Category: Trail Run

Living with Hashimoto’s: The Next Phase

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, and avocados.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyways — check out the list below.

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

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

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

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

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

BUT

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

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

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

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

(CLICK TO ENLARGE)

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

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

Fun stuff.

RACE #139: Jackpot Running Festival

Running, running, running, walking, walking, walking, running, running, walking, walking, walking, think about running, start running, quickly go back to walking, walking, walking, running, walking, running, walking, think about running, running, walking, walking, walking.

Oh, the life of an ultra marathoner.

It’s seriously no joke.

It’s such a different beast.

With as much walking, jogging, running, skipping, drudging and sludging one does during an ultra — once you hit that magical number of 26.3 miles — your life, mentality and sanity just … changes. And, I just love it. It’s a community that I feel right at one within. They are my kind of people.

Going into this weekend I have done three ultras since my first 50K in November 2015 — all in which were point to point or out and back courses. Which I all loved. But, I had never done a timed race. Meaning — I sign up for a race that allows me run as much as I want within a specific amount of time.

These kind of races are fairly popular with the uber-ultra runners. Those are the crazy runners that sign up for 48-72 hours and crank out 200-300 miles within that time limit. Now, while I am not one of THOSE runners, I love the concept and idea of running for time with no real pressure of cut-offs and mileage. You just do what you want and can do.

I dig that.

I really dig it.

And, that was why running this race, the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival, was very appealing to me. After flirting with doing the 24 and even the 48 hour race (it took me 38 seconds to come to the conclusion that was stupid) I decided to sign up for the 12 hour race — for a couple reasons.

One, I didn’t want to train for anything longer (especially during the winter — which has turned out to be a good decision) and, two, my friend Jill was going to run the 12 hour race for her first ultra. So considering those two points — it was an easier decision than what I was making it. A true win, win.

So the 12 hour race it was.

Having not done a timed and looped course like this (besides the New Year’s Run Resolution — which I don’t know if I’d count since it’s an indoor track) before, I had to rely on friends that have done these kind of races and specifically THIS race. Being a Vegas race in the middle of February you’d think it’d be fairly mild — but from years past it’s gotten kinda sketch with hot, hot weather. So that’s what I kind of prepared myself for throughout my training.

But, instead of running through Satan’s kitchen oven, we ended up getting a visit from Lucifer himself. Yeah, no joke. Major Storm Lucifer was heading our way — the forecast leading up to the race just called for rain. 10 days out it started conservatively at 70% reaching 90% by Thursday evening. By the time it gets to 90% I don’t know why they just don’t up that to 100% — but, I’m pretty sure meteorologists don’t for the sake of job security.

Anywho, needless to say,  we were going to be wet.

Having run the Ogden Marathon a number of times and being quite accustomed to running long distances in the rain — I kinda knew what to expect. Sure, I’ve never run an ULTRA in the rain, but I knew it could potentially suck and that I would need to OVER prepare myself.

So that’s what I did.

Packing before I left home was an adventure and a half. I packed four different drop bags of changes of clothes. I figured I could change every 3-4 hours if needs be. I knew that if I had a change of clothes every few hours that would really help me mentally get through the rain. That really helped me through the last three rainy Ogdens — KNOWING you have a complete set of dry clothes waiting for you really helps you mentally.

Did I over pack? Yeah, you betcha. Besides extra clothes, I packed away extra shoes, surgical tape (for my nipples), baby cream (for chaffing) and an array of applesauce packets, gels and caffeine shots. I just didn’t know what to expect — so I basically packed the kitchen sink.

Once in Vegas Jill and I grabbed our race packets on Friday night. At this point the weekend had already started with the 48 and 24 hour runners. And, it was already raining. Lucifer wasn’t dumping that hard at this point, but we knew the worst was coming because it had flooded Santa Monica and a number of areas in southern California. It wasn’t a matter of if, but when it hit us.

And, luckily for me — but, unfortunately for the runners already on the course — got SLAMMED by Lucifer in the middle of the night. So much so that the course had to be redirected because the reservoir we were running around overflowed in a couple of areas and washed out part of the paths. It even swept one runner off their feet.

By the time Jill and I got to the race on Saturday morning the changes were made and instead of running 2.38 miles per lap, it was an even 2.5 miles. For someone who struggles with math I was grateful for this change, but that also meant that we had to ascend and descend up a pretty steep hill twice (unlike once in the 2.38 mile loop). As much as I wasn’t looking forward to that, there wasn’t much to you could do at that point — so you had to do that stupid steep hill twice.

Our race started at 8am along with the six hour, marathon and 100 mile races (I’m pretty sure there were other distances that started to, but I’ve got “ultra brain” so I can’t remember them all). There were quite a few of Utah runners in this group and it was nice to see a few familiar faces. But, when the gun sounded at 8am — we were all off running our races.

My game plan for the race was fairly simple. Start off conservatively and then gradually speed up so that I could reach my goal of 35-40 miles. I stuck with Jill to start off the race and we kept ourselves at a pace that kept us on pace to minimally hit 40 miles in 12 hours. It was a lot of fast walking, running down hills and minimal breaks at aid stations.

I even got a surprise visit from my dear friend Tricia and her husband who were in town for the weekend as well (they were staying like 5 minutes from the park). They both finished that lap with us — and I must say — I’m grateful they snapped lots of pictures while doing so, otherwise I don’t know how many I would have had?

But, it was a total surprise and mood booster to get a visit and encouragement from them both.

Initially I wanted to stay with Jill and on this pace for at least a good 6-7 laps (15-18 miles–ish) before pushing it a bit faster. But, I ended up sticking with her for nine laps (22.5 miles) partly out of rhythm and partly out of the rain. We weren’t getting slammed by rain, but it was getting a little heavy and I wanted to wait a lap or so to have it ease up so I could start pushing my effort a bit more.

But, after I finished my ninth lap, I just had to go. I was starting to feel anxious and the last thing I wanted to do was get a panic attack in the middle of an ultra —- so, I said goodbye to Jill, grabbed some grub at the aid station and just booked it. The rain was coming down a bit harder, but I just didn’t care — I just wanted to run. So that’s what I did.

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I ran a lot of stretches that I had been fast walking and just lost myself in my thoughts and music. And, I almost immediately hit mentality and frame of mind that was slightly nirvanic. I was focused mentally, emotionally and spiritually and I just felt strong — so I just chased that balance.

And, it felt great.

I cranked out three straight really good laps with this focus, before I slowed down a couple of times to visit with a few other runners. That’s the one thing I absolutely love about the ultra community, you get to meet and talk with some amazing people — not just runners — but people. And, I love to just LISTEN to them. It’s such a different vibe from road races that I just dig.

But, after a couple laps making friends I had three laps (7.5 miles) left to hit 16 laps (40 miles). When I realized that I still had about 2.5 hours left to hit this I felt extremely excited because 40 miles was my stretch goal. And, I was reaching it. This gave me a third — or maybe fourth? — wind that this point.

So I kept going.

During my second to last lap I caught up again with Jill and we stuck together for the homestretch. I had two laps to get my 40 miles and she was on her last lap to get to 35 miles which was her race goal as well. It was dark by this point but we both kept just going. We were both exhausted, but we cranked out that lap — and though she reached her 35 mile goal, I still had one more lap to get my 40. And, somehow I talked her into running that last lap with me.

I really don’t know how I talked her into it?! I am almost sure she just kept following me on accident as I kept going — and, by the time she figured out what she was doing — it was too late — so she just finished the lap with me. Either way, I was proud of her effort and was grateful for the company.

As we approached the finish line — for the ABSOLUTE last time — I grabbed my camera for the homestretch (like I did when she ran her first marathon) and recorded Jill crossing the finish line with her hand in hand with her daughter. It was a tender moment and yet another moment I will cherish, because this journey has not been easy for Jill — but, she’s done it and it’s a journey that her kids will cherish.

After an exhilarated moment of celebration — we still had about 20 minutes until our 12 hours were up. While it was slightly tempting to try to get one more mile in, I was done. My body got to that 40th mile and just said — ENOUGH. So, that was enough.

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But, I can’t tell you how proud I was of myself to reach that 40. I kept telling myself that 35 miles would be GREAT to reach, but I knew I was lying to myself. I knew I could do more and I am glad that I pushed myself toward that. And, I have to credit a lot of that toward my diet change, I have so much more energy and stamina just in the past month. I felt like a true Hashimoto’s Warrior out there on the course.

I feel like a few more months of consistency and training that stamina is just going to get stronger — and I am excited for that. I am excited to see what I can do and test my limits a bit more and more. I really want to do the race again next year and either push for 50 in the 12 hours — or why not go for the 100 miler?

Why not?

I should temper some of that excitement, but it’s hard for me to that after struggling so much with my health the past couple of years. I was robbed of my stamina and energy on many, many workouts, runs and race — and now that it is coming back — I want to push myself. Because I KNOW I have the mental capability to run longer and stronger — I just need the rest of my body to meet up with the mind. Which I feel will come in time.

Anywho, I can’t be any more excited for this past weekend’s race and festivities. It was nice to get away even if I went straight into the eye of Lucifer, because I got to spend some quality time with great friends. It helped recalibrate priorities, purposes and focus for me — and I just needed this weekend.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


RUNNING MILES

105.55 miles

RACE MILES

56.82 miles

WALKING MILES

122.77 miles

MILES TO DATE

285.14 miles


Mama warned me about Vegas. #jackpotrunningfestival #race139 #ultrarunning @joshruns180 @fit.phat

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When you’re in Vegas, you naturally visit your Vegas girlfriend. It’s just what you do. #vegasgirlfriend

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A trip to Vegas isn’t a trip to Vegas without a fountain show at the Bellagio! #vegasmust

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This should be my 2017 race schedule …

Okay, I think I’ve got my complete 2017 race schedule figured out.

I think.

Which is a definite maybe.

But, let me explain it a little bit. I have a race each month except December. I might add a race in December, but I am not planning on it. It’s a good rest month after a long year of running.

My busiest month is June. I have seven races planned for the month. Yes, seven. I have Ragnar during the first weekend, the Utah Valley Marathon on the 10th, the Bear Lake Trifecta (three half marathons in three days) the following week and then the Utah Midnight Run (Friday night) and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer (Saturday morning) the following weekend.

I have three total back-to-back races planned. My first being the Salt Flats 50K (April 28) and Tulip Festival (April 29), Utah Midnight Run (June 23) and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer (June 24) and then the Utah Midnight Run (July 7) and Hobbler Half (July 8).

The biggest of those back-to-backs the April one with my 50K and half marathon. Not sure how that’s going to go, but I am betting I’ll walk a lot of the Tulip Festival Half. A lot.

In total I have 32 races planned — 23 half marathons, 5 marathons, 2 ultra marathons, a 25K and the Ragnar Relay. This includes one indoor race, 5 trail races and the rest road races.

Lots of running.

And, if you’re trying to estimate miles — that’s about 525-530 miles. Just in racing miles.

So, yeah — it’s going to be a big mileage year.

Anyways here is my schedule … what’s on your schedule?

Figuring this Hashimoto’s thing out …

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for me. Besides figuring out this whole Hashimoto’s Disease out — I’ve been dealing with a beastly bout of bronchitis. I feel lucky it hasn’t been the flu, but that hasn’t stopped the fatigue of restless nights from coughing up a lung and a half.

I thought I was turning a corner after sleeping most all day on Sunday, but I ended up coughing all night Monday night and skipped work. It’s been frustrating, because I’ve wanted to get into a good rhythm with my workouts and runs. But, I don’t have the stamina or lungs for it — yet. And, I just need to be patient.

But, while I’m somewhat impatient to get back into my groove — I’ve really been focused on the adoption of my gluten and dairy free diet. It’s been tough. I won’t lie. I haven’t been as aware of labels and food content under any diet. But, this isn’t just a diet — this is my new lifestyle.

I wouldn’t say I have a specific diet down at this moment. To be honest with you I’m kind of trying things out to see what works best for me. I’ve been trying gluten-free breads and other foods to kind of see what I like. And, I won’t lie — not a huge fan of gluten-free bread — or at least what I’ve tried.

I’ve been sticking to a lot of what I ate while doing Whole 30 — and I think that’s where my focus will be mostly on my diet. Meaning, a lot of salad, steak and sweet potatoes — not to mention fresh fruit and veggies.

But, for now, I really want to see what I like and don’t like within the realm of gluten and dairy free foods.

One of the biggest omissions in this new lifestyle is that of cheese. I love cheese. I love it. And, I miss it. I’ve had some tips on vegan cheese that’s a good substitute. I haven’t tried those yet — but, I am sure I will get around to it. Especially when it comes to nachos.

Anyways — this is transition isn’t easy,

But, this week being sick and not able to get a whole blown workout regime in, I’ve had to focus on my diet. Which I think is a blessing in disguise, because focusing on just the food has helped me kind of further — process — what I am going through. Mainly, that this is a new lifestyle and my decision for food need to be precise.

Plus, I need to find that rhythm that works for me and I think I am getting that down a bit better. Not to mention changing my thought process so I’m not focusing on what I CAN’T eat and what I can or should so I can feel better.

I guess in a way, I’m approaching this like any other race or new distance. I’m starting it in slowly — learning, experimenting and doing — while mentally and physically preparing myself for the long haul. While there is no finish line to all of this, the mentality and approach is the same. This journey just happens to be longer than any race I’ve run before.

Anyways — I’ll keep updating you on all of this throughout the next few weeks and months. But, while my focus has been acclimating myself to the new diet, I’m also focusing on my training and fitness. I’ve got a few looooong runs and races coming up that I want/need to be ready to tackle.

This weekend I am running the Olympic Oval for 5-6 hours, hoping to get in a good 20-25 miles. I have the Jackpot Running Festival in about a month I want to get a couple more looooong runs in before I tackle the 12 hour race. And, since you won’t find me running outside right now with the air and weather — I’m taking it inside.

There is a group of runners meeting tomorrow morning at the Oval at 6am and — well — just running. We’re running circles around the ice sheet. It should be a lot of fun. There is quite a group gathering that should make it fun. It won’t be as big as the New Year’s Run Resolution, but it’ll be a party.

Besides Jackpot, I also have my self-supported 50 miler in March and the Salt Flats 50K in April. So, I’ve got some training to do. And, not that I am getting past this stupid cold and bronchitis — I’m feeling up for the challenge. Not to mention now that I am fueling myself even better.

LET’S DO THIS THING!

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How Joshua is getting his groove back …

First off, I’m no Stella. Thank goodness. I’d make a horrible woman. But, that’s a post for another day. But, after a month from my last race — it’s time to get my groove back.

As I have posted before — I took a couple of weeks off from running. Justifiably so. I ran a lot of miles between mid-August to early November. A couple of 20 milers, a handful of half marathons, three marathons, a 50 miler and then my 50K — my last race.

I was burnt out. I was tired. I was sick of running (GASP! — hey, I’ll admit it when it happens). So I took some time off. Focused on weight and strength training and didn’t worry about my mileage. At all. I was a nice running sabbatical.

But, after Thanksgiving and a stupid cold — I’m ready to get my groove back. I’m ready to get into a stricter routine than what I’ve been holding myself to last month (or not holding myself to). I’m really getting excited about my upcoming running year and as much as I could justify waiting to get the groove back after the first of the year — I’m refusing to play that game.

So the groove comes back now.

The groove is coming back now for a number of reasons. One, because now is the best time to start any new adventure/goal/plan. And, two, I’ve got nothing better to do with my life.

Okay, I lied about that last one. I’ve got plenty to do this month — and that’s why I’ve got to keep myself in line and disciplined. It’s so easy to let yourself go — with exercise, diet and motivation. We’ve all been there.

To help with that a friend of mine and I are working on keeping each other on track. We’re committing to at least two miles on the treadmill and then a new exercise to do each day.

For me personally, besides holding myself to that standard with my friend, I am planning on making the goal of walking on the treadmill any time I’m watching TV. I’m doing this to stay active, but it’s also great ultra training. Great, great, great ultra training — it’s time on my feet.

And, I’ll be doing a few 50Ks earlier in the year so I’ll need that time and training. Nothing prepares you for hours upon hours of endless ultrarunning like hours upon hours of endless treadmill running. I’ll be going to more detail about my training plan later this month — but, I’m not an outside runner during the week (mainly because I’m home only when it’s dark) so I have to rely on the treadmill for my miles.

But, I feel motivated. I feel excited. I am ready to get my groove back. To work on my mojo and get fitter than I was last year so my body can build the stamina it needs to make 2017 a great year.

Go, fight, win!

RACE #136: Antelope Island Classic 50K

Tough things are tough. But, man, can tough things be more than rewarding. That’s kind of how I feel right now. That’s kind of how I felt going into this race. I knew this was going to be tough, I knew it was going to suck at points, but I knew that in the end I would come away with that rewarding feeling that I did something awesome.

I wasn’t planning on running the 50K. In fact, when I signed up I did so for the half marathon THINKING this would be a great way to wind down my racing season, especially two weeks after running the Pony Express 50.

But, then Pony happened aaaaaaand I got the bug. Not to mention my recovery from the Pony 50 was better than expected. My legs recovered faster than I expected and looking at the trail half marathon happening this weekend — I KNEW I could do the 50K. I just didn’t know if I wanted to do the 50K, I mean two weeks after a 50 miler is kinda crazy to do a 50K?!

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Then again — what’s an adventure without those moments of crazy? I tried to temper that itch, but after a couple of days I contacted the race director, Jim Skaggs, and asked him if I could up my registration from the half to the 50K. He more than obliged and before I knew it — I was signed up for the 50K.

The reason why I decided to do the 50K was kind of two fold — one, I knew I could do it, because I ran this last year and, two, I wanted some redemption out on this course. Last year I ran this 30-35lbs. heavier and it took a toll on me. The hills between miles 11-14 were brutal on my body and I flirted with cutoff time after cutoff time. So this year I just simply wanted to do better than laster — I wanted to feel and do better than 2015.

And, for the most part — I did.

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The night before the race I laid everything out on the couch that I THOUGHT that I needed. And, compared to last year I really cut down on what I took with me. I didn’t take my hiking pack with me, just my small back pack. This year I packed with some salt and vinegar potatoes, candy, back up water and applesauce to name a few compared to the change of clothes, shoes and 2-3 bottled water I had last year.

Yeah, I was a TOTAL rookie last year. Bad decisions.

I eagerly hopped into bed and was planning on getting up around 4-4:30am so I could be in my car and at the Island by around 6:30-7am for the 8am start time. But, I woke up at 3am and just stayed up. I wasn’t nervous, just more excited than anything, because besides being another ultra this would be my last true race of the year. More on that below.

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So I just kind of laid in bed for a while reading, checking my Facebook and mentally preparing for the day. I have to say it was kind of nice not feeling stressed or rushed. I just took my time and moseyed on over to Antelope Island to pick up my bib and make my way to the starting line.

Honestly, I could have probably showed up at 7am and been fine. Because I ended up sitting in my car for about an hour waiting for the start. But, it was kind of nice being there earlier than most everyone else because I got first pick of the port-a-potties at the starting line. These were the only port-a-potties along the course — so I made sure to take advantage of them before I starting running.

Before starting I did manage to get out of the car for the prerace instructions and stand at the fire pit with a number of friends who were out there to either race or volunteer. This has always been my favorite part of running. I don’t usually get to see many friends out there (because they’re usually faster than me) so the pre and post-race festivities are usually my favorite. But, it was great to see a few faces I haven’t seen in awhile.

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My strategy for the race was rather simple and it helped having ran the course before. I knew there’d be quite a bit of climbing for the first 14-15 miles of the race so I wanted converse my energy as best as I could the those first couple of miles. I wanted to have enough energy around miles 5-6 and 11-14 where the biggest climbs on the course are located. So I started off slow and focused on a brisk walk while using with my walking rods.

It really was a good strategy because I knew if I didn’t pace myself I would die on those climbs. And, the rods helped because they kept me just above a dead man’s march. This was my first time using the rods and they made a HUGE difference. As long as I was focusing on a rhythm it was like I had a pacer out there keeping me on track. I don’t think I can ever do trails again without them.

At about mile 3-4 the last runner on the course caught up with me. And, of course, we became friends. I was happy for the company, especially know the hills in front of us. So we became instant friends for the next 10-12 miles.

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His name was Jeff and he was from California. This was his 200-something-th ultra and at nearly 70 years young he was still going (his friend out there and ahead of us was older). For the past several years he’s been working on running ultras in every state. He’s run ultras in all 50 states, but now he wants to run five ultras in every state — he’s probably 3/4 of the way done?

Either way — a VERY impressive resume. And, so for the most part I just listened to his stories. Stories about running ultras in Rhode Island, Tennessee, Hawaii and New Jersey. Stories of friends and how aging has impacted their running. And, of course the granddaddy of them all the Western States 100.

We even touched on art and books and just life. It was a great way to pass the time and not focus on the stupid hills ahead of us. I was very appreciative of the company. Distraction is the great pain reliever in running.

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At mile 13-ish I knew we were going to be hitting the hill that nearly killed me last year. The only way to explain this hill is that it’s pure hell. It sucks. It’s miserable. But, there’s only one way to conquer it and that’s by doing.

Last year I would about 5-10 steps before stopping. Not to mention that, but every 30-40 steps I’d sit down and figure out a new way to die so I didn’t have to climb further. It was miserable. Miserable, miserable, miserable. Even Tim Gill who was running with me had the same struggles up that blasted hill.

But, this year I just wanted to do better than last year. I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but I wasn’t planning on stopping every 5-10 steps. I just wanted to push myself further and take less breaks. So that was the gameplan — as simple and unpremeditated as it was.

A photo posted by Joshua Hansen (@fight4phat) on

I was still running with Jeff at this point, but at the base of the hill as we started the climb I told him I would see him at the top if he didn’t keep pace with me. I just had to go my pace if I was going to conquer the hill I’ve dubbed, “Stupid Steep Hill.” So I tapped into my inner mountain goat and inched up the hill with my walking rods in hand.

I was feeling pretty good when I got half way up the hill. Having probably overexerted myself a bit too much (I only stopped once at that point) I felt a little faint — so I sat down on the hill to eat some applesauce, a little water and a couple Swedish Fish. I needed some quick energy for the rest of the climb and I wasn’t about to pass out in my attempt.

Jeff was about 100 yards behind me as I took my break and informed me he was going to bow out at the aid station. I was bummed to hear that, but he was preparing for a 50 miler in a couple of weeks and he was feeling a cold coming on and didn’t want to risk it. I completely understood and for someone who’s ran over 200 ultras I’m sure this isn’t his first DNF. So I just kept moving forward — well, upward — on the hill.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

As much as that hill sucks — I kept reminding myself that I was much stronger than last year. And, that this wasn’t as hard as Mile 45 was during my 50 miler. I wouldn’t say this made the hill any easier physically, but being in tougher situations mentally does help make it easier to endure.

Before I knew it I had made it up that bleeping hill. I only stopped about three times — and by stop I mean hunched over to catch my breath — but, I felt great, especially knowing the rest of the course was much, much easier from this point on. No more up hill climbs!

Despite that sense of accomplishment I got to the aid station depleted. I was feeling pretty week and knew I needed to refuel. I wanted more liquid than food, but still helped myself to some salted potatoes and a banana. But, there at the aid station I saw staring at me — was a can of Mountain Dew.

A photo posted by Joshua Hansen (@fight4phat) on

Now, for those who know me — I haven’t had soda in nearly four years. I decided to cut it out to help with my running and weight-loss. And, it’s been a big difference. I don’t crave it like I used to, but there at mile 14 after that hill — I needed it. My body craved it.

And, I caved.

Do I feel bad about my moment of weakness? Um, kinda? But, not really. Because it was a total game changer for me — the sugar, sodium, caffeine and carbonation gave me new life. Sure it broke my streak, but it also saved my life — well, okay, run.

And, in the miles after I left the aid station I made the pact with myself that I would continue to not drink soda recreationally. But, during an ultra — totally acceptable. Not half marathons or marathons — just ultras. Because if I made the exception for those distances — I might as well just make Mountain Dew my official beverage of choice. But, ultras are different beasts and the soda made a big difference for me.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

After leaving the aid station I started the descendant down towards the ranch house. I love this part because it’s down hill, but after killing my quads climbing up the other side of the mountain the quads don’t want to give you free reign to cruise down the hill. Plus, the descendant it just slightly past comfortable. Which caused for a semi-fast slow run down the trail.

To my surprise Jeff was right behind me and caught up to me. Even though he had said he was bowing out, he decided to stay out there after talking to the sweepers and aid station. He told me he decided to keep going because he was sick of listening to his whining. I chuckled at his reasoning, because I can totally relate.

As much as I wanted to stay with Jeff and have some company I still felt the need to just keep going at my pace. Part of this desire was from the need to proof to myself that I could do better than last year, but also from the stronger desire that I just wanted to just simply be done. So I kept my pace.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Once I got to the ranch house the course flattened out so I put away my walking rods and just ran. Well, shuffled. The legs were pretty shot.

But, I knew this was where the half marathon started so mentally I tried to create a new race in my mind. Meaning I tried to forget the previous 17-18 miles and just focus on the 13.1 mile ahead of me. It kinda worked. I still got reminders when I tried to push my legs further than they wanted to, but I just wanted to keep pushing myself as much as I could — because I wanted to do better than last year.

I got to the last two aid stations with about a half hour to give from last year’s time — which made me feel really encouraged. I fueled up with some sips of Mt. Dew, bananas and at Mile 19 some pretzels and M&M’s. I rarely touched much of the food I brought with me — which surprised me. I was bummed too, because I had some Gummy Peaches I wish I had had the stomach for — but, just didn’t.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

At the last aid station I came in right before Jeff — and at this point the sweepers caught up with me as well. We were the last two runners out there. But, at this point Jeff was really done and he ended up bowing out — leaving me out there as the last runner. Which I had no problem with — I just didn’t want to spend that much time with the sweepers.

The last seven miles were actually pretty relaxing. I was slowing down a bit so I took out my walking rods again to help pace me and just focused on the mile ahead of me. It was actually pretty peaceful and in those last few miles I found a good rhythm.

It wasn’t until about a mile and a half (or less) that the sweepers caught up with me. And, quite honestly, I probably would have kept going without them if it wasn’t for a buffalo standing along the trail ahead of me. These were the same sweepers that helped move buffalo standing on the trail so I just waited for them to do it again for me.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Even with the buffalo moved I still sheepishly crept around it trying not to make sudden movements or looking threatening to it. I know I wasn’t looking threatening to it — but, buffalo can be jerks at times and I just wanted to be safer than sorry.

Once the buffalo wasn’t an issue I spent the last mile or so with the pacers. They had remembered me from the previous year and were astounded by my progress — I was much stronger and faster than last year. And, it was nice to have someone out there see that too.

When I got to the finish line I was first greeted by Robert Merriman who snapped a couple pictures of me. But, then as I crossed the finish line I got the treatment by not just strangers, but friends like the Veaters and Heather McFarland, as I finished. I couldn’t ask for better friends and a better running community to be a part of.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

After the race I grabbed my finisher’s mug and grabbed some buffalo stew along with some water and food to chow down before making the drive home. It was actually a pretty peaceful moment — the race crew left rather quickly including my friends leaving just me there as I ate my chili watching the sun set over the western end of the Great Salt Lake.

In that moment I just thanked God for allowing me that day — for the new friendships — for the obstacles — for the found strength — and of course the ability to do something I absolutely love to do.

While I have grown madly in love with the trails and ultra distances my body is also ready for a change of pace. Mainly, it’s ready for some rest. Especially when you consider that I’ve ran three marathons, a 50 miler and a 50K in the past two months.

So the next couple of months the focus is going to more on strength training and some cross training. I want to hit the weightroom and lower my mileage for a bit before getting back into racing at the start of the year.

But, you better believe me that I’ll be back on those trails next year. I’m already signed up for the Antelope Island Buffalo Run in March.

I wouldn’t miss it.


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So, as I mentioned above I am no longer running the Thankful 13 on Thanksgiving. Why? Well, I am actually going to be working it! I am the volunteer coordinator — for at least the Thankful 13 if not other Runtastic races. Sure I am bummed that I am not running the race, but it’ll be fun still being there and a part of the race.

Basically my job will be getting volunteers for the packet stuffing, packet pick up and race day jobs. It’s a big task, but one I am excited about. I’ve done volunteer coordinating before and know it’s no easy task.

Like I’ve told friends if you can volunteer a few hours on or around race day we’d love your help! You can sign up for specific jobs here. So please sign up if you can. Remember for every hour you volunteer you get 20% off a future race. Meaning five hours equals a FREE race!

So anyways, I flirted with the idea of signing up for the Bakers Dozen Half to replace Thankful on my schedule, but you know what? I’m not. I want the rest. Well, rest from running. My focus for the next couple of months is going to be strength and cross training. I’ll still run, but I’m back off the racing until the turn of the calendar. A decision I feel good about.

This makes my next race the New Year’s Run Resolution on New Year’s Eve at the Olympic Oval. I’m not sure if you count this as a race, because it’s more like a party, but it’ll be a fun way to kick off 2017 — with running and friends. And, not to mention a good way to kick off my marathon and ultra training.

But, yeah, a change of pace I’m excited about. So make sure to sign up to volunteer for the Thankful 13! We’d love your help!

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WE’RE BACK! After a couple months of life and “stuff” (mainly VERY busy schedules, etc., etc., etc.) — The Runcast is back! In this episode I sit down with Coach Blu from Team Addict to Athlete and talk about our Pony Express 50 miler. We talk about the ups and downs and how we got through it.

Hopefully we paint a picture of what it’s like to tackle a beast like this for newcomers to the ultra scene. It’s not easy, it’s tougher than tough — but, so rewarding at the same time.

Give this episode a listen and then make sure to come back next week as Coach interviews me on the AIIA Podcast …


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RUNNING MILES

253.55 miles

RACE MILES

400.05 miles

WALKING MILES

1275.09 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

1928.69 miles

A photo posted by The Runcast (@theruncast) on

Goals for tomorrow’s 50K …

So as some of you may know — I’m running the Antelope Island Classic 50K tomorrow morning — well, okay, all day. Let’s be honest here, it’ll probably take me the full 10 hours like last year. But, that’s beside the point.

This is my third ultra in the past year. In fact this race was my first ultra marathon — unless you count the Utah Valley Marathon in 2014 where I got lost. But, again — I digress. And, after running my first 50 miler a couple weekends okay, I feel fairly versed in the ultrarunning universe (which should read — total rookie).

But, I know what to expect and what not to expect. Especially with this race. For one, it’ll be no walk in the park — though I’ll be mostly walking … in … a state park. And, these beasts are nothing like marathons. I mean what marathon gives you salted potatoes, potato chips, M&M’s and everything not found a whole food diet at every aid station? (this is why I love ultras … taps into my inner fat kid).

I was initially going to run the half marathon, but after my 50 miler and getting the itch for distance I decided to up my registration to the 50K. Having ran this course last year gave me the confidence to know that I could do it again. Being 25-30lbs. lighter also helps. But, just knowing the course and knowing where I can push or hold back helps a lot.

So here I am on the brink of running ultra #3 — and I can’t be any more excited about it.

Like my marathons, I don’t have a time goal for my ultras. Well, I guess I do — my time goal is to finish and not be swept off the course. I came close last year on this course. But, that didn’t defer me from doing this again — because as I mentioned before, knowing the course and being lighter than last year helps.

But, I do goals for my race tomorrow and when I cross the finish line tomorrow afternoon I want to be able to look back and not only be satisfied with another ultra finish, but knowing that I met these goals as well …

Don’t Poop My Pants

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You’re probably laughing at this being on my list, but really, honestly, no joking — this is my goal for any run. Not just race, but run. The worst thing I can think happening to myself out on a run is pooping my pants. Especially, if I couldn’t tell I had, but everyone else around me could. And, I’d like to think that I am not the only runner who has this worry and goal.

When I ran my 50 miler a couple weeks ago this was a BIG worry for me. Forget about the miles of death I experienced late in my race, I was more worried about my bathroom situation, because the only port-a-potties were 50 miles apart. Yep — at the starting and finish line.

And, of course I had to use it about four miles into my race. Luckily for me it was still dark so I walked far out into the desert pretending to admire the scenery before doing my morning squats before burying it like a cat in a litterbox. Luckily, all went well and that was the only time I had to “take care of business” because it was a big deal for me.

Yet, that’s really the only time I’ve gone outside of port-a-potty during the middle of a run. And, with me running more trails I know it won’t be the last. But, it still worries the heck out of me. The whole idea of using it roadside with the full moon out worries me. But, there’s no modesty in ultrarunning and I have to remember that.

So, yeah, don’t poop my pants.

Don’t Flirt with Cut-off Times

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Last year when I ran this race with Tim we came UBER close to 2 of the 3 cutoff times. We were slowed down a bit by an injury which made us a bit slower. To make sure we got the last cutoff we had to book it the 2-3 miles between the two aid-stations. It wasn’t fun at mile 23-25 after having ran all day.

So, my goal is to not even flirt with them this year. I am not TOO worried about getting as close as last year, but I want to stay mindful of them — especially as I am “running” the hills between miles 11-14. That will be my slowest miles for sure.

But, the plan is once I get to the mile 14 aid station I’ll pick up the pace as I descend down the mountain and towards the ranch. That stretch we walked and killed our time. That should put me in a good position to cut off a hour or so from last year’s time.

But, just being used to the course and being lighter than last year will help. I just don’t want the time to have such a daunting presence as it was last year. I want to enjoy the scenery and time out on the trails.

Don’t Get Friendly with Earl

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The picture above is from a few years back at this race. And, if you’re wondering what that buffalo (nicknamed affectionately Earl) is doing — he is pinning a man (who got too close to Earl) against the fence. And, surprisingly, the man came away unscathed (except from probably his underwear).

Anyways — I’m kinda surprised I still picked to make this my first ultra after seeing this. Especially considering I have problems when I see lawn furniture that might look like deer. I have a slight fear of hooved animals — especially when it comes to deer, moose, elk and anything that pretends to be cuddly and lovable when it’s obvious it has alternative motives.

I haven’t had many encounters with buffalo — outside of Yellowstone from the safety of my car, but I’ve kinda clumped them into that same category. .I just don’t want to run into one unexpectedly — anywhere — whether it’s on this run or in life.

Last year I only had one run in with a buffalo that made me feel uncomfortable. It was in the last two miles of the race and this dang buffalo defiantly stood on the trail I had to pass. I stood there not knowing what to do and the buffalo stood there like a jerk knowing I didn’t know what to do.

Then a runner behind us starting flailing their hands and making a lot of noise — at first to my horror — but, then I saw the buffalo simply move on. He didn’t want any part of this runners mojo and he moved on. The runner explained to Tim and I that they’re like cattle and as long as you aren’t threatening them and make noise they’ll move on.

Duly noted.

Now, does that make me a buffalo whisperer all of the sudden? Hell no. Am I still worried about buffalo? Hell yes. If I encounter a cranky buffalo during my race I’ll try that runner’s approach, but I am not sure how much confidence I have in it?

If it doesn’t budge I am not sure exactly what to do next? Do I ask it nicely to move? Do I put on some Celine Dion to get it to move on (I know that would work for me)?

The simple answer is probably finding a roundabout route. But, I’m also praying it never comes to that. I want to enjoy the buffalo — from a distance. And, that’s about it.

Make a new friend out on the trails — but, preferably not with Earl

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I hate to put this goal in the same boat as my goal of not pooping my pants, but this is another one of my ‘every run’ goals. I’m just a people person (if you couldn’t tell). I love meeting new people while out on my running adventures. This is one reason why I love pacing and sweeping — you never know who’re going to meet.

I know a few people running the 50K, but they’re pretty much faster than me — which is fine. I don’t hate them for that (I just hate them for getting to the buffalo chili before me). And, since I am doing this race solo — unlike last year, I’m sure what adventure is ahead of me?

I’m coming prepared to jam out by myself with my killer trail running soundtrack, but I’d much prefer not to use that for most of the race. I want to make some new friends, especially with back of the packers (my people). And, hopefully, when I make new friends tomorrow they’re also buffalo whisperers so I don’t have to do that myself.

Whatever the case is, I’d really love to make a new friend or two out thur on the trails. Trails are so much more fun when you’re out there with people you like.

Especially when they’re not afraid of hooved animals.

Have ULTRA amounts of FUN!

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No matter the race, distance or pace — my goal is to ALWAYS have the most amount of fun possible. I wouldn’t be running otherwise. Running has been a huge blessing in my life that has brought a lot of joy into — so whether I am out on the roads or trails — I’m going to have fun.

And, tomorrow is no different. I’m going to have a blast out there! I’m going to make new friends, see old friends, conquer hills and put my legs on cruise control enjoying the scenery. Is there anything else I can ask for to make it even more perfect? Not much.

I’m ready for this adventure and challenge ahead of me. I know it won’t be easy, but that’s why I love it. I love the challenge ahead of me and I can’t wait to see what lessons lay ahead. But, you better believe me — I’ll be striving for all of that while aiming to have the most amount of fun possible.

That’s the only way I know how to run.

So there it is, my goals for tomorrow’s race. As I stated above, I am excited for this race. I feel prepared. I feel ready. I feel eager. I just want to get out there and run.

People think I am crazy for doing this … and I won’t correct them, because there is degree of madness involved in ultrarunning. But, there is absolutely nothing better than just BEING in the moment and running something that is beyond comprehension to an older self.

5-6-7 years ago this would be unimaginable.

But, here I am.

And, I’m ready to run!

Come back on Sunday for my race pictures and then next Tuesday or Wednesday I’ll have a detailed race report.

A photo posted by The Runcast (@theruncast) on