Tag: 2017

RACE #157: Run Elevated Half Marathon

Oh man. Talk about a tale of different runs. This was the best of races and this was the worst of races for me. Let’s get one thing clear — I love this race. I love Little Cottonwood Canyon. I am pretty sure I’ve repeated that numerous times before.

But, it bears repeating — I love this race and Little Cottonwood Canyon.

I just wish that Saturday’s race reciprocated some of that love. It turned out not what I was expecting. But, at the same time, I guess it was somewhat expected.

Going into the race I had two goals — get out of the canyon by 8:15am (that was the cutoff time for the 6:30am gun time) and get a sub-three time. I felt fairly confident in those two goals. I won’t lie, the cutoff time worried me — because, well, every cutoff worries me. But, that’s a post for another day.

But, I figured if I could get that first goal I could get that second goal. It’s only 8 miles to the mouth of the canyon and they’re fast steep miles — about a 3200 foot drop. Just in those 8 miles! Plus, miles 9 and 10 aren’t bad — it’s just 10 to 11 that always kills me, because of the short — yet steep hill climb.

I felt confident. Especially since I have running much stronger lately. That includes my ankle and energy levels.

But, the other variable in all of this has been my diet change. As is well noted in previous posts I started a keto diet on Wednesday. This is a high fat/low carb diet. Like no more than 25 grams of net carbs a day. A pretty drastic change in my eating habits.

Leading up to race day I was trying to figure out how to fuel myself. Should I bring some carbs with me on the race? A half banana? Some applesauce packets? A dozen chocolate donuts?

I’m so new to the diet and the whole mentality that I’ve just been reading up on it the past couple weeks, but even more so this past half week. I want to do it right and I want to see the results I desire. I’m also the type that hates to make exceptions to clear cut rules. If I am going to do it, I’m going to do it right.

But, I was legitimately worried about my fueling during this race, because I would be on just my fourth day of keto and most people adapt within a couple weeks to a month. The night before I thought about “carb-loading” with a banana or some fruit. But, I resisted it. I had read about protein loading so I just decided to cook a pork omelet with some avocado and it wasn’t bad.

So I decided to load up on turkey & cheese, a couple hardboiled eggs and some Powerade Zero (for the electrolytes). I had no idea if that was going to be too much or too little? It was satisfying and when the gun sounded I felt good.

But, that didn’t last that long.

About a mile into the race I just started feeling a bit funky. I am sure it was the eggs. It was a familiar feeling. It passed and I was okay. But, this kind of made me worry for the rest of the race.

I focused on my running and pace — and went with what felt good. I did the first three miles in about 30-31 minutes. I found a good pace and just went with it. I walked the aid stations and ran the tangents.

I made the decision at the first aid station to take a couple sips of the Powerade, but load up on the water. That worked for the most part. But, I needed more. I knew I was going to tank without something more in my system. This got me worried.

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But, I just focused on my run and to just get myself out of the canyon by 8:15am. That was my first priority — even though my fueling should have been. But, I felt that if I got out of the canyon I’d be fine because I was planning on slowing down my pace.

I got out of the canyon with about 5 minutes to spare. So, I slowed down my pace and prepared myself for Miles 9 and 10 that lead to the steep up hill climb. They were pretty uneventful miles, except the hill — which is always a beast.

And, then all hell broke loose.

Okay, that was a bit too dramatic, but I did completely unravel. I hit the wall. I bonked. I crashed. I Keto Krashed.

And, I will completely blame the switch to my diet on the crash. I just wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t ready to be running a half marathon like this just days after my switch to this diet.

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I did learn MANY great things about how to better prepare and fuel myself for long runs — and, I’ll post about those later in the week. Because, there’s a lot that I learned not just from Googling, but from just asking and talking to friends.  Which I’m appreciative of, because this has a big change for me.

Anyways — as I approached the Mile 11 aid station I just felt zapped. There was a nurse that met me a few hundred yards from the aid station checking on me. I think she did this with everyone in the back, but it wasn’t difficult to see that I hit a wall and was dragging.

I must of looked pretty bad to her, because she asked my name and city — and then if this was my first half marathon. I half chuckled and said, “no, I’ve done a few — I’m doing ok, just a hard day.” She then pointed me to the aid station, cold orange slices and water.

She was a really nice lady — and I didn’t mind her thinking this was my first race. In fact, during a race I don’t really like to bring it up. Especially if it’s somebody that doesn’t know me. My accomplishment of 157 races is impressive, but I don’t want that number to define me. There’s so much more to my running journey than the number.

But, that’s a post for another day.

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When I got to the Mile 11 aid station I took drank a full cup of Gatorade and two cups of water. I knew I needed hydration and electrolytes. I could feel that. I then took one of the cold orange slices and devoured it. I knew it wasn’t the most keto thing to eat. But, at that moment it’s what I needed. And, it wasn’t like I downed a donut or other highly processed food — it was an orange.

Plus, I knew my body would burn it off fairly quickly. I just needed some kind of fuel. The orange did the trick.

Well for about a half mile or so.

I pushed myself where I could and felt like I could — but, I slowed down to somewhere between a walk and a jog. I just had no energy. And, the last two miles just dragged. Bad.

I got to the last aid station which was about a mile from the finish line. After drinking some more fluids I set out and just tried to focus on my music and forget about how I felt. I just wanted to be done.

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I was greeted by Rachel Moody — about a half mile or so from the finish — she came back out to run me in. We were then greeted by Julianna Fulton a short distance from that. It was the boost I needed. I just wanted to be done.

I knew I was probably not going to get my sub-three — which I didn’t — but, I was just happy to be done. I knew a lot of effort went into the race. And, if I hadn’t of bonked I know I would have crushed my year best time for the half distance.

But, I finished in 3:03 — far from that goal. This was a course I ran in 2:31 last year — and in 2:10 back in 2013. I tried not to dwell on that, because what I am doing now with my new diet and everything is working toward getting to similar race times. If not faster. I know I have it in me.

I didn’t have much time to dwell on all of that. As soon as I crossed the finish line I was greeted by Robert Merriman with a big old hug. He didn’t mind my awkward sweatiness. It was so great seeing him out cheering us runners in. You could tell he’s itching to getting back out there.

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Moments and experiences like that really help me keep things in perspective. I’m grateful that I am given those moments. Otherwise my running would have turned into a miserable experience for me years ago. It’s about how fast we get there, but where we go and who comes along with us. But, like most things in this recap — that’s a post for another day.

I’ve got a lot things to figure out this week before running the Nebo Half on Saturday. Mainly with fueling. I need to figure out a better way to fuel with electrolytes and how many carbs I want to consume before and during the race. So many things to figure out … but, I’m not too worried. I have a great group of friends that I’ve been tapping into for advice.

This race will be remembered for the best and worst of moments. Those first 10-11 miles were great, while those last two — pure hell. But, here’s to the future and learning from those two experiences. You don’t build upon anything that’s effortless and easy — and that thought gives me hope.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


RACE #157: Run Elevated Half Marathon, August 19, 2017 (3:03:58) Tough, tough, tough race. It was the tale of two races, really. With my switch to a keto diet this past week, I didn’t know what to expect with my races. I didn’t want to crash, but, well I did. I totaled Keto Krashed at Mile 11. I smashed the first 10 miles, but after running (well walking) up the Hill Elevated I was completely done. No energy and I knew I was off. Drank some Gatorade and ate a quarter orange at the Mile 11 aid station. But, I was done. It took me about a half hour to do the last couple of miles. It killed my time and goal to sub-three. But, I’m fine with it, because I needed a first race with the Keto Diet under my belt. This experience is rather common for endurance athletes. I’ve learned a few things about my body and how I need to fuel it for future races. I’ll get this nailed down. Redemption will be mine next year! #race157 #runelevatedhalf #running @josherwalla @ketoshua @joshruns180

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@radmoody is the bomb diggity! I totally Keto Krashed at Mile 11 and after the race. We walked to our cars together and we’re just talking when I started feeling faint. I told her I just don’t want to pass out so I sat on curb. When I told her my plan was to get a Powerade Zero on my home (because I needed the electrolytes) she hops in her car and drives across the street to get me a drink. THEN … she comes back with EIGHT purple Powerade Zeroes, because in her words, “if you bought 8 they were $.50 each.” Oh, but wait, she did more! She then gave me a ride to my car SIX spaces away! 😂 Seriously, thanks Rachel! You ROCK! It totally made my day! ———————————————————— #race157 #runelevatedhalf #poweradezero #runningfriends #ketoshua #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #keto #ketodiet #ketonics #ketorunner ———————————————————— @ketoshua @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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I can’t wait to run the Run Elevated Half Marathon this weekend! A BIG THANK YOU to my friend @girlracer74 for picking up my race packet tomorrow! For some reason she loves when I write permission notes for her?! ———————————————————— #runelevatedhalf #race157 #joshruns180 #ketoshua #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #keto #ketodiet #ketonics #ketorunner ———————————————————— @ketoshua @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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Birthday Slurpees for the birthday peeps.

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Can I just say my brother gave me the “puuurrfect” birthday gift?

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Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 6.5 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 25.17 miles
TOTAL MILES — 44.77 miles
Races This Week — Run Elevated Half.

August 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 33.0 miles
Race Miles — 26.9 miles
Walking Miles — 61.37 miles
TOTAL MILES — 107.77 miles
Races in August — (3) Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half and Nebo Half 

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 344.05 miles
Race Miles — 309.32 miles
Walking Miles — 841.52 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1494.89 miles
Races done in 2017 — (21) New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon, Drop13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah, AF Canyon Race Against Cancer, The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days Half, DesNews Half, Elephant Rock Trail Half, and Run Elevated Half.


RACE #152: AF Canyon Race Against Cancer

The past couple of months have been difficult. Dealing with my sprained ankle and the subsequent recovery has taken a toll on me, both physically and emotionally. It’s been frustrating feeling and being slower than where I wanted to be, especially at this point in the summer. I’m trying to stay positive about it, which is easier said than done.

This past week I started physical therapy on the ankle, which gave me a lot of hope. My physical therapist was really encouraged at the strength of my ankle and that I was able to run what I’ve done since April. There were a few areas of concern which she gave me to work on along with scheduling a few other exercises — including a running assessment in a couple weeks.

So going into this race, I felt — cautiously — encouraged. My therapist didn’t think it was a BAD idea, in fact she was amazed I was able to run last week’s Trifecta. As far as pace and time went — I had no idea where I was going to be? The fact that last week’s races were around four hours each and the week before’s race down Big Cottonwood was 2:56 — I just didn’t know what to expect?

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I really wanted to push for a sub-three hour half, but didn’t know if that was a reasonable or attainable goal? But, I knew I didn’t want to be around 3:30 or slower — so how’s that for a definitive goal?

But, with this ankle recovery I’ve found it’s hard to make definitive goals I like to see concrete results. I like to see when x plus y equals z. But, this race included too many imaginary numbers for me. So I didn’t really have a definitive goal. But, I wanted to push a sub-three and I didn’t want to be out on he course forever.

How’s that for a goal?

Anyways, I was excited to run, because American Fork Canyon is such a gorgeous canyon. It’s in my trifecta of favorite Utah canyons. It’s hard to keep your head down while running down the canyon because you get such beautiful views of Timp and the surrounding mountains. It’s so green and beautiful.

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That affect happens whether I am running this race, the Timp Half or a training run. And, it got me once again on Saturday once the gun sounded. Not wanting to go out too strong I kept to the right of the road and just focused on going with the flow of the crowd. I did this to not just warm up, but to test the foot.

I kind of decided to just take what my foot was going to give me. But, I knew I couldn’t — or shouldn’t — take too much, too early. Because, if I was going to sub-three, I needed gas left in the tank in the later miles, especially the non-canyon miles. So, I ran the first three miles rather conservatively.

After those first three miles, I felt pretty good so I just worked on picking up my pace slightly and putting myself on cruise control down the canyon. It wasn’t quite like putting the petal to the metal, but it felt good being able to be consistent with minimal pain.

I was amazed at how much stronger I felt compared to not just the previous week’s races, but Drop13. Being a canyon run, I felt that American Fork Canyon was “kinder” to my ankle than Big Cottonwood. Not only was the elevation drop more gradual, but the road was less windy — which really helped with my ankle since there wasn’t much lateral movement on my part.

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It just felt so good to be able to be on cruise control. The miles seemed to just pass and before I knew it I was already out of the canyon. Which was about 7.5 or so miles into the race. I felt like Meb.

Coming out of the canyon, I knew it was going to be tougher. The rolling hills and neighborhood miles are always tough for me, regardless of the state of my ankle. After passing the Mile 8 mile marker we made our climb on the rolling hills near the gold course. I decided to fast walk the hills to conserve my energy.

While climbing the hill, I noticed my friend Shonda ahead a hundred yards or so ahead of me. Throwing caution to the wind, I sprinted up the hill to catch up with her. After taking a picture with her, I ran ahead. I could tell she was struggling a bit, but I was amazed I was able to catch up to her, because she is a strong runner.

It was around this time I felt I had a shot at that sub-three time. Knowing the course that was ahead of me, I knew it was going to be tough, but I felt that if I kept running and didn’t stop to walk much, I could do it. So, I shuffled when I needed to shuffle and sprinted when I needed to sprint those last five miles.

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After winding around neighborhoods and along the Murdock Trail, I made it to the last mile of the race. I avoided looking at my watch, because I didn’t want to play mind games with myself. I just wanted to keep running strong. Soon we met up with the 5K runners who looped onto the 3/4 of a mile of the race with us.

Around this time, as I was focusing on that last mile, I heard my name and noticed it was Zack — one of my teammates from Addict II Athlete. I could tell right away he was hurting, He told me that his leg was hurting. But, for hurting at that point of the race, he was looking strong.

We ran together that last mile and I gave him the best advice I had on dealing with pain. I gave him some of my ultrarunning tricks and reminded him that when the legs and mind give out — you let the heart carry you the rest of the way. It was a very special moment for me to be able to share with Zack.

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We soon ran into Don, our teammate, who came back looking for us and he ran us to the finisher’s corral. I let Zack ahead of me as I barked words of encouragement toward that finish line. It wasn’t until that last moment when I caught a glance of the time that I noticed I got a sub-three time! But, at that moment I didn’t really care. I was happy to be done, to be with teammates and have the opportunity to run with Zack.

After grabbing some water and mingling a bit, I checked my time and came in at 2:55:06 — I was happy. I was very happy. I didn’t care that I once ran this race 45 minutes faster, I cared about now. I cared about the effort I put in that day. And, I cared that my foot didn’t feel like it fell off.

I was happy.

I still have a long way to go with my recovery, but this was a victory. And, having a plan with my physical therapist I feel like I have an attainable goal that will help me get where I want and need to be. Not just with my speed, but my stamina that will help get me to my 48 hour run in February. That 100 miles is going to happen. I am sure of it.

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But, the focus is on the therapy, the weight loss and the exercises I CAN do. And, I am feeling a difference. I’ve shed over 10lbs. and lost some inches that needed to be shed so I am happy with that. Sure, like I’ve said previously, it might not be in the timetable or pace I’d like it to be — but, it’s happening.

My next race is in a couple of weeks, so the focus is on the continued weight-loss and therapy. I have a group run planned for Little Cottonwood on Saturday that I am excited about. Lots of good things happening.

But, Saturday’s race was perfection.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES

I had a race that was cancelled — The 13 Miles of Freedom — so I had to do a little shuffling. That makes my next race the Utah Midnight Run in Farmington! That will be the first of two back to back races on the weekend of July 7th!


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 6.5 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 35.23 miles
TOTAL MILES — 54.83 miles
Race(s) this week — AF Canyon Race Against Cancer

June 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 32.7 miles
Race Miles — 65.5 miles
Walking Miles — 92.27 miles
TOTAL MILES — 190.47 miles
Races in May — Drop 13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 259.95 miles
Race Miles — 243.12 miles
Walking Miles — 616.72 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1119.79 miles
Races done in 2017 — New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon, Drop13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer.


AF Canyon Run Against Cancer; June 24, 2017 (2:55:04) AF Canyon will always be one of my favorite canyons to run. Great views of Timp, gorgeous greenery around every corner and a canyon drop that lets you soak it all in putting yourself on cruise control. Came into this race not knowing what to expect with my ankle, but the terrain and elevation drop made for a fairly pain free run. I pushed it a bit and was pleasantly surprised and happy coming in under three hours. Not bad for my fourth half in two weeks, eh? Had a great moment running in my @addicttoathlete teammate Zack during the last mile. We were both hurting, but we kept each other motivated and going. I sure love being a part of this team, we inspire and motivate each other to our goals. I’m feeling stronger, especially with my physical therapy. I can’t wait to get where I want to be/need. But, for now, I need to be patient. #race152 #afcanyonrun #running @joshruns180 @josherwalla @fight4phat @addicttoathlete @afcanyonrun

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My niece was blessed today. As you can see, it was a grand occasion.

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Not my idea of a fun weekend.

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RACE #147: Jordan River Half Marathon

YEAH, I’M RACING!!! After a couple weeks of low mileage and uncertainty with my ankle it sure felt great being back on the course. Albeit, nowhere close to the pace or time I expected a couple months ago. But, I was running and that’s what mattered.

The past month or so has been tough. Well, the past couple of months have. Okay, maybe the past three months? Setbacks big and small have kind of plagued me after running the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival — colds, the flu, bad back, sprained ankles and all that jazz.

Not fun.

But, after Thursday’s doctor appointment with the orthopedist — I feel hopeful. I may not be where I pictured my fitness or running to be from a few months ago, but I see that light. And, that has me feeling really excited, hopeful and recommitted.

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And, as much as I want to get faster and stronger, my ultimate goal is my 100 miler in February. That’s where my path needs to lead more than just knocking off a few half marathon time goals. The focus needs to be getting stronger, building stamina and just getting miles under my feet. And, in many ways, I feel that speed will be a byproduct of that focus.

So going into this race, I knew I wasn’t going to be fast. I just wanted to be outside, I wanted to be running and I wanted to test my ankle. The only directive the doctor gave me to running is that I knew my limitations. So, I just kind used that as a gauge to how much I should push or hold back.

I didn’t have a time goal. I honestly didn’t care. I expected to probably walk a lot and come in dead last (which I wasn’t). I know those are some very high aspirations. But, I really didn’t know how it was going to all go without me being in the moment to test it.

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When the race started, I kind of casually jaunted across the starting line. I expected to run with my friend Julianna — who was sweeping — but, I decided to go ahead, because I expected to eventually meet up with her later in the race (again, which didn’t happen). So my friend Chad and I went out together.

We stuck together along the parkway for the first half of the race before parting ways at the turnaround aid station. He was picking up the race signs and decided to wait for Julianna — so I just went ahead solo. I wanted to test my ankle.

The first half of the race was tough getting a good pace for myself. The ankle wasn’t enjoying what I was giving it and acted it up some. But, when I went out solo I really tried to focus on finding a good pace to keep the pain minimal. And, it seemed to work well — for the most part.

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I eventually found a good pace, so I just stuck in my earphones, jammed out and just focused on my way to the finish line. I felt good. Sure there was some discomfort with my ankle, but I wasn’t sure if it was just the normal fatigue of the race, the flat terrain of the course or just the normal healing process of my sprain? It very well could have been a combination of all three.

Either way, I just worked on my consistency and tried not to worry much about the pressure of my finish time or pace. I could worry about that later on other runs. But, this was really just about discovering a starting point in my recovery.

While jamming out to my music — between mile 9-10, I came across what I thought was a litter of kittens in the middle of the parkway trail. As I approached the kittens, I realized they weren’t kittens — but, that of a family of skunks. Stinky cats.

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By the time I had approached the mama skunk had hurriedly corralled her babies to the side of the trail and started to turn her tail around to undoubtedly sprain me. After doing a scuttled dodge — that resembled more of a Larry, Curly or Moe movement than that of a secret agent — around the skunks I went on my merry way. But, with the thought — what if I got sprayed?

What if I got sprayed?

I could only imagine what the last 3-4 miles would have been like … the ride home … the post-race shower. Thank goodness I didn’t get sprayed. It would have been horrible. Horrible. Luckily, that is a reality that I didn’t have to experience.

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After the skunk encounter, I just kept forward as I was nearing the finish line. It was starting to get warmer and I could feel the fatigued settling in my legs. I had to stop a couple times to stretch — but, nothing too taxing with my ankle.

I crossed the finish line in 3:35 hours — one of my slowest half marathon times — and plopped myself on a curb to gather myself and drink some water. I was happy to be done. My ankle felt okay-ish and about what I expected.

I may not be where I wanted to be at this point from a few months ago, but this is the hand that I’ve been dealt. The focus is and will be for the next 8-9 months preparing for my 100 miler. I can’t let any short term setbacks distract myself from the long term goal. That’s the goal, that’s the destination.

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I’ll have better races and faster times. That will come. But, I just need to keep myself focused, keep my diet clean and on the right track with strengthening my ankle the right way. I’ll be blogging all about that later.

But, for now, I am just focused on the recover and the next couple of weekends running down Big Cottonwood. I am planning on eight miles next weekend with friends and then the Drop13 Big Cottonwood Half the following weekend. I’m bummed that I had to drop Ragnar, but there’s some solace in a run down Big Cottonwood.

Plus, it’s summer and that always makes for some great running!

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON OR BUST!


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


RACE #147: Jordan River Half Marathon, May 27, 2017 (3:35:48) There was nothing pretty about this run. I was just happy to be out on the course after a couple weeks off from running. After spraining my ankle in April, I wasn’t sure of the extent of the injury or needed recovery time. But, after a doctor appointment a couple days before the race, the doctor gave me a go with the caveat to not push it past my comfort level. The run was all over the place and I played with rhythm, pace and push. It was one of my slowest race times, but I don’t care. I do, but time wasn’t the goal here. The goal is to get me where I need to come February for my 100 miler. Like I said before, I was just happy to be out on the course! #race147 #jordanriverhalf #running @joshruns180 @josherwalla @fight4phat @myracemedals @extramileracing

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The Essence of Dave.

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Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 3.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 20.5 miles
TOTAL MILES — 36.6 miles
Race(s) this week — Jordan River Half Marathon

May 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 20.0 miles
Race Miles — 26.2 miles
Walking Miles — 94.19 miles
TOTAL MILES — 140.39 miles
Races in May — Provo City Half Marathon and Jordan River Half Marathon.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 225.25 miles
Race Miles — 177.62 miles
Walking Miles — 514.6 miles
TOTAL MILES — 917.47 miles
Races done in 2017 — New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon and Jordan River Half Marathon.


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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.