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.