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.

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Hawaii 2017

A little overdue, but since I have some downtime, figured I’d compile a little something on our previous vacation to Maui, HI from March 4-13th.

The below is a picture of our little man Bentley, being very much aware that the suitcase means his people are leaving and he’ll do whatever he can to not be left behind.  Sadly he wasn’t able to tag along this time.

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The morning of the 4th, my family was on the shuttle to the airport terminal and Lacey and I were talking about us coming home on the 11th, when my dad chimed in and said we would be home the 13th.  We laughed for a second, then realized he was serious.  For some reason, Lacey and I both were under the impression we would be home 2 days prior.  So, right out of the gate, we were under-packed and were getting in touch with work to let them know the vacation was extended against our will.

On the 6th we did the Road to Hana, well, to the black sand beach, then back to the home.  My father is normally one of the safest, slowest, perfect 10 and 2 form, road-focused drivers to ever possess a license.  I don’t know what it was this day, but he was treating the rented Nissan Quest van like a Michael Schumacher F1 Grand Prix racecar.  I think at first, we all wanted to get as far down the road to see as much as possible, but I think as the drive progressed, any opportunity to pull over and see a sight, we piped up.  Partly due to a lot of awesome things to see, but mainly to realign our bearings and keep our stomach contents within our stomach.

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The black sand beach was quite the sight to see.  We got down to the beach, got into the water, and noticed a few people pointing into the water close by the shore.  A turtle!  We jumped in and floated around by it for a while before it headed back out to sea.  Last time we were in Hawaii, we found a small group of turtles while snorkeling, and Lacey may or may not have come in contact with one of them.  By may or may not, she very much did.  We joke about it now, but she actually got sick a short time after, and since has been dubbed, the turtle curse.  Below is a photo of the black sand beach.

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The night of the 6th, we were walking back from dinner, when my dad all of a sudden walked right into the ground wire on the power pole.  At first, I thought he was acting like he meant to, but turns out, he wasn’t paying attention and hit his mouth right on it.  Got a little swollen the next day, but seeing he was ok, we all had a little laugh about it.  Every morning, my dad would leave his laptop up on the counter, so while he was away on a jog, I pulled up paint and made him a little photo.  See below.

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On the 8th, Lacey had booked us a whale watching tour.  And before I get into this, I wasn’t expecting anything that actually happened on the tour was going to happen.  It was shocking to say the least.  The tour was with a company named Makai Adventures, and to anyone in the Maui area during humpback whale mating season, book with these guys.  Great crew, great atmosphere, incredible experience!

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Heading out, we would periodically stop and watch a few spouts from a distance, see the occasional tail peak out of the water from time to time.  The crew would stay in close contact with other excursions in the area to see where all the action was, and to help move some of the whales back when the other excursions needed to head back into shore.  Fast forward.  We get to an area, and see a mom and baby humpback really, really close to another boat.  We slowed our boat down and watched for about 10 minutes, when the boat radioed over and asked us to creep up and push the whales up so they could head in for the day.  As we made our way into position, the whales made their way on out, but slowly headed back our direction.  They kept their distance for some time, but soon, it was as if we were best friends.  Basically, anyone on our boat could reach into the water and touch the whale.  It was pretty insane!  It got right under our boat and floated there for a few minutes.  The guides said they occasionally rub up against some things to remove some of the barnacles they have acquired in their adventures.

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On the 9th, my grandfather treated us to a snorkel excursion out on Molokini crater.  My father has always wanted to snorkel out there, but has never had the opportunity to, mainly probably because my mother is pretty anti-ocean.  If there isn’t a lifeguard in the water, and the water isn’t surrounded by tile and concrete, chances are, my mother won’t step foot into it.  The fish out at Molokini crater were very people fishy.  They stayed at least an arms length away at all times, but they had no problem checking you out and letting you swim along side of them.  The current was pretty strong while we were there, so we were playing swim away from the wall/shore most the time.  But, it was still pretty incredible to see, because the water was incredibly clear and everything could be seen below.

The 10th, we drove up to Haleakala National Park, that has an elevation of over 10,000ft!  It’s quite strange going from sea level, up, then back down, in hardly anytime at all.  The view was gorgeous, but we all could not believe how cold it was up there!  You know you’re in Hawaii, but it does not feel like Hawaii at all.  The views reminded me of the surface on Mars.  To think at one point, it was a active volcano is mind bending.

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Hawaii is an incredible place.  The views will make you wish you could stay forever.  We have had the opportunity to stay on Oahu and Maui, and both islands have their own unique feel that sets them apart from each other.  Oahu is a party, lots of tourist hot spots, very fast moving.  Maui has that, low key, slow, take your time and vacation sort of feel.  You wouldn’t have to twist my arm to ever go back.

Aloha Hawaii, until we see each other again!

Epic Relay 2016

What the Hill?!

What a weekend!  We were able to be a part of the Epic Relays series that goes from Cache to Teton Village in Wyoming.

Our journey began in Preston, ID @ the high school that “Napoleon Dynamite” was filmed.  Our van, which had 6 individuals including myself, consisted of Lacey, Taylor, and 3 people we just barely met 2 weeks ago named Kyle, Ryan, and Mackenzie.  Our van was actually quite fun right from the get go, so I was pretty excited for the adventure ahead.  Kyle had the first leg, which we basically showed up right in time for, kind of too close actually, because Kyle is a red head, and he barely had enough time to apply sun screen, and one thing you never should do, is rush a red head while they are applying sun screen.

After Kyle finished, it was time for my first leg of the relay.  It was a little under 6 miles if I remember correctly, about 4.5miles of it was a climb.  I ended up only passing one person, chalking up 1 kill for the van.  As I passed the girl, I apparently frightened her as I passed by and she screamed pretty loud then started laughing.  I apologized and went about my way.  I found a license plate on the side of the road, I wanted to hold onto it as a souvenir, but I decided it was not mine to take, and I left it on the road so maybe the owner of the plate would be able to find it later on.  I passed the bracelet off to Taylor after my leg was completed..I did happen to notice as I passed the bracelet off, that he was wearing a headband..which I had never seen him wear before.  Made me 😀

Lacey’s leg was after Taylor’s, and while we waited for Lacey to take a corner, we fixed the sign that said “Left”, to direct the runners up a hill instead of taking them straight down the road.  We all got our photo taken by Omar, who was the social media guy for Epic Relays…he did happen to mention he got some photos of Lacey, and that she probably thought he was some weirdo snapping random photos of her (later on we heard from Lacey about some creepy guy taking photos of her, and we let her know it was Omar, who was supposedly an event photographer).

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Photo above from left to right: Taylor, me, Kyle, Ryan, and Mackenzie.

During Ryan’s leg, while we waited for him to make it a few miles in, we heard a slight meowing sound, which ended up being a little kitten underneath the Sequoia we were riding in.  It…was pretty adorable, but all kittens are..it’s when they grow up that they lose the cute appeal and become a menace to society.  Picture of it below.

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Mackenzie’s leg was a disaster.  She went the wrong way right from the get go, and ran about 2.5 miles before we got in touch with her to tell her to stop and we would pick her up.  Then, after she started again, she became dizzy, but claimed she was ok, which made zero to no sense..so we told her to shade up and if she wasn’t feeling up to running in the heat, one of us would finish her leg up.  She insisted on finishing, which I don’t blame her, if I start something, I have a hard time giving up.  But, as she approached her next challenge, a 300ft climb, she instantly slowed her pace and got to a slow walk.  We all felt bad, especially when she said she had only ran a max of 3 miles consecutively while training for the relay.  It was far from what she had trained for, that was for certain.  It took some time, but she finished up and we passed the rights back to Van 1.

We grabbed lunch at a Subway and headed to the next exchange point to catch some rest while Van 1 did their legs.  We got out the sleeping bags and napped in the shade in some weird park/rv hook up place.

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At first it was quiet…then everyone else started showing up, and it got very loud and crowded.  Van 1 arrived as it got dark, so we started on our way for our 2nd legs.  It very well could have been my most favorite leg of the relay…but my 3rd leg was quite crazy itself.   Anyways, it was dark, no pavement, zero light besides what the moon was putting off and the INSANE meteor shower above.  I could hardly pay attention to the path in front of me while the sky was putting on the show for the runners.  This leg was a pretty intense up hill climb, but I almost paid little to no attention to the gain while my eyes and mind were concentrating on the heavens above.  A lot of the other vans and runners were out of the vehicles staring up at the sky as you would run by them.  Made me feel really small, but in a good way, completely lost in the moment. The experience took over,  I was 100% absorbed into a certain high that could have only been achieved in that exact place, at that exact time.  If a runner’s high is actually a thing, that was the closest to or spot on to what or how I would imagine it.  The incline, the dark Caribou National Park forest surroundings, the slight chill, the dust kicked up from the vehicles passing by, it was all background noise to the experience that left me saddened once I passed the bracelet off at the end of the 8.53 miles.  For 1hr 5minutes, I was completely lost, and I didn’t care.  Over the duration of the run, I was able to chalk up 5 kills for the van.  Not a bad way to spend a Friday night.

Lacey’s leg was some decline through the National Park, she basically ran the fastest she ever has over the distance she covered.  It may or may not have been linked to me howling like a wolf out the window as she had about a mile and a half left on her run.  She got mad at me, and she had every right to do so, it was not kind of me, but she achieved a level of speed that she says she has not ran in quite some time.  Do I feel responsible?  Yes.  You’re welcome dear.

That night, well, morning ish 3:30am, after the exchange back to Van 1, we headed out to the exchange where we would start our last legs after van 1 finished up theirs.  Upon arriving to the “camp site”, it was pretty cold.  The site, looked like a landfill, broken cement, poles, tires, wood beams, garbage, all over the place.  The ground, was dirt, zero to no grass, and full of rocks and divots.  At first, I thought I will just sleep in the car, but Taylor would most likely sleep in there again, and it was looking like Mackenzie would sleep in the middle seat of the car.  I wasn’t too excited about sleeping outside, but the moment I climbed into my sleeping bag, shivering, within minutes I was warming up and the next thing I knew, it was 8:03am.  It was a weird 3.5-4 hours of rest, but it was enough charge for my batteries to finish strong.  Van 1 arrived between 9-9:30 if I remember correctly, so there wasn’t much time to sit around and bask in the amazing scenery of the landfill campsite much longer.

After Kyle finished, I was up again.

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Picture above is Kyle finishing up, with me awaiting the transfer of the runners right’s to accumulate kills via passing the slower contestants.  Below, me hitting the go on Runkeeper to track the event.

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This leg was clocked at 3.22 miles, and I told myself even before this relay began, I would go as fast as I possibly could on this leg.  There were two people in front of me that were within kill distance, and within the first half mile, I had the first fatality of the leg.  But, the next kill was making me work for it.  I slowly began catching up to him, to the point that I turned a corner and finally saw his white shirt.  It was go time.  The first mile was a 7:21 pace, which was a slight uphill climb, 2nd mile turned into a 6:52 when I had finally caught sight of him, and the 3rd mile was gone in 6:01.  I gave it literally everything I had to try to catch up to this guy.  Sadly, I never passed him, but the competitive nature of that leg was a memory I won’t ever forget.  Both parties of the van’s were out awaiting the finish of our leg.  I laughed after and gave the guy a high five, told him he had some wheels and I just couldn’t close it up.  It definitely was one of my favorite parts of the whole weekend.  Below, is me finishing the leg, with the guy I was trying to catch on the right of the photo.

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It was an event I truly didn’t think I would have enjoyed as much as I did.  The time spent with Lacey, my little brother, and a new group of running friends was time I didn’t take for granted and enjoyed every waking moment.  I hope it won’t be my last relay, but if it is, it was an adventure, a rush, and a memory I’ll hold onto for the duration of my existence.

Island Park, Idaho 2.0

Well, we made our way back up to spend a few more nights in Island Park, Idaho to celebrate Lacey’s birthday and Fathers Day.  We drove up Thursday after I got off work, took us about 4.5 hours to get up there.  Dogs started whining pretty early on, so we ended up stopping for 15-20 minutes at some creepy gas station/motel off of a horror movie.  We got up to the Buffalo campground in Island Park, set up home base, and went over to Pond’s Lodge to get some food real quick before heading off to bed.  Before heading to eat at Pond’s, we stopped to pick up fire wood with Lacey’s parents, and came across a couple baby skunks in a garbage sack.  Lacey ended up opening the bag to release/save the baby skunks from suffering inside the bag.  Later that night, we ended up seeing about 3 more baby skunks on the road not far from where we saw the garbage sack with the skunks inside.  Little ones must have lost their mother.  Upon arriving back at camp, the temperature had dropped quite a bit since we’d left, so off to the trailer to get the heater going.  Wouldn’t you know it, the heater was acting up, the fan would run, but the heater just wouldn’t flip over.  So, I shut it all down, unplugged the propane and the battery, hooked it all back up, and prayed to God it would fire up.  God must have stayed up a little later that night to make sure we got to bed with a warm heater going, because that thing fired right back up after the reboot.  Friday morning we got up and ran 3.11 miles down the road from our campground to where Lacey spent a summer back in 2008 when she worked for the Forest Service.  Later on that day, we spent the afternoon kayaking down North Fork of the Snake River, named Henry’s Fork I believe is the name.  Some of the float was against a head wind, which gave us quite a work out (that we’d end up napping off later that day).  I ended up falling asleep before 20:30 that night, completely exhausted from the kayaking extravaganza we’d experienced earlier on.

Saturday morning, Lacey and I got our 10 miler in somewhat early, but not early enough.  That sun was something fierce that morning!  We went passed Island Park Dam, I grabbed a photo, then we flipped back around and continued down the road back towards Mack’s Inn (same place we ended our kayak journey the day before, just not quite as far down).

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After the run we got ready and headed back into West Yellowstone and did some shopping for the day.  Later that night, we had cake and ice cream for Lacey’s birthday, and had our birdhouse judging in the Gordon family trailer.  Katie and I tied on votes, which was really cool, it’s been fun to see everyone’s creativity and the ideas they have on their projects they do.  Threw on some shingles, a solar powered front porch light, custom American flag pole, and rock siding.

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Ogden Marathon, 2016 Edition

I will add to this periodically as it comes back to me, because right now some of it is still fuzzy, either by the weather forcing me to black out at times while running, or my subconscious mind has decided it’s far to horrifying to have to recount the details.

Let us proceed.  The day was May 21st, 2016.. Lacey, my father, and myself are driving to park our truck by the El Matador restaurant to walk to the buses to drive up to our starting point for the Ogden full marathon (my father ran the half).  Lacey and I were standing in line to board a bus, when a guy came walking by and tripped on the cement and I think landed on his side.  It was a pretty intense fall, even with Lacey somewhat catching him as he was falling down.  I immediately felt bad for the guy, here he is, mentally prepping himself to run a race, and he trips and possibly hurts himself a couple hours before.

When we arrive at the starting line area, it hadn’t began to rain much..yet.  It was pretty cool watching everyone with their pre-race planning and ideas to better accommodate themselves before the race.  We laughed at this very tall, muscular guy wearing a very tiny garbage sack as a poncho.  Another guy was sleeping under a table, staying dry in the process (brilliant actually, just brilliant).  I must remember for other races now though, we saw a group of people take up fold up lawn chairs..now, I am not sure if they were just going to leave them up there and come back after to pick them up, or if they were just leaving them there and planning on never seeing the chair again…either way, it looked like a great idea, having somewhere to sit, off the cold, wet ground, & off your legs for an hour and a half before the race starts.

The race started at 0715, it was only barely showering at this point.  There were more rolling hills at the start than I remember from the first time I ran the Ogden full marathon, my thighs made sure to remind me.  I was ideally planning on a sub 3:25:00 finishing time, but for the first 6-7 miles, I was holding a 6:49/mile pace, so I was feeling pretty giddy.  I even remember having thoughts like, “you know, keep running like this, and you’ll see that BQ in a few hours”..but than realistic side of brain chimed in to remind me, “you never trained at this pace, you’ll wear out”.  Of course, realistic side of brain usually is the victorious one, but this time, realistic side had no control over the events that were about to unfold.  Now, the Ogden marathon has recently become infamous for being rainy and wet the day of the race.  More often than not lately, race day is in the rain.  2016, was no different..except for an exciting addition of hurricane caliber wind from miles 8ish-17.  It slowly became a nightmare.  I have shared this part of the marathon with basically everyone I have talked to about it, but up by the Pineview reservoir and Eden Park, there is a school, I believe it’s an elementary school, but as I was running by there with, I’d say about a group of 7 or 8, and that is where the storm hit it’s climax.  The rain was crashing down in sharp, needle-like waves, while the headwind gusts were applying so much force, your pace soon became a slow jog.  I had never, ever, ran in a storm of that magnitude.  By that point, the poncho and sweatshirt I had worn since the start were ditched at mile 7, serving me no further assistance due to their current state of, “beyond saturated”.  Needless to say, the t-shirt and running shorts I was currently covered by were serving little to no purpose for warmth or cover.  I was miserable…cold, and losing motivation.  I could feel my shoelace undone around mile 16, so I pressed on to the mile 17 marker where I asked a very nice aid station volunteer if they could help a grown 29 year old tie his shoelace because I couldn’t make my fingers function properly due to the cold.  The aid station worker laughed and kindly started working at the shoelace.  Within a few seconds, he also was struggling due to himself also being cold.  He laughed and had said something along the lines of, “you weren’t kidding, this isn’t easy”.

I had eagerly looked forward to the canyon segment of the marathon in hopes that the slight downhill would help me to regain lost time and help boost my motivation, but sadly the canyon wasn’t quite as refreshing as I had originally hoped and remembered it being.  The weather had taken it’s toll on me, along with a few others I had come across and ran by for a good majority of the race.  There was a young couple I had ran with from about mile 4 to about mile 18, that the girl was so cold, she had actually been keeping her eyes open along the sides of the road to see what article of clothing and thermal blankets she could pick up and throw over her because she was becoming quite frozen.  I remember passing them as they were sorting through a few piles of clothing and thought, “this is complete madness…why are we all doing this?”

The canyon ended up being a mind game.  Every corner I would turn, I would hope that corner would be the one that revealed the waterfall at the end.  The Alaskan Inn aid station was one I was excited to see..it was a good sign, reassuring that the waterfall was only a few corners away, and I might, I just might, survive this thing.  The moment my eyes caught the slightest glimpse of the water rushing down the mountainside..I could have man cried.  Man crying is different from normal crying, in ways only a man would understand, and to explain why and how man crying is different from normal crying would take hours, possibly days.  So I will save that for another day.

Out of the canyon to Dinosaur Park, is such a refreshing, rejuvenating leg of the race.  It’s where a very kind, welcoming group of runner fans gather to cheer on all the runners.  None of them are there for me, but they are cheering like they have known you your entire life.  If only they could travel with you for the entire marathon!  Reaching Dinosaur Park, was a breath of fresh air.  By this time, the rain was a slight drizzle, and the slight burst of a very tiny second wind finally makes it’s way into your step.  A 5k to go, and this thing is in the books.  The 3:30:00 pacer ended up passing me by the Prairie Schooner restaurant, which was kind of a kick to the man-go (man ego), but at that point, I was already thinking about that first sip of Coca-Cola at the finish line (turned out to be Pepsi this year..best Pepsi I have ever had).  Running under the Ogden sign on Washington Blvd, there was a camera person taking photos, and under normal circumstances I would have made a funny pose of some sort, but given my current state by being completely over the fun and festivites the Ogden Marathon had just put me through, I gave him a wave and made my way to Grant Ave, which should change it’s name to, “Ogden’s longest road ever”.  The finish line is in sight the moment you start heading south, but you begin to wonder if you actually see it, or if it’s just a mirage.  And if you are one of the lucky ones who are able to reassure your brain it truly is, indeed, a finish line, it may soon begin to seem as if the finish line is slowly getting farther and farther away as you run towards it.  It’s one of the greatest optical illusions I have ever seen with my own two eyes.

About 23rd street (race ends on 25th street), there was a kind old man handing out little American flags on sticks to any runner that wanted to carry one across the finish line.  How, on God’s green, beautiful earth, could you turn down an American flag while on the home stretch of a marathon that nearly killed you?  I had made a sign the week before the marathon, it had Steve Carrell from The Office on it, and in writing it said, “Wow, that was hard”, and “Don’t Stop”, also “Go faster”.  Then at the bottom, it said, “That’s what she said!”.  My family was holding the sign a block before the finish line, I laughed the moment I saw it.  It sealed the experience up ever so nicely.  And let me tell you, as I acted like an airplane, flying back and forth through the finishing area before stepping on the timing pads, the feeling of the finish line under my feet was one of the best feelings I had ever experienced.

It was a race I’ll never forget, I hope I never have to experience again, and a race that proved to myself that I wanted it. 18 weeks of training is much too important to give in to mother nature and let her win the race you started. I wanted that finish, and I wouldn’t quit.   I took the finish from her, but she sure left a lasting impression on me that I won’t soon forget.

-UTAHBEARDEDRUNNER

Memorial Day weekend 2016

The wife and I decided at 12:30pm Saturday that we would make the journey up to Island Park, Idaho for the weekend.  It just so happened to be the first time I had ever stepped foot in Yellowstone and was able to see Old Faithful.  I was quite impressed with the park, all the springs, the trees, the wildlife, not to mention how many tourists were there from all over the world!  Lacey summed it up pretty well while we were in Mesa Falls this morning looking at the Upper Falls..she said “It just puts it into perspective just how small we actually are”.  It couldn’t have been worded any better at the time.  There is SO much world to discover, for miles and miles in every direction.  All it takes is a little adventure and dedication, and you can expose yourself to things you cannot believe!  It’s strange how as a child, well, maybe this only applied to me, but the whole sightseeing thing was such a bore to me.  If there wasn’t a ride, or something that gave me a prize, or food, I was not interested.  Although, as I have gotten older, my interests have changed, perhaps modified, and some things I used to find bland, I have acquired an interest in experiencing.

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The previous two mornings, we would take a morning run up by the campgrounds we were staying at (a 4mi and 3mi run, we are still technically supposed to be taking it easy from running the Ogden Marathon on the 21st of May).  But, with all the nature and trees, how could you pass up a few miles like those?  When we would get back into camp, we would take our coffee down to the dock and let our Catahoula “Boscoe” run around and splash in the water.  He absolutely loved it, which we enjoyed watching because he is very, very reserved at home and quite lazy.  Lacey said it was good to see his confidence up.  We both had a good laugh about it, as he was bounding on and off the dock into the river.  Bentley, our yorkie/bichon, seemed pretty jealous on his antics, but due to Bentley being our little “tri-pawd” dog from a pretty sad pit bull attack over 2 years ago, he just isn’t able to get around like he used to, and swimming without a life jacket is just out of the question.

P.S. Pinus Cortata, a.k.a lodgepole pine, is the tree used to construct some homes/cabins/lodges.  If you didn’t know this, please retain this information for future reference, so you aren’t laughed at when it suddenly clicks and makes sense while you are hanging out with your spouse and her family.

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Well, I hope it is not the last time Yellowstone and I see one another.  I am looking forward to exploring other parts of the area to see and experience more of what mother nature has kindly and beautifully crafted for our enjoyment and pleasure.

-UTAHBEARDEDRUNNER