John Cougar Mellencamp effort on the BST (“Make it hurt so good”)

Location: BST, from Y Trailhead
Miles: 4
Time: 39:52
Pace: 0:9:48
Temp:  Niceº
Weather: Also nice
People I saw: Just a couple of runners, one mountain biker
Pain/injuries: Left hamstring (same ol’, same ol’)

Notes: My goal on this run was to continue without stopping. I was successful, but it was a real effort for me. There are a couple of sections on this trail that require a continued effort on an uphill stretch. This is never easy for me, because I’m usually a little tired by the time I get one and a half miles into this trail.

This is my last hard run before the Speedy Spaniard on Friday (Pioneer Day). I’ll run a light 3-4 tomorrow and then be ready to go.

A Bonneville Brawl in my legs…

Location: Provo River Trail
Miles: 4
Time: 34:19
Pace: 0:8:35
Temp:  Coolerº
Weather: Overcast and perfect
People I saw: Dustin Fuller, Adrienne Wilson, Michael, a few others
Pain/injuries: Wow. Sore left hamstring. Stiff muscles.

Notes: This was tough. My first mile was a 0:9:21, but it felt like an 0:11:00 pace. Just really tough to get moving. It almost took 3 miles to get myself into a real pace. Still feeling the Bonneville Brawl in my legs.

Race report: 2015 Bonneville Brawl

Yesterday I lined up for my second trail race, ever. The first trail race I ever ran was the Sapper Joe 15K, back in 2010. I remember it being brutal and a force to recon with. However, as I look over the course, I see that it’s pretty decent, but nothing that bad, really. I just wasn’t trained. So how did my 2nd trail race go, five years after Sapper Joe?

Fine, thanks. Not bad. I placed 9th in a field of 24. A 43 year-old guy named Bryce Knudsen beat me soundly (by about 10 minutes.) I cannot figure out where he bought his extra 10 minutes from. Sounds like he’s a healthy eater.

In the first mile I saw a few guys go out way too fast. I knew I’d reel them in. But there was a another group of guys who I knew I wouldn’t see again on this course. They looked thin, young and strong. They took off at a blazing pace, which I couldn’t even begin to consider matching.

The course was hilly, but it was shaded. I worked hard on a couple of people in front of me, hoping to catch them in the last couple of miles. But in the end, I just didn’t have it in me. I have a lot of work to do if I’m going to compete in these things.

One difference from a couple of years ago is that instead of just coming out to run races, I’m really doing my best. I pick off as many people as I can and I take it hard when I get passed.

Overall I loved this race. It was low-key and there was no shirt (but it only cost 10 bucks to enter, too). I understand the guy who’s been directing it for the last three years is moving to Alabama. So we may have to have someone else pick up the race.

Eat and run, by Scott Jurek

This book was rather fascinating. I’ve been sort of interested in what the “Ultrarun” movement is all about. Would I ever run farther than 26.2 miles?

Scott Jurek recently completed an Appalachian Trail journey, this week. Coincidentally I was in the middle of reading his book.

This book promotes a vegan lifestyle, which I have a hard time imagining ever getting into. I’ve entertained the idea, but just can’t see it’s practicality in my life.

I enjoyed getting into the mind of Jurek, as he relayed what he thinks about when he experiences pain and I wonder if I could ever get to the point that I could run 100 miles with an almost Buddhist mindset.

The book was a fast read. I think I finished it in 3 days, but it wasn’t mindless. I learned that when I run I should try to do some mindfully, not aimlessly running without a purpose.

This fine run I did…

Location: Provo River Trail
Miles: 4
Time: 34:40
Pace: 0:8:39
Temp:  Coolº
Weather: Perfect
People I saw: None I know by name
Pain/injuries: When I breathe deeply in, I’m not able to get a full breath. This goes back to that stupid accident I had at work…neck and upper back hurt during rough runs (or descending hard on Y mountain).

Notes: This wasn’t the worst run I’ve ever had. As I passed the Stake Center on the way out, I noticed that people were gathering their stuff for Girls Camp. Saw a few people I knew as I ran. Fun to see everyone getting ready.

I never really settled comfortably into this run. Energy levels are a thing I’m struggling with a bit. It could be because I’ve put on a few pounds in the last week, or it might be that I’m not eating well enough.

The weather couldn’t have been better. It was cool, beautiful out, and I would have regretting not getting it in.

Turning back time on Y Mountain

One of the great tragedies of mankind is that many of us discover what it was we are meant to do, just a little too late.

Not too far from the peak of Y Mountain. The weather’s nice, but I feel hot, anyway.

In the last few years I discovered that I was meant to go head to head with the likes of Scott Jurek, battling it out at Western States. My body was designed to run 100 miles at a time, at a blistering pace. And it would have, if I’d started running back in 1987, like I was supposed to.

But instead of joining the track team in Jr High, I chose the school choir. Instead of learning to control my asthma with exercise and meditation, I drank an unholy amount of soda at my dad’s deli, growing up. Instead of picking up a scholarship in track and field, I opted for a sporadic college route and never ended up graduating.

Rainforest-sized leaves.

It’s not been all bad choices. I volunteered for an LDS Church mission to Dallas Texas, plunged into a career in IT (which has been moderately successful), and got married to a wonderful woman (who also did not win any track scholarships) and had four children. I also learned to play the guitar a bit.

I started running in 2002, back when it occurred to me that there was a remote possibility that I’d enjoy it. Almost as soon as I started, I realized what I’d been missing- sheer joy through physical exertion. How had running not come into my life, earlier?

Last night I stared eastward through my dining room window at the mountain. Y Mountain is a decent-sized chunk in the Wasatch Range, towering over Provo at 8520 feet. It is a conspicuous sight and for me represents a constant invitation to come and play. Bonneville Shoreline Trail, one of my favorite trail running experiences, runs along the lower 1/3 of the mountain. The ‘Y’ is often a great family hike (my family just hiked it as recently as earlier this month). But as I looked on at the mountain, last night, I realized that I needed to heed its challenge.

So I laid out my best running attire, along with my new Ultimate Direction 2.0 SJ racing vest, my Suunto Ambit 2 running watch, and my favorite Altra Lone Peak shoes (red).

People have no idea what they are missing. I love to run the Provo River Trail as much as the next guy, but this is where it’s at! #trails

As I drove over to the start of my hike/run, I wondered if I’d climb all the way to the top. It’s about 3500 feet in elevation gain, in 3 miles distance- pretty significant for anyone who’s 40, missed their life’s calling as a competitive runner, and is looking to turn back time.

View from the top.

Man, is that what I’m trying to do- turn back time? Is that even possible? With each passing year, I still look to become faster, run farther, race smarter. And I’ve improved in a lot of ways. I don’t become injured nearly as easily as I used to. But I’m slower. I’m more prone to sudden energy drops. And yet each year, I’m still looking to beat old race times that I set in my 20s. Maybe I have hope because last year I actually PR’d in the marathon. I actually hope to earn my first sub-4, this year. Maybe it’s the little improvements that make me think that I can still compete, someday.

But in the meantime I stand where I am and I witness the incredible feats of family members, runner celebrities, and even neighbors of mine, who are much faster, much better at this sport than I’ll likely ever be. Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing wrong. Sometimes I wonder if I’m running out of time to do whatever it is that I’m going to do. What will I do if I can’t reach some of these outside-the-perimeter-of-logic goals?

Tan lines or dirt?

It appears as though I need to come to terms with why it is that I run.

But this morning as I hiked and ran (but let’s be honest- mostly hiked) up Y Mountain, I saw the population of people around me thinning. About 90% of those on the trail stopped once they reached the ‘Y’ on the mountain (about one mile up the trail). As I split with the trail running east from there, silence surrounded me and I was left alone with my thoughts.

I wondered if my left knee was going to hold up under the strain of some of these steps, whether that sound that I heard was a bear or a bird, how much longer it would take me to summit the mountain (and whether it would be soon enough that I could join my family for lunch). I found only a few others who’d decided to head up to the top of the mountain.

At the top I marveled at how high up in the sky I was. As I scrambled up one of the rocks at the peak, I actually got a little dizzy as I realized that one false move…so I backed down slowly until I was safe on the ground, again. I took one last look over the valley.

And finally I ran.

I ran all the way down the mountain, over the wet grass (I fell twice), over crumbling rocks, jumped over several fallen limbs and trees, crashed around corners recklessly, and felt my quads trembling with exhaustion. I didn’t feel like I was 26, or anything. But I felt younger, like all of my work was paying off.

I felt like I was…35.

Notes: Had a banana at 1.85 miles. Saw a deer close-up, a very beautiful butterfly, several boy scouts and their leaders. No bears or cougars.

Start elevation: 5175
Peak elevation: 8471 (according to my Suunto)
Time to peak: 1:26:53
Time to base: 0:35:00

A snail’s pace…

  

Location: Provo River Trail
Miles: 4
Time: 7:00 am
Pace: 0:8:56
Temp: 55º
Weather: Crisp and sunny
People I saw: Jeri
Pain/injuries: None. Left hamstring feels fine while running. It’s only afterward that I notice some slight pain. Nothing serious.

Notes: Around mile 1, noticed a LOT of snails making the trail crossing. Only in about a 1/2 mile stretch were these little guys making their daring move. I lost concentration and crunched one of my little snail buddies and felt bad for the rest of my run. I have never enjoyed killing innocent creatures. Except some wasps.

I tried to run fast for about 4/5 of a 1/2 mile (if that makes any sense), then recover (walk) for 1/10 of a mile, then run fast again. I have the feeling that if I do this once a week, I’ll get faster.