Friday, December 28, 2012

My First 5k

I am running my first official 5k tomorrow.  The Hot Chocolate Run in Eagle, ID.  I have run in several races before but it was with my kids or a friend at the Race for the Cure several years back.  The fastest of the those was the Girls on the Run race with Zach back in October.

Anyway, it will be fun to push myself and see how I do.  Oh, and I signed up for two other races today.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Middle Aged

I went to the doctor for a consultation a few months back was recently denied insurance coverage for the consultation.  I was forwarded the letter the doctor wrote when it was submitted to the insurance company which read in part...

Name: Ryan

A middle aged male who........

I had to laugh when I saw that.  Maybe it's my beautiful chrome dome that led them to that conclusion, but seriously, I am only 38!  Oh well, I feel better than when I was 20.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The gods conceal from men......

The gods conceal from men the happiness of death, that they may endure life. ~Lucan, 1st century Roman poet

4th Annual Ryan Anderson Invitational Marathon

Before leaving the house BRRR?!?!
A little back story here. After I lost all my weight my sister challenged me to run a marathon and I told her in these exact words...YOU'RE CRAZY!! Somehow I came around to it and started running in September of 2009. On December 6th, 2009 I ran a marathon on the greenbelt here in town at the end of a 3 month training plan.

When I told people I ran a marathon they would always ask,"Which one?" It was a valid question but then I would say it wasn't a 'real' marathon.  It was just me running 26.2 miles with my wife Michelle following on the bike just to see if I could do it. When I put it that way it made it feel like less of an accomplishment and in my mind 26.2 miles is 26.2 miles whether or not you paid 80 bucks and got a crappy t-shirt. So after that I told people I ran the Ryan Anderson Invitational Marathon and there was only 1 invitation!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Western States Lottery

The Western States 100 lottery was held yesterday and I didn't make it again.  The odds were like 15% for me since my name was in the hat twice.  Once for not getting drawn last year and another for this year. 

Now I have to pick another qualifier for the next year.  I would like to do Cascade Crest 100 but it is also a lottery.  I'll get there someday and until then I'll just have to keep running qualifier and have fun!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

No Splenda?

I had a great training week last week.  All of this mileage was running except the 10 miles on Saturday which was a bike ride from my house to Shu's Running Company for a Team Pearl iZumi meeting.  I have been trying to build lots of base miles at a pace that challenges me but doesn't leave me feeling flat and fatigued the next day. So far so good I guess.

Last week I was reading somewhere about all the toxic junk that builds up in your system that interferes with the natural processes of the liver and kidneys (among other things).  I have been trying to lose about 5 to 7 pounds forever and I am fairly confident I get enough exercise.  So that leaves my diet.  Which I would say is better than most but I definitely have room to improve.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Be Patient and Tough

Today's motto stolen from Donna Braswell:

Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim
(Be patient and tough; some day this pain will be useful to you.)

Bear 100, September 2011, Mile 98.5 with Randy Thorn

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The firm resolve of a determined soul

There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, that can circumvent or hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul. ~Ella Wheeler Wilcox  

April 19th, 2009

September 8th, 2012

I came across this quote today and it made me think of the top picture taken back in April of 2009.  I had been on my new exercise plan for exactly 19 days and was determined to do something that was over the top amazing!  I settled on riding my bike from Discovery Park to Hilltop Cafe in Boise, which is a steady uphill of just over 4 miles.  I was so proud of my accomplishment that I had to take a picture of myself with the Hilltop Cafe sign in the background (otherwise no one would believe me).  I weighed about 285 at the time and 4 miles of uphill took its toll on me.  Thank goodness it was 4 miles of downhill afterwards.

That picture reminds me of...the firm resolve of MY determined soul. 

The second picture is a reminder of how far I have come in a short time.  Nothing has gotten between me and my fitness, health, running, or weight loss goals over these last few years.  This picture is at the finish line of the Wasatch 100 mile run in September.  It was my third 100 mile race and it too, was a serious test of...the firm resolve of MY determined soul.  But it was important to me and I was going to find a way.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Reminder of my FIRST Secret to Success

Today was my rest day but the weather was so nice I had to get out and run.  I met Derek at Polecat and did a nice easy loop in the 59 degree temperature at 6am!  It didn't feel super warm but I ran in just shorts for half of the six miles just so I could say I did.  It is Idaho AND November after all!!

At lunch I went to A2O Fitness for their Express Circuit class and the instructor Jenny reminded me of something that was key to my first weight loss success.  We normally do the full circuit twice and today at the halfway point she said something like, This is where your body wants to give up and you have to push through it!

After I graduated from high school I weighed 242 pounds and got into shape before joining the Navy.  I lost 60 pounds in just over 2 months, mostly by riding my bike in the Boise Foothills and around Boise State.  People would ask me what my secret to success was.  For me, I learned the secret during long mountain bike rides was to.....

Go until you can't go another inch....and then turn around and come back.

I learned through experience, even way back then, that we are capable of much more that we give ourselves credit for.  I know that mentality I learned back in 1993 served me well when I was losing weight in 2009 and it has been invaluable in training for and running 100 milers. 

Today's session also reminded me of a simple question that is posted on the wall that has inspired me over the last year and a half.

Make it a great day!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Easy Run

Today was my easy run day.  Easy according to the schedule is anywhere from 7:50 pace to 9:18 pace so I picked 8:30 in the middle. 

It seemed to be a good pace for me when I see the HR information after the fact.  145 is usually easy for me, 155 hard, and 165 is marathon pace right at my aerobic threshold.

We got a treadmill the first of the year and according to my Dailymile, where I post my daily activity I have run 2,275 miles this year.  This treadmill run brought my treadmill miles up to 23 I believe.  When I started running I used it a lot mostly because I didn't know how wonderful running outside was.  The other thing was it forced me to go faster when my body didn't necessarily want to go that fast which led to rapid improvement.

Today I sweat like a beast all over it and afterwards I realized I should have dusted the 9 months of neglect off before I coated it in liquid awesomeness.  :D Another thing I noticed, was that it forced me to land my forefoot flat on the belt.  Since running on the trails I think I have weak muscles in places because I compensate by rolling my foot on the uneven surface.  That fact was obvious today.  The last few ultras when I have gotten to the worn out stage it has always been my left forefoot.  Maybe a treadmill run here and there would strengthen and supplement the muscles that seem to get neglected.

It has been a good week!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fat Tire Loop PR

A series of fortunate events....

I have been on a roll the last couple of days, so I figured I would attempt another PR run this morning.  I decided on the Fat Tire Loop that I do fairly regularly with Derek and Christie.

The first fortunate thing that happened was the temperature was reasonable so I left the PI wind jacket in the car.  I got seriously hot later and it would have been a pain.

The second fortunate thing was seeing Trina Lund running by just as I was starting.  We chatted as I was getting going before her group went up the Military Connector trail and I continued up Three Bears trail.  This served as a proper warm-up without spiking my heart rate which I tend to do.

The third fortunate thing was the 20 MPH headwind all the way up the climb to Fat Tire and another half mile down the trail.  The headwind forced me to remain conservative so I wouldn't get my heart rate out of control from pushing too hard.  Unfortunately, mother nature wasn't as kind on the downhill.  I never felt like the wind was at my back when I started down.

After I checked the Garmin stuff I was surprised at the pace over the last few miles.  I was trying to remain loose and not push too hard.  The pace was 6:38, 6:40, and 6:07.  If I had kept going another 0.30 it would have been faster than my fastest ever 5K training run.

The fastest Garmin track I have of this route was 1:17 but I seem to remember doing it once by myself without the Garmin in 1:07 something.  I finished this one in 1:05:21 and believe it or not I never looked at the miles, time, or pace once.  I always have my watch set to show current HR and lap HR.  For some reason I run better when I am not TRYING to press because of what the watch is saying at the time.

I ended with an average HR of 150 which was great considering the pace and almost 1300 feet of elevation gain.  More impressive to me though, was the Max HR of 173 over the course of the whole run.  I usually suffer when I let the Max spike off the chart and then have a hard time recovering from it.

After I finished I rounded it out to a half marathon by running 5 more easy miles on Shane's Loop.  The half ended up 1:57:52 and 1900 feet of gain.

I may take tomorrow as a rest day!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Cobb to Homestead PR

After posting yesterday I thought it would be fun to add what I am doing each day at least for a week or so.

So today I wanted to go to Homestead Trailhead which is next to Harris Ranch off of Warm Springs in Boise. My friend Randy Thorn took me on this once upon a time and I wasn't thrilled with starting out on the greenbelt for two miles. Now I actually enjoy the relatively easy terrain as a nice warm up before hitting the hills. All along the greenbelt I could smell skunks and was sure today was my day. Just as I turned off the greenbelt to cross Warm Springs I hear a commotion and the bushes rattling. Ok, here it comes Eau de Skunk...then three deer almost run over me and the dash off the trail ahead of me!

Didn't have the camera today. I took this last fall on Homestead Trail.
Once I started to climb it began snowing lightly for about 3 or 4 miles which was nice. I had stopped to get a thermal shirt at Wal-mart on the way down there, and in typical fashion, it wasn't as cold as the weather guessers predicted. So I had my pullover tied around my waist wearing only the long sleeve.

Cobb trail ultimately ends where it connects to Homestead trail which leads back to the starting point. I felt relaxed and smooth today. I would say it was a comfortably hard pace and I cut 13 minutes off of my previous time. It seems like I have done this route a number of times but I only had my garmin one other time apparently.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Polecat PR

It isn't too often that I write about daily activities.  Today I was thinking though, if I were to come across this blog what would I want to know about this guy?  Well the first thing that came to my mind is 'what is this guy doing every day to stay in shape'?

So, today I got up at 4am, got my clothes and lunch ready for work, and then headed to Polecat Trail off of Cartwright Road in Boise.  The weather was kind of chilly, 39 degrees, but perfect for running.  The colder it is, the less energy your body has to use to regulate your core temperature as you begin running.  I am not sure what temperature it is that your body actually uses energy to warm up in addition to the heat created from running.  When I was in McCall on Saturday it was 8 degrees and I was sweating, so who knows.

When I got to the trail the sky was clear, other than some thick fog banked up against the mountains near Bogus Basin.  A full lap around Polecat is just over 6 miles and I was able to finish it today in just over 48 minutes which was my fastest time ever.  The sun wasn't quite up yet so I decided to add a short 3.5 mile loop at recovery pace so I could catch the sunrise from the top of the highest point on the trail.  The sunrises and sunsets there are amazing. Go check it out!

This is the garmin link from the last time I did the full loop plus the half.  Zoom out on the map to see where it is located if you aren't familiar with the area.  Or look me up and we'll go run some morning!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I was reminded today while I was running with Christie and Derek by the Boise River of one of the great things about losing weight and getting in shape.

As I say in my blog title...set a goal and tell everyone who will listen.  When I started, the reason I did that is because I would always follow through on commitments to others and I never wanted to let them down.  I thought this extra motivation would be helpful.  AND IT WAS. 

The best part of the process however, was that after I began to lose the weight I felt better about myself.  I eventually got to a point where I didn't want to let myself down either. This was a huge turning point because ultimately I wasn't doing this for anyone else but myself.  I had never really valued my own opinion of how I felt about me.

When most people begin a weight loss program the ultimate goal is typically a number on the scale or a size of clothing, I was no exception.  But I can tell you from experience that the numbers aren't as meaningful as confidence, self worth, higher self esteem, and the feeling that anything is possible.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


We were in McCall over the weekend for a few lazy days with my parents, Russ and Leeann, and Rich's family.  I got out on Sunday morning to see if I could beat the sunrise to the top of Snowslide off of Lick Creek Road.  The creek was high at the Snowslide trail head so I had to 'settle' for the trail head to Box Lake which was just as breathtaking.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Accomplishment starts with.....

I saw this posted the other day and wanted to add it to my blog.  While I was out searching for the image I came accross another one that looks like it could have been taken straight from my blog title!  
I often tell people that I am nobody special, just someone who never gave up and never took no for an answer.  Set a goal, tell everyone who will listen, and stick to your plan. You can do it!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Girls on the Run 5k

Kaylee has been participating in an after school program called Girls on the Run. She was part of the group in the spring and fall and has just loved it. The program is so much more than running. Here are the core values of the program from the website.

Girls on the Run honors it’s core values. We strive to:
■Recognize our power and responsibility to be intentional in our decision making
■Embrace our differences and find strength in our connectedness
■Express joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions
■Nurture our physical, emotional and spiritual health
■Lead with an open heart and assume positive intent
■Stand up for ourselves and others  

At the end of the season the girls and their families get to run a 5k together to celebrate the season.  This season the race was held out at Hidden Springs.  It brought back some good memories for me since this was where I ran my first race ever in 2010 at the Dry Creek Half Marathon.

The morning was really cold but the girls were excited to get going.  I was running with Zach and Kaylee was running with her teacher Ms. Parham.  We took off with the excitement of the crowd, or rather I did.  Zach was hanging on for dear life and finally yelled at me to take it easy and stop TRYING TO KILL HIM!!  I settled down and we did a comfortable run/walk around to the last straightaway on Dry Creek Road.  Once we could see the finish line Zach turned the dial up to BEAST mode.  Over the final section Zach ran a 7:49 pace.  I am always amazed how universal the effect of seeing the finish line is for all runners.

Several minutes later Kaylee came chugging around the final turn and I jumped in with her and Ms. Parham to the end.  They had the same finish line drive and it was wonderful to see them and all the participants giving everything they had.

I set a 5k PR running with Zach, finishing in 31:53.  I am signed up for my first official, run my own pace, 5k at the end of December in the Hot Chocolate Run so we'll see if I can improve.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Foothills Frenzy 2012

Race day pictures courtesy of Michael Lebowitz of Long Run Picture Company

After not finishing Wasatch the way I wanted to in September, I had two goals for the Frenzy. First, I wanted to FEEL GOOD at the end and beat my time from last year.  The second half of the goal is pretty straightforward. All I had to do was just run faster than I did last year when I finished in 5:51. I figured with all the miles I have put in this year, improving my time was a no brainer since I felt horrible last year and busted my face on the ground at mile 22.

The harder part of the goal is feeling good at the end. Through trial and error, I know that I tend to go out too fast which leads to the feeling terrible late in the race. I figured with my fitness improvement over the last year, that if I were to have a time similar to last year when I reached the ridge road I would be in a good position to achieve both goals.

On race morning Michelle and I arrived early since she was starting before the official start to give her some extra time. It was raining but the temperature was just about right so that it didn’t chill you to the bone. I gave Michelle a kiss and she was off. We waited around in the rain for a bit for the 6am start and before long the rain was gone and the skies cleared.

The morning was beautiful on the climb up. The sunrise was amazing from 3 Bears trail just as always. I rolled into the first aid station in the dark with my headlamp in a Ziploc bag ready to hand Emily and Davina when I believe Lyn asks me what my number was. What? I don’t know, no one told me there was going to be a quiz? I ran by and told them my name because I couldn’t see my bib. After a quick stop I was off and headed up Watchman.

The important stretch of the race to conserve in my opinion is the stretch on 5 Mile Gulch after getting off of Watchman. Last year I think I might have tried to continue the side hill pace from Watchman into the climb. Anyway, I paid special attention to my effort level on this climb so that I would reach the ridge feeling good.

When I got to the ridge I was greeted by DJ Ryan Lund blasting tunes on the speaker system which was a big boost. I ran right through the aid station since the next section was only a 1 mile out and back. I had plenty of water and food so it was no big deal. On the way out I started to pass the front runners who were coming back. It seemed like I saw just about everyone except maybe the top 5 runners. The clouds were actually below the ridge at this point and the wind was pushing them up and over the top. It was really a pretty sight although it was very cold. Mike Blessing was at the turnaround point and I told him it better not start SNOWING!!
I arrived back at the Ridge Road aid station and my time was 1 minute and 2 seconds behind last year, although I didn’t know it at the time. Before the race I had put the GPS track on my watch to see how I was doing compared to last year and didn’t bother to look at it until mile 28. At this point I was just running loose and trying to keep my heart rate and effort level and under control.

I felt really good down through Orchard trail until the climb up to 5 Mile. The climb seemed to sap my energy and my feet were beginning to feel the pounding of the miles. I rolled into 5 Mile Gulch and was greeted by about 50 yards of red caution tape blocking the trail where I ate it last year. Sam Collier said he did that in my honor. Another quick stop and I was on my way again.

The climb back to the Watchman intersection was tough but I tried to remain focused and not try and push it too hard. Just before I got to the aid station my heart rate was all over the place. I had sustained readings of over 180 which is not good for me. I made the decision to sit down at the aid station, just for a minute, to let my body settle and recover. Emily, Davina, and Amy were kind enough to let me sit momentarily before kicking me out!

When I left the aid station I was 5:20 behind last year’s pace. I just tried to stay loose and comfortable on the hard downhill sections of Trail 6 and Trail 5 before hitting the last aid station. I loaded up on salted potatoes and water then continued on. I had planned on meeting Billie to run the last section together but wasn’t sure if she was going to come to the aid station or to the beginning of Bucktail. I didn’t see her so I assumed she was at Bucktail.

After crossing the creek bottom and heading up towards the intersection of Shane’s Loop and 3 Bears which is about mile 27.5 I checked my progress against last year. At that moment I was 164 feet ahead of last year. At the pace I was going, that was 22 seconds difference. That difference is just a sliver of time over 27.5 miles and over 5 hours of running.

Just around the corner I saw Billie and her friend Erika at the top of Bucktail. I came rolling through without stopping and Billie asked me what she should do. I said run about a 9 minute pace and I’ll try and keep up! Billie went first with Erika following and me in the back. Erika asked if I wanted to pass and I told her she was doing a great job of pacing and keeping me focused. I notice Billie was adjusting the pace to keep me moving and keep me close since she was a faster than me at this point.

After a mile or so Erika let me pass and Billie kept charging. I told her my plan was to walk the little hill just before dropping into Cottonwood Creek where Andrea Simmonsen was directing traffic. That little reprieve was just what we(I) needed to hammer the last 2 miles to the finish line. I felt like I was flying in comparison to how I felt last year. When we got to the stairs just before the finish, Billie let me pass her which kind of confused me. She was doing such a great job and it was occupying my brain to be able to stare at her shoes. Anyway, I passed her and ran up and over the stairs.
As I neared the finish line it was an amazing feeling, as it always is when you finish something difficult. While Billie was with me my pace was 9:00.8 and I made up over 7 minutes in 3.5 miles, I couldn’t ask for a better pacer. I wish I would have been able to do this with Christine at Wasatch so it felt like a little redemption.

I finished at 5:44:22, which was 7 minutes better than last year and I FELT GOOD at the end. Every race is an opportunity to learn. I learned that being conservative in the first half pays off, just like everyone has told me. I guess I am so hard headed I had to experience the hard way for myself so I could appreciate it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

10 running questions and answers

Christie (Marathonmama) sent this to me today, that she got from our friend Danica (BostonorBotox) that got it from Katie (RunLongKatie) to answer 10 running questions about myself. Anyway, check out the other responses, you may just learn something new! This idea came from Dimity McDowell — (Another Mother Runner)

1. Best run ever: The first time I ever ran 26.2 miles in December 2009. I had been running for just over 3 months and was working up to the distance ‘just to see if I could’. With the wind-chill, it was 15 degrees from start to finish and I had my wife Michelle at my side on her bike the entire way as my cheering section of 1. I finished in 4:20 that day and felt like I had someone pushing me to the finish. Since that day, I have had faster runs but this was my best run ever because it taught me that if you set a goal and work hard you truly can accomplish great things.

2. Three words that describe my running: relaxing, meditative, energizing

My BQ finish line photo STG

3. My go-to running outfit: When I did road races it was blue Nike shorts with a red Team CFC shirt. Since I started running ultras I always like to finish with my orange Don’t Mess with the Fat Kid t-shirt.

4. Quirky habit while running: I like to train to my heart rate and run at heart rate zones. I think this helps me improve over time without stressing about what my pace is. Ironically, on race day I rarely pay attention to either one and just run.

5. Morning/midday/evening: I am an early morning runner out of necessity since I am married and have 4 kids. There isn’t time in the evening and I love getting up and getting the blood flowing first thing in the morning. It leaves me feeling like I can take on the world by 7am!
5 degrees and snowing...

6. I won't run outside when it's: I don’t understand this question? If you want something bad enough, nothing will get in your way. 

Post Boston sight seeing trip with Michelle and my parents
 7. Worst injury and how I got over it: The worst injury I ever had was a strained adductor muscle in my right leg. It happened in January 2011 and I was getting ready for the Boston Marathon in April. Not sure what I did but I think I slipped on the ice and twisted my knee and leg to the right which pulled the muscle. It wasn’t so bad I couldn’t run but it kept me from ever giving 100%. The longest continuous run I did before Boston was 13 miles and the longest distance I was able to go was 18 miles. Those 18 miles were really two 9 mile runs separated by 30 minutes of walking and lamenting my bad fortune. Anyway, I went to Boston and somehow managed to finish in 3:20 after not having done 1 long run and on top of that I had the flu on race day. The lesson I learned was that I should have given myself permission to take a week to ten days off in January so I would have been completely healthy and ready in April.

Mile 99.9 at the Bear 100
8. I felt most like a badass mother runner when: …mile 99.9 of the Bear 100 mile endurance run on September 24th, 2011, exactly one year ago (almost to the minute as I write this). The last couple of miles finish up on a road leading into Bear Lake, Idaho and as I covered this last stretch it finally hit me that I was going to finish. In ultras, I never think more than a few miles ahead for two reasons a) thinking about finishing when you are at mile 4 and have 96 to go has a negative effect on your mental attitude and b) a lot can happen throughout the day so I try to stay focused on right now and the next few miles so that I CAN finish. I never doubted that I would finish but was overwhelmed when the reality of it actually happening hit me. As I mentioned above, I wore my t-shirt at the end that says Don’t Mess with the Fat Kid. When I rounded the last corner the awaiting crowd cheered loudly for me which was an amazing feeling. As I got closer, the cheering faded and then completely died. After I passed, I overheard a women say to her friend, “Did you see that t-shirt? That is the rudest shirt I have ever seen.” I turned around while running backwards and politely said to her with a cracking voice, “I used to weigh 318 pounds and THIS FAT KID is about 100 yards from finishing 100 miles!” The cheers doubled and I continued crossed the finish line with the biggest smile ever!

Gettin pumped for the Frenzy last year
9. Next race is: The Foothills Frenzy 50k on October 20th. I told my wife I would join her to help her do the race and I also want to beat my time from last year of 5:51. So my goal is to run the race solo in the dark to beat my time and be back at the start/finish line at 5am to join Michelle for the second lap.

Between now and then I will be pacing a half marathon on September 30th and pacing my friend Amy at the IMTUF 100 on October 6th.

10. Potential running goal for 2013: Have my name pulled in the Western States 100 Lottery. Not much of a goal, more like luck of the draw. If that doesn’t happen (which is likely given the number of slots and the number of applicants) my other real goal is to run another sub 24 hour 100 miler at the Antelope Island Buffalo Run and actually feel good at the end. I have proven I can do it, except the feeling good at the end part. That is a function of good training and proper pacing which I have a lot of room to improve on.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Temptation to Quit

“The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed.” Old Chinese Proverb

Never give up on your goals and dreams.

Wasatch Front 100 2012 Race Report

Wasatch 2012 (Report started in November 2012 and finished in June 2015)

It has been over two months since I ran the Wasatch Front 100 and I think it is about time I got something down in writing before I forget all of it.  I find that if I write my experience right afterwards it turns out to be a short novel.  If I wait too long it either never gets done or the details are so faint it turns into…Went for a run. Good times!!

So here I am, somewhere between those two extremes.  Hopefully the passage of time has given me perspective on what is truly important, what is worth writing down, and what I should data dump.

Michelle and I carpooled with Dennis Ahern and Lynette McDougal down
to Salt Lake on Thursday before the race for the pre-race meeting.  It was fun to get a chance to say hello to some friends and hear crazy stories from the trail.  There was a particularly funny one about an angry badger at Leadville 100 that Mark Kreuzer relayed.  If you know Mark, ask him about it!

We got our packets and headed back to the hotel for a rather uneventful night.  Dinner was Mexican food.  It sounded good, but I wasn’t entirely sure my body would agree with my brain the next day.  Surprisingly I had no stomach issues during the run which was astonishing.

The race starts in a parking lot at the end of a residential street that has enough parking for maybe 15 cars.  We got on a bus at 4am to the start for the 5am start.  As with just about every ultra, the start is quite uneventful.  Ready, set, go!  After we got headed out the conga line of people stretched on for what seemed like forever but the first few miles are fairly easy going and the trail is wide enough that the crowd shuffles fairly easily. 

At mile 4 or so the trail turns uphill for the next 96 miles!  At least that is what it feels like.  The morning was cool but welcome during the long climb.  One of the more well known sections on Wasatch is called Chinscraper.  When we got to that part of the trail I was actually expecting it to be a lot worse.  That section is quite steep but only maybe a quarter of a mile, with the worst of it covering less than 100 yards.  The first aid is Grobbins Corner at mile 13 and 5,000 feet of climbing.  They had water and gel as recall and I took them up on both. 

The race is now running on the backbone of the Wasatch mountain range above the Salt Lake valley and the views are amazing.  The maples and scrub oak were turning a rainbow of yellow, orange, and red which were mixed in with the pines and patches of aspens.

Between Francis Peak at mile 18 and Bountiful at mile 24, I had to opportunity to run with an older guy who was in his 60’s.  He was doing a run walk on the flat sections and he told me his hamstring was having problems.  I hung with him for 3 or 4 miles with him leading the way.  He told me he this was his 7th time doing Wasatch and he really enjoyed spending time on the trails.  I figured, who better to stick with than a veteran, that and he was kicking my butt!  I continued on and never saw him again after Bountiful.

Sessions aid station is at mile 28 and I recall they had the Wizard of Oz theme going.  There was a sign that said ‘click your heels and say ‘There’s No Place Like Homestead!’ (Homestead is the finish line in Midway, UT)  I came in feeling good and gave them a heel click then did the math.  Only 72 more miles! 

**Note to self – Don’t do the math. It just makes things worse!  I usually try to just focus on getting to the next aid station so I don’t feel too overwhelmed.

The section from Sessions to Swallow Rocks at mile 35 was fairly uneventful.  I do recall they had popsicles at Swallow Rocks which were amazing.  The aid station is perched on top of one of the craziest rockiest roads I have ever seen too.  From there it is a looong mostly downhill section into Big Mountain aid station at mile 39.  This was the first aid station where crew, friends, and family could meet the runners so there were a lot of people.  I wasn’t sure who would be there other than Michelle.  Christine Kollar and Tim Burch came down with Tony Huff the morning of the race but they weren’t sure if they would make it to Big Mountain. 

Christine would be pacing me and Tony would be pacing Dennis during the 2nd half of the race.  Anyway, they all made it and it was wonderful to see some familiar faces to perk me up.  This aid station had a weigh in scale to make sure people weren’t getting dehydrated and I was down 1 pound after nearly 40 miles which was amazing.  I ate and drank everything I could possible stuff down my pie hole during my brief stop there.  Another Popsicle hit the spot and then I was off again, almost.  I walked out the wrong way and was alerted of my error by about 30 people!  NO NO NO!! This WAY!!

Somehow I had gotten past Dennis before Big Mountain and we happened to arrive about at the same time.  After walking out of the aid station, the correct way, we caught up for a bit and then settled back into a comfortable run.  In the months before the race I asked other veterans who had done it what the one biggest piece of advice they would offer me.  At the Pocatello 50 in June, Evan Honeyfield, Roch Horton, and Luke Nelson all told me…TAKE IT EASY BETWEEN BIG MOUNTAIN AND LAMBS CANYON!

The reasoning here is: it’s early in the race and you still feel decent so don’t overdo it.  It is also a south facing slope with little to no vegetation to block the afternoon sun and heat.  I felt like I was doing a decent job of keeping it reigned in until I got to Alexander Ridge which is at mile 47.  I thought the speed was ok but the heat left me little dehydrated.  I sat in the aid station and downed as much liquid as I thought I could handle.  I was feeling OK but could tell I took that last section too fast.

When you leave Alexander the trail follows what looks like a natural gas pipeline easement up and over some rolling hills.  This was a very monotonous section.  People were obviously feeling the effects of the heat because I saw a number of people hunched over on their knees emptying their guts on the side of the trail.  The trail turns off the gas line easement and heads into the trees after what seemed like forever.  There were two guys at the turn and one of them was hurling.  I asked the non-hurler if his runner was going to be OK and he said, I AM THE RUNNER, HE’S THE PACER!!  I felt bad for the poor guy but I had to conceal my smart ass grin.  Then he tells me this next section is called Devil’s Anvil.  Devil’s Anvil?  I told him I didn’t want to know how it got its name for fear of something I didn’t want to hear at that point.  All I cared about was the fact that there were trees and shade!!  It turned out to be quite a climb but nothing I couldn’t handle.  The shade was a welcome reprieve from the beating sun.

After going over the top of Devil’s Anvil it is probably 3 miles into Lambs Canyon at mile 53.  Before the race Dennis had warned me that when you get over the top the aid station is RIGHT THERE but the trail takes the scenic route over to the east of the aid station.  I was grateful for this nugget of information because the trail did a number of switchbacks and headed way up the canyon before taking a hairpin turn back toward the aid station.  I was moving along pretty well here and even leading a small group of 3 or 4 other people who were happy with the pace and in no hurry to pass.  After all the downhill you cross a creek bottom and have to climb back up a short hill to the aid station.  This was the 2nd crew accessible aid station as well as a pacer pick-up so there were a ton of people there.  This uphill climb meant you got to triumphantly WALK up the hill towards the waiting crowd.   Oh well.  As always, I came in with a big smile and the first person I came to said, ‘you’re still smiling?!?’ with a big cheer.

The first thing you do at Lamb’s Canyon is step on the scale to make sure your body is functioning properly.  Since the last weigh in at Big Mountain only 14 miles and 4 hours earlier it said I had lost 10 pounds!  I was instructed to go eat something and drink everything I could.  So I went sat down in the waiting chair Michelle had set up for me.  Christine, Tim, and Michelle all were very helpful and got me more food than I could handle.  I felt like I needed to recover more than I needed to get going so I took my sweet time and had fun visiting and catching up with all of them and Tony.  I went back to the scale to see how I was doing and managed to gain 3 pounds in just a few minutes.  That would have to be good enough because there was no room left in my gut!

Christine was joining me here and going all the way to the finish.  The 2nd half of Wasatch is harder in my opinion so this was no small task for her either.  We left the aid station after a quick kiss from Michelle.  I thought I forgot to check out so Christine went back to the aid station to do that while I continued on.  It turned out that the checkout location was on the other side of the freeway underpass several hundred yards from the main aid station.  We got it figured out and continued on. 

The sun was still up but the mountains are so tall we were in complete shade which actually started to make me chilled a bit.  The climb up to Bare Ass Pass from Lambs to was a nice chance to recover a bit and not surprisingly I warmed up right away.  We were right on top of the last high ridge before dropping into Upper Big Water when the sun went down.  Christine and I were treated to an amazing sunset.  As we headed downhill I was feeling decent other than my feet were hurting (which is not too surprising at mile 58). 

I was also concerned about how much weight I had lost according to the scales.  I am thinking to myself….if I lost 10 pounds, added back 3 in the aid station, then ate and drank everything I possibly could that I had with me, less what I was losing during this 8 mile stretch….would put me somewhere in the down 6-8 pound range.  I still had nearly 40 miles to go.  So what should I do to make sure I can finish?  I thought I should take it easy and to make sure I finished because that was the ultimate goal.  Somehow, taking it easy turned into a total slog coupled with staying way too long at aid stations initially due to my concern about my weight, then due to how bad my feet hurt, and finally because I was just mentally exhausted.

(Note:  This race report up until now was written in November 2012.    As I mentioned in the opening paragraph if I don’t write something right away it turns into a….’Went for a run. Good times!!’ race report.  Today is June 12th, 2015 so I will add what small level of detail my brain can conjure up.)

On the way to Mill Creek aid station Dennis and Tony went flying by us looking really strong.  I was happy for Dennis and deflated all at the same time.  He was looking just as haggard as I was at Alexander and Lamb’s but somehow managed to get going again.  Now that I have a few years of perspective I am sure it is just the experience I lacked at the time.  Guess what, everything hurts! That’s normal, suck it up and keep moving.  There is a stretch of uphill pavement leading to Mill Creek that isn’t too steep but enough that it doesn’t seem like you should be running it the whole way.  This is one of those spots that if I had ran the course or looked at the map closer I could have wrapped my head around but I let it get to me.  The aid station was freezing cold so we bundled up in night gear for the climb up to Desolation Lake and hit the trail again.

Only a few minutes out of the aid station it got really warm again so now I was way overdressed.  I unzipped my jacket, stowed the gloves, and sweat like a beast.  When we got to Desolation there was one small table and some downed logs to sit on.  Apparently it is really remote so the aid workers hike in with horses and filter water out of the lake for the runners.  They also had an air mattress and sleeping bag laying there which was calling my name.  Sadly I gave in while Christine hung out waiting for me.  I am not sure how long I stayed but it was too long. 

The next section is a long grind up the mountain to Scott’s aid station that is on the ridgeback.  Christine and I planned to have her go up ahead, get everything I needed, and continue on.  As soon as I got there I walked in the tent and sat down.  I remember thinking how I was disappointed in myself for wasting so much time but these mental breaks were helping me have just enough motivation to keep moving.

After Scott’s you pass a forest service bathroom and pop out onto the paved road down to Brighton Ski Resort.  The climbing from the bottom of Mill Creek seemed like it had been going on forever so this downhill was a welcome sight.  Like a complete jackass I wanted to pick up the pace and run a bit faster to knock off some of the rust that had slowed me down.  We ran fast…and I am sure I paid for it later. 

Brighton is like an Oasis in the desert.  I had heard tales of caution from everyone who had run the race before about not lingering; don’t get sucked in, leave as soon as possible….  One thing I had been looking forward to was brushing my teeth.  Tom Noll had told me several years before that a dentist runs the aid station and had disposable toothbrushes.  (A funny side note: At Bear in 2011 Michelle and I went back on the course to cheer in Emily Berriochoa and took a guy with us who was waiting for his sister.  I was telling him all about this dentist guy and he tells me HE is the dentist guy, Mark Collman!)

I walked into the lodge and the first thing they did was weigh me.  I was exactly what I had started at.  I am sure the scale at Lamb’s was screwed up and felt stupid for letting it ruin my mental game.  I brushed my teeth, had pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, and laid down so Michelle could inspect and fix my feet that were getting hammered.  I think she used an entire container of wipes to get the gritty dirt off so she could see what she had to work with.  There were a few blisters to drain and several places that needed taping and she did an awesome job.  The back room of the lodge looked like a medical ward and the guy laying next to me said, ‘Now that is true love!  My wife would never do that.’  Shortly after Mark came around checking on everyone and I told him I was leaving shortly.  Someone in the area said they had worked this aid station for years and never seen anyone lay in a cot as long as I had and not DNF.   I am sure that was true but as horrible as I felt and as slow as I was moving I still wasn’t going to quit.

I stayed at least an hour and then we finally got back on the trail.  It was really cold outside, probably because I had stayed too long and gotten used to the heat.  It warmed right up as we climbed up and out of Brighton.  In less than 3 miles you are at the high point of the course which is Sunset Pass over Point Supreme at 10,467 feet.  The trail marking had been amazing to this point and I hadn’t questioned one turn.  At Point Supreme you arrive on a pretty nice trail and come to a fork.  One continues on the nice trail and one drops down a rocky gutted trail.  There was another small group of people there trying to figure it out too.  Several of them were locals which had me a bit nervous because I assumed they had run this section before.  Someone had a cell phone and had coverage so they called the communications guys.  They said if you are standing at the intersection you need to take the gnarly straight down through the rocks direction.  Problem solved.  It was really steep but I was glad we didn’t get off course and get bonus miles because that surely would have broken me.

Much of the trail after this was a blur until the sun came up.  We hit Ant Knolls aid station at mile 79 and I wasn’t expecting an aid station until mile 82.  That was kind of a boost and they had sausage and pancakes again which hit the spot.  After leaving there is a section called the grunt.  The ‘grunt’ section is only about 0.3 miles but it climbs almost 400 feet (1,290/mile for perspective).  The sun came up between the top of the grunt and getting to Pole Line pass.  This stretch is a nice ridge trail with not much up and down.

When I got into Pole Line it was nice to see a familiar face! Batman Santa Claus…I mean Joshua Bryant.  I met him at Salt Flats back in April and got some pictures of him finishing his first 100 miler in the same Batman mask.  He offered to take ‘the stick’ and roll out both of my legs if I wanted.  I didn’t really want to endure the pain but knew if would likely help.  I tried not to cry like a girl while he worked me over and afterward I felt great.  I had my fastest mile of the final 25 after leaving there.

The trail from there is very gorgeous but now the heat of the sun coming up and the dust from the gutted motorcycle trails was really wearing me down.  I was really slow on the uphills because I was just beat and even slower on the downhills because my shoes had worn on the tendon coming down from my shin on both legs.  I was grateful that Christine had not beaten me up for being such a slacker through the night with average mile times from 20 to 30 minutes.  I guess the only thing that saved me from missing the final cutoff was going out too fast and have a cushion!

On the last trail section Mike Place went blazing past me and said ‘looking good, keep up the good work!’  I said is that you Mike?  Please don’t lie.  He passed me with like 3 miles to go and beat me by a half an hour.  Christine and I finally emerged onto the pavement road next to a golf course and I hadn’t been so glad to see pavement in a long time.  I had this awkward running motion up top while my legs looked like a 90 year old woman pushing a walker.  I glanced at my watch and realized I was ‘running’ about a 26 minute mile so I just gave up the stupid fake run and walked.

In the last half mile I sent Christine up ahead to let everyone know I was coming and to have Michelle come out to meet me.  She bounded away so fast I think I laughed out loud realizing how wrecked I felt.  Families and crews lined the streets cheering people in which felt amazing.  I managed to smile and high five some kids along the way that perked me up.  Michelle met me at the end of the park grass and ran in to the finish with me which was a great moment.  I did have to tell her to slow down which she got a good chuckle out of hearing from me.  My finish time was 33:20 and I was HAPPY to be done.

I would like to think I learned a lot that day I can use in future races.  I am getting my rematch chance this September in the 2015 edition of Wasatch 100!
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