Category: Training

Looking Beyond 180 …

It’s hard to imagine that I am just 21 races from hitting my 180 goal. I knew this day would come, but when I made the goal — I honestly thought I would be pushing 40 a BIT closer than I am now. If you’re keeping track at home — I turned 36 just last month.

When I realized that I was going to hit this goal MUCH sooner, I decided to hit my 180 goal at the Handcart Days Half Marathon in July of next year. Not only was this my first half marathon, but it’s in my hometown and a part of a celebration that has a lot of meaning for me. It just seems perfect.

So that means I have 10 months to finish these 21 races and hit that goal. I am excited for that journey and whatever it brings — it’ll include my 100 mile run, a couple of marathons and some fun trail and road races.

But, I am also beginning to look beyond my 180th race. Some people have already been asking what will be after the 180? 300 races? 500 races? Will I go into triathlons? Will I focus more on ultras? Or just stop like Forrest Gump?

What?

Honestly, I want to be more ambiguous with my next journey. I don’t want to focus on the number of races as I want to focus more on the adventure. An adventure of collective goals — from PRs to destination races to destination places to run. If I’ve learned anything from the 159 races that I’ve done so far it’s that there’s so much more joy in the adventure than anything else.

I want more of that.

I thrive for adventure and I am excited to embrace that with more tenacity in the coming years. And, as I am reclaiming my health and thyroid, I look forward to getting faster and hitting some of those PR goals I’ve wanted to hit for the past few years.

Not only do I want to hit that sub-two half marathon time, but I still also want to run the Boston Marathon, New York City Marathon and of course — run at Walt Disney World (already got Disneyland covered). There are a lot of places around the country that I want to run. Places that don’t necessarily require a race bib either — the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge, the National Parks here in Utah and the Salt Flats.

My plan is to take the next 4-6 months to come up with a bucket list of locations, races and other running goals I want to accomplish after I run my 180th race next July. I’ve made a similar list before, but I want to fine tune that — and probably shorten it a bit (it was about 50 items long). But, I then want to get to work on it!

I am always up for new races and places to run, so if you’d like suggest places to run — PLEASE! Just leave a comment in the comments below. And, of course if you have some fun and unusual goals I should attempt — I’d love to hear them too!

Running has been good to me. Really good to me. There’s been ups and downs over the last 6-7 years of my adventure so far, but it’s the people that keep me going and out there on the road or trail.


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RACE #158: Nebo Half

NEBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! I love this race. Absolutely love. I would marry it if I could. But, alas, I can’t marry races — which is pretty sad. But, that won’t displace the Nebo Half within my hearts of hearts.

The course race holds my PR (2:08) that I set back in 2013. I am nowhere near that pace right now — and that’s okay. That can of worms is a post and a half for another day. But, this course is FAST, it’s beautiful and just downright fun — regardless of my pace.

Nebo will always be my favorite half marathon.

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As I have mentioned numerous times — this year has been a TOUGH year for running for me. Whether it’s been DNFs, DNSs, my thyroid levels, sprained ankles or the recovery aftermath of said sprained ankles — I just haven’t been able to get a rhythm to my training. It’s sucked. Sucked hard.

So going into Nebo — I didn’t really have a set goal. I wanted to sub-two. I also wanted to sub-2:50. That would have been my best half time of the year. But, after last week’s “Keto Krash” — I just didn’t want to set a time goal. My goal was just not to crash. It was more important to figure that all out now than to get a year’s best time.

So that was plan. I would still plan on doing my best. But, that wasn’t my first priority. I just never want to feel the way I did last week after my race again.

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I decided from last week’s experience to do things a bit differently. First thing, no eggs. They upset my stomach — especially so early in the morning. So my protein intake was cheese, turkey and some almond butter instead.

Second thing, I decided to eat a half banana before the race. That’s 10 grams of carbs for the half banana and I was hoping that’d give me a good enough jump during my first half of the race. Which it did.

And, then lastly, I decided to run with a hydration pack full of Powerade Zero. I usually don’t run with a hydration pack for anything shorter than a marathon, but on this diet I really should because the shortage of electrolytes probably did me in more than anything last week.

I also decided to run with an applesauce packet JUST in case I felt like I was crashing. There’s 13 grams of carbs in one pouch so it wouldn’t be killing my diet. But, I wanted to avoid using it unless I absolutely needed it.

Race morning went fairly well. I drove from Bountiful to Payson which is about an hour drive — so my wake up call was at 2am. Too too early. But, the nature of being a runner, right?

After loading the bus with my friend Zack we wandered up the canyon. Our driver missed a turn which we didn’t realize until we were at Mile 8 … of the marathon. There were some upset runners, but honestly — I didn’t mind, because that meant it was less time spent in the chilly canyon weather.

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After waiting about an hour or so for gun time we were off at 7am. It was hard not wanting to go “balls to wall” down the canyon. But, I knew I had to temper that excitement to avoid a crash later in the race.

I found myself a comfortable pace a couple miles in the race and decided to just focus myself at that speed. It wasn’t too fast, but it wasn’t too slow either. It felt comfortable. And, if I felt like I could push it a bit more later in the race — I would.

It was just a good nice pace.

Besides focusing on my speed, I focused on my breathing, gait and energy levels. It really helped having my hydration pack with me, because every time I felt thirsty or a need for a jump of energy — I just took a sip of my Powerade.

At aid stations I still took water, but made sure to drink my Powerade Zero instead of what was offered me. Of course because of the added sugar. But, I really got into a good groove around Miles 4-5 and felt like pushing myself a bit — so I did.

Things were going pretty good until a couple miles later when my foot and ankle started hurting. I haven’t had a lot of pain in the ankle since I’ve started physical therapy, but it really started during around Mile 7-8 — and this killed any mojo I was building up for the rest of the run.

Not only was my ankle hurting, but the top of my foot was hurting as well. During the race I was rather concerned about it, because I didn’t want to unravel everything I worked hard to strengthen. But, after my race I Googled my symptoms to see if that might show what reveal what was going on with the foot.

Fortunately — and unfortunately — I found out it was a two fold problem. Easily fixable. But, I figured the combination of me tying my shoe too tight and focusing my gait to land on my big toe first caused the muscle to strain, which also caused my ankle to hurt as well. It was sore most of the day, but luckily by Sunday — I was fine.

I really need to be more careful with my shoes. That was a total rookie mistake. But, I can see why I did it — I wanted to give that ankle a lot of support. Which I did. It was — unfortunately — just too much support.

The last five miles were tough. I yo-yo’d my friend Amanda a bit which made the miles go a bit faster since we bantered a bit back and forth. The course got fairly hot around 9-10 which zapped a good amount of energy, but I just kept on going.

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Despite my foot and heat I didn’t want to leave any doubt that I gave everything, so in those late miles I forged through the rolling hills and streets of Payson passing a number of other runners. They were small victories, insignificant to the masses, but big to me in the moment. Especially since I just wanted to finish strong.

As I made the turn toward Payson Park and the finish a large gathering of my AIIA team was cheering me on. I was joined by Zack and Russell for the home stretch — I couldn’t have asked for a better group of fine young me to run me in. Both of them of ran the half — and Russell who’s barely 10 even got a sub-two time! So proud of both of them!

After I finished I grabbed some water and felt a crash coming on. I gave my all. Which is a great feeling, but at the same time I just found a patch of grass and sat sipping on water and my Powerade while chatting with friends.

I know I have a lot of work to do to get myself back to where I was a couple of years ago, even in 2013 when I PR’d on this course. I know I have it in me. And, I feel very hopeful with the changes that I’ve made with my diet and workout regime — that I’ll get there. But, at the same time — if I never get back there — I am happy running the rest of my life at any pace or speed. Just as long as I can still do it.

But, I’m never NOT going to try to get back there — no matter what curve ball life seems to throw at me. I can’t wait to see what I can do on this course within the next year.

And, that’s what drives me to come back for more.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES

My next race is the Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon. I am sweeping the course, which is always a party and a half. This will be my fourth year sweeping the course. I did downgrade my Huntsville Marathon entry from the full to the half — I need to focus on strengthening the ankle, not running it into the ground. That is also why I decided to drop the St. George Marathon. There’s a remote chance I’ll still do it. But, with my training right now — I don’t feel confident enough that I’ll hit the cut off times.

Anyways, still lots of running and training to do this fall, I can’t wait …


RACE #158: Nebo Half, August 26, 2017 (3:02:55) NEBOOOOOOO!!! Always my favorite half, because it's fast, beautiful and fun! Took it easier than usual as to avoid a crash like last week — also still trying to get used to my keto diet. But, still loved every minute of it! The race benefitted the @addicttoathlete team, so there were AIIA athletes at pretty much all the aid stations. It was so great seeing their smiling faces every few miles. I felt strong and I can tell my body is acclimating much better to my new diet. No crash. Running with my own Powerade Zero helped. I'm hoping for some better times here in the fall to finish off 2017 strong! It's been a tough year for me. #race158 #nebohalf #running @runtasticevents @addicttoathlete @josherwalla @ketoshua @joshruns180

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One of the best parts of keto — once a guilty pleasure no longer associated with guilt. On my way home from Payson to Bountiful, I stopped in American Fork for a Double Double Protein Style Burger from In n' Out! It definitely hit the spot! ———————————————————— #innout #proteinstyle #doubledouble #ketolunch #lunch #ketoshua #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #keto #ketodiet #ketonics #ketorunner ———————————————————— @ketoshua @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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She's so angelic, she even has a halo.

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Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 9.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 31.02 miles
TOTAL MILES — 53.12 miles
Races This Week — Nebo Half.

August 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 42.0 miles
Race Miles — 40.0 miles
Walking Miles — 92.39 miles
TOTAL MILES — 174.39 miles
Races in August — (3) Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half and Nebo Half 

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 353.05 miles
Race Miles — 322.42 miles
Walking Miles — 872.54 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1548.01 miles
Races done in 2017 — (22) New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon, Drop13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah, AF Canyon Race Against Cancer, The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days Half, DesNews Half, Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half and Nebo Half.


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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!


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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RACE #155: Deseret News Half Marathon

After racing on Saturday at the Handcart Days Half Marathon, I wasn’t sure what to expect on Monday for this race. Especially since I haven’t done much back to back long runs — outside of the Bear Lake Trifecta.

Plus, with my ankle lately, I just haven’t had many feel good successful runs. It’s been frustrating because about 6-7 miles into a run my ankle starts screaming. I’ve been going to Physical Therapy and doing daily exercises/stretches that have been helping some, but the biggest thing my doctor suggested was new runners. Specifically ones for overpronation.

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Now, I’m not going to get into all of that, but basically — I’m an overpronator which was not only the likely cause of the sprain, but why it wasn’t healing properly as well. Meaning, the overpronation didn’t give my ankle the time or structure it needed to heal. Truly a vicious cycle.

On Saturday after my race I bought some new runners, the Saucony Omni 15 to be specific. I debated whether or not I should break them out for this race, but after about two minutes I threw caution to the wind and decided to lace them up.

And, boy, was I glad I did!

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Ironically, the race started in the canyon (and about 100 yards down the road) where I first sprained the ankle in April. I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t on my mind. My two goals for the race were to sub-three and not sprain my ankle. I love Emigration Canyon, but it’s road condition isn’t the best — so it’s a real concern.

After hanging out for about an hour at the starting line the race started at 6am. As soon as I went out the chute I felt the heaviness of my legs. From past experiences I knew the first three miles were going to be spent basically loosening up — so I didn’t push TOO hard, especially know I’d need my energy for that later.

Once I was loosened up, I was surprised how well I felt. But, more than that — how well my ankle felt. I still felt it’s tenderness, but it wasn’t screaming at me. I knew the test would be in a few more miles, especially when I got down to the home stretch. But, I felt very optimistic with how I was feeling.

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With the ankle feeling rather neutral, I wanted to push myself a bit and between miles 5-8 I kept pushing myself. The ankle was holding up, especially after miles 6-7 where it usually starts cursing at me. So, I kept pushing.

I probably pushed a bit too hard, especially coming off a race on Saturday. But, I also haven’t been speed training much with the injury so my fitness level wasn’t where I’d like it to normally be. The only way to get back there is by … pushing and challenging yourself, so that’s what I did.

Once I got out of the canyon I was still feeling really good. This just encouraged me even more to keep going. It also helped seeing a lot of familiar friendly faces at the aid stations and on the course. It felt like a party.

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I knew the last five miles were going to be tough, especially around Mile 9 on 1300 East. It’s the slightest of hills, but after running Emigration Canyon and Foothill Blvd. it feels like a freaking mountain. Especially when you pass the 7 Eleven there on 13th. It was at this point that I wished I brought my monies for a Slurpee.

Bad planning on my part.

But, the last four miles were much better than I expected. It helped that I knew what to expect toward the finish line, but I was most encouraged by how my ankle felt. It felt GOOD. Not great, but good! I felt the improvement and might have made somewhat emotional around Mile 10. I will neither confirm nor deny that.

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But, the last three miles were good. They’re the fun miles of this race, that’s when you starting running toward the parade route. I smiled at the Mile 10 aid station that was staffed by a bunch of LDS missionaries. You want to talk about a happy bunch of volunteers.

After turning onto the parade route I turned off my music and just listened to the crowd. I love doing this. I heard my name yelled out a couple of times, but a lot of random strangers just cheering me on. I loved it.

Once I approached the finish line I noticed I got that sub-three hour time — 2:52:36 to be exact. But, before I could celebrate the accomplishment I was greeted by Wan who not only put my medal around my neck gave me one of his trademark hugs. Of all the people I could ask to hand me my medal — I couldn’t have asked for anyone more perfect than Wan.

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After gathering myself I just crashed with a couple water bottles in tow and just socialized for a while. By this time my body was feeling it. Luckily, not my ankle. Just my quads and everything else that didn’t want me running 48 hours after the last half.

But, after shuttling it back to the buses with Andrea and Dith, I made the slow drive home — with a detour to the 7 Eleven of course. I was dead, but at the same time I felt such a great sense of satisfaction for meeting my goal. Not to mention how grateful I felt that my ankle felt so great.

It’s a feeling that’s been a long time waiting.

And, I’ll take it.


MY NEXT THREE RACES


July 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 31.1 miles
Race Miles — 39.3 miles
Walking Miles — 85.63 miles
TOTAL MILES — 156.03 miles
Races in July — The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days & DesNews Half.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 303.55 miles
Race Miles — 282.42 miles
Walking Miles — 749.4 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1335.37 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, AF Canyon Race Against Cancer and The Hobbler Half.


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RACE #154: Bountiful Handcart Days Half Marathon

This race means a lot to me. Well, the whole Handcart Days festival means a lot to me. Growing up our family was heavily involved when my Dad served as the Chairman for the event. That included coordinating the parade, park festivities, entertainment and fireworks with a committee of local volunteers.

I spent a lot of time at the Bountiful Park lugging food to the concession stands, setting up VIP parade booths and whatever else was required. Sometimes I was even forced to watch the parade — which if anyone knows me, knows I absolutely HATE parades. But, that’s a post for another day.

In the seven years my Dad was involved with the festival, we never had a race — not even a 5K. But, in the 10 years after my Dad was released from the chairmanship one was added in conjunction with the South Davis Rec Center. So when I decided to run my first half marathon back in 2011 — it just seemed fitting.

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I run the race twice since that hot July 2011 day. It was my 100th race back in 2015 where friend Jim Gastelum arranged a 100 banana salute at the finish line and then I ran it again last year to celebrate my 5th year anniversary of my first half marathon. This race has become a race of milestones for me of sorts.

When I lined up this year for the race, I wasn’t really celebrating a certain milestone. Unless there’s significance for a 6th anniversary or 154th race that I am unaware of? I was running to run. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking of those milestones and the plan to run this again next year for my 180th and final race in my 180 goal.

But, my mind was on other things. The day prior I got word that a good friend of mine — not just a running friend — was diagnosed with brain cancer. Robert Merriman has been a good friend for some four years or so now. He is truly one of the greatest men you’d ever met. Not a mean bone in his body, yet one of the best senses of humor.

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This news quickly spread throughout the running community and left many of us shocked. Robert had friends throughout the community, because of the nature of man he is. He’s always encouraging, always giving and always cheering others on.

Having this news really made this run one of reflection for me. Not just on Robert, but about other friends and family in my life who’ve battled cancer. It was this time two years ago we found out about Meridith’s breast cancer. My Mom’s own cancer journey was on my mind, even though that was over five years ago. All that emotion was very much on my mind.

But, my heart was also reflective on how through all of that — running was there. Running is a mental, spiritual and physical therapy for me in these moments. I remember when I got the news of my mother’s diagnosis I went out for a run that day to help clear my mind and find peace.

It’s almost become a natural reaction for me to run when life gets tough, confusing, frustrating or difficult. Not to run away from it all. But, to run with my thoughts, and often a prayer in my heart, to center myself and find strength to tackle whatever is in front of me.

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So, toeing up to that starting line on Saturday morning was to find that center balance.

Like the previous couple years I decided to take the early start at 5:30am. I have no reason to do it other than I want to get done faster and spend less time out in the heat of the day. I kind of wish all summer races had a 5:30am option. It’s light enough that I know where I am going … so why not?

A handful of us started early and I got about three or so miles into the race before the leading runners passed me. I thought that wasn’t bad, especially since I wasn’t planning on pushing myself at all during this race. That’s what happens when you have a race on Monday, a bum ankle and a flat course. I was Clydesdaling it.

Around mile three I started getting Tummy Gremlins and knew I needed a Honey Bucket soon. I found one just off the Legacy Parkway Trail, but when I approached it was deadlocked. DEADLOCKED?! Who does that?

I didn’t have much time to ponder about that so I just moved forward in hopes that the next aid station would have one. I won’t lie, it was the longest two miles of my life. I’ve run some painful miles in the past — but, when the Tummy Gremlins attack, they mean business.

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Finally, when I turned a corner to see the Mile 5 aid station I saw the most glorious Honey Bucket. When I limped toward it I was elated it wasn’t deadlocked or occupied. I made it right in the nick of time.

I am not sure why I included this story, but it was pretty much the highlight of the first half of the race. And, luckily — well, thankfully — the second half was much, much, much better.

Just shortly after my near disaster, I ran into Merri and Glen, a brother and sister that were running in memory of Glen’s son Benjamin who passed away recently. Merri reads this blog and introduced herself. After yo-yo’ing for a couple of miles we met up again at the Mile 7 aid station and ran together the rest of the way.

Talking with Merri and Glen about Glen’s son Benjamin was what I needed. Already with a reflective heart — I just listened to Glen talk about how Benjamin lived with one of the biggest hearts — toward humanity and animals. I listened to his stories of Benjamin’s musical talents and how he recently drove to Southern Utah to adopt a dog slated to be put down.

I was grateful for this moment.

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My heart kept wandering toward those I’ve lost in the past few years — both friends and family. I thought a lot about my Grandma and Aunt Diane — two of my biggest influences as both a kid and adult. I thought about their big hearts, I thought about the small unsaid acts of kindness they shared with others and how proud they were of the changes I was making in my life.

Loss is hard, especially when you lose someone so close to your heart. And, I couldn’t help but think throughout this run how running helped mend that my heart. It was a very unexpected spiritual experience for me. I felt honored to be able to share that moment with Merri and Glen.

It was a completely uplifting run for me.

After we crossed the finish line, we took a picture together and parted ways.

But, I couldn’t stop thinking about this run throughout the day. I couldn’t stop feeling a deep sense of gratitude for having running in my life. Not just for affording me to be a part of this powerful experience, but that it’s helped me through many difficult times in my life.

Life is a beautiful thing. And, running has helped enhance that for me — in times of sorrow, pain and joy. And, for that I’ll always thank God for the gift of running.


MY NEXT THREE RACES


He has my heart … and banana.

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Best duet I’ve heard since Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s “Drunk in Love”

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Got my biannual thyroid check this past week. I knew something was up with my energy levels and … yup … the thyroid was off. So my doctor switched me to a lower dose of Levothyroxine. No more Armour. I’m feeling a difference, which is good, but we’ll start seeing the bigger effects in the next couple of months (hopefully). I’m just hoping my energy levels are better and the new meds help make losing weight easier. It should. I’d really like to lose 30lbs before November, but we’ll see. If that doesn’t happen at least a good 30-35 before my 100 miler in February. Goals, goals, goals. It’s been hard making weight loss goals with Hashimoto’s, because the thyroid is so fickle. I just want consistency. And, I’m hopeful I’m on the right track. ———————————————————— #fight4phat #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #levothyroxine #thyroidmedication #hypothyroidism #hypothyroidismweightloss #goals #healthgoals #thyroidproblems ———————————————————— @fight4phat @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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You better believe that if I’m going to be sitting in the dentist’s chair for most of the morning I’m going to get in a longer-ish run beforehand. Planned on a quick two mile run, but after realizing I had enough time for a longer run, I doubled it up and did four miles. Since I have two half marathons this weekend I didn’t want to do anything pushed, especially with my ankle so I just focused on my gait mechanics and enjoyed the warm morning run. Winning. ———————————————————— #fight4phat #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #utahrunningclub #morningrun #4milerun #fartlek #runutah ———————————————————— @fight4phat @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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Are we sure this is a war over monkeys and not drugs?

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Lest we ever forget.

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Sunsets like tonight could turn the manliest of men into a poet.

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