Tag: road trip

RACE #139: Jackpot Running Festival

Running, running, running, walking, walking, walking, running, running, walking, walking, walking, think about running, start running, quickly go back to walking, walking, walking, running, walking, running, walking, think about running, running, walking, walking, walking.

Oh, the life of an ultra marathoner.

It’s seriously no joke.

It’s such a different beast.

With as much walking, jogging, running, skipping, drudging and sludging one does during an ultra — once you hit that magical number of 26.3 miles — your life, mentality and sanity just … changes. And, I just love it. It’s a community that I feel right at one within. They are my kind of people.

Going into this weekend I have done three ultras since my first 50K in November 2015 — all in which were point to point or out and back courses. Which I all loved. But, I had never done a timed race. Meaning — I sign up for a race that allows me run as much as I want within a specific amount of time.

These kind of races are fairly popular with the uber-ultra runners. Those are the crazy runners that sign up for 48-72 hours and crank out 200-300 miles within that time limit. Now, while I am not one of THOSE runners, I love the concept and idea of running for time with no real pressure of cut-offs and mileage. You just do what you want and can do.

I dig that.

I really dig it.

And, that was why running this race, the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival, was very appealing to me. After flirting with doing the 24 and even the 48 hour race (it took me 38 seconds to come to the conclusion that was stupid) I decided to sign up for the 12 hour race — for a couple reasons.

One, I didn’t want to train for anything longer (especially during the winter — which has turned out to be a good decision) and, two, my friend Jill was going to run the 12 hour race for her first ultra. So considering those two points — it was an easier decision than what I was making it. A true win, win.

So the 12 hour race it was.

Having not done a timed and looped course like this (besides the New Year’s Run Resolution — which I don’t know if I’d count since it’s an indoor track) before, I had to rely on friends that have done these kind of races and specifically THIS race. Being a Vegas race in the middle of February you’d think it’d be fairly mild — but from years past it’s gotten kinda sketch with hot, hot weather. So that’s what I kind of prepared myself for throughout my training.

But, instead of running through Satan’s kitchen oven, we ended up getting a visit from Lucifer himself. Yeah, no joke. Major Storm Lucifer was heading our way — the forecast leading up to the race just called for rain. 10 days out it started conservatively at 70% reaching 90% by Thursday evening. By the time it gets to 90% I don’t know why they just don’t up that to 100% — but, I’m pretty sure meteorologists don’t for the sake of job security.

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

Having run the Ogden Marathon a number of times and being quite accustomed to running long distances in the rain — I kinda knew what to expect. Sure, I’ve never run an ULTRA in the rain, but I knew it could potentially suck and that I would need to OVER prepare myself.

So that’s what I did.

Packing before I left home was an adventure and a half. I packed four different drop bags of changes of clothes. I figured I could change every 3-4 hours if needs be. I knew that if I had a change of clothes every few hours that would really help me mentally get through the rain. That really helped me through the last three rainy Ogdens — KNOWING you have a complete set of dry clothes waiting for you really helps you mentally.

Did I over pack? Yeah, you betcha. Besides extra clothes, I packed away extra shoes, surgical tape (for my nipples), baby cream (for chaffing) and an array of applesauce packets, gels and caffeine shots. I just didn’t know what to expect — so I basically packed the kitchen sink.

Once in Vegas Jill and I grabbed our race packets on Friday night. At this point the weekend had already started with the 48 and 24 hour runners. And, it was already raining. Lucifer wasn’t dumping that hard at this point, but we knew the worst was coming because it had flooded Santa Monica and a number of areas in southern California. It wasn’t a matter of if, but when it hit us.

And, luckily for me — but, unfortunately for the runners already on the course — got SLAMMED by Lucifer in the middle of the night. So much so that the course had to be redirected because the reservoir we were running around overflowed in a couple of areas and washed out part of the paths. It even swept one runner off their feet.

By the time Jill and I got to the race on Saturday morning the changes were made and instead of running 2.38 miles per lap, it was an even 2.5 miles. For someone who struggles with math I was grateful for this change, but that also meant that we had to ascend and descend up a pretty steep hill twice (unlike once in the 2.38 mile loop). As much as I wasn’t looking forward to that, there wasn’t much to you could do at that point — so you had to do that stupid steep hill twice.

Our race started at 8am along with the six hour, marathon and 100 mile races (I’m pretty sure there were other distances that started to, but I’ve got “ultra brain” so I can’t remember them all). There were quite a few of Utah runners in this group and it was nice to see a few familiar faces. But, when the gun sounded at 8am — we were all off running our races.

My game plan for the race was fairly simple. Start off conservatively and then gradually speed up so that I could reach my goal of 35-40 miles. I stuck with Jill to start off the race and we kept ourselves at a pace that kept us on pace to minimally hit 40 miles in 12 hours. It was a lot of fast walking, running down hills and minimal breaks at aid stations.

I even got a surprise visit from my dear friend Tricia and her husband who were in town for the weekend as well (they were staying like 5 minutes from the park). They both finished that lap with us — and I must say — I’m grateful they snapped lots of pictures while doing so, otherwise I don’t know how many I would have had?

But, it was a total surprise and mood booster to get a visit and encouragement from them both.

Initially I wanted to stay with Jill and on this pace for at least a good 6-7 laps (15-18 miles–ish) before pushing it a bit faster. But, I ended up sticking with her for nine laps (22.5 miles) partly out of rhythm and partly out of the rain. We weren’t getting slammed by rain, but it was getting a little heavy and I wanted to wait a lap or so to have it ease up so I could start pushing my effort a bit more.

But, after I finished my ninth lap, I just had to go. I was starting to feel anxious and the last thing I wanted to do was get a panic attack in the middle of an ultra —- so, I said goodbye to Jill, grabbed some grub at the aid station and just booked it. The rain was coming down a bit harder, but I just didn’t care — I just wanted to run. So that’s what I did.

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I ran a lot of stretches that I had been fast walking and just lost myself in my thoughts and music. And, I almost immediately hit mentality and frame of mind that was slightly nirvanic. I was focused mentally, emotionally and spiritually and I just felt strong — so I just chased that balance.

And, it felt great.

I cranked out three straight really good laps with this focus, before I slowed down a couple of times to visit with a few other runners. That’s the one thing I absolutely love about the ultra community, you get to meet and talk with some amazing people — not just runners — but people. And, I love to just LISTEN to them. It’s such a different vibe from road races that I just dig.

But, after a couple laps making friends I had three laps (7.5 miles) left to hit 16 laps (40 miles). When I realized that I still had about 2.5 hours left to hit this I felt extremely excited because 40 miles was my stretch goal. And, I was reaching it. This gave me a third — or maybe fourth? — wind that this point.

So I kept going.

During my second to last lap I caught up again with Jill and we stuck together for the homestretch. I had two laps to get my 40 miles and she was on her last lap to get to 35 miles which was her race goal as well. It was dark by this point but we both kept just going. We were both exhausted, but we cranked out that lap — and though she reached her 35 mile goal, I still had one more lap to get my 40. And, somehow I talked her into running that last lap with me.

I really don’t know how I talked her into it?! I am almost sure she just kept following me on accident as I kept going — and, by the time she figured out what she was doing — it was too late — so she just finished the lap with me. Either way, I was proud of her effort and was grateful for the company.

As we approached the finish line — for the ABSOLUTE last time — I grabbed my camera for the homestretch (like I did when she ran her first marathon) and recorded Jill crossing the finish line with her hand in hand with her daughter. It was a tender moment and yet another moment I will cherish, because this journey has not been easy for Jill — but, she’s done it and it’s a journey that her kids will cherish.

After an exhilarated moment of celebration — we still had about 20 minutes until our 12 hours were up. While it was slightly tempting to try to get one more mile in, I was done. My body got to that 40th mile and just said — ENOUGH. So, that was enough.

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But, I can’t tell you how proud I was of myself to reach that 40. I kept telling myself that 35 miles would be GREAT to reach, but I knew I was lying to myself. I knew I could do more and I am glad that I pushed myself toward that. And, I have to credit a lot of that toward my diet change, I have so much more energy and stamina just in the past month. I felt like a true Hashimoto’s Warrior out there on the course.

I feel like a few more months of consistency and training that stamina is just going to get stronger — and I am excited for that. I am excited to see what I can do and test my limits a bit more and more. I really want to do the race again next year and either push for 50 in the 12 hours — or why not go for the 100 miler?

Why not?

I should temper some of that excitement, but it’s hard for me to that after struggling so much with my health the past couple of years. I was robbed of my stamina and energy on many, many workouts, runs and race — and now that it is coming back — I want to push myself. Because I KNOW I have the mental capability to run longer and stronger — I just need the rest of my body to meet up with the mind. Which I feel will come in time.

Anywho, I can’t be any more excited for this past weekend’s race and festivities. It was nice to get away even if I went straight into the eye of Lucifer, because I got to spend some quality time with great friends. It helped recalibrate priorities, purposes and focus for me — and I just needed this weekend.



105.55 miles


56.82 miles


122.77 miles


285.14 miles

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

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

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

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PedFest 16: South Fork to Jackson Hole to Yellowstone and back …

I took somewhat of a vacation last week from the bloggy blog. I was going to post something on Wednesday or Thursday before leaving for Labor Day Weekend. But, I got to Tuesday and just thought … “meh.” So, I just didn’t write anything. And, I am fine with that.

This past weekend I spent time in Idaho including a day in Jackson Hole and Yellowstone with my cousins. About 6-7 years ago some of my cousins and I made the decision to get our cousins together regularly. Maybe not every year, but at least every other year.

Growing up we would spend summers together and we wanted to make sure we kept those relationships going as we spread out around the country, raised kids and did our own thing. I am sure glad we’ve made the effort, because these “PedFests” as we like to call them have become something I look forward to every other year. It doesn’t matter where we go, just that we meet up. We’ve done Park City, Wyoming and now Idaho — especially the South Fork area near Ririe, Idaho (if you know where that is …)

This trip we stayed at my Aunt’s cabin for the most part, but on Saturday we made a day trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. It was a long day, but quite the adventure — as it always is with the Pederson clan.

We picniced near Jenny Lake, drove around the Tetons, shopped near town square in Jackson and then meandered around Yellowstone. We made the obligatory stop at Old Faithful as well as some fun hikes around some other geysers. We didn’t see much wildlife (one buffalo, a dozen elk and some German tourists), but we did see a wildfire burn on the roadside near Madison Junction. That was pretty cool. Callie got the biggest kick out of it than any of us.

Anyways — I won’t give you a full travel dialogue. I’ll let my pictures tell the story (well and their captions). I’ll update my mileage and talk a bit more about this weekend’s marathon a bit later this week. I’ll be playing catch up the next couple of days at work so that’s my focus (as it always is).

But, enjoy the pictures and come back later this week …

10am departure goal, 2pm departure time. This is how we road trip. #pedfest16 #laborday2016

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Behold Idaho! Now to take myself a nap. #idaho #roadtrip #laborday2016 #pedfest16

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Hitting up the Idaho ATM. #pedfest16 #laborday2016 #idaholottery

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This is why I play the lottery … THE BIG BUCKS BABY! #pedfest16 #laborday2016 #idaholottery

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Aunt Kelli reading a riveting bedtime story. #pedfest16 #laborday2016

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This is how you road trip in style and comfort. #pedfest16 #laborday2016

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HOLY JACKSON! Those are a lot of antlers. #pedfest16 #laborday2016 #jacksonhole

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Dez kids. What PedFest is all about! #pedfest16 #laborday2016 #jacksonhole

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Aw, the Grand Tetons, nature’s boobs. #pedfest16 #laborday2016 #grandtetons #nps

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Nature’s hot tub (but not a real hot tub) #pedfest16 #yellowstone #nps #laborday2016

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Dad training. #oldfaithful #yellowstone #nps #pedfest16 #laborday2016

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A geyser full of Windex. Odds are us Greeks invented it. #yellowstone #nps #pedfest16 #laborday2016

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This is definitely a piece of heaven. #idahosunset #pedfest16 #laborday2016

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Picking up some hitchhikers. #pedfest16 #laborday2016

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A room full of family. I cherish these moments. #pedfest16 #laborday2016

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You know it was a wild n’ crazy night when one of the kids wake up like this. #pedfest16 #laborday2016

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RACE #112: Snow Canyon Half Marathon


I know I gush a lot about my races — especially about the scenery and courses. But, this race — takes the cake. It’s such a beautiful course. The scenery and course instantly became one of my favorites. There is a reason why Runner’s World named this one of the best half marathons in the country. Well organized, great volunteers, beautiful course and scenery that can’t be replicated any other way than experiencing it in person.

I might be slightly biased about the scenery — because the red rocks of southern Utah are my happy place. I’ve always been fascinated with them — ever since I was a kid. It one of the many reasons why I went to school at Southern Utah University — I’m completely drawn to the red rocks.

Okay, now that I am done gushing about my love affair with the scenery and red rocks — to the race.

I decided to run this race about a month ago. Though it’s been a race I’ve wanted to do for the past couple of years, I just never had a reason to do it — until this year. I signed up for the St. George Runner Series to guarantee me a spot into the St. George Marathon in 2016. The requirement for the series is to basically run two southern Utah-based races. Since I was running The Bakers Dozen Half Marathon in December — I decided to hop unto this race so I could meet my requirements before the end of the year.

And, well — because I wanted to run it as well.

I carpooled down with my friends Jason and Tammy Henry. Well, I shouldn’t say carpooled — it was more like third-wheeled it. It reminded me of my dating life in High School. We stayed at a small hotel just on St. George Blvd. — nothing too fancy. We didn’t really need anything fancy because the trip was a — sleep, run, eat and get home — kind of trip. It met our needs and didn’t have bed bugs — a questionable stain on the ceiling — but no bed bugs.

In the morning we made the 10 minute drive to the high school for bus picket up the canyon. I won’t lie — I kinda like the later starts this time of the year, because it feels like a mosey to the start line, but I also wish to get started early — so I can finish earlier. But, a 8:30 gun time was not TOO bad.

The race was bigger than I expected. But, I guess there were 2,600+ runners — soooooo — it was a big race. It took me a few minutes to get across the starting pad. But, it wasn’t as bad as the St. George Marathon. That one feels like you’re waiting in a port-a-potty line of runners with stomach issues.

The goal for the race was two fold. I was hesitant to put a time goal to my race, because I haven’t ran my own race since Nebo in early September. But, I wanted to shoot for a 2:35-2:45. But, I was fine not meeting that as long as I gave it my all during the race. I just wanted to do my best.

Starting off I was a bit worried because my shins were having none of it for the first couple of miles. But, then again, I knew it was a slight incline from my experience running the St. George Marathon — once I hit Snow Canyon then I knew it was going to be faster. But, those first two miles were difficult. But, I fought through it — knowing I just needed to warm up.

Once I hit the canyon it felt like a completely different course. Not only was the course more downhill, but the scenery was completely beautiful. I had to stop at certain moments to capture a picture. — I was just in awe. Complete awe. So, I just kept my head high, cranked up my music and just ran.

Of course with occasional stops for pictures.

Between miles 3-7 — I felt great. Like superb. I was in a groove, enjoying the world around and just thanking God for the ability I have to run. But, in the midst of that euphoria I got distracted and accidentally took a Gu along with Gatorade at the same aid station. For some runners — this might not mean anything, but for me — the  combination taken together — kills me. It causes really, really bad stomach pains and just makes me super sick.

This incident wasn’t anything different.

About mile eight — it really hit me. I was kind of in a panic, because I knew there wasn’t another bathroom until mile nine. I had to stop and walk — stretch — knead out my stomach — just doing something to make the pain go away. I even tried to push through it. But, that didn’t really work for me. Luckily, no accidents — but mile 8-9 had a horrible time and once I got to the port-a-potty that took another 7:30 minutes off my time.

If you’re wondering — yes, I timed my bathroom break. Strange? Probably. But, if you’re a runner you’d understand.

Anyways — the break kinda took me out of my groove, but I was determined to finish strong. Sure I was about 8-10 minutes off where I wanted to be, but I wasn’t going to let that defeat me. I was going to fight the last four miles. So that is what I did.

After my break I lost the group of runners I was running alongside with — well it wasn’t a group of runners I knew — just the people at my pace. I knew they were long gone and at this point the field was rather thin. So to stay motivated I had to make a game of it for me. So, I tapped into my inner-Ragnar and decided to go for “KILLS” aka runners in front of you that you pass along the route.

And, well, it worked.

I passed eight runners in the sparsely crowded field. And, it really helped. I still somewhat slowed down from where I wanted to be — but I fought to keep going. Physically and mentally.

During my last mile Jason came back to run with me and I was really appreciative of it. I was kinda spent by that time. My legs were shot from the fartleking — especially from passing the runners during the last four miles. But, I kept going forward and sometimes that’s all that’s required, right?

I was met by my friend Tricia at the finish line who took some video and pictures of me crossing the finish line. She also grabbed water, bananas and string cheese for me at the finish line. I was famished and I was so appreciative for the gesture. But, can I also say how good that string cheese was after the race? Seriously — I’m in love with post-race cheese.

But, then again, I am also in love with cheese, period. But, that’s a story for another day.

After showering and cleaning up at a friend’s condo — the Henry’s and I grabbed some grub (breakfast burrito for me — naturally) and then headed home. It was the perfect quick getaway. It was a great race experience. One that will definitely bring me back there in 2016. Seriously, I am in love with the race.

But, it was also a great gauge of what I need to do to get myself back to where I want to be with my running. My official time was 3:01, but I count 2:53 with my bathroom break. Regardless, my goal is to get back to consistent race times of 2:20-2:30 by the middle of next year. And, that will come with my weight-loss program along with a planned half marathon training program starting in January.

I haven’t decided which training plan to do — but more than likely I’m going to follow the Galloway Training Plan. I haven’t tried that training plan yet — and I already have the book and supplies to do it. So why not? I think I could really benefit from a good run/walk program.

But, all of that I will save for another post for another day, probably a future Fight4Phat post?

With that all said — I’ll be back in 2016 — I’m hooked.




DUH! DUH! DUH! The hour is ‘nigh — well, actually, it’s pretty much now. Since my 50K is less than a week from now. I am all kinds of excited and full of nerves. By this time next week I will have earned the title of Ultra Marathoner. Pretty nifty, eh?

I am excited about this race for a number of reasons — not only to earn that title. But, because of whom I am also running alongside with. My friends Jason Henry and Tim Gill will be joining me on the journey. And, honestly — couldn’t have asked for a better pair of friends to tackle this race with. Both are positive and encouraging guys — who would do anything for anyone. Plus, they both have wicked sense of humor — so we know our 50K won’t be boring — like — at all.

This week we’ll be finishing up our race plan, but really the goal is to just finish. We have 10 hours to complete the race — and I am not too worried about meeting that goal. Obviously, it’s nothing to be blasé about — but I’m confident that’ll be done within 10 hours. The goal is just to finish — have fun — and not get gored by a buffalo. Easy enough, right?

But, I’ll have more about the race on Friday’s post. But, right now — I’m just focused on taking deliberate deep breaths.

It’ll be epic.


Total Mileage Breakdown for 2015
2015 Training Miles – 246.75 miles
2015 Walking Miles – 436.8 miles
2015 Race Miles – 413.6 miles
2015 Total Miles – 1097.15 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 – 115.69 miles
October – 164.7 miles
November – 39.1 miles