Saturday, January 21, 2012

Utah: To run or not to....never mind.

The past couple of days I have had the extreme pleasure of being in Utah for Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. It's kind of like a giant multi day race expo except where instead of racers, retailers are the ones scoping the latest and greatest gear. I was brought out with SmartWool because they were launching the socks that I tested while running across the US.

I arrived late on Wednesday after a long day of work and a longer flight but awoke early on Thursday to do some early morning sight seeing via my running shoes. I didn't know where I was going so I just stuck to the roads of the city but as the sun came up was greeted with a very nice sight.

It's blurry because it was raining a little bit.

On that same run, I passed the University of Utah and the Olympic torch from the 2002 winter games.

It's just behind the pic of the guy doing skeleton. I got that pic because my brother is on the Olympic Skeleton team and trains in Lake Placid.

I've just realized this is going to be a very long post....

So, there needs to be a little back story as a preface for my next event.

Recently, I submitted my book, Six Miles Per Hour, to the publisher. This is pretty exciting for me. In the book, there is a part where I was hunkered down in my tent and sleeping bag after a hard day's rockin freezing my buns off and reading a book. I mentioned the book I was reading, The Boy Who Climbed Everest, in my own book. The Boy Who Climbed Everest is by Bear Grylls. You know? Man vs. Wild. So last week, I was kind of freaking out because the thought crossed my mind...what if Mr. Bear didn't want to be mentioned and he decided to sue me?? He'd wouldn't get very much but it might take selling some of my stuff to pay him all the suing money because I didn't get his permission! I might have to sell my running shoes, or my banjo!! Hence, freaking out.

I decided the best thing to do would be to try to hunt down his email address and ask him. This is harder than it sounds, but I did find his publicists email which I though might be the next best thing. I wrote her an email but, to no surprise, never heard back. Maybe it's because I forgot to put "B1G M0N3Y" in the subject line.

Fast forward to Thursday. I was walking down the aisle of the expo and I see a long line so I get behind the last person and then as the person in front of me what we were lined up for. "Bear Grylls is signing autographs."

No freakin way!

So I waited my turn in the line and got up to him and told him I had a question to ask him. I explained my little predicament and asked him if it would be alright if I mentioned him in the book.

"I'd be honored. That's quite an achievement."

Got my pic with him, thanked him, and was on my way.

By the way, that dude chugs coffee just like I do!

At the expo, they also had dogs in backpacks.

And not in backpacks. They were still cute.

This guy came up to my belly button.

I also met Scott Jurek. He's also coming out with a book. If you don't know of him, Google him. He has too many accomplishments to list here.

Thursday night was SmartWool's release party. The coolest part was the bar. It was made of ice and, yes, those are actual socks frozen into the ice.

The PhD is also carved. Not written.

At the party I was introduced to Joe Ballant. He's a fellow SmartWool Ambassador and a pretty cool guy.

Friday morning brought an early morning up Canyon Rd with Mark. I was glad he knew the area because that run was a lot more scenic in terms of mountains than that of the previous day.

I don't ever eat fast food but they had a Carl's Jr. And I make an exception for that and In-and-Out burger.

I went with a lettuce wrapped burger to give it a try. It got sloppy.

This is the aftermath.

Friday evening I met up with Joe. We ended up going to his band's practice space for a little bit on Friday night to jam.

Giant Mormon temple.

This was a cool looking art exhibit in the middle of the city. It's a bunch of sticks in the ground at different angles but it looks cooler in person.

Saturday morning I went out for one last run before I left for my flight. On Friday's run with mark we were surrounded by mountains (being in a canyon and all) and I saw all these trail heads but we stuck to the roads. Saturday I did a little more exploring.

I left my room at 6:58 while it was still dark. I ran through the city streets lit by store fronts and street lights. It was very quite and unseasonably warm at about 48 degrees. I ran comfortably uphill the whole way to the first trail head I saw. Stepping onto a trail I've never run is always exciting. It was uphill as I had hoped and climbed steadily toward one of the many peaks I could see. It was light enough to see, but not light enough to call it sunrise by any stretch. The trail continued getting steeper and steeper and the switchbacks began. I was ver surprised at how dry the trail was because of all the rain I'd seen in the past two days.

Sure enough, the trail got more muddy as I climbed higher. It was more than likely because of the melted snow, but the mud was incredibly slick, deep, yet sucked at my shoes like a tar pit. Higher and higher I climbed. I remembered Mark's advice,

"I don't advise running alone because of all the mountain lions."

It was a little late, but I probably should've let someone know where I'd be. As I climbed higher, I viewed more peaks in the distance. Snow capped, jagged beauties. Still, I kept running up. I reached a very loose rocky section that was the steepest yet and the wind whipped me from my left. I reached the summit of that small peak and saw another neighboring one that was even higher.

So I ran on.

Higher and higher and higher and higher. I couldn't get enough of the view even as I was still climbing. As I approached the summit, giants revealed themselves in front of me. In front, the beautiful Wasatch mountains. Behind me just to the right, the city lights of Salt Lake City spread out like a blanket. And to the right of that, the Great Salt Lake itself. If I had to leave that spot in the next year it would be too soon. Unfortunately, my body temperature disagreed since it was quite a bit colder that when I started.

So I turned around and ran back.

Utah kind of rules.

-- Patrick

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