Category: On Hill Events

RACE #148: Drop13 Big Cottonwood Half Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It wasn’t fun.

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

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

So I pressed forward like a hot mess.

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

Which, I did.

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

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

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

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

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

But, right now the focus is on Bear Lake!

IT’S BEAR LAKE OR BUST, BABY!!!


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


Loitering at the Sev after the race.

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

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Weekly Miles

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

June 2017 Miles

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

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 248.95 miles
Race Miles — 190.72 miles
Walking Miles — 557.26 miles
TOTAL MILES — 996.93 miles
Races done in 2017 — New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon and Drop13 Half Marathon.


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The Second Half Outlook for 2017

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

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

So there’s a lot ahead of me still.

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

But, we’ll see?

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

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

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

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

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

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

RACE #142: Lucky 13 Half Marathon

This race was an audible. I was originally planning on running the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 25K, but due to some time sensitive family obligations on Saturday I decided to scratch the 25K for the shorter race. As hard as it was to give up a trail race, I couldn’t be gone a good chunk of the day.

So, luckily, I found the Lucky 13 Half Marathon and changed course. The race starts at Gardner Village in West Jordan and is a fairly simple out and back course along the Jordan River Parkway Trail. Joe Coles and On Hill Events do a series of races at Gardner Village and this was the first one I’ve been able to run.

The race started at 9am and packet pickup was from 7:30-8:30am so I decided to volunteer and help Joe. Doing the volunteer coordinating for Runtastic Events I like to volunteer for other races to see how they do things — from communication, assigning to certain jobs and general use.

The race was rather small — there were 200 runners. Most were running the 5K, but a good chunk ran the 10K while only 50 ran the half marathon. I don’t mind small races at all — in fact, in some situations I kind of prefer it. Especially factoring on the course. And, since we were running on the Jordan River Parkway — it was a good size.

Starting off the race I didn’t really have a game plan since I registered a couple days before. I wanted to push for a sub-three, which I felt was possible. But, honestly, didn’t know for 100% because of the back issues have been having the past three weeks. My running hasn’t been ideal and my miles lower than I would like.

But, I was going to try for it anyway.

Fighting through the crowd of runners soon thinned out as the 5K and 10K runners got to their turnarounds. I wasn’t sure if anyone was behind once it was just us half marathoners left running south on the course. But, I didn’t care. I was just focused on putting one foot in front of the other and giving it a good effort.

I was feeling pretty good during the first half of the race. There was a bit of a headwind, but nothing like two weeks ago at the March Madness Half. I figured once I turned around I’d get a nice tailwind — which would help PUSH me a bit to my sub-three time goal.

Once I got to the turnaround Steven MacKay, a fellow runner from Run4fun, was directing us to make sure we made the turnaround. Once I started heading northward I noticed I was the last runner. But, I wasn’t completely isolated, there were a couple of runners just ahead of me.

I was a few hundred yards behind the runner just ahead of me and I could tell he was starting to struggle around mile eight or so with frequent walk breaks. I kept focusing on him in an attempt to catch up and possibly pass him. I knew I could do it, but I just had to be smart about it.

Around this time Steven caught up with me. After his volunteer post was complete he ran the last stretch of the race to get his miles in for the day. Since there weren’t any pacers for this race Steven decided to bring us runners in — and I’m thankfully he did. The company was much appreciated.

This was the first time meeting Steven in person, but we’ve been acquainted through Run4fun and Facebook. But, our running journeys hold many similarities with our weight loss and fitness back stories and it was nice talking about that — it helped me keep distracted from the fatigue and heat.

Yes, heat.

The temperature starting the race was quite nice. It was around 55-60 degrees at 9am, but by the time I reached the last couple of miles it reached at least 70 degrees. I was baking.

I tore off my monkey hat and was nearly tempted to throw my shirt off as well — but, then I remembered there were decency laws about that. So the shirt stayed on.

But, it was hot. And, it zapped me. Completely zapped.

By this time Steven and I caught up with the runner ahead of us. Steven stayed with him while I forged ahead. We didn’t separate much the last mile or so, but I was motivated to just stay ahead. I didn’t care much if I finished last — but, I wasn’t going to do it without a fight.

Plus, I knew I was going to be cutting my time goal REALLY short. I wasn’t sure if I was going to meet it or not. But, mile 12.5 mile of a half, that feels like you’re running through an Easy Bake Oven, isn’t a good time to math. Well, there’s never a good time to do math — but, especially in THIS moment.

So, I just kept one foot in front of the other and pushed myself as much as I could. That was pretty much all I could anyways. Anything more or less felt like it would kill me.

Once I got back to Gardner Village, the course wound back to the finish line. I always get the urge to sprint at any finish line, but there wasn’t anything else in the tank. I was on empty. I crossed the finish line, got some water and an orange and just collapsed.

I was done.

Shortly after Steven and the last runner crossed the finish line as I just sat there fatigued out of mind. I was not prepared for that heat. And, those last two miles were brutal for me. But, I was done and that’s what mattered.

I checked my time and noticed I didn’t get my wanted time. I came in at 3:01:24. Obviously, not my best time. But, it was still better than my last two half marathons — so I guess that’s a win?

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While chewing on that unmet goal I was always informed that I actually PLACED in my age group. Which immediately changed my mood. My reaction was a mixture of laughing and astonishment. I’ve never placed at any race before — 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon and beyond.

Now, let’s not forget that there were 50 half marathon runners so my odds were more than above average to place. But, I run smaller races and didn’t even SNIFF the podium. Considering I am 35 — that’s a prime running age. I just always assumed that I’d place at races I’d run once I hit 70.

I don’t take the placement lately. In order to place — I still have to show up. I still have to run. And, I still have to finish the race. So, it’s not like it was just GIVEN to me. I earned it.

But, I am ready to put in some better half marathon training in the next few months. I don’t want to be stuck around this 3 hour mark much longer. I know I’ve got it in me to run faster. Much faster. And, with my health starting to get under control I know I’ll get there.

But, I have some big goals in front of me, so I am going to be pin point with my plan. And, I’ll blog more on all of that later. I am focusing on next week’s loooooooong ultra training run and then back to racing with the Emigration Canyon Half Marathon on April 1st. I won’t lie, I’m looking forward to some more downhill running.

ONWARD ‘HO!


NEXT FIVE RACES


I wish this bib meant I was eating lobster. #butnope #dentisttime

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RACE #142: Lucky 13 Half Marathon, March 18, 2017 (3:01:24) I did something for the first time EVER during this race! I placed! Yep! I made onto the podium! I came in third place for my age group! Now, before you oh and awe too much over this accomplishment … 50 people ran the half. BUT … I’ve run smaller races and didn’t even sniff the podium. It was a tough race. It got unusually hot for a March race here in Utah and my last two miles was a death shuffle … but, I made it 3:01:24 and I placed! I wish I sub-three’d, but I felt great about my effort. I’m eager to get faster and with one more 50K happening by next month it’ll slowly happen. On to the next one! Emigration Canyon or BUST! #lucky13half #race142 #running @joshruns180 @josherwalla @onhillevents

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Helping move my cousin has me in a mood for a game of Tetris™. #tetrismaster

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Weekly Review

Another tough week for me, but I got most of my mobility back with a massage and continued work on my back. I am trying to be patient so I don’t come back too fast and too strong — I am healing my back for the long term. Especially my long term goals. I am going to up my miles a bit this week capped off with a 20 or so mile run on Saturday.

Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 3.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 25.41 miles
TOTAL MILES — 41.51 miles
Race(s) this week — Lucky 13 Half Marathon.

March 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 20.5 miles
Race Miles — 26.2 miles
Walking Miles — 66.71 miles
TOTAL MILES — 113.41 miles
Races in March — March Madness Half and Lucky 13 Half Marathon.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 136.65 miles
Race Miles — 96.12 miles
Walking Miles — 214.94 miles
TOTAL MILES — 447.71 miles
Races done in 2017 — New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half and Lucky 13 Half Marathon.



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A change of plans …

As I have said many, many, many times — my race schedule is ALWAYS subject to change. And, this week’s race plan wasn’t immune to a change in plans. I’m more bummed about the reasons why I had to make the change than the actual change.

The original plan was to run the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 25K. I love running the island, especially the races that Jim Skaggs puts on. I ran the 25K two years ago with Jill and have done his 50K the past couple of years as well. So I was looking forward to the adventure this weekend.

Due to some unforeseen family obligations I had to back out of the race, pretty much last minute (read: this morning). Part of the reason is that with the race starting at 9am, it would take me a good 4-5 hours or so to do the 25K — and with the obligations I couldn’t be gone pretty much all day.

But, I also didn’t want to give up a race weekend either. I’d have to rework my race schedule AGAIN — and I didn’t want that. So, I signed up for On Hill Events’ Lucky 13 Half Marathon at Gardner Village in West Jordan. Not only is it closer to home, but I’ll be done much sooner than the 25K so I can attended to my obligations.

Sure, I am sad giving up a trail race, but I’ve always prioritized family before running. And, being able to still race and attend to family is a win-win in my book. As much as I am going to miss the Buffalo Stew on Antelope Island, Joe Coles and On Hill Events do a really good job with their races and I am excited to run the course. This is a race I haven’t done yet.

All win-wins!

This is one thing that I really, really love about Utah. We have so many quality race companies, canyons, trails and races. Our calendars are chalk full of them. And, to be able to pull audible like this on such short notice is nice.

I guess you could say we should feel lucky.

Because we are.

And, that was a terrible pun. Please accept my apologies. Seriously. I disappoint myself.

Happy Running! Wherever you are running this weekend — Antelope Island, Jordan Parkway Trail, one of the several local canyons or your neighborhood — enjoy it! Spring is here!

40 races to my goal …

This past weekend I ran my 140th race. It’s kind of hard to imagine I’ve run so many — it really seems like yesterday I just ran my 1st, 50th and 100th. All pretty significant milestones in my journey to 180 races before my 40th birthday.

Now that I am just 40 races from my goal I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Not that I am not enjoying this journey, but I am ready for some new adventures. I am ready for some running adventures of my own liking — more ultra runs, faster race times and location races.

I’ve planned to crank out a bunch of my races this year so that I can run my 180th race at next year’s Handcart Days Half Marathon — where my 1st and 100th race occurred. It just seems fitting to end my goal where it started.

I still have a number of goals I want to reach after my 180 is done and that’s why I am eager to finish by next July. I want to run less races and more trails, I want to focus on speed work for the races I do run and I want to fall in love with running again and again. I want new challenges and triumphs.

Now all of that sounds like a postcard, but I am excited for the next chapter. But, I am still focusing on the task at hand. My next 40 races. I’ve mapped out most of them from here until my 180th. I am pretty set for this year — except for November (there is a chance I am traveling to Greece to run the Athens Marathon) — which will be figured out within the next couple of weeks.

My race schedule for 2018 is shaping up as well. Well, up to the Handcart Days Half. I am not sure what I will be running after that race. And, I am not too concerned about it at this point.

But, here is what my race schedule should look like (barring any race date changes for 2018) …

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?

My 2017 Race Schedule (January – June)

I have been writing about my 2017 race schedule for the past six months. I’ve gone through numerous revisions — additions, subtractions, more additions and then — even more subtractions. I’ve come to the realization that it’s pretty tough for me to keep a concrete schedule outside of 5-6 months.

So, that’s why we’re here.

As much as I would love to commit to my whole 2017 race schedule — I just can’t. There are a lot of factors that I am unsure about — so I just can’t fully commit. Especially now that I am working for Runtastic Events. I have a number of weekends committed to races that I am not running.

Which is kind of a bummer — because after not running the Nebo Half last year, I was looking forward to running it. It is my favorite half marathon. I mean, who doesn’t love a fast downhill race?

Anyways — when we get closer and gain a clearer picture I’ll tackle my schedule between July – December. I have signed up for a number of races between that time — i.e. Handcart Days Half, Revel Big Cottonwood and Huntsville Marathon — so it’s shaping up. I am just waiting to see what my October looks like to see if I can run the Pony Express 50 again.

So many options. So many decisions. But, I’ll let the last part of 2017 take care of itself when we get to that bridge.

I have a number of goals for my 2017 race schedule. They are in no particular order …

  1. Knockout as many races as possible so I can hit my 180 race goal by July 24, 2018.
  2. Run three ultra distance races (Jackpot Running Festival, Salt Flats and either Antelope Island/Pony Express).
  3. Run three marathon distance races (Ogden, Utah Valley, Huntsville).
  4. Continue to get fit and faster — break that dang 2:30 half marathon mark.
  5. Have a ridiculous amount of fun.

Okay, there are a few things you should note on my goals. One, this isn’t a speed year for me. Sure, I have a goal to break the 2:30 mark, but I know I’ll do that as I continue to focus on my health and weight. My PR is 2:08 — so I know I’m capable of it. I am just not sure if this will come in the Spring, Summer or Fall? All depends on my training — but, you better know I’ll give it my best shot.

My focus really is to knockout as many races as possible this year so I can hit my goal of 180 races on July 24, 2018. Why that specific date? Well, that’s when the Bountiful Handcart Days Half Marathon is (or should be) in 2018 and I want that to be my 180th race, because it was my first. It just seems fitting.

Plus, I want to get the goal out of the way so I can focus on my other goals — like speed, more ultras and non-race running goals. I’d like to do more solo-runs like I am planning in March. I want to move the focus of my running more to a life long venture not solely focused on races as I have been for the past five years.

As you can see below, my race schedule is very top heavy during the first half of the year. I have 20 races — which is one shine of my total 2016 races. That’s a lot of running. But, most of those races are being used mostly as training runs for my 50Ks and 50 miler in March. So they are races with purpose.

I am not anticipating adding more than 8-10 races in the last half of the year so it’ll kinda even out. The most I’ve ran was in 2014 when I ran 30 races — so that’s not unprecedented for me. It’s just going to be a lot of running. A LOT.

June is going to be the busiest month for me. It’s going to be nearly 150 miles of race miles — that includes Ragnar Wasatch Back (June 2-3), Utah Valley Marathon (June 10), Bear Lake Trifecta (June 15-17), Utah Midnight Run (June 23) and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer (June 24).

June is going to be cray cray.

Anyways, here is how my whole schedule will look between January to June. As I mentioned above — it’s going to be a lot of running. But, there isn’t anywhere else I’d want to be.

Check out my schedule and let me know what your schedule is shaping up to look like. Maybe we’re running some of the same races? Odds are probably pretty good we are!

Here’s the schedule …