RACE #94: Drop 13 Half Marathon


I am so happy with this race. Like, beyond happy. After a tumultuous year of thyroid and testosterone issues I got myself a little bit of success this past Saturday. And, I needed it.


A couple years ago 2013 was my fastest running year. No marathons, just half marathons. And, I averaged between 2:10-2:25 depending on the course and weekend. I even set my current PR at the Nebo Half (2:08). Life was good.

Last year I started training for marathons ago and I couldn’t really maintain that 13.1 speed while marathon training. I know some people can, I’m just not blessed with that gene. But, my half marathons slowed down a bit to around 2:30-2:40. I wasn’t very concerned because I was running marathons.

Flat Josh pretty much ready to run … sans my pants. Don’t worry, I wore shorts during the race.

But, last year is when I started having health problems with my thyroid and testosterone and it really just kinda screwed things up for me. Without going into much detail, I started gaining weight despite running and working out, which killed my running pace, etc., etc., etc., etc.

It’s really a long and complicated story and this isn’t the intention of this post. But, needless to say, it’s been frustrating especially with my running because I am just not the same athlete I was two years ago. I can’t complain too much, because I’ve learned a lot of humility and lessons through that process and reality.

One of my goals of running is to one day run a sub-two half marathon. And, this past year mentally and physically it has seemed that goal and reality was fading. I didn’t have average a sub-two every race, I just wanted to run one once. That’s all.

Mark and I living the dream on the back of the bus WAAAAY too early in the morning. NOTE: I looked dressed for Christmas, not a June race.

But, when you gain 40lbs. and feel like poop at the end of race more often than not it’s hard to see that finish line. I still want it and I know it’s still there, but more than anything I needed to taste that possibility again. I needed it to feel real.

All week leading up to this race I didn’t know how I was going to run this race. I figured it would probably end up like my typical races of late … somewhere between 2:45 to 3 hours … ish. Some of those times are when I am sweeping, but more often than not I’m just slow.

But, with as much as I love Big Cottonwood Canyon I really wanted to have a good run. I really just wanted to give my best effort so at the end of the race I stand proud. I can be dang proud of even my slowest times if I know and feel that I gave it my best effort. And, that has happened a number of times.

Running down the canyon with the 2:20 pacers, I was able to talk with Matt (orange singlet) during and after the race. Awesome pacers!

The night before the race when I was laying out my stuff for the race my ritual usually involves charging my Garmin. But, as great of a tool as the Garmin is, it’s a total tool in how it makes me feel at times. Especially when I can see my pace sloooooow down mile by mile. It really can be discouraging.

So, I made the decision to forgo the Garmin.

Now, I have ran without my Garmin before and it was earlier in the spring, but it was more out of forgetting it at home. It wasn’t a conscious decision. So while I didn’t run without it, it was still in my head. And, eventually it mentally effected my race because I was too worried about my pace, etc.

But, I made the decision for this race to just go by feel, to honestly give my best effort and don’t think about my pace or time. I just wanted to run.

So, yeah, that was the game plan.

Flashing my Run4Fun gang sign half way down the canyon.

So after a 2:30am wake up call (after a midnight bedtime … mark that down as a bad decision) to hop on a bus at 4am, we hung out at the race start waiting for the gun time. I felt very relaxed as I chatted with my friends and I felt even better about my decision to leave the Garmin at home.

Mentally, I felt ready to give my best. I think a lot of that has come from my dedication to the Back2Phat campaign I started this past week. Seeing some initial success has helped me in a number of ways — mentally, physically, emotionally.

But, I felt loose and ready.


To make sure I ran with MY HEART throughout the run, I tap my chest (or heart) whenever I found my mind wandering.

And once the gun sounded I was ready to go. No pressure, no expectations, just one foot in front of the other. And, I felt great. I was kind of waiting for my legs to start feeling heavy, but surprisingly that didn’t really happen until around mile 10. I even kept up with the 2:20 pacer for a few good miles … which, frankly, surprised me.

I just kept running. And, tried to at a good efforted pace. It was was really liberating not having my Garmin on me as I ran. I just gave my best effort based on my feel, the pacers and the course.

I don’t know if that means I now race without my Garmin? But, at least for this race it was needed, especially with what I need from this race. I didn’t need a time or pace goal, really just an efforted goal. But, we’ll see if I leave the Garmin at home again.

I LOVE THIS CANYON! So beautiful.

The run down the canyon was mostly shady thanks to the early 6am start so heat wasn’t too much of an issue. Though it was. So I walked all of the aid stations and drank two cups of water to one Powerade. And, the one thing that I loved that On Hill Events did was spread out the aid stations out every two miles compared to the more standard practice of every three miles for half marathons. That really helped combat the heat.

There wasn’t much on the aid stations as far as gels, but that wasn’t on purpose. The day before the race’s UHAUL truck caught fire and they lost a number of things including some race bags and the gels. I don’t rely on race provided gels, mainly because I stick to my Mocha Clif Shots … if needed.

And, I didn’t even use them during this race.

My effort during the race was rewarded with a year’s best time. I am on cloud nine!

But, I felt bad for Joe and the On Hill Events staff, because they lost quite a bit of stuff in the fire. Joe was pulling stuff out of the trailer before it was entirely engulfed. But, despite that set back and working until past 1am the night before they pulled off a great race. You really couldn’t tell they were missing a number of things.

Despite feeling great about the run it was around mile 10 that my body started to feel the wear and tear of what I was doing to it. My hip started hurting a bit, but the cruel thing about that was it only hurt when I slowed down. Seriously. The slower I went the more it hurt. So, I kinda had to keep a quick pace so it wouldn’t bother me much.

I wish someone explained that to me before I started running?!

My friend Mo and I, we were co-workers and involved in student government at SLCC back in the day. We also were on the same Ragnar team a couple years ago. GO BRUINS!

Regardless, I knew the last three miles were going to be tough. Luckily, miles 10-12ish were all downhill until we got to the mouth of the canyon. That helped a lot. But, the last mile, mile and a half was on paved trail just outside of the canyon. And, all you could do was just push yourself.

And, that’s what I did. I admit the last mile was a lot of walk-run cycling. But, I would have made Jeff Galloway proud. I had NO idea what why time was, but from how I felt I knew it was better than 2:45. But, when I turned the last corner of the race and saw the finish line with the clock nearing the mid-2:30s … I was ecstatic and shocked. I kind of gave myself a couple of fist pumps as I crossed the finish line and felt like poop and heaven all at the time.

One of my favorite medals thus far of 2015.

I don’t know how to better describe that feeling, but poop and heaven seems close enough.

After I was done I stopped and talked to some friends, cheered in some runners, ate some bananas and drank lots of water. Pretty much my typical post-race M.O.

I didn’t really know where I was in relation to where I parked my car, so I actually had to Google Map directions. It was about a half mile walk, which wasn’t a big deal, but it’s amazing how lost you can get when you park in the dark at 4am. Life is different in the light.

Celebratory Slurpee! WOOT! WOOT!

But, I wasn’t lost for long and once I got back to my car I beelined it to a 7 Eleven for a post-race Slurpee and all was good in the world.

Now to build upon all of this. And, going forward I have no doubt that I will because that momentum is pushing me towards there already.



95-ragnarI really need to update my race calendar and figure out what is going on, because I am a tads bit confused myself. Last week I made NO mention of Ragnar. But, I am running Ragnar. This weekend.

Here’s why. And, if you are trying to keep track, I advise that you sit down and take detailed notes. I tried to explain this to my mother over the weekend and now she won’t talk to me anymore.

So, last week I made the decision to move up my 100th race from the Park City Half (August 15th … my birthday) to the Handcart Days Half (July 24th). The basic reason is because the Handcart Days Half Marathon was my first half marathon and the first race of this crazy little 180 race adventure I started nearly four years ago.

It just seemed natural.

A common scene during Ragnar. You take sleep wherever and whenever you can get it.

So, to hit my 100 on that date I had to add two races to my calendar. That was pretty easy. I signed up for the Provo Midnight Run (June 26) and Hobbler Half (July 11). Both of which will basically be the first of back-to-back races, but that’s a post for another day.

I thought I was set to hit that 100 on the 24th of July. But, then midweek I got notice that the 13 Miles of Freedom (July 4) race was cancelled which I was planning on running. Since there wasn’t another half that day to run, I only had very few weekends open to sneak another race in to still hit that goal.

Another common scene at Ragnar … and, yes, those are Christmas lights.

And, this upcoming weekend was one of them. Well, actually, the only one. I toyed with the idea of running the Bear Lake Half on Saturday, but logistics just didn’t work with rides and my car. So I turned my attention to Ragnar and I find the last two weeks before Ragnar is probably the easiest time to find a slot, because teams are always looking for replacements.

And, so I found a team and am running it this weekend. I am in Van #2 as runner 9. I checked out the leg and it isn’t that bad of a leg (thankfully). I didn’t want anything over 15 miles and it’s 13.8 miles, so at least I will over my 13.1 mile requirement to adding it to my race total. But, my longest leg is about 7 miles and it’s my first one.

The sunglasses hide the bloodshot sleep-deprived eyes.

Easy and fun. I’m looking forward to it. And, I’m just grateful that I am still on track to get #100 on the 24th. I really didn’t want to change that back.

Anyone else running Ragnar? What leg? When do you start? I think our team starts at 5:15am?


WEEKLY SUMMARY – Not a lot of running (by design) this week with my race on Saturday. A lot of walking at work while doing errands and commuting. And, then some running in my circuit training. It’s been a good week, so I’ll label it a success. 
Total Mileage Breakdown for 2015
2015 Training Miles – 183.5 miles
2015 Walking Miles – 174.25 miles
2015 Race Miles – 145.25 miles
2015 Total Miles – 503.0 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  62.35 miles


This actually comes from me. On Saturday while I was running down the canyon and enjoying the moment I mentally wrote this little personal creed for me. It’s been a struggle for me to find the joy in running at times the past year or so. Especially through my health problems.

But, I wrote this as a reminder that there is MUCH more to running than just numbers, averages, etc., etc. Anyways, I’ll let it speak for itself …



Leave a Reply