Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My 2013 Heaven & Hell

What can I say?  The most miserable, yet most rewarding race of my career.

Full report can be found on the Refuse2Quit blog HERE.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Wasatch, here I come!

Seriously Josh? Months and months of nothing to talk about? The truth is, I haven't had much to talk about because I've just been plugging along. I should have written up a race report for the Bryce 100 back at the end of May, but Craig did such a great write-up, I really didn't have much more to say than what he covered. You can read his report HERE if you want to hear about that adventure.

This training season has been quite a change from past years.  Everyone needs a break, right?  I've taken that to heart this year and gone with the "less is more" approach, meaning that I'm running less but feeling like I'm gaining more from it.  We'll just say I'm really well rested.  That's not to say that I haven't been running, but I've switched to fewer mid-week shorter runs and gone with more long runs on the weekends.  My body likes it for sure, but in truth I've probably lost a little bit of speed because of it.  I'm ok with that though.  I've had the opportunity to get out on some great adventures with friends, such as running the entire Bryce 100 with three of my best friends, MVH's amazing Millwood 100 experience, the annual Quest For King's Marathon, introducing some trails virgins to their first run on the trails, and running Timp a couple times tonight with my friend Jennilyn.  I've had some great runs by myself as well, but this year I've been trying to soak in more of the experience than just focusing on my own performances.

Craig has done a great series of write-ups over on that have really got me thinking as well.  I've been known to make plenty of excuses in the past (and still make plenty in my own head), but I've really tried to limit them as much as possible this year.  I've been going through lots of personal things in recent months, but instead of making excuses to other people, I've focused on internalizing them and grinding out runs when I wouldn't have in the past.  It's been a game changer for sure.  What's also made it easier is that I'm running fewer days and thus MUST make the days I do run count.  No excuses.  Refuse to quit.

With that said, I've got two weeks until Wasatch.  I decided I want to run with pacers again this year (again, for the camaraderie), but I have no real time expectations this time around.  I'll just go out and have some fun running with some friends all day long.  Don't get wrong, this doesn't mean I won't push myself to have the best race possible, but I'm laying off the expectations I typically set and hopefully I come out with a good performance.  Excited to soak it all in again!  Best of luck to everyone running out there.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Quick Training Update

I feel like I finally turned a corner this past week. To be honest, for months I've been struggling with running. Between small nagging injuries, being sick (twice), and plenty of excuses, my training has not been where I would've liked throughout the winter. The good news is that I have several years of solid base behind me. I proved last year that I can come back pretty quickly after months of inconsistency. The bad news is that I've lost a good amount of speed... Something I can hopefully gain back in the next five weeks.

There have been a few things that really helped motivate me through my so-called "downtime".

The first was signing up for a race. For months I'd been planning on running the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 in late March. Once mid-January hit and I still wasn't running consistenly, I bagged the idea completely. Instead, I chose the Buffalo Run 50 miler; a race I've run twice before. I got into the race about 8 weeks out... Plenty of time for me to get ready. The bad news is I wasted the first couple weeks struggling with motivation, and once again lots of excuses. I still ran a bit, just not like I'd hoped. Then I finally hit my stride this past week running, that included a long run on Saturday which was the farthest I've run since October. Yikes!

The other thing that really helped was the crew. I haven't said anything to any of them about this, but seeing their pictures & videos and reading about their adventures the last few weeks has really boosted me! I was really bummed that I couldn't join them this past weekend in the San Rafael Swell (I actually couldn't have gone even if I was ready to run 30 miles), but watching this video got me excited about joining them for more adventures this year.


All five of us are running a version of the race out on the island March 23rd. I'm not expecting to beat my 7:39 from two years ago, but I would like to publicly state that I'm aiming for 8 hours. There! That should give me even more motivation to train hard over the next five weeks. It'll be tough, but what's the point in setting a low expectation? Shoot for the stars! I'm looking forward to the mayhem!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Learning By Mistake

I wrote my first article for Refuse2Quit: A reflection of my 2012 season and the plans I have to make 2013 a much better year. You can check it out here:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Some Catching Up and Exciting News

My apologies for taking entirely too long to post anything.  Truth be told, I haven't had much to say the last few months because I haven't been running much.  Three weeks after Wasatch I paced my dad the back half of the Bear 100 and helped him get a sub-30 hour finish; something he never dreamed possible.  Huge congrats to him on grinding through some tough spots and getting his first 100 mile finish (on his first attempt as well)!

A few weeks after pacing him I noticed an acute pain under my left foot, at the base of my middle toe.  I took a week off then did a 15 mile weekend run on it which only aggravated things more.  Typical sign of a classic overuse injury: stress fracture.  So I ended up taking 6 weeks off completely, and I'm now just getting back to running.  I probably should've done some elliptical or spinning to keep my fitness up, but truth be told it was a good excuse to recharge the batteries in preparation for next season.  So now I'm back to running about every other day and I'm working on getting a very solid base to ramp up training in the new year.

My time off also gave me some time to think about what I'm doing next year.  I'll save my actual goals for another post, but I'm definitely setting a bar for myself in the "Ambitious" category... I'll just leave it at that.

And for some exciting news: Good running friend Craig Lloyd has asked me to be a contributor on his ultra blog  Hopefully we'll be able to offer up some good content for you to check out.  We're especially focusing on some of the adventures our crew has together, and hopefully we'll be offering up lots of cool videos and pictures to keep your eyes entertained.  So make sure you keep an eye on the happenings at and follow us or subscribe via RSS.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wasatch 100 2012

Everything was a blur... One minute I’m sitting at work, plugging away on a project.  The next minute I’m at my friend Matt’s house, laughing with friends and enjoying a nice BBQ on a beautiful summer evening.  Aside from the pre-race meeting situated somewhere in there, it was a fairly typical weekend summer night for me.  When I’m forced out of bed by the alarm at 3:40 am the next morning though, it got real.  Fast.  This was the morning I’ve been training for; my “A” race for the year: The Wasatch 100.

When I was selected into the race back in February, I had decided that this was the year to run under the elusive 24-hour mark.  I had nothing to hold me back from working to achieve my goal.  As with anything in life though, things typically don’t play out the way we fantasize in our heads.  As such, I was essentially on the injured list from January to the end of June.  I had a few nice runs mixed in there, but no solid training block to really speak of.  With only about 10 weeks of real training – and having to start from scratch – I knew it would be very tough to achieve that 24 hour mark.  Being the realist that I am, I adjusted my race goal for 26 hours.  I felt like this was a mark I could hit based on my level of fitness on race day.

The Start - photo by Petzl

After the usual morning rituals, Matt drove me, Craig, and Scott to the starting line.  Before I knew it, the countdown had ended and we were off.  The first few miles went off with no major problems, but around mile 3 I mentioned to Scott (who was running next to me from the start) that I was feeling winded.  I didn’t have that pep that I like to feel in my legs on race day.  So I decided to take a gel.  It didn’t sit well... At all.  Welcome to the theme of my race.  I have an incredibly iron stomach though, so I never threw up or got violently ill… Food just didn’t sit well for the first 85 miles of the race.  I’d feel really good for a bit, followed by nausea for a bit.  All. Day.  Long.

I was mentally defeated by the time I hit the first aid station at mile 19, just 4 hours into my run.  Luckily, Scott was still right next to me and we continued to work through some highs and lows together over the first 40 miles of the race.  Huge credit to Scott for keeping me going!  Without him, I would have been broken and my race would have probably collapsed entirely.

Scott and I sharing a high five at Big Mountain - photo by Lori Burlison

I arrived to my smiling crew (mom & dad) and they got me situated and back out onto the course.  Scott picked up his pacer here at Big Mountain (mile 40) and I continued on solo.  I followed them for just over a mile, but started feeling good and decided to go on ahead.  About 2 miles after I passed them though, I hit another low spot.  This time my unhappy stomach and general fatigue were accompanied by a tight chest, and very shallow breathing.  I tried some breathing techniques to turn things around, but nothing was working. 

I trotted into Alexander Springs (mile 47) completely deflated.  I was sure my race was over.  I talked to a medic about my situation since I was unsure what was happening to me.  They had no answers, but also informed me that I wasn’t allowed to drop here.  I had to go on to Lambs Canyon (mile 53) in order to drop.  Six more miles?  Are you kidding me?  So, I made an educated guess as to what my problem was and immediately took in two 20 ounce bottles of water, 12 ounces of GU Brew electrolyte drink, and five – yes, I said five – salt pills; one of which I broke open and poured down my throat.  Then I got up and left. 

 On the way to Alexander Spring - photo by Lori Burlison

Now I was faced with the most exposed section of the course, in the heat of the day, while feeling absolutely terrible.  Wow, things are just getting better for this guy!  I walked for about 10 minutes then things slowly started to turn around.  My shallow breathing dissipated, my chest was feeling normal, and I had some good energy.  So I ran a little.  And it felt good.  I continued to make my way into Lambs Canyon and arrived to my crew cheering me on.  I pounded a whole bunch of water (I was down 8 pounds here), changed my shirt, ate a few things, then immediately started feeling nauseous again.  I sat for a minute and tried to recover, but nothing worked.  So I did the smart thing and left.  Wait, did I just say that?  Yeah, I knew I’d bounce back eventually so I just left before I got stuck here.  Just before I started the long climb up the Lambs Canyon trail I started feeling good again.

The miles from Lambs Canyon (mile 53) to Brighton (mile 75) were good for me.  Aside from another queasy stomach episode at Desolation Lake (mile 67), I made good time through here, with nothing of significance to report.  I arrived to cheers at Brighton from my crew.  It was also good to see Kelli (who will run Wasatch one day), as well as my friend Darrell there also.  My family and friends were keeping me in good spirits here so I spent a little extra time just to enjoy the moment with them.  Thanks Mom, Dad, Shirley, Brittany, Brian, Tyler, Matt, and Kelli… You guys were so awesome!

My crew and I at Brighton

Originally I was going to run the race solo.  However, after the day I’d had, I knew I needed some mental support throughout the night, so at Lambs Canyon I told my dad to be ready at Brighton for the last 25.  And good thing I had him there with me!  He kept my spirits up and kept me focused on the task at hand.  He also kept me awake when I was going through a seriously intense patch of sleepiness.  I knew the 26 hour goal was out of reach, so my focus was to beat my time from two years ago: 28:59.  We worked our way through the aid stations and had a blast just being out there.  We ran into some friends along the way, including Matt Van Horn who I’d leap frog for the last 15 miles.  He and I would end up finishing about 5 minutes apart. 

After eating a gel around mile 85 and nearly puking, I quit eating gels altogether and stuck to GU Chomps.  They worked and I never got queasy again.  Had I figured this out earlier, my race could have been much different.  Hindsight is always 20/20 though, right?!  Aside from doing something to my foot with about 5 miles to go, the last few hours went really well.  I stayed hydrated, ate well, and continued plugging along en route to the finish.  I was elated to hit the grass and run under the finish line with so many people there cheering me on!  I had done it.  The journey ended 28 hours and 37 minutes after I had started.

The finish - photo by Lori Burlison

In all honesty, I’m more proud of this finish than any other thus far.  I knew I didn’t have it from mile 3, but I persevered throughout the day and made it to the finish line.  Elation is a good word to describe the way I felt.  Thanks to all my family and friends who supported me, and continually do so in my daily life.  You guys are the best!  Also, a big shout out to the volunteers that make this race happen.  They are the best, most organized group of any race I’ve had the pleasure of running.  And finally, a huge congratulations to all those who finished!  The camaraderie at ultra running events really sets the bar.  It’s due to the hard work, diligence, pain, and suffering that we all go through out there.  And we do it together.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Utah's Triple Crown

Last month, I headed up to Utah's Uinta Mountains to attempt the Triple Crown - Utah's three highest peaks - with good friend Scott Wesemann.  We were also there in support of our friend Craig who was going for the FKT (Fastest Known Time) on the Triple Crown, but we knew we wouldn't see much of him.  You can read about Craig's amazing accomplishment HERE.  Scott and I ran into some weather on that trip and we were only able to tag the third tallest summit: Gilbert Peak.

Every August Craig holds a fun run up to King's Peak which is known as the Quest For King's Marathon.  I decided that instead of running Quest For King's this year, I needed to redeem myself and finish the Triple Crown that I'd failed to complete last month.  Scott agreed and he decided to join me.  So on Friday, August 10th, Scott, Craig, Matt, and myself headed up to Henry's Fork where we'd set up camp, then begin our adventure the next morning.

Scott and I were on our way just before 5:00 am, with the Quest For King's runners starting about 2 hours after us.  It had rained all night so the conditions were really sloppy, so we were slow to the first major stop at Elkhorn Crossing (mile 5).  We dropped our headlamps and extra layers here and proceeded on towards our goal.  With the chance of running into afternoon showers again, we decided that we wanted to tag King's first this time since we'd already done Gilbert this year.  And let's be honest, Gilbert is a miserable, boring, worthless mountain!  We made steady progress up to King's, running into lots of hikers and also a few bull moose along the way, and finally summitting at a few minutes under 4 hours.  We were right on track.

First bull moose we saw

On the summit of King's Peak

The ridge between King's and South King's isn't too bad, although the loose boulders make for a very interesting descent going both ways.  After cursing the rocks, we decided that we'd summit King's again in order to go back down the well-traveled trail that leads up to King's Peak, rather than go down the face of it.  I think it was a good call on our part because we moved quite slow through those loose boulder sections.

On the summit of South King's Peak

Just after we came off the top of King's for the second time, we saw Craig and Matt coming up.  They were both moving really well.  The four of us ran the next several miles together until me and Scott hit our turnoff to go up to Gilbert.  The boys went on to finish Quest For King's in under 7 hours... Very impressive!

Craig and Matt running with me just off King's Peak (background)

At the bottom of the chute up to Gilbert, I had to stop to make a few adjustments and take a nature break.  Scott continued on up the chute without me.  By the time I was done, he had a few hundred yards on me so I knew I need to blast up the chute.  So that's exactly what I did!  I flew up the side of that mountain, eventually passing Scott and putting another 50 yards or so on him.  Why couldn't my legs have felt like this 2 weeks ago at Speedgoat???  I stopped at the spring and waited for Scott to catch up.  We filled our packs and bottles for the last time, then continued slowly up towards Gilbert.

Making my way up the chute towards Gilbert

Gilbert sucks!  There's something like 5 false summits which are a complete mindjob.  Ugh!  Add relentless winds and cold temperatures and this made for one helluva day to try to summit this mountain.  I got too far ahead of Scott at one point, and while I was waiting for him I had to hunker down between some boulders to get away from the wind... I was absolutely freezing!  We slowly made our way up the mountain and eventually summitted for the third and final peak of the day.  There were two other people already on the summit that were kind enough to take our picture.

Scott and I on the summit of Gilbert Peak

The descent was slow and grinding.  We were both pretty low on energy so we took our time.  The last 5 miles - known as the death march - were exactly that.  We eventually popped out onto the trailhead and completed our mission by signing the trail registry.  After spending nearly half our day grinding out the section from Gilbert to the finish, we finally made it.  Our time of 13:39:54 was absolutely pathetic, but we had a worthwhile day out there.  I only say worthwhile because while it was fun talking and bantering, and great training for Wasatch in a few weeks, I will never, EVER do that again!