Tag: utah marathons

RACE #155: Deseret News Half Marathon

After racing on Saturday at the Handcart Days Half Marathon, I wasn’t sure what to expect on Monday for this race. Especially since I haven’t done much back to back long runs — outside of the Bear Lake Trifecta.

Plus, with my ankle lately, I just haven’t had many feel good successful runs. It’s been frustrating because about 6-7 miles into a run my ankle starts screaming. I’ve been going to Physical Therapy and doing daily exercises/stretches that have been helping some, but the biggest thing my doctor suggested was new runners. Specifically ones for overpronation.

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Now, I’m not going to get into all of that, but basically — I’m an overpronator which was not only the likely cause of the sprain, but why it wasn’t healing properly as well. Meaning, the overpronation didn’t give my ankle the time or structure it needed to heal. Truly a vicious cycle.

On Saturday after my race I bought some new runners, the Saucony Omni 15 to be specific. I debated whether or not I should break them out for this race, but after about two minutes I threw caution to the wind and decided to lace them up.

And, boy, was I glad I did!

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Ironically, the race started in the canyon (and about 100 yards down the road) where I first sprained the ankle in April. I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t on my mind. My two goals for the race were to sub-three and not sprain my ankle. I love Emigration Canyon, but it’s road condition isn’t the best — so it’s a real concern.

After hanging out for about an hour at the starting line the race started at 6am. As soon as I went out the chute I felt the heaviness of my legs. From past experiences I knew the first three miles were going to be spent basically loosening up — so I didn’t push TOO hard, especially know I’d need my energy for that later.

Once I was loosened up, I was surprised how well I felt. But, more than that — how well my ankle felt. I still felt it’s tenderness, but it wasn’t screaming at me. I knew the test would be in a few more miles, especially when I got down to the home stretch. But, I felt very optimistic with how I was feeling.

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With the ankle feeling rather neutral, I wanted to push myself a bit and between miles 5-8 I kept pushing myself. The ankle was holding up, especially after miles 6-7 where it usually starts cursing at me. So, I kept pushing.

I probably pushed a bit too hard, especially coming off a race on Saturday. But, I also haven’t been speed training much with the injury so my fitness level wasn’t where I’d like it to normally be. The only way to get back there is by … pushing and challenging yourself, so that’s what I did.

Once I got out of the canyon I was still feeling really good. This just encouraged me even more to keep going. It also helped seeing a lot of familiar friendly faces at the aid stations and on the course. It felt like a party.

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I knew the last five miles were going to be tough, especially around Mile 9 on 1300 East. It’s the slightest of hills, but after running Emigration Canyon and Foothill Blvd. it feels like a freaking mountain. Especially when you pass the 7 Eleven there on 13th. It was at this point that I wished I brought my monies for a Slurpee.

Bad planning on my part.

But, the last four miles were much better than I expected. It helped that I knew what to expect toward the finish line, but I was most encouraged by how my ankle felt. It felt GOOD. Not great, but good! I felt the improvement and might have made somewhat emotional around Mile 10. I will neither confirm nor deny that.

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But, the last three miles were good. They’re the fun miles of this race, that’s when you starting running toward the parade route. I smiled at the Mile 10 aid station that was staffed by a bunch of LDS missionaries. You want to talk about a happy bunch of volunteers.

After turning onto the parade route I turned off my music and just listened to the crowd. I love doing this. I heard my name yelled out a couple of times, but a lot of random strangers just cheering me on. I loved it.

Once I approached the finish line I noticed I got that sub-three hour time — 2:52:36 to be exact. But, before I could celebrate the accomplishment I was greeted by Wan who not only put my medal around my neck gave me one of his trademark hugs. Of all the people I could ask to hand me my medal — I couldn’t have asked for anyone more perfect than Wan.

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After gathering myself I just crashed with a couple water bottles in tow and just socialized for a while. By this time my body was feeling it. Luckily, not my ankle. Just my quads and everything else that didn’t want me running 48 hours after the last half.

But, after shuttling it back to the buses with Andrea and Dith, I made the slow drive home — with a detour to the 7 Eleven of course. I was dead, but at the same time I felt such a great sense of satisfaction for meeting my goal. Not to mention how grateful I felt that my ankle felt so great.

It’s a feeling that’s been a long time waiting.

And, I’ll take it.


MY NEXT THREE RACES


July 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 31.1 miles
Race Miles — 39.3 miles
Walking Miles — 85.63 miles
TOTAL MILES — 156.03 miles
Races in July — The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days & DesNews Half.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 303.55 miles
Race Miles — 282.42 miles
Walking Miles — 749.4 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1335.37 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, AF Canyon Race Against Cancer and The Hobbler Half.


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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?

My 2017 Race Schedule (January – June)

I have been writing about my 2017 race schedule for the past six months. I’ve gone through numerous revisions — additions, subtractions, more additions and then — even more subtractions. I’ve come to the realization that it’s pretty tough for me to keep a concrete schedule outside of 5-6 months.

So, that’s why we’re here.

As much as I would love to commit to my whole 2017 race schedule — I just can’t. There are a lot of factors that I am unsure about — so I just can’t fully commit. Especially now that I am working for Runtastic Events. I have a number of weekends committed to races that I am not running.

Which is kind of a bummer — because after not running the Nebo Half last year, I was looking forward to running it. It is my favorite half marathon. I mean, who doesn’t love a fast downhill race?

Anyways — when we get closer and gain a clearer picture I’ll tackle my schedule between July – December. I have signed up for a number of races between that time — i.e. Handcart Days Half, Revel Big Cottonwood and Huntsville Marathon — so it’s shaping up. I am just waiting to see what my October looks like to see if I can run the Pony Express 50 again.

So many options. So many decisions. But, I’ll let the last part of 2017 take care of itself when we get to that bridge.

I have a number of goals for my 2017 race schedule. They are in no particular order …

  1. Knockout as many races as possible so I can hit my 180 race goal by July 24, 2018.
  2. Run three ultra distance races (Jackpot Running Festival, Salt Flats and either Antelope Island/Pony Express).
  3. Run three marathon distance races (Ogden, Utah Valley, Huntsville).
  4. Continue to get fit and faster — break that dang 2:30 half marathon mark.
  5. Have a ridiculous amount of fun.

Okay, there are a few things you should note on my goals. One, this isn’t a speed year for me. Sure, I have a goal to break the 2:30 mark, but I know I’ll do that as I continue to focus on my health and weight. My PR is 2:08 — so I know I’m capable of it. I am just not sure if this will come in the Spring, Summer or Fall? All depends on my training — but, you better know I’ll give it my best shot.

My focus really is to knockout as many races as possible this year so I can hit my goal of 180 races on July 24, 2018. Why that specific date? Well, that’s when the Bountiful Handcart Days Half Marathon is (or should be) in 2018 and I want that to be my 180th race, because it was my first. It just seems fitting.

Plus, I want to get the goal out of the way so I can focus on my other goals — like speed, more ultras and non-race running goals. I’d like to do more solo-runs like I am planning in March. I want to move the focus of my running more to a life long venture not solely focused on races as I have been for the past five years.

As you can see below, my race schedule is very top heavy during the first half of the year. I have 20 races — which is one shine of my total 2016 races. That’s a lot of running. But, most of those races are being used mostly as training runs for my 50Ks and 50 miler in March. So they are races with purpose.

I am not anticipating adding more than 8-10 races in the last half of the year so it’ll kinda even out. The most I’ve ran was in 2014 when I ran 30 races — so that’s not unprecedented for me. It’s just going to be a lot of running. A LOT.

June is going to be the busiest month for me. It’s going to be nearly 150 miles of race miles — that includes Ragnar Wasatch Back (June 2-3), Utah Valley Marathon (June 10), Bear Lake Trifecta (June 15-17), Utah Midnight Run (June 23) and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer (June 24).

June is going to be cray cray.

Anyways, here is how my whole schedule will look between January to June. As I mentioned above — it’s going to be a lot of running. But, there isn’t anywhere else I’d want to be.

Check out my schedule and let me know what your schedule is shaping up to look like. Maybe we’re running some of the same races? Odds are probably pretty good we are!

Here’s the schedule …

RACE #131: Huntsville Marathon

You know, I never thought I would say this — but, I kinda love running marathons. The half marathon is still my favorite, but I really love the challenge of the marathon. Everything from the training to actually running of the race — it’s so different from any less distanced race.

Marathons have been pretty hard for me to run. I am not a fast runner — I am always one of the last runners out there on the course. I used to care about that, but really when it comes to marathons — who cares? It’s an accomplishment just FINISHING the race. I think that’s why I love sweeping races so much. It’s like a mini-mission for me — it’s important to me that those in the back understand that whatever that clock says doesn’t diminish their accomplishment.

All runners matter.

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Anyways, going into the Huntsville Marathon I didn’t have much of a goal other than finish. Considering I ran Revel Big Cottonwood the week before I didn’t know what to expect, because I’ve never ran two marathons within a week of each other. I guess my only goal was to do my best and push myself throughout the race, especially since I was using these marathons as training runs for my 50 miler.

I have never ran the Huntsville Marathon, but I did run the half marathon back in 2014 when most of the last half of the race was spent in a down pour. A down pour that I’d probably put on par with what was experienced at this year’s Ogden Marathon. It was the kind of down pour you could have taken your post race shower mid-race.

When I ran the half marathon I wasn’t impressed much with the course — everything else I loved about the race. The community support, volunteers and organization is right there with the Ogden, St. George and Big Cottonwood Marathons. And, I have no doubt it will get there — this was the fifth year of the marathon and it’s definitely a hidden gem to the local running community.

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My friend Robert Merriman — aka “The Naked Canadian” — has ran the marathon each of the past five years and has told me the full marathon route is much better than the half marathon route. Not only is it faster, but the scenery is unmatched. This was one of the reasons why I chose Huntsville over Top of Utah and a few other marathons.

And, I wasn’t disappointed.

The Huntsville Marathon has a bit of a later start than most local races — the marathon started at 8am compared to last week’s 6:45am start at Big Cottonwood. In the past the start was around 9am or so. I am not sure why the late start? I think part of it could be the travel required for most of the runners?

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I was a bit worried about the later start because being a slower runner I didn’t want to be caught in the heat of the afternoon. But, that concern wasn’t much of an issue for me. There was a constant cool mountain breeze except for a two mile stretch right after existing the canyon. I was pleasantly surprised, but shouldn’t have been considering it’s Wasatch Back country.

After catching my bus at 6:30am up the canyon I caught up with the Roberts (Merriman and Merkley) at the starting line. As mentioned before this was Robert Merriman’s fifth running of the marathon, but Robert Merkley decided to sign up for the race just a couple of days beforehand. It should also be noted that both of the Roberts ended up PRing on the course.

As I stood at the starting line I still didn’t know what to expect from this race. I did a good enough job shaking out my legs and working out smart during the week — so my legs felt somewhat fresh. But, I knew that could change at any moment of the race. Still, I just wanted to do and give my best, whatever that was.

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When the gun sounded the first mile was horrible. It might have been my overeager desire to go out fast or killer playlist? Either way, my body wanted to remind me what we did the previous week by giving my a couple of sore shinsplints.

Having dealt with shinsplints before I knew that I just needed to keep going and just push through the pain. Within time — be a couple of minutes or miles — they’d be gone. If running has taught me anything over the years it’s how to manage and deal with pain. Before I started running, if I hurt — I’d stop. No matter the degree of pain.

But, over the past 5-6 years I’ve learned in order to get over pain — you have to go through it. Most pain is relatively easy to get through and over time the body adjusts to it so that you don’t feel it at that stage anymore. Other pain just has to be endured with the hope it will subside in time — which is strangely the case for most long distances.

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Now of course — that means nothing unless you also learn to listen to your body. I’ve also had to learn when to stop and which pain needs more attention or rest than others. Back in 2012 I ran two half marathons after getting some stress fractures at the St. George Marathon — that was dumb. It took me out of running for about a month. But, hey, it also introduced me to Hoka One Ones so it wasn’t that bad.

Anyways — I pushed through the shinsplints and by the first aid station at Mile 2 I was fine. It helped being absolutely mesmerized with the scenery. I tried stopping to take pictures of it, but hardly any of the pictures did it justice. It was hard to believe that “THIS” was literally in my backyard, I felt like I was in a completely different state. The rolling mountains on each direction and eye popping fall colors put me in complete awe.

The crowd of runners thinned out fairly quickly within the first 4-5 miles — I yo-yo’d with a couple of runners until I pulled away around miles 9-10. I took pride in this, because not only was I feeling good, but I was feeling strong — so whenever I saw a runner ahead of me I just focused on catching and passing them.

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Once I got to about the half way point I was completely alone. I blazed down the canyon in about 2:43 hours, not a bad time. I couldn’t see any runners ahead of me or behind me. The odd feeling was knowing not only did I still have half of the race left to run, but that I wasn’t even the last runner. I’m not going to lie, I kinda enjoyed the feeling.

As mile 14, 15, 16, 17 passed I still great. I even attempted a couple of jumping pictures around mile 17. I didn’t crumple into a heaping mess so that gave me some hope. It was around this time that I was feeling a sub-6 marathon was doable. Even though I don’t care much about my marathon times, this was a goal I felt I could push myself to — so I pushed an extra bit harder.

Being the only runner in sight I took the liberty to belt out singing to my heart’s content. I usually don’t do sing running unless I’m on the dreadmill at home or absolutely alone. And, there’s a reason for that — I can’t carry a tune to save my life. And, I completely mean that. I sound something like a dying seagull being gummed to death by a toothless shark.

It’s bad.

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But, being alone on the course I just got into my music and started dancing and singing to whatever the ‘shuffle’ brought me next. At one point I was into the greatest rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody of all-time And, I mean — ALL. TIME. I was singing to the top of my lungs while also playing the drums, keyboard and air guitar while managing to lead the orchestra.

It was a masterpiece.

Unbeknownst to me a police officer patrol the course must have seen this masterpiece of mine and stopped me to ask if I was okay. Of course I wasn’t — it was around Mile 18-19, I hadn’t seen any other runners for miles and I was left alone to my own devices. But, I assured him I was okay and hoped he thought my display of artistic excellence was me just running into a swarm of gnats.

But, I just kept going. I did start feeling “THE WALL” around mile 21-22 when we exited the main road down the canyon into Huntsville. I knew this was probably going to happen because the course flattens out quite drastically.

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I tried keeping my stride going, but soon it was apparent that stride turned itself into the marathon death shuffle. The heat was starting to be felt and I was praying for that cool canyon breeze to start blowing again. I felt like death and I knew it something didn’t change the last few miles would be pure hell.

Luckily, my prayer was answered and a breeze started blowing again. This gave me a boost of energy and a bit of a kick in my step. So, I just kept pushing myself forward. I kept my walking at mile markers and the 0.1 between the marathon and half marathon signs. Outside of that it was either the marathon death march or my attempt at mall walking.

I knew I was getting closer to the finish line because of my experience running the half marathon before and I just couldn’t run fast enough. At the last aid station they started pulling the orange cones off the course which made me a bit worried, because the last thing I wanted to happen was to make this marathon into an unintentional ultra marathon.

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The last part of the course was somewhat familiar not just from half marathon, but my first leg at Ragnar this year as well. I didn’t realize that until I crossed the highway and notice the familiar gas station I ran past. It’s funny has running has shrunk the world around me.

Though the cones were gone the race did a great job in marking the course. Since the marathon/half marathon, 10K and 5K courses differed they marked the road in different paint color. I just followed them until I saw the finish line arch. I felt like a graceful galloping race horse running down the homestretch of the race — though in reality I looked more like an exhausted clydesdale that was about to be made into glue.

But, I made it! The remaining volunteers were so encouraging as I crossed the finish line. They congratulated me on my accomplishment, handing me some water and escorted me to the finisher’s corral where they handed me some of the best chocolate milk, grapes — and course bananas — I’ve ever had.

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If there is anything I will remember about this race it will be the volunteers. I have NEVER ran a race with so many engaging, warm, sincere and encouraging volunteers than this race. I am sure many of them are locals and you could tell that they took pride in showing off their hometown. I even got shouts of encouragement from volunteers and locals as I walked (slowly) back to my car after the race.

As a runner and visitor to the community you couldn’t have asked for better support. I am sure this was the same feeling many runners got when the St. George Marathon started 40 years ago. The town loves this race and it will be fun to see how it grows as more and more runners discover this beautiful and well organized race.

After reveling in the accomplishment for a while, I just sat in my car mustering up the courage to start driving. It was about a 45 minute drive and I just prayed I didn’t get a cramp mid-drive — that’s happened to be before and it’s not fun. But, I luckily I made it home with a minor detour to 7 Eleven for a much needed and deserved 7 Eleven.

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The plan this week is to lay off the running for a bit. I am going to focus on cross training — do a little cycling (stationary of course) and then of course my typical weight training. My body needs a little rest from running and I can feel that after this weekend’s marathon. I’ll still do my planned 8-9 miler next weekend during the AIIA Relay before getting back into the swing heading into St. George the following week.

I am a month away from my 50 miler — and I couldn’t be more excited, nervous and ready to just tackle this thing. I am ready to push my limits and do something once thought impossible. It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be pure hell at moments, but I can’t wait for the experience. It might take me the whole 19.5 hours to do the whole 50, but who cares? As long as I finish that’s my whole goal and dream.

And, finish I will!


132 - st george marathon

I have no time goal for the St. George Marathon other than making sure I get to the cut off at 1pm. Which in my previous runnings of the marathon — shouldn’t be a problem. I am just excited to be running the marathon — it’s definitely one of my favorite marathons. I am home among the red rocks of southern Utah.

This marathon is very technical — and if you’re not ready (or even prepared) Veyo Hill, and the following 4-5 miles before the descent down Snow Canyon, can be rather tough. The last time I ran the marathon Veyo Hill wasn’t the issue, because I knew what I was getting myself into, but the miles after the put me through agony. It was cramp after cramp.

I would like to finish around 6 hours, but that’s mainly because I don’t want to die in the heat of St. George. But, really, the game plan will be a lot like Huntsville — do my best and keep pushing. That’s mainly because that’s going to be my 50 miler game plan.

I’m just ready to get through this 50 miler! But, first I’ve got to get through St. George and Park City.

133 - park city red rock relay 134 - pony express trail 50 135 - haunted half provo


2667in2016

RUNNING MILES

225.0 miles

RACE MILES

261.5 miles

WALKING MILES

1095.34 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

1581.84 miles

MILES TO GOAL

1085.16 miles


WEEKENDGRAMS

Phone shopping. #selfiepicturesmatter

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RACE #130: Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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But, anyways — to the race.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It made her laugh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I just got to keep moving forward.


131 - huntsville marathon

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

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

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

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

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

Isn’t running such a great adventure?!

PONY EXPRESS OR BUST, BABY!!!

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


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RUNNING MILES

223.0 miles

RACE MILES

235.3 miles

WALKING MILES

1069.83 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

1528.13 miles

MILES TO GOAL

1138.87 miles


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on



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#FitnessFriday: GOING BIG!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YEAH RUNNING!


130 - Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon

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

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

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

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

BIG COTTONWOOD OR BUST, BABY!


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PHATGRAMS

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

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

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

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

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on


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2017 race schedule

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

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

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


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Another look at my 2017 races …

Last week I celebrated the fifth anniversary of my first half marathon by running the Bountiful Handcart Days Half Marathon. This got me thinking (this usually means trouble). Next summer I’ll be celebrating my fifth anniversary of my first marathon — which was the Deseret News Marathon. Since I celebrating my fifth anniversary running half marathons at my first race, I thought I’d do the same for my marathon.

Thus, I am adding the Deseret News Marathon to my 2017 race schedule.

Now, I really don’t want to run a lot of marathons next year. I am not planning on running St. George or the Big Cottonwood — two of my favorites. Mainly, because I like to give my legs some rest and focus on the smaller distances. So, my only plan is to run the Deseret News Marathon — AND — the Boston Marathon if I am lucky enough to get in.

I know we’re still about four months away from 2017, but it’s never too early to start planning, right?

Now, of course I’ve made a 2017 race schedule already — but — of course my race schedules are always subject to change. Anyways, here is my projected race schedule.

The bold races are ones that I have already registered for — oh — and the number to the left is the race number counting up towards my 180 race goal (just in case you were wondering).

And, of course some races are just crude estimates based off past year’s dates.


139. St. George Half; St. George (January 14, 2017)
140. Lucky 13 Half; Salt Lake City (March 18, 2017)
141. Provo City Half; Provo (May 6, 2017)
142. Vigor Big Cottonwood Half; Salt Lake City (May 13, 2017)
143. Ogden Half; Ogden (May 20, 2017)
144. Drop 13 Big Cottonwood Half; Salt Lake City (June 10, 2017)
145. Bear Lake Half; Idaho (June 15, 2017)
146. Bear Lake Half; Wyoming (June 16, 2017)
147. Bear Lake Half; Utah (June 17, 2017)
148. AF Race Against Cancer; American Fork (June 24, 2017)
149. Utah Midnight Run; Farmington (July 7, 2017)
150. Deseret News Marathon; Salt Lake City (July 24, 2017)
151. Timp Half; American Fork (July 29, 2017)
152. Run Elevated Half; Sandy (August 28, 2017)
153. Nebo Half; Payson (September 2, 2017)
154. Revel Big Cottonwood Half; Salt Lake City (September 9, 2017)
155. Red Rock Relay; Park City (October 7, 2017)
156. Frightmares Half; Farmington (October 14, 2017)
157. The Haunted Half; Salt Lake City (October 21, 2017)
158. The Haunted Half; Salt Lake City (October 28, 2017)
159. Snow Canyon Half; St. George (November 4, 2017)
160. Thankful 13; Lehi (November 23, 2017)


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