Category: Faith

Running BIG for Robert

This past week has been a tough one for me. I didn’t get in nearly enough miles, mainly because of illness among a few other things. But, I knew no matter how I felt I was going to do some miles on Saturday in honor of my friend Robert Merriman who’s battling brain cancer.

It’s been an emotional couple of weeks for the running community here in Utah that know and love Robert. He’s such a staple here on the road or trail. He’s a friend to all.

I met Robert first back in 2012 while running the Farmington Days Half Marathon. Our conversation was brief, but I remember him introducing himself and mentioned that he read my blog. We saw each other at a number of other races over the rest of the year and eventually connected over Facebook.

You could say that after that — the rest was history. Over the next couple of years we were a part of a very close-knit group of runners. We all ran together, no matter the pace. Many times Robert would run ahead to take pictures of the group — or at times — if he wasn’t able to run with us, he’d still show up at some point of the run to take pictures of us.

I’ve grown to really respect Robert and look up to him in many aspect. His kindness toward others is second to none. He is one of the biggest reasons why I am training for my first 100 miler next February. Seeing Robert train and work toward gave me the hope and desire to try it too.

So when he was diagnosed with the cancer it was devastating — not just to me, but to our little group and the running community by and large. It’s been amazing seeing the community rally around him and support him and his family. Something we know he would do for any of us.

The weekend of his diagnosis and surgery it was awesome seeing so many runners wearing grey with red Canadian maple leafs at the Handcart Days and Deseret News Half Marathons. It continued with the Timp Half and the many other races that weekend as well. There were so many maple leafs worn during the Timp Half that many runners were asking why there were so many Canadians at the race.

That should tell you how much this community really rallied around Robert.

So, this weekend’s group run brought out the grey and maple leafs once again as we flooded Big Cottonwood. There was another group running the canyon as well, so there was a lot of crossover, but lots of grey either way. It was pretty cool.

I wanted to run anywhere between 15-20 miles, but with my health still questionable — I deciding between more like 10-15 miles. I am not where I want to be with my fitness right now, but I’m getting there. Especially with my ankle doing much, much better. I am at the point right now I need to start looking at alternatives to a couple of my marathons if I feel like I can’t do them.

But, that’s a post for another day.

Anyways, I decided 10 miles was a good run for me — which I decided basically right as the car passed 10.0 on the pedometer. So, I hopped out of the car that was taking everyone else up further in the canyon and made my descent.

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When I run, I usually don’t go for pace — I go by feel. I’m very much a zen runner. Honestly, it’s been the only way I’ve been able to get through my injury and slowing pace. If I am going to run, I’m going for a fun time. If I am too worried about my pace — I tend to not have fun and feel like crap post run.

So, I just focus on feel. I focus on pushing myself just beyond comfort. And, as long I focus on that I’ll get faster and where I want to be. Does this mean I’ll never focus on pace again? No. It’s just my goals right now don’t need it and mentally it screws with me. I’ll get there again. But, for now — it’s all about effort.

Anyways, the run went well. I kept my effort just beyond that comfort. I focused on my form, especially on my right foot. My new shoes really help keep my over pronation honest, but I still need to mentally focus on it so I don’t lazily undo it.

My ankle was a little sore by mile 7-8, but nothing like it has in the past. Most of the soreness was actually from lateral movement down the canyon, which I expected. And, compared to my last run down Big Cottonwood I felt much better. Thank goodness.

The run was gorgeous and I just focused on what I needed to while jamming out to my music. It was perfect. There were so many runners in the canyon that it really felt like a race. It was neat. There were at least three fairly large groups there. And, apparently some runners got stopped by others asking if there was a race.

It was the perfect morning for a run.

The last mile or so of my run I was able to run with my friend Lizz, who started three miles up the canyon and then walked down and then back up and down a couple times before running into me again. She did over 7-8 miles on a not very easy course. But, we haven’t had an opportunity to run much together so it I was happy to finish my run with her.

After being joined by Ruthie for the last bit of the run we all finished back at the Park n’ Ride and after a few pictures we left and parted for the rest of the day. As I mentioned above, it was the perfect morning for a run. And, a perfect day to run and honor our friend Robert.

The good news of this all is that he was sent home and is recovering really well. He should be a few weeks from being able to drive and do some light running (non-runners like to call it jogging). The fact that he’s been in amazing health has helped him a lot. And, I couldn’t be any happier for him and his family … he’s a fighter.

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Next week on August 17th — Robert’s Birthday — Costa Vida is holding a benefit night for Robert. As of right now, the Draper, American Fork and Payson stores will donate 20% of each order from 5pm to close to Robert’s family. There’s been a big interest from runners in other parts of Utah that they’re working on getting other stores involved in the benefit night.

But, if you would like to help Robert and his family while also enjoying an awesome meal from Costa Vida you can get more details about the night here. As I mentioned more stores will hopefully be added soon — and those will be posted there.

Anyways, we love you Robert! We’re praying for you! We’re running for you!


July 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 38.6 miles
Race Miles — 39.3 miles
Walking Miles — 116.38 miles
TOTAL MILES — 194.28 miles
Races in July — (3) The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days & DesNews Half.

August 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 13.5 miles
Race Miles — 0.0 miles
Walking Miles — 15.66 miles
TOTAL MILES — 29.16 miles
Races in August — (3) Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half and Nebo Half 

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 324.55 miles
Race Miles — 282.42 miles
Walking Miles — 795.81 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1402.78 miles
Races done in 2017 — (19) 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 and DesNews Half.


I kinda want to know what constitutes EXCESSIVE speed?

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Shopping for the morning after the apocalypse.

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He looks as beautiful as Stevie Wonder plays, and plays as well as Stevie Wonder sees.

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I must be in Utah County.

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RACE #155: Deseret News Half Marathon

After racing on Saturday at the Handcart Days Half Marathon, I wasn’t sure what to expect on Monday for this race. Especially since I haven’t done much back to back long runs — outside of the Bear Lake Trifecta.

Plus, with my ankle lately, I just haven’t had many feel good successful runs. It’s been frustrating because about 6-7 miles into a run my ankle starts screaming. I’ve been going to Physical Therapy and doing daily exercises/stretches that have been helping some, but the biggest thing my doctor suggested was new runners. Specifically ones for overpronation.

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Now, I’m not going to get into all of that, but basically — I’m an overpronator which was not only the likely cause of the sprain, but why it wasn’t healing properly as well. Meaning, the overpronation didn’t give my ankle the time or structure it needed to heal. Truly a vicious cycle.

On Saturday after my race I bought some new runners, the Saucony Omni 15 to be specific. I debated whether or not I should break them out for this race, but after about two minutes I threw caution to the wind and decided to lace them up.

And, boy, was I glad I did!

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Ironically, the race started in the canyon (and about 100 yards down the road) where I first sprained the ankle in April. I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t on my mind. My two goals for the race were to sub-three and not sprain my ankle. I love Emigration Canyon, but it’s road condition isn’t the best — so it’s a real concern.

After hanging out for about an hour at the starting line the race started at 6am. As soon as I went out the chute I felt the heaviness of my legs. From past experiences I knew the first three miles were going to be spent basically loosening up — so I didn’t push TOO hard, especially know I’d need my energy for that later.

Once I was loosened up, I was surprised how well I felt. But, more than that — how well my ankle felt. I still felt it’s tenderness, but it wasn’t screaming at me. I knew the test would be in a few more miles, especially when I got down to the home stretch. But, I felt very optimistic with how I was feeling.

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With the ankle feeling rather neutral, I wanted to push myself a bit and between miles 5-8 I kept pushing myself. The ankle was holding up, especially after miles 6-7 where it usually starts cursing at me. So, I kept pushing.

I probably pushed a bit too hard, especially coming off a race on Saturday. But, I also haven’t been speed training much with the injury so my fitness level wasn’t where I’d like it to normally be. The only way to get back there is by … pushing and challenging yourself, so that’s what I did.

Once I got out of the canyon I was still feeling really good. This just encouraged me even more to keep going. It also helped seeing a lot of familiar friendly faces at the aid stations and on the course. It felt like a party.

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I knew the last five miles were going to be tough, especially around Mile 9 on 1300 East. It’s the slightest of hills, but after running Emigration Canyon and Foothill Blvd. it feels like a freaking mountain. Especially when you pass the 7 Eleven there on 13th. It was at this point that I wished I brought my monies for a Slurpee.

Bad planning on my part.

But, the last four miles were much better than I expected. It helped that I knew what to expect toward the finish line, but I was most encouraged by how my ankle felt. It felt GOOD. Not great, but good! I felt the improvement and might have made somewhat emotional around Mile 10. I will neither confirm nor deny that.

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But, the last three miles were good. They’re the fun miles of this race, that’s when you starting running toward the parade route. I smiled at the Mile 10 aid station that was staffed by a bunch of LDS missionaries. You want to talk about a happy bunch of volunteers.

After turning onto the parade route I turned off my music and just listened to the crowd. I love doing this. I heard my name yelled out a couple of times, but a lot of random strangers just cheering me on. I loved it.

Once I approached the finish line I noticed I got that sub-three hour time — 2:52:36 to be exact. But, before I could celebrate the accomplishment I was greeted by Wan who not only put my medal around my neck gave me one of his trademark hugs. Of all the people I could ask to hand me my medal — I couldn’t have asked for anyone more perfect than Wan.

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After gathering myself I just crashed with a couple water bottles in tow and just socialized for a while. By this time my body was feeling it. Luckily, not my ankle. Just my quads and everything else that didn’t want me running 48 hours after the last half.

But, after shuttling it back to the buses with Andrea and Dith, I made the slow drive home — with a detour to the 7 Eleven of course. I was dead, but at the same time I felt such a great sense of satisfaction for meeting my goal. Not to mention how grateful I felt that my ankle felt so great.

It’s a feeling that’s been a long time waiting.

And, I’ll take it.


MY NEXT THREE RACES


July 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 31.1 miles
Race Miles — 39.3 miles
Walking Miles — 85.63 miles
TOTAL MILES — 156.03 miles
Races in July — The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days & DesNews Half.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 303.55 miles
Race Miles — 282.42 miles
Walking Miles — 749.4 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1335.37 miles
Races done in 2017 — 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 and The Hobbler Half.


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RACE #154: Bountiful Handcart Days Half Marathon

This race means a lot to me. Well, the whole Handcart Days festival means a lot to me. Growing up our family was heavily involved when my Dad served as the Chairman for the event. That included coordinating the parade, park festivities, entertainment and fireworks with a committee of local volunteers.

I spent a lot of time at the Bountiful Park lugging food to the concession stands, setting up VIP parade booths and whatever else was required. Sometimes I was even forced to watch the parade — which if anyone knows me, knows I absolutely HATE parades. But, that’s a post for another day.

In the seven years my Dad was involved with the festival, we never had a race — not even a 5K. But, in the 10 years after my Dad was released from the chairmanship one was added in conjunction with the South Davis Rec Center. So when I decided to run my first half marathon back in 2011 — it just seemed fitting.

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I run the race twice since that hot July 2011 day. It was my 100th race back in 2015 where friend Jim Gastelum arranged a 100 banana salute at the finish line and then I ran it again last year to celebrate my 5th year anniversary of my first half marathon. This race has become a race of milestones for me of sorts.

When I lined up this year for the race, I wasn’t really celebrating a certain milestone. Unless there’s significance for a 6th anniversary or 154th race that I am unaware of? I was running to run. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking of those milestones and the plan to run this again next year for my 180th and final race in my 180 goal.

But, my mind was on other things. The day prior I got word that a good friend of mine — not just a running friend — was diagnosed with brain cancer. Robert Merriman has been a good friend for some four years or so now. He is truly one of the greatest men you’d ever met. Not a mean bone in his body, yet one of the best senses of humor.

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This news quickly spread throughout the running community and left many of us shocked. Robert had friends throughout the community, because of the nature of man he is. He’s always encouraging, always giving and always cheering others on.

Having this news really made this run one of reflection for me. Not just on Robert, but about other friends and family in my life who’ve battled cancer. It was this time two years ago we found out about Meridith’s breast cancer. My Mom’s own cancer journey was on my mind, even though that was over five years ago. All that emotion was very much on my mind.

But, my heart was also reflective on how through all of that — running was there. Running is a mental, spiritual and physical therapy for me in these moments. I remember when I got the news of my mother’s diagnosis I went out for a run that day to help clear my mind and find peace.

It’s almost become a natural reaction for me to run when life gets tough, confusing, frustrating or difficult. Not to run away from it all. But, to run with my thoughts, and often a prayer in my heart, to center myself and find strength to tackle whatever is in front of me.

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So, toeing up to that starting line on Saturday morning was to find that center balance.

Like the previous couple years I decided to take the early start at 5:30am. I have no reason to do it other than I want to get done faster and spend less time out in the heat of the day. I kind of wish all summer races had a 5:30am option. It’s light enough that I know where I am going … so why not?

A handful of us started early and I got about three or so miles into the race before the leading runners passed me. I thought that wasn’t bad, especially since I wasn’t planning on pushing myself at all during this race. That’s what happens when you have a race on Monday, a bum ankle and a flat course. I was Clydesdaling it.

Around mile three I started getting Tummy Gremlins and knew I needed a Honey Bucket soon. I found one just off the Legacy Parkway Trail, but when I approached it was deadlocked. DEADLOCKED?! Who does that?

I didn’t have much time to ponder about that so I just moved forward in hopes that the next aid station would have one. I won’t lie, it was the longest two miles of my life. I’ve run some painful miles in the past — but, when the Tummy Gremlins attack, they mean business.

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Finally, when I turned a corner to see the Mile 5 aid station I saw the most glorious Honey Bucket. When I limped toward it I was elated it wasn’t deadlocked or occupied. I made it right in the nick of time.

I am not sure why I included this story, but it was pretty much the highlight of the first half of the race. And, luckily — well, thankfully — the second half was much, much, much better.

Just shortly after my near disaster, I ran into Merri and Glen, a brother and sister that were running in memory of Glen’s son Benjamin who passed away recently. Merri reads this blog and introduced herself. After yo-yo’ing for a couple of miles we met up again at the Mile 7 aid station and ran together the rest of the way.

Talking with Merri and Glen about Glen’s son Benjamin was what I needed. Already with a reflective heart — I just listened to Glen talk about how Benjamin lived with one of the biggest hearts — toward humanity and animals. I listened to his stories of Benjamin’s musical talents and how he recently drove to Southern Utah to adopt a dog slated to be put down.

I was grateful for this moment.

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My heart kept wandering toward those I’ve lost in the past few years — both friends and family. I thought a lot about my Grandma and Aunt Diane — two of my biggest influences as both a kid and adult. I thought about their big hearts, I thought about the small unsaid acts of kindness they shared with others and how proud they were of the changes I was making in my life.

Loss is hard, especially when you lose someone so close to your heart. And, I couldn’t help but think throughout this run how running helped mend that my heart. It was a very unexpected spiritual experience for me. I felt honored to be able to share that moment with Merri and Glen.

It was a completely uplifting run for me.

After we crossed the finish line, we took a picture together and parted ways.

But, I couldn’t stop thinking about this run throughout the day. I couldn’t stop feeling a deep sense of gratitude for having running in my life. Not just for affording me to be a part of this powerful experience, but that it’s helped me through many difficult times in my life.

Life is a beautiful thing. And, running has helped enhance that for me — in times of sorrow, pain and joy. And, for that I’ll always thank God for the gift of running.


MY NEXT THREE RACES


He has my heart … and banana.

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Best duet I’ve heard since Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s “Drunk in Love”

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Got my biannual thyroid check this past week. I knew something was up with my energy levels and … yup … the thyroid was off. So my doctor switched me to a lower dose of Levothyroxine. No more Armour. I’m feeling a difference, which is good, but we’ll start seeing the bigger effects in the next couple of months (hopefully). I’m just hoping my energy levels are better and the new meds help make losing weight easier. It should. I’d really like to lose 30lbs before November, but we’ll see. If that doesn’t happen at least a good 30-35 before my 100 miler in February. Goals, goals, goals. It’s been hard making weight loss goals with Hashimoto’s, because the thyroid is so fickle. I just want consistency. And, I’m hopeful I’m on the right track. ———————————————————— #fight4phat #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #levothyroxine #thyroidmedication #hypothyroidism #hypothyroidismweightloss #goals #healthgoals #thyroidproblems ———————————————————— @fight4phat @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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You better believe that if I’m going to be sitting in the dentist’s chair for most of the morning I’m going to get in a longer-ish run beforehand. Planned on a quick two mile run, but after realizing I had enough time for a longer run, I doubled it up and did four miles. Since I have two half marathons this weekend I didn’t want to do anything pushed, especially with my ankle so I just focused on my gait mechanics and enjoyed the warm morning run. Winning. ———————————————————— #fight4phat #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #utahrunningclub #morningrun #4milerun #fartlek #runutah ———————————————————— @fight4phat @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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Are we sure this is a war over monkeys and not drugs?

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Lest we ever forget.

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Sunsets like tonight could turn the manliest of men into a poet.

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RACE #153: The Hobbler Half

Some race reports are easier to write than others. I won’t lie, this is one of those race reports that isn’t easy to write. I feel like if I wrote — I came, I ran, I finished — I’d be happy with that report. Especially since I swept the course. But, of course, there is much more to my race than just the basic facts.

This was the second time running the Hobbler Half — well — more accurately swept. Two years ago I swept the course solo on a day that I also ran a nighttime trail race. It was a loooooooooong day of running for me that day.

But, I enjoy this race. It’s a pretty canyon. It’s one that doesn’t get much attention here in Utah. It’s got a good golf course, but as far as running goes — it’s not your typical Utah canyon. Meaning — it’s not really down hill. Not like Big Cottonwood, Little Cottonwood, American Fork or Provo Canyons — to name a few. It’s a rather rolling hill canyon.

But, as I mentioned beautiful nonetheless.

After a couple hour “nap” — I’m horrible at getting to sleep when I need to — I carpooled down with Carla and Reese. We’ve carpooled a couple of times, which is convenient because we only live about a mile from each other. And, since Reese and I pretty much race all the races — it works out perfectly. Plus, if it’s a bussed canyon race, I get to miss the whole shuttle up the canyon — something I don’t mind.

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The canyon was actually a tad chilly, which I won’t lie — was nice. With the valley temperatures hovering around 100 degrees, I wasn’t going to complain. Especially, knowing it was going to get hotter than hell once we got out of that canyon.

Gun time was at 6:30am, which kind of surprised me being a mid-summer race, but since I was sweeping the course, Molly and I waited until the 600+ runners all started before crossing the starting line. I haven’t run with Molly before so I always enjoy these encapsulated moments being able to meet and talk over 13.1 or longer miles.

Playing yo-yo with the runners ahead of us, we carried on a fun and often deep conversation while walking the rolling hills and taking what downhill we could. All while giving the runners ahead of us some space. It was a great way to spend the run, especially considering when I swept it in 2015 I did it solo.

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Sweeping a course is much different than pacing a certain time. Sure, most times, the final pacers are on a certain pace. But, no one wants to see the sweeper early in a race, especially before miles 6-7. So, I’ve learned to keep my space unless they’re obviously struggling or around miles 10-13 when the race is wrapping up.

There’s kind of a science behind all of that. Because, you really don’t want to stress out the runners in the back. They’re rocking it and to see a sweeper sometimes gives them a sense of failure, which is the last thing I want to do.

Anyways, it wasn’t until mile 11 that Molly and I caught up to the nearest runner. You could tell he was struggling a bit, mainly because of the heat. But, he was plugging away like a champ.

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This was his second half marathon, after running Utah Valley last month, and he admitted that he accidentally signed up for this race — THINKING — it was the Hobble Creek Half Marathon (that happens in August). Even after signing up for the Hobble Creek Half, he still decided to do Hobbler.

We finished the last couple of miles with him as we mainly talked about hunting and fishing. Molly’s husband hunts so most of that conversation geared around them. But, I kind of fixated on his reasoning — to get in shape for hunting season. I just never heard of that reasoning before. But, I shouldn’t be too surprised living in Utah.

But, it’s a great illustration for the many reasons that bring us to the starting line of these races. We all run for different reasons. We run for the podium, we run for a PR, we run to do our best, we run for therapy, we run to get in shape, but ultimately — as well all should — we run for us. There’s real beauty in that.

Anyways, once we got done, I grabbed a couple of waters and down them pretty quick before heading over to Jorge’s to record an episode of The Runcast with the rest of the gang. Which was a lot of fun. I don’t want to spoil the episode, but it centers on guilty pleasure songs. One of my favorites so far.

But, looking forward, I have the Handcart Days Half Marathon coming up next weekend. It’s hard to believe that this time next year I will be done with my 180 (the goal is to finish my 180 at the Handcart Days Half in 2018). I am 27 races from that goal, so there will be a lot of running to do in the next year.

Still … lots of retrospection happens at this race and what it means to me. This was the starting of my journey and now that I am nearing the conclusion of my 180 — it will also be my last. I’m not a betting man, but I sure would place a bet on the fact that I might cry sometime during the race.

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But, anyways — lots of running to do. I am still healing nicely. I’ll get where I want to go, even if it takes me a bit longer than I usually take.

Which is fine. I’m just grateful to be doing what I love.

One step at a time.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 8.5 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 24.77 miles
TOTAL MILES — 46.37 miles
Race(s) this week — The Hobbler Half.

July 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 16.6 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 26.87 miles
TOTAL MILES — 56.57 miles
Races in July — The Hobbler Half, DesNews Half and Handcart Days Half.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 289.05 miles
Race Miles — 256.22 miles
Walking Miles — 690.64 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1235.91 miles
Races done in 2017 — 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 and The Hobbler Half.


So, I tried making paleo banana pancakes, but neither my skill nor patience was enough to save the attempt … soooooo … I ended up with a banana omelet instead. NOT GOING TO LIE, it was pretty good. I might be making this again soon. Talk about a happy little mistake. —————————————————— #fight4phat #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #paleo #diet #banana #eggs #strawberries #food #breakfast #bananapancakes #happyaccident —————————————————— @fight4phat @josherwalla @joshruns180 —————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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The moment your niece realizes you gave her a sandwich for her birthday. I only give things I hold close to my heart.

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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

Lessons we can all learn from ‘My 600lbs. Life’

This past week has been kind of tough for me. On Monday I went to the dentist for some dental work — and after a couple of hours of poking and numbing they couldn’t get my tooth numb. So they did some other work on me that didn’t require much numbing. After about three hours of being in the dentist’s chair as I got up — my back went out.

If you ever want to feel 36 — it’s moments like those that will make you feel like 36. This whole week I have being dealing with a wretched back. A week I was planning on upping my workouts and mileage in preparation for my 50 miler in a couple of weeks. It kinda felt like leaving the car dealership with a new pair of tires and driving over a nail.

Not fun. And, very deflating.

Will this derail my 50 miler? No. Will this derail my weekend run down Big Cottonwood Canyon? No.

Sadly, I’ve been here before. It’s that whole part of being 36 and with some rest, stretches and activity I know I’ll rebound and be back where I need/want to be.

So, this week I’ve focused on what I can do. Running hasn’t been an issue, especially non-treadmill miles — so I’ve dedicated a couple of my lunches to a few “slow” runs. The movement oddly helps the stiffness. I say oddly, because I have no idea the science behind why (remember, I’m a communications major?) it is the way it is.

It’s moments and mild setbacks like these that give me pause and perspective on my journey. I always seem to go back 10-15 years and think of what Fat Josh would do compared to Phat Josh of today. Would I throw in the towel and just give up? Honestly? Probably, yeah. Well, okay, yes he would.

But, when I compare the two Joshs — I really see the Josh that acts and lives and then the Josh that exists and is just “there.” I often wonder if I didn’t make the changes when I did, where I would be right now? I know I wouldn’t be a runner. But, I often wonder would I be in the same boat as many of the people on ‘My 600lbs. Life?’

I was on that road. I was over 400lbs. with no direction or goal on the horizon. I was just there. Addiction had ahold of me and I dealt with my anxieties, fears, depression and uncertainties in a very unhealthy way. Because more often than not I found comfort in food.

I don’t try to ponder much about that road anymore, because that’s not me. And, I believe not the person I was destined to be. But, I bring that up, because I do look at the similarities of my journey with many of the people on ‘My 600lb. Life.’ Not just in how they learned to medicate through food, but in their recovery, self-discovery and weight-loss.

This past week as I have been laid out a bit with my back, I’ve watched a few more episodes of the show — and I’ve noticed more so than anything this is a show much deeper than weight-loss. This is a show about life. And, there are many things in the show that we can learn no matter our weight, fitness level, ability or age in life.

A few themes that popped out to me are …


Find Your ‘Why?’

Each episode usually finds the why fairly easily and early. Some of the whys are as simple as — to be less dependent on spouses, partners, parents or children. You can usually tell if they found a why because when they do — success isn’t far behind. The why is what keeps them on track with the diet Dr. Nowzaradan gives them and what gets them active and moving more and more each day. Invariably if that ‘why’ or purpose isn’t found — those are the ones that take an extra month or two following the doctor’s diet.

‘Whys’ are north stars. No matter the size, purpose or reason of our journey or goal, if we don’t have that ‘why’ clearly stated and focused upon — then what’s the purpose of putting our effort into it?

So find that ‘why’ and hold onto it. And, don’t be afraid that it changes or evolves as you do. You’ll notice that happens a lot to many of the patients on the show. That why will change from a simple desire for dependency to something deeper and richer.

But, find that why.

Believe In Yourself

One of the saddest parts of the show for me is seeing many of these patients struggle with believing in themselves. I’ve been there. Heck, we’ve all been there to different degrees. But, many of these patients seemed to have just completely shut that off completely in their lives.

For whatever reason some patients will have a hard time believing that they can follow Dr. Nowzaradan’s diet — and that will show in their actions. Those are the ones that either gain weight or lose far less than what the doctor expected to lose.

Now flip that same scenario with a mentality of self belief and it’s a different story. Holding a belief that you can do something leads your actions to — well — act accordingly. And, the task gets easier. It makes the temptations of derailment and diversion less appealing, because you hold the belief that you can follow the course ahead.

It’s amazing how far you can go physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, financially, etc., etc., etc. by simply believing in yourself and your ability to do what you need to do. Even if you have to fake it to make it at first (which is a completely different post for another day).

Set Good Simple Goals For Yourself

If you want a good example of goal setting — watch ‘My 600lbs. Life.’ Seriously, I love Dr. Nowzaradan’s simple approach to goals. Based off his experience and knowledge he knows what kind of goals to set for the patients. You would think for many of these patients being 600lbs or more would require wildly specific goals and expectations.

Nope.

His goals for his patients are rather simple. Stick to a 1200 calorie per day diet, get active and lose 30-50lbs (or whatever) within the next month. That’s about it. And, if the patients are true to those goals they’ll meet those goals in order to get their weight-loss surgery.

Watching the show has really made me reevaluate my goals. When I started my weight-loss journey some seven and a half years ago — I basically followed those simple goals for the first couple of months. I ended up losing between 30-40lbs. with those small changes.  Now, granted when you are 400 or 600lbs. it’s easier to get those kind of numbers — that’s not my point.

My point is how often do over complicate our goals? I fall into that trap often. I’ll freely admit. If I am not careful I will put unrealistic expectations on myself to hit certain goals, etc. And, the more complicated I make them — the less likely I’ll hit them.

That is one reason why I’ve had to teach myself (over and over again) to just keep it simple. Focus on what I can control and reasonable do and build on that — keeping the goals challenging, yet simple. Whatever the goal is — inside or outside of the gym — we do a disservice to ourselves with overly specific, unrealistic and complicated goals.

Surround Yourself With The Right People

I love how blunt Dr. Nowzaradan is with his patients. Especially return patients who didn’t hit their goals — or happened to gain weight. Invariably, he asks — who their enabler is. Especially if he knows they don’t drive or walk much. And, yeah, it’s usually a spouse, partner or loved one who’s buying the food.

I’m grateful that I had a good support system around me when I started my weight-loss journey. Besides having parents and family members eager to see me make changes, I found outside of my immediate family many who wanted to support me. Something, I didn’t expect — but look back with gratitude. I couldn’t have had success without the likes of my aunt, grandma, a number of close friends and my trainer. They were my ‘A’ team.

That’s why I feel sad for those patients who don’t have a support system. Not just like mine, but period. I know if I couldn’t have found the needed support within my family or close friends — I could find it by constructing it.

Now, I am not talking about a support system full of cheerleaders. But, a team. I wish the show delved a bit more into this subject because it’s really important for long-term success in weight-loss or any goal. The team should have cheerleaders, but also those who hold you accountable, those who are your emotional support, those who are your partner in crime, etc., etc., etc.

Sure many of these roles can be held by one person, but if you want success — meet those needs through others. You don’t have to go your journey alone. Your team doesn’t have to necessarily be your immediate family. Just find your team and build it, so they can help build you!

Long Term Success Doesn’t Come Overnight

One thing that interests me in every episodes is how many ‘trail months’ the patient has to do with Dr. Nowazaradan before they approved for surgery. I am not sure if the patients know they have to do a trail month before the surgery, but some get it — and some struggle with it. I’ve seen a few take 3-4 months to “get it.” But, I love how Dr. Nowazaradan acts in these situations — he is easy to praise and has no problem ‘getting real’ with his patient.

Being a viewer, it’s easy for us to judge these patients for not getting it the first time. And, honestly, I think shows like The Biggest Loser have helped shape that mentality for us. We want to see immediate results, we want to see big numbers right off the bat. And, while most patients do see big weight-loss numbers because of the surgery — immediate results and changes in behaviors are not reality.

But, like many of these patients we can learn from them to simply never give up. Take the licks. Roll with the punches. Be open to criticism. And, always have your ‘why’ in view to help you keep going when the ups becomes downs and the doubt creeps in (because they do).

It’s a process.

Have Patience In The Process

Just as I noted above — have patience and trust the process. Change — “real life changing” change takes time. Doesn’t matter what aspect of your life you want to change — it takes time. It takes being honest with yourself and those around you. It takes the ability to build a sound support system around. And, most importantly — it takes you to believe in, trust and expect the best — from you.


Now, I’m sure there are a lot more I could add. And, there are. But, the point I am trying to make is — big changes in life are tough. They’re not easy. They’re difficult. But, they’re doable. They’re achievable. They’re within reach.

You don’t have to be 600lbs or severly overweight to get a lot from this show. Just have an open mind and open heart. The lessons are there. Even if it teaches you compassion and sympathy — that’s a lesson the whole world could learn right about now.

What are your thoughts? Have you watched the series? What do you get out of the episodes?

Living with Hashimoto’s: The Next Phase

It’s hard to believe that we’re in March already. I’m thankful for that. I hate January. And, I’m not too fond of February either. The whole thing February has going for it is that it lingers around for only 28 days or so.

I just hate the winter months. I hate the winter blues. I hate the snow. So much hate. You’d almost think I’m one extra winter month away from joining the Dark Side. Thankfully not. December manages to warm my soul with Christmas.

Anyways, I’m plugging a long with my Hashimoto’s Disease.

Just a short recap of this journey — I was diagnosed back in late November, lived in denial of the diagnosis in December, came to terms with it in January by going gluten and dairy free and then went somewhat militant in February with the diet.

I did an elimination diet and hyper focused my food to a list of 33 things. For the most part I did really well with it. I won’t lie — I didn’t stick to it 100% during February. When I was in Las Vegas I ate foods that weren’t on my list — but, I was 90% gluten-free and dairy-free during the trip (there were a couple times when I ordered food that I forgot to be UBER specific about no dairy or gluten … luckily, I didn’t get too sick, though I felt it).

Anyways — I feel good about the progress I made this past month. It was tough eliminating many of the foods I love and enjoy — namely eggs and bananas. But, I stocked up on plenty of steak and sweet potatoes which I will always love.

Oh, and avocados.

Basically, there was still plenty of food to love and enjoy.

Now that my 33 days are over I have been reassessing my diet. I plan on adding back bananas and eggs slowly and less frequently. But, also being deliberate of when I eat them. Basically, I plan on focusing on eating bananas and most fruits around my workouts and runs to help give me a natural boost so I am not as dependent on caffeine or energy boosters (ie-5 Hour Energy, Preworkout, etc).

As you can see below I have made another list of 33 foods. I like this idea of 33 foods and focusing on them for the next 33 days. Because I know if I stick to those foods I’ll feel good, have the needed energy and stamina for my workouts and runs.

That’s the beauty of this list. If I defer from it — I feel it. That’s both a motivation and fear. A good fear though. Because, I want to feel 100%. I want to lose weight. I want to feel “normal” again.

And, I have felt a difference the past month. I had more energy during a lot of my long runs and races, especially during my ultra. I feel faster. I feel slimmer. And, I feel the difference in my clothes too. I love the feeling.

But, with the progress I’ve made, I have made a few changes I felt during my last month. Stuff, I am either eliminating or adding — because I want to see how my body reacts or acts with it back or in my diet.

For instance, I am swapping out the rice for brown rice. If I am going to eat rice I might as well get some more nutritional benefit from it, right? I am also adding Daiya — or vegan cheese — well, dairy-free cheese on the list. I need that on the list. Sure, it’s processed and I want to keep the food as non-processed as possible, But, I need some semblance to cheese.

Anyways — check out the list below.

In addition to the food list, I am also being more specific on my eating schedule. I’ve been reading a lot lately on intermittent fasting and I am adding that into my diet. No, it’s not an everyday thing, but it’s something I am planning on doing three times a week — Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Basically, I won’t eat or drink calories until 2pm those days. Water, yes. But, no food. This was something I tried doing last fall, but after my diagnosis I just kinda stopped doing it. But, I really like the idea and science behind — especially with how it is suppose to help rev up the metabolism.

There are a number of differing intermittent dieting methods and the one I will be doing is based off the Bulletproof Diet. But, unlike the diet, I am not doing it everyday. I am doing this for a couple of reasons — I hate jumping straight into a strict diet (because I hate the ‘all or nothing’ mentality) and I am planning on exercising in the mornings that I do eat before 2pm. I fear not giving myself enough calories on those days.

In 33 days if I feel better on my fast days — then maybe — MAYBE — I will look into doing more fast days during the week? But, we’ll see after I assess everything next month.

Oh, you will notice I do have one ‘FREE CHOICE’ on the 33 list. That’s basically one dairy and gluten-free food of my choice that I can have — regardless of whether it is on my list or not.

BUT

And, it’s a big but. It’s not something I can freely choose each day. It’s a once a week choice. So, this could be dairy-free sherbet, a Slurpee, a slice of gluten-free banana or whatever tickles my fancy. But, it’s one serving and once a week, that I will consume around my weekend races and long runs.

You might be throwing some shade at that choice and I get that. But, I need some variance. And, I do much better on diet and food plans when there is some kind of variance. Plus, I made up this diet regime — so I am kinda making the rules as we go here.

So, if you are going to judge me, please judge me more on my inability to properly match my shirts and pants. Because that is probably the biggest problem I have with my life at this very moment.

Anyways, here is the food list and my workout routine for the next 33 days …

(CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Anyways — if you have questions or suggestions — I am always open to them. This journey is still very much brand new to me and while there is a guideline on what works for people in my same shoes — everyone doesn’t fit in my shoes.

So a lot of this is trail and error, success and failure and everything in between.

Fun stuff.