Tag: 2017

It’s time to bet big … on myself

“I don’t like to gamble, but if there’s one thing I’m willing to bet on, it’s myself.”

Beyoncé

When I started running, I had no idea where I was going. I started because I wanted to lose weight and I knew it would help me in that goal. But, beyond that, I had no idea where it was taking me?

Less than a year into my weight-loss journey my trainer, Kevin, challenged me to run a 5K in the midst of a plateau. He gave it to me as a challenge to work towards. So, I put in the work and ran my first 5K. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t fast. But, I did it.

But, then something happened. I looked at my results and said — “I can do better.” So, I set out to train for another 5K. One that I could run that would be faster and much, much prettier. And, I did.

So, I just kept running trying to improve. This lead not just in the desire to run faster, but longer. Soon, I had my eye on a 10K which naturally lead to a half marathon.

Training for my first half marathon — I thought THIS would be it. This is the crowning achievement of my running career. The thought of running any further — especially a marathon — was unfathomable. I wasn’t a REAL runner, so I couldn’t possibly do that.

Well, after I ran my first half marathon in July 2011, I ran another and another and another. I got faster and actually enjoyed running 13.1 miles — then I started entertaining the thought of doubling that mileage.

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And, before I knew it I was registered for a marathon. A FREAKING MARATHON! That race distance that only REAL runners run.

Once again, I thought this would be my crowning achievement in running. When I crossed the finish line I could cross off the accomplishment on my bucket list and go back running half marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks. But, then something happened — I signed up for more marathons. And, before I knew it, I had run a total of three marathons by the end of the year.

By this time I had a goal to reach 180 races by age 40. So, I kept training and running. Along the way, not only did I enjoy the accomplishment of racing, but I made countless friends and created many enduring friendships. Running was changing my life in nearly every faucet of my life.

But, it hasn’t always been a smooth ride. It’s been quite tough at times, actually. Whether it was dealing with my Mom’s breast cancer, the death of close family members or battling my own health issues — the common denominator has always been — running.

Running wasn’t a way to escape reality, but a time I could deal with reality. Running gave me time to process the challenges. It gave me moments of reflection, motivation and inspiration. It was leading me where I wanted to go.

Nearly three years ago I started having problems with my thyroid once again. The health issues took me through a roller coaster of emotions. It was frustration being as active as I was — and feeling fatigued and slower. Not only that but I was slowly gaining weight after a years of maintenance.

But, I didn’t let (or want) those issues to stop me. They couldn’t stop me. I had a goal at hand. Plus, I knew if I stopped I would signaling the white flag of defeat — which I could never do.

So, I just kept running.

I was much slower. And, it took a harder toll on my body, especially in regards to my stamina. But, I was now one of the last runners to finish, but I kept going.

Around this time I looked for ways to keep me motivated. I knew just running wasn’t enough. I had to do something new — something that scare and motivate me all in one.

And, since I knew I wasn’t getting faster, I started looking at longer distances — ultra races. I knew a number of ultra runners who spent their weekends in Utah’s backyard and it always appealed to me. But, running anything longer than a marathon didn’t.

That lack of appeal eventually subsided and I found myself registered and committed to running a 50K. So, despite everything going on with my health — I trained for the 50K around a schedule of marathons and long runs. It wasn’t easy, but I did what I needed to do to prepare myself for the race.

When race day came I was lucky enough to run with some great friends that helped me get through those 30-something miles on Antelope Island. The last half of the race was spent trying to meet cut-off times, dodging stubborn bison and battling the dark after my headlamp died.

But, I made it. And, I earned the title of ultra runner.

The accomplishment felt like crowning accomplishment of my running journey. After spending over 10 hours running 30 miles of dirt trails — I couldn’t think of any reason why any sane person would do anything longer.

Then I remembered — I wasn’t sane.

Within a few months I got talked into running a 50 miler. I wish I could say it took a lot of convincing, but it didn’t. It was the first time I formally met Blu Robinson and Jed Jensen from Addict II Athlete and they casually talked about the 50 miler like a novice runner would about a 5K.

And, like any long distance race I’ve run, I found myself registered and committed to running the Pony Express Trail 50 Miler. The biggest selling point was that each runner was required to be assisted throughout the race. Meaning, I had a car stalking me — stocked full of fuel, water and food throughout the whole race. This basically translated to me that I wouldn’t die.

My training for the 50 miler was no joke. It was tough. I did a number of 20 milers, including one on a treadmill in the middle of the night. Not to mention a number of marathons specifically laid out to help prepare me for my 50 miler.

Once race day came I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I relied on my training and just focused on the goal at hand — getting to the finish line.

There were a lot of ups and downs — physically, emotionally and even spiritually. But, after nearly 17 and a half hours — I got to the finish line. I reached my goal — I ran a 50 mile race. I did something I felt at times nearly impossible, even just days before the race.

But, I made it.


“If you think you can — you can!”

Ronald Reagan

I really fell in love with the longer distances — for a number of reasons. Not only did I love the physical challenge, but I really learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about pain. Because that happens a lot during an ultra race.

I never cried as freely and openly as I did at mile 45 of my 50 miler. But, I learned how to process the pain I was feeling — and control it. Being able to manage and control pain is a remarkable feat and I believe a true test of one’s character. Ultra races were becoming great teachers to me.

Since that 50 miler, I have run a couple more ultra races. A couple weeks after that 50 miler I ran the Antelope Island 50K once again (cutting off nearly an hour on my time — mind you!), in February I ran 40 miles in 12 hours at the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival in Las Vegas and then there was my ill-fated Salt Flats 50K that I DNF’d last weekend. But, if I didn’t fall ill with the flu I would have tackled that beast!

My favorite ultra race so far has been the Jackpot Running Festival, I like the idea of a timed race on a looped course with the goal to see how many laps you can do within that time. Not only do you get an aid station every two miles or so, but you’re literally competing with no one else — but, yourself.

Jackpot has a number of timed races — a 6, 12, 24 and 48 hour race. They also had a 100 miler, marathon, half marathon, 10K and 5K, but most of the runners did one of the four timed courses. The winner of the 48 hour race managed over 210 miles.

Yeah, you read that right.

In fact there were nearly 30 runners who ran over 100 miles, including six runners who ran over 150 miles. Mind boggling numbers if you ask me.

I read all of these results as my legs were still recovering from my 40 mile run — and I couldn’t shake the feeling that “I could do this” from my conscience. Every time I dismissed the thought — it just came back stronger. Even when I reminded myself of the pain I experienced at mile 45 of my 50 miler — the feeling remained.

So, I did the only logical thing that came to mind — I signed up for the 48 hour race in 2018.

Yup.

I signed up to run my first 100 mile race.

Typing this makes it feel very surreal to me, even a couple months after doing so. I am running a 100 miles. The thought makes me want to pee my pants out of sheer terror and excitement all in one emotion.

I’ve kept my registration relatively private since February. I’ve told a couple of close friends and family members. Heck, this is the first that my parents are hearing of this news. It’s just been a lot to process and this is a HUGE goal and milestone for me.

I still have my doubts about my ability. And, I am sure others do too. Heck, my parents definitely do, because their fear of my running is that one day my legs will fall off.

But, I have to at least try. I have too.

I have to try.

I have to try.

I have to try.

I’ve journied so far from my first 5K — heck, from the couch itself — that I can’t stop myself now without trying. To borrow a phrase from a favorite song of mine, “If you never try you’ll never know, just what you’re worth.” (Fix You, Coldplay).

When I stepped on the scale back in 2009 to start my weight-loss journey, I started the journey accepting failure — and success. I didn’t know where my decision that day would lead me. I accepted the consequences to my decision to LIVE my life. And, it’s lead me here.

I don’t see this decision any different. I am accepting the possibility of failure with the determination of success. I don’t know what lays ahead for me in the next nine months — but I’m going to find out. I’ve got a training plan in the works that I fill will give me the chance of success come February.

The motto for the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival is “BET BIG. RUN LONGER” — it’s something that’s on their shirts and medals. And, it’s something that I took to heart during my run this past February — especially since I signed up for the 48 hour race.

I feel like I am betting big with this goal. I am betting big on myself. Because, this is a gamble. There’s no guarantee of success, but there’s also no guarantee of failure either. So, I’ve got to place my bet.

But, unlike casino gambling, I can control more variables to my advantage. I can control my effort. I can control my training. I can control my preparations — both physically and mentally. And, I can control the odds come race day. But, with a goal like this, it’s going to take much more than this — in essence, I am not just betting big on myself — I’m going all in.

So, all in it is!

As a reminder of this goal and the needed commitment and dedication I’ve been running with a poker chip on me since I registered for the race. Every run — training and race — I run with it on me. I’ve tucked it in my pocket, but I really should make a necklace out of it to keep it on me better.

But, it’s just this little $100 souvenir poker chip that reminds me of not just the 100 mile goal at hand, but the bet I’ve placed upon myself. I might be a cheesy little emblem, but in the three months that I’ve been running with it — it’s been my reminder to keep going, keep pushing and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I don’t dare say that this will be my one and only 100 miler. I’ve learned from my past that’s just a temporary lie I tell myself on occasion. But, I don’t know? And, I’m not worried about. My focus is simply on the journey in front of me.

This is a journey of a thousand miles. I know it will get daunting at times and there will be doubts. There will always be doubts. But, I know if I just focus on that footstep in front of me, it will take closer to my goal and a place I once dreamt possible.

It’s just up to me to take that next step.


“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”

Stephen King

RACE #142: Lucky 13 Half Marathon

This race was an audible. I was originally planning on running the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 25K, but due to some time sensitive family obligations on Saturday I decided to scratch the 25K for the shorter race. As hard as it was to give up a trail race, I couldn’t be gone a good chunk of the day.

So, luckily, I found the Lucky 13 Half Marathon and changed course. The race starts at Gardner Village in West Jordan and is a fairly simple out and back course along the Jordan River Parkway Trail. Joe Coles and On Hill Events do a series of races at Gardner Village and this was the first one I’ve been able to run.

The race started at 9am and packet pickup was from 7:30-8:30am so I decided to volunteer and help Joe. Doing the volunteer coordinating for Runtastic Events I like to volunteer for other races to see how they do things — from communication, assigning to certain jobs and general use.

The race was rather small — there were 200 runners. Most were running the 5K, but a good chunk ran the 10K while only 50 ran the half marathon. I don’t mind small races at all — in fact, in some situations I kind of prefer it. Especially factoring on the course. And, since we were running on the Jordan River Parkway — it was a good size.

Starting off the race I didn’t really have a game plan since I registered a couple days before. I wanted to push for a sub-three, which I felt was possible. But, honestly, didn’t know for 100% because of the back issues have been having the past three weeks. My running hasn’t been ideal and my miles lower than I would like.

But, I was going to try for it anyway.

Fighting through the crowd of runners soon thinned out as the 5K and 10K runners got to their turnarounds. I wasn’t sure if anyone was behind once it was just us half marathoners left running south on the course. But, I didn’t care. I was just focused on putting one foot in front of the other and giving it a good effort.

I was feeling pretty good during the first half of the race. There was a bit of a headwind, but nothing like two weeks ago at the March Madness Half. I figured once I turned around I’d get a nice tailwind — which would help PUSH me a bit to my sub-three time goal.

Once I got to the turnaround Steven MacKay, a fellow runner from Run4fun, was directing us to make sure we made the turnaround. Once I started heading northward I noticed I was the last runner. But, I wasn’t completely isolated, there were a couple of runners just ahead of me.

I was a few hundred yards behind the runner just ahead of me and I could tell he was starting to struggle around mile eight or so with frequent walk breaks. I kept focusing on him in an attempt to catch up and possibly pass him. I knew I could do it, but I just had to be smart about it.

Around this time Steven caught up with me. After his volunteer post was complete he ran the last stretch of the race to get his miles in for the day. Since there weren’t any pacers for this race Steven decided to bring us runners in — and I’m thankfully he did. The company was much appreciated.

This was the first time meeting Steven in person, but we’ve been acquainted through Run4fun and Facebook. But, our running journeys hold many similarities with our weight loss and fitness back stories and it was nice talking about that — it helped me keep distracted from the fatigue and heat.

Yes, heat.

The temperature starting the race was quite nice. It was around 55-60 degrees at 9am, but by the time I reached the last couple of miles it reached at least 70 degrees. I was baking.

I tore off my monkey hat and was nearly tempted to throw my shirt off as well — but, then I remembered there were decency laws about that. So the shirt stayed on.

But, it was hot. And, it zapped me. Completely zapped.

By this time Steven and I caught up with the runner ahead of us. Steven stayed with him while I forged ahead. We didn’t separate much the last mile or so, but I was motivated to just stay ahead. I didn’t care much if I finished last — but, I wasn’t going to do it without a fight.

Plus, I knew I was going to be cutting my time goal REALLY short. I wasn’t sure if I was going to meet it or not. But, mile 12.5 mile of a half, that feels like you’re running through an Easy Bake Oven, isn’t a good time to math. Well, there’s never a good time to do math — but, especially in THIS moment.

So, I just kept one foot in front of the other and pushed myself as much as I could. That was pretty much all I could anyways. Anything more or less felt like it would kill me.

Once I got back to Gardner Village, the course wound back to the finish line. I always get the urge to sprint at any finish line, but there wasn’t anything else in the tank. I was on empty. I crossed the finish line, got some water and an orange and just collapsed.

I was done.

Shortly after Steven and the last runner crossed the finish line as I just sat there fatigued out of mind. I was not prepared for that heat. And, those last two miles were brutal for me. But, I was done and that’s what mattered.

I checked my time and noticed I didn’t get my wanted time. I came in at 3:01:24. Obviously, not my best time. But, it was still better than my last two half marathons — so I guess that’s a win?

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While chewing on that unmet goal I was always informed that I actually PLACED in my age group. Which immediately changed my mood. My reaction was a mixture of laughing and astonishment. I’ve never placed at any race before — 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon and beyond.

Now, let’s not forget that there were 50 half marathon runners so my odds were more than above average to place. But, I run smaller races and didn’t even SNIFF the podium. Considering I am 35 — that’s a prime running age. I just always assumed that I’d place at races I’d run once I hit 70.

I don’t take the placement lately. In order to place — I still have to show up. I still have to run. And, I still have to finish the race. So, it’s not like it was just GIVEN to me. I earned it.

But, I am ready to put in some better half marathon training in the next few months. I don’t want to be stuck around this 3 hour mark much longer. I know I’ve got it in me to run faster. Much faster. And, with my health starting to get under control I know I’ll get there.

But, I have some big goals in front of me, so I am going to be pin point with my plan. And, I’ll blog more on all of that later. I am focusing on next week’s loooooooong ultra training run and then back to racing with the Emigration Canyon Half Marathon on April 1st. I won’t lie, I’m looking forward to some more downhill running.

ONWARD ‘HO!


NEXT FIVE RACES


I wish this bib meant I was eating lobster. #butnope #dentisttime

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RACE #142: Lucky 13 Half Marathon, March 18, 2017 (3:01:24) I did something for the first time EVER during this race! I placed! Yep! I made onto the podium! I came in third place for my age group! Now, before you oh and awe too much over this accomplishment … 50 people ran the half. BUT … I’ve run smaller races and didn’t even sniff the podium. It was a tough race. It got unusually hot for a March race here in Utah and my last two miles was a death shuffle … but, I made it 3:01:24 and I placed! I wish I sub-three’d, but I felt great about my effort. I’m eager to get faster and with one more 50K happening by next month it’ll slowly happen. On to the next one! Emigration Canyon or BUST! #lucky13half #race142 #running @joshruns180 @josherwalla @onhillevents

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Helping move my cousin has me in a mood for a game of Tetris™. #tetrismaster

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Weekly Review

Another tough week for me, but I got most of my mobility back with a massage and continued work on my back. I am trying to be patient so I don’t come back too fast and too strong — I am healing my back for the long term. Especially my long term goals. I am going to up my miles a bit this week capped off with a 20 or so mile run on Saturday.

Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 3.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 25.41 miles
TOTAL MILES — 41.51 miles
Race(s) this week — Lucky 13 Half Marathon.

March 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 20.5 miles
Race Miles — 26.2 miles
Walking Miles — 66.71 miles
TOTAL MILES — 113.41 miles
Races in March — March Madness Half and Lucky 13 Half Marathon.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 136.65 miles
Race Miles — 96.12 miles
Walking Miles — 214.94 miles
TOTAL MILES — 447.71 miles
Races done in 2017 — New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half and Lucky 13 Half Marathon.



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A change of plans …

As I have said many, many, many times — my race schedule is ALWAYS subject to change. And, this week’s race plan wasn’t immune to a change in plans. I’m more bummed about the reasons why I had to make the change than the actual change.

The original plan was to run the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 25K. I love running the island, especially the races that Jim Skaggs puts on. I ran the 25K two years ago with Jill and have done his 50K the past couple of years as well. So I was looking forward to the adventure this weekend.

Due to some unforeseen family obligations I had to back out of the race, pretty much last minute (read: this morning). Part of the reason is that with the race starting at 9am, it would take me a good 4-5 hours or so to do the 25K — and with the obligations I couldn’t be gone pretty much all day.

But, I also didn’t want to give up a race weekend either. I’d have to rework my race schedule AGAIN — and I didn’t want that. So, I signed up for On Hill Events’ Lucky 13 Half Marathon at Gardner Village in West Jordan. Not only is it closer to home, but I’ll be done much sooner than the 25K so I can attended to my obligations.

Sure, I am sad giving up a trail race, but I’ve always prioritized family before running. And, being able to still race and attend to family is a win-win in my book. As much as I am going to miss the Buffalo Stew on Antelope Island, Joe Coles and On Hill Events do a really good job with their races and I am excited to run the course. This is a race I haven’t done yet.

All win-wins!

This is one thing that I really, really love about Utah. We have so many quality race companies, canyons, trails and races. Our calendars are chalk full of them. And, to be able to pull audible like this on such short notice is nice.

I guess you could say we should feel lucky.

Because we are.

And, that was a terrible pun. Please accept my apologies. Seriously. I disappoint myself.

Happy Running! Wherever you are running this weekend — Antelope Island, Jordan Parkway Trail, one of the several local canyons or your neighborhood — enjoy it! Spring is here!

Feature in Dr. Jason R. Karp’s “Run Your Fat Off” Book

A number months back, I got contacted by Dr. Jason Karp — aka “The Running Doctor” — asking if I wanted to share a little bit about my story on a running weight-loss book he was writing. And, of course I said that I would love to. I’m always willing and wanting to share my story, because I don’t know who I will inspire or motivate. If it wasn’t for others that inspired me — I am not sure what direction my life would be in. I want to pay it forward the best I can, whenever I have a chance.

After a few interviews and email exchanges, including the selection of ‘BEFORE’ and ‘AFTER’ pictures with Dr. Karp, I just waited for the book to be released. And, well — it arrived yesterday in the mail! Dr. Karp was nice enough to send me a personally signed copy.

I thumbed through the pages looking for my story and picture and was quite surprised to find it on page 18 of the book. I was one of the first stories he shared. But, I kind of forgot what I had shared with Dr. Karp and it was fun to go over the content of the interview again.

I loved the piece of advice I shared for new and aspiring runners …

“It doesn’t matter what your size, experience l, or fitness level; just get out and run. No one cares how you look running, because everyone looks ridiculous running. Have you ever looked at race photos? Don’t worry about it. Be out on the road or trail for the right reasons. For you.”

I’m glad I was able to share a small part of my journey in Dr. Karp’s book and it also further motivated me to continue to work on my book. A book that has always seemed like it’s been a work in progress. Because — well — it has. It’s something I wanted to start back in 2010 after I lost 100lbs and it’s kind of morphed into something else, because my story has grown, progressed and evolved since then.

I’m learning that it is less about my life changing as it is me living life more and more.

So, I continue to write a little bit more and more each day. And, when the time comes I’ll reveal and share more on my writing projects. I just don’t know if now is the time to share all of that.

Whatever your fitness running goals are check out Dr. Karp’s new book “Run Your Fat Off” you can find it pretty much anywhere online and I am sure if you’re into those things called bookstores they’re there as well.

But, I must publicly thank Dr. Karp for allowing me share that small part of my story in his new book. It really means a lot and I hope someone out there reads it and finds that motivation and inspiration to live a life they never dreamed.

Lessons we can all learn from ‘My 600lbs. Life’

This past week has been kind of tough for me. On Monday I went to the dentist for some dental work — and after a couple of hours of poking and numbing they couldn’t get my tooth numb. So they did some other work on me that didn’t require much numbing. After about three hours of being in the dentist’s chair as I got up — my back went out.

If you ever want to feel 36 — it’s moments like those that will make you feel like 36. This whole week I have being dealing with a wretched back. A week I was planning on upping my workouts and mileage in preparation for my 50 miler in a couple of weeks. It kinda felt like leaving the car dealership with a new pair of tires and driving over a nail.

Not fun. And, very deflating.

Will this derail my 50 miler? No. Will this derail my weekend run down Big Cottonwood Canyon? No.

Sadly, I’ve been here before. It’s that whole part of being 36 and with some rest, stretches and activity I know I’ll rebound and be back where I need/want to be.

So, this week I’ve focused on what I can do. Running hasn’t been an issue, especially non-treadmill miles — so I’ve dedicated a couple of my lunches to a few “slow” runs. The movement oddly helps the stiffness. I say oddly, because I have no idea the science behind why (remember, I’m a communications major?) it is the way it is.

It’s moments and mild setbacks like these that give me pause and perspective on my journey. I always seem to go back 10-15 years and think of what Fat Josh would do compared to Phat Josh of today. Would I throw in the towel and just give up? Honestly? Probably, yeah. Well, okay, yes he would.

But, when I compare the two Joshs — I really see the Josh that acts and lives and then the Josh that exists and is just “there.” I often wonder if I didn’t make the changes when I did, where I would be right now? I know I wouldn’t be a runner. But, I often wonder would I be in the same boat as many of the people on ‘My 600lbs. Life?’

I was on that road. I was over 400lbs. with no direction or goal on the horizon. I was just there. Addiction had ahold of me and I dealt with my anxieties, fears, depression and uncertainties in a very unhealthy way. Because more often than not I found comfort in food.

I don’t try to ponder much about that road anymore, because that’s not me. And, I believe not the person I was destined to be. But, I bring that up, because I do look at the similarities of my journey with many of the people on ‘My 600lb. Life.’ Not just in how they learned to medicate through food, but in their recovery, self-discovery and weight-loss.

This past week as I have been laid out a bit with my back, I’ve watched a few more episodes of the show — and I’ve noticed more so than anything this is a show much deeper than weight-loss. This is a show about life. And, there are many things in the show that we can learn no matter our weight, fitness level, ability or age in life.

A few themes that popped out to me are …


Find Your ‘Why?’

Each episode usually finds the why fairly easily and early. Some of the whys are as simple as — to be less dependent on spouses, partners, parents or children. You can usually tell if they found a why because when they do — success isn’t far behind. The why is what keeps them on track with the diet Dr. Nowzaradan gives them and what gets them active and moving more and more each day. Invariably if that ‘why’ or purpose isn’t found — those are the ones that take an extra month or two following the doctor’s diet.

‘Whys’ are north stars. No matter the size, purpose or reason of our journey or goal, if we don’t have that ‘why’ clearly stated and focused upon — then what’s the purpose of putting our effort into it?

So find that ‘why’ and hold onto it. And, don’t be afraid that it changes or evolves as you do. You’ll notice that happens a lot to many of the patients on the show. That why will change from a simple desire for dependency to something deeper and richer.

But, find that why.

Believe In Yourself

One of the saddest parts of the show for me is seeing many of these patients struggle with believing in themselves. I’ve been there. Heck, we’ve all been there to different degrees. But, many of these patients seemed to have just completely shut that off completely in their lives.

For whatever reason some patients will have a hard time believing that they can follow Dr. Nowzaradan’s diet — and that will show in their actions. Those are the ones that either gain weight or lose far less than what the doctor expected to lose.

Now flip that same scenario with a mentality of self belief and it’s a different story. Holding a belief that you can do something leads your actions to — well — act accordingly. And, the task gets easier. It makes the temptations of derailment and diversion less appealing, because you hold the belief that you can follow the course ahead.

It’s amazing how far you can go physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, financially, etc., etc., etc. by simply believing in yourself and your ability to do what you need to do. Even if you have to fake it to make it at first (which is a completely different post for another day).

Set Good Simple Goals For Yourself

If you want a good example of goal setting — watch ‘My 600lbs. Life.’ Seriously, I love Dr. Nowzaradan’s simple approach to goals. Based off his experience and knowledge he knows what kind of goals to set for the patients. You would think for many of these patients being 600lbs or more would require wildly specific goals and expectations.

Nope.

His goals for his patients are rather simple. Stick to a 1200 calorie per day diet, get active and lose 30-50lbs (or whatever) within the next month. That’s about it. And, if the patients are true to those goals they’ll meet those goals in order to get their weight-loss surgery.

Watching the show has really made me reevaluate my goals. When I started my weight-loss journey some seven and a half years ago — I basically followed those simple goals for the first couple of months. I ended up losing between 30-40lbs. with those small changes.  Now, granted when you are 400 or 600lbs. it’s easier to get those kind of numbers — that’s not my point.

My point is how often do over complicate our goals? I fall into that trap often. I’ll freely admit. If I am not careful I will put unrealistic expectations on myself to hit certain goals, etc. And, the more complicated I make them — the less likely I’ll hit them.

That is one reason why I’ve had to teach myself (over and over again) to just keep it simple. Focus on what I can control and reasonable do and build on that — keeping the goals challenging, yet simple. Whatever the goal is — inside or outside of the gym — we do a disservice to ourselves with overly specific, unrealistic and complicated goals.

Surround Yourself With The Right People

I love how blunt Dr. Nowzaradan is with his patients. Especially return patients who didn’t hit their goals — or happened to gain weight. Invariably, he asks — who their enabler is. Especially if he knows they don’t drive or walk much. And, yeah, it’s usually a spouse, partner or loved one who’s buying the food.

I’m grateful that I had a good support system around me when I started my weight-loss journey. Besides having parents and family members eager to see me make changes, I found outside of my immediate family many who wanted to support me. Something, I didn’t expect — but look back with gratitude. I couldn’t have had success without the likes of my aunt, grandma, a number of close friends and my trainer. They were my ‘A’ team.

That’s why I feel sad for those patients who don’t have a support system. Not just like mine, but period. I know if I couldn’t have found the needed support within my family or close friends — I could find it by constructing it.

Now, I am not talking about a support system full of cheerleaders. But, a team. I wish the show delved a bit more into this subject because it’s really important for long-term success in weight-loss or any goal. The team should have cheerleaders, but also those who hold you accountable, those who are your emotional support, those who are your partner in crime, etc., etc., etc.

Sure many of these roles can be held by one person, but if you want success — meet those needs through others. You don’t have to go your journey alone. Your team doesn’t have to necessarily be your immediate family. Just find your team and build it, so they can help build you!

Long Term Success Doesn’t Come Overnight

One thing that interests me in every episodes is how many ‘trail months’ the patient has to do with Dr. Nowazaradan before they approved for surgery. I am not sure if the patients know they have to do a trail month before the surgery, but some get it — and some struggle with it. I’ve seen a few take 3-4 months to “get it.” But, I love how Dr. Nowazaradan acts in these situations — he is easy to praise and has no problem ‘getting real’ with his patient.

Being a viewer, it’s easy for us to judge these patients for not getting it the first time. And, honestly, I think shows like The Biggest Loser have helped shape that mentality for us. We want to see immediate results, we want to see big numbers right off the bat. And, while most patients do see big weight-loss numbers because of the surgery — immediate results and changes in behaviors are not reality.

But, like many of these patients we can learn from them to simply never give up. Take the licks. Roll with the punches. Be open to criticism. And, always have your ‘why’ in view to help you keep going when the ups becomes downs and the doubt creeps in (because they do).

It’s a process.

Have Patience In The Process

Just as I noted above — have patience and trust the process. Change — “real life changing” change takes time. Doesn’t matter what aspect of your life you want to change — it takes time. It takes being honest with yourself and those around you. It takes the ability to build a sound support system around. And, most importantly — it takes you to believe in, trust and expect the best — from you.


Now, I’m sure there are a lot more I could add. And, there are. But, the point I am trying to make is — big changes in life are tough. They’re not easy. They’re difficult. But, they’re doable. They’re achievable. They’re within reach.

You don’t have to be 600lbs or severly overweight to get a lot from this show. Just have an open mind and open heart. The lessons are there. Even if it teaches you compassion and sympathy — that’s a lesson the whole world could learn right about now.

What are your thoughts? Have you watched the series? What do you get out of the episodes?

RACE #141: March Madness Half Marathon

One thing I love about endurance sports — specifically running — is unlike other sports, like most team sports, the venue changes from event to event. And, the outcome is up to you, not necessarily how you and your teammates work together on an uniform and familiar playing field.

In running — especially distance running — distances may be the same, but courses (or playing fields) all differ. And, I love that. A race down Big Cottonwood Canyon is going to be completely different from around the neighborhoods of South Jordan, the trails of the Bonneville Lakeshore Trail or around the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns.

Then on top of that you’re going to face many different variables — dealing with anything from weather, your training preparation, your fueling, your mental state, etc., etc., etc., etc. That’s why racing is so personal. It’s YOUR race — and nobody else’s. And, this race was very much a reminder of the importance of that mentality.

Going into the race — I didn’t know what to expect. Compared to last week when I ran the SL Track Club Indoor Half in Kearns — I wasn’t recovered from my previous week’s ultra. I felt it pretty early into my run. The legs were kicking and screaming trying to remind me of the hell I put them through the previous week.

This week — I felt more rested. My runs during the week weren’t fast, calculated or overly efforted. They were more shakeout runs. I just wanted to feel and do better than last week’s race. And, I think I got my legs there come Saturday morning.

I didn’t want to put a time goal on this race, because I haven’t been half marathon training — or maintaining. My training miles from December until February were pretty much all focused on my ultra. Meaning — they were long and slow miles.

In fact I am pretty sure the first 13 miles of my ultra took me over four hours? So speed work hasn’t been on the training docket for me for quite a while. Which I’m not worried about, because after my 50K in April I’ll be gearing my focus toward that anyway.

Anyways — despite all of the reasons why I shouldn’t or didn’t need to make a time goal. I did.

I simply wanted to run a sub-three hour half marathon. That seemed like a reasonable and doable goal. I’ve been losing weight, gaining more energy with my Hashimoto’s friendly diet and feeling strongly lately — so why not?

I knew it was going to be a challenge because of my lack of half training, still temperamental post-ultra legs and the flatness of the course. The race was along the Legacy Parkway Trail — which is flatter than flat. I guess there are some hills, but only people in Kansas would consider them hills — so they don’t count.

Anyways — I knew a flat course with my iron legs could be difficult to gauge an estimated time — but, I didn’t care. I just wanted that sub-three time. I felt like I could do it. So, that’s what I shot for.

When the race started my legs felt pretty good. Not amazingly good — but good. So this encouraged me. And, considering there was a pretty strong tailwind behind — I felt like a racehorse. So I kept trying to mentally push myself a little bit more per mile — just focusing on that effort here and there.

And, really, I felt great.

About 3-4 miles into the race I am starting to think that this goal was more than doable, but expected. I was really on cloud nine, because I felt great. A lot which I attributed to my diet changes and newfound energy.

But, around this time as I was beginning to see the runners return from the out and back return trip — I realized in dread. THIS AWESOME TAILWIND IS GOING TO TURN INTO A NASTY HEADWIND!

And, yeah, as I saw friends pass some of them made comments about the headwind. At this point I started dreading the turnaround point. Because, I’ve dealt with some nasty headwinds. None as horrific as the Ogden Marathon headwind — there’s no joy in a 30 MPH headwind in the rain. That was pure hell. But, I digress.

So while I knew it wasn’t going to be fun — I also knew it wasn’t going to be the worse either. And, thankfully it was not raining, otherwise I’d be singing a different tune.

Once I turned around the change was pretty immediate. There were some nasty gusts — the kind that make you kinda loose your breath for a second. But, the headwind was pretty constant.

After about a mile of just pushing through the wind — I gave myself two options for the last five or so miles. I could, one, keep running for that goal or, two, start walking a bunch and make the excuse that the wind was simply too hard and I got tired.

Luckily, I chose the first option. And, I just kept going.

I felt like if I pushed myself that I could still get my sub-three time. I had to try. I figured at the turn around I was on pace for about 2:40-2:45 — so I still had a shot.

I am glad I went with that decision, because I ran hard into that wind, but it was very, very difficult. It was a fight to keep running and it took A LOT out of me. My mile 10 — I felt like I was beyond empty.

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At this point I stopped looking at the watch, because I knew I was going to be cutting it close. The difference between directions was really that much. My legs started getting really tight because of the effort and threatened to cramp on a couple occasions. But, I kept going.

Around mile 11 — I found it easier and faster for me to mall walk some stretches. I hate resorting to it, because I always fear it will turn into a mosey. But, I focused on my stride and arm swinging (if I had two pound dumbbells I am positive I would have been MUCH faster) and it really helped relieve a lot of the strain on the quads. I focused on alternating between my mall walking and running in a 1:1 minute ratio.

And, for the most part that helped.

But, I was still on empty.

Once I got off the trail and back onto the streets toward the park I happened to glance at my watch to notice I had a minute to run the last 3/4 of a mile or so. I just kind of stared at that reality — and didn’t feel disappointment — at all. Besides feeling sore, dead and depleted — I felt proud. I felt strong. I felt — good.

That last stretch I had a conversation with myself — first, thanking me for deciding making excuses to walk and, second, realizing that my effort was beyond a sub-three effort. On pretty much any other course my effort that day WAS well below a sub-three time. And, I knew a windless — or even less windy day — that effort would give me a sub-three time.

And, to say and realize that — knowing I could have just started walking as a sign of defeat — made me really proud of myself.

I came in just over 3:06 hours. But, those six minutes were invisible to me.

Because, I got that goal.


NEXT FIVE RACES


So during my race today I saw a seemingly perfect banana laying on the side of the road. I was going to pick it up, but I figured … someone might have left it there for later. After I turned around and came back I noticed it was still there. I also noticed it was half eaten. Being a hungered, I looked at it (checked it for needles … I was taught that from Trick or Treating in the 80’s), ripped off the tip where it was a bit bruised … and I ate it. So whoever left that half eaten banana out on Legacy Parkway Trail this morning … THANK YOU! It saved me from cramping, it was delicious and was also the burst of energy I needed to do the last two miles. #race141 #marchmadnesshalf #running @joshruns180 @fit.phat

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Played LIFE™ with my 5 year old niece tonight … guess who got married before me? #yepshedid #likereallife

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RUNNING MILES

119.65 miles

RACE MILES

83.02 miles

WALKING MILES

167.56 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

370.23 miles



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RACE #139: Jackpot Running Festival

Running, running, running, walking, walking, walking, running, running, walking, walking, walking, think about running, start running, quickly go back to walking, walking, walking, running, walking, running, walking, think about running, running, walking, walking, walking.

Oh, the life of an ultra marathoner.

It’s seriously no joke.

It’s such a different beast.

With as much walking, jogging, running, skipping, drudging and sludging one does during an ultra — once you hit that magical number of 26.3 miles — your life, mentality and sanity just … changes. And, I just love it. It’s a community that I feel right at one within. They are my kind of people.

Going into this weekend I have done three ultras since my first 50K in November 2015 — all in which were point to point or out and back courses. Which I all loved. But, I had never done a timed race. Meaning — I sign up for a race that allows me run as much as I want within a specific amount of time.

These kind of races are fairly popular with the uber-ultra runners. Those are the crazy runners that sign up for 48-72 hours and crank out 200-300 miles within that time limit. Now, while I am not one of THOSE runners, I love the concept and idea of running for time with no real pressure of cut-offs and mileage. You just do what you want and can do.

I dig that.

I really dig it.

And, that was why running this race, the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival, was very appealing to me. After flirting with doing the 24 and even the 48 hour race (it took me 38 seconds to come to the conclusion that was stupid) I decided to sign up for the 12 hour race — for a couple reasons.

One, I didn’t want to train for anything longer (especially during the winter — which has turned out to be a good decision) and, two, my friend Jill was going to run the 12 hour race for her first ultra. So considering those two points — it was an easier decision than what I was making it. A true win, win.

So the 12 hour race it was.

Having not done a timed and looped course like this (besides the New Year’s Run Resolution — which I don’t know if I’d count since it’s an indoor track) before, I had to rely on friends that have done these kind of races and specifically THIS race. Being a Vegas race in the middle of February you’d think it’d be fairly mild — but from years past it’s gotten kinda sketch with hot, hot weather. So that’s what I kind of prepared myself for throughout my training.

But, instead of running through Satan’s kitchen oven, we ended up getting a visit from Lucifer himself. Yeah, no joke. Major Storm Lucifer was heading our way — the forecast leading up to the race just called for rain. 10 days out it started conservatively at 70% reaching 90% by Thursday evening. By the time it gets to 90% I don’t know why they just don’t up that to 100% — but, I’m pretty sure meteorologists don’t for the sake of job security.

Anywho, needless to say,  we were going to be wet.

Having run the Ogden Marathon a number of times and being quite accustomed to running long distances in the rain — I kinda knew what to expect. Sure, I’ve never run an ULTRA in the rain, but I knew it could potentially suck and that I would need to OVER prepare myself.

So that’s what I did.

Packing before I left home was an adventure and a half. I packed four different drop bags of changes of clothes. I figured I could change every 3-4 hours if needs be. I knew that if I had a change of clothes every few hours that would really help me mentally get through the rain. That really helped me through the last three rainy Ogdens — KNOWING you have a complete set of dry clothes waiting for you really helps you mentally.

Did I over pack? Yeah, you betcha. Besides extra clothes, I packed away extra shoes, surgical tape (for my nipples), baby cream (for chaffing) and an array of applesauce packets, gels and caffeine shots. I just didn’t know what to expect — so I basically packed the kitchen sink.

Once in Vegas Jill and I grabbed our race packets on Friday night. At this point the weekend had already started with the 48 and 24 hour runners. And, it was already raining. Lucifer wasn’t dumping that hard at this point, but we knew the worst was coming because it had flooded Santa Monica and a number of areas in southern California. It wasn’t a matter of if, but when it hit us.

And, luckily for me — but, unfortunately for the runners already on the course — got SLAMMED by Lucifer in the middle of the night. So much so that the course had to be redirected because the reservoir we were running around overflowed in a couple of areas and washed out part of the paths. It even swept one runner off their feet.

By the time Jill and I got to the race on Saturday morning the changes were made and instead of running 2.38 miles per lap, it was an even 2.5 miles. For someone who struggles with math I was grateful for this change, but that also meant that we had to ascend and descend up a pretty steep hill twice (unlike once in the 2.38 mile loop). As much as I wasn’t looking forward to that, there wasn’t much to you could do at that point — so you had to do that stupid steep hill twice.

Our race started at 8am along with the six hour, marathon and 100 mile races (I’m pretty sure there were other distances that started to, but I’ve got “ultra brain” so I can’t remember them all). There were quite a few of Utah runners in this group and it was nice to see a few familiar faces. But, when the gun sounded at 8am — we were all off running our races.

My game plan for the race was fairly simple. Start off conservatively and then gradually speed up so that I could reach my goal of 35-40 miles. I stuck with Jill to start off the race and we kept ourselves at a pace that kept us on pace to minimally hit 40 miles in 12 hours. It was a lot of fast walking, running down hills and minimal breaks at aid stations.

I even got a surprise visit from my dear friend Tricia and her husband who were in town for the weekend as well (they were staying like 5 minutes from the park). They both finished that lap with us — and I must say — I’m grateful they snapped lots of pictures while doing so, otherwise I don’t know how many I would have had?

But, it was a total surprise and mood booster to get a visit and encouragement from them both.

Initially I wanted to stay with Jill and on this pace for at least a good 6-7 laps (15-18 miles–ish) before pushing it a bit faster. But, I ended up sticking with her for nine laps (22.5 miles) partly out of rhythm and partly out of the rain. We weren’t getting slammed by rain, but it was getting a little heavy and I wanted to wait a lap or so to have it ease up so I could start pushing my effort a bit more.

But, after I finished my ninth lap, I just had to go. I was starting to feel anxious and the last thing I wanted to do was get a panic attack in the middle of an ultra —- so, I said goodbye to Jill, grabbed some grub at the aid station and just booked it. The rain was coming down a bit harder, but I just didn’t care — I just wanted to run. So that’s what I did.

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I ran a lot of stretches that I had been fast walking and just lost myself in my thoughts and music. And, I almost immediately hit mentality and frame of mind that was slightly nirvanic. I was focused mentally, emotionally and spiritually and I just felt strong — so I just chased that balance.

And, it felt great.

I cranked out three straight really good laps with this focus, before I slowed down a couple of times to visit with a few other runners. That’s the one thing I absolutely love about the ultra community, you get to meet and talk with some amazing people — not just runners — but people. And, I love to just LISTEN to them. It’s such a different vibe from road races that I just dig.

But, after a couple laps making friends I had three laps (7.5 miles) left to hit 16 laps (40 miles). When I realized that I still had about 2.5 hours left to hit this I felt extremely excited because 40 miles was my stretch goal. And, I was reaching it. This gave me a third — or maybe fourth? — wind that this point.

So I kept going.

During my second to last lap I caught up again with Jill and we stuck together for the homestretch. I had two laps to get my 40 miles and she was on her last lap to get to 35 miles which was her race goal as well. It was dark by this point but we both kept just going. We were both exhausted, but we cranked out that lap — and though she reached her 35 mile goal, I still had one more lap to get my 40. And, somehow I talked her into running that last lap with me.

I really don’t know how I talked her into it?! I am almost sure she just kept following me on accident as I kept going — and, by the time she figured out what she was doing — it was too late — so she just finished the lap with me. Either way, I was proud of her effort and was grateful for the company.

As we approached the finish line — for the ABSOLUTE last time — I grabbed my camera for the homestretch (like I did when she ran her first marathon) and recorded Jill crossing the finish line with her hand in hand with her daughter. It was a tender moment and yet another moment I will cherish, because this journey has not been easy for Jill — but, she’s done it and it’s a journey that her kids will cherish.

After an exhilarated moment of celebration — we still had about 20 minutes until our 12 hours were up. While it was slightly tempting to try to get one more mile in, I was done. My body got to that 40th mile and just said — ENOUGH. So, that was enough.

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But, I can’t tell you how proud I was of myself to reach that 40. I kept telling myself that 35 miles would be GREAT to reach, but I knew I was lying to myself. I knew I could do more and I am glad that I pushed myself toward that. And, I have to credit a lot of that toward my diet change, I have so much more energy and stamina just in the past month. I felt like a true Hashimoto’s Warrior out there on the course.

I feel like a few more months of consistency and training that stamina is just going to get stronger — and I am excited for that. I am excited to see what I can do and test my limits a bit more and more. I really want to do the race again next year and either push for 50 in the 12 hours — or why not go for the 100 miler?

Why not?

I should temper some of that excitement, but it’s hard for me to that after struggling so much with my health the past couple of years. I was robbed of my stamina and energy on many, many workouts, runs and race — and now that it is coming back — I want to push myself. Because I KNOW I have the mental capability to run longer and stronger — I just need the rest of my body to meet up with the mind. Which I feel will come in time.

Anywho, I can’t be any more excited for this past weekend’s race and festivities. It was nice to get away even if I went straight into the eye of Lucifer, because I got to spend some quality time with great friends. It helped recalibrate priorities, purposes and focus for me — and I just needed this weekend.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


RUNNING MILES

105.55 miles

RACE MILES

56.82 miles

WALKING MILES

122.77 miles

MILES TO DATE

285.14 miles


Mama warned me about Vegas. #jackpotrunningfestival #race139 #ultrarunning @joshruns180 @fit.phat

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When you’re in Vegas, you naturally visit your Vegas girlfriend. It’s just what you do. #vegasgirlfriend

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A trip to Vegas isn’t a trip to Vegas without a fountain show at the Bellagio! #vegasmust

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