Category: Running Thoughts

The thing about Joshua Trees …

This weekend is a big weekend of running for me. I am running both the Snow Canyon Half Marathon (St. George, Utah) and the Joshua Tree Half Marathon (Joshua Tree, California) on Saturday. As I’ve pointed out before here on the bloggy blog, I am not just running two half marathons in one day, I am also running my name!

Pretty cool if you ask me. I mean, how many people can say that they can run their name in a day?

Now if I could find a Hansen race …

But, in all honesty, under “normal” circumstances I probably would be just running the Snow Canyon Half Marathon on Saturday. Doing two half marathons in the same day is kinda crazy. Doable, but crazy. But, I have to do the Joshua Tree Half Marathon.

There’s no question about it.

I just have to.

There’s a fascination, a love, that I have for the Joshua Tree. Yes, it has a lot to do with my name — but, it’s much, much more than that. There’s the whole story behind how they got their name, the plant’s anatomy and how that all relates to me. I find it very fascinating and very allegorical — not just to life, but specifically my life.

When you break down the history, anatomy and personal meaning it has to me — it makes sense. It’s been a source of inspiration to me and hopefully you too with a broken down view of it …

NAMING OF THE JOSHUA TREE

The scientific name of the tree is Yucca Brevifolia — not a very sexy name. And, if it wasn’t for a group of Mormon Pioneers trekking through the Mojave Desert, we’d probably know these yucca plants as something like — desert daggers, palm tree yucca or yucca palm.

Legend has it that as the Mormon settlers made their way westward into California the plants reminded them of the prophet Joshua in the Old Testament with his out stretched arms in supplication to the Lord. Because of the specific elevation and location that these trees flourished their sighting also signified that the half way point of their journey.

The name stuck.

The name was further entrenched into the national lexicon when President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated the area as a national monument. Almost 60 years later the monument was elevated to a national park — the Joshua Tree National Park — that we know today (23 years ago yesterday to be exact).

THE JOSHUA TREE’S ANATOMY

I didn’t know much more about the Joshua Tree until I was in college. I mean, sure, I knew what it was — but, the anatomy and story behind the plant was just something I didn’t bother to learn about. Why did I? A Joshua Tree was a Joshua Tree in my mind.

When I was at Southern Utah University I had to take a biology class, and not wanting to take human biology (I kinda hate science), I aimed to take the easiest class possible — which I was told was Southern Utah Flora.

I’m not going to pretend that it wasn’t easy. It was. It was a five week class that met once a week for a 4-6 hour field trip. We’d go down to St. George, Snow Canyon, Mesquite and the Arizona Strip along I-15 and a few places closer to Cedar City.

Each place we stopped our professor would stop and talk about some plants, we’d have to write them down and take a picture of it and then put it into a notebook — which was our semester final and only project.

I told you it was easy. And, yes, I got an A.

I don’t remember much from the class, besides a few yucca plants, differing sage plants and, of course, the Joshua Tree. When we stopped on along the Arizona Strip the area was home to a number of Joshua Trees — and we got the story and anatomy lesson from our professor.

He explained to us the life of a Joshua Tree. It relied on the adversity it endured in the harsh desert climate to not just take root, especially since it’s root system was rather shallow and the base of the plant large and extensive with it’s many branches. That adversity endured in infancy strengthened it and made it the sturdy — nearly unmovable — plant in it’s adulthood.

DRIVING THROUGH JOSHUA TREE

Another reason why I love Joshua Trees is more personal than the previous two. When I was a kid I spent a lot of time in Southern California. A lot. Each summer my family would visit aunts, uncles and cousins who lived (and many still do) in the Orange County area. These trips would always entail a trip to Disneyland, Sea World and of course the beach. Some of my most favorite memories from these moments as a kid.

Being a large family we never flew, we always drove. And, I remember that trek from Salt Lake City to Orange County. I dreaded it. So many long hours in the car — way before the advent of DVD players, iPods and smartphones.

We would make the trip in our large red van with an individual box of coloring books, gadgets and candy (which mine was usually gone by Cedar City) and my my Dad’s box of cassette tapes of Beach Boys, Beatles, Neil Diamond and classic rock. Those drives were brutal, but that’s also where I learned my love for good music — not just classic rock — from my Dad.

Even if we split the trip up in St. George or Las Vegas it was not a very enjoyable ride for me. But, once we were past Las Vegas and we’d hit a patch of desert with hundreds of Joshua Trees I’d always put away what was distracting me and just stare out my window. Not only did these hundreds of trees mesmerize me with their twisting and turning branches, but they were “MY TREES” as I liked to call them.

Well, and then of course there was the part that they were also a sign that we were getting MUCH closer to our destination of Disneyland, family and the beach.

But, even today when I am passing through a desert area with Joshua Trees my attention is caught by “MY TREES” and I can’t help but stare in wonderment. Especially coupled with personal feelings of them now.

MY LESSONS FROM THE JOSHUA TREE

There are many, many lessons that I’ve learned and applied to my life over the years. When I was a kid the association of Joshua Trees with family vacation, California and even music will always stick with me. I feel many of those same feelings even now at 36.

But, after my class in college I started taking what I’ve learned about the Joshua Tree to heart. At that time in my life, I had a lot of uncertainty and commotion whirling around me. Knowing that I could take that commotion — or adversity — and turn it into a positive force was really life changing for me.

Realizing that, I started facing my life differently — I embraced those trails and looked for the good in them. I saw a similar partner in struggle, determination and growth. The Joshua Tree was truly “MY TREE” in many aspects of my life.

Even in the very nature of how it got it’s name is a lesson of the importance of prayer. Just like Joshua of the Bible my arms should always be raised in supplication to the Lord for guidance. I am sure Joshua could have managed life quite well without the Lord’s guidance — he was one considered one of the greatest military generals in history.

But, nonetheless, Joshua relied on the Lord for his strength, knowledge and direction not just as a military leader of the Israelites — but, the spiritual leader as well. And, there’s a lot that can be said about Joshua, but that’s a post for another day.

There are many lessons we can learn from the Joshua Tree, but the biggest thing I take away from it is — really — anatomy of the plant and how adversity in our lives can be of benefit. The adversity of life strengthens our roots, resolve and outlook. And, we should really embrace that as much as possible, because we can all grow even in the harshest of circumstances.

Because, that’s how we grow.


A post shared by The Runcast (@theruncast) on

43 Laps.

This past week I have been focusing on mentally preparing myself for the Jackpot Running Festival. Sure it’s in February. But, attempting to run 100 miles is something I’m trying to grasp. And, as much as I still need to put in the work physically — I have to do likewise mentally.

That is one reason why I did two half marathons this past Saturday and will do it again next weekend when I run the Snow Canyon and Joshua Tree Half Marathons. And, yet another reason why I have a number looooooooong timed training plans planned for December and January at the Olympic Oval — among other places.

I’m a very visual person. I have to see the end from the beginning, otherwise I’m lost. This is how I prepared myself for my first races in the 5K, half marathon, marathon and ultra distances. And, this 100 mile race is no different.

Over the past several months I’ve visualized my laps — not just the final laps, but the beginning and middle as well. I’ve visualized the pain I went through at mile 45 of my 50 miler and tripled that in the scope of how I might feel at miles 63, 82 or 96.

That final lap is what carries me. That’s what kept me optimistic this past race season as I’ve dealt with health and sprained ankle. And, let’s not pretend that I didn’t completely freak out in August that this wasn’t going to happen at all — so why even try?

But, that final lap made me believe it was going to happen.

In my attempt to further entrench the reality of what I am going to do, I decided to calculate the laps I will need to do for my 100 miles. Barring another washout of the course — the course should be 2.38 miles (last year it was 2.5 miles because the course had to be rerouted because of the flooding).

That’s 42.0168067 laps.

And, since I’m not quitting mid-lap, that’s 43 laps. Which makes my mileage for the race 102.34 miles.

I just have to do 43 laps. That’s it — 43 laps.

I can do that.

And, instead of viewing it as 43 2.38 mile laps, I’m cheating and viewing it as mile loops. Just 43 loooooong single mile loops.

I can do that.

It’s been a tough year for me. It’s sucked. Having a sprained ankle from April that has still given me problems has been beyond frustrating. I’ve been slower than I’ve wanted to be, my training has been tougher than I thought it would — and I have had my share of doubts.

But, as my running coach has reminded me — this race isn’t about being the fastest, it’s about doing what you’ve set out to do. And, that’s what I’ve been trying to remember and keep in mind.

This is about running 100 miles. This is about doing something that pushes me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This is about doing something that was unimaginable for me to do not just 10 years ago, but even a year ago.

This is about so, so much.

And, all I have to do is run 43 laps.

43.


A post shared by The Runcast (@theruncast) on

Running Thoughts …

  • So, the Mad Pooper is still at large, eh?
  • Also, why couldn’t we have given her a better nickname than Mad Pooper? Seriously. Mad Squatter? Poopy Runner? Sh*tty Runner? So many better alternatives than Mad Pooper. Just sayin’ …
  • There’s a new episode of The Runcast out today. I interview my friend Meridith in a special breast cancer awareness month episode. Give it a listen.
  • Today is National Coffee Day or as we like to call it here in Utah — Friday.
  • This is an interesting read I found on MentalFloss — it’s some interesting facts about coffee.
  • It’s been really interesting following the madness that ensued with the Mexico City Marathon. Over 5,000 runners we’re disqualified due to cutting the course, presumably to qualify for Boston. The Marathon Investigation website who’s caught a number of cheaters in other racers was one of the first to catch the glitch/cheating.
  • I actually really like Derek Murphy’s website — it makes for a great read and wonder why anyone would cheat? Other than for the LIKES and validation from social media?
  • Of all the investigations that Derek has done, one of my favorites will always be this one from earlier this month at the Disneyland Half Marathon. Not just cheating — but STEALING!
  • I’m pretty guilty of all of these.
  • Poor cat.
  • As someone who deals with Hashimoto’s Disease this interests me, but at the same time — I’m also very weary of what’s done to my food via science. Don’t count on me to rush to the store to buy gluten free wheat right away — but, I’m watching.
  • It seems like we all need the occasional reminder on Port-a-Potty etiquette, no?
  • Hmmmm … this seems like a new little podcast to throw into the queue.
  • Going old school is a real struggle these days.
  • So, I am supposed to run the Jordan River Marathon tomorrow — I am not sure which distance I am going to run yet? Is that bad? I’m signed up for 26.2, but 13.1 right now sounds more agreeable, doable and realistic. But, oh, how I want to do 26.2.
  • Interesting read. But, on another note — can I just say how much I HATE Burger King. It’s by far the nastiest of the fast food chains out there. Their burgers are crap and their french fries taste like sadness sprinkled with salt.
  • This is kind of an interesting read from Runners World about the keto diet. I am not sure if they’re trying to warn or mock the diet. I’ve had great success with it, but the tone is slightly off putting.
  • I’m pretty sure if my mother used text emojis she’d be just like this … well … actually, she has come to think of it. HA!
  • I did DietBet a couple times in the past … I am intrigued to try HealthyWage. I love the motivation.
  • We need more stories like this in the news today, am I right?
  • I wish Salt Lake City had a running club with street cred like these clubs.
  • I need a new adventure, I am not sure what that means or entails — I just need a new adventure. some new goals and a rocking vision.
  • I also need an In n’ Out burger — protein and animal style. But, that’s a whole other post for another day.

A post shared by The Runcast (@theruncast) on