Tag: @joshruns180

RACE #160: Huntsville Half Marathon

It’s hard to put this race into words. It was a tough race. A race I’ve done before — including the full last year. But, Saturday just wasn’t my day and it was tough for me — physically and emotionally.

I had such a great experience running the Huntsville Marathon last year that I decided to sign up for it again this year. The plan was to use it again for my ultra training — including my 100 mile run in February. But, my ankle had other plans — so I downgraded to the half marathon instead.

After spraining my ankle in April my training and running was just derailed. It really took a toll on my plans, aspirations, training and morale. It’s been tough being slower than what I know I am capable of running. I’ve dealt with that the past couple of years, but this year it seems like that my best now was my worst case scenario just a couple of years ago.

So, yeah, this year has been a struggle for me — to say the least.

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Going into this race, I knew it wasn’t going to be my best race. I knew I probably wasn’t going to sub-three. And, I knew it was going to be tough. So, I really just wanted to go into the race and just have fun. Fairly simple enough, right?

But, as much I say that, there are times — especially lately — that I say that, but do want to push myself a bit harder and further than what I should be doing right now. And, that was me on race morning. I want to feel like I am flying once again.

Race morning I felt pretty good. After carpooling up to Huntsville with my friends Rob and Joey. I hopped on the on the bus with Rachel, Jonathan and London and hung out at the start line for a good half hour before gun time. The later start time (8:30am) was kinda nice and I think that added to my mood.

But, needless to say, I felt optimistic.

My friend Monnica Skinner was pacing the 3:00 half marathon time so I decided to stick with her as long as I could. The best case scenario was the whole 13.1, but knowing my limitations I would have been happy with half of the race. Luckily for me, I was able to stick with her for the first 5 miles.

I really enjoyed those five miles with Monnica. I love the Skinners — Monnica, Corey and Cevan. They’re always a great conversation that ends with a laugh. If there was a saving grace from this run — it was those five miles with Monnica. I really enjoyed them.

But, around mile four, I knew I was going to be slowing down. My right foot started hurting — it wasn’t so much my ankle as it was the top of my foot. I’ve had issues with it since the Mt. Nebo Half about three weeks ago. I don’t think it’s serious — but, there’s some tendonitis going on and it’s just not fun.

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So at Mile 5 I let Monnica keep pace and I slowed down to stretch my foot a bit. I tried to keep up my pace and did pretty good for about another mile, but the foot was just in pain and I slowed down quite a bit.

Between miles 7-8 I just walked. I would stop periodically to massage my right shin and top of the foot. Feeling a bit embarrassed and not wanting another runner or race official to stop and ask me if I was okay, I would untie my shoe quickly and then retie it in between massaging the foot.

I must admit I’m laughing about that now — not the sore shins and foot, but the way I tried to disguise how I was feeling. I knew I could finish this race — regardless of how slow I was going to end up being. I didn’t want to be pulled off the course or asked if I was okay every time a race official drove past me.

This was also around the time I became frustrated with the situation. But, it soon grew into a frustration of the past year of running, my ankle and training. I let doubt creep and that just didn’t help things at all. I really took myself to a not so good place mentally.

I am not sure exactly what got me into that place, because I haven’t gone there before. I think part of that was because I was feeling down about having to downgrade from the marathon and a bit of anxiety about the training for my 100 mile run in February. I do worry if my ankle will be ready by then — and I think I dwelt on that a bit too long during this race.

I knew that I had to get myself out of this funk, so I just tried to get my mind off of it. Which is much easier said than done when you’re running by yourself. So I tried focusing on my music, singing out loud (that stopped quickly), playing the “I spy” game and just running from fence post to fence post.

This helped a little bit, but once I got to Mile 11 — I just kinda focused on getting done. I knew I was going to be well over three hours, so now it was just about finishing strong. And, really, this helped get me out of that funk.

I focused on passing runners in front of me and kinda of making a game of it. The foot was sore, but most everyone in front of me was walking so I knew I had it in me to at least power walk past them at this point in the race. So that’s what I did.

Of all the miles during the race those last two miles actually seemed like the fastest ones of the day. It was the distraction that really helped. I just wanted to be done and having that goal helped me get past a lot of those self defeating thoughts.

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I got to the finish line in 3:31:28 — definitely one of my slowest races. But, it was hard to celebrate it beyond finishing it. Almost immediately after I finished I just wanted to move past the race. It really helped having a number of friends at the finish line because they helped bring me back to why I love this sport so much.

Being able to chat with Elsha, Robert Merriman and his family, the Skinners and many, many others put myself in a good place. They were a great reminder that not only were my frustrations and obstacles minor in the scheme of things, but that I will get back where I want to be. I really just need to show more patience and do what I need to do with my physical therapy.

I’ll get there.

But, that doesn’t mean I am not nervous about my 100 mile run in February. Because, I am. But, I know I can still do it. I am not at that point of absolutely not being able to do it. If there is a moment where I hit that, I’d rather have it happen during the run instead of months out from race day.

But, that’s a post for another day.

I am looking forward to this weekend’s race. It’s a trail run that I’ll be running with my friend Zack. After this past weekend’s race the trail race will be a welcomed different change of pace. It should be a lot of fun.

As difficult as my day was out on the course — I really do love this race. I’ve done the full and half marathon before and it’s just a well run race. The city gets behind the race and it was kinda fun being greeted by musicians along the last 3-4 miles. There was a bagpipe player, country singer and an accompanying guitarist, a cello and someone playing clarinet or some other kind of wind instrument — it was kinda cool.

I definitely want to run this race again — especially the marathon. The canyon is absolutely gorgeous. And, the first 17-18 miles of that marathon are some of my favorite miles of any local race.

So I want to be back.

I will be back.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 8.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 28.87 miles
TOTAL MILES — 49.97 miles
Races This Week — Huntsville Half.

September 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 15.0 miles
Race Miles — 26.2 miles
Walking Miles — 65.69 miles
TOTAL MILES — 106.89 miles
Races in September — (4) Revel Big Cottonwood Half, Huntsville Half, Timp Elk Run & Jordan River Marathon.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 373.55 miles
Race Miles — 348.62 miles
Walking Miles — 986.93 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1709.1 miles
Races done in 2017 — (23) New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon, Drop13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah, AF Canyon Race Against Cancer, The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days Half, DesNews Half, Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half, Nebo Half and Revel Big Cottonwood Half.


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Looking Beyond 180 …

It’s hard to imagine that I am just 21 races from hitting my 180 goal. I knew this day would come, but when I made the goal — I honestly thought I would be pushing 40 a BIT closer than I am now. If you’re keeping track at home — I turned 36 just last month.

When I realized that I was going to hit this goal MUCH sooner, I decided to hit my 180 goal at the Handcart Days Half Marathon in July of next year. Not only was this my first half marathon, but it’s in my hometown and a part of a celebration that has a lot of meaning for me. It just seems perfect.

So that means I have 10 months to finish these 21 races and hit that goal. I am excited for that journey and whatever it brings — it’ll include my 100 mile run, a couple of marathons and some fun trail and road races.

But, I am also beginning to look beyond my 180th race. Some people have already been asking what will be after the 180? 300 races? 500 races? Will I go into triathlons? Will I focus more on ultras? Or just stop like Forrest Gump?

What?

Honestly, I want to be more ambiguous with my next journey. I don’t want to focus on the number of races as I want to focus more on the adventure. An adventure of collective goals — from PRs to destination races to destination places to run. If I’ve learned anything from the 159 races that I’ve done so far it’s that there’s so much more joy in the adventure than anything else.

I want more of that.

I thrive for adventure and I am excited to embrace that with more tenacity in the coming years. And, as I am reclaiming my health and thyroid, I look forward to getting faster and hitting some of those PR goals I’ve wanted to hit for the past few years.

Not only do I want to hit that sub-two half marathon time, but I still also want to run the Boston Marathon, New York City Marathon and of course — run at Walt Disney World (already got Disneyland covered). There are a lot of places around the country that I want to run. Places that don’t necessarily require a race bib either — the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge, the National Parks here in Utah and the Salt Flats.

My plan is to take the next 4-6 months to come up with a bucket list of locations, races and other running goals I want to accomplish after I run my 180th race next July. I’ve made a similar list before, but I want to fine tune that — and probably shorten it a bit (it was about 50 items long). But, I then want to get to work on it!

I am always up for new races and places to run, so if you’d like suggest places to run — PLEASE! Just leave a comment in the comments below. And, of course if you have some fun and unusual goals I should attempt — I’d love to hear them too!

Running has been good to me. Really good to me. There’s been ups and downs over the last 6-7 years of my adventure so far, but it’s the people that keep me going and out there on the road or trail.


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RACE #159: Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon

When I ran the inaugural Big Cottonwood Marathon in 2012 — I never expected it to become what it’s become six years later. Like most inaugural events — it had it flaws. The miles in the canyon were short, the aid stations were less than desirable and I thought I got lost a couple times in the latter miles of the race. But, I loved I spinning finishers’ medal that I got and the scenery was absolutely extraordinary.

And, much like Disneyland — you can’t judge an event or entity on it’s first day. If you did — no one would have come back to Disneyland the following day or decades after ‘Black Sunday’ in 1955.

It’s been fun watching this race grow from that first event in 2012. The following year I was surprised at how much it grew. It made a leap from a local race to a nationally spotlighted race — almost overnight it seemed. That second year each state in the union was represented. That speaks volumes about the ownership, leadership and marketing.

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And, each year — it just seems to get better. There is a weight that Revel holds nation wide and you see that in their races and courses in Colorado, California, Nevada and Arizona. These courses are fast and a target race for many hoping to BQ or PR on a downhill course.

Originally, I was going to be sweeping the marathon course — as I have done the previous three years. But, I had to back out a couple weeks ago after my doctor didn’t want me running 26.2 miles on my ankle. Despite knowing that I could do it — I concurred and decided to stick with the half marathon instead. It would still keep my Legacy Runner status alive — and I’d still be able to enjoy the canyon.

Plus, I haven’t done this specific half marathon course yet. Back in 2013 when I did the half marathon the course ended at Cottonwood High — not on 1300 East and Ft. Union Blvd. I was excited to try this course, because it pretty much drops you right down the canyon and to the finish line. How can you not love a race like that?

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Sure I was bummed that I had to drop to the 13.1, but I knew that if I was going to heal properly and get myself prepared and ready for my 100 mile run in February. Everything at this point in my recovery and training is for that race. And, I need to remember that when I get discouraged at momentarily setbacks.

The morning of the race was abnormally warm for a September canyon race. I brought my usual hoodie and gloves, but I really didn’t need them. I should have taken it as a sign that it was going to be a tough hot day, especially for the marathoners out there shooting for a BQ & PR — because as evidenced from many social media posts it was.

Even at the starting line I believe the nerves and heat were getting to some people. I made the horrible mistake of stepping into a Honey Bucket where a previous runner threw up all over. I couldn’t contain my gag reflex and lost it as well — unlike the previous occupant I was able to successfully aim for the commode. It was absolutely disgusting.

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After composing myself and refueling a bit I got ready for the gun time at 6:45am. The race started with a slow walk toward the starting line and then a quick quarter mile out and back. I wasn’t expecting the out and back, but it was fun being able to see a number of my (much faster) friends along the course.

Where they started the half marathon is probably my favorite stretch of the canyon — which is about 9-10 miles above the mouth of the canyon. It was absolutely gorgeous as the sun was slowly rising above the surrounding mountains. It was the perfect way to warm up into my run.

l didn’t really have a goal for this race. My pride wanted a sub-three time, but my reasoning knew I really shouldn’t push my ankle too much. So I just decided to take what I could from my ankle — but, more than that — I just wanted to enjoy myself and have a good overall experience. So that’s where I set my expectations and heart.

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Around Mile 5-6 the marathoners — the elite marathoners — caught up with us half marathoners. It’s always amazing watching these runners streak past. It’s usually  during this part of the race where I get major calf envy. Seriously, have you ever noticed how well defined and strong many of the elite runners’ calves are? If I only had likewise calves.

But, enough of that. — one day I’ll get myself some sexy calves. Hopefully sooner than later. But, that’s a conversation for another day.

Around this time a number of marathon friends came running past — Ty Hansen, Monte Riding, Bill Hiatt and Elsha. It was really neat. Ty stopped and got a picture with me and I am pretty much the race photographer got a picture of me running alongside Bill and Elsha. I was on cloud nine.

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Not long after passing Stormy Mountain both Amanda and Mike Bjarnson caught up with me. Being 34 weeks pregnant the race for Amanda was more like a 13.1 mile progressive bathroom break — as she had to stop at pretty much every Honey Bucket. We joked about it a couple weeks ago at the Nebo Half and then again when I saw her at Mile 3 waiting in a long line for the potties.

But, as pregnant as she is — she’s still a STRONG runner. And, was able to catch up to me despite all the breaks. I ran with her and Mike for a good 3-4 miles — and we just had a blast! We joked, cat called a marathon runner running in a Speedo and made new friends around us — I couldn’t have asked for a better stretch of miles than what I spent with the Bjarnsons.

We split around Mile 10 when we got to some more Honey Buckets. I decided to keep going, mainly because my ankle was starting to nag at me and I just wanted to be done. But, also because many if I kept going I would FINALLY beat Pregnant Amanda to the finish line?!

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I was really enjoying the run and despite the heat and varied elevation change of the last three miles — I just tried to zone in on finishing. It was around this time that I got heckled by a passing motorist. I recounted the experience in an earlier post that you can read here.

I will say this about the experience — it’s unfortunate that it happened — but, I feel worse for the guy who spouted off his insecurities and frustration. I mean, how would you like to live a life where to gain any value of self worth you have to tear down others? What a sad reality.

But, thanks to him, I was also reminded at how blessed and lucky I am to have so many wonderful friends within a community of a sport that I enjoy and love. I wasn’t going to let his words negate the experience I had running down the canyon being passed by my marathon friends or those miles of pure fun with the Bjarnsons. Those experiences spoke louder — much louder than any word he yelled my way.

I spent my last mile or so thinking about that experience as I inched toward the finish line. I was a hot mess thanks more to my ankle and sore quads. But, I didn’t care — that last mile of pondering carried me. I was done. I did it. And, I couldn’t wait to do it again.

I have a lot to be grateful for during this race. Just the fact that I was able to do it, I am grateful. I am also grateful for the friendly hellos and greeting from so many in the running in community. I don’t take those for granted. And, I cherish them — I hope no one shies aways from saying hi to me — PLEASE DO! Because it’s those friendships that make that motorist’s words meaningless.

I am already signed up for next year’s race — I signed up yesterday for the half marathon. But, depending on where I’m at this point next year I would like to be in a position to sweep the course again with the RYR Pacers.

But, we’ll see.

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I plan on continuing my status as a Legacy Runner at Revel Big Cottonwood for as long as my legs will allow me to run. It really is one of the best organized races I’ve done and a race I look forward to each year. It’s come along way from it’s inaugural run in 2012.

Now my focus is shifted toward the Huntsville Half Marathon this upcoming Saturday! No specific goals other than do my best, have fun and finish strong. And, luckily, no motorists along the course to heckle me!


MY RACES THROUGH OCTOBER


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 9.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 31.02 miles
TOTAL MILES — 53.12 miles
Races This Week — Nebo Half.

August 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 47.5 miles
Race Miles — 40.0 miles
Walking Miles — 104.27 miles
TOTAL MILES — 191.77 miles
Races in August — (3) Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half and Nebo Half 

September 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 7.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 36.82 miles
TOTAL MILES — 56.92 miles
Races in September — (4) Revel Big Cottonwood Half, Huntsville Half, Timp Elk Run & Jordan River Marathon.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 365.55 miles
Race Miles — 335.52 miles
Walking Miles — 921.24 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1622.31 miles
Races done in 2017 — (23) New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon, Drop13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah, AF Canyon Race Against Cancer, The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days Half, DesNews Half, Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half, Nebo Half and Revel Big Cottonwood Half.


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RACE #158: Nebo Half

NEBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! I love this race. Absolutely love. I would marry it if I could. But, alas, I can’t marry races — which is pretty sad. But, that won’t displace the Nebo Half within my hearts of hearts.

The course race holds my PR (2:08) that I set back in 2013. I am nowhere near that pace right now — and that’s okay. That can of worms is a post and a half for another day. But, this course is FAST, it’s beautiful and just downright fun — regardless of my pace.

Nebo will always be my favorite half marathon.

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As I have mentioned numerous times — this year has been a TOUGH year for running for me. Whether it’s been DNFs, DNSs, my thyroid levels, sprained ankles or the recovery aftermath of said sprained ankles — I just haven’t been able to get a rhythm to my training. It’s sucked. Sucked hard.

So going into Nebo — I didn’t really have a set goal. I wanted to sub-two. I also wanted to sub-2:50. That would have been my best half time of the year. But, after last week’s “Keto Krash” — I just didn’t want to set a time goal. My goal was just not to crash. It was more important to figure that all out now than to get a year’s best time.

So that was plan. I would still plan on doing my best. But, that wasn’t my first priority. I just never want to feel the way I did last week after my race again.

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I decided from last week’s experience to do things a bit differently. First thing, no eggs. They upset my stomach — especially so early in the morning. So my protein intake was cheese, turkey and some almond butter instead.

Second thing, I decided to eat a half banana before the race. That’s 10 grams of carbs for the half banana and I was hoping that’d give me a good enough jump during my first half of the race. Which it did.

And, then lastly, I decided to run with a hydration pack full of Powerade Zero. I usually don’t run with a hydration pack for anything shorter than a marathon, but on this diet I really should because the shortage of electrolytes probably did me in more than anything last week.

I also decided to run with an applesauce packet JUST in case I felt like I was crashing. There’s 13 grams of carbs in one pouch so it wouldn’t be killing my diet. But, I wanted to avoid using it unless I absolutely needed it.

Race morning went fairly well. I drove from Bountiful to Payson which is about an hour drive — so my wake up call was at 2am. Too too early. But, the nature of being a runner, right?

After loading the bus with my friend Zack we wandered up the canyon. Our driver missed a turn which we didn’t realize until we were at Mile 8 … of the marathon. There were some upset runners, but honestly — I didn’t mind, because that meant it was less time spent in the chilly canyon weather.

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After waiting about an hour or so for gun time we were off at 7am. It was hard not wanting to go “balls to wall” down the canyon. But, I knew I had to temper that excitement to avoid a crash later in the race.

I found myself a comfortable pace a couple miles in the race and decided to just focus myself at that speed. It wasn’t too fast, but it wasn’t too slow either. It felt comfortable. And, if I felt like I could push it a bit more later in the race — I would.

It was just a good nice pace.

Besides focusing on my speed, I focused on my breathing, gait and energy levels. It really helped having my hydration pack with me, because every time I felt thirsty or a need for a jump of energy — I just took a sip of my Powerade.

At aid stations I still took water, but made sure to drink my Powerade Zero instead of what was offered me. Of course because of the added sugar. But, I really got into a good groove around Miles 4-5 and felt like pushing myself a bit — so I did.

Things were going pretty good until a couple miles later when my foot and ankle started hurting. I haven’t had a lot of pain in the ankle since I’ve started physical therapy, but it really started during around Mile 7-8 — and this killed any mojo I was building up for the rest of the run.

Not only was my ankle hurting, but the top of my foot was hurting as well. During the race I was rather concerned about it, because I didn’t want to unravel everything I worked hard to strengthen. But, after my race I Googled my symptoms to see if that might show what reveal what was going on with the foot.

Fortunately — and unfortunately — I found out it was a two fold problem. Easily fixable. But, I figured the combination of me tying my shoe too tight and focusing my gait to land on my big toe first caused the muscle to strain, which also caused my ankle to hurt as well. It was sore most of the day, but luckily by Sunday — I was fine.

I really need to be more careful with my shoes. That was a total rookie mistake. But, I can see why I did it — I wanted to give that ankle a lot of support. Which I did. It was — unfortunately — just too much support.

The last five miles were tough. I yo-yo’d my friend Amanda a bit which made the miles go a bit faster since we bantered a bit back and forth. The course got fairly hot around 9-10 which zapped a good amount of energy, but I just kept on going.

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Despite my foot and heat I didn’t want to leave any doubt that I gave everything, so in those late miles I forged through the rolling hills and streets of Payson passing a number of other runners. They were small victories, insignificant to the masses, but big to me in the moment. Especially since I just wanted to finish strong.

As I made the turn toward Payson Park and the finish a large gathering of my AIIA team was cheering me on. I was joined by Zack and Russell for the home stretch — I couldn’t have asked for a better group of fine young me to run me in. Both of them of ran the half — and Russell who’s barely 10 even got a sub-two time! So proud of both of them!

After I finished I grabbed some water and felt a crash coming on. I gave my all. Which is a great feeling, but at the same time I just found a patch of grass and sat sipping on water and my Powerade while chatting with friends.

I know I have a lot of work to do to get myself back to where I was a couple of years ago, even in 2013 when I PR’d on this course. I know I have it in me. And, I feel very hopeful with the changes that I’ve made with my diet and workout regime — that I’ll get there. But, at the same time — if I never get back there — I am happy running the rest of my life at any pace or speed. Just as long as I can still do it.

But, I’m never NOT going to try to get back there — no matter what curve ball life seems to throw at me. I can’t wait to see what I can do on this course within the next year.

And, that’s what drives me to come back for more.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES

My next race is the Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon. I am sweeping the course, which is always a party and a half. This will be my fourth year sweeping the course. I did downgrade my Huntsville Marathon entry from the full to the half — I need to focus on strengthening the ankle, not running it into the ground. That is also why I decided to drop the St. George Marathon. There’s a remote chance I’ll still do it. But, with my training right now — I don’t feel confident enough that I’ll hit the cut off times.

Anyways, still lots of running and training to do this fall, I can’t wait …


RACE #158: Nebo Half, August 26, 2017 (3:02:55) NEBOOOOOOO!!! Always my favorite half, because it's fast, beautiful and fun! Took it easier than usual as to avoid a crash like last week — also still trying to get used to my keto diet. But, still loved every minute of it! The race benefitted the @addicttoathlete team, so there were AIIA athletes at pretty much all the aid stations. It was so great seeing their smiling faces every few miles. I felt strong and I can tell my body is acclimating much better to my new diet. No crash. Running with my own Powerade Zero helped. I'm hoping for some better times here in the fall to finish off 2017 strong! It's been a tough year for me. #race158 #nebohalf #running @runtasticevents @addicttoathlete @josherwalla @ketoshua @joshruns180

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One of the best parts of keto — once a guilty pleasure no longer associated with guilt. On my way home from Payson to Bountiful, I stopped in American Fork for a Double Double Protein Style Burger from In n' Out! It definitely hit the spot! ———————————————————— #innout #proteinstyle #doubledouble #ketolunch #lunch #ketoshua #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #keto #ketodiet #ketonics #ketorunner ———————————————————— @ketoshua @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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She's so angelic, she even has a halo.

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Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 9.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 31.02 miles
TOTAL MILES — 53.12 miles
Races This Week — Nebo Half.

August 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 42.0 miles
Race Miles — 40.0 miles
Walking Miles — 92.39 miles
TOTAL MILES — 174.39 miles
Races in August — (3) Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half and Nebo Half 

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 353.05 miles
Race Miles — 322.42 miles
Walking Miles — 872.54 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1548.01 miles
Races done in 2017 — (22) New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon, Drop13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah, AF Canyon Race Against Cancer, The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days Half, DesNews Half, Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half and Nebo Half.


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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 #153: The Hobbler Half

Some race reports are easier to write than others. I won’t lie, this is one of those race reports that isn’t easy to write. I feel like if I wrote — I came, I ran, I finished — I’d be happy with that report. Especially since I swept the course. But, of course, there is much more to my race than just the basic facts.

This was the second time running the Hobbler Half — well — more accurately swept. Two years ago I swept the course solo on a day that I also ran a nighttime trail race. It was a loooooooooong day of running for me that day.

But, I enjoy this race. It’s a pretty canyon. It’s one that doesn’t get much attention here in Utah. It’s got a good golf course, but as far as running goes — it’s not your typical Utah canyon. Meaning — it’s not really down hill. Not like Big Cottonwood, Little Cottonwood, American Fork or Provo Canyons — to name a few. It’s a rather rolling hill canyon.

But, as I mentioned beautiful nonetheless.

After a couple hour “nap” — I’m horrible at getting to sleep when I need to — I carpooled down with Carla and Reese. We’ve carpooled a couple of times, which is convenient because we only live about a mile from each other. And, since Reese and I pretty much race all the races — it works out perfectly. Plus, if it’s a bussed canyon race, I get to miss the whole shuttle up the canyon — something I don’t mind.

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The canyon was actually a tad chilly, which I won’t lie — was nice. With the valley temperatures hovering around 100 degrees, I wasn’t going to complain. Especially, knowing it was going to get hotter than hell once we got out of that canyon.

Gun time was at 6:30am, which kind of surprised me being a mid-summer race, but since I was sweeping the course, Molly and I waited until the 600+ runners all started before crossing the starting line. I haven’t run with Molly before so I always enjoy these encapsulated moments being able to meet and talk over 13.1 or longer miles.

Playing yo-yo with the runners ahead of us, we carried on a fun and often deep conversation while walking the rolling hills and taking what downhill we could. All while giving the runners ahead of us some space. It was a great way to spend the run, especially considering when I swept it in 2015 I did it solo.

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Sweeping a course is much different than pacing a certain time. Sure, most times, the final pacers are on a certain pace. But, no one wants to see the sweeper early in a race, especially before miles 6-7. So, I’ve learned to keep my space unless they’re obviously struggling or around miles 10-13 when the race is wrapping up.

There’s kind of a science behind all of that. Because, you really don’t want to stress out the runners in the back. They’re rocking it and to see a sweeper sometimes gives them a sense of failure, which is the last thing I want to do.

Anyways, it wasn’t until mile 11 that Molly and I caught up to the nearest runner. You could tell he was struggling a bit, mainly because of the heat. But, he was plugging away like a champ.

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This was his second half marathon, after running Utah Valley last month, and he admitted that he accidentally signed up for this race — THINKING — it was the Hobble Creek Half Marathon (that happens in August). Even after signing up for the Hobble Creek Half, he still decided to do Hobbler.

We finished the last couple of miles with him as we mainly talked about hunting and fishing. Molly’s husband hunts so most of that conversation geared around them. But, I kind of fixated on his reasoning — to get in shape for hunting season. I just never heard of that reasoning before. But, I shouldn’t be too surprised living in Utah.

But, it’s a great illustration for the many reasons that bring us to the starting line of these races. We all run for different reasons. We run for the podium, we run for a PR, we run to do our best, we run for therapy, we run to get in shape, but ultimately — as well all should — we run for us. There’s real beauty in that.

Anyways, once we got done, I grabbed a couple of waters and down them pretty quick before heading over to Jorge’s to record an episode of The Runcast with the rest of the gang. Which was a lot of fun. I don’t want to spoil the episode, but it centers on guilty pleasure songs. One of my favorites so far.

But, looking forward, I have the Handcart Days Half Marathon coming up next weekend. It’s hard to believe that this time next year I will be done with my 180 (the goal is to finish my 180 at the Handcart Days Half in 2018). I am 27 races from that goal, so there will be a lot of running to do in the next year.

Still … lots of retrospection happens at this race and what it means to me. This was the starting of my journey and now that I am nearing the conclusion of my 180 — it will also be my last. I’m not a betting man, but I sure would place a bet on the fact that I might cry sometime during the race.

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But, anyways — lots of running to do. I am still healing nicely. I’ll get where I want to go, even if it takes me a bit longer than I usually take.

Which is fine. I’m just grateful to be doing what I love.

One step at a time.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 8.5 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 24.77 miles
TOTAL MILES — 46.37 miles
Race(s) this week — The Hobbler Half.

July 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 16.6 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 26.87 miles
TOTAL MILES — 56.57 miles
Races in July — The Hobbler Half, DesNews Half and Handcart Days Half.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 289.05 miles
Race Miles — 256.22 miles
Walking Miles — 690.64 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1235.91 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, AF Canyon Race Against Cancer and The Hobbler Half.


So, I tried making paleo banana pancakes, but neither my skill nor patience was enough to save the attempt … soooooo … I ended up with a banana omelet instead. NOT GOING TO LIE, it was pretty good. I might be making this again soon. Talk about a happy little mistake. —————————————————— #fight4phat #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #paleo #diet #banana #eggs #strawberries #food #breakfast #bananapancakes #happyaccident —————————————————— @fight4phat @josherwalla @joshruns180 —————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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The moment your niece realizes you gave her a sandwich for her birthday. I only give things I hold close to my heart.

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Another 2017 race audible …

So, after last week’s post about my remaining 2017 race schedule — I had a few changes. My 4th of July race — The 13 Miles of Freedom — was cancelled. Then I found out the dates of a few races were different than I originally thought. So that allowed me to pick up an extra race in November.

That extra race is the Antelope Island Classic 50K, but I’ll be honest — not sure if I want to do the 50K or the half marathon? It’s kinda hard to make that decision right now with a bum ankle. But, I won’t lie — I am almost tempted to do the Pony Express 50 again on October 20th. I just don’t know if I’ll have it in me? And, again, the ankle is screaming at me not to.

We’ll see on that. But, if I do the Pony Express — I might still do the Howloween Half the next day since it’s a night race. I would scratch the SoJo Half in the morning — for obvious reasons.

Anyways — there are a lot of variables that would need to be figured on out on that. But, here is what I am looking at for the rest of the year. I also added a tentative race schedule for 2018 that leads to my 180th race. I am still a little unsure what I’ll do, but I need to be very stragetic since I am doing my 100 mile run in February.

So here are the schedules …

Remaining 2017 Race Schedule

153. Utah Midnight Run; Farmington (July 7)
154. The Hobbler Half; Springville (July 8)
155. Handcart Days Half Marathon; Bountiful (July 22)
156. Deseret News Half Marathon; Salt Lake City (July 24)
157. Vigor Solitude Trail Half Marathon; Salt Lake City (August 12)
158. Run Elevated Half Marathon; Sandy (August 19)
159. Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon; Salt Lake City (September 9)
160. Huntsville Marathon; Huntsville (September 16)
161. Timp Elk Run; Provo (September 23)
162. Jordan River Marathon; South Jordan (September 30)
163. St. George Marathon; St. George (October 7)
164. SoJo Half Marathon; South Jordan (October 21)
165. Howloween Half Marathon; West Jordan (October 21)
166. Saltair Half; Magna (November 4)
167. Mt. View Trail Half Marathon; Antelope Island (November 11)

*-italicized races are ones I am NOT registered for yet.

Tentative 2018 Race Schedule to 180 races

168. New Year’s Run Resolution; Kearns (January 1)
169. St. George Half Marathon; St. George (January 13)
170. Jackpot Running Festival; Las Vegas (February 16-18)
171. March Madness Half Marathon; West Bountiful (March 3)
172. Canyonlands Half Marathon; Moab (March 17)
173. Emigration Canyon Half Marathon; Salt Lake City (April 7)
174. Salt Lake City Half Marathon; Salt Lake City (April 21)
175. Tulip Festival Half Marathon; Lehi (April 28)
176. Provo City Half Marathon; Provo (May 5)
177. Drop 13 Big Cottonwood Half; Salt Lake City (June 9)
178. AF Canyon Race Against Cancer; American Fork (June 23)
179. Utah Midnight Run; Farmington (July 6)
180. Handcart Days Half Marathon; Bountiful (July 24)

*-italicized races are ones I am registered for.