Tag: ultra running

Looking Beyond 180 …

It’s hard to imagine that I am just 21 races from hitting my 180 goal. I knew this day would come, but when I made the goal — I honestly thought I would be pushing 40 a BIT closer than I am now. If you’re keeping track at home — I turned 36 just last month.

When I realized that I was going to hit this goal MUCH sooner, I decided to hit my 180 goal at the Handcart Days Half Marathon in July of next year. Not only was this my first half marathon, but it’s in my hometown and a part of a celebration that has a lot of meaning for me. It just seems perfect.

So that means I have 10 months to finish these 21 races and hit that goal. I am excited for that journey and whatever it brings — it’ll include my 100 mile run, a couple of marathons and some fun trail and road races.

But, I am also beginning to look beyond my 180th race. Some people have already been asking what will be after the 180? 300 races? 500 races? Will I go into triathlons? Will I focus more on ultras? Or just stop like Forrest Gump?

What?

Honestly, I want to be more ambiguous with my next journey. I don’t want to focus on the number of races as I want to focus more on the adventure. An adventure of collective goals — from PRs to destination races to destination places to run. If I’ve learned anything from the 159 races that I’ve done so far it’s that there’s so much more joy in the adventure than anything else.

I want more of that.

I thrive for adventure and I am excited to embrace that with more tenacity in the coming years. And, as I am reclaiming my health and thyroid, I look forward to getting faster and hitting some of those PR goals I’ve wanted to hit for the past few years.

Not only do I want to hit that sub-two half marathon time, but I still also want to run the Boston Marathon, New York City Marathon and of course — run at Walt Disney World (already got Disneyland covered). There are a lot of places around the country that I want to run. Places that don’t necessarily require a race bib either — the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge, the National Parks here in Utah and the Salt Flats.

My plan is to take the next 4-6 months to come up with a bucket list of locations, races and other running goals I want to accomplish after I run my 180th race next July. I’ve made a similar list before, but I want to fine tune that — and probably shorten it a bit (it was about 50 items long). But, I then want to get to work on it!

I am always up for new races and places to run, so if you’d like suggest places to run — PLEASE! Just leave a comment in the comments below. And, of course if you have some fun and unusual goals I should attempt — I’d love to hear them too!

Running has been good to me. Really good to me. There’s been ups and downs over the last 6-7 years of my adventure so far, but it’s the people that keep me going and out there on the road or trail.


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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.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


RUNNING MILES

105.55 miles

RACE MILES

56.82 miles

WALKING MILES

122.77 miles

MILES TO DATE

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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The Jackpot Game Plan …

For most people who read the headline above would think … oh, Josh is a gambler. He’s got a problem. His jackpot strategy probably involves sitting hours on end at a slot machine until he wins something — or better yet lurks the slot machines waiting for people to leave to only swoop in and play that machine until be wins.

Needless to say, this is NOT that post. And, I may or may not use that latter strategy while in Vegas. It’s worked for me and I’ve come away $5 richer because of it.

But, I am talking specifically about the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival happening next weekend in sunny (but, I think it is suppose to be rainy?! BOOOOOO) Las Vegas. I will running with my friend Jill along with some St. George friends that are making the hour and a half trip for the race. I am really, really, really looking forward to the adventure.

This will be my third ultra — and third in the past 15 months or so. I won’t lie — I’m kinda falling for the longer distances. My favorite distance will always be the half marathon, but I love the challenges of the longer distances. They’re a different beast. And, they challenge me in completely different ways than any half marathon I’ve run.

Both Jill and I are signed up for the 12 hour race for the weekend’s festival — meaning, we have 12 hours to run as many loops of the 2.38 mile loop around Railroad Lake in Cornerstone Park we want. Sounds fairly simple, no?

Our minimum goal is to get that ultra distance completed — which should be pretty “easy” to do in the 12 hours. But, we both have differing goals. I really want to crank out anywhere between 35-40 miles. Ideally, 40 miles would be AWESOME. But, I’m not sure how realistic that is? So, I am pushing myself to do at least 35 miles.

But, that 40 … that’s what I really want.

I feel like it’s possible for a couple reasons. It’s hard to judge that off of my last ultras, because none of them were looped courses. I feel like looped courses would be easier, because the terrain is fairly flat, I have an aid station every 2.38 miles and I’m not going to get eaten my bears or gored by buffalo.

Because of the looped course, I don’t have to lug my supplies around with me. Which is a BIG plus. This was what I loved about my 50 miler. I can not only bring my own food, but the race itself has some GREAT food available as well. Granted I’ll have to keep all things gluten and dairy free — so that could be a challenge. But, I am not TOO worried about it — I will probably bring my own gluten-free tortillas and bread (in case I need it) along with sweet potatoes and all that jazz.

And, there will be Mountain Dew.

As I did in my last 50K I broke my four year soda celibacy pledge. But, luckily, still kept it out of my daily life. So, the only time I’m drinking it is during my ultra races and distance runs. It really is great fuel — the sugar, caffeine and calories saved my life in November. My body may be going into full cravings as I type all of this.

See why I’ve sworn off soda?

The running goal is simple — start off slow. I am planning on doing my first two laps or so at a nice walking clip. Not too leisurely, but at a mall walking speed that would make my Grandma proud. I know I’ll need to save my energy levels for the latter part of the race, especially when I am between miles 35-40.

I want to finish off strong and even if I am past 40 miles after the first 10-11 hours, I want to finish those last 1-2 hours off strong. I want to finish the race with Jell-O legs. Well, okay, not Jell-O legs — because I don’t want to get around Vegas in a jazzy, but I want to FEEL and BE spent. I want to KNOW that I gave it my full effort.

And, at a distance of 35-40 miles, I am sure I will go away with that feeling. At least I sure hope so?

But, like the last couple ultras I’ve done. I’m not nervous for this adventure. I am more so anxious to just do it. There really is something about being IN the moment during an ultra. The fatigue — both mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually really opens you up. It makes you vulnerable. And, it teaches you.

That is what I am looking forward to the most. And, that’s one of the many reasons why I love these longer distances. I’m not going to win the race — far from it. But, I’m going enjoy the ride and get the most out of it that I can.

VEGAS OR BUST, BABY!


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More miles going around in circles …

I’m kinda ready for this winter thing to pass. Seriously. Being regulated to treadmill and indoor track running is starting to make me slightly nutty.

Well, okay, that wasn’t what made me nutty. And, that’s a whole post for another day. There’s simply no time to explain that all today.

Anywho … I’m just ready for spring. I don’t run outside in the snow or in below freezing temperatures — there’s too much risk for me to biff it (which I am known to do). My body really doesn’t do well in the cold anyways — so staying inside is best for me. For now. But, I am really itching for some spring weather.

Since last weekend’s long treadmill run was an emotional disaster for me. I decided the treadmill was out for my long run. I’ve survived a few two miles run. But, I just don’t feel like I have 15, 10 or 5 miles on the treadmill in me.

I just don’t.

I didn’t have a specific distance or time goal for me this weekend. Should I have? Good question. But, since race day is about three weeks away, I knew I needed somewhere around 10-20 miles. But, after already have a number of 20 and 15 mile long runs — I felt like I could afford a long distance run based on feel.

Since I was anticipating the first weekend in February to be rather cold and snowy — I decided to run at the Olympic Oval again. Running the Oval can be rather monotonous, but I actually really like it during the winter. You can lose yourself in the laps and just run. Much, much easier than running on the treadmill.

I really feel like I have to work to distract myself on a treadmill. On a track you’re actually going somewhere — granted in circles — but you are going somewhere. Plus, if you’re running with other people you’ve got actual conversation — which is the key to surviving track running.

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Anywho … a number of running friends and I showed up at the Olympic Oval at 6am to run the track. The track was open from 6-10am in the morning because there was a track meet from 10am-1pm. Knowing this kind of ruled out a 20 mile run for me. But, I knew in the four hours or so I could knock out where between 13-15 miles.

So that was kind of the goal.

I wasn’t worried much about time or distance. Like all of my ultrarunning — I just wanted to do my best and focus on effectively using the time on my feet to it’s best use. So I loaded up my Spotify playlist with my music and just decided to go for it.

The track was rather busy, besides being joined in the morning with Robert Merriman, Jimbo, Karen, Tine and others — there was a big ROTC training or testing going on as well. A good hundred or so cadets were on the track doing a mile and high testing. I wasn’t envious. It really reminded me of my mile and a half training in Junior High.

Not fun.

But, I had good conversation throughout the four hours. I spent a few laps with everyone and it was just fun to catch with them. It really made the time go by faster than usual.

I ended up cranking out 13 miles in three and a half hours. I felt good throughout the run. I felt stronger than my last run there. And, I think part of that is my diet. I have felt quite the difference the past couple of weeks. Especially this past week as I eliminated a few extra foods. But, I will post more about that later this week.

Anyways — I have the Sweetheart Days 5K next Saturday. I am running that with my niece. I am pretty excited to run it with her. This will be our second 5K since October. I might run 3-5 miles more at an easy pace to amp the miles up. But, we’ll see — I am hoping the weather is good so I can just do those miles outside. And, if that’s the case — SCORE!

But, with the Jackpot Running Festival in a couple of weeks I am just focusing on tapering a bit and just focusing on my workouts and diet. Since it is a timed race I am not worried about finishing, but I would like to run at least 35-40 miles in the allotted 12 hours. And, like my diet, more on all of that later this week — maybe even next week?

I am just getting excited to run and get into the swing of my spring races. It should (and by should, I mean it will) be a lot of fun.


So, um, my 5 year old niece adults better than me. #calliekoko #adultchild

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RUNNING MILES

81.0 miles

RACE MILES

13.1 miles

WALKING MILES

89.47 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

183.57 miles


Jackpot Running Festival

As I mentioned above my current training is pointing toward the Jackpot Running Festival in Las Vegas over President’s Day weekend. I am being joined by Jill for an epic ultra adventure. I seriously, I can’t wait.

This is a looped course. It’s a 2.38 mile loop around Railroad Lake — just outside of Henderson. Both Jill and I are signed up for the 12 hour race — meaning we have 12 hours to run as many miles as we want/can. Our goal is to not just run an ultra, but we want to get at least 35 miles in. I’d like to see if I could push 40 miles. But, we’ll see about that.

Anyways — we got an email this past week from the race with a video of the 2.38 looped course. It’s not the sexiest video out there on YouTube, but it got me really excited for the run. I have no doubt I will get to know the course quite intimately.

VEGAS OR BUST, BABY!


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Running around in circles — with a bunch of my friends

After a week of being sick and feeling like crap — I was looking forward to this past Saturday. I needed this run. I needed these miles. I felt like a bum the whole week, so I needed a little redemption — and I feel like I got it.

A couple weeks ago after running the Resolution Run, Jill and I decided that we needed another indoor run. Mainly for two reasons — one, it was inside away from the snow — and, two, it was primo training for the Jackpot Running Festival — which is a looped course. While miles are important to the training, what kind of miles are of even more importance. And track training miles are just perfect for this kind of race.

I won’t lie — track miles, just like treadmill miles, don’t thrill me much. I would much rather be running down a canyon or along some trail. But, during the winter you won’t often (if ever) find me outside in the cold doing looooong miles. Last week’s half marathon nearly killed me and I just don’t find running in the cold “FUN” — I just don’t.

Plus, I’ve fallen on the ice and snow too many times to know that me, my running shoes and the outside aren’t a recipe for success, fun or productivity. So the treadmill and/or indoor track are my ‘go to’s’ for running in the winter. Plus, I can watch Netflix while running on the treadmill — so there’s that.

Anyways — enough about my hatred of winter running.

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Knowing I had some long miles to do this week, Jill and I decided to run the Utah Olympic Oval. So, we decided to invite a bunch of our running friends (to make it more bearable) and just crank out the miles.

I wanted to crank out 20-25 miles for the day, but I wasn’t sure what my body was capable of after a week of being sick. But, my ultra training isn’t about the miles — it’s more about time on my feet. I’m never going to win an ultra race or even place — so why worry so much about pace and miles? Especially, when my goal is to simply just finish?

So my focus in training has been time on my feet.

There could be arguments of the contrary, but I figured it’s gotten me where I want to go — it’s working just fine. Especially considering that I cut like a half hour off my 50K time at the Antelope Island 50K from 2015 to 2016.

I didn’t know how long I was going to be on my feet on Saturday, but I knew I wanted to be on my feet for at least six hours and run at least 20 miles. So, I decided to get to the Oval when it opened the track at 6am, so I could be done around noon. The idea was to get six hours of running in or until I got to 20 miles.

I didn’t get running until 6:15am after prepping myself up. I started off a bit apprehensively, because I forgot two of the most important things to my running — my surgical tape for my “moobs” and my BodyGlide for my thighs. I knew I was going to be in trouble, because chaffing is not kind to me. And, it wasn’t once again on Saturday — especially when I hopped in the shower.

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As I started running around the track some of my friends started joining me and the others on the track — Robert, Mary, Susette, Brain, the Gabicas and so forth. It started to turn into one big party. My favorite kind of running.

I ran a few laps with Robert — and talked about his ultra training. He’s running his first 100 miler in March on Antelope Island. A distance that amazes and frightens me. As daunting as my 50 miler was for me, I can’t imagine doubling that distance, because it’s not simply like you’re doubling your efforts in training, running and prep.

I also took a number of laps with Jill and then Susette as she was pushing Jill’s kids in a running stroller. It was fun to catch up with Susette. We’ve been friends for almost five years now, but our running kind of split after she started running more and more ultras — including 100 milers.

Then around 9-9:30, Jim joined in on the fun and did most of the last of the laps with me. I was glad to have Jim there, because my legs were starting to feel pretty heavy. The first three hours of running I was doing 2:1 (running: walking) sets. I felt good for the most of it, but honestly, I should have do 2:1, 1:1, 2:1, 1:1, etc., etc., etc. sets like I had at the Resolution Run a few weeks before. I came out too fast and strong and it started wearing me out earlier than I wanted.

The last three hours were pretty tough, but I knew I could fight through it. My legs were feeling heavy and then I started feeling my chaffed thighs cheering — and killing — me on. But, I knew I could and would do this. It really was just a matter of mind over matter. That’s all ultrarunning is, is just training your mind to be tougher than your legs.

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Having Jim there was great, because we can talk — and do talk — about anything. That’s one of the reasons why he is a co-host on The Runcast. We talked about everything from his new Hoka OneOne shoes, the Los Angeles Chargers, how much I hate the LA Dodgers, Jim’s sexy radio voice and how much we want to learn how to ride a Zamboni.

His divergent presence was a godsend.

As I approached the six hour mark I wasn’t at my 20 miles yet. I was about two miles or less from the mark. I was tempted to almost call it good, but I couldn’t do it. Most of the other runners were gone — including Jill and Susette. Robert was still there but stayed to take pictures and get a few last laps around the track. So, it was just me and Jim.

But, I kept going. I had to get that 20.

So I cranked them out.

It wasn’t pretty, but it took me about another 20-25 minutes, but I cranked them out. And, before I knew it. I was done.

20 miles. Done.

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After such a crappy week of feeling like crap, I felt extremely happy to be done with the miles. The feet were sore, my thighs and nipples were in agony and my legs were achy, but I did it. And, that pride makes up for all of that pain. Especially knowing that I was one week closer to Jackpot. And, that’s what counts.

I have one more six hour run to do on February 4th and once again — I’ll be back at the Oval with Jill. And, of course, friends are invited as well. I even started a Facebook event for the occasion. And, if you’re wondering — yes, you’re invited. Just RSVP or plan on coming! I’d love the company.

One more month until Jackpot! WOOHOO!



RUNNING MILES

32.00 miles

RACE MILES

13.1 miles

WALKING MILES

34.62 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

79.22 miles



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This is Bananas …

Running has become a large part of who I am — a very large part. And, it’s something I want it be a part of me throughout my lifetime. When I made my goal to run 180 races by age 40 — I did so because I wanted running to be a challenge that took me a decade or so to acheive.

Well, I am 35 — going on 36 in August — and I am some 43 races away from that goal. I wouldn’t have anticipated five years ago that this is where I would be. There are many reasons why I love running and racing — but, that’s not what this post is about. Needless to say — I love to run and it has been life changing for me.

But, as I approach the completion of this goal, I am starting to look a beyond the goal. I am starting to ask myself — what’s next? Do I simply add more races to my goal? Do I make a goal to run 300 races by 40? Or 500 by 50? Or do I take another approach?

As much as I would love to add to my number goal, I’m feeling the pull to aspire to something else. For one, I want to eventually reach my goal of a running a sub-two half marathon. And, I can’t really do that when I am running 20-25 races a year.

I also want to run more. And, I am not talking about more races, but more longer races. I love the challenge of ultra races. Having three ultra marathons under my belt — I am beyond the point of guessing whether or not I can do such distances. Because, I know I can.

There is an appeal to me for these longer distances — not just during a race, but in a personal feat. I look at a number of local runners, specifically Cory Reese and his many self-sustained 100 milers — around a track, in the wilderness and in the Salt Lake and Utah Valleys. His craziness and approach to adventure speaks to me.

A couple years ago Cory ran from the Utah State Capital in Salt Lake City to Provo (50 miles) and back — for a crazy urban 100 miler. I was in awe and inspired. He was self-sustained through friends and convenience stores. The run included a number of Slurpee stops — which again speaks to me.

When Cory did this, I wanted to try something similarly “crazy.” Albeit, my kind of crazy. That’s why a few weeks ago I decided that I wanted to challenge myself to a similar goal of running from Salt Lake to Provo — just not back like Cory. It would essentially be a 50 mile run.

The concept and route will be somewhat similar to Cory’s route. I am planning on running down State Street in Salt Lake using convenience stores as my aid stations. Most likely 7 Elevens — because where else can I fuel up on Slurpees and bananas? I am planning on jotting over to Draper and Suncrest as I descend into Utah Valley and follow State Street and University Blvd. to the Provo Town Centre.

You can check out the map I made here. Of course that’s subject to change as I vet out that route a bit more.

But, I am inviting any and all of my friends to join me in the adventure whether it’s for all 50 miles — or a mile or two along the way. I want this to more so be a celebration of running and achievement than anything else. Plus, I think it will be a lot of fun with others involved.

If you’re interested in joining me, I’ve made a Facebook event for this adventure. I am doing it Saturday, March 25th. Which is subject to change dependent on the weather and a couple other factors. But, I am pretty set on that date.

Oh, and the name of the run?

This is Bananas!

I think that pretty much speaks for itself. Because, this run is bananas.

But, it will be fun and I can’t wait.

SO JOIN ME!

RACE #134: Pony Express 50 Mile Trail Run

Going into my race on Friday I had a hard time expressing my thoughts and feelings about what I was about to accomplishment. Mainly because I was just so eager to experience what was ahead of me. But, now I’m here. The 50 miler is behind me and I’ve been processing the experience the past few days.

I’m not sure if the word ‘experience’ is the right word — experiences — is more appropriate. There were so many ups and downs from mile to mile that it felt like a lifetime of lessons I learned out there on the trail. It’s hard to put all of that in words, especially when it felt like my circumstances and mentality could change every quarter of a mile.

But, I did it! I did it! I did it! I did it!

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Going into the race I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I wanted to set a few ground rules for me to follow throughout the race to make I gave myself the best chance of success. I wanted to make them as concrete as possible, but I also knew they needed to be fluid enough to change as needed — because this was something I’ve never done before.

My rules were simple —

1) Keep moving forward.
2) Don’t sit down at aid stations.
3) Don’t spend more than 2-5 minutes at aid stations.
4) Eat and hydrate every 2-3 miles.
5) Don’t be shy asking for help.
6) Don’t poop my pants.
7) Don’t give up.

Simple rules really — and as #6 might seem like a joke … it’s really not. I was one of my biggest worries, because unlike your typical marathon the only port-a-potties on the course were at the starting and finish line. Everything in between was pretty much up to you. And, that scared me.

But, really the focus was just moving forward and getting where I wanted/needed to go … the finish line. I really didn’t want to sit down at the aid stations, but that ended up changing in the later miles. But, luckily my crew car was my aid station and that helped ease a lot of angst for me. I wouldn’t have to lug a pack with me and I could just focus on running. It really helped a lot and one of the reasons why I chose this race as my first 50.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Anyways — I had a great crew and support team. Tim from the Addict II Athlete team was my support vehicle. He volunteered his car as my ‘meals on wheels’ for the entire race. And, then somewhere around noon-1pm Jill was going to show up and help pace me to the finish. And, then Coach Blu said other AIIA team members were planning on coming later to pace team members into the finish.

We got into a good rhythm early into the race. After crashing at Coach’s place the night before we headed out from Orem to the West Desert for a 5am start time. Coach and I ran together about the first three miles together. Coach Blu is such a great guy and such an easy conversationalist — the miles really flew by.

We parted so he could catch up with some other team members and I had to use the restroom. Which was an adventure and a half for me. I had tried to use the restroom at the starting line KNOWING there wouldn’t be anywhere along the course to go. Nothing. Which is typical of me.

A photo posted by Joshua Hansen (@fight4phat) on

And, as typical as it is for other runners — I had to go — after running 3-4 miles on a bumpy dirt road. Sooooo — in a desert with nary a tree or shrub I walked out as far away from the roadside as I could to dig a hole. I felt so awkward — I felt like such a cityslicker — but, luckily it was still dark enough that I don’t think anyone could see me since I turned my headlamp off.  Anyways, I did my thing, covered it like a cat and moved along hoping that if anyone did see me they be faster than me.

But, I kept a good slow steady pace in the first 12-15 miles — which was all by design. I didn’t want to burn out too quickly, because I knew I’d need gas in the tank for the last 10-15 miles. So after Coach moved ahead I played leap frog with a few other 50 milers and an increasing number of 100 milers — I even ran into Wan who was running the 100 miler. And, of course hugs were included at that reunion.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to be in the mood for music, but I brought some just in case. I wanted to make a custom playlist on Spotify, but I just ran out of time. So I downloaded a mood playlist I found called simply, “Have a Good Day!” — seemed like a good idea since that was kind of my goal, right?

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

And, starting at mile nine, I plugged in the earphone and jammed out. It wasn’t a bad playlist. Lots of Beach Boys, Beatles, 80s music and really good UPBEAT songs — most of them were oldies, but there were a couple of John Mayer and Maroon 5 songs on there that just didn’t jive well with me and were quickly fast forwarded.

I kept the music going and just cranked out the miles. I mall walked the hills, ran the downhill and jogged the flat with intermediate mall walking in between. Then every three miles I’d hit Tim and my aid station. It was a good rhythm I had going. I had this going for about the first 27-30 miles.

But, around Mile 28 I found myself in a pain cave that was hard for me to get out of. I was still a couple miles from Tim’s car and Jill wasn’t there yet, so I knew I just had to find a way to get through those two miles. I tried speeding up and I tried slowing down, but none of that had really helped. So I just moved forward as best I could.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Then I had remembered that I had grabbed a rock somewhere around mile 2-3 and slipped it in my pocket (mainly as a souvenir). I grabbed the rock and tightly held it in my hand and then just focused all my energy into the rock. I visually gave that rock my pain. And, you know what? It worked!

After wandering in the desert herself, Jill found me — literally with my pants down. I stepped aside from the trail to “water the plants” and of course she came up right behind that. It’s my impeccable timing. But, this wasn’t the first time that’s happened either. Anyways — like I learned early on in ultrarunning — there’s no modesty in ultrarunning. None.

But, Jill came at the perfect time to get me over Lookout Pass. That stretch was tough — not just the climbing part up to the pass, but all those flat unglamorous terrain before all of that. Having her to chat with saved my sanity. Plus, I was grateful it was Jill, because it was yet another trademark epic adventure of ours.

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Once we got to the pass and back to her car, she decided to drive to the finish line and then carpool back with Mark. I hated being alone again for about 3-4 more miles, but I knew I could do it. Plus, the other AIIA support vehicle was right ahead of me so I wasn’t THAT alone.

So I just trudged along.

Luckily, after the climb came a lot of good downhill, so I just kind of let gravity take me as fast as it wanted. I got myself into a nice rhythm and I felt really good, especially considering that I was around mile 40 and less than 10 miles from finishing. Looking back to that moment I laugh, because within five miles that all changed — quite dramatically.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Around mile 43 the sun started setting and darkness came quite quickly. The moon wouldn’t raise until well past midnight and I didn’t grab my headlamp at the last break so I had to rely on my Rhino-sharp eyesight. My body was starting to just breakdown — physically, emotionally, spiritually and everything inbetween. And, I could tell I was not going in a good place.

I just wanted to be done. Since my goal was to finish I didn’t wear a Garmin or watch on me. I just relied on mile updates from Tim, Jill or strangers. I never asked other runners, but I’d ask their support vehicles. I’m not sure how good of an idea this was for me to do? Mentally it felt like I’d ask for updates every two hours, but then when I’d get a reply I would have just moved a mere half mile.

Mile 42.5
Mile 43.0
Mile 43.5
Mile 44.0
Mile 44.5

It was brutal.

I just wanted to be done. I was hurting everywhere. My feet were plotting to kill me. The thought of peanut butter made me nauseous. Heck, the thought of anything on my stomach made nauseous. I was just going downhill fast.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

I tried walking with a couple ladies who I had yo-yo’d a bit, but that didn’t have the same effect that Jill’s presence had for me earlier. I wanted to be alone. But, I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted to die. I just wasn’t in a good place at all.

At Mile 45.0 when I got to the car, I sat on the trunk and I tried to drink some water, eat some applesauce while I avoided a whiff of peanut butter or potatoes. I just sat there in silence. Jill was in the car, but she sat in silence as she was battling a migraine (that’s another story) herself. So I just on the bumper in pain, nauseous and discouragement, because I just wanted to be done.

I. Just. Wanted. To. Be. Done.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

The pain in my feet felt like needles and I thought if I changed my shoes that’d help not just the feet, but somehow my mental state of mind. It didn’t really. I knew my five minutes were up at the car, so I slowly got up on my feet and just tried to stagger forward. Each step hurt. And, as I told Jill to go forward another mile and a half — tears just kind of flowed down my cheeks.

As she pulled away the tears came streaming and my pouting turned into an ugly cry. I was once alone out there on the trail with no one in sight ahead or behind me. The tears came with every throbbing step. I couldn’t do this anymore. I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted this pain gone. I wanted to be at the finish line.

With tears in my eyes I gave the simplest and frankest prayers in my life. I said, “Heavenly Father, I can’t do this anymore. Please send someone to be with me. I can’t do this alone. I can’t do this alone.”

A photo posted by Joshua Hansen (@fight4phat) on

After uttering my feeble prayer I kept weeping as a rush of comfort rushed through me. And, the thought immediately came to me — “you’re not out here alone, someone is on their way!” I took comfort and faith in that feeling and just focused on each step forward.

Those tears of pain started turning into tears of appreciation as I reminded myself that I CHOSE THIS! I chose to go through this moment. I didn’t HAVE to do this, but I CHOSE it. I thought all of my Dad and his battle with gout and knee replacements who battles pains much worse than this temporary pain of mine.

I thought of my dear mother and friends Meridith and Amy who have battled cancer over the past few years. They didn’t chose to go through that. And, battled through much more than this moment of mine. Surely, if they didn’t give up, I sure as hell couldn’t now.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

Those tears of appreciation taught me a lesson of my Savior’s love. His infinite sacrifice was by choice. He had the power to stop … but, he didn’t. He pushed through much more pain than I was experiencing at that moment. How could I give up now, especially knowing that I had an empathetic partner who’s felt all that I have felt and more?

I know what I just shared is very personal to me, but I can’t tell the whole story of this race without including it. Even writing my recountment of this moment brings me to tears. The Savior’s atonement is real. I’ve felt it. I know it. And, in a world where there are bigger problems out there — He was aware of me and comforted me when I needed Him the most.

But, wait … that wasn’t even the total fulfillment of my prayer. No longer than a half mile later my friend Jed rolls up and asks, “you need a pacer!” And, of course this just brought more tears to my eyes and I exclaimed, “Dude, you’re the answer to my prayer — you’re my angel!”

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

I wasn’t expecting Jed to be there, mainly because Coach said he was planning on going elk hunting instead. But, apparently, he bagged an elk the day before and managed to get out the West Desert around 9pm — just when he was needed the most. I’ve been around too long to not believe in coincidences. And, as much as Jed probably wouldn’t want to hear, he was definitely my angel.

With a renewed focus the last 4-5 miles went so much more smoother than the prospected view a mere half hour and half mile prior. Jed kept me amply distracted and focused and because of that I was in a much, much better place.

There was a 3/4 mile out and back stretch once you passed the finish area before you were REALLY finished. And, once I passed the finishing area my determination to just be done was stronger. Tim joined Jed and I for the out and back — and once I got my sticker and headed back to the finish line, I sprinted to that finish line.

A photo posted by Joshua Hansen (@fight4phat) on

Okay, I lied, I mall walked like my Grandma at Hobby Lobby on Black Friday — but, it sure felt like a sprint. I was just determined to get where I wanted to be the most at that moment — the finish line. As I approached closer and closer my mind ran through dozens of emotions again — mainly where this journey has taken me and all those who have been a part of that.

I may have cried a bit. But, thankfully, for the benefit of Facebook pictures it wasn’t my Mile 45 ugly cry. I am pretty sure I used up my year’s quota of tears. But, my mind couldn’t help but think of all those triumphs, defeats, friendships and accomplishments that lead me to that moment. And, to be IN that moment at the time made it even more powerful for me.

I crossed that finish line in 17 hours and 48 minutes. It definitely wasn’t a landspeed record, but I didn’t care. That was never the point of this goal. The goal was to cross that finish line. Which I did.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

As I crossed Jill was immediately taking care of me. She got me food galore and made sure I hydrated properly. She did such a great job the volunteers remarked how wonderful it was to see a wife take such good care of her husband. We didn’t bother to correct her.

But, I downed some of the best portobello mushrooms I’ve ever had. And, I’m pretty sure the chicken sandwich I ate could have given Chick-Fil-A a run for its’ money. I was just grateful my appetite was back. Well, I say that conditionally, because I don’t think I’ll be eating peanut butter for a solid 2-3 years. Seriously, that’s no joke.

The ride home took us a solid four hours — and somehow I managed to stay awake the whole time?!?!! I remember having conversations with Jill, but I am pretty sure I didn’t make any sense. She gave me the same reaction she gives when her daughter says something that doesn’t make sense, but she doesn’t want to point out that it really sounded idiotic. I probably should have just passed out?

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

I stayed at Jill’s place and after a painful post race shower at 4am, I managed to get about three hours of sleep before leaving for Salt Lake to help at The Haunted Half. I was so worried about falling asleep and not waking up until 4pm later that day, but that never happened. And, quite honestly this past weekend I never truly “crashed” … I’ve just taken a lot of cat naps.

I think my ultra turned me into a cat?

Volunteering at The Haunted Half and keeping my legs moving really helped keep them fresh and from seizing on Saturday. They’re still a little sore, but stairs haven’t been as “BAD” as I imagined they’d be. I know that will all change when I take my first post-race run/jog/walk/jaunt. I am sweeping the Provo Haunted Half on Saturday so I should get at least a two miler in sometime this week to just get things going.

A photo posted by Joshua Hansen (@fight4phat) on

Anyways — enough of that. Now is the time to just enjoy the moment, relish in the accomplishment and take pause to ponder on the journey. I accomplished everything I set out to accomplish. Everything from finishing to not pooping my pants during the race.

But, more than that I experienced this race. I experienced some very highs and some very lows and everything in between. That’s what I was looking forward to more than anything in this journey. I wanted to just EXPERIENCE it.

And, I did.

Now, I’ve been asked if I’d do it again. And, up to the race — I said that I’d never say never. Post-race — I want to say “HELL NO!,” but again I can never say never. But, if you really want to know if I’ll ever do this distance again — ask me about 2-3 months. It’s such a big accomplishment with lots, lots and lots of work to be done before even daring to toe up on the starting line.

But, it can be done.

Anyone can do this. I firmly believe that. Why?

Because I did it.

I did it.

I did it.

I did it!


135 - haunted half provo

As mentioned above, I am sweeping the Haunted Half course. All by design of course. There was NO way I was going to pace a 2:45 a week after running 50 miles. I have swept four Haunted Half races to date and I love it because it’s ALWAYS a party in the back. Plus, I’ve met some amazing people running this race so it has a special place in my heart.

It’ll be a party once again. My friend JessicaSue (who I paced last year at the Salt Lake Haunted Half) and her husband will be there, along with Jill and possibly my sister. I am trying to talk her into it. But, we’ll see if she comes. She’s always wanted to run down Provo Canyon. Either way — it will be a party and a half.

The Haunted Half is one of my favorite races. They always do a good job with their races — plus I love this year’s medals! I am thinking of signing up for the virtual race so I can also get the sugar skull medal. I love that thing!

Anyways — just a few races left for the year. I am still debating on running the Bakers Dozen Half Marathon in December, but we’ll see — should be 3-4 more races on the docket before the turn of the calendar.


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I love this week’s Addict II Athlete Podcast — not just because it is one of my favorite podcasts, but because of who Coach Blu interviewed. I’ve gotten to know Tim over the past several months and really well this past Friday when he crewed my 50. He is one of the kindness and most sincere people you will ever meet.

I mean — this guy gave up HALF of his Arby’s sandwich to me on Friday! He didn’t have to and tried explaining that to him, but he was having none of that. He insisted on it, and he knew I needed it — which I did. But, I know he would do the same thing to anyone. That’s just the type of guy he is.

That’s why I love his story so much. This is one of my favorite episodes of AIIA to date and I know it will be yours’ too. Give it a listen …


I always love running into @u2elshanator! She’s a champion of champions! #thehauntedhalf

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“So I told her … LADY, THREE HOURS HERE SHOULD EQUATE TO MORE THAN ONE FRUIT SNACK!” #theLDSlife

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Wowzers! I’m loving this red hot #sunset! #utahsunset

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2667in2016

RUNNING MILES

250.55 miles

RACE MILES

355.88 miles

WALKING MILES

1224.97 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

1831.4 miles


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