Category: Life

And, so it begins …

I’ve been waiting for this day for quite a while. Well, okay, for like two weeks. But, those two weeks seemed like forever ago. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t just start — like — two weeks ago?

Well, two reasons — one, I didn’t want to NOT have cake on my birthday and, two, the 16th would mark 90 days before my trip to Greece. I wanted to use those 90 days as motivation to follow my new diet regime. Plus, those two weeks kind of gave me some time to mentally and physically prepare for the new lifestyle change.

This past weekend I added some glutenous foods temporarily back into my diet — mainly because I knew I was going back on a strict gluten free diet soon and because I wanted it — I won’t lie. Pizza, pasta and of course cake — were some of the examples of what I enjoyed over the weekend.

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Luckily when I eat gluten I don’t get super sick like those with celiac and other gluten sensitive diseases. In the moment I am fine, but depending on the amount of gluten I eat, usually within a half hour or sooner I start feeling it. I feel it in my energy and mood levels and it’s honestly just not fun. But, get me in the moment of eating pizza or pasta and I am a happy clam!

But, isn’t that pretty much life with any food?

That’s a post for another day.

Anyways, I am ready to start this thing. I’m excited to see happens with my energy levels, thyroid and body. As with any diet I like to document it with ‘before and after pictures.’ So here are some lovely half naked pictures of myself to commemorate this dietary occasion …

CLICK TO ENLARGE — CLICK AT YOUR OWN RISK

I have so many half naked pictures of myself in these poses on the internet that I don’t cringe at them. Though I have wonder if I posted a picture of my naked chest on Instagram  if it’d get flagged for being against their terms and conditions? Either way, I am going to update those pictures every 30 days. I’m hoping to see some big differences.

I also weighed in at 279.8, which kinda surprised me — I only gained like 8-9lbs. in the past two weeks. But, I know a lot of that will drop off quickly, because yesterday I ate quite a bit of food being my birthday and all. So I probably gained more like 5-6lbs.?

Either way — 279.8 is the starting point.

My goal is to get to 250 or lower before November 15th when I leave for Greece. I feel fairly confident I’ll get there. That’s about 2.5lbs. a week, I know I’ll be able to hit at least for the first 4-6 weeks.

But, I’m not sure how much I want stress about the weight compared to focusing on the diet and making sure I get myself in my needed ketogenesis range to burn fat. I am so new to this ketogenic stuff, but I know I’ll get there. I might be bumbling and stumbling with it for the first couple of days, so I hope get into a good rhythm with it fast.

One thing to help aid myself in the new diet I bought myself Christopher McDougall’s book “Natural Born Heroes” He’s also the author of “Born to Run” — one of my favorite running books. This is a pretty recent book — came out last April — and I didn’t hear about it until yesterday from my brother-in-law.

But, after hearing him talk about the book and then reading the description the book, the book is PERFECT for my nightstand. The book basically tells the story of athletic prowess of three Cretan resistance fighters in WWII. McDougall delves into what made these Cretans these amazing endurance athletes — including their diet. Which was basically paleo/ketogenic in nature.

Why this appeals to me so much is not just because of the diet or that it’s based in Greece. But, it’s specifically based in Crete, which is where my Papou — my Great Grandpa — was born and raised. In fact I am probably more Cretan than Greek. But, that’s a long complicated story that I’ll leave for another day.

But, the fact that I’ve got Cretan DNA within me really draws me toward that book. If a ketogenic diet can help me achieve an nth degree of what’s talked about in McDougall’s book, I’m excited to see what happens to me. It really excites and fills me with hope that this is going to work.

Anyways, I’m excited to be forging forward with this new diet lifestyle. And, I especially can’t wait to read my new book either. Here’s to the next 90 days! Here’s to Greece! Here’s to my health!


RACE #156: Elephant Rock Trail Half Marathon

To say that I had no idea what I was getting myself into with this race would be an understatement. A serious understatement. And, that statement can’t be understated either.

But, basically, now as I write my race recap — everything hurts and I am dying.

What was planned as simply a fun and challenging trail half marathon turned out to be the TOUGHEST race I’ve ever done. And, considering I’ve done over 150 races — that’s saying a lot. It was that brutal. But, more on that later.

I signed up for this race because it’s literally in my backyard. Mueller Park is just a couple of miles from my front door. It’s a canyon I’ve visited numerous of times, but rarely hiked. Most trips were for campfires, campouts or mile hikes.

Even after I started running I never ventured over to Mueller Park. The biggest reason because I never wanted to venture out there alone. Not just because of the unfamiliarity with the area, but also because of my fear of mountain lions, bears and deer. At least two of those fears are legit. Anyways, I’ve just stuck to the local roads when I run close to home.

Wanting to expand my running routes I figured the Elephant Rock Trail Run would be a great way to familiarize myself with the trails and ease some of those worries I had. Sure there’s always the possibility of running into mountain lions, bears and deer — but those fears really become secondary when you know where you’re going and the distances in between.

In addition to familiarizing myself with the trails, I wanted to run to and from the race to give me a good 20 miles of running for the day. With my ankle injury I haven’t been able to get the kind of training I wanted and knowing I have a number of marathons coming up in the fall, I knew I needed a good 20 miler to prep myself for them.

But, honestly, if I knew what kind of race I was getting myself into, I would have driven myself to the race. I don’t regret it though, because Saturday’s 20 miles were some of the toughest miles I’ve ever run. Miles that left me more tired and sore than most of the ultras I’ve done.

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I set out from my house at 4:50am to make sure I had enough time to get my race packet and shirt before the 6am start time. After trekking from the packet pickup at the church I moseyed over to the park entrance where all 85 of us runners congregated. It was fun to see so familiar faces and meet the faces behind the names on Facebook. I always love start lines.

I don’t think of us realized what we were getting ourselves into, especially since this was the inaugural run. There weren’t other runners to gauge their experience with, so we were going in blind. Which sometimes isn’t the worst way to go into a race. But, I felt completely blindsided by it all.

The start times were staggered about every 15 miles. The marathoners went out at 6am, the half marathoners 6:15 and the 7 milers 6:30am. With 85 runners you’d think that wouldn’t be necessary, but I am glad they did it that way, because as soon as the marathoners and half marathons split with the 7 milers to run up the pipeline trail that trail would have been a bit too crowded.

Once I hit the pipeline I thought I was the last runner. The half marathoners ahead of me were mountain goats and gained quite a distance ahead of me. I wasn’t surprised by this, it’s almost expected that I will be last. But, it’s something that never bugs me. If it did then odds are I just wouldn’t sign up for the race.

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But, as I was dying and not quite half way up the beast I see a runner approaching me from behind. They were gaining quite a bit of ground on me. You could tell this wasn’t a struggle for them.

As they got closer I noticed it was my friend Lula. An experienced trail runner it shouldn’t have surprised me much that the climb was easy for her. But, what made me laugh and silently curse her — was she was doing this technical climb while TALKING ON THE PHONE! Here I am enduring to the end like a pioneer ready to die from dysentery and she moseys up the hill like she’s taking an escalator at the mall.

But, that hill was no joke! It was a quarter mile hike with a 800 foot elevation gain. It was brutal. As soon as I summited the blasted thing I just sat at top, said a little prayer of gratitude that I survived it and ate one of my Larabars as I enjoyed the view. I tried to capture it on my phone, but you just can’t capture those moments — they just have to be experienced.

The ascent was brutal, but the descent on the other side was a beast of its’ own. Luckily it wasn’t as steep, but the terrain was steep and extremely rocky. The technicality of the descent was exhausting not just physically, but mentally as well. I focused on my next step so I didn’t roll my ankle or biff it — it was extreme. There were some stretches where I just sat on my butt and scooted down the trail.

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Once I finally got past rocky trail and headed toward the first aid station I was spent. I parked myself on the dusty trail, ate some watermelon and Gatorade and composed myself for the next stretch of trails. I felt like I was about 7-8 miles into the beast, but I was just 3.5 miles into the race.

That was a depressing reality.

But, also an indication of how tough that stretch of trail was for not just me, but everyone.

I felt bad for the marathons because they had to tackle that same terrain twice since their course was an out and back. I couldn’t imagine climbing up those rocky trails and then down that stupid steep hill. I would have died.

With the toughest stretch of course out of the way the climbing wasn’t over. We still had about 3-4 miles of climbing to the Rudy’s Flats aid station where we’d finally make a reasonable descent toward the finish line. I power hiked most of those miles and it was tough. I had to stop and stretch because my quads were just screaming.

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I started being passed by marathoners and it just amazed me at how these runners were almost seamlessly crushing the terrain. Granted most probably train exclusively on trails, but still — these were mountain goats and I was jealous. Being the last runner in the bunch made me feel like nothing but bear bait. But, I don’t focus on that, I know if I dedicate more miles on the trails I’ll be there too. I think more than anything I was just amazed at the strength of those runners.

Simply amazing.

Anyways, once I hit the Rudy’s Flats aid station I reloaded my water, chilled for a bit and left with a bag of bananas and PB&J sandwich squares. I was severely under prepared food wise. I had my bugout pack with my Larabars, applesauce and Gatorade, but that simply wasn’t enough. I was packed for a 3-4 hour race … not 5-6.

Once I left the Rudy’s Flats aid station I was literally all down hill from there. I was 4:30 hours into the race and I just wanted to be done. So the downhill was a reprieve and I was able to pickup the pace. It was a whole different race.

Not far from the aid station I ran into Angie who was on her return trip to the finish line. She was struggling and had fallen, but like the badass that she is — was still going. We stopped for a picture and acknowledged how this course was kicking our trash before moving on.

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I really loved the last part of the race. I just focused on the run and it was infinitely faster. The last couple of miles were tough, but it was more because of the heat.

The trails are covered fairly well, but there were spots where I was just dead. But, I just wanted to be done. I was thirsty and running low on water. I had some Gatorade in my pack — which I SHOULD have gotten out — but, the effort just didn’t seem worth it. I was striving for that finish line.

When I finally reached the finish line I was greeted by Wanderely with a big hug and I just collapse in a camping chair. I didn’t want to move. I just sat and drank water and Powerade while munching on watermelon. The desire to move much was stifled by cramps and fatigue.

I’ve never felt this wrecked after a race. My 50 miler was probably on par, but after a half? Never.

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There was a breakfast provided at a nearby campground, but I waited at the finish line to see in Angie — who was the last runner on the course. I sat at the finish line and just visited with friends, it was the best way to recover because I knew I still had about a 3.5 mile run home. That’s a fancy way of saying I was procrastinating my run home.

After waiting for a couple hours of Angie we got to the breakfast that had been sitting there since about 7am — it was 4pm. But, at that point I don’t think of any of us questioned whether eating 9 hour old sausage and scrambled eggs were a bad idea or not — we were just hungry. And, it was freaking delicious.

I made it on my home around 4:45pm and in the heat of a day. It was about 90 degrees and I was dead. I was half tempted to grab a ride when Wanderely drove past, I grinded out those 3.5 miles and made it home in one piece.

I was completely finished.

Those 20 miles were seriously some of the toughest miles I’ve done. But, I’m so proud of myself. I did it.

Will I be back next year? Yes. I’ve already made that decision. Will I go for the marathon? No. There’s no way I’m that crazy.

Will I go for the half marathon? Probably? Yesterday it was a hard no. But, after sitting on it for a couple of days I want to tackle that hill again. I need to enact some redemption on that beast. But, then on the other hand the 7 mile run sounds like a better option. But, we’ll see … give me a couple of months. I loved this challenging course and the fact that it’s in my backyard.

Here’s to the trails!


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 13.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 21.24 miles
TOTAL MILES — 47.34 miles
Races This Week — Elephant Rock Trail Half.

August 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 26.5 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 36.9 miles
TOTAL MILES — 63.0 miles
Races in August — (3) Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half and Nebo Half 

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 337.55 miles
Race Miles — 295.52 miles
Walking Miles — 817.05 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1450.12 miles
Races done in 2017 — (20) 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 and Elephant Rock Trail Half,.


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The Road to 180 is within view …

It seems like the closer and closer I get to meeting my 180 goal the more rearranging and adding I am making to my race schedule. I am really excited to get my 180 goal over with. Don’t get me wrong — I love running and will continue to run after I meet my goal.

But, I’m ready to move onto my next phase and some other goals within the running sphere. I am still working on what that will be. And, I’ll blog more about that around the end of the year. I’m really excited about the next part. It’ll involve a few exciting things and new goals.

There are four months left in the year and I still have 14 races planned. That’s a lot of running. Especially when you consider my race schedule ends in early November. I have four marathons planned — but, I am trying to gauge what’s my reality on those four marathons. I am good to go with Revel and the Jordan River Marathons. But, I am debating if I should down my distance at Huntsville and completely scratch St. George?

My ankle recovery has been longer than I thought. I am better. But, my training just isn’t where I’d like it to be. I need to run a really good 20 miler, lose a good 15-20lbs and not die sweeping the Revel BC Marathon to feel confident for St. George and Huntsville. But, we’ll see? I’m going to give it a shot regardless.

Of course all of these marathons and longer distances are leading up to Jackpot in February where I am shooting to run 100 miles. That’s going to take a lot of my training miles in November, December and January. Well, October as well, but lots of back-to-back runs. Plus, I am focusing a lot in the next few months on strength training and cross training. It’s going to be a feat to get me ready for that race.

But, as you can see my goal after that 100 miler is nothing planned until March-ish/April — and nothing longer than a half marathon. After Jackpot I really want to stay away from the longer distances for a bit — at least the road marathons. After my 180th race I plan on focusing on trails and roads — ideally ultras on the trails and half marathons on the roads. But, that’s all a post for another day.

The end is near. And, I am excited! I can’t wait to move onto my other goals and projects that I have kinda of put on the way side while focusing on meeting this goal. There’s so much more of the running world that I want to experience, share and be a part of — but, for right now it’s 180 OR BUST!

REMAINING 2017 RACES

156. Elephant Rock Trail Half Marathon (August 12)
157. Run Elevated Half Marathon (August 19)
158. Nebo Half (August 26)
159. Revel Big Cottonwood (September 9)
160. Huntsville Marathon (September 16)
161. Timp Elk Run Half (September 23)
162. Jordan River Marathon (September 30)
163. St. George Marathon (October 7)
164. The Haunted Half — SLC (October 14)
165. SoJo Half (October 21)
166. Howloween Half (October 21)
167. The Haunted Half — Provo (October 28)
168. Mt. View Trail Half Marathon (November 11)

ANTICIPATED 2018 RACES

169. Run Revolution (January 1)
170. Jackpot Running Festival (February 16-18)
171. Riverton Half Marathon (March 24)
172. Emigration Half Marathon (April 7)
173. Salt Lake City Half Marathon (April 21)
174. Provo City Half Marathon (May 5)
175. Vigor Big Cottonwood Half Marathon (May 12)
176. Drop 13 Half Marathon (June 9)
177. AF Canyon Race Against Cancer (June 23)
178. Morgan Valley Half Marathon (June 30)
179. Hobbler Half (July 7)
180. Handcart Days Half Marathon (July 24)

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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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Putting one (good) foot forward

The past three and a half months have been a challenge. Big challenge for me. On April 1st while running down Emigration Canyon I sprained my ankle — and — it’s been a slower than wanted process to heal.

I haven’t written much about it, because I haven’t really known what was going on with it for a while. I self-treated it for about a month, because I was still able to run on it. It was uncomfortable, but having sprained my ankle before I just figured to rest and ice it between runs and workouts.

And, that worked for the most part.

I wasn’t showing any progress and I would end up ice my ankle after any run longer than 6-7 miles. I feared the worst and admittedly avoided setting up an appointment with a orthopedist … because I didn’t want to be told I broke my foot or would need some weird amputation done because of my neglect.

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But, I conceded to the inevitable and set up an appointment. I got x-rays done along with a thorough exam — and luckily — no break, just a severe sprained ankle. But, the best part was that my doctor said I could still keep running within my comfort level. So that was the plan.

I decided to back out of my spring marathons, including Ragnar. Decisions that were tougher than I imagined, especially since I am building up to run my 48 hour ultra in February 2018. Physically, I knew I’d have enough time to be ready, but telling yourself that mentally is a much harder task.

And, any run longer than 6-7 miles is just tough. Especially any that are uber flat or too steep. The ankle just hates it and I feel it throughout and after my run.

But, the doctor prescribed physical therapy for me, including a gait analysis. And, quite honestly, they’ve given me the most hope. Sure, I am still feeling pain, but I feel hopeful. I feel myself getting stronger. And, I’m actually feeling optimistic about my running again.

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It’s been frustrating, because I’m not where I wanted to be physically at this point in the year. It’s been mentally taxing feeling and being slow. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind going slow, but knowing I could be MUCH faster and there not being much I could do about it — has been tough.

But, I feel hope again.

Not only is the physical therapy making a difference, but my gait analysis really answered a lot of my frustrations. I naturally overpronate my right food — which I rolled — and because of that, not only did it promote the ankle sprain, but it’s also hindering my recovery.

So my physical therapist gave me a few exercises to help remedy that. Of course it’s not going to be overnight, but I’m trying hard to not just do those exercises, but to also make a conscious effort to walk with less of a pronation. That’s going to be an on going process to reprogram myself.

But, I am also looking for running shoes that will help with the over pronation, I’ve narrowed it down to a couple, but making the decision to give up my Hoka One One love affair is being a bit harder than I’d imagine. I should hopefully be making a decision soon. I just want to run pain free and run in a way that will keep me running for years to come. That’s a weighty decision with those in mind.

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I am sure I’ll let you know once I make my final decision.

But, looking forward right now, I just feel hopeful. I see a doable plan. I see an opportunity to not just get better, but get stronger. And, that’s my focus and goal.

I am excited about my races this weekend. These two races are sentimental to me on many levels — the Handcart Days Half being my first (and 100th) race and Deseret News was my first marathon. But, I’m just running the half this year and not the whole 26.2. I thought about it, since it’s my 5th year anniversary of my first marathon. But, 13.1 miles for me right now is fine by me.

I am moving forward with this new mindset and I am excited about what the weekend, month and next three months have in store for me. I am making progress and I have a vision of hope that’s right before me.

I am going where I want to go — and that’s invigorating to me.

RACE #152: AF Canyon Race Against Cancer

The past couple of months have been difficult. Dealing with my sprained ankle and the subsequent recovery has taken a toll on me, both physically and emotionally. It’s been frustrating feeling and being slower than where I wanted to be, especially at this point in the summer. I’m trying to stay positive about it, which is easier said than done.

This past week I started physical therapy on the ankle, which gave me a lot of hope. My physical therapist was really encouraged at the strength of my ankle and that I was able to run what I’ve done since April. There were a few areas of concern which she gave me to work on along with scheduling a few other exercises — including a running assessment in a couple weeks.

So going into this race, I felt — cautiously — encouraged. My therapist didn’t think it was a BAD idea, in fact she was amazed I was able to run last week’s Trifecta. As far as pace and time went — I had no idea where I was going to be? The fact that last week’s races were around four hours each and the week before’s race down Big Cottonwood was 2:56 — I just didn’t know what to expect?

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I really wanted to push for a sub-three hour half, but didn’t know if that was a reasonable or attainable goal? But, I knew I didn’t want to be around 3:30 or slower — so how’s that for a definitive goal?

But, with this ankle recovery I’ve found it’s hard to make definitive goals I like to see concrete results. I like to see when x plus y equals z. But, this race included too many imaginary numbers for me. So I didn’t really have a definitive goal. But, I wanted to push a sub-three and I didn’t want to be out on he course forever.

How’s that for a goal?

Anyways, I was excited to run, because American Fork Canyon is such a gorgeous canyon. It’s in my trifecta of favorite Utah canyons. It’s hard to keep your head down while running down the canyon because you get such beautiful views of Timp and the surrounding mountains. It’s so green and beautiful.

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That affect happens whether I am running this race, the Timp Half or a training run. And, it got me once again on Saturday once the gun sounded. Not wanting to go out too strong I kept to the right of the road and just focused on going with the flow of the crowd. I did this to not just warm up, but to test the foot.

I kind of decided to just take what my foot was going to give me. But, I knew I couldn’t — or shouldn’t — take too much, too early. Because, if I was going to sub-three, I needed gas left in the tank in the later miles, especially the non-canyon miles. So, I ran the first three miles rather conservatively.

After those first three miles, I felt pretty good so I just worked on picking up my pace slightly and putting myself on cruise control down the canyon. It wasn’t quite like putting the petal to the metal, but it felt good being able to be consistent with minimal pain.

I was amazed at how much stronger I felt compared to not just the previous week’s races, but Drop13. Being a canyon run, I felt that American Fork Canyon was “kinder” to my ankle than Big Cottonwood. Not only was the elevation drop more gradual, but the road was less windy — which really helped with my ankle since there wasn’t much lateral movement on my part.

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It just felt so good to be able to be on cruise control. The miles seemed to just pass and before I knew it I was already out of the canyon. Which was about 7.5 or so miles into the race. I felt like Meb.

Coming out of the canyon, I knew it was going to be tougher. The rolling hills and neighborhood miles are always tough for me, regardless of the state of my ankle. After passing the Mile 8 mile marker we made our climb on the rolling hills near the gold course. I decided to fast walk the hills to conserve my energy.

While climbing the hill, I noticed my friend Shonda ahead a hundred yards or so ahead of me. Throwing caution to the wind, I sprinted up the hill to catch up with her. After taking a picture with her, I ran ahead. I could tell she was struggling a bit, but I was amazed I was able to catch up to her, because she is a strong runner.

It was around this time I felt I had a shot at that sub-three time. Knowing the course that was ahead of me, I knew it was going to be tough, but I felt that if I kept running and didn’t stop to walk much, I could do it. So, I shuffled when I needed to shuffle and sprinted when I needed to sprint those last five miles.

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After winding around neighborhoods and along the Murdock Trail, I made it to the last mile of the race. I avoided looking at my watch, because I didn’t want to play mind games with myself. I just wanted to keep running strong. Soon we met up with the 5K runners who looped onto the 3/4 of a mile of the race with us.

Around this time, as I was focusing on that last mile, I heard my name and noticed it was Zack — one of my teammates from Addict II Athlete. I could tell right away he was hurting, He told me that his leg was hurting. But, for hurting at that point of the race, he was looking strong.

We ran together that last mile and I gave him the best advice I had on dealing with pain. I gave him some of my ultrarunning tricks and reminded him that when the legs and mind give out — you let the heart carry you the rest of the way. It was a very special moment for me to be able to share with Zack.

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We soon ran into Don, our teammate, who came back looking for us and he ran us to the finisher’s corral. I let Zack ahead of me as I barked words of encouragement toward that finish line. It wasn’t until that last moment when I caught a glance of the time that I noticed I got a sub-three time! But, at that moment I didn’t really care. I was happy to be done, to be with teammates and have the opportunity to run with Zack.

After grabbing some water and mingling a bit, I checked my time and came in at 2:55:06 — I was happy. I was very happy. I didn’t care that I once ran this race 45 minutes faster, I cared about now. I cared about the effort I put in that day. And, I cared that my foot didn’t feel like it fell off.

I was happy.

I still have a long way to go with my recovery, but this was a victory. And, having a plan with my physical therapist I feel like I have an attainable goal that will help me get where I want and need to be. Not just with my speed, but my stamina that will help get me to my 48 hour run in February. That 100 miles is going to happen. I am sure of it.

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But, the focus is on the therapy, the weight loss and the exercises I CAN do. And, I am feeling a difference. I’ve shed over 10lbs. and lost some inches that needed to be shed so I am happy with that. Sure, like I’ve said previously, it might not be in the timetable or pace I’d like it to be — but, it’s happening.

My next race is in a couple of weeks, so the focus is on the continued weight-loss and therapy. I have a group run planned for Little Cottonwood on Saturday that I am excited about. Lots of good things happening.

But, Saturday’s race was perfection.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES

I had a race that was cancelled — The 13 Miles of Freedom — so I had to do a little shuffling. That makes my next race the Utah Midnight Run in Farmington! That will be the first of two back to back races on the weekend of July 7th!


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 6.5 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 35.23 miles
TOTAL MILES — 54.83 miles
Race(s) this week — AF Canyon Race Against Cancer

June 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 32.7 miles
Race Miles — 65.5 miles
Walking Miles — 92.27 miles
TOTAL MILES — 190.47 miles
Races in May — Drop 13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 259.95 miles
Race Miles — 243.12 miles
Walking Miles — 616.72 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1119.79 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 and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer.


AF Canyon Run Against Cancer; June 24, 2017 (2:55:04) AF Canyon will always be one of my favorite canyons to run. Great views of Timp, gorgeous greenery around every corner and a canyon drop that lets you soak it all in putting yourself on cruise control. Came into this race not knowing what to expect with my ankle, but the terrain and elevation drop made for a fairly pain free run. I pushed it a bit and was pleasantly surprised and happy coming in under three hours. Not bad for my fourth half in two weeks, eh? Had a great moment running in my @addicttoathlete teammate Zack during the last mile. We were both hurting, but we kept each other motivated and going. I sure love being a part of this team, we inspire and motivate each other to our goals. I’m feeling stronger, especially with my physical therapy. I can’t wait to get where I want to be/need. But, for now, I need to be patient. #race152 #afcanyonrun #running @joshruns180 @josherwalla @fight4phat @addicttoathlete @afcanyonrun

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My niece was blessed today. As you can see, it was a grand occasion.

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Not my idea of a fun weekend.

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RACE #147: Jordan River Half Marathon

YEAH, I’M RACING!!! After a couple weeks of low mileage and uncertainty with my ankle it sure felt great being back on the course. Albeit, nowhere close to the pace or time I expected a couple months ago. But, I was running and that’s what mattered.

The past month or so has been tough. Well, the past couple of months have. Okay, maybe the past three months? Setbacks big and small have kind of plagued me after running the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival — colds, the flu, bad back, sprained ankles and all that jazz.

Not fun.

But, after Thursday’s doctor appointment with the orthopedist — I feel hopeful. I may not be where I pictured my fitness or running to be from a few months ago, but I see that light. And, that has me feeling really excited, hopeful and recommitted.

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And, as much as I want to get faster and stronger, my ultimate goal is my 100 miler in February. That’s where my path needs to lead more than just knocking off a few half marathon time goals. The focus needs to be getting stronger, building stamina and just getting miles under my feet. And, in many ways, I feel that speed will be a byproduct of that focus.

So going into this race, I knew I wasn’t going to be fast. I just wanted to be outside, I wanted to be running and I wanted to test my ankle. The only directive the doctor gave me to running is that I knew my limitations. So, I just kind used that as a gauge to how much I should push or hold back.

I didn’t have a time goal. I honestly didn’t care. I expected to probably walk a lot and come in dead last (which I wasn’t). I know those are some very high aspirations. But, I really didn’t know how it was going to all go without me being in the moment to test it.

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When the race started, I kind of casually jaunted across the starting line. I expected to run with my friend Julianna — who was sweeping — but, I decided to go ahead, because I expected to eventually meet up with her later in the race (again, which didn’t happen). So my friend Chad and I went out together.

We stuck together along the parkway for the first half of the race before parting ways at the turnaround aid station. He was picking up the race signs and decided to wait for Julianna — so I just went ahead solo. I wanted to test my ankle.

The first half of the race was tough getting a good pace for myself. The ankle wasn’t enjoying what I was giving it and acted it up some. But, when I went out solo I really tried to focus on finding a good pace to keep the pain minimal. And, it seemed to work well — for the most part.

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I eventually found a good pace, so I just stuck in my earphones, jammed out and just focused on my way to the finish line. I felt good. Sure there was some discomfort with my ankle, but I wasn’t sure if it was just the normal fatigue of the race, the flat terrain of the course or just the normal healing process of my sprain? It very well could have been a combination of all three.

Either way, I just worked on my consistency and tried not to worry much about the pressure of my finish time or pace. I could worry about that later on other runs. But, this was really just about discovering a starting point in my recovery.

While jamming out to my music — between mile 9-10, I came across what I thought was a litter of kittens in the middle of the parkway trail. As I approached the kittens, I realized they weren’t kittens — but, that of a family of skunks. Stinky cats.

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By the time I had approached the mama skunk had hurriedly corralled her babies to the side of the trail and started to turn her tail around to undoubtedly sprain me. After doing a scuttled dodge — that resembled more of a Larry, Curly or Moe movement than that of a secret agent — around the skunks I went on my merry way. But, with the thought — what if I got sprayed?

What if I got sprayed?

I could only imagine what the last 3-4 miles would have been like … the ride home … the post-race shower. Thank goodness I didn’t get sprayed. It would have been horrible. Horrible. Luckily, that is a reality that I didn’t have to experience.

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After the skunk encounter, I just kept forward as I was nearing the finish line. It was starting to get warmer and I could feel the fatigued settling in my legs. I had to stop a couple times to stretch — but, nothing too taxing with my ankle.

I crossed the finish line in 3:35 hours — one of my slowest half marathon times — and plopped myself on a curb to gather myself and drink some water. I was happy to be done. My ankle felt okay-ish and about what I expected.

I may not be where I wanted to be at this point from a few months ago, but this is the hand that I’ve been dealt. The focus is and will be for the next 8-9 months preparing for my 100 miler. I can’t let any short term setbacks distract myself from the long term goal. That’s the goal, that’s the destination.

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I’ll have better races and faster times. That will come. But, I just need to keep myself focused, keep my diet clean and on the right track with strengthening my ankle the right way. I’ll be blogging all about that later.

But, for now, I am just focused on the recover and the next couple of weekends running down Big Cottonwood. I am planning on eight miles next weekend with friends and then the Drop13 Big Cottonwood Half the following weekend. I’m bummed that I had to drop Ragnar, but there’s some solace in a run down Big Cottonwood.

Plus, it’s summer and that always makes for some great running!

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON OR BUST!


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


RACE #147: Jordan River Half Marathon, May 27, 2017 (3:35:48) There was nothing pretty about this run. I was just happy to be out on the course after a couple weeks off from running. After spraining my ankle in April, I wasn’t sure of the extent of the injury or needed recovery time. But, after a doctor appointment a couple days before the race, the doctor gave me a go with the caveat to not push it past my comfort level. The run was all over the place and I played with rhythm, pace and push. It was one of my slowest race times, but I don’t care. I do, but time wasn’t the goal here. The goal is to get me where I need to come February for my 100 miler. Like I said before, I was just happy to be out on the course! #race147 #jordanriverhalf #running @joshruns180 @josherwalla @fight4phat @myracemedals @extramileracing

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The Essence of Dave.

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Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 3.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 20.5 miles
TOTAL MILES — 36.6 miles
Race(s) this week — Jordan River Half Marathon

May 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 20.0 miles
Race Miles — 26.2 miles
Walking Miles — 94.19 miles
TOTAL MILES — 140.39 miles
Races in May — Provo City Half Marathon and Jordan River Half Marathon.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 225.25 miles
Race Miles — 177.62 miles
Walking Miles — 514.6 miles
TOTAL MILES — 917.47 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 and Jordan River Half Marathon.


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