Monday, May 28, 2012

R2R2R part 2.

When we arrived at the Grand Canyon park at 4am it looked quite different than the 12 hours prior. Interestingly though there were several other head lamps moving around and come to find out it was others that were preparing to enter the canyon either on and rim to rim crossing or like us, there and back. Once we were all set we quickly chatted, all started our watches at the same time and off we went!

It was 4:15am and I had just entered the Angel Bright trail head heading down into the Grand Canyon. I could see some other lights farther down the trail and thinking, We're Late! they already got the jump on us. Tim and I were running together with Bill, Molly and Cynthia behind, we all had prepared for a little colder temperature but quickly the temperature in the canyon was warming up as we were descending and it didn't take long before I had to stop and take my jacket off, as well as, Tim took his off. Soon we were past the 1.5mile water stop and being as we didn't need to refill on we went but by the time we got to mile 3 we had to refill some and strip another long sleeve layer off. It's here where I think I lost my small absorbent towel, boo! Good things its from REI and I can get another one.

The Sun was starting to rise and the light into the canyon was pretty amazing, I had to stop a few time and just look around and take some pictures. This is when Tim would start pulling away from me and then I would work to catch back up but after a few times of doing that I realized it may not be a good idea to work that hard this early in the run so I backed off and just let him go. He slowed up a couple of times and waited but then he was gone. About half way down I was passed by two other runners, guy and girl, who were killing it! They zoomed by me and kept on going, saying that they too, were heading for a full crossing. Being as I was good on water when I hit the 4 mile mark, I just kept on going and soon was the Colorado River! This part of the trail is nice too because it runs along the river for a while, then on to some sandy beach super soft sand, then your basically at the foot bridge. This was super cool and I took my time going across, not only that I happened to be the ONLY one crossing in either direction so I thought that was pretty cool especially because a huge group had just come across and I was passing them head on ever since I got the the river. When I was fully across the river, there was a small water refill and bathroom spot so I refilled and took into the women's bathroom simply because the guys seem to not know how to clog the shitter and over flow it so it was disgusting. I was just glad there was not any ladies around and I was able to get in and out before someone came! BTW, Ladies, nice job on keeping the bathroom clean! 

While I was refilling my pack and grabbing a snack from the buffet Bill came running up and we quickly exchanged words and he ran off heading to Phantom Ranch which was 7 miles away. I made sure to fill most of my pack just to make sure I didn't run out and after drinking an Isagenix shake I was off and running. The run to Phantom ranch is nice too because there's a couple of small foot bridges you have to cross, these must have been used in the mining days as the bridge was build with a center raised portion to most likely keep the carts from rolling left or right on the bridge. I quickly noticed that since crossing the river the grade was slightly starting to climb and would do so all the way to Phantom Ranch. Arriving at Phantom was pretty cool as there was many camp grounds, small cabins and of course the mule station and general store, which was closed, opened at 8 am but it was only 7am so I kept moving. 

Running from Phantom Ranch to the Ranger Station was about another 1-1.5 miles and when I got there I refilled my pack because I couldn't remember how far the next station was and thought it was at least 7 miles. As I left here more and more hikers/runners were coming head on and this would continue until I reached the top of the North Rim so sharing part of the trail was a continuous thing the remainder of the morning. Not that I mind but some people just have no clue and walk side by side blocking the whole trail and expect you, (me) to get out of the way or step aside, I did for a while but when it became more and more I finally got tired of being nice and started standing my ground and we either bumped shoulders, or you moved, especially, if I was running!

The trail started to go in and of straight up rock faced walls and I could tell the grade was starting to get steeper. There was some small rollers along the way and a few more of those cool bridge crossings. Then there was a great small stream crossing which was great because I wet my head and hat as the Sun was pretty much up. I soon entered a water refill just before Roaring Springs, and several people were here so it took a few minutes to fill but that's okay because I sat down, rested and grabbed a snack. It was about mile 18.7 or 4.7 miles from the top. Some how I underestimated how long it would take me to get the top and I had dumped some of my water out so I wouldn't have to carry a heavier pack. This just turned out to be a bad mistake because the last 4 miles was nothing but climbing for me and just took me a long time to get to the last water stop about 2 miles from the top.This part of the climb was pretty dang steep and the switch backs were just wearing me out! The Sun was also shining on this part of the trail so it was warmer. A couple of times I almost caught up to Bill but then he just pulled away. I stopped a few times on the switch backs simply because I was out of breath, the elevation is also increasing as we climb up to 7000+ feet, by the time I reached Supai Tunnel I was just about out of water and conserving for the last hour was not fun. Once through the tunnel the water refill was just around the corner and when I got there I sat down and took a several minutes to refill and catch up.During this time Tim came running in, already down from the top of the North. I yelled out to him and he came over, we chatted a couple of minutes while he grabbed a drink from the refill and then told me, "Stop screwing around and get moving" haha.. soon after I got up and moved along. I was cramping some in my quad coming up the last mile but I know that was from conserving my water. Now on the last 2 miles up I was feeling much better other than the moving out of the way for Mule Train coming down and stirring up tons of dust and leaving lots of poop and pee on the trail. As I was about .6 miles from the top Bill comes running down and tells me how much we have left to go, I was walking with some people I had met that were from New Mexico so we all stayed together the last 1/2 mile up. 

It was great reaching the top! NORTH SIDE!!!! and it was so much cooler here! I was tired of sweating so it was pleasant to sit down and eat. I ate a sandwich, drank a shake, pop tart and chips. I took about 15-20 minutes here as I knew the run down was going to be non-stop and fun so I wanted to be fueled and ready for a few hours. The water at the North side was super cold and refreshing! I dumped all my pack and put cold water in and my hand held. I was then off and running back down on the Return to the South Rim!

to be continued... 


Friday, May 25, 2012

Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim Run. Part 1

Since I got into ultra running I have heard others running the Grand Canyon and it always interested me but every year when people started to plan and announce there runs I was not able to join in as my schedule just didn't allow it. Earlier this year, I got it in the back of my mind that I wanted to complete this run no matter what and it would just take planning and putting into action!

On May 20, 2012, myself and 4 others; Tim, Bill, Molly and Cynthia all started at 4:15am from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on the Bright Angel trail for an epic adventure run! Here's how it went down.

When told a few other a couple months ago I wanted to run Grand Canyon and got some details from the web on others that have run it, the only person that seemed upfront interested in running was Tim. He said to keep him posted on the dates/plans etc. Molly was interested but didn't know if the timing would work out. Finally, I just decided the date had to be in May and I was open to two of the weekends in the middle of the month and bound and determined to go by myself or with a group, luckily, the date worked out for everyone and now here we were driving to the Grand Canyon on Friday, May 19, in Tim's RV motor home. We would have a RV camp site in the small town of Tusayan, AZ, just about a mile from the entrance to the Grand Canyon. Tim tried to get a site inside the park but they were all booked. 

Once we got to the RV site and Tim set up the RV we grabbed some food and then drove to the Grand Canyon park and to find the Bright Angel trail head where we would be starting. The park was naturally busy and we had to walk just a ways to get to the trail head but once there it was amazing to see the Grand Canyon itself let alone think that we would be running it in less than 15 hours! After a few pictures and walking down the trail about a 1/4 mile we made our way back to the car and returned to the RV where everyone started preparing there run gear and snacking on light food/dinner.

Pretty much everyone went to bed by 8:30pm but for some reason I was not tired but knew I had to get some sleep, it took me a while but I finally feel asleep, but tossed and turned all night in anticipation of the alarm clock at 3am! I was actually glad when it did go off as everyone seemed to wake up quickly and the coffee started brewing and soon everyone was dressed, ready to go and last minute bathroom breaks were being taken care of. We rolled out in the darkness and at the RV site it was quite chilly, 39* according to Tim's thermometer.

I had a few plans in mind and things I wanted to accomplish for this run. 1) Have fun and enjoy the Grand Canyon's views; 2) Continuous movement, 3) stay hydrated/fueled 4) fine tune some gear I was using. Overall, I accomplished all of those goals, yes, I did want to finish in under 17 hours but overall time was not a major concern as I knew it was going to be a long day. I knew when I hit the North rim climbs that 17 hours would be out the window and was hoping to just finish under 20 hours. Now you think, damn, 20 hours for 48.5 miles and that's what I say but the climbing of 17,000ft just wears on you after a while and slows you down.

For my gear, I was using my Camelbak Octane pack, which I love/hate. Love because it definitely holds plenty of water and has a huge carrying capacity for all kinds of junk! and Hate because after a long time it just wears on my shoulders, especially, my left. I have adjusted and played with the straps for a different fit but just doesn't work, it is what it is. I would be also be carrying my handheld bottle. For food/fuel I had 2-peanut butter sandwiches (totally smooshed by the time I ate them) 2 Pop Tarts, 2 bags of Beef Jerkey, 4 snack packs of Pringles!, 2 Paydays, 1 Snickers, 8 Isagenix shakes, 1 cup Sweet Potato Chips, and several Luna Bars, Peanut Butter Crackers, and Cheese Crackers. I was a moving Buffet!
I had no gels, which would prove to be a bad deal later on in the run, and totally spaced out on taking anything caffeinated! I would use my handheld to mix up my Isagenix shakes and also just carry more water as sometimes I get tired of drinking from the bite valve.

There are water stops/refills at mile 1.5, 3, 4.5, Phantom Ranch once on the other side of the Colorado river, about mile 7, Cottonwood campground, mile 14, Roaring Springs-Rangers Station mile 16, and then about mile 19 but this one is only open during the summer, May15-Oct15. and the same for the top of North Rim. So overall, I had 8 water filling stations along the out and back route, which was great! The longest being 7 miles.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Leona Divide 50k recap.

Saturday April 28, 2012 was the running of the Leona Divide 50/50 (50k and 50mile) I was in for th 50k while Tim Duffy was in for the 50miler. Heading into this event my longest run was 17 miles so I was a little behind on the longest part but I had some consistent 40 miles weeks and was feeling good about that. Not only that, training with Tim at Boot Leg Canyon out near Boulder City, NV. proved to be well worth it.

Since I have been back in the running game and working 2-3x per week on the TRX Suspension trainer and adding in RIP Training along with Plyometrics my leg strength has been feeling good and I have been experiencing less and less irritation in my hamstring and glute, but it's still there a tiny bit.

We left for Lake Hughes, Ca. on Friday, about a 4-5 hour drive stopping for Starbucks along the way. Once we were in Palmdale, where the hotel was located, there was time to grab some lunch, get checked into the hotel, rest up a bit and then head out to packet pick up. The start of the race was about 25 minutes away and when we arrived it was well organized and sailing through the packet pick was a good thing. Immediately both Tim and I notice the great Ink n Burn race shirts we received which totally made up for the more plain easy going pottery circle finishers medal we would receive upon completing the race. Tim and I decided to take a walk up the trail from the start line to get an idea of what was in store being as the course immediately started uphill. After a short walk we realized the fire road would be okay and of course there would be some climbing and were more worried about how crowded it might be with all the runners. Of course being slower than Tim he had more to worry about as getting stuck behind a slow pack could eat into time early on.

Once we checked it out we headed back to the hotel area and grabbed some dinner then heading to settle in and prepare for the race. Lights were out by 8:30pm for me as the 3:30am wake up call would come fast. In the morning all things were a GO and after some Isagenix shakes/oatmeal and a bagel with peanut butter we headed out the door to the race quickly noticing how cold it was with the wind blowing. I was wearing my IntelliSkin shirt, with my Isagenix shirt on top and had a zip pull over hoping that would hold me through the colder morning. I decided on carrying my Octane Camelbak being as the first aid station was about 8.5 miles from the start and just didn't want to run out of water if I had just carried my hip belt, turns out I would have been okay all day long with just my hip belt carrier, oh well.

At the race site it was pretty dang cold with the wind blowing and we both made our way to the bathroom. It was nice to be nervous and jitters were flowing but that did cause a queezy stomach which is not fun. I haven't been at race since Javalina on Nov. 2011 on my last dnf at mile 46! so that was in the back of my head that I needed to finish this race. Once the bathroom break was over I headed back to the car to wait for the start but then had to go again so I went back and got in line and I soon heard the sound of 10 Minutes till start time. Based on how fast the line was moving, I figured I may miss the start. By the time I got to the front of the bathroom line there was 2-3 minutes till starting and I said Oh Well, I will miss it by a couple of minutes, TCB first! Luckily, by the time I went down to the start the gun went off about 20 yards from me getting there but then had to dash to the side of the road as 300+ runners were heading right for me!!! I managed to get on the side of everyone and I was one of the last 2 or 3 people to cross the start line! Off we went. UPHILL.

The uphill wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be and the pack moved along pretty steady. The fire road provided plenty of room to pass and move up and so I did. The uphill fire road went on for about 2.5 miles then eased up and short sections where the grade turned up some but not bad. It wasn't as cold as it was at the start and I soon rolled into Aid Station #1 (7.5miles per my garmin) got a quick refill and off I went on a short uphill climb talking with Badwater racer Shannon Farar-Griefer. Then it was soon back to running and making our way on a single track which was nice although the group was still somewhat bunched together so letting others pass was a little tight.

The single track went on for a the rest of the race, well, except the last 4 miles when I was back on the fire road, but the single track dove in and out of corners, over small downs and rolling hills, brush, rocks and grass, it was nice. At about mile 13 I had to make like a bear and find as much woods as I could as my stomach was just not happy. By the time I finished, I managed to have a cramp in my abs and foot from bending over on the side of a hill and had to sacrifice a dirtygirl gator to finish the job, good thing those gaiters are silky soft!! Any back on the run I was feeling much better!! and came flying into Aid Station mile 15ish.. I refilled my bottles, grabbed a couple of snacks, my Red Bull and off I went. I looked at my time leaving the aid station and I was at 3hrs 22mins so I figured being half way I would make to finish about 6:45-7 hours.. little did I know!

As soon as I left I crossed the road and back on the single track and it immediately started going up!! and UP and UP!!! shit, for 4 miles it climbed with just a slight level the last 1/2 mile into the turn around aid station at mile 20. It was a long grind it out climb, steep in sections but definitely no letting up till the aid station. I knew my finishing time of 7 hours was slipping away and would be much long, and on top of this climbing, I had all the fast 50kers and 50 MILERS coming at me so I would move over.

Finally, reaching the top I refueled, took a seat for about 5 minutes and then headed off back down the climb which was great because it was all down hill! I got back down pretty quickly and was feeling good, tired of course so I grabbed some espresso beans and other chocolates and headed back up the other side. This wasn't as steep but just as much work because I was tired. Finally, reaching aid station at mile 28 ish, I drank about 5 cups of coke because my stomach was feeling a little weird and coke always seems to help, weird! I then headed off for the last mile climb and then all downhill to the finish!

As I was running downhill I was really starting to run out of gas and stopped to walk a couple of times but then would hear other runners behind me and one even yelled out "come on, we're almost there! it's all downhill, you can do it!" So I took off running with her as she passed but I only lasted about 1/4 mile and walked again. I then recalled how far I was from the finish, about 1/2 mile so I sucked it up and just ran, coming into the finish line was great because there was a nice set up of the finish line and tables and lots of people cheering. It was great to be done!

I got my medal and some water and sat down for a few minutes. I then went to get some finishers food, although greatly prepared chicken fajitas, it was just way to spicy for my stomach so I passed. I went back to the Tim's car, moved it closer to the finish line area, changed clothes and drank a Isagenix shake, much more enjoying.

I then just took a little nap and waited on Tim to finish out the 50 miler. Once he was done we drove back to the hotel, then went to eat and grab a beer. Later that night some kid pulled the fire alarm and Tim asks "are you going out" I said, No way, dude, unless I smell Smoke or hear the Firemen, I'm staying in bed! haha..

Once morning arrived, we simply packed up and headed back to Vegas. It was great trip and always great to run with Tim. Leona event was definitely a fun race and great support, the shirts from Ink n Burn are Top Notch! and the course was nice!

Next up Grand Canyon Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim training run.