Category: St. George Runner Series

RACE #167: Snow Canyon Half Marathon

A few months ago this weekend was very much an unknown variable. I wasn’t expecting on racing, but I wanted to. There wasn’t a half marathon in Northern Utah, but the Snow Canyon in Southern Utah was — and it’s a favorite of mine. So with some urging of friends I decided to make a quick trip of it.

I figured adding another race this year would help alleviate my race schedule in 2018, especially leading toward my 180th race in July. I really want to focus on speed and strength and I know that will happen by not racing or running long distances every weekend. I have done over 30 half marathons this year — and it is too much for me.

Despite wanting to run less, after I signed up for the Snow Canyon Half Marathon I found out that a group of friends were also doing the Joshua Tree Half Marathon in Joshua Tree, California that same evening. This intrigued me for a couple of reasons … one, because it’d once again alleviate my 2018 race schedule and, two, being Joshua Snow Hansen, I wanted to run my name for the day.

(Joshua) Tree Half Marathon.
(Snow) Canyon Half Marathon.

How many people can claim that they’ve been able to run their name before? I had to do it. I had no other option.

It was destiny.

The plan was to carpool down with my friends Julianna, Crystal and Chris on Friday afternoon in order to grab our race packets, run Snow Canyon Half on Saturday morning and then book it to Joshua Tree in time for that race, do it, drive back to St. George that night and then home on Sunday morning.

It didn’t quite happen that way. But, it was still an adventure and a half that you’ll get over the next two posts. Because, it turned out not quite the way I thought it would. But, still enjoyable and fun.

When we arrived in St. George on Friday evening, we made our way to the race expo and then went to dinner at Pizza Pie Cafe. Since most of our car was on keto — we ate salad and then the toppings of the pizza. Yes, we left the crust. But, for $10 and all-you-can-eat pizza — it was perfect. And, much better than buying one pizza for $10-$15 and doing the same thing.

We crashed at a condo that night and we were out the door for the first race by 6:15am. The plan was for the faster runners to come back, shower and change. Then they were going to bring me my change of clothes where I’d take a hooker shower in one of the Honey Buckets before the 5+ hour drive to Joshua Tree.

After waiting at the start of the race for about an hour, we were off just a few minutes past 8:30am. I felt good. My race plan was similar to my race plan two weeks ago when I ran the SoJo and Howloween Half Marathons. I wanted to trash my legs on the first one so I had fight through the stiffness, pain and fatigue during the second race.

Knowing the course and that the first couple of miles were a bit of a climb, I took it a bit easy until we got to Snow Canyon, then I just let it rip. The downhill windy roads through the canyon were fast, awesome and downright gorgeous. I stopped a couple of times to take obligatory pictures, but for the most part I kept a good clip.

The first 6-7 miles were perfect.

Since being on keto I’ve been running with a hydration pack filled with Powerade Zero — mainly for the electrolytes. After I keto crashed at Run Elevated in August, I haven’t wanted to take the chance of doing it once again. It’s been nice to have, especially when I get hungry, because I’ll pack a few almonds or whatnot in there as well.

I kept sipping my Powerade Zero throughout the first few miles and I was just enjoying the race.

But, around Mile 9, I hit a wall. Or a wall hit me? Either way, I got super nausea and threw up. This was the fourth race I’ve thrown up at while on keto. And, I still haven’t figured out exactly why? Part of it I reasoned is because I am not used to eating breakfast before 11am (I do intermittent fasting) and the food I eat before and during my race that early just doesn’t settle well.

I also thought the nausea could have been from squeaky cheese I ate before the race. But, whatever the case was — I was having none of it. After throwing up at Mile 9, I kept throwing up. I threw up six additional times during the race.

I don’t mind throwing up, but I hate throwing up in front of people. Especially out in public and during a race. The last thing I wanted was another runner, race official or random stranger to stop and ask me if I’m okay — or pull me off the course.

The nausea would come in waves. I was fine for the most part, but it seemed like when I’d slow down or stop at aid stations the nausea would come back. It was nerve wracking and disappointing, because I really wanted to be pushing myself a bit harder than I was after Mile 9.

I tried to throw up in convenient places — Honey Buckets, sandy areas, drains — anywhere were people wouldn’t be walking. When we got to the Entrada Golf Course, I made an effort not to barf on the golf course. It’s a REALLY nice golf course and if I learned anything from my Mother as a young kid, it was not to throw up on nice things.

But, once we passed the golf course — I threw up.

My only worry about throwing up that much during the race was replenishing my fluids so I didn’t dehydrate. But, the more I did, the more it seemed to make me feel. Which was so odd.

Once I got to the finish line after mingling a little bit with Curtis and Laura Eppley and some others, I felt the wave of nausea come once again. Having worked many finish lines and seeing many runners throw up — I just couldn’t get myself to that point to do it around SO many people.

But, I sheepishly went to a volunteer standing near some garbage cans and politely asked if I could throw up in it. I’m laughing about that now, but I really hate throwing up in front of people.

After one last episode of the barfs, I finally felt good. I drank my water and felt settled. I was really surprised at how much I could throw up, especially on a stomach that I thought was empty. It almost made me wonder if I had a second stomach I was unaware of?

Either way, I found some shade under a tree to chill for Julianna and the other come back so I could change. After waiting about a half hour, they came with a change of plans. There was no time for me to take my hooker shower. One of the runners we were going to down to Joshua Tree got sick and ended up in the ER to replenish her fluids

Something that made me worry a bit, because — did I need it too?

Either way, I felt fine now. So I just focused on drinking my Smart Water and refueling in time for Joshua Tree. Which was an adventure that provided me with a few more answers as to why I was nauseated.

Which was still an issue for my next race.

[CLICK HERE TO READ MY JOSHUA TREE HALF REPORT] – Link Coming Soon


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The thing about Joshua Trees …

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

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

Now if I could find a Hansen race …

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

There’s no question about it.

I just have to.

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

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

NAMING OF THE JOSHUA TREE

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

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

The name stuck.

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

THE JOSHUA TREE’S ANATOMY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DRIVING THROUGH JOSHUA TREE

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

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

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

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

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

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

MY LESSONS FROM THE JOSHUA TREE

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because, that’s how we grow.


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43 Laps.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s 42.0168067 laps.

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

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

I can do that.

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

I can do that.

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

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

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

This is about so, so much.

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

43.


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Running my Name: Joshua + Snow

We’re down to three months left of the year. And, here I am still tweaking with my race schedule. Is anything truly finalized with me? Sometimes I wonder.

But, as I work toward my 180th race and my 100 mile run, I’m looking to make 2018 a great year of running. And, part of that means spreading out my races to work into my time goals. That is one reason I’ve raced a lot this year. I don’t want to have to run a bunch of races in 2018 to get to my 180 while jeopardizing my speed training.

So that’s why I decided to add another race to my 2017 race schedule — the Joshua Tree Half Marathon in Joshua Tree, California.

Being named Joshua, I’ve always had a fascination with the Joshua Tree. Everything from the naming to the maturation of the tree — has a lot of symbolism that just speaks to me. I’d go into all of that — but, that’s really a post for another day. And, I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about it before, but I’d have to find the post.

And, then there’s the whole correlation with U2’s album of the same name that I love.

The Joshua Tree Half Marathon is also the same day as the Snow Canyon Half Marathon — which I am also running. A group of my friends and I are planning on making a quick trip of it. We’re driving down to St. George on Friday after work, run that race the following morning then drive down to Joshua Tree from St. George, run that race and then drive back to St. George to stay the night before heading home on Sunday.

It should be a lot of fun.

After signing up for the race I realized that I will be running my name — Joshua Tree Half & Snow Canyon Half. What a fun coincidence.

Additionally, this will be my first Vacation Race. Of all my 162 races, I still haven’t done a Vacation Race. I’ve wanted to. Heck, I’ve signed up for the Zion Half Marathon twice but had to back out for a number of reasons.

So, I have to remedy that.

I am looking forward to the fun weekend. I am definitely jamming out to an exclusive U2 playlist during the run. Heck, I might have to record a special episode of The Runcast with just U2 music in preparation for this epic weekend?

Either way, the change made me make a slight change to my remaining races. I decided to drop the Riverton Half happening on March 24, 2018. I might still do the 5K or 10K during that weekend, but we’ll see? That means after my 100 mile run in February I won’t have a race until April 7th. And, that’s kinda by design.

I am planning on using that month/month and a half to recalibrate, heal and prepare myself to shift gears toward getting faster in my half marathon times. I feel good about the changes.

Anyways, here is the remaining schedule …


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I am soooooo close to my goal …

Wow. After this past weekend’s race — I realized that I am only 19 races away from my goal! NINETEEN! I’m in the TEENS! Time flies so fast. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been doing this now for over six years.

But, it’s also hard to believe that I am reaching this 10 year goal — three years early! Who would have thought? Who would have imagined the experiences I’ve had, races I’ve run and people I’ve met over the past years? I feel extremely blessed being able to do what I love and with people that I admire, look up to and gain inspiration from nearly daily.

Sometimes when I think and plan for the end of this 180 race goal — I have to remember that it’s not the end of running. Because it won’t be. I’ll keep doing it. I might be a bit more deliberate here and there as I shift focus, but I’ll still be running to my heart’s content.

But, as I look at the remaining races toward my goal, I’m getting excited. Many are races I’ve run numerous times, some a couple times a while ago and even a couple that I’ve never done. And, then of course there’s the Jackpot Running Festival where I am attempting 100 miles.

I am excitedly nervous about that race. I know I can do it. I know I will do it. And, despite the crappy year I’ve had with injuries and my health — I know it’s doable. I will be ready come February.

So there’s lots of running ahead before I reach the finish line at the Handcart Days Half Marathon next July — which I am looking forward to running! And, as you can see I am trying to be more deliberate with my running, especially after Jackpot. I am running any races 13.1 or longer on back to back weekends — well, except for Provo City and Vigor Big Cottonwood — but, I am planning on sweeping Provo City again, so I’m not really counting it.

But, I am planning on scaling back the races, not just to hit the 180th race in July, but to also get faster. I don’t expect to PR next year (though that’d be nice), but I do want to get back into the 2:20-2:30 range by the end of the year with the help of continued health and some specific coaching.

I am not sure exactly what my race season will look like after my 180th race, but I’d like to keep to two long races a month for as long as I can keep that up — and preferably a road and trail race.

I have some time to figure that all out. But, for now the focus is really Jackpot in February while also focusing on getting myself to number 180 next July.

Here’s my remaining planned schedule …


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The Road to 180 is within view …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REMAINING 2017 RACES

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

ANTICIPATED 2018 RACES

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

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Another 2017 race audible …

So, after last week’s post about my remaining 2017 race schedule — I had a few changes. My 4th of July race — The 13 Miles of Freedom — was cancelled. Then I found out the dates of a few races were different than I originally thought. So that allowed me to pick up an extra race in November.

That extra race is the Antelope Island Classic 50K, but I’ll be honest — not sure if I want to do the 50K or the half marathon? It’s kinda hard to make that decision right now with a bum ankle. But, I won’t lie — I am almost tempted to do the Pony Express 50 again on October 20th. I just don’t know if I’ll have it in me? And, again, the ankle is screaming at me not to.

We’ll see on that. But, if I do the Pony Express — I might still do the Howloween Half the next day since it’s a night race. I would scratch the SoJo Half in the morning — for obvious reasons.

Anyways — there are a lot of variables that would need to be figured on out on that. But, here is what I am looking at for the rest of the year. I also added a tentative race schedule for 2018 that leads to my 180th race. I am still a little unsure what I’ll do, but I need to be very stragetic since I am doing my 100 mile run in February.

So here are the schedules …

Remaining 2017 Race Schedule

153. Utah Midnight Run; Farmington (July 7)
154. The Hobbler Half; Springville (July 8)
155. Handcart Days Half Marathon; Bountiful (July 22)
156. Deseret News Half Marathon; Salt Lake City (July 24)
157. Vigor Solitude Trail Half Marathon; Salt Lake City (August 12)
158. Run Elevated Half Marathon; Sandy (August 19)
159. Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon; Salt Lake City (September 9)
160. Huntsville Marathon; Huntsville (September 16)
161. Timp Elk Run; Provo (September 23)
162. Jordan River Marathon; South Jordan (September 30)
163. St. George Marathon; St. George (October 7)
164. SoJo Half Marathon; South Jordan (October 21)
165. Howloween Half Marathon; West Jordan (October 21)
166. Saltair Half; Magna (November 4)
167. Mt. View Trail Half Marathon; Antelope Island (November 11)

*-italicized races are ones I am NOT registered for yet.

Tentative 2018 Race Schedule to 180 races

168. New Year’s Run Resolution; Kearns (January 1)
169. St. George Half Marathon; St. George (January 13)
170. Jackpot Running Festival; Las Vegas (February 16-18)
171. March Madness Half Marathon; West Bountiful (March 3)
172. Canyonlands Half Marathon; Moab (March 17)
173. Emigration Canyon Half Marathon; Salt Lake City (April 7)
174. Salt Lake City Half Marathon; Salt Lake City (April 21)
175. Tulip Festival Half Marathon; Lehi (April 28)
176. Provo City Half Marathon; Provo (May 5)
177. Drop 13 Big Cottonwood Half; Salt Lake City (June 9)
178. AF Canyon Race Against Cancer; American Fork (June 23)
179. Utah Midnight Run; Farmington (July 6)
180. Handcart Days Half Marathon; Bountiful (July 24)

*-italicized races are ones I am registered for.