all the attendees with breakfast, coffee, and gift bags for the rally, home run on their part.  The facility was incredibly maintained, and the staff were beyond caring and courteous, even valeting the participants vehicles when they arrived for the event.  If you ever have dreamed about car heaven, the mental images I am left with, I’m guessing are relatively similar to it.

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The rally started from Luxe Auto Spa, and the first checkpoint was Rockwell Time in Woods Cross, where they held a 50yd sprint contest, and the winner would receive a free Rockwell watch.  Each checkpoint you arrived to, you would pull a card from a deck, and the staff would mark inside your pamphlet your card selection.  At the end of the rally, the attendee with the best poker hand, ultimately would win the rally.  The concept is fascinating, giving everyone an equal chance to win, even if their car isn’t the fastest to the next checkpoint.  I think everyone’s mindset going into the rally was, “I’m not going to exceed the speed limit today, I’m just going to roll with the squad.”  Well, the thing about that is, is the squad had differ…..nope, we all did the speed limit.

From Rockwell Time, we made our way out to the Ogden Canyon, with a little pit stop at the bottom of Trappers Loop for some photo ops.  After getting some shots, and time to stretch the legs, we continued on to Five Guys in Park City.  The drive through the canyon was on point.  The views were spectacular on the day we were blessed with, and the cars enhanced the scenery in the best sort of ways.  Synchronized and packed together, the rally provided random travelers a glimpse of automotive enthusiasts out enjoying their worldly passion with others who share the same interests.

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After grabbing some lunch, the next checkpoint took us to Saratoga Springs, where it gave everyone the opportunity for a few more photos, recharge with fluids, and filling up their thirsty vehicles.

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My brother and I had left a little bit earlier than the rest of the group to head to the last and final checkpoint @ the Utah Motorsports Campus in Tooele.  We were somewhat obeying the traffic laws, when a random mishap caused a 6-7 inch piece of my brothers front lip of his car to completely remove itself from the vehicle.  We pulled the car over and removed what we could from the front bumper so there wouldn’t be any further pieces removing themselves from the car going forward.

The last and final checkpoint was reached, and the crew finished the day with some go-karting at the campus.  Best karting around, as it’s on an actual tarmac track, so you’re actually gripping the corners without slipping around on the floors of those indoor tracks.  Unless you like feeling like you’re on the cast of Tokyo Drift?  You want top shelf karting?  Put this on your bucket list.

My brother ended up pulling together a flush on his card pulls, awarding him a very top notch trophy and an amazing set of gold foil cards encased in a hand carved box, with insane detail and craftsmanship.

The rally director and staff did an amazing job with this event, leaving everyone with lasting memories and a smile I’m surely stayed locked in for the remainder of the day, at least.  If you’re in the northern Utah area, and are looking for a road rally that is guaranteed to not disappoint, look no further.  Head over to their Facebook page Drive Road Rally and thank me later.

Well done Drive Road Rally, we hope to see you again soon.

More photos below from the Drive Road Rally:

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Product review: ALTRA Lone Peak 3.0

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I have had a few pairs of ALTRA’s in my years of running, ranging from numerous pairs of The One’s (which is my go-to road shoe, have been through almost 6 pairs), Torins, and the Impulse.  Picking these up were actually due to my wife and I venturing into knocking out a 50 mile run down in Bryce Canyon here in Utah.  It’s quite different, going from a light weight cushion shoe like The One’s, to a moderate cushion shoe in the Lone Peak.  And by different, I mean I can’t wait to actually kick some dust up with these things.

They are a little heavier than what I’m used to, and they did take some time to get used to the weight, but the shoe itself is constructed brilliantly.  I have about 60 miles on the shoes so far, and they are showing no signs of defects, early unraveling, or peeling from anywhere on the shoe.  The sole of the shoe doesn’t contain large, creek-like valleys for pebbles to get lodged into, creating the dreaded clicking sound that either accompanies you for the duration of your run, or causes a mental breakdown during your run while only being able to concentrate on the rock under your foot.  The gaiter trap surely comes in handy to keep out all those unwanted hitchhikers while your out pounding the dirt deeper into the earth, and the FootShape toe box is still on point, leaving your feet and toes the room they need to relax during a short jog through the hills, or those hot, long run Saturday’s.

Traction hasn’t been any kind of issue whatever.  These are equipped with rubber grabbers on the sole, the equivalent of super swampers on your redneck uncle’s F250.  The quick dry air mesh keeps your feet cool, while still allowing them to breath when the run gets ferocious.  Having taken this pair right through a creek during a trail series race, the shoe quickly drained, saving me the hassle of stopping to unlace and drain the shoe, taking away those precious seconds from your finish time.

You won’t have to twist my arm to own another pair.

PROS:  Sturdy construction, just the right amount of cushion, comfortable for short 4 milers, to high mileage ultra marathon’s.

CONS:  That I didn’t buy these in bulk to stock up for the future.

2017 Ogden Marathon with my better half

What a beautiful day in Ogden, UT for a marathon!

A race, that last year was easily one of the worst marathon experiences of all time, to yesterday, being one of my favorite marathons ran to date.  The morning was pretty chilly after we got off the bus at the starting line, but it was less crowded in the waiting area around the fires than in previous years.  Might of had something to do with the last few years weather being unpredictable, cold, rainy, and very comparable to the Armageddon.

My wife and I were able to start and finish this marathon together, finishing with a time of 4:04:01.  We stopped and took a few pictures along the way, ran at a pace to hold a conversation, and were able to actually enjoy the views without huffing and puffing and hitting a wall while attempting to set a PR or BQ.  At the finish line, we jumped into the air and landed on the finish pad at the same time.  Hopefully the photographers at the finish line were able to capture this special moment for us.  Below is the photo our family was able to take of the two of us finishing.

Home run Ogden, thanks for the memories.

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