“It doesn’t matter if you are an elite runner or not, or how fast you are, it is about enjoying the experience.” -Cory Reese
Cory Reese is an author, ultra marathoner, photographer, race director, and proud glazed donut connoisseur (my personal favorite title). Cory has accomplished many things that anyone would be proud of, he has released his first book titled Nowhere Near First, he is preparing for his second book release, he has ran 100 miles on a cruise ship, and has competed in many many other races and events throughout his running career. I was very excited to be able to schedule some time with Cory to discuss his book, goals, upcoming events, and miles at sea.
First and foremost, how did your vacation cruise go?
Cory: Well I will say it was a unique adventure, the run definitely made that cruise pretty memorable. It was a 7 day cruise with 1 full day at sea. I started running pretty much the second the boat started moving. Of course I was there to spend time with my family, but my kids are all teenagers and I am not so sure they would have been hanging out with their dad during the day at sea. My wife hung out at the pool and brought me some snacks and drinks and it really worked out well I think.
Being at sea for a shorter time period, did you feel a time crunch to get the 100 miles done?
Cory: So after the first day at sea, we were scheduled to arrive in San Francisco so I only had so much time to get it done. We had a lot of plans when we got to the city so I used that as an incentive to run faster because I knew I would be finishing the run at night and I wanted to try and get as much sleep as I could before we got there. When we first got on the boat we grabbed something to eat and everyone had to go through the muster drill in case of any evacuations, but after we finished that up I was ready to start running almost immediately.
Were there other people on the boat that were aware you were attempting to run 100 miles?
Cory: I don’t know if many people outside my group caught on to what I was doing, but I went with a pretty big group. I was with my wife and her friend and family and lots of their extended family so there was a pretty good sized group of people who did know what I was shooting for. The area where I was running was sort of isolated from everything else so I would see people next to a pool and I am pretty sure they thought I was crazy because they would watch me go around hour after hour because sometimes people were hanging out by the pool for hours so I am sure they thought I lost my marbles.
Did the run get tough at any point?
Cory: It actually got mentally hard earlier than normal, even by mile 30 it was starting to be like “oh my gosh, what am I doing?” It was really strange and I’ve never had this experience before but each mile would seem to take so long, a mile equaled out to 16 laps around the ship and I would be looking at my watch counting the loops and a mile might have taken me 12-13 minutes but it felt like it took 25. Even though the mile was pretty consistent with what I usually run, it just felt like they took so much longer.
How long did it take you to to complete the 100 miles and how did you feel after?
Cory: So the run took me just over 27 hours and when I finished I had time for about 8 hours of sleep before San Francisco. It was really hard to go walking around Alcatraz and go walking around the Golden Gate because I was really stiff, but it actually might have been a good thing I got right up because I expected to be sore the rest of the trip and actually by that next night I was feeling fine. I felt loosened up and I felt almost as though I could go run again (which I didn’t). The tendency for me after a 100 miler is to usually feel so sore I don’t want to move and kind of just stay in my bed, but what this taught me is if you can get some mobility the next day it can really speed up the recovery process. As for the run itself I noticed it took me about 14 hours to do the first 50 miles, and they say it usually takes you one and a half times longer to do the second half and that was discouraging because I was worried I would be out there for like 32 hours, but I actually sped up during the second half and I don’t know if I have ever done that before.
Is this a new record?
Cory: As far as I know I haven’t found anyone else who has ran 100 miles on a cruise ship, I am still searching but I really think at this point it is just me, either way I think it is really cool to have completed the 100 miles at sea.
So how did you find your way into running in general?
Cory: Being from St. George, Utah it is hard to not hear about the St. George Marathon that happens every year. I always saw it in the paper and would tell myself that I was going to try and do that one day. Over the years I would attempt to train for the marathon but during that time I didn’t really understand the concept of good training, I wasn’t paying attention to what my body was telling me and I ended up getting myself injured. I almost concluded that I might not be built to run a marathon but fortunately I gave it another shot and completed it and really loved it, the atmosphere of the community around it and the stories really made it a special experience.
What is your motivation to go out and race?
Cory: I think that it’s really a competition with yourself and being put in an environment where you can really challenge what you think you can do and not have to compare yourself to how fast someone else is doing it, but whether your running brings out your fullest potential. That is a big reason why I race and I think that could be true for others as well. There is a satisfaction that comes with knowing you pushed yourself as hard as you could and that sense of satisfaction can be found in anyone whether you finish towards the front or towards the back.
Your book Nowhere Near First, Can you talk a bit about the inspiration behind that?
Cory: Well at first I was writing a blog, and I actually started writing the blog when I first started training for the marathon and I would go over funny training experiences and some of the highs and lows of my training. The spur of the book kind of came from Steve Hooper, the owner of St. George Running Center, and he kept telling me I should write a book, and that I had a story to tell and for quite a while I was kind of hesitant because I really didn’t know where to start. Steve kept encouraging me and I finally decided I would give writing a book a shot from the perspective of the everyday runner, I don’t feel that I am excessively fast or fit the typical norm for who you would see writing a book and I think that is what has made the book catch on. A lot of people are out to have fun, or they are doing it to do the best they can do. The point I wanted to get at with the book is that it doesn’t matter if you are an elite runner or not, or how fast you are, it is about enjoying the experience.
Why did you select humor as the tone of voice to write in?
Cory: I think that is just who I am as a person, I think humor is just one of those emotions that people connect to. I like watching funny things, I like reading funny things, and I think that helps me connect myself to others. I think mixing things that are funny with things that are vulnerable is one of the best ways to resonate with a large group of people. If someone can look at the challenges and the obstacles in front of them and be willing to talk about them, for me that is one of the best ways to connect to that person and that is what I wanted to go for with my book to help it feel more personal. I wanted it to feel like a conversation we would have if we were out on a run together or having lunch or something.
Do you have plans to write another book after the success of Nowhere Near First?
Cory: Actually I have been pouring my blood, sweat, and tears into a new one. It has been about a year in the works and it’s getting close to finished up right now. The book will be about Badwater, the 135 mile race across Death Valley. National geographic described it as the toughest foot race in the world and I had the opportunity to run that a couple years ago. Combined with my own experience I have been talking with others who have done the race to gather their stories about Badwater and was also able to spend some time with the first person to ever run across Death Valley. The book is focused around perseverance and determination and really pushing humans potential. I am very excited about the direction it is going so far!
If there was one thing the world could know about Cory Reese what would that be?
Cory: I think for me personally, my approach in life is happiness, and kindness, and optimism. I feel like if I can keep those things forefront in my mind, in my relationships and interactions with others, and in my day to day actions, it brings purpose to my life. I want to be an example of those things and I will always keep striving for that.
Cory Reese was a pleasure to interview and had so many good answers to my questions. You could tell he was genuine, and really was passionate about the things we discussed. Cory is an example that you don’t have to be an elite runner to still be passionate and do amazing things in your own running journey. What are some of your proudest accomplishments in running?