Category: 2018

It’s time to bet big … on myself

“I don’t like to gamble, but if there’s one thing I’m willing to bet on, it’s myself.”

Beyoncé

When I started running, I had no idea where I was going. I started because I wanted to lose weight and I knew it would help me in that goal. But, beyond that, I had no idea where it was taking me?

Less than a year into my weight-loss journey my trainer, Kevin, challenged me to run a 5K in the midst of a plateau. He gave it to me as a challenge to work towards. So, I put in the work and ran my first 5K. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t fast. But, I did it.

But, then something happened. I looked at my results and said — “I can do better.” So, I set out to train for another 5K. One that I could run that would be faster and much, much prettier. And, I did.

So, I just kept running trying to improve. This lead not just in the desire to run faster, but longer. Soon, I had my eye on a 10K which naturally lead to a half marathon.

Training for my first half marathon — I thought THIS would be it. This is the crowning achievement of my running career. The thought of running any further — especially a marathon — was unfathomable. I wasn’t a REAL runner, so I couldn’t possibly do that.

Well, after I ran my first half marathon in July 2011, I ran another and another and another. I got faster and actually enjoyed running 13.1 miles — then I started entertaining the thought of doubling that mileage.

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And, before I knew it I was registered for a marathon. A FREAKING MARATHON! That race distance that only REAL runners run.

Once again, I thought this would be my crowning achievement in running. When I crossed the finish line I could cross off the accomplishment on my bucket list and go back running half marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks. But, then something happened — I signed up for more marathons. And, before I knew it, I had run a total of three marathons by the end of the year.

By this time I had a goal to reach 180 races by age 40. So, I kept training and running. Along the way, not only did I enjoy the accomplishment of racing, but I made countless friends and created many enduring friendships. Running was changing my life in nearly every faucet of my life.

But, it hasn’t always been a smooth ride. It’s been quite tough at times, actually. Whether it was dealing with my Mom’s breast cancer, the death of close family members or battling my own health issues — the common denominator has always been — running.

Running wasn’t a way to escape reality, but a time I could deal with reality. Running gave me time to process the challenges. It gave me moments of reflection, motivation and inspiration. It was leading me where I wanted to go.

Nearly three years ago I started having problems with my thyroid once again. The health issues took me through a roller coaster of emotions. It was frustration being as active as I was — and feeling fatigued and slower. Not only that but I was slowly gaining weight after a years of maintenance.

But, I didn’t let (or want) those issues to stop me. They couldn’t stop me. I had a goal at hand. Plus, I knew if I stopped I would signaling the white flag of defeat — which I could never do.

So, I just kept running.

I was much slower. And, it took a harder toll on my body, especially in regards to my stamina. But, I was now one of the last runners to finish, but I kept going.

Around this time I looked for ways to keep me motivated. I knew just running wasn’t enough. I had to do something new — something that scare and motivate me all in one.

And, since I knew I wasn’t getting faster, I started looking at longer distances — ultra races. I knew a number of ultra runners who spent their weekends in Utah’s backyard and it always appealed to me. But, running anything longer than a marathon didn’t.

That lack of appeal eventually subsided and I found myself registered and committed to running a 50K. So, despite everything going on with my health — I trained for the 50K around a schedule of marathons and long runs. It wasn’t easy, but I did what I needed to do to prepare myself for the race.

When race day came I was lucky enough to run with some great friends that helped me get through those 30-something miles on Antelope Island. The last half of the race was spent trying to meet cut-off times, dodging stubborn bison and battling the dark after my headlamp died.

But, I made it. And, I earned the title of ultra runner.

The accomplishment felt like crowning accomplishment of my running journey. After spending over 10 hours running 30 miles of dirt trails — I couldn’t think of any reason why any sane person would do anything longer.

Then I remembered — I wasn’t sane.

Within a few months I got talked into running a 50 miler. I wish I could say it took a lot of convincing, but it didn’t. It was the first time I formally met Blu Robinson and Jed Jensen from Addict II Athlete and they casually talked about the 50 miler like a novice runner would about a 5K.

And, like any long distance race I’ve run, I found myself registered and committed to running the Pony Express Trail 50 Miler. The biggest selling point was that each runner was required to be assisted throughout the race. Meaning, I had a car stalking me — stocked full of fuel, water and food throughout the whole race. This basically translated to me that I wouldn’t die.

My training for the 50 miler was no joke. It was tough. I did a number of 20 milers, including one on a treadmill in the middle of the night. Not to mention a number of marathons specifically laid out to help prepare me for my 50 miler.

Once race day came I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I relied on my training and just focused on the goal at hand — getting to the finish line.

There were a lot of ups and downs — physically, emotionally and even spiritually. But, after nearly 17 and a half hours — I got to the finish line. I reached my goal — I ran a 50 mile race. I did something I felt at times nearly impossible, even just days before the race.

But, I made it.


“If you think you can — you can!”

Ronald Reagan

I really fell in love with the longer distances — for a number of reasons. Not only did I love the physical challenge, but I really learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about pain. Because that happens a lot during an ultra race.

I never cried as freely and openly as I did at mile 45 of my 50 miler. But, I learned how to process the pain I was feeling — and control it. Being able to manage and control pain is a remarkable feat and I believe a true test of one’s character. Ultra races were becoming great teachers to me.

Since that 50 miler, I have run a couple more ultra races. A couple weeks after that 50 miler I ran the Antelope Island 50K once again (cutting off nearly an hour on my time — mind you!), in February I ran 40 miles in 12 hours at the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival in Las Vegas and then there was my ill-fated Salt Flats 50K that I DNF’d last weekend. But, if I didn’t fall ill with the flu I would have tackled that beast!

My favorite ultra race so far has been the Jackpot Running Festival, I like the idea of a timed race on a looped course with the goal to see how many laps you can do within that time. Not only do you get an aid station every two miles or so, but you’re literally competing with no one else — but, yourself.

Jackpot has a number of timed races — a 6, 12, 24 and 48 hour race. They also had a 100 miler, marathon, half marathon, 10K and 5K, but most of the runners did one of the four timed courses. The winner of the 48 hour race managed over 210 miles.

Yeah, you read that right.

In fact there were nearly 30 runners who ran over 100 miles, including six runners who ran over 150 miles. Mind boggling numbers if you ask me.

I read all of these results as my legs were still recovering from my 40 mile run — and I couldn’t shake the feeling that “I could do this” from my conscience. Every time I dismissed the thought — it just came back stronger. Even when I reminded myself of the pain I experienced at mile 45 of my 50 miler — the feeling remained.

So, I did the only logical thing that came to mind — I signed up for the 48 hour race in 2018.

Yup.

I signed up to run my first 100 mile race.

Typing this makes it feel very surreal to me, even a couple months after doing so. I am running a 100 miles. The thought makes me want to pee my pants out of sheer terror and excitement all in one emotion.

I’ve kept my registration relatively private since February. I’ve told a couple of close friends and family members. Heck, this is the first that my parents are hearing of this news. It’s just been a lot to process and this is a HUGE goal and milestone for me.

I still have my doubts about my ability. And, I am sure others do too. Heck, my parents definitely do, because their fear of my running is that one day my legs will fall off.

But, I have to at least try. I have too.

I have to try.

I have to try.

I have to try.

I’ve journied so far from my first 5K — heck, from the couch itself — that I can’t stop myself now without trying. To borrow a phrase from a favorite song of mine, “If you never try you’ll never know, just what you’re worth.” (Fix You, Coldplay).

When I stepped on the scale back in 2009 to start my weight-loss journey, I started the journey accepting failure — and success. I didn’t know where my decision that day would lead me. I accepted the consequences to my decision to LIVE my life. And, it’s lead me here.

I don’t see this decision any different. I am accepting the possibility of failure with the determination of success. I don’t know what lays ahead for me in the next nine months — but I’m going to find out. I’ve got a training plan in the works that I fill will give me the chance of success come February.

The motto for the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival is “BET BIG. RUN LONGER” — it’s something that’s on their shirts and medals. And, it’s something that I took to heart during my run this past February — especially since I signed up for the 48 hour race.

I feel like I am betting big with this goal. I am betting big on myself. Because, this is a gamble. There’s no guarantee of success, but there’s also no guarantee of failure either. So, I’ve got to place my bet.

But, unlike casino gambling, I can control more variables to my advantage. I can control my effort. I can control my training. I can control my preparations — both physically and mentally. And, I can control the odds come race day. But, with a goal like this, it’s going to take much more than this — in essence, I am not just betting big on myself — I’m going all in.

So, all in it is!

As a reminder of this goal and the needed commitment and dedication I’ve been running with a poker chip on me since I registered for the race. Every run — training and race — I run with it on me. I’ve tucked it in my pocket, but I really should make a necklace out of it to keep it on me better.

But, it’s just this little $100 souvenir poker chip that reminds me of not just the 100 mile goal at hand, but the bet I’ve placed upon myself. I might be a cheesy little emblem, but in the three months that I’ve been running with it — it’s been my reminder to keep going, keep pushing and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I don’t dare say that this will be my one and only 100 miler. I’ve learned from my past that’s just a temporary lie I tell myself on occasion. But, I don’t know? And, I’m not worried about. My focus is simply on the journey in front of me.

This is a journey of a thousand miles. I know it will get daunting at times and there will be doubts. There will always be doubts. But, I know if I just focus on that footstep in front of me, it will take closer to my goal and a place I once dreamt possible.

It’s just up to me to take that next step.


“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”

Stephen King

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) …

40 before 40: The ‘Push Up The Hill’ List

If you haven’t heard — it was my birthday on Monday. I’m officially 35. Half way through my thirties. I’m not one of those people that has a crisis every birthday after 30. I thought I would when I turned 30, but it just never came.

My 30s really aren’t that bad. Now let’s forget the fact I still live in my parents basement for a moment and focus on the fact that during my 30s I’ve really found myself, found a sport and community that I love and attained the Pokemon Master rank on Pokemon Go am working in a direction I want to take in regards to a career.

So, yeah, the 30s have been pretty good to me so far.

But, I know it could be better (TWSS).

My friend Amy just completed a 30 before 30 bucket list she made a couple years ago (that’s like a round about way saying she just turned 30). And, it’s been fun watching her progress over the past year or so — so much so that it inspired me to make a list of 40 things I want to do before I turn 40.

Let’s call it — the “Push Up The Hill” List. That’s catchy, right?

Now, one of my 40 items is kind of a gimme — it’s my 180 race goal. When I made the goal back in 2011 (or maybe 2012? — I’m getting old so it’s hard to remember) it was a goal I wanted to hit before I turned 40 years old. Some might say that’s cheating, but — well — this is my list and I make the rules. So yeah.

Anyways — I am doing this for a number of reasons. One, I want to. Two, I want to push myself out of my comfort zone. And, three — I want to do somethings I’ve never done before and see things I’ve never seen before. You know — be a bit adventurous..

There’s really no rhyme or reason to this list — some are running related, some are travel related, others are family related. While there are also religious and social related items as well. The goal is really to just push myself and have some fun in the process.

Well, I guess there is only one rule — and that these goals have to be something that I am in control of — so basically no “get married” goal, because that’s kinda out of my control. Those it’s definitely one of my top priorities and goals.

So without any further adieu — here’s my 40 before 40 list ….


  1. Run 180 road/trail races over 13.1 miles.
  2. Write my immediate family’s history.
  3. Create a family cooking book and publish it.
  4. Write a book and have it published.
  5. Take piano or vocal lessons.
  6. Take a painting class and PROUDLY frame and display my finished work at home.
  7. Attend 40 different LDS Temples.
  8. Attend all 17 Utah LDS Temples within one week.
  9. Learn 40 phrases in Greek.
  10. Visit my family in Greece.
  11. Go on a solo out-of-state vacation.
  12. Visit the Mighty 5 National Parks of Utah — Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capital Reef & Zion.
  13. Watch the top 40 films of the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Movies of All-Time.
  14. Attend a NHL game.
  15. Read all four of the standard works — Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon and Doctrine & Covenants.
  16. Memorize 40 scriptures from any of the standard works.
  17. Visit Lake Powell — yup, never have done this.
  18. Visit the Grand Canyon — again, never have done this.
  19. Attend the Sundance Film Festival — again, in my backyard, yet, never have done it.
  20. Go skiing or snowboarding — again, never have gone. I’m a horrible Utahn.
  21. Go deep sea fishing.
  22. Run across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
  23. Run a 50 mile ultra marathon.
  24. Run a triathlon — this is big because I hate bikes.
  25. Run the Boston Marathon.
  26. Boil a live lobster … and eat it.
  27. Bake bread from scratch.
  28. Make and prepare pasta from scratch.
  29. Make a pie — crust and all — from scratch.
  30. Lay on all four corners — Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.
  31. Climb Mt. Timpanogos.
  32. Climb Mt. Olympus.
  33. Climb Ben Lomond.
  34. Legally marry a couple.
  35. Legally change my name to Joshua Oscar Snow Hansen.
  36. Visit all bordering states of Utah in one day — Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho.
  37. Visit Alcatraz in the San Francisco Bay.
  38. Visit Yosemite National Park in California.
  39. Give 960 hours of service — which equals 40 days.
  40. Perform 40 random acts of kindness.

So there you have it. My 40 things to do before 40. As I mentioned above — some are easier than others. Some might be slightly out of my control, but for the most part — they are things I have to do myself. Which is good right?

The goal is to get out of my comfort zone, broaden my horizons and see the world. Gosh, even the world around me here in Utah. I couldn’t believe how many list items were for things most people do every year here in Utah — skiing, Lake Powell, hike mountains or get married.

Some of these items will have to make me travel some — which again — is good! The biggest places being Greece and another trip to the Bay Area. Two of my favorite places. Well, okay, I’ve never been to Greece. But, I’ll tell you now — it’s one of my favorite places. Being Greek and having family still there — I gotta go! My heart is there.

A lot of these items can be knocked out on these trips as well — deep sea fishing, visiting LDS Temples, national parks, giving service, etc., etc., etc. There will be a lot of traveling, not just abroad or out of state, but here in Utah as well. I run enough races all around the state there’s no reason I can’t plan running trips around national park and temple visits. That’d be fun.

And, then there’s visiting all of the temples in Utah within a week. That one will have to wait until probably next year because I want to wait until the Cedar City Temple is complete. I can’t miss out on the Cedar City Temple — especially with how much that place means to me. But, as soon as it’s dedicated I am drawing agendas for the week long trip.

So here’s to the next five years and whatever make come from this list — it should be a fun adventure, eh?