Tag: addict II athlete

RACE #154: Bountiful Handcart Days Half Marathon

This race means a lot to me. Well, the whole Handcart Days festival means a lot to me. Growing up our family was heavily involved when my Dad served as the Chairman for the event. That included coordinating the parade, park festivities, entertainment and fireworks with a committee of local volunteers.

I spent a lot of time at the Bountiful Park lugging food to the concession stands, setting up VIP parade booths and whatever else was required. Sometimes I was even forced to watch the parade — which if anyone knows me, knows I absolutely HATE parades. But, that’s a post for another day.

In the seven years my Dad was involved with the festival, we never had a race — not even a 5K. But, in the 10 years after my Dad was released from the chairmanship one was added in conjunction with the South Davis Rec Center. So when I decided to run my first half marathon back in 2011 — it just seemed fitting.

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I run the race twice since that hot July 2011 day. It was my 100th race back in 2015 where friend Jim Gastelum arranged a 100 banana salute at the finish line and then I ran it again last year to celebrate my 5th year anniversary of my first half marathon. This race has become a race of milestones for me of sorts.

When I lined up this year for the race, I wasn’t really celebrating a certain milestone. Unless there’s significance for a 6th anniversary or 154th race that I am unaware of? I was running to run. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking of those milestones and the plan to run this again next year for my 180th and final race in my 180 goal.

But, my mind was on other things. The day prior I got word that a good friend of mine — not just a running friend — was diagnosed with brain cancer. Robert Merriman has been a good friend for some four years or so now. He is truly one of the greatest men you’d ever met. Not a mean bone in his body, yet one of the best senses of humor.

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This news quickly spread throughout the running community and left many of us shocked. Robert had friends throughout the community, because of the nature of man he is. He’s always encouraging, always giving and always cheering others on.

Having this news really made this run one of reflection for me. Not just on Robert, but about other friends and family in my life who’ve battled cancer. It was this time two years ago we found out about Meridith’s breast cancer. My Mom’s own cancer journey was on my mind, even though that was over five years ago. All that emotion was very much on my mind.

But, my heart was also reflective on how through all of that — running was there. Running is a mental, spiritual and physical therapy for me in these moments. I remember when I got the news of my mother’s diagnosis I went out for a run that day to help clear my mind and find peace.

It’s almost become a natural reaction for me to run when life gets tough, confusing, frustrating or difficult. Not to run away from it all. But, to run with my thoughts, and often a prayer in my heart, to center myself and find strength to tackle whatever is in front of me.

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So, toeing up to that starting line on Saturday morning was to find that center balance.

Like the previous couple years I decided to take the early start at 5:30am. I have no reason to do it other than I want to get done faster and spend less time out in the heat of the day. I kind of wish all summer races had a 5:30am option. It’s light enough that I know where I am going … so why not?

A handful of us started early and I got about three or so miles into the race before the leading runners passed me. I thought that wasn’t bad, especially since I wasn’t planning on pushing myself at all during this race. That’s what happens when you have a race on Monday, a bum ankle and a flat course. I was Clydesdaling it.

Around mile three I started getting Tummy Gremlins and knew I needed a Honey Bucket soon. I found one just off the Legacy Parkway Trail, but when I approached it was deadlocked. DEADLOCKED?! Who does that?

I didn’t have much time to ponder about that so I just moved forward in hopes that the next aid station would have one. I won’t lie, it was the longest two miles of my life. I’ve run some painful miles in the past — but, when the Tummy Gremlins attack, they mean business.

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Finally, when I turned a corner to see the Mile 5 aid station I saw the most glorious Honey Bucket. When I limped toward it I was elated it wasn’t deadlocked or occupied. I made it right in the nick of time.

I am not sure why I included this story, but it was pretty much the highlight of the first half of the race. And, luckily — well, thankfully — the second half was much, much, much better.

Just shortly after my near disaster, I ran into Merri and Glen, a brother and sister that were running in memory of Glen’s son Benjamin who passed away recently. Merri reads this blog and introduced herself. After yo-yo’ing for a couple of miles we met up again at the Mile 7 aid station and ran together the rest of the way.

Talking with Merri and Glen about Glen’s son Benjamin was what I needed. Already with a reflective heart — I just listened to Glen talk about how Benjamin lived with one of the biggest hearts — toward humanity and animals. I listened to his stories of Benjamin’s musical talents and how he recently drove to Southern Utah to adopt a dog slated to be put down.

I was grateful for this moment.

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My heart kept wandering toward those I’ve lost in the past few years — both friends and family. I thought a lot about my Grandma and Aunt Diane — two of my biggest influences as both a kid and adult. I thought about their big hearts, I thought about the small unsaid acts of kindness they shared with others and how proud they were of the changes I was making in my life.

Loss is hard, especially when you lose someone so close to your heart. And, I couldn’t help but think throughout this run how running helped mend that my heart. It was a very unexpected spiritual experience for me. I felt honored to be able to share that moment with Merri and Glen.

It was a completely uplifting run for me.

After we crossed the finish line, we took a picture together and parted ways.

But, I couldn’t stop thinking about this run throughout the day. I couldn’t stop feeling a deep sense of gratitude for having running in my life. Not just for affording me to be a part of this powerful experience, but that it’s helped me through many difficult times in my life.

Life is a beautiful thing. And, running has helped enhance that for me — in times of sorrow, pain and joy. And, for that I’ll always thank God for the gift of running.


MY NEXT THREE RACES


He has my heart … and banana.

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Best duet I’ve heard since Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s “Drunk in Love”

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Got my biannual thyroid check this past week. I knew something was up with my energy levels and … yup … the thyroid was off. So my doctor switched me to a lower dose of Levothyroxine. No more Armour. I’m feeling a difference, which is good, but we’ll start seeing the bigger effects in the next couple of months (hopefully). I’m just hoping my energy levels are better and the new meds help make losing weight easier. It should. I’d really like to lose 30lbs before November, but we’ll see. If that doesn’t happen at least a good 30-35 before my 100 miler in February. Goals, goals, goals. It’s been hard making weight loss goals with Hashimoto’s, because the thyroid is so fickle. I just want consistency. And, I’m hopeful I’m on the right track. ———————————————————— #fight4phat #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #levothyroxine #thyroidmedication #hypothyroidism #hypothyroidismweightloss #goals #healthgoals #thyroidproblems ———————————————————— @fight4phat @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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You better believe that if I’m going to be sitting in the dentist’s chair for most of the morning I’m going to get in a longer-ish run beforehand. Planned on a quick two mile run, but after realizing I had enough time for a longer run, I doubled it up and did four miles. Since I have two half marathons this weekend I didn’t want to do anything pushed, especially with my ankle so I just focused on my gait mechanics and enjoyed the warm morning run. Winning. ———————————————————— #fight4phat #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #utahrunningclub #morningrun #4milerun #fartlek #runutah ———————————————————— @fight4phat @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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Are we sure this is a war over monkeys and not drugs?

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Lest we ever forget.

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Sunsets like tonight could turn the manliest of men into a poet.

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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 #144: Riverton Half Marathon

Six years ago when I made the goal to run 180 races (half marathon or longer) before I turned 40, I had no idea that y age 36 I’d be nearly done with that goal. And, that really speaks volumes of how much running has changed and influenced my life these past half dozen years.

Up until about two years ago I had the IDEA of slowing down a bit and evening out the number of races so I could hit my goal in 2021. But, that never happened. Partly, because I used many races as training runs for ultras, but also, because, I didn’t want to slow down.

Okay, that could be the only reason.

Regardless, I changed my timeline for the goal to next year. I am now planning to run race 180 in July 2018. And, of course it will be where I started this crazy journey — the Bountiful Handcart Days Half Marathon.

Because, of this new timeline goal I’ve looked at my race schedule for the next 18 or so months and planned each race one out leading up to the race. I should have about 30 or so races this year, which is a lot for me. But, I have the goal in sight and many of these races are great ultra training for me.

It’s been tricky finding races, because I’m not able to put the many, many Runtastic Events races I love — Timp Half, Nebo Half, The Haunted Half, etc., etc., etc. — because I’m working for them now. So, I’ve had to find races to replace those on my schedule and I’ve had to find a few small races to put on my schedule that I normally wouldn’t. I’m not complaining, because a run is a run to me and I do like new challenges and new courses.

And, that’s what kind of lead me to run the Riverton Half Marathon. This isn’t a new race to me. I’ve run it twice before. Once in 2012 and again in 2014. It’s put on by the city — and it’s honestly not that bad. The registration fee is extremely reasonable — $30 for early bird and $40 if you procrastinate.

But, you also get what you pay for. It’s not a race done by thousands. There were a couple hundred or so. Not crowded at all. And, the shirts and medals have improved over the past years. But, it’s very much a small town race so if you’re looking for BIG event like Big Cottonwood, Ogden or St. George — you won’t find it in Riverton. But, they do a good job given it’s a city race and the budget they work from.

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Anyways, going into race week after last week’s Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, I kind of viewed this race as another race toward my goal. But, that all kind of changed midweek.

This past week Coach Blu from Addict II Athlete posted a video on the AIIA Facebook Group page talking about the opidemic plaguing the nation. On average, there are 144 people nationwide that lose their lives to opiate addiction — overdose, suicide, etc. This is a staggering number. That’s over 52,500 people every year.

These 144 people are our brothers, sisters, parents, relatives, friends and neighbors. Chances are we know someone who struggles with the addiction — and it’s sometimes difficult to see. Especially since so many of these drugs are prescriptions. Coach then challenged us, the team, to share this message through social media showing the world — and specifically these 144 — how wonderful a life of sobriety is, by hashtagging #144 in our posts.

After watching Coach’s video I soon realized that my race this weekend in Riverton was going to be my 144th race! I couldn’t believe the coincidence. But, then again, I did — because I’ve learned since knowing Blu coincidences DON’T happen between the two of us. I strongly feel this was meant to happen this way.

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I decided that I wanted to run this race in honor and memory of not just the 144, but for the AIIA team and my friends and family members that have lost their battle already. I didn’t anticipate going into this race with THIS much emotion, but in just a few short days — here I was.

I wanted to run in silence in their memory. Something that is — obviously — difficult for me to do. I’m a social runner, I love making conversation with anyone out on the course, at the aid stations or in the Honey Buckets. Well, okay, not in the Honey Buckets. But, you get the idea. This would be a sacrifice for me, but it would also be an opportunity for me to focus my attention on the message, on the 144, on my loved ones and the AIIA team. So that’s what I set out to do.

I knew race day was going to be rainy, but when I left my house that morning I didn’t expect it to be THAT rainy. It was cold and pretty much a downpour. I knew from social media posts that the Strider’s Winter Circuit Half Marathon in Eden was already cancelled because of the weather. I was just hoping my race wouldn’t be as well.

I thought about checking the race’s Facebook page, but I kind of made up my mind that even if it was cancelled I was still going to run the course. As bad as the rain was, I knew it couldn’t be as bad as the Ogden Marathon this past year. Nothing could. So, I was just going to drive to the race and hope there was going to be a supported race.

The commute was pretty wet, but luckily once I got to Riverton the rain wasn’t as heavy and the race was on. So after picking up my race packet I went back to my car to stay dry for a little longer. I knew I would end up drenched. Plus, I didn’t really feel like socializing much, just because of the nature of the run. I was already beginning to get emotional about it all.

At the sound of the gun, I stood back for a couple minutes to let the crowd go. I plugged in my headphones and set out to run. I started out running to some MoTab and some other classic music, but I ended up just turning it all off. Mainly, because I wanted to focus and center my thoughts on the purpose of my run — so it was easier to just turn off the music altogether.

I kept my vow of silence pretty much throughout the run, with a few exceptions. I ran into a Facebook friend out on the Jordan River Parkway, I did stop to say hello briefly. And, after staying silent for the first couple of aid stations I decided to at least say “thank you” instead of trying to say it with sign language. Besides, I don’t know if I was signing “thank you” right anyways.

But, I just focused running alone in my thoughts. And, it was a rather somber run. The rain was pretty persistent throughout the whole run. It didn’t let up until about mile 11 or so for me. I almost wished it kept raining because the sun came out and the last mile and a half were pretty warm. With my jacket and hat I felt like I was running in a sauna.

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The run as a whole was really emotional for me. I caught myself a lot in thought of friends and family members who lost battles with opiate addiction. I thought about the AIIA team and how so many of them fought to overcome their addictions.. I thought about the message of the team and how important it is to carry it’s message, because it can save lives.

The last mile was pretty uncomfortable for me physically. Between the increasing temperature and normal race fatigue, my sprained ankle was also flaring up a bit as well. But, that all felt secondary. I just focused on that finish line and the message of the team.

I got to the finish line in 3:05:11, not the best time. But, there wasn’t really a goal time for this race. After last week’s Emigration Canyon Half, where I pushed myself, I knew I’d have to pull pack just a tad. So I was happy with the finish time. I didn’t feel like I went backwards from the progress I made last week.

After refueling with some Gatorade and bananas I made the trek back to my car where I sat there for a while in silence. The culmination of everything just built up and I got rather emotional. It honestly kind of surprised me, because I don’t easily get emotional — I mean — I do, but it takes me a bit to get to that point. I was just grateful to be able to carry the banner of the team.

So what was assumed to be “just another race” became a race I’ll remember for many reasons. It was an emotional run for me. And, a moment I hope that someone out there that can draw inspiration from to make a change in their own lives. Whether that is moving toward living a life of sobriety — or simply resolving to live life more fully.

The focus now turns to the Saltair Half this upcoming weekend. I don’t have a game plan yet. But, I’d like to get a sub-three time, especially since I won’t be racing the following week due to PrepperCon. But, all of that is secondary, because my focus is on the Salt Flats 50K at the end of the month.

And, I can’t wait.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


It’s hard to believe this was five years ago today. But, I share this picture every year on this date, because this is what LOVE looks like to me. This was right after my Mom’s double mastectomy and the moment my parents were reunited post surgery on what was their 38th wedding anniversary. What has struck me about this photo is the love in both their eyes. The concern and hope of my father and complete devotion of my mother. I can’t remember what was said, but words can’t convey the whole message being shared. There’s a lot to celebrate today. Not just for my Mom being five years cancer free, but 43 years of marriage for my parents. The decision they made over four decades ago set the tone for our family and the searches all us kids would make in finding a spouse. If I’ve learned anything from my parents’ relationship it’s that no matter what trial is in front of you, it’s tackled together in love, faith and devotion to each other. Which is symbolized so well in this picture.

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RACE #144: Riverton Half Marathon; April 8, 2017 (3:05:11) Did you know that on average 144 people lose their lives DAILY to opiate addiction? These are our brothers, sisters, parents, family, friends and neighbors. Utah is no exception to this opidemic. This week, Coach Blu challenged us Addict II Athlete athletes to show these 144 people the lives they’re missing not living a life of sobriety. He wants us flood social media with the hashtag #144 with the moments they’re missing out on in life. It was no coincidence that Coach would ask us this week, the week of my 144th race in my 180 goal. I’ve stopped believing in coincidences with Blu. So I made the decision to dedicate this run to the 144. I wanted to dedicate it to the family and friends I’ve lost to addiction. I wanted to dedicate it to my AIIA family. So I set out to run it in silence. Which I almost did. I muttered a few “thank yous” at aid stations and a couple hellos, but I just kept to myself with my heart and mind on the meaning of this run. The rain was persistent nearly throughout the whole race. I had soggy feet and cold hands. But, I didn’t care. My heart and mind took my attention elsewhere. It was a very emotional run for me. Especially as neared the finish line. I kept repeating in my head, “You are a Warrior! You have erased and replaced your addictions. Your mess is message.” All mottos of the AIIA team. After crossing the finish line and grabbing a few bananas, I just sat in my car for a while and kind of wept. It was a lot of emotion to process for me. I want this run — and my journey — to hopefully be a beacon for someone, anyone, to have the courage to take that first step toward a better life. That’s one reason why I share so much of my journey on my blog and social media. I know if I can do hard and difficult things like 50 milers and Marathons — others do hard and difficult things too. And, sometimes it takes someone else sharing their light to ignite that spark. If you struggle with addiction and you need help … REACH OUT! Life is too beautiful to let it pass by. #race144 #rivertonhalf #running @fight4phat @joshruns180 @josherwalla @addicttoathlete

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Kids are exhausting. Cute. But, exhausting.

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If you’re a model, would you put this in your portfolio?

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People sometimes worry about me being single and all. But, they needn’t worry about me … I get plenty of dates.

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Weekly Review

Last weekend at the tail end of my race down Emigration Canyon I rolled my ankle and sprained fairly good. Not fun at all. I did a couple slow runs mid-week to help straighten things out, but it was pretty sore the whole week. Not what I wanted or expected for my training.

And, I won’t lie, it’s been a frustrating month of ups and downs for my runs. If it’s not my ankle, it’s my back or this week — oral surgery. I’m having a root canal on Wednesday, so I am not sure what to expect from my running this week? I have a race on Saturday, but I’d like to get a run or two in before then.

Ugh. I just need to have patience that it’ll all work out. But, I’m getting a little anxious with my 50K coming up at the end of the month.

Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 4.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 21.32 miles
TOTAL MILES — 38.42 miles
Race(s) this week — Riverton Half.

April 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 4.0 miles
Race Miles — 26.2 miles
Walking Miles — 24.02 miles
TOTAL MILES — 54.22 miles
Races in April — Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Salt Flats 50K and Tulip Festival Half

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 185.75 miles
Race Miles — 122.32 miles
Walking Miles — 349.48 miles
TOTAL MILES — 657.55 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 and Riverton Half.



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Of Rest and Sickness …

I should have seen it coming. This always happens after I run long, long distances for many, many weekends. My body gives up and decides to rebel. It gets sick.

And, if you’re wondering. Yes, I am now sick.

No more than 2-3 days after running the Antelope Island 50K last weekend my body went into automatic sickness mode. It started around Election Night — and just got progressively worse. It fed itself into an anxiety attack, to a cold and then into something of a mixture of cold and … maybe the flu?

I’m not a doctor and WebMD was no help. So, basically, I am just a hot mess.

But, then again this happens to me every year. This happened last year after I ran the same race. Maybe I’m just allergic to buffalo? That’d be an easy culprit. But, really, it’s just my body telling me enough is enough. And, I am fine with that.

This cold/flu/buffalo allergy is no fun though. I was out of work on Friday and pretty much slept all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I’ve pretty much screwed up my whole sleeping pattern and I think I am now nocturnal? But, alas, I’m turning a corner and heading to work on Monday. Not, only because I’ve got a lot of work to catch up, but I want to share this fun with my co-workers.

Well, okay I kid … sorta.

But, no, I am really feeling much better. The large amount of sleep I’ve gotten the past few days has helped a lot and thanks to a cocktail of Zicam, Benadryl and Flintstone vitamins I’m 93.8% cured.

The nicest thing about this past week — besides the sleep — has been the fact I haven’t ran at all. And, quite honestly, I am fine with that. I kinda burnt myself out. And, how would not after running three marathons, two ultras and a few half marathons in the past two months? You’d think I’d be going everywhere in a jazzy.

And, I won’t lie — I looked into rentals.

But, I am welcoming this rest and I am in no rush to get back into a full running regime. I’m sure I’ll get a few more miles this month, but I am focusing on my strength training for a while. And, again, I’m fine with that.

Plus, I’m busy working as the volunteer coordinator for the Thankful 13 that Runtastic Events is organizing on Thanksgiving morning (the main reason why I’m not running it this year). It’s a big task. Fun and something I’ve done before. But, it’s taking most of my free time outside of my 8-5 job.

So, while we’re on that topic — if you’re available to volunteer on Wednesday or Thursday of next week we could sure use your help. We need help with set up, take down and race day support. You can sign up for shifts here.

I like this change of pace and it’ll be a fun challenge for me. And, one that doesn’t require me to run (just be on my feet on race day, but I can live with that). So, I’m excited to see what comes of it.

I’ll get my groove back eventually. But, rest is good. I’ve put my body through a lot the past couple of months and quite honestly, the past two weeks have been real tough on me. I probably shouldn’t have done the 50K last week with what my body was telling me after the 50 and Haunted Half, but I also knew I could push through it. Which I did quite awesomely.

But, for the time being I’m going to focus on runs so longer than 2-3 miles and then put more of my workout energy into my strength and weight training. I’m still taking my class after work at the U on Monday and Wednesday of each week and I am also planning on working out at my gym Ignite Fitness on Saturday mornings and at least once a week in the morning before work.

I feel like the gym is where I need to spend most of my time right now so that as I hit the trails more next year I’ll have a better stronger base and core to work off of. Plus, I want to cut some more weight off the body — about 20-30lbs. And, that’ll be a topic for another day. I stopped following my diet about three weeks ago going into my 50 — namely because I was a bit worried about fueling, etc.

Not that I haven’t completely gotten off the wagon, but I need to be better at eating on the wagon. If you get my drift. I gave myself a couple days off after my 50 and 50K — but, in my defense after my 50 miler that was something I was NOT expecting. I wasn’t craving anything for the first couple of days, but come Monday and Tuesday I wanted to eat everything — from tuna fish sandwiches to pretzels.

Anyways, I’m not planning on anything to dramatic right now. I’m back on my Isagenix shakes with a chicken salad for lunch and hardboiled eggs and a banana for snacks in between meals regime. But, I’ll blog all about that later. I just don’t want to go completely off the rail and completely undo what I did in the summer. And, Isagenix shakes are a good way to stop that, because I love the shakes a lot.

But, like I said … more on that later.

For now the focus is just the weight-room, letting my body relax and heal. I’ve got a few goals in mind that I want to hit coming up in the first part of the year and I’ll eventually figure out how to tackle those in the next couple of weeks.

But, that’s not my concern for now. Getting ready for the Thankful 13 is the bigger concern. And, getting past this cold/flu/bison allergy.


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A couple weeks ago Coach Blu, from Addict II Athlete, and I sat down to do a double recording of our podcasts. We sat down and recorded our experience running the Pony Express 50 on my podcast The Runcast … and then we recorded an episode of the AIIA Podcast with me sharing my story with Coach Blu.

It made for a long evening because both podcasts ran looooooong (Runcast — 90 minutes and AIIA — 70 minutes), but both episodes turned out awesome. I consider Coach Blu a dear friend and it’s been really quite a miracle how our paths have crossed in the past year.

But, sharing my story has been something I promised to myself — and God — when I made the decision to seek a new direction. That’s why I blog, that’s why I tend to OVER share my thoughts and feelings on struggles and successes in my life and that’s why I was more than willing to share my story with Coach Blu.

There is a lot to me that I don’t share about me here on the blog — and that’s not by design, but merely because of the audience. And, this episode of AIIA delves into my past and gives a background of where I’ve come from and had to work myself out of.

Nothing has come easy to me in life — and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve had to overcome a world that tried to label me, I had to overcome my own doubts and at times just get stubborn and do what I knew to be right.

I won’t give away a lot of my story, but I invite you to give it a listen. It hopefully gives you a window into the type of person that I am and why I do what I do. And, hopefully you’ll get a thing or two out of it that will help you along your own journey — wherever that may lead you.

Give it a listen here …

Listen to “Blu & Josher!” on Spreaker.


2667in2016

I won’t lie — it’s been kinda nice getting rest from lotso running. This week was mainly walking miles, but being sick I didn’t get much on the ‘ol pedometer Friday-Sunday. And, I’m fine with that.

The goal this upcoming week is get more walking miles and then a couple 2-3 mile runs on top of my weight training. No races this weekend or for the rest of the month — which is nice. I’ll get back into the swing of things sooner than later.

RUNNING MILES

253.55 miles

RACE MILES

400.05 miles

WALKING MILES

1299.73 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

1953.33 miles


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RACE #134: Pony Express 50 Mile Trail Run

Going into my race on Friday I had a hard time expressing my thoughts and feelings about what I was about to accomplishment. Mainly because I was just so eager to experience what was ahead of me. But, now I’m here. The 50 miler is behind me and I’ve been processing the experience the past few days.

I’m not sure if the word ‘experience’ is the right word — experiences — is more appropriate. There were so many ups and downs from mile to mile that it felt like a lifetime of lessons I learned out there on the trail. It’s hard to put all of that in words, especially when it felt like my circumstances and mentality could change every quarter of a mile.

But, I did it! I did it! I did it! I did it!

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Going into the race I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I wanted to set a few ground rules for me to follow throughout the race to make I gave myself the best chance of success. I wanted to make them as concrete as possible, but I also knew they needed to be fluid enough to change as needed — because this was something I’ve never done before.

My rules were simple —

1) Keep moving forward.
2) Don’t sit down at aid stations.
3) Don’t spend more than 2-5 minutes at aid stations.
4) Eat and hydrate every 2-3 miles.
5) Don’t be shy asking for help.
6) Don’t poop my pants.
7) Don’t give up.

Simple rules really — and as #6 might seem like a joke … it’s really not. I was one of my biggest worries, because unlike your typical marathon the only port-a-potties on the course were at the starting and finish line. Everything in between was pretty much up to you. And, that scared me.

But, really the focus was just moving forward and getting where I wanted/needed to go … the finish line. I really didn’t want to sit down at the aid stations, but that ended up changing in the later miles. But, luckily my crew car was my aid station and that helped ease a lot of angst for me. I wouldn’t have to lug a pack with me and I could just focus on running. It really helped a lot and one of the reasons why I chose this race as my first 50.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Anyways — I had a great crew and support team. Tim from the Addict II Athlete team was my support vehicle. He volunteered his car as my ‘meals on wheels’ for the entire race. And, then somewhere around noon-1pm Jill was going to show up and help pace me to the finish. And, then Coach Blu said other AIIA team members were planning on coming later to pace team members into the finish.

We got into a good rhythm early into the race. After crashing at Coach’s place the night before we headed out from Orem to the West Desert for a 5am start time. Coach and I ran together about the first three miles together. Coach Blu is such a great guy and such an easy conversationalist — the miles really flew by.

We parted so he could catch up with some other team members and I had to use the restroom. Which was an adventure and a half for me. I had tried to use the restroom at the starting line KNOWING there wouldn’t be anywhere along the course to go. Nothing. Which is typical of me.

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And, as typical as it is for other runners — I had to go — after running 3-4 miles on a bumpy dirt road. Sooooo — in a desert with nary a tree or shrub I walked out as far away from the roadside as I could to dig a hole. I felt so awkward — I felt like such a cityslicker — but, luckily it was still dark enough that I don’t think anyone could see me since I turned my headlamp off.  Anyways, I did my thing, covered it like a cat and moved along hoping that if anyone did see me they be faster than me.

But, I kept a good slow steady pace in the first 12-15 miles — which was all by design. I didn’t want to burn out too quickly, because I knew I’d need gas in the tank for the last 10-15 miles. So after Coach moved ahead I played leap frog with a few other 50 milers and an increasing number of 100 milers — I even ran into Wan who was running the 100 miler. And, of course hugs were included at that reunion.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to be in the mood for music, but I brought some just in case. I wanted to make a custom playlist on Spotify, but I just ran out of time. So I downloaded a mood playlist I found called simply, “Have a Good Day!” — seemed like a good idea since that was kind of my goal, right?

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And, starting at mile nine, I plugged in the earphone and jammed out. It wasn’t a bad playlist. Lots of Beach Boys, Beatles, 80s music and really good UPBEAT songs — most of them were oldies, but there were a couple of John Mayer and Maroon 5 songs on there that just didn’t jive well with me and were quickly fast forwarded.

I kept the music going and just cranked out the miles. I mall walked the hills, ran the downhill and jogged the flat with intermediate mall walking in between. Then every three miles I’d hit Tim and my aid station. It was a good rhythm I had going. I had this going for about the first 27-30 miles.

But, around Mile 28 I found myself in a pain cave that was hard for me to get out of. I was still a couple miles from Tim’s car and Jill wasn’t there yet, so I knew I just had to find a way to get through those two miles. I tried speeding up and I tried slowing down, but none of that had really helped. So I just moved forward as best I could.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Then I had remembered that I had grabbed a rock somewhere around mile 2-3 and slipped it in my pocket (mainly as a souvenir). I grabbed the rock and tightly held it in my hand and then just focused all my energy into the rock. I visually gave that rock my pain. And, you know what? It worked!

After wandering in the desert herself, Jill found me — literally with my pants down. I stepped aside from the trail to “water the plants” and of course she came up right behind that. It’s my impeccable timing. But, this wasn’t the first time that’s happened either. Anyways — like I learned early on in ultrarunning — there’s no modesty in ultrarunning. None.

But, Jill came at the perfect time to get me over Lookout Pass. That stretch was tough — not just the climbing part up to the pass, but all those flat unglamorous terrain before all of that. Having her to chat with saved my sanity. Plus, I was grateful it was Jill, because it was yet another trademark epic adventure of ours.

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Once we got to the pass and back to her car, she decided to drive to the finish line and then carpool back with Mark. I hated being alone again for about 3-4 more miles, but I knew I could do it. Plus, the other AIIA support vehicle was right ahead of me so I wasn’t THAT alone.

So I just trudged along.

Luckily, after the climb came a lot of good downhill, so I just kind of let gravity take me as fast as it wanted. I got myself into a nice rhythm and I felt really good, especially considering that I was around mile 40 and less than 10 miles from finishing. Looking back to that moment I laugh, because within five miles that all changed — quite dramatically.

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Around mile 43 the sun started setting and darkness came quite quickly. The moon wouldn’t raise until well past midnight and I didn’t grab my headlamp at the last break so I had to rely on my Rhino-sharp eyesight. My body was starting to just breakdown — physically, emotionally, spiritually and everything inbetween. And, I could tell I was not going in a good place.

I just wanted to be done. Since my goal was to finish I didn’t wear a Garmin or watch on me. I just relied on mile updates from Tim, Jill or strangers. I never asked other runners, but I’d ask their support vehicles. I’m not sure how good of an idea this was for me to do? Mentally it felt like I’d ask for updates every two hours, but then when I’d get a reply I would have just moved a mere half mile.

Mile 42.5
Mile 43.0
Mile 43.5
Mile 44.0
Mile 44.5

It was brutal.

I just wanted to be done. I was hurting everywhere. My feet were plotting to kill me. The thought of peanut butter made me nauseous. Heck, the thought of anything on my stomach made nauseous. I was just going downhill fast.

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I tried walking with a couple ladies who I had yo-yo’d a bit, but that didn’t have the same effect that Jill’s presence had for me earlier. I wanted to be alone. But, I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted to die. I just wasn’t in a good place at all.

At Mile 45.0 when I got to the car, I sat on the trunk and I tried to drink some water, eat some applesauce while I avoided a whiff of peanut butter or potatoes. I just sat there in silence. Jill was in the car, but she sat in silence as she was battling a migraine (that’s another story) herself. So I just on the bumper in pain, nauseous and discouragement, because I just wanted to be done.

I. Just. Wanted. To. Be. Done.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

The pain in my feet felt like needles and I thought if I changed my shoes that’d help not just the feet, but somehow my mental state of mind. It didn’t really. I knew my five minutes were up at the car, so I slowly got up on my feet and just tried to stagger forward. Each step hurt. And, as I told Jill to go forward another mile and a half — tears just kind of flowed down my cheeks.

As she pulled away the tears came streaming and my pouting turned into an ugly cry. I was once alone out there on the trail with no one in sight ahead or behind me. The tears came with every throbbing step. I couldn’t do this anymore. I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted this pain gone. I wanted to be at the finish line.

With tears in my eyes I gave the simplest and frankest prayers in my life. I said, “Heavenly Father, I can’t do this anymore. Please send someone to be with me. I can’t do this alone. I can’t do this alone.”

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After uttering my feeble prayer I kept weeping as a rush of comfort rushed through me. And, the thought immediately came to me — “you’re not out here alone, someone is on their way!” I took comfort and faith in that feeling and just focused on each step forward.

Those tears of pain started turning into tears of appreciation as I reminded myself that I CHOSE THIS! I chose to go through this moment. I didn’t HAVE to do this, but I CHOSE it. I thought all of my Dad and his battle with gout and knee replacements who battles pains much worse than this temporary pain of mine.

I thought of my dear mother and friends Meridith and Amy who have battled cancer over the past few years. They didn’t chose to go through that. And, battled through much more than this moment of mine. Surely, if they didn’t give up, I sure as hell couldn’t now.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Those tears of appreciation taught me a lesson of my Savior’s love. His infinite sacrifice was by choice. He had the power to stop … but, he didn’t. He pushed through much more pain than I was experiencing at that moment. How could I give up now, especially knowing that I had an empathetic partner who’s felt all that I have felt and more?

I know what I just shared is very personal to me, but I can’t tell the whole story of this race without including it. Even writing my recountment of this moment brings me to tears. The Savior’s atonement is real. I’ve felt it. I know it. And, in a world where there are bigger problems out there — He was aware of me and comforted me when I needed Him the most.

But, wait … that wasn’t even the total fulfillment of my prayer. No longer than a half mile later my friend Jed rolls up and asks, “you need a pacer!” And, of course this just brought more tears to my eyes and I exclaimed, “Dude, you’re the answer to my prayer — you’re my angel!”

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I wasn’t expecting Jed to be there, mainly because Coach said he was planning on going elk hunting instead. But, apparently, he bagged an elk the day before and managed to get out the West Desert around 9pm — just when he was needed the most. I’ve been around too long to not believe in coincidences. And, as much as Jed probably wouldn’t want to hear, he was definitely my angel.

With a renewed focus the last 4-5 miles went so much more smoother than the prospected view a mere half hour and half mile prior. Jed kept me amply distracted and focused and because of that I was in a much, much better place.

There was a 3/4 mile out and back stretch once you passed the finish area before you were REALLY finished. And, once I passed the finishing area my determination to just be done was stronger. Tim joined Jed and I for the out and back — and once I got my sticker and headed back to the finish line, I sprinted to that finish line.

A photo posted by Joshua Hansen (@fight4phat) on

Okay, I lied, I mall walked like my Grandma at Hobby Lobby on Black Friday — but, it sure felt like a sprint. I was just determined to get where I wanted to be the most at that moment — the finish line. As I approached closer and closer my mind ran through dozens of emotions again — mainly where this journey has taken me and all those who have been a part of that.

I may have cried a bit. But, thankfully, for the benefit of Facebook pictures it wasn’t my Mile 45 ugly cry. I am pretty sure I used up my year’s quota of tears. But, my mind couldn’t help but think of all those triumphs, defeats, friendships and accomplishments that lead me to that moment. And, to be IN that moment at the time made it even more powerful for me.

I crossed that finish line in 17 hours and 48 minutes. It definitely wasn’t a landspeed record, but I didn’t care. That was never the point of this goal. The goal was to cross that finish line. Which I did.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

As I crossed Jill was immediately taking care of me. She got me food galore and made sure I hydrated properly. She did such a great job the volunteers remarked how wonderful it was to see a wife take such good care of her husband. We didn’t bother to correct her.

But, I downed some of the best portobello mushrooms I’ve ever had. And, I’m pretty sure the chicken sandwich I ate could have given Chick-Fil-A a run for its’ money. I was just grateful my appetite was back. Well, I say that conditionally, because I don’t think I’ll be eating peanut butter for a solid 2-3 years. Seriously, that’s no joke.

The ride home took us a solid four hours — and somehow I managed to stay awake the whole time?!?!! I remember having conversations with Jill, but I am pretty sure I didn’t make any sense. She gave me the same reaction she gives when her daughter says something that doesn’t make sense, but she doesn’t want to point out that it really sounded idiotic. I probably should have just passed out?

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

I stayed at Jill’s place and after a painful post race shower at 4am, I managed to get about three hours of sleep before leaving for Salt Lake to help at The Haunted Half. I was so worried about falling asleep and not waking up until 4pm later that day, but that never happened. And, quite honestly this past weekend I never truly “crashed” … I’ve just taken a lot of cat naps.

I think my ultra turned me into a cat?

Volunteering at The Haunted Half and keeping my legs moving really helped keep them fresh and from seizing on Saturday. They’re still a little sore, but stairs haven’t been as “BAD” as I imagined they’d be. I know that will all change when I take my first post-race run/jog/walk/jaunt. I am sweeping the Provo Haunted Half on Saturday so I should get at least a two miler in sometime this week to just get things going.

A photo posted by Joshua Hansen (@fight4phat) on

Anyways — enough of that. Now is the time to just enjoy the moment, relish in the accomplishment and take pause to ponder on the journey. I accomplished everything I set out to accomplish. Everything from finishing to not pooping my pants during the race.

But, more than that I experienced this race. I experienced some very highs and some very lows and everything in between. That’s what I was looking forward to more than anything in this journey. I wanted to just EXPERIENCE it.

And, I did.

Now, I’ve been asked if I’d do it again. And, up to the race — I said that I’d never say never. Post-race — I want to say “HELL NO!,” but again I can never say never. But, if you really want to know if I’ll ever do this distance again — ask me about 2-3 months. It’s such a big accomplishment with lots, lots and lots of work to be done before even daring to toe up on the starting line.

But, it can be done.

Anyone can do this. I firmly believe that. Why?

Because I did it.

I did it.

I did it.

I did it!


135 - haunted half provo

As mentioned above, I am sweeping the Haunted Half course. All by design of course. There was NO way I was going to pace a 2:45 a week after running 50 miles. I have swept four Haunted Half races to date and I love it because it’s ALWAYS a party in the back. Plus, I’ve met some amazing people running this race so it has a special place in my heart.

It’ll be a party once again. My friend JessicaSue (who I paced last year at the Salt Lake Haunted Half) and her husband will be there, along with Jill and possibly my sister. I am trying to talk her into it. But, we’ll see if she comes. She’s always wanted to run down Provo Canyon. Either way — it will be a party and a half.

The Haunted Half is one of my favorite races. They always do a good job with their races — plus I love this year’s medals! I am thinking of signing up for the virtual race so I can also get the sugar skull medal. I love that thing!

Anyways — just a few races left for the year. I am still debating on running the Bakers Dozen Half Marathon in December, but we’ll see — should be 3-4 more races on the docket before the turn of the calendar.


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I love this week’s Addict II Athlete Podcast — not just because it is one of my favorite podcasts, but because of who Coach Blu interviewed. I’ve gotten to know Tim over the past several months and really well this past Friday when he crewed my 50. He is one of the kindness and most sincere people you will ever meet.

I mean — this guy gave up HALF of his Arby’s sandwich to me on Friday! He didn’t have to and tried explaining that to him, but he was having none of that. He insisted on it, and he knew I needed it — which I did. But, I know he would do the same thing to anyone. That’s just the type of guy he is.

That’s why I love his story so much. This is one of my favorite episodes of AIIA to date and I know it will be yours’ too. Give it a listen …


I always love running into @u2elshanator! She’s a champion of champions! #thehauntedhalf

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

“So I told her … LADY, THREE HOURS HERE SHOULD EQUATE TO MORE THAN ONE FRUIT SNACK!” #theLDSlife

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Wowzers! I’m loving this red hot #sunset! #utahsunset

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on


2667in2016

RUNNING MILES

250.55 miles

RACE MILES

355.88 miles

WALKING MILES

1224.97 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

1831.4 miles


A photo posted by The Runcast (@theruncast) on

InstaReplay: Pony Express 50 Trail Run

It’s hard to put all of what I went through on Friday into perspective. Mainly because there was a lot that I experienced. Both of the highest of highest and the lowest of lows. It really was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done.

I am working on a more complete race report that I will post either Tuesday or Wednesday. I am taking a little bit more time on it, because it’s turned a bit more into a book than a race report. So there just seems like so much I want to cover.

Anyways, here are a few pictures I took a long the way …

Last minute stop go essentials. #ponyexpress50 #race134 #ultrarunning @joshruns180 @fight4phat

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Look who I found out on the course! #ponyexpress50 #race134 #ultrarunning @joshruns180 @fight4phat

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Private dance session, mile 30(ish). #ponyexpress50 #race134 #ultrarunning @joshruns180 @fight4phat

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I wish I could adequately describe to you this moment. This was Mile 45. I was spent — physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and everything in between. My feet were excruciating sore. Every step was like walking on pins and needles. Even when I sat down on the back bumper of the car to refuel and rest for a moment that pain stayed with me. But, here, was one of the lowest of lows I've experienced not just out on the trail, but life. I'll explain more on my blog, but I was done. I was done. I was DONE. This was taken as I decided to switch shoes to see if that would help. It didn't. But, I knew I just had to keep moving forward as painful as it might have been for me. I took two steps forward after standing up and I just started bawling. And, in that moment of despair I muttered one of the most basic and heartfelt prayers of my life. I told God I couldn't do this alone and I needed someone to be with me. I needed this pain to go away or for me to be distracted enough it wasn't my focus. I got an overwhelming rush of peace that assured me I was not running alone and that someone was on their way. It was no more than half a mile that my friend Jed hopped out of a car and asked if I needed a pacer. I almost wanted to breakdown there again because he was an answer to my prayer. He was my angel. Jed stayed with me until the end, and I couldn't have done it without him. He was my answered prayer. I'll always be grateful for this moment because it taught me so much about suffering, pain, prayer, faith and friends. #ponyexpress50 #race134 #ultrarunning @joshruns180 @fight4phat

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I PONY'D UP! Officially done. Well, I was done before I was done. But, that's what made being done done that much more special because I pushed myself past being done. Follow me? After months of training, weeks of marathoning and doing things I never imagined I'd be doing 5-6 years ago … I officially ran my first 50 miler! Is this a one and done thing for me? I can't say no, but right now it's a no. But, ask me again in a few months. I learned a lot about myself out there on the trail. I always knew I could do hard things, but I feel like I expand that limitation tenfold during the race. I learned how to process and deal with suffering. I learned that attitude can affect all of that and it's all by choice not circumstance. I learned so many life lessons out there that I've written down to share later on my blog. But, I'm done! I'm done! I'M DONE! #ponyexpress50 #race134 #ultrarunning @joshruns180 @fight4phat

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I DID IT! I DID IT! I DID IT! I'm still processing all of what I just did and most of that will come in a more detailed race report on my blog later on. But, that was one of the toughest, inspiring and most rewarding things I've ever done. The course was full of ups and downs both physically, emotionally and spiritually. If it wasn't for Tim Sedgley crewing me every 2-3 miles I would have been a deadman. And, the miles spent with dear friends Coach Blu, Jed and Jill were nothing short of divine. Gratitude for their part in this cannot be sufficiently communicated in words. They were my angels. I will cherish every moment of this race. I had some beautiful highs and some lowest of lows. And, I relished in that, because I constantly reminded myself that I CHOSE THIS! I could have done anything else with my day, but I chose to experience EVERYTHING I had ahead of me. And, I have a deeper appreciation for many things in my life because I CHOSE TO DO THIS! I am exhausted physically, mentally and spiritually, but I'm smiling. I'm proud of myself … I'm proud of my effort, I'm proud my resolve and I'm proud of every single footstep taken by everyone out there that chose to do this. I have so much more to say in much more detail. Watch for my race report. But, I did it! I DID IT! I DID IT! I DID IT! #race134 #ponyexpress50 #ultrarunning @josherwalla @joshruns180

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RACE #133: Red Rock Relay Park City

Man, I am winding down towards my 50 — which is happening NEXT week. It’s hard to believe I am almost there, especially after running three marathons in the past month. I just want to run that 50 and get it done with.

This past weekend as part of my “tapering” miles, I ran the Red Rock Relay with Team Addict II Athlete. This was a race I’ve been looking forward to for most of the summer. Ever since I’ve joined the team back in May it’s helped change my mentality just in my running, but life. A lot of their principles are what I’ve held true in my journey — and without going into a lot of that here, I will be sharing my story on the AIIA Podcast in the next couple of months.

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This was the first time running the Red Rock Relay. Most of my relays have been Ragnar with one being the Rivalry Relay some 5 years ago or so. I love relays for many reasons — but, more than anything it’s a great way to just meet people. Something I absolutely love to do — I guess you could say after running my second favorite hobby is meeting people.

There’s something about being cramped in a car with 5-6 other runners and running anywhere from 50 to 100 miles — all day and sometimes all night. You really get to know people in this setting. It’s like scout camp for grownups.

But, I was really impressed with the Red Rock Relay. Very well organized, not too overcrowded, very well marked (I have a fear of getting lost in any race I run — even if I have over 130 under my belt … call me irrational) and gorgeous setting. The Heber Valley setting is just gorgeous. It’s such a shame that so many of us Salt Lake and Utah Valleyers take for granted what is literally in our backyard. It’s just beautiful.

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For those who have ran the Ragnar Wasatch Back would be familiar with a good portion of the race. The RRR course loops around the Valley from the Homestead in Heber City and back via Park City. This includes the infamous climbs and descents of Deer Valley and Guardsman Pass.

As you will see below, my legs were in Heber City and then that infamous Guardsman Pass descent. Normally running down Guardsman Pass I would worried because of how brutal it can be on your legs (especially quads), but I’ve ran parts that leg during Ragnar the past two years (and three years ago I ran UP it when the course went the other way). So, I am very familiar with the hill — and I actually really kind of love it.

But, I had a blast during the day. I got to know a few of the team members better. I share a little bit of that below in my leg reports. But, I am truly, truly grateful for what AIIA means to me and has changed my approach to my goals and running this past year.

Here are my leg reports …

Leg 3 of 12 (Heber City to Heber Valley Girls Camp)

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I love hills, but I hate them. But, I swear I love them. Okay, hills give me a mix of emotions. But, really, in the long run — I do them, because I love the sense of conquering them. No matter what the elevation gain may be.

This leg was no different and as you can see from the elevation chart — it was pretty much a gradual up hill climb. I knew what to expect and after running three marathons in the past month — I knew I’d be fine. Especially since I survived Veyo Hill last weekend.

The one thing that was difficult for me though was the temperature. I didn’t want to take off my hoodie or beanie cap. It was cold. Not only were we up in the mountains, but it was the middle of October — summer is basically dead. So I decided to at least start the run off in my hoodie and beanie cap thinking I’d ditch them a couple miles into the run.

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Well, I ditched the hoodie about three miles into the run, but my beanie stayed with me — pretty much the whole day. Luckily I wasn’t overly sweaty, but by the end of the day that beanie smelt like death. But, it sure kept me warm.

Anyways — the leg wasn’t that bad as I weaved through Heber City and towards the exchange which is close to a girls camp. The home stretch is basically that — a looooooong stretch of road. And, where most of the climbing happened. It wasn’t THAT bad, because I just zoned out, pressed on and rocked out to my music. It was perfect.

I did almost lose my cookies about a mile and half from the exchange when I ran past a dead deer. It wasn’t the sight of the dead deer that did it, it was the smell of dead deer that made me want to upheave that morning’s banana.. Luckily, none of that happened. But, still … yuck.

About a half mile out I was joined by Jed who ran me into the exchange. I was grateful to be finished. I grabbed a water and a bag of grapes and just chowed down. It was a perfect snack/refuel.

Leg 12 of 12 (Guardsman Pass to Homestead Resort)

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Originally, I was going to run Leg 9, but seeing that it had a lot of climbs and knowing we would be pressed for time I asked Coach Blu if we could trade. Mainly, because I know I’d do better with downhill. He gladly agree. Which I am grateful for considering I am afraid my request nearly killed him.

Well, I exaggerate … slightly.

Leg 9 was a brutal trail leg of cardiac ups and downs. It took Coach about an hour and 45 minutes to run the 7+ mile trail. No joke it would probably have taken me much, much longer than that and I would have gotten lost and/or eaten by a bear.

Again, I exaggerate … slightly.

And, needless to say I owe Coach BIG TIME! I told him I would make it up to him at the Pony 50 next week. How I am going to make that, I am not sure yet? I just know I owe him.

When I made the request to switch I just saw the downhill course, I didn’t know it was Guardsman Pass down to Homestead — which for those who have ran Ragnar, know it as Ragnar Hill. The beast of all beasts. I ran part of this leg the past two years and three years ago — ran UP it. I much prefer the down hill way of tackling it.

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But, you have to tackle the hill the right way or it will eat up your legs. The trick is to not simply run down the hill, you have to kinda waddle or zig zag like you’re being chased by a bear.

As much as it can easily eat your quads, I really love the run. The view is second to none — well, okay, I say this about a lot of the places I run, but it’s true. I love running through the thicket of aspen trees, catching awe inspiring views of Heber Valley and just putting my speed into cruise control. As much as people love running UP this hill, I like going DOWN the hill.

Since I was the last runner I started this portion around 6-6:30pm or so — I wasn’t looking at my watch. But, right around the setting sun. I really wish my camera could have caught the light shining on the orange, yellow and red leaves — but, every picture I tried to snap of them just didn’t give it justice. I just ran trying to remember the view with my heart (okay, that sounds really sappy, but it’s true).

About half way through my run I was joined by Jed and then a few miles later by Ryan. I was thankful for their company. This is one thing I’ve really grown to love about the AIIA team — nobody runs alone. I love this concept and belief. It’s really one of those binding qualities that keeps the team close.

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Jed was the one who ran me in during the Provo City Half in May and I can’t even tell you how many other team members he’s ran with and helped to the finish line. Jed has one of the biggest hearts I know. After running with him and hearing more of his story it’s easy to see. He’s been in a lot of dark places in his life — but, he’s replaced that with light (listen to his story on the AIIA Podcast). Especially with being a light to others.

I have mad respect for Jed.

Spending the last couple miles with both Jed and Ryan was sublime and easily one of my favorite running memories to date. It’s hard for me to put into words how grateful I am for this team. I don’t believe I stumbled upon this team by chance. And, I’ll write more about this later, because there’s a lot I want to write, but feel constrained to do it here — I’ll also be a guest on the AIIA Podcast in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for that.

Anyways, we finished around 8pm or so at the Homestead with the rest of the team. We may have been the last team, but that didn’t matter. What mattered is that we finished what we started … as a team. It may have taken us all day, but we did it.

And, for that we’re all champions.


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I haven’t posted the past couple of Addict II Athlete podcasts here and there’s a reason why … I wanted to post both parts of Coach Blu’s story. These two episodes are simply amazing. Coach Blu is amazing. And, whether or not you have struggled with addiction there is a lot you can take away from Coach Blu’s story.

I am not going to give any of it away — just listen …

Listen to “Coach Blu’s Story” on Spreaker.

Listen to “Coach Blu Story Part 2!” on Spreaker.


NEXT RACE

134 - pony express trail 50

I can’t believe that this is NEXT WEEK! I’ve got a lot of emotions going through my head, but honestly — most of it is just excitement. I don’t have a lot of fear or anxiety — yet. I’m sure that will come sometime this weekend or next week, or maybe somewhere around mile 1, 2, 25 or 40? I don’t know? I’m just ready to do it.

I’ll be posting a bit more about it this week and next. Mainly some of my thoughts and feelings about tackling this beast. So stay tuned for that. But, this week it’s just running a few three milers, doing a few circuits and then the Frightmares 5K on Saturday with my niece. Nothing too strenuous. My body is a little sore from all the running the past month so I need to let me mend enough to be ready for next Friday.

But, I am winding down for the year and I am glad. I’m feeling a bit burnt out lately — which thankfully — isn’t new for ultramarathoners. And, I think that’s why I am just so eager to run it. I just want to get it over with and under my belt. I have no doubt I’ll get there.

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Very humbled to have joined “Team Addict II Athlete” for this relay. I couldn’t have asked for a more encouraging, uplifting and motivating team to run with. Whether it shouting words of encouragement as I ran or getting out to run with me during my last leg — I was touched. I’ll be sharing my story on the AIIA Podcast in the next couple of weeks. Addiction and recovery come in many different forms and I’ve had my struggles and test of faith. Needless to say, no one goes about it alone on the team and NOBODY runs alone! I felt lucky to spend those 15 miles out there around Heber Valley with the team! #redrockrelay #race133 #running #messintoamessage #eraseandreplace @redrockrelay @addicttoathlete @joshruns180 @josherwalla

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This kid doesn’t have to do much to capture your heart. #chubbingtatum

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2667in2016

RUNNING MILES

235.5 miles

RACE MILES

302.78 miles

WALKING MILES

1180.97 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

1719.25 miles

MILES TO GOAL

947.75 miles



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