Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Let Us Run with Patience


Moments after 5 am on June 2, 2018, I headed into the darkness on the Provo River trail. Headlamps illuminating the path, 250 runners whooped and hollered as we took off on an adventure of 50 miles. I surged ahead, full of nervous energy, to be a part of the lead pack of my second running of this race. The first two miles were exciting and fast. The last year of training, preparation, blood, sweat, and tears (totally cliché but also totally true) had led me to this point. I had felt so pumped and motivated, exhausted and burnt out, hopeful of winning, afraid of losing, confident in my fitness and ability, doubtful of my fitness and ability, lots of highs and many lows.

Last year’s race was wild! I had just started to get back into running as I trained with Jon and got ready to pace him as he ran it My wife, at the time, had just left me weeks before and I was feeling very impulsive. Hence, why I thought signing up the night before was a good idea. I stuck it out and, even though I felt completely trashed afterwards, lived to tell the tale. It was an incredible experience and lit a fire within me to start preparing to do it again.

I wasn’t consistent in running until around mid-December. That is when I threw myself into running. In my last post I talked about some of the reasons why I run. These were my motivations, both positive and negative. I enjoyed being outside and crushing goals. I also used it to escape and seek validation. Which motivation was my driving force varied at any particular time, but I feel that, as I reflected, I was mindful and aware of it.

Salt Lake City Marathon

I had some big weeks and was making awesome progress.  I was getting really strong and felt great. I was having fun and exploring so many new trails. As I looked ahead to the Squaw Peak 50 in June, it felt so far away. I hadn’t signed up for any other races, so I decided to look some up that would be good for training and help me in my preparation. I found a 50k in Susanville the week of BJ’s birthday. Talking to BJ about it we both strongly felt like it was a meant to be and I had to do it. That was 3 weeks before the SP 50 and would be a great test of my fitness and a superb long run. I was stoked. I didn’t stop there and found another race that was 4 weeks before the 50k, the Salt Lake City Marathon. It would be my first official marathon. I was apprehensive and wasn’t sure if I was ready for it. The nervousness came from pressure I was putting on myself to preform well. I could do the distance but that wasn’t good enough for me. If I wasn’t going to do it, I wanted to win or at least be very competitive. This seems silly since I wasn’t preparing for that specific race and was just going to use it as a training run, but it really stressed me out.

I finally decided to pull the trigger on it the week before. I had started to mix in some speed work in my training and it was surprisingly difficult. I eased up the week of the marathon (minus a hike up to Horsetail Falls (1500’ vert) the Thursday before) and gave it a go. I felt great in the first part of the race and tried to hold back on the fast downhill start. The hills in the later part of the race kicked my butt. I hung on and passed some people towards the end. I finished the last few miles alone. I was clocked in at 2:54 which earned me 14th place overall, 2nd in my age group. I was very tired but pleased with my effort. It was much more difficult than I thought it would be. The first person I saw that I knew was Jon at the finish line. It was such a special moment recognizing him in the crowd of hundreds of people and just going over to him and giving him a hug. I was exhausted and it felt so comforting to have him there. DeLacy was cheering me on as well and recorded the moment. It is one of my favorite videos. Shannon and the girls were also at the finish line and had cute signs. One of the read “My daddy is faster than yours!” It was so fun to see them than hug the girls. I didn’t tell a lot of people that I was going to do it because I was so nervous and felt like it would be extra pressure to have them there or expect a certain result out of me.

Paiute Meadows 50k

I took a week off from running to recover and then got back to the trails and vert. I noticed my legs felt heavy and didn’t quite have the same spring to them. I tried to mix in some recovery days but was worried about losing fitness and not hitting my weekly mileage and climbing goals. I eased up the week of the race and got ready for go time. I had invited Jon and Kirsti to roadtrip with me but they were busy and couldn’t get the time off to do it so I set off alone. After the first hour and a half, I was bored of driving. I resorted to listening to AM radio and making ridiculous music videos to keep myself entertained.

As I drove up the hill past Dayton, I could see mountains in the distance. I wasn’t sure but thought I could see Trifecta (Job’s Peak, Job’s Sister, and Freel Peak). Turns out I know my mountains, it was them! I started to get excited that I had arrived and was in familiar territory. Made it to Levi’s house and went for a walk alongside the river in Genoa with him and Moriah and Dylan Russell and his daughter. It has been years since I’ve seen him, and it was neat to see him as a father. You could tell how much he loved her by how attentive he was to where she was walking and always being on the lookout to ensure she wouldn’t encounter a snake or get hurt. Levi, Moriah, and I went out for Pizza at Wild Horse Diner and I was looking forward to paying for it to thank them for letting me stay with them. They had other plans and insisted on taking the bill. That was very sweet.

In the morning, I went over to the high school to run on the track. I got lucky and it was open. I cruised around and soaked in the memories- track practices, school records, Eagle project. Lots of good times. 3 laps around and I peeled off my jacket and let it rip the final lap. Felt like I was flying. My legs felt springy and powerful. I cut through the headwind and then opened up on the home stretch, lunging for the finish line. Ahh. So good. Checked the record wall and smiled as I saw my name still up there. “Come on guys, it’s been a decade. Someone needs to take that down. As Bobby, the previous record holder reminded me, ‘records are meant to be broken’”.

I went into the school and thought I was too late to see Coach Frey. With a lucky break, Sister Ovard came around the corner and after chatting with her for a while, she escorted me to his leadership class where I got to say hi! It was so much fun getting to see them and catch up for a bit. Such special people in my life.

I felt I couldn’t be so close without seeing Tahoe, so I made a quick stop at Levi’s work to see him and the horses he takes care of and then went up Kingsbury. I drove around the Lake to the north and stopped right before Incline Village to walk down and stick my feet in. It was great and so beautiful!
Made the final stretch of the trip and arrived at BJ’s new office in Susanville 2.5 hours later. It was awesome to see him, and I was really impressed with his new job as an assistant at a law firm as he was working on a law degree. I think he will do great and be able to do very well to provide for his family.

BJ and I sat down evening and went over our game plan for the race. We talked about different parts of the race he could meet me, exchange water bottles and gels, and cheer me on. It was exciting, and I was pumped to have him be a part of the race and do it together. I set out my kit and took a picture of the flat runner. Woke up early on race day and BJ and I drove into town to the start. In my pre-race nerves, I had done a lot of research on the course and the competition. I wanted to do well but didn’t feel as much pressure because it was a smaller race and I was there to have fun. I was surprised that the course record holder and winner of the 2 previous years, Paul Smith, wasn’t signed up for the race. I was even more surprised when the race director introduced him minutes before the race started.

And we were off! Paul, Matt and I went to the front and stayed there for the entire race. We had a swift but comfortable pace. It was a lot of fun just chatting away and just cruising. The views were beautiful. The cruising and chit chat went on for about 10 miles. Then, we hit the major climbing section of the course and the grind began and the talking stopped. BJ and I had planned for 4 spots on the course to meet and it was awesome to see him at each one. He would holler, and cheer and I would drop my bottle and he’d hand me a new one. It was a great system we had going and it was wonderful emotional boost every time I saw him. Matt was the first to drop. He had surged ahead with each descent and then Paul and I would reel him in. This went on until mile 23 or so when he started to cramp up and fall off the pace. Paul dropped on the second to last climb and I found myself alone and in the lead. I used the downhill that followed the mountain bike trail to put some distance between me and Paul. There were big jumps and mountain bike features. If I had been out exploring and out for a fun run I would have totally hit them. Today was not that day. I was racing, and I was hurting. I went to the side and continued to bomb the descent. There was one last climb left and it kicked my butt! My left quad started to twitch, and I was afraid it was going to cramp up. It kept pushing on even though I had to walk the last part of the climb. Finally, I was able to look down into the valley and see Susanville, the finish. Though it was visible it looked so far away. It was relieving and daunting all at the same time. 3 miles to go and it was downhill. I pushed though it hurt. My inner thighs were twitching too and my lungs hurt. I weezed and kept fighting. There were lots of switchbacks which were annoying and broke up my rhythm and flow. I looked back multiple times but couldn’t see Paul. I looked at my watch and estimated when I would cross the finish line. After the last climb and the switchbacks, I saw the time I estimated keep growing. After being hopeful of an amazing time, I just wanted to hold on for the win. I thought I had some ways to go and then all of a sudden, the trail opened up and I was running in the meadow. I was in the homestretch. I kicked with everything I had left in the tank. I smiled as I ran across the finish line and let out a yell of exhilaration as I realized what I had just accomplished. I had won! I had also crushed the course record. I looked for the Hubbards and saw Becky in the parking lot. I waved and waited for them to park and come over. People at the finish line were so nice. They helped me get some food and sit down. My fellow runners complimented me for the performance and I thanked them. Turns out BJ took a wrong trail and had gotten lost on his way back to his house. He was really bummed he missed the finish. I was glad when he showed up! The rest of the day we just hung out, had burgers, and picked up his 4-wheeler he had to abandon at a friend’s house. I had been thinking a lot about the race leading up to the gun going off and it stressed me out. It felt so good to be done. Not only was it a huge weight off my shoulders but it was a big confidence boost. I headed back to Utah with an achievement I was crazy happy with and having had a wonderful weekend with family and friends old and new.

Three weeks until the Squaw Peak 50, I took a week off to recover, had a medium week with 48 miles and 6k vert and then an easy week. I had a few runs that didn’t feel good and overall, I felt fatigued and my legs felt flat. I tried to rest and give my body extra recovery. I was taking my resting heart rate in the mornings and was excited by how low it had become. I started to get higher measurements and didn’t save them. Talking with Tom at work I realized this could be a sign of overtraining. It made sense with how I was feeling and what was going on, not only physically but mentally as well. I was struggling feeling motivated to get out and train.

Squaw Peak 50

I looked down at my watch and my heartrate wasn’t higher than I wanted it to be. We were cruising but it felt great. I was running next to Nick Sourlos and we introduced ourselves to each other. I had been following him on Strava since he was last year’s winner and it was fun to put a face to the name. We left the Provo River trail and headed up the BST. The pace remained pushed and my heart rate kept rising. I tried to relax while remaining contact with the leaders but wasn’t successful in getting my heartrate under control. Another runner caught up to me and we chatted for a bit. He said his name was Kyle and I asked “Barrett?” I had followed him for a while too and complimented him on his success in other races. He had done really well, and it was fun to put a face to his name as well. Nick, Kyle and I ran together through the first aid station and then Nick and Kyle pulled away. Nick wasn’t feeling well and kept making stops to answer nature’s urgent call, so I would catch up to him and we would run together for a while and then he’d drop me again.

We made it to aid station 4 and I looked around for my drop bag. I didn’t see any and asked the people at the aid station where they were. They replied that they hadn’t showed up yet. “Wow!” I thought. I was disappointed because my game plan was thrown off but as the same time impressed I had outran the drop bag delivery truck. I felt like Jim Walmsley flying in and surprising the aid stations at the WS100. Starting down the descent I tried to open up and fly myself. It felt good and I was making great time. I had the tall Joseph Taylor in my sights but couldn’t close the gap. He was doing awesome! I did catch up to Pablo and we played leap frog a couple of times. I paid attention for the turn I missed last year which cuts off a little distance from the road. I thought I had missed it again but then saw and took it. It felt really good to be on course and was a nice motivational boost. I came up on an early starter and let her know I was behind her and wanted to pass. We said hi to each other as I went ahead but then she fumbled her footing as she looked over at me and went down. I stopped to try and help but she said she was fine and I could keep going. I felt bad but was glad she was ok. It looked awkward and she went down hard.

Coming into AS 5, I was really looking forward to seeing Kirsti. When I showed up, I didn’t see her and realized the aid station wasn’t where I had thought it was. It was further up the dirt road and not at the intersection. Turns out I had given super vague directions and sent her on a wild goose chase to find the aid stations 5 and 6.  I felt bummed she had gone through all that effort for nothing. Nonetheless, I was very grateful. That was very sweet of her for trying.

I made the decision to ditch my second handheld bottle and continue with just one. I didn’t like the feeling of the two. I would keep my nice, insulated bottle and just refill it with the mixed bottles in my drop bags. I grabbed my snickers and took off. I had held a solid pace on the descent but once I hit the road I started to feel drained. I struggled a lot on this section and for a good portion I was all alone. I was also surprised how far it felt to get to AS6. I kept thinking it would be around the next turn and turn after turn I was disappointed. I was still running and focusing on keeping my heartrate from getting too high.

As I am writing this it just dawned on me that duh, of course my legs felt wrecked. I had just run 26 miles. That is a marathon. How did I feel after I ran the Salt Lake marathon? That is a long way to run and exert myself as much as I had so far. During the race, I had only seen it in terms of 50 miles and only being halfway, but 26 miles is quite significant in and of itself. Putting it in that context, helps give me perspective of how to better pace myself for future races and respect the distance.
I forced myself to eat a meal bar and picked up my Mighty music player from my drop bag. I struggled maintaining a run and resorted to walking a lot. This is where I started getting caught by new people. They looked so strong and fresh. I felt awful. I focused on making it to the next aid station. I tried to remain in contact with people who had passed me but that proved to be futile. I made it to AS7 and laughed thinking back to last year when I sat with my feet in the creek. This year was a night and day difference in regard to time spent at aid stations. This was one part of my game plan I wanted to improve upon. Another was keeping my shoes on and so far, things were good. I still hadn’t changed socks or even had the need to re-tie my shoes.

I pushed on and again spend a lot of time alone. I started getting tired of sugar foods but tried to force myself to keep eating.  I walked the climbs and alternated between slow running and walking on the flats. It made me really happy to see AS 8. It felt like my pace was crawling, but the aid station appeared much sooner than the previous year.  I was grateful for that.

Pablo, an early starter and I left at the same time and headed out on the longest, most difficult section of the course. I missed a turn and the early start guy called out. Glad I had only made it a few hundred feet! Pablo and I leap frogged some more but then I was alone, just me and the mountain. I made my way up and though I was slowed to mostly walking I felt in the zone and focused on making consistent progress. I was energized by the thought of a rematch on Bozung Hill. Last year, it was where Jon dropped me, and I figuratively crashed and burned. It was where I hit the wall and I wanted a rematch.

It was slow, but I made my way up the final climb steadily. Ian Farris, paced by Brandon Dase, made some ground on me but I made it my goal to not get passed by them on the climb. I pushed on and actually caught another early starter. I was really struggling with a side stitch that made descending very difficult. I hoped the long climb would help with it relaxing and going away. It did go away while I was climbing but as soon as I started descending it came back. I focused on my breathing, I tried stretching my side. It wasn’t that effective but after making it to AS9 and getting more water in me it started to feel better.

The huge surge I had last year on this descent was nowhere to be found this time. My legs were toast and it was a grind. It was so nice that there was no snow or mud on the course which made it fast if your legs allowed. Mine did not. Still, the better conditions helped me as well and I continued down the trail. On the rut and sunflower section right before Big Springs I suddenly caught up to Pablo, Ian, and Brandon. They got stuck behind 3 people of horses on the single-track trail with tall, thick bushes walling in the trail. There was nowhere to go to get around them, so they just had to fall in line and wait. I got to catch my breath and be right there with the other guys in the race again which was nice. After a few minutes of following the horses, the trail opened up, they stepped aside, and we were able to pass.  Any hopes of this situation working to my advantage and moving up in position were distinguished by my dead legs. They didn’t have any extra gears in them and we help our positions we had been in before.

I descended into the final aid station and could taste the finish. It was so close. I had some more water, skipped my drop bag, swigged some Redbull and took off. Going through the park I suddenly felt nauseous and though I was going to puke. I stopped and tried to hide behind a tree so the families at the park couldn’t see me. False alarm but I still didn’t feel that great. I carried on and ran the last section on the road. I could see Ian and Brandon up ahead and tried to close on them, but they instead gained more distance on me. I tried to kick but my legs didn’t respond. I felt my cardio could go harder but legs couldn’t match. It felt slow but was progress. Though I felt drained, I looked ahead to the finish line with excitement.

For months, I had trained. I had logged hundred of miles and thousands of feet of climbing. All my worries and concerns going in to this race no longer mattered. I had gone out fast and blown up. The first 2 miles were fast, and I was flying. The next 48 were miserable and I suffered through them. I was seeded #1 coming into the race with a projected time of 8:08. Based on this prediction, I had failed catastrophically. The coolest thing happened though. I looked up and could see the houses of Vivian Park. Cars were lining the street and I recognized Kirsti’s. I was going to finish! I didn’t give up even when things got difficult and hurt like crazy. I turned the corner into the park and smiled. I saw Kirsti cheering for me and my smile grew even bigger. I ran all the way through the finish line and then touched the ground, my chest, kissed my finger and pointed to sky. I was so relieved to have completed this journey. I was not just tired from the race but exhausted physically and mentally from the training and everything that led up to this day. That accomplishment of finishing meant more to me than the place or the time. I ended up finishing in 9:28 and in 14th place. Last year, I finished in 14:22 and 141st place! Crazy! What an amazing learning experience and I am grateful for the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the triumphs and the trials. My parents were there too, and I gave them a big hug. It was so nice to have their support.

I am grateful for the support of my family and friends, the blessing of having a body and the ability to run, the beautiful trails and views. In the end, that is what matters. That we be grateful for what we’ve been blessed with and work together in pursuit of our goal to achieve eternal life. That is the journey we are on. We will have ups and downs, make wrong turns, and get ahead of ourselves and our abilities. It is important to remember to be present and appreciate how much more good there is than bad at any given moment. That feeling of accomplishment is going to be so much greater when we reach the finish line of life and are reunited with family and friends. Our finishing time or place won’t matter as long as we keep pushing and finish.

“Let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;”
Hebrews 12:1-2

Start- 5:00 AM
Hope Campground (5.58 mi)- 5:53 AM
Rock Canyon (10.85 mi)- 6:48 AM
Horse Mountain (14.62 mi)- 7:29 AM
5 Pole Heaven (20.4 mi)- 8:17 AM
6 Left Fork (26.05 mi)- 9:06 AM
7 Sheep Canyon (29.98 mi)- 9:57 PM
8 Little Valley (33.52 mi)- 10:45 PM
9 Windy Pass (41.49 mi)- 12:52 PM
10 Big Springs (46.5 mi)- 1:58 PM
Finish (50 mi)- 2:28:40 PM

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Why the “F” [Flip] do I Run?

Why the “F” [Flip] do I Run?

This is something I’ve been pondering recently, and I figured I would put down my thoughts and share them.


I run because exploring trails, accomplishing big climbs, seeing beautiful sunrises and sunsets, bombing descents, and feeling accomplished is way fun!

This is part of my running that is displayed on social media. It is the highlight of the experience but is a false reality. In most cases, these are rewards for a difficult effort. A price was paid but this side isn’t shown as much. It is tedious, not glamorous, and boring.


“You have to fight to reach your dream. You have to sacrifice and work hard for it”. -Lionel Messi

I have found that things are far less appreciated when they come easy. There is so much satisfaction and growth that comes from working towards something and achieving it. That could range from completing a run early in the morning, a summit, a time goal, or a training plan leading up to a race.


I workout to stay in shape. I am very grateful I have been blessed with an athletic body that allows me to do what I do. It isn’t just running specific fitness either. Though on the scrawny side, I am tan and toned when I go the beach. I do have some funny tan lines though from my running shorts and shirts.


It is literally running away from my problems. Sometimes I get overwhelmed or upset and just need to disconnect and running does that for me. This is my “fix” that helps with stress and anxiety. It helps me escape and take a break from things that are bothering me and weighting me down.


This one is something I know isn’t healthy but nonetheless it is a motivation right now and I’m working on it. I struggle with a lot of self-doubt and seek external things to find validation. This comes in the form of setting new CRs on Strava and likes/views on Instagram. I feel that if others see me and think I am special and great then I must be.

I know that this is only superficial and true validation must come from within. Otherwise, no amount of fame and praise will ever be enough, and I will still feel empty.


With the desire to get attention from my running comes fear of not being good enough. Seeing others’ accomplishments or successes makes me jealous and afraid of them being better than me. This motivates me to work harder, do more, and keep going.

Finding myself-

This is how I came up with the URL for my blog and handle on Instagram. Running isn’t just about running from my problems, but it helps me find solutions to my problems. Countless times I have gone on run and learned something about myself, life, and/or religion. There are so many distractions in the world we live in and being able to get away from it all and be in a place where I can think and learn is wonderful. I have had many neat experiences with this. Sometimes I write them down but sometimes I don’t. I should do a better job about recording them.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Respect Life

June 10, 2017

After a fun adventure with Ked in the morning, I headed back up north and kept going, all the way to Logan. My parents invited me and Jon to go kayaking in Logan Canyon. They rented 2 kayaks and a canoe from USU and met us there with them in the back of their truck.

Laurel and Kade took the canoe and Jon and I took the kayaks. We had a lot of fun just going around exploring in the slow moving water. There was a dam that backed the water up and made a nice little area to play around in. On the end opposite the dam were two bridges, one for cars and the other for people walking. Jon and I eyed the foot bridge. I gave him a mischievous smile. It was pretty low but looked like there was just enough clearance to go under it. He knew I wanted to do it and wasn't going to stop me. As I was pulling my kayak out of the water my parents showed up. They asked what I was up to and I sheepishly told them. They know me and weren't even surprised. What surprised me is that they actually encouraged it. They offered to take Jon and I up the canyon and put in where the river was running a lot faster and was churning with rapids. We both got out and loaded the kayaks in the back of the truck.

My dad took us up the canyon about a mile and we found a spot we could put it. When we got out to check out the water, Jon and I looked at each other wide eyed. The river was a raging beast! It looked super sketchy but we decided to go for it. We got the kayaks to the bank and positioned them so we could control when we launched. We looked at each other again, this time with fear. For one, the way this river was running it would require someone with a lot of experience to be able to take it on. Jon and I didn't even have much experience with water sports, period. For two, we didn't even have the right kind of kayak or equipment. To say the least, we were way out of our league.

I pumped myself up and volunteered to go first. We wished each other good luck and said goodbye. It was more of just a kind gesture and jokingly said "don't die". It was about to get real. I summoned my inner adrenaline junkie and went for it with whooping and hollering to psych myself up. The water was moving so fast! I tried to steer myself with my paddle and it was futile. The river was in control. I was thrown about as I crashed into the white churning water and was swept downstream. I tried to avoid the branches that stretched out across river but even that was pointless. I put my hands up but they still clobbered me. I was at the mercy of the river and it wasn't very merciful. It was punishing. I hit a couple more branches and all the while managing to stay upright on my kayak. I was still trying to psych myself up by shouting but the fear was starting to win out. There was no way I was going to be able to keep this up. Just then I quickly approached another huge set of branches which I tried to avoid but this time I got hung up on it for a split second and then was in the water, my kayak overturned. I reached out for it and held on to the bottom of my kayak. I tried to flip it over but that wasn't going to happen. I held on for a few more seconds thinking I might be able to take on the river this way but there was no way that would be possible. I pushed off of it and desperately tried to get to the shore. I was able to grab a hold of some roots on the side but the river pushed me with such force I didn't think I could hold on. I was totally focused on getting out, and using my arms and legs in combination to fight against the current, I pulled myself out. As soon as I got out of the water my thoughts immediately turned to Jon. I was so worried he had followed me and was going to get the same beating I just went through or worse. I ran up along the river looking through the brush and trees trying to see him. Nothing. I kept running and made it all the way to where we had put in. He was there.  I was so grateful and relieved to see him there. He was safe. To say he was relieved to see me too would be an understatement. We stood there for a second and just took in what just happened. That was so stupid! What were we thinking? Jon thought I had died. It hadn't really hit me until then that I had just come so close to death. I really could have died. That thought hadn't crossed my mind until then. My risk assessment had been seriously clouded. I had only thought that failure would be falling off my kayak and getting carried down the river in the water. Boy, did I underestimate the power of the river. I did not respect it and it almost cost me big time. Jon was wise and after having second thoughts and pulled out of the river before it could carry him off.

Once I knew Jon was ok, my thoughts turned to my parents. They were waiting for me at the bridge. My kayak was going to show up upside down and I wasn't going to be anywhere near it. No doubt that would have to freak them out! I cinched up my Chacos and took off running. By the time I made it to them my kayak had just passed under the bridge and they hadn't had time to think I was in serious trouble. Whew! Laurel and Kade managed to rescue my kayak (after quite a bit of arguing about how to navigate the canoe) and bring it to the shore. I told my dad I was probably done with water for a while, still in quite a bit of shock. We packed up the kayak and went to go get Jon and his kayak. He didn't take us back the park. He stopped short and pulled into a different park so we could put in and still go under the bridge but where the water was not nearly as wild. We were still shaken up quite a bit but the adrenaline hadn't worn off quite yet so we decided to go for it even though we were still freaking out. Leading up to the bridges it the water was so much better and would have been all we needed to get our adventure fix. I approached the bridges first. The car bridge was cool but no big deal. Next came the foot bridge. I lined myself up and then scooted down and laid down. The highest part was the back rest. The water carried me towards it and I started to rotate. I was going under it sideways and it was too late now to do anything about it. I had estimated we would have about 6" or so. Tight but we could easily make it through. I don't know how much clearance we actually had but it felt like much less! I put my hands up right as I went under just to make sure I didn't hit and get stuck. Whew! Made it through and I just laid there laughing. Jon followed behind me and he ditched his paddle before going under. He made it through just fine but it was still freaky.

After that we decided we were good and were going to call it a day. We traded the kayaks for the canoe and took it easy. It was relaxing and calming just cruising around and not fearing for our lives. It was a lot of fun but it was almost cut short by tragedy. Just like that it all could have changed. Jon and I talked about it and it really had a big impact. Zac Zimmerman, a wasatch mountain wrangler, had passed away this morning on a trail run in Bell Canyon. He slipped and fell to his death. He was an experienced trail runner and just one simple mistake ended it all. Jon and I were hit pretty hard because our experience could have had the same result. It really wakes you up and makes you feel grateful you get a chance to learn from your mistake and carry on. Zac doesn't get that change. He left behind a wife and three young children. I feel so bad for them. They are going to miss him so much. It really hit home. I can have fun and adventure but I have to be better about calculating risk and not doing anything that could jeopardize my life. I have a family to take care of. I have a purpose on this earth and I can't fulfill it if I am dead. It is amazing just how fragile life can be. We are so tough and resilient but in the blink of an eye it all can come to an end. Today my heart is heavy with reflection, gratitude, and sorrow for Zac and his family.

Exploring with Ked

June 17, 2017

Ked invited me to go explore Buckley Mine. When he asked what time I wanted to do it I thought about getting an early start and said, “How does 8 AM sound?” He then suggested 5:30. His idea of early is much different than mine. That was very early but I figured it would be good to get up and get out.

I was unsure which was the actual turn off and missed it by about 20 feet. That led to a crazy scramble and then got cliffed out. We were able to down climb and eventually get to the trail. Had a good time exploring and adventuring. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Lone Peak- Pleasure and Pain

June 10, 2017

One week after running the Squaw Peak 50, Jon invited me to hike Lone Peak with him and 2 other wranglers. I was feeling better i.e. the uncontrollable shaking when I stood up had stopped and hadn’t come back the rest of the week. I tried to go for an easy run on Wednesday and it was rough. I think it was a combination of still being wrecked as well as allergies that caused my knee hurt a little bit and my breathing to be super labored even though I was just trotting along. So, when I got invited I was hesitant but didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity so I said yes.

The trail was beautiful and very fun. On the way up, I could feel some tightness in my knee but it wasn’t hurting. It made me nervous but I kept at it and enjoyed the scenery. When we got to the snow someone mentioned glissading on the way down. I looked up and thought they were joking. There was no way we were going to glissade down it. It was crazy steep! I dismissed it and, kicking out steps, charged up.

When Jon and I finally made it to the top we were stoked, giddy with adventurous adrenaline. It had been a steep hike but the last stretch required some sketchy scrambling. It was very exposed and I loved it. It looked awesome and felt awesome! We went up in our trail running get up and met a group of people in full on mountaineering gear. We effortlessly leaped around the rocks. This also was in stark contrast to the group we had joined on the summit. One of them was sprawled out and only moved around by crawling on all fours. He looked petrified by fear. It made me reflect on how people react to different situations. I have always been prone to being willing to throw caution to the wind and take more risks outdoors. I have been known to be referred to as an “adrenaline junkie”. I don’t know what factors may have contributed to that but it seems like it is a part of my personality. I do recognize that experience has helped give me confidence to be riskier. I remain respectful but the more familiar I am with a situation, the more comfortable I am and act more freely as a result.  At first, I chuckled to myself at the group of adventurers that we joined on top of Lone Peak, but then I realized that even though they were so nervous up there, they had reached the summit. They were really no different than me at all. They were seeking adventure and wanted to get outside their comfort zone and push their limits. Everyone is unique and has their own limits. Who am I to compare myself to others and diminish their accomplishments even if just in my mind? After recognizing that, I felt very proud of them.  

As soon as we began our descent, the pain flared up. Ibuprofen helped for a while but the final mile was awful. Every step sent sharp pain to my knee. I resorted to walking sideways or even backwards to make it down. Aaron, and Logan had long dropped me and eventually Jon did as well so I finished the trek alone. I was very grateful to be done. Doing Lone Peak so soon after the Squaw Peak 50 was a stupid decision. My body did not like it. It was awesome though…

Thanks Aaron Williams for putting together such a cool video of our adventure!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Is That Even Safe?

Squaw Peak 50

June 2, 2017

Met up with Jon at the pre-race event. He was getting his race packet, dinner, and instructions. Sitting in the parking lot and seeing the other runners I was feeling left out. There is always an excitement in the air before a race. Everyone is stoked but nervous and the feeling is contagious.

In the few months leading up to this point, I was training with Jon and was surprised with how I was keeping up and performing. I hadn’t been running that consistently but had been off and on with guys at work. The first time I went out with them after not running for months we hammered out an 8 miler with some longs stretches in the snow. I had some foot pain that bothered me but besides that I felt good. I was really happy to have been able to just go out and get that done. The foot pain bugged me and I tried to take it easy after that and only ran once or twice a week with them. We did some speed work and it had me sucking wind but I was improving week to week. I wasn’t able to keep up with the guys, that were months into their marathon training schedule, but I hung with them as long as I could and stayed close. I took care of some plantar warts on my feet and that magically fixed my foot pain.
Jon and I did an 11 miler out to Bridal Veil Falls and back. We talked about the Squaw Peak 50 and how I would help pace him. I had a crazy thought. He has been training a lot more than me but I am hanging with him now. I heard about the SP50 a few years back and thought it sounded like such a gnarly race that someday would be so cool to do. As we ran and I thought about it, I thought if Jon was ready I might be able to do it too.  I mentioned this to him and he felt it wouldn’t be the best decision. He said I probably could finish but it would wreck my body. I decided he was right and that it was a dumb idea. The run we were on was the farthest I had gone in years. 14 miles was my longest run ever and that was 5 years ago.

Hanging out with Jon and the other runners the idea came back to me. I asked if it was even possible to enter and they said I could. I told Jon and he laughed and I don’t think he thought I was seriously considering it. He reminded me that it would not be good for my body but I probably could do it. He certainly didn’t talk me out of it. I had my check book in the car and went to go get it. I was in a very impulsive mood and with a giddy smile, wrote a check and said, “Let’s do this!” I was amped up! I got my schwag and race bib which I promptly crumpled up, threw it on the ground, and stomped on it per tradition. Jon and I went to go get our spaghetti dinner and listen to the pre-race instructions. I think I had equal proportions of spaghetti to salad to apple pie with ice cream. As I stood there eating and listening, I started to panic a little bit but bit my lip and tried to put on a tough, I’ve been here before, face. Mentally I was starting to wet myself. What had I signed up for. I was not ready! I tried to calm myself down and think about how I was going to approach it. Jon had a game plan all figured out. He had his pacers lined up and prepped. He had food prepped and drop bags planned out and ready to go. I threw a wrench into his plans because I wasn’t going to be driving up and meeting him halfway. He had to do some scrambling to figure out how to still make his plan work. I felt bad I changed it up on him last minute because the he was nervous and the planning helped him feel dialed in. I also felt bad because he had been preparing so much for this and it was his thing. I didn’t want to steal his thunder or take away from his accomplishment so I tried to keep my participation as much on the D.L. as possible. I asked Jon if he was cool with me doing it and he said he was.  I still wanted to make this about him and not take away from his moment. I was looking forward to him performing to the best of his abilities and proving himself to himself.

I told Shannon what I was going to do and she was really worried. She said, “Is that even safe?” It wasn’t the smartest choice but I would do my best. She was cute and reminded me to wear sunscreen, drink lots of water and remember to breathe. I was grateful for her encouragement.

We headed home and I had to scramble to get things ready. I had brought extra food and gear so I would be more than prepared for my leg. I went to Runner’s Corner and searched desperately for a running top and a hat. I couldn’t find a hat but was able to get a white tank and some electrolyte tablets. When I got back to base (Will’s house) we worked on drop bags. This is something I hadn’t even thought about but Jon helped me out. We got them ready and then went to bed around 9:30. I had a hard time falling asleep because my mind was running wild with excitement and anxiety. The next day I would be putting my body and mind through probably the most demanding thing I had ever done before. I wasn’t ready but I was going to give my best effort at it and see how things turned out. I wanted to crush it.

June 3, 2017

Jon and I woke up at about 3:45 AM and got ready. I didn’t have much to eat for breakfast. I think I had a banana and some of Jon’s burnt oatmeal. We drove up the canyon and found the parking lot with all of the other runners. What a bunch of crazy people! It was still dark out. Felt like the middle of the night and we were all getting ready to go running. It was so cool to see everyone thought. I was filled with excitement because I had always wanted to experience this and be a part of it. Now here I was. Everyone else looked like they were seasoned pros that knew exactly what they were doing and how to do it. I was scatter-brained and trippin’ out. We had to walk ¾ miles along the river to Vivian park to the start. Jon and I kept our sweats on for as long as we cool and both felt we should ditch them instead of running with them for the first part of a race. We stashed them behind a tree and hurried to the starting line. There we were. Two newbies amongst a group of hard core ultra-runners. With headlamps on and a last-minute set of instructions and inspiration we were sent off. Go time!

Start- 5:00 AM

I was still in amazement and shock that we were actually doing this. We were a part of an ultra race! I turned my Garmin to display pace and kept an eye on how we were doing. Pace was going to be really important because it was such a long race and I didn’t want to get burned out early. I wanted to hold back and try and preserve myself for as long as I could. Jon and I were both really surprised by how fast everyone was going out. I kept looking at my watch and telling Jon we needed to slow down. We kept speeding up with everyone and hovered around 8-9 min/mile pace. That was way too fast! Our goal was 13-15 min/mile pace. We let a lot of people pass us and kept holding ourselves back. I felt good but knew I shouldn’t be running so fast right now. It made a bit more sense why people were going so fast once we left the river trail and turned up the Bonneville Shoreline trail with was single track and didn’t have any room for passing. Once we got to there our position was pretty much locked in for the next few miles. The sun started to rise and it lightened up. As soon as we turned onto the trail the climbing began. There was a lot of climbing in store for us today.

Hope Campground (5.58 mi)- 6:18 AM

We cruised into the first aid station and were met by a people who looked like they had just woken up from camping. Which they had. They had pancakes and sausage cooking and I filled up my water and grabbed some for the road. They had a box for headlamps so we ditched ours there. The trail we were on was very pretty. There were aspens and green vegetation all around and it opened up into lush meadows with wild flowers in parts. We met an older guy from Connecticut who had traveled out here just to do the run. It was fun to talk to him and hear how much he enjoyed being in our backyard. We sure do take it for granted sometimes. There is so much to see and do right here where we are blessed to live.

Rock Canyon (10.85 mi)- 7:36 AM

I was wearing a new pair of compression socks I bought from Walmart and hadn’t tried running in yet. The bottom of my left foot was tight and started to bother me. I was hoping it was just from the socks and the tension they were putting on my feet. This is the first time up to this point I really thought I might not be able to finish. I didn’t say anything and just kept pressing forward and upward. It wasn’t a horrible pain but it did bother me. I still had a very long way to go.

I had been eating energy gels in between aid stations and had downed about 4 at this point. At aid stations, I went for the chips and got my bottles filled. One with water and the other with Heed. At this aid station, they had a bowl of ibuprofen which I thought was funny. We continued on Squaw Peak road and missed the turn off for the trail. I was surprised by just how easy it was to miss it. I had heard of runners making wrong turns during races and how that was possible. I now realized just how easy it can be to get distracted or zoned out and completely miss a turn off. Luckily the runners behind us shouted out and got our attention. We only missed it by a few hundred yards so it wasn’t too much of a loss. The trail got snowy and muddy. We got back to Squaw Peak road and there was a big section still covered in snow. Only a small path of mud, just wide enough to walk through, was what we passed through it on.

Horse Mountain (14.62 mi)- 8:52 AM

When we got to the aid station, they told us it was aid station #4. They skipped aid station 1. Weird. But hey! We were already at 4 instead of 3. We had a drop bag here so were able to bathe in the sunscreen we packed and I switched my socks. We also got our sunglasses which was a good call putting them in the drop bag instead of packing them from the get go. That was my idea and I was proud of it. I filled my bottles, grabbed some chips and a potato and we were off and away again. My foot did feel better as we started running again and I was super grateful.

The view was gorgeous and we were feeling really good. We were still holding back and had slowed down multiple times to keep our pace from getting too fast. Making our way down the long descent we had stretches where we just walked to keep our pace even. We found out we took another “wrong turn” by staying on the road and missed the trail. It took us to the same place but we added an extra half mile or so by missing that shortcut.
Will and Jess had gone camping the night before to be able to meet up with us as we made our way through that section of the race. It was so fun to see them. Will took his ADHD meds and a red bull that morning and talked our ears off. He was so hyper, talked super fast the entire time he ran with us. His mouth ran probably more than his legs did. It was so much fun to have him running with us and he definitely provided a good moral boost.
I couldn’t believe how much I was peeing! I was peeing about every half hour and I knew this wasn’t a good sign. That is way too often and my water was just going through me. Jon on the other hand hadn’t peed once. We were worried about that too.

5 Pole Heaven (20.4 mi)- 10:18 AM

A lot of runners had passed us and we weren’t sure where we stood in the race. We asked how many had already come through and they told us were about 250 out of 300. We were bringing up the rear! We kept on and made it to road. We passed a porta-potty and I couldn’t pass it up. Felt like a sauna. Not fun but needed, if you know what I mean.

The road was surprisingly tough. It was really hot and I was starting to feel the run taking its toll. Up to this point I had felt pretty dang good. I was running strong and mentally I was in a good place. The road started to suck that out of me. We caught up to Davy Crockett who was doing the 2nd part of his double. He was throwing down M&M’s like candy (oh wait...they are candy) when we got to him. We said hi and told him how awesome we thought he was for being so hard core. Someone asked how he was feeling and his answer was very honest. “I’m feeling pretty crappy.” That sums up running. It is a love-hate relationship. Running provides cool experiences, accomplishment, and there are times when you feel like you are floating or flying. You have to earn all of that and it comes at a price. That price is feeling pretty crappy most of the time.

At one point on the road I could feel my legs start to tense up. They started to feel like I was going to cramp up and so I slowed my pace. Sure enough, I started to feel some cramping in my hip flexors. This got me really worried. I didn’t know if the cramping would go away. If it didn’t, the race would be over for me. I had another gel, more water, an electrolyte tablets. I walked for a bit and thankfully the cramping subsided and I was able to continue.

6 Left Fork (26.05 mi)- 11:37 AM

We finished up the road section and made it to a packed and busy aid station. I took off my shoes and socks and put bare feet in the creek. I also poured a bunch of water on my head. It felt so refreshing and wonderful.

Will decided he was still feeling good and so he kept running with us. We had to cross through a wide creek and I decided I didn’t want to get my shoes wet so I took them off. Everyone else just walked through the water in their shoes. We started to climb again and kept our careful pace. Were it got steeper we walked. Jon was focused more on keeping his heart rate from getting to high and so that helped keep up in a good place without pushing too hard.

7 Sheep Canyon (29.98 mi)- 1:04 PM

We made it to the aid station which had our cooler. This was a nice break. Jess met us up there and so it was Will, Jess, Jon and me hanging out and having a good time. I took advantage of the creek again to kick off my shoes and soak my toes. We had packed pita and hummus and this was our first “meal” of the day. We took some time here to just rest and relax for a while before taking on the back half of the course. I had little idea of what I was in for. I would consider this to be about 1/3 completed effort wise. The next 20 miles would be much different, almost like an entirely different race. Jon and I thanked Will and Jess for helping out and supporting us and then checked out of the aid station and continued onward.

Leaving the aid station, we had to jump from rock to rock up the creek. The race course was up the creek. It was a lot of fun.

Saw a dead moose on the trail.

It was hot out but we kept making progress. I was still drinking one bottle of water and the other bottle of Heed. I was starting to drag and my feet were getting sore. We made it to another climb and there were many people that were either taking breaks on the side of the trail or going very slowly. We were climbing strong and caught a lot of people. Coming down my knee started to bother me a bit and I my legs felt wobbly. I was so grateful when we finally made it to the aid station. I was looking forward to my summer sausage and taking a break.

8 Little Valley (33.52 mi)- 2:10 PM

I got my drop bag and pulled out my summer sausage. It didn’t do so well in the heat either. It was ruined. Threw the whole thing away. That was a blow that wasn’t fun. I did have some other gels and an energy shot. I started to feel a lot better after that and Jon and I went on hunt mode. We started catching more and more runners. It was felt great every time we made another “kill”. We kept climbing and the views were gorgeous. I hadn’t been in this backcountry area before but it was beautiful. Trees, valleys, and mountains as far as my eyes could see. Looking up we saw the top of the climb and kept working on it. When we got to the top it made its way around and we could see way off in the distance, across a valley, the road that Vivian park is on. The finish was still a really, long ways away and were going the wrong way. The trail took us back and away from the finish.

I was trying to pace my water consumption as well but had already gone through almost both of my bottles. I wasn’t exactly sure where the next aid station was going to be but I had a feeling I was going to be in trouble.

We had thought we had already made it to and conquered the infamous Bozung Hill. At least we had hoped we had. We knew looking at what mile we were on that it couldn’t be. My watch died 34 miles in so we were relying on Jon’s now. Around another few turns and some more up and down things finally opened up and we saw it. It was really intimidating looking up and seeing people way high up there. Our climbing had only just begun and it was about to get real.

I was still feeling alright and we kept passing people. About a third of the way of the last huge climb, I hit a wall. Jon was stoked about the climbing and was feeling great. He took off and dropped me. It seemed like he hit the gas and I hit the brakes. I barely made it up to about the halfway point and was really hurting. My legs ached and I felt depleted. I continued on and made it to the snow. I sat down and tried to let my legs rest and recuperate a bit. I was really thirsty and scrapped off the top later of snow, got some snow from deeper down and chomped on that. It felt refreshing and helped but still just wasn’t doing it for me. I tried to keep going up and progress was very slow. I had to keep stopping because I had such little energy and ached so much. People started to pass me and looked like they were climbing with such little effort and enjoying it. Other people looked like they were enjoying it too but they were having lunch on the side of the trail in the shade. I wanted to be the first type of people but the second type was starting to be more and more appealing. How I would have like to just rest, have a nice meal and cool off! Mentally and physically I was really struggling. I finally made it to the top. I was relieved but also worried because as I started to go down my legs, especially my knee, were really hurting. I was afraid of the pounding and making things worse. I usually tear it up going downhill. I felt like I was being torn up. My left knee had a sharp pain on the outside which made every step hurt. I was getting passed on the downhill now too! My stomping grounds.

9 Windy Pass (41.49 mi)- 5:10 PM

Finally made it to the aid station. It wasn’t much but it was an oasis. All the good stuff had already been long gone but there was water. I drank multiple bottles and filled them up for the next stretch. I also took some aspirin for the pain. I think I even got a little bit of a cookie crumble.

It was going to be all downhill from here. One might think that would be easy, amazing and wonderful. If only. The mountain still had a lot of snow on it. They had cut out steps but they had been trampled and melted by the time I got there. Trying to kick steps and walk down proved to be very difficult and more of a waste of time and energy. The best way to make progress was to glissade. Didn’t feel too good in my super short running shorts but it got the job done. The snow went on for a ways and when we got out the next obstacle was mud. The entire trail was muddy. This made things slow and difficult and required the expenditure of more time and energy. Nothing about the descent so far was easy. I was running with some other runners and they commented that the course this year was way harder with all of the snow. The year before, many parts we had covered in the snow they had run on dry ground. One of the people I was with was sort of doing what I had done. He had only run a half marathon and decided to just jump in and run the 50. I was excited for him but also deep down I didn’t want to lose or even finish close together. I wanted to dominate. My body though, wasn’t feeling like dominating.

I kept up with them for a while and then took another energy shot. I tried to time it right so that it would get me to the finish. I took it at about mile 43 or so. I was hanging in there but feeling like I was dragging along. When it kicked in, I felt great and said goodbye to my group and took off. Oh man did I take off. I felt awesome again and started making more “kills”. I passed runner after runner as the trail flattened out and had some rolling hill like features. Making the descent into Big Springs I crushed it. I was flying! I caught a lot more people and kept a brutal pace.

10 Big Springs (46.5 mi)- 6:48 PM

I made it into the aid station and was dialed in and on attack mode. I quickly filled my bottles and washed down some more ibuprofen with a red bull. My first red bull ever by the way. I took off down the road determined to make it to the end. I was starting to feel the pain again and my stomach wasn’t doing so hot. I caught a few more runners but when I passed South Fork park I knew I couldn’t pass up the bathroom. After conducting my business, I was back on the road. My knee really hurt and I would get a sharp pain every couple of steps. I focused on my breathing and staying positive. When I finally saw the houses, I knew I had made it. I was going to finish. This is when it really became real. I sped up even though I was in a lot of pain. I caught a father and son running together right before I turned the corner into the park. Everyone was cheering and there were people everywhere celebrating. I made it through the park and crossed the finish line. I had done it. I was finished.

The back half of the race was very difficult. I had a lot of time to think and ponder. My mind was filled with thoughts of my family. I missed them so much and wanted so badly to see them and hold them in my arms. I kept thinking about Shannon, Shiloh, and Lilly and pictured them at the finish line. In the past, I have always been very independent and wanted to do my own thing. I haven’t cared if my family was there supporting me and even opposed it. I don’t know why but it hasn’t ever really been my thing and I wanted to just do it by myself, not make a big deal out of it, and not waste their time. Maybe that was me being selfish and not wanting to share the experience. As I was making my way down the mountain and towards the finish, all I wanted was to see Shannon and the girls. I wanted to see them at the finish and give them all a great, big hug. I wanted to share the experience and accomplishment with them and just be together. I realized they were the most important things in my life and I wanted to be with them so badly. Thoughts of them pushed me further and kept me going. I was able to do what I did because of them.

Finish (50 mi)- 7:22:55 PM

After I crossed the finish line, I made it to the grass and sat down. I was exhausted but elated. I took my shoes off and texted Shannon. I was filthy dirty but I sent her a picture to prove I was still alive. I didn’t really look or feel like it though. It felt very surreal. I had just finished running 50 miles but it was all just a blur. 14 hours and 22 min of just me and the mountains.

I found Jon and I was so happy for him and his success. From the time he took off, he worked and catching people and did really well. He finished over a half hour before me in 114th place.  I did surprisingly well to and came in 141st place. We drove back to provo and Shannon said she would be down to meet up. I took a much-needed shower and then drove over to see her and the girls. It was so good to see them! It felt amazing to hug and be with them.

I went back to Will’s house and watched a movie with Jon. It felt nice to be able to just lay down and relax. I tried to get up once and immediately felt super nauseous and started to shake. My whole body was trembling and I had to lay back down. I covered back up with a blanket and the shaking went away. That was very weird. It happened another time and I just had to take it really easy.

In the morning, I could barely walk. I felt like such an old man. I went back up to Riverton to go to church and I could barely get around. My legs and feel were wrecked. I only made it for one hour before needing to just go back home to bed.

Monday, I was feeling a bit better and not as sore. Tuesday, almost all of the soreness was gone and I feeling a lot better. I tried to go for a little 2 mile run on Wednesday but that was not so good.  I had a hard time breathing and my lungs really hurt. I think my allergies flared up too which didn’t help. Besides trying to jump into running again too soon, I am absolutely amazed at how incredible our bodies are.  It is so astonishing that our bodies can heal and repair themselves. My body was in shock and I was barely able to walk and three days later was feeling great again and could move around without any problems. Absolutely amazing what the body can do. It is an incredible gift.

I learned a lot from my experience from the Squaw Peak 50 mile race. Deciding to run it was not one of my best ideas but certainly not one of my worst. I look forward to doing more ultras but with a lot more preparation and training. Am I crazy for what I did? Yup.