Author: Joshua

Running in 2018

Sure it’s December and it’s a bit cliche to put these goal posts out. But, I’ve been writing, scheming and planning my 2018 race and training schedule pretty much since August or earlier. I’m an over planner — that’s just what I do.

I love the last couple months of the year, because it allows me to be retrospective of the past year and finalize my upcoming year’s plan. The new year brings a renewed hope and excitement that I love. It’s really my favorite time of the year — if there’s a lot of snow falling outside (that’s a whole other story).

I have a few focuses for my running and fitness in 2018. I have my 100 miler in February, my 180th race in July and the need for balance with my fitness. They’re pretty simple goals, but goals that will requirement a commitment from me to focus on the task at hand.

This month and leading into February is about preparing for my 100 mile run. I won’t lie, I’m nervous about it. I know I can do it. But, my ankle injury really derailed my planned training throughout the year. But, really, the goal is time on my feet — lots of treadmill and indoor track miles — and I am fine with that. That’s what I knew I’d be doing at this point anyways.

It’s just the mental aspect of the injury and training that makes me nervous.

I have a game plan and 48 hours to complete the 100 miles. I’m going to do it.

I am also 11 races away from my 180 race goal. My commitment to this is rather simple — don’t sign up for more than 11 races between now and the Bountiful Handcart Days Half Marathon in July. You think that’s pretty stupid — but, in years past that’s a real struggle for me.

I am planning on running a few 5Ks and trail runs under 13.1 miles throughout the year. That’s not only to keep my 13.1 mile runs and beyond in check, but also to me balance my fitness a bit more.

With the recent success I’ve had with keto, my focus is really on diet and fitness. I want to get faster and rebuild a foundation I had a few years ago that I lost when my thyroid tanked (long story). My keto diet really gives me hope that it’s possible to do that — especially with the proper training a sub-two half marathon — a goal of mine for years.

As you will see in my weekend running schedule below, I am planning on taking at least one weekend a month off from running and doing some cross training. Not sure what that will entail yet. Whether that will be boot camp, swimming or if I’m brave enough — cycling (another long story) — we’ll see. I just feel the weekend off will help refocus me as well.

I am also planning a number of training and trail runs throughout the year. I’ll post those on Facebook when I finalize dates on that — I’ll post that on my Facebook page and the wasatch.run Facebook page as well. So stay tuned.

Needless to say, I am excited for 2018. I am excited to see where my running takes me. I am excited about my fitness and health. I haven’t felt this way in a couple of years and that excites me. I am still not 100% with my ankle, but that will come.

The focus is simple in 2018 which will hopefully lead me into some more definitive goals in 2019.

But, for now — it’s one foot in front of the other.


Road to 180

In 2011 after I ran my first half marathon, I made the goal to run 180 races over 13.1 miles before my 40th birthday. Well, I fell into running a bit more than I initially anticipated. I will be hitting that goal this summer less than a month before my 37th birthday.

My 180th race will be the Bountiful Handcart Days Half Marathon — which was my first and 100th race. I can’t think of a better race to celebrate this accomplishment at than my hometown race.

I am inviting anyone and everyone to join me that day — it’s July 21st and I have an event set up on Facebook you can RSVP at. Registration is only $40 right now — CHEAP! CHEAP! — so please join me!

Anyways, here are the last 11 races toward my 180 goal …


Race/Running Schedule 2018

As noted above the focus for my 2018 running is balance. Not just in running, but in my overall fitness. I feel like with that combination of balance and my current keto diet I’ll get where I want to be in 2019 so I can focus on some speed goals — including a sub-two half marathon time goal

January to mid-February will be heavy mileage weeks as I am working toward my 100 mile run at the Jackpot Running Festival. But, after that, my goal is to focus on about 1-2 half marathons a month with a group road/trail run and cross training weekend. And, by cross training I mean … a no race weekend other than maybe a 5K.

I have most of the weekend’s planned out — some will obviously change, especially from September to December. That’s just a BIT too far out to plan for me. There are a few variables with races and group runs that will need to play out for a couple more months. But, I have the gist of it figured out.

Anyways here is what my 2018 schedule SHOULD look like …

January

1 – Revolution Run (170)
7 – Olympic Oval
14 – Olympic Oval
21 – Olympic Oval
28 – Olympic Oval

February

3 – Sun Marathon (171)
10 – Olympic Oval
17 – Jackpot Running Festival (172)
24 – Cross Training/Rest

March

3 – March Madness 5K
10 – Cross Training
17 – Lucky 13 5K
24 – Riverton Half Marathon (173)
31 – Sugar House Park Training Run

April

7 – Run Emigration Half Marathon (174)
14 – Provo Canyon Trail Run
21 – Salt Lake City Half Marathon (175)
28 – Cross Training

May

5 – Emigration Canyon Training Run
12 – Vigor Big Cottonwood Half Marathon (176)
19 – Cross Training
28 – Memorial Day Big Cottonwood Training Run

June

2 – Vigor Solitude 5 Mile Run
9 – Drop13 Big Cottonwood Half Marathon (177)
16 – Mueller Park Group Run
23 – AF Canyon Race Against Cancer (178)
30 – Cross Training

July

7 – Hobbler Half (179)
14 – Run4Fun Trail Run
21 – Handcart Days Half Marathon (180)
28 – Cross Training

August

4 – Big Cottonwood Training Run
11 – Elephant Rock Trail Half Marathon (181)
18 – Cross Training
25 – Mt. Nebo Half (182)

September

1 – Antelope Island/Mueller Trail Run
8 – Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon (183)
15 – Park City Trail 13.1 (184)
22 – Cross Training
29 – Big Cottonwood Training Run

October

6 – Thistle Trail Festival (185)
13 – Antelope Island Half Marathon (186)
20 – Cross Training
27 – The Haunted Half – Provo (187)

November

3 – Mueller Park Trail Run
10 – Mt. View Trail Half Marathon (188)
17 – Cross Training
22 – Thankful 13 (189)
24 – Utah Santa Run

December

1 – Utah Santa Run
8 – The Bakers Dozen Half Marathon (190)
15 – Cross Training
22 – The Run Before Christmas
29 – Cross Training


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… and I’m back …

After 15 days abroad — I am back! There is so, so much to say about the trip. Not only did I tour Paris, Rome, Athens and other places alongside my family, but I was able to meet cousins in Athens and Crete as well. It was a life changing trip — to say the least.

But, after living out of a carry-on suitcase and on some very questionable mattresses (one in which I broke, oops), I am happy to be home. Beyond happy. Especially spending nearly 13+ hours in the air yesterday.

The length of the trip was perfect though. Usually when I am heading home from a vacation I am not ready. But, being able to see and do what I was over the past half month — I got in what I wanted to do. It was the perfect vacation.

The hardest part about leaving was leaving behind my family that I met in Athens and Chorafakia. They were the highlight of the trip for me. In both instances our family was welcomed with open arms and an unquestionable embrace of love. Even our cousins in Chorafakia that we discovered on this trip. My feelings for them and the moments we shared are hard to put into words — it just makes me more grateful for family.

I shared a bunch of my trip on social media — some on Facebook and mostly on Instagram. I have over 200 pictures spread across both @josherwalla and @ketoshua, but I thought I’d share a few of highlights here on the bloggy blog. But, feel free to browse my pictures on Instagram — again, I have tons.

I also have tons of pictures I never even posted on social media.

I won’t recap the entire trip, but I will share some of the pictures from each location. Enjoy the pictures.

Paris

We flew into Paris on a red eye flight from Dallas. Half of our party was staying three days, while the other half was flying to Rome for a couple days (including me). After landing we crashed for a couple hours and hit the town — mainly the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower — with dinner afterwards. It was long and tiring, but fun day in Paris.

It’s the song of his people …

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Beautiful landmark, but I couldn’t find the roller coaster and adjoined casino?!

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Home is never that far away.

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Rome

Because of the long night in Paris, I only got two hours of sleep before leaving for the airport to catch a flight to Rome. We couldn’t crash at the hotel when we landed like Paris, because it was an Airbnb — so it was a very looooong day. We took a city tour bus that ended up being about a two hour nap for us. We got in the Colosseum and some other places, but we got back to the Airbnb room and crashed around 5pm for the night.

The next day was spent mostly at the Vatican City along with Trevi Fountains and eating lots of gelato. Probably too much. But, that’s debatable.

The following day we left Rome for Athens and the next leg of our trip.

When in Rome … get lost like the Hansen’s get lost.

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Mood.

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I could have stuffed my whole face with this ricotta filled goodness. But, I shared.

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Off to do Vatican things …

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One of my many goals here in Rome was to get authentic pistachio gelato. Goal met ✅

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History’s first recorded dab.

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I hope this is enough to make my wildest dreams come true …

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Athens

We flew into Athens on Sunday and met up with our family at the airport. After getting situated in our Airbnb, we headed to the Valavanis for dinner. We ATE and ATE and ATE! It was a great evening. One that won’t be forgotten. We spent about 5 days in Athens — touring Corinth, Nafpoli, The Acropolis, Marathon and around Athens.

We spent Thanksgiving Day in Athens — first with a little family Turkey Trot in the Olympic Stadium. We had a brother’s sprint contest — Freedom won. I came in fourth (which is last), but as I told my brothers — challenge me in a marathon or longer and I’ll win! We had a meal with the Valavanis that night with some amazing Greek food — the best Thanksgiving ever.

It was perfect.

We are now over Greece! We’re almost home! 🇬🇷

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Η οικογένειά μου 🇬🇷

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Ancient Corinth. There’s a lot of cool old crumbly stuff here.

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The Littles atop the Acropolis. 💙🇬🇷

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MORE FAMILY! I finally got to meet my cousin Magda! What a happy day! 💙🇬🇷

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The Panathenaic Stadium. Let the games begin …

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I don’t recall what this was called (it was all in Greek), but my cousin explained this was a traditional dish eaten in Smyrna, Turkey where our family was from before being displaced during the Greek Holocaust. It was touching having that connection to this dish. It felt like an honor enjoying it with family connected to that past. ———————————————————— #ketoshua #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #keto #ketodiet #ketonics #ketorunner #athens #greece #thanksgiving #thanksgivingdinner #feast #notketo———————————————————— @ketoshua @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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Much to celebrate tonight! Bravo!

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The Littles ready to go, unlike their parents. 💙🇬🇷

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Crete

On Friday we flew from Athens to Crete. The 40 minute flight was highlighted pretty much by a 40 minute tantrum from Thalia. We might have disowned her for about 40 minutes. We spent a night in Heraklion before driving to Chania and the western part of the island where my Propapou was born.

The mission of our trip to Crete was two fold — one, see the island and, two, find any family members. We don’t much about my Propapou’s family. His life is quite remarkable — he was born in a cave on the island and then joined the army at 17 where he eventually met and saved my Yia Yia in Symra during the Greek Holocaust in the early 1920s.

On Sunday we did find family in Chorafakia — a whole clan of them! It was amazing how we came as strangers and were immediately embraced as family with a bond that was unshakable. It was amazing. Amazing. They invited us to dinner that night, but we had other plans — so we came back the following day and we ate like kings!

They shot a wild goat for us that morning and fed us some wonderful food — Greek salad, lemon rice pilaf, weed salad something or other (how’s that for a guess? It was really good though!) and other traditional Greek foods. It was perfect. It was hard to leave and many of us left with tears in our eyes for the newfound family. This was the highlight of the trip for me.

Touch down on Crete — the island of heroes. 💙🇬🇷

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Who’s having more fun, @benhansen00 or the kids?

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I’m not sure he knows exactly what he’s looking at — and, well, neither do I?

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😍😍😍

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GET IN MY BELLY LITTLE SHRIMPS! 🍤💙🇬🇷

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How to toddler proof a really, really, really nice place. Toddlers can’t climb, right?

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I felt like we experienced our own episode of Who Do You Think You Are? today here in Greece. One of the reasons we came here to Crete was to connect with family from my Propapou’s (Great Grandpa) side of the family. And, we found them! I can’t tell you the joy and tears of happiness as we discovered our Tsitidakis cousins in the hometown of my propapou. We came unannounced and as strangers, but we were quickly embraced with a familial love and warmth as we visited and compared our family lines and relations. This has been a great day. One, that’s been too long in happening. But, I look forward to tomorrow when we’ll meet again and strengthen this newly found bond! Οι οικογένειες είναι για πάντα 💙🇬🇷

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Connecting the dots between who I am and where I’ve come from. 💙🇬🇷

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Just like spanakopita, the tyropita here in Greece is diverse and delicious. We were greeted at our villa tonight with a honey drizzled tyropita. 👌🏼👌🏼👌🏼 ———————————————————— #ketoshua #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #keto #ketodiet #ketorunner #notketo #tyropita #greece #crete #cretegreece #cheesepie #cheese ———————————————————— @ketoshua @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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I can’t get enough of this island! This is home! 💙🇬🇷

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Two weeks into this trip and they’re finally useful.

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I left my heart in Greece. This will always be home. Off to Paris. 💙🇬🇷

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Paris

After leaving Crete, we made our way to Paris via Athens. We had one more day in Paris and we were torn on how to use it. Some of us wanted to do Versailles, others Disneyland, while some wanted to do the Louvre. We settled on Disneyland, but switched to Versailles last minute because it turned out rainy and cold.

Versailles was neat — over the top neat. It really made you sympathize with the French Revolution. The opulence was too much. Beautiful, but it made you thankful for our government and constitution — even as crazy as it might be right now.

But, needless to say, I was in AWE of the amount of detail on Versailles and the palace. It was nothing short of amazing.

Rainy cold day in Paris. No Disneyland. So we’re off to Versailles. I can barely contain my excitement.

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That’s a blingy gate.

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Cousins. ❤️🇫🇷

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I’m pretty sure I found a statue of one of Jonah Hill’s ancestors.

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I wonder how long it took royalty to find a bathroom, I could barely find one myself …

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A little home away from home.

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Recap

This was truly a life changing trip. I had a blast. I was able to reconnect with family — connect with others. I was able to see some amazing places and just forget about work, running and everyday life for two weeks. It was perfect.

It really makes me want to travel more. I want to see more of Europe — the UK, Germany, the Czech Republic and Norway. I want to connect with family there if I can.

But, I will also come back to Greece. I made the promise to my cousin that I will come and run the Athens Marathon in 2019. That’s the goal. I want to start planning that trip, because I plan on visiting Crete and my family there as well. Greece became more than just where I’m from, it really became home for me during the trip.

It was hard to leave Greece — but, as I told my cousins — I don’t believe in goodbyes, just see you laters!

So, Europe and Greece — see you later!

KETO UPDATE: Three Months In

Well, here I am.

It’s been three months since I started my keto diet. And, I reached my goal of losing 30lbs. — which I truly excited and grateful to meet. It was a weird about way getting here, but I am here.

When I made the initial goal, I didn’t expect the initial weight loss. I reached my goal pretty much within about six weeks of me starting the diet. This got me excited because this got my brain thinking that I could lose 40lbs or more with that kind of start.

Yeah, no.

I stalled out — for way too long. Nearly 5-6 weeks of going nowhere on the scale. I won’t lie, it was frustrating and a bit concerning. But, after consulting friends, message boards, Facebook groups, etc. — what I was experiencing was pretty normal. If not expected.

So, I just buckled down and made sure I did what I needed to do. I kept to my diet, kept running, kept exercising and remaining hopeful that the scale would begin moving again.

And, it has.

About a week, week and a half ago the scale started going down again. and I am now in the 240s. A place I haven’t been for a while. It feels good to be here, because I am less than 15lbs. away from my goal weight — or the weight I feel comfortable at with my running. That’s exciting.

Through the ups and down with the number of the scale, I’ve been measuring my success in other ways — I’ve lost inches around the waist. I feel and see that nearly every morning. To me that feels better than any number on the scale.

But, besides the clothes, my energy levels are so much better than they were back in August. It took a while for my running stamina to get where I wanted it with the diet, but a couple weeks ago I felt a breakthrough with a couple awesome midweek runs.

I feel like I am in a good groove with the diet, my fitness and running.

And, now I’m off to Europe for two weeks.

I won’t lie, I am a bit nervous about the next two weeks. I know I am going to gain weight. I already made the decision that I am not following keto while in Europe for obvious reasons. This will be a once in a lifetime trip to Paris, Rome and Greece for me — I’m experiencing it.

Now, will that give me free reign to eating like a gluttonous king? Of course not. I am going to control what I can, namely most breakfasts and my snacking. But, I am going to have pizza in Italy, french pastries in Paris and authentic spanakopita, tiropita and everything in between. Especially considering that I grew up on Greek recipes that weren’t hand me downs to my Grandma — but, from a 1960s cookbook (that’s a very long story).

I want the real stuff.

I don’t know how much to anticipate myself gaining. Internally I tell myself 10-15lbs., but it will probably be lower. Especially considering that I’ll be doing a lot of walking during the two weeks.

Either way, I’m going to remain with the keto diet after my return. I love the way I feel on it. It works. And, coupled with the needed miles I need to do in preparation for the Jackpot Running Festival and my 100 miles in February — this will help me prepare for the race better than any other diet.

I don’t see a reason to stop doing what I’ve been doing the past three months. I just hope the next couple of weeks don’t set me back too much. I’ve really loved the groove I’ve been in lately.

But, that’s something to worry about come December 1st. Right now it’s all about Europe!


START: 282.2 lbs. (8/16/17)
CURRENT: 247.2 lbs (11/15/17)
OVERALL LOST: -35.0 lbs.

MONTH #1 START: 282.2 lbs.
MONTH #1 LOST: -23.8 lbs.

MONTH #2 START: 258.4 lbs.
MONTH #2 LOST: -5.6 lbs.

MONTH #3 START: 252.8 lbs.
MONTH #3 LOST: -5.6 lbs.


RACE #169: Mt. View Trail Half

I had many emotions going into this race — gratitude, excitement, relievement and — yes — even a tinge of disappointment. So, let’s breakdown those emotions …

Gratitude — because Saturday not only marked my 169th race, but the 8th anniversary of the beginning of my journey. The day I decided to make up and LIVE.

Excitement — This was my 169th race, meaning I am just 11 races away from 180 goal (which I will hit on July 24th of the upcoming year).

Relievement — This was my 32nd and last race over 13.1 miles for the year. It’s been a year of many ups and downs with my ankle and health. I am looking forward to the next two weeks while I am in Europe. It will be some much needed rest before I go into the beast of my 100 mile training.

Disappointment — I’m grateful for any day, any distance that I can run. But, I’d be lying if I said I was not disappointed that I wasn’t running the 50K race instead. It was my first ultra, I’ve done it twice before and I just love it. A great beautiful challenging course.

So, yeah, those were the emotions I was dealing with before the race. But, nonetheless, I was excited to run, to see what I was capable of doing out there and just enjoying myself.

I didn’t have a concrete time goal for myself. It was mainly just time on my feet and a good effort. I was kind of expecting around four hours — which is about my average for a trail half marathon. But, I wanted to be faster if I was feeling it.

The race started at 9am which made for a casual race day morning. I still woke up by 4:30am for some reason, but didn’t get out the door until a quarter 7am. It was nice. I ate my breakfast, watched some news and blogged a bit. It felt like a weekday morning for me. I loved it.

After making the commute to the packet pickup which was near to the park gates, I saw a bunch of friend including Ruthie — who wasn’t helping me wish I was running the 50K. She is such a cheerleader and positive person that I knew I was missing out on the party.

But, I had my own party running the half marathon. After driving from the front gate of the park to Garr Ranch (about a 11 mile drive) I had a few minutes to mingle with a few of my friends — Bret, Doug, Ryan and his son Jordan — before we were off at 9am sharp.

Because we were dealing with a single track trail and there were a good 300 or so runners — I just held back a bit to let the mass of runners. I didn’t fight the runners and passing on that trail can be somewhat of a beast. So, I just took it easy for a few minutes.

I started off with Ryan and Jordan, but within the first mile or so, they were off ahead of me. Which was fine, I just used those first couple of miles to find a good pace. I felt good, so I tried to push myself just a bit harder than usual. Being my last race for the year and long run for the next couple of weeks — I decided to just put everything into it.

The game plan was easy — run the downhill, push the flat parts and fast walk the uphill. I stuck to that game plan for the most part. But, I won’t lie — there were times I lost myself in the scenery of the island and trail. I had to remind myself to refocus a number of times. It was a beautiful autumn day and I was in heaven.

I yo-you’d a bit with a girl throughout the entire race. It was her first trail run — not just race. She was a student at BYU-Idaho and decided to sign up for this race to train toward throughout the semester. She was a bit unsure about the buffalo — which we ran into a couple times along the course and she asked me to help her maneuver around them.

I’m not a buffalo expert at all. And, despite running this island a number of times — they still make me a tad nervous. But, with that said, they’ll leave you alone — for the most part. And, the best way to get past them is to run past them.

Easy enough, right?

In theory of course.

In our two encounters with the buffalo, I felt comfortable enough to stop and take a few pictures. And, for the most part they were pretty indifferent of our presence. They were pretty close to the fence opening where we needed to pass, but their indifference made it easily passable.

After the climb up the hill toward the finish line, I stepped up my pace. The trail turned into a paved trail and eventually pavement during the last couple of miles. It also helped that it was slightly downhill too. So, I just put myself in cruise control.

I separated myself from the other runners I had been running with — and I just focused on the finish line. I was about a half hour faster than I expected and I just felt great.

The last few hundred yards I was greeted by my friend Boojah, which made me grin. She’s been fighting Stage IV gallbladder cancer. She and her husband Tim came to the finish line to cheer me in. I always love having my own fan club at the finish line. But, having Boojah there was extra special. After gathering myself and refueling a bit, Tim and Boojah gave me a ride back to my car near the ranch before grabbing something to eat on my way home.

In all, I had a blast. This was the perfect race to end my race schedule for the year. Having done 32 half marathons or longer this year — I’m ready for a rest before I go into the beast of my 100 mile training. I’ll blog more about that later. But, I’ll be taking a break from the bloggy blog for a couple of weeks while I’m on vacation.

I’m just grateful to be able to do what I am able to do. This past year has had many ups and downs with health and injury, yet I’ve done the most races than any previous year. I can’t help but feel extremely blessed.

But, I’m also ready for this break.

Right now it’s — EUROPE OR BUST, BABY!!!


MY NEXT THREE RACES


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 6.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 26.56 miles
TOTAL MILES — 45.66 miles
Races This Week — (1) Mt View Trail Half.

November 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 10.0 miles
Race Miles — 39.3 miles
Walking Miles — 43.37 miles
TOTAL MILES — 92.67 miles
Races in November — (3) Snow Canyon Half, Joshua Tree Half & Mt. View Trail Half.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 429.24 miles
Race Miles — 466.87 miles
Walking Miles — 1166.87 miles
TOTAL MILES — 2062.98 miles
Races done in 2017 — (33) New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon, Drop13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta – Idaho, Wyoming & Utah, AF Canyon Race Against Cancer, The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days Half, DesNews Half Marathon, Elephant Rock Trail Half Marathon, Run Elevated Half Marathon, Nebo Half, Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon, Huntsville Half Marathon, Timp Elk Run, Jordan River Half Marathon, The Haunted Half – SLC, SoJo Half,  Howloween Half, The Haunted Half — Provo, Snow Canyon Half Marathon, Joshua Tree Half Marathon and Mt. View Trail Half Marathon.


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Choices.

Life is about choices.

Where we are now is a sum of the choices we have made during our lifetime. The good, the bad, the stupid and even the mundane. But, they’ve been our choices — decided upon for various reasons.

I’ve learned over the years that choices aren’t easily classified. Sure there are good and bad choices, but I also like to look at the easy and difficult as well. But, life is defined these choices we make. Some on a daily basis, others when the necessity arises.

But, ultimately, the choice of direction, selection and action is in our hands — no one else’s hands. When you grasp that reality — it’s life changing. You literally are the master of your own fate.

Eight years ago today — I made a choice.

I made a choice to live — to wake up. I made the decision to be actor in the story of my life and no longer a background extra. Yet — it wasn’t this grand choice I made heralded by trumpet carrying angels and light of inspiration. I didn’t just want a change in my life, I needed one.

Today, eight years ago, I didn’t know where to start. I just knew I needed to start somewhere. I was tired of false starts and redos, so I embraced my imperfection. I didn’t fully see the end from the beginning and it took a lot of faith for me to take those initial steps — but, I took those steps.

I chose to wake up and be present. I chose to be optimistic and to find the best in others — especially myself. I chose to be the author of my story — a story with infinite possibilities of new chapters. No one else was going to write my story.

With these new choices, did change come overnight? No. Far from it. But, it began the process where I had the faith in myself to make better choices in my habits, health, diet, exercise and overall life.

I started my focus on my weight, because that was the easiest thing to tackle first. It was the most obvious needed change from a physical and emotional point of view. Weighing over 400lbs. impacts you in many areas of your life.

When I started having success with the scale, I soon realized that the joy I experienced was fleeting. As great as I felt physically — that did little for the person that I was inside. I knew that I also needed to eventually work on him as well.

And, that was a fight I delayed for as long as I could. But, I knew that when I made the choice to live a better life — that this would eventually have to happen. So, I focused on me — emotionally, socially and spiritually.

This was the hardest part of my journey. It’s not easy looking inward. That’s why dealing with the outward was so much easier. But, I started addressing things in my life that I had neglected.

The change was hard. Especially when you realized the pain you had to go through in order to get to the joy, peace and calm you wanted. But, as difficult as that realization can be, it can also be a driving force behind the daily choices you make.

My change and transformation inward wasn’t overnight and in many instances — is a change that is still ongoing. But, I feel when I made the choice to be a runner, that transformation was expedited.

I found that desired joy, peace and calmness much faster and often. I found a confidence in myself that went unrealized for over 30 years. And, I found a community of likewise people that could relate with me on many levels — physical, spiritual, emotional and social.

I felt at home.

The choices I’ve made as a runner are many, but the root of it all lays in the decision to make my ambitious goal of running 180 races over 13.1 miles before age 40. I made this goal at age 30 shortly after I ran my first half marathon. I made it because I wanted running to be a part of who I was and to see where it would take me.

And, like many journeys — I never quite expected the journey to go as it has up to now. By the end of the day, today, I will have finished my 169th race, that leaves me with just 11 races to my goal — that’s three years earlier than expected.

The early attainment of that goal has a lot to do with how running has changed my life. I have embraced the love of the unknown adventure — and each race has been an adventure. Whether it’s been a new distance, pursuit of a new goal or a race met with a “que sera, sera” attitude due to unforeseen circumstances.

Many of these adventures have led me to some of my most cherished friendships. Along with adventures that are too numerous to count and moments that will never be forgotten.

Whether it was running a half marathon in blue jeans in support of my Mom’s battle with cancer, running alongside Jill for her first marathon or running with wingless angels during the last five miles of my first 50 miler — those memories will never be forgotten, along with many, many others. I wish I could list them all here.

I don’t just feel lucky, I feel blessed, for the many people in my life. They’ve made my affair with running the life changing journey it has been in my life. And, I thank God for them all.

Often when I find myself pondering about this journey and the places I’ve been and people I’ve met — I go back to the beginning to that moment, when I made the simple choice. A choice to wake up and live. Who would have expected that choice to lead me to now? Eight years ago … not me.

But, here I am.

And, the great thing about my journey, is that you can take a similar journey too.

The choice is yours.


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RACE #168: Joshua Tree Half Marathon

[CLICK HERE TO READ MY SNOW CANYON HALF REPORT]

After picking me up from the High School, Julianna, Michelle and her daughter booked it out of town so we could get to Joshua Tree in time for the Joshua Tree Half Marathon. Crystal was going to make the journey with us, but she ended up going to the ER to get some fluids after her race. Sadly, she didn’t make the trip at all.

The trip down was fairly uneventful. It took us about five hours as we passed through Vegas and Barstow. We knew we were going to cut it close to make sure we got to the race on time, so we only stopped once for gas.

We made it into Joshua Tree with about an hour or so to spare. But, we were met with a 1.5 mile long traffic jam as the other 2300+ runners were all parking for the race. The jam made us sweat a bit. But, we made it on time — and it helped that the race also moved the start time back a little because of the traffic.

Since I killed my legs in the earlier race my plan was to just stick with Julianna and Cheryl who were sweeping the race. The plan was for a 4 hour sweep time, which would be perfect ultra training — especially with the tired legs. So it was an easy game plan.

In the first mile we met up with a runner who was coming back because she started getting a headache and felt nausea. I felt bad. She was in tears. Being the professional pacer that Jules is — she immediately hugged the runner — and told her that she’d get her to the finish line. The hug and reassurance stopped the tears and our new friend Anita joined the party in the back.

About another half mile or so, I started feeling nausea again. I was trying to figure out why — because I hadn’t eaten much in the past couple of hours after lunch — and it didn’t bother me then, so why now?

Either way, I ended up throwing up just a mile and half into the race. I couldn’t believe it. I did have the brief thought that I should turn back. But, I couldn’t. This was a race I wanted to do — and I wanted to run my name. I wasn’t going to give up.

The course was gorgeous as the sun finally disappeared behind the mountains and the full moon made its’ appearance. I felt like I was running inside a U2 music video. Which I kinda did as I turned on U2’s Joshua Tree to get me into the mood of the run. But, after I threw up a second time — I stopped with the music altogether.

I couldn’t believe I was still throwing up. It didn’t make sense. Especially, when it felt that I didn’t have anything on my stomach. It started making me wonder if I had a second stomach I was unaware of?

Despite my caution, it seemed like a few minutes after every aid station, I would get nausea and then throw up. It was like clockwork at this point. It was beyond bizarre.

The course didn’t help my situation at all. It was tough. Very tough. It was very much a trail race. There was only about 1.5 or 2 miles of pavement.

We climbed a lot, which isn’t much of an issue for me, but it was on hills that were VERY sandy. It made for a tough hike. And, soon the party in the back collected quite a few people. We had a good 10 or more people well behind the 4 hour pace.

But, we all kept going.

And, I also kept throwing up as well.

Having thrown up five times during this race, I had enough. I was done puking. So, by the Mile 9 aid stations I came to the revelation — from Julie and my friend Jill (who I was texting) — it was my Powerade Zero making me sick.

I am not sure why it took me so long to figure that out? Probably out of denial? But, it made sense. This was the 5th race I’ve thrown up at after starting my keto diet. I contributed a lot of that to not being able to eat the proper fuel I needed that early in the morning.

But, it wasn’t necessarily that food.

It was what I was drinking. It made perfect sense. And, after saying a quick farewell, I resolved then and there to stop drinking it. So, at the Mile 9 aid station I dumped out my Powerade Zero and filled my pack with water.

And, that was the difference.

My stomach felt fine. And, in fact, I just drank as much as I could, because at this point — having thrown up 12 times that day — I was worried about hydration. So I was very mindful to keep drinking.

Having gained a second wind, I was ready to finish this race. I was beat up — not just by my Powerade Zero, but the course as well. Our little party in the back started resembling a zombie march. It seemed like the hills kept climbing and the sand never ceased.

But, honestly, from a roadrunner’s perspective it was miserable, but from a trail runner’s perspective it was that bad. And, that’s what I was trying to focus on. This was a trail race.

But, the course was extremely tough for everyone, even for the runners in the front and middle of the pack. I felt bad for some of the pacers who struggled to keep their pace because they had to work almost twice as hard. It was just a tough, tough race.

The course limit was four hours, but we were far from it. We hit the four hour mark at 10 miles. And, because of the permit and course limit we were all driven about a mile and a half ahead so we could finish sooner. They had to take a couple car loads and as much as we wanted to resist — we were grateful. We all just wanted to be done.

When I finally made it to the finish line I was just grateful to be done. I was drained. I was sore. I was depleted. I was stinky. I was so many things. But, I did it. This was much tougher than my last double race day — mainly thanks to the puke and sand. But, I survived.

Once I was done, I knew I had to make up my distance in order for me to count the race toward my 180 — so I paced around the finish line, parking lot and went back out to the race course to meet up with Julie as she brought in the last runner.

That last 1.5 mile was tough. I could have easily not done it and been fine with it. But, I’d have that nagging on me if I didn’t. 13.1 miles is 13.1 miles.

We were going to drive back to St. George that night, but it was midnight and we were all bushwhacked from the course and day. We made the smart decision to crash at the local Marriott Courtyard where our friend Melissa was staying. It was the best decision, even though that gave us a 10 hour ride home the next day.

After not getting my hooker shower earlier that day and running two races in the same clothes — I was so ready for a hot shower. And, it was definitely one of the best showers I’ve ever taken — definitely in the Top 3.

It seriously was the best.

After a great sleep and good sized breakfast the following morning, we were off heading for home. I had no ill affects from the night before. I kinda wished I had a scale I could jump on, because I could have sworn I lost nearly 15lbs. from the day before.

But, going away from the race — I was just grateful for the ability to be able to do what I can do. It was a tough day. It was a demanding challenge. And, despite the obstacles — I finished what I started. There’s a lot of pride in that.

And, as I reminded myself often during the day — it was GREAT ultra training. Puke and all.


MY NEXT RACE: MT. VIEW TRAIL HALF

The year is winding down for me. And, I won’t lie — I am looking forward to some rest the next few weeks, before going headstrong into my ultra training for Jackpot. But, before that — I have one more half marathon for the year.

This Saturday I am running the Mt. View Trail Half Marathon on Antelope Island. I grappled with the idea of doing the 50K — which I have done the last couple of years. But, not only do I feel like not doing it, but I’m just not ready for it mentally and physically. I just don’t trust myself at meeting the needed cutoffs on the 50K.

So the half marathon it is for me!

The course isn’t that bad. It’s basically the last 13 miles of the 50K course along a gorgeous part of the island near Garr Ranch. It should be fun. It will be a different challenge. And, really, I am just going for time on my feet at this point in my training — so — I’m going out there to just enjoy myself.

And, after this race — I’m basically taking a three week break from running to recharge, recalibrate and refocus. I’ll be heading to Europe for a few weeks and I can’t wait. I’m heading to Paris, Rome, Athens and Crete. I’m going to FINALLY meet cousins and family in Greece I haven’t met yet. And, of course — I’m making my pilgrimage to Marathon.

There was no way I could go that far without stopping for a visit.

Once I am back in December I am jumping into my training for Jackpot and I’ll blog more about that next month. It’s not a lot of sexy training. It’ll mainly be time on my feet and lots and lots and lots of long hours roaming my streets, the Olympic Oval and the treadmill.

But, right now the focus is on Antelope Island this weekend!


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 8.0 miles
Race Miles — 26.2 miles
Walking Miles — 23.08 miles
TOTAL MILES — 57.28 miles
Races This Week — (2) Snow Canyon Half & Joshua Tree Half

October 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 37.69 miles
Race Miles — 52.4 miles
Walking Miles — 95.89 miles
TOTAL MILES — 185.98 miles
Races in October — (4) The Haunted Half – SLC, SoJo Half, Howloween Half, The Haunted Half – Provo

November 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 4.0 miles
Race Miles — 26.2 miles
Walking Miles — 16.81 miles
TOTAL MILES — 47.01 miles
Races in November — (3) Snow Canyon Half, Joshua Tree Half & Mt. View Trail Half.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 423.24 miles
Race Miles — 453.77 miles
Walking Miles — 1140.31 miles
TOTAL MILES — 2017.32 miles
Races done in 2017 — (32) New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon, Drop13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta – Idaho, Wyoming & Utah, AF Canyon Race Against Cancer, The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days Half, DesNews Half Marathon, Elephant Rock Trail Half Marathon, Run Elevated Half Marathon, Nebo Half, Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon, Huntsville Half Marathon, Timp Elk Run, Jordan River Half Marathon, The Haunted Half – SLC, SoJo Half,  Howloween Half, The Haunted Half — Provo, Snow Canyon Half Marathon and Joshua Tree Half Marathon. 


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RACE #167: Snow Canyon Half Marathon

A few months ago this weekend was very much an unknown variable. I wasn’t expecting on racing, but I wanted to. There wasn’t a half marathon in Northern Utah, but the Snow Canyon in Southern Utah was — and it’s a favorite of mine. So with some urging of friends I decided to make a quick trip of it.

I figured adding another race this year would help alleviate my race schedule in 2018, especially leading toward my 180th race in July. I really want to focus on speed and strength and I know that will happen by not racing or running long distances every weekend. I have done over 30 half marathons this year — and it is too much for me.

Despite wanting to run less, after I signed up for the Snow Canyon Half Marathon I found out that a group of friends were also doing the Joshua Tree Half Marathon in Joshua Tree, California that same evening. This intrigued me for a couple of reasons … one, because it’d once again alleviate my 2018 race schedule and, two, being Joshua Snow Hansen, I wanted to run my name for the day.

(Joshua) Tree Half Marathon.
(Snow) Canyon Half Marathon.

How many people can claim that they’ve been able to run their name before? I had to do it. I had no other option.

It was destiny.

The plan was to carpool down with my friends Julianna, Crystal and Chris on Friday afternoon in order to grab our race packets, run Snow Canyon Half on Saturday morning and then book it to Joshua Tree in time for that race, do it, drive back to St. George that night and then home on Sunday morning.

It didn’t quite happen that way. But, it was still an adventure and a half that you’ll get over the next two posts. Because, it turned out not quite the way I thought it would. But, still enjoyable and fun.

When we arrived in St. George on Friday evening, we made our way to the race expo and then went to dinner at Pizza Pie Cafe. Since most of our car was on keto — we ate salad and then the toppings of the pizza. Yes, we left the crust. But, for $10 and all-you-can-eat pizza — it was perfect. And, much better than buying one pizza for $10-$15 and doing the same thing.

We crashed at a condo that night and we were out the door for the first race by 6:15am. The plan was for the faster runners to come back, shower and change. Then they were going to bring me my change of clothes where I’d take a hooker shower in one of the Honey Buckets before the 5+ hour drive to Joshua Tree.

After waiting at the start of the race for about an hour, we were off just a few minutes past 8:30am. I felt good. My race plan was similar to my race plan two weeks ago when I ran the SoJo and Howloween Half Marathons. I wanted to trash my legs on the first one so I had fight through the stiffness, pain and fatigue during the second race.

Knowing the course and that the first couple of miles were a bit of a climb, I took it a bit easy until we got to Snow Canyon, then I just let it rip. The downhill windy roads through the canyon were fast, awesome and downright gorgeous. I stopped a couple of times to take obligatory pictures, but for the most part I kept a good clip.

The first 6-7 miles were perfect.

Since being on keto I’ve been running with a hydration pack filled with Powerade Zero — mainly for the electrolytes. After I keto crashed at Run Elevated in August, I haven’t wanted to take the chance of doing it once again. It’s been nice to have, especially when I get hungry, because I’ll pack a few almonds or whatnot in there as well.

I kept sipping my Powerade Zero throughout the first few miles and I was just enjoying the race.

But, around Mile 9, I hit a wall. Or a wall hit me? Either way, I got super nausea and threw up. This was the fourth race I’ve thrown up at while on keto. And, I still haven’t figured out exactly why? Part of it I reasoned is because I am not used to eating breakfast before 11am (I do intermittent fasting) and the food I eat before and during my race that early just doesn’t settle well.

I also thought the nausea could have been from squeaky cheese I ate before the race. But, whatever the case was — I was having none of it. After throwing up at Mile 9, I kept throwing up. I threw up six additional times during the race.

I don’t mind throwing up, but I hate throwing up in front of people. Especially out in public and during a race. The last thing I wanted was another runner, race official or random stranger to stop and ask me if I’m okay — or pull me off the course.

The nausea would come in waves. I was fine for the most part, but it seemed like when I’d slow down or stop at aid stations the nausea would come back. It was nerve wracking and disappointing, because I really wanted to be pushing myself a bit harder than I was after Mile 9.

I tried to throw up in convenient places — Honey Buckets, sandy areas, drains — anywhere were people wouldn’t be walking. When we got to the Entrada Golf Course, I made an effort not to barf on the golf course. It’s a REALLY nice golf course and if I learned anything from my Mother as a young kid, it was not to throw up on nice things.

But, once we passed the golf course — I threw up.

My only worry about throwing up that much during the race was replenishing my fluids so I didn’t dehydrate. But, the more I did, the more it seemed to make me feel. Which was so odd.

Once I got to the finish line after mingling a little bit with Curtis and Laura Eppley and some others, I felt the wave of nausea come once again. Having worked many finish lines and seeing many runners throw up — I just couldn’t get myself to that point to do it around SO many people.

But, I sheepishly went to a volunteer standing near some garbage cans and politely asked if I could throw up in it. I’m laughing about that now, but I really hate throwing up in front of people.

After one last episode of the barfs, I finally felt good. I drank my water and felt settled. I was really surprised at how much I could throw up, especially on a stomach that I thought was empty. It almost made me wonder if I had a second stomach I was unaware of?

Either way, I found some shade under a tree to chill for Julianna and the other come back so I could change. After waiting about a half hour, they came with a change of plans. There was no time for me to take my hooker shower. One of the runners we were going to down to Joshua Tree got sick and ended up in the ER to replenish her fluids

Something that made me worry a bit, because — did I need it too?

Either way, I felt fine now. So I just focused on drinking my Smart Water and refueling in time for Joshua Tree. Which was an adventure that provided me with a few more answers as to why I was nauseated.

Which was still an issue for my next race.

[CLICK HERE TO READ MY JOSHUA TREE HALF REPORT] – Link Coming Soon


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