Saturday, September 20, 2008

Law of Probability and Trail Running

Since plans fell through to run with someone else this weekend, I ran by myself out at Catalina State Park. Having no commitment to someone, I took the opportunity to sleep in a little and I headed out a little late, arriving at the park at 8am. I'm always a little nervous/excited heading out on a longer trail run by myself. Not sure why, but I think I worry about what I might encounter (i.e. critters), but also, whether or not I'll be able to stay energized running by myself and not having companionship to pass the time. It turned out fine, as usual.

I knew the Catalina State Park trail race packet pick-up was going to start at 10:30am at the park, and rather than make two trips out there (1 hour round trip driving each time), I thought it would be good to get my run in later in the morning and then right when I got done, I could get my packet. I did the whole race course, plus a little extra, for about 12 miles total. The course consists of the Canyon Loop trail, an out and back on the Montrose trail (where it forks to go to Romero Pools), the Nature trail, and an out and back portion of the Bridle trail. I did all of those twice, which is what we'll do during the race, and then I did an extra loop on the Nature trail and a little extra out and back on the Bridle trail. I would guess around 12 miles. I wanted to do 13, but I got too late of a start and it was just too hot. You can tell how high the sun was by my shadow in this picture:

The wildflowers were still out, although no rain has everything drying up quick:

And dang it was hot! Getting started after 8am made for a super challenging run. The desert was heating up quick. I wore sunscreen SPF 70, so I wouldn't get sunburned, but I still got too much sun on my chest and shoulders. Luckily, the race will be starting at 6:30am, so it should be great! I'll be switching to evening runs soon, as darkness steals my morning run time day by day. So, a little heat training was probably good, because it is still pretty hot in the evenings here in sunny Tucson. The water I saw out on the trail will probably be dried up by race weekend:

The Law of Probability header is related to seeing rattlesnakes. I guess if you run trails enough, the stats on seeing rattlers goes up, too. I haven't seen very many while trail running, but I saw 2 today! One was crossing the trail in front of me and I heard him before I saw him. I was polite and let him pass, snapped a few pics, and ran by him when he was almost off the trail. Boy, did he send off a rattle when I did that! Made my heart beat faster. That's what I love about trail running - it is so exciting and adrenaline-filled! Another one I saw was off the trail, and the only reason I saw it was a guy was bent over taking a picture of it. This rattler was not happy at all, and the head on this one was up off the ground about a foot or so in strike position. This happy hiker was snapping pictures like there was no tomorrow. I made a comment about the snake not looking too happy and I moved on along!

It is pretty sandy out there - great workout for the ankles and calves!
Running alone, which I do for most of my runs, I think of all sorts of stuff. Today, there were a gazillion ants out there on the trail; over and over again, I pondered how many thousands I killed on today's trail run (and other bugs I may have done in). It really bothered me! I also wondered if I'll be able to face my increased responsibility at work, how I can become more effective in helping others, and how I'll do with my upcoming training (trail running in the dark! more on that later). I came to the conclusion that God will help me deal with all of my problems! He always has. Not sure what to do about the ants/bugs dilemma.

There are still plenty of open slots for the Catalina State Park 11 mile trail race, so come join us! Should be a lot of fun. There is a 5.5 mile option as well. When I picked up my packet, Steve, the RD, didn't recognize me because I wasn't wearing pink (he always says, 'pretty in pink' when he sees me!) Can't wear pink everyday when I'm running, but I almost do. :)
Sure was pretty out there today and I had a good time. It is always good to run with others, but I'm glad I feel comfortable enough in my own skin to run alone with all the thoughts in my head (no ipod!)

I got in 37 miles for the week and 2 weight workouts. I was going to do Bikram yoga, but my in-laws are coming into town and I needed to clean the house. Can't do it all, but I try.


Joyce said...

Cool picture of the snake! We missed you on the Sabino Basin run this morning! Are you thinking of doing Charleau Gap in 2 weeks?

RunningTroysLife said...

definitely missed you on the trail this morning

HappyTrails said...

Gorgeous pics! BTW, did you know rattlesnakes can jump about half the distance of their length???!!! Really. Be careful! Have a great week!