Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mt. Hopkins run with the Tucson Trail Runners

I joined TTR this morning for a run up Mt. Hopkins, which is located South of Tucson near Amado, AZ. The route to the top, the location of the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory, is 23.6 miles. I opted for a shorter version, which is to take the mostly dirt road (part of the first or second mile is pavement) to the gate at the top, which was supposed to be 7.8 miles up. After the gate, the paved road to the summit is 4 more miles, so I cut a round trip of 8 miles off. Ross Z., one of the respected group leaders and today's RD (run director), tried to talk me into doing the last 4 miles and then running down the 4 miles back to the gate, whereby someone would drive myself and a few others taking that option down. I gave it thought, and decided to make the decision when I got to the 7.8 mile gate. The distance would be the same either way, but I wasn't sure I wanted do the additional 1,000+ feet of elevation gain. The run starts at about 4,200 feet elevation and is 8,550 at the top of Mt. Hopkins. Total elevation gain was about 3,000 feet for about 16 miles round trip, and 4,350 feet for the 23.6 miles round trip. The weather was so nice this morning, very cool and crisp. It did warm up a little as the morning went on, but the breeze made most of the run super comfortable.Less than 10 of us headed out right into the sun, which was getting ready to peek over the mountains. Ross and some other guy (Michelle's SO, not sure of his name) were on bikes, and runners included Troy, Nate, Mindy, Julie, Michelle, and Joel (I think that was his name). Nate took off fast in the lead, followed by Julie and Joel, then Mindy, then Troy, myself and Michelle. Here are Mindy and Nate at the start (they are a couple and just super cute):

The dirt road is a nice, gentle grade, a little steep in spots, but definitely runnable. My legs were a little sore from yesterday's race (as were the tops of my feet, which I attribute to the deep sand on the course), so at first I ran the more level spots and hiked the steeper uphills. Although I had achy legs in the beginning, eventually, my legs warmed up and my energy level kicked in and I found myself running quite a bit of the uphill as well. I passed Troy at some point, who was doing amazing considering he just ran a super hard marathon yesterday (yes, yesterday!). We chatted for a few minutes, but then I ran alone the rest of the way to the top. Here is Troy against a backdrop of one of the many beautiful views on the way up:I made it to the gate at 1:49, which was under my 2 hour 'guestimate'. The views were beautiful all of the way up. Here I am at the gate, the entrance to the Whipple Observatory:

At the gate, I saw Mindy. She was trying to decide what she should do and so we both talked about it and determined that we would run back down. What fun! I love running downhill. It wasn't too steep running down; it was just right. We made pretty good time, making it down in about 1:16, for a total run time of 3:05 for me. Mindy had clocked pretty close to 16 miles total for us on her Garmin. I think I talked her head off (too much caffeine?) but she was super nice and such great company.

I didn't make it to the top, where the views are supposed to be incredible, so I'll have to save that for another day. I am considering doing the total 23.6 miles as a training run next month for the Tucson Marathon, to give my legs some good downhill training. I had a blast, though and felt like it was a perfect distance for me today, given the race yesterday.

I hung out afterwards with Mindy while we waited for others to come down. Once Ross got back, he broke out the most amazing stash of snacks and drinks! I think it was the largest and most fantastic spread of food I have ever seen at a run or race! There were also 4 aid station volunteers out there today (can't remember all of the names!) who were on the top with food and drinks. I snacked a bunch and talked with everyone for quite a while.

I then headed back to Tucson, first stopping on the way at my in-laws brand new house in Sahuarita for an afternoon visit, which was great.

The only thing that could have made this a better day is to have come home to my wonderful husband. He'll be home tomorrow and I can't wait.

We might be adopting another dog, a Louisiana Catahoula (hey, that's where I'm from!) More on that later....

44 miles for the week. 27 this weekend. Whew! I think it is finally time for the ice bath. Brrr.


RunningTroysLife said...

Wow nice time!!! Geez that was fast considering the amount of climbing and yesterdays catalina race.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

that's awesome! i was down in the area on saturday...i need to get out for a ttr run!!

Marathoner in Training said...

That sounds like a great day running. Thanks for the recap of the run.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I made your blog, how fun! :) I had a blast running down with you yesterday... and no you didn't talk my head off!

Also, checked out some of your husbands artwork from the link on your webpage... very nice!

Anyway, hope to see you out at future runs!