I DID IT! I am officially an ULTRA marathoner! Words can’t begin to express how I feel about the accomplishment. I have lots of gratitude for just the ability to run and being able to just do something like this, but I have been humbled by all of the words of support I’ve gotten the past few days. I’ve got some amazing friends.
The seed to do something like this was planted this past spring after Jill and I ran the Buffalo Run 25K. It seemed like a natural progression — but honestly — before that, didn’t have much ambition or interest in doing something as ridiculous as an ultra marathon. But, that changed back in March — especially watching a number of my friends run their first 50K and 50 milers.
It inspired me. It made me realize a bit more that — I could do that too. That seed was planted.
And, now, here I am eight months later having gone through my own 50K experience. It was a humbling experience — but such a wonderful triumph. My emotions throughout the race were as high and low as the hills and valleys of the amazing terrain of the island. There were times I ran in awe and utter elation — while others I wanted to die.
But, I did it.
I wanted to run this race with Jill — especially since we’re into “epic sh–” like this. But, she’s pregnant and — well — for obvious reasons, we’re going to have to do this together in 2016. But, my friend Jason Henry jumped on the chance when I tried to recruit others to join me. The same with Tim Gill. He got into the race last minute, but honestly, I couldn’t image doing something like this without him either. We’ve had some great experiences this past year running and sweeping races.
Our friend Marisa who was running her first ultra as well — joined us at the starting line. So we had a good solid running squad. Our game plan was simple: finish. We had a couple of cut-off times we had to meet and about 10 hours to complete the race. I fully expected to take the whole 10 hours — which I did. But, when you’re goal is to just finish, time is secondary. Well, time is important — especially at the cut-offs — but you get what I’m saying.
Our plan for running the terrain was easy — walk the hills and run the rest, especially the downhills. And, if we had to walk to at least speed walk faster than a mall walker. Sound plan, right? And, for the most part that’s what we did.
The first five miles were fairly easy until we got to the first aid station where we were greeted by the Earnshaws and Robert Merriman. As we journeyed towards the next age station at mile 13 — we really had no idea what were getting ourselves into. I knew from the spring 25K that there was a fairly steep switchback at one point, but beyond that — I had no clue — except that there were some “pretty bad hills” from others who’ve ran this course before.
That was an understatement.
Those hills. Oh, those &*#% hills! There were three sets of hills that lead up to the next aid station. So, you’d conquer one — not seeing the next hill — and just stare at it thinking “DANG IT!” But, there’s only one way to conquer them — and that’s going up them. By the second hill, I was struggling. So mentally I was just focusing on one step at a time.
When I topped that second hill and saw the third hill in front of me — I wanted to die. Literally. So I took a seat at the base and refueled, knowing this was going to be a beast. By this point, Jason and Marisa were half way up the hill and ahead of us. This was the last we’d see of them. Jason twisted his ankle and was advised to go on at the aid station so it wouldn’t freeze up and become more painful.
So, Tim and I tackled the hill together — along with the sweepers who caught up with us (we were a half hour ahead of the cut-off, we just were the last runners). I can’t begin to describe to you how I felt throughout that last monster hill. There was a lot of pain, fatigue and nausea. I wanted to spew numerous times — nearly at every step.
Tim and I would take about 10-20 steps — stop — compose — and then repeat. It was horrible. Mentally, I wasn’t in a good place. I wondered if I could really do this and if I would make it out alive. Because, I wanted to die. At that moment — death seemed like a great option. But, I had this little voice within me tell, “just get to the aid station and you’ll be fine.”
That was my rallying cry for the rest of that $%&# hill — JUST. GET. TO. THE. AID. STATION.
And, I did.
I didn’t die, I didn’t throw up and luckily I didn’t poop my pants (a valid fear anytime during a race).
When I got to the aid station and took a seat in a camping chair — drank down some more water and tried to work up an appetite. I knew I had to eat though I didn’t feel like it. I got a peanut butter and jelly square in me — a few M&M’s — and a bunch of canned potatoes dipped in salt.
Oh, my gosh, those potatoes were heaven sent. Seriously, I don’t think an Iron Chef could have whipped up a better tasting dish at that moment, then those canned potatoes and salt.
Once Tim and I got fueled up and recomposed we headed back out. Luckily, the worst of it was over. The rest was downhill — and fairly flat. Our only concern was just getting to our next aid station before the cut-off which was at 3pm. Relieved, we let the downhill towards the ranch carry us and did a lot of run/walking especially since Tim aggravated his achilles.
We got into the next aid station basically at the cut-off time. Luckily, the volunteers let us continue. This motivated the both of us to pick it up. We had an hour to get to the next aid station about three miles away. So we booked it. We created a run/walk system — where Tim lead for a stretch at his fast pace and then we switched with me walking a little bit. Basically, we did a “Trail Galloway run/walk” to the next aid station.
We gained some good time to the last cut-off and had about six minutes to spare. Talk about elation hitting that aid station — I was greeted by my friend Dulci with a big hug. I really felt like I crossed the finish line — because now I knew I would finish. There was no threat of cut-offs — I was on the home stretch and I was GOING TO DO THIS!
After fueling up we headed out for the last 6-7 miles of the race. By this time the sun was starting to set and our side of the island was getting dark — and with it came cooler temperatures. Which made me feel a bit colder because of the sweaty shirt I was wearing. But, we just kept pushing through.
About three miles out we ran into a herd of buffalo was next to the trail. Throughout the race we hadn’t had any issues with them — in fact most were too far away from the trail to be an issue. But, there was one rogue bison that was blocking the trail and being rather aggressive. The runner ahead of us had stopped after it charged her — and when Tim and I got there we made the decision to take a round about way around it near the shoreline.
But, at this time the sweepers came — and luckily — with it some experience with dealing with bison. They said generally if you make a lot of noise and make yourself look bigger then turn around and leave you alone. And, well — we did — and he turned right around and rejoined the herd. It made us feel a tad rookie-ish and stupid — but, duly noted. I’ll definitely remember that for next year.
After that it was the home stretch, we just had a few miles left. The sun starting setting and was getting dark — but Marisa and Heather cheered us on. And, well — we finished!
It was a looooooong day of running. Basically running from sunrise to sunset. But, you know what — I finished and that’s what matters.
I am officially an ultra marathoner.
I learned a number of things out on the course about myself — my resolve — and what I would do differently the next time I tackle a 50K.
I was reassured that I can do hard things. I know that no matter how difficult the present may be, you can’t dwell on the past — just what’s in front of you. Not to mention, the divine knowledge how important faith is in those moment — you can’t necessarily see the goal destination (in my case — the aid station on top of the hill), but you’ve got to take every step forward knowing you’ll get there.
For the next year’s race — I’ll definitely do more training on the trails. This is one reason why I am cutting back on my races next year. I’ll have done 30 races this year compared to a plan 17 in 2016. I need — want — to hit those trails more. I’ve got some beautiful trails here in Bountiful and very close by in Salt Lake and around Davis County. I want to take advantage of them.
Plus, I want to run Antelope Island more — I want to train on that $%&# hill. I want to be stronger when I conquer it next year. That just needs to happen.
And, if anyone is reading this who thinks that they could never do something like this — HA — if I can do it, you can too!
Joshua Snow Hansen, Ultra Marathoner
THE TRUTH ABOUT ULTRA MARATHONS
Who packs like a girl? THIS GUY! And, really that could be taken two ways. Not only am I packing a week’s worth of “stuff” for my ultra — but a bra as well. But, seriously, I pack like I’m hiking the Himalayas and not just around Antelope Island for 31 miles. I’ve got problems. #antelopeisland50k #race113 #running #ultramarathon #utah
This is happening. #ultramarathon #antelopeisland50k #race113 #running #antelopeisland #utah A photo posted by Joshua O. Snow Hansén (@kindaqwerty) on
The runners all set to begin the 50K. At least my nerves were temporarily quelled by the beauty of the sunrise. Once we started running, I was fine. But, oh man, that buildup to the gun … 😃😨😵😫😆😬😳😳😳😳😳 SO MANY EMOTIONS! #antelopeisland50k #race113 #antelopeisland #utah #running #ultramarathon @running180 @fight4phat @kindaqwerty
Couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends to run with. We got separated after mile 13 — but, Tim and I finished together, while Jason and Marisa finished together as well. BUDDY SYSTEM! #antelopeisland50k #race113 #antelopeisland #utah #running #ultramarathon @running180 @fight4phat @kindaqwerty A photo posted by Running180™ (@running180) on
The hills between miles 11-13 were NO JOKE! I can’t adequately begin to describe how hard they were. Especially, the last one before the mile 13 aid station. Both Tim and I wanted to die. Literally. We would take 20 steps and rest and then repeat. It didn’t help I was nauseated either. It was bad. But, I knew if I just got to the aid station I’d be fine. That was what carried me. Well that and probably a legion of angels. But, wow, it was a beast of hill. #antelopeisland50k #race113 #antelopeisland #utah #running #ultramarathon @running180 @kindaqwerty @fight4phat A photo posted by Running180™ (@running180) on
RACE #113 & MY FIRST ULTRA ARE IN THE BOOKS! Definitely the hardest endurance race I’ve done ever! It was tough as sh–! But, I conquered it! Started out with friends — Jason, Tim and Marisa. But, at mile 13 we got separated while Tim and wanted to die on the worst hill (mountain) ever. Tim and I recouped and refueled and finished together. We barely hit some of the cut offs, but the last one we hit I was a feeling of elation knowing we were going to finish. We only had one run in with an angry buffalo, but it wasn’t bad. We made some noise and he then left us alone. But, we did it! I’m now officially an ULTRA marathoner! How cool is that? Heck, I need business cards with that on it! I’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of love and support shown me during this journey! All the messages and notes were much appreciated. My full recap will be up on the blog tomorrow morning! #antelopeisland50k #race113 #antelopeisland #utah #running #ultramarathon @running180 @fight4phat @kindaqwerty
After burning over 8,000 calories for the day — I felt NO guilt getting a Double Big Gulp Slurpee. That’s right, the perfection marriage. #doublebiggulp #slurpee #7eleven #hypothyroid #hypothyroidism #thyroid #lowtestosterone #running #antelopeisland50k #ultramarathon #health #wellness #fitness #food @fight4phat @running180 @kindaqwerty @7eleven A photo posted by Fight4Phat™ 🏃🏻💨 (@fight4phat) on
NEXT RACE: THANKFUL 13
This will be my second to last race of the year. I love this race too. This will be my fourth year running it as well. It’s such a great way to start my Thanksgiving day. I used to do a local 5K here in Bountiful, but how can you justify eating two slices of pie running a 5K? In my book — you can’t.
But, running a half marathon? Heck yes!
This race is done by Runtastic and happens — appropriately — at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi. It’s a fairly flat course, but beautiful nonetheless. I’ll be sweeping the course along with my friend Cevan — so we should more than a fun time.
You can sign up for the half marathon, 5K or Kid’s race here. Hope you see there!
MONTHLY MILEAGE UPDATE 2015Total Mileage Breakdown for 2015 2015 Training Miles – 246.75 miles 2015 Walking Miles – 451.8 miles 2015 Race Miles – 446.1 miles 2015 Total Miles – 1144.65 miles Monthly Total Miles for 2015 January – 78.8 miles February – 72.85 miles March – 115.3 miles April – 76.3 miles May – 97.4 miles June – 131.15 miles July – 101.65 miles August – 110.2 miles September – 115.69 miles October – 164.7 miles
November – 86.6 miles
A LITTLE MOTIVATION FOR MONDAY