Tag: marathon race report

RACE #139: Jackpot Running Festival

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.

Anywho, needless to say,  we were going to be wet.

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.

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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.

So I kept going.

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.

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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?

Why not?

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.



105.55 miles


56.82 miles


122.77 miles


285.14 miles

Mama warned me about Vegas. #jackpotrunningfestival #race139 #ultrarunning @joshruns180 @fit.phat

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When you’re in Vegas, you naturally visit your Vegas girlfriend. It’s just what you do. #vegasgirlfriend

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A trip to Vegas isn’t a trip to Vegas without a fountain show at the Bellagio! #vegasmust

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RACE #107: Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon


I love the marathon. I love the challenge, I love the experience and I love the lessons that it teaches. Nothing against other distances, because each step forward is an effort. But, there really is something about running 26.2 miles that is exhilarating and life changing. It really is hard to explain in writing without experiencing it yourself.

But, after Saturday’s race down Big Cottonwood Canyon that love of the marathon grew deeper and taught me even more about myself and what it means to push one’s self beyond your preconceived assumptions. Not just within in, but the other runners around me. That is one reason why I love pacing so much, you’re a part of MANY other’s races and journeys. You get to share in their moment and encourage them past roadblocks and comfort zones.

Going into the race, like many other races I pace, I didn’t know what to expect. Since I was sweeping I knew it was going to along time on my feet. I knew I was going to be sore for the 24-48 hours after the race and that I was going to help others along the way. I knew that would mean either pushing them along, help them to get back up and go or quite possibly help them get into the support van. All, which happened on Saturday.

So many bright, shiny people wrapped up like burritos.

For the most part when I am sweeping or as I like to call it, “pacing the support role” I do so alone. But, I requested to not do the marathon alone, because I knew we’d need more support since we had a hard deadline to get out of the canyon. And, I felt that wouldn’t have allowed me enough time to give to focus on that and support to runners. Yes, pacing is about meeting your time, but it’s more so about giving support and getting others to follow you and move along.

Luckily, the RYR Pacers asked Ramie Best to pace along with me and I couldn’t have had a more awesome partner. We had to average a 15:00 minute mile to get out the canyon by 11am and that was our focus. This was slower than our normal pace so this allowed us some give to stop and give support, use the restroom and look for pink Starburst at the candy aid stations when needed. We picked up the pace when needed to meet those 15 minute cut off times and it worked perfectly.

I love the beauty of this canyon!

Since we were the support pacers we worked with the support van driven by the race organizers. Since Lexus is the title sponsor for the marathon it was only fitting the support van was a Lexus. It was pretty classy. I joked that after the marathon they’d have to hose it out because of the runners that got in for support.

The race started at Guardsman’s Pass up the canyon this year, which gave us about 17 miles inside the canyon. This was great because last year it was about 13-14 and in 2012 when I ran the inaugural marathon it was like only 7-8 miles. I can’t stress it enough how much I love running downhill so this was a godsend. Sure the quads are sore now, but I love when gravity does part of the work for you running down the mountain.

I love when I get complimented during my marathons.

There were a few runners we had to support in the canyon. One runner was having some stomach pain around mile 11 and we got him to the mile 13 aid station. He probably could have stopped at mile 11, but we helped push him a bit to at least get a half marathon. This was his first marathon and I knew he had a feeling of disappointment bowing out early. So Ramie and I got him to 13 and told him to try again soon for 26.2 as he got into the Lexus.

Sometimes there are the smallest of variables that happen at marathons that make or break your race. I really felt bad, but I know he’ll be back on the course.

The toughest part of the whole marathon is and always will be the out and back on Wasatch Blvd. It is for a couple reasons … one, you hit it around the hottest part of the race and, two, there isn’t much (if any) shade along that portion of the race. Since the course moved up the canyon a few miles that took a few miles off the out and back stretch. Again, another godsend. It was hot and I hit the wall as the course was flat and hot.

Ramie and I at the finish line with the couple that we ran in with on Saturday.

At Mile 23 I was tanking pretty bad and as we approached the 7 Eleven at the mouth of the canyon I knew exactly what I needed to do. Get a Slurpee. I was planning on getting one either there or closer to the finish line, but I needed a boost. So Ramie and I ran into the store and grabbed a couple of Slurpees. I was exactly what I needed. It cooled my core and gave me enough calories for a nice boost for the last 5K.

The last three were along Fort Union Blvd. towards 1300 E. though there wasn’t much shade it was hilly enough that it didn’t make the journey AS bad as if we ended with the terrain on Wasatch Blvd. We paced a couple in from Bountiful that was running their second marathon together, the wife was hurting and struggling during the last couple of miles. Once we got to the last mile we could see the finish line and just pushed ourselves.

Our family went to a ranch after my race and … well … walking over a cattle guard with my marathon feet and flip flops was a bad decision.

It was really neat because a number of volunteer came out to meet up and formed a tunnel to the finish line. It was cool. I kinda of regret not recording it.

But, once we crossed the finish line I beelined it to the water and immediately downed two cold bottles of water. We then jumped in the ice trough for an onsite ice bath. That’s one perk about being one of the last runners. It was needed and appreciated.

In the moments, hours and days since the marathon and looking back at my pictures and those of others I am filled a deeper love for running. The spirit of the marathon is not just about crossing the finish line and checking off an item on a bucket list, it’s about much, much more. It’s about the journey. It’s about the training, it’s about the persistence and it’s about giving it all you’ve got. No matter if you finish among the first, the middle or last … it’s your race. It’s your marathon. It’s your moment.

Nobody else’s, but your own.

That’s the beauty of the marathon and it was on full display this past weekend.





Having raced or paced nearly every weekend since July it’s kind of odd not having my next race until October 10th. That’s basically a month away from now. Even as I am writing this I am thinking of races I could run between now and the Layton Marathon. I was going to run the Park City Trail Half this weekend, but opted to sell it mainly because I didn’t think it was smart to do right after the marathon and because of some family obligations on the 19th.

But, I am almost wondering if I could find something closer to home? Stay tuned on that. I know I shouldn’t, but I want to. But, really, I shouldn’t. Oh the indecision.

Either way I am really excited for this race. This is the race I will be running tethered together with 79 or more other runners to set a Guinness World Record. Pretty much the only way I see being able to get the title of “World Record Runner.” This will be a race I am going to raise money for the Huntsman Hometown Heroes program so please stay tuned to the blog for more information within the next week or so.

But, October 10th can’t come soon enough!


Total Mileage Breakdown for 2015
2015 Training Miles – 204.5 miles
2015 Walking Miles – 291.8 miles
2015 Race Miles – 339.7 miles
2015 Total Miles – 836.0 miles
Monthly Total Miles for 2015
January – 78.8 miles
February – 72.85 miles
March – 115.3 miles
April – 76.3 miles
May  97.4 miles
June  131.15 miles
July  101.65 miles
August  110.2 miles
September – 58.34 miles


The last episode of The Utah Runcast came out last Wednesday. If you haven’t listened yet, you’re missing out. We talked to Tim Gill aka “Kilt Dude” and Joe Coles the Race Director from On Hill Events about upcoming races, fundraising and World Records.

Catch it here via the Podgoblin podcast network