Tag: 50K

A time to stop and a time to not start …

As I am writing this, I am laying what very much feels like my deathbed. No, I’m not dying — but, I might as well be. This past weekend was very difficult for me. What started as a promising running adventure out on the Salt Flats and at Thanksgiving Point — turned into something entirely different.

I started the weekend with a mini-road trip to Wendover for the Salt Flats 50K. After a poorly chosen motel — you can see the video here — I was going to run the on Friday, drive home that afternoon after my run, recoup a bit and then run the Tulip Festival Half at Thanksgiving Point on Saturday morning.

Sure, it was a lot of running, but something it was something I felt I was prepared to do with the recent ultras I’ve done in the past six months. I was figuring the 50K would take me about 10 hours and the half probably 3ish hours because of fatigue. All pretty manageable and a challenge I was looking forward to tackling.

On Friday morning when I woke up and got ready for my race I didn’t feel anything amiss. It was a pretty standard race morning. Granted, I didn’t get much sleep the night before, but nothing unusually bad compared to other races. I was ready to run — so I went about my ritual of packing my pack, reassuring I had enough fuel and fueling myself with my standard sweet potato, banana and oatmeal.

After making the trek to the starting line at the Bonneville Speedway I started getting excited for my run. I knew it was going to be difficult — ultras always are — but, I was wanting this challenge and I was just eager to get out and run. After double and triple checking my pack again — I was ready and the gun sounded at 7am.

We were off — not just the 50Kers, but the 50 and 100 milers as well.

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Since the usual course out on the salt flats was washed over from the rain gathered the previous week, an alternate trail route was marked. So, after a few miles on the causeway we landed on the dirt trails which was a pretty simple out and back course for the 50K.

There were two aid stations for us, one at Mile 11 and another at Mile 16 — which was the turnaround. For a half marathon or marathon the numbers of stations and distance between them would be an issue. But, I carried enough fuel with me that I didn’t worry about it. I hardly do during ultras — especially when you consider you’re going to always get a feast of some sort at every station.

Once I got onto the trails, the crowd had thinned out and a just a few of us 50Kers remained. The scenery was beautiful and I didn’t mind not running on the salt flats — I was just happy being where I was. I just enjoyed the moment.

Around mile 5-6 or so I ran into Coach Blu and a few of the AIIA team members who driving out to an aid station they were volunteering at for the 50 milers. It was really nice seeing them and it really gave me a boost in my spirits, because I think so much of Coach and the team.

But, it wasn’t much later when they left that my whole race kind of went downhill.

The wind throughout the race was pretty horrendous — as it always is out there. But, there were some patches where it was hard for me to get a good rhythm because it felt like I was getting bombarded by wind from every direction. It was a headwind, then a tailwind, then a headwind and then both.

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By about Mile 7-8 I started feeling pretty nausea — I was thinking it was just motion sickness from the wind. But, by Mile 10ish the nausea got bad enough that I ended up throwing.

Thinking it was just the nausea I just forged forward sipping on my water and nibbling on a banana trying to replenish my electrolytes that I just lost. But, that didn’t help. And, I ended up throwing that up not just later.

The idea of dropping the race was now being entertain, but I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. I had never DNF’d before and there is pride in that So, I started playing mind games with see if changing my attitude would help improve my race. So, I was extra enthusiastic when other runners passed me, I turned on some music to distract me and I even tried imagine the narrative of how this race was going to triumphantly play out for me.

By the time I got to the first aid station I felt better — and had a cup of Ginger Ale to help calm my stomach, which still had some lingering effects of the nausea. After munching on some popcorn and another banana, I felt good to go. And, set forward once again.

And, once again — the nausea came back.

And, once again — I threw up.

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At this point I was pretty discouraged, because I knew I was probably going to have to pull myself off the course. At Mile 14 the race director even pulled up beside me to ask how I was doing. I lied — I said I was fine. I couldn’t make that decision yet. I still had hope that everything was going to change and I would feel better. But, that feeling never came.

So I focused on just getting to the next aid station. It was a couple miles away and also served as the turnaround point for the 50K, I figured 16 miles was pretty good considering the circumstances. So that was my focus. And, I felt that if I was going to pull myself off the course it would be there that I could make the decision.

By the time I got to the aid station I was done. Completely done. I was feeling pretty weak from feeling depleted thanks to my queazy stomach, so I made a beeline to a camping chair as the volunteers offered me food and fuel my body was quite ready to accept. I just sat down and said I was done and to just give me a minute.

After a few minutes the amazing volunteers got some Ginger Ale and half an orange down me. I contemplated a banana, but I felt the half orange was a more than enough on a stomach that absolutely hated me. I just felt like garbage. So I kept on trying to keep liquids down me because I didn’t want to absolutely dehydrate myself or get my electrolytes too low.

After sitting at the aid station for about a half hour the call to the start line was made that I pulled myself from the race. It was kind of a bittersweet moment. But, at the same time the feeling of lost pride was lost in the feeling that I didn’t care, because I felt like I was going to die. I knew I made the right decision.

Instead of being simply taken back to the starting line I requested if I could go to the next aid station at Mile 22 where Coach Blu and the AIIA were located. They were going to be out there — at what I thought — until 3pm. It turned out to be closer to 1pm. But, in that moment I just kind of wanted to be among familiar faces. So one of the volunteers took me to the aid station.

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I wasn’t there long until they were packing up, but I was grateful for the time I had with the team. Coach gave me some Alka Seltzer for my stomach — and again some Ginger Ale. This seemed to help some and made the 22 mile ride back to the starting line manageable. It was nice being able to talk to him along with Jim about my DNF, because it put a lot of things into perspective for me. This just solidified that I made the right decision.

It was hard for me to dwell on the DNF as well, because I got word shortly after I got reception that my sister gave birth to her little girl, Eliza. This really helped me to further put this experience in perspective. I was so happy for Jessie and Scott, because Eliza was truly a blessing and miracle for them. They waited nearly 5 years for this addition.

After getting to my car and everything processing happening to me, I hopped in my car, gassed up and after making a short race recap video — headed home. I still felt optimistic about running in the morning. I felt that some rest, replenished liquids and adherence to the B.R.A.T. diet would allow that to happen.

Half way through my trip my Mom asked me to stop at the store to get some lettuce for her. Which wasn’t a big deal for me since the store is right down the street from me. I was feeling okay — sore and not too queazy. But, once I got to the store and went to get out of the car — I just couldn’t do it. I tried standing up, but felt like I was going to pass out.

I knew I needed to get some more liquids and calories in me — and not wanting to go back home empty handed I resolved to go get the lettuce along with some food for me. So after sitting in the car for more than a half hour I mustered the strength to walk into the store. I got a cart — not because I needed it for the food, but to just keep me upright.

I made a beeline to the lettuce and then got some bananas, a couple of Powerade, a bowl of cut melon and a bag of ice (to ice my sore legs and ankle). Once I got home I quickly got my stuff out of the car, gave my mom her lettuce and raced to the bathroom so I could take a shower and ice my legs before hitting my bed and refueling.

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But, it never happened quite that way. As soon as I got to the restroom I felt completely weak and it took everything in me to just shower. Any attempt to ice my legs and ankle were moot — because the focus now was to just shower, get in bed and eat something.

I never felt so ill in my life. I tried to shower and get dressed quickly, but without rushing too hard that I’d pass out. I really felt like I was going to die. Once I stumbled into bed, I drank half a Powerade, some melon and half a banana and before I knew it I was out. I didn’t wake up for about three hours. I was gone — I didn’t even move.

When I woke up I still felt extremely sick, but kept forcing liquids down. I was fevering over 101 as well. So I knew I needed to stay hydrated and fueled. I tried some melon and the other half of the banana, but that didn’t happen. So I just laid in bed for a couple more hours awake — but going nowhere.

I knew by now that I wasn’t going to be running in the morning. So I made the decision to DNS the Tulip Festival Half. Another decision that was difficult to make, but in the moment — the right one. I was bummed.

I tried getting up and watching some of the Jazz, but that didn’t work so well. After eating more of my melon bowl my stomach decided to reject that — and I threw up again. So, I stuck with liquids the rest of the night.

Even on Saturday my stomach wasn’t having anything to do with overly solid foods. I mustered down some broth, applesauce, bananas and lots of Powerade. But, my attempts at a fairly simple salad was meant with another upheaval of my stomach.

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At this point I was pretty sure that I was dealing with the flu and not just wind-induced nausea. And, that’s been the case this whole weekend. I just can’t hold anything down and I am just weaker than weak. My fever broke some, but it’s still slightly above average. Needless to say I feel like pooh.

I’m still processing this weekend, especially the DNF. And, I’ve been told by many runners that I’ll learn more from my DNF than from any other race — 5K to ultra. So I am taking that to heart and reassessing everything. I might cut back on some of my races this year — and as much as I want to hit the 180 race goal by next July — maybe I need to rethink that?

I feel that I am beyond seeing value in the quantity of races. 180 is just a number — and running is much more to me than that. That’s why my approach has been to quickly get it done with so I can move on. Maybe I need to prolong it and focus on the other goals sooner than later?

Anyways — I am sure I’ll be making some changes to my race schedule, especially within the next month. So, on races with a transfer policy I might just sell my bib to someone else? But, that’s all something I need to need decide on with a sound mind and careful reflection.

There is much more to life than just running — and racing. The addition of my niece is a great reminder of that belief. What’s a DNF and DNS compared to that? Nothing. Really, absolutely, nothing.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. I’m still planning on running the Provo City Half this weekend. I am actually sweeping it with my friend Tricia and her daughter. I am really, really, really excited about that — and then I don’t have another race until Ogden. Lots of positives on the horizon, but a lot to reassess as well.


MY NEXT SIX RACES


I’m not going to be dateless for quite awhile. Quite awhile.

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Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 10.0 miles
Race Miles — 16.0 miles
Walking Miles — 20.12 miles
TOTAL MILES — 46.12 miles
Race(s) this week — Salt Flats (DNF) and Tulip Festival Half (DNS)

April 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 23.5 miles
Race Miles — 55.3 miles
Walking Miles — 94.95 miles
TOTAL MILES — 173.75 miles
Races in April — Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Salt Flats 50K (DNF) and Tulip Festival (DNS). 

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 205.25 miles
Race Miles — 151.42 miles
Walking Miles — 420.41 miles
TOTAL MILES — 777.08 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 and Saltair Half.


Be Prepared … and other stuff.

No race this past weekend. In fact, not much running at all. And, by much, I mean — none. I got some good miles in during the week, but my time and feet were used at PrepperCon this past weekend. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad — I got a lot of time and mileage on my feet walking around the South Towne Expo Center — which is great prep for this weekend’s running adventure.

If you’re not familiar with PrepperCon, it’s a preparedness convention and trade show that my family founded, created and owns. We started this three years ago and it has grown into quite a large event. We had 150+ vendors, numerous classes, tons of demonstrations, a number of celebrities and — my favorite … PrepperFash! — a prepper fashion show.

It’s been a lot of fun watching the show grow and I believe it grew to an even higher level this year. The quality was superb and the guests recognized that. The synergy and energy was fun — and far from what you would probably associate from the word “prepping.” There’s very little of the associated doom and gloom, the focus is on food storage, sustainability, emergency kits and protection for the individual and family.

Throughout the weekend I played host of PrepperCon Live! via Facebook Live. Honestly, it was a role that was just kind of thrown on me on Thursday. And, I just kind of went with it. And, I won’t lie — it was fun.

We broadcast a couple panels, gave updates and then I also interviewed David Holladay — one of my favorite prepping people — who fed me a mouse head! YES! A MOUSE HEAD! His expertise is finding food sources off the land. He also let me try some herbs, nuts, berries and leaves. It was a cool experience and — yeah — I ate a mouse head.

You’ll have to watch the video …

Anyways, I also bought WAY too much stuff over the weekend as well. I bought a new backpack for my ultrarunning. Since I have the Salt Flats 50K this weekend I wanted a smaller and sleeker bag that I could tow my needed food and equipment in, especially since rain is very possible. I also got some water filter straws, a new knife and a solar powered USB charger.

Lots of fun stuff.

My focus this week is to get one more 3-4 mile run in before my races this weekend. I have the Salt Flats 50K on Friday and then the Tulip Festival Half on Saturday. The goals are to complete both. I want to do the 50K within 10 hours and then I don’t care much on the Tulip Festival time goal. I know it’ll at least be three hours. It should be a nice brisk walk depending on how fresh my legs feel the morning of the race.

We’ll see.

That’ll be 43.3 miles or so of running for the weekend. I won’t lie — I’m half tempted to round it up to 50 miles. But, 6.7 miles is much longer than running around a tree a few laps to round up your Garmin. But, we’ll see. Depending on how I feel — I would love to round it up.

I’m just exciting to run both of these races. They’re both races I’ve wanted to run for a while. I’ve always wanted to run the salt flats and the tulip gardens. It should be a long slow, but fun adventure. And, I’ll check in one more time before my races with my weekly numbers, etc.


This is the gun that I’ve been looking for … I found C3PO’s gun! #preppercon

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Bought myself a $10 knife. I call him Stabby McStabface. #preppercon

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Rockin’ it like a hurricane! 132MPH wind in the Hurricane Simulator! Wow! #preppercon

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Even Trish was impressed with my new knife Stabby McStabface! #preppercon

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The brains behind the operation. #preppercon

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40 races to my goal …

This past weekend I ran my 140th race. It’s kind of hard to imagine I’ve run so many — it really seems like yesterday I just ran my 1st, 50th and 100th. All pretty significant milestones in my journey to 180 races before my 40th birthday.

Now that I am just 40 races from my goal I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Not that I am not enjoying this journey, but I am ready for some new adventures. I am ready for some running adventures of my own liking — more ultra runs, faster race times and location races.

I’ve planned to crank out a bunch of my races this year so that I can run my 180th race at next year’s Handcart Days Half Marathon — where my 1st and 100th race occurred. It just seems fitting to end my goal where it started.

I still have a number of goals I want to reach after my 180 is done and that’s why I am eager to finish by next July. I want to run less races and more trails, I want to focus on speed work for the races I do run and I want to fall in love with running again and again. I want new challenges and triumphs.

Now all of that sounds like a postcard, but I am excited for the next chapter. But, I am still focusing on the task at hand. My next 40 races. I’ve mapped out most of them from here until my 180th. I am pretty set for this year — except for November (there is a chance I am traveling to Greece to run the Athens Marathon) — which will be figured out within the next couple of weeks.

My race schedule for 2018 is shaping up as well. Well, up to the Handcart Days Half. I am not sure what I will be running after that race. And, I am not too concerned about it at this point.

But, here is what my race schedule should look like (barring any race date changes for 2018) …

The Jackpot Game Plan …

For most people who read the headline above would think … oh, Josh is a gambler. He’s got a problem. His jackpot strategy probably involves sitting hours on end at a slot machine until he wins something — or better yet lurks the slot machines waiting for people to leave to only swoop in and play that machine until be wins.

Needless to say, this is NOT that post. And, I may or may not use that latter strategy while in Vegas. It’s worked for me and I’ve come away $5 richer because of it.

But, I am talking specifically about the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival happening next weekend in sunny (but, I think it is suppose to be rainy?! BOOOOOO) Las Vegas. I will running with my friend Jill along with some St. George friends that are making the hour and a half trip for the race. I am really, really, really looking forward to the adventure.

This will be my third ultra — and third in the past 15 months or so. I won’t lie — I’m kinda falling for the longer distances. My favorite distance will always be the half marathon, but I love the challenges of the longer distances. They’re a different beast. And, they challenge me in completely different ways than any half marathon I’ve run.

Both Jill and I are signed up for the 12 hour race for the weekend’s festival — meaning, we have 12 hours to run as many loops of the 2.38 mile loop around Railroad Lake in Cornerstone Park we want. Sounds fairly simple, no?

Our minimum goal is to get that ultra distance completed — which should be pretty “easy” to do in the 12 hours. But, we both have differing goals. I really want to crank out anywhere between 35-40 miles. Ideally, 40 miles would be AWESOME. But, I’m not sure how realistic that is? So, I am pushing myself to do at least 35 miles.

But, that 40 … that’s what I really want.

I feel like it’s possible for a couple reasons. It’s hard to judge that off of my last ultras, because none of them were looped courses. I feel like looped courses would be easier, because the terrain is fairly flat, I have an aid station every 2.38 miles and I’m not going to get eaten my bears or gored by buffalo.

Because of the looped course, I don’t have to lug my supplies around with me. Which is a BIG plus. This was what I loved about my 50 miler. I can not only bring my own food, but the race itself has some GREAT food available as well. Granted I’ll have to keep all things gluten and dairy free — so that could be a challenge. But, I am not TOO worried about it — I will probably bring my own gluten-free tortillas and bread (in case I need it) along with sweet potatoes and all that jazz.

And, there will be Mountain Dew.

As I did in my last 50K I broke my four year soda celibacy pledge. But, luckily, still kept it out of my daily life. So, the only time I’m drinking it is during my ultra races and distance runs. It really is great fuel — the sugar, caffeine and calories saved my life in November. My body may be going into full cravings as I type all of this.

See why I’ve sworn off soda?

The running goal is simple — start off slow. I am planning on doing my first two laps or so at a nice walking clip. Not too leisurely, but at a mall walking speed that would make my Grandma proud. I know I’ll need to save my energy levels for the latter part of the race, especially when I am between miles 35-40.

I want to finish off strong and even if I am past 40 miles after the first 10-11 hours, I want to finish those last 1-2 hours off strong. I want to finish the race with Jell-O legs. Well, okay, not Jell-O legs — because I don’t want to get around Vegas in a jazzy, but I want to FEEL and BE spent. I want to KNOW that I gave it my full effort.

And, at a distance of 35-40 miles, I am sure I will go away with that feeling. At least I sure hope so?

But, like the last couple ultras I’ve done. I’m not nervous for this adventure. I am more so anxious to just do it. There really is something about being IN the moment during an ultra. The fatigue — both mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually really opens you up. It makes you vulnerable. And, it teaches you.

That is what I am looking forward to the most. And, that’s one of the many reasons why I love these longer distances. I’m not going to win the race — far from it. But, I’m going enjoy the ride and get the most out of it that I can.

VEGAS OR BUST, BABY!


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This should be my 2017 race schedule …

Okay, I think I’ve got my complete 2017 race schedule figured out.

I think.

Which is a definite maybe.

But, let me explain it a little bit. I have a race each month except December. I might add a race in December, but I am not planning on it. It’s a good rest month after a long year of running.

My busiest month is June. I have seven races planned for the month. Yes, seven. I have Ragnar during the first weekend, the Utah Valley Marathon on the 10th, the Bear Lake Trifecta (three half marathons in three days) the following week and then the Utah Midnight Run (Friday night) and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer (Saturday morning) the following weekend.

I have three total back-to-back races planned. My first being the Salt Flats 50K (April 28) and Tulip Festival (April 29), Utah Midnight Run (June 23) and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer (June 24) and then the Utah Midnight Run (July 7) and Hobbler Half (July 8).

The biggest of those back-to-backs the April one with my 50K and half marathon. Not sure how that’s going to go, but I am betting I’ll walk a lot of the Tulip Festival Half. A lot.

In total I have 32 races planned — 23 half marathons, 5 marathons, 2 ultra marathons, a 25K and the Ragnar Relay. This includes one indoor race, 5 trail races and the rest road races.

Lots of running.

And, if you’re trying to estimate miles — that’s about 525-530 miles. Just in racing miles.

So, yeah — it’s going to be a big mileage year.

Anyways here is my schedule … what’s on your schedule?

Hey, look, I actually did some running …

It’s been over two weeks since my last run. If you ask me if I feel bad about that, I’d definitely say no. Very much a no. I’ve needed the rest after piling on the miles the previous two months. The body just needed to mend.

Well, the legs and feet needed to mend. I still worked out — doing mainly weights. But, I had nary the interest to run and that’s okay. I really was spent after my 50K two weeks ago.

But, this morning — I laced up my Hokas and decided to break my non-running streak. Not so much because of guilt, but more so out of necessity. I was hungry for some endorphins and just wanted to get my body outside.

So I did.

I didn’t really have a distance goal. And, heavens no I didn’t have a pace goal. I just went out by feel and decided to go head back when I felt like it.

The legs carried me in an out and back run of about 3.4 or so miles. The only reason why I cared about the distance was because I am tracking my miles this year — otherwise it wouldn’t have mattered. Because, the only thing that mattered was being out there.

There wasn’t anything too noteworthy of the run. I saw a dog. That was cool. And, I got lapped by two really speedy runners — I kinda felt bad for them because the both times they lapped me they were checking their Garmin.

There is something to be said to just be out there in the moment feeling care free about needed distance or pace. Trail running and specifically my 50 miler has really changed my perspective on the role of running in my life. Goals are important, but the means to achieve those goals shouldn’t be a do or die focus. You lose the benefits and blessings that running offer when you focus too hard on them.

Anyways, enough of my preaching. I am just happy that I got out there today and I am looking forward to a run or two more this week — probably after Thanksgiving. The weather has been perfect lately and I can’t NOT take advantage of that while it lasts.

But, the rest of the week is being focused on the Thankful 13 — we’ve got packet stuffing tomorrow night and then race set up on Wednesday afternoon and evening before race day on Thanksgiving morning. We’re still looking for volunteers so if you’re interested — PLEASE — sign up, we’d love (and need) your help.

I’ll blog a bit more either later this or next week. The Joshbys are coming up soon and I’ve got a few things pertaining to my 2017 races that I’ll be sharing here in the next couple of weeks. Fun, fun news!

But, that’s all for later. The focus is on the race and the holiday. I’m looking forward to just spending time with my family — there’s nothing better. So, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


2667in2016

RUNNING MILES

257.25 miles

RACE MILES

400.05 miles

WALKING MILES

1320.08 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

1977.38 miles


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RACE #136: Antelope Island Classic 50K

Tough things are tough. But, man, can tough things be more than rewarding. That’s kind of how I feel right now. That’s kind of how I felt going into this race. I knew this was going to be tough, I knew it was going to suck at points, but I knew that in the end I would come away with that rewarding feeling that I did something awesome.

I wasn’t planning on running the 50K. In fact, when I signed up I did so for the half marathon THINKING this would be a great way to wind down my racing season, especially two weeks after running the Pony Express 50.

But, then Pony happened aaaaaaand I got the bug. Not to mention my recovery from the Pony 50 was better than expected. My legs recovered faster than I expected and looking at the trail half marathon happening this weekend — I KNEW I could do the 50K. I just didn’t know if I wanted to do the 50K, I mean two weeks after a 50 miler is kinda crazy to do a 50K?!

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Then again — what’s an adventure without those moments of crazy? I tried to temper that itch, but after a couple of days I contacted the race director, Jim Skaggs, and asked him if I could up my registration from the half to the 50K. He more than obliged and before I knew it — I was signed up for the 50K.

The reason why I decided to do the 50K was kind of two fold — one, I knew I could do it, because I ran this last year and, two, I wanted some redemption out on this course. Last year I ran this 30-35lbs. heavier and it took a toll on me. The hills between miles 11-14 were brutal on my body and I flirted with cutoff time after cutoff time. So this year I just simply wanted to do better than laster — I wanted to feel and do better than 2015.

And, for the most part — I did.

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The night before the race I laid everything out on the couch that I THOUGHT that I needed. And, compared to last year I really cut down on what I took with me. I didn’t take my hiking pack with me, just my small back pack. This year I packed with some salt and vinegar potatoes, candy, back up water and applesauce to name a few compared to the change of clothes, shoes and 2-3 bottled water I had last year.

Yeah, I was a TOTAL rookie last year. Bad decisions.

I eagerly hopped into bed and was planning on getting up around 4-4:30am so I could be in my car and at the Island by around 6:30-7am for the 8am start time. But, I woke up at 3am and just stayed up. I wasn’t nervous, just more excited than anything, because besides being another ultra this would be my last true race of the year. More on that below.

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So I just kind of laid in bed for a while reading, checking my Facebook and mentally preparing for the day. I have to say it was kind of nice not feeling stressed or rushed. I just took my time and moseyed on over to Antelope Island to pick up my bib and make my way to the starting line.

Honestly, I could have probably showed up at 7am and been fine. Because I ended up sitting in my car for about an hour waiting for the start. But, it was kind of nice being there earlier than most everyone else because I got first pick of the port-a-potties at the starting line. These were the only port-a-potties along the course — so I made sure to take advantage of them before I starting running.

Before starting I did manage to get out of the car for the prerace instructions and stand at the fire pit with a number of friends who were out there to either race or volunteer. This has always been my favorite part of running. I don’t usually get to see many friends out there (because they’re usually faster than me) so the pre and post-race festivities are usually my favorite. But, it was great to see a few faces I haven’t seen in awhile.

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My strategy for the race was rather simple and it helped having ran the course before. I knew there’d be quite a bit of climbing for the first 14-15 miles of the race so I wanted converse my energy as best as I could the those first couple of miles. I wanted to have enough energy around miles 5-6 and 11-14 where the biggest climbs on the course are located. So I started off slow and focused on a brisk walk while using with my walking rods.

It really was a good strategy because I knew if I didn’t pace myself I would die on those climbs. And, the rods helped because they kept me just above a dead man’s march. This was my first time using the rods and they made a HUGE difference. As long as I was focusing on a rhythm it was like I had a pacer out there keeping me on track. I don’t think I can ever do trails again without them.

At about mile 3-4 the last runner on the course caught up with me. And, of course, we became friends. I was happy for the company, especially know the hills in front of us. So we became instant friends for the next 10-12 miles.

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His name was Jeff and he was from California. This was his 200-something-th ultra and at nearly 70 years young he was still going (his friend out there and ahead of us was older). For the past several years he’s been working on running ultras in every state. He’s run ultras in all 50 states, but now he wants to run five ultras in every state — he’s probably 3/4 of the way done?

Either way — a VERY impressive resume. And, so for the most part I just listened to his stories. Stories about running ultras in Rhode Island, Tennessee, Hawaii and New Jersey. Stories of friends and how aging has impacted their running. And, of course the granddaddy of them all the Western States 100.

We even touched on art and books and just life. It was a great way to pass the time and not focus on the stupid hills ahead of us. I was very appreciative of the company. Distraction is the great pain reliever in running.

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At mile 13-ish I knew we were going to be hitting the hill that nearly killed me last year. The only way to explain this hill is that it’s pure hell. It sucks. It’s miserable. But, there’s only one way to conquer it and that’s by doing.

Last year I would about 5-10 steps before stopping. Not to mention that, but every 30-40 steps I’d sit down and figure out a new way to die so I didn’t have to climb further. It was miserable. Miserable, miserable, miserable. Even Tim Gill who was running with me had the same struggles up that blasted hill.

But, this year I just wanted to do better than last year. I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but I wasn’t planning on stopping every 5-10 steps. I just wanted to push myself further and take less breaks. So that was the gameplan — as simple and unpremeditated as it was.

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I was still running with Jeff at this point, but at the base of the hill as we started the climb I told him I would see him at the top if he didn’t keep pace with me. I just had to go my pace if I was going to conquer the hill I’ve dubbed, “Stupid Steep Hill.” So I tapped into my inner mountain goat and inched up the hill with my walking rods in hand.

I was feeling pretty good when I got half way up the hill. Having probably overexerted myself a bit too much (I only stopped once at that point) I felt a little faint — so I sat down on the hill to eat some applesauce, a little water and a couple Swedish Fish. I needed some quick energy for the rest of the climb and I wasn’t about to pass out in my attempt.

Jeff was about 100 yards behind me as I took my break and informed me he was going to bow out at the aid station. I was bummed to hear that, but he was preparing for a 50 miler in a couple of weeks and he was feeling a cold coming on and didn’t want to risk it. I completely understood and for someone who’s ran over 200 ultras I’m sure this isn’t his first DNF. So I just kept moving forward — well, upward — on the hill.

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As much as that hill sucks — I kept reminding myself that I was much stronger than last year. And, that this wasn’t as hard as Mile 45 was during my 50 miler. I wouldn’t say this made the hill any easier physically, but being in tougher situations mentally does help make it easier to endure.

Before I knew it I had made it up that bleeping hill. I only stopped about three times — and by stop I mean hunched over to catch my breath — but, I felt great, especially knowing the rest of the course was much, much easier from this point on. No more up hill climbs!

Despite that sense of accomplishment I got to the aid station depleted. I was feeling pretty week and knew I needed to refuel. I wanted more liquid than food, but still helped myself to some salted potatoes and a banana. But, there at the aid station I saw staring at me — was a can of Mountain Dew.

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Now, for those who know me — I haven’t had soda in nearly four years. I decided to cut it out to help with my running and weight-loss. And, it’s been a big difference. I don’t crave it like I used to, but there at mile 14 after that hill — I needed it. My body craved it.

And, I caved.

Do I feel bad about my moment of weakness? Um, kinda? But, not really. Because it was a total game changer for me — the sugar, sodium, caffeine and carbonation gave me new life. Sure it broke my streak, but it also saved my life — well, okay, run.

And, in the miles after I left the aid station I made the pact with myself that I would continue to not drink soda recreationally. But, during an ultra — totally acceptable. Not half marathons or marathons — just ultras. Because if I made the exception for those distances — I might as well just make Mountain Dew my official beverage of choice. But, ultras are different beasts and the soda made a big difference for me.

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After leaving the aid station I started the descendant down towards the ranch house. I love this part because it’s down hill, but after killing my quads climbing up the other side of the mountain the quads don’t want to give you free reign to cruise down the hill. Plus, the descendant it just slightly past comfortable. Which caused for a semi-fast slow run down the trail.

To my surprise Jeff was right behind me and caught up to me. Even though he had said he was bowing out, he decided to stay out there after talking to the sweepers and aid station. He told me he decided to keep going because he was sick of listening to his whining. I chuckled at his reasoning, because I can totally relate.

As much as I wanted to stay with Jeff and have some company I still felt the need to just keep going at my pace. Part of this desire was from the need to proof to myself that I could do better than last year, but also from the stronger desire that I just wanted to just simply be done. So I kept my pace.

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Once I got to the ranch house the course flattened out so I put away my walking rods and just ran. Well, shuffled. The legs were pretty shot.

But, I knew this was where the half marathon started so mentally I tried to create a new race in my mind. Meaning I tried to forget the previous 17-18 miles and just focus on the 13.1 mile ahead of me. It kinda worked. I still got reminders when I tried to push my legs further than they wanted to, but I just wanted to keep pushing myself as much as I could — because I wanted to do better than last year.

I got to the last two aid stations with about a half hour to give from last year’s time — which made me feel really encouraged. I fueled up with some sips of Mt. Dew, bananas and at Mile 19 some pretzels and M&M’s. I rarely touched much of the food I brought with me — which surprised me. I was bummed too, because I had some Gummy Peaches I wish I had had the stomach for — but, just didn’t.

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At the last aid station I came in right before Jeff — and at this point the sweepers caught up with me as well. We were the last two runners out there. But, at this point Jeff was really done and he ended up bowing out — leaving me out there as the last runner. Which I had no problem with — I just didn’t want to spend that much time with the sweepers.

The last seven miles were actually pretty relaxing. I was slowing down a bit so I took out my walking rods again to help pace me and just focused on the mile ahead of me. It was actually pretty peaceful and in those last few miles I found a good rhythm.

It wasn’t until about a mile and a half (or less) that the sweepers caught up with me. And, quite honestly, I probably would have kept going without them if it wasn’t for a buffalo standing along the trail ahead of me. These were the same sweepers that helped move buffalo standing on the trail so I just waited for them to do it again for me.

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Even with the buffalo moved I still sheepishly crept around it trying not to make sudden movements or looking threatening to it. I know I wasn’t looking threatening to it — but, buffalo can be jerks at times and I just wanted to be safer than sorry.

Once the buffalo wasn’t an issue I spent the last mile or so with the pacers. They had remembered me from the previous year and were astounded by my progress — I was much stronger and faster than last year. And, it was nice to have someone out there see that too.

When I got to the finish line I was first greeted by Robert Merriman who snapped a couple pictures of me. But, then as I crossed the finish line I got the treatment by not just strangers, but friends like the Veaters and Heather McFarland, as I finished. I couldn’t ask for better friends and a better running community to be a part of.

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After the race I grabbed my finisher’s mug and grabbed some buffalo stew along with some water and food to chow down before making the drive home. It was actually a pretty peaceful moment — the race crew left rather quickly including my friends leaving just me there as I ate my chili watching the sun set over the western end of the Great Salt Lake.

In that moment I just thanked God for allowing me that day — for the new friendships — for the obstacles — for the found strength — and of course the ability to do something I absolutely love to do.

While I have grown madly in love with the trails and ultra distances my body is also ready for a change of pace. Mainly, it’s ready for some rest. Especially when you consider that I’ve ran three marathons, a 50 miler and a 50K in the past two months.

So the next couple of months the focus is going to more on strength training and some cross training. I want to hit the weightroom and lower my mileage for a bit before getting back into racing at the start of the year.

But, you better believe me that I’ll be back on those trails next year. I’m already signed up for the Antelope Island Buffalo Run in March.

I wouldn’t miss it.


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So, as I mentioned above I am no longer running the Thankful 13 on Thanksgiving. Why? Well, I am actually going to be working it! I am the volunteer coordinator — for at least the Thankful 13 if not other Runtastic races. Sure I am bummed that I am not running the race, but it’ll be fun still being there and a part of the race.

Basically my job will be getting volunteers for the packet stuffing, packet pick up and race day jobs. It’s a big task, but one I am excited about. I’ve done volunteer coordinating before and know it’s no easy task.

Like I’ve told friends if you can volunteer a few hours on or around race day we’d love your help! You can sign up for specific jobs here. So please sign up if you can. Remember for every hour you volunteer you get 20% off a future race. Meaning five hours equals a FREE race!

So anyways, I flirted with the idea of signing up for the Bakers Dozen Half to replace Thankful on my schedule, but you know what? I’m not. I want the rest. Well, rest from running. My focus for the next couple of months is going to be strength and cross training. I’ll still run, but I’m back off the racing until the turn of the calendar. A decision I feel good about.

This makes my next race the New Year’s Run Resolution on New Year’s Eve at the Olympic Oval. I’m not sure if you count this as a race, because it’s more like a party, but it’ll be a fun way to kick off 2017 — with running and friends. And, not to mention a good way to kick off my marathon and ultra training.

But, yeah, a change of pace I’m excited about. So make sure to sign up to volunteer for the Thankful 13! We’d love your help!

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WE’RE BACK! After a couple months of life and “stuff” (mainly VERY busy schedules, etc., etc., etc.) — The Runcast is back! In this episode I sit down with Coach Blu from Team Addict to Athlete and talk about our Pony Express 50 miler. We talk about the ups and downs and how we got through it.

Hopefully we paint a picture of what it’s like to tackle a beast like this for newcomers to the ultra scene. It’s not easy, it’s tougher than tough — but, so rewarding at the same time.

Give this episode a listen and then make sure to come back next week as Coach interviews me on the AIIA Podcast …


2667in2016

RUNNING MILES

253.55 miles

RACE MILES

400.05 miles

WALKING MILES

1275.09 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

1928.69 miles

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