Meet Josh

First off, if I could meet you all in person — I would. And, if my Mom is the only one reading my blog than I guess I already have? Either way, there are still a few things you should probably know about me. But, instead of writing long boring bio sketch about myself — let’s do an interview instead. M’kay?

So go ahead and and pretend we’re sitting face and face — awkwardly staring into each other’s eyes (like most of my job interviews). You ask the questions — and I answer.

So here we go …

First off — who are you and why do you have a blog?

Well, my name is Joshua Snow Hansen. On Facebook it’s Joshua O. Snow Hansen — the O. doesn’t really stand for anything. But, if I had to pick something — it’d probably be Octavius or Oprah? But, really, I just changed my name too many times that Facebook won’t let me change it to anything else.

The funny thing about my middle name is twofold — one, I am not named after the weather (I am an August baby) and two, I hate the snow — with a passion. It’s a family name — and with me being Mormon — that means I’m either related to Erastus or Lorenzo. And, I am the latter.

I am a born and raised Utahn — all pretty much in the Bountiful and Salt Lake area. I lead a fairly usually unusual childhood. I was the fat kid — funny fat kid might I add. But, one that also spent a number of years in Special Ed. The highlight being my sixth grade Special Ed program where we danced and sang to the whole school — songs like — My Aunt Came Back, Over the Rainbow and The Bare Necessities.

After graduating from high school, I spent two years in Chicago on a Mormon mission. Still being somewhat fat — I got skinny during my time in Chicago. But, don’t worry — I was still funny. Which served me well — in most cases.

Once I got back home and went to college — the weight came back. Plus some. And, by some I mean — um — like about 160lbs. During college I tried to find happiness and “myself” — I got involved with college activities and made a lot of friends. But, sadly — I never found that happiness I was looking for.

Over my six years of college (remember how I told you I spent eight years in Special Ed? Took me some time) I started consulting other means of happiness. Most times this included me, TV and a pizza. Sometimes even a bag of burgers.

Then on my graduation day, I hit rock bottom. On one of supposed happiest of days of my life, I felt like dirt. I wasn’t happy, I didn’t have a vision of the future and it didn’t help that I also busted the crotch out of my graduation gown. I knew I needed a change. I needed real happiness.

Over the following months I made slight change after slight change until eventually I got to my highest (known) weight of 402lbs. On November 11, 2009 I made the decision to change — to seek happiness and except whatever came my way of that decision. I didn’t embrace perfection, but I embraced the pursuit of happiness. Bit by bit the weight came off.

After a year of doing this I was challenged to run a 5K by my trainer. I trained for an unimaginable three miles. It was the hardest thing I’ve done. I hated running. But, I knew I had to do it. I had to conquer myself. So I did. After accomplishing my first 5K I wanted to do another and another. This lead me to training for a 10K and then a half marathon.

After accomplishing my first half marathon I was hooked! I felt like I was finally a runner. Running made me happy. After running a few more half marathons I decided to train for a marathon. In 2012 I kept running and putting more miles in my training to get ready for my 26.2 mile adventure. I was hopelessly addicted to running … the races, the friends and the feeling of knowing where you’ve been, where you are and where you are going.

As of the end of 2015 I have ran 115 races over 13.1 miles. This includes — currently — numerous half marathons, relays, seven marathons and one ultra marathon. I have a goal of running 180 races over 13.1 miles by my 40th birthday. I am 65 races away with about five years left towards my goal. I have no doubt that I will reach my goal.

Why 180 races? Well for a number of reasons — one, because I’ve lost 180lbs. and two because running gave me the directive to turn my life around … 180 degrees. This blog pretty much documents my crazy little running adventures — along with my ups and downs in my health and just life in general.

So, yeah, that’s kind of me in a nutshell.

So why are you blogging about your running and weight-loss adventures?

Simply put — I love sharing my story. I love sharing it because I know there are people in similar circumstances I have been in or are in now. I have met many people who have struggled with their thyroid and testosterone — like myself.

Hopefully, I can be someone’s inspiration and they can be mine.

I also love writing. I am a writer at heart. It’s a skill my Grandma always encouraged in me, because there’s a power in sharing one’s thoughts and feelings. She always encouraged me to write and I feel like I would dishonor her memory and wish if I didn’t.

Plus, I also use my blogging as a way to stay accountable to my goals. There’s an unique motivation that comes from sharing your story step by step. My past blogging experiences have been nothing but positive as I made goals, tracked the scale and documented my daily miles. This includes admitting the mess ups and resolves to do better. It’s empowering sharing your progress through blogging and essentially the world.

So, yeah — that’s why I love blogging about what I blog about.

Why do you run so much? Isn’t that bad for you? Won’t you die?

Because, I love it. I love the calm peaceful feeling I get after a long run. I love the challenge of long runs — half marathons, marathons and ultra marathons. I love preparing for them. And, I love the people. Runners are some of the most sincere, loyal and nicest people you’ll meet. Some of my closest friends I met while out on the road (no my friends aren’t hookers).

As far as running a lot being bad for you? I tend to go with articles like this, this and this. Plus, I have a number of friends who’ve ran HUNDREDS of marathons and other races and they’re in the mid-40s with their knees attached. I met a 70+ year old at one my races who’s run multiple races past her perceived “prime.” I look towards her example as proof that I’ll be okay.

What do you suggest I do to get into running?

Just do it! Train for a 5K and start from there. Get other people involved as well. Encourage other family and friends to run with you. And, if they’re a no go, find a running group. You can find many local groups or even virtual ones that can give you support in your goals.

But, above all else, get yourself into the right shoe. Go to a local running store and have them help you pick out the right shoe for your body and running style. The right shoe makes a world of difference. Trust me.

What other tips do you have for me to get more into running?

Oh gosh, there is so much you can do. Read running books. That motivates me immensely. I love Unbroken, Running with Pheidippides and Born to Run. There are a number of other running books out there, but those three are my favorite. Also, keep finding a ‘next’ race. Whether it’s another 5K, half marathon, marathon or longer. Always challenge yourself and make a new goal for yourself. There’s a wonderful underlying motivation that comes from doing this.

Then finally, share your story. Whether it’s sharing it mouth to mouth, on a blog, Facebook or at work. Share your love of running and your successes as well. You never know who you are going to motivate and inspire to start running as well.

So, yeah, go running!!!

What’s with this word ‘fartlek’ that you keep throwing around?

It’s a wonderful word. My mother hates it because she thinks it’s a vulgar word (not to mention that state of Utah — they denied my license plate “FARTLEK” last year). But, fartlek is actually a training technique initially developed for an underperforming Swedish cross-country team in the 1920s and it’s basically been adopted throughout the running community. It’s hard to explain so I’ll just let Wikipedia tell you the rest. But, I do incorporate it into my training plan and … I just love saying it.

What is your favorite race you’ve ran so far?

Such a loaded question. I mean, it’s like asking which one of your dozen kids (this happens in Utah, a lot) you love more. I love each race. But, there are certain ones I do enjoy more than others. I love canyon races. My favorite from a location, organization and beauty standpoint is the Big Cottonwood Marathon.

But, I am also a fan of destination races, specifically Disney races. But, like I said, I love them all. Each one comes with it’s own challenging hills, stretches of road (or trail) and/or personality. But, those canyon runs, especially here in Utah are divine.

When you run what is some of your favorite gear? What do you recommend?

I love my shoes. I switched to Hoka OneOne last year and it has changed my running and my feet. But, I really don’t run with much gear besides my shoes, a classy fanny filled with Aleve, some Chocolate GU and a little candy (specifically jelly beans, Swedish Fish and/or candy corn) and NipGuards and BodyGlide to prevent bloody nipples (it’s the price I pay with extra loose skin).

The first thing I recommend are good shoes. Make sure to have your local running store test you for the perfect shoe. Other than that it’s pretty much up to you. It’s a lot of trial and error. I used to run with a hydration pack, all sorts of supplements and gear, but have geared down after figuring out what worked for me. I still run with that gear during long training runs, but during races I will just rely on aid stations for what I need.

So, yeah, it’s all up to you. Just make sure you have fun along the way.

What’s your favorite distance to run? Why don’t you run more marathons?

Easy. I love the half marathon. I am at a point fitness wise that I could run one every week and physically be ok. But, I really have a love/hate relationship with marathons at the moment. I’ve ran three so far and while they were great challenges they just take A LOT out of you. It’s a long recovery for me, plus it’s a lot of running to just prepare for one. I’m sure I’ll run some more (I’d like to do at least two more), but for now I’m sticking with the half marathon.

Why do you talk so much about three-legged cats?

Because, I want one.

Are you single? Can I stalk you?

Well does the fact that I still live in my mother’s basement and want a cat answer that question for you? So, yeah, still (extremely) available … As far as the stalking goes, go ahead, well as far as social media will allow you. No peeking into my Mother’s basement window. You can find me on Facebook (or on the blog’s fan page), TwitterInstagramPinterest and probably still somewhere on MySpace?!

Feel free to add me, friend me or follow me. I love making new friends, and in the case of Instagram, I love showing pictures of my food to complete strangers and friends alike.

You sure talk a lot about your mother … ?!?

Well wouldn’t you if you had the world’s best Mom? Seriously, though, she’s like the best. If you could give sainthood for living people she’d have earned it years ago! Trust me, dealing with me as a kid provided many miracles. She’s earned it. But, my Mom is my best friend. She’s always encouraged me to do my very best no matter what I do.

She’s never judged or condemned me. Just encouraged me to be my best. It was this belief and encouragement that has gotten me through Special Ed, my mission, college and through my weight-loss journey.

Back in March 2012 my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. The news hit our family hard, getting a diagnosis like that leaves not just the patient but loved ones with many “what-ifs.” But, she and our family tackled it with faith, determination and resiliency. After a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation treatments and a number of reconstructive surgeries she is in remission and enjoying life more than ever with her children and three grandchildren.

She really is a saint, a hero and an inspiration. That’s why I talk a lot about her on the blog.

What else should the world know about you?

Well, I am deathly afraid of deer. I’ve ran into too many while running to be considered a slight fear. I swear their eyes glow red when no one else is looking, but me. Pure evil.

I also have a slight obsession with Christmas. I’m usually listening to Christmas music by November 1st and not letting go until tax day. But, if you think that’s bad you haven’t met my Dad. He hoard records Lifetime and Hallmark Channel Christmas specials in December on the DVR and then watches them throughout the year.

Other things? Um, I hate public bathrooms, but love Honey Buckets. My favorite restaurant in the world is Subway (I am still upset at myself that I didn’t start my weight-loss journey before Jared. That should have been me! IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ME!). I overshare on Facebook. My celebrity crush is Carrie Underwood and I want to be Morgan Freeman when I grow up.

So, is that all?

Oh, I also sometimes love to go ghost hunting and find hiccups the most annoying sound in the world. Ok … now … that’s all.

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