Crazy Year

Been a while since I blabbed on about my life…

It is March 2016 and I have been very busy. After college, I figured going to work for the Forest Service would be a good idea, so I went for it. Lived in Challis, and I miss it. However, I realized after doing my job up there for a while it just wasn’t…me. My old supervisor was a big encouragement for me to get back into my music career. I figured, I might as well. I looked into some teacher prep programs, job opportunities, and waited.

In the meantime, depression kicked in. Happy as can be, new father to a baby girl, all of a sudden, sadness. It was beyond awful. That was 2015 for me. I have no idea how I even pulled Standhope off. It was beyond sadness, way worse than that. I could not have done it without my wonderful wife and excellent kids. Without them, it would not have been possible.

I ran a couple races last year, and they went pretty well, considering. RONR, Beaverhead, and WIFMER (now officially retired). Currently signed up for Lincoln No. 9, Pocatello and RONR again, we’ll see if a gnarly 100 is in the books this year. I have run every day since September 24th, and intend to continue that until next September.

Do what you love. After taking a very risky and gutsy decision, we sold our house in Challis, I quit my job, and moved in with the in-laws here in Nampa for a few months while I tried to wrap up my teacher prep program. January showed up and I was about to take a long-term sub job in Hailey Idaho…until I received a very unexpected offer from an elementary school a couple miles away here in town. I am now teaching K-5 Music to 300+ students from a legitimate inner-city part of town. It is a tremendous challenge.

Lincoln 2014

By now, many of you know I had set goals of breaking 3 hours at the marathon yesterday. However, performances at this marathon can definitely be hindered by the chaotic and unpredictable weather of the greater Lincoln/Omaha area.

I trained super hard for the race this year, placing my training emphasis on lower weekly mileage and long, fast efforts. It was apparent that even though my time was long off my “A” goal, I had drastic improvements over last year. I was on track to break 3 hours for the 1st 8 miles (given the grade-adjusted splits I was following) but I started to ease off a little after this to ensure a good kick towards the finish. I hit the 1/2 marathon in 1:32:15 or so and knew that if my strength didn’t falter, I would get the negative split I often am able to pull off. Unfortunately, the wind picked up at this time and I had a good 15 to 20 MPH headwind for the next 5 miles. I slowed a little bit each mile, averaging 7:20 a mile or so. My legs were getting extremely tired just trying to maintain. I thought powerful thoughts, of Heidi and Ethan cheering me on and all the support I’ve been getting on Facebook the last few months. As the first runners started to pass me on this out-and-back section, I couldn’t help but count the number of guard runners that were in front of me. When I reached the turnaround point at 19 miles or so, I realize I was almost certainly in the top 40 National Guard men, which would essentially “make the grade” for the elite team. Even though my muscles were very, very tight, I pushed as hard as I could without locking up. I ran with this Guard runner named Ron (from Colorado) and we helped push each other to the finish. I pulled away the closer I got. The muscles were starting to spasm as I drove them into the ground. My whole being was in pain. The only thing I could think of was “this is only temporary, my last 6 months have been for this pathetically short 3 hour run. I have to make it count.” Varinka Enslinger, a very fast runner who has been on the elite team for a few years now, passed me at mile 25. That is what really crippled me. I pushed very hard, and just about every step was an agonizing cramp on my left calf. I didn’t care, I was almost done. I ran with everything I had. As I sprinted into the stadium, pushing my max and to my full potential, I started screaming, mostly due to pain but also because of excitement to be done. 3:07:34, a huge new PR over my old one at the Mayor’s Marathon (a downhill course) in 2010.

Thanks to everyone for believing in me.


2014 All-Guard Marathon Team. I’m upper left.

Pony Express 100 Mile Endurance Run

As fate would allow it, this past weekend opened up for me and I was faced with a challenge:  sign up for a 100 miler last moment.  Should I do it?  The question was easy: yes.  I am certifiably insane now.  I did even consider the idea of just signing up for the 50 miler.  I’m a “full-monty” sort of guy.  Of course, I had my doubts the night before.  Had I been training sufficiently to throw myself at at a three-headed hydra?  Would I fall apart?  Only the miles would tell.

Finding a crew was a major challenge for the race.  With only a couple days until the race and a Friday start, my options were VERY limited.  I owe my finish to this man: FRANK BOTT.  Frank has done this race 5 times and graciously offered to crew me for the event.  I am humbled and needless to say, happy I was able to throw down the hammer to get us both to the finish line in a quick and expedient manner.  Now begins my story:

Myself and my faithful steed, Shadow, drove down to Lookout Pass Thursday afternoon.  After picking up a giant pizza to use as fuel during the race, I headed to the start line and showed up around 7 PM.  Davy Crockett and Frank were there to greet me and check me in.  I got settled in, ate a big dinner, and crawled into my sleeping bag around 8 PM.  Many people have a problem sleeping the night before a big race, but I seem to be quite the opposite, which can have huge effects on how well the latter portions of a 100 mile race go.  I woke from my slumber around 5 AM, dozed for another hour, then got ready for the race at 6.  I had a monstrous breakfast of Greek Yogurt, Vespa, and protein granola bars.  It was just enough food that I would be able to run comfortably with.  With a crewed race, it is very simple to have quick and easy access to any food you want, which I knew would play well to my advantage.  Before I knew it, Davy was counting us down and we were off.  I started my race at 7 AM, the 3rd of 4 start waves.  This race is a “downhill” course.  You are imperceptibly losing altitude for the 1st 20 miles.

I definitely took my time.  I am the King of pacing, knowing how hard to push the body to maintain a steady pace.  This has helped me reap huge dividends late in the race (my finish at Badwater was a great example).  For the first 20 miles, I was averaging 8:30 to 9:30 miles.  The course was slowly losing altitude, but I knew not to push too hard, so I would not fall apart later on in the race.  I hit the 20 mile mark in about 3 hours.  Around mile 14 or so, I started passing people from the earlier waves.  I made sure to slow down and chat with many people, because I really enjoy the neat people I get to meet doing these things!  I met this “old” dude named Dave, who was doing the 50 miler at age 72.  It is a neat thing to see people rising to the challenge later on in life.  I think I’m partial to the idea because I’ve watched my own dad transform into an amazing ultrarunner in the last couple years.

The desert was amazing.  It definitely had that Badwater feel to it.  Massive, open views complimented by interesting mountain formations and that lonely feeling that accompanied it.  I simply love the desert.  There were many long, straight stretches of road that seemed to disappear into the horizon.  I know this can bother people in the middle of a long ultramarathon, but not me.  After the 1st 20 miles of the race, the course really flattens out for about 10 miles before you get to the first major climb of the race: Dugway Pass.  It is mostly runnable, until the last mile before the top of the pass.  I slowed down and chatted with fellow entrants, while angry hunters flew by.  I guess the local hunting population really doesn’t like the race.  They fly by going 50+ mph on dirt roads, tailing the crew vehicles and generally being very unpleasant.  Never have I seen so much disregard for human life, but I suppose my adrenaline and anger helped fuel me to a great finish.

I reached the top of Dugway Pass at mile 36 not feeling the greatest.  For a few miles before that, the temperatures were on the rise, slowing me down while my body tried to recover.  I told Frank that I would take a break and sit down once I got to the top of the pass, but once I got there, I felt better instantly and cruised down the back.  The nice part of that pass is that the course heads generally downhill for the next 20 miles all the way to the turnaround point.  I hit the 40 mile mark under 7 hours, which means I’m generally running pretty well.  At mile 47 you pass the 50 mile finish (called Blackrock).  There’s an actual aid station there with a Venezuelan barbeque going on.  I stopped and used the portajohn here and continued on my way.  From here it was 11 long miles to the 100 mile turnaround point.  This was the worst portion of the race for me.

I hit mile 50 in 8:50 and realized I might be on track to finish really well.  I know from prior experience that I should take my 50 mile time and basically add 3 hours to come up with the pretty accurate finish time.  In this case, did even better, with splits of 8:50/10:52 for the whole race.  After the 50 mile mark, the race heads west.  This stretch was terrible for me because of three things.  For one, I forgot a hat.  At this point of the day, the sun was directly in my face, which was not fun for a couple hours.  Second, I realized my feet were beginning to hurt really badly.  My feet had swelled up way too much and I would need to change into different shoes.  I threw on my Scott Sports Kinabulus which saved my race and allowed my feet to feel much better. But thirdly, this last long stretch of road just really got to me.  I told Frank, my crew, that I needed to sit down and change shoes.  I secretly wanted to DNF pretty badly.  But I told myself that I was just being a wuss and needed to soldier on for a few more miles before I could make that decision.  After I sat down (which actually was the only time I sat down during the entire race, minus 2 pit stops), Frank told me that getting to the turnaround point would be a huge boost and impressive to do in sunlight.  2.5 miles before the turnaround point I was passed by Matthew Van Horn, who would go on to win in 16:52.  He was very friendly and even stopped for a minute to chat with us.  That, plus the road turning to the north, greatly improved my spirits.  I realized when I got to the time station at mile 58, I was officially in 2nd place.  This was huge for me, as it would be for anyone.  That, plus seeing my good friend Phil Lowry being close to passing me (he was a 1/2 mile behind), really engaged my competitive personality.  I was now “game on” to hold my place in the race and get to the finish in a good time.

With the sun on my back and a renewed competitive drive, I started to feel extremely good.  I told Frank “Let’s get done early and get to bed at a reasonable hour” which he definitely chimed with.  It was good vibes from here on out.  After turning around I started to pass the running field for the 100.  It was really nice to see many people out doing the 100 mile race.  For 95% of the race, I was by myself, minus the 10 or so miles my dog Shadow ran with me.  It was nice to see lots of friends out there.  A lot of the crew members were very supportive and cheered me on too.  Even if I felt bad, I could always muster up a smile.  These ultras are induced torture, so you can only smile and appreciate the challenge for what it is.  I passed Vince Romney’s crew vehicle around (my) mile 65 or so.  Vince is a great guy and came and ran IMTUF a couple months ago.  Vince was in the passenger seat, looking awful.  I gave him a motivational pep talk with hopes that he would return from the dead and get a finish.  I arrived at Blackrock Round II (mile 68) in 12:35.  At this point, I knew I was in a real race.  I had never run this well late in a race like this, minus my Badwater a couple years ago.  With nighttime arriving, I knew the only way I could assure my watch’s estimated finish time of 2:45 AM a success is if I really focused every ounce of energy on maintaining pace and minimal breaks.  I did an extremely good job of this during the day.  Looking back, my slowest mile was 18 minutes, and that was with a pit stop.

Around 8 PM I started feeling the body struggling and craving sleep.  I knew I simply couldn’t allow this to happen, if I wanted to keep my position in 2nd.  I had some nasty insta-coffee, an espresso Hammer gel, and a maximum strength 5 hour energy.  My stomach didn’t appreciate this, but I knew throwing that all in my system would allow me to stay alert and continue to push hard to the finish.  It was around this time that I was passed by Kelly Agnew, who would go on to finish in 18:02.  He was running so well, I had no chance of keeping up with him.  I continued to plow up the steady uphill grade towards Dugway Pass.  My goal was to maintain sub 12 minute miles, but it just wasn’t in the cards.  I stayed close to 13 minute miles all the way up though.  Frank had a great attitude and we both did our best to stay super motivated about finishing.  I knew I definitely had a good possibility of going under 20 hours by mile 70.  So I just kept with it.

After I crested Dugway Pass (mile 78), I flew down the descent off the top.  I continued to eat steadily and worked to maintain 5 MPH.  I could see the crew vehicle for 2nd place Kelly Agnew ahead.  I thought I might be catching up with him, but his crew vehicle kept pulling farther and farther away.  At this point, I was definitely starting to feel the mileage.  Most of my body ached badly and my feet were especially tender.  Still, the moonlight and my place in the race kept me going.  I set goals of trying to do 10 miles every 2 hours.  I might have been able to do this, but I was slightly overhydrated and had to urinate at least every mile.  I cut back on the water and upped my food intake.  By midnight, I was at mile 87.  I was so excited to only have a half marathon to go!  I planned to push really hard once I got to mile 90.  At this point, Frank was pacing me a little bit every mile.  This really helped me to stay focused on maintaining a strong steady pace.  At mile 90, I blasted off!  I did the next mile in 9:10.  I did the next mile in a little over 10. Then I reached a tough hill and had to walk.  It was at this point I really lost all my energy.  I had to dig so deep to continue to move.  I was so low on reserves, it felt like a car engine was trying to squeeze all of its last gasoline out of an imaginary sponge.  I just wanted to lay down and sleep.  I just couldn’t allow this to happen though.  I continued to gut out the last miles.  I could see the car lights off in the distance behind me of all the people that were trying to pass me.  Frank was really pushing me hard to run as fast as I could.  I was back to doing 12 minute miles, which was impressive considering how awful I felt.  We edged closer and closer to the finish.  Finally, he parked the car at the last turn of the race, which was only a third of a mile from the finish.  I told him to grab the camera and get to the finish.  I ran intensely hard, even with my whole body trying to drag me down.  I rolled my ankle a bit in that stretch, but sprinted across the finish line.  My time was 19:42, a whopping 1:40 off my personal record.  There was a heated trailer at this finish line, which I walked into and immediately collapsed on the floor.  They had a warm cot in the trailer I could lay in, so I crawled into that cot and passed out. It was, without a doubt, the most courageous push I have ever done in the latter bit of a 100.  I now feel like I am “fast.”  I ended up taking 3rd place overall, posting the 6th fastest time in the race’s 9 year history.

Nutrition:  I would eat a Hammer gel, granola bar w/protein, or whatever sounded good every 20 minutes.  About every  7-10 miles, I would try to eat a sandwich (Mustard, Mayo, half-healthy deli meat, tomato).  I had pizza on hand as well.  On top of all this, I would do a Vespa packet every 20 miles.  I’ve decided this worked wonderfully.  My personal take is that the Vespa sent my metabolic rate into warp speed ahead, Mr. Spock.  Even today (Monday), I am still having a really hard time keeping up with my insane appetite.  The ability to burn through food quickly and efficiently drastically improved my strength and speed the 2nd half of the race.  I also took many Hammer nutrition Endurolytes.  These kept my muscles happy the whole race.

Clothing:  I will continue to swear by my Zensah Recovery Calf Sleeves.  My legs felt great the whole race.  I wore my Standhope moisture wicking t-shirt for the 1st 70 miles.  When it got warm out, I had Frank soak it in cold water, which felt great while my body was heating up.  I forgot a bigger pair of shoes and a hat.  Won’t do that again.  At nighttime, I threw on a long-sleeve shirt and a pullover jacket.  This kept me comfortable while we had a bit of a nighttime breeze (which was cold).

Pictures are soon to come!

Life as we know it

I was looking at my blog and realized it’s been a whopping 5 months since my last post: The National Guard Marathon.  It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, actually, far from it:  I’ve been busy!  I’m getting ready to close out “Race Director Season” as I’ve called it this year.  4 more weeks until the NNU 100 Mile Run & Relay.  On top of directing 4 races in the last few months, I’ve beat out the competition for a permanent fed job with the Forest Service, sold my house, moved (sort-of), ran, ran, and ran some more, and slept a little (caffeine is my friend!).  I’m now looking to the future: 2014.  This coming year has promise to be a good one.  As a matter of fact, the last 10 years since graduating high school have been more than wonderful.  I’ve been lucky.  A great job with the Marines, a Bachelor’s Degree without student loans, a beautiful wife and cute-as-can-be little boy, and hours of intense and meaningful music written.  Not to mention, of course, my athletic endeavors.  I have 2 goals for 2014: A fast performance at Badwater, and the ever elusive Sub 3 Hour Marathon.  I’m scaling back on other commitments so I can simply enjoy life more.  I’ve completely handed over race director duties for Wild Idaho and IMTUF 100, and will be focusing my efforts on Standhope alone.  For as phenomenal of a course as it is, it really needs a ton of focus to become a premiere event it has the potential to be.  On top of that, there’s a whole lot of world out there to explore!

Oh, and I have pictures from my past summer.  Here’s a slideshow of my adventures in the Sun Valley area, and beyond!

6th Guard Marathon-I’ll Take It!

This was, as I said, my 6th National Guard Marathon.  I trained super hard for the race this year, with my sights set on a sub 3 hour marathon.  As race day approached, I felt this may not be within my grasps, but I still focused on running as best as I could.  The end result:  A very, very well run race.

It was quite chilly on race morning, and I elected to wear a long sleeve shirt  with gloves and my Zensah recovery sleeves.  I took off the long sleeve shirt and stayed in my singlet, but the temperature proved cool enough to leave the gloves on.  I started off the marathon quite easily, doing the first mile in 8 flat.  I picked up the pace after that, but had trouble doing anything quicker than 7:30 pace, worried about dying in the second half of the race.  I hit the 5K mark in 24:48, quite different from last year’s 21:53 for the same split.  I did my best to run quickly and efficiently, but not to the point it felt like a tempo run.  I was enjoying the cool day out.  All the spectators were bundled up quite well this year.  I hit the 10K mark in 48:19, still over 3 minutes slower than last year, but but this time, I had “settled” into my pace and was running 7:30s consistently.  After mile 7 I hit a big hill and blasted down the other side.  As I continued through the first half, I wondered what my time would be.  Could I hope for a 3:05 or better?  I was running based purely on effort, and what I thought I could maintain for the whole marathon.  After the 1st 10 miles I noticed my left quadricep muscle was aching.  I hoped it wouldn’t cramp up later in the race.  Not too long after that, I hit the half marathon mark in 1:40:12.  I was quite off pace from last year (1:34) but I knew a solid performance in the latter portion of the race could more than make up for it.  Once I knew the time for the half, I simply sought to beat my time from last year, 3:13:58, but by a large margin.  I thought I could get close to 3:10 if everything worked to my advantage.  This was not to be, but I’ll continue the story.  Between the half marathon and the 18 mile mark, my goal was to maintain a 7:18 mile.  From there, I would bump the pace down to 7:08 if my body would take it.  Boy, did I surprise myself!  I ran the stretch between the half marathon and the 25K mark at 7:12 pace.  From the 25K mark to the 20 mile mark, I averaged 7:07.  I was really hurting by this point.  Nothing felt good, and my left quadricep felt like it was about to seize up on every step.  I hoped it would keep working.  From mile 20, it was guts or glory.  I aimed to run every mile under 7 minutes.  I paid dearly and nearly reached my pain threshold.  I battled my body, which craved mercy.  I do believe my experience of the course allowed my mind to push to the very end, a sort of subconscious effort, knowing exactly how far the finish was.  As I sped past my hopelessly failing competition, I pushed into overdrive.  I could see the stadium approaching, where I would soon be finishing at the 50 yard line.  I dropped my pace down to flat 6 for the last 3/4 of a mile.  I blasted into the stadium, setting a new Lincoln best of 3:12:20.  My legs collapsed from muscle failure after crossing the finish line.  I couldn’t even bear the thought of a massage, due to how much I hurt.  It was my absolute best.

I didn’t make the All-Guard Team again this year (I would have had to run a 3:04 marathon to do so),  but I did make the grade as an alternate, in case they need a spot filled for a race.  My race was perfect.  You can see my splits below, courtesy of MTEC results:


Miles and Time Trials

I am on the verge of running my biggest training month-ever.  With the National Guard Marathon looming just 6 weeks away, I have hit official training season.  I wasn’t sure if I could do it.  Building to a 75 mile-per-week average without shin splints, over-training, or too much time away from wife wife and rapidly enlarging son Ethan, is a task I have mastered.  Now, I’m shooting to run over 100 miles this week, and really starting to feel like a road warrior.  I start off sore, but always loosen up and really take off after a few miles.  Here are the stats since February 3rd:

February 3-9:

  • 6 runs
  • 35.03 miles
  • 5:16:32 running time


  • 11 runs
  • 77.60 miles
  • 10:23:12 running time


  • 10 runs
  • 47.80 miles
  • 6:58:24 running time

24-Mar 2

  • 10 runs
  • 89.26 miles
  • 13:59:41 running time


  • 10 runs
  • 79.60 miles
  • 12:20:00 running time


  • 16 runs
  • 76.91 miles
  • 11:46:27 running time


  • 10 runs
  • 74.30 miles
  • 14:24:12 running time

Last 30 Days:

Count: 50 Activities
Distance: 346.76 mi
Time: 56:02:44 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 13,407 ft
Avg Speed: 6.2 mph
Avg HR: 133 bpm
Calories: 33,275 C
Avg Distance: 6.94 mi

Oh Ben Blessing, what could be up your sleeve this time?

My desire to put on events that essentially, try and instill a sense of pride in our natural world has resulted in . . . another incredible ultra. Slated for June/July 2014, this tentative route for the Blue Mountains 50 Miler should be another favorite (I changed the name after I realized there was another Northwest ultra with a similar name).  Featuring a hilly roller coaster ridge (at 8K), I will either get a large crowd or a tough crowd.  The 50 miler will feature over 18,000 ft of climb, making it one of the hardest 50s in the world.  This was not the intent, however, but if any of you know, Ben Blessing has a penchant for mountainous races.  There will also be an “easier” 50K and a 15K for the kiddos.  Get your climbin’ legs ready. . .

Garmin Connect – Elkhorn Crest 50 Miler.

elkhorn 2

Elkhorn Crest Trail

elkhorn peak

Mount Ruth

mountain goat

Twin Lakes


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