Category: Year

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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Putting one (good) foot forward

The past three and a half months have been a challenge. Big challenge for me. On April 1st while running down Emigration Canyon I sprained my ankle — and — it’s been a slower than wanted process to heal.

I haven’t written much about it, because I haven’t really known what was going on with it for a while. I self-treated it for about a month, because I was still able to run on it. It was uncomfortable, but having sprained my ankle before I just figured to rest and ice it between runs and workouts.

And, that worked for the most part.

I wasn’t showing any progress and I would end up ice my ankle after any run longer than 6-7 miles. I feared the worst and admittedly avoided setting up an appointment with a orthopedist … because I didn’t want to be told I broke my foot or would need some weird amputation done because of my neglect.

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But, I conceded to the inevitable and set up an appointment. I got x-rays done along with a thorough exam — and luckily — no break, just a severe sprained ankle. But, the best part was that my doctor said I could still keep running within my comfort level. So that was the plan.

I decided to back out of my spring marathons, including Ragnar. Decisions that were tougher than I imagined, especially since I am building up to run my 48 hour ultra in February 2018. Physically, I knew I’d have enough time to be ready, but telling yourself that mentally is a much harder task.

And, any run longer than 6-7 miles is just tough. Especially any that are uber flat or too steep. The ankle just hates it and I feel it throughout and after my run.

But, the doctor prescribed physical therapy for me, including a gait analysis. And, quite honestly, they’ve given me the most hope. Sure, I am still feeling pain, but I feel hopeful. I feel myself getting stronger. And, I’m actually feeling optimistic about my running again.

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It’s been frustrating, because I’m not where I wanted to be physically at this point in the year. It’s been mentally taxing feeling and being slow. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind going slow, but knowing I could be MUCH faster and there not being much I could do about it — has been tough.

But, I feel hope again.

Not only is the physical therapy making a difference, but my gait analysis really answered a lot of my frustrations. I naturally overpronate my right food — which I rolled — and because of that, not only did it promote the ankle sprain, but it’s also hindering my recovery.

So my physical therapist gave me a few exercises to help remedy that. Of course it’s not going to be overnight, but I’m trying hard to not just do those exercises, but to also make a conscious effort to walk with less of a pronation. That’s going to be an on going process to reprogram myself.

But, I am also looking for running shoes that will help with the over pronation, I’ve narrowed it down to a couple, but making the decision to give up my Hoka One One love affair is being a bit harder than I’d imagine. I should hopefully be making a decision soon. I just want to run pain free and run in a way that will keep me running for years to come. That’s a weighty decision with those in mind.

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I am sure I’ll let you know once I make my final decision.

But, looking forward right now, I just feel hopeful. I see a doable plan. I see an opportunity to not just get better, but get stronger. And, that’s my focus and goal.

I am excited about my races this weekend. These two races are sentimental to me on many levels — the Handcart Days Half being my first (and 100th) race and Deseret News was my first marathon. But, I’m just running the half this year and not the whole 26.2. I thought about it, since it’s my 5th year anniversary of my first marathon. But, 13.1 miles for me right now is fine by me.

I am moving forward with this new mindset and I am excited about what the weekend, month and next three months have in store for me. I am making progress and I have a vision of hope that’s right before me.

I am going where I want to go — and that’s invigorating to me.

RACE #153: The Hobbler Half

Some race reports are easier to write than others. I won’t lie, this is one of those race reports that isn’t easy to write. I feel like if I wrote — I came, I ran, I finished — I’d be happy with that report. Especially since I swept the course. But, of course, there is much more to my race than just the basic facts.

This was the second time running the Hobbler Half — well — more accurately swept. Two years ago I swept the course solo on a day that I also ran a nighttime trail race. It was a loooooooooong day of running for me that day.

But, I enjoy this race. It’s a pretty canyon. It’s one that doesn’t get much attention here in Utah. It’s got a good golf course, but as far as running goes — it’s not your typical Utah canyon. Meaning — it’s not really down hill. Not like Big Cottonwood, Little Cottonwood, American Fork or Provo Canyons — to name a few. It’s a rather rolling hill canyon.

But, as I mentioned beautiful nonetheless.

After a couple hour “nap” — I’m horrible at getting to sleep when I need to — I carpooled down with Carla and Reese. We’ve carpooled a couple of times, which is convenient because we only live about a mile from each other. And, since Reese and I pretty much race all the races — it works out perfectly. Plus, if it’s a bussed canyon race, I get to miss the whole shuttle up the canyon — something I don’t mind.

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The canyon was actually a tad chilly, which I won’t lie — was nice. With the valley temperatures hovering around 100 degrees, I wasn’t going to complain. Especially, knowing it was going to get hotter than hell once we got out of that canyon.

Gun time was at 6:30am, which kind of surprised me being a mid-summer race, but since I was sweeping the course, Molly and I waited until the 600+ runners all started before crossing the starting line. I haven’t run with Molly before so I always enjoy these encapsulated moments being able to meet and talk over 13.1 or longer miles.

Playing yo-yo with the runners ahead of us, we carried on a fun and often deep conversation while walking the rolling hills and taking what downhill we could. All while giving the runners ahead of us some space. It was a great way to spend the run, especially considering when I swept it in 2015 I did it solo.

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Sweeping a course is much different than pacing a certain time. Sure, most times, the final pacers are on a certain pace. But, no one wants to see the sweeper early in a race, especially before miles 6-7. So, I’ve learned to keep my space unless they’re obviously struggling or around miles 10-13 when the race is wrapping up.

There’s kind of a science behind all of that. Because, you really don’t want to stress out the runners in the back. They’re rocking it and to see a sweeper sometimes gives them a sense of failure, which is the last thing I want to do.

Anyways, it wasn’t until mile 11 that Molly and I caught up to the nearest runner. You could tell he was struggling a bit, mainly because of the heat. But, he was plugging away like a champ.

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This was his second half marathon, after running Utah Valley last month, and he admitted that he accidentally signed up for this race — THINKING — it was the Hobble Creek Half Marathon (that happens in August). Even after signing up for the Hobble Creek Half, he still decided to do Hobbler.

We finished the last couple of miles with him as we mainly talked about hunting and fishing. Molly’s husband hunts so most of that conversation geared around them. But, I kind of fixated on his reasoning — to get in shape for hunting season. I just never heard of that reasoning before. But, I shouldn’t be too surprised living in Utah.

But, it’s a great illustration for the many reasons that bring us to the starting line of these races. We all run for different reasons. We run for the podium, we run for a PR, we run to do our best, we run for therapy, we run to get in shape, but ultimately — as well all should — we run for us. There’s real beauty in that.

Anyways, once we got done, I grabbed a couple of waters and down them pretty quick before heading over to Jorge’s to record an episode of The Runcast with the rest of the gang. Which was a lot of fun. I don’t want to spoil the episode, but it centers on guilty pleasure songs. One of my favorites so far.

But, looking forward, I have the Handcart Days Half Marathon coming up next weekend. It’s hard to believe that this time next year I will be done with my 180 (the goal is to finish my 180 at the Handcart Days Half in 2018). I am 27 races from that goal, so there will be a lot of running to do in the next year.

Still … lots of retrospection happens at this race and what it means to me. This was the starting of my journey and now that I am nearing the conclusion of my 180 — it will also be my last. I’m not a betting man, but I sure would place a bet on the fact that I might cry sometime during the race.

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But, anyways — lots of running to do. I am still healing nicely. I’ll get where I want to go, even if it takes me a bit longer than I usually take.

Which is fine. I’m just grateful to be doing what I love.

One step at a time.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 8.5 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 24.77 miles
TOTAL MILES — 46.37 miles
Race(s) this week — The Hobbler Half.

July 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 16.6 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 26.87 miles
TOTAL MILES — 56.57 miles
Races in July — The Hobbler Half, DesNews Half and Handcart Days Half.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 289.05 miles
Race Miles — 256.22 miles
Walking Miles — 690.64 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1235.91 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.


So, I tried making paleo banana pancakes, but neither my skill nor patience was enough to save the attempt … soooooo … I ended up with a banana omelet instead. NOT GOING TO LIE, it was pretty good. I might be making this again soon. Talk about a happy little mistake. —————————————————— #fight4phat #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #paleo #diet #banana #eggs #strawberries #food #breakfast #bananapancakes #happyaccident —————————————————— @fight4phat @josherwalla @joshruns180 —————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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The moment your niece realizes you gave her a sandwich for her birthday. I only give things I hold close to my heart.

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O, Canada, O, Little Cottonwood Canyon, O, Quads!

My favorite weekend — or week — of the year is the stretch in July between the 1st to the 4th. It’s a celebratory week. From Canada Day to family birthdays to the 4th of July, it’s simply my favorite. Especially when you throw in the element of summer into it.

So, when I wanted to organize a group run for this weekend, I knew I wanted to celebrate Canada Day in conjunction with the run. And, as tempted as I was to make it a Big Cottonwood Canyon run, I wanted to shake it up a bit so and run down Little Cottonwood Canyon instead.

I really like Little Cottonwood Canyon, especially considering that the Run Elevated Half Marathon is one of my favorite races. But, outside of that race — I’ve only ran the canyon once. Maybe twice? But, at least once.

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The thing I love about the canyon is not just the scenery, but the downhill terrain. It’s STEEP. From the top of the canyon at the Alta resort to the mouth it’s a 3200 foot drop over roughly eight miles. That’s the same elevation drop at the Nebo Half, but that’s over 13.1 miles — not just eight miles. So, it’s definitely a quad burner.

I planned this run before I sprained my ankle and really wanted to use this as a good training run for my upcoming canyon races. But, it didn’t turn out as I initially imagined. And, as frustrating as this injury has been — I’ve found peace with the recovery.

After a few strong runs in June, I was looking forward to another good strong run. Especially down a steep fast canyon. Plus, it was just eight miles and it’d be a good long run between races.

So, all’s good, right?

Well, sorta.

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After meeting up with the group and carpooling up the canyon to Alta, I could kinda tell the run was going to be a tough one for me. My ankle was just sore. It was tender from Thursday’s run and the previous day’s nearly 11 miles of walking. I’m not 100% sure if that’s why I wasn’t 100%, but I’m sure it had a factor in it.

Even when we started running and making the descent down the canyon I could feel the terrain was too steep for my ankle. I tried different techniques, gaits and paces, but my comfort zone was much slower than I wanted it to be. So, I just tried to just lose myself in my run, playlist and the moment.

And, that worked.

I just enjoyed the moment. I took solace in the fact that my ankle is getting better. That’s why I’m going through the physical therapy. The speed and pain free miles will come back. I have no doubt about that. I just need to be patient.

It took me just under two hours to cover the eight miles. But, I had a good run — I jammed out, “cruised” down the canyon and had a few bikers and motorists wish me a Happy Canada Day.

I’ve got a lot to look forward to this upcoming month and within the next 6-8 months to worry much the present. As long as I know that I am progressing toward my goals, then I know I’m going in the right direction. Even if it’s not exactly how I saw it unfolding.

But, here’s to July, here’s to this run, here’s to Little Cottonwood Canyon — and — of course, here’s to Canada!


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 20.6 miles
Race Miles — 0.0 miles
Walking Miles — 27.55 miles
TOTAL MILES — 0.0 miles
Race(s) this week — None.

June 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 45.2 miles
Race Miles — 65.5 miles
Walking Miles — 116.72 miles
TOTAL MILES — 227.42 miles
Races in June — Drop 13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer

July 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 8.1 miles
Race Miles — 0.0 miles
Walking Miles — 2.1 miles
TOTAL MILES — 10.2 miles
Races in July — Utah Midnight Run, Hobbler Half, DesNews Half and Handcart Days Half.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 280.55 miles
Race Miles — 243.12 miles
Walking Miles — 644.27 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1167.94 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 and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer.


I’m feeling like a Canadian Gangsta this morning! “HEY PUNK! GET THE PUCK OFF MY LAWN! SORRY!” 🇨🇦

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Excitement or ice cream brain freeze? Probably a little bit of both with this kid?

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Ben’s getting all National Geographicy trying to catch the sunset.

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Obviously, I’m her favorite uncle.

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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.

RACE #152: AF Canyon Race Against Cancer

The past couple of months have been difficult. Dealing with my sprained ankle and the subsequent recovery has taken a toll on me, both physically and emotionally. It’s been frustrating feeling and being slower than where I wanted to be, especially at this point in the summer. I’m trying to stay positive about it, which is easier said than done.

This past week I started physical therapy on the ankle, which gave me a lot of hope. My physical therapist was really encouraged at the strength of my ankle and that I was able to run what I’ve done since April. There were a few areas of concern which she gave me to work on along with scheduling a few other exercises — including a running assessment in a couple weeks.

So going into this race, I felt — cautiously — encouraged. My therapist didn’t think it was a BAD idea, in fact she was amazed I was able to run last week’s Trifecta. As far as pace and time went — I had no idea where I was going to be? The fact that last week’s races were around four hours each and the week before’s race down Big Cottonwood was 2:56 — I just didn’t know what to expect?

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I really wanted to push for a sub-three hour half, but didn’t know if that was a reasonable or attainable goal? But, I knew I didn’t want to be around 3:30 or slower — so how’s that for a definitive goal?

But, with this ankle recovery I’ve found it’s hard to make definitive goals I like to see concrete results. I like to see when x plus y equals z. But, this race included too many imaginary numbers for me. So I didn’t really have a definitive goal. But, I wanted to push a sub-three and I didn’t want to be out on he course forever.

How’s that for a goal?

Anyways, I was excited to run, because American Fork Canyon is such a gorgeous canyon. It’s in my trifecta of favorite Utah canyons. It’s hard to keep your head down while running down the canyon because you get such beautiful views of Timp and the surrounding mountains. It’s so green and beautiful.

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That affect happens whether I am running this race, the Timp Half or a training run. And, it got me once again on Saturday once the gun sounded. Not wanting to go out too strong I kept to the right of the road and just focused on going with the flow of the crowd. I did this to not just warm up, but to test the foot.

I kind of decided to just take what my foot was going to give me. But, I knew I couldn’t — or shouldn’t — take too much, too early. Because, if I was going to sub-three, I needed gas left in the tank in the later miles, especially the non-canyon miles. So, I ran the first three miles rather conservatively.

After those first three miles, I felt pretty good so I just worked on picking up my pace slightly and putting myself on cruise control down the canyon. It wasn’t quite like putting the petal to the metal, but it felt good being able to be consistent with minimal pain.

I was amazed at how much stronger I felt compared to not just the previous week’s races, but Drop13. Being a canyon run, I felt that American Fork Canyon was “kinder” to my ankle than Big Cottonwood. Not only was the elevation drop more gradual, but the road was less windy — which really helped with my ankle since there wasn’t much lateral movement on my part.

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It just felt so good to be able to be on cruise control. The miles seemed to just pass and before I knew it I was already out of the canyon. Which was about 7.5 or so miles into the race. I felt like Meb.

Coming out of the canyon, I knew it was going to be tougher. The rolling hills and neighborhood miles are always tough for me, regardless of the state of my ankle. After passing the Mile 8 mile marker we made our climb on the rolling hills near the gold course. I decided to fast walk the hills to conserve my energy.

While climbing the hill, I noticed my friend Shonda ahead a hundred yards or so ahead of me. Throwing caution to the wind, I sprinted up the hill to catch up with her. After taking a picture with her, I ran ahead. I could tell she was struggling a bit, but I was amazed I was able to catch up to her, because she is a strong runner.

It was around this time I felt I had a shot at that sub-three time. Knowing the course that was ahead of me, I knew it was going to be tough, but I felt that if I kept running and didn’t stop to walk much, I could do it. So, I shuffled when I needed to shuffle and sprinted when I needed to sprint those last five miles.

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After winding around neighborhoods and along the Murdock Trail, I made it to the last mile of the race. I avoided looking at my watch, because I didn’t want to play mind games with myself. I just wanted to keep running strong. Soon we met up with the 5K runners who looped onto the 3/4 of a mile of the race with us.

Around this time, as I was focusing on that last mile, I heard my name and noticed it was Zack — one of my teammates from Addict II Athlete. I could tell right away he was hurting, He told me that his leg was hurting. But, for hurting at that point of the race, he was looking strong.

We ran together that last mile and I gave him the best advice I had on dealing with pain. I gave him some of my ultrarunning tricks and reminded him that when the legs and mind give out — you let the heart carry you the rest of the way. It was a very special moment for me to be able to share with Zack.

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We soon ran into Don, our teammate, who came back looking for us and he ran us to the finisher’s corral. I let Zack ahead of me as I barked words of encouragement toward that finish line. It wasn’t until that last moment when I caught a glance of the time that I noticed I got a sub-three time! But, at that moment I didn’t really care. I was happy to be done, to be with teammates and have the opportunity to run with Zack.

After grabbing some water and mingling a bit, I checked my time and came in at 2:55:06 — I was happy. I was very happy. I didn’t care that I once ran this race 45 minutes faster, I cared about now. I cared about the effort I put in that day. And, I cared that my foot didn’t feel like it fell off.

I was happy.

I still have a long way to go with my recovery, but this was a victory. And, having a plan with my physical therapist I feel like I have an attainable goal that will help me get where I want and need to be. Not just with my speed, but my stamina that will help get me to my 48 hour run in February. That 100 miles is going to happen. I am sure of it.

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But, the focus is on the therapy, the weight loss and the exercises I CAN do. And, I am feeling a difference. I’ve shed over 10lbs. and lost some inches that needed to be shed so I am happy with that. Sure, like I’ve said previously, it might not be in the timetable or pace I’d like it to be — but, it’s happening.

My next race is in a couple of weeks, so the focus is on the continued weight-loss and therapy. I have a group run planned for Little Cottonwood on Saturday that I am excited about. Lots of good things happening.

But, Saturday’s race was perfection.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES

I had a race that was cancelled — The 13 Miles of Freedom — so I had to do a little shuffling. That makes my next race the Utah Midnight Run in Farmington! That will be the first of two back to back races on the weekend of July 7th!


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 6.5 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 35.23 miles
TOTAL MILES — 54.83 miles
Race(s) this week — AF Canyon Race Against Cancer

June 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 32.7 miles
Race Miles — 65.5 miles
Walking Miles — 92.27 miles
TOTAL MILES — 190.47 miles
Races in May — Drop 13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 259.95 miles
Race Miles — 243.12 miles
Walking Miles — 616.72 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1119.79 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 and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer.


AF Canyon Run Against Cancer; June 24, 2017 (2:55:04) AF Canyon will always be one of my favorite canyons to run. Great views of Timp, gorgeous greenery around every corner and a canyon drop that lets you soak it all in putting yourself on cruise control. Came into this race not knowing what to expect with my ankle, but the terrain and elevation drop made for a fairly pain free run. I pushed it a bit and was pleasantly surprised and happy coming in under three hours. Not bad for my fourth half in two weeks, eh? Had a great moment running in my @addicttoathlete teammate Zack during the last mile. We were both hurting, but we kept each other motivated and going. I sure love being a part of this team, we inspire and motivate each other to our goals. I’m feeling stronger, especially with my physical therapy. I can’t wait to get where I want to be/need. But, for now, I need to be patient. #race152 #afcanyonrun #running @joshruns180 @josherwalla @fight4phat @addicttoathlete @afcanyonrun

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My niece was blessed today. As you can see, it was a grand occasion.

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Not my idea of a fun weekend.

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RACE RECAPS: The Bear Lake Trifecta

I thought about breaking these three races all into separate posts, but that just seemed overkill. So I am merging all three races into one looooooong post. So you’re getting what you get.

When I signed up for the Trifecta back in December I didn’t know what to expect? Well, I knew I could do it. But, this was well before getting injured. But, even with my injury hanging over my head — I still knew leading up to the weekend that I could do it.

What hung over my head was whether or not I should be doing it. That’s 39.3 miles on my ankle and I wasn’t 100% sure how it would hold up? Even with that trepidation, I knew I could do it. I knew if I could do 50 miles in 16 hours or 40 miles in 12 hours … I could do 39.3 miles over three days.

But, then again — should I be doing this?

Well, I did it. I’ll let the suspense of whether or not I did end here. As you’ll see in the three race reports, it wasn’t pretty. But, I did it. And, I had quite a fun time with it all.

So without any further adieu, here are the race reports …

The first of the three races wasn’t far from the cabin that I was staying at — in fact it was probably about less than a mile away in St. Charles. With a 7am gun time and no bus to catch it made for quite a nice morning, something of a rarity for a summer race for me.

I made my way to the start around 6:30am or so just to pick up my bib number and socialize. I was quite surprised to find that most of the runners weren’t local — well — Utah runners. I recognized very few of the runners. Most of the 400 runners were Half Fanatics, Marathon Maniacs and members of the 50 State Running Club who came specifically to either run three different states or run three races in three days.

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Going into the race I felt “okay”- ish. The ankle felt okay, but I knew once I was out running that would be a different story. Especially since this course was pretty much flat. And, by flat, I mean, very much flat. And, my ankle doesn’t do well running on a flat course.

This was pretty evident once I started running. I was ready to go, but the ankle had other thoughts. So, since I had two other races after this one I decided to start slow — a tactic I usually reserve for my ultras. But, fighting a bummed ankle it seemed like a good decision to avoid further damage.

A couple miles into the race I decided to ease into a nice easy pace. But, I had a hard time finding that right pace, mainly because of the flat course and my need to push off my ankle to get any sort of pace. So, I just ended up walking most of the course.

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I won’t lie, if I am not pacing or sweeping a race, I have a hard time to walk non-trail races. But, with the combination of my ankle and three races in three days, I felt like this was very much a trail race. So, I didn’t feel THAT bad walking most of the race. But, it was still very much at the back of my mind.

By mile 10 my ankle was very much hating me. Between my ankle and the heat of the day, I was just dead. But, I worked on staying positive by trying to distract myself with conversation, my music and some podcasts. They helped, but I just wanted to be done.

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Once I got to the finish line I looked at my watch and noticed I finished in four hours — 4:00:05 to be exact. I was disappointed. But, at the same time I knew I gave what I could. I feared if I pushed myself any faster that I would have injured myself — so — I was fine with the result.

As soon as I finished running my ankle pain pretty much subsided. So, I knew I could run the next day. Plus, it was more rolling hills than this course so I knew I would be faster. I was very much in the mood for some redemption the following day.

With an hour’s drive to Cokeville for the race, the morning came quite early. But, I felt encouraged about the race, because my legs felt fresh and my ankle wasn’t cursing at me. I knew this would be a better race.

Just like the previous day’s race this was an out and back. We started near the Cokeville Town Park and made our way 6.5 miles out in cow country before heading back. I heard many people complain about these hills, but I loved it. I train on hills and prefer them over even pure canyon miles.

I could tell early on in my race that this was a better race. My ankle felt fine. My game plan was pretty simple — my trail rules — fast walk up the hills, run the down hills and run what I felt that I could do. This game plan worked great for me throughout the race. I was digging the rolling hills and I just felt strong.

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The complaints were somewhat comical at times, especially when one runner complained about the mountainous course. But, many of these runners — or at least the ones I met — were from the South or otherwise flat areas. Places where hills were anthills.

The overall feeling of this race — and all three for that matter — was lax. Very lax. And, I got that because running three half or full marathons in three consecutive days. But, there were quite a few runners that were drinking out on the course as well — beer, wine and whatnot. Including one lady, I swear I saw all three days with a beer in her hand.

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This was something I (obviously) haven’t seen at Utah races. But, then again I probably wasn’t looking for it since many of the out of state races I’ve done have been HUGE 20,000+ runners kind of races. But, the alcohol wasn’t as shocking as the smell of weed I smelt around the midway part of this race.

But, I just laughed it off.

Then again that was probably just the secondhand smoke?

Okay, all joking aside, this seemed to be a tougher race on the runners out there — well, except for me. I can’t tell you exactly why, outside of the rolling hills and better terrain. But, I also think I was a bit more loosened up than the previous day and that lent a lot to my performance.

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I ended up finishing nearly a half an hour faster than my previous day’s time, which really made me happy. I was trying not to worry about time during these races. But, I felt the need to push myself when I needed that push — and to have my ankle and body respond left me encouraged.

The ankle didn’t give me any problems, some slight discomfort here and there, but nothing like the previous day’s race. This was one reason why I pushed myself a bit more during this race.

Going into my last race I didn’t want to expect, but having such a result made me excited for Saturday’s Utah race.

Waking up on race day, I knew this was going to be a tough day. No my ankle was fine. But, I was just tired. Not just because I was up until after midnight recording a podcast with my friend Andy, but my body was just tired. And, I was feeling the effort I put in from the previous day.

Unlike the previous races, this race was a bussed race. Along with a few of the pacers, I helped get the runners on the busses to the starting line. It wasn’t that difficult, but it felt like herding cats at times. But, after coordinating the rides with the bus drivers and everything I hopped on one of the last buses to get ready for my race.

On the way out to the start, I was just feeling tired. When I heard that there was a change to the course and that there was going to be more trail miles than planned — I just knew it was going to be a long day. This was cemented when I started to run at the sound of the gun and my legs just hurt.

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Even though I was spent, I decided to give myself a couple miles to warm up. But, that didn’t seem to help much. By the time we got on the dirt trails, I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. I didn’t want to be running, I was tired and I just wanted to be somewhere else. So, I turned off my music, turned around and just started talking to people.

And, that made the world of difference. I just had to turn around my attitude to salvage my race, and this is the quickest way I found to do that. Just talk..

I met a group of African American ladies ranging from DC to Georgia. Most of them were Half Fanatics and we just chatted about our experiences during the weekend. They all hated the course from Wyoming’s race — which I loved. And, they all were bemoaning the trails. But, at the same time — we all just talked and laughed together.

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I stuck with two ladies pretty much from there on out. After about 4-5 miles on the dirt trails we got back to the road before getting onto some paved dirt trails. It was somewhat back and forth during the first 6-8 miles of the race, which I was fine with. I was too busy chatting away with my new friends.

I was sore throughout the race. Luckily, not my ankle — just everything else. I wanted/needed a nap to refresh my body. I was just tired. The weather was pretty much overcast which helped, but the later miles were done in the sun, which made for hot temperatures. I was ready to be done, but any attempt at running was met with reminders from cramping muscles or painful shin splints.

So, I just kept walking and distracting myself with conversation.

Once we got to the finish line, we all hugged and took pictures together — and then i just collapsed with a bottle of water and my two new medals. I knew eventually I’d have to get myself back up and ready to journey home. But, I decided to stay for a bit and cheer on some of the finishers.

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It wasn’t a pretty race, but I did it. I made some great new friends and I still put on 39.3 miles on my legs. I was spent. I headed back to the cabin, took a shower and put on some fresh clothes before leaving town.

I was done.

It might not have been what I expected back in December, but I was done. And, I was proud of the accomplishment. In fact, I really would like to come back again in 2018 and run with a little redemption in mind. I want to run faster. I want to redeem my slower times and prove that I can do three races in three days much faster.

But, we’ll see later on. Right now I just want my legs and body to recover. I’ve got some long anticipated running to do down American Fork Canyon this weekend.


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 4.5 miles
Race Miles — 39.3 miles
Walking Miles — 24.23 miles
TOTAL MILES — 68.03 miles
Race(s) this week — Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah

June 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 26.2 miles
Race Miles — 52.4 miles
Walking Miles — 57.04 miles
TOTAL MILES — 135.64 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 — 253.45 miles
Race Miles — 230.02 miles
Walking Miles — 581.49 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1064.96 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.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


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