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.


Joyce said...

That's a tough run - congrats! Bummer about the camera though.

RunningTroysLife said...

That is a great run. NICE!
I've wanted to do that run for a while.

Anonymous said...

Hi Renee--I am 42 and live in Chandler and I just started trail running and I love it. Have been doing 6-10 mile runs at South Mountain. I went to grad school at the U of A and would love to try some runs in Tucson sometime soon. Maybe we will meet sometime. In the meantime, thanks very much for your blog, which is both enjoyable and educational from my persepective.

I will keep checking once a week or so.