Finding My Mojo

It’s been one month since I ran my first ultra marathon, the Antelope Island 50K, and finding my mojo again hasn’t been easy. I have battled overuse knee injury for about a year and was feeling awesome leading up to my first ultra, however after my knee was a bit wrecked. I took a couple weeks off and only logged a few miles. If I really push it my knee is still painful, but my real problem is finding my mojo, it just hasn’t been there.

During the past month, while finding my mojo, I blamed my apathy on my injury, the utter darkness of my early morning trail runs, the dropping temperatures at the hand of winter’s approach. I have unsuccessfully blamed everything and anything I could for my laziness while realizing my lack of desire isn’t based in any of those reasons or even laziness, it’s because the drive just hasn’t been there.

finding my mojo

I’ve gone from scared that I would never find my running mojo to not caring at all and everywhere in between. The truth is, however, I love running and miss logging the mountain miles that seemed to easy before. I have missed the excitement I generally feel starting down my favorite trails or fighting up my favorite claims. It has been a struggle to push myself out for 3 or 4 runs a week, but my head hasn’t been in it. I find myself lolly-gagging my way down the trail without focus, drive or passion. I have been unable to just get out an love running, that is, until last Saturday.

Last Saturday I decided to forget running and just get out and bag a little peak, Big Baldy. Big Baldy is a 8700′ peak that is nearly invisible from the Utah Valley because it sits directly in from of Mount Timpanogos which dwarfs Big Baldy. I decided I would just go back to my roots of hiking for a day and enjoy being outdoors. I headed up the south face which sees almost 3000′ elevation gain in just under 2 miles; a calf-burner. I hit the summit, running right past a boy scout troop taking photos on the top, and down the backside of the mountain.

Landon Faulkner Finding My Mojo

The south face is a rather unattractive and steep climb through grass and short shrubby oak trees, however, heading down the back side of the mountain is a different story. The trail is much less steep and is a great option for the descent and the view is much better. The trail initially winds down the east side of Baldy towards Mt. Timp through a small pine forest. Shortly after the trail hit the bench between Badly and Timp where you can descend via the Battle Creek Canyon route or the Dry Canyon route, I chose the latter which dropped through a bare leafed aspen forest and patches of snow before opening up to a large grassy meadow. From here the trail continues to provide evermore beautiful vistas as the route I chose took my around the south side of Little Baldy. This section was a mix of thick oak and pine forests before dropping turning north and dropping back down into Dry Canyon for the final descent. The total loop was just under 9 miles and I couldn’t wait to do it again.

finding my mojoAll weekend I thought about that trail, about exploring the other trails, and about winter alpine climbing. Without even realizing it (until now) I had found my mojo once again.  It took fighting through a number of runs with little to no drive and eventually forcing myself to go back to the basic, hiking (which turned to running) and exploring. I can’t say I’m back to running like crazy as before (my knee is still giving me a little grief), but I feel like my mind it back. It feeling like the last month I spent finding my mojo has paid off.

Mountain Adventurer #givebackendeavor

Many of you likely already know how much giving back means to me. If you’ve followed this blog for awhile you likely know my cousin and I raised just over $5,000 in two months for a non-profit organization, Peak 7 Adventures, that provides outdoor adventure activities for at-risk teens. It was an awesome adventure and I appreciate all of your help and support along the way.

#givebackendeavor

As a Mountain Adventurer, or brand ambassador to TETON Sports I am privileged to be involved in a #givebackendeavor. What does that mean? Let me explain. TETON Sports is committed to giving back and as part of the ambassador team we are working to do just that. I have been given a coupon code for 5% off any TETON Sports product (Coupon Code: LandonFaulkner). Whenever that code is used to purchase an item(s) from TETON Sports online store a portion of the proceeds goes directly to my “charity” of choice as part of the #givebackendeavor. In this case I have teamed up with Peak 7 Adventures once again.

I believe in the mission of Peak 7 Adventures I applaud their diligent work to reach youth who otherwise would never have such an opportunity. So, during this holiday season as you are searching for the perfect gift for you favorite outdoor adventurer shop TETON Sports using the coupon code “LandonFaulkner” to help provide more outdoor adventure programs for underprivileged youth throughout the pacific northwest!

Go shopping and help a worthy cause out while hash tagging your adventures #givebackendeavor.

I/O Merino: Quality Merino Wool

With winter’s cold breathe beginning to blow it’s icy air I’m pretty stoked for a new season of adventure. From snowshoeing to winter alpine ascents staying warm in sub-freezing temps takes a little knowledge and the right products. So if you’re ready to say goodbye to your cotton Long Johns from yesteryear and enjoy the comfort and warmth that comes from I/O Merino products continue reading.

I/O Merino is an Australian merino wool base layer and apparel company that is doing all the right things. I/O Merino is a family owns company, a family that knows wool. The Michell’s have been in involved in about every aspect of the wool industry since not long after sheep were invented as they like to say. Their commitment to the industry, the wool they work with and the products they develop is evident in the quality I/O Merino produces. After 140 years of the Michell families involvement in the industry they have mastered the developed one of the highest quality merino wool products. In fact they’ve gone past just quality merino wool product, I/O Merino has actually made the best better.

I/O Merino
I/O Merino Keystone Long Sleeve Tee

I/O Merino doesn’t just use your regular, run of mill, merino wool. They have refined their product and culture to create the highest quality merino wool, a MicroMerino®. Their MicroMerino® is, technically speaking, 18.5 micron merino, which in essence means it is in the category of “super fine” material. I/O Merino prides its self on having some of the most quality merino wool products on the market while still maintaining ethical and environmentally friendly production practices from the land down under, Australia.

What does all this MicroMerino® talk mean though? Well let me give you the run down after my experience wearing I/O Merino product. I have worn and tried countless base layers from the low end to the high end. I have nearly froze and stayed toasty in varying situations wearing various products from companies like Patagonia, Marmot, Terramar and the likes. Those are some quality brands who produce some very quality products, but in my experience I/O Merino has developed a product that has the edge over most.

The Feel of I/O Merino is hard to beat. Although merino wool is pretty soft some merino wool products can be a little bit itchy, and some not at all. However, upon slipping on my I/O Merino base layers for the first time I was astounded at how ridiculously soft the material was. In a comfort comparison with other base layers I/O Merino wins hands down by leaps and bounds. This is huge for me as I can’t stand a “next to skin” layer that is comfortable and itchy when I’m out in the mountains for a day or even days.

I/O Merino
I/O Merino Altitude Zip
I/O Merino
I/O Merino Altitude Bottoms and Zip Top

How about Performance though? Well this is where the MicroMerino® really set’s I/O Merino apart from the heard. This stuff wicks sweat with the best wicking products out there and merino wool is all natural. Unlike cotton, however, wool wicks naturally and is anti-microbial, meaning anti-stink. However I’ve filled plenty merino wool and synthetic base layers full of stinky smelly sweat. I have tried to do the same thing with I/O Merino with little success. For example I recently took an I/O Merino’s Keystone Tee on a tough 15 mile run to the summit of Mt. Timpanogos, one of the tallest peaks in the Wasatch front of Utah that includes about 4,800 vertical feet of running to reach the summit. By the time I got back to my car I was a dirty sweat ball. I took my Keystone Tee off and tossed it in the back of my car and put on a clean shirt. However, I forgot about my Keystone Tee all wadded up in my back seat for a few days.  Once I pulled it from it’s resting place to wash it I gave it a few sniffs; no awful scent or stench. Miracle? Maybe, but I’ll give I/O Merino credit.

I/O Merino Landon Faulkner
I/O Merino Keystone Long Sleeve Tee

My Final Word on I/O Merino products is that they are hard to beat. Sure I haven’t tried every top of the line base layer every made, but IO have tried a fair share and I/O Merino competes with the very best, and competes well. The comfort and feel of their products coupled with the insane quality and attention to detail apparent in the best way. And isn’t that what you want from a base layer? Total comfort and best performance possible? I submit  that is exactly what you want.

A Weekend in the Uintas

A couple of weekends Kyra and I skipped town for a quick getaway with some friends. We had planned on heading down south to Zion National Park, but with the thought of the parks down south all being pretty busy due to fall break for almost all of the universities in Utah we decided to head to the high country.

I worked Friday so we didn’t get on the road until nearly dark. We wound our way through the various canyons until we found ourselves at the park entrance. It a moonless and dark night as we switch-backed our way deeper into the Uintas. At nearly 11,000 feet we pulled off the main road and parked. We planned on hiking into the popular Wall Lake, but couldn’t successfully navigate to the trailhead in the dark. Instead we found ourselves at the Mt. Baldy trailhead.

Uintas Clegg Lake

Hoping through patches of snow from our parking spot to the trailhead sign we learned that there were a number of lakes within a short hike that would be a perfect substitute for Wall Lake. We opted for the closest lake, Clegg Lake, just 1.5 miles in. It was already past 10pm and a short easy hike sounded like the best plan.

It was a cold night and Kyra was glad to get a nice warm fire going as we set up camp. Paityn enjoyed watching the fire as well as she cuddled on a log with Kyra while I set up our tent. After chowing down on a bagel I was ready for bed as was the rest of the group and we all called it a night.

Sometime in the early morning, around 4am I awoke to Josh calling from their tent, “Landon, you awake?”

“I am now.” I responded tiredly.

“You hear those people?”

“People? What are you talking about?”

“There were some people who just walked through our camp.” Josh answered, aghast that I hadn’t heard the intruders.

“No, didn’t hear a thing” I responded.

Uintas Clegg Lake

We eventually all fell back asleep without further incident. The next morning there were no signs of the nighttime wanderers. The mystery will remain a mystery I suppose.

Paityn was up early and tugging at me to go explore with her. I tried to persuade her to ask Kyra, but I knew Kyra wouldn’t go for it in the early morning cold. I eventually got up and squirmed out of my sleeping bag and pulled on some clothes. I wrapped Paityn up in some warm clothes as well and we went out to take a look around.

Uintas Kyra and Paityn

There were patches of snow all over which got me excited for winter. Paityn enjoyed stomping around on the still hard snow while laughing and playing. Clegg Lake looked beautiful in the still morning air. Paityn and I walked around the lake taking photos of the reflections off of the water. Paityn and I eventually made our way back to our camp where I started a fire and the others began to wake up.

Uintas Clegg Lake

We poked around throughout the morning enjoying the beauty of the Uintas and just having fun together. Josh and I tried fishing, but the shallow lake seemed not to hold many, if any, fish. We soon gave up what seemed futile, but looking in the water I found a bunch of curious little bugs. They seemed to be grub or worm like bugs that had made shells of grass. I spent a few minutes on google trying to figure out what they are, but never found an answer. Anybody out there know?

In the mid afternoon we made the short hike back to the car. We stopped at Provo Falls and messed around bouldering near the falls in hiking shoes. As a guy who is a miserable climber, and a climber that spends nearly all his time in the gym, I realized I need to spend sometime outdoors on the rock.

uintas provo falls

Driving back down the canyon towards home we got our first glimpses of the mountains and Uintas in daylight. Most of the fall leaves had disappeared from their home on the branches of the Aspen trees. Winter looked to be well on it’s way, but the temperatures have still been so warm. The warm afternoon sun poured through the car window and I could feel myself getting tired. I was glad I wasn’t driving as I lazily enjoyed the passing view of the beautiful Uintas.

Antelope Island 50K

Last Saturday I ran my first ultra marathon, the Antelope Island 50K. I had read that the course was relatively easy and it seemed like a good way to jump into the ultra running world. I hadn’t ran a race in 4 years, the last being a half marathon. I was filled with apprehension and excitement for the Antelope Island 50k.

Kyra and I drove from our place in Orem up to the Antelope Island 50k start/finish line early Saturday morning. We stood around a small fire as daylight slowly brought light and warmth to the world as we talked casually with other runners. the 8am start time quickly approached and I found myself standing at the starting line among a group of about 70 runners.

Landon Faulkner Antlope Island 50k
Photo by Lori Burlison

Jim Skaggs, the race director, gave the countdown and we were off. My race plan was to maintain a 9:40 pace and finish under 5 hours. I also wanted to keep the leaders somewhat in sight. After about a mile or two I found myself in 6th place as the runners spread out along the climb to Elephant Head aid station. I was feeling exceptional and unstoppable as we hit a series of switchbacks at 9 miles in. I ran/hiked comfortably and soon caught sight of the 4 leaders who had been out of sight for some time, but something was up. They were standing and looking around, we were off course.

After some quick evaluation we began heading back down the way we had just came. I checked my Strava App for the first time, I had been averaging 8 minute miles. I had started much too fast in my excitement and had now gotten off course, a mistake that eventually cost about 1.5 miles. My Antelope Island 50k had gotten off to a rocky start just 1/3 of the way in.

I made my way back down the switchbacks and found the grass covered trail we were suppose to take that the runners behind us had been directed to take. I was feeling good and felt confident I could slow my pace while still making up time. However, looking down from the top of the rise I could see the trail ahead for the next couple of miles. Runners were strewn along the course ahead of me. I had lost all my position and had would soon be feeling that mistake mentally. I would also soon be feeling my novice mistake of starting to fast on my first Antelope Island 50k.

Landon Faulkner Antelope Island 50k
Photo by Lori Burlison

The next 10 mile stretch I met an Instagram friend, Ryan Freeman, whom I didn’t realize was running the race. We chatted as we plugged along. I was grateful to have his company, but I could feel my legs were growing more and more sore. I knew eventually he would move on without me towards his first ultra finish as well. At the aid station around mile 20 I sat down for a minute and munched on a potato covered in salt, trying my best to combat the leg cramps I had been facing for the past 5 miles. Ryan waved as he left me at the aid station, “see you at the finish!” I waved back with a smile, “yeah, have a good one!”

After another minute I set out again. The next 10 miles were going to be a bit fought and I knew it. I worked and worked to get my mind back into it, but I never felt I was able to recover after my off-course blunder. My legs felt better after getting some salt, but even though they weren’t in a state of constant cramping they were sore. I did my best to run/hobble the last 10 flat miles towards the finish. I was loosing time every mile and my goal of breaking 5 hours had long been dashed by my own novice approach.

landon faulkner antelope island 50k
Photo by Lori Burlison

My Antelope Island 50k had turned from feeling strong and confident in my ability to break 5 hours to just wanting to endure the last few miles and finish. Eventually the trail made it’s way to the final stretch, a gravel road that softly descended to the finish line. I tried to run a bit faster than my current shuffle wanting to look stronger and happier as I rolled into the finish than I actually was.

I crossed the finish line and stopped my Strava app as Kyra and Paityn came up to give me a hug and I was handed my congratulatory Antelope Island 50k Finisher Mug. I almost cried. My Strava app gave me a time of 5:34:14 which later was shown to be way off from my official race time of 5:53:52. I had finished an hour later than I had set out to finish, yet I was happy and proud to be done. I finished in 17 out of the 67 runners who finished.

landon faulkner antelope island 50k

As a competitive person I am generally pretty critical of myself and Saturday night as I laid in bed to fall asleep I tried to fight off the “what-ifs” of the race and concentrate on looking ahead. What did I learn? I’m a total novice? No surprise there. I started out to fast and couldn’t sustain that pace? Also pretty obvious. How could I expect to click of 8 minute miles for 30+ miles when I don’t do any speed work whatsoever. It’s nice to have litmus test now and I’m looking forward to making some changes in my training in preparation for the Buffalo Run 50k in March, which is put on by Jim Skaggs as well and follows the same course as the Antelope Island 50k.

September Running Recap

landon faulkner trail running mt timpanogos

September has come and gone in an absolute flash. Maybe because I am back in school and the craze of trying to manage school, work, family and training is a juggling act to say the least which makes time fly. September was a great month for running and I have so enjoyed being back in Utah and being able to train in the mountains almost every day. I feel confident that September was a good month for escalating my running and I am looking forward to running the Antelope Island 50k next Saturday (October 11).

So here’s what my training looked like for the whole month of September:

Miles Logged: 176.4

Feet Climbed: 37,553

Heading into fall means cooler weather, eventual snow and less daylight hours. I’m hoping to do well to maintain my mileage and training through the winter months, but will likely not be pushing things too hard as far as speed and temp go.

landon faulkner trail running mt timpanogos

Cariloha’s Bamboo Fit Review

Finding the right fit for all of your fitness apparel needs is a whole lot easier when you shop Cariloha’s Bamboo Fit line. I’ve been sponsored by Cariloha for a few months now which has given me a great opportunity to test Cariloha’s Bamboo Fit line in many different situations. As part of this review Cariloha has offered some giveaway items, so when you’re done reading be sure to enter to win your own Cariloha gear.

landon faulkner cariloha bamboo fit

Why Bamboo?

First off, lets talk briefly about why the heck bamboo is so awesome (for a full look at the benefits of bamboo read this prior post). Bamboo is an all-natural and renewable resource that has inherent qualities that are perfect for a fitness apparel line. Some of the great benefits of bamboo include; durable, soft, oder free and naturally wicking. Basically said, bamboo is a pretty rad wonder product.

Performance Ready

Whether you’re hitting the gym, running the track, or hitting the trails, Cariloha’s Bamboo Fit line is performance ready. Bamboo is naturally wicking and odor free. Because bamboo is a natural product unlike polyester it doesn’t easily harbor the bacteria that creates odor. Cariloha’s bamboo products also wick, which for me is great. I sweat like a crazy person and having a product that wicks well is very important to me.

landon faulkner cariloha bamboo fit

Cariloha’s Babmoo Fit line is truly performance ready. One of my favorite aspects of the fit line is the softness of the bamboo. I’ve never worn such soft products, especially not fitness products. I suppose this could be a downside on those early mornings, however, when nothing feels better than some soft clothes and a warm bed instead of the trail or gym.

In the Heat or In the Cold

I have worn Cariloha’s Bamboo Fit apparel from hot California summer afternoons to cold Utah mornings. During hot runs the bamboo has been able to wick very efficiently. My crew top will look soaking wet from sweat, but it doesn’t feel wet on my skin. The bamboo breathes really well and has helped keep me cool on the those triple digit runs.

Cariloha’s Bamboo Fit line also preforms well in the cooler weather. They even offer a fitted long sleeve top that is great for those cooler morning workouts. Still breathable and lightweight this top also help keep you warm and pushing hard even when it’s cold.

landon faulkner cariloha bamboo fit

The Fit of the Fit

The fit of Cariloha’s Bamboo Fit provides a mixed review in my opinion and the fit is the only area where Cariloha loses points for me. While I absolutely love the feel of the apparel the shirt is a little boxy. I prefer a slim fit style for my shirts, especially performance shirts. Other than the boxy shirts the rest of the line offers a great fit. The fit line has a slight stretch which adds to overall comfort of the apparel. The shorts and pants are uber comfortable and feel  amazing.

Don’t Forget the Socks

The very first product from Cariloha that I ever tried were their socks and it was love at first wear. Cariloha’s socks are an outright dream. Super soft, comfy beyond belief and the perfect fit – these are literally the best socks I’ve ever worn. If there’s one thing you get from this review it’s that you need at least a drawer full of Cariloha’s bamboo socks!

landon faulkner cariloha bamboo fit

Giveaway

Below is the Rafflecopter entry form for the giveaway. One winner will be chosen at random at the end of the contest (10/08/2014) and that winner will receive a Cariloha Top, Shorts and a pair of socks – a value of $92.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Life in Utah

Kyra and I have been in Utah now for about a month. It’s been a whirlwind of a crazy transition, but one I wouldn’t trade. Sure I miss living in California so close to my family, but life in Utah is great too.

Since moving life in Utah has been full of school, work and adventures. I feel kind of like an odd student as I am taking undergrad coursework (I already have a Bachelors of Psychology) in preparation for an MBA program. It’s been quite the transition from full time work as a Social Worker back to full time student, only this time with Paityn in the mix. It takes a bit more juggling of time, but it feels pretty great to come home to a wonderful wife and energetic toddler.

landon and Kyra faulkner life in utah

I feel like I am beginning to adjust to my new job, which is pretty awesome. I love working at TETON Sports and being a part of such  a quickly growing company. I get to work with awesome people in a totally rad environment while learning and working in the Outdoor Industry!

Life in Utah is also full of awesome adventure! I talked previously about running Timpanogos and visiting the Fremont Indian State Park. Living so close has allowed me to trail run every morning. My general schedule is: wake up at 5am, run for an hour or two in the mountains, then off to work or school. Not a bad way to start the day if you ask me. Feel free to connect with me via Strava – CLICK HERE.

life in utah mt. timpanogos temple

Kyra and I have also enjoyed making some new friends and just enjoying this new stage in our lives. For us, life in Utah this weekend included visiting the Mt. Timpanogos LDS Temple, a brat worst dinner in the mountains with friends and climbing at UVU’s indoor gym.

It feels good when things just click in life. It’s nice when things come together and just seem to make sense and fit into place. For us, life in Utah has been a welcome change and a wonderful blessing.

Fremont Indian State Park

Last Saturday, after running Mt. Timpanogos, Kyra, Paityn and I joined my sister and brother-in-law on a mini road trip down south where we were able to check out the Fremont Indian State Park. While I’m no anthropologist or researcher in ancient Native American culture I was quite fascinated with what is known of the Fremont Indian’s history and especially the traces they left behind.

The Fremont Indians are most known for their pictographs found mostly in Utah, but the surrounding states as well. Fremont Indian State Park has some of the largest collections of their amazing rock art and within minutes of being in the park I felt a reverence for the land and people who came before.

Fremont Indian State ParkFremont Indian State Park

Without delving into the whole Wikipedia history of the people it is interesting to note that the Fremont Indians existed from about 700 AD to 1300 AD, nearly 1000 years ago. Walking where they walked and seeing first hand the rock art they created nearly a millennia ago brought some unexpected strong spiritual and emotional feelings for me.

Something about the land felt sacred and hallowed to me. I pictured a tiny civilization living in the pristine valley where they hunted small game, stored corn in rock silo’s, lived together in small pit homes and of course carved beautiful rock art. I could almost picture their sun baked bodies and moccasin wrapped feet as I breathed in the high desert air and felt the chill of night approaching.

Fremont Indian State Park Landon FaulknerIMG_9768.JPG

The Fremont Indians had left their indelible mark on history, yet we know little about the intricacies of their culture. As I walked the rocky trails of the surrounding area I could’t help but think about the remarkable impression the Fremont Indians had made. As I pondered and pictured their ancient culture I couldn’t help but observe my own life; my own decisions; my own passions; my own family. I bagan to contemplate my connection with nature and my connection with God. I began to wonder what impression I would make on others, what mark I may leave for others to find. Would it be a message of positivity and hope? Would I someday leave this world a better place than when I entered it, or would I add to the calamities and sadness that seem so obvious?

Each day we have the opportunity to evaluate our lives and make changes and course corrections for the better. Daily we can work to become better, more kind and more loving individuals. Everyday we have the opportunity to leave our mark on another person’s heart, let’s make sure that mark is a good one.

Fremont Indian State Park Hundred Hand Cave

Fremont Indian State Park

Running Mt. Timpanogos

There are some inherent benefits to living in a small valley with gorgeous mountains just minutes away. Sure the view is nice, but more than just the view it means trail running everyday. Since moving to Utah I have only ran on the road on two occasions. Every morning I am able to get up early, drive 10 or 15 minutes and wind my way through canyon trails or to the top of summits in the southern Wasatch front. Road running has become a painful and laborious idea when compared to the pristine beauty of the trail and naturally I have wanted to push myself to do more on the trail.

That drive to push myself has had me starring at Mt. Timpanogos for about three weeks now. I have been dying to adjust to living at about 5,000 ft so that I could make the run without dropping a lung in the process and last Saturday I decided it was the day to go for it.

Mt. Timpanogos is the second tallest peak in the Wasatch Range and stands at 11,749 ft which isn’t terribly high, yet it’s a gargantuan mountain in it’s sheer mass and size. It dominates the Utah Valley landscape and has become one of the most popular peaks in the Wasatach Range, and arguably, the state. There are two trail to the summit, the Aspen Grove Trail (from Provo Canyon) and the Timpooneke Trail (from American Fork Canyon). The more popular route is the Timpooneke Trail and the trail I ultimately decided to take for my summit run of Mt. Timpanogos. The trail sees about 4,700 ft of elevation gain in the 7 mile climb to the summit.

Hiking guides say to give about 10 to 12 hours to make the round trip to the summit of Mt. Timpanogos and back. The last time I hiked Mt. Timpanogos I had done it in about 6.5 hours. Not really knowing where I would land as far as time I decided I wanted to at least be under 5 hours.

Mt. Timpanogos sunrise

I got the the Timpooneke trailhead at 4:30am and already the parking lot was nearly full. It was a cold cloudless morning and the stars shown brightly above the dark aspen forest. I got myself ready and set out at 4:51am. I climbed slowly yet easily paying close attention to every step. The predawn darkness was suffocating and it took total concentration to avoid tripping on a rock or root, or rolling my ankle as I ran. I had forgotten how technical the trail to Mt. Timpanogos’ summit was and as I ran I realized my splits coordinated perfectly to how technical each split section was.

After what felt like just a few minutes I had climbed up to the first meadow area and I could make out the flash of a few headlamps cutting through the darkness across the meadow on the mountainside above me. Whether hikers or runners they were at least a mile a head of me, but I wanted to catch them. The trail winds across the meadow then away from the eventual Mt. Timpanogos summit and the headlamps I was watching, before switching back and climbing upwards towards the basin below the summit saddle.

I tried to speed my pace slightly without emptying my tank to early, my competitive nature painfully apparent with every labored breath. Soon their headlamps disappeared around the mountainside, but I worked to maintain my pace. Then, rounding a corner I was met by a flood of headlamps shinning brightly into my eyes, “Whoa, runner! Move over!” the lead voice called to those coming down behind him, “way to go man, you’re flying!” he encouraged as I ran past.

Running Mt. Timpanogos Landon Faulkner

Startled by the sudden appearance of a descending group I had accelerated past them and had to slow drastically to catch my breathe. Looking up I once again saw the dancing lights above me on the mountain. I had made up significant ground, I would be able to beat them to the summit of Mt. Timpanogos with just a couple of more miles left.

I hopped my way through the rocky trail that marks the climb to the summit basin eager to catch my faceless competition. Within just a couple minutes I ran passed a group of three moving very slowly even on the flatter meadow area, “that couldn’t be the group I was after, could it?” I contemplated. I looked ahead and saw another group of three headlamps just a bit further, “that must be them” I reasoned. I slowed to take a quick glance around me without having to worry about tripping on an unseen rock and was amazed what I saw. Countless flickering headlights marked the trail from the basin and up to the saddle before they disappeared around the other side of the mountain only to reappear at the summit. After running for 5 miles in solidarity I would now likely be passing dozens and dozens of people on my way to the summit.

I focused back on the trail and soon called out, “can I get past y’all on the right?”

“Yeah of course,” came the answer followed by a realization, “so that’s how you caught us!”

The group, shrouded in darkness, seemed to realize instantly that I had been running, not hiking. I pushed myself past them towards the finally climb as the first bits of pre sunrise light began to illuminate the trail. I stopped to put my headlamp away before I began the climb to the saddle, caught my breath then set out. Soon I was passing group after group. The final climb steepens and turns very rocky which seemed to create a traffic slow down. As soon as I reached the saddle I witnessed another major traffic slow down. Strewn across the saddle were about 50 people, all sitting and staring eastward waiting for the sunrise reds and yellows to turn into an actual sun.

Mt. Timpanogos sunrise

I ran past the large group and continued toward the final summit scramble. I continued to pass people, but not as quickly, as much of the final climb is a slower scramble. This is about the time I started hearing comments about my attire as people realized I wasn’t just hiking. I heard things like, “aren’t you cold?” or “nice shorts…” I continued without stopping to give answers about why I was wearing split shorts and an ultra light running jacket at 11k feet while everyone else had on hiking boots, pants and down jackets.

I got to the summit just as the sun was coming up and checked my watch: 2:09:31 to the summit (splits listed at the end). Without even registering the time pulled out a homemade rice cake (thanks to Skratch Labs) and munched down a few bites. I spent about 5 minutes on the summit eating and watching the sunrise along with about 100 people all on the summit, then packed up and headed down. I continued to hear comments about my lack of clothing as I hopped my way down the steep ridge of Mount Timpanogos.

Mt. Timpanogos Landon Faulkner

Mt. Timpanogos Landon Faulkner

I picked my way down the summit ridge and saddle carefully passing people I had passed just minutes before on my way up. As I reached the summit basin and was able to run on less technical terrain for a bit I began to process things. I had reached the summit in just over 2 hours, that meant I had a real chance at breaking 4 hours from car-to-car. I began working to accelerate the best I could on the less technical parts of the trail. I tried my hardest to keep myself locked-in and focused on each step.

I checked my splits again after a couple of miles only to realize that I wasn’t on schedule to run Mt. Timpanogos in sub 4 hour car-to-car time, but I was actually on schedule to run it in 3.5 hours. I continued down the mountain hoping to break the 3.5 hour mark, even if just by seconds. I had gas left in the tank, but it didn’t feel like a ton, I was hungry but couldn’t eat. I had tried to suck down some Justin’s Almond Maple Butter without any success, I had given up and continued on. However, as I continued to descend I pushed through it and felt better and I felt faster. Pretty soon I realized I had just over a mile left to the car and just under 10 minutes to get there in time.

I accelerated pushing hard on the now easy dirt trail. I yelled ahead at hikers, “coming down, can I get past?!” They would step aside and I would barrel past them checking my watch. I knew I was close, I could feel it and I knew I was going to do it. I could feel the drained excitement of breaking my own expectations as the parking lot came into view. I jogged the last 25 feet and stopped my watch: 3:28:37; I had done it and I was stoked! I took off my hydration pack and shoes and ran a couple of barefoot cool down laps around the parking lot as I began contemplating a back to back Mt. Timpanogos summit run; back to back summits, almost 30 miles and about 8,500 feet of elevation gain. “Yeah” I resigned within myself, “I would be back to do a double…”

 

Splits: (Follow on STRAVA)

Mile        Time          Elevation Gain

1               14:51          517ft
2               17:14          523ft
3               14:45          403ft
4               16:51          606ft
5               18:37          691ft
6               15:25          526ft
7               21:35          747ft
7.4       SUMM IT      2:09:31
8               22:07          -225ft
9              10:56           -688ft
10            9:24             -484ft
11           10:24           -678ft
12            9:53             -617ft
13           10:57           -455ft
14           10:42           -581ft
.06      7:46 (pace)    -283ft
14.6           RT               3:28:37

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