Tag: bountiful

RACE #156: Elephant Rock Trail Half Marathon

To say that I had no idea what I was getting myself into with this race would be an understatement. A serious understatement. And, that statement can’t be understated either.

But, basically, now as I write my race recap — everything hurts and I am dying.

What was planned as simply a fun and challenging trail half marathon turned out to be the TOUGHEST race I’ve ever done. And, considering I’ve done over 150 races — that’s saying a lot. It was that brutal. But, more on that later.

I signed up for this race because it’s literally in my backyard. Mueller Park is just a couple of miles from my front door. It’s a canyon I’ve visited numerous of times, but rarely hiked. Most trips were for campfires, campouts or mile hikes.

Even after I started running I never ventured over to Mueller Park. The biggest reason because I never wanted to venture out there alone. Not just because of the unfamiliarity with the area, but also because of my fear of mountain lions, bears and deer. At least two of those fears are legit. Anyways, I’ve just stuck to the local roads when I run close to home.

Wanting to expand my running routes I figured the Elephant Rock Trail Run would be a great way to familiarize myself with the trails and ease some of those worries I had. Sure there’s always the possibility of running into mountain lions, bears and deer — but those fears really become secondary when you know where you’re going and the distances in between.

In addition to familiarizing myself with the trails, I wanted to run to and from the race to give me a good 20 miles of running for the day. With my ankle injury I haven’t been able to get the kind of training I wanted and knowing I have a number of marathons coming up in the fall, I knew I needed a good 20 miler to prep myself for them.

But, honestly, if I knew what kind of race I was getting myself into, I would have driven myself to the race. I don’t regret it though, because Saturday’s 20 miles were some of the toughest miles I’ve ever run. Miles that left me more tired and sore than most of the ultras I’ve done.

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I set out from my house at 4:50am to make sure I had enough time to get my race packet and shirt before the 6am start time. After trekking from the packet pickup at the church I moseyed over to the park entrance where all 85 of us runners congregated. It was fun to see so familiar faces and meet the faces behind the names on Facebook. I always love start lines.

I don’t think of us realized what we were getting ourselves into, especially since this was the inaugural run. There weren’t other runners to gauge their experience with, so we were going in blind. Which sometimes isn’t the worst way to go into a race. But, I felt completely blindsided by it all.

The start times were staggered about every 15 miles. The marathoners went out at 6am, the half marathoners 6:15 and the 7 milers 6:30am. With 85 runners you’d think that wouldn’t be necessary, but I am glad they did it that way, because as soon as the marathoners and half marathons split with the 7 milers to run up the pipeline trail that trail would have been a bit too crowded.

Once I hit the pipeline I thought I was the last runner. The half marathoners ahead of me were mountain goats and gained quite a distance ahead of me. I wasn’t surprised by this, it’s almost expected that I will be last. But, it’s something that never bugs me. If it did then odds are I just wouldn’t sign up for the race.

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But, as I was dying and not quite half way up the beast I see a runner approaching me from behind. They were gaining quite a bit of ground on me. You could tell this wasn’t a struggle for them.

As they got closer I noticed it was my friend Lula. An experienced trail runner it shouldn’t have surprised me much that the climb was easy for her. But, what made me laugh and silently curse her — was she was doing this technical climb while TALKING ON THE PHONE! Here I am enduring to the end like a pioneer ready to die from dysentery and she moseys up the hill like she’s taking an escalator at the mall.

But, that hill was no joke! It was a quarter mile hike with a 800 foot elevation gain. It was brutal. As soon as I summited the blasted thing I just sat at top, said a little prayer of gratitude that I survived it and ate one of my Larabars as I enjoyed the view. I tried to capture it on my phone, but you just can’t capture those moments — they just have to be experienced.

The ascent was brutal, but the descent on the other side was a beast of its’ own. Luckily it wasn’t as steep, but the terrain was steep and extremely rocky. The technicality of the descent was exhausting not just physically, but mentally as well. I focused on my next step so I didn’t roll my ankle or biff it — it was extreme. There were some stretches where I just sat on my butt and scooted down the trail.

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Once I finally got past rocky trail and headed toward the first aid station I was spent. I parked myself on the dusty trail, ate some watermelon and Gatorade and composed myself for the next stretch of trails. I felt like I was about 7-8 miles into the beast, but I was just 3.5 miles into the race.

That was a depressing reality.

But, also an indication of how tough that stretch of trail was for not just me, but everyone.

I felt bad for the marathons because they had to tackle that same terrain twice since their course was an out and back. I couldn’t imagine climbing up those rocky trails and then down that stupid steep hill. I would have died.

With the toughest stretch of course out of the way the climbing wasn’t over. We still had about 3-4 miles of climbing to the Rudy’s Flats aid station where we’d finally make a reasonable descent toward the finish line. I power hiked most of those miles and it was tough. I had to stop and stretch because my quads were just screaming.

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I started being passed by marathoners and it just amazed me at how these runners were almost seamlessly crushing the terrain. Granted most probably train exclusively on trails, but still — these were mountain goats and I was jealous. Being the last runner in the bunch made me feel like nothing but bear bait. But, I don’t focus on that, I know if I dedicate more miles on the trails I’ll be there too. I think more than anything I was just amazed at the strength of those runners.

Simply amazing.

Anyways, once I hit the Rudy’s Flats aid station I reloaded my water, chilled for a bit and left with a bag of bananas and PB&J sandwich squares. I was severely under prepared food wise. I had my bugout pack with my Larabars, applesauce and Gatorade, but that simply wasn’t enough. I was packed for a 3-4 hour race … not 5-6.

Once I left the Rudy’s Flats aid station I was literally all down hill from there. I was 4:30 hours into the race and I just wanted to be done. So the downhill was a reprieve and I was able to pickup the pace. It was a whole different race.

Not far from the aid station I ran into Angie who was on her return trip to the finish line. She was struggling and had fallen, but like the badass that she is — was still going. We stopped for a picture and acknowledged how this course was kicking our trash before moving on.

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I really loved the last part of the race. I just focused on the run and it was infinitely faster. The last couple of miles were tough, but it was more because of the heat.

The trails are covered fairly well, but there were spots where I was just dead. But, I just wanted to be done. I was thirsty and running low on water. I had some Gatorade in my pack — which I SHOULD have gotten out — but, the effort just didn’t seem worth it. I was striving for that finish line.

When I finally reached the finish line I was greeted by Wanderely with a big hug and I just collapse in a camping chair. I didn’t want to move. I just sat and drank water and Powerade while munching on watermelon. The desire to move much was stifled by cramps and fatigue.

I’ve never felt this wrecked after a race. My 50 miler was probably on par, but after a half? Never.

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There was a breakfast provided at a nearby campground, but I waited at the finish line to see in Angie — who was the last runner on the course. I sat at the finish line and just visited with friends, it was the best way to recover because I knew I still had about a 3.5 mile run home. That’s a fancy way of saying I was procrastinating my run home.

After waiting for a couple hours of Angie we got to the breakfast that had been sitting there since about 7am — it was 4pm. But, at that point I don’t think of any of us questioned whether eating 9 hour old sausage and scrambled eggs were a bad idea or not — we were just hungry. And, it was freaking delicious.

I made it on my home around 4:45pm and in the heat of a day. It was about 90 degrees and I was dead. I was half tempted to grab a ride when Wanderely drove past, I grinded out those 3.5 miles and made it home in one piece.

I was completely finished.

Those 20 miles were seriously some of the toughest miles I’ve done. But, I’m so proud of myself. I did it.

Will I be back next year? Yes. I’ve already made that decision. Will I go for the marathon? No. There’s no way I’m that crazy.

Will I go for the half marathon? Probably? Yesterday it was a hard no. But, after sitting on it for a couple of days I want to tackle that hill again. I need to enact some redemption on that beast. But, then on the other hand the 7 mile run sounds like a better option. But, we’ll see … give me a couple of months. I loved this challenging course and the fact that it’s in my backyard.

Here’s to the trails!


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 13.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 21.24 miles
TOTAL MILES — 47.34 miles
Races This Week — Elephant Rock Trail Half.

August 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 26.5 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 36.9 miles
TOTAL MILES — 63.0 miles
Races in August — (3) Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half and Nebo Half 

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 337.55 miles
Race Miles — 295.52 miles
Walking Miles — 817.05 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1450.12 miles
Races done in 2017 — (20) New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon, Drop13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah, AF Canyon Race Against Cancer, The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days Half, DesNews Half and Elephant Rock Trail Half,.


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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 #141: March Madness Half Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, really, I felt great.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, for the most part that helped.

But, I was still on empty.

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

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

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

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

Because, I got that goal.


NEXT FIVE RACES


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

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

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RUNNING MILES

119.65 miles

RACE MILES

83.02 miles

WALKING MILES

167.56 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

370.23 miles



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RACE #126: Bountiful Handcart Days Half Marathon

BOUNTIFUL — The first of two races this holiday weekend are complete. On Saturday I ran the Handcart Days Half Marathon here in my hometown. I am then running the Deseret News Half Marathon on Monday — er — tomorrow morning. Am I crazy doing this? Sure. Is it unprecedented for me? No.

Like I tell everyone who asks how I am able to race so much, the simple answer is — I don’t know how to say no to a race. It’s especially harder to say no when I have my credit card on autofill. All I have to do is show up at a race website and I’m pretty much registered for that race the next 2-3 years.

All kidding aside, I’ve done a number of back-to-back half marathons — usually consisting of a night race on Friday followed by a Saturday morning race. Those are usually all-nighters. I have also done a couple of double race days as well. Last year and in 2014 I ran two half marathons the same day — a morning and night race. Lots of fun, lots of running.

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So a Saturday and Monday race isn’t that hard for me to mentally and physically prepare for. Basically, my Sunday usually consists of a lot of napping while wearing compression socks all day. Oh, and drinking a lot of water. After races I don’t like to drink a lot the next couple of following days — so I have to force it a bit to make sure I am not dehydrated for my upcoming race.

Anyways — it’s still not “easy” to do. But, it’s fun. It’s always fun giving your body a challenge whether it’s small, moderate or huge. It’s what makes running fun for me. That’s kind of why I got into running in the first place. It’s especially the reason why I ran my first half marathon. I wanted to prove it to myself I could do hard things.

And, coincidentally, I was celebrating that first half marathon five years to the day at the same race on Saturday. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been a “runner” (I didn’t really consider myself a “real” runner until I did my first half — that’s why runner is in quotation marks) for that long. Time has flown — way too fast to be honest with you. Gosh, I was still 29 back then. Now I am pushing my mid-thirties (okay, I am pretty much already there).

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But, it’s been an adventure. I never thought I would be HERE five years later. No, not the same race. But, HERE meaning what I have done with running the past five years. Where we have gone together, what we have accomplished and who we have met. Five years ago, I just wanted to run a half marathon. I didn’t know how many I wanted to do in my lifetime. I just wanted to do one and that was my focus.

And, after 124 other races — among them 7 marathons, 106 half marathons, five relays, three 25Ks and one beast of a 50K — here I was full circle at the same race on the exact day doing what I love. My heart fills up with memories and emotions trying to gap my experiences between the two races. But, I’ve experienced so much in those five years — it’s nearly impossible to be attentive to everything I’ve learned and done.

I’ve lived so much life in those past five years.

Okay, this is starting to get a little sappy. You’d think I was starting to write the script to the next big movie for the Hallmark Channel. It’s just hard not to get sedimental around Pioneer Day, because I ran my first marathon on Pioneer Day the following year at the Deseret News Marathon. So this time next year I might get emotional once again at my marathon’s five year runniversary date.

I think this also means I probably should sign up for the DesNews Marathon next year too, huh?

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Anyways, to this year’s race … besides being sentimental about the date and race, going into the race — I knew what I was expecting. I ran the same course last year (for my 100th race mind you) and it didn’t change much (if at all) from year to year. So it was going to be a lot of flatness for the first half or so and then rolling hills the second half. Not my favorite course demographics — but — it is what it is.

The goal for me was to just keep going, not push TOO hard and don’t poop my pants (this is always my goal in every race — it’s a legit fear). I wanted to keep my legs fresh for the DesNews Half on Monday, because I knew if I kicked it up TOO hard during this race I would probably trash my legs a bit too much. My secondary goal was to also come in under three hours. A doable goal.

One thing I love about the Handcart Days Half is that they give you an option for an early start. They’ve actually been doing this for a few years and I think it’s brilliant. For slower runners or those who don’t want to be running alooooooong time in the heat the race gives the option to start a half hour early (5:30am).

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

The only thing is that you aren’t eligible for awards if you do that. Which I really don’t care, because I’ve never walked away from a race with anything more than my race medal and a free banana. Okay, well, I lied — I usually get lots of free stuff when I sweep races. By the time I cross the finish line the race organizers don’t know what to do with leftover food so most of the time they’ll just give it to me (or whoever is there) to take home. I’ve taken home a box of oranges, bananas and even a HUGE pan of French Toast.

Anyways — that was kind of a tangent, huh? But, I’m sure you’d love some french toast. Me on the other hand — a banana. So, I decided to do the early start. It wouldn’t hurt, I’d get done earlier and I’d avoid the sun trying to kill me midway through. Besides I would just be hanging out for a half hour if I didn’t — better be doing something productive, right?

The conditions were perfect starting that early. It was light enough to know where I was going, but the sun hadn’t come up over the mountain yet so it was still shadowy cool. Sure it would have been ten times better if it was 20 degrees cooler. But, for a July race — not bad.

A photo posted by Josh Runs 180 (@joshruns180) on

The course wound it’s way from the Rec Center towards the Legacy Parkway Trail where it ran up to the 925 S. bridge, crossed over Legacy Highway and I-15 and onto Main Street back on it’s way to the Rec Center. A fairly simple course. The first seven miles on the trail were flat, but once we crossed the bridge and towards Main Street that’s where it started to get hilly.

In fact right after you crossed the bridge you had to climb a monstrous hill (okay, maybe not very monstrous, but after 7 miles of flat running it was mentally and physically tough) towards Main Street. I went into my hill mode knowing that if I stopped it would probably kill the rest of my race. So, I picked a tree on the side of the road and then as soon as passed that, picked another tree and so on.

And, I conquered it! Thankfully there was an aid station at the top of the hill. I could probably celebrate my feat with a cup of water and a banana! It really was a tough hill, but after conquering it I knew the other hills coming up would be easy. And, for the most part — they were. Especially when I told myself nothing beat the 925 S. hill.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Anyways — I just kept pushing. I felt great. Around mile 9-10 the sun was coming up above the mountain, but because the course was now beside the mountain I was still running in shade. Hallelujah! The extra half hour was a life changer.

It really wasn’t until the last mile that I started to feel the heat — the Bern, if I may — until about mile 11.5. Though it was kinda miserable I knew I could push through 10-15 minutes of hell to the finish line. And, just for the mere fact that I am writing this review of my race — I survived.

I love making the last turn towards the Rec Center. It’s the same for all of their races — Handcart Days Half, Thanksgiving 5K, Sweethearts 5K, etc. So I’ve ran that same turn a number of times. It reminded me of my first half marathon and last year’s race when my friend Jim orchestrated a 100 banana salute (I think it was 96, because four people ended up eating their’s before I got there) in honor of my 100th race.

Needless to say — a turn of many emotions.

And, again — I’m getting a tad sappy here.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Anyways — I crossed the finish line in 2:55:56. I hit my goal. I was under three hours, I was alive, I could feel my legs and I hadn’t pooped my pants. Success all over the place for me.

I hung out afterwards for a while cheering on other runners coming in while refueling on bananas and water. It was somewhat torture when Corner Bakery showed up with free pastries. But, I held true to my Whole30 and stuck with the fruit. As tempting at it was — a banana (well, two of them) hit the spot.

Sitting with friends — new and old — at the finish line was the perfect way to celebrate this runniversary. That to me is what this journey has been all about. I will always press forward with new goals and challenges — but, it’s nothing without sharing those experiences with people I care about.

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I am 34 more races to my 180 goal. I’ll reach that goal probably within a couple of years. But, I wonder where I will be in the next five years? Where will running take me at age 40? What role will it play? Who will I meet? Where will it take me? That’s the exciting part — I don’t know?

I just focus on the road ahead of me and move forward step by step.


MY NEXT RACE

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As I have mentioned numerous times — this is a two race weekend for me. Tomorrow I am running the Deseret News Half Marathon. This is one of my favorite races. Not so much the marathon (though it was my first marathon), but the half marathon. It’s a fun course. It’s a fast course. I PR’d on the course back in 2013 (eclipsed two months later).

That’s why I have big goals this year with this course. No, I am not planning on PRing on the course (that’d be nice if I knew I wouldn’t also die in the process and/or have my feet fall off trying), but I am planning on running a sub-2:30 half marathon. Something I haven’t done since — um, probably 2014 … ish? Needless to say — it’s been a while.

My game plan is simple. My friend Brook is pacing the 2:30 group — soooooooo — I am sticking with her. Good game plan, huh? This way I don’t have to worry about following my Garmin, etc. If I lose her, than I’m screwed.

Another reason I am following her is that it should prevent me from going out too fast. That’s my biggest sin as a runner. It’s hard not to, especially during a canyon run. Being a big guy sometimes you just let gravity take control and you just want to flllllllly down the canyon. It’s such a blessing and a curse.

Fortunately, I know the course well. The mile out of the canyon and the last mile will be the toughest. There’s a slight hill that can kill your momentum. Nothing horrible. But, I’m just mentally preparing for those two portions of the race.

I am excited about the race. And, I’ll be lying if I say that I will be disappointed if I miss my goal. This has been a goal I’ve been working on for a while. Losing the weight has helped along with the extra running and workouts.

Anyways — DESNEWS OR BUST!


THE NEXT THREE RACES

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Runcast - Podbash Banner

If you haven’t caught the latest episode of the Runcast — you should. It’s a good one. Jim and I broadcast live from the Utah Midnight Run from last weekend. Jim talks about passing out during church because of dehydration and I share my unfortunate naked homeless guy story.

It’s always fun to hear people’s opinion on the show. It’s also better hearing that people love the shows and that they take us running with them. Whether it’s me, Jorge and Jim or one of the music podcasts — I hope you do get something out of it. Inspiration, motivation or simple entertainment.

Give us a listen and share with your friends too!



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InstaReplay: Handcart Days Half Marathon

HAPPY RUNNIVERSARY TO ME! Today marks the 5th anniversary of my first half marathon — and the first race I ran that counts (any race over 13.1 miles) towards my 180 race goal. It was fitting that it was at the same race — the Bountiful Handcart Days Half Marathon. A race that means a lot to me.

Not just because it was my first and 100th race — but, because it’s my hometown race. And, for nearly a decade my Dad was the chairman of Handcart Days. I basically grew up helping run the celebration. My Eagle Scout project was making bus signs for it — some 17 years ago (that ages me).

I love pretty much everything about Bountiful Handcart Days — well, everything except the parade. I hate parades. But, that’s a story for another day. We never had a half marathon, let alone a 5K when we were in charge of the festival. But, what a great idea! It’s my favorite thing to look forward to on Pioneer Day weekend.

I won’t go into too much detail, because I’ll have a full recap on Monday or Tuesday. But, I had fun. It’s not an easy run. It’s flat and hilly. Thankfully rolling hills compared to anything monstrously huge. Just one of those.

I did the early start as to avoid the heat — so instead of starting at 6am like everyone else — I started at 5:30am. It made  big difference, especially in the latter miles. I am pretty sure that I would have died if I waited the extra half marathon. In my opinion, if you are given the option during the summer to start early — TAKE IT!

Plus, you get done sooner.

Anyways — here are a few pictures from the race. I’ll post more on Monday after I run the DesNews Half! Fun, fun, fun weekend of running! YEEHAH!


HAPPY RUNNIVERSARY TO ME! Five years ago today I started this little journey right here at the Handcart Days Half Marathon. I had no idea where this journey would take me back in 2011. I just wanted to do a half to prove I could do a half. Now five years later and 100+ half marathons, 7 marathons and a 50K later … here I am. It’s been fun reflecting the contrasts of my journey from 2011 to 2016. The biggest difference? The people now in my life. The race bling (and countless race shirts) means nothing without the people, friendships and memories that I attach to those medals. Whether we’ve ran a mile, two or 200 together — thank you for leaving a footprint in my life. #handcartdayshalf #race126 #running #runniversary #halfmarathon #workout #wod #wellness #health #run #weightlossjourney #weightlosstransformation #runningjourney #keeprunning @southdavisraces @joshruns180 @fight4phat @josherwalla

A photo posted by @fight4phat on

RACE #126 is done! Celebrated not only my 126th race (over 13.1 miles), but my 5th RUNNIVERSARY of beginning that journey. And, at the same race to boot! I went in the race not wanting to push too fast, but coming in under 3:00. Mainly, because I’m pushing for a 2:30 on Monday at the DesNews Half. Thankfully the race gives the option of a 5:30am start for slower runners. I took that option mainly so I wouldn’t be out in the heat of the sun too long. The course runs along Legacy Parkway Trail before crossing over I-15 and Legacy to Main Street on its way back to the Rec Center. It’s not an easy course. But, it’s got a variety of flat to rolling hill terrain. Basically not a PR course. But, it holds a special place in my heart, so all is forgiven. Now I’m resting my legs and looking forward to Monday! That’s my goal race this weekend. Gotta reach the 2:30! It’s my destiny. Happy Pioneer Weekend! #handcartdayshalf #race126 #running #runningjourney #halfmarathon #run #bountifulutah #pioneerday #handcartdays #workout #fitness #wellness #workout #wod @southdavisraces @joshruns180 @josherwalla

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#FitnessFriday: Pioneer Runners sang as they ran and ran and ran …

What a week! It’s been kind of a rollercoaster week for me. Many ups and downs of emotions, etc., etc., etc. My anxiety was a little bit earlier this week — not fun. Not sure if it had anything to do with ending my second round of Whole30 and starting up a third — or with what’s been going on with the RNC in Cleveland? Maybe I’m already missing the ‘Runsmobile’ that officially got retired this week? Probably all of the above? But, more often than not — anxiety is just anxiety for no other reason than just being anxiety.

I don’t talk much about my anxiety. But, it’s something I’ve dealt with for years. It comes and goes as it pleases — and it differs from season to season. One of the worst days/weeks for my anxiety is when Daylight Savings ends in November. No joke. Usually that Sunday or Monday when it gets dark at like — 5pm, I get anxious. And, it lasts for about a week. Not fun.

I’ve found over the years that running has really helped sooth my anxiety. I’ve learned how to subdue it through running and even timing my runs to preempt a panic attack. That’s an art folks. No joke. Running works almost as good as any medication I’ve used.

I could really write a book about running and anxiety. But, the thought makes me anxious — so I’ll probably pass.

Anyways — the first part of the week — not fun. But, I got a really good run in yesterday morning that centered me — physically. mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I won’t lie — I could have used a day earlier, but I’ll take it. I feel good. I feel balanced. And, I am ready for the weekend.

I am running the Handcart Days Half Marathon here in Bountiful tomorrow followed by the Deseret News Half Marathon in Salt Lake on Monday. So lots and lots and lots of running this weekend. It’s Pioneer Day weekend here in Utah (where we celebrate pioneers or ‘pie and beer’ if you are not of the Mormon persuasion) so we have a number of community celebrations, parades (ugh, hate them), fireworks and of course races!

I wrote a bit more about my weekend races below.

But, since Pioneer Day is on Sunday this year the state holiday is being observed on Monday. Which means NO WORK on Monday. Besides racing and probably mowing the lawn — I am not sure what I am going to do with this glorious holiday? I might go see a movie (as long as it’s not the new Ghostbusters)? Or maybe swimming. I kinda want to do that. Or the possibilities are limitless.

Gosh, I love summer holidays. Can you tell?

Anyways, looking forward to a fun weekend of running, family, friends and holiday festivities (except for those dang parades).

What do you have planned for the weekend? Anything fun? Are you running either the Handcart Days or DesNews Half Marathons? Wanna party?

HAPPY PIONEER DAY! HAPPY WEEKEND! HAPPY RUNNING!


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I love Pioneer Day weekend. Not only is it an extra July holiday for us Utahns, but there are LOTS of fun races associated with the weekend as well. And, the DesNews Marathon and Handcart Days Half Marathon, hold a special place in my heart. Mainly, because they were my first marathon and half marathon respectfully.

Normally both are held on Pioneer Day, so it’s usually a decision for me of “either/or.” But, when Pioneer Day falls on a Sunday (like this year), the Handcart Days Half be held on Saturday, while DesNews will be held on Monday (the state observed holiday). So — in years like this year — I get to run both! Because why give yourself the option of “either/or” when the Race Directors pretty much already made the decision for you?

So tomorrow I am running the Handcart Days Half Marathon — which was my first and 100th race. I am still debating whether I want to start at 6am or do the early 5:30am start. I may opt for the earlier start — but, I probably won’t make that decision until tomorrow morning (meaning, depends how much sleep I get tonight). But, after I am done with the race — I need to hop in the car and pick up my packet in Downtown SLC for the DesNews Half on Monday.

My goal for the races are simple. I am shooting for sub-3:00 for the Handcart Days Half. I don’t want to OVERDO it, because I want to save some energy and legs for the DesNews Half. The Handcart Days Half course is rather flat and hilly so I am not expecting much. But, the DesNews Half goal is to run a sub-2:30 — basically anything under 2:29:59 is my goal. Heck, even 2:29:59:9 would be acceptable.

My friend Brook is pacing the 2:30 group and my goal is to keep up with her and their group. Which I feel is doable, especially considering I am nearly 30lbs. lighter since the Provo City Half in May — and the course is an awesome gradual downhill. One of my favorite courses and canyons.

So, I am putting that out there. And, if I don’t hit that mark on Monday — I will be disappointed. Sure, I’ll be happy to have ran, but this is a goal that I CAN do and achieve. Anything less will be a disappointment for me.

Anyways — it’ll be a fun weekend!



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Runcast - Podbash Banner

Last weekend Jim and I recorded LIVE from the Utah Midnight Run. Well, okay, it wasn’t broadcasted live, but we recorded in front of other people. Needless to say it was an adventure. Not only did we get to chat with a few runners, we also got confused for the registration booth — while on the air. It was pretty funny.

Jimbo and I touch on a number of topics — including our one year anniversary! It’s crazy to think we’ve been doing this now for over a year! Oh how time flies.

Anyways — you’ll hear plenty from Jim about making sure you stay hydrated and why you shouldn’t get lost on race from me. Give the episode a listen here …


PHATGRAMS

I might have been late to the sunset, but I still got a great show. #utahsunset #lovethem

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on


fight4phat-4

I am just wrapping up my first week of my third round of Whole30 (geez, that kinda reads like a biblical genealogy) and things are — going. I won’t lie — it’s been a bit of a tough week for me to get in the right frame of mind. Not with my diet — but working out and running. And, I am not exactly sure why?

I just feel semi-stuck in a funk?

I think part of that is the culmination of my second round of Whole30. It’s kinda like finishing a marathon you’ve been training for, for weeks. You get to the finish line, given the medal and you’re left feeling like — “sooooo, what’s next?” It’s that kind of “funk” feeling. Nothing major. I just need some of my mojo back.

But, like I said — the diet is fine. I did a good run in this past week and a couple of weight training sessions — two workout sessions less than I’d like. It’s probably best I didn’t do another long run because of my two half marathons this weekend. But, I know I can do better and luckily Monday is a new week. So, I am not too worried.

Anyways — I still feel great. I really seeing how my body is getting slimmer, I was able to put on some XL shirts this past week that I wasn’t able to wear earlier this year. If that’s not motivating I don’t know what is?

Earlier this week I blogged about my Whole30 experience and my Round 2 numbers from this past round. Make sure to check them out. But, everything’s going good. I just need to get back mentally a bit and finish the last 23 or so days off strong. I want to hit the 230s by my birthday.

I think I found that motivation.



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RACE #100: South Davis Handcart Days Half Marathon

100-handcartdaysWOW. What an experience. What a race. What a moment. Even after a couple days as I write down my thoughts and feelings I am in awe of the support and celebration I received throughout the race and at the finish line. It really still feels surreal.

I don’t really want to rehash a lot of the feelings I had going into the race, I pretty much did that on Friday’s post. But, the morning of the race as I met up with Tim and Elsha the reality of what I was doing was really starting to sink in. I had emotions of excitement, humility and MAJOR reflection on the previous 99 races.

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Tim, Elsha and I dubbed this race the “Kilt n’ Kitties” run since we all wore kilts and cat shirts. Tim gifted me a kilt and I gifted him that cat shirt! Great trade!

We started at 5:30am with the walkers and other strollers because I knew we were going to be somewhat slow. I didn’t want to have Elsha out in the heat for too long because it was suppose to get hot … fast! And, with Tim and I nursing some small injuries it just seemed smart to start early.

We started with about 20 or so other people just as the light over the mountains started to emerge. Besides the small amount of people the start was just like any other regular race, but as I crossed the starting line I took a DEEP breath and gave a small prayer of gratitude for this moment. Not just running race #100, but sharing this moment with my close friends Tim and Elsha.

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Early start and practically all alone on the course. Somewhat strange, won’t lie.

We got about four miles into our run before we started getting passed by the runners who started at 6am. It was kind of a fun experience, because as we ran along and saw the leaders go pass we all kind of judged each runners gait and posture and predict whether or not they were going to maintain that pace or slow down. I’ve never paid much attention to that aspect of running before, but I won’t lie … it was actually kind of fun.

The course was pretty much flat and hilly. Not an easy course. But, Tim, Elsha and I kept each other laughing and having a fun time. About mid-way through the race as the sun started to rise fully above the mountains we started to do more run/walking between bus stops.

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Summed up our race on Saturday

The heat was becoming an issue, especially to me. I think part of that was from my experience at Ragnar with my heat exhaustion. I’ve noticed I am a bit more susceptible to the heat as of late. But, I kept the water and Gatorade flowing and took salt tablets when needed. That seemed to help some.

Even with making sure I was hydrated and properly nutritioned I was a little frustrated with how I felt speed wise. I know a lot of factors went into it, but I wanted to go and FEEL faster as well (this wasn’t just a dawning thought, but something I’ve dealt with for over a year with my thyroid issues). Whenever I push Elsha or someone else I usually plan on an extra 5-10 minutes, the heat was also an issue and the flat course. But, really my current fitness level was where my frustration was felt.

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Oh, Tim.

I’ve struggled with it over the past year with my thyroid issues and having gained an unwanted 40lbs. because of those issues I felt it every mile. I’m not going to rehash those frustrations here, but I felt more of a motivation during the race that I wasn’t far off from regaining the form I had a couple years ago. I have and know all the tools to get there, which I have been working on the past few months.

But, during the last couple of miles as I ran towards the finish line and reflected on my journey, it’s been a journey of ups and downs. And, I appreciated those moments even more. Whether it’s been dealing with thyroid issues, injuries or emotional family issues (ie-My Mom’s cancer, family deaths, etc.) running has helped me get through those difficult times. Whether it was out on the course or through the friendship of others I’ve met within the community.

I won’t lie, the last couple of miles were rather emotional thinking of all this out on the road.

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I am such a rebel.

About less than a mile from the finish line I was greeted by my friend Jim out on the course. I was a little surprised to see him out on the course as I didn’t really expect to see him there. He had made any indication he was coming. I wondered if something was up, but kind of dismissed it.

About a quarter of mile later a couple of runners showed up to cheer us on. They were carrying bananas with them and encouraged me on by name. I didn’t know them and that’s when I wondered what was going on. I wasn’t expecting anything special out of being greeted by my family and some friends at the finish line.

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Me and “THE ELSHANATOR” … speaking of which, she’s always a foot or two ahead of me. I can never beat her.

But, as I turned the corner to the finish line I saw a MASS of people lined up on both sides of the sidewalk cheering and yelling my name. Not only that … they were ALL holding bananas in their hands. As I passed through this tunnel of people holding up bananas I got a bit overly emotional. I couldn’t believe it. The PA announcer called out my name and congratulated my accomplishment as I crossed the finish line.

I was blindsided by the reception.

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Jim passing out the 100 bananas that went out and bought for a 100 Banana Salute at the finish line for me.

As soon as I crossed the finish line my family was there and I was greeted by my mother who then promptly threw a pie in my face. All out of love, mind you. This wasn’t the first time she’s done it either.

But, after I took a deep breath and licked the pie off my glasses I just tried to take it all in. I really hadn’t expected such a reception at the finish line. And, compared to my first half marathon at the same place four years prior it was COMPLETE opposite. That first race I simply crossed the finish line, got my medal and then some water.

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This is what greeted me at the finish line at the race. A 100 Banana Salute. I’m still speechless. LOVED IT!

I had later found out that Jim was instigator of putting this whole thing together. He went out and bought 100 bananas to give me a “100 BANANA SALUTE” at the finish line and then worked with the PA announcer to recruit runners to wave the bananas. He wrote on the sidewalk with chalk motivating signs for me and really just went OVER THE TOP. I am still very touched by what he did.

What can I say … I have awesome friends.

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The three of us mere feet away from the finish line.

I am still processing the love and support I received at the finish line. It just means the world to have friends like Jim and many, many, many others that stuck around to cheer me on. It really gave me a lot of positive energy moving forward to my final 80 races (which I will blog about later this week).

While I am now moving on to focus on my next race, I will never forget this race. I will never forget this moment. I will never forget the love and support I received from my friends and family, even from my mother’s pie. I will never forget it how I felt. It will always be a cherished moment for me. Always.

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My mother lovingly congratulating me on race #100! I love Tim’s face in this picture.

And, with that I thank ALL of you who had a hand in putting that celebration together. Even those that weren’t there and have been a part of my journey, thank you! I felt all that support and love out on the course and at the finish line on Saturday!

YEAH #100!
YEAH RUNNING!
YEAH FRIENDS!

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YEAH! I couldn’t have asked for two better people to celebrate this race with than Tim and Elsha! So blessed.

NEXT RACE: Timp Half

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Race #101 will be this weekend. And, I am going to be sweeping the course while pushing my friend Josh. This will be our third race and first since the Lagoon Half in April. I am excited about this race for a number of reasons. Mainly, because I LOVE running American Fork Canyon. It’s such a gorgeous canyon.

YEAH RUNNING! 


EPISODE 01: THE UTAH RUNCAST

If you haven’t heard the pilot episode of The Utah Runcast, you can here …


MONTHLY MILEAGE 2015

Total Mileage Breakdown for 2015
2015 Training Miles – 188.0 miles
2015 Walking Miles – 233.45 miles
2015 Race Miles – 232.95 miles
2015 Total Miles – 654.4 miles
 
Monthly Total Miles for 2015
January – 78.8 miles
February – 72.85 miles
March – 115.3 miles
April – 76.3 miles
May  97.4 miles
June  131.15 miles
July  80.35 miles
 

MONDAY MOTIVATION

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