Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Story of Running

We all have a story to tell. In fact, most of us have many stories, each representing a different stage of our life. Many of you have heard a lot of my stories; stories about jumping off of cliffs into trees, of desperate descents down some of Zion’s hardest slot canyons, hiking in the Uinta’s, and climbing obscure cliff faces. These stories have defined me throughout my life. I’m proud of these stories and together they paint the portrait of ME.

This is the story of how I became an ultra-runner.

For 15 years I was certain that I wouldn’t do anything other recreation activity in my life at as serious a level as I was taking rock climbing. I was talented in all aspects of climbing; sport, trad, bouldering, and aid. However, over time I specialized in bouldering, something I could do better with my limited time. I was after pushing my limits as far as they could go for as short a period of time as possible. Along with my climbing I also enjoyed peak-bagging in the Wasatch and the Uinta mountains. I backcountry skied, mountain biked, canyoneered, and (oddly enough) played volleyball. But these were all secondary to climbing. And while my enjoyment of climbing was as strong as ever my abilities had plateaued by 2005 and I simply didn’t have the time and inclination to focus my efforts on achieving that next level.
Attempting Seven Deadly Crimps in Triassic

In 2003 I was invited by my friend Scott Wesemann to go hiking in the Uinta Mountains and attempt to climb Utah’s three tallest peak (King’s, South King’s and Gilbert Peak) in a day starting from an advanced basecamp at Dollar Lake in the Henry’s Fork basin. While I was there to tag along and enjoy the mountains, Scott was invited by a reporter and photographer from the Deseret News (along with the reporter’s son). If successful they would run a two page, full color story on the feat. The short story is that only I and the photographer completed the task and since he didn’t want any part of the article they ran the whole two pages on me. While honored I really didn’t think much of it as the years passed. What I didn’t know was that there began to be a bit of a following of what became coined as “The Triple Crown” in the peak-bagging community.

In 2008 I returned to the Uinta’s, again with Scott, and also another friend Steve to attempt to hike King’s Peak in a single day starting from the car. It was September and I was now doing a spot of running here and there at the request of my wife who felt I needed a bit more focus on my cardio. But I wasn’t running far, I was only getting out 2 – 3 times a week, and it was always on the road (and never over 4 miles). We completed our task of hiking those 26 miles in just over 13 hours and we were all pretty sure that was about as hard as it got. When we returned to the trailhead we looked in the trail log to see how many other people had tried it in a day, feeling pretty confident we were of the elite few who would make such an attempt. To our surprise one name stood out – Davy Crockett – whose log report stated that he had completed the “Triple Crown, car to car, on [his] 50th birthday”, dated August 1st. To say our sails were deflated would be an understatement. And this reference to my “triple crown” feat was interesting. The following Monday I was called out of my office by Steve who had found Davy’s trip report on the internet. In the report he referred to my 2003 trip with a link to the article online (no longer active) and called me out by name on two occasions in his report. I was shocked. I immediately emailed him and congratulated him on such an amazing accomplishment. His response was quick and complimentary. He even invited me to go running with him. Uh, no way! He was a veteran ultra-runner with more 100 mile endurance races to his name than I could count. He had also done so many insane adventure runs that I wasn’t sure if he was actually human, but a very modern cyborg whose sole purpose was to dominate nature. I replied by telling him that he’d have to give me till the following summer to get into better running shape and then I would love to. I spent the rest of September and October turning myself into a trail runner, without any success. I still only got out 2 – 3 times a week in those two months, I still never went more than 4 miles, and only one of those days would be on a trail. But this time those trails were taking me to the tops of easier mountains, such as Sugarloaf and Mt Baldy. And then in November I got sick and running fizzled out. I was determined to get back on the horse and on January 5th I committed myself to really focusing on running and forcing myself to enjoy it. Davy had won the Triple Crown by doing it from the car and I wanted to step up and do the same thing.
The video I made of our King's in a Day trip in 2008

That cold day in the beginning of 2009 I left work and ran 1.9 miles around the block from work. It was hard. Two days later I ran 3.2 miles in a longer loop from work and I was pretty sure that my lungs were going to explode from the one and only tiny hill I had to ascend. But I stayed at it, running 3 days a week for all of January. My brother had given me this great advice that I now share with every aspiring runner who is having trouble breaking through the discomfort, “when you can run 3 miles without feeling like you are going to die you’ll begin to enjoy it; the first time you run 6 miles you’ll be addicted”. He was right. That first week of February I was in Texas on business and I ran all 5 weekdays. On the Tuesday of that week I did a 6.2 mile loop and finished feeling really good (at the time I didn’t realize how much the low elevation and lack of hills really helped). Yep, Brent was right, I was hooked!

Over the next few months I focused on increasing my distance and preparing for my first real race, the Salt Lake Half Marathon. As it was still winter and cold most of my running was on the road. By race time I was ready. I had run the required 13.1 miles on several occasions and felt like I could push pretty fast. I ran a respectable time of 1:36:28. As I crossed the line I was very emotional. I didn’t know why at the time, but as I look back now I can see that that was the moment when I redefined myself as a runner and no longer as a climber. I knew then that I had opened the door to a whole new world of adventure, to something that would allow me to do what I always loved – pushing myself harder than I thought I could – but in a way that would also allow me to dig deeper into my love of the outdoors. Whether it was on the road, the mountains, or the desert I now had the world at my disposal, just by putting one foot in front of another. As I would focus my training it would simply become about how fast I could do it.

I spent the rest of 2009 racing on the trails and the roads. I finally did get to run with Davy Crockett. While preparing for a marathon length run I inquired on the internet, on a running blog I now belonged to along with Davy, I asked if anyone knew any 26 mile trails that would allow me to do my long run. He replied and asked if I wanted to run the Lake Mountain 50k course with him. Forget that I had never run further than 20 miles before, why not just jump up to 31. Of course I accepted and on July 2nd I ran one of his favorite training run courses around Lake Mountain in Saratoga Springs. Those 6 miles from 26 to 31 I thought I might die they were so hard. You can read about it here on my blog. But I was now officially an ‘ultra-runner’ and I was hooked . . . . HARD. I was also injured. That run destroyed my IT Band and that injury would follow me for the rest of the year. In 2009 I ran (in this order) my first 10k, half marathon, 16 mile trail race, 20 mile trail race, 50k (a bit out of order), marathon, and 50 miler. I then spent all of November and December on the disabled list. Ouch.
Video of my Lake Mountain 50k run with Davy Crockett

During my time trying to recover from my ITBS I changed my running form and switched to a mid-foot strike. When nothing else worked, this did. In January of 2010 I found myself running pain-free and able to push farther faster. 2010 was a keystone year for me as it truly solidified me as a true ultra and adventure runner. I went back and accomplished my goal of running the Utah Triple Crown, car to car. I even set a new ‘fastest known time’ of 9 hrs 41 min. It was such an honor to return and finish it properly. That year I had a goal to run a marathon distance run at least once a month. I finished the year with 15 marathon+ distance runs. I also ran my 100 mile race, the Pony Express Trail 100, in a time of 22:46:49 and good enough for 3rd place overall. There were other notable runs and adventures, but they aren’t worth bringing up.
Utah Triple Crown Footage

2011, even with all of my personal life hiccups, was a banner year. There’s no need to brag, but it’s just worth saying that it was a very gratifying and yet again, another milestone year. I continued to learn and grow as a runner, as I still do today. I fondly look back at my beginnings and love to remember all that I’ve gone through. I’ve had so many fun adventures, met some amazing new friends, gotten involved with the greatest company on theplanet, and I feel like I’m only scratching the surface. I still rock climb, but not very often and only when I’ve got some extra free time to hang out with friends. The love is still there, but not the passion. That passion has been reinvested and it’s paying huge dividends.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Red Mountain 50k Report

My mom called me a couple of months ago and said "you're running the Red Mountain 50k in April, I just signed you up". "Uh, Ok", I said. She was running the 30k along with her friend Dianna and my brother Brent (who was running his first 30k). Fast forward to this weekend.

We arrived in St George on Friday evening and partook of my mom and Dianna's time-honored tradition of eating at Outback Steakhouse. My friend Kameron and his wife Kim joined us and we had a wonderful time. We then settled in for what would be a fairly sleepless night in a quaint little motel on the BLVD. I was up at 3:50am and my ride was there by 4:15. We were on the bus and on our way to the start by 5:10. I was very tired. It was not a jovial ride and everyone was pretty somber. We all had received an email the night before letting us now that a potential runner, Thayne Hansen had died in a tragic accident earlier in the week. We were all given blue ribbons (blue was his favorite color) to wear and his wife was in attendance and we had a balloon release ceremony before the race began. Thayne's best friend Shane would be running in his honor and wear his number. It was a very moving moment prior to the start and I was honored to be there.
I'm pretty good about not going out too fast. I settled into my very comfortable pace,one I had no idea how fast it was because I couldn't see my watch. The first 10 miles have about 1200 ft of vertical spaced over 3 main climbs. I wasn't feeling super awesome in the first 6 miles, but a stop at the 2nd aid station and a chat with one of the RDs really got me pumped up and I found my stride after that. I was in 3rd at this position (something I wasn't going after, I was just running the pace that felt comfortable). First and second were miles ahead (I thought) and 4th was nowhere in sight behind me. I loved those big climbs and ran every step. At mile 12 you hit pavement and then have to run 18 miles of mostly downhill, calf and quad-pounding blacktop, something I am NOT good at.

My focus in this race was to hope my fitness would carry me in the mid 7 min/mile range to 26 miles. I figured if I could hit the marathon mark by 3:20 (which would be a new PR for me, btw) I would have a chance of going under 4 hours for the 50k. As I came around a corner at about mile 18, there off in the distance, was my mom, Dianna, and low and behold Leslie Peterson (possibly the cutest redhead on the planet). I stopped long enough to give some hugs then was off again. They mentioned 2nd place wasn't far ahead - how could that be? As I turned another corner at mile 19 there, in fact, was 2nd place (Zach) at the aid station. He left before I got there, but I was on his heels. He was moving pretty well (around a 7:20 mm) but I could tell he was hurting. Just after mile 20 he stopped and then started again. As I passed I asked how he was doing and he said his hip was killing him. I told him to get it under control and then come back and pass me again. I was now solidly in 2nd.

As I hit the marathon distance at 3:23 (so close) I knew I'd have to push hard to get under 4 hours, but it just wasn't there. I don't train for this kind of stuff and was pleasantly surprised to find that I had the fitness to run as fast as I did to mile 26, the last 5 miles would be all mental. I was getting lots of encouragement from the 30k runners I was passing, along with aid station workers who were amazing. I continued to push, but at the 25 mile aid station I must have dropped my salt pills because when I went to grab one at 27 there were none to be found. I bummed one off a guy at the mile 28 aid station, but it was nearly too late. By mile 30 my calves were cramping. Luckily, I had two final big climbs which re-engaged my calves and by the time I hit the top the salt pill had kicked in. I was able to surge the last mile, even while at my limit, and crossed the finish in 4:02:02. As I crossed the line I collapsed on the grass, then got got up and hugged my brother (who ran 2:36 in the 30k, taking 10th). 

I shocked even myself that I could go that fast. On a cooler day and having run the course before I think I could knock another 10 min or so off. Maybe next year. Hanging out at the finish waiting for my mom and friends was a real treat. I talked a lot with the RD, my UltrAspire peeps, and Zach, who eventually took 3rd about 15 min after me. Then, out of the blue some guy pulled me aside and interviewed me for a new online magazine. Uh, I really didn't think I was worthy of being interviewed. It was pretty cool though. My mom and Dianna crossed the line an hour and a half after I finished, we then all went to Dianna's cousins, got cleaned up and drove the 4+ hours home. What a great weekend.

Official Time: 4:02:02
Overall Place: 2nd


 Dianna, Leslie, Mary Kay, me, Brent

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tools for the Job

Here's a quick discussion about something that's been on my mind recently.

I think people have a lot of misconceptions about running and how to run. For most people they think it's about putting on a pair of shoes (any shoes) and walking out the front door. To them a 'runner' or 'jogger' just puts one foot in front of the other and hopefully reaps the benefits of the effort. And for most, when something starts to hurt they believe it is a product of the simple act of running and nothing more. And then quit, blaming running itself as the cause of their injury and pain. What they don't understand though is that running is like most other mainstream sports in that to do it properly you not only need the correct skills, but also the correct 'tools of the trade'. 

You can read more articles and watch more videos than one could count on proper running form. You will read about mid-foot vs heel-strike, proper back form, arm position, head stability, and more. People will tell you to relax, but don't slouch; lean forward, but don't bend; and extend your stride, but backwards, not forwards. Is all of this important? ABSOLUTELY, it is. Not only is it important to avoid injury, but if anyone wants to be a successful runner they need to be willing to learn how to do it properly. Anyone can throw a basketball at a hoop, but if they want to be accurate and enjoy it they will likely take the time to learn the proper techniques. And being even remotely successful at golf goes without saying, you must make the effort to learn even the most basic techniques. So take the time to do it, you'll not only avoid injury and ensure a longer running career, but you will enjoy it more, I promise.
Every single one of these elite runners is displaying great form. Learn from the best and you too can run better, faster, and more efficiently, with few injuries.

Next, and this is what kind of what prompted the idea of writing this article, Apparel. I love driving down the road and seeing other people running. It warms my heart. I don't care how fast they move, what size they are, or how far they will end up going. I respect the effort they are making and automatically feel a kinship with them. However, it causes me pain when I see them out there running in non-running or worn-out shoes. It's only going to cause potential injury and reduce the overall enjoyment of the activity. I don't think a person has to spend a fortune on running shoes, but I do believe that you get what you pay for. If you want to spend $35 bucks at the outlet stores you will probably get up to 200 miles out of them before they break down enough to the point that you risk injury. If you are willing to spend the dough I would recommend going to a specialty shop and buying a top notch shoe, one that will give you twice those miles and promote your now proper running form. The Altra whore that I am I will say try these shoes before canceling them out. Even if you are a mid-foot striker you will find that they help your form and promote a healthier running lifestyle.

Clothing, oh my gosh, this is where I really start to feel bad for people. Cotton attire is for snuggling up with a good book or sleeping in, it is not for running . . . or any other high effort activity. As a side note, here's a funny thought about professional sports: at the highest levels of sports uniforms are dictated by two things - league rules or function. Golf, cricket, and a few other lower activity level sports require higher dress code standards set by their governing bodies. On the other hand, sports like luge, cycling, swimming and countless others have uniforms that are dictated by the activity itself. If you want to perform at the highest level then you have to know that what you wear has a direct impact on how well you will perform. Here's the funny part; what in the world is wrong with professional basketball players? You'd think with the amount of movement, speed, and agility required to dribble a ball down the court and between your legs that they wouldn't wear shorts that hand down to nearly their ankles. Looks are one thing, but I would bet a significant amount of money that if those top-notch point guards all went back to wearing tiny shorts (like in the 80s) they would have fewer turnovers and their first step would be even quicker. The one constant between all these sports is this moto: if you want to perform like one of the best, dress like one of the best. I see people wearing $60 shorts and $50 shirts and $150 shoes to go play a game of pick-up basketball, but then they will wear the same shorts and the same shirt and maybe even the same shoes to go run and then wonder why they don't run well. If you want to be an effective runner you have to be willing to wear the proper attire. Shorty-shorts might look revealing, but they really do make a big difference. And really, you don't have to go that small, a 3 inch inseam is more than sufficient and still covers a solid amount of thigh. Holy cow, that was a rant. I love it!
Dead sexy AND fast

Ok, this is the final part and I'll make it short. If you want any real results in your running you have to be willing to put in the work. Yes, it's going to hurt. Yes, you are going to be tired. Yes, you might hate it for a while. It's supposed to hurt, you're supposed to get tired . . . really tired, and you might hate it for a while. But if you will stick with it the hurt become motivating, tiredness will be your goal, and both of those will become two reasons why you LOVE to run and not just do it because you feel you have to. It just requires you to keep that commitment and not quit. Remember, Refuse to Quit and even a bad day will feel like a success.

Now I'll get off my soapbox and go have fun with my kids.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

PR Week

I tend to run a lot of the same trails as part of my training. Often these trails go to the top of local summits or obvious high points. I keep track of the ascent times and record them as motivation for when I return. Over the last year of doing this I have seen a significant improvement in my ascent times on some of my more standard routes. However, two PR (personal record) times still hung over my head since they haven't been in any condition to push harder than normal due to snow and/or mud. These two routes are the Grandeur Loop and View Benchmark from west Ann's trailhead.

My previous fastest time up the west ridge of Grandeur was a very unimpressive 1:02:00. I've always wanted to do this route in under an hour and you think it would be easy at just 2.3 miles (you read right). However, the 3200 ft of vertical gain in those short miles makes running any part of it a test of my limits. I can run the first quarter mile and then you gain the ridge. Once on the ridge there are only a couple of short spots that allow for any real running. On Wednesday I had the huge privilege of running the Grandeur Loop with Jay Aldous (he's a fairly decent runner - hehe) and his friend Mark. We took the longer way up to the ridge, which adds on a tenth or so, but we didn't notice because we were chatting. We pushed the ridge, but not hard as it was Mark's first time up that route and he wasn't feeling super fast that day. We stopped a couple of times to wait for him and for the rest of the time just kept it 'conversational' (the name I've given to my pace when I can hold a normal conversation). Once at the saddle we hit the snow, which was made for a little slow going, but overall wasn't bad. I could see the one hour mark looming, so I pushed just that much more and was able to hit the top in 59:50. Even this time isn't super impressive for most of the faster guys and I am certain I can knock off several more minutes on an all-out push, but on that day it was a milestone reached and made me very happy. The rest of the run was amazing, being able to hang out with those two guys was a real pleasure.

Summit of Grandeur Peak (photo from a previous trip)

The rest of my week was really rough from a running perspective. I didn't have nearly as much time as I would have liked and felt horrible yesterday. I wasn't sure I would get out today either, but after mowing the lawn and hearing of my friend Scott doing View Benchmark this morning I felt like I just needed to get out. View Benchmark is one of the better short distance training runs in the south end of the Salt Lake valley. At 7.7 miles and 1600 vertical feet of gain you have very runnable trails with stunning views. Then, once on top of the peak, you can see into both Salt Lake and Utah valleys, which is a real treat. My previous PR came last fall on a crisp day with very dry trails. Since then I've had a bunch of summits that just didn't offer the right conditions for a solid attempt. My previous PR of 41 min was pretty quick. It's easy to average under a 10 min/mile the first two miles, but then after that it gets steeper and harder. 

After Scott's text this morning that conditions were good I hopped on the trail and immediately knew that today would be a good opportunity to push hard. Not only were the temps and trail conditions prime, but my legs wanted to move. I pushed hard to the mountain bike trail at mile 2 and then settled into a casual pace up to the View Benchmark trail. There was mud along this section which slowed me down, but it wasn't much. I have a checkpoint at the top of the mountain bike trail and today I was in good shape to get my PR. Once on the upper trails I took a new way, one that is slightly longer, but offers more runnable terrain (well, faster runnable terrain). It paid off and I was able to hit the summit in 39:30, a PR by a minute and a half. Pushing hard down the normal route I got to the bottom in a roundtrip time of 1:06:17, about a minute faster than any previous time. I collapsed in the street (a cul-de-sac) and just laid there with a smile on my face. What an awesome day.

Me on Ann's at the first of the year.

I didn't get very many miles this week, but I still consider it a big success. I hit some target milestones and feel stronger than ever. I'm looking forward to what Spring has to offer. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The AltraManiacs Strike Again

My good friend Drop of the AltraManiacs ran the Sand Hollow Marathon yesterday with his cohort -Zero-. I've posted his race report here. It's pretty amazing.

Hey, Drop here. -Zero- and I were asked just this last Monday by Altra Zero Drop if we'd go down to Hurricane, UT and run in the Sand Hollow Marathon. This race is run from Hurricane to Sand Hollow Golf Resort and back. It passes through farm fields, desert, around Sand Hollow reservoir, and then deposits you at the golf resort. And then you have to turn around and come back. This race appealed to me in two ways; 1. I love a good out and back, and 2. It is a flat, challenging course, with a bunch of rolling hills and one monster climb. I'm not a fan of downhill courses, so this would be a real treat. I was running in the Atra Provision, a pair of shoes I had literally just pulled out of the box. They were amazing for the whole race.

-Zero- and I made our typical appearance about a half hour before start time and were welcomed immediately with a "hey, aren't you guys kind of a big deal?". Yes, sir, we are. Then, as all 150 competitors lined up near the starting line I yelled to the crowd to have all the attractive people line up front. -Zero- and I were the only ones standing there, weird. Eventually though everyone joined us at the start of the race. The RD, Jason Smith (definitely one of the best RDs in the biz) blasted some music, gave us the countdown, and we were off.

-Zero- keeping order at the start

Our plan from the start was to go out fast, then spend the rest of the race slowing down and having fun with the other competitors, eventually running somewhere around a 4 hour marathon. While we are both capable of going 2:03:00 (world record pace for those who aren't knowledgeable of the sport) for that distance, we knew it was more important to support the other runners and have a good time. We had fun in the first few miles just talking with people and wandering around the roads high-fiving the spectators.

At the first aid station we grabbed a quick drink of water then turned around and started handing water to the other runners. I think a few people were confused as to whether we were runners or volunteers. But only a minute later we were back on the course with gummy bears in hand. While running an 8:30 min/mile pace I was throwing gummy bears over my shoulder to the waiting -Zero- 30 feet behind who was catching them in his mouth, to the great delight of other runners.

For the first 7 miles of the course it steadily winds its way up and through the countryside of Hurricane, along horse pastures and through tumbleweed covered desert. The aid stations were placed every two miles after mile 3 and were manned by local students. They had great energy and we took every opportunity to spend just an extra minute at each one to chat and have fun. Again, we were there to spread the Altra love, not race for the world record. At the top of the winding climb we were now hovering above Sand Hollow Reservoir and now had a massive mile long steep downhilll to work our way around the lake. We knew we'd have to climb back up this thing in about 9 miles when we came back, something I truly looked forward to.

 The winding road up to mile 7

-Zero- cruising the big downhill above Sand Hollow Reservoir

Running around the reservoir we passed red cliffs and sand dunes. Throughout the race we were constantly met with race photographers and additional photographers and videographers from UltrAspire (the major sponsor). Obviously, they knew we were a big deal. They probably snapped one or two photos of other racers too. One of the many brilliant things about this race is how many photos they take of each runner and then offer them on the website for free. How cool is that?

Just before entering the golf resort we saw our first glimpses of the race leaders coming back toward us. We rewarded them with cheers and the slapping of hands. I really believe that they felt a high-five from a running superhero was just what they needed to get them to the finish. We were also running with an amazing group of ladies who were running the race for their second year. Most of them have run 20+ and 30+ marathons and they were all moving well. It was an absolute treat to share the course with them. As we got closer to the turn-around we saw more and more racers coming back toward us and we very much enjoyed giving encouragement. Near the turn I offered a competition of 'closest to the hole' with a few guys on the golf course, but they wouldn't take me up on it. Shame.

We lingered at the turn-around chatting with the UltrAspire folks - those guys are as good as they get - then turned around and headed back for the last half of the course. At mile 14 we passed some three story condos and were throwing out some love when I asked if the folks on the bottom floor had a cheeseburger. Unfortunately, they did not. However, they did say they had a big plate of bacon (they were obviously having a large family breakfast) and offered that to us. So -Zero- and I jumped the small wall, crossed the zero-scaped yard, through the sliding glass doors and into the living room and kitchen to the awes of family and friends to eat some bacon. They were the nicest people. A couple of high-fives later and we were back out onto the course enjoying our salty snack and moving well.

Over the next several miles we just cruised along with the same group of runners. I started to pull away a bit as my competitive instincts kicked in. Come on, we are running superheros for a reason, ultimately we are out there to compete and do our best. At mile 18 the big one mile climb loomed ahead. Two very cute Navy nurses were running in their pink shirts, tights, and tutus in front of me. As I passed them I asked if they were going to run every step of the big hill. One shook her head no while the other gave a confident YES, if I would. Of course I would, let's not be silly. While everyone else in front of me walked that long mile I cruised under a 10 min/mile pace. I took one glance back half way up and there were my two nurses, plugging along. I didn't spare another glance though to see if they continued running to the top, but instead chatted with more volunteers at the aid station at mile 19 and then kicked it into gear.

I was19 miles into a marathon and finally feeling like I wanted to run fast. I dropped down to a 7:15 min/mile and cruised the flat and downhill miles back to the finish. I passed about 10 people in the process, ate a popsicle at mile 25 and flew to the finish like an airplane, crossing the line in 3:40:13. Not too shabby for spending most of the race playing around and just having fun, exactly how it should be

10 minutes later my nurses, Cassidy and Alison crossed the line holding hands above their heads. They immediately came up to me and shared their excitement of running that entire hill and thanking me for the inspiration. "That's what I'm here for ladies, glad I could help". We cheered more runners across the line and then I felt it was time to run back up the course to find -Zero-. I only had to go .4 miles back up to find him running strong and having a great time. We ran back to the finish together. What a champ.

-Zero- cruising to the finish

We stayed long enough after the race to cheer on dozens of other runners, take photos with racers and kids, and throw out enough high-fives to satisfy the ever-growing need of the public. We had several conversations about Altra shoes and I truly believe won over a few hearts. How could you not with shoes like these. Sand Hollow might be the best hidden gem of a marathon in all of Utah. It is a great, challenging course with beautiful views, tough hills, and maybe the best race staff around. Put it on your calendars for next year. Thank you to Jason, the RD, for putting on a great race. Thank you to Altra Zero Drop shoes for making the best shoes in the business and sending us to down there to have so much fun. And thanks to UltrAspire for the steak bits, photos, and video. We love you too.

Until our next adventure . . . . RUN SPEEDY!

Yeah, we're kind of a big deal!