Sunday, May 31, 2009

TTR Sunset Loops trail run

Since this was the last TTR event of the season, I didn't want to miss it. Who showed up: Harry, Ken, Gene, David (from Sierra Vista), Kandi, Doug, Glenn and a few others I didn't know. Everyone was doing various options - 6, 10 or 17 miles.
I ended up doing the longest option, which turned out to be 16.3 miles. Kenny came along with our dog Taos, but he was going to hike about 6-10 miles by himself, and just meet me somewhere along the way.
It started at Sunset trailhead in the Catalina Mountains. The longest option takes the following 'figure 8' route:

1. Sunset Trail to Marshall Gulch. I ran with Glenn for most of this. I wanted to run with David, too, but he had some energy and hung with the fast guys up front.
2. Aspen Trail all the way to the top of the Ski Lift area (Radio Ridge). This trail is just so gosh darn steep, so quite a bit of hiking on this trail. However, they had cleared away a lot of downed trees since the last time I had been up. Nice. Hardly any tree hopping at all. I was by myself for most of this part; Glenn ended up turning at Marshall Gulch and only doing 6 miles, but it was good to have some company for a bit.

3. Down the Lemmon trail to the Wilderness of Rocks trail turnoff. Lemmon trail is super runnable, with lots of downhill. The trail is not too rocky, either. I came upon Kandi and ran with her for a while, which was nice. She is an Accountant, too, so we talked shop a bit. The downhill got too enticing and I really picked up speed and ended up pulling away from Kandi at some point. This was my favorite part of the run.
4. Back up on WOR trail to the Marshall Gulch trail. WOR is downhill at first, but then gets really rocky and uphill and I got really slow. I eventually ran into Kenny and Taos about a mile from the next trail junction. We hiked/ran together to the finish, which was really fun. Taos carried her pack and was such a good dog.
5. Marshall Gulch trail to Sunset trail and on back to the start. Marshall Gulch is fairly runnable in spots and very pretty. Lots of people, though.

Total time: 4 hours and 53 minutes!
Total elevation gain/(loss): 6,791/(6,878) feet. Holy Moly.

Ross and Pam rode their bikes up, so we got to visit with them at the finish, too. Pam found a 'Pleasing Fungus Beetle' to show us:

I wore my new 'Atayne' shirt, which is made from recycled materials (plastic bottles) and activated carbon (from coconut shells). I won a $50 g.c. at (thanks Bryon!) so I went to and picked one out. The one I bought says, "Run Hard! Tread Lightly." I have to say I was really happy with the performance of it; I never overheated and it was super comfortable. I'll be buying more. The service from Jeremy was awesome. Definitely check it out.

I hope to do a few more runs with TTR next year. My confidence has risen a bit and I feel and I can take on some of the more challenging ones. I decided that I could always help out on some that I choose to not run and be of service there, too.

Kandi is going to take me (if there is water) on my inaugural trail run on Esperero trail in a few weeks. She says she is a little slow, but that is fine. I just would like to check out that trail to make sure I don't get lost when I do that run with TTR next year. So, got to see some old friends (David, Glenn) and got to make a new one (Kandi).
It was an all 'Gu' brand gel run. I really liked them! I'm trying out different gels, so next time will be 'Hammer' time. I felt pretty good during the run, so I don't think I'll be doing the Clif blox anymore.
Weekend over. Back to work. Hope everyone enjoyed doing something fun this weekend.

Monday, May 25, 2009

My favorite trail - Yetman in the Tucson Mountains

Here are a bunch of pictures from my short 6 mile Memorial Day run in the Tucson Mountains on the Yetman trail. I bought a disposable camera to use over the weekend while I waited for my new Olympus Stylus digital camera from the 'Tough' series to arrive in the mail this week. This new camera will be waterproof! dustproof! shockproof! crushproof! freezeproof! Perfect for trailrunning. Anybody who has run with me knows I had dropped my camera (or fallen on it!) too many times.
The only bummer about a disposable camera is that there is no self timer, but I finally found a nice lady to take my picture for me. It was quiet out there today; lots of mountain bikers and a few trail runners, but nobody I recognized. It was a great 4 day weekend.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bear Canyon Loop trail run

Today, I ran 17.5 miles on the Bear Canyon loop in Sabino Canyon with David M. He had just run 18 miles the day before, so I was hoping he would have sand bags for legs and be a little slower for me, but, as usual, he was raring to go with energy to spare. Keep an eye on this guy; I am sure he is going to do some amazing things in the ultra world. Me, on the other hand...slow as molasses. Is it allergies? The iron deficiency still? Or just hills that I'm no good at? Will I ever get better at trail running? David says I'm too hard on myself; that this loop is challenging.
The Bear Canyon loop starts at the Sabino Canyon parking lot, heads out towards 7 Falls, and then goes up towards the East Fork, connects with Sabino Canyon trail, and then up to Phoneline trail. We ran Phoneline trail on the return instead of the Sabino Canyon tram road. It took a long time to do this run, but returning on Phoneline trail just takes longer than running the road back on the last part. I'm also terrible on the uphills, so I tend to walk those a lot. I have to do something about that.

Total cumulative elevation gain/(loss): 4,112/(4,229) feet

On this run, a great deal of the elevation gain is on the first half and the majority of the elevation loss is on the second half. This is my second running of this loop (first was with TTR and I had a mighty sore ankle that day). I would really like to do it more often. Beautiful. The cactus are blooming right now and the saguaros all look like they have little hats on them. :)
Lots of cloud cover out today, which was fabulous! We got a few sprinkles of rain falling on us on the last 2 or so miles, but it felt good. What a great run. I didn't feel so bad about missing the Gunnison 50k (which was today) after all. Maybe I'll do that one next year.

I ran 40 miles total this week. I hope to keep this mileage up over the summer, with some additional hill training thrown in. On June 1st (when registration opens), if I can get in, I'm signing up for the Imogene Pass run, which is on September 12th. Holy Cow. Oh, and I also signed up for the Run with the Roosters race, which is new this year, and is on July 12th. Pretty soon, I'll have my race calendar filled. That's the way I like it!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Heart of Rocks Loop hike - Chiricahua Mountains

Haven't been blogging much - I have been a little down about some things lately. Since I cancelled my Grand Canyon trip this weekend, and of course, the Gunnison 50k next weekend, I really don't have anything going on that I felt was blog worthy.
I recovered nicely from the 27 mile trail run up the Santa Catalinas a few weeks ago - I really wasn't even very sore. I did keep the mileage down that following week - 23 miles - partly due to the shorter road run I did last weekend. I'm running in the mornings before work now. Tucson is averaging 100 degrees for the high, so I, like many other Tucson runners, start getting up earlier to run and beat the heat.

This week, I ran every morning before work, totaling 30 miles. I pretty much just do various loops from my house, and up to the Rillito River sometimes. It is a nice way to clear my head for the day.
Without any big runs planned this weekend, Ken and I went over to the Chiricahua Mountains (about 2.5 hours away) and hiked the Heart of Rocks Loop. My friend Sarah and my sister Andrea had highly recommended it. We did 10 miles, with 4,714 feet of cumulative elevation gain. The high point is about 7,000 feet. It took us 3 hours and 50 minutes, not including about a 25 minute lunch break. Here I am next to 'Big Balanced Rock': Ken at the top of 'Inspiration Point':The Heart of Rocks Loop is a combination of various trails, with the Heart of Rocks trail being the center of the hike. There were all sorts of awesome rock formations that have been carved by time and wind, I guess. The hike was fairly shady, going through a lot of pine forest. The bugs drove me nuts for about the first 2 miles, but as the day heated up, the bug population dropped a bit (also there was a nice breeze at times, which kept them away).
Ken and I had a great time! It was really good to get out and hike together. He rarely exercises (well, except for the strenuous nature of his work), but he just trucks up the hills like it is no big deal, which always impresses the hell out of me. I'm terrible on the uphills. Ken will be hiking some of the big 14er's (14,000+ feet peaks) in CO this summer, which of course, I think is crazy. That's what he says about some of my running. :)

My upcoming running plans? Well, I'm still working on that, but I suppose I probably will just post them in my sidebar. I'm worried that whenever I blog about upcoming plans, they seem to fall through! Well, let's just say I have quite the adventurous running year coming up, with some super exciting races on my wish list. I'll need to get in better shape though, which will be my plan for the summer. That, and staying cool.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Santa Catalina Ascent

Well, I finally did it. I joined the Tucson Trail Runners for the Santa Catalina Ascent. But, I lost my digital camera halfway through my 2nd most epic run ever (Zane Grey would be the first, although this run had more elevation gain than ZG!). So, NO PICTURES!!!!

9 Tucson Trail Runners started - Tanja, Harry, Gene, Doug, Bruce, David, Kandi, Julie and myself. One person went about halfway and had to stop, one person took a portion of the road instead of trail. So, out of the 7 finishers, I was 5th. I wasn't last! Yay!
This is what you need to know:

Total miles: 27.4 (got lost 4 times, which added a little extra mileage on)

Total cumulative elevation gain/(loss): 12,913/(7,030) feet. When I uploaded my Garmin watch, I couldn't believe I had climbed 12,913 feet. My GPS watch battery actually died at 26.2 miles (the battery is only good for about 8 hours), so my elevation gain/(loss) didn't include the last 1.2 miles, although most of that was downhill.

Total time to finish: 8 hours and 51 minutes (includes breaks, etc). Pretty much was on the move the entire time, except in the two aid stations, where I took a 10 minute break each time. Lost a little time due to backtracking, walking in circles a few times. David and I finished about 1 hour behind the person who finished first, which was a Tanja (first time a woman finished this run in first place).

This run/hike starts at the Sabino Canyon Visitor's Center and goes all the way to Ski Valley at the top of Mt. Lemmon via connecting trails/roads. The route is:
  1. Sabino Canyon tram road to the end

  2. Sabino Canyon Trail

  3. East Fork Trail

  4. Palisades Trail

  5. Butterfly Trail - wow, have they cleaned up this trail! It was in pretty good shape compared to last summer. The last mile of this trail is steep - 943 feet elevation gain!

  6. Sunset Trail

  7. Marshall Gulch Trail

  8. Aspen trail - this portion of the trip really broke me down. A lot of money was saved on this trail by not using the switchback system - this trail is straight up, 925 feet gain in one mile. I finally said, "I can't go on, save yourselves!" But, I kept going. Can't quit now.

  9. Ski lift trail?
I ran (hiked) most of the way primarily with David from Casa Grande, although for the first 15 miles, we leapfrogged with Tanja, Julie, Bruce, Harry, and Gene. After that, we ran off and on with Bruce, who saved us more than once from getting lost. We got lost 4 separate times - once we passed the Palisades aid station by bypassing the trailhead (we had to backtrack), we couldn't get a fix on the Butterfly trail at the start, we screwed up trying to find Sunset trail and had to backtrack, and then on the Aspen trail, my God, the trail just disappeared at some point. We would wander around a bit, and here would come Bruce! He wasn't feeling great that day, but sure was helpful out there.

David dealt with my complaining pretty well (I complained a little). He just kept on running - guess he figured I would to - I certainly didn't want to get lost again by myself! As always, he is a super great companion on the trail. He would carefully go through the sticker bushes; silly me, I just plowed through. I looked like someone hacked up my arms and legs. Always good to leave a little blood on the trail. :)

The finish is in the parking lot of the ski lift. How exciting to be done and come in hearing Bob B. shout "That's what I'm talking 'bout! Git 'er done!"

Thanks to Bob, MaryAlice and the other volunteers for setting up aid stations at Palisades and Butterfly trailheads. I did gels on the run (I had about 12-13?), but MaryAlice's turkey wraps (turkey breast, mayo? in a tortilla, cut up in bite sized chunks) were a hit at the aid stations. I have determined there is nothing like real food on a long run. They were GOOD.

Oh, and I saw a coatimundi in Sabino Canyon, of which I took pictures. But, I can't show them, because I lost my camera near the Palisades Ranger Station bathroom (15 miles into the journey). I've checked all the lost and found in the area; someone out there without a conscience is enjoying my pink digital camera. I just want the pictures, but, alas, I have to 'let it go'. I pretty much said I wouldn't be doing this run again (it was hard!) but since I don't have any pictures, I'll be doing it again...
I ran 42.5 miles for the week. Good thing I started to get my iron problem fixed last week. I do feel better and there is no way I could have finished today's event had I not started feeling better. And, I feel pretty good afterwards; nothing really bothering me, no real big aches and pains. I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life! Feels good.