My Favorite Runs of 2011 – #3 “Hope to Hobble & Carebears and Unicorns”
My Favorite Runs of 2011 – #3
The top three runs on my list of My Favorite Runs of 2011 were all such great runs that it was hard to determine which order to place them in. Number three on my list was a run that I did back on August 27th. This may possibly be the hardest run that I have ever done except maybe my marathons (maybe even harder than the marathons). The run took place in the mountains above Provo, UT from Hope Campground by Squaw Peak to Hobble Creek Canyon in Springville, UT. We started early and it was a very calm morning. For being at elevation, and early, it was a pretty warm morning.
My brother-in-law JJ, and his brother-in-law Trent, and I ran with several members of the Sojourners Running Club. We had help from one of the runner’s husbands on his ATV dropping water for us, which was awesome! There was a group of about 15 of us that ran that morning. I had been trying to talk JJ and Trent into running this run with me for about a week and they were a little hesitant because they knew it was going to be a hard run. I had to be careful about how much information I gave them so I would say things like “the first few miles are somewhat of a climb but the end is downhill.” I guess my plan worked because they both showed up that morning.
Hope campground is at an elevation of 6,750 ft and by mile 11 we had climbed to over 8,500 ft. From the peak we dropped down to about 5,300 ft where we finished in Hobble Creek Canyon. It was a tough climb up followed by some pretty pounding downhill to finish and since it was trail running you had to watch your step and stay focused especially on the downhill. Despite the difficulty it was a beautiful run with some great places to lookout over all of Utah County and we ran through some of the most beautiful mountains anywhere. I also had a chance to run with several amazing people during the run. I had some great conversations with several different people. I had a chance to run for a while with Jerry Henley, who may be the greatest masters (over 40) runner ever in the State of Utah. In 2002, at age 43, Jerry ran the St George Marathon in a time of 2:23:20. Last year he was named the #11 All-Time Men’s Legend of the St George Marathon for that and many other great performances. He told me during the run that he was a little bit disappointed with his time that year because he miscalculated his pace in the late stages of the race or he could possibly have broken the master’s record (yeah, what a disappointing performance). It was great to hear some of his stories. I am in awe of people that are able to run like him. The only reason he was pacing with me that day was because he was training with his daughter Carissa who was training for her first marathon. Carissa and Jerry definitely kept me going for a while and just as we were close to the end shared some water and energy bar with me that helped immensely.
It was a very, very hard run but gave me great confidence for the marathon that I was training for. I put in about 24.5 miles that day and probably the best part was the last few miles. As I finished and got a quick drink, Trent ran in strong a few minutes later and I decided to run back a little ways to see if I could see JJ because I knew he was probably already cursing my name. I found JJ back about a mile or so and as I first got to him he told me that a few miles back he was sure that he was seeing Carebears and Unicorns dance around his head. I think he may have been joking but I’m not sure of that. JJ finished strong, and later told me that the run that day was the hardest thing that he had ever done. I was able to finish with him and celebrate this feat. What a great thing to be able to push your body beyond it’s comfort zone and become better. That’s what running and really life is all about to try to become a little better each day and take advantage of opportunities to grow and become stronger. Trials and struggles are usually the things that make us grow the most. Lessons like the ones I learned that day are some of the reasons to keep “Running Through Life.”