Category: Wednesday

It’s time to bet big … on myself

“I don’t like to gamble, but if there’s one thing I’m willing to bet on, it’s myself.”

Beyoncé

When I started running, I had no idea where I was going. I started because I wanted to lose weight and I knew it would help me in that goal. But, beyond that, I had no idea where it was taking me?

Less than a year into my weight-loss journey my trainer, Kevin, challenged me to run a 5K in the midst of a plateau. He gave it to me as a challenge to work towards. So, I put in the work and ran my first 5K. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t fast. But, I did it.

But, then something happened. I looked at my results and said — “I can do better.” So, I set out to train for another 5K. One that I could run that would be faster and much, much prettier. And, I did.

So, I just kept running trying to improve. This lead not just in the desire to run faster, but longer. Soon, I had my eye on a 10K which naturally lead to a half marathon.

Training for my first half marathon — I thought THIS would be it. This is the crowning achievement of my running career. The thought of running any further — especially a marathon — was unfathomable. I wasn’t a REAL runner, so I couldn’t possibly do that.

Well, after I ran my first half marathon in July 2011, I ran another and another and another. I got faster and actually enjoyed running 13.1 miles — then I started entertaining the thought of doubling that mileage.

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And, before I knew it I was registered for a marathon. A FREAKING MARATHON! That race distance that only REAL runners run.

Once again, I thought this would be my crowning achievement in running. When I crossed the finish line I could cross off the accomplishment on my bucket list and go back running half marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks. But, then something happened — I signed up for more marathons. And, before I knew it, I had run a total of three marathons by the end of the year.

By this time I had a goal to reach 180 races by age 40. So, I kept training and running. Along the way, not only did I enjoy the accomplishment of racing, but I made countless friends and created many enduring friendships. Running was changing my life in nearly every faucet of my life.

But, it hasn’t always been a smooth ride. It’s been quite tough at times, actually. Whether it was dealing with my Mom’s breast cancer, the death of close family members or battling my own health issues — the common denominator has always been — running.

Running wasn’t a way to escape reality, but a time I could deal with reality. Running gave me time to process the challenges. It gave me moments of reflection, motivation and inspiration. It was leading me where I wanted to go.

Nearly three years ago I started having problems with my thyroid once again. The health issues took me through a roller coaster of emotions. It was frustration being as active as I was — and feeling fatigued and slower. Not only that but I was slowly gaining weight after a years of maintenance.

But, I didn’t let (or want) those issues to stop me. They couldn’t stop me. I had a goal at hand. Plus, I knew if I stopped I would signaling the white flag of defeat — which I could never do.

So, I just kept running.

I was much slower. And, it took a harder toll on my body, especially in regards to my stamina. But, I was now one of the last runners to finish, but I kept going.

Around this time I looked for ways to keep me motivated. I knew just running wasn’t enough. I had to do something new — something that scare and motivate me all in one.

And, since I knew I wasn’t getting faster, I started looking at longer distances — ultra races. I knew a number of ultra runners who spent their weekends in Utah’s backyard and it always appealed to me. But, running anything longer than a marathon didn’t.

That lack of appeal eventually subsided and I found myself registered and committed to running a 50K. So, despite everything going on with my health — I trained for the 50K around a schedule of marathons and long runs. It wasn’t easy, but I did what I needed to do to prepare myself for the race.

When race day came I was lucky enough to run with some great friends that helped me get through those 30-something miles on Antelope Island. The last half of the race was spent trying to meet cut-off times, dodging stubborn bison and battling the dark after my headlamp died.

But, I made it. And, I earned the title of ultra runner.

The accomplishment felt like crowning accomplishment of my running journey. After spending over 10 hours running 30 miles of dirt trails — I couldn’t think of any reason why any sane person would do anything longer.

Then I remembered — I wasn’t sane.

Within a few months I got talked into running a 50 miler. I wish I could say it took a lot of convincing, but it didn’t. It was the first time I formally met Blu Robinson and Jed Jensen from Addict II Athlete and they casually talked about the 50 miler like a novice runner would about a 5K.

And, like any long distance race I’ve run, I found myself registered and committed to running the Pony Express Trail 50 Miler. The biggest selling point was that each runner was required to be assisted throughout the race. Meaning, I had a car stalking me — stocked full of fuel, water and food throughout the whole race. This basically translated to me that I wouldn’t die.

My training for the 50 miler was no joke. It was tough. I did a number of 20 milers, including one on a treadmill in the middle of the night. Not to mention a number of marathons specifically laid out to help prepare me for my 50 miler.

Once race day came I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I relied on my training and just focused on the goal at hand — getting to the finish line.

There were a lot of ups and downs — physically, emotionally and even spiritually. But, after nearly 17 and a half hours — I got to the finish line. I reached my goal — I ran a 50 mile race. I did something I felt at times nearly impossible, even just days before the race.

But, I made it.


“If you think you can — you can!”

Ronald Reagan

I really fell in love with the longer distances — for a number of reasons. Not only did I love the physical challenge, but I really learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about pain. Because that happens a lot during an ultra race.

I never cried as freely and openly as I did at mile 45 of my 50 miler. But, I learned how to process the pain I was feeling — and control it. Being able to manage and control pain is a remarkable feat and I believe a true test of one’s character. Ultra races were becoming great teachers to me.

Since that 50 miler, I have run a couple more ultra races. A couple weeks after that 50 miler I ran the Antelope Island 50K once again (cutting off nearly an hour on my time — mind you!), in February I ran 40 miles in 12 hours at the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival in Las Vegas and then there was my ill-fated Salt Flats 50K that I DNF’d last weekend. But, if I didn’t fall ill with the flu I would have tackled that beast!

My favorite ultra race so far has been the Jackpot Running Festival, I like the idea of a timed race on a looped course with the goal to see how many laps you can do within that time. Not only do you get an aid station every two miles or so, but you’re literally competing with no one else — but, yourself.

Jackpot has a number of timed races — a 6, 12, 24 and 48 hour race. They also had a 100 miler, marathon, half marathon, 10K and 5K, but most of the runners did one of the four timed courses. The winner of the 48 hour race managed over 210 miles.

Yeah, you read that right.

In fact there were nearly 30 runners who ran over 100 miles, including six runners who ran over 150 miles. Mind boggling numbers if you ask me.

I read all of these results as my legs were still recovering from my 40 mile run — and I couldn’t shake the feeling that “I could do this” from my conscience. Every time I dismissed the thought — it just came back stronger. Even when I reminded myself of the pain I experienced at mile 45 of my 50 miler — the feeling remained.

So, I did the only logical thing that came to mind — I signed up for the 48 hour race in 2018.

Yup.

I signed up to run my first 100 mile race.

Typing this makes it feel very surreal to me, even a couple months after doing so. I am running a 100 miles. The thought makes me want to pee my pants out of sheer terror and excitement all in one emotion.

I’ve kept my registration relatively private since February. I’ve told a couple of close friends and family members. Heck, this is the first that my parents are hearing of this news. It’s just been a lot to process and this is a HUGE goal and milestone for me.

I still have my doubts about my ability. And, I am sure others do too. Heck, my parents definitely do, because their fear of my running is that one day my legs will fall off.

But, I have to at least try. I have too.

I have to try.

I have to try.

I have to try.

I’ve journied so far from my first 5K — heck, from the couch itself — that I can’t stop myself now without trying. To borrow a phrase from a favorite song of mine, “If you never try you’ll never know, just what you’re worth.” (Fix You, Coldplay).

When I stepped on the scale back in 2009 to start my weight-loss journey, I started the journey accepting failure — and success. I didn’t know where my decision that day would lead me. I accepted the consequences to my decision to LIVE my life. And, it’s lead me here.

I don’t see this decision any different. I am accepting the possibility of failure with the determination of success. I don’t know what lays ahead for me in the next nine months — but I’m going to find out. I’ve got a training plan in the works that I fill will give me the chance of success come February.

The motto for the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival is “BET BIG. RUN LONGER” — it’s something that’s on their shirts and medals. And, it’s something that I took to heart during my run this past February — especially since I signed up for the 48 hour race.

I feel like I am betting big with this goal. I am betting big on myself. Because, this is a gamble. There’s no guarantee of success, but there’s also no guarantee of failure either. So, I’ve got to place my bet.

But, unlike casino gambling, I can control more variables to my advantage. I can control my effort. I can control my training. I can control my preparations — both physically and mentally. And, I can control the odds come race day. But, with a goal like this, it’s going to take much more than this — in essence, I am not just betting big on myself — I’m going all in.

So, all in it is!

As a reminder of this goal and the needed commitment and dedication I’ve been running with a poker chip on me since I registered for the race. Every run — training and race — I run with it on me. I’ve tucked it in my pocket, but I really should make a necklace out of it to keep it on me better.

But, it’s just this little $100 souvenir poker chip that reminds me of not just the 100 mile goal at hand, but the bet I’ve placed upon myself. I might be a cheesy little emblem, but in the three months that I’ve been running with it — it’s been my reminder to keep going, keep pushing and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I don’t dare say that this will be my one and only 100 miler. I’ve learned from my past that’s just a temporary lie I tell myself on occasion. But, I don’t know? And, I’m not worried about. My focus is simply on the journey in front of me.

This is a journey of a thousand miles. I know it will get daunting at times and there will be doubts. There will always be doubts. But, I know if I just focus on that footstep in front of me, it will take closer to my goal and a place I once dreamt possible.

It’s just up to me to take that next step.


“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”

Stephen King

Thoughts on ‘My 600lbs. Life’

I am not a huge TV watcher. I used to be. If I am going to watch TV it better be something I am really interested in or find value in — because there’s a lot more to life outside of TV. A lot more.

But, that’s a rant for another day.

Recently, I was introduced to ‘My 600lbs. Life’ by my sister. Well, it was actually in passing that I was introduced to it. She was talking about it to another family member and it piqued my interest. Because some seven plus years ago — I was on a road that could have lead to a similar fate.

I was a 400lbs. guy carrying around a lot of emotional baggage — that looked to food for comfort. It didn’t matter the food — I liked it. But, I was especially akin to fast food, junk food and soda. I was a secret eater that wouldn’t bat an eye getting the Arby’s Five for $5 deal — and eating all five sandwiches alone in the car before going home.

My unattended emotional baggage was creating a blueprint to a ‘600lbs life’ for me. And, I feel very fortunate to have woken myself up when I did. But, not only that, but if it wasn’t for the people in my life and those I chose to surround myself with after I made that decision — I don’t know where I would be right now in life?

I don’t want to say that I would be a 600-700lbs. guy, but I know I wouldn’t be who I am physically and emotionally. Running would be just some pipe dream. Luckily, I’ll never have to realize this alternate reality.

But, after catching my first episode of ‘My 600lbs. Life’ a couple weeks ago — I’ve been mesmerized, inspired and emotional watching these journeys.

To give you a little bit about the series. Each episode is a one or two hour documentary following one person’s year long journey through the process of gastric bypass surgery and the subsequent weight-loss. That’s the series in a nutshell. But, of course there are many ups and downs through each episode — both physical and emotional — which you would expect with such a journey.

I love the realness of each episode. There are many raw and real moments that I can relate to from my own journey. But, then there are moments that put me in tears, because I could only imagine the pain (whether it’s physical or emotional) they’re going through.

I’ve gotten a bit emotional at times when many of these patients realize their self-worth, ability and/or determination. Because — THAT — I can relate to. Very much so.

I will always remember those moments — and I had many — throughout my journey. Whether it was losing 30lbs. my first month or realizing I could do a REAL pushup — those moments are crucial for a journey like these. And, seeing these people realize their worth — brings back a lot of emotions to me.

A lot.

Anyways — if you have TLC, I highly recommend you DVR the show. There have been a lot of reruns lately and I have been catching up on most of them while on running. Even if you haven’t trekked a similar path, doesn’t mean you won’t learn something from each episode.

Each episode creates a great blueprint for achieving dreams for anyone. Being extremely overweight isn’t easy. But, so isn’t living a life of unrealized dreams.

I can’t say enough good things about ‘My 600lbs. Life.’ If anything watching these episodes are inspiring me more and more to act more on my dreams than ever before.

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Aligning my intentions with action

A couple years ago I kinda stopped doing New Year’s resolutions. Some stuck — I mean, heck, I went nearly four years without a drop of soda and I’ve counted my consumed bananas the past couple of years — but, for the most part, most New Year’s resolutions just don’t stick with me.

Why?

I think part of it is the desire to be what or who I believe I am. So, I make goals that just aren’t realistic or defined enough. I know I am not alone in this — I think we all do that. How many more people do we see at the gym in January compared to February — let alone December?

I think it’s human nature to do that. It’s a January “thing,” because January is the beginning of a new year and we all love new beginnings. How often do we begin our “new” diets in January? Or the start of the upcoming month? Or the next Monday?

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that — we all love a clean slate — but, it’s easy to get trapped into that thinking. There will always be another Monday, month or year to get back on track or follow through with your goals and resolutions.

When I started my weight-loss journey I started on a Thursday. I basically came to the realization that I had to make changes now. Not tomorrow, not next Monday, not next month or year, but — NOW. So, now, when I make new goals — fitness, spiritual, personally, etc. — I start today. Why wait?

A good friend of mine — for the sake anonymity, we’ll call him George — added to this belief of mine a couple years ago. On a road trip to St. George (to run the St. George Marathon — naturally) we talked about goals, plans and aspirations. And, I fell in love with the simplicity of his mentality and approach to his goals.

Instead of making new goals every January — he would keep his long term goals and instead focus on aligning his actions with his intentions. Sitting there in the car listening to this, it just MADE sense. My mind was officially blown.

Why make new goals — that for the most part — will be brushed aside in a couple of months, when I should be focusing on my long-term core goals. When all I have to do is take the time in January — and throughout the year — to assess whether or not my intentions are being aligned with my actions.

In the couple years of our friendship George has stressed this a lot — and it’s a great reminder to me to start taking monthly inventories of ‘where I’m at’ — instead of just in January. It becomes a mentality — a way of life.

A good example of this, is my recent diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Disease. If I don’t line up my actions with my intentions to get healthy, lose more weight and run faster — I won’t get there. Specifically, I need to line those actions up with eating foods that will help me get there and getting the needed exercise best suited for someone in my boat. Otherwise, I’ll still feel like crap and struggle to lose the weight and run stronger.

That’s the reality of it.

And, there’s no need for me to make a list of resolutions to get me there. I know what I need to do. I think we all do with our goals and resolutions — especially when it comes to eating and being healthier. But, if we simply align our actions — we’ll get there. I have no doubt about it.

We’re four days into the new year — and I am sure we all have our goals and resolutions written down for 2017. But, I would encourage you to brush them aside now (don’t wait until February or March) and write down long term goals. Write down the goals to reach the very core of who you are or want to be. Whether it’s becoming a faster runner, kinder person or more spiritually in tune. Whatever they are — make them.

And, then focus on aligning your actions with your intentions. Renew them often. Write them down on a small index card and carry it around with you. Whatever will help you be reminded to align yourself — do it.

You’ll be surprised where it will take you. Action will always be action, but if we double that with a purpose and drive or where we want to go — we’ll get there in due time. It’s a matter of work that comes with lots of ups and downs. But, if we’re true to the goals we’ve made and personalized they will be a part of who we are.

But, it takes action.

So what are your intentions for 2017 — and how are you going to get there?


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RACE #133: Red Rock Relay Park City

Man, I am winding down towards my 50 — which is happening NEXT week. It’s hard to believe I am almost there, especially after running three marathons in the past month. I just want to run that 50 and get it done with.

This past weekend as part of my “tapering” miles, I ran the Red Rock Relay with Team Addict II Athlete. This was a race I’ve been looking forward to for most of the summer. Ever since I’ve joined the team back in May it’s helped change my mentality just in my running, but life. A lot of their principles are what I’ve held true in my journey — and without going into a lot of that here, I will be sharing my story on the AIIA Podcast in the next couple of months.

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This was the first time running the Red Rock Relay. Most of my relays have been Ragnar with one being the Rivalry Relay some 5 years ago or so. I love relays for many reasons — but, more than anything it’s a great way to just meet people. Something I absolutely love to do — I guess you could say after running my second favorite hobby is meeting people.

There’s something about being cramped in a car with 5-6 other runners and running anywhere from 50 to 100 miles — all day and sometimes all night. You really get to know people in this setting. It’s like scout camp for grownups.

But, I was really impressed with the Red Rock Relay. Very well organized, not too overcrowded, very well marked (I have a fear of getting lost in any race I run — even if I have over 130 under my belt … call me irrational) and gorgeous setting. The Heber Valley setting is just gorgeous. It’s such a shame that so many of us Salt Lake and Utah Valleyers take for granted what is literally in our backyard. It’s just beautiful.

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For those who have ran the Ragnar Wasatch Back would be familiar with a good portion of the race. The RRR course loops around the Valley from the Homestead in Heber City and back via Park City. This includes the infamous climbs and descents of Deer Valley and Guardsman Pass.

As you will see below, my legs were in Heber City and then that infamous Guardsman Pass descent. Normally running down Guardsman Pass I would worried because of how brutal it can be on your legs (especially quads), but I’ve ran parts that leg during Ragnar the past two years (and three years ago I ran UP it when the course went the other way). So, I am very familiar with the hill — and I actually really kind of love it.

But, I had a blast during the day. I got to know a few of the team members better. I share a little bit of that below in my leg reports. But, I am truly, truly grateful for what AIIA means to me and has changed my approach to my goals and running this past year.

Here are my leg reports …

Leg 3 of 12 (Heber City to Heber Valley Girls Camp)

leg-1-fw

I love hills, but I hate them. But, I swear I love them. Okay, hills give me a mix of emotions. But, really, in the long run — I do them, because I love the sense of conquering them. No matter what the elevation gain may be.

This leg was no different and as you can see from the elevation chart — it was pretty much a gradual up hill climb. I knew what to expect and after running three marathons in the past month — I knew I’d be fine. Especially since I survived Veyo Hill last weekend.

The one thing that was difficult for me though was the temperature. I didn’t want to take off my hoodie or beanie cap. It was cold. Not only were we up in the mountains, but it was the middle of October — summer is basically dead. So I decided to at least start the run off in my hoodie and beanie cap thinking I’d ditch them a couple miles into the run.

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Well, I ditched the hoodie about three miles into the run, but my beanie stayed with me — pretty much the whole day. Luckily I wasn’t overly sweaty, but by the end of the day that beanie smelt like death. But, it sure kept me warm.

Anyways — the leg wasn’t that bad as I weaved through Heber City and towards the exchange which is close to a girls camp. The home stretch is basically that — a looooooong stretch of road. And, where most of the climbing happened. It wasn’t THAT bad, because I just zoned out, pressed on and rocked out to my music. It was perfect.

I did almost lose my cookies about a mile and half from the exchange when I ran past a dead deer. It wasn’t the sight of the dead deer that did it, it was the smell of dead deer that made me want to upheave that morning’s banana.. Luckily, none of that happened. But, still … yuck.

About a half mile out I was joined by Jed who ran me into the exchange. I was grateful to be finished. I grabbed a water and a bag of grapes and just chowed down. It was a perfect snack/refuel.

Leg 12 of 12 (Guardsman Pass to Homestead Resort)

leg-2-fw

Originally, I was going to run Leg 9, but seeing that it had a lot of climbs and knowing we would be pressed for time I asked Coach Blu if we could trade. Mainly, because I know I’d do better with downhill. He gladly agree. Which I am grateful for considering I am afraid my request nearly killed him.

Well, I exaggerate … slightly.

Leg 9 was a brutal trail leg of cardiac ups and downs. It took Coach about an hour and 45 minutes to run the 7+ mile trail. No joke it would probably have taken me much, much longer than that and I would have gotten lost and/or eaten by a bear.

Again, I exaggerate … slightly.

And, needless to say I owe Coach BIG TIME! I told him I would make it up to him at the Pony 50 next week. How I am going to make that, I am not sure yet? I just know I owe him.

When I made the request to switch I just saw the downhill course, I didn’t know it was Guardsman Pass down to Homestead — which for those who have ran Ragnar, know it as Ragnar Hill. The beast of all beasts. I ran part of this leg the past two years and three years ago — ran UP it. I much prefer the down hill way of tackling it.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

But, you have to tackle the hill the right way or it will eat up your legs. The trick is to not simply run down the hill, you have to kinda waddle or zig zag like you’re being chased by a bear.

As much as it can easily eat your quads, I really love the run. The view is second to none — well, okay, I say this about a lot of the places I run, but it’s true. I love running through the thicket of aspen trees, catching awe inspiring views of Heber Valley and just putting my speed into cruise control. As much as people love running UP this hill, I like going DOWN the hill.

Since I was the last runner I started this portion around 6-6:30pm or so — I wasn’t looking at my watch. But, right around the setting sun. I really wish my camera could have caught the light shining on the orange, yellow and red leaves — but, every picture I tried to snap of them just didn’t give it justice. I just ran trying to remember the view with my heart (okay, that sounds really sappy, but it’s true).

About half way through my run I was joined by Jed and then a few miles later by Ryan. I was thankful for their company. This is one thing I’ve really grown to love about the AIIA team — nobody runs alone. I love this concept and belief. It’s really one of those binding qualities that keeps the team close.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Jed was the one who ran me in during the Provo City Half in May and I can’t even tell you how many other team members he’s ran with and helped to the finish line. Jed has one of the biggest hearts I know. After running with him and hearing more of his story it’s easy to see. He’s been in a lot of dark places in his life — but, he’s replaced that with light (listen to his story on the AIIA Podcast). Especially with being a light to others.

I have mad respect for Jed.

Spending the last couple miles with both Jed and Ryan was sublime and easily one of my favorite running memories to date. It’s hard for me to put into words how grateful I am for this team. I don’t believe I stumbled upon this team by chance. And, I’ll write more about this later, because there’s a lot I want to write, but feel constrained to do it here — I’ll also be a guest on the AIIA Podcast in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for that.

Anyways, we finished around 8pm or so at the Homestead with the rest of the team. We may have been the last team, but that didn’t matter. What mattered is that we finished what we started … as a team. It may have taken us all day, but we did it.

And, for that we’re all champions.


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I haven’t posted the past couple of Addict II Athlete podcasts here and there’s a reason why … I wanted to post both parts of Coach Blu’s story. These two episodes are simply amazing. Coach Blu is amazing. And, whether or not you have struggled with addiction there is a lot you can take away from Coach Blu’s story.

I am not going to give any of it away — just listen …

Listen to “Coach Blu’s Story” on Spreaker.

Listen to “Coach Blu Story Part 2!” on Spreaker.


NEXT RACE

134 - pony express trail 50

I can’t believe that this is NEXT WEEK! I’ve got a lot of emotions going through my head, but honestly — most of it is just excitement. I don’t have a lot of fear or anxiety — yet. I’m sure that will come sometime this weekend or next week, or maybe somewhere around mile 1, 2, 25 or 40? I don’t know? I’m just ready to do it.

I’ll be posting a bit more about it this week and next. Mainly some of my thoughts and feelings about tackling this beast. So stay tuned for that. But, this week it’s just running a few three milers, doing a few circuits and then the Frightmares 5K on Saturday with my niece. Nothing too strenuous. My body is a little sore from all the running the past month so I need to let me mend enough to be ready for next Friday.

But, I am winding down for the year and I am glad. I’m feeling a bit burnt out lately — which thankfully — isn’t new for ultramarathoners. And, I think that’s why I am just so eager to run it. I just want to get it over with and under my belt. I have no doubt I’ll get there.

135 - haunted half provo 136-mt-view-trail-half 137 - thankful 13


Very humbled to have joined “Team Addict II Athlete” for this relay. I couldn’t have asked for a more encouraging, uplifting and motivating team to run with. Whether it shouting words of encouragement as I ran or getting out to run with me during my last leg — I was touched. I’ll be sharing my story on the AIIA Podcast in the next couple of weeks. Addiction and recovery come in many different forms and I’ve had my struggles and test of faith. Needless to say, no one goes about it alone on the team and NOBODY runs alone! I felt lucky to spend those 15 miles out there around Heber Valley with the team! #redrockrelay #race133 #running #messintoamessage #eraseandreplace @redrockrelay @addicttoathlete @joshruns180 @josherwalla

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This kid doesn’t have to do much to capture your heart. #chubbingtatum

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2667in2016

RUNNING MILES

235.5 miles

RACE MILES

302.78 miles

WALKING MILES

1180.97 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

1719.25 miles

MILES TO GOAL

947.75 miles



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Trading in the pavement for the trail …

I’m not sure what it is with me lately — but, I’m yearning the trails. I kinda blame Cory Reese’s new book, but it’s been a gradual transition for me the past couple of years. Where it’s coming from — is beyond me?

As I pour over the 2017 race schedule — I keep looking for excuses to run trail instead of pavement. I’m not necessarily looking at adding more 50K and 50 milers to my belt loop — just races. Whether it’s a half or full trail marathon. I just feel like there’s more of Utah I need to go explore and that’s on the road less traveled (by motorists).

This already has affected my 2016 race schedule — I decided instead of running the Snow Canyon Half (which I absolutely love) on November 5th, I decided to register for the Mountain View Trail Half Marathon happening the same day on Antelope Island. It’s the same day as the 50K that I ran last year.

While there was a moment of temptation to sign up for the 50K, I ultimately decided against it mainly because it’s just two weeks after my 50 miler. And, I’m not sure if my body would be up to making it through the cutoffs on time. Plus, I don’t want a repeat of last year when I freaked out by the finishing line because I mistook a parking lot of dumpsters for bison.

It should go without saying I don’t see well at dusk — or the dark for that matter.

But, I figured the half marathon would allow me to get in a good race that counted towards my goal while indulging my cravings for trails at the same time. While also not pounding my legs too hard that close to my 50 miler.

Plus, I won’t have to travel far from home either — 25 minutes compared to 5.5 hours. As much as I love southern Utah and the Snow Canyon Half — I also like saving some mula as well. Plus, there’s a good chance some of my family and I might be traveling to Greece in December — so I will need to save up my pennies for the trip.

Really though — I just want to hit those trails. As I look to my 2017 schedule I keep looking for those trail races and canyon runs — some of my favorite places here in Utah. I’ve found a couple trail half and full marathons that I might just have to do in 2017 — too, too tempting.

Slowly, but surely I’ll get to my schedule figured out. But, I’m in no rush.

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Cory Reese’s Nowhere Near First

I’m an avid reader. I didn’t use to be, it’s something I kind of had to force myself to do, because as a the proverbial fat kid — I’d much prefer the movie over the book … for obvious reasons. The desire really came from watching my Grandma almost always having her nose in a book. So, now, for at least the past 4-5 years I always have a book on my nightstand.

I don’t really have a preference — I just kind of like whatever interests me. How’s that for vagueness? I do tend to love biographies, historical nonfiction and pretty much anything about WWII. Give me a good story — and I’m hooked for the next couple of weeks.

Walt Disney, George Washington, Joseph Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, Jesse Owens, Bart Yasso, Abraham Lincoln, Michael Jordan, William Wilberforce, Louis Zamperini and Lorenzo Snow — to name a few — have crossed my nightstand. There’s always something you can learn from each story regardless of background, beliefs or profession. That’s another thing I learned from my Grandma.

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One biography I’ve been waiting for the past couple of months is that of Cory Reese’s book. Odds are if you’ve ran in Utah, especially out on the trails, you’ve heard of Cory. You either know him as Fast Cory, the runner obsessed with Hostess baked goods, or possibly that guy who once ran the St. George Marathon back to back to back or that runner who jumps in all of his pictures.

And, if you’ve actually had the privilege to meet Cory in person, he’s one of the kindest, thoughtful and inspiring people you will know. And, quite honestly, he’s someone I look up to — his charism, writing and wit speaks to me. How can you not feel better about yourself after reading one of race reports? And, how do you NOT feel inspired to hit the trails with all his breathtaking photography and stories?

Anyways — I preordered my book and got it in the mail last Saturday. I wanted to dive right into it, but being the same day as my marathon I couldn’t stay awake long enough to get through the title page. So, I waited until the next day to dive in — and I haven’t been disappointed. Purely inspired — and motivated.

I wouldn’t call this a book review — because I am still reading it. And, please don’t ask me to do a book report — I really sucked at those growing up. But, there were a few things I really, really wanted to share about Cory’s book and story.

Don’t worry, I’m not going spoil it for you. Well, not entirely. There’s a video of Steve Harvey that Cory references in his book that, I kid you not, had two other people reference in the past couple of weeks. It’s basically a video of Steve Harvey “preaching” to the audience after a taping of Family Feud.

Give it a listen before I share a few more thoughts …

You gotta jump.

You gotta jump.

You gotta jump.

I’ve listened to this video a number of times and each time, I come away with the thought — you gotta jump. You’ve got to put faith in that parachute opening so you can soar.

And, I really loved the thoughts that Cory shared in his book about this video and message (again, not going to spoil the book — go read it yourself). I love the symbolism behind it in relation to Cory’s jumping pictures — and story. He’s had to take that jump a number of times into an unknown.

It really made me think about my journey. When I made the decision to “jump” on November 11, 2009 (yes, I remember the exact date), I did so not knowing what to expect. I jumped because where I was standing was getting me nowhere towards a future I wanted. I accepted the unknown and more importantly I accepted failure.

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How many of us don’t jump because we’re afraid of failure? Risk can be frightening. Nobody wants to fail. But, if we’re going to achieve the impossible we’ve got to accept the consequences — good or bad. There is no growth when we play it safe.

As I am reading Cory’s book and pondering about these thoughts — I can’t shake the question — “Am I jumping enough?” Am I taking the necessary risks that will get me where I want to be? Am I not trusting my parachute? Am I not trusting my God enough?

While I feel like I’ve jumped a lot in the past five plus years — I can’t help but think — I can jump more.

I am not sure what that exactly means right now. I just know I’ve got to prepare myself for a jump. I’ve got to prepare the consequences and embrace it. And wherever I jump — it will be towards my goals, dreams and desires.

If you haven’t picked up Cory’s book, “Nowhere Near First” yet do so! You can buy it here on Amazon.com.

Thanks for inspiring so many of us to jump, Cory. I can’t wait to finish your book, and maybe — just maybe — you might get a book report out of me. And, if anything you might have given me reason to jump to finish my book.

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Post-Whole30: Paleo 80/20

It’s been over a week since I ended my three-month Whole30 journey. I was hoping to jump right into the next stage, but I put that on pause while I was fighting a cold. It seemed a bit foolish to start it 100% when I was sucking on Gatorade, cough drops and chicken soup. Not really what I was planning with my post-Whole30 regime.

Don’t worry, I didn’t go completely off the wagon this past week. I obviously had a free day on my birthday — cake included. And, for the most part I stuck to my Whole30 regime this past week. I had to force my liquids with this stupid cold. Especially during Saturday’s run down Big Cottonwood Canyon. Something in retrospect I probably shouldn’t have done.

Meh.

Needless to say, I wasn’t following the Whole30 strict regime. I added some whole grains and lentils back in my diet along with trace amounts of cheese. And, I did have a post-run Slurpee on Saturday. All of these are BIG no nos for the Whole30 program. But, I kept away from the candy and most refined sugars — I just don’t want to go back there, at all.

But, in moving forward from the Whole30 regime — I am planning on following a lot of the same rules … with some adaptation. In looking over the Whole30 program and what’s worked for me in the past, I came up with a program that I am going to try for the next month. Again, I was going to start this August 16th, but due to my cold I decided to start when I was at least 85% better.

Which today seems like a good day to start. Actually, any day is a good day — except for Mondays. I don’t start diets on Monday. It’s too cliche. I didn’t start my fitness journey on a Monday — it was actually a Thursday. So why wait, right? But, that’s a post for another day.

So the plan for the next month is fairly simple. I’m sticking to the Whole30 diet with a 80/20 mentality. While working on the diet plans — I called the diet Whole24/6, but really it’s just following an 80/20 paleo diet — if you want to get technical. So, I guess we’ll call this the Paleo 80/20 diet?

Regardless of what you call it, here are the basic rules …

1) Follow the basic rules Whole30 for 80% of my meals throughout the week (this breaks down to 32 meals throughout one week).
2) Get eight “exception meals” throughout the week (that’s 20% of my weekly meals)
3) Refrain from gluten and dairy throughout the program — including exception meals (during Whole30 I discovered these are triggers to my thyroid).
4) Run three times a week.
5) Do weight-training 2-3 times a week.
6) Weigh-in every 30 days.

The rules are fairly basic and straightforward. And, that’s by design. That’s one thing about the Whole30 that I loved and appreciated. It’s not easy, but it’s simple to follow.

The only “complicated” feature of my program is the “exception meal.” And, it’s something that I’ve been grappling with for the past few weeks. Mainly, what constitutes an “exception meal” and how do you regulate that?

So I came up with with a fairly simple point system. Each week (beginning on Monday) I am given eight points, which represent the right free meals I get each week. I get to use these points however I choose throughout the week.

Now each point equals one exception to the Whole30 program. Meaning — anything on that no eat list is one exception. So this would be dairy, cheese, gluten, bread, pasta, smoothies, beans, processed food, refined sugar, added sugar, honey, sweetener, etc., etc., etc. You know the rules.

So this means — if I want something that has beans in it … that’s one point. If I want to add cheese to that dish that’s another exception point. So that meal constitutes two exception points. Now, this doesn’t mean I can eat as many beans or cheese in that dish as I want. Each exception point is ONE serving that exception. So if I want more cheese — that’s another exception point I would have to use.

Now, if I want to use those exception points daily I could do that or I could save it up for a bigger meal during the week. But, it will take planning. If I want nachos — I gotta plan for that. Especially if that means I sacrifice exception meals during the week. The decision is up to me.

See how the exception points are somewhat complicated — yet easy?

The goal with the exception points is to keep me honest, accountable and cognisant with what I am eating. As much as I loved and succeeded with Whole30, I don’t feel like it’s a long term solution. There has to be variance, there has to be wiggle room.

I’ve read a number of studies and reports that show an 80/20 approach to dieting and health makes for better long term success. And, from my experience I agree. This system I believe will give me that approach with great accountability. I respond well these approaches to my health.

This is for everyone? Of course not. Does it make a paleo based diet easier? I would hope so. I see a lot of value in following a paleo based diet. You can’t beat real food. As delicious as a big ‘ol fatty burger with fries is, nothing beats following a habitual diet of real food. Not only do you appreciate those burger and fries more, but often than not — you really don’t crave them as much either.

I can’t tell you how much I love my daily doses of fresh fruit — bananas, grapes and apples — along with veggie-filled omelets or salads. That’s the food I crave. I am not looking to replace those with this system. But, at the same time, I want to be able to enjoy the occasional Slurpee without feeling like I’ve busted the diet to kingdom come either.

There’s a balance to all of this and I am excited to see how my body reacts to this all. I guess you could say I am my own guinea pig to this program? No better person to do that than myself, right?

So here goes nothing!

NOTE: I will continue to check in every Friday of my progress. But, I won’t be weighing in next until September 23rd (30 days from now). We’ll see how this goes!


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One perk of working at the University of Utah is that they have a number of professional development and fitness classes that they offer for fairly cheap. I’ve been working here full-time now for four years and, sadly, haven’t taken advantage of any of these classes — until now.

With the start of the semester this week, I decided to change that. Since it’s been hard for me to get to my gym before or after work (last class is at 6pm) because of the bus schedule, I decided to workout here on campus. Well, I should say — I signed up for a class here on campus.

I enrolled in a strength training class that goes from 5:25pm to 6:30pm on Monday and Wednesday nights. Which gives me enough time to catch the last bus of the day at 7pm. Not a bad deal.

I had a couple of options for classes, but I chose to go with strength training, mainly because — that’s probably my biggest need fitness wise right now. I’ve been doing circuit training with lighter weights, but I need to lift heavier. My body not only needs it, but it craves it. My arms are a bit squishy and rival those of half of my ward’s Relief Society. Yeah, I went there.

Anyways — the class starts tonight and runs until the first week of December. Depending on how this all goes I want to continue to do this, because each fitness class is only $50 a semester. Not bad at all.

So as of right now my workout schedule for the week looks something like this …

MON. — Strength Training
TUES. — AM Circuit Training / PM Tempo/Recovery Run
WED. — Strength Training
THURS. — AM Circuit Training / PM Tempo Run
FRI. — Rest Day
SAT. — Long Run: Training or Race

Not a bad schedule. I am excited to see the results each month and during on the last day of class. Suns out, guns out — right?


REMAINING 2016 RACES

129 - Run Elevated Half Marathon 130 - Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon 131 - huntsville marathon 132 - st george marathon 133 - park city red rock relay 134 - pony express trail 50 135 - haunted half provo 136- snow canyon half marathon 137 - thankful 13 138 - resolution run


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