First a few items of business. One, my blog is back up and in service. It had been down for the past couple of weeks. I had some errors that wouldn’t allow me to upload content and at times view the blog itself. I’d love to sit here and curse my blog host about their inability to fix this matter within a timely matter.
But, it was totally user error. I might look like I totally understand internet things, but it’s a lie. Sometimes I surprise myself by being able to start my computer without loading some kind of Malware software on it. Some days I feel like I have the technological acumen of a 80 year old who calls the computer the devil’s machine.
Anyways — I am back. I’ve fixed my issues and — hopefully — I avoid another unplanned two week blogcation again. Now onto the race recap …
I’ve been focused on this race for what seems like months upon months. The past three months my training has been focused on this race. And, while it’s been my focus — going into the race, I had no idea how to feel? Or what to feel?
I felt ready — I put the miles in I needed. My longest training run was 10 miles, I ran 2-3 times a week, worked out twice a week and made sure I hit my 10,000 step goal Monday-Saturday. But, I won’t lie, with the way my body has reacted — or not reacted — to my training as it has in the past … I was scared of the unexpected.
So much so by the time race day came, I knew two things — this was going to suck and I had no business being on the course. I was simply not ready.
I came to this belief simply because I dwelled on it WAY too much. Sure, I’m not where I was 2-3 years ago physically, but by comparing the two, I negated the work I had put in. I wish I came to that realization before the race. But, it was more like somewhere between miles two and three.
My shins were hurting, my legs felt like rocks and I just wasn’t mentally into my run. My body was responding the way I prepared it the previous week. And, it wanted to die. Well, okay, not die — but, definitely take a long nap somewhere along the course.
When I got to the first aid station at Vivian Park — my body was hurting and I wasn’t mentally present. And, I still had 11 miles to go. I was loathing what was in front of me — but, I also knew things had to change. I couldn’t put myself through 11 miles of this hell.
But, then — I had a moment.
I simply asked myself, “Josh, where is your heart?” Meaning — why are you running? Where’s your passion? And, of course — “get your sh– together!”
This wasn’t the first time I’ve asked myself this question in the middle of a run. And, I am sure it won’t be the last. But, it’s a question that should be asked often, especially during those physically and mentally tough runs.
After asking myself that question — I stopped for a moment and reminded myself to run with the heart first. That’s what has carried me through the thousands of miles leading up to that point. If you’re not running — or doing anything for matter — with your heart, then what’s the point of doing it at all?
And, I’ve found that when you lead with the heart, the mental and physical will follow. Pain is easier to process and your ‘whys’ are easier to understand and process. Finding that place of understanding was crucial to my race — and while I wish I found that zone much, much earlier — and well before the race — sometimes we find it when we need it the most.
So with that new frame of mind — I moved forward with a new focus and it made all the difference. Did I all of the sudden run faster? Um — no. My overall pace was something like a 13:22 minute mile –well below my peak of 9:53 from a few years ago (that’s a post for another day). But, the pain I was feeling was easier to process and I was able to push forward harder.
So, maybe, you could say I did run faster?
Either way, I was in a good place mentally and I was beyond grateful being there. I really don’t think I could have last much longer without a change. I would have either gotten hurt or just stopped.
I put myself onto cruise control for the rest of Provo Canyon and worked on preparing myself mentally for the last five miles of the race. I knew it was going to be tough and I just wanted to finish under three hours. That was really my only goal for the race.
The biggest obstacle in front of me was the hill at mile 11. Physically, it’s not that bad of a hill — I’ve ran worse. But, being at mile 11 when you’re physically, mentally and emotionally spent it will get to you, especially since you can see it coming from quite a ways off.
I didn’t want to be crushed by the hill — so I simply decided to conquer it. Not physically — but, mentally and emotionally. So, when I approached the base of the hill, I simply kept my focus away from it. I instead looked to my right at the trees, street signs and fire hydrants — anything really. I used that small markers as goals, once I passed one — I went to another — until I conquered that blasted hill.
That gave me a huge sense of accomplishment. And, another mentally victory.
Approaching the last mile of the race — I was met by Jed, one of the Addict II Athlete team members. One of the things I LOVE about the AIIA team — is that once you are done with your race you help bring in everyone else. No one runs alone on the team.
I can’t begin to put my thoughts and feelings into words of how I felt during that last mile. My running journey is now some 6-7 years long — and I wish I had found AIIA much earlier. The support, sense of brotherhood, love and purpose I feel amongst the team is profound.
After having been ran in by the team, I quickly got myself some water and bananas (naturally) and just kind of collapsed in a mess of emotions. Not only did I finish under three hours, but I was just grateful for the race, the moment I just had with Jed and the rest of the AIIA team. I said a simple silent prayer of gratitude and composed myself.
I wish I was able to turn around and run in the last few runners, but by the time I refueled and composed myself the last AIIA runner had crossed the finish line. So, my goal is to make sure I return the favor at the Ogden Half in a couple of weeks.
In retrospect, I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about the race. First and forth most — I am just grateful for the ability to run. I might not be as fast as I used to be. My health has been all over the place with my thyroid and testosterone — but, I can still do what I love and I shouldn’t take that for granted. I know I will get back where I want to be physically. It might not be now or as fast as I wish — but, I’ll get there.
I am grateful for the small moments and lessons I learned throughout the race — whether it changing my mindset at mile two, side conversations with strangers running the course beside me, running with the AIIA team members or my friends JoAnna and Michael. These are the reasons why I run.
I run to be better. I run to be with others. I run to help others be better. I run because I love to run. I run to be. There are many, many, many reasons I could list. But, I am sure you get the point.
I am looking forward to the racing season — not just to better my outcome from this weekend’s race, but for the unrealized friendships, experiences and adventures. I am looking forward to the marathons in the fall leading up to my 50 miler in October. It’s going to take a lot of work — and I am ready for that. I am excited about that.
But, the focus now is looking towards Ogden and continue to get stronger out on the roads and trails, but in the weight room as well. I really need to get stronger, especially within my core. That more than anything will help me get faster and slimmer.
Well, okay, maybe not slimmer, but that’d be nice — then I wouldn’t have to worry about my thyroid. But, again, that’s a post for another day.
YEAH RUNNING! YEAH PROVO!
MY NEXT RACE
As I have mentioned numerous times here on the bloggy blog, I had to drop the Vigor Big Cottonwood Half (May 14) because of my best friend’s wedding that same day. So my next race is now the Ogden Half the following week. I wasn’t originally planning on running Ogden — I had to buy a last minute bib.
My goal for this race is simple — build on what I accomplished at Provo, come in under three hours or less and don’t poop my pants (my goal for pretty much every race).
In the meantime I am going to have to find a good route to run this weekend for my long run and pray every night that it doesn’t pour rain like it has at Ogden during the marathon the past 2 out of 3 years.
Regardless, Ogden is still one of my favorite races — and I can’t wait to run it again!
TOTAL MILES TO DATE
MILES TO GOAL