I needed this race. I needed this moment. I needed this victory. It has been nearly two years — an eternity in running terms — since I’ve had race I walked (or hobbled) away from knowing that was truly MY best. I perfectly aligned mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually for this race — and it felt great. It was my best half marathon finish in time in nearly two years.
I’ve missed that feeling.
Sure there’s room for growth in all those areas — but, I run much better when all of that is aligned. I just want to continue to build upon this momentum. After a couple tough races in Provo and Ogden — this gives me hope that I am turning a corner. Especially physically.
The Whole 30 diet that I’ve been following the past three weeks should get a lot of credit for those changes. I feel myself slimming down., I have a lot ore energy and my metabolism and thyroid seem to be working MUCH better. I might make some slight adaptations, but I’m sticking to the basic meal plan (that’s all a post for another day — maybe in a week or two?).
Another change has just been consistency in general. I’m day 13 now into a running streak and I am trying to be more deliberate with my runs. Which again, I know I can (and will) improve upon. Anyways, I’m in a good place heading for somewhere better — and that excites me. It’s been a while.
Anyways — going into the race I set a goal for myself of 2:35-2:45 — that seemed like a reasonable and attainable goal. Especially, since I ran a 2:55 at Provo and I’ve been focusing on my training and diet the past month. Especially after my horrifically wet race in Ogden.
PLUS — I knew this would be a fast race. My best race time last year was 2:37:11 on the same course. So I knew I had it in me to run within that 10 minute range. It also helped running a good portion of the race last week as a refresher on how to run the canyon.
So that’s been my focus the past week — I wanted to hit that time goal. So in my training and free-time I’ve been trying to visually prepare myself for that. I know that sounds kinda crazy — but, I’m a very visual person and I like to see what I am doing before I do that. But, that’s yet another post for another day.
On Saturday morning I carpooled down to the race with Tim and Boojah Gill at the lovely hour of 3am. We grabbed our shirts and packets and loaded the bus to the starting line. Luckily, it wasn’t freezing up in the canyon — something I always fear. It was just right.
The two hours before gun time was spent mainly napping and then socializing with my friends. I always have a blast at the starting line. I guess that’s the result of being a people person?
Whether it’s getting pictures with my groupies (yes, I have groupies — I just found this out on Saturday), Run4Fun, the pacing team or others — I love that time of anticipation and energy before a race. It’s always lots of fun.
When the gun sounded and the mass of runners crossed the starting line I stayed back for about 3-4 minutes until the craziness passed. Well, that and to just compose myself. I wasn’t nervous or scared — I just wanted to align my thoughts, actions and intentions before going out.
One thing I was nervous about though — was going out too fast. This is hard for me to gauge, because I love going by feeling. Especially since I stopped running with my Garmin about a year ago. So the first couple of miles I just kinda cruised at a good comfortable pace.
I was kinda surprised at how good I felt. I zipped past a number of runners and within the first couple of miles passed the 2:40 and 2:30 pacers to meet up with the 2:20 pacers — Jane and Tiffany. I started running with them and felt pretty good at their pace. It was around here that I knew I not only could, but would hit my goal. And, it was a good sign that I could actually carry a conversation with them — lately at that pace I’d be huffing and puffing like an asthmatic smoker.
Around miles 3-5(ish) I kinda forced myself to back off just a little bit of their pace. I knew in the longterm I couldn’t maintain that pace because I still was building up that stamina, but also I wanted to slow down for the terrain at hand. It was a little flat and I wanted to preserve my energy for miles 7-8 when we hit the “S-curve” in the canyon. I wanted to fly down it.
Since I didn’t know what my time was — I kept running. I won’t lie — I didn’t just let the urge to figure out my time simply pass. I wanted to know. And, for the first time in over a year — I actually wished I was running with my Garmin (that’s a good sign, I am in a good place). So, I was just determined to do my best, push through the fatigue and keep positive — because I’d get the time at the end of the race.
Tim, Boojah and I ran a lot of the race together, but we also yo-yo’d each other throughout the race. Tim had some stomach issues, so he would fartlek (quite literally) between aid stations and catching up with us. It’s always great running friends and it helped keep me on track mentally and physically having him around.
As we approached the mouth of the canyon we had about 1.5-2 miles to the end finish line. I was worried about this stretch for a couple reasons. One, it’s out of the canyon and I couldn’t rely on a little help from my friend Mr. Gravity. Two, the change in terrain would mess up my tired and weary legs. And, three, knowing I was going to be hit a wall at this point.
Yes, all of that happened. But, at the same time — I knew it was also a short couple of miles to the finish line. To escape the weight of the situation I used one of my many techniques in my later miles to keep myself going. I went back six years ago and visualized my first 5K — I remembered how miserable it was, how much I hurt and how awesome I felt once it was done.
For some reason visualizing that first 5K helps me push aside whatever physical or mental issue I have in the moment — and just push through it. Really, I think it’s a great reminder to me of how far I’ve come the past 6-7 years. If Fat Josh can do it — Phat Josh can CERTAINLY do it too (and better).
Anyways, I pushed through the last stretch and crossed the finish fatigued, tired and sore. Not only that, but my butt was extremely sore — I literally and physically kicked my trash.
And, it felt so good!
As soon as I finished I grabbed my medal, popped a squat on the pavement composed myself and just said a little prayer of gratitude. I talked with my friends Christy and Monte for a while before making my way to the bananas (naturally) and water. And, I just soaked in my thoughts and feelings of the moment.
I did my best. I left everything out there. And, I felt — for the first time in a long time — that I was running in the right direction.
It took me until yesterday to get my time — but, I clocked in at 2:31:14! My best time in over two years! And, MUCH closer to a sub-2:30 then I could have imagined going into the race.
It’s really hard to put into words how much hope and encouragement this gives me. It’s been a tough couple of years of running — especially when you see your abilities and times go down. I know I am not where I ultimately want to be, but I’m on the right path now. I’ve figured a few of the questions out with my thyroid and metabolism — and I now just want to carry this wave to those goals.
I know it’s not going to be easy. I’m also not going to have races like this all the time. I’ve ran enough to understand that. But, it’s race like this one that reassure me that I’ve got it within me to reach my goals and get to where I want to be.
I am going to revel in this for a little bit, but the work isn’t done. I’ve got Ragnar (this week) and AF Canyon (June 25) ahead of me. I’d like to push myself once again at AF Canyon, but in July I’m circling DesNews (July 25) and Timp (July 30) to further test and push my progress.
RAGNAAAAAAAR!!! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The time a runner crams into a packed car for two days with five other runners and makes the trek from Logan to Midway via the Wasatch Back. There is something so fun and addictive about RAGNAR that I will always love. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly, but a lot of it has to do with just being around others and doing something you all love.
This year I am runner 11 in van two. I’ve got a couple of easier legs compared to my second leg — which is a 9.7 miler in the middle of the night. I have mixed feelings about midnight legs — especially since I had a near encounter with skunk a couple years ago.
But, I’m not overly worried about it — I just want to have fun (which I will). I’ve got my shopping list of goodies planned out — which basically means lots of bananas, grapes, apples, sweet potatoes and other veggies since I’m planning on still doing the Whole 30 after my first 30 days.
So here we go for yet another … RAGNAAAAAAAR!!!
Last weekend Coach Blu and I had the opportunity to interview the Mayor Running — himself — the legendary Bart Yasso. Well, okay, I didn’t really interview Bart, it was all Coach. But, I did get to share a little bit about my own journey — which was pretty cool.
It’s not every day you get the opportunity to have Bart Yasso in town or on your podcast and I am glad that AIIA was able to get him on their show, because his journey is very much the same journey as many of the athletes in the program.
I am not going to give the story away — because I want you to listen to the episode. And, even if you have heard his story or read his book before, it’s still a great episode. One of the best AIIA episodes to date.
Give it a listen …
A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on
A photo posted by Fight4Phat® (@fight4phat) on
A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on
TOTAL MILES TO DATE
MILES TO GOAL