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NEBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! I love this race. Absolutely love. I would marry it if I could. But, alas, I can’t marry races — which is pretty sad. But, that won’t displace the Nebo Half within my hearts of hearts.
The course race holds my PR (2:08) that I set back in 2013. I am nowhere near that pace right now — and that’s okay. That can of worms is a post and a half for another day. But, this course is FAST, it’s beautiful and just downright fun — regardless of my pace.
Nebo will always be my favorite half marathon.
As I have mentioned numerous times — this year has been a TOUGH year for running for me. Whether it’s been DNFs, DNSs, my thyroid levels, sprained ankles or the recovery aftermath of said sprained ankles — I just haven’t been able to get a rhythm to my training. It’s sucked. Sucked hard.
So going into Nebo — I didn’t really have a set goal. I wanted to sub-two. I also wanted to sub-2:50. That would have been my best half time of the year. But, after last week’s “Keto Krash” — I just didn’t want to set a time goal. My goal was just not to crash. It was more important to figure that all out now than to get a year’s best time.
So that was plan. I would still plan on doing my best. But, that wasn’t my first priority. I just never want to feel the way I did last week after my race again.
I decided from last week’s experience to do things a bit differently. First thing, no eggs. They upset my stomach — especially so early in the morning. So my protein intake was cheese, turkey and some almond butter instead.
Second thing, I decided to eat a half banana before the race. That’s 10 grams of carbs for the half banana and I was hoping that’d give me a good enough jump during my first half of the race. Which it did.
And, then lastly, I decided to run with a hydration pack full of Powerade Zero. I usually don’t run with a hydration pack for anything shorter than a marathon, but on this diet I really should because the shortage of electrolytes probably did me in more than anything last week.
I also decided to run with an applesauce packet JUST in case I felt like I was crashing. There’s 13 grams of carbs in one pouch so it wouldn’t be killing my diet. But, I wanted to avoid using it unless I absolutely needed it.
Race morning went fairly well. I drove from Bountiful to Payson which is about an hour drive — so my wake up call was at 2am. Too too early. But, the nature of being a runner, right?
After loading the bus with my friend Zack we wandered up the canyon. Our driver missed a turn which we didn’t realize until we were at Mile 8 … of the marathon. There were some upset runners, but honestly — I didn’t mind, because that meant it was less time spent in the chilly canyon weather.
After waiting about an hour or so for gun time we were off at 7am. It was hard not wanting to go “balls to wall” down the canyon. But, I knew I had to temper that excitement to avoid a crash later in the race.
I found myself a comfortable pace a couple miles in the race and decided to just focus myself at that speed. It wasn’t too fast, but it wasn’t too slow either. It felt comfortable. And, if I felt like I could push it a bit more later in the race — I would.
It was just a good nice pace.
Besides focusing on my speed, I focused on my breathing, gait and energy levels. It really helped having my hydration pack with me, because every time I felt thirsty or a need for a jump of energy — I just took a sip of my Powerade.
At aid stations I still took water, but made sure to drink my Powerade Zero instead of what was offered me. Of course because of the added sugar. But, I really got into a good groove around Miles 4-5 and felt like pushing myself a bit — so I did.
Things were going pretty good until a couple miles later when my foot and ankle started hurting. I haven’t had a lot of pain in the ankle since I’ve started physical therapy, but it really started during around Mile 7-8 — and this killed any mojo I was building up for the rest of the run.
Not only was my ankle hurting, but the top of my foot was hurting as well. During the race I was rather concerned about it, because I didn’t want to unravel everything I worked hard to strengthen. But, after my race I Googled my symptoms to see if that might show what reveal what was going on with the foot.
Fortunately — and unfortunately — I found out it was a two fold problem. Easily fixable. But, I figured the combination of me tying my shoe too tight and focusing my gait to land on my big toe first caused the muscle to strain, which also caused my ankle to hurt as well. It was sore most of the day, but luckily by Sunday — I was fine.
I really need to be more careful with my shoes. That was a total rookie mistake. But, I can see why I did it — I wanted to give that ankle a lot of support. Which I did. It was — unfortunately — just too much support.
The last five miles were tough. I yo-yo’d my friend Amanda a bit which made the miles go a bit faster since we bantered a bit back and forth. The course got fairly hot around 9-10 which zapped a good amount of energy, but I just kept on going.
Despite my foot and heat I didn’t want to leave any doubt that I gave everything, so in those late miles I forged through the rolling hills and streets of Payson passing a number of other runners. They were small victories, insignificant to the masses, but big to me in the moment. Especially since I just wanted to finish strong.
As I made the turn toward Payson Park and the finish a large gathering of my AIIA team was cheering me on. I was joined by Zack and Russell for the home stretch — I couldn’t have asked for a better group of fine young me to run me in. Both of them of ran the half — and Russell who’s barely 10 even got a sub-two time! So proud of both of them!
After I finished I grabbed some water and felt a crash coming on. I gave my all. Which is a great feeling, but at the same time I just found a patch of grass and sat sipping on water and my Powerade while chatting with friends.
I know I have a lot of work to do to get myself back to where I was a couple of years ago, even in 2013 when I PR’d on this course. I know I have it in me. And, I feel very hopeful with the changes that I’ve made with my diet and workout regime — that I’ll get there. But, at the same time — if I never get back there — I am happy running the rest of my life at any pace or speed. Just as long as I can still do it.
But, I’m never NOT going to try to get back there — no matter what curve ball life seems to throw at me. I can’t wait to see what I can do on this course within the next year.
And, that’s what drives me to come back for more.
MY NEXT FIVE RACES
My next race is the Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon. I am sweeping the course, which is always a party and a half. This will be my fourth year sweeping the course. I did downgrade my Huntsville Marathon entry from the full to the half — I need to focus on strengthening the ankle, not running it into the ground. That is also why I decided to drop the St. George Marathon. There’s a remote chance I’ll still do it. But, with my training right now — I don’t feel confident enough that I’ll hit the cut off times.
Anyways, still lots of running and training to do this fall, I can’t wait …
RACE #158: Nebo Half, August 26, 2017 (3:02:55) NEBOOOOOOO!!! Always my favorite half, because it's fast, beautiful and fun! Took it easier than usual as to avoid a crash like last week — also still trying to get used to my keto diet. But, still loved every minute of it! The race benefitted the @addicttoathlete team, so there were AIIA athletes at pretty much all the aid stations. It was so great seeing their smiling faces every few miles. I felt strong and I can tell my body is acclimating much better to my new diet. No crash. Running with my own Powerade Zero helped. I'm hoping for some better times here in the fall to finish off 2017 strong! It's been a tough year for me. #race158 #nebohalf #running @runtasticevents @addicttoathlete @josherwalla @ketoshua @joshruns180
One of the best parts of keto — once a guilty pleasure no longer associated with guilt. On my way home from Payson to Bountiful, I stopped in American Fork for a Double Double Protein Style Burger from In n' Out! It definitely hit the spot! ———————————————————— #innout #proteinstyle #doubledouble #ketolunch #lunch #ketoshua #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #keto #ketodiet #ketonics #ketorunner ———————————————————— @ketoshua @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com
Running Miles — 9.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 31.02 miles
TOTAL MILES — 53.12 miles
Races This Week — Nebo Half.
August 2017 Miles
Running Miles — 42.0 miles
Race Miles — 40.0 miles
Walking Miles — 92.39 miles
TOTAL MILES — 174.39 miles
Races in August — (3) Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half and Nebo Half
Running Miles — 353.05 miles
Race Miles — 322.42 miles
Walking Miles — 872.54 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1548.01 miles
Races done in 2017 — (22) New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon, Drop13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah, AF Canyon Race Against Cancer, The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days Half, DesNews Half, Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half and Nebo Half.
Oh man. Talk about a tale of different runs. This was the best of races and this was the worst of races for me. Let’s get one thing clear — I love this race. I love Little Cottonwood Canyon. I am pretty sure I’ve repeated that numerous times before.
But, it bears repeating — I love this race and Little Cottonwood Canyon.
I just wish that Saturday’s race reciprocated some of that love. It turned out not what I was expecting. But, at the same time, I guess it was somewhat expected.
Going into the race I had two goals — get out of the canyon by 8:15am (that was the cutoff time for the 6:30am gun time) and get a sub-three time. I felt fairly confident in those two goals. I won’t lie, the cutoff time worried me — because, well, every cutoff worries me. But, that’s a post for another day.
But, I figured if I could get that first goal I could get that second goal. It’s only 8 miles to the mouth of the canyon and they’re fast steep miles — about a 3200 foot drop. Just in those 8 miles! Plus, miles 9 and 10 aren’t bad — it’s just 10 to 11 that always kills me, because of the short — yet steep hill climb.
I felt confident. Especially since I have running much stronger lately. That includes my ankle and energy levels.
But, the other variable in all of this has been my diet change. As is well noted in previous posts I started a keto diet on Wednesday. This is a high fat/low carb diet. Like no more than 25 grams of net carbs a day. A pretty drastic change in my eating habits.
Leading up to race day I was trying to figure out how to fuel myself. Should I bring some carbs with me on the race? A half banana? Some applesauce packets? A dozen chocolate donuts?
I’m so new to the diet and the whole mentality that I’ve just been reading up on it the past couple weeks, but even more so this past half week. I want to do it right and I want to see the results I desire. I’m also the type that hates to make exceptions to clear cut rules. If I am going to do it, I’m going to do it right.
But, I was legitimately worried about my fueling during this race, because I would be on just my fourth day of keto and most people adapt within a couple weeks to a month. The night before I thought about “carb-loading” with a banana or some fruit. But, I resisted it. I had read about protein loading so I just decided to cook a pork omelet with some avocado and it wasn’t bad.
So I decided to load up on turkey & cheese, a couple hardboiled eggs and some Powerade Zero (for the electrolytes). I had no idea if that was going to be too much or too little? It was satisfying and when the gun sounded I felt good.
But, that didn’t last that long.
About a mile into the race I just started feeling a bit funky. I am sure it was the eggs. It was a familiar feeling. It passed and I was okay. But, this kind of made me worry for the rest of the race.
I focused on my running and pace — and went with what felt good. I did the first three miles in about 30-31 minutes. I found a good pace and just went with it. I walked the aid stations and ran the tangents.
I made the decision at the first aid station to take a couple sips of the Powerade, but load up on the water. That worked for the most part. But, I needed more. I knew I was going to tank without something more in my system. This got me worried.
But, I just focused on my run and to just get myself out of the canyon by 8:15am. That was my first priority — even though my fueling should have been. But, I felt that if I got out of the canyon I’d be fine because I was planning on slowing down my pace.
I got out of the canyon with about 5 minutes to spare. So, I slowed down my pace and prepared myself for Miles 9 and 10 that lead to the steep up hill climb. They were pretty uneventful miles, except the hill — which is always a beast.
And, then all hell broke loose.
Okay, that was a bit too dramatic, but I did completely unravel. I hit the wall. I bonked. I crashed. I Keto Krashed.
And, I will completely blame the switch to my diet on the crash. I just wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t ready to be running a half marathon like this just days after my switch to this diet.
I did learn MANY great things about how to better prepare and fuel myself for long runs — and, I’ll post about those later in the week. Because, there’s a lot that I learned not just from Googling, but from just asking and talking to friends. Which I’m appreciative of, because this has a big change for me.
Anyways — as I approached the Mile 11 aid station I just felt zapped. There was a nurse that met me a few hundred yards from the aid station checking on me. I think she did this with everyone in the back, but it wasn’t difficult to see that I hit a wall and was dragging.
I must of looked pretty bad to her, because she asked my name and city — and then if this was my first half marathon. I half chuckled and said, “no, I’ve done a few — I’m doing ok, just a hard day.” She then pointed me to the aid station, cold orange slices and water.
She was a really nice lady — and I didn’t mind her thinking this was my first race. In fact, during a race I don’t really like to bring it up. Especially if it’s somebody that doesn’t know me. My accomplishment of 157 races is impressive, but I don’t want that number to define me. There’s so much more to my running journey than the number.
But, that’s a post for another day.
When I got to the Mile 11 aid station I took drank a full cup of Gatorade and two cups of water. I knew I needed hydration and electrolytes. I could feel that. I then took one of the cold orange slices and devoured it. I knew it wasn’t the most keto thing to eat. But, at that moment it’s what I needed. And, it wasn’t like I downed a donut or other highly processed food — it was an orange.
Plus, I knew my body would burn it off fairly quickly. I just needed some kind of fuel. The orange did the trick.
Well for about a half mile or so.
I pushed myself where I could and felt like I could — but, I slowed down to somewhere between a walk and a jog. I just had no energy. And, the last two miles just dragged. Bad.
I got to the last aid station which was about a mile from the finish line. After drinking some more fluids I set out and just tried to focus on my music and forget about how I felt. I just wanted to be done.
I was greeted by Rachel Moody — about a half mile or so from the finish — she came back out to run me in. We were then greeted by Julianna Fulton a short distance from that. It was the boost I needed. I just wanted to be done.
I knew I was probably not going to get my sub-three — which I didn’t — but, I was just happy to be done. I knew a lot of effort went into the race. And, if I hadn’t of bonked I know I would have crushed my year best time for the half distance.
But, I finished in 3:03 — far from that goal. This was a course I ran in 2:31 last year — and in 2:10 back in 2013. I tried not to dwell on that, because what I am doing now with my new diet and everything is working toward getting to similar race times. If not faster. I know I have it in me.
I didn’t have much time to dwell on all of that. As soon as I crossed the finish line I was greeted by Robert Merriman with a big old hug. He didn’t mind my awkward sweatiness. It was so great seeing him out cheering us runners in. You could tell he’s itching to getting back out there.
Moments and experiences like that really help me keep things in perspective. I’m grateful that I am given those moments. Otherwise my running would have turned into a miserable experience for me years ago. It’s about how fast we get there, but where we go and who comes along with us. But, like most things in this recap — that’s a post for another day.
I’ve got a lot things to figure out this week before running the Nebo Half on Saturday. Mainly with fueling. I need to figure out a better way to fuel with electrolytes and how many carbs I want to consume before and during the race. So many things to figure out … but, I’m not too worried. I have a great group of friends that I’ve been tapping into for advice.
This race will be remembered for the best and worst of moments. Those first 10-11 miles were great, while those last two — pure hell. But, here’s to the future and learning from those two experiences. You don’t build upon anything that’s effortless and easy — and that thought gives me hope.
MY NEXT FIVE RACES
RACE #157: Run Elevated Half Marathon, August 19, 2017 (3:03:58) Tough, tough, tough race. It was the tale of two races, really. With my switch to a keto diet this past week, I didn’t know what to expect with my races. I didn’t want to crash, but, well I did. I totaled Keto Krashed at Mile 11. I smashed the first 10 miles, but after running (well walking) up the Hill Elevated I was completely done. No energy and I knew I was off. Drank some Gatorade and ate a quarter orange at the Mile 11 aid station. But, I was done. It took me about a half hour to do the last couple of miles. It killed my time and goal to sub-three. But, I’m fine with it, because I needed a first race with the Keto Diet under my belt. This experience is rather common for endurance athletes. I’ve learned a few things about my body and how I need to fuel it for future races. I’ll get this nailed down. Redemption will be mine next year! #race157 #runelevatedhalf #running @josherwalla @ketoshua @joshruns180
@radmoody is the bomb diggity! I totally Keto Krashed at Mile 11 and after the race. We walked to our cars together and we’re just talking when I started feeling faint. I told her I just don’t want to pass out so I sat on curb. When I told her my plan was to get a Powerade Zero on my home (because I needed the electrolytes) she hops in her car and drives across the street to get me a drink. THEN … she comes back with EIGHT purple Powerade Zeroes, because in her words, “if you bought 8 they were $.50 each.” Oh, but wait, she did more! She then gave me a ride to my car SIX spaces away! 😂 Seriously, thanks Rachel! You ROCK! It totally made my day! ———————————————————— #race157 #runelevatedhalf #poweradezero #runningfriends #ketoshua #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #keto #ketodiet #ketonics #ketorunner ———————————————————— @ketoshua @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com
I can’t wait to run the Run Elevated Half Marathon this weekend! A BIG THANK YOU to my friend @girlracer74 for picking up my race packet tomorrow! For some reason she loves when I write permission notes for her?! ———————————————————— #runelevatedhalf #race157 #joshruns180 #ketoshua #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #keto #ketodiet #ketonics #ketorunner ———————————————————— @ketoshua @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com
Thank you @costavida for providing an opportunity for us to celebrate our friend @robert.merriman with a benefit night. Keep fighting Robert! We love and support you every step of the way in the road ahead of you. Happy Birthday Robert! Here’s to a year of hope, faith and miracles! #FightLikeRobert #Run4fun
Running Miles — 6.5 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 25.17 miles
TOTAL MILES — 44.77 miles
Races This Week — Run Elevated Half.
August 2017 Miles
Running Miles — 33.0 miles
Race Miles — 26.9 miles
Walking Miles — 61.37 miles
TOTAL MILES — 107.77 miles
Races in August — (3) Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half and Nebo Half
Running Miles — 344.05 miles
Race Miles — 309.32 miles
Walking Miles — 841.52 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1494.89 miles
Races done in 2017 — (21) New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon, Drop13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah, AF Canyon Race Against Cancer, The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days Half, DesNews Half, Elephant Rock Trail Half, and Run Elevated Half.
To say that I had no idea what I was getting myself into with this race would be an understatement. A serious understatement. And, that statement can’t be understated either.
But, basically, now as I write my race recap — everything hurts and I am dying.
What was planned as simply a fun and challenging trail half marathon turned out to be the TOUGHEST race I’ve ever done. And, considering I’ve done over 150 races — that’s saying a lot. It was that brutal. But, more on that later.
I signed up for this race because it’s literally in my backyard. Mueller Park is just a couple of miles from my front door. It’s a canyon I’ve visited numerous of times, but rarely hiked. Most trips were for campfires, campouts or mile hikes.
Even after I started running I never ventured over to Mueller Park. The biggest reason because I never wanted to venture out there alone. Not just because of the unfamiliarity with the area, but also because of my fear of mountain lions, bears and deer. At least two of those fears are legit. Anyways, I’ve just stuck to the local roads when I run close to home.
Wanting to expand my running routes I figured the Elephant Rock Trail Run would be a great way to familiarize myself with the trails and ease some of those worries I had. Sure there’s always the possibility of running into mountain lions, bears and deer — but those fears really become secondary when you know where you’re going and the distances in between.
In addition to familiarizing myself with the trails, I wanted to run to and from the race to give me a good 20 miles of running for the day. With my ankle injury I haven’t been able to get the kind of training I wanted and knowing I have a number of marathons coming up in the fall, I knew I needed a good 20 miler to prep myself for them.
But, honestly, if I knew what kind of race I was getting myself into, I would have driven myself to the race. I don’t regret it though, because Saturday’s 20 miles were some of the toughest miles I’ve ever run. Miles that left me more tired and sore than most of the ultras I’ve done.
I set out from my house at 4:50am to make sure I had enough time to get my race packet and shirt before the 6am start time. After trekking from the packet pickup at the church I moseyed over to the park entrance where all 85 of us runners congregated. It was fun to see so familiar faces and meet the faces behind the names on Facebook. I always love start lines.
I don’t think of us realized what we were getting ourselves into, especially since this was the inaugural run. There weren’t other runners to gauge their experience with, so we were going in blind. Which sometimes isn’t the worst way to go into a race. But, I felt completely blindsided by it all.
The start times were staggered about every 15 miles. The marathoners went out at 6am, the half marathoners 6:15 and the 7 milers 6:30am. With 85 runners you’d think that wouldn’t be necessary, but I am glad they did it that way, because as soon as the marathoners and half marathons split with the 7 milers to run up the pipeline trail that trail would have been a bit too crowded.
Once I hit the pipeline I thought I was the last runner. The half marathoners ahead of me were mountain goats and gained quite a distance ahead of me. I wasn’t surprised by this, it’s almost expected that I will be last. But, it’s something that never bugs me. If it did then odds are I just wouldn’t sign up for the race.
But, as I was dying and not quite half way up the beast I see a runner approaching me from behind. They were gaining quite a bit of ground on me. You could tell this wasn’t a struggle for them.
As they got closer I noticed it was my friend Lula. An experienced trail runner it shouldn’t have surprised me much that the climb was easy for her. But, what made me laugh and silently curse her — was she was doing this technical climb while TALKING ON THE PHONE! Here I am enduring to the end like a pioneer ready to die from dysentery and she moseys up the hill like she’s taking an escalator at the mall.
But, that hill was no joke! It was a quarter mile hike with a 800 foot elevation gain. It was brutal. As soon as I summited the blasted thing I just sat at top, said a little prayer of gratitude that I survived it and ate one of my Larabars as I enjoyed the view. I tried to capture it on my phone, but you just can’t capture those moments — they just have to be experienced.
The ascent was brutal, but the descent on the other side was a beast of its’ own. Luckily it wasn’t as steep, but the terrain was steep and extremely rocky. The technicality of the descent was exhausting not just physically, but mentally as well. I focused on my next step so I didn’t roll my ankle or biff it — it was extreme. There were some stretches where I just sat on my butt and scooted down the trail.
Once I finally got past rocky trail and headed toward the first aid station I was spent. I parked myself on the dusty trail, ate some watermelon and Gatorade and composed myself for the next stretch of trails. I felt like I was about 7-8 miles into the beast, but I was just 3.5 miles into the race.
That was a depressing reality.
But, also an indication of how tough that stretch of trail was for not just me, but everyone.
I felt bad for the marathons because they had to tackle that same terrain twice since their course was an out and back. I couldn’t imagine climbing up those rocky trails and then down that stupid steep hill. I would have died.
With the toughest stretch of course out of the way the climbing wasn’t over. We still had about 3-4 miles of climbing to the Rudy’s Flats aid station where we’d finally make a reasonable descent toward the finish line. I power hiked most of those miles and it was tough. I had to stop and stretch because my quads were just screaming.
I started being passed by marathoners and it just amazed me at how these runners were almost seamlessly crushing the terrain. Granted most probably train exclusively on trails, but still — these were mountain goats and I was jealous. Being the last runner in the bunch made me feel like nothing but bear bait. But, I don’t focus on that, I know if I dedicate more miles on the trails I’ll be there too. I think more than anything I was just amazed at the strength of those runners.
Anyways, once I hit the Rudy’s Flats aid station I reloaded my water, chilled for a bit and left with a bag of bananas and PB&J sandwich squares. I was severely under prepared food wise. I had my bugout pack with my Larabars, applesauce and Gatorade, but that simply wasn’t enough. I was packed for a 3-4 hour race … not 5-6.
Once I left the Rudy’s Flats aid station I was literally all down hill from there. I was 4:30 hours into the race and I just wanted to be done. So the downhill was a reprieve and I was able to pickup the pace. It was a whole different race.
Not far from the aid station I ran into Angie who was on her return trip to the finish line. She was struggling and had fallen, but like the badass that she is — was still going. We stopped for a picture and acknowledged how this course was kicking our trash before moving on.
I really loved the last part of the race. I just focused on the run and it was infinitely faster. The last couple of miles were tough, but it was more because of the heat.
The trails are covered fairly well, but there were spots where I was just dead. But, I just wanted to be done. I was thirsty and running low on water. I had some Gatorade in my pack — which I SHOULD have gotten out — but, the effort just didn’t seem worth it. I was striving for that finish line.
When I finally reached the finish line I was greeted by Wanderely with a big hug and I just collapse in a camping chair. I didn’t want to move. I just sat and drank water and Powerade while munching on watermelon. The desire to move much was stifled by cramps and fatigue.
I’ve never felt this wrecked after a race. My 50 miler was probably on par, but after a half? Never.
There was a breakfast provided at a nearby campground, but I waited at the finish line to see in Angie — who was the last runner on the course. I sat at the finish line and just visited with friends, it was the best way to recover because I knew I still had about a 3.5 mile run home. That’s a fancy way of saying I was procrastinating my run home.
After waiting for a couple hours of Angie we got to the breakfast that had been sitting there since about 7am — it was 4pm. But, at that point I don’t think of any of us questioned whether eating 9 hour old sausage and scrambled eggs were a bad idea or not — we were just hungry. And, it was freaking delicious.
I made it on my home around 4:45pm and in the heat of a day. It was about 90 degrees and I was dead. I was half tempted to grab a ride when Wanderely drove past, I grinded out those 3.5 miles and made it home in one piece.
I was completely finished.
Those 20 miles were seriously some of the toughest miles I’ve done. But, I’m so proud of myself. I did it.
Will I be back next year? Yes. I’ve already made that decision. Will I go for the marathon? No. There’s no way I’m that crazy.
Will I go for the half marathon? Probably? Yesterday it was a hard no. But, after sitting on it for a couple of days I want to tackle that hill again. I need to enact some redemption on that beast. But, then on the other hand the 7 mile run sounds like a better option. But, we’ll see … give me a couple of months. I loved this challenging course and the fact that it’s in my backyard.
Here’s to the trails!
MY NEXT FIVE RACES
Running Miles — 13.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 21.24 miles
TOTAL MILES — 47.34 miles
Races This Week — Elephant Rock Trail Half.
August 2017 Miles
Running Miles — 26.5 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 36.9 miles
TOTAL MILES — 63.0 miles
Races in August — (3) Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half and Nebo Half
Running Miles — 337.55 miles
Race Miles — 295.52 miles
Walking Miles — 817.05 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1450.12 miles
Races done in 2017 — (20) New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon, Drop13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah, AF Canyon Race Against Cancer, The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days Half, DesNews Half and Elephant Rock Trail Half,.
It seems like the closer and closer I get to meeting my 180 goal the more rearranging and adding I am making to my race schedule. I am really excited to get my 180 goal over with. Don’t get me wrong — I love running and will continue to run after I meet my goal.
But, I’m ready to move onto my next phase and some other goals within the running sphere. I am still working on what that will be. And, I’ll blog more about that around the end of the year. I’m really excited about the next part. It’ll involve a few exciting things and new goals.
There are four months left in the year and I still have 14 races planned. That’s a lot of running. Especially when you consider my race schedule ends in early November. I have four marathons planned — but, I am trying to gauge what’s my reality on those four marathons. I am good to go with Revel and the Jordan River Marathons. But, I am debating if I should down my distance at Huntsville and completely scratch St. George?
My ankle recovery has been longer than I thought. I am better. But, my training just isn’t where I’d like it to be. I need to run a really good 20 miler, lose a good 15-20lbs and not die sweeping the Revel BC Marathon to feel confident for St. George and Huntsville. But, we’ll see? I’m going to give it a shot regardless.
Of course all of these marathons and longer distances are leading up to Jackpot in February where I am shooting to run 100 miles. That’s going to take a lot of my training miles in November, December and January. Well, October as well, but lots of back-to-back runs. Plus, I am focusing a lot in the next few months on strength training and cross training. It’s going to be a feat to get me ready for that race.
But, as you can see my goal after that 100 miler is nothing planned until March-ish/April — and nothing longer than a half marathon. After Jackpot I really want to stay away from the longer distances for a bit — at least the road marathons. After my 180th race I plan on focusing on trails and roads — ideally ultras on the trails and half marathons on the roads. But, that’s all a post for another day.
The end is near. And, I am excited! I can’t wait to move onto my other goals and projects that I have kinda of put on the way side while focusing on meeting this goal. There’s so much more of the running world that I want to experience, share and be a part of — but, for right now it’s 180 OR BUST!
REMAINING 2017 RACES
156. Elephant Rock Trail Half Marathon (August 12)
157. Run Elevated Half Marathon (August 19)
158. Nebo Half (August 26)
159. Revel Big Cottonwood (September 9)
160. Huntsville Marathon (September 16)
161. Timp Elk Run Half (September 23)
162. Jordan River Marathon (September 30)
163. St. George Marathon (October 7)
164. The Haunted Half — SLC (October 14)
165. SoJo Half (October 21)
166. Howloween Half (October 21)
167. The Haunted Half — Provo (October 28)
168. Mt. View Trail Half Marathon (November 11)
ANTICIPATED 2018 RACES
169. Run Revolution (January 1)
170. Jackpot Running Festival (February 16-18)
171. Riverton Half Marathon (March 24)
172. Emigration Half Marathon (April 7)
173. Salt Lake City Half Marathon (April 21)
174. Provo City Half Marathon (May 5)
175. Vigor Big Cottonwood Half Marathon (May 12)
176. Drop 13 Half Marathon (June 9)
177. AF Canyon Race Against Cancer (June 23)
178. Morgan Valley Half Marathon (June 30)
179. Hobbler Half (July 7)
180. Handcart Days Half Marathon (July 24)
This past week has been a tough one for me. I didn’t get in nearly enough miles, mainly because of illness among a few other things. But, I knew no matter how I felt I was going to do some miles on Saturday in honor of my friend Robert Merriman who’s battling brain cancer.
It’s been an emotional couple of weeks for the running community here in Utah that know and love Robert. He’s such a staple here on the road or trail. He’s a friend to all.
I met Robert first back in 2012 while running the Farmington Days Half Marathon. Our conversation was brief, but I remember him introducing himself and mentioned that he read my blog. We saw each other at a number of other races over the rest of the year and eventually connected over Facebook.
You could say that after that — the rest was history. Over the next couple of years we were a part of a very close-knit group of runners. We all ran together, no matter the pace. Many times Robert would run ahead to take pictures of the group — or at times — if he wasn’t able to run with us, he’d still show up at some point of the run to take pictures of us.
I’ve grown to really respect Robert and look up to him in many aspect. His kindness toward others is second to none. He is one of the biggest reasons why I am training for my first 100 miler next February. Seeing Robert train and work toward gave me the hope and desire to try it too.
So when he was diagnosed with the cancer it was devastating — not just to me, but to our little group and the running community by and large. It’s been amazing seeing the community rally around him and support him and his family. Something we know he would do for any of us.
The weekend of his diagnosis and surgery it was awesome seeing so many runners wearing grey with red Canadian maple leafs at the Handcart Days and Deseret News Half Marathons. It continued with the Timp Half and the many other races that weekend as well. There were so many maple leafs worn during the Timp Half that many runners were asking why there were so many Canadians at the race.
That should tell you how much this community really rallied around Robert.
So, this weekend’s group run brought out the grey and maple leafs once again as we flooded Big Cottonwood. There was another group running the canyon as well, so there was a lot of crossover, but lots of grey either way. It was pretty cool.
I wanted to run anywhere between 15-20 miles, but with my health still questionable — I deciding between more like 10-15 miles. I am not where I want to be with my fitness right now, but I’m getting there. Especially with my ankle doing much, much better. I am at the point right now I need to start looking at alternatives to a couple of my marathons if I feel like I can’t do them.
But, that’s a post for another day.
Anyways, I decided 10 miles was a good run for me — which I decided basically right as the car passed 10.0 on the pedometer. So, I hopped out of the car that was taking everyone else up further in the canyon and made my descent.
When I run, I usually don’t go for pace — I go by feel. I’m very much a zen runner. Honestly, it’s been the only way I’ve been able to get through my injury and slowing pace. If I am going to run, I’m going for a fun time. If I am too worried about my pace — I tend to not have fun and feel like crap post run.
So, I just focus on feel. I focus on pushing myself just beyond comfort. And, as long I focus on that I’ll get faster and where I want to be. Does this mean I’ll never focus on pace again? No. It’s just my goals right now don’t need it and mentally it screws with me. I’ll get there again. But, for now — it’s all about effort.
Anyways, the run went well. I kept my effort just beyond that comfort. I focused on my form, especially on my right foot. My new shoes really help keep my over pronation honest, but I still need to mentally focus on it so I don’t lazily undo it.
My ankle was a little sore by mile 7-8, but nothing like it has in the past. Most of the soreness was actually from lateral movement down the canyon, which I expected. And, compared to my last run down Big Cottonwood I felt much better. Thank goodness.
The run was gorgeous and I just focused on what I needed to while jamming out to my music. It was perfect. There were so many runners in the canyon that it really felt like a race. It was neat. There were at least three fairly large groups there. And, apparently some runners got stopped by others asking if there was a race.
It was the perfect morning for a run.
The last mile or so of my run I was able to run with my friend Lizz, who started three miles up the canyon and then walked down and then back up and down a couple times before running into me again. She did over 7-8 miles on a not very easy course. But, we haven’t had an opportunity to run much together so it I was happy to finish my run with her.
After being joined by Ruthie for the last bit of the run we all finished back at the Park n’ Ride and after a few pictures we left and parted for the rest of the day. As I mentioned above, it was the perfect morning for a run. And, a perfect day to run and honor our friend Robert.
The good news of this all is that he was sent home and is recovering really well. He should be a few weeks from being able to drive and do some light running (non-runners like to call it jogging). The fact that he’s been in amazing health has helped him a lot. And, I couldn’t be any happier for him and his family … he’s a fighter.
Next week on August 17th — Robert’s Birthday — Costa Vida is holding a benefit night for Robert. As of right now, the Draper, American Fork and Payson stores will donate 20% of each order from 5pm to close to Robert’s family. There’s been a big interest from runners in other parts of Utah that they’re working on getting other stores involved in the benefit night.
But, if you would like to help Robert and his family while also enjoying an awesome meal from Costa Vida you can get more details about the night here. As I mentioned more stores will hopefully be added soon — and those will be posted there.
Anyways, we love you Robert! We’re praying for you! We’re running for you!
July 2017 Miles
Running Miles — 38.6 miles
Race Miles — 39.3 miles
Walking Miles — 116.38 miles
TOTAL MILES — 194.28 miles
Races in July — (3) The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days & DesNews Half.
August 2017 Miles
Running Miles — 13.5 miles
Race Miles — 0.0 miles
Walking Miles — 15.66 miles
TOTAL MILES — 29.16 miles
Races in August — (3) Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half and Nebo Half
Running Miles — 324.55 miles
Race Miles — 282.42 miles
Walking Miles — 795.81 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1402.78 miles
Races done in 2017 — (19) New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon, Drop13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah, AF Canyon Race Against Cancer, The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days Half and DesNews Half.
It was great seeing Robert Merriman tonight and sending the love of the Run4fun, Addict II Athlete, Run Your Race Pacers, Runtastic Events and the running families on both road & trail. This is a special man, a true warrior and an even greater friend. Keep fighting my friend! We love you! #FightLikeRobert
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
RACE #154: Bountiful Handcart Days Half Marathon; July 22, 2017 (3:24:08) Ran with a reflective heart after getting news of a friend's cancer diagnosis, but this race was nothing but uplifting. Had the privilege of running with new friends, Glen and Merri, as they ran for Glen's son Ben who recently passed away. Listening to the stories of Ben and his big heart, reminded me of those close to me that I've lost and how running helped me in the grieving process. Life is beautiful. And, running has been a blessing that only enhances it. I thank God for this gift. #race154 #handcartdayshalf #running @joshruns180 @fight4phat @josherwalla @myracemedals @southdavisraces
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
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