Tag: utah half marathons

RACE #154: Bountiful Handcart Days Half Marathon

This race means a lot to me. Well, the whole Handcart Days festival means a lot to me. Growing up our family was heavily involved when my Dad served as the Chairman for the event. That included coordinating the parade, park festivities, entertainment and fireworks with a committee of local volunteers.

I spent a lot of time at the Bountiful Park lugging food to the concession stands, setting up VIP parade booths and whatever else was required. Sometimes I was even forced to watch the parade — which if anyone knows me, knows I absolutely HATE parades. But, that’s a post for another day.

In the seven years my Dad was involved with the festival, we never had a race — not even a 5K. But, in the 10 years after my Dad was released from the chairmanship one was added in conjunction with the South Davis Rec Center. So when I decided to run my first half marathon back in 2011 — it just seemed fitting.

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I run the race twice since that hot July 2011 day. It was my 100th race back in 2015 where friend Jim Gastelum arranged a 100 banana salute at the finish line and then I ran it again last year to celebrate my 5th year anniversary of my first half marathon. This race has become a race of milestones for me of sorts.

When I lined up this year for the race, I wasn’t really celebrating a certain milestone. Unless there’s significance for a 6th anniversary or 154th race that I am unaware of? I was running to run. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking of those milestones and the plan to run this again next year for my 180th and final race in my 180 goal.

But, my mind was on other things. The day prior I got word that a good friend of mine — not just a running friend — was diagnosed with brain cancer. Robert Merriman has been a good friend for some four years or so now. He is truly one of the greatest men you’d ever met. Not a mean bone in his body, yet one of the best senses of humor.

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This news quickly spread throughout the running community and left many of us shocked. Robert had friends throughout the community, because of the nature of man he is. He’s always encouraging, always giving and always cheering others on.

Having this news really made this run one of reflection for me. Not just on Robert, but about other friends and family in my life who’ve battled cancer. It was this time two years ago we found out about Meridith’s breast cancer. My Mom’s own cancer journey was on my mind, even though that was over five years ago. All that emotion was very much on my mind.

But, my heart was also reflective on how through all of that — running was there. Running is a mental, spiritual and physical therapy for me in these moments. I remember when I got the news of my mother’s diagnosis I went out for a run that day to help clear my mind and find peace.

It’s almost become a natural reaction for me to run when life gets tough, confusing, frustrating or difficult. Not to run away from it all. But, to run with my thoughts, and often a prayer in my heart, to center myself and find strength to tackle whatever is in front of me.

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So, toeing up to that starting line on Saturday morning was to find that center balance.

Like the previous couple years I decided to take the early start at 5:30am. I have no reason to do it other than I want to get done faster and spend less time out in the heat of the day. I kind of wish all summer races had a 5:30am option. It’s light enough that I know where I am going … so why not?

A handful of us started early and I got about three or so miles into the race before the leading runners passed me. I thought that wasn’t bad, especially since I wasn’t planning on pushing myself at all during this race. That’s what happens when you have a race on Monday, a bum ankle and a flat course. I was Clydesdaling it.

Around mile three I started getting Tummy Gremlins and knew I needed a Honey Bucket soon. I found one just off the Legacy Parkway Trail, but when I approached it was deadlocked. DEADLOCKED?! Who does that?

I didn’t have much time to ponder about that so I just moved forward in hopes that the next aid station would have one. I won’t lie, it was the longest two miles of my life. I’ve run some painful miles in the past — but, when the Tummy Gremlins attack, they mean business.

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Finally, when I turned a corner to see the Mile 5 aid station I saw the most glorious Honey Bucket. When I limped toward it I was elated it wasn’t deadlocked or occupied. I made it right in the nick of time.

I am not sure why I included this story, but it was pretty much the highlight of the first half of the race. And, luckily — well, thankfully — the second half was much, much, much better.

Just shortly after my near disaster, I ran into Merri and Glen, a brother and sister that were running in memory of Glen’s son Benjamin who passed away recently. Merri reads this blog and introduced herself. After yo-yo’ing for a couple of miles we met up again at the Mile 7 aid station and ran together the rest of the way.

Talking with Merri and Glen about Glen’s son Benjamin was what I needed. Already with a reflective heart — I just listened to Glen talk about how Benjamin lived with one of the biggest hearts — toward humanity and animals. I listened to his stories of Benjamin’s musical talents and how he recently drove to Southern Utah to adopt a dog slated to be put down.

I was grateful for this moment.

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My heart kept wandering toward those I’ve lost in the past few years — both friends and family. I thought a lot about my Grandma and Aunt Diane — two of my biggest influences as both a kid and adult. I thought about their big hearts, I thought about the small unsaid acts of kindness they shared with others and how proud they were of the changes I was making in my life.

Loss is hard, especially when you lose someone so close to your heart. And, I couldn’t help but think throughout this run how running helped mend that my heart. It was a very unexpected spiritual experience for me. I felt honored to be able to share that moment with Merri and Glen.

It was a completely uplifting run for me.

After we crossed the finish line, we took a picture together and parted ways.

But, I couldn’t stop thinking about this run throughout the day. I couldn’t stop feeling a deep sense of gratitude for having running in my life. Not just for affording me to be a part of this powerful experience, but that it’s helped me through many difficult times in my life.

Life is a beautiful thing. And, running has helped enhance that for me — in times of sorrow, pain and joy. And, for that I’ll always thank God for the gift of running.


MY NEXT THREE RACES


He has my heart … and banana.

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Best duet I’ve heard since Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s “Drunk in Love”

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Got my biannual thyroid check this past week. I knew something was up with my energy levels and … yup … the thyroid was off. So my doctor switched me to a lower dose of Levothyroxine. No more Armour. I’m feeling a difference, which is good, but we’ll start seeing the bigger effects in the next couple of months (hopefully). I’m just hoping my energy levels are better and the new meds help make losing weight easier. It should. I’d really like to lose 30lbs before November, but we’ll see. If that doesn’t happen at least a good 30-35 before my 100 miler in February. Goals, goals, goals. It’s been hard making weight loss goals with Hashimoto’s, because the thyroid is so fickle. I just want consistency. And, I’m hopeful I’m on the right track. ———————————————————— #fight4phat #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #levothyroxine #thyroidmedication #hypothyroidism #hypothyroidismweightloss #goals #healthgoals #thyroidproblems ———————————————————— @fight4phat @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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You better believe that if I’m going to be sitting in the dentist’s chair for most of the morning I’m going to get in a longer-ish run beforehand. Planned on a quick two mile run, but after realizing I had enough time for a longer run, I doubled it up and did four miles. Since I have two half marathons this weekend I didn’t want to do anything pushed, especially with my ankle so I just focused on my gait mechanics and enjoyed the warm morning run. Winning. ———————————————————— #fight4phat #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #utahrunningclub #morningrun #4milerun #fartlek #runutah ———————————————————— @fight4phat @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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Are we sure this is a war over monkeys and not drugs?

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Lest we ever forget.

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Sunsets like tonight could turn the manliest of men into a poet.

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RACE #152: AF Canyon Race Against Cancer

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

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

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

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

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

How’s that for a goal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was happy.

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

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

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

But, Saturday’s race was perfection.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES

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


Weekly Miles

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

June 2017 Miles

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

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 259.95 miles
Race Miles — 243.12 miles
Walking Miles — 616.72 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1119.79 miles
Races done in 2017 — New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon, Drop13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer.


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

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

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Not my idea of a fun weekend.

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RACE #147: Jordan River Half Marathon

YEAH, I’M RACING!!! After a couple weeks of low mileage and uncertainty with my ankle it sure felt great being back on the course. Albeit, nowhere close to the pace or time I expected a couple months ago. But, I was running and that’s what mattered.

The past month or so has been tough. Well, the past couple of months have. Okay, maybe the past three months? Setbacks big and small have kind of plagued me after running the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival — colds, the flu, bad back, sprained ankles and all that jazz.

Not fun.

But, after Thursday’s doctor appointment with the orthopedist — I feel hopeful. I may not be where I pictured my fitness or running to be from a few months ago, but I see that light. And, that has me feeling really excited, hopeful and recommitted.

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And, as much as I want to get faster and stronger, my ultimate goal is my 100 miler in February. That’s where my path needs to lead more than just knocking off a few half marathon time goals. The focus needs to be getting stronger, building stamina and just getting miles under my feet. And, in many ways, I feel that speed will be a byproduct of that focus.

So going into this race, I knew I wasn’t going to be fast. I just wanted to be outside, I wanted to be running and I wanted to test my ankle. The only directive the doctor gave me to running is that I knew my limitations. So, I just kind used that as a gauge to how much I should push or hold back.

I didn’t have a time goal. I honestly didn’t care. I expected to probably walk a lot and come in dead last (which I wasn’t). I know those are some very high aspirations. But, I really didn’t know how it was going to all go without me being in the moment to test it.

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When the race started, I kind of casually jaunted across the starting line. I expected to run with my friend Julianna — who was sweeping — but, I decided to go ahead, because I expected to eventually meet up with her later in the race (again, which didn’t happen). So my friend Chad and I went out together.

We stuck together along the parkway for the first half of the race before parting ways at the turnaround aid station. He was picking up the race signs and decided to wait for Julianna — so I just went ahead solo. I wanted to test my ankle.

The first half of the race was tough getting a good pace for myself. The ankle wasn’t enjoying what I was giving it and acted it up some. But, when I went out solo I really tried to focus on finding a good pace to keep the pain minimal. And, it seemed to work well — for the most part.

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I eventually found a good pace, so I just stuck in my earphones, jammed out and just focused on my way to the finish line. I felt good. Sure there was some discomfort with my ankle, but I wasn’t sure if it was just the normal fatigue of the race, the flat terrain of the course or just the normal healing process of my sprain? It very well could have been a combination of all three.

Either way, I just worked on my consistency and tried not to worry much about the pressure of my finish time or pace. I could worry about that later on other runs. But, this was really just about discovering a starting point in my recovery.

While jamming out to my music — between mile 9-10, I came across what I thought was a litter of kittens in the middle of the parkway trail. As I approached the kittens, I realized they weren’t kittens — but, that of a family of skunks. Stinky cats.

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By the time I had approached the mama skunk had hurriedly corralled her babies to the side of the trail and started to turn her tail around to undoubtedly sprain me. After doing a scuttled dodge — that resembled more of a Larry, Curly or Moe movement than that of a secret agent — around the skunks I went on my merry way. But, with the thought — what if I got sprayed?

What if I got sprayed?

I could only imagine what the last 3-4 miles would have been like … the ride home … the post-race shower. Thank goodness I didn’t get sprayed. It would have been horrible. Horrible. Luckily, that is a reality that I didn’t have to experience.

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After the skunk encounter, I just kept forward as I was nearing the finish line. It was starting to get warmer and I could feel the fatigued settling in my legs. I had to stop a couple times to stretch — but, nothing too taxing with my ankle.

I crossed the finish line in 3:35 hours — one of my slowest half marathon times — and plopped myself on a curb to gather myself and drink some water. I was happy to be done. My ankle felt okay-ish and about what I expected.

I may not be where I wanted to be at this point from a few months ago, but this is the hand that I’ve been dealt. The focus is and will be for the next 8-9 months preparing for my 100 miler. I can’t let any short term setbacks distract myself from the long term goal. That’s the goal, that’s the destination.

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I’ll have better races and faster times. That will come. But, I just need to keep myself focused, keep my diet clean and on the right track with strengthening my ankle the right way. I’ll be blogging all about that later.

But, for now, I am just focused on the recover and the next couple of weekends running down Big Cottonwood. I am planning on eight miles next weekend with friends and then the Drop13 Big Cottonwood Half the following weekend. I’m bummed that I had to drop Ragnar, but there’s some solace in a run down Big Cottonwood.

Plus, it’s summer and that always makes for some great running!

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON OR BUST!


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


RACE #147: Jordan River Half Marathon, May 27, 2017 (3:35:48) There was nothing pretty about this run. I was just happy to be out on the course after a couple weeks off from running. After spraining my ankle in April, I wasn’t sure of the extent of the injury or needed recovery time. But, after a doctor appointment a couple days before the race, the doctor gave me a go with the caveat to not push it past my comfort level. The run was all over the place and I played with rhythm, pace and push. It was one of my slowest race times, but I don’t care. I do, but time wasn’t the goal here. The goal is to get me where I need to come February for my 100 miler. Like I said before, I was just happy to be out on the course! #race147 #jordanriverhalf #running @joshruns180 @josherwalla @fight4phat @myracemedals @extramileracing

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The Essence of Dave.

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Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 3.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 20.5 miles
TOTAL MILES — 36.6 miles
Race(s) this week — Jordan River Half Marathon

May 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 20.0 miles
Race Miles — 26.2 miles
Walking Miles — 94.19 miles
TOTAL MILES — 140.39 miles
Races in May — Provo City Half Marathon and Jordan River Half Marathon.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 225.25 miles
Race Miles — 177.62 miles
Walking Miles — 514.6 miles
TOTAL MILES — 917.47 miles
Races done in 2017 — New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon and Jordan River Half Marathon.


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RACE #145: Saltair Half

Going into this race — I wasn’t having a very good week. Last weekend during the Riverton Half I started having a little pain in one of my molars. I didn’t think too much about it, because it was cold and I just have very sensitive teeth.

But, this was the same tooth that my dentist couldn’t work on because he couldn’t get me numb. It needed a crown, but he just couldn’t do anything with it. So, he filled what he needed to do and felt that we could wait a few months and try again. He didn’t feel like it was close enough to my nerve to worry about a root canal.

Well, it got to that point of needing a root canal.

By Sunday evening it was throbbing and I couldn’t chew on that side at all. I knew I was going to need a root canal. So on Monday I called my dentist and he ended up referring me to a endodontist to do the work. But, the endodontist couldn’t see me until Wednesday. So that left me with about three days of dealing with the pain.

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Luckily, my dentist gave me a prescription for some Lorotab. It helped. But, I won’t lie, I kinda hate that stuff. I hate the drowsy feeling and with most pain medications I always get itchy from it. But, come Wednesday I was BEYOND ready for the root canal.

I was beyond surprised how quickly and painless the whole procedure was. I was zonked out and didn’t feel a thing. Sure, my jaw hurt for the next couple of days, but by Friday I was feeling 100% — or close to it.

I’m telling you all this, because it’s framing the context of this run. The past week was brutal on me. It shot my planned workouts and runs I wanted to get in — I got only two miles of running in and FAR less walking miles than I like. The week just sucked.

So on Saturday morning I was just ready for this run. I knew it was going to suck. Not only did not I get the wanted training in the past week, but the course isn’t my favorite — especially when it comes to speed. It’s an out and back flat course along the frontage road running west to east along I-80 in Magna.

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I’ve done the Saltair Half a number of times before — so I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew I wasn’t going to be fast, I knew it was going to be tough on me mentally, but I knew I also needed the miles and it wasn’t race toward my 180 goal.

So there I was in Magna at the Great Saltair ready to run.

Despite having only 38 runners for the half marathon the race had pacers — many whom I know. The sweeper was Julianna who I’ve ran with countless times. With that few runners I knew we’d probably be hanging out a lot during the race — if not the whole race.

I had a feeling I was probably going to be the last runner, but I didn’t care. I’ve stopped caring about that where I finish years ago. As long as I do my best for that day and finish, I am happy.

Once the gun sounded Julianna and I started off together. We walked a good part of the first two miles — mistakingly keeping pace with one of the slower dualathletes. We picked up our pace once he turned around at the 5K turnaround, but I won’t lie — it was more like a run/walk for a bit. Something that would probably make Jeff Galloway proud.

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Early into the race I noticed that there weren’t any port-a-potties along the course. Like none. In the past there had been at least one at the aid stations. But, there weren’t any — which made me a little anxious. Even if I don’t use it, I know if there isn’t one — I’ll end up needing it.

I tried to not think much about it and just enjoyed the company of Julianna. Once we got to the turnaround point we met up with another runner who was walking at this point. She wasn’t feeling well and had just tanked out. I felt bad for her, because she really could have used a restroom.

After walking with her and Julianna for a bit, I decided to pick up my pace and go ahead. I wanted — well needed — to run. So, I sprinted off around Mile 8. Well, it wasn’t much of a sprint. I didn’t have much spring in my legs, but I decided to keep my walking to a minimum and just push myself past my comfort level.

I felt really good about my last five miles even though I knew I was well past my sub-three semi-goal. But, this race wasn’t about a time goal anyways — it was my therapy from a tough past week. It was my therapy away from the stress of the past week. And, it was my therapy helping me to mentally prepare myself for my 50K in a couple of weeks.

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The last couple of miles were brutal. I had no spring whatsoever — and on a flat course — it shows. My sprint was a mall walkers pace. But, I pushed myself through that pain, kept my walking to a minimum and just kept focus on the finish line.

And, I made it.

I made it in 3:26:11. Not my best time. By far. But, I wasn’t disappointed. I wasn’t necessarily happy with it. But, it was what it was — therapy.

After being handed my medal and a bunch of bananas (you gotta give it to them that they know me!) — I hopped in my car and just headed back home. On the drive home I reflected on the run and how tough it was on me. And, how difficult this past week was on me mentally and physically. I was proud of myself for pushing through it all and doing the run. Because it wasn’t easy.

And, now my mind is fully on my 50K in a couple of weeks. Luckily, I don’t need to rely too much on my speed. The speed I was at during this race is probably even a bit too fast for my 50K. So, as discouraging as my time might feel for my half marathon — I feel good about where I will be physically during the 50K.

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The next couple of weeks I am just focusing on my workouts and runs. I’ve been working out at home the past couple of months — well lots of physical therapy exercises for my back (which is a non-issue now) and my sprained ankle. But, I am going to get back into my boot camp workouts at my gym and add some more weight training.

Plus, the good thing about training for my 50K is that I am technically tapering. So with PrepperCon this weekend my runs don’t have to be long. I am going to do five miles on Friday or Saturday — on top of the mileage from walking around the convention. I’ll either run around the Sandy area or just hop on the hotel treadmill. Either way — it’s no 20 miler.

But, I am excited for the next couple of weeks. And, as difficult as this past week has been, it’s nice to be able to acknowledge it, process it and then — move on.  Which I am doing now.

SALT FLATS OR BUST, BABY!


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


When I think of Easter, I often think of my angel Grandma — or Yia Yia. She was (and still is) a rock in my life. Her sense of humor, her love of family and her belief in me will always be a hallmark of her legacy. But, it’s one of the Greek Orthodox Easter traditions that she passed onto us, that I will always remember, do and say. In Greece, a common Easter greeting between one another is Χριστός ἀνέστη! (Christos Anesti) Meaning … Christ is Risen! But, instead of the greeted responding with the same greeting they reaffirm that saying with Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη! (Alithos Anesti) Meaning … Truly He Is Risen! Since her passing over two years ago, I ponder much on that saying. It is because of Him that I know I’ll see my Yia Yia again. It is that victory over death that we will ALL rise again. I am grateful for this Easter season and for what it means to me personally, for my family and us all. I stand in reaffirming to all that Christ has truly risen! Happy Easter!

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This is the Utah way of saying … “I’m ready for summer, but I’m not sure if it’s here yet.”

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With a mug like this, Adventure’s First Stop™ is usually the bathroom.

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Teaching young Tatum the ways of the Hansen Egg Challenge. He's a natural.

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Weekly Review

As mentioned above, this wasn’t a good week for me — physically, mentally or emotionally. The root canal and tooth pain really threw me off. But, this upcoming week I am looking to make up for all of that. I don’t need huge mileage — because of my upcoming 50K — but, I want to get at least three good runs in, on top of the time on my feet that I’ll spend at PrepperCon on Friday and Saturday.

It should be a much better week. It’ll be physically demaning and a bit hectic, but that’s what makes it interesting — right?

Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 2.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 21.61 miles
TOTAL MILES — 36.71 miles
Race(s) this week — Saltair Half.

April 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 6.0 miles
Race Miles — 39.3 miles
Walking Miles — 45.63 miles
TOTAL MILES — 90.93 miles
Races in April — Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Salt Flats 50K and Tulip Festival Half

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 187.75 miles
Race Miles — 135.42 miles
Walking Miles — 371.09 miles
TOTAL MILES — 694.26 miles
Races done in 2017 — New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half and Saltair Half.



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RACE #142: Lucky 13 Half Marathon

This race was an audible. I was originally planning on running the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 25K, but due to some time sensitive family obligations on Saturday I decided to scratch the 25K for the shorter race. As hard as it was to give up a trail race, I couldn’t be gone a good chunk of the day.

So, luckily, I found the Lucky 13 Half Marathon and changed course. The race starts at Gardner Village in West Jordan and is a fairly simple out and back course along the Jordan River Parkway Trail. Joe Coles and On Hill Events do a series of races at Gardner Village and this was the first one I’ve been able to run.

The race started at 9am and packet pickup was from 7:30-8:30am so I decided to volunteer and help Joe. Doing the volunteer coordinating for Runtastic Events I like to volunteer for other races to see how they do things — from communication, assigning to certain jobs and general use.

The race was rather small — there were 200 runners. Most were running the 5K, but a good chunk ran the 10K while only 50 ran the half marathon. I don’t mind small races at all — in fact, in some situations I kind of prefer it. Especially factoring on the course. And, since we were running on the Jordan River Parkway — it was a good size.

Starting off the race I didn’t really have a game plan since I registered a couple days before. I wanted to push for a sub-three, which I felt was possible. But, honestly, didn’t know for 100% because of the back issues have been having the past three weeks. My running hasn’t been ideal and my miles lower than I would like.

But, I was going to try for it anyway.

Fighting through the crowd of runners soon thinned out as the 5K and 10K runners got to their turnarounds. I wasn’t sure if anyone was behind once it was just us half marathoners left running south on the course. But, I didn’t care. I was just focused on putting one foot in front of the other and giving it a good effort.

I was feeling pretty good during the first half of the race. There was a bit of a headwind, but nothing like two weeks ago at the March Madness Half. I figured once I turned around I’d get a nice tailwind — which would help PUSH me a bit to my sub-three time goal.

Once I got to the turnaround Steven MacKay, a fellow runner from Run4fun, was directing us to make sure we made the turnaround. Once I started heading northward I noticed I was the last runner. But, I wasn’t completely isolated, there were a couple of runners just ahead of me.

I was a few hundred yards behind the runner just ahead of me and I could tell he was starting to struggle around mile eight or so with frequent walk breaks. I kept focusing on him in an attempt to catch up and possibly pass him. I knew I could do it, but I just had to be smart about it.

Around this time Steven caught up with me. After his volunteer post was complete he ran the last stretch of the race to get his miles in for the day. Since there weren’t any pacers for this race Steven decided to bring us runners in — and I’m thankfully he did. The company was much appreciated.

This was the first time meeting Steven in person, but we’ve been acquainted through Run4fun and Facebook. But, our running journeys hold many similarities with our weight loss and fitness back stories and it was nice talking about that — it helped me keep distracted from the fatigue and heat.

Yes, heat.

The temperature starting the race was quite nice. It was around 55-60 degrees at 9am, but by the time I reached the last couple of miles it reached at least 70 degrees. I was baking.

I tore off my monkey hat and was nearly tempted to throw my shirt off as well — but, then I remembered there were decency laws about that. So the shirt stayed on.

But, it was hot. And, it zapped me. Completely zapped.

By this time Steven and I caught up with the runner ahead of us. Steven stayed with him while I forged ahead. We didn’t separate much the last mile or so, but I was motivated to just stay ahead. I didn’t care much if I finished last — but, I wasn’t going to do it without a fight.

Plus, I knew I was going to be cutting my time goal REALLY short. I wasn’t sure if I was going to meet it or not. But, mile 12.5 mile of a half, that feels like you’re running through an Easy Bake Oven, isn’t a good time to math. Well, there’s never a good time to do math — but, especially in THIS moment.

So, I just kept one foot in front of the other and pushed myself as much as I could. That was pretty much all I could anyways. Anything more or less felt like it would kill me.

Once I got back to Gardner Village, the course wound back to the finish line. I always get the urge to sprint at any finish line, but there wasn’t anything else in the tank. I was on empty. I crossed the finish line, got some water and an orange and just collapsed.

I was done.

Shortly after Steven and the last runner crossed the finish line as I just sat there fatigued out of mind. I was not prepared for that heat. And, those last two miles were brutal for me. But, I was done and that’s what mattered.

I checked my time and noticed I didn’t get my wanted time. I came in at 3:01:24. Obviously, not my best time. But, it was still better than my last two half marathons — so I guess that’s a win?

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While chewing on that unmet goal I was always informed that I actually PLACED in my age group. Which immediately changed my mood. My reaction was a mixture of laughing and astonishment. I’ve never placed at any race before — 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon and beyond.

Now, let’s not forget that there were 50 half marathon runners so my odds were more than above average to place. But, I run smaller races and didn’t even SNIFF the podium. Considering I am 35 — that’s a prime running age. I just always assumed that I’d place at races I’d run once I hit 70.

I don’t take the placement lately. In order to place — I still have to show up. I still have to run. And, I still have to finish the race. So, it’s not like it was just GIVEN to me. I earned it.

But, I am ready to put in some better half marathon training in the next few months. I don’t want to be stuck around this 3 hour mark much longer. I know I’ve got it in me to run faster. Much faster. And, with my health starting to get under control I know I’ll get there.

But, I have some big goals in front of me, so I am going to be pin point with my plan. And, I’ll blog more on all of that later. I am focusing on next week’s loooooooong ultra training run and then back to racing with the Emigration Canyon Half Marathon on April 1st. I won’t lie, I’m looking forward to some more downhill running.

ONWARD ‘HO!


NEXT FIVE RACES


I wish this bib meant I was eating lobster. #butnope #dentisttime

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RACE #142: Lucky 13 Half Marathon, March 18, 2017 (3:01:24) I did something for the first time EVER during this race! I placed! Yep! I made onto the podium! I came in third place for my age group! Now, before you oh and awe too much over this accomplishment … 50 people ran the half. BUT … I’ve run smaller races and didn’t even sniff the podium. It was a tough race. It got unusually hot for a March race here in Utah and my last two miles was a death shuffle … but, I made it 3:01:24 and I placed! I wish I sub-three’d, but I felt great about my effort. I’m eager to get faster and with one more 50K happening by next month it’ll slowly happen. On to the next one! Emigration Canyon or BUST! #lucky13half #race142 #running @joshruns180 @josherwalla @onhillevents

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Helping move my cousin has me in a mood for a game of Tetris™. #tetrismaster

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Weekly Review

Another tough week for me, but I got most of my mobility back with a massage and continued work on my back. I am trying to be patient so I don’t come back too fast and too strong — I am healing my back for the long term. Especially my long term goals. I am going to up my miles a bit this week capped off with a 20 or so mile run on Saturday.

Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 3.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 25.41 miles
TOTAL MILES — 41.51 miles
Race(s) this week — Lucky 13 Half Marathon.

March 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 20.5 miles
Race Miles — 26.2 miles
Walking Miles — 66.71 miles
TOTAL MILES — 113.41 miles
Races in March — March Madness Half and Lucky 13 Half Marathon.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 136.65 miles
Race Miles — 96.12 miles
Walking Miles — 214.94 miles
TOTAL MILES — 447.71 miles
Races done in 2017 — New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half and Lucky 13 Half Marathon.



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RACE #141: March Madness Half Marathon

One thing I love about endurance sports — specifically running — is unlike other sports, like most team sports, the venue changes from event to event. And, the outcome is up to you, not necessarily how you and your teammates work together on an uniform and familiar playing field.

In running — especially distance running — distances may be the same, but courses (or playing fields) all differ. And, I love that. A race down Big Cottonwood Canyon is going to be completely different from around the neighborhoods of South Jordan, the trails of the Bonneville Lakeshore Trail or around the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns.

Then on top of that you’re going to face many different variables — dealing with anything from weather, your training preparation, your fueling, your mental state, etc., etc., etc., etc. That’s why racing is so personal. It’s YOUR race — and nobody else’s. And, this race was very much a reminder of the importance of that mentality.

Going into the race — I didn’t know what to expect. Compared to last week when I ran the SL Track Club Indoor Half in Kearns — I wasn’t recovered from my previous week’s ultra. I felt it pretty early into my run. The legs were kicking and screaming trying to remind me of the hell I put them through the previous week.

This week — I felt more rested. My runs during the week weren’t fast, calculated or overly efforted. They were more shakeout runs. I just wanted to feel and do better than last week’s race. And, I think I got my legs there come Saturday morning.

I didn’t want to put a time goal on this race, because I haven’t been half marathon training — or maintaining. My training miles from December until February were pretty much all focused on my ultra. Meaning — they were long and slow miles.

In fact I am pretty sure the first 13 miles of my ultra took me over four hours? So speed work hasn’t been on the training docket for me for quite a while. Which I’m not worried about, because after my 50K in April I’ll be gearing my focus toward that anyway.

Anyways — despite all of the reasons why I shouldn’t or didn’t need to make a time goal. I did.

I simply wanted to run a sub-three hour half marathon. That seemed like a reasonable and doable goal. I’ve been losing weight, gaining more energy with my Hashimoto’s friendly diet and feeling strongly lately — so why not?

I knew it was going to be a challenge because of my lack of half training, still temperamental post-ultra legs and the flatness of the course. The race was along the Legacy Parkway Trail — which is flatter than flat. I guess there are some hills, but only people in Kansas would consider them hills — so they don’t count.

Anyways — I knew a flat course with my iron legs could be difficult to gauge an estimated time — but, I didn’t care. I just wanted that sub-three time. I felt like I could do it. So, that’s what I shot for.

When the race started my legs felt pretty good. Not amazingly good — but good. So this encouraged me. And, considering there was a pretty strong tailwind behind — I felt like a racehorse. So I kept trying to mentally push myself a little bit more per mile — just focusing on that effort here and there.

And, really, I felt great.

About 3-4 miles into the race I am starting to think that this goal was more than doable, but expected. I was really on cloud nine, because I felt great. A lot which I attributed to my diet changes and newfound energy.

But, around this time as I was beginning to see the runners return from the out and back return trip — I realized in dread. THIS AWESOME TAILWIND IS GOING TO TURN INTO A NASTY HEADWIND!

And, yeah, as I saw friends pass some of them made comments about the headwind. At this point I started dreading the turnaround point. Because, I’ve dealt with some nasty headwinds. None as horrific as the Ogden Marathon headwind — there’s no joy in a 30 MPH headwind in the rain. That was pure hell. But, I digress.

So while I knew it wasn’t going to be fun — I also knew it wasn’t going to be the worse either. And, thankfully it was not raining, otherwise I’d be singing a different tune.

Once I turned around the change was pretty immediate. There were some nasty gusts — the kind that make you kinda loose your breath for a second. But, the headwind was pretty constant.

After about a mile of just pushing through the wind — I gave myself two options for the last five or so miles. I could, one, keep running for that goal or, two, start walking a bunch and make the excuse that the wind was simply too hard and I got tired.

Luckily, I chose the first option. And, I just kept going.

I felt like if I pushed myself that I could still get my sub-three time. I had to try. I figured at the turn around I was on pace for about 2:40-2:45 — so I still had a shot.

I am glad I went with that decision, because I ran hard into that wind, but it was very, very difficult. It was a fight to keep running and it took A LOT out of me. My mile 10 — I felt like I was beyond empty.

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At this point I stopped looking at the watch, because I knew I was going to be cutting it close. The difference between directions was really that much. My legs started getting really tight because of the effort and threatened to cramp on a couple occasions. But, I kept going.

Around mile 11 — I found it easier and faster for me to mall walk some stretches. I hate resorting to it, because I always fear it will turn into a mosey. But, I focused on my stride and arm swinging (if I had two pound dumbbells I am positive I would have been MUCH faster) and it really helped relieve a lot of the strain on the quads. I focused on alternating between my mall walking and running in a 1:1 minute ratio.

And, for the most part that helped.

But, I was still on empty.

Once I got off the trail and back onto the streets toward the park I happened to glance at my watch to notice I had a minute to run the last 3/4 of a mile or so. I just kind of stared at that reality — and didn’t feel disappointment — at all. Besides feeling sore, dead and depleted — I felt proud. I felt strong. I felt — good.

That last stretch I had a conversation with myself — first, thanking me for deciding making excuses to walk and, second, realizing that my effort was beyond a sub-three effort. On pretty much any other course my effort that day WAS well below a sub-three time. And, I knew a windless — or even less windy day — that effort would give me a sub-three time.

And, to say and realize that — knowing I could have just started walking as a sign of defeat — made me really proud of myself.

I came in just over 3:06 hours. But, those six minutes were invisible to me.

Because, I got that goal.


NEXT FIVE RACES


So during my race today I saw a seemingly perfect banana laying on the side of the road. I was going to pick it up, but I figured … someone might have left it there for later. After I turned around and came back I noticed it was still there. I also noticed it was half eaten. Being a hungered, I looked at it (checked it for needles … I was taught that from Trick or Treating in the 80’s), ripped off the tip where it was a bit bruised … and I ate it. So whoever left that half eaten banana out on Legacy Parkway Trail this morning … THANK YOU! It saved me from cramping, it was delicious and was also the burst of energy I needed to do the last two miles. #race141 #marchmadnesshalf #running @joshruns180 @fit.phat

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Played LIFE™ with my 5 year old niece tonight … guess who got married before me? #yepshedid #likereallife

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RUNNING MILES

119.65 miles

RACE MILES

83.02 miles

WALKING MILES

167.56 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

370.23 miles



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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?