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.

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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REVEL Big Cottonwood Canyon marathon 9.10.16

The 2 minute bathroom break that will haunt me..

Well, had this one on the radar for a few months now, sure came up fast.

First glance at the elevation chart, your knees begin to ache just thinking about the initial drop for the first few miles.. but like most elevation graphs lately, when the hills rear their ugly head, they are unexpected and you pay for it dearly.

Race gun time was 0645 today, little bit of a chill, but perfect start to a race.  Bigger pool of runners than the races we have been running lately.  When the clock started, just watching the crowd flood the gate was the kind of stuff you get out of bed for in the morning.  What a rush!  Hundreds of people with the same exact goal, run the fastest time their body will allow them to run.  Around mile 4, I was running by a fellow who called out my name, turns out it was a buddy I went to preschool all the way through high school with, named Bert.  Bert ran this race last year and ran a 3:03, but he was hoping to sub 3:00 this year.  We chatted a bit, caught up, talked about how horrible the Ogden Marathon was this year, but I told him I was going to start slowing my pace down because I was getting kind of greedy with my average pace. . . but actually I was getting winded from talking ha.  He took off, and I didn’t end up seeing him again til about mile 21-22.  I never checked, but I’m sure he hit his mark for the day.

Miles 22-25 were horrific.  I was fine on air, fine on hydration, but my body was trying to call it quits on me.  My legs were tightening up, knees cooling like concrete, and then my brain began attempting to take over and convince me to walk.  I was watching my watch tick away minutes faster and faster every single step I took, and my goal time of a sub 3:05 was getting dimmer and dimmer.  It wasn’t until about mile 24 that I began to realize the time I seeked before the race started was out of the question, but with an old PR of 3:32, I started to talk to myself and dropped all the woes and sorrows on the side of the road and picked the pace up to finish strong.

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Running through the finishing gates was exciting, having set a new PR, a PR that years ago I never would have thought I’d be able to run what I did today, was enough to put a smile on my face.  I was pretty pissed off for a bit while I waited for Lacey to cross, knowing I was SO close to getting my BQ time, but when I saw Lacey cross @ 3:27 and achieving her goal and getting her BQ time, I was overcome with joy and happiness, knowing how thrilled she must be with her progress and accomplishing a goal that months ago was a wish, and today became reality.

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I’ll find that BQ someday soon.  But until then, I’ll enjoy the moment and remember my personal journey and how hard I have worked for moments like this.

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Finish time: 3:09:46

East Canyon half marathon 8.27.16

For our training program for our upcoming marathon, this weekend our long run was supposed to be 12 miles…we thought, might as well put on another 1.1 miles and get some hardware out of it.  Signed into a first year race in Morgan, Utah, and it actually wasn’t too bad.  The race director was an interesting fellow, met the guy at packet pick-up the night before, needless to say, it was quite the cluster F getting our bib and shirt for the race the next day.  The race was gorgeous, ran along the East Canyon reservoir, and for the most part, the race was a gradual downhill with a few unexpected rollers that kept your legs in check.

I was able to run a personal best 1:29:26 time, averaging 6:50 miles.  Took first in my age group, and I believe 4th overall.  The times at the end were jacked, so I just ended up going off my watch time, but my watch showed a distance of 13.0 miles when I hit the finish pad, so I ran around the parking lot to get that extra .1 of a mile in to call it legit.

First year kinks, but regardless, I am ecstatic with the outcome.  This training session has noticeably changed and evolved the way I run and how I feel while running.

Next up: Revel Big Cottonwood marathon.

Well, as I write this, we are 3 days in on our training for the Revel Big Cottonwood marathon in September.  The week off after Ogden really left me feeling empty and bored during the times I’d normally be out running.  So here’s what we’re looking at as far as mileage:

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We are starting at Week 4 due to the marathon being under the whole 18 weeks this program reflects.  For any interested, Hal Higdon Advanced 1 program is where this schedule is from.  We have followed Hal’s programs for a good majority of our races, and so far so good.  We wanted to kind of buckle up and go all in on this one, working on some increased mileage (adding in an additional 20 miler from the previous 2 we did in our last training program!) and speed-work.  Our main goals are to HOPEFULLY find those BQ’s in September, we are hoping for the best!  Very excited to get this one rolling!

-UTAHBEARDEDRUNNER