Saturday, May 31, 2014

Practice Run and Trail Clearing for the Squaw Peak 50 Mile Ultra Run

I signed up for a little race right here in my own valley.  I have been traveling different distances around Utah and Nevada to attempt ultra races but decided it was time to do one right out my front door.  The Squaw Peak 50 mile run in the mountains was going to be happening on June 7th, 2014 and I had decided a few months previously that I was ready to tackle this beast.

A couple weekends before the run the race director, John Bozung, organized a practice run/trail marking run and then the next weekend a trail cleaning/marking event for those who were new to this race or who just wanted to get in some training miles.  I jumped right on board with both runs so I could accomplish getting in some mileage and so I could see some of the course beforehand.

The first Saturday we met there were 5 of us which was a nice number.  We marked the trail with pink flagging and saw about 8 miles as we ran an out and back accomplishing about 16 miles for the morning.
I never tire of seeing the majestic Mount Timpanogos.  This is the front side of it.  
At one point in our run we came to a beautiful overlook of the valley.  Wow!
Another thing John wanted to check was the snow levels and avalanches in a couple of spots along the course.  That's a big one right there indeed that hadn't melted down yet.
This first run was a great experience and helped ease my nerves a little bit about what was ahead in a couple weeks.

The second run was the next weekend and involved a little more mileage.  We also had a few more people join in on the fun, maybe about 12.  We had to drive to the little town of Wallsburg, to the east of Deer Creek and then head up into the mountains to an area called Little Valley.  We started our run there and spent quite a few hours out in a very rugged part of the course.  This angle of Mount Timpanogos in the background with snow on it is the back side of the picture at the top of this post.  That's quite a distance to travel on foot.  YIKES!  What was I getting myself into?
John, the race director had quite a story to share with us about an experience he had while marking the trail many years ago with a cougar following him.  It was pretty intense listening as he shared with the group about what happened.  He was one lucky guy to not get attacked.  So now he has a marking of cougar prints on a few places on the course of where that happened.
Another section of the course is lovingly called (ha!) Bozung Hill because it is a part of the course where around mile 40 you want to curse at John Bozung for putting this into his race.  It's a pretty steep section that's lasts for a little more than a mile and come race day would be in the very heat of the day. While practicing for it I had to stop and breathe and rest a few times.  Yes, this part was no fun.      
The scenery up this high in the mountains was phenomenal and made the climbs worthwhile.  Plus, there were people to talk to and we had the task of clearing branches and things in the way.  It was a great experience to hang out with some pretty neat people who were there helping, all with the same goal in mind of completing a pretty epic ultra experience in a week.
Later in the run the story of Porter and his death came up to John and I shared with him that painful experience in my life of losing him.  He mentioned to the group later on in the day that I had a story to share and that the group should hear it.  Nobody mentioned anything about wanting to hear it so I wasn't going to just blurt it out, but there was one person later on that asked to hear my story.  That would be this guy, Cory Nielson.  He was very warm and caring as he asked and was very kind to listen.  He appreciated hearing my story and said how it would help him and his relationship with his own son.  As we were coming down off of some steep areas of the mountain and crossing some scary avalanche areas it reminded me again of Porter and what he must have felt as he slipped on some snowy patch and fell.  I don't like to think about it.
I was extremely grateful for the opportunity I had to get to participate in this experience of seeing part of the course.  There is no way I would have been able to experience anything like this on my own out in such a far away, rugged area of the mountains.  Besides, who wants to run alone anyway? This beauty and grandeur is meant to be experienced with others.  God's world is such an amazing place to live and it's always more fun to run with people.  

Bring on the Squaw Peak 50 Mile Ultra Race

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Alpine Classic Half Marathon

May 24, 2014
There is a new pacing crew in Utah currently up and running called Run Your Race Pacers.  
They are sort of an off shoot of the other group I pace mostly for, Utah Race Pacers.
So I have met the pace directors and got on board to start pacing for them as well.
This Alpine Classic Half Marathon would be my second opportunity pacing for them and so when they offered I kindly accepted.

I ran this race last year with my buddy Josh.  We had a blast running almost the entire race together.
This year Josh decided not to run this course since it was so hilly and also because he is marathon training and would be elsewhere this weekend.

I got to the starting line area and met up with the pacers and got my pacing wrist band and sign.
The pacer group also gave me a really cute pink headband and some free frozen yogurt coupons to Yogurtland.  Pretty sweet deal right there.

I was set to pace the 2:30 group and had a great time.
The weather was a little iffy.

The finish line was a complete downpour but I hung around for a little while and ate watermelon and cheered for a few other people coming in.  

When I couldn't stand the rain any longer I headed to the car and got home to a nice warm shower.
This course is very pretty winding all through some very nice neighborhoods of the quaint, small city of Alpine, Utah.  I will probably be back to run it again next year.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Big Vigor Half Marathon

May 10, 2014

Another pacing opportunity.  I sure love this job!  It brings a lot of joy to my running life.

I met up with my buddy Josh at the bus pick-up area and the other pacers.
We look much too perky for how early it really is.  
This run would start up Big Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake and would be a very downhill, fun, fast course.  I will admit it's a little hard to pace a slower time when it's so very downhill because I just want to take off.  I would be pacing the 2:20 spot this time.

The nice thing about this particular race is instead of getting a bus ride up a canyon and then having to wait outside in the freezing cold in the mountains for an hour for the race to start, they offer a nice little place where they serve hot drinks and let us wait until about 15 minutes before race starts. 
London and Josh, two of my very good running buddies!
We had a great time running in this beautiful canyon.  You know it's cold when there is still snow in the hills.  I definitely wore my under armor long-sleeve shirt under my pacing shirt.
At one point I needed to make a pit stop and so if that ever happens I am supposed to hand off my sign to someone who has been running about the same pace with me and just ask them to keep it moving along the course and then I am to book it and catch up to them within a mile or two.  Josh took this picture of me getting ready to start booking it down the canyon to go locate my 2:20 sign.
This picture was after we realized we had just run about a 7:00 minute mile in trying to chase down that sign. 
Oh look, I found my sign!
After the race was over we hung out with the other pacer friends and chowed down on the treats.  Josh with his usual shenanigans wanted a picture of himself guzzling down hot chocolate!  So I helped with the photo.  What a goof he is!  He definitely makes life interesting.  Keeps me smiling!  

Our pacing crew for the day:
Me, Monnica Skinner, Blaine Hawkes, London Riding, Josh Hansen, Jonathan Crampton, Steve Turley, Steve Nordstrom, Brian, Cory Skinner

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Provo City Half Marathon

May 3, 2014

Another opportunity for pacing came and I accepted it at the Provo City Half Marathon.
(I actually kindly beg and plead for any opportunities)

This is a beautiful course that begins up in Provo Canyon at a park high up in the hills.  Any time a bus takes us up, up, up a canyon then you know you're in for a fun run down a mountain.  This was exactly what the case would be for the first 1/2 of the race.  The second half of the race was pretty  much a flat, straight shot to the finish line on Center Street and University in Provo.  
We boarded the buses very early around 5:00 am and got to the starting line where we tried to stay as warm as we could for an early Spring race that begins in the cold mountains.  You know it's cold when people wear long sleeves and gloves while running, and then you just hope you warm up quickly so you can shed stuff.
 There are some fun people in this photo, Shaylee, Cathy, Josh, and Katy, all of them I have met through this great running community.  It really is such a great place to belong with so many lasting friendships. 

The run was absolutely gorgeous as it runs along the Provo River and the Provo River Parkway Trail.  I paced Josh for the entire race and we had a great time talking and laughing.  He was able to get a new PR for this course, which was very exciting for him.  
I paced the 2:20 spot and got just a tad bit ahead of the job at the end.  It's a bit tricky when you can see the finish line down the road and then wonder if the course is going to be short or long. Rather than cross the finish line after the assigned time it's better to cross early. Oops, this was a probably a little too early.  

 Bling from the race!