Category: Inspiration

RACE #148: Drop13 Big Cottonwood Half Marathon

It’s no secret that I have an eternal crush on Big Cottonwood Canyon. I love this canyon. Ever since I was a child and my grandparents would take us up the canyon for a picnic to now as a runner — the beauty and majesty of the canyon leaves me awestruck. As a runner I jump on any opportunity to run this canyon I get — whether it’s a race or training run.

After I backed out of the Utah Valley Marathon a month or so ago, I decided to register for the Drop13 Half instead of simply downgrading to the half. This is a fun, fast course. And, unlike the Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon, 12 miles of the race are in the canyon compared to about 10 or so.

Not, that I don’t love Revel Big Cottonwood, it’s just — I love canyon miles. Being a bigger runner I love having gravity on my side. It makes it much, much more enjoyable.

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Going into the race I didn’t really have a set goal. Still dealing with my sprained ankle I didn’t know what to expect? I wanted to at least come in under three hours — which I felt was doable. I still have pain in the ankle, but it’s pretty much only regelated to when I move laterally than anything.

If I wasn’t dealing with the ankle rehab I was really hoping to push 2:30 — which is what I ran last year. It’s been humbling dealing with this ankle, because I do feel like I could push that time, but the ankle hinders that. I just have to remember to be patient with my recovery no matter now anxious I am to move forward.

Race day started early — as is usual with summer races. With a 6am gun time I up at 2am and out the door by 3am so I could get on a bus for the start line at 4:30am. So, so, so, so, so early. But, that’s the beast of summer running.

After meeting up with Tim and his wife — Boojah — we rode up the canyon together. After a quick pit stop to the Honey Buckets we still had just over an hour left until gun time. The trick now was staying warm until then. Which isn’t very easy up Big Cottonwood — anytime time of the year.

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While wandering around the starting line for a bit, I found a group of my friends huddled together in the Uhaul with the engine running and heat blasted to high. There wasn’t enough room for me in the cabin, but I was able to stick my face into the open window — which did the trick.

After take a quick group picture and after waiting for the majority of the crowd to cross the start line — we were off! Tim and I decided to stick together for most of run depending on how we both felt. With my ankle and his lack of miles of late — we didn’t really know what to expect? So we just we just ran together.

I felt good in the first few miles of the race. My ankle felt really good and I tried to focus on pushing myself as best as I could. It wasn’t until about mile 4-5 that I started to feel the ankle rather aggressively.

Most of this discomfort was brought on by the twists and turns in the course. Many of those turns acted much like a lateral move which aggravated the ankle. Luckily, it doesn’t cause extreme pain in my ankle, but it makes it uncomfortable enough that if I am not careful I can misalign everything about my gait and pace. Which can cause more pain and issues in the long run.

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At this point I had split with Tim at the last aid station so he could use a Honey Bucket. So I just centered on my ankle, gait and pace. I cranked up my music and just watched the terrain so I could avoid uneven grades to pain my ankle.

Basically, as the course wound down the canyon my pace became more of a fartlek than anything. Which I was fine with, but it was a bit frustrating because I very much just wanted a consistent pace. But, I just focused on doing my best and pushing myself where I could.

Around Mile 8-9 Tim caught back up with me, we kept a good paced fartlek. We ended up walking most of the switchback. Even walking the switchback was tough on my ankle. The elevation drop lends itself to runners than walkers, so my quads lurched forward while my ankle got a brunt of the impact.

It wasn’t fun.

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The last few miles were pretty non-descript and was easier for me to run. But, at this point of the race my ankle was hurting pretty bad — so any push I made to run faster was rather painful. So, I just tried to find a good pace that was at least faster than a walk.

Tim was hurting pretty good and started walking more, so with about a mile, mile and half out I ditched him. I couldn’t walk without my ankle hurting worse, so I had to keep going at my set pace. Plus, I just wanted to be done — aaaaaand — I felt like a sub-three time was still a reachable goal.

So I pressed forward like a hot mess.

At Mile 12 I got a second mind as we exited the canyon. And, I pushed myself, especially as I saw that I would be cutting the goal time close. I kept the walking to a minimum and only in areas where I felt I needed to slow down for the sake of my ankle. But, I felt like I had enough energy to make it.

Which, I did.

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I crossed the finish line in 2:56:08. Not my fastest time, but also not my slowest. And, given the circumstances with my ankle — I felt proud of myself. I could have easily taken it easy, especially those last couple miles. But, I didn’t. I kept pushing and it paid off. And, I met my goal.

Luckily, my ankle is feeling okay 24 hours after the race. Really the only pain I have is in my quads which is expected for a race like this one. That gives me hope for a faster recovery. I start physical therapy on the ankle next week so that will only help.

But, I have Race #148 done — and now I am focused on the Bear Lake Trifecta this week. Luckily, I am just doing the half marathon trifecta, but it will be a challenge for sure. Is it the smartest? Probably not. But, I won’t have any reservations backing out of any of the races if I feel like my ankle can’t take it.

And, if all goes according to plan I will also be hitting a milestone on Friday when I run my 150th race. It’s hard to believe this journey is just 30 races away from being completed. But, at the same time — I am excited to move forward onto some other goals in my running and life. More that I will share not much later.

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Anyways — I’ll be back for the Drop13 again next year. I’ve got some goals and unfinished business to deal with on this course. I want to redeem my time and hopefully meet a new PR! But, in the meantime I’ll keep my focus on strengthening my ankle, getting stronger, faster and slimmer.

But, right now the focus is on Bear Lake!

IT’S BEAR LAKE OR BUST, BABY!!!


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


Loitering at the Sev after the race.

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If there’s any question she’s my niece, this picture should settle it. 😻

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Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 12.2 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 24.14 miles
TOTAL MILES — 49.44 miles
Race(s) this week — Drop13 Half Marathon

June 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 21.7 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 32.81 miles
TOTAL MILES — 67.61 miles
Races in May — Drop 13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta, Bear Lake Trifecta, Bear Lake Trifecta, AF Canyon Race Against Cancer

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 248.95 miles
Race Miles — 190.72 miles
Walking Miles — 557.26 miles
TOTAL MILES — 996.93 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 and Drop13 Half Marathon.


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The Second Half Outlook for 2017

With the recent changes in my race schedule the past couple of months — DNFs, DNSs and deferrals — I’ve been thinking a lot of the rest of my race schedule in 2017. I’ve still got a lot of running to do. That’s why I’ve been (somewhat) okay with dropping and deferring some races as of late.

But, I’ve got four marathons and 15 half marathons left for the year. That’s 19 races — or 301.3 miles. But, that’s also all by design to help build me up for my 100 miler in February. Come November and December I’ll be running a lot of solo non-race miles in preparation for that.

So there’s a lot ahead of me still.

But, that hasn’t stopped me from looking and planning ahead. I feel good about my schedule so far — October is a tough month for me to run because of the Haunted Halfs. I am signed up for the Howloween Half, but depending where I am that weekend — I might not run it? And, if I am — I am also debating on running SoJo in the morning and/or the Pony Express 50 again.

But, we’ll see?

I just have a lot of variables going on with October.

My race schedule pretty much ends in November with the Mt. View Trail Half Marathon. I haven’t signed up for it — yet — because there’s a good chance I might sign up for the 50K again. We’ll see?

There are a number other races later in November, but I’ll be in Greece for half the month so that scratches a lot of races. And, I am not sure what kind of running I’ll be able to do while there? I’m hoping for hotels with a treadmill … at the very least.

But, there’s a chance I will add 1-2 more races in December. I really want to do Cory Reese’s Bakers Dozen Half in December. That might just be a tricky one to do this year, because of family’s birthdays — but, all in all, with what I have planned for the rest of the year — I feel good about.

It still puts me in a position to get my 180 in July of next year at the Handcart Days Half (where I started my journey in 2011) … so I feel good about that.

But, anyways, here’s the rest of my planned 2017 race schedule starting with this weekend’s race down Big Cottonwood …

Moving on from here …

In an ideal world this would be my Ogden Marathon race recap. Heck, in a even semi-optimistic world this would be my Ogden Half Marathon race recap. But, it’s not.

I could write a country song from everything that has seemed to go wrong with me the past month or so. Whether it was spraining my ankle, DNFing the Salt Flats 50K, DNSing the Tulip Festival Half, getting the flu, having a non-healing ankle, then dropping the Ogden Marathon, Utah Valley Marathon and Ragnar because of the ankle — no beuno.

No beuno at all.

My running the past two weeks has dropped quite significantly, because of the ankle. After running the Provo City Half, I knew it was more serious than I imagined (or hoped for) and something would probably have to be done more than me icing and medicating it. Do I think it’s broken? No. Do I think there’s a ligament tear? No? Maybe?

I really feel like it’s somewhere between a Grade II or III sprained ankle. I mean, I’m no foot doctor, but I know how to navigate WebMD with the best of them. Either way, I decided I really should go see an orthopedic doctor about it. Because maybe there’s something he can do to help me with it? So I have an appointment on Thursday to see an orthopedist.

We’ll see how it goes.

I can walk on it. It’s just constant running or any lateral movement aggravates it. Which could be a problem with my current training, but I’d rather adapt then step back completely from it if I can avoid it. I just signed up for a couple gym classes during lunch that I really want/need to take — a spinning class and express weight training class.

The spinning class will be the hardest one on my ankle. I learned on the first day that there’s no way I can stand and spin. So, I just crank up the resistance and peddle like a bat out of hell. It seemed to work. I was panting and near dead. I just don’t want to give that class up, because I love the intense cardio.

But, we’ll see what the doctor says.

I am not expecting surgery or a boot. I am expecting probably a soft cast at the most? And, I am pretty sure he’ll tell me to avoid too much running for a certain amount of time — which cramps my style for June. I already backed out of Ragnar and Utah Valley. But, I don’t want to give up the Bear Lake Trifecta, Drop 13 Half or AF Canyon Race Against Cancer. That’d kill me.

I am hoping he’ll let me run some of these — especially considering I am not going for any 8, 9 or 10 minute mile pace. But, that’s all hard to say until come Thursday after my appointment. I won’t lie, I’m somewhat impatient about it. It kills me not knowing what the next few months are going to look like.

I am not worried about the worst case scenario. But, I figure I need to figure out how to get myself back to 100% now than wait much later, because my goal isn’t necessarily my next race — it’s my 100 miler. I feel like I’ve stepped back a bit with this injury and past month, so I don’t want to go back any further.

I am going to run my 100 miler in February. I am. There are no other options. But, I got to get there. And, taking care of this now is just one of those steps in the needed direction.

Luckily, most of my races coming up are fairly easy to transfer to another runner or next year. I know I’m not hitting my new goal of hitting 180 by next July, but that’s okay, my original goal of 2021 is still well over pace. And, there are lessons I need to learn in all of this — most unseen right now.

But, the first lesson probably would have been — watch for potholes running down Emigration Canyon. That’s a good place to start.

I’ll get where I want to go. I have no doubt about that. It’ll just take a little improvisation. But, I’ll get there.


SUMMARYAs mentioned above — it’s been a tough couple of weeks since my last post. But, I am really trying to stay positive and focusing on other ways to stay active. I’ll be fine — even if I have to step back a bit for now.

May 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 17.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 73.69 miles
TOTAL MILES — 103.79 miles
Races in May — Provo City Half Marathon and Jordan River Half Marathon.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 222.25 miles
Race Miles — 164.52 miles
Walking Miles — 494.1 miles
TOTAL MILES — 880.87 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 and Provo City Half Marathon.


FROM GERMANY WITH LOVE

This past week a German film crew has been living and filming our family. Well, mostly, my brother and his family. But, the whole family has been involved with the project. The host travels the world experiencing different cultures and lifestyles for a week — and this week it was living the “prepper lifestyle” here in America.

So this past week we’ve shown them a microcosm of that lifestyle. We butchered chickens, made homemade bread, showed off our food storage, conducted earthquake and home invasion drills and shot guns — lots of guns. Most of them were shot on Saturday down in Holden.

It was a fun week.

It took a little getting used to to having cameras around you, especially when we were eating. My older brother is somewhat used to it, but to have the whole family behind the camera was kind of fun. And, after the week we made some great friends — from the host to the producer and camera crew. And, we all had a blast — especially on Saturday when we played with the BIG guns.

All these hours of film will be condensed into an hour long episode that will air on German TV in September. And, I am sure I will share a link to the episode. Here are a few pictures from our adventures this week …

My Mom’s teaching Maike how to make homemade bread. She’s a true pioneer woman.

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Bang, bang! We’re ready for some target practice!

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Not much more ‘Murican than guns n’ Yankees.

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Slo-motion fun. Boom boom pow!

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This might as well be the Hansen Family Christmas card.

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This picture is so America it hurts. 🇺🇸

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This guy is LOUD! Wowzers!

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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

A whole lotta ughs …

The past couple weeks have been tough. Heck, this past month has been tough on me. I’m not using it as an excuse. But, I’d sure like a break or two once in a while.

I’ve been trying to get myself into a groove with my running and fitness and it just hasn’t materialized the way I envisioned it. Granted, I did meet my sub-three time goal a couple weekends ago during the Emigration Canyon Half Marathon. But, that’s about the only success I feel like I’ve truly met.

I’ve been dealing with bad backs, sprained ankles and this past week — a root canal. An expected root canal. My tooth started hurting during my race last weekend and then by Monday morning it was throbbing in pain.

I couldn’t go to my regular dentist, because this was the same tooth that they couldn’t get numb. So they referred me to an endodontist so they could knock me out to do it. And, that wasn’t cheap. But, that’s a whole other story for another day.

I finally got my root canal yesterday — and it really just killed my week.

But, despite all the road blocks, I’ve been trying to keep on track, even if my runs are short and my workouts shorter. And, for the most part — it’s working. I’ve lost about 10lbs. this past month. A lot of that has to do with my diet. So, that’s progress.

I thought of mixing up my diet and routine again, but I think I am going to stick with what I planned this past month. One, because I wasn’t able to get into a good groove or it and, two, I think I can see bigger improvements with a better focus. I’d really like to lose about 30lbs. and I feel like this is a good road. Especially for my thyroid.

I’m going to get a good run in tonight before my race this weekend out in Magna. I’m hoping for a sub-three. But, I’m not sure if I want to push it TOO hard since I’ve got my 50K coming up in the next couple of weeks. But, honestly, I think I’ll be fine. I think the variables that will determine my result really will be my ankle and back.

The focus right now is all on my 50K on the 28th of this month. I am a bit worried about it with my current mileage the past couple of weeks. But, honestly, I know I’ll be fine. The race director knows I’ll be a bit slower — 10 hours or so. It’ll be fun and that’s my only goal (besides finishing).

Plus, the 50K will be good training for my upcoming marathons in Ogden and Utah Valley. Along with my Bear Lake Trifecta races. I’m going to have a crazy spring and early summer schedule, so kick starting it with a 50K is an usual and — I think — good way to launch my schedule.

I won’t lie — I do worry about my back and ankle a bit. But, honestly, I think I’ve cared and rested both well enough that they shouldn’t be a factor. But, it’ll be on my mind for sure — I just don’t want to downgrade from the 26.2 to 13.1 if I can avoid it. But, that’s my last resort and something I don’t really want to entertain right now.

Anyways — I’m focusing on Saltair right now and focusing on getting my groove and consistency back. I just want to pull some big weight-loss numbers in the next month so I can go into marathon season lighter on my feet.

At least I know I’m on the right track.

RACE #144: Riverton Half Marathon

Six years ago when I made the goal to run 180 races (half marathon or longer) before I turned 40, I had no idea that y age 36 I’d be nearly done with that goal. And, that really speaks volumes of how much running has changed and influenced my life these past half dozen years.

Up until about two years ago I had the IDEA of slowing down a bit and evening out the number of races so I could hit my goal in 2021. But, that never happened. Partly, because I used many races as training runs for ultras, but also, because, I didn’t want to slow down.

Okay, that could be the only reason.

Regardless, I changed my timeline for the goal to next year. I am now planning to run race 180 in July 2018. And, of course it will be where I started this crazy journey — the Bountiful Handcart Days Half Marathon.

Because, of this new timeline goal I’ve looked at my race schedule for the next 18 or so months and planned each race one out leading up to the race. I should have about 30 or so races this year, which is a lot for me. But, I have the goal in sight and many of these races are great ultra training for me.

It’s been tricky finding races, because I’m not able to put the many, many Runtastic Events races I love — Timp Half, Nebo Half, The Haunted Half, etc., etc., etc. — because I’m working for them now. So, I’ve had to find races to replace those on my schedule and I’ve had to find a few small races to put on my schedule that I normally wouldn’t. I’m not complaining, because a run is a run to me and I do like new challenges and new courses.

And, that’s what kind of lead me to run the Riverton Half Marathon. This isn’t a new race to me. I’ve run it twice before. Once in 2012 and again in 2014. It’s put on by the city — and it’s honestly not that bad. The registration fee is extremely reasonable — $30 for early bird and $40 if you procrastinate.

But, you also get what you pay for. It’s not a race done by thousands. There were a couple hundred or so. Not crowded at all. And, the shirts and medals have improved over the past years. But, it’s very much a small town race so if you’re looking for BIG event like Big Cottonwood, Ogden or St. George — you won’t find it in Riverton. But, they do a good job given it’s a city race and the budget they work from.

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Anyways, going into race week after last week’s Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, I kind of viewed this race as another race toward my goal. But, that all kind of changed midweek.

This past week Coach Blu from Addict II Athlete posted a video on the AIIA Facebook Group page talking about the opidemic plaguing the nation. On average, there are 144 people nationwide that lose their lives to opiate addiction — overdose, suicide, etc. This is a staggering number. That’s over 52,500 people every year.

These 144 people are our brothers, sisters, parents, relatives, friends and neighbors. Chances are we know someone who struggles with the addiction — and it’s sometimes difficult to see. Especially since so many of these drugs are prescriptions. Coach then challenged us, the team, to share this message through social media showing the world — and specifically these 144 — how wonderful a life of sobriety is, by hashtagging #144 in our posts.

After watching Coach’s video I soon realized that my race this weekend in Riverton was going to be my 144th race! I couldn’t believe the coincidence. But, then again, I did — because I’ve learned since knowing Blu coincidences DON’T happen between the two of us. I strongly feel this was meant to happen this way.

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I decided that I wanted to run this race in honor and memory of not just the 144, but for the AIIA team and my friends and family members that have lost their battle already. I didn’t anticipate going into this race with THIS much emotion, but in just a few short days — here I was.

I wanted to run in silence in their memory. Something that is — obviously — difficult for me to do. I’m a social runner, I love making conversation with anyone out on the course, at the aid stations or in the Honey Buckets. Well, okay, not in the Honey Buckets. But, you get the idea. This would be a sacrifice for me, but it would also be an opportunity for me to focus my attention on the message, on the 144, on my loved ones and the AIIA team. So that’s what I set out to do.

I knew race day was going to be rainy, but when I left my house that morning I didn’t expect it to be THAT rainy. It was cold and pretty much a downpour. I knew from social media posts that the Strider’s Winter Circuit Half Marathon in Eden was already cancelled because of the weather. I was just hoping my race wouldn’t be as well.

I thought about checking the race’s Facebook page, but I kind of made up my mind that even if it was cancelled I was still going to run the course. As bad as the rain was, I knew it couldn’t be as bad as the Ogden Marathon this past year. Nothing could. So, I was just going to drive to the race and hope there was going to be a supported race.

The commute was pretty wet, but luckily once I got to Riverton the rain wasn’t as heavy and the race was on. So after picking up my race packet I went back to my car to stay dry for a little longer. I knew I would end up drenched. Plus, I didn’t really feel like socializing much, just because of the nature of the run. I was already beginning to get emotional about it all.

At the sound of the gun, I stood back for a couple minutes to let the crowd go. I plugged in my headphones and set out to run. I started out running to some MoTab and some other classic music, but I ended up just turning it all off. Mainly, because I wanted to focus and center my thoughts on the purpose of my run — so it was easier to just turn off the music altogether.

I kept my vow of silence pretty much throughout the run, with a few exceptions. I ran into a Facebook friend out on the Jordan River Parkway, I did stop to say hello briefly. And, after staying silent for the first couple of aid stations I decided to at least say “thank you” instead of trying to say it with sign language. Besides, I don’t know if I was signing “thank you” right anyways.

But, I just focused running alone in my thoughts. And, it was a rather somber run. The rain was pretty persistent throughout the whole run. It didn’t let up until about mile 11 or so for me. I almost wished it kept raining because the sun came out and the last mile and a half were pretty warm. With my jacket and hat I felt like I was running in a sauna.

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The run as a whole was really emotional for me. I caught myself a lot in thought of friends and family members who lost battles with opiate addiction. I thought about the AIIA team and how so many of them fought to overcome their addictions.. I thought about the message of the team and how important it is to carry it’s message, because it can save lives.

The last mile was pretty uncomfortable for me physically. Between the increasing temperature and normal race fatigue, my sprained ankle was also flaring up a bit as well. But, that all felt secondary. I just focused on that finish line and the message of the team.

I got to the finish line in 3:05:11, not the best time. But, there wasn’t really a goal time for this race. After last week’s Emigration Canyon Half, where I pushed myself, I knew I’d have to pull pack just a tad. So I was happy with the finish time. I didn’t feel like I went backwards from the progress I made last week.

After refueling with some Gatorade and bananas I made the trek back to my car where I sat there for a while in silence. The culmination of everything just built up and I got rather emotional. It honestly kind of surprised me, because I don’t easily get emotional — I mean — I do, but it takes me a bit to get to that point. I was just grateful to be able to carry the banner of the team.

So what was assumed to be “just another race” became a race I’ll remember for many reasons. It was an emotional run for me. And, a moment I hope that someone out there that can draw inspiration from to make a change in their own lives. Whether that is moving toward living a life of sobriety — or simply resolving to live life more fully.

The focus now turns to the Saltair Half this upcoming weekend. I don’t have a game plan yet. But, I’d like to get a sub-three time, especially since I won’t be racing the following week due to PrepperCon. But, all of that is secondary, because my focus is on the Salt Flats 50K at the end of the month.

And, I can’t wait.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


It’s hard to believe this was five years ago today. But, I share this picture every year on this date, because this is what LOVE looks like to me. This was right after my Mom’s double mastectomy and the moment my parents were reunited post surgery on what was their 38th wedding anniversary. What has struck me about this photo is the love in both their eyes. The concern and hope of my father and complete devotion of my mother. I can’t remember what was said, but words can’t convey the whole message being shared. There’s a lot to celebrate today. Not just for my Mom being five years cancer free, but 43 years of marriage for my parents. The decision they made over four decades ago set the tone for our family and the searches all us kids would make in finding a spouse. If I’ve learned anything from my parents’ relationship it’s that no matter what trial is in front of you, it’s tackled together in love, faith and devotion to each other. Which is symbolized so well in this picture.

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RACE #144: Riverton Half Marathon; April 8, 2017 (3:05:11) Did you know that on average 144 people lose their lives DAILY to opiate addiction? These are our brothers, sisters, parents, family, friends and neighbors. Utah is no exception to this opidemic. This week, Coach Blu challenged us Addict II Athlete athletes to show these 144 people the lives they’re missing not living a life of sobriety. He wants us flood social media with the hashtag #144 with the moments they’re missing out on in life. It was no coincidence that Coach would ask us this week, the week of my 144th race in my 180 goal. I’ve stopped believing in coincidences with Blu. So I made the decision to dedicate this run to the 144. I wanted to dedicate it to the family and friends I’ve lost to addiction. I wanted to dedicate it to my AIIA family. So I set out to run it in silence. Which I almost did. I muttered a few “thank yous” at aid stations and a couple hellos, but I just kept to myself with my heart and mind on the meaning of this run. The rain was persistent nearly throughout the whole race. I had soggy feet and cold hands. But, I didn’t care. My heart and mind took my attention elsewhere. It was a very emotional run for me. Especially as neared the finish line. I kept repeating in my head, “You are a Warrior! You have erased and replaced your addictions. Your mess is message.” All mottos of the AIIA team. After crossing the finish line and grabbing a few bananas, I just sat in my car for a while and kind of wept. It was a lot of emotion to process for me. I want this run — and my journey — to hopefully be a beacon for someone, anyone, to have the courage to take that first step toward a better life. That’s one reason why I share so much of my journey on my blog and social media. I know if I can do hard and difficult things like 50 milers and Marathons — others do hard and difficult things too. And, sometimes it takes someone else sharing their light to ignite that spark. If you struggle with addiction and you need help … REACH OUT! Life is too beautiful to let it pass by. #race144 #rivertonhalf #running @fight4phat @joshruns180 @josherwalla @addicttoathlete

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Kids are exhausting. Cute. But, exhausting.

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If you’re a model, would you put this in your portfolio?

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People sometimes worry about me being single and all. But, they needn’t worry about me … I get plenty of dates.

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Weekly Review

Last weekend at the tail end of my race down Emigration Canyon I rolled my ankle and sprained fairly good. Not fun at all. I did a couple slow runs mid-week to help straighten things out, but it was pretty sore the whole week. Not what I wanted or expected for my training.

And, I won’t lie, it’s been a frustrating month of ups and downs for my runs. If it’s not my ankle, it’s my back or this week — oral surgery. I’m having a root canal on Wednesday, so I am not sure what to expect from my running this week? I have a race on Saturday, but I’d like to get a run or two in before then.

Ugh. I just need to have patience that it’ll all work out. But, I’m getting a little anxious with my 50K coming up at the end of the month.

Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 4.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 21.32 miles
TOTAL MILES — 38.42 miles
Race(s) this week — Riverton Half.

April 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 4.0 miles
Race Miles — 26.2 miles
Walking Miles — 24.02 miles
TOTAL MILES — 54.22 miles
Races in April — Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Salt Flats 50K and Tulip Festival Half

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 185.75 miles
Race Miles — 122.32 miles
Walking Miles — 349.48 miles
TOTAL MILES — 657.55 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 and Riverton Half.



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Feature in Dr. Jason R. Karp’s “Run Your Fat Off” Book

A number months back, I got contacted by Dr. Jason Karp — aka “The Running Doctor” — asking if I wanted to share a little bit about my story on a running weight-loss book he was writing. And, of course I said that I would love to. I’m always willing and wanting to share my story, because I don’t know who I will inspire or motivate. If it wasn’t for others that inspired me — I am not sure what direction my life would be in. I want to pay it forward the best I can, whenever I have a chance.

After a few interviews and email exchanges, including the selection of ‘BEFORE’ and ‘AFTER’ pictures with Dr. Karp, I just waited for the book to be released. And, well — it arrived yesterday in the mail! Dr. Karp was nice enough to send me a personally signed copy.

I thumbed through the pages looking for my story and picture and was quite surprised to find it on page 18 of the book. I was one of the first stories he shared. But, I kind of forgot what I had shared with Dr. Karp and it was fun to go over the content of the interview again.

I loved the piece of advice I shared for new and aspiring runners …

“It doesn’t matter what your size, experience l, or fitness level; just get out and run. No one cares how you look running, because everyone looks ridiculous running. Have you ever looked at race photos? Don’t worry about it. Be out on the road or trail for the right reasons. For you.”

I’m glad I was able to share a small part of my journey in Dr. Karp’s book and it also further motivated me to continue to work on my book. A book that has always seemed like it’s been a work in progress. Because — well — it has. It’s something I wanted to start back in 2010 after I lost 100lbs and it’s kind of morphed into something else, because my story has grown, progressed and evolved since then.

I’m learning that it is less about my life changing as it is me living life more and more.

So, I continue to write a little bit more and more each day. And, when the time comes I’ll reveal and share more on my writing projects. I just don’t know if now is the time to share all of that.

Whatever your fitness running goals are check out Dr. Karp’s new book “Run Your Fat Off” you can find it pretty much anywhere online and I am sure if you’re into those things called bookstores they’re there as well.

But, I must publicly thank Dr. Karp for allowing me share that small part of my story in his new book. It really means a lot and I hope someone out there reads it and finds that motivation and inspiration to live a life they never dreamed.