This past week I have been focusing on mentally preparing myself for the Jackpot Running Festival. Sure it’s in February. But, attempting to run 100 miles is something I’m trying to grasp. And, as much as I still need to put in the work physically — I have to do likewise mentally.
That is one reason why I did two half marathons this past Saturday and will do it again next weekend when I run the Snow Canyon and Joshua Tree Half Marathons. And, yet another reason why I have a number looooooooong timed training plans planned for December and January at the Olympic Oval — among other places.
I’m a very visual person. I have to see the end from the beginning, otherwise I’m lost. This is how I prepared myself for my first races in the 5K, half marathon, marathon and ultra distances. And, this 100 mile race is no different.
Over the past several months I’ve visualized my laps — not just the final laps, but the beginning and middle as well. I’ve visualized the pain I went through at mile 45 of my 50 miler and tripled that in the scope of how I might feel at miles 63, 82 or 96.
That final lap is what carries me. That’s what kept me optimistic this past race season as I’ve dealt with health and sprained ankle. And, let’s not pretend that I didn’t completely freak out in August that this wasn’t going to happen at all — so why even try?
But, that final lap made me believe it was going to happen.
In my attempt to further entrench the reality of what I am going to do, I decided to calculate the laps I will need to do for my 100 miles. Barring another washout of the course — the course should be 2.38 miles (last year it was 2.5 miles because the course had to be rerouted because of the flooding).
That’s 42.0168067 laps.
And, since I’m not quitting mid-lap, that’s 43 laps. Which makes my mileage for the race 102.34 miles.
I just have to do 43 laps. That’s it — 43 laps.
I can do that.
And, instead of viewing it as 43 2.38 mile laps, I’m cheating and viewing it as mile loops. Just 43 loooooong single mile loops.
I can do that.
It’s been a tough year for me. It’s sucked. Having a sprained ankle from April that has still given me problems has been beyond frustrating. I’ve been slower than I’ve wanted to be, my training has been tougher than I thought it would — and I have had my share of doubts.
But, as my running coach has reminded me — this race isn’t about being the fastest, it’s about doing what you’ve set out to do. And, that’s what I’ve been trying to remember and keep in mind.
This is about running 100 miles. This is about doing something that pushes me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This is about doing something that was unimaginable for me to do not just 10 years ago, but even a year ago.
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)
“I don’t like to gamble, but if there’s one thing I’m willing to bet on, it’s myself.”
When I started running, I had no idea where I was going. I started because I wanted to lose weight and I knew it would help me in that goal. But, beyond that, I had no idea where it was taking me?
Less than a year into my weight-loss journey my trainer, Kevin, challenged me to run a 5K in the midst of a plateau. He gave it to me as a challenge to work towards. So, I put in the work and ran my first 5K. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t fast. But, I did it.
But, then something happened. I looked at my results and said — “I can do better.” So, I set out to train for another 5K. One that I could run that would be faster and much, much prettier. And, I did.
So, I just kept running trying to improve. This lead not just in the desire to run faster, but longer. Soon, I had my eye on a 10K which naturally lead to a half marathon.
Training for my first half marathon — I thought THIS would be it. This is the crowning achievement of my running career. The thought of running any further — especially a marathon — was unfathomable. I wasn’t a REAL runner, so I couldn’t possibly do that.
Well, after I ran my first half marathon in July 2011, I ran another and another and another. I got faster and actually enjoyed running 13.1 miles — then I started entertaining the thought of doubling that mileage.
And, before I knew it I was registered for a marathon. A FREAKING MARATHON! That race distance that only REAL runners run.
Once again, I thought this would be my crowning achievement in running. When I crossed the finish line I could cross off the accomplishment on my bucket list and go back running half marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks. But, then something happened — I signed up for more marathons. And, before I knew it, I had run a total of three marathons by the end of the year.
By this time I had a goal to reach 180 races by age 40. So, I kept training and running. Along the way, not only did I enjoy the accomplishment of racing, but I made countless friends and created many enduring friendships. Running was changing my life in nearly every faucet of my life.
But, it hasn’t always been a smooth ride. It’s been quite tough at times, actually. Whether it was dealing with my Mom’s breast cancer, the death of close family members or battling my own health issues — the common denominator has always been — running.
Running wasn’t a way to escape reality, but a time I could deal with reality. Running gave me time to process the challenges. It gave me moments of reflection, motivation and inspiration. It was leading me where I wanted to go.
Nearly three years ago I started having problems with my thyroid once again. The health issues took me through a roller coaster of emotions. It was frustration being as active as I was — and feeling fatigued and slower. Not only that but I was slowly gaining weight after a years of maintenance.
But, I didn’t let (or want) those issues to stop me. They couldn’t stop me. I had a goal at hand. Plus, I knew if I stopped I would signaling the white flag of defeat — which I could never do.
So, I just kept running.
I was much slower. And, it took a harder toll on my body, especially in regards to my stamina. But, I was now one of the last runners to finish, but I kept going.
Around this time I looked for ways to keep me motivated. I knew just running wasn’t enough. I had to do something new — something that scare and motivate me all in one.
And, since I knew I wasn’t getting faster, I started looking at longer distances — ultra races. I knew a number of ultra runners who spent their weekends in Utah’s backyard and it always appealed to me. But, running anything longer than a marathon didn’t.
That lack of appeal eventually subsided and I found myself registered and committed to running a 50K. So, despite everything going on with my health — I trained for the 50K around a schedule of marathons and long runs. It wasn’t easy, but I did what I needed to do to prepare myself for the race.
When race day came I was lucky enough to run with some great friends that helped me get through those 30-something miles on Antelope Island. The last half of the race was spent trying to meet cut-off times, dodging stubborn bison and battling the dark after my headlamp died.
But, I made it. And, I earned the title of ultra runner.
The accomplishment felt like crowning accomplishment of my running journey. After spending over 10 hours running 30 miles of dirt trails — I couldn’t think of any reason why any sane person would do anything longer.
Then I remembered — I wasn’t sane.
Within a few months I got talked into running a 50 miler. I wish I could say it took a lot of convincing, but it didn’t. It was the first time I formally met Blu Robinson and Jed Jensen from Addict II Athlete and they casually talked about the 50 miler like a novice runner would about a 5K.
And, like any long distance race I’ve run, I found myself registered and committed to running the Pony Express Trail 50 Miler. The biggest selling point was that each runner was required to be assisted throughout the race. Meaning, I had a car stalking me — stocked full of fuel, water and food throughout the whole race. This basically translated to me that I wouldn’t die.
My training for the 50 miler was no joke. It was tough. I did a number of 20 milers, including one on a treadmill in the middle of the night. Not to mention a number of marathons specifically laid out to help prepare me for my 50 miler.
Once race day came I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I relied on my training and just focused on the goal at hand — getting to the finish line.
There were a lot of ups and downs — physically, emotionally and even spiritually. But, after nearly 17 and a half hours — I got to the finish line. I reached my goal — I ran a 50 mile race. I did something I felt at times nearly impossible, even just days before the race.
But, I made it.
“If you think you can — you can!”
I really fell in love with the longer distances — for a number of reasons. Not only did I love the physical challenge, but I really learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about pain. Because that happens a lot during an ultra race.
I never cried as freely and openly as I did at mile 45 of my 50 miler. But, I learned how to process the pain I was feeling — and control it. Being able to manage and control pain is a remarkable feat and I believe a true test of one’s character. Ultra races were becoming great teachers to me.
Since that 50 miler, I have run a couple more ultra races. A couple weeks after that 50 miler I ran the Antelope Island 50K once again (cutting off nearly an hour on my time — mind you!), in February I ran 40 miles in 12 hours at the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival in Las Vegas and then there was my ill-fated Salt Flats 50K that I DNF’d last weekend. But, if I didn’t fall ill with the flu I would have tackled that beast!
My favorite ultra race so far has been the Jackpot Running Festival, I like the idea of a timed race on a looped course with the goal to see how many laps you can do within that time. Not only do you get an aid station every two miles or so, but you’re literally competing with no one else — but, yourself.
Jackpot has a number of timed races — a 6, 12, 24 and 48 hour race. They also had a 100 miler, marathon, half marathon, 10K and 5K, but most of the runners did one of the four timed courses. The winner of the 48 hour race managed over 210 miles.
Yeah, you read that right.
In fact there were nearly 30 runners who ran over 100 miles, including six runners who ran over 150 miles. Mind boggling numbers if you ask me.
I read all of these results as my legs were still recovering from my 40 mile run — and I couldn’t shake the feeling that “I could do this” from my conscience. Every time I dismissed the thought — it just came back stronger. Even when I reminded myself of the pain I experienced at mile 45 of my 50 miler — the feeling remained.
So, I did the only logical thing that came to mind — I signed up for the 48 hour race in 2018.
I signed up to run my first 100 mile race.
Typing this makes it feel very surreal to me, even a couple months after doing so. I am running a 100 miles. The thought makes me want to pee my pants out of sheer terror and excitement all in one emotion.
I’ve kept my registration relatively private since February. I’ve told a couple of close friends and family members. Heck, this is the first that my parents are hearing of this news. It’s just been a lot to process and this is a HUGE goal and milestone for me.
I still have my doubts about my ability. And, I am sure others do too. Heck, my parents definitely do, because their fear of my running is that one day my legs will fall off.
But, I have to at least try. I have too.
I have to try.
I have to try.
I have to try.
I’ve journied so far from my first 5K — heck, from the couch itself — that I can’t stop myself now without trying. To borrow a phrase from a favorite song of mine, “If you never try you’ll never know, just what you’re worth.” (Fix You, Coldplay).
When I stepped on the scale back in 2009 to start my weight-loss journey, I started the journey accepting failure — and success. I didn’t know where my decision that day would lead me. I accepted the consequences to my decision to LIVE my life. And, it’s lead me here.
I don’t see this decision any different. I am accepting the possibility of failure with the determination of success. I don’t know what lays ahead for me in the next nine months — but I’m going to find out. I’ve got a training plan in the works that I fill will give me the chance of success come February.
The motto for the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival is “BET BIG. RUN LONGER” — it’s something that’s on their shirts and medals. And, it’s something that I took to heart during my run this past February — especially since I signed up for the 48 hour race.
I feel like I am betting big with this goal. I am betting big on myself. Because, this is a gamble. There’s no guarantee of success, but there’s also no guarantee of failure either. So, I’ve got to place my bet.
But, unlike casino gambling, I can control more variables to my advantage. I can control my effort. I can control my training. I can control my preparations — both physically and mentally. And, I can control the odds come race day. But, with a goal like this, it’s going to take much more than this — in essence, I am not just betting big on myself — I’m going all in.
So, all in it is!
As a reminder of this goal and the needed commitment and dedication I’ve been running with a poker chip on me since I registered for the race. Every run — training and race — I run with it on me. I’ve tucked it in my pocket, but I really should make a necklace out of it to keep it on me better.
But, it’s just this little $100 souvenir poker chip that reminds me of not just the 100 mile goal at hand, but the bet I’ve placed upon myself. I might be a cheesy little emblem, but in the three months that I’ve been running with it — it’s been my reminder to keep going, keep pushing and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I don’t dare say that this will be my one and only 100 miler. I’ve learned from my past that’s just a temporary lie I tell myself on occasion. But, I don’t know? And, I’m not worried about. My focus is simply on the journey in front of me.
This is a journey of a thousand miles. I know it will get daunting at times and there will be doubts. There will always be doubts. But, I know if I just focus on that footstep in front of me, it will take closer to my goal and a place I once dreamt possible.
It’s just up to me to take that next step.
“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”
Running, running, running, walking, walking, walking, running, running, walking, walking, walking, think about running, start running, quickly go back to walking, walking, walking, running, walking, running, walking, think about running, running, walking, walking, walking.
Oh, the life of an ultra marathoner.
It’s seriously no joke.
It’s such a different beast.
With as much walking, jogging, running, skipping, drudging and sludging one does during an ultra — once you hit that magical number of 26.3 miles — your life, mentality and sanity just … changes. And, I just love it. It’s a community that I feel right at one within. They are my kind of people.
Going into this weekend I have done three ultras since my first 50K in November 2015 — all in which were point to point or out and back courses. Which I all loved. But, I had never done a timed race. Meaning — I sign up for a race that allows me run as much as I want within a specific amount of time.
These kind of races are fairly popular with the uber-ultra runners. Those are the crazy runners that sign up for 48-72 hours and crank out 200-300 miles within that time limit. Now, while I am not one of THOSE runners, I love the concept and idea of running for time with no real pressure of cut-offs and mileage. You just do what you want and can do.
I dig that.
I really dig it.
And, that was why running this race, the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival, was very appealing to me. After flirting with doing the 24 and even the 48 hour race (it took me 38 seconds to come to the conclusion that was stupid) I decided to sign up for the 12 hour race — for a couple reasons.
One, I didn’t want to train for anything longer (especially during the winter — which has turned out to be a good decision) and, two, my friend Jill was going to run the 12 hour race for her first ultra. So considering those two points — it was an easier decision than what I was making it. A true win, win.
So the 12 hour race it was.
Having not done a timed and looped course like this (besides the New Year’s Run Resolution — which I don’t know if I’d count since it’s an indoor track) before, I had to rely on friends that have done these kind of races and specifically THIS race. Being a Vegas race in the middle of February you’d think it’d be fairly mild — but from years past it’s gotten kinda sketch with hot, hot weather. So that’s what I kind of prepared myself for throughout my training.
But, instead of running through Satan’s kitchen oven, we ended up getting a visit from Lucifer himself. Yeah, no joke. Major Storm Lucifer was heading our way — the forecast leading up to the race just called for rain. 10 days out it started conservatively at 70% reaching 90% by Thursday evening. By the time it gets to 90% I don’t know why they just don’t up that to 100% — but, I’m pretty sure meteorologists don’t for the sake of job security.
Having run the Ogden Marathon a number of times and being quite accustomed to running long distances in the rain — I kinda knew what to expect. Sure, I’ve never run an ULTRA in the rain, but I knew it could potentially suck and that I would need to OVER prepare myself.
So that’s what I did.
Packing before I left home was an adventure and a half. I packed four different drop bags of changes of clothes. I figured I could change every 3-4 hours if needs be. I knew that if I had a change of clothes every few hours that would really help me mentally get through the rain. That really helped me through the last three rainy Ogdens — KNOWING you have a complete set of dry clothes waiting for you really helps you mentally.
Did I over pack? Yeah, you betcha. Besides extra clothes, I packed away extra shoes, surgical tape (for my nipples), baby cream (for chaffing) and an array of applesauce packets, gels and caffeine shots. I just didn’t know what to expect — so I basically packed the kitchen sink.
Once in Vegas Jill and I grabbed our race packets on Friday night. At this point the weekend had already started with the 48 and 24 hour runners. And, it was already raining. Lucifer wasn’t dumping that hard at this point, but we knew the worst was coming because it had flooded Santa Monica and a number of areas in southern California. It wasn’t a matter of if, but when it hit us.
And, luckily for me — but, unfortunately for the runners already on the course — got SLAMMED by Lucifer in the middle of the night. So much so that the course had to be redirected because the reservoir we were running around overflowed in a couple of areas and washed out part of the paths. It even swept one runner off their feet.
By the time Jill and I got to the race on Saturday morning the changes were made and instead of running 2.38 miles per lap, it was an even 2.5 miles. For someone who struggles with math I was grateful for this change, but that also meant that we had to ascend and descend up a pretty steep hill twice (unlike once in the 2.38 mile loop). As much as I wasn’t looking forward to that, there wasn’t much to you could do at that point — so you had to do that stupid steep hill twice.
Our race started at 8am along with the six hour, marathon and 100 mile races (I’m pretty sure there were other distances that started to, but I’ve got “ultra brain” so I can’t remember them all). There were quite a few of Utah runners in this group and it was nice to see a few familiar faces. But, when the gun sounded at 8am — we were all off running our races.
My game plan for the race was fairly simple. Start off conservatively and then gradually speed up so that I could reach my goal of 35-40 miles. I stuck with Jill to start off the race and we kept ourselves at a pace that kept us on pace to minimally hit 40 miles in 12 hours. It was a lot of fast walking, running down hills and minimal breaks at aid stations.
I even got a surprise visit from my dear friend Tricia and her husband who were in town for the weekend as well (they were staying like 5 minutes from the park). They both finished that lap with us — and I must say — I’m grateful they snapped lots of pictures while doing so, otherwise I don’t know how many I would have had?
But, it was a total surprise and mood booster to get a visit and encouragement from them both.
Initially I wanted to stay with Jill and on this pace for at least a good 6-7 laps (15-18 miles–ish) before pushing it a bit faster. But, I ended up sticking with her for nine laps (22.5 miles) partly out of rhythm and partly out of the rain. We weren’t getting slammed by rain, but it was getting a little heavy and I wanted to wait a lap or so to have it ease up so I could start pushing my effort a bit more.
But, after I finished my ninth lap, I just had to go. I was starting to feel anxious and the last thing I wanted to do was get a panic attack in the middle of an ultra —- so, I said goodbye to Jill, grabbed some grub at the aid station and just booked it. The rain was coming down a bit harder, but I just didn’t care — I just wanted to run. So that’s what I did.
I ran a lot of stretches that I had been fast walking and just lost myself in my thoughts and music. And, I almost immediately hit mentality and frame of mind that was slightly nirvanic. I was focused mentally, emotionally and spiritually and I just felt strong — so I just chased that balance.
And, it felt great.
I cranked out three straight really good laps with this focus, before I slowed down a couple of times to visit with a few other runners. That’s the one thing I absolutely love about the ultra community, you get to meet and talk with some amazing people — not just runners — but people. And, I love to just LISTEN to them. It’s such a different vibe from road races that I just dig.
But, after a couple laps making friends I had three laps (7.5 miles) left to hit 16 laps (40 miles). When I realized that I still had about 2.5 hours left to hit this I felt extremely excited because 40 miles was my stretch goal. And, I was reaching it. This gave me a third — or maybe fourth? — wind that this point.
During my second to last lap I caught up again with Jill and we stuck together for the homestretch. I had two laps to get my 40 miles and she was on her last lap to get to 35 miles which was her race goal as well. It was dark by this point but we both kept just going. We were both exhausted, but we cranked out that lap — and though she reached her 35 mile goal, I still had one more lap to get my 40. And, somehow I talked her into running that last lap with me.
I really don’t know how I talked her into it?! I am almost sure she just kept following me on accident as I kept going — and, by the time she figured out what she was doing — it was too late — so she just finished the lap with me. Either way, I was proud of her effort and was grateful for the company.
As we approached the finish line — for the ABSOLUTE last time — I grabbed my camera for the homestretch (like I did when she ran her first marathon) and recorded Jill crossing the finish line with her hand in hand with her daughter. It was a tender moment and yet another moment I will cherish, because this journey has not been easy for Jill — but, she’s done it and it’s a journey that her kids will cherish.
After an exhilarated moment of celebration — we still had about 20 minutes until our 12 hours were up. While it was slightly tempting to try to get one more mile in, I was done. My body got to that 40th mile and just said — ENOUGH. So, that was enough.
But, I can’t tell you how proud I was of myself to reach that 40. I kept telling myself that 35 miles would be GREAT to reach, but I knew I was lying to myself. I knew I could do more and I am glad that I pushed myself toward that. And, I have to credit a lot of that toward my diet change, I have so much more energy and stamina just in the past month. I felt like a true Hashimoto’s Warrior out there on the course.
I feel like a few more months of consistency and training that stamina is just going to get stronger — and I am excited for that. I am excited to see what I can do and test my limits a bit more and more. I really want to do the race again next year and either push for 50 in the 12 hours — or why not go for the 100 miler?
I should temper some of that excitement, but it’s hard for me to that after struggling so much with my health the past couple of years. I was robbed of my stamina and energy on many, many workouts, runs and race — and now that it is coming back — I want to push myself. Because I KNOW I have the mental capability to run longer and stronger — I just need the rest of my body to meet up with the mind. Which I feel will come in time.
Anywho, I can’t be any more excited for this past weekend’s race and festivities. It was nice to get away even if I went straight into the eye of Lucifer, because I got to spend some quality time with great friends. It helped recalibrate priorities, purposes and focus for me — and I just needed this weekend.
For most people who read the headline above would think … oh, Josh is a gambler. He’s got a problem. His jackpot strategy probably involves sitting hours on end at a slot machine until he wins something — or better yet lurks the slot machines waiting for people to leave to only swoop in and play that machine until be wins.
Needless to say, this is NOT that post. And, I may or may not use that latter strategy while in Vegas. It’s worked for me and I’ve come away $5 richer because of it.
But, I am talking specifically about the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival happening next weekend in sunny (but, I think it is suppose to be rainy?! BOOOOOO) Las Vegas. I will running with my friend Jill along with some St. George friends that are making the hour and a half trip for the race. I am really, really, really looking forward to the adventure.
This will be my third ultra — and third in the past 15 months or so. I won’t lie — I’m kinda falling for the longer distances. My favorite distance will always be the half marathon, but I love the challenges of the longer distances. They’re a different beast. And, they challenge me in completely different ways than any half marathon I’ve run.
Both Jill and I are signed up for the 12 hour race for the weekend’s festival — meaning, we have 12 hours to run as many loops of the 2.38 mile loop around Railroad Lake in Cornerstone Park we want. Sounds fairly simple, no?
Our minimum goal is to get that ultra distance completed — which should be pretty “easy” to do in the 12 hours. But, we both have differing goals. I really want to crank out anywhere between 35-40 miles. Ideally, 40 miles would be AWESOME. But, I’m not sure how realistic that is? So, I am pushing myself to do at least 35 miles.
But, that 40 … that’s what I really want.
I feel like it’s possible for a couple reasons. It’s hard to judge that off of my last ultras, because none of them were looped courses. I feel like looped courses would be easier, because the terrain is fairly flat, I have an aid station every 2.38 miles and I’m not going to get eaten my bears or gored by buffalo.
Because of the looped course, I don’t have to lug my supplies around with me. Which is a BIG plus. This was what I loved about my 50 miler. I can not only bring my own food, but the race itself has some GREAT food available as well. Granted I’ll have to keep all things gluten and dairy free — so that could be a challenge. But, I am not TOO worried about it — I will probably bring my own gluten-free tortillas and bread (in case I need it) along with sweet potatoes and all that jazz.
And, there will be Mountain Dew.
As I did in my last 50K I broke my four year soda celibacy pledge. But, luckily, still kept it out of my daily life. So, the only time I’m drinking it is during my ultra races and distance runs. It really is great fuel — the sugar, caffeine and calories saved my life in November. My body may be going into full cravings as I type all of this.
See why I’ve sworn off soda?
The running goal is simple — start off slow. I am planning on doing my first two laps or so at a nice walking clip. Not too leisurely, but at a mall walking speed that would make my Grandma proud. I know I’ll need to save my energy levels for the latter part of the race, especially when I am between miles 35-40.
I want to finish off strong and even if I am past 40 miles after the first 10-11 hours, I want to finish those last 1-2 hours off strong. I want to finish the race with Jell-O legs. Well, okay, not Jell-O legs — because I don’t want to get around Vegas in a jazzy, but I want to FEEL and BE spent. I want to KNOW that I gave it my full effort.
And, at a distance of 35-40 miles, I am sure I will go away with that feeling. At least I sure hope so?
But, like the last couple ultras I’ve done. I’m not nervous for this adventure. I am more so anxious to just do it. There really is something about being IN the moment during an ultra. The fatigue — both mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually really opens you up. It makes you vulnerable. And, it teaches you.
That is what I am looking forward to the most. And, that’s one of the many reasons why I love these longer distances. I’m not going to win the race — far from it. But, I’m going enjoy the ride and get the most out of it that I can.
I didn’t really have vested interest in the NBA Finals this year. I was kinda rooting for the Warriors in their pursuit of the championship after 73 wins. But, it was not to be. It was fun seeing this Cavs’ team rally from 3-1 to win the title. LeBron was legendary. I haven’t seen this kind of unbelievable performance since — pretty much 2007 or so when LeBron carried the Cavs to the Finals.
People are interesting — quirky, strange and sometimes plain rude. That’s what makes this video about the vegan who ate cheese so funny, odd and somewhat sad. I have nothing against veganism — it’s just not for me. But, why so many people jump on them is beyond me? Well, I guess — part of it owned from the feeling that some vegans don’t let their diet choice remain their choice. Either way … watch this.
This is pretty sad news about Michael Jackson — granted, it’s alleged, but still if true. Sad, sad, sad. Not because of my high expectations for MJ — but for the child exposed to all that crap. They’re the true victims in all of this.
Doesn’t matter what walk of life you come from, what happened in Orlando last week — should never happen. To anyone. There’s a longer rant I could go on about that, but I’ll save that for another day. But, I loved this article from Runners World about runners who came together to honor the victims of the shootings. Runners are awesome.
I can’t remember if I shared this last week, but it’s still great information. This is a list of foods that runners should avoid. I agree 100% with the list. In fact — Whole30 pretty much shuns from them too and I haven’t felt this great for ages. So it does help cutting those foods out. Especially juices and soda.
I was watching some self video on YouTube and it asked to summarize my past year in one word. And, I won’t lie — I am having a hard time picking just one.
I can think of many one words that have described my year — inspiring — frustrating — thyroid — testosterone — running — running — running — friends — family — running — burritos — opportunity — growth … and the list could go on and on.
But, what one word could describe my 2015?
I can’t even decide.
Luckily for me (and you the reader) I am a blogger and this is my blog — so I don’t have to be subject to just one word. Because, seriously, I can’t summarize it in one word, so I decided to highlight just a few of my favorite memories — and life moments — here on the blog
I RUN MY FIRST RACE OF THE YEAR — WITH THE FLU
Probably not the best way to start out 2015 — but I ran my first race of 2015 with the flu. I didn’t think much of it during the run, it just felt like a normal cold. But, once I got home after the run I got the chills and started fevering — I had to cancel my planned race later that weekend.
But, at least I can say I’m a hardcore runner, right?
She was the strength and glue of the family. She was the first one to volunteer to help — whether it was with simply a card or dinner. Even at age 88 she was always on the go doing good for others.
Personally, she and I had a close relationship. We always found humor in everything and a way to fix today’s troubled world. She always looked forward to reading my birthday and Christmas cards because the messages always came from the heart. She always encouraged me to keep writing — even on her death bed. Her last words to me were — “you better keep writing — or I’ll beat you up!”
While in Vegas we met up with our friends the Copelands and, my Vegas Girlfriend, Angie Smith. We did the Strip — ate at Hash House of Go Go — and of course visited the M&M World. It was a fun trip and getaway. Much needed!
I JOIN JILL ON AN ‘EPIC SH*T’ ADVENTURE ON ANTELOPE ISLAND
In October 2014 Jill and I did a half marathon that was 6.5 miles UP hill and then 6.5 back down. It was an epic run. One that made up start planning for more epic runs in the future — including the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 25K in March. The race was Jill’s first trail run and my third — we didn’t have a goal other than just finish.
This run was the inspiration for me to finally tackle my first ultra marathon in November (scroll down for that).
THE LEGS & WHEELZ TEAM RUNS THE LAGOON HALF MARATHON
My friend Josh Twelves — we’ve been friends for over a decade since going to SLC together — ran our first half marathon together. We ran the inaugural Lagoon Half Marathon and we had a blast. We were joined by our friends Tim and Chanda and pretty much had a party.
We’re planning on running a number of races in 2016 together including the DesNews Half Marathon and more.
FAMILY LAUNCHES PREPPERCON HERE IN SALT LAKE CITY
My family gets involved in many interesting things — whether it’s ghost hunts, UFOs, card shops or what have you. This past year we started PrepperCon — an emergency preparedness convention — here in Salt Lake.
But, it shouldn’t really surprise anyone that our family started PrepperCon — emergency preparedness has been something we’ve always been involved in. Ever since I was a kid helping my Mom can our grapes, peaches and apricots it’s always been “who we are” — down to food storage and emergency plans.
Plus, PrepperCon isn’t like your typical preparedness fair — it’s a mixture of that, but with a dynamic infusion of a Comic Con. It’s a lot of fun — we had over 12,000 attendees in 2015 and look for even more in 2016.
PrepperCon will be returning again to the South Towne Expo Center on April 15-16, 2016.
BEN & KELLI (FINALLY) GET HITCHED
After some 70 years — okay just 7 — Ben and Kelli finally got hitched. We were all kinda worried until the last minute that Ben would get cold feet. But, alas, he went through with it.
The marriage left just Luke and I unmarried — and come next June — just me. Hopefully that will change in 2016.
But, I couldn’t be happier for my brother and Kelli — she’s been a part of the family for many years, it’s just nice to finally make that officially official.
I RUN MY FASTEST HALF MARATHON OF THE YEAR DOWN BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON
It’s been a difficult year with health issues for me. My thyroid and testosterone have had a hard time regulating itself and my running and weight have been kinda all over the spectrum.
I am looking forward to 2016 to getting back to where I want I want to be and hopefully going for a PR in the fall.
JORGE AND I LAUNCH NEW RACE SERIES — THE BUGOUT RUN
About eight months after coming up with the idea — my friend Jorge and I — start The Bugout Run. The concept of the Bugout Run is simple — it’s an event where participants can test their first aid kits, bugout bags and other emergency preparedness skills in a simulated scenario.
Our events are free and we do at least one event per month. Our goal is to get more people thinking and acting in their preparedness.
I RUN MY 100TH RACE ON FOURTH ANNIVERSARY OF MY FIRST HALF MARATHON
At the end of the race I was greeted at the finish line by my family, countless friends and a 100 banana salute. Yes, a 100 banana salute. The gesture was beyond appreciated and very much a surprise.
The race was a celebration of my journey and quite the contrast compared to my first race — when I ran in alone. Running has definitely changed my life.
I LAUNCH A NEW RUNNING PODCAST — RUNCAST USA
In July along with friends Jorge and Jim we launched a new podcast — The Runcast USA — on the PodBash Network. You can listen to our past episodes on iTunes as well. We’ll be back up live with regular shows in starting in January.
ELSHA & I DONATE ‘BIRTHDAY MONEY’ TO BUY A RUNNING STROLLER FOR FRIENDS
Since I’ve met my friend Elsha last year — she’s inspired me in many, many ways. She might be small in stature, but she’s got the biggest heart I know. Each Christmas she sells cards she designs for donations that go to African charities and she will do anything for anyone — it’s just her nature.
This past August — we decided to team up during our birthday month and do a fundraiser to raise money for two new racing strollers. We then donated them to two friends that needed them the most.
I am looking forward to doing something similar again next August with her.
I TAKE A VOW TO NOT CUT MY HAIR FOR AT LEAST SIX MONTHS IN SUPPORT OF MY CANCER FIGHTING FRIENDS
This past year I have had two friends fight breast cancer — while normally — like I did with my mother’s cancer diagnosis I’d shave my hair alongside them. But, I always shave my head. It’s not much of a sacrifice for me.
So I decided to go in reverse and grow out my hair instead. I decided to go at least six months — if not longer — in support of my friends ‘Dith and Amy. I’d like to have it long enough to donate to somewhere like Locks of Love, but we’ll see — that might take me longer.
I BUY MYSELF A PINK SPORTS BRA — TO SUPPORT MYSELF & TWO FRIENDS
In addition to vowing not to cut my hair for six months — I also bought a pink bra that I sported at the Timp Half in honor of my friend ‘Dith. I surprised her at the starting line with my new purchase — it was a great moment.
And, the funny thing is — I haven’t ran a race since without it. Since I’ve starting wearing it — I’ve had no problems with bloody nipples.
This was also a triumph for Jill after having two previous difficult pregnancies. She gave birth to her son Henry in December and though he’s had some difficulties the example his mother set is nothing short of legendary and something to be proud of.
Nothing stops Jill. Nothing.
THE FAMILY GOES TO DISNEYLAND!
At the end of September the family got away for a week to Disneyland — and by family, I mean the shebang. It was the first family vacation with everyone involved in a number of years. Nearly over five years.
Besides going to Disneyland we also spent time with extended family and attended a taping of The Price is Right. Nobody from our family got on, but Drew Carey talked to my Mom and we were seated exactly behind Contestant’s Row. Our episode runs on January 13th, 2016 — so set your DVRs!
It was a fun getaway — especially for my parents who got to spend time with the grandkids. A very memorable and fun trip for everyone.
DOCTOR TELLS ME TO JOIN ‘WEIGHT WATCHERS’
With mounting frustrations with my thyroid, testosterone and weight — I’ve been going to doctor after doctor, searching for an answer. I have gained between 35-50lbs — depends on the day — the past year. And, it’s not like I am staying at home eating cheeseburgers and Coke. I watch what I eat, exercise and run regularly.
But, no results.
The tipping point came in October when my doctor looked at me and without asking questions — assumed — I didn’t know how to eat or exercise. He simply told me to join Weight Watchers to help me learn how to eat and diet. Um, wrong answer — especially considering you never asked what I was doing.
I’ve gotten to the point where I am done searching for answers from doctors and finding the solutions myself. If he only dared asked me first — he might have had a returning patient.
I AM INSPIRED BY NEW FRIEND WHILE SWEEPING ‘THE HAUNTED HALF’ IN SLC
God puts certain people in your path — some by design and some by accident. But, the more I grow older, the more I believe the latter. Nothing is by accident.
I swept The Haunted Half course in Salt Lake and met someone that truly inspired me. JessicaSue was running her first half marathon and had gone through a lot to get to that point — a lot. She had many reasons to keep running that as well — for her husband, children and more importantly … herself.
As I ran beside her and listened to her story — I was in awe of her determination and sense of what she was doing. She helped me put my feelings and trials into perspective — and made me more than determined to keep going despite my current circumstances.
I BECOME AN ULTRA MARATHONER
When I started my running journey over six years ago — I had NO aspirations to run a marathon, let alone an ultra marathon. None. Zelch. Nada.
Yet, this past November — I did what I once thought I could or would ever do — an ultra marathon. I ran the Antelope Island 50K (33+ miles) alongside a couple awesome friends. It definitely was the hardest thing I had done — yet one of the most rewarding.
It took me the full ten hours to complete, but I did it! And, in a year where my health and running frustrated me to no end. Further proof that if you put your mind to something — your body will follow.
I GOT INVOLVED WITH AN O.U.R. FUNDRAISER
There are certain causes and things that come into one’s life that just kind of rearrange everything. And, usually it’s unexpectedly. Out of left field. Yet — you know it’s not. You know it’s where and what you were suppose to be doing all along.
Getting involved in Operation Underground Railroad — aka — O.U.R. has shifted and changed my perspective on a number things — including my running going into 2016.
But, my whole family got involved in the O.U.R. fundraiser held in Bountiful in December. We helped sell merchandise, gather donation, put together the program and I even helped put together a video of our month long fundraising efforts.
As of right now our efforts helped raise over $100,000 for O.U.R. — enough to fund four missions to save children from sex slavery.
LUKE & JULIE GET ENGAGED
My little brother Free got engaged this past month to his girlfriend Julie. He popped the question at This Is The Place Heritage Park here in SLC during the Candlelight Christmas. They’re planning on getting hitched in June 2016 — we’re excited to be growing in size.
But, now that he’s engaged all eyes are on me. But, what can I say … “the last’s the best of all the gang!” Congratulations Luke & Julie!
2015 MONTHLY MILEAGE
This past year — like I have the past couple of years — I’ve kept track of my mileage. This includes my miles ran, walked and raced. I do this kinda of being of my underlining OCD tendencies, but also because it’s a good way to track the miles on my shoes and knees.
Total Mileage Breakdown for 2015
Race Miles — 485.9 miles Training Miles — 259.5 miles Walking Miles — 553.05 miles TOTAL MILES — 1298.45 miles
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 — 101.65 miles August — 110.2 miles September — 115.69 miles October — 164.7 miles November — 148.95 miles December — 91.45 miles
As you might have noticed — my blog has changed some as of late. I am no longer using the Running180 URL. I am back to my old blog URL of PhatJosh.com. This was a decision I made a while ago, I was going to switch at the start of 2016, but it was just easier to switch when I did.
So please make sure to change your bookmarks from the old to new (or new old) URL. I’d love for you to join in on my 2016 adventures.
Please also make sure to keep in touch with me — I am on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I am probably more on Facebook and Instagram, but I like to pretend that I am an active tweeter (I still don’t get it).
Look forward to a few changes on my blog as well — I am going to blog a bit more during the week and include more of my weight-loss journey, health struggles and everyday life. Well, everything except for my work life — I just don’t go there.
Plus, I have enough to blog about with my running, health, workouts, family and shenanigans. But, 2016 is shaping up to be an amazing year — it’s going to be fun, difficult and rewarding and I can’t wait to tackle it all.
I hope you have all had a wonderful 2015 and that your 2016 looks brighter and more rewarding than any year past.