Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A little more commitment

I found this today and it reminded me of when I started.  I didn't have a yoga mat, a gym membership, or a trainer.  What I had was MOTIVATION and a lot of COMMITMENT.  Michelle and I kept each other accountable by walking together at night and we did our own thing in the mornings.

These days I find myself leaning on running buddies a lot to get my butt moving in the morning.  I never regret getting out early but getting there is a minor victory in itself some days.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Statesman Article from the 2011 Boston Marathon

I was cruising my C: drive today and found this article from the Idaho Statesman the day after I ran the Boston Marathon.  They listed top local finishers and I made the top 10.  I only knew 2 people on the list that day.  I have met or ran races with a bunch of these people since then.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

WSER Runner Update Email

Nothing to report here really. Other than when I saw my name on this email it suddenly felt REAL. Can't wait.  One actual bit of news they added was the fact that we will have an additional.... "river crossing at the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River (Deadwood Canyon) just below Devil's Thumb (~mile 45). The Swinging Bridge at the bottom of Deadwood suffered damage (from the 2013 American forest fire) which will require substantial work next spring/summer. For the race it is looking like we'll be crossing the river just downstream of the bridge either with the help of a cable or boats."

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The OM Radio Interview with Melissa Part II

The Om Radio

Finding ourselves through conversations about Fitness, Nutrition, Spirituality, Health, Art, Crafts, Nature, Gardening, Outdoors Activities and much more. You’ll love how really living feels…

My friend Melissa does a weekly podcast at The OM Radio and she asked if I would sit down and visit with her about my weight loss, running, and juggling family life in pursuit of a healthy life.  Part II

I am glad I had the opportunity to record this to memorialize it in my own words while I still remember it! Thanks Melissa.

Listen Here

Link to Part I

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Runner's World Quote

I saw this today and had to share.  Set high goals, push yourself in training, and know your limits when it's go time!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Western States 100 Lottery Update

The odds were not great but someone has to get in and the third time was a charm for me!  I was the 66th name drawn at the lottery held on Saturday.  On an unrelated note this is the first time I have seen my age written down as 40, I am getting old.  Can't wait it should be fun!

One a side note, I think anyone who has put in 5 times should automatically be in.  First, they have earned it. Second, it will remove them from the lottery and give a small boost to those with fewer names in the hat.   This year there were 19 people drawn that had 5 tickets which means 34 people will have to try again next year with 6 tickets.  With more difficult qualifying standards I imagine the number of entrants will go down next year too.

I never pay much attention to this but this is Ultrasignup's prediction of my time.  Usually they estimate a lot longer time for me.  This one seems fast but we'll have to see what comes on race day.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

5th Sort of Annual Ryan Anderson Invitational Marathon

Today was a wonderful day spent with Christie, Derek and Michelle celebrating 1 more year of maintaining my weight loss and counting my blessings.

It was 19 degrees at the start with a wind chill of 6 degrees through 3 to 4 inches of fresh snow a majority of the way. It felt like running on the beach for 26.2 miles which wore us out. BUT there was zero possibility that I was not going to go the distance.  I told Michelle I would still be out doing it even if there was a foot of snow and 20 below.  That's how much this means to me.

The original plan was for Michelle and Christie to ride along on the bikes like they did last year but the snow was so crazy they opted to meet us along the way with the car which was fun too.  The cold combined with our hard breathing made for wonderful beard-sicles too.

My original plan for the run was to beat my 3:08 time from the Potato Marathon in May.  After about 5 steps Derek and I knew that would never happen so we just embraced the snow and cold and tried to have fun.

Today was also the Western States 100 lottery. I have put my name in for 3 years and I told my wife I am turning off my phone so no one can text me. I also told her that if someone sends a text to her I didn't want to know if I got in or not.  I went so far as to tell her not to even appear happy or I would know I got in!

After I finished, Michelle said I know you didn't want to know but the best way to receive good news is among friends! YOU GOT INTO WESTERN STATES! It was the perfect way to end a wonderful day with her, Christie, and Derek.

26.22 mi 4:04 09:17 pace

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The OM Radio Interview with Melissa Part I

The Om Radio

Finding ourselves through conversations about Fitness, Nutrition, Spirituality, Health, Art, Crafts, Nature, Gardening, Outdoors Activities and much more. You’ll love how really living feels…

My friend Melissa does a weekly podcast at The OM Radio and she asked if I would sit down and visit with her about my weight loss, running, and juggling family life in pursuit of a healthy life.  This is part I (since we talked forever!).  This was completely unedited as far as I can tell.  I was thinking it might turn out a little scattered but it seemed to flow pretty well.  The interview starts at about 5 minutes and 30 seconds.

I am glad I had the opportunity to record this to memorialize it in my own words while I still remember it! Thanks Melissa.

Listen Here

Friday, November 29, 2013

Hollilynn 10 miler and a bit of reflection

Gorgeous day. Started with my normal gloves, jacket, and hat. By the end I had the gloves stuffed down the front of my shorts, the hat tucked in my jacket, and wishing I didn't even have the jacket.
One of my friends Melissa came over to the house on Wednesday and interviewed Michelle and I about our weight loss and running transformation. It took me back to why I started all this in the first place and reminded me of what it felt like starting out as a runner.
Back in 2009 I decided to do a marathon plan and I couldn't seem to bring my brain to get over the 13 mile hump. This ten mile route was always the start of my longer runs back then. I think I gave up before hitting 13 miles two times before I finally brought myself to complete it because, "Why would anyone want to run that far? ON PURPOSE...crazy....!!"
Anyway, I had all this rolling around in my brain while I was out yesterday while at the same time trying to figure out a good way to cut it short and cave on my original 10 mile goal. I thought about just stopping at 9 and doing a cooldown or walkng mile 10. The more I tried to talk myself into it the more I realized it wouldn't happen. I have set lots of seemingly impossible goals for myself and achieved most of them. Giving up is not what got me there. By the time I made it to 8.5 miles I was determined to make the last mile the fastest one just to prove to myself that I can push when what I really want to do is quit and finish what I started. Mile 10 did turn out to be the fastest at 6:56.
The interview was for an internet radio program. Once it's up I'll post the link if anyone is interested in hearing me tell my story of Fat Boy to Fast Boy!
This is a great hilly route for marathon training.  I did have to stop in the first mile to adjust my bra strap which was unfortunate. Wearing a heart rate monitor can be a huge pain some days!

10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Working Out

Source: http://bit.ly/1hbqrgg

10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Working Out

Mid-way through a recent group exercise class, the teacher lost me.  She didn’t lose me because of some complicated step sequence or insanely long set of burpees; I mentally checked out because of a few words she kept saying over and over.  “Come on!  Get that body ready for your winter beach vacation!  Think about how you want to look at those holiday parties!  PICTURE HOW YOU’LL LOOK IN THAT DRESS!
THAT DRESS?”  My brain couldn’t focus on an image of some random dress hanging in my closet.  All I could think about was my three-year-old daughter hearing and trying to process those words.
My daughter’s little brain is making sense of the world every single second, taking in verbal and non-verbal cues about how things work and what things mean.  And when it comes to exercise, I want her to grow up seeing it as a joy, and not a utility…as a gift, and not a chore…as an opportunity, not an obligation.  I want her to do it for the love of it, not to fit into a dress.  I want her to grow up knowing that…
  1. Strength equals self-sufficiency.  Being strong – particularly as a woman – is empowering.  It will feel good someday to be able to carry your own luggage down the stairs if the airport escalator is broken, and it will be important to have a solid shot at outrunning a stranger should you meet one a dark alley.
  2. Fitness opens doors.  Being healthy and fit can help you see the world differently.  The planet looks different from a bike or a pair of skis than it does from a car or an airplane.  Out in the elements you have the time and space to notice details and meet people and remember smells and bugs and mud and rain and the feeling of warm sunshine on your face.  And those are the moments that make up your life.
  3. The bike is the new golf course.  Being fit may help you get a seat at the table.  Networking is no longer restricted to the golf course, and the stronger you are – and the more people you can hang with on the road and trail – the more people you’ll meet.
  4. Exercise is a lifestyle, not an event.  Being an active person isn’t about taking a class three times a week at the gym.  It’s about things like biking to the grocery store and parking your car in the back of the lot and walking instead of taking a cab and catching up with friends on a hiking trail instead of a bar stool.
  5. Health begets health.  Healthy behavior inspires healthy behavior.  Exercise.  Healthy eating.  Solid sleep.  Positive relationships.  These things are all related.
  6. Endorphins help you cope.  A good sweat session can clear the slate.  You will have days when nothing seems to go right…when you’re dizzy with frustration or crying in despair.  A workout can often turn things around.
  7. Working out signals hard-working.  The discipline required to work out on a regular basis signals success.  Someone recently told me they are way more likely to hire marathon runners and mountain climbers because of the level of commitment that goes into those pursuits.
  8. If you feel beautiful, you look beautiful.  Looking beautiful starts on the inside.  And being fit and strong feels beautiful.
  9. Nature rules.  And if you’re able to hike/run/bike/swim/ski/snowshoe, you can see more of it.
  10. Little eyes are always watching.  We learn from each other.  You may have a daughter—or a niece or a neighbor or a friend – one day.  And that little girl will be watching and listening to everything she you say and do.  What messages do you want her to hear?
I’ll never talk to my daughter about fitting into THAT DRESS.  But I will talk to her about what it sounds like to hear pine needles crunching under my feet and what it feels like to cross a finish line and how special it is to see the world on foot.  I will talk to her about hard work and self sufficiency.  I will teach her the joy of working out by showing her I love it.  And I’ll leave the rest up to her.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Daily Motivation - The Berry

TheBerry.com posts 25 motivational photos every day ---HERE--- Enjoy.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Half Marathon Week 11/4-11/10

Like any dumb idea this started with either Derek or I saying wouldn't it be fun to run a half marathon every day next week...and the other dumb one agreeing. When what you really want to do is back out but you don't want to look like the weak one...so you keep pretending it's a good idea! I think this code is in the: 

MAN MANUAL - A Handbook for Everlasting Stupidity in Chapter 3.....

ANYWAY, this conversation took place BEFORE running the real Zeitgeist race the previous Saturday at race pace!?  My goal for this insane challenge was to run a comfortable but challenging pace with enough left in the tank so I could come back the next day and do it all over again.  I felt like getting under 2 hours each time would be a respectable time.  After tossing around the idea of doing 13.1 each day I suggested we run actual race courses in the valley.  

We settled on Snocone Scamper, Zeitgeist (Part II), Fit for Life, City of Trees, and The Great Potato. The only one I was concerned with meeting the 2 hour goal was Zeitgeist since it has over 1100 feet of gain.  But by Thursday I was concerned every day!  I have run plenty of weeks with more mileage but not back to back runs near race pace. I haven't run this much pavement in forever too.  

Monday - Snocone Scamper (Me and Derek)
This honestly felt like the hardest one.  Two days after a 1:42 finish at Zeitgeist for real hurt.  The path from Glenwood to Merrill Park was covered in thick leaves too which obscured the roots and crinkled asphalt and was a general pain in the butt.
Tuesday - Zeitgeist Part II (Me, Derek, and David)
I was actually looking forward to running this in the dark and not at race pace!  We still made good time despite the 21 degree temps at the start and the darkness helps you focus on the next step...not the big hill coming up ahead. David told us he ran a treadmill half the night before during Monday Night Football so he was still in the challenge.  Derek kinked his calf in the final stretch and wasn't feeling too hot afterward which was a bummer.
Wednesday - Fit for Life (Me, Derek, David, Christie, and Heather)
Fun bigger group to help pass the miles. Derek decided after this one he better take some rest time and get back to 100%.  I was glad he made that decision but it also makes getting my butt out of bed the next day all that much harder.
Thursday - City of Trees (Me and David)
This honestly, was my most favorite course.  It has a little bit of everything.  Flat, uphills, downhills, greenbelt, and bench views.  The miles melted away as we chatted about whatever.
Friday - The Great Potato (Me, David, and Christie)
This one was a bit trickier since it was a point to point race.  We decided to meet at the finish and drive up to the start in my truck.  Later in the day Christie retrieved my truck with her husband and delivered it to work since I didn't have time to go get it when we were done.  Other than getting all 5 of them under 2 hours, my other goals were to make the last one the fastest one and if the stars aligned make the last mile the fastest mile of the 65 miles. This was the only one under 1:50 with a last mile of 7:32, which happened to be the best one.  It wasn't blazing fast. I see it as more of a tribute to being smart and not going so hard each day that I couldn't get it done the next.
Happy Trails

One more goal...not have to take the next week off because I trashed myself.  I reserved the trashing for the following Monday when I did Cervidae 2 times!

Western States 100 Lottery - Part III

With just over 7.3 million people putting their names in...my odds are horrible to say the least. Actually, I was applicant 2,593.  We are all hoping to get one of about 200+ spots in the lottery.  Lucky for me, I am a previous 2-time loser.  Meaning that I applied and was not selected in 2011 or 2012.  I will get my name in lottery twice for being a loser and once due to re-qualifying this year.  There are a number of 3-time losers as well.  All tallied I will bet there are 6,500 names in the hat this year.

I am not crossing my fingers but someone has to get in. Why not me?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Why I Run - Courtney Parsons

When people ask me why I run, I tell them, there's not really a reason, it's just the adrenaline when you start, and the feeling when you cross that finish line, and know that you are a winner no matter what place you got.  

~Courtney Parsons 

This was the Runner's World quote of the day today and I couldn't have said it better myself.  When people ask me, I usually say just because I can.  That may sound silly but there was a point in my life when I couldn't.  Every day is a gift.

Courtney Parsons 

Monday, October 21, 2013

2013 Antelope Island 50k - Michelle

Buffalo Run 100 March 2013
Back in March Ryan did the Buffalo Run 100 mile race.  That was the first time I had been to Antelope Island and I knew I would be back.  We started the race with the full moon setting in the west and the sun rising in the east.  Once the race started everyone quickly took off and I hung back at my normal pace (slow).  In no time I was the last runner but there were still several runners within eyesight which is fairly unusual.  As I climbed the mountain I kept looking back down at the view of the Great Salt Lake. I had made the decision to leave my jacket and gloves in my car but was wishing I had brought them because the temperature was 37 degrees. It took a long time before the sun popped up over the mountain to warm me up but when it did it felt wonderful.

Start/Finish at 7:30am
The first 9 miles flew by with mile 7 being my fastest. At mile 9 I caught up with a gentleman who was bent over with his hands on his knees. I asked if he needed any help.  He said he was fine and was just catching his breath.  He told me he lives at sea level and wasn't used to the higher altitude in Utah. I told him good luck and went on my way. That was the first person I passed.  I was shocked!  I've NEVER passed another runner in an ultra before.  Although it was exciting I felt bad that he was struggling.

I soon came upon a section of the course that was gravel, sand and rocks that were the size of grapefruit which slowed my pace a lot. I kept looking back over my shoulder to make sure the guy behind me was still moving along.  At mile 12 I started the steepest climb of the whole course.  This section gains 1000 feet in 2 miles.  I noticed I was gaining on a man and a woman in front of me. I finally caught them at mile 13 sitting on the side of the trail taking a little break. I wanted to sit down and join them but kept moving instead. When I passed the lady she got up and joined me for awhile. She told me that the man she was with was her ex-husband and she was doing the whole race with him since it was his first ultra. As we climbed higher and higher the second place 100k passed us. The 100k race had to do 2 laps of the 50k. When he passed I thought at first he was Anton he looks just like him. He told us that the aid station was just around the corner Yes!

Once I got there I started eating everything I could get a hold of I was so hungry after climbing the hill. I chatted with the volunteers, thanked them, and left by myself. The woman who joined me for awhile stayed and waited for her ex. At mile 15 I started downhill and saw a herd of buffalo.  Roughly 700 buffalo roam the island and I am pretty sure about half of them were right in front of me!  It looked like the course went right through the herd so I put it out of my mind and was determined not to think about them until I got closer. A few more 100k runners passed me through this section without incident. In no time I had finally arrived at the buffalo. I wasn’t sure what I should do. Should I run? But what if they gave chase I couldn’t out run them. Should I just walk with my head down not making eye contact or curl up in a ball and cry?!? In the end, I picked up my poles (so they wouldn’t make noise) and just walked right by them. Nothing happened to me thank goodness.

Mile 19 at the road crossing
I asked Ryan when he was done with his race if he would come meet me at the 20 mile aid station. I was really looking forward to seeing him and our kids Zach and Hannah.  The course crosses the road at mile 19 and when I got there they were waiting for me. Ryan ran the 50k too and was so excited to tell me his finishing time of 4:56. A few days before the race I told him I didn’t think he could do 5 hours and he said “IT’S ON NOW!”!  I knew that would light a fire in him. I was so proud!

He asked if there was anything he could get me and at that moment a yogurt sounded good.  We had some in our cooler so he got one for me. It tasted so good! Usually I have a hard time getting food down because my mouth is so dry but the yogurt worked perfectly.  When I arrived at the 20 mile aid station and once the volunteers saw me they started cheering. One of them asked what he could get me.  I just shook my head and he said do you need some motivation? I said YES! So they cheered louder I couldn’t help but smile and laugh. I had a pretty good pace going up until this aid station then after that my goal of 10-10.5 hours started slowly slipping away. I got back on the trail and headed to the next aid station which the volunteers said was 4 miles away. Through this section of the trail I was having difficulty avoiding these wild sunflowers plants on steroids!  A few times they reached out and grabbed me and they hurt!  After I emerged from wild sunflower hell I could see the Lower Frary aid station less than a mile away which really sucked because it took forever to get there.

Arriving at Lower Frary mile 23.5
Hallelujah, this aid station had a bathroom! I had to go so bad and there is nowhere on the trail that you can squat without someone driving by and seeing my white butt! Ryan was once again ready to help with whatever I needed. I gave him my pack and went to use the bathroom.  Upon returning I asked him for another yogurt. The volunteers offered me one of their chairs to sit in which I gladly accepted. Then it was back on the trail again for the final 6 mile stretch. At this point in a long race I start to struggle mentally.  It’s hard for me to keep going when everything hurts and all I want to do is sit and have a good cry. So I started singing to myself and watching all the lights coming on across the lake.  The reflection on the water of the Wasatch Mountains mixed with the city lights was a beautiful sight.   I saw a coyote just off the trail that started to howl and I thought ‘oh no he knows I’m about to die and he’s calling his friends’ but he just ran off.

At the last aid station Ryan told me that the three 50k runners that I passed earlier weren’t that far behind me so I kept looking over my shoulder expecting to see them any minute. After running along the shoreline from Lower Frary you make a hard left turn after passing through a chain link fence. Then you climb the last hill of the course. As I started up I could see the lady I had chatted with at mile 13 who was running with her ex-husband about a ½ mile back. That lit a fire under me! I could see Ryan waiting at the top where I had to cross the road. When I was almost there my little pacer came down the hill to meet me. My nine year old son Zach was going to finish the race with me. I was so happy! He was just the boost of energy I needed at that moment.

We crossed the road and had to finish the ¼ mile climb and then it was all downhill from there. As we started downhill I picked up the pace and started running and so did Zach.  He stopped running and just walked but was keeping up with me.  I looked at him and said “that’s not funny”!  He said I’m not laughing mom. Then he said “did you do the whole race this slow mom”? NO, I actually had to run some of it or I would still be back there! While we were running (in his case walking) he asked if a 50k was longer then a marathon I said “yes”.  He said “then I’d like to do a 50k someday” a few minutes later he said well maybe not my feet already hurt…which is totally understandable because we had gone nearly a HALF of a mile!  I just glared at him.

Once I could finally see the finish line I picked up my pace.  My fourteen year old daughter Hannah had walked up the hill to meet us too.  She fell in step right beside me so I went a little faster making them have to work to keep up with me. I just laughed when Hannah said you’re going too fast mom! Then Zach goes blazing by me with his hands up in the air and crosses the finish line saying “woohoo I just finished a 50k” little stinker!

When I crossed the finish line I said “that course was hard!  It looked a lot easier on paper”.  It was so good to be done.  I finished in 11:03:23 and not finishing last was priceless!  This is one I will have to do again.  The views were amazing!

Things I need to work on:

·   actually training for a 50k
·   drinking more at the end of a race
·   and staying positive

I did a pretty good job with my nutrition this time and I felt I stayed on top of my calorie intake.  I am looking forward to a little down time from races for awhile.  It’s been a busy year!

Sunset at the Start / Finish around 7pm

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tim Noakes Quote

Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic. 

Timothy Noakes, author of Lore of Running 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

2013 Bear 100 Race Report

2011 mile 45
When I ran the race in 2011 I melted in the afternoon heat between mile 30 and 45.  I was not looking forward to another hot day in 2013 but had put in enough miles in the heat that I wasn't terribly worried about it. 

The weather leading up to race day 2013 was sketchy at best.  I try not to concern myself with things I can't control so I kept an eye on the forecast but didn't plan on it until I was packing on Wednesday night.  The forecast at that time was saying partly cloudy with scattered snow showers on Friday and below freezing temperatures with breezy conditions Friday night and into Saturday at higher elevations.  These are not ideal conditions for most runners but I was excited about the forecast.  My best races this year have been in unseasonably cool / freezing weather.  (Wilson Creek, Buffalo Run, and Speedgoat)

I dressed warm for the start but quickly realized I would be one of the people stopping to ditch a jacket if I didn't shed a layer.  I took off my jacket but stuffed it in my pack just in case it got colder up high. 

Frank, Me, and Emily
Frank Morris and I ran together at the start.  We were both shooting for a 24 hour finish and were hoping to help pace each other in the first half.  We took off pretty quick, hoping to get into the 264 person conga line in good position.  I learned this valuable lesson from Dennis Ahern 2 years ago and I think Frank and I did a pretty good job of getting in right where we needed to.  We passed a handful of people and we let a handful of people pass us.

About 2 or 3 miles in with hit the snowline and the snow began gently falling just as it was starting to get light.  It was a gorgeous sight to see all the pine trees draped in snow from the past few days and the yellow aspens sprinkled across the hillside.  The snow on the first climb was actually kind of helpful for me.  There are a number of rocks, roots, and random holes in the trail that were made quite obvious with the layer of snow tracked over with a dusting dirty brown footprints.

When we hit the top of the climb around mile 5 the visibility was about 100 yards.  That was too bad because you can normally see Logan and the entire valley from this point.  Frank and I rolled along the next few miles of gentle up and down terrain that finishes with a steep uphill into the first aid station.

We hit that first aid station right on time at 8:30.  The first 10+ miles is the most challenging climb of the day with roughly 4,900 feet of climbing and 1,800 feet of descent.  The reward for making up that crazy climb?  You drop straight down the other side into Leatham Hollow. 

Since this was my 2nd time doing the race I was somewhat familiar with the course which came in handy on several occasions.  The first time was just after Logan Peak.  The route crests over this hill onto a 5-way intersection....with ZERO flagging that we could see.  I was confident that the correct way was the straight path that forks a bit to the right.  We were still stuck in the clouds so visibility wasn't wonderful.  I pushed down the hill farther and farther with no flags.  I pulled up to a stop to survey the situation with Frank, afraid we were about to turn around and climb back up the long downhill we were cruising on.  Just then a woman came running up towards us. Oh crap, here is someone else who found out the hard way! She starts waving us down yelling that we were heading the right way and that she was coming up to add flags! Whew, that was a big relief.

We continued along on what is undoubtedly the most beautiful section of the race into Leatham Hollow.  As I was running, I kept remembering back to the sights and sounds of the 2011 race.  While we were on the forest service road I was telling Frank about how at about the same spot in 2011 Dennis caught a rock and went down hard.  About 10 seconds later I did exactly the same thing!  I dusted off with a smile and said, 'That's gonna make for a funny story afterward!'. 

The open forest service road turns onto an absolutely stunning narrow single track into Leatham Hollow.  The aspens, scrub oak, scrub maple, and pines make for an amazing fall color show.  The forest floor was dusted with snow which made it even better!  The footing was a bit tricky in places because the fall leaves had already started to accumulate and create slippery footing in places. 

We arrived at the aid station right on time again and a got the chance to refill and see our wonderful crew and friends for the first time.  Before the race Michelle made me promise that I would be nice to her and give her a kiss at every aid station she met me at.  I was on a mission at this point and was there less than two minutes.  I started running out of the aid station and yelled back,  'Honey you forgot your kiss! Catch up to me!'  I continued on the trail making Michelle run (just to be a pain in the butt, which I have a lot of experience doing!).  I came back to her got my kiss after quickly explaining to the confused onlookers what was going on.  They all got a kick out of it and I hollered back to Frank that I would walk a bit to let him catch up.

We got back together then power hiked and ran what we could up the road to Richards Hollow.  The road is relatively easy and I had planned to try and run the whole thing.  There is just enough up and down that running the whole way felt like it was burning too much energy.  I stopped once to empty my shoes and Frank caught and passed me. Then he stopped to do the same and I continued on hiking expecting him to catch back up at any moment. 

I breezed through Richards Hollow with just a cup of water and continued the solid power hike.  The 7 mile stretch up to the Cowley aid station has 2,500 feet of gain and 1,400 feet of descent.  I checked back down the switchbacks hoping to see Frank but I never did see him again until the end.  I remember dreading this long climb in 2011 because the heat was starting to get to me early in the race.  This year it was still in the 30's and just right to keep my body heat right where I needed it.  I definitely didn't realize how beautiful this section was until this year.

I was still on pace at Cowley (mile 30) which had me pleasantly surprised.  I set this crazy 24 hour goal for myself not know exactly what to expect.  I told myself beforehand that I would evaluate how I felt at mile 30 and mile 52 then adjust the plan if necessary.  So far so good!  I reached the aid station in 6:17 while navigating 9,600 feet of gain and 8,000 feet of descent.  The reason I was surprised that I made it on time and feeling decent is my fastest 50k was the Foothills Frenzy last year.  I finished in 5:45 and it has about 5,600 feet of up and down.  How on earth could I do 4,000 feet more climbing in only 30 minutes longer AND have enough gas to run 70 more miles, hmm we'll see I guess.

I typically run with a heart rate monitor to help me gauge my effort level so I don't go out too fast.  I started with the monitor but for some reason it ceased to function nearly from the get go.  This was a huge blessing in disguise for me.  I am pretty good at gauging effort level without it anyway and when it died it was one less piece of information to process.  For about 95 miles I just ran what felt right.

I left Cowley with my Nathan bottles full of chicken broth and a hydration bladder full of water.  The only problem was that the Tailwind energy drink powder I put in the bladder first had packed into the drinking hose so it was like trying to suck sand through a straw.  I thought I could easily blow air back or shake the bladder to mix it in.  Nothing worked! I had to stop, take the entire thing out, and open the slide to get enough air in to get it mixed up.  This was a minor delay but quite frustrating.

After a few miles of uphill there is a fast, rocky, single track descent into Right Hand Fork aid station.  Before I left Boise I asked my two youngest kids to pick a number between 1 and 100 and I would run that mile just for them.  My 10 year old daughter Kaylee picked 35.  I ran mile 35 in 8:37 and it happened to be the fastest mile of the day!  Let's just say Zach wasn't that lucky since he picked mile 100!

Right Hand Fork mile 37
The whole section leading to Right Hand flew by and I came in feeling good and still on pace.  It was great to see my cousin Gail and her daughter Stephanie volunteering at the aid station.  When we came down 2 years ago we stayed with Gail and we must not have scared her too bad with our craziness because here she was volunteering!  Michelle got me all set up and kicked me out after mugging for a few pictures.

I was feeling really good and was actually talking myself into the possibility of a 24 hour finish through this section.  The terrain is open and rolling.  This is where I really started to unravel in 2011 due to the heat and the fact that I was nearly out of water.  There is a water drop about half way to the Temple Fork aid station that couldn't come fast enough that year.  This time I ran right by smiling and thanking my lucky stars for the cold weather.  

Mile 45 feeling a bit better this year!
The other thing that had me smiling and feeling good was the prospect of having some of Derek's magical chicken pot pie.  I rolled in hoping to see Michelle because the parking at Temple Fork is quite limited and she told me she may or may not be there.  Luckily she was! I was somehow still on pace and excited to get in and out.  I hung out way too long boobing about the heat last time and didn't want to repeat a long aid stop.  I sat in a chair for the first time so I could enjoy my unicorn pie and empty the sand out of my shoes.  I headed for the exit and Derek went back and checked me out.

The next section to Tony Grove is almost 7 miles that has 2,500 feet of gain and 600 feet of descent.  The gain is the first 5 miles with nearly no reprieve from climbing and the loss is roughly the last two miles.  I told my friend Sue Richardson that I would run mile 46 for her and I had her in my thoughts as I cussed the never ending uphill! 

After the first mile I slowly realized the gain in elevation was the least of my worries.  By now it was about 4 in the afternoon and temps were probably in the low 40s.  The snow and rain of the past few days combined with the warmer afternoon temps turned this whole climb into a gooey mud fest.  To compound things, there were a fairly large number of cattle grazing through here turning it into a soupy mess.  I could feel my goal time slipping away but was determined to  put my head down and give it 100%.  I hiked for what seemed like forever through the mud and finally crested the mountain and began my descent into Tony Grove.  Knowing the course came in helpful again here.  On the way down the hill, you feel like you should be there any second but it is quite a long section through the campground leading to the aid station.

Tony Grove Lake mile 52
This is probably the aid station that has the most crew and family cheering you on. It was nice to see all the spectators and recharge the batteries.  Surprisingly, I was still on pace!  Even with the crazy mud I was just ahead of my estimated time but I could tell that I had expended way too much energy working my way up that hill.  In past races where I have set a hard goal for myself I have just coasted to the finish once I felt that it wasn't going to happen. I have learned over the last year that having a good plan is a smart thing, but knowing when to throw the plan out the window and just keep moving can be an even smarter thing.

Near Tony Grove - the picture doesn't do the colors justice
I pounded a Red Bull and refueled quickly.  I got my kiss from Michelle and headed out after 5 minutes which was 19 minutes faster than the last time when I engaged operation 'COAST to the FINISH!'  My cousin Stephanie had been moderately arm twisted to join me for the section from Tony Grove to Franklin Basin.  On Thursday night I told Gail that I was hoping to have someone join me there and she said I should have Stephanie go.  She is a runner so she got her on the phone and asked her. She said sure and I told Gail to tell her she needed to bring a headlamp and a water bottle.  We could overhear her on the phone reply, 'I have to carry my own water?  It's only 10 miles, who even needs water in 10 miles? What pace is he going to be going?'  I told Gail maybe a 11 or 12 minute pace which she relayed and Stephanie chuckled at since she is a quite a speedster!  (She has a faster half marathon time than I do!)

As it turns out my 11 or 12 minute pace turned out to be a pretty rosy estimate.  We had fun catching up after not seeing each other for a long time.  She kept me moving and distracted from the 50+ miles on my legs which was a good thing.  At some point after leaving Tony Grove I realized I had not taken my headlamp but Stephanie had one so I wasn't terribly concerned.  It started getting dark enough to need a headlamp just before hitting Franklin Basin at mile 62.  I volunteered to take the light since my legs were getting tired enough that little rocks were becoming big rocks.  She floated through the long valley like a ninja on a mission...in front of me...with NO light!  Hmm, I see a future trail runner here.

I picked up Jeremy Haddock at Franklin to pace me the last 38 miles.  He was ready to go and patiently waited for me to get my act together and snap a few more pictures.  I was a little slow here because I packed several clothing options due to the uncertain weather forecast. The other thing was I packed my things gallon Ziploc bags and then put them in my drop bag because I had a feeling it would be rainy and wet.  The drop bags were wet so I was glad to be pulling my things out of the Ziplocs and putting on dry night clothes. 

Jeremy and I set off into the night and put our heads down for the long climb out of Franklin.  Jeremy was my pacer at Antelope Island so I knew we would work well together.  He used to live in Logan and recently moved down to the Salt Lake area and had paced the final stretch at the Bear the two previous years with other runners.  This gave me a good sense of comfort because you never know how sketchy your brain and navigation skills may get after nightfall.

I really enjoy running in the dark so the miles went by pretty fast.  The sky had cleared and the stars were amazing.  We got to mile 69 at Logan River just after 10:30.  This aid station was much improved from 2011.  I heard lots of good comments from other runners too.  They had a nice tarped tunnel with propane heaters which I walked on the outside of (but it looked really nice).  I sat, refilled my pack, and had a grilled cheese with veggie chili which was amazing. 

We made good time to the Beaver Ski Lodge.  We met Kendall Wimmer along the way and asked if he wanted to pass by.  He was content with our pace and we cruised the last several miles into the mile 76 aid station together.  Kendall was the LAST runner Jeremy and I saw on the trail.  We saw other runners at aid stations trying to warm up or waiting for a ride after dropping.  It was kind of strange to go over 7 hours without seeing anyone on the trail.

Michelle met us in the lodge parking lot wrapped in a sleeping bag.  I had vowed to skip this aid station altogether but I was sucked in again.  It's a great aid station but the problem is people linger in there.  I wanted to use the real bathroom they had and ended up standing in line for way too long followed by a bunch of random time wasting that was completely unnecessary.  I swear I will skip this one next time!

Mile 77 was an interesting one.  We left the lodge and headed through the clearing below the parking lot and crossed over the highway.  After crossing we noticed 8 or so completely black cows standing on the side of the road getting ready to step out just as two big trucks went flying by.  We pushed them back a bit and were surprised we didn't hear of an accident involving the cows at the finish.

We left the lodge at about 1am.  The sloppy mud was quite minimal in the miles before the lodge.  It was getting really cold by this point and the muddy sections ahead were beginning to freeze solid.  We had pretty solid footing all the way to the end of the race which wasn't the case for those who followed later in the day.  We quickly passed over the Utah / Idaho border at mile 79 which makes you feel like you are getting close, sort of....

 We arrived at mile 82 at Gibson Basin just before 3 am.  I don't know but I would guess the temperature was in the mid 20s with a 15 to 20 mph breeze.  There was about 3 inches of powder in most areas and it was definitely the coldest point in the race.  We joked with the aid station captain about busting out a fast mile.  He said this is the place to do it because the next mile is completely flat.  So, I put on my best run-walk and managed that first mile in 13:18 which felt WAY faster.  It is a quick 4 miles up and over a mountain into Beaver Creek aid station.  The snow was 2-3 inches the whole way but it was tacky enough that I never felt like I was losing my footing.

Gibson to Beaver Creek was my best section on the second half which gave me a little hope that I could still break 26 hours if I hustled.  After waiting for hours after driving down the longest stretch of road Michelle has ever crossed in a race I stayed for just under 3 minutes, got my kiss, and hit the road.  I think I caught Jeremy off guard because I yelled 'I am leaving!' catch me...and I made him work for it too!  I picked up the running where I could and even started a run / walk combo of 40 seconds running and 20 seconds walking on the uphills.  I conservatively trotted the downhills and was surprised how well my legs were holding up when we began our descent into the final aid station.

As we approached Ranger Dip at mile 92, nothing looked familiar to either of us.  When I did it in 2011 the sun came up at Beaver Creek and the 2 times Jeremy had done it the sun was also up.  There is one spot that turns left onto a road but intuitively it feels like you should be turning right.  Before I knew it we were on the smooth flat forest service road leading up to the aid station.  I told Jeremy to run up ahead, get situated, and get ready to go hard to try and break 26 hours.

I pulled into Ranger Dip at 6:06 and knew I had a chance if I could RUN the downhill.  Michelle got me set up quickly and I got refueled and was headed out.  Jeremy had loaned me some headlamp batteries earlier and now needed replacements.  Michelle ran back to the car and got them for him while I again flew out and told him to catch me!  It was again, my pleasure, to make him work for it. (Sorry Jeremy)

Michelle took this photo after we left Ranger Dip
I left Ranger Dip at 6:14 and was able to manage a decent run but nothing to write home about.  The sun came up over the horizon when we hit the tail end of the downhill around mile 97.  It was one of the most amazing sunrises I have ever seen and a perfect way to finish the day.  There is one last climb at the water tower 1.7 miles from the finish.  It is short but can be a mentally draining.  We cruised that section and hit the dirt highway with just over a mile to go. 

In the back of my head I had been calculating what I needed to do to beat Derek's finish time of 26:36 from the year before.  Once we hit the road I knew that barring a colossal meltdown I had that in the bag.  Jeremy and I kept trotting and fast walking and right at the final turn before the finish line we saw another runner, FINALLY!   Jeremy says what I am thinking to myself...Dude you can take him!  We are about 100 yards from the finish and that just seemed kind of mean so I walked and let them finish then picked it up and blasted through the park reaching a pace of 5:27...for about 20 yards...and the crowd of.....2....went wild! 

Other than Michelle, Jeremy, and the timing table there was a woman sitting on a blanket with her 1 year old.  It was exciting and depressing all at the same time. When I finished in 2011 I was right in the thick of things and the park was packed with people cheering me in.  This was a very different experience but I was so happy that I never gave up on myself and gave it everything I had in the second half.

My official time was 26:20:26 which was an improvement of 3 hours and 15 minutes from 2011.  I was so glad to be done!  Michelle made a real breakfast of sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast burritos and we settled in to cheer in everyone after me.  I enjoyed seeing Frank, Emily, and Sam finish strong.  We all swapped stories at the finish line and it sounded like they dealt with much harsher conditions.  I was at higher elevation during the cold part of the night so everything was frozen.  Runners who hit the upper elevations after the sun was rising dealt with miles and miles of mud.

Derek and Frank

Emily finishing

The Idaho crew! Me, Emily, Jeremy (who won in a smokin fast time) and Frank

Sam hustling in!

Recovering in the park


More hardware!

Hardware again!

Jeremy and the handmade winner's trophy!

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