Tag: races

RACE #152: AF Canyon Race Against Cancer

The past couple of months have been difficult. Dealing with my sprained ankle and the subsequent recovery has taken a toll on me, both physically and emotionally. It’s been frustrating feeling and being slower than where I wanted to be, especially at this point in the summer. I’m trying to stay positive about it, which is easier said than done.

This past week I started physical therapy on the ankle, which gave me a lot of hope. My physical therapist was really encouraged at the strength of my ankle and that I was able to run what I’ve done since April. There were a few areas of concern which she gave me to work on along with scheduling a few other exercises — including a running assessment in a couple weeks.

So going into this race, I felt — cautiously — encouraged. My therapist didn’t think it was a BAD idea, in fact she was amazed I was able to run last week’s Trifecta. As far as pace and time went — I had no idea where I was going to be? The fact that last week’s races were around four hours each and the week before’s race down Big Cottonwood was 2:56 — I just didn’t know what to expect?

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I really wanted to push for a sub-three hour half, but didn’t know if that was a reasonable or attainable goal? But, I knew I didn’t want to be around 3:30 or slower — so how’s that for a definitive goal?

But, with this ankle recovery I’ve found it’s hard to make definitive goals I like to see concrete results. I like to see when x plus y equals z. But, this race included too many imaginary numbers for me. So I didn’t really have a definitive goal. But, I wanted to push a sub-three and I didn’t want to be out on he course forever.

How’s that for a goal?

Anyways, I was excited to run, because American Fork Canyon is such a gorgeous canyon. It’s in my trifecta of favorite Utah canyons. It’s hard to keep your head down while running down the canyon because you get such beautiful views of Timp and the surrounding mountains. It’s so green and beautiful.

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That affect happens whether I am running this race, the Timp Half or a training run. And, it got me once again on Saturday once the gun sounded. Not wanting to go out too strong I kept to the right of the road and just focused on going with the flow of the crowd. I did this to not just warm up, but to test the foot.

I kind of decided to just take what my foot was going to give me. But, I knew I couldn’t — or shouldn’t — take too much, too early. Because, if I was going to sub-three, I needed gas left in the tank in the later miles, especially the non-canyon miles. So, I ran the first three miles rather conservatively.

After those first three miles, I felt pretty good so I just worked on picking up my pace slightly and putting myself on cruise control down the canyon. It wasn’t quite like putting the petal to the metal, but it felt good being able to be consistent with minimal pain.

I was amazed at how much stronger I felt compared to not just the previous week’s races, but Drop13. Being a canyon run, I felt that American Fork Canyon was “kinder” to my ankle than Big Cottonwood. Not only was the elevation drop more gradual, but the road was less windy — which really helped with my ankle since there wasn’t much lateral movement on my part.

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It just felt so good to be able to be on cruise control. The miles seemed to just pass and before I knew it I was already out of the canyon. Which was about 7.5 or so miles into the race. I felt like Meb.

Coming out of the canyon, I knew it was going to be tougher. The rolling hills and neighborhood miles are always tough for me, regardless of the state of my ankle. After passing the Mile 8 mile marker we made our climb on the rolling hills near the gold course. I decided to fast walk the hills to conserve my energy.

While climbing the hill, I noticed my friend Shonda ahead a hundred yards or so ahead of me. Throwing caution to the wind, I sprinted up the hill to catch up with her. After taking a picture with her, I ran ahead. I could tell she was struggling a bit, but I was amazed I was able to catch up to her, because she is a strong runner.

It was around this time I felt I had a shot at that sub-three time. Knowing the course that was ahead of me, I knew it was going to be tough, but I felt that if I kept running and didn’t stop to walk much, I could do it. So, I shuffled when I needed to shuffle and sprinted when I needed to sprint those last five miles.

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After winding around neighborhoods and along the Murdock Trail, I made it to the last mile of the race. I avoided looking at my watch, because I didn’t want to play mind games with myself. I just wanted to keep running strong. Soon we met up with the 5K runners who looped onto the 3/4 of a mile of the race with us.

Around this time, as I was focusing on that last mile, I heard my name and noticed it was Zack — one of my teammates from Addict II Athlete. I could tell right away he was hurting, He told me that his leg was hurting. But, for hurting at that point of the race, he was looking strong.

We ran together that last mile and I gave him the best advice I had on dealing with pain. I gave him some of my ultrarunning tricks and reminded him that when the legs and mind give out — you let the heart carry you the rest of the way. It was a very special moment for me to be able to share with Zack.

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We soon ran into Don, our teammate, who came back looking for us and he ran us to the finisher’s corral. I let Zack ahead of me as I barked words of encouragement toward that finish line. It wasn’t until that last moment when I caught a glance of the time that I noticed I got a sub-three time! But, at that moment I didn’t really care. I was happy to be done, to be with teammates and have the opportunity to run with Zack.

After grabbing some water and mingling a bit, I checked my time and came in at 2:55:06 — I was happy. I was very happy. I didn’t care that I once ran this race 45 minutes faster, I cared about now. I cared about the effort I put in that day. And, I cared that my foot didn’t feel like it fell off.

I was happy.

I still have a long way to go with my recovery, but this was a victory. And, having a plan with my physical therapist I feel like I have an attainable goal that will help me get where I want and need to be. Not just with my speed, but my stamina that will help get me to my 48 hour run in February. That 100 miles is going to happen. I am sure of it.

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But, the focus is on the therapy, the weight loss and the exercises I CAN do. And, I am feeling a difference. I’ve shed over 10lbs. and lost some inches that needed to be shed so I am happy with that. Sure, like I’ve said previously, it might not be in the timetable or pace I’d like it to be — but, it’s happening.

My next race is in a couple of weeks, so the focus is on the continued weight-loss and therapy. I have a group run planned for Little Cottonwood on Saturday that I am excited about. Lots of good things happening.

But, Saturday’s race was perfection.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES

I had a race that was cancelled — The 13 Miles of Freedom — so I had to do a little shuffling. That makes my next race the Utah Midnight Run in Farmington! That will be the first of two back to back races on the weekend of July 7th!


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 6.5 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 35.23 miles
TOTAL MILES — 54.83 miles
Race(s) this week — AF Canyon Race Against Cancer

June 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 32.7 miles
Race Miles — 65.5 miles
Walking Miles — 92.27 miles
TOTAL MILES — 190.47 miles
Races in May — Drop 13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 259.95 miles
Race Miles — 243.12 miles
Walking Miles — 616.72 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1119.79 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.


AF Canyon Run Against Cancer; June 24, 2017 (2:55:04) AF Canyon will always be one of my favorite canyons to run. Great views of Timp, gorgeous greenery around every corner and a canyon drop that lets you soak it all in putting yourself on cruise control. Came into this race not knowing what to expect with my ankle, but the terrain and elevation drop made for a fairly pain free run. I pushed it a bit and was pleasantly surprised and happy coming in under three hours. Not bad for my fourth half in two weeks, eh? Had a great moment running in my @addicttoathlete teammate Zack during the last mile. We were both hurting, but we kept each other motivated and going. I sure love being a part of this team, we inspire and motivate each other to our goals. I’m feeling stronger, especially with my physical therapy. I can’t wait to get where I want to be/need. But, for now, I need to be patient. #race152 #afcanyonrun #running @joshruns180 @josherwalla @fight4phat @addicttoathlete @afcanyonrun

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My niece was blessed today. As you can see, it was a grand occasion.

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Not my idea of a fun weekend.

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The Second Half Outlook for 2017

With the recent changes in my race schedule the past couple of months — DNFs, DNSs and deferrals — I’ve been thinking a lot of the rest of my race schedule in 2017. I’ve still got a lot of running to do. That’s why I’ve been (somewhat) okay with dropping and deferring some races as of late.

But, I’ve got four marathons and 15 half marathons left for the year. That’s 19 races — or 301.3 miles. But, that’s also all by design to help build me up for my 100 miler in February. Come November and December I’ll be running a lot of solo non-race miles in preparation for that.

So there’s a lot ahead of me still.

But, that hasn’t stopped me from looking and planning ahead. I feel good about my schedule so far — October is a tough month for me to run because of the Haunted Halfs. I am signed up for the Howloween Half, but depending where I am that weekend — I might not run it? And, if I am — I am also debating on running SoJo in the morning and/or the Pony Express 50 again.

But, we’ll see?

I just have a lot of variables going on with October.

My race schedule pretty much ends in November with the Mt. View Trail Half Marathon. I haven’t signed up for it — yet — because there’s a good chance I might sign up for the 50K again. We’ll see?

There are a number other races later in November, but I’ll be in Greece for half the month so that scratches a lot of races. And, I am not sure what kind of running I’ll be able to do while there? I’m hoping for hotels with a treadmill … at the very least.

But, there’s a chance I will add 1-2 more races in December. I really want to do Cory Reese’s Bakers Dozen Half in December. That might just be a tricky one to do this year, because of family’s birthdays — but, all in all, with what I have planned for the rest of the year — I feel good about.

It still puts me in a position to get my 180 in July of next year at the Handcart Days Half (where I started my journey in 2011) … so I feel good about that.

But, anyways, here’s the rest of my planned 2017 race schedule starting with this weekend’s race down Big Cottonwood …

This should be my 2017 race schedule …

Okay, I think I’ve got my complete 2017 race schedule figured out.

I think.

Which is a definite maybe.

But, let me explain it a little bit. I have a race each month except December. I might add a race in December, but I am not planning on it. It’s a good rest month after a long year of running.

My busiest month is June. I have seven races planned for the month. Yes, seven. I have Ragnar during the first weekend, the Utah Valley Marathon on the 10th, the Bear Lake Trifecta (three half marathons in three days) the following week and then the Utah Midnight Run (Friday night) and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer (Saturday morning) the following weekend.

I have three total back-to-back races planned. My first being the Salt Flats 50K (April 28) and Tulip Festival (April 29), Utah Midnight Run (June 23) and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer (June 24) and then the Utah Midnight Run (July 7) and Hobbler Half (July 8).

The biggest of those back-to-backs the April one with my 50K and half marathon. Not sure how that’s going to go, but I am betting I’ll walk a lot of the Tulip Festival Half. A lot.

In total I have 32 races planned — 23 half marathons, 5 marathons, 2 ultra marathons, a 25K and the Ragnar Relay. This includes one indoor race, 5 trail races and the rest road races.

Lots of running.

And, if you’re trying to estimate miles — that’s about 525-530 miles. Just in racing miles.

So, yeah — it’s going to be a big mileage year.

Anyways here is my schedule … what’s on your schedule?

#FitnessFriday: GOING BIG!

I was kinda debating if I was going to blog today. I won’t lie — after Labor Day I just kinda stopped. Sure, I had two posts. But, one was my vacation pictures and the other was an update 2017 race schedule. Nothing that really constitutes a true blog entry.

Anyways — I’ll just say that the lack of posts is because I was on blogcation. Yes, that sounds good. But, really, it was. I had the chance to spend some quality time with family, doing a little running and prepare myself more mentally for this upcoming month of marathons.

I did a little running this week, but pretty much kept it low because I am a bit nervous overdoing it before the marathon, especially considering I have the Huntsville Marathon (aka The Full Monte) next week. I’ll probably do a shake out run next Tuesday or Wednesday, but focus just walking throughout the week in preparation for The Full Monte.

We’ll see. Really depends on how I feel come tomorrow, Sunday and probably most all of Monday as well. But, the fact I am sweeping the course helps. I do have to maintain a 15 minute mile coming down the canyon — which is doable — but, other than that, it’s just being as fast as the slowest runner.

But, with this 50 mile training most of it is just accustoming myself to being on my feet for a loooong time. And, sweeping will do that for you. It’s great preparation. I swept the Big Cottonwood Marathon last year to help prep me for the Antelope Island 50K for that very reason. I am expect being anywhere between 6:30-7 hours on my feet tomorrow. It’s not easy. But, it’s sure fun.

And, if I am feeling extra adventurous I might try to mow the lawn which is another hour. But, that just seems like too much cruelty to put my body through. Which means — I probably should do it. Besides the lawn is looking a bit shaggy.

Luckily, I am not sweeping the course alone. This year I am running with my friend Chanda along with the support vehicle the race provides — which is mainly for injured runners, etc. It should be a party. But, like I said, we just have to make sure to get everyone down the canyon on time or that support vehicle will sweep them off the course. Something every runner wants to avoid.

But, anyways — I can’t wait! I am pumped! Besides seeing all of my usual running friends, I get to FINALLY meet one of my friends from the far away land known as New Hampshire. He flew in to run the half marathon with Jill and Tim. If I wasn’t using this race as a training run, I totally would have joined them. I am pretty jealous, because that might be the party of the year, right there.

Anyways — 26.2 TOMORROW! 26.2 NEXT WEEK! 26.2 IN FOUR WEEKS! 50 IN LESS THAN SIX WEEKS!

YEAH RUNNING!


130 - Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon

I LOVE THE BIG COTTONWOOD MARATHON! Tomorrow will be the fifth time I’ve ran the race — well, okay, fourth time, because I ran the half marathon back in 2013. And, here’s a funny tidbit — I’ve never actually signed up for the marathon when I registered for the race. Every year I’ve signed up for the half marathon and then upgraded to the marathon (except in 2013 of course). I should probably use that as a personal trivia question or something, huh?

As mentioned above the game plan tomorrow is to sweep the course with my friend Chanda. We have to average a 15 minute mile down the canyon and then bring in the last runner after that. I am also planning on a mid-race Slurpee somewhere around Mile 23. Heck maybe even Mile 19 if I am dying. Or why not both? Possibilities are endless.

I’ve had a number of special memories from this race — from nearly setting a PR in the half marathon, setting a PR in the marathon and then running with Jill for her first marathon. This race has been the backdrop to a lot of special moments for me. That’s one reason why I’ll always come back. I’ve got to. It’s MY race down MY canyon.

And, if you’re wondering — yes — I am planning on just running the half marathon in 2017. Sooooo — the odds are pretty good that it’ll end up being the marathon at this rate! HAHAHA!

BIG COTTONWOOD OR BUST, BABY!


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PHATGRAMS

Shhhhh … I snuck my apple sauce snack on the bus after the gym. #ieatlikeatoddler

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I’m 99% sure I’m sitting behind Captain Kangaroo on the bus right now. #icantbewrong

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Whenever I am at Michael’s, I end up here. #always

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2017 race schedule

Yesterday I blogged a bit about my 2017 race schedule … you can read all about that in depth here. But, I thought I’d share the schedule here in detail as well. Anyone else running any of these races?

139. New Year’s Half Marathon — January 7, 2017
140. St. George Half Marathon — January 14, 2017
141. Salt Lake Tri Club Half Marathon — February 25, 2017
142. March Madness Half Marathon — March 4, 2017
143. Lucky 13 Half Marathon — March 18, 2017
144. Tulip Festival Half Marathon — April 29, 2017
145. Provo City Half Marathon — May 6, 2017
146. Vigor Big Cottonwood Half Marathon — May 13, 2017
147. Ogden Half Marathon — May 20, 2017
148. Ragnar Wasatch Back — June 2-3, 2017
149. Drop 13 Big Cottonwood Half Marathon — June 11, 2017
150. AF Canyon Race Against Cancer — June 24, 2017
151. Hobbler Half — July 8, 2017
152. Utah Midnight Run — July 14, 2017
153. Deseret News Half Marathon — July 24, 2017
154. Timp Half — July 29, 2017
155. Parowan City Half Marathon — August 5, 2017
156. Skyline Half Marathon — August 19, 2017
157. Run Elevated Half Marathon — August 26, 2017
158. Nebo Half — September 2, 2017
159. Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon — September 9, 2017
160. Park City City Trail Half Marathon — September 16, 2017
161. Huntsville Half Marathon — September 23, 2017
162. Frightmares Half Marathon — October 14, 2017
163. Haunted Half SLC — October 21, 2017
164. Haunted Half Provo — October 28, 2017
165. Snow Canyon Half Marathon — November 4, 2017
166. Thankful 13 — November 23, 2017

I should be about 14 races away from my 180 goal in 2018! I’m aiming for that to be the Handcart Days Half Marathon. Should be a fun 18 months of running!


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Another Look at 2017 …

I am really trying to plan out my 2017 race schedule. If you’ve been following my blog even for the past three months you’ll know I’ve been working on my 2017 schedule pretty obsessively. Which is fine. I mean, it’s always subject to change — especially being three months away from the turning of the calendar.

There have been a few races I’ve been going waffling over — namely the DesNews Marathon and a few races in the summer. I don’t want to do marathons next year … but, I do. Especially since 2017 will be my five year anniversary of my first marathon — at DesNews.

I’m feeling a pull to just stick to half marathons and some trail 25-30Ks. I really want to do some more trail races and it’s kinda hard to pick and choose what I want to run. It’s real hard. Especially when I am still a rookie out on the trails.

So, I am sticking to half marathons and 25-30Ks in 2017. I am trying to mimic my 2013 race schedule where I ran nothing but half marathons. This will help me work on my speed so I can hit my running milestones and hopefully a new half PR.

Plus, I want to hit up some races in locations I can check off on my 40 Before 40 bucket list. So there’s that as well.

Anyways, here’s my schedule as I am looking at it thus far. The bolded races are ones I’ve already registered for. Oh, and the numbers to the left is the race number towards my 180 race goal.

139. New Year’s Half Marathon — January 7, 2017
140. St. George Half Marathon — January 14, 2017
141. Salt Lake Tri Club Half Marathon — February 25, 2017
142. March Madness Half Marathon — March 4, 2017
143. Lucky 13 Half Marathon — March 18, 2017
144. Tulip Festival Half Marathon — April 29, 2017
145. Provo City Half Marathon — May 6, 2017
146. Vigor Big Cottonwood Half Marathon — May 13, 2017
147. Ogden Half Marathon — May 20, 2017
148. Ragnar Wasatch Back — June 2-3, 2017
149. Drop 13 Big Cottonwood Half Marathon — June 11, 2017
150. AF Canyon Race Against Cancer — June 24, 2017
151. Hobbler Half — July 8, 2017
152. Utah Midnight Run — July 14, 2017
153. Deseret News Half Marathon — July 24, 2017
154. Timp Half — July 29, 2017
155. Parowan City Half Marathon — August 5, 2017
156. Skyline Half Marathon — August 19, 2017
157. Run Elevated Half Marathon — August 26, 2017
158. Nebo Half — September 2, 2017
159. Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon — September 9, 2017
160. Park City City Trail Half Marathon — September 16, 2017
161. Huntsville Half Marathon — September 23, 2017
162. Frightmares Half Marathon — October 14, 2017
163. Haunted Half SLC — October 21, 2017
164. Haunted Half Provo — October 28, 2017
165. Snow Canyon Half Marathon — November 4, 2017
166. Thankful 13 — November 23, 2017

Anyways — there it is. Of course this is all subject to change. But, please, let me know if you’re planning on any of these races. I’m always up to run with others! Just comment below!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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

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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


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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 …


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#FitnessFriday: Running Down Canyons …

This has been a crazy past week. Well, okay, not necessarily crazy — but, a little bit frustrating. Mainly because of this stupid cold. It’s just killed any rhythm and pace I was having going forward post-Whole30.

But, it’s probably been good recalibrating and resting a bit. My body will definitely need it as I move into September and get ready to run three marathons this upcoming month. So it might very well be a blessing in disguise?

Either way, I am not sure what it has done with my goal of doing a sub-2:30 at the Run Elevated Half tomorrow? I haven’t gotten the runs in that I wanted and I am not sure what that will do with my performance — but, I am still going to go hard at my goal.

You can read more about that below.

But, it’s been a fun couple of weeks with my birthday and a couple other family birthdays. As crappy as I was feeling, this is one of my favorite weeks of the year because of the birthdays — and I love late summer days. Especially when the weather starts turning into the autumn. Fall is my favorite season.

I am really looking forward to next week. I am taking Thursday and Friday off from work — mainly for a family reunion in Idaho, but I’ll also be going to the SUU-Utah football game here in Salt Lake. This is quite the conundrum, because I am a diehard Ute fan, but SUU and the T-Birds have my heart. It’ll just be exciting to see my T-Birds play up here at the U.

The only downside of next weekend — is that I had to sell my Nebo Half bib because of the reunion. I’m sad, because it’s my favorite race. But, honestly, I’d rather spend the weekend with family — they’re a higher priority to me. But, believe you me — next year there better not be a family reunion over Nebo Half weekend.

Luckily, I’ll still get my second favorite race in — the Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon — the following week. I am sweeping that course with my friend Chanda and I have a couple of friends coming out from New Hampshire to run the race as well. That’s going to be a party and a half. They’re running the half marathon with Jill and Tim, so I am fully expecting them to meet me at the 7 Eleven at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon with Slurpees in hand for me!

Anyways — FALL IS COMING!

Just don’t break out the pumpkin spice quite yet.


129 - Run Elevated Half Marathon

I won’t lie, I am slightly disappointed about how the past week of running has gone for me. I just don’t feel confident enough to hit my sub-2:30 time goal tomorrow. The past week, week and a half have kind of been a wash with my stupid cold. I didn’t get the kind of runs in that I wanted to — and I’m not sure where that’s going to put me tomorrow?

Is that an excuse? No. I’m still aiming and preparing to run at a 11:22 pace to hit that goal. I just know it will be much harder mentally and physically than I expected. Which is fine. That’s a good challenge. And, I’ll give it my all. I do have the advantage of running this race numerous times — so I know where to push or pull back more.

The goal is still 2:29, but if that’s not the case I will be happy with anything below a 2:39. I really don’t want to have anything slower or I will truly feel disappointed. Plus, I want to wear out my legs for my last 7 miles since this race is part of my 20 miler. I really want to simulate late ultra mile fatigue during those last 7 miles. So I have to push it no matter what.

YEAH LITTLE COTTONWOOD!


PACKET PICK UP

My friend Meridith aka “THE DITH” agreed to pick up my race packet for tomorrow’s race, so I gladly wrote her a note allowing her to pick up the packet. I am so grateful for friends like “THE DITH” …

dith sm_001


RRR-20-coupon


PHATGRAMS

At least I didn’t crash, right? #gokartingfool

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Clearly, we go ALL OUT for birthdays around here. #freedomhasabirthday

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No, his name is not Carlos. #boondockers

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I’m not a fisherman, but we’re BFFs this weekend … #imdying #notsocommoncold

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on


fight4phat-1

The past week and a half really has felt like somewhat of a wash for me. Last Wednesday I started coming down with a cold that lingered for about the past 10 days or so. Not fun. Not fun at all.

That’s kind of prevented me from getting into a rhythm, which has been frustrating. I ran 14 miles last weekend — but — honestly they were slower than I wanted miles and I probably should have rested. But, I’ve rebounded fairly well. Thanks a lot to my diet. Usually when I get colds like this it turns into bronchitis with a lingering cough — no cough this go around.

YEAH!

But, I am still not 100% — probably somewhere around 85%? I am a bit fatigued more than usual and am restless at night, which doesn’t help. But, I know I am more than around the corner to being where I want to be for my marathons next month. And, that I am thankful for.

This past week I also started my weight training class at the U. It’s just a continuing ed class I’m taking every Monday and Wednesday after work. The past month or so I’ve REALLY felt the need to get more weight training into my workout regime. I’ve been doing circuit training at home with lighter weights and that hasn’t really helped my flabby chicken wings tone up.

I am excited to see the progress over the semester. Not to mention how it helps my running. My legs are DYING since Wednesday’s workout and I love/hate that feeling. It’s a great reminder that my legs are getting sexier. So, how can you complain about that?

Anyways — I am excited to start this new regime and get back into a rhythm. Screw this stupid cold!



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