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Month: June 2014

Running the Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay

Running the Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay

I am happy to report that I survived the Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay Race.  The team consisted of friends and family, many of them more consistent runners that me. Nevertheless, I assumed role of Team Captain (in charge of nagging, mostly) and took the set of legs with the highest mileage.  What was I thinking? I was most concerned about the stress fracture on my ankle – which had been feeling great as of late, and my IT band which has been a consistent problem as of late.  With the high mileage and some very long stretches of steep downhill, both injuries had opportunity to act up.  Thankfully – neither did!!!  Every muscle and joint was sore and has been since, but those injuries have been ok.  In any case, here are the 3 legs.

1st Leg (Nr. 11)

7.5 miles in 1:24:40 @ 11:21 min/mile and 1,823 ft elevation

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The leg was absolutely gorgeous. The leg climbed from the Pineview Reservoir up to Snow Basin ski resort. The climb was exhausting and I ended up power hiking portions of it.  There was a 1 mile downhill section in the middle that felt amazing. I just opened up and bombed down it, getting a 1 mile PR and a couple shorter PRs too.

Off I go. Feeling great about 10 yds into the 7.5 mile run
Panorama looking back down towards the Pineview Reservoir
A couple miles in, tired, but feeling good enough for selfies showing off my pearly-snap thrift store wrangler shirt. Funny story – a guy stopped me to ask where I got it. “Is that a Nike?” he asked. The same guy passed me again during my third leg and saw me wearing a different pearly snap shirt and got a kick out of it. Nice bloke.
At mile 2.8, looking down a 1 mile stretch of glorious downhill.
Shortly after this our van had a couple hours to rest, so we set up our sleeping bags on the grass at snow basin. Supposedly my wife is in the sleeping bag next to me.

2nd Leg (Nr. 23)

5.6 miles in 55:06 @ 9:53 min/mile and 301 ft. elevation

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 This was my night leg. I ran it from about 2:30-3:30. I started out a bit cold, but by the end was as hot as ever. I’m glad that I didn’t over dress.  The leg went along Rockport Reservoir and would have probably been gorgeous in daylight. It was a slow steady climb for most of it.

I wore my max-cushioning trail shoes – a pair of Altra Olympus – for the duration of the race. I figured they would save my feet and joints.

3rd Leg (Nr. 35)

10.0 miles in 1:34:59 @ 9:28 min/mile and 498 ft. elevation (and 2,636 ft. elevation drop!)

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Before this leg we were able to crash at a teammate’s cousin’s house on the floor and get a hot shower and breakfast. Wow – it made a huge difference.  By the time I started it was about 2:00 and although it was only 70, it felt hotter.  My last leg was 10 miles and dropped a total of 2,636 elevation over the course of about 7-8 miles of it. Had this been my first leg, I think I would have loved it – just bombing down. But, I had already run 13 miles the previous two legs and I was already beat sore. At a number of points on the descent, I had to stop and walk for a bit. There was about 500 ft. of climbing as well – almost all of which I power hiked. I was just spent. Towards the end, there was about a 1/2 mile of trail. I hit that and blew past a bunch of people who were carefully picking their way down the trail. I was in my element and made good time.

By the finish I had hit 9.9 miles, so I did the hand off and went an extra .1.  I hit PRs for 10 mile, 15 k, 10 k, 2 miles, 1 mile, 1 k, and 1/2 mile.  So, that made me happy.

I was also relieved that my dreaded IT band, which I was afraid would rear its ugly head on all of this downhill didn’t hurt AT ALL.  Wow.

A view from the top.
Done. So so sore.
Team Awesome! finally finished!


In the end it was a very good experience.  I ran 23 miles, which is more that I usually do – way more. Will I do it next year? Honestly…probably not. I think I would rather train for a trail race. But who knows . . . maybe.

The Farmington 50 Mile Challenge and Marathon Challenges

The Farmington 50 Mile Challenge and Marathon Challenges

Did I mention that I created a set of trail-running challenges here in Davis County?
They showcase some great local trails and are designed for serious trail and ultra runners who want to attempt something unique.
A ton of vert and chance to get your name in our hall of fame.
If you want to check them out and consider tackling one of them, go here:

The Website:

The Facebook Page:

An Unexpected Record-Breaking Run

An Unexpected Record-Breaking Run

I wanted to get one last run in before this weekend’s Wasatch Back Ragnar race and tonight was my best chance. I drove up to the Farmington Canyon trail, planning to hike it up to the Sunset Campground and then run down the road for a loop. It went better than anticipated.

Amongst the other local trail runners, I’m just about the slowest. On Strava segments, I am usually at the bottom of the leader-board and the only times that I get a medal is when it is an obscure trail that so few have clocked on strava that I’m in the top 5 by default. BUT, not today. I didn’t plan on trying to go my fastest but did on all stretches of the trail. With my new trekking poles, I found my self either running or fast power hiking the entire way up. I really think the poles allowed me to keep a faster steady pace. On a number of the climb segments I placed 4th or 5th – even ahead of some elite locals I really look up to! On the descent down the road, I clocked PRs for my 5k (23:26), 1 mile (7:32), 1k (4:31), and 1/2 mile (3:35).

I was exhausted when I got back to my car, but it was well worth the effort!

5.6 Miles in 1:01:01 @ 10:48 min/mile and 1,270 ft elevation

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2014-06-24 - Farmington Canyon to Sunset (2)
Farmington Canyon @ Dusk


2014-06-24 - Farmington Canyon to Sunset (4)
ACTION SHOT! I wish my phone had a high-speed shutter option


2014-06-24 - Farmington Canyon to Sunset (1)
Trailfie. Also, check out my arms-cut-off pearly snap western shirt! The Mrs. does not approve, but I think it is SUPER classy!
Playing Tour Guide at Box Elder

Playing Tour Guide at Box Elder

This week a good friend and colleague – a fellow historian – was in town for a conference and wanted me to take him and his two dogs somewhere beautiful for a trail run. Since we were down in Utah County for the conference, I chose the Box Elder Trail towards the like named Peak. This was my first time up American Fork Canyon and will not be my last. Wow.

We started at the Granite Flat Campground and headed up trail 044. We climbed about 2,500 ft up 2.5+ miles of trail, stopping often to take pictures, catch our breath and talk history. My friend currently lives in Melbourne, Australia…at sea level. So, our hike from 6,500 to just over 9,000 ft. must have been killing his lungs. His dogs didn’t seem to mind though. We didn’t make the final 2,000 ft climb to the peak, choosing instead to sit and relax on a mint and wildflower covered hill on the north side of a canyon that would have otherwise led us up to the south saddle between the south and main Box Elder Peak.

It was a gorgeous day. Thanks to Taylor for sharing it with me!

Now, I have to schedule some time to go back and conquer that thing…

5.6 Miles in 1:37:22 @ 17:15 min/mile and 2,532 ft. elevation

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2014-06-20 Box Elder Trail with Taylor (1)
Looking South, part way up the Box Elder Trail
2014-06-20 Box Elder Trail with Taylor (3)
Panorama Looking South
2014-06-20 Box Elder Trail with Taylor (4)
The 2,000 ft. final climb we DIDN’T make up to the south saddle. Water running underneath the snowpack.
2014-06-20 Box Elder Trail with Taylor (6)
I love the wildflowers that you start getting in the apline meadows above 7-8k ft. Indian Paintbrush here. The hillside was also covered in wild mint. Smelled heavenly!
2014-06-20 Box Elder Trail with Taylor (7)
Taylor + dogs in their element!
2014-06-20 Box Elder Trail with Taylor (9)
I need a cabin right about here
2014-06-20 Box Elder Trail with Taylor (10)
More Flowers
2014-06-20 Box Elder Trail with Taylor (11)
Cabin remnants on the Box Elder Trail
To Hell [Hole] and Back Again, Twice

To Hell [Hole] and Back Again, Twice

It was Saturday afternoon, the high was forecast to be around 70 so I couldn’t, in good conscience, not hit the trails.
I decided to try out my new trekking poles on the steep climb up the Davis Creek trail area.

4.0 Miles in 1:02:44 @ 15:46 min/mile and 1,791 ft. elevation

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I felt strong and did get a PR on the initial climb from the trail head to the split to the first waterfall, but not on the rest.  Odd.  I did stop and talk with a couple people so maybe that is what slowed me down.

I went up to the split where you can traverse over to Pretty Valley to the right, or go up to Hell Hole on the left. My plan was to do a loop. I went right, over to Pretty Valley, Up the south approach to Hell Hole and then back down to the junction. Feeling good, I turned around and did the loop in clockwise.

Above and below Hell Hole, there is a stretch of pine trees. It almost* looks like my home mountains in Washington…just a bit drier and not enough dense undergrowth, moss and ferns. This is looking up the trail from Hell Hole (just above the campsite) on the way up to the junction with the Cattleman Trail that goes uphill and SE and the Prayer Rock loop.

On my way down from Pretty Valley I could feel my left IT band a bit, but not bad.  The ankles feel good.

I Messed with Texas (Trails)

I Messed with Texas (Trails)

They lied. Everything is not bigger in Texas.
For the last couple weeks I have been down in Austin and San Antonio, Texas, for a couple academic conferences and some research in a few archival repositories.  Fun fun fun. And, rather than sit around bored in my hotel rooms at night when I didn’t have stuff planned with colleagues and friends, I went running. These were three of the sweatiest runs of my life.  Wow.  The humidity.  Overall, it was a lot of fun to explore some new places. However, due to my IT bands and stress fracture on my left ankle…I am supposed to be only increasing my weekly mileage slowly – 10% per week, right?  Well… I kind of blew that. Instead of going 7-9 miles max for the week, I did 15+ over 6 days.  The IT bands got worse throughout, and now my left ankle stress fracture is a bit sore again – which it hasn’t been for a few weeks. It had been 100% pain-free for a while.  And…it kind of feels like an identical stress fracture is developing on my right ankle.  So… I may be taking it easy for a couple weeks now – maybe just keeping in shape on my bike until the Wasatch Back Ragnar at the end of June.

In any case – here’s where I explored.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Emma Long Metropolitan Park
4.6 miles in 52:53 @ 11:24 min/mile and 318 ft. elevation

 Trail along Turkey Creek.

Trail along Turkey Creek.

It was late about 6:30 or so when I hit the trail, which thankfully stays pretty well in the trees along Turkey Creek – so not much direct sunlight.  Nevertheless, it was so humid, so sweaty. I felt like superman bounding up the “hills” along the trail. 300 ft over 4.6 miles…I guess the Wasatch has gotten me used to a bit more climbing than that.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge – Doeskin Ranch Trails
5.1 miles in 53:08 @ 10:24 mi/mile and 654 ft. elevation

This looked like a promising way to get out of the city, and it was way out there. Cell phone dead zone. I was expecting something a bit more dramatic when I saw the word “canyonlands,” but again I think Utah has spoiled me. The trails were nice, but a lot of it was exposed to the sun and it was hot. I went through 2 liters of water and still guzzled down a gatorade when I got back to the car. I also found it funny (didn’t get a picture! Yarg!) that on country roads, when there is a church ahead, they have yellow caution signs that say “Church.”  I don’t know if Texas gets the irony in that.  Yellow signs are for warning. Warning! Church! I didn’t realize rural Texas would be so anti-religion. 😉


It was interesting running amidst different plants. Big prickly pear cactus, wildflowers, etc…
This cracked me up. The Indiangrass loop of the trail was incredibly easy to follow. Nevertheless there were cairns every 20 feet or so – some of them quite large.
They call this “Hill Country”….well, they certainly aren’t Mountains!
Back home on the Wasatch Front, everyone has been posting picture of waterfalls. This is as close as I could get.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Canyon Park Madrone Trail
7.5 miles in 1:28:25 @ 11:45 min/mile and 403 ft. elevation

This was about 1/2 between Austin and San Antonio (off west of San Marcos) and I decided to run it as I was driving between the two, leaving the archives in Austin and going to a conference in San Antonio. Knowing it would be the middle of the day, I packed a full 2 liters in my hydration vest and even put on sun screen. Thankfully, it was overcast. But wow – it still felt hot and humid.  The trail is on a peninsula which appears to be made of limestone. Much of the trail was exposed sharp craggly (sp? even a word?) bedrock limestone.  Sharp stuff. Oddly, it appears to be mostly used by mtn. bikers, and I could see that rock just shredding your sidewalls on the tires.  In any case, the full Madrone Trail packs 7.5 miles of trail into a pretty small area. That means constant twists and turns and doublebacks.  At one point I came upon a couple deer and they spooked – bounding off. Then, the trail doubled back on itself and I came upon the same deer again, about 60 seconds later. They bounded off…and the trail meandered back to where they had run to another 2-3 times.  Sorry guys. Around 3-4 miles my left IT band was really screaming, and as you can see on the map, there are plenty of places where I could bail and hit the west side trail back up to my car. With the north loop done, I thought I would at least do the east loops…and then maybe go back to the car.  Then, I decided I would at least do some of the big south loop…I ended up doing the whole thing. Towards the end I had that wonderful moment where you are so glad you DIDN’T turn back early, and instead pushed through for the whole thing.  My legs disagreed over the next couple days. 😉

On the north loop, overlooking Canyon Lake
Animal bones on the trail. This, coupled with the many turkey vultures circling overhead the entire run, proved a bit disconcerting.
Remnants of a fire. The entire coastline was filled with these creepy looking trees. A few seconds before I took this picture, a big turkey vulture was perched right in front of me on a branch – it was like something out of a cheesy horror movie.
With this run, I hit about 60+ miles in my new Altra Olympus shoes. While I am still struggling with some prior injuries, my feet feel great. And, I think they are helping with the injury recovery as well. Max Cushioning to the MAXXX!