Antelope Island 50k - 14 November 2015

Got to the race check in - I had already showered and shaved by this point and had my pb&j and banana. I got my bib and shirt and then went out to the start line. It was kind of cold but the sun came up just as the race was starting and then in the first mile we were back in the cold shade again. I had my strategy to not go too fast at this point so I did my best to hold back - especially on the uphill. Across the flatter parts I was still going pretty quick and the downs I was going slightly faster. The first aid station I stopped and got some water and Gatorade then got some sugar in the form of M&M’s. It was fine and tasty. We flew down the hill to the switch backs and again, I was going fine but didn’t want to go all out. After the climb up the switchbacks was unknown territory and I didn't know what to expect. So I just stayed with go as quick as you can without going too fast. As with most trail races its more of going off how you feel and how much effort you think you should be putting in at that point in the race. After a while there was a big hill that came up that I really didn’t expect but I got up it by doing a little walk/run routine thing that I do. Cout 25 every other left foot falls walking and count 50 steps “running” it got me up the hill and I think that was a good strategy to have. Doing the walk then run strategy is a way to sort of even out the pace rather than just “guessing” and ending up walking more because you want and then not starting to run or something like that.

About mile 9 at the top of the switchbacks. (Photo credit: Lori Burlison)

I was hot by this point because I bought a pullover from the thrift store and I was wearing it. I wanted to throw it out pretty bad but didn’t want to litter the course so I kept it on. Right before the next aid station the wind started a little and then I was cold - go figure. I ditched my pullover and gloves anyway, got some water, snacks, a pb&j portion (it was amazing) and left the aid station feeling alright but I got a little bit cold, but that problem didn’t stick around.

The down was now coming and we all sped up a little. The crowd was pretty well evened out at this point expect for this group of 3 who were even with me...until they passed me. Anyway, I knew that I wasn’t going to keep up with them, mainly because I tell myself that I have the experience and I don’t need other racers to get in my head. I finish when I finish and I don’t let others really mess with me or else I might do something very dumb and be worse off for it. That group did break up and I think I passed at least one of them plus at least one more other person that was in the top 10 for most of the race but then he hit a wall or had cramps or something.

I got to an aid station that was really great, got some more stuff in my stomach (besides the Gu that I had been having “whenever I think I should need it” (which turned out to be about 4 gels over the whole race) I knew the Frary Peak aid station was coming up and part of my plan was to “turn on the heat” from that point on. So I kind of took it easy and kept moving as well as I could. I got to this next aid station and then I decided to give it a go. I got up to this small crest and hit my watch for a lap - which is set for 5k. I intended to do this next 5k split at just faster than 8min per mile pace. I counted every other left foot fall 100 times and looked at my watch. I would speed up or slow down as necessary to maintain the right pace. This worked pretty well, however, the last part of the split was slightly uphill and I wasn’t feeling the ability to go much faster. So I didn’t. I already knew I was where I was and I was still in great shape to finish in good time. But at 8:02 for that 5k split, it was good enough in my mind. So from this point on I just decided to keep moving. I walked for about 30 seconds while I got a gel in and some orange Gatorade (yuck!) and then just managed around a 9min/mile pace (or something like that).

Next up I saw the fence that signaled a turning point for the race where there is this hill climb and then it was basically down to the finish. I walked up the hill or, excuse me, “power hiked” and then as the hill crested I did my best to keep running. The dirt road turned to asphalt. My legs noticed but didn’t have much issue. The road went down and my body and mind were done but unfortunately, the race wasn’t over. I did another batch of “slightly slow down then slightly speed up” and then kept it going to the finish. I knew there was someone behind me and did look and noticed that he probably wasn’t going to catch me. If he had, what would I have done? I’m not really sure. Hopefully I would have not allowed it and been able to do so. But no worries. He was within about a minute behind me, which is pretty close.

The finish was awesome. and I was elated to get 10th place. Exactly what I was hoping for. No big problems at any one point during the race. The only reason I didn’t do better is because I don’t have the time to train more. That’s fine with me.

The best part of the finish area for me unfortunately wasn’t the chili, it was the ice cold Coke Zero.


2015 AF Canyon Run Against Cancer

Ran a half marathon this past saturday. It was awesome. I ended up finishing in 1:25:17.3 - that's a PR for me and an average pace of 6:31/per mile. It was good enough to get me 32nd place overall (out of 2263) and 3rd in my age group.

I ran a 50 mile race this year and I didn't feel to bad after. I wasn't that sore and was running the next Monday.

This half marathon has completely totaled my legs and now (being the Monday after)  I can barely walk. I figure it is due to a few factors: First, I pushed myself very hard. I was at my limit for the entirety of the race. Second, it was downhill and on pavement. The majority of the downhill I have done this year has been on trails and at a much slower speed.

Here's a quick breakdown of how the race went:

The race started on time at the Tibble Fork resivior and the road went immediately down. The one thing that always sort of throws training out the window is how the course actually is vs what you actually run. Yes, I guess you could train very specifically to a course, but I don't know how many people do on average.

So they say not to start out too fast and to finish the race faster than you start. I think this works well for a flat course but what about hills? This course starts down and ends a little bit flatter. So to me the begining is where you can really make good time because you're going downhill and that takes less effort than flat or going up.

Anyway, I started pretty quick and by the time the 10k point hit a PR for 10k. I was going pretty fast. knew right off the bat that I was probably going faster than I really should be going and faster than I really needed to go. But I was running the shortest race I have done yet this year and I wasn't planning on taking it easy.

The crowds thinned out as the miles ticked by and I was still doing just as well as I had expected. Some runners passed me and I passed some as well.

The canyon is very pretty and one aspect that I like most about American Fork Canyon is how steep the canyon walls are. There are some big cliffs and this perfect June morning I thought was a great way to enjoy it.

The course eventually lead out of the canyon and went to a small bike/pedestrian trail. This is where things started to get rough for me and I had to really work to keep up the pace.

The last 5 miles or so wind through the valley and although the overall course profile is downhill, there were some ups and downs where I think everybody had to slow down a little and push up before returning to a faster pace.

The finish line could be heard from about a half mile away. At this point, I didn't know if there was anyone behind me or how close they might have been. I think that my mind was playing tricks on be because the entire last quater mile I was convinced there was going to be a pack of about 10 people pass me. Lucky for me it was all in my head and even now, i'm not sure how close the person behind me was.

The finish line area was great. The Kneaders french toast was by far the best post race food I'd ever had at a race and was worth every calorie.

Would I run this race again? I think I would. I was surprised how smooth everything went. All elements were executed perfectly in my opinion.


Review: Ultra Raptor - La Sportiva

Quick review of the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor Trail running shoe.

Bottom line? I have logged a few miles in these shoes and have had no problems. They are comfortable and have done their job well. Be sure to check and double check to make sure the size you order is the size you want because they are Euro system sized.

Literally the first run I did in these shoes was an 18 mile run up a canyon and back down. I didn't know what size to get and while these were at first a little tight, they have stretched out a little and now I don't have any concerns.

That first run up the canyon was fun. I got up so high that I eventually was on snow for a few miles before I turned around and headed back down. In both directions the shoes performed well.

These shoes work well with some OR gators.

On my first 50 mile race I threw these shoes in a drop bag for the aid station at mile 32. Because they have a little more cushioning I had decided that it would be helpful for the slightly more rugged and inclined portions of the course.

So for the miles that I have logged I have enjoyed these shoes very much.


Bryce Canyon 50k (June 2015)

The Bryce Canyon 50k race is done. 5th place overall. 5hrs 23mins. Not bad. Not bad at all.

The weather was one of the more unpredictable things plaguing me (well, all of us really) at the beginning of the race. No one had any good idea of what to expect. Some looked ready for rain others looked ready for nothing but sun. The weather was surprisingly warm in the morning, probably due to the cloud cover.

I had forgotten to pack a beanie and got one for 6 bucks at the general store because I thought the possible discomfort of a cold head was worth avoiding for the cost of a cheap beanie. I don’t think I ended up really needing it, but I had it and that was worth it to me.

After we loaded on the bus and got out to the start I was feeling pretty good and looking forward to the run. I was a little worried about the weather which always puts me on edge regarding what to carry with me. I don’t like to carry too much stuff and I’d hate to get rid of something I that I might need later. However, I think I was wearing what most other people were not wearing, or what I think most people were not wearing, which was clothing that I didn’t care if I didn’t get back. Don’t get me wrong, I think an awesome lightweight windproof/waterproof garment is worth more than its weight in gold, but there’s something to be said of the value of a garment purchased at a thrift store for less than 10 bucks and being able to throw it away without a care at any point. I had on a cheap windbreaker thing and a fleece jacket on under that. Sure, it wasn’t winning me any fashion points, but really, did I care? Nope. It broke the wind and insulated me for about 12 bucks (and I’ve had and used these pieces for several races).

After hanging around for a few at the start the race was on. The weather looked a little scary but up to this point hadn’t done anything but bring some dark clouds to block the sun.

The first climb in this race goes to the highest point within about the first 8 miles. There was a little up and down on a single track trail but then the course hits a dirt road and you stay on the road and go up and up . I was feeling fine and just before I got to the steeper sections of the climb decided to ditch my fleece jacket and cheap beanie. I also put my wind breaker in my vest and decided to keep it just in case. It wouldn’t save me in a massive downpour, but if the wind got cold it would keep me a little bit better off than without it. And I could ditch it at an aid station without caring if it was gone. I also kept my cheap wool gloves incase my hands needed some warmth.

I felt good after losing that weight and then realized that I had 2 full water bottles on me and wondered why I was carrying them both full. One was empty a few seconds after that. I knew I didn’t need that much at this point and could get more fluids at the first aid station.

I could see that there were 6 people ahead of me. I was fine with that. I was hoping that one or two of these people would fade later in the race and that would put me pretty close to the front of the pack. That’s where I wanted to be and I would be happy staying there.

The climb to the highest point of the race spread out the field. The first 3 people were quickly out of my sight and I wondered if I would ever see them again. The other 3 were going about the same pace as me. I didn’t catch up to them but they didn’t get any farther ahead.

Going up to the top of the first pass one of them started to slow a little. I eventually was running with them and then passed them going up. I would never see this person on the course again until the finish.

The next 2 guys ahead of me were doing very well. They were staying about 100 yards ahead of me and I wasn’t able to make time on them.

Once the course started going down the weather began to be a little less cloudy. At times the sun would come out and the wind would gently blow. Both were welcome to a certain extent.

The first aid station came pretty fast and I noticed that the 2 people just ahead of me didn’t even stop. I was surprised by this because I knew that even though I wasn’t planning on stopping for long, I was still going to get some food and move on. Which I did. I grabbed some chips and a fig newton and some sort of sports drink and I departed quickly. The people ahead of me were now way ahead of me and I only would catch occasional glimpses of them. I looked behind me every so often and saw no one that I thought was gaining on me.

So I was now in no-man’s-land. I was alone for basically the rest of the race. I didn’t know how close the person ahead of or behind me was. After the 2nd aid station there would be occasional runners on the course that were part of the 100 mile event. They were always nice and would yield to me as I shuffled by.

Trying to remember the course from the previous year was somewhat helpful even though I was now doing the same course in reverse. But then it was also not very helpful because my memory was always thinking that it was shorter than reality.

I got to the 3rd and final aid station knowing that I probably wasn’t going to catch up to anyone a head of me and maybe no one would pass me. Within about 10 seconds of arriving at the final aid station a runner, which I had previously passed in the first half mile of the course, flew by me. She didn’t even stop at the aid station as far as I could tell. I stayed there for maybe a minute or two at most trying to get a few more calories in to my system before the final climb to the finish. Some pb&j, coke, sports drink, and I don’t remember what else were quickly consumed and I was off.

I was certain that the climb would begin soon – but it didn’t. It was much farther than I had imagined to the beginning of the final climb. I decided to commit to a walk-then-run approach. I would do this to get out of the canyon and on to the level part that would eventually lead to the finish. I have to say that it was mostly a success. I was able to run and walk despite my legs being pretty well depleted of any desire to go up anything. But I kept going. I discovered that shorter steps were better than long steps going up. I did my best to stay focused and move as quick as I could.

I was now passing some of the 100 mile runners every 10 minutes or so. I passed one and within about 10yards of passing them my right foot didn’t clear a rock and I went down. I bashed up my left knee a little bit and my hands were slightly scraped. It was a real surprise to me as I didn’t see it coming at all. I had to walk for a little bit after that but decided that I had nothing else to do but run to the finish. I didn’t have any first aid on me and didn’t see the point of using water and my dirty hands to rinse it off.

The climb up to the finish was much longer than I remember. Without a doubt it was absolutely beautiful. The trail was awesome and all the colors of the dirt and rock formations were just stunning. But the climb was long and seemed to never end.

My watched beeped at the 45 kilometer mark. I know that my steps are about 300 for every mile. With about 3 miles left and a little bit of approximation I decided that I would count 1000 steps and then I would decide what to do next to keep me going to the finish. The step counting went well to occupy my mind. I eventually passed someone who I think might have been one of the people that were ahead of me earlier. But I wasn’t able to really think at this point about who exactly it was.

After the step counting had gotten me through the last few miles I saw a family on the side of the trail who said something like “you’re almost there!” and I didn’t really believe them. I was convinced that I probably had about another 15mins of running or more. Just as they were behind me I crested a small rise and saw the finish. I don’t think I ran that last 100 yards very fast, but to me the time it took to get there was nothing.

Overall I’m pretty pleased with how I did. I know I’m a better climber than I was a year ago and during the whole race I never really stopped or had any major problems. The weather turned out to be a non-issue. In fact, I got sunburned a little on my arms where my sunscreen coverage was lacking.

If I have any lessons to learn it’s that if I want to do even better I need to practice hills as well as running at elevation more. It’s hard to get out and get as high as I need in order to train so that I can perform at the higher level. But seriously, I can’t be too hard on myself, I did pretty darn well.


My First Fifty - The Salt Flats 50 Mile Ultramarathon

Although I could probably make this a 2000 word post, I won't. Here are some short tidbits about my first fifty:

  • The Salt Flats are beautiful and I think running across them is the best way to experience them. 
  • Lemon Lime Gatorade is terrible and I don't like it.
  • Training on hills really helped me.
  • Changing shoes at mile 33 was a good idea.
  • I can't help but wonder; if I rested more at aid stations would I have been able to make up that time and more? Or was short aid station stops a better idea? 
  • To the guy who told me to eat solid food after mile 30: I never didn't eat solid food. :-)
  • 2 full 20oz bottles might be too much if the aid stations are close (6 miles) together. It's a unnecessary weight thing
  • I read complaints about some foods not sitting right with some people. I haven't encountered such a problem yet. 
  • Cooperating weather was a huge contributor to my success. It wasn't too hot and was cloudy most of the day. 
At any rate, the race was awesome. I took something like 5th place overall which is what I was expecting. I had a great time and wouldn't hesitate doing it again. 


Salt Flats 50

I'm running my first 50 mile race in a few days. I'm very excited for it. I have run a lot. Did 21 miles one day and then 31 miles the next. Did some good hill training. Ran myself super drained up a mountain and got some new shoes. Got a running vest and some body glide. 

I think I'm ready. I'm hoping I can pace myself correctly and finish in good shape. 

More to come..


American Fork Canyon Half-Marathon and 5k

I have a friend that was recently diagnosed with cancer. It's not one of those cancer's that's easy to beat. We're all hoping for the best for him and his family.

He posted on facebook the other day about running the American Fork Canyon Half-Marathon and I decided that it would be a good race for me to run to show my support.

I'm now signed up and committed to running in this race. The race takes place in the beautiful town of American Fork, Utah and starts up the canyon and ends in town. The downhill race makes me hopeful that maybe I can get a PR out of it. My reluctance to pay for a half has resulted in me not often trying to get the best time in that distance so I'm looking forward to doing it and hopefully finishing well below the 90 minute mark.

While anyone can support a good cause without running at all, events like this help raise money for people diagnosed with cancer while also giving people a little return on their donation in the form of a well organized race with lots of support and goodies for the runners.


Salt Lake City Marathon 2013

New year started. I hadn't signed up for another race. Had to find one. Decided on the Salt Lake City Marathon. It was close and would be easy to knock out.

Since my last time in a full was 3:34 I was hoping to break that record by a few mins. By the time the race came, I had some good long runs in and had been doing okay with nutrition and rest. I was doing some intervals a few weeks prior and ended up making my hamstring a little sensitive, but it didn't hurt any more while running and I was too stupid to let it keep me from running.

This race was probably the first race that I actually intentionally went to a thrift store to pick up some throw away clothes. I got a cheap fleece pullover and a cheap windbreaker jacket. For 10 bucks, they were the perfect items to just toss at an aid station as I ran by.

I had everything arranged and left with plenty of time to spare for the start. It was raining. I chilled in my car for a few mins eating some gummy bears and got my stuff all ready.

This race was just a week after the Boston Marathon Bombings so there was some discussion on if it should be cancelled or not. Luckily, sanity prevailed and the race went on, albeit with more security than had previously been arranged.

The start of the race was great. The light drizzle made it cold and people were anxious to get running. As the race was about to start they played the song “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. Everyone sang along and I thought it was pretty cool. Apparently that’s the song that’s played at Red Sox games.

The race started at the University of Utah Campus which sits up on the hills east of downtown Salt Lake City. So as the race went away from the campus the course went downhill.

My pace at the beginning was slightly higher than I was expecting but the downhill and the excitement of the race got to me and I just went with it. The rain got harder and softer occasionally and I was glad to have on my fleece pullover. I tucked the sleeves over my hands and was in much better shape with it than without it.

Eventually there was a break in the clouds and the storm was on its way out. It was about mile 15 that I ditched my pullover and kept up the pace. I was feeling good.

There was a few people that I was running about the same pace as and they had been pacing me as well. I was certain that one person that was always ahead of me was going to speed up and finish way before I would. Eventually though, about mile 21 he faded, and quick. I tried to encourage him and keep him going but he had hit a wall and wasn't able to keep the pace to the end.

The Salt Lake City Marathon shares the same start and finish line as the half marathon but I was still surprised to see half marathon participants on the course as I was coming up to finish the full. My pace had been good so far. But my comfort level was anything but desirable. I was hurting pretty good. Every time my legs hit the ground they were screaming that they were done. But I knew I didn't have very far to go. I finished in about 3:20. It was a time I was very happy to get.

While I’m not likely to run the Salt Lake City Marathon again – mainly because there are so many other races that I want to try – I still am glad that I ran it. It was a great experience.


Running Without a Care

A subject that I recently came across brought to mind a phenomenon that I don't often think about. But looking back, it has been quite a few times that I have heard about people being embarrassed to be seen running outside.

My running regimen consists of mostly running early in the mornings. I don't make a habit of running near high schools when school is getting out and I don't run around commercial areas with lots of stores and cars. Also, I'm not, shall I say a "hyper-attractive" person. This might be why my experience is different than others, but I don't think it likely is. I'm just a 36 year old guy who runs a lot. And despite my current fitness level, I was not always this skinny and relatively fast. I have spent more than a few days running overweight and slow outside.

I have never experienced any kind of heckling or outward expression from someone attempting to "make fun" or "put me down" while running. The closest I can think of is the occasional car that I believe intentionally passes too close. I usually think these are people who think that I'm on "their" road.  But there has never been yelling or any rude gestures that I can remember. If anyone derided me, I have no knowledge of it happening. I have no way to say what these people did or didn't do upon seeing me and deciding that I was awesome, brilliant, silly or stupid.

I see other runners outside all the time. I do with them what I hope people do with me. If I'm with my kids I say "I see a runner" and my kids usually reply "where?" then I point out where they are and as I pass them I might say something like "good job!" and "right on!" I don't care what their pace looks like, I don't care what they are wearing, I don't care if they appear overweight. After that, they're forgotten about and I don't think about them again.

So I suspect that if anyone is embarrassed to be seen outside they shouldn't be worried about people yelling or anything of the sort. If this does happen, my bet is that it's rare. More often than not, people just don't care and will forget ever seeing a runner regardless of what they look like. Some might notice and cheer and some might notice and scoff. 99.99% of the time runners won't ever know the difference and shouldn't be worried. Chances are, any embarrassment is just in a runner's head.



This can, and did, make a run so much better.

Speedgoat 50k

I just signed up for the Speedgoat 50k, July 24 at Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah.

It's one of the more popular races going on this summer and I couldn't resist the desire to sign up for another race. And running such an epic race so close to home was too tempting. It's supposed to be a tough race that is big on vertical climbing and on overall altitude (pushing 11,000 feet). I'm pretty excited.

Who wants to train with me?

Moab's Red Hot 55k 2015 - Review

I just did the 2015 Moab Red Hot 55k race. It was awesome. No significant problems of any kind. So much excellent execution on the part of the race organizers, the volunteers as well as my performance.
We rolled in to Moab on Friday evening and going to the packet pick up was one of the first stops. Eddie McStiff's is a cool place, but we had problems parking. The packet pick up process was pretty good and quick. It was pleasantly void of any 'vendors' or anyone trying to sell me stuff, something that I very much enjoyed. Actually getting the bib was probably the longest part. I hope no one had to wait much longer than I did. I ended up waiting about 3 minutes and I was gone. The packet had 3 pointless brochures from Hammer Nutrition and a card for a chiropractic place, a sample gel, the shirt and a trucker style hat. Perfect. I enjoyed the simple bag and glad it wasn't just full of ads for stuff or events I have no interest in.
I got back to the hotel room and pinned my bib to my shirt and got all of my other gear ready. Luckily, I didn't forget anything that I needed. I put my stuff in neat piles near the bathroom and went to bed.
The race started at 8am. This is kind of a late start time compared to some other races, but I had no problem with it at all. This gave me a chance to get to bed at a decent hour and still get plenty of sleep. I got up about 6 and had some pleasant time to kill before proceeding to the start - which would take about 15 mins to get to.  So, I did what I think everyone should do (if they don't or haven't) is shower right before the race. For me this just makes it better to be at the start and have everything clean and ready to go. I also shaved. I put on sunscreen, at a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a banana, had some water, and brushed my teeth. For me, that's a great way to start a race.
I also had time to make sure that I had my pre-race bag and post-race bags ready to go. These were packed with things that I think that I would need at the time. For the start, I had some hand warmers, and some chap stick, gloves, a throwaway jacket and windbreaker (from a thrift store). It's very nice not to be rushed.
I have been nervous before and gotten anxious before a race, but I wasn't either of these things before this race. I was pretty happy with how I was feeling and not worried about anything specific. I knew that if my stomach had problems I would just have to deal with it at that time. If I bonked or worse, then I was prepared to just deal with that when the time came.
Once I had walked to the beginning of the race I was ready to go. I tossed my throwaway jackets and gloves in a pile with the drop bags and after a few announcements I was off.
Without going in to a turn by turn narrative, suffice it to say that the trail was a mix of dirt roads, sand and stand stone. By the end my watch said 4k feet of elevation gain. My fastest mile was close to 7 mins and my slowest mile was around 17. There was much more elevation than I was anticipating but when your 28 miles in, there's not much to do about it. I was surprised how drained my legs felt at about mile 15 or so. I wasn't sure if my pace was too high or if the climbing had taken its toll. I mostly ignored them and just kept pushing. While the feeling never went away completely, as I got food and water in me and as its effects wore of, I could feel the discomfort subside or become less pronounced at times.
The aid stations were very uniform in their offerings of coke, PB&J, chips, mini candy bars, head and coke. I was able to get in and out of every aid station in pretty good time.
I'm not sure I noticed a cloud in the sky the entire time and while the air temperature was relatively cool, I could still feel the sun sucking it out of me a little.
What a great race.

Ultimate Direction Jurek Grip Review

The way I see it, there are two different times when you have to carry water with you. The first is during long training runs. These types of runs aren’t supported so you can’t really count on there being nutrition or fluids available and you have to pack it with you. The other situation is when there’s a race where aid stations are too far apart to rely on making it from one to another without some kind of replenishment.

Solutions are out there and consumers are spoiled for choice. So far for me I have resisted buying large packs with bladders or vests that hold multiple water bottles and extra gear. (But with my first 50 on the horizon and other 50+ races after that, I’ll be getting one of these soon)My solution so far has been a simple one. I actually tried first to find a product that would strap a small .5L disposable water bottle (say, from Costco) but didn’t find much. Since I could already carry what I needed in my SPI belt I didn’t think that I needed a holder to carry more stuff and add bulk and weight.

I eventually settled on the Ultimate Direction Jurek Grip. Its minimalist design really caught my eye and the reviews for the most part were solid.

I used this on my first ultra (the Bryce Canyon 50k) and it was perfect. I had my strategy such that I could consume a gel and some water halfway between aid stations and then fill up the bottle at each of the aid stations. It worked out well for me.

The strap is comfortable and makes carrying easy. It can be tightened however tight you needed and is easy to remove when needed. I can have this attached to my hand and completely relax my hand and have it stay in place. I have worn it with gloves as well and it still works perfect. So if you are running and need to carry water with you, but not that much water, and you don’t want to carry much else, this is a perfect choice.

The lid can be easily removed to refill or mix in powder or add ice. When at the aid stations during a race I would dump excess water and fill about half way with a sports drink and drink that with some food available at the aid station. Then, right before continuing with the race, I would fill the bottle up with water and go.

I’m somewhat worried about the Velcro wearing but after almost a year of use I have seen no signs of that happening so far. The lettering on the bottle seems to be the first casualty. Also, when I first got it there were some very big and annoying tags on it. I cut them off before the first use.


Jan 2015 Antelope Island Run

I got up in time to get to the gates that open when the park does. I have shown up early before and had to wait for the gates to go up and sometimes it's been a few minutes after six before they actually do go up. At about 11mins past the hour and after waiting that long, they finally opened and I can access the island. I get across the causeway going exactly whatever the speed limit is and make it to the trailhead. I'm the only car there. That's not a first for me. While I'm getting ready another car pulls up and parks. I'm in panic mode now. Must get going and fast. I finish up and get out of the car, lock it, and I'm on my way.

It's very dark. There is no moon and being on the western side of the island means there's no lights from cities to speak of. It's just the stars and my headlamp. I make the first 5k with in pretty good time. But all the while I was occasionally looking back and I could see the headlamp of another person behind me. And judging from how far they have been and still are from me I can tell they must be running. But I'm pretty sure I'm running faster. Within the next mile I see off in the distance large dark spots that I'm pretty sure are Buffalo. I don't want to make them mad. I have to decide if the herd is on the trail that I'm running on or if they are off to the side of it.

I'm actually probably one to push the limits a little too far when it comes to proximity with these beasts. But I'm not afraid to make sure they know I'm there by yelling "hey!" and scanning them with my headlamp. As I scan the herd with my headlamp the only thing I can really see is a rough outline of their heads and their eyes staring back at me. I think they are wondering what I'm going to do rather than thinking that they need to run me down. A few of them on the far side start to run away from me a little and I can tell that as long as they stay where they are then they aren't going to come after me. No problems. I move on.

The next part of the trail is downhill. Normally not an issue except for my headlamp is not enough for me to tell between the sandy ground and the harder ground. The harder ground is much preferable. But then because it's below freezing there are frozen clumps of mud from horses that make the ground hard and uneven. It's a little tricky to navigate. I'm forced to slow a little bit, but I keep moving.

The next part is probably one of the steepest climbs of the trail I took. I have to slow down a few more notches. This part of the trail is also on a north facing slope. The snow and ice haven't melted so I have to be careful not to slip. Also about this time I was able to turn off my headlamp and see fine.

At the top of this portion you can either go off to Elephant Point or go first to Split Rock Bay or go to the corrals. I decided to go down to Split Rock Bay and then make the climb back to the corrals.

The road/trail is a pretty constant grade and felt surprisingly long to me. It just felt like it kept going. I finish the 2nd 5k just before hitting the bottom. As I do so I decide that it's time for a little food. I thought that I could eat on the run but as soon as I get the gel out I think "forget that". I stop myself and my watch. Take in the view - which is spectacular - drink some water and I'm moving again.

Since I had never been on this particular trail before I'm careful to make sure I stay on the main trail. I also know that if I don't start climbing back up by a certain point then I know I'll need to turn around. The trail proved very easy to follow.

For whatever reasons, I was really looking forward to climbing on this run. And this is the climb I was most looking forward to doing - that is, the switchbacks going up to the corrals. I wasn't disappointed in the least. Maybe it was the gel kicking in or the perfect weather something else entirely, but it was a really good climb that I got a kick out of. At one point I thought the climbing was over and that the trail was going to curve back around to the corrals but it turned out there was another switch back and more climbing. Again, I was not disappointed.

The corrals were a stopping point that I had planned ahead on. And as it turned out were at exactly 15k into the run. There's a sign that explains what historians think the corrals were used for and the remnants of said corrals. I took a few pictures, drank some water and was moving again.

The trail from this point to the Elephant Point turn off consisted of a lot of snow and ice. The puddles were frozen and had to be carefully circumnavigated. The snow was frozen hard and not very forgiving. None of this proved to be much of a problem though.

On the way back I passed several runners. There were more than I had ever seen before in one day. Maybe there was some sort of meet up I wasn't invited too. Still, it was good to see so many people out there enjoying the great outdoors. I made it back to my car in pretty good time - having only eaten one gel and one Gu chomp (there are 4 in a pack and I had 1) during the entire 16 mile run - feeling depleted but very good. This, for me, was the best run I've had in a long time. The new parts of the trail and how fresh my legs felt kept my mind occupied so I never really felt bored or zapped.



I went skiing on Thursday  for the first time in 2 years. While I think I'm a pretty good skier, I don't do it much and was sore and tired as a result. On the way home I was thinking that since I had taken Friday off I had some extra time to run some more. Well, I decided that Fifteen Mile Friday sounded like fun. So I got up Friday morning and ran 15 miles. It wasn't a great 15 miles, but it was still 15 miles.

Part of training for ultras is doing back to back long runs, so since I have an ultra coming up in a few weeks I thought I should do a long run on Saturday too. 

I ran 28.6 miles on Saturday morning. I started just after 4 am and ended just after 8 am. I was tired, and malnourished for the most part so I wasn't going for speed or time. I was just going for time on my feet. 

So between Friday and Saturday I ran 42 miles. That's a new record for me for sure. I ended the week with 77 miles which is also a record for me.

This week I'm still going to run, but I'm going to take it easier from now until Race day. I think I'm about as ready as I'm going to get. 

Did I mention I'm going to quit drinking caffeine...? 


2012 St George Marathon Report

Before I finished my first marathon I had already entered and won the lottery for the St George Marathon. I was pretty excited about moving from South Korea to Utah and having already had a few races under my belt I knew that I wanted to keep running. Since the St George Marathon was still a few months out I had plenty of time to get moved and trained well enough to do this race.

The St George Marathon would be my 2nd full marathon. So I had a few lessons that I had learned in Seoul that I was going to use to improve my performance in Utah. The first thing that I learned from the Seoul Marathon was that I wanted to have more long runs before race day. At the time of the Seoul marathon I had only gone above 20 miles once and got up to 18 miles one other time. The rest of the training runs were all less than 15 miles or so. I wanted to have more long runs to learn more about how things feel once you have that many miles on your legs and also to help with bonking. I bonked (that feel of total exhaustion that some people get after about 20 miles) hard and wanted to know more about what to do and how to pace myself so that I could avoid bonking or at least learn more about how to deal with it.

The other thing about Seoul that I learned was that my desire to run faster was hindered by my weight. How much faster can a person run if they have 20 less pounds to haul around? So soon after Seoul I started paying attention to my calories and eventually lost about 20lbs. I knew that had to make me faster and put less stress on my joints – so it was win win.

For training I focused on running between 30-40 miles a week and ran long runs on the weekends.
Race day came and I was hoping to run about 3:40. I had run a 3:52 in Seoul and didn't want to set my sights too high. It was a completely unknown course and the overall elevation would be much higher than Seoul.
The St George Marathon offered a good expo as far as expos go at least. I have strong opinions about expos that I’ll keep to myself at this point in time. But the bib pick up was easy and I was back to my hotel to try to get some rest in no time.

I got up the next morning and had my brother take me to the buses. The bus system was excellently run and the length of the bus ride seems just about right to me. Before I knew it I was standing outside around a fire in the town of Central, Utah anxiously waiting for the race to start. This year was pretty cold and I wasn't as prepared as I could have been. The drop bag system was new to me so I was worried about my stuff getting stolen or lost so I didn't pack anything that I thought was very valuable or could live without while I was standing in the cold for about an hour.

I eventually ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich that I had brought and a banana and then got in line for the porta-johns. Despite having so many bathrooms I was surprised at how long the wait was. By the time I got out people were lining up to get ready and I dropped my off my bag and made my way over.

Up to the point of writing this I've ran 5 full marathons. If running a marathon in Afghanistan is the least beautiful of all of them so far then St George is the most. Starting the run in the dark is definitely cool and there is little light for a the first few miles. As the sun rises it gives way to the beauty that is southern Utah.

Aside from the grand views the race is also very downhill. There are some portions that climb but overall, there’s a lot of elevation loss between the start and finish. For this race I was heading for a 7:45 pace which at the time was fast for me. But the weather was perfect and I was feeling pretty good.

The first big hill is the climb out of Veyo, Utah. There's an aid station just at the bottom where you can fuel up and get ready for the grind. It is not a small hill by any means. I think everyone has to slow down a bit and tough it out. The top levels out slowly where I was able to return to a normal pace.

Each of the aid stations were very well stocked and I had no problem getting what I was looking for. The volunteers were excellent and I was never slowed or hindered by them.

The weather this day was just about perfect. I think that the people finishing in about 5 hours were probably pretty warm by the end, when I finished it was perfect.

The foremost thing on my mind was pacing myself correctly. With the excitement of the race some have a tendency to run too fast and then paying for it later. This exact thing happened to me in Seoul so I was determined to maintain negative splits (gradually increasing speed). So every 5k I would monitor my pace and adjust accordingly.
The downhill helped me out a lot and I was feeling pretty good. I remember thinking about mile 20 that it was easy because I was feeling great. No less than 2 miles later I was not thinking the same thing but I was able to maintain my pace and finish in 3:34.

The aftermath wasn't pretty though. My lack of running downhill during training meant I paid dearly for several days afterwards. By Monday, walking was difficult at best and going downstairs? Forget it. But I still loved the race and plan to do it every year I can. It is probably the best road race in Utah.

If you can, run the St George Marathon. You can even use it as an excuse to go to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.


The Red Hot 55k

I've signed up for the Red Hot 55k. I'm very excited to run this race.

Last year I kept seeing posts about this race and having just come back home from overseas, I was itchy for a race that was sooner than later in April.

The distance and location were two of the major factors in making my decision. Moab is amazing and 55k felt about right.

After doing a little research there doesn't seem to be about of climbing or descending (a lot being more than 3k ft of climbing). So I'm hoping that it'll be kinda fast. Fingers crossed that the weather will be nice.

There are also some big names that have run this race in the past which makes me pretty sure it's going to be a well marked and supported choose.
I can't wait.

The Salt Flats 100

I’ve just signed up for my first 50 mile marathon. The Salt Flats 100 offers a 50 mile event and that’s the one I’m going to run.

The plan I have had since 2013 was to work my way up gradually to a 100 mile race. I figured that I wasn't done running yet and that running is a lifestyle for me and not just something I am interested in doing for a few months and then quitting. So, why rush to get to 100 when I can have fun and learn along the way? So I decided that in each successive year I was going to run a longer race than the previous year and finish with a 100 mile race. So last year was my first 50k race (and it was my first trail race, too). This year, a 50 miler and then a 100k a year after that and a 100 miler the year after that. Who knows if I’ll stick to this exactly but sticking to it isn't the point. The point is to have fun running. 

This particular 50 miler intrigued me because of its location mostly. If you didn't know, west of the Great Salt Lake are some of the largest salt flats anywhere. It is also pretty very remote. The nearest city, Wendover, is little more than a town that offers the closest gambling to those who live in and around Salt Lake City area. The Bonneville Salt Flats, as the area where the race is located is called, is where land speed records of many kinds have been set. And on race day will be the location of the start and finish of my first 50 mile ultramarathon.

The first 13 miles or so takes place on the salt flats and is essentially an incredibly flat, straight run until you reach the bottom of some mountain “islands” that rise out of the flats. The race then takes a turn and follows the base of the mountains before going around and up a pass and then back down on to the flats to the finish.

In the coming months I have to train to run this race. This will involve back to back long runs in which a 30 mile run on one day is followed up by a 20 mile run the next day (or some variation of this theme). The intent of the training is to get the body and mind used to staying on your feet and moving forward for greater lengths of time. The training is also an opportunity to find out what works nutrition-wise when your body has 30 miles on it.  Sometimes, with that many miles, a stomach can get picky and cranky  so it’s important to know as best you can what works and what doesn’t. One of the most important things involved in an ultramarathon is drinking and eating along the way.

I finished my first ultra last June. It was a 50k race (about 33 miles) and I finished feeling pretty good. Pacing myself was perhaps the most important thing that I did second to drinking and eating at regular intervals. The nutrition part of that race was according to my intent. I knew what I was going to eat and when I was going to eat it. The pacing, however, was thanks to a buddy that I ran into. My body wanted to run faster and more often but he kept me in check. I believe had I not let him slow me down I would have had energy problems near the end of the race and ended walking a lot and not finishing as strong as I did.

I might be crazy, but no more so than all of the other ultra runners out there, so that makes me feel good. I can’t wait to experience a 50 mile race and spending, I don’t know, something like 10+ hours on my feet moving forward.


Product Review: Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp

This Princeton Tech headlamp has served me well since November 2009. Yes, for the last 5 years I have been using this headlamp for running, reading, cooking and numerous other mundane activities. At one point, the battery cover broke, a call to the company had a replacement in the mail and at my house inside of a week. I’ve since looked for other headlamps but haven’t found a reason to replace this faithful provider of light.

With 3 AAA rechargeable batteries I can run for just less than an hour a day and have this headlamp last good enough for 2 weeks. I keep the unit running during the entire run most of the time with the exceptions being when there’s a full moon or the sun has already come up before I get done. And please don’t think I’m using this to augment some existing streetlights, after about 1 mile, my runs are usually on completely unlit paths or roads.

The light has 4 different settings across 2 different lights. The 3 led cluster provides a bigger splash of light and a choice of high or low while the “max bright” LED provides a longer narrower throw and also has a high or low setting. I love to have these choices available to suit the situation. While running I usually use the highest of the 4 settings as it provides the most light to the ground so that I can see what’s directly in front of me. The lowest setting is the one that I like to use to read or to do various other activities in the dark. The strap is adjustable and is comfortable enough for long term wear and the angle of the light can be adjusted (but not easily with one hand) to meet the need.

I have also used this light in a variety of conditions that range from about 7 degrees Fahrenheit and above 100 degrees (Like running at night in Qatar). If I use it while it’s snowing some snow might accumulate on the lens but a quick wipe fixes it right up. I keep the bright light on when I’m running against the traffic and always get a good sense that other drivers approaching me can see me fine (this isn’t the only indication they have, as I wear reflective stuff too).

I’m still kind of amazed that this light has lasted me so long and still does what I need it to without any problems. But, I am kind of a minimalist and cheap (kind of) and if it isn’t broke, then why fix it?

For the price and the service this headlamp has provided me I am completely satisfied. Recommended.


2,228 Miles under My Shoes in 2014 . . . Give or Take

I always feel like declaring a new year on a certain day is kind of arbitrary. I mean, yes, it's the same point in the orbit of the earth around the sun, but for us it's just another day that will come and go. We sure do put a lot of effort into parties and stuff to celebrate the same day every year, don't we?

I like tracking how many miles I run--every day, every week, every month, and for the whole year. I busted out 2,228 miles in 2014! (My wife is very proud of me.) I do wonder what the margin of error is on this kind of distance.

I ran a lot of treadmill miles while I was in Afghanistan and usually I took the total mileage from the treadmill and considered that as miles run. My GPS watch was always way off as it was trying to guess my pace from my arm swing. And then there's the error that GPS watches have in general. I don't run a certified course every day, so maybe at the end of every run there's a difference between what my watch records and what I actually did.

Well, anyway. I could analyze numbers to a crazy degree but that wouldn't be very helpful. It is interesting to look back and see how far I've come . . . literally. Yes, I do recommend tracking your miles, however suits you. Just log your miles and time right after each run, before you forget. My favorite tracking tool is a good old spreadsheet I created in Google docs.