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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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.

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.

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.

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