Tag: revel big cottonwood

RACE #159: Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon

When I ran the inaugural Big Cottonwood Marathon in 2012 — I never expected it to become what it’s become six years later. Like most inaugural events — it had it flaws. The miles in the canyon were short, the aid stations were less than desirable and I thought I got lost a couple times in the latter miles of the race. But, I loved I spinning finishers’ medal that I got and the scenery was absolutely extraordinary.

And, much like Disneyland — you can’t judge an event or entity on it’s first day. If you did — no one would have come back to Disneyland the following day or decades after ‘Black Sunday’ in 1955.

It’s been fun watching this race grow from that first event in 2012. The following year I was surprised at how much it grew. It made a leap from a local race to a nationally spotlighted race — almost overnight it seemed. That second year each state in the union was represented. That speaks volumes about the ownership, leadership and marketing.

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And, each year — it just seems to get better. There is a weight that Revel holds nation wide and you see that in their races and courses in Colorado, California, Nevada and Arizona. These courses are fast and a target race for many hoping to BQ or PR on a downhill course.

Originally, I was going to be sweeping the marathon course — as I have done the previous three years. But, I had to back out a couple weeks ago after my doctor didn’t want me running 26.2 miles on my ankle. Despite knowing that I could do it — I concurred and decided to stick with the half marathon instead. It would still keep my Legacy Runner status alive — and I’d still be able to enjoy the canyon.

Plus, I haven’t done this specific half marathon course yet. Back in 2013 when I did the half marathon the course ended at Cottonwood High — not on 1300 East and Ft. Union Blvd. I was excited to try this course, because it pretty much drops you right down the canyon and to the finish line. How can you not love a race like that?

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Sure I was bummed that I had to drop to the 13.1, but I knew that if I was going to heal properly and get myself prepared and ready for my 100 mile run in February. Everything at this point in my recovery and training is for that race. And, I need to remember that when I get discouraged at momentarily setbacks.

The morning of the race was abnormally warm for a September canyon race. I brought my usual hoodie and gloves, but I really didn’t need them. I should have taken it as a sign that it was going to be a tough hot day, especially for the marathoners out there shooting for a BQ & PR — because as evidenced from many social media posts it was.

Even at the starting line I believe the nerves and heat were getting to some people. I made the horrible mistake of stepping into a Honey Bucket where a previous runner threw up all over. I couldn’t contain my gag reflex and lost it as well — unlike the previous occupant I was able to successfully aim for the commode. It was absolutely disgusting.

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After composing myself and refueling a bit I got ready for the gun time at 6:45am. The race started with a slow walk toward the starting line and then a quick quarter mile out and back. I wasn’t expecting the out and back, but it was fun being able to see a number of my (much faster) friends along the course.

Where they started the half marathon is probably my favorite stretch of the canyon — which is about 9-10 miles above the mouth of the canyon. It was absolutely gorgeous as the sun was slowly rising above the surrounding mountains. It was the perfect way to warm up into my run.

l didn’t really have a goal for this race. My pride wanted a sub-three time, but my reasoning knew I really shouldn’t push my ankle too much. So I just decided to take what I could from my ankle — but, more than that — I just wanted to enjoy myself and have a good overall experience. So that’s where I set my expectations and heart.

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Around Mile 5-6 the marathoners — the elite marathoners — caught up with us half marathoners. It’s always amazing watching these runners streak past. It’s usually  during this part of the race where I get major calf envy. Seriously, have you ever noticed how well defined and strong many of the elite runners’ calves are? If I only had likewise calves.

But, enough of that. — one day I’ll get myself some sexy calves. Hopefully sooner than later. But, that’s a conversation for another day.

Around this time a number of marathon friends came running past — Ty Hansen, Monte Riding, Bill Hiatt and Elsha. It was really neat. Ty stopped and got a picture with me and I am pretty much the race photographer got a picture of me running alongside Bill and Elsha. I was on cloud nine.

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Not long after passing Stormy Mountain both Amanda and Mike Bjarnson caught up with me. Being 34 weeks pregnant the race for Amanda was more like a 13.1 mile progressive bathroom break — as she had to stop at pretty much every Honey Bucket. We joked about it a couple weeks ago at the Nebo Half and then again when I saw her at Mile 3 waiting in a long line for the potties.

But, as pregnant as she is — she’s still a STRONG runner. And, was able to catch up to me despite all the breaks. I ran with her and Mike for a good 3-4 miles — and we just had a blast! We joked, cat called a marathon runner running in a Speedo and made new friends around us — I couldn’t have asked for a better stretch of miles than what I spent with the Bjarnsons.

We split around Mile 10 when we got to some more Honey Buckets. I decided to keep going, mainly because my ankle was starting to nag at me and I just wanted to be done. But, also because many if I kept going I would FINALLY beat Pregnant Amanda to the finish line?!

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I was really enjoying the run and despite the heat and varied elevation change of the last three miles — I just tried to zone in on finishing. It was around this time that I got heckled by a passing motorist. I recounted the experience in an earlier post that you can read here.

I will say this about the experience — it’s unfortunate that it happened — but, I feel worse for the guy who spouted off his insecurities and frustration. I mean, how would you like to live a life where to gain any value of self worth you have to tear down others? What a sad reality.

But, thanks to him, I was also reminded at how blessed and lucky I am to have so many wonderful friends within a community of a sport that I enjoy and love. I wasn’t going to let his words negate the experience I had running down the canyon being passed by my marathon friends or those miles of pure fun with the Bjarnsons. Those experiences spoke louder — much louder than any word he yelled my way.

I spent my last mile or so thinking about that experience as I inched toward the finish line. I was a hot mess thanks more to my ankle and sore quads. But, I didn’t care — that last mile of pondering carried me. I was done. I did it. And, I couldn’t wait to do it again.

I have a lot to be grateful for during this race. Just the fact that I was able to do it, I am grateful. I am also grateful for the friendly hellos and greeting from so many in the running in community. I don’t take those for granted. And, I cherish them — I hope no one shies aways from saying hi to me — PLEASE DO! Because it’s those friendships that make that motorist’s words meaningless.

I am already signed up for next year’s race — I signed up yesterday for the half marathon. But, depending on where I’m at this point next year I would like to be in a position to sweep the course again with the RYR Pacers.

But, we’ll see.

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I plan on continuing my status as a Legacy Runner at Revel Big Cottonwood for as long as my legs will allow me to run. It really is one of the best organized races I’ve done and a race I look forward to each year. It’s come along way from it’s inaugural run in 2012.

Now my focus is shifted toward the Huntsville Half Marathon this upcoming Saturday! No specific goals other than do my best, have fun and finish strong. And, luckily, no motorists along the course to heckle me!


MY RACES THROUGH OCTOBER


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 9.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 31.02 miles
TOTAL MILES — 53.12 miles
Races This Week — Nebo Half.

August 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 47.5 miles
Race Miles — 40.0 miles
Walking Miles — 104.27 miles
TOTAL MILES — 191.77 miles
Races in August — (3) Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half and Nebo Half 

September 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 7.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 36.82 miles
TOTAL MILES — 56.92 miles
Races in September — (4) Revel Big Cottonwood Half, Huntsville Half, Timp Elk Run & Jordan River Marathon.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 365.55 miles
Race Miles — 335.52 miles
Walking Miles — 921.24 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1622.31 miles
Races done in 2017 — (23) 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, Run Elevated Half, Nebo Half and Revel Big Cottonwood Half.


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Because “Those who matter don’t mind” like at all …

Before I go into this story and experience I had while running the Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon, I want to make two things clear — one, I don’t want or need sympathy. Mainly, because I don’t need it. I know my self-worth, my capabilities and potential. And, second, I reluctantly share this because I’m sharing this not for attention, likes or shares — I’m sharing it because I once didn’t know my self-worth, my capabilities or potential. I share this because I know there others — who struggle with these feelings of inadequacies.

This past year of running has been frustrating for me. I’ve been dealing with a sprained ankle that really killed a lot of my intended training. At this point of the year I really wanted to be back consistently running a 2:30 half marathon time. But, that just never happened.

I am fine with that — I’m at the point of my running now that the focus is on the Jackpot Running Festival and running 100 miles in February. I’m far more concerned with my focus on weight loss and overall fitness than my pace. I just want to do and give my best during any given run.

This morning I ran the Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon. This is one of my favorite races. I am a Legacy Runner — which means I’ve run it each year since the inaugural race in 2012. I’ve done the marathon four times and the half marathon now twice.

The marathon course holds my PR that I set during the inaugural race at 5:39 and my fastest time during the half was a 2:10 half the following year. On the flip side I’ve swept the course the last three years averaging around a 6:45 to 7 hour plus marathon time. I tell you all this for preference to my experience this morning.

Going into the race this morning — I knew I was going to be slow. I was suppose to sweep the course again, but my foot doctor didn’t want me to do the marathon — neither did my ankle. So, I decided to keep my Legacy streak alive and run the half marathon. It probably wouldn’t be pretty — but, I was going to do it.

So going into this week’s race my goals were simple — do my best, push myself without injuring myself and have fun. A goal that’s been repeated a lot this past year. And, I am fine with that.

Needless to say, I had a blast. Even before the race started — I had a lot of fun chatting with friends, running into online friends and just getting ready to run. If there’s one thing that keeps me running after the past seven years — it’s the relationships, it’s the people. I don’t honestly don’t know how committed I would be not just to running, but my 180 goal without those relationships?

But, that’s a post for another day.

Throughout the race it was fun being stopped by other runners to say hi. Most whom are a part of the number of Facebook groups we’re a part of. Even when the marathoners caught up while in the canyon many said hi — and I even got a couple of pictures with them. It was just a lot of fun and it made the fact that I was slower than I hoped or wished for — a non-factor.

Around half way through the race I ran with Amanda and Michael Bjarnson for a good 3-4 miles. It was a blast just laughing, joking and making friends. Amanda being 34 weeks pregnant was going along slowly as well. But, her timing had more to do with bathroom stops than her speed. Even being extremely pregnant she’s a very strong runner — she beat me soundly at the Nebo Half a couple weeks ago.

After we got out of the canyon we parted around Mile 10-11 (Amanda had to the use the bathroom — surprised?) so I just kept going. I just bunkered down, tried to find a good pace and just get myself to the finish line.

The last stretch of the course is along Ft. Union Blvd. in Cottonwood Heights and while technically downhill like the course — it’s more technical than the canyon miles. Around Mile 11-12 a slight hill leads to a rather steep decline that at the end of the race is tougher than it seems. I was no exception.

My ankle was feeling the strain of the latter miles and after making that slight climb and then downhill — I had to stop and walk for a while to stretch my ankle and recalibrate for the home stretch. Nothing out of the usual as of late.

As I was lost in thought while focusing on my ankle a Mazda Protege in the far left lay rolled down his window and started yelling something at me. I took an ear bud out and immediately understood what he was yelling at me. And, it wasn’t anything pleasant.

I’m not going to go into the particulars of what he said. I feel like it’s irrelevant to the story. But, needless to say, it was a profanity ladened and fat shaming tirade — basically telling me that I shouldn’t be walking or out there because of my size, especially if I was going to walk.

There was a moment it got to me — a slight moment. There was a moment of anger — a slight moment. And, there was a moment I wanted to bark back something — a much longer than a slight moment. But, I knew from experience that no matter what I said — it wouldn’t matter.

I was surprised I kept my cool because his tirade lasted a good 25 yards as he fought through the traffic. I am sure his anger was rooted in not expecting or wanting to be stuck in traffic. I would understand that frustration. But, to target a runner and berate them? I felt more sorry for the guy’s patheticness.

But, I wasn’t going to let his words get to me. Ten years ago or so — oh, yeah, it would have gotten to me. Totally gotten to me. But, today was different.

As ugly as his words were, they meant nothing to me. I quickly thought back to the previous 11-12 miles — I thought about the friends I spent time with, the runners who said hi and the laughs I had with a number of them. THAT. That, erased any doubts his words could have bred.

I thought back to my previous 158 races and those friendships and experiences I’ve made. Sure, I’ve had faster days. And, I will have faster days ahead of me — I’m not worried about that. But, the support group that I have around me — couldn’t be stronger. I’m grateful for that — truly, truly grateful.

I share this experience because I know his words could have gotten to other runners. They’re also words that I’ve sadly heard before shouted from a passing car while out on a run. I’ll never understand people’s need to put others down. But, I hope that those who get derogatorily yelled at understand — that they belong out there.

We all belong out there.

Like I said earlier, I don’t want sympathy for this experience. I don’t need it. But, I share it because I hope that we can all be a little bit nicer, be a little kinder and a whole lot more understanding toward everyone. We’re all in this together — so why make it harder for others? Support, lift up and inspire. Is it really that hard to do? Even if it is for you — just don’t say anything at all! Didn’t we learn that lesson from Thumper’s mother?!

I’m just grateful for the support around me. Without it I could have had a much worse experience. So, please — just be nice to others. Don’t make life harder than it needs to be.

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?

RACE #130: Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon

Marathons are tough. They’re such a different beast compared to other distances. That’s why I’m in awe of those who can go out there and do one every weekend. I do one and it just takes everything — and I mean EVERYTHING — out of me. But, oh how I love them.

I remember when I sign up for my first marathon (July 2012) I thought it was going to be my first and only. Then I got into the St. George Marathon via the lottery. Then, I signed up for the inaugural Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon because I wanted to qualify as a Marathon Maniac. And, by the end of the 2012, I was a three-time marathoner. Trust me when I say — I didn’t expect that going into the year.

It took me another year to run my next marathon. But, I spent 2013 just running half marathons and working on my speed. Which isn’t a bad thing. I just needed a break and I wanted to focus my goals elsewhere.

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After running three marathons in 2014, I would have spent 2015 and probably this year just doing half marathons, but my goals have gone beyond the marathon. First with becoming an ultra marathoner last year after tackling a 50K and then this year training for my first 50 miler. I’ve used my marathons the past two years basically as training runs for my ultras. How many runners can say they get a fully supported training run with a medal and shirt to boot?

The past couple of years I have swept the Revel BC Marathon to aid my ultra training. Sweeping a marathon is excellent ultra training, mainly because you’re on your feet for hours! Last year I finished in 6:45 hours or so. And, I was expecting about the same again this year.

It’s a tough course to sweep because for more than half of the marathon you just want to fly down the canyon and then in the second half you just want to be at the finish line. But, for as long as you’re out there on the course you’re beyond supported by the race. Revel is truly a top notch organization. Whether it’s the support van or volunteers cheering on the last few of us runners — they do it right. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to come back and sweep the course again.

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Well, there are many reasons beyond the organization and training miles. There’s the whole canyon, the downhill course and numerous friends running it as well. I’ve fallen in love with this marathon since it’s inaugural race and never plan on missing it because of all those factors. In fact, this is their fifth year and I got a special mug for being a “Legacy Runner!”

And, that’s something I am very proud of — not just in the title itself, but what it means to be able to run all five years. That’s a lot of training and effort. I’ve run four of the Revel BC marathons and one half and each race means a lot to me, because I’ve had some remarkable moments at this race. None other greater than running with Jill during her first marathon back in 2014. That moment still brings a tear to my eye.

So being a Legacy Runner means a lot more than a mug and special bib to me. It’s about the training, effort and memories I’ve had with this canyon and race since 2012. This race and canyon inspires — and that’s why it’ll ALWAYS be on my race schedule.

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But, anyways — to the race.

On Friday evening I met up with Jill and Mark to met up with some friends from New Hampshire for a pre-race dinner. They flew in for the race to not just run it, but to FINALLY meet us in person. We’ve been Facebook friends for quite a while, but just never met in person yet. I’m glad we changed that, because David, Stephen and Nicole were everything we expected … and more. It was a great evening.

I carpooled down to the marathon with Tim the morning of the race. It was an early wake up call — 2:30am is just so ungodly. But, I got some caffeine down me and was ready to go. I didn’t have a lot of nerves building up to gun time, because I knew what to expect. I knew it was going to be a long day. I knew I was going to hurt. I knew I was probably going to get some kind of awkward sunburn.

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But, I looked forward to everything else. The time spent with my sweeping partner Chanda, the time spent with once strangers and many other adventures. That’s the beauty of not just sweeping, but running. No matter how familiar the course may be — the journey is unknown until you trek it.

After waiting for most of the runners to cross the starting line so we could use the bathroom without a line, Chanda and I started off the race meandering down the canyon looking for some blankets to keep up warm. Guardsman Pass is pretty chilly and we were frozen so the discarded blankets were a nice gift for a couple of miles.

We didn’t really run into other runners until about mile four as we looped around Solitude before making the long descent down the canyon. That’s when I met Natasha — she was running her first (and she claims only — I still don’t believe her) marathon. We started talking and we ended up running most of the race together.

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A little further down the canyon — we ran into my friend Nick and he joined our party as well. We had quite the party going on. We had a few marathoners that came and went, while others stuck with us throughout most of the race. And, we had a blast.

About half way through the canyon I (FINALLY) got to meet Larry Macon — one of the many legendary Marathon Maniacs. He was running his 1757th marathon that day. Yes, you heard that right — 1 – 7 – 5 – 7. Amazing. And, such a humble guy about it too. Larry and I talked for a quite a while about our journeys and love for running. We talked about the places you’ll go when you just focus on putting one foot in front of the other.

I could probably write a book about the depth and conversation that Larry and I had during the race.

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During our run down the canyon, Chanda and I focused on not just bringing everyone along the course, but getting us to the mouth of the canyon. There was a four hour cut off before the support van would pick you up and drop you off at the mouth of the canyon or wherever us sweepers were.

I wanted to avoid that as much as possible and for the most part we kept everyone out on the course. We had to maintain a 13 minute mile to hit the cut off time at Mile 18 — where the mouth of the canyon was. Once we got out of the canyon it was basically home free. We still tried to maintain a 13 minute mile so all our aid stations were supported, but the goal was to just get everyone to the finish line at that point.

The hardest part of the marathon is definitely the four-mile out and back right after you exit the canyon. You’re on cloud nine at that point after 18 beautiful canyon miles — and then — it’s flat with hardly any shade. It’s tough, I won’t lie. And, not only that, you confront the “Mile 20 Wall” on that stretch as well. It seems like everyone ahead of you on that stretch of road is going in slow motion.

I’ve really learned to hate that out and back.

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But, once you head back towards the mouth of the canyon around Mile 22 hope is regained as you know you’re on the home stretch. And, like I’ve done in year’s past — I once again stopped for a Mile 23 Slurpee at the 7 Eleven on Ft. Union and Wasatch. It is seriously the best decision to make at that point not only in the race, but in life. The Slurpees gives you a jolt of energy and cools down the core to make the last three miles bearable — and give you a second wind.

After getting my Slurpee and a few ice cold waters for some of the other runners — the race started pulling on course support. I knew it was coming and that’s one reason I bought the waters (along with bringing some with me in my backpack) so I wasn’t too worried. Plus, there were plenty of other gas stations along the way — if things got dire. We just had to stick to the sidewalk.

During the last couple of miles, Chanda and I were joined by three others. I took one group ahead while Chanda walked in with the last marathoner. They were starting to tear things down, but thankfully kept the finish line up until Chanda came in with the last runner. A great sign that Revel is ran by runners. They understand the importance of the finish line.

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Even though we were the last runners to cross the finish line, all of the volunteers stopped working on what they were doing and greeted us enthusiastically at the finish line. This sweet volunteer who handed out the medals made me laugh when she asked me if I did the marathon or half marathon. I wasn’t sure if she was joking, so I just jokingly replied — “I sure hope it was the marathon!”

It made her laugh.

I didn’t get much time for the accomplishment to sink in before I hurriedly went on the search for my drop bag. I stayed long enough to share sweaty hugs with the finishers and Chanda before beelining it to the car. It was nearly 2pm and we had a 3pm flight to catch to Jackson Hole for dinner with some friends. So it was mad dash to shower, eat and recoup.

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But, on the plane ride to Jackson everything started to sink in. Not just the soreness in the leg, but what I had accomplished and those I helped accomplish. Marathons are not easy regardless of your pace. And, one could argue that a 7 hour marathon is a different kind of tough — not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually.

Marathons require a lot from you — and repeatedly so. There are many walls to break through, many mind games to be played to keep you going and a lot of faith to just put one foot in front of the other. I am proud of everyone who sets out to tackle the distance, because you’re never the same person when you stand at that finish line.

Not only did I come away with these lessons last Saturday, but I came away from the race with a renewed excitement for my 50 miler. I know it’s going to be hard. I know it’s going to be exhausting — both physically and emotionally. But, I also know I have the capability to dig deep and keep moving forward.

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I wish I could jump on that trail now and tackle those 50 miles — but, I still have plenty of training miles ahead of me. I’ve got my marathon in Huntsville this weekend and then of course the St. George Marathon in a couple of weeks. And, let’s not forget the Red Rock Relay, Frightmares 5K and the AIIA Team Relay as well.

I am hoping to come away from each those races and experiences with similar lessons from Saturday’s marathon. I am sure I will. Especially if I keep my eye open for them, I’ll find them.

I just got to keep moving forward.


131 - huntsville marathon

In preparation for my 50 miler, I decided to sign up for the Huntsville Marathon a week after the Revel BC Marathon. I’ve never done two marathons within 7 days of each other. I’ve done two in 14 days (Revel Big Cottonwood and St. George in 2012) and that was stupid. So two in 7 days? I’m going to be hurting.

But, that’s the point. I’ve got to get used to the fatigue — and push through it. Going through fatigue training and just being on my feet is some of the best training I can do for my 50 miler. So that’s why I’m doing Huntsville this weekend.

I am kind of excited about this course. It’s a fast course and pretty much downhill the whole 26.2 miles. That will keep me going in the later miles. Yet, another reason why I chose to run Huntsville. You’ve got to love a course that allows gravity to help you along the way.

My original game plan was to go out on a half marathon pace for the first 13.1 miles to beat up my legs for the second half. But, I think I might change that? After my race weekend I felt the need to just bust out. But, since I was pacing and sweeping the course I had to restrain. I want to test myself and just let go and run.

But, I’m not sure if that’s a good decision or not? Either way, it’ll be tough and some great training in preparation for this 50. And, if all else fails I’ll just focus on getting one foot in front of the other. And, that should make St. George a lot of fun if that’s the case.

Isn’t running such a great adventure?!

PONY EXPRESS OR BUST, BABY!!!

132 - st george marathon 133 - park city red rock relay 134 - pony express trail 50


2667in2016

RUNNING MILES

223.0 miles

RACE MILES

235.3 miles

WALKING MILES

1069.83 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

1528.13 miles

MILES TO GOAL

1138.87 miles


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This is an awesome episode of Addict II Athlete’s podcast. We’ve heard Coach Blu interview a lot of the athletes, but he’s turned the mic around and is sharing story. Amazing, amazing, amazing.

One of the reasons why Coach Blu can reach and touch so many lives is because he can offer something very people can offer — empathy.

Don’t skip this episode of AIIA — trust me. Give it a listen …


Sweeping the @runrevel BC course. Not an easy task! Sure, it’s a party. But, we had to make sure we hit our pace in the 18 canyon miles, but then bringing everyone in between miles 18-26.2. It’s extra important to me that everyone finishes, especially when it’s a marathon. Many times I’m running with newbies and the last thing they should feel is discouraged because they’re one of the last to finish. Marathons are tough! They’re tough! And, I love watching then finish what they started. It inspires me. But, you never know who you’re going to meet, who you’re going to inspire and more importantly … who’s going to inspire you! It’s hard to say no to sweeping a marathon course, because it’s life changing. I know that sounds cliche, but it’s truth. You get to know a lot, about a lot of people, you get the opportunity to help many achieve unrealized dreams and you get share your love for running. See, that’s why sweeping a marathon is a misnomer. It’s not a walk in the park. It’s still 26.2 miles and it’s still work, but … SO REWARDING! #race130 #runrevel #bigcottonwood #running #pacing #sweeping #runyourpace #ryrpacers #fitness #runspiration #goals #health @josherwalla @joshruns180 @runrevel

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Josher, you just ran 26.2 miles, what are you doing next? I’M GOING TO JACKSON HOLE! #jacksonholebound

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That’s either a forest fire or the world’s largest smoke signal. Someone call Guinness. #jacksonholebound

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My two loves got married. Candy + Bacon. #alwaysandforever #candybacon

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After yesterday’s marathon this is basically “The Stairway to Hell” #ispeakonlytruth

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

InstaReplay: Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon

My race report will come here either tomorrow or Tuesday. Really just depends if and when I don’t die. But, below are some of the pictures from the Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon that I ran yesterday morning.

Needless to say, it was tough. I am sore. I am slightly dead. And, I had a heck of time. It was a lot of fun. From the pre-race dinner to the pre-race festivities to the race itself to a quick trip o Jackson Hole and back — it was a busy long day. But, so, so, so MUCH fun. I literally had a blast, met some new friends, finally met some online friends and enjoyed marathon #8 and race #130.

So, without giving up too much of my race report, here are some of my pictures of the race. Come back tomorrow or Tuesday for the full report.

YEAH RUNNING!


Just a few of my favorite peeps. #race130 #revelbigcottonwood #running @runrevel @josherwalla @joshruns180

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

I. LOVE. THIS. CANYON. #race130 #revelbigcottonwood #running @runrevel @joshruns180

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Moose. I don't think he wants a hug?! #moose #race130 #revelbigcottonwood #running @runrevel @joshruns180

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Josher, you just ran 26.2 miles, what are you doing next? I'M GOING TO JACKSON HOLE! #jacksonholebound

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

That's either a forest fire or the world's largest smoke signal. Someone call Guinness. #jacksonholebound

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

My two loves got married. Candy + Bacon. #alwaysandforever #candybacon

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

This moose rudely butted into my selfie. #rudemoose #helooksstoned

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The stuff of nightmares. #goodthingitsjustapainting

A photo posted by Josher (@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.

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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.

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?

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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

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 #107: Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon

107-bcm

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.

IMG_0438
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.

IMG_0445
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.

IMG_0469
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.

IMG_0459
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.

IMG_0480
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.

YEAH RUNNING!
YEAH MARATHONS!


RACEGRAMS


NEXT RACE: LAYTON MARATHON

108-layton

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!


MONTHLY MILEAGE BREAKDOWN 2015

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 UTAH RUNCAST: EPISODE THREE

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


MONDAY MOTIVATION