Oh man. Talk about a tale of different runs. This was the best of races and this was the worst of races for me. Let’s get one thing clear — I love this race. I love Little Cottonwood Canyon. I am pretty sure I’ve repeated that numerous times before.
But, it bears repeating — I love this race and Little Cottonwood Canyon.
I just wish that Saturday’s race reciprocated some of that love. It turned out not what I was expecting. But, at the same time, I guess it was somewhat expected.
Going into the race I had two goals — get out of the canyon by 8:15am (that was the cutoff time for the 6:30am gun time) and get a sub-three time. I felt fairly confident in those two goals. I won’t lie, the cutoff time worried me — because, well, every cutoff worries me. But, that’s a post for another day.
But, I figured if I could get that first goal I could get that second goal. It’s only 8 miles to the mouth of the canyon and they’re fast steep miles — about a 3200 foot drop. Just in those 8 miles! Plus, miles 9 and 10 aren’t bad — it’s just 10 to 11 that always kills me, because of the short — yet steep hill climb.
I felt confident. Especially since I have running much stronger lately. That includes my ankle and energy levels.
But, the other variable in all of this has been my diet change. As is well noted in previous posts I started a keto diet on Wednesday. This is a high fat/low carb diet. Like no more than 25 grams of net carbs a day. A pretty drastic change in my eating habits.
Leading up to race day I was trying to figure out how to fuel myself. Should I bring some carbs with me on the race? A half banana? Some applesauce packets? A dozen chocolate donuts?
I’m so new to the diet and the whole mentality that I’ve just been reading up on it the past couple weeks, but even more so this past half week. I want to do it right and I want to see the results I desire. I’m also the type that hates to make exceptions to clear cut rules. If I am going to do it, I’m going to do it right.
But, I was legitimately worried about my fueling during this race, because I would be on just my fourth day of keto and most people adapt within a couple weeks to a month. The night before I thought about “carb-loading” with a banana or some fruit. But, I resisted it. I had read about protein loading so I just decided to cook a pork omelet with some avocado and it wasn’t bad.
So I decided to load up on turkey & cheese, a couple hardboiled eggs and some Powerade Zero (for the electrolytes). I had no idea if that was going to be too much or too little? It was satisfying and when the gun sounded I felt good.
But, that didn’t last that long.
About a mile into the race I just started feeling a bit funky. I am sure it was the eggs. It was a familiar feeling. It passed and I was okay. But, this kind of made me worry for the rest of the race.
I focused on my running and pace — and went with what felt good. I did the first three miles in about 30-31 minutes. I found a good pace and just went with it. I walked the aid stations and ran the tangents.
I made the decision at the first aid station to take a couple sips of the Powerade, but load up on the water. That worked for the most part. But, I needed more. I knew I was going to tank without something more in my system. This got me worried.
But, I just focused on my run and to just get myself out of the canyon by 8:15am. That was my first priority — even though my fueling should have been. But, I felt that if I got out of the canyon I’d be fine because I was planning on slowing down my pace.
I got out of the canyon with about 5 minutes to spare. So, I slowed down my pace and prepared myself for Miles 9 and 10 that lead to the steep up hill climb. They were pretty uneventful miles, except the hill — which is always a beast.
And, then all hell broke loose.
Okay, that was a bit too dramatic, but I did completely unravel. I hit the wall. I bonked. I crashed. I Keto Krashed.
And, I will completely blame the switch to my diet on the crash. I just wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t ready to be running a half marathon like this just days after my switch to this diet.
I did learn MANY great things about how to better prepare and fuel myself for long runs — and, I’ll post about those later in the week. Because, there’s a lot that I learned not just from Googling, but from just asking and talking to friends. Which I’m appreciative of, because this has a big change for me.
Anyways — as I approached the Mile 11 aid station I just felt zapped. There was a nurse that met me a few hundred yards from the aid station checking on me. I think she did this with everyone in the back, but it wasn’t difficult to see that I hit a wall and was dragging.
I must of looked pretty bad to her, because she asked my name and city — and then if this was my first half marathon. I half chuckled and said, “no, I’ve done a few — I’m doing ok, just a hard day.” She then pointed me to the aid station, cold orange slices and water.
She was a really nice lady — and I didn’t mind her thinking this was my first race. In fact, during a race I don’t really like to bring it up. Especially if it’s somebody that doesn’t know me. My accomplishment of 157 races is impressive, but I don’t want that number to define me. There’s so much more to my running journey than the number.
But, that’s a post for another day.
When I got to the Mile 11 aid station I took drank a full cup of Gatorade and two cups of water. I knew I needed hydration and electrolytes. I could feel that. I then took one of the cold orange slices and devoured it. I knew it wasn’t the most keto thing to eat. But, at that moment it’s what I needed. And, it wasn’t like I downed a donut or other highly processed food — it was an orange.
Plus, I knew my body would burn it off fairly quickly. I just needed some kind of fuel. The orange did the trick.
Well for about a half mile or so.
I pushed myself where I could and felt like I could — but, I slowed down to somewhere between a walk and a jog. I just had no energy. And, the last two miles just dragged. Bad.
I got to the last aid station which was about a mile from the finish line. After drinking some more fluids I set out and just tried to focus on my music and forget about how I felt. I just wanted to be done.
I was greeted by Rachel Moody — about a half mile or so from the finish — she came back out to run me in. We were then greeted by Julianna Fulton a short distance from that. It was the boost I needed. I just wanted to be done.
I knew I was probably not going to get my sub-three — which I didn’t — but, I was just happy to be done. I knew a lot of effort went into the race. And, if I hadn’t of bonked I know I would have crushed my year best time for the half distance.
But, I finished in 3:03 — far from that goal. This was a course I ran in 2:31 last year — and in 2:10 back in 2013. I tried not to dwell on that, because what I am doing now with my new diet and everything is working toward getting to similar race times. If not faster. I know I have it in me.
I didn’t have much time to dwell on all of that. As soon as I crossed the finish line I was greeted by Robert Merriman with a big old hug. He didn’t mind my awkward sweatiness. It was so great seeing him out cheering us runners in. You could tell he’s itching to getting back out there.
Moments and experiences like that really help me keep things in perspective. I’m grateful that I am given those moments. Otherwise my running would have turned into a miserable experience for me years ago. It’s about how fast we get there, but where we go and who comes along with us. But, like most things in this recap — that’s a post for another day.
I’ve got a lot things to figure out this week before running the Nebo Half on Saturday. Mainly with fueling. I need to figure out a better way to fuel with electrolytes and how many carbs I want to consume before and during the race. So many things to figure out … but, I’m not too worried. I have a great group of friends that I’ve been tapping into for advice.
This race will be remembered for the best and worst of moments. Those first 10-11 miles were great, while those last two — pure hell. But, here’s to the future and learning from those two experiences. You don’t build upon anything that’s effortless and easy — and that thought gives me hope.
MY NEXT FIVE RACES
RACE #157: Run Elevated Half Marathon, August 19, 2017 (3:03:58) Tough, tough, tough race. It was the tale of two races, really. With my switch to a keto diet this past week, I didn’t know what to expect with my races. I didn’t want to crash, but, well I did. I totaled Keto Krashed at Mile 11. I smashed the first 10 miles, but after running (well walking) up the Hill Elevated I was completely done. No energy and I knew I was off. Drank some Gatorade and ate a quarter orange at the Mile 11 aid station. But, I was done. It took me about a half hour to do the last couple of miles. It killed my time and goal to sub-three. But, I’m fine with it, because I needed a first race with the Keto Diet under my belt. This experience is rather common for endurance athletes. I’ve learned a few things about my body and how I need to fuel it for future races. I’ll get this nailed down. Redemption will be mine next year! #race157 #runelevatedhalf #running @josherwalla @ketoshua @joshruns180
Running Miles — 6.5 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 25.17 miles
TOTAL MILES — 44.77 miles
Races This Week — Run Elevated Half.
August 2017 Miles
Running Miles — 33.0 miles
Race Miles — 26.9 miles
Walking Miles — 61.37 miles
TOTAL MILES — 107.77 miles
Races in August — (3) Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half and Nebo Half
Running Miles — 344.05 miles
Race Miles — 309.32 miles
Walking Miles — 841.52 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1494.89 miles
Races done in 2017 — (21) New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon, Drop13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah, AF Canyon Race Against Cancer, The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days Half, DesNews Half, Elephant Rock Trail Half, and Run Elevated Half.