First off — HAPPY FOURTH! I hope you’re having a great holiday weekend. This really is my favorite weekend of the year. So much family time, so many community activities and it’s summer to boot! Plus — USA! USA! USA!
One thing that’s been missing ever since I started running some six years ago is a 4th of July race longer than a 5K or even 10K to run during the weekend (or on the holiday itself). There are PLENTY of races (both half marathon and marathon) on or around Pioneer Day here in Utah — but, nothing really around the 4th.
Well, until this year.
This was the inaugural run of the 13 Miles of Freedom put on by Extra Mile Racing. As the name implies it’s first and forth most a half marathon (along with a 5K on race day). I registered fairly early when I saw it on the race schedule, because I’ve eagerly been waiting for a patriotic half marathon to count towards my 180 race goal.
The race runs along the Jordan River Parkway starting at 5400 S. and then running north to about 2400 S. and back via an out and back loop. Well, at least that’s the way you’re suppose to go. Unless you get lost and go an entirely wrong direction. But, more on that later.
The one thing I loved about this race was how lax it was. Most Extra Mile Races are, which I love. The race didn’t start until 7am, so I didn’t have to leave until about 6am to mosey over to the race, get my bib and prepped for gun time. I loved being able to mingle with friends before the race as well — Elsha, Monte, Karrie, Ron, etc., etc., etc.
I was a little worried about the late start, but it wasn’t THAT bad, because there were stretches of covered trail and plenty of water at the aid stations. So the heat wasn’t much of an issue for me until the last couple of miles.
My goal for the race was basically to just — run. I didn’t have a goal. After a month of racing Drop13 and AF Canyon along with RAGNAR — I just wanted to run this with no time expectation. I wanted to use it more so as a training run than anything else.
I guess, my only goal was that I wanted to run under three hours — but, I wasn’t totally dead set on achieving that goal. It just depending on my run and whether or not I ended up hanging out with Tammy, who was sweeping the course. And, since I ended to get 15-16 miles in for my training — I even thought about running back to run in with Tammy.
But, none of that was necessary, because I definitely got plenty of running in thanks to my keen sense of following directions. Basically, I got lost. But, that description doesn’t do justice to the adventure that those extra three miles were. Not at all.
As I mentioned earlier the course was a fairly simple out and back course with a loop for the turn around. Nothing extraordinary difficult about following the course, especially if you paid attention to the course signs. Which, Extra Mile Racing did a great job at marking.
The first 4-5 miles were fairly nondescript — I felt great and I was plugging along the trail. I did get chased by a stupid goose. But, I wasn’t going to let a Canadian goose ruin my All-American run — so I just out ran it. I was having fun listening to my music and jamming out to a mix of my favorite running and patriotic songs.
My energy levels were great and I would stop at each aid station and refuel with water and bananas. Nothing too big. But, at the second aid station (where we turn onto the loop) the volunteer must have stepped away for a moment — so I was at the station alone. I was downing some water and a banana when a guy and his 5-6 chihuahuas stepped onto the trail — the guy asked me what was going on and after I told him about the race, he just kept talking to me.
He reminded me a lot of my Aunt Diane — who could corner you into a 15-20 minute conversation about nothing of importance. He started telling me why four of dogs were leashed and two of them were not and why one of them wasn’t because of some bladder infection. I was trying to be polite, but I really wanted to get back to my run — so I kinda backed away slowly from him and excused myself — not looking at where I was going.
And, well, I missed my turn. I kept going straight. And, I didn’t think much of it because I saw a lot of the faster runners coming towards me — so I just kept plugging along in my happy zone.
I kept passing runners and it wasn’t until I reached the bridge that I had my friend Catey tell me that I was going the wrong way. Instead of taking the clue, I thought she was just joking — so I kinda laughed it off and kept running — looking for this turn around loop.
When I got up to the 2100 South overpass I started to worry a bit because I wasn’t seeing any other runners. But, I kinda just shook that off as being a slower runner. So I just kept going — and that’s when it got awkward. Super awkward.
As I ran under the 2100 South overpass I passed a biker and then a ways further I noticed what I thought was another biker in the walkway — assumingly taking a rest stretch. I noticed him kinda squatting and didn’t think much about it until I got closer.
That’s when I discovered this guy was NOT a biker or even a runner. But, it was a naked (complete naked) homeless man who was squatting to — well — take care of his business. In that moment of realization I just turned my head to straightaway and ran a little bit faster so I could get out of that overpass.
I was both shocked and laughing at the same time. These kind of things always happen to me. And, of course this would happen to me now. But, I just kept running.
After about another half mile of running I started to really question my sense of direction. So I whipped out the map course on my phone and compared it to my GPS and noticed that I was about a mile and a half off course. After a moment of — ugh — that feeling quickly turned to a moment to dread. Because, I knew I had to go back the way I came from — and pass the naked homeless guy once again.
I was hoping he was at least done with his business and dressed. I could handle that. Probably.
So when I retraced my steps and started going under the 2100 South overpass I noticed him once again. Thankfully, he was done with his business, but unfortunately he was still completely naked. He was calmly sitting upon a rock leaning back against an overpass beam reading a magazine. Being the complete gentlemen he was, he gave me a salutation — which I returned quite awkwardly.
I felt the desire to stop and offer him something. But, quite honestly what he needed the most was something I had only one pair of. And, I don’t think running the rest of the race pantless was a viable option. So I just kept running.
I’m assuming he was either drying his clothes after washing them in the river — or just hanging out in the buff because it was too hot for clothes. I won’t lie — I’m jealous of his confidence, but it was an awkward moment. Hilariously awkward. And, something I’ll always remember of all my races.
Once I got over my traumatic experience I retraced my steps and got back on the course. Once I got back on the course I had added an extra three miles to my half marathon. Thus, making it an ultra half marathon.
I really didn’t mind the extra miles, I needed them anyways and meant I didn’t have to tag them on after my race. Plus, I had an experience I’ll never forget. But, I stopped my watch after 13.1 miles and I did those miles in 2:47:16 — not bad considering the circumstances.
But, once I was on the route I was worried about where I was in relation to the sweeper. I wanted to make sure I had water or some support at the aid stations since I didn’t carry any with me. Luckily, about 4-5 miles from the finish line I was met by race support on a bike and they gave me some water, because the aid stations were out of water. That’s where I also learned I was behind Tammy — so I sped up to catch up with her.
I finally caught up with her about 3-4 miles from the finish line and ended up finishing with her and another runner who was struggling in the heat. I had told Tammy that I might end up running with her, but we didn’t know it was going to end up happening THIS way.
So I just ended up going the rest of the way with Tammy and the other runner. I wasn’t in too much of a hurry since I already my mu miles in — plus some. I was just happy to be out there. Not to mention getting QUITE the experience to write in my journal.
It was great training for my 50 in October and my preluding marathons. Next week there’s no race. I am going to make it a high mileage week since I won’t be getting a lot of miles in on Saturday (it’s my niece’s baptism in the morning). But, I’ll be getting in PLENTY of miles throughout the month with training and races (I have four — and three within a week).
Anyways — HAPPY FOURTH! I hope you have a great holiday and go do something runny. This is the perfect holiday to celebrate with a run!
My next race isn’t until July 15th — which for me, seems like an eternity. I won’t lie — if it wasn’t my niece’s baptism on Saturday morning this week, I’d probably be running Hobbler. I need to serve some redemption on that course. I swept it last year, but it kicked my trash.
Anyways — I’ve done the Utah Midnight Run on the Legacy Parkway now for five years. Sounds so weird saying that, because I still feel like so much of a rookie when it comes to running. But, I’ve been running since 2010 and half marathons since 2011 — so I guess it’s bound to happen, right?
I’ll be using this as a double run — not double race like past years. I’m planning on running the 13.1 miles and then another 5-6 miles in the morning. Some fairly basic and light fatigue running. But, I’ll need to start doing more fatigue training in August and September as I get closer to my 50.
This will be a great opportunity to do that and a fun opportunity to run with friends!
RUNCAST USA: MUSIC EPISODE
This episode was released on Friday afternoon — so you might have missed it! But, I’m sharing more of my favorite running songs. I’ve got some familiar stuff with Fallout Boy, Imagine Dragons — and, yes — Justin Timberlake. But, I am also sharing some newer and less known stuff as well.
If anything — listen to the leadoff episode, it’s my favorite!
THE PARK HOPPERS: RUN DOLE WHIP RUN!
As many know me, know I am a HUGE Disneynerd. You’ll never find me the happiest when I’m sitting at Disneyland waiting for the fireworks to start while eating a Dole Whip float. Pure heaven, pure joy.
This past week I was a guest on The Park Hoppers podcast on Pod Bash. They grilled me on my Disney-ness, we taste tested some Dole Whips around town and I also shared some info on the Run Disney races at Disneyland — and Walt Disney World. I had an absolute BLAST!
Listen to the episode here …
After putting her in tears with my horrible gift two years ago (I bought her a basketball jersey). I definitely won the gift giving this year! Miss Sweet Cheeks has fallen in love with RUNNING! Last year she joined the Running Club at school and regularly goes out with her Mom. Being somewhat the running guru myself I bought her a pair of running shoes and an entry into Lagoon’s Frightmares 5K in October that we’ll run together. I can’t wait! She’s going to be a quickster! #mayasweetcheeks #happybirthday #unclejosher
A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on
A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on
What a special program this morning watching the scouts retire an American flag. This flag never saw a battlefield or military action. But, it stood in our neighborhoods as a sign to the peace fought and earned through sacrifice and divine Providence. What a special moment to reflect on what the flag represents and means to us who love this great country. #northcanyon5th #chuckwagon #4thofjuly #usflag
A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on
TOTAL MILES TO DATE
MILES TO GOAL