Tag: joshua tree

RACE #168: Joshua Tree Half Marathon

[CLICK HERE TO READ MY SNOW CANYON HALF REPORT]

After picking me up from the High School, Julianna, Michelle and her daughter booked it out of town so we could get to Joshua Tree in time for the Joshua Tree Half Marathon. Crystal was going to make the journey with us, but she ended up going to the ER to get some fluids after her race. Sadly, she didn’t make the trip at all.

The trip down was fairly uneventful. It took us about five hours as we passed through Vegas and Barstow. We knew we were going to cut it close to make sure we got to the race on time, so we only stopped once for gas.

We made it into Joshua Tree with about an hour or so to spare. But, we were met with a 1.5 mile long traffic jam as the other 2300+ runners were all parking for the race. The jam made us sweat a bit. But, we made it on time — and it helped that the race also moved the start time back a little because of the traffic.

Since I killed my legs in the earlier race my plan was to just stick with Julianna and Cheryl who were sweeping the race. The plan was for a 4 hour sweep time, which would be perfect ultra training — especially with the tired legs. So it was an easy game plan.

In the first mile we met up with a runner who was coming back because she started getting a headache and felt nausea. I felt bad. She was in tears. Being the professional pacer that Jules is — she immediately hugged the runner — and told her that she’d get her to the finish line. The hug and reassurance stopped the tears and our new friend Anita joined the party in the back.

About another half mile or so, I started feeling nausea again. I was trying to figure out why — because I hadn’t eaten much in the past couple of hours after lunch — and it didn’t bother me then, so why now?

Either way, I ended up throwing up just a mile and half into the race. I couldn’t believe it. I did have the brief thought that I should turn back. But, I couldn’t. This was a race I wanted to do — and I wanted to run my name. I wasn’t going to give up.

The course was gorgeous as the sun finally disappeared behind the mountains and the full moon made its’ appearance. I felt like I was running inside a U2 music video. Which I kinda did as I turned on U2’s Joshua Tree to get me into the mood of the run. But, after I threw up a second time — I stopped with the music altogether.

I couldn’t believe I was still throwing up. It didn’t make sense. Especially, when it felt that I didn’t have anything on my stomach. It started making me wonder if I had a second stomach I was unaware of?

Despite my caution, it seemed like a few minutes after every aid station, I would get nausea and then throw up. It was like clockwork at this point. It was beyond bizarre.

The course didn’t help my situation at all. It was tough. Very tough. It was very much a trail race. There was only about 1.5 or 2 miles of pavement.

We climbed a lot, which isn’t much of an issue for me, but it was on hills that were VERY sandy. It made for a tough hike. And, soon the party in the back collected quite a few people. We had a good 10 or more people well behind the 4 hour pace.

But, we all kept going.

And, I also kept throwing up as well.

Having thrown up five times during this race, I had enough. I was done puking. So, by the Mile 9 aid stations I came to the revelation — from Julie and my friend Jill (who I was texting) — it was my Powerade Zero making me sick.

I am not sure why it took me so long to figure that out? Probably out of denial? But, it made sense. This was the 5th race I’ve thrown up at after starting my keto diet. I contributed a lot of that to not being able to eat the proper fuel I needed that early in the morning.

But, it wasn’t necessarily that food.

It was what I was drinking. It made perfect sense. And, after saying a quick farewell, I resolved then and there to stop drinking it. So, at the Mile 9 aid station I dumped out my Powerade Zero and filled my pack with water.

And, that was the difference.

My stomach felt fine. And, in fact, I just drank as much as I could, because at this point — having thrown up 12 times that day — I was worried about hydration. So I was very mindful to keep drinking.

Having gained a second wind, I was ready to finish this race. I was beat up — not just by my Powerade Zero, but the course as well. Our little party in the back started resembling a zombie march. It seemed like the hills kept climbing and the sand never ceased.

But, honestly, from a roadrunner’s perspective it was miserable, but from a trail runner’s perspective it was that bad. And, that’s what I was trying to focus on. This was a trail race.

But, the course was extremely tough for everyone, even for the runners in the front and middle of the pack. I felt bad for some of the pacers who struggled to keep their pace because they had to work almost twice as hard. It was just a tough, tough race.

The course limit was four hours, but we were far from it. We hit the four hour mark at 10 miles. And, because of the permit and course limit we were all driven about a mile and a half ahead so we could finish sooner. They had to take a couple car loads and as much as we wanted to resist — we were grateful. We all just wanted to be done.

When I finally made it to the finish line I was just grateful to be done. I was drained. I was sore. I was depleted. I was stinky. I was so many things. But, I did it. This was much tougher than my last double race day — mainly thanks to the puke and sand. But, I survived.

Once I was done, I knew I had to make up my distance in order for me to count the race toward my 180 — so I paced around the finish line, parking lot and went back out to the race course to meet up with Julie as she brought in the last runner.

That last 1.5 mile was tough. I could have easily not done it and been fine with it. But, I’d have that nagging on me if I didn’t. 13.1 miles is 13.1 miles.

We were going to drive back to St. George that night, but it was midnight and we were all bushwhacked from the course and day. We made the smart decision to crash at the local Marriott Courtyard where our friend Melissa was staying. It was the best decision, even though that gave us a 10 hour ride home the next day.

After not getting my hooker shower earlier that day and running two races in the same clothes — I was so ready for a hot shower. And, it was definitely one of the best showers I’ve ever taken — definitely in the Top 3.

It seriously was the best.

After a great sleep and good sized breakfast the following morning, we were off heading for home. I had no ill affects from the night before. I kinda wished I had a scale I could jump on, because I could have sworn I lost nearly 15lbs. from the day before.

But, going away from the race — I was just grateful for the ability to be able to do what I can do. It was a tough day. It was a demanding challenge. And, despite the obstacles — I finished what I started. There’s a lot of pride in that.

And, as I reminded myself often during the day — it was GREAT ultra training. Puke and all.


MY NEXT RACE: MT. VIEW TRAIL HALF

The year is winding down for me. And, I won’t lie — I am looking forward to some rest the next few weeks, before going headstrong into my ultra training for Jackpot. But, before that — I have one more half marathon for the year.

This Saturday I am running the Mt. View Trail Half Marathon on Antelope Island. I grappled with the idea of doing the 50K — which I have done the last couple of years. But, not only do I feel like not doing it, but I’m just not ready for it mentally and physically. I just don’t trust myself at meeting the needed cutoffs on the 50K.

So the half marathon it is for me!

The course isn’t that bad. It’s basically the last 13 miles of the 50K course along a gorgeous part of the island near Garr Ranch. It should be fun. It will be a different challenge. And, really, I am just going for time on my feet at this point in my training — so — I’m going out there to just enjoy myself.

And, after this race — I’m basically taking a three week break from running to recharge, recalibrate and refocus. I’ll be heading to Europe for a few weeks and I can’t wait. I’m heading to Paris, Rome, Athens and Crete. I’m going to FINALLY meet cousins and family in Greece I haven’t met yet. And, of course — I’m making my pilgrimage to Marathon.

There was no way I could go that far without stopping for a visit.

Once I am back in December I am jumping into my training for Jackpot and I’ll blog more about that next month. It’s not a lot of sexy training. It’ll mainly be time on my feet and lots and lots and lots of long hours roaming my streets, the Olympic Oval and the treadmill.

But, right now the focus is on Antelope Island this weekend!


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 8.0 miles
Race Miles — 26.2 miles
Walking Miles — 23.08 miles
TOTAL MILES — 57.28 miles
Races This Week — (2) Snow Canyon Half & Joshua Tree Half

October 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 37.69 miles
Race Miles — 52.4 miles
Walking Miles — 95.89 miles
TOTAL MILES — 185.98 miles
Races in October — (4) The Haunted Half – SLC, SoJo Half, Howloween Half, The Haunted Half – Provo

November 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 4.0 miles
Race Miles — 26.2 miles
Walking Miles — 16.81 miles
TOTAL MILES — 47.01 miles
Races in November — (3) Snow Canyon Half, Joshua Tree Half & Mt. View Trail Half.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 423.24 miles
Race Miles — 453.77 miles
Walking Miles — 1140.31 miles
TOTAL MILES — 2017.32 miles
Races done in 2017 — (32) 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 Marathon, Elephant Rock Trail Half Marathon, Run Elevated Half Marathon, Nebo Half, Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon, Huntsville Half Marathon, Timp Elk Run, Jordan River Half Marathon, The Haunted Half – SLC, SoJo Half,  Howloween Half, The Haunted Half — Provo, Snow Canyon Half Marathon and Joshua Tree Half Marathon. 


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The thing about Joshua Trees …

This weekend is a big weekend of running for me. I am running both the Snow Canyon Half Marathon (St. George, Utah) and the Joshua Tree Half Marathon (Joshua Tree, California) on Saturday. As I’ve pointed out before here on the bloggy blog, I am not just running two half marathons in one day, I am also running my name!

Pretty cool if you ask me. I mean, how many people can say that they can run their name in a day?

Now if I could find a Hansen race …

But, in all honesty, under “normal” circumstances I probably would be just running the Snow Canyon Half Marathon on Saturday. Doing two half marathons in the same day is kinda crazy. Doable, but crazy. But, I have to do the Joshua Tree Half Marathon.

There’s no question about it.

I just have to.

There’s a fascination, a love, that I have for the Joshua Tree. Yes, it has a lot to do with my name — but, it’s much, much more than that. There’s the whole story behind how they got their name, the plant’s anatomy and how that all relates to me. I find it very fascinating and very allegorical — not just to life, but specifically my life.

When you break down the history, anatomy and personal meaning it has to me — it makes sense. It’s been a source of inspiration to me and hopefully you too with a broken down view of it …

NAMING OF THE JOSHUA TREE

The scientific name of the tree is Yucca Brevifolia — not a very sexy name. And, if it wasn’t for a group of Mormon Pioneers trekking through the Mojave Desert, we’d probably know these yucca plants as something like — desert daggers, palm tree yucca or yucca palm.

Legend has it that as the Mormon settlers made their way westward into California the plants reminded them of the prophet Joshua in the Old Testament with his out stretched arms in supplication to the Lord. Because of the specific elevation and location that these trees flourished their sighting also signified that the half way point of their journey.

The name stuck.

The name was further entrenched into the national lexicon when President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated the area as a national monument. Almost 60 years later the monument was elevated to a national park — the Joshua Tree National Park — that we know today (23 years ago yesterday to be exact).

THE JOSHUA TREE’S ANATOMY

I didn’t know much more about the Joshua Tree until I was in college. I mean, sure, I knew what it was — but, the anatomy and story behind the plant was just something I didn’t bother to learn about. Why did I? A Joshua Tree was a Joshua Tree in my mind.

When I was at Southern Utah University I had to take a biology class, and not wanting to take human biology (I kinda hate science), I aimed to take the easiest class possible — which I was told was Southern Utah Flora.

I’m not going to pretend that it wasn’t easy. It was. It was a five week class that met once a week for a 4-6 hour field trip. We’d go down to St. George, Snow Canyon, Mesquite and the Arizona Strip along I-15 and a few places closer to Cedar City.

Each place we stopped our professor would stop and talk about some plants, we’d have to write them down and take a picture of it and then put it into a notebook — which was our semester final and only project.

I told you it was easy. And, yes, I got an A.

I don’t remember much from the class, besides a few yucca plants, differing sage plants and, of course, the Joshua Tree. When we stopped on along the Arizona Strip the area was home to a number of Joshua Trees — and we got the story and anatomy lesson from our professor.

He explained to us the life of a Joshua Tree. It relied on the adversity it endured in the harsh desert climate to not just take root, especially since it’s root system was rather shallow and the base of the plant large and extensive with it’s many branches. That adversity endured in infancy strengthened it and made it the sturdy — nearly unmovable — plant in it’s adulthood.

DRIVING THROUGH JOSHUA TREE

Another reason why I love Joshua Trees is more personal than the previous two. When I was a kid I spent a lot of time in Southern California. A lot. Each summer my family would visit aunts, uncles and cousins who lived (and many still do) in the Orange County area. These trips would always entail a trip to Disneyland, Sea World and of course the beach. Some of my most favorite memories from these moments as a kid.

Being a large family we never flew, we always drove. And, I remember that trek from Salt Lake City to Orange County. I dreaded it. So many long hours in the car — way before the advent of DVD players, iPods and smartphones.

We would make the trip in our large red van with an individual box of coloring books, gadgets and candy (which mine was usually gone by Cedar City) and my my Dad’s box of cassette tapes of Beach Boys, Beatles, Neil Diamond and classic rock. Those drives were brutal, but that’s also where I learned my love for good music — not just classic rock — from my Dad.

Even if we split the trip up in St. George or Las Vegas it was not a very enjoyable ride for me. But, once we were past Las Vegas and we’d hit a patch of desert with hundreds of Joshua Trees I’d always put away what was distracting me and just stare out my window. Not only did these hundreds of trees mesmerize me with their twisting and turning branches, but they were “MY TREES” as I liked to call them.

Well, and then of course there was the part that they were also a sign that we were getting MUCH closer to our destination of Disneyland, family and the beach.

But, even today when I am passing through a desert area with Joshua Trees my attention is caught by “MY TREES” and I can’t help but stare in wonderment. Especially coupled with personal feelings of them now.

MY LESSONS FROM THE JOSHUA TREE

There are many, many lessons that I’ve learned and applied to my life over the years. When I was a kid the association of Joshua Trees with family vacation, California and even music will always stick with me. I feel many of those same feelings even now at 36.

But, after my class in college I started taking what I’ve learned about the Joshua Tree to heart. At that time in my life, I had a lot of uncertainty and commotion whirling around me. Knowing that I could take that commotion — or adversity — and turn it into a positive force was really life changing for me.

Realizing that, I started facing my life differently — I embraced those trails and looked for the good in them. I saw a similar partner in struggle, determination and growth. The Joshua Tree was truly “MY TREE” in many aspects of my life.

Even in the very nature of how it got it’s name is a lesson of the importance of prayer. Just like Joshua of the Bible my arms should always be raised in supplication to the Lord for guidance. I am sure Joshua could have managed life quite well without the Lord’s guidance — he was one considered one of the greatest military generals in history.

But, nonetheless, Joshua relied on the Lord for his strength, knowledge and direction not just as a military leader of the Israelites — but, the spiritual leader as well. And, there’s a lot that can be said about Joshua, but that’s a post for another day.

There are many lessons we can learn from the Joshua Tree, but the biggest thing I take away from it is — really — anatomy of the plant and how adversity in our lives can be of benefit. The adversity of life strengthens our roots, resolve and outlook. And, we should really embrace that as much as possible, because we can all grow even in the harshest of circumstances.

Because, that’s how we grow.


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