Tag: little cottonwood canyon

RACE #157: Run Elevated Half Marathon

Oh man. Talk about a tale of different runs. This was the best of races and this was the worst of races for me. Let’s get one thing clear — I love this race. I love Little Cottonwood Canyon. I am pretty sure I’ve repeated that numerous times before.

But, it bears repeating — I love this race and Little Cottonwood Canyon.

I just wish that Saturday’s race reciprocated some of that love. It turned out not what I was expecting. But, at the same time, I guess it was somewhat expected.

Going into the race I had two goals — get out of the canyon by 8:15am (that was the cutoff time for the 6:30am gun time) and get a sub-three time. I felt fairly confident in those two goals. I won’t lie, the cutoff time worried me — because, well, every cutoff worries me. But, that’s a post for another day.

But, I figured if I could get that first goal I could get that second goal. It’s only 8 miles to the mouth of the canyon and they’re fast steep miles — about a 3200 foot drop. Just in those 8 miles! Plus, miles 9 and 10 aren’t bad — it’s just 10 to 11 that always kills me, because of the short — yet steep hill climb.

I felt confident. Especially since I have running much stronger lately. That includes my ankle and energy levels.

But, the other variable in all of this has been my diet change. As is well noted in previous posts I started a keto diet on Wednesday. This is a high fat/low carb diet. Like no more than 25 grams of net carbs a day. A pretty drastic change in my eating habits.

Leading up to race day I was trying to figure out how to fuel myself. Should I bring some carbs with me on the race? A half banana? Some applesauce packets? A dozen chocolate donuts?

I’m so new to the diet and the whole mentality that I’ve just been reading up on it the past couple weeks, but even more so this past half week. I want to do it right and I want to see the results I desire. I’m also the type that hates to make exceptions to clear cut rules. If I am going to do it, I’m going to do it right.

But, I was legitimately worried about my fueling during this race, because I would be on just my fourth day of keto and most people adapt within a couple weeks to a month. The night before I thought about “carb-loading” with a banana or some fruit. But, I resisted it. I had read about protein loading so I just decided to cook a pork omelet with some avocado and it wasn’t bad.

So I decided to load up on turkey & cheese, a couple hardboiled eggs and some Powerade Zero (for the electrolytes). I had no idea if that was going to be too much or too little? It was satisfying and when the gun sounded I felt good.

But, that didn’t last that long.

About a mile into the race I just started feeling a bit funky. I am sure it was the eggs. It was a familiar feeling. It passed and I was okay. But, this kind of made me worry for the rest of the race.

I focused on my running and pace — and went with what felt good. I did the first three miles in about 30-31 minutes. I found a good pace and just went with it. I walked the aid stations and ran the tangents.

I made the decision at the first aid station to take a couple sips of the Powerade, but load up on the water. That worked for the most part. But, I needed more. I knew I was going to tank without something more in my system. This got me worried.

A post shared by 🔼That’s me. (@josherwalla) on

But, I just focused on my run and to just get myself out of the canyon by 8:15am. That was my first priority — even though my fueling should have been. But, I felt that if I got out of the canyon I’d be fine because I was planning on slowing down my pace.

I got out of the canyon with about 5 minutes to spare. So, I slowed down my pace and prepared myself for Miles 9 and 10 that lead to the steep up hill climb. They were pretty uneventful miles, except the hill — which is always a beast.

And, then all hell broke loose.

Okay, that was a bit too dramatic, but I did completely unravel. I hit the wall. I bonked. I crashed. I Keto Krashed.

And, I will completely blame the switch to my diet on the crash. I just wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t ready to be running a half marathon like this just days after my switch to this diet.

A post shared by 🔼That’s me. (@josherwalla) on

I did learn MANY great things about how to better prepare and fuel myself for long runs — and, I’ll post about those later in the week. Because, there’s a lot that I learned not just from Googling, but from just asking and talking to friends.  Which I’m appreciative of, because this has a big change for me.

Anyways — as I approached the Mile 11 aid station I just felt zapped. There was a nurse that met me a few hundred yards from the aid station checking on me. I think she did this with everyone in the back, but it wasn’t difficult to see that I hit a wall and was dragging.

I must of looked pretty bad to her, because she asked my name and city — and then if this was my first half marathon. I half chuckled and said, “no, I’ve done a few — I’m doing ok, just a hard day.” She then pointed me to the aid station, cold orange slices and water.

She was a really nice lady — and I didn’t mind her thinking this was my first race. In fact, during a race I don’t really like to bring it up. Especially if it’s somebody that doesn’t know me. My accomplishment of 157 races is impressive, but I don’t want that number to define me. There’s so much more to my running journey than the number.

But, that’s a post for another day.

A post shared by KETOshua Snow Hansen (@ketoshua) on

When I got to the Mile 11 aid station I took drank a full cup of Gatorade and two cups of water. I knew I needed hydration and electrolytes. I could feel that. I then took one of the cold orange slices and devoured it. I knew it wasn’t the most keto thing to eat. But, at that moment it’s what I needed. And, it wasn’t like I downed a donut or other highly processed food — it was an orange.

Plus, I knew my body would burn it off fairly quickly. I just needed some kind of fuel. The orange did the trick.

Well for about a half mile or so.

I pushed myself where I could and felt like I could — but, I slowed down to somewhere between a walk and a jog. I just had no energy. And, the last two miles just dragged. Bad.

I got to the last aid station which was about a mile from the finish line. After drinking some more fluids I set out and just tried to focus on my music and forget about how I felt. I just wanted to be done.

A post shared by 🔼That’s me. (@josherwalla) on

I was greeted by Rachel Moody — about a half mile or so from the finish — she came back out to run me in. We were then greeted by Julianna Fulton a short distance from that. It was the boost I needed. I just wanted to be done.

I knew I was probably not going to get my sub-three — which I didn’t — but, I was just happy to be done. I knew a lot of effort went into the race. And, if I hadn’t of bonked I know I would have crushed my year best time for the half distance.

But, I finished in 3:03 — far from that goal. This was a course I ran in 2:31 last year — and in 2:10 back in 2013. I tried not to dwell on that, because what I am doing now with my new diet and everything is working toward getting to similar race times. If not faster. I know I have it in me.

I didn’t have much time to dwell on all of that. As soon as I crossed the finish line I was greeted by Robert Merriman with a big old hug. He didn’t mind my awkward sweatiness. It was so great seeing him out cheering us runners in. You could tell he’s itching to getting back out there.

A post shared by KETOshua Snow Hansen (@ketoshua) on

Moments and experiences like that really help me keep things in perspective. I’m grateful that I am given those moments. Otherwise my running would have turned into a miserable experience for me years ago. It’s about how fast we get there, but where we go and who comes along with us. But, like most things in this recap — that’s a post for another day.

I’ve got a lot things to figure out this week before running the Nebo Half on Saturday. Mainly with fueling. I need to figure out a better way to fuel with electrolytes and how many carbs I want to consume before and during the race. So many things to figure out … but, I’m not too worried. I have a great group of friends that I’ve been tapping into for advice.

This race will be remembered for the best and worst of moments. Those first 10-11 miles were great, while those last two — pure hell. But, here’s to the future and learning from those two experiences. You don’t build upon anything that’s effortless and easy — and that thought gives me hope.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


RACE #157: Run Elevated Half Marathon, August 19, 2017 (3:03:58) Tough, tough, tough race. It was the tale of two races, really. With my switch to a keto diet this past week, I didn’t know what to expect with my races. I didn’t want to crash, but, well I did. I totaled Keto Krashed at Mile 11. I smashed the first 10 miles, but after running (well walking) up the Hill Elevated I was completely done. No energy and I knew I was off. Drank some Gatorade and ate a quarter orange at the Mile 11 aid station. But, I was done. It took me about a half hour to do the last couple of miles. It killed my time and goal to sub-three. But, I’m fine with it, because I needed a first race with the Keto Diet under my belt. This experience is rather common for endurance athletes. I’ve learned a few things about my body and how I need to fuel it for future races. I’ll get this nailed down. Redemption will be mine next year! #race157 #runelevatedhalf #running @josherwalla @ketoshua @joshruns180

A post shared by Josh Runs 180 (@joshruns180) on

@radmoody is the bomb diggity! I totally Keto Krashed at Mile 11 and after the race. We walked to our cars together and we’re just talking when I started feeling faint. I told her I just don’t want to pass out so I sat on curb. When I told her my plan was to get a Powerade Zero on my home (because I needed the electrolytes) she hops in her car and drives across the street to get me a drink. THEN … she comes back with EIGHT purple Powerade Zeroes, because in her words, “if you bought 8 they were $.50 each.” Oh, but wait, she did more! She then gave me a ride to my car SIX spaces away! 😂 Seriously, thanks Rachel! You ROCK! It totally made my day! ———————————————————— #race157 #runelevatedhalf #poweradezero #runningfriends #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

A post shared by KETOshua Snow Hansen (@ketoshua) on

I can’t wait to run the Run Elevated Half Marathon this weekend! A BIG THANK YOU to my friend @girlracer74 for picking up my race packet tomorrow! For some reason she loves when I write permission notes for her?! ———————————————————— #runelevatedhalf #race157 #joshruns180 #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

A post shared by KETOshua Snow Hansen (@ketoshua) on

Birthday Slurpees for the birthday peeps.

A post shared by 🔼That’s me. (@josherwalla) on

Can I just say my brother gave me the “puuurrfect” birthday gift?

A post shared by 🔼That’s me. (@josherwalla) on


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 6.5 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 25.17 miles
TOTAL MILES — 44.77 miles
Races This Week — Run Elevated Half.

August 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 33.0 miles
Race Miles — 26.9 miles
Walking Miles — 61.37 miles
TOTAL MILES — 107.77 miles
Races in August — (3) Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half and Nebo Half 

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 344.05 miles
Race Miles — 309.32 miles
Walking Miles — 841.52 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1494.89 miles
Races done in 2017 — (21) 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, and Run Elevated Half.


O, Canada, O, Little Cottonwood Canyon, O, Quads!

My favorite weekend — or week — of the year is the stretch in July between the 1st to the 4th. It’s a celebratory week. From Canada Day to family birthdays to the 4th of July, it’s simply my favorite. Especially when you throw in the element of summer into it.

So, when I wanted to organize a group run for this weekend, I knew I wanted to celebrate Canada Day in conjunction with the run. And, as tempted as I was to make it a Big Cottonwood Canyon run, I wanted to shake it up a bit so and run down Little Cottonwood Canyon instead.

I really like Little Cottonwood Canyon, especially considering that the Run Elevated Half Marathon is one of my favorite races. But, outside of that race — I’ve only ran the canyon once. Maybe twice? But, at least once.

A post shared by (phat) josh (@fight4phat) on

The thing I love about the canyon is not just the scenery, but the downhill terrain. It’s STEEP. From the top of the canyon at the Alta resort to the mouth it’s a 3200 foot drop over roughly eight miles. That’s the same elevation drop at the Nebo Half, but that’s over 13.1 miles — not just eight miles. So, it’s definitely a quad burner.

I planned this run before I sprained my ankle and really wanted to use this as a good training run for my upcoming canyon races. But, it didn’t turn out as I initially imagined. And, as frustrating as this injury has been — I’ve found peace with the recovery.

After a few strong runs in June, I was looking forward to another good strong run. Especially down a steep fast canyon. Plus, it was just eight miles and it’d be a good long run between races.

So, all’s good, right?

Well, sorta.

A post shared by 🔼That's me. (@josherwalla) on

After meeting up with the group and carpooling up the canyon to Alta, I could kinda tell the run was going to be a tough one for me. My ankle was just sore. It was tender from Thursday’s run and the previous day’s nearly 11 miles of walking. I’m not 100% sure if that’s why I wasn’t 100%, but I’m sure it had a factor in it.

Even when we started running and making the descent down the canyon I could feel the terrain was too steep for my ankle. I tried different techniques, gaits and paces, but my comfort zone was much slower than I wanted it to be. So, I just tried to just lose myself in my run, playlist and the moment.

And, that worked.

I just enjoyed the moment. I took solace in the fact that my ankle is getting better. That’s why I’m going through the physical therapy. The speed and pain free miles will come back. I have no doubt about that. I just need to be patient.

It took me just under two hours to cover the eight miles. But, I had a good run — I jammed out, “cruised” down the canyon and had a few bikers and motorists wish me a Happy Canada Day.

I’ve got a lot to look forward to this upcoming month and within the next 6-8 months to worry much the present. As long as I know that I am progressing toward my goals, then I know I’m going in the right direction. Even if it’s not exactly how I saw it unfolding.

But, here’s to July, here’s to this run, here’s to Little Cottonwood Canyon — and — of course, here’s to Canada!


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 20.6 miles
Race Miles — 0.0 miles
Walking Miles — 27.55 miles
TOTAL MILES — 0.0 miles
Race(s) this week — None.

June 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 45.2 miles
Race Miles — 65.5 miles
Walking Miles — 116.72 miles
TOTAL MILES — 227.42 miles
Races in June — Drop 13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer

July 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 8.1 miles
Race Miles — 0.0 miles
Walking Miles — 2.1 miles
TOTAL MILES — 10.2 miles
Races in July — Utah Midnight Run, Hobbler Half, DesNews Half and Handcart Days Half.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 280.55 miles
Race Miles — 243.12 miles
Walking Miles — 644.27 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1167.94 miles
Races done in 2017 — New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon, Drop13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer.


I’m feeling like a Canadian Gangsta this morning! “HEY PUNK! GET THE PUCK OFF MY LAWN! SORRY!” 🇨🇦

A post shared by 🔼That’s me. (@josherwalla) on

Excitement or ice cream brain freeze? Probably a little bit of both with this kid?

A post shared by 🔼That’s me. (@josherwalla) on

Ben’s getting all National Geographicy trying to catch the sunset.

A post shared by 🔼That’s me. (@josherwalla) on

Obviously, I’m her favorite uncle.

A post shared by 🔼That’s me. (@josherwalla) on


RACE #129: Run Elevated Half Marathon

I’ve been looking forward to this race for quite a while. Well, okay, maybe for the last three months. I wasn’t planning on racing this weekend because I needed to get a 20 mile training run in for my marathon and ultra training. I was reserving my goal half marathon race for the year for the Nebo Half which is happening this upcoming weekend.

BUT — I do a little switcheroo, because I have a family reunion this upcoming weekend in Idaho. And, as much as I love Nebo, I kinda love my family more. Don’t ask me to gauge that, because there may or may not be that much of a difference when you’re talking about the Nebo Half.

I love that race.

So, since I wasn’t running Nebo, I decided to pick up the Run Elevated Half Marathon instead — another equally fast canyon race. I’ve been running Run Elevated for four years now — ever since it’s inaugural run in 2013. I love it. I PR’d on the course in 2013. I feel intimately close to the race — well, okay — that sounds like a bad choice of words. Basically, I know the course really well and love every bit of it.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

The infamous hill — can’t remember what they call it — doesn’t phase me. I’ve gotten use to just jogging that blasted hill. It’s a pace killer, but I’ve learned it’s better to keep a slower pace up the hill then to walk the hill. Even if that pace is slower than your usual walk. Trust me — that logic makes sense to a runner.

Then there’s the whole canyon that I love — Little Cottonwood Canyon lends itself as one of the prettiest canyons here in northern Utah. It’s less traversed than Big Cottonwood and Emigrations, mainly because it’s roads don’t lend itself well to runners. They’re smaller shoulders compared to the other canyons. I’ve only ran the canyon once outside of this race.

Additionally, this is the only road race that goes down the canyon. I think it’s mostly because the community tries to limit them as much as possible — which I would understand. It is a watershed after all. All of that makes this race kind of a special treat. It’s capped off at 2,000 runners — so it’s small and intimate enough that it really feels like a special event.

The numbers felt really low though this year, which honestly wasn’t surprising. There were a number of races held this weekend. And, by a number, I mean — too many. There was besides Run Elevated — Top of Utah Half, East Canyon Marathon, High Unitas Marathon, Rivalry Relay and Lake Relay. When people point to saturation problems here in Utah this weekend is a good example. The High Uintas Marathon ended up being cancelled this past week — probably because of low registration? I’m not sure.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Either way — I really hope race directors correlate a bit better next year, because there’s still a market for these races, but you’re just going to kill yourself if you keep competing against each other like this. There are plenty of underutilized weekends for races. But, this post really is one for another day. Regardless, I noticed a difference at this race compared to year’s past.

But, to this race. So my goal — one that I’ve been trying to hit since June is that of a sub-2:30 half marathon. I try not to think too much of where I’ve been in the past. Because a few years ago — I was hitting 2:10-2:20s quite regularly. And, because of my health issues and that I’ve basically been at ground zero building myself back up. Which is fine — because I gotta get back somehow, right?

Anyways — I’ve come close to this goal. And, after not hitting it at Drop13 in June and the Deseret News Half in July — I really wanted to reach the goal at the end of summer, especially since September and October were my marathons and ultra. Speed wasn’t going to be priority — especially since that’s not my goal for my marathons.

So this was it.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Going into August — I felt really optimistic about my progress towards the goal. I had some really great runs and I felt stronger, especially as I transitioned my diet from the Whole30 to a Paleo 80/20 diet. Things were just clicking.

But, then about two weeks ago — I got sick. And, it just sucked pretty much everything out of me. For a good week I just didn’t get in the kind of runs I wanted to and last Saturday I got in less miles I wanted to — but they were still miles. Needless to say — I just didn’t know where I would be physically going into this race? Especially considering I was still dealing with congestion and a mild cough.

So the week leading up the race — I wasn’t sure how to approach the race. Do I just go for it as planned or do I go by feel and just push myself? Going through with the race as planned meant I’d be running with my Garmin watching my pace carefully as I ran down the canyon.

But, if I didn’t have it in me to reach the goal, the last thing I need is a constant reminder wrapped around my wrist of how horrible of a runner I was because I didn’t hit my goal. Normally, I would just say — let me stick with the 2:30 pacers and I’ll be fine. But, considering the race doesn’t have pacers — that wasn’t an option either.

A photo posted by @fight4phat on

I was grappling back and forth with this mentality all week long. And, it wasn’t until Friday night that I just told myself — “screw it! I’m running Garmin-less.” I just knew if I didn’t hit my goal it would have ruined my whole race. I had to run the race oblivious to the time and just go out there and with my best effort. That’s all I could ask for, right?

The morning of the race — I felt good. I did have a bit of congestion. But, otherwise I felt good. To make sure I didn’t have a coughing attack mid-race I made sure I had my inhaler. I felt good to go. I still didn’t know how my race would end out, but I was ready to take a stab at it.

After meeting up with Dith at the bus pick up I hopped on the bus with the Skinners and rode up the canyon where we hung out until the 6:30am gun time. Thankfully the weather was doable compared to a couple years ago when it was snowing at the starting line. I’ll never forget that — it was such a buzzkill. There’s nothing like getting excited for a summer race, only to be meet with snow.

Anyways — crossing the starting line I just let gravity do it’s thing. I focused on not going out too fast, because I knew how easy it was on this course. I ran the first mile somewhat fragmented. I ditched my hoodie a half mile in before retying my shoes. My legs were still a little sore from leg day on Wednesday, so I just needed to warm up a bit.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

A couple more miles into the race I started hitting my stride and feeling pretty good. I just focused on my breathing, tempo and effort. It was around this time also that my two month old headphones decided to die. Well, half of them died. I suspect my headphones were a Chinese knockoff. But, that’s a story for another day.

After I settled for one ear stereo I just ran. I felt good and I just focused on my effort. I didn’t know where my pace was and while I cared, I didn’t. I just wanted to — dare I say — my best foot forward.

I stopped at each aid station to refuel. Not only did I refuel with water and a swig of Gatorade, but I brought some an applesauce packet to eat midway through. I tried to not stop too long at the aid station. I did have to stop once. And, I took a few pictures at the stops, because the scenery was just BEAUTIFUL.

In retrospect I probably wouldn’t have taken a few of those pictures. I couldn’t have held through my pit stop, but I did take a pit stop for a posed race picture. That one I probably should have ran through, because I was much closer to my goal than I thought. A lot closer.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

The first 7-8 miles are all canyon miles and I knew once I was out of the canyon — it would be MUCH tougher. That happened to me at Timp, Deseret News and Drop13. But, when I was hitting the mouth of the canyon I just went into a beast mode. Mainly, because I knew it was going to get tough, especially as we approached the hill.

I ran into my friend Shaylee at the mile nine aid station as she was pulled off the course due to injury. I felt bad because I know how much she loves this fast race as well.  Injuries just suck. And, this course can lend itself to some fun ones if you’re not careful.

Once we got onto Wasatch Blvd. the downhill around mile 10 was welcomed, but I knew the blasted hill was around the corner. So, I just kept at it. My approach to the hill was simple — just run it. And, if I couldn’t run it, just pretending your running — even if it’s at your normal walking pace.

So, yeah, that was basically what I did up the hill. It’s not that long of a hill, but it will kill your pace if you’re not careful. Especially if you walk. So, when it comes to hills like this one, I just keep myself in the running motion so I keep the mechanics going. I find it’s easier to get back into my pace if I do this.

Now, if there’s a science to all of that — I don’t know? But, it’s saved my races in this race, St. George and a couple others.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Once I was past the hill, there was about 2-2.5 miles until I hit the finish line. I took a quick glance at my phone’s clock and realized I was making great time. I tried to do some math to see if I was on target — I figured I was, but I wasn’t sure. So, I just ran like I was going to hit my goal.

The last two miles felt strong. Both mentally and physically. I just kept moving forward. My legs were burning, but I didn’t care. I tried to numb everything below my neck and just focus on running. It honestly felt like the last two miles flew by fast. And, I am sure if I ran with my Garmin those last two miles would rival my canyon miles. Or at least it felt like it.

During the last mile as I was making my way towards the finish line, I started getting a little emotional. It wasn’t because I felt like I was on pace or that I was going to reach the goal. But, it was from the feeling that I put everything into this run. I was feeling spent. I was feeling sore. I was feeling strong. I was feeling focused.

It was around this time that OneRepublic’s “I Lived” came across my playlist. And, that didn’t help either. It’s one of my favorite songs. The lyrics, music and message — were just what I needed as I ran towards the finish line. It’s one of few songs on my life playlists.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

But, as I hit the homestretch I just hit another gear and sprinted towards the finish line. The clock said something like 2:32, so I knew I was going to be close — after considering when I crossed the finish line and all. I didn’t think I got it, but I knew not only that I was close, but that I gave it everything in me.

Once I refueled and got my drop bag I headed over to the results table and got my card. The card read … 2:31:00:03. A mere 1:01 minute from my goal. Oh, so close.

I won’t lie — I reanalyzed every pit stop, picture and aid station — because a few tweaks here and there and I probably could have gotten my goal. But, I wasn’t feeling a sense of disappointment. Far from it. I gave everything during those 13.1 miles, despite not knowing how my body was going to react after being sick the week before. Despite feeling under the weather still — I pushed forward.

Plus, it was still a year best time for me in the half marathon.  How can I feel about that?

A photo posted by @fight4phat on

Sure there are a lot of shoulda, coulda and wouldas. But, that gets you nowhere dwelling on for a race already ran. Will I learn from it? You betcha. Not just in race plan management, but maintaining race pace and pushing through pain. There’s a lot there that I could talk about — but, really, that’s a post for another day.

I feel great about my race and look forward to breaking through that goal time — this year or 2017. Looking back at my running patterns too, I ran 2:30-2:40 pretty consistently for my first year of running until I broke into the 2:10-2:20 the following year. So, in a way, I feel like I am following that pattern. Hopefully that means 2017 will be a fast year for me. I feel confident enough that it will be if I continue working hard and pushing myself.

After the race I still had to get seven more miles in for my 20 miles needed that day. I was originally planning on running seven miles in Sandy near the  finish line, but I had to get home and decided to do them at home on the treadmill.

My goal for these miles were really to simulate fatigue — and my legs were fatigued. I waited a couple hours after getting home before doing my miles — and they definitely hurt. It was hard getting into a rhythm, but I pushed through the pain and eventually found one. I really tried to visualize myself out on the course of my 50 miler going through that kind of fatigue.

A photo posted by @fight4phat on

I’ll tell you what — it’s been fun training for my 50, because it’s so different from a marathon. There’s so much mental preparedness I need to prepare myself for, that I look for way to do it. Whether it’s running 20 miles on a treadmill or running 7 miles hours after a fast paced half marathon — I always look for ways to prepare me for October 21.

This upcoming month is going to be the real test. I’ve got three marathons coming up — Big Cottonwood (Sept. 10), Huntsville (Sept. 17) and St. George (October 1) along with my miles this weekend and a special relay with AIIA on Sept. 24. So, I’ll be doing big, big miles — and really getting myself ready for October 21. I’m nervous — but, more excited than anything.

And, really it’s just focusing on one foot in front of the other — much like I’ve been doing since I ran my first 5K.


MY NEXT RACE

130 - Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon

My next race isn’t until September 10th. And, I’ll be sweeping the Big Cottonwood Marathon once again. I did it last with my friend Ramie and had a blast and a half (not to mention a Slurpee). This year I’ll be sweeping with my friend Chanda — I am anticipating another blast and a half (and not to mention another Slurpee).

This will be the fifth time that I’ve ran the Big Cottonwood Marathon. Well, okay — fourth for the 26.2. I did the 13.1 once back in 2013. The funny thing is that when I’ve signed up for the race — I’ve never registered for the marathon. I always sign up for the half marathon, but I either upgrade to the marathon (like I did in 2012 and 2014) or get asked to sweep the course (like I did in 2015 and last year).

Now, I’m planning on signing up for JUST the half marathon in 2017, but we’ll see how that pans out come next year.

Anyways — there’s no real game plan for this marathon other than sweeping the course. Well, okay, I lied. The first 14-15 miles in the canyon I just have to maintain a 13 minute pace until we get onto Wasatch Blvd. for the out and back. After that — it’s just being as fast as the slowest runner. So, really there is a technicalness to the course even if I’m sweeping.

And, if you’re wondering — yes — I stop for Slurpees at Mile 20. There is a 7 Eleven at the mouth of the canyon and it’s just a crime to bypass the opportunity to grab a mid-marathon Slurpee.

I love this race — and even if I’m not running it for myself, there is nothing quite like running Big Cottonwood in the fall. Totally gorgeous and worth the registration fee. Plus, this will be great ultra training being on my feet for 6:30-7 hours. It’ll be a fun loooooong day.


THE NEXT RACES ON DECK

131 - huntsville marathon 132 - st george marathon133 - park city red rock relay134 - pony express trail 50135 - haunted half provo


WEEKENDGRAMS

I just want someone that looks at me, the way I look at Slurpees. #thatsalliask

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on


2667in2016

RUNNING MILES

216.5 miles

RACE MILES

206.0 miles

WALKING MILES

1006,65 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

1429.15 miles

MILES TO GOAL

1237,85 miles


12788035_1688827578069562_373889742_n

This is one of my favorite episodes of the AIIA Podcast. Jed was one of the first athletes I met in AIIA and seriously, he’s one of the greatest guys I know. He helped run me in at the Provo City Half back in May and, really, he just embodies everything that AIIA stands for.

This is definitely worth the listen. I love uploading these podcasts to my phone to listen during my races or runs. Sometimes I’ll listen during my morning commute, but when it comes to the AIIA podcasts, I’d much rather be inspired out there when I’m running. Really help me connect to the message.

Give the episode a listen …


A photo posted by Runcast USA™ (@runcastusa) on

RACE RECAP #72: Run Elevated Half Marathon

72-RunElevatedHalfI love downhill races. But, then after a day or two after I run them, I really hate them. I look like a fool walking up or down stairs and all I want is a jazzy to aid me in my basic functions of life. But, I have to say, running downhill is GLORIOUS and my favorite kind of running. When you’re a bigger runner it’s great to get a little help from gravity. It’s also the difference between feeling like a clumsy lumbering cow and Usain Bolt while running.

This race was no exception. And, in fact it is one of my favorite half marathons to run. I ran it last year and PR’d on the course in preparation for Nebo. My plan this year was to do the same on route to a sub-two at Nebo. But, after a series of stupid little health issues that wasn’t going to happen this year. Which I have kind of accepted now.

My goal going into this race was to simply give my best and constantly remind myself to push myself beyond my comfort zone. I also gave myself a time goal of between 2:20-2:30. I felt that was VERY doable for me on this course. I knew it would be tough, especially on my legs, but it was beyond reachable and I felt like 2:30-2:40 would have felt more like an excuse than a goal.

IMG_4992
My hot mess self at last year’s race. Seriously, that folding job on the bandana is killing me.

So that was my mindset going into this race.

Preparing for this race was kind of tough for me. Hearing that there was a high chance of rain I took every precaution to make sure I wouldn’t die out there on the course. Having already dealt with my horrible 30K in April and Salt Lake and Ogden Halfs last year in the rain, I wanted to stay dry. So I packed like three changes of clothes, a garbage bag and two different kinds of hats. I’ve always been known to overpack, especially for vacations. Like, if I had the room I’d probably bring my own desk lamp and set of kitchen utensils. No joke.

Anyways, I just wanted to make sure that I was ready for the rain. I wasn’t going to have a repeat of my previous rainy races. It just wasn’t going to happen. So, I prepared for the rain.

And, how I wish it was only the rain we got.

Once, we took the buses up Little Cottonwood Canyon we found a nice little surprise awaiting us. Snow. Yep, you heard me right. Snow. And, for someone that absolutely hates snow I wanted no part of it. Especially considering the fact that it was an August snowstorm here in Utah. I can MAYBE accept a late September snowstorm, but August? NO WAY!

IMG_4077
Yes, this is a picture from August 23rd.

Luckily, the buses stayed up the canyon until about 15 minutes before gun time so the runners could stay warm and dry. I’m still shaking my head thinking that we got snow at this race. Talk about, “UGH!” But, I was grateful that we didn’t have to stay in it for that long, otherwise I would have been absolutely miserable.

Mentally I was kind of loathing the race now. I didn’t want to run in the snow and I didn’t want to run in the rain either. I was more than certain I was going to get soaked once we dropped to a lower elevation. I just pictured another repeat of all my rainy race because now the snow was a part of the equation. I kind of wasn’t a happy camper before the gun went off.

But, then a miraculous thing happened. The snow stopped basically as the gun went off. Like, it stopped. And, within a half a mile into the race you could the clouds parting above us and around the mouth of the canyon. It was a true August miracle.

IMG_4068
Can you see the excitement in my face that it stopped snowing?

Since a number of my running friends were running this race, including Becky, I wanted to run with her as much as I could. She is still on track to getting her sub-two at Nebo and she was hoping to get a good time on this course. So, I wanted to run with her as long as my legs would allow it.

Going down the mountain we were actually doing really well and I kept up with her stride for stride for the first 7 miles. We averaged about a 8:30-9:00 minute mile. I was doubly impressed with this time from me, considering that I was having my intestinal issues (aka … I was gassy). I’m not sure why I was so gassy? Becky was being visited by Aunt Flo so at first we just thought we were on the same cycle. But, I am MORE than sure it was because I somehow lost my baggy of imodium in route from my car to the starting line?

Either way, it wasn’t fun. Trust me.

But, don’t worry, it wasn’t THAT bad. I just had to stop at each aid station and stand off the road for a little bit pretending to admire the scenery. Once I got rid of the pressure I was off and running again. The only downside of all of this is that I had to stay away from Gatorade since it made it worst for me. And, I didn’t really have an appetite for anything. So through the whole race I just drank a lot of water and ate half a pack of Clif Bloks.

But, in the midst of that I’ll have to say that I do know that the Lord answers ALL prayers, even the ones where you ask that your bowels be full of mercy instead of gas.

Okay, that’s enough about my bowel movements though. I am more than certain I’ll be hearing about this portion of my post from my mother later today.

IMG_4140
Becky and I before she (wisely) ditched me.

After I lost Becky at mile 7 I went solo. I didn’t have my Garmin on me so I was just going by feel. I tried to keep my pace up as best as I could and just run a bit past my comfort zone. I still had “issues” until about mile 10, but after that I was fine. The fatigue though started settling in at mile 10 as well. So, I started doing a little run/walking. I tried to only walk no more than a minute at a time and run for a good mile.

Knowing what to expect during the last three miles also helped a lot. Knowing about the stupid hill during mile 10 helped prepare me mentally for it. I ran to the hill and then walked it, instead of last year where I walked to it and then foolishy ran up it. But, then I also knew about the run in the park and the turns in the neighborhood before you get to the finish line. For a runner doing this course for the first time it could be mentally be a bit challenge, because there are a number of turns during the last three miles.

Also, the course is about 0.3 miles too long, and that messed with me last year.

But, more than anything this year I just wanted to finish strong and within that perimeter goal I set. And, I reached it! I finished the course in 2:26:03, but my 13.1 time was around 2:23. Which I am BEYOND happy with. It makes me excited to see what I can do next week and then at Nebo! I might not be PRing or getting that elusive sub-two. But, I am going to be fast and I am excited about that.

10580933_10203455574643211_401015607241948026_o (1)
Just a few of the awesome people I run with. I love them!

One other thing that I gained from this race was that with a little coaching and speed work training I know I can be MUCH faster than I am now. Even more than I give myself credit for. I’ve got long legs that could serve me well. All, I need to do is get my weight down, training consistently and build up my stamina and I know I can reach that sub-two plateau more than once next year. I actually feel that. I am sure I will blog about that sometime later this week.

But, I am really happy with the result.

I am excited going into the next few races. The Emigration Canyon Half Marathon should be a good test. I’ve ran the canyon so many times that I know what to expect. Then Nebo the week after that. I am REALLY excited about running it even if I don’t PR. I absolutely love that race. Then of course the Big Cottonwood Marathon the follow week that I am running with Jill. It’s going to be a good transition into my fall races, especially my October races.

FUN, FUN, FUN.

As far as this race, I will be back again next year. I plan on using this next year as a good tune up for Nebo. But, I highly recommend this race to any runner, especially those looking for a great downhill race. Your quads will hurt, but hopefully next year you won’t get a surprise August snowstorm either?!

NEXT RACE: Emigration Canyon Half Marathon (Saturday)

Pictures from my running and family adventures on Saturday.


Total Mileage Breakdown for 2014

2014 Training Miles – 480.25 miles
2014 Walking Miles – 81.3 miles
2014 Race Miles – 267.7 miles
2014 Total Miles – 829.25 miles
 
Monthly Total Miles for 2014
January – 100.0 miles
February – 100.0 miles
March – 130.0 miles
April – 140.5 miles
May – 108.65 miles
June – 83.3 miles
July – 93.75 miles
August – 88.9 miles

10616210_1514757588761767_2187198917423560509_n