Monday, December 26, 2011

Proposal Run 'Redux'

One year ago today, the day after Christmas, Dallas and I went on a 25 mile trail run. On that run, he asked me to marry him!

So, we decided to do the same run again to celebrate - Bear Canyon Loop and Sycamore trail. A friend of ours, Jim, just broke his hand in the creek in Bear Canyon - he slipped on a rock covered in ice. We've had below freezing overnight temps all week.

Therefore, we did the loop backwards, starting with Phoneline trail, to give the ice a chance to melt. We stopped in Sabino Basin - where he asked me to become his wife! He recreated the heart that he has always made when he goes through the basin.

Dallas - hopeless romantic

One lucky gal.

What a memory! Now, we are married a year later! I love being married to Dallas. It is everything I dreamed a marriage to be. :)
Sycamore Reservoir trail was a little hard as there is definitely some elevation gain/loss on this out and back. We also ran into some ice on the trail in various spots. We took Sycamore to Prison Camp and back, which adds on 7 miles.

It was fun doing the loop backwards from how we usually do it - we got a different view of Bear Canyon.

View of the switchbacks towards 7 Falls

At the end, instead of trying to navigate the 7 creek crossings by rock-hopping, we just waded through the water. One crossing was up to my thighs. It felt so good at the end of a warm run.

Total distance - 24.8 miles
Total elevation gain - 5,492 feet
Total time - 6:53

What a difference a year can make. I sadly lost my Mom suddenly in March and my beloved dog Cracker in May. Dallas and I married in May and became co-administrators for the Tucson Trail Runners, which we love so much. I was injured over the Summer with a ligament tear in my groin and didn't run for 4.5 months - it forced me to crosstrain and I completed my first 60 mile cycling race in November. I had struggles with work and with friends. I felt like giving up at times.

It was a year of joy and pain and I came through it all with renewed determination to keep on loving and keep on hoping. There really is no other choice.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

TTR Loma Alta/Quilter/Grass Shack

This was a new trail run for the Tucson Trail Runners; everyone who ran it today loved it. There were many variations; some ran shorter distances, and one person ran to Manning Camp (and encountered quite a bit of snow!) Dallas and I decided to run to Grass Shack Campground, via Loma Alta, Quilter and Manning Camp trails. Quilter trail is a newer section of the AZ trail that connects with the upper trails in the Rincons. Thank you Chase for coming up with this run!

1 spectacular sunrise...

21 miles of pretty runnable terrain. I got a lot of running in, which I really needed for my training.

Nice view of fog over the city.

3,796 feet of elevation gain. We did some climbing, that's for sure, but it didn't feel too hard.

Big kitty paw prints along the trail. Glad I was with Dallas!

Mike says mountain lions like pink...

1 fall with a bruised up knee.

Lots of large Saguaros in this area.

We crossed water several times. It had rained like crazy earlier in the week. It was supposed to rain the day before our run, but it didn't, and then the revised forecast indicated that we would be running in rain the whole time. Thankfully, that didn't happen either, and the rain held off until that afternoon when we were finished.

I was leading us on the way back down and I missed the turnoff to the Quilter trail (I was in a trail trance - dancing downhill on a rocky trail). We ended up running a bit towards the Madrona Ranger Station, which added on about a 1/2 mile. Dallas kept yelling at me until I stopped and turned around - he was a little behind me. We got back on track and it was all good. Finished in 5:05.

This run gave me the confidence I needed to continue my training for my two 50 mile races in the Spring. I got in a lot of running today - it is slow running, but running. Everything feels good. I am happy.

"I want you to be everything that is you, deep in the center of your being."

~ Confucius

Sunday, December 11, 2011

TTR Trail Work Day

The Tucson Trail Runners set aside one or two days a year for a Trail Work Day (TWD). As heavy users of trails, this is our opportunity to give back by putting in time to maintain or improve various trails surrounding the Tucson area.

Also, many of our members need to satisify trail work requirements in order to register for some 100 mile races.

For today's TWD, we worked out in the Rincon mountains, on a newly created AZ trail segment - the Quilter trail. This is a beautiful area.

We spotted a pretty unique multi-armed Saguaro cactus. Chris got this great shot.

About 11 TTRs showed up, as well as people from various other agencies. We broke into 3 groups, with each group hauling tools from the trailhead - pulaskis, McLeods, pickaxes and trimmers. Our group went the furthest, about 4 miles from the trailhead.

Chain Gang

We cleared brush, trimmed, built cairns, did some erosion control and a little trail grooming.

The Bohemoth Cairn!

I learned a lot! I primarily run on trails, and it was time to start understanding what went into creating and maintaining them.

Old Management-Ross-works while New Management stands around! :)

We were told that being trail runners gives us a great perspective on placing trail markers, etc.

We'll be running on these trails next week for the first time as a group, so it was exciting to get out there and check it out.

What a fun day. Giving back is so important! Just knowing that some of the things we did will be enjoyed by many people in the future makes me happy!

"The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit."

~Nelson Henderson

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Snow and Douglas Springs

TTR had a run planned to Cowhead Saddle in the Rincon mountains (18 miles RT). A storm came in for several days prior and dropped a lot of snow onto the mountains surrounding Tucson. My plan was to go to the saddle if the conditions weren't dangerous.

Snow topped Catalina Mountains in the distance

About 3 miles up, snow started appearing in the desert. About 6 miles up, ice was evident on the trail and the snow became heavier. I elected to turn around at Douglas Springs, which is about 6.75 miles up (13.5 miles RT). I didn't want to fall and injure something else, so I felt that was a good decision. Other TTRs fell that day.

It was beautiful, though. On the way down, the fog moved into the mountains from the city and gave the trail an eery feel.

I felt slow and discouraged. It took me 3:22. My legs were very sore this day - calves and shins tight as could be. I had used the roller quite a bit the day before, so maybe that was it. Returning to running has been hard, in that my fitness level definitely dropped. I need to start running mid-week. I haven't been doing that, since I was doing the bigger hikes recently. Also, my sore shins last week gave me the idea I shouldn't run all week. Those are feeling better, so I need to slowly increase my mileage.

I've been doing a lot of runs/hikes that have elevation gain - today was about 2,000 feet of climbing. Douglas Springs is hard as it starts climbing right off the bat, so the legs don't have time to warm up. At any rate, I'm getting in quality exercise - I just need to work on the running base and eventually, picking up the pace.

It is just so good being out on the trail.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Esperero and AZ Trail runs

Dallas and I ran/hiked Esperero Canyon on Thanksgiving. I elected to leave my camera at home, which I am sorry about, as Fall was in full swing on this run. Lots of golden/reddish leaves the whole way.

This is a 21 mile distance with an accumulated elevation gain of about 5,500 feet. It tops out at the 8 mile mark on Cathedral Rock trail at just under 7,000 feet, and is mostly downhill after that. So, most of the climbing is in this 8 mile section. It is steep going up and steep going down.

I said to Dallas on the steep downhill (which is loaded with loose scree), "This trail is dangerous and I'm never doing it again!" He just laughed. Esperero will make me swear. The runnable trails of West Fork and Sabino Canyon are a nice enough reward that you forget all about the pain by the time you return. We finished in 6:40, just in time to get showered and find our way to a friend's house for Thanksgiving dinner!

However, my quads were sore for about 5 days afterwards. I was favoring one leg in the 'braking' going downhill. One good slide coming down from topout could have you going off the edge, and I wanted to make sure that didn't happen!

Even with sore quads, we went out for the TTR run just 3 days later. It was an out and back 50k, but we were only going to do one way - 15 miles.

We got a ride with Harry to the 'out' point aid station and ran back to the start. We were happy about this, as it was freezing and the wind was really howling at the start - our original plan was to run out to Harry and get a ride back. When we started at the 'out' point, there was no wind and things warmed up nicely.

Much of this run is on the AZ Trail, which also happens to be part of the Old Pueblo 50 mile course. It is a little hilly - about 2,000 feet of elevation gain one way. It passes through Kentucky camp, the start of Old Pueblo.

It is a combo of nice single track trail and dirt roads. That's one of the reasons I like Old Pueblo - it has a little bit of everything and is very runnable.

Big 'D' - all recovered from his 100 miler

We were able to see all of our fellow runners coming towards us, which was great!

Took us about 3:40 - I did a considerable amount of hiking as the legs were still sore from Esperero. I'm still getting my running legs back - I can get a little tired running up hills, so I tend to hike all of the hills at this point.

Not bad - 3 separate run/hikes in 8 days. 18, 21 and 15 miles, with about 10,000 feet of elevation gain total. This was all right after El Tour, where I cycled 63 miles! My fitness is pretty good, the injury has healed and as Gene said, "You are back!"

I've been warned, though, to take it easy. I did overdo the mileage a bit, and although a lot of it was hiking, my shin was a little sore. I'll rest a bit the next week. I don't need another injury to sideline me.

I'm signing up for Pemberton 50k. It is very runnable, and getting in 31 running miles 3 weeks before Old Pueblo 50 miler would be perfect!

I'm back! It was a long road, but I had a lot of people supporting me and I was patient and persevered. I learned I had more in me than I thought. If I am willing, I can learn so much from the things in life which at first appear to insurmountable.

"Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain." 

~Author Unknown

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bear Canyon Loop

Ran Bear Canyon Loop (BCL) in Sabino Canyon with Dallas today. We did the all-trail version, going out on trails and returning on Phoneline trail. It was 17.8 miles.

I was so happy to be back running! I probably ran about 12 miles of it. It is about 3,000 feet elevation gain, so there is a bit of climbing - lots of hiking. My legs were a *little* sore from yesterday's 60 mile El Tour bicycle race, so I was slow.

Dallas felt pretty good until the end. He is still recovering from last week's 100 miler.

I've been feeling some tightness in my groin area where my torn ligament was. I was worried that I had returned to running too soon. It wasn't really pain, but a general stiffness/soreness. I really stretched yesterday, so the good news is that today I couldn't feel it at all. Patience with my injury has paid off. I probably have some lingering scar tissue that I may have to deal with.

When we got to the basin, Dallas recreated the 'heart'. This was the first time we have done BCL together since he asked me to marry him here on December 26th last year.

What a hopeless romantic ;)

BCL is so pretty. This was my 7th time doing it. I love trail running. And, I really love trail running with Dallas.

Well, I'm signed up for Old Pueblo 50 mile on 3/3/12 and Zane Grey 50 mile on 4/21/12. Time to get training!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

El Tour de Tucson 2011

The crescendo of a summer of running injury. I finished the 2011 El Tour de Tucson - 60 mile distance in 4:16:38. I came in 737 out of 1404 finishers.

I got to see Dallas about an hour into the race. His work location is right along the race course, so he came out to cheer me on. He made an awesome sign, gave me a big hug and kiss, and I was off again.

Happy to see Dallas!

The whole outfit
I got started again in a big lull, which was nice.

I did not have a fancy bike - just used my donated Gary Fisher hybrid (heavy dog!) and I did not have clipped-in shoes. I wore my New Balance Minimus shoes! I love my little bicycle, though. I just peddled my little legs off during this race!

I rode to the start of the race from our house and so my total mileage was actually 63 miles. I was way back from the start line (almost a whole block). It took my about 7 minutes to cross the start line. It is chip-timed, but only for the finish. The start is 'gun-time'. So, my Garmin read 4:10.

I paid attention so I didn't get in any bicycle wrecks and pretty much rode by myself most of the race. I did see my friend Troy, though! Dallas shot a picture of us together, as Troy came up on me not long before I ran into Dallas.

I'm on the far left and Troy is right next to me

Never thought I could ride a bike for 63 miles. I'm pretty impressed with myself, to say the least. :)

Maybe next year, I'll have a better bicycle, with the clipped-in shoes and the whole shebang. Then, I might consider doing the whole thing - 111 miles.

For now, though, it is back to the sport I really love - trail running!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Javelina Jundred - a jell of a party...

Dallas finished his first 100 mile race - Javelina Jundred. His finish time was 20:42 - 19th place!

Javelina is a 15.4 mile trail loop. 100 mile runners do 6 loops, and then a final 'cut-through' loop of 9 miles, for a total of 101.4 miles.

Dallas and Mike a few minutes before the start.

I volunteered at the Javelina Jeadquarters aid station from 7-3. This allowed me to see the action for runners every 15.4 miles (and be able to crew Dallas!)

Dallas coming in from lap 1
Dallas at Jackass Junction Aid Station on lap 3
Looking good before his 4th lap

After finishing my volunteer shift, I hooked up with Jeremy Dougherty from the Phoenix area to put out glow sticks on the course from 4-8pm.

We had a great time! Jeremy marked the shorter, 9 mile loop, and I marked the 15 mile loop. He was pacing someone and needed to get back for that duty. That meant that after mile 5, I would be on my own for the rest of the loop, which would be 10 miles. The great thing is that I got to see all of the Tucson runners out there - Dallas, Ken, Harry, and Jerry - as well as Catra 'Dirt Diva', Hal Koerner, and others.

Jeremy is a hoot to hang out with.

Posing with my glow sticks. Can't see 'em yet. :)

Jeremy and I ran into Dallas, who was starting to deteriorate a bit on his 4th loop (but still smiling!) I was a bit worried about him, but he had been running strong up to this point. So, I just hoped that Kristi and Mike would take good care of him at the Jeadquarters aid station between his 4th and 5th loop. I would still be putting glow sticks out during that time. Unfortunately, Mike dropped early on in the race from a pre-race injury, so he was there to help at the Jeadquarters aid station, which was great. Thanks Mike and Kristi!

Dallas on lap 4

I estimate that I ended up running about 11 of the 15 miles. It was so fun! It was dark after 6pm, so I ran in the dark by myself for several hours. I had my headlamp and also a 'knuckle light'. I borrowed it to see if I would like it and it was awesome! You can even hold a water bottle with it on your hand. It has a broad beam, so it doesn't 'bounce' around like a regular flashlight does.

There were several more aid stations, so I stopped and got a bite to eat and visited with people. I love the ultra atmosphere!

After getting back to Javelina Jeadquarters at about 8pm, I waited for Dallas to come in after lap 5. He was starting to feel a little tired, and was hoping for a pacer for lap 6. Some friends of ours were supposed to come up from Tucson, but that didn't happen. I told Dallas that this would be a hard loop - that he would be by himself and probably feel lonely and tired, but that when he came back in, I would be pacing him on his 7th and final lap. He steeled himself mentally, and headed out again.

I knew I didn't have much time to sleep, so I just decided to shower at the trailhead and pump myself full of caffeine. It started pouring down raining shortly into Dallas' 6th lap, but he didn't bring his rain gear. I was worried he would come in cold and soaking wet. However, when he arrived at Jeadquarters, he was feeling pretty good! We grabbed our shells and headed out at 12:30am for his final 9 miles in the downpour.

I was told that Dallas would be walking a lot by this point. Nope! He probably ran 8 of the final 9 miles. I had a hard time keeping up with him! He said I gave him energy. It was raining so hard! The trail had become a muddy slip and slide. Our shoes, caked with mud, became 10 pound weights! It finally quit raining about an hour into the 9 miles. Up to this point, I had only been using my knuckle light to see, which was fine, but it was nice to have my headlamp back on. My rain jacket hood had been covering it.

He was so excited to see the finish line, that he started picking up the pace. After crossing the finish line, we hugged and our friends congratulated him. He didn't realize that he finished 19th place until we got home to Tucson. What an accompishment - 100 freaking miles! Only 174 people finished the race out of 339 starters and Dallas was 19th. He really trained well - you can't fake that.

I ended up with about 19 miles of running out of 24 miles on the course. Much more running than I've been doing, but I felt so great!

We showered again, and got on the road to Tucson at 3:30am. I had not slept, and Dallas, Kristi and Mike were cashed out in the car. By the time we got to Casa Grande, it was apparent that I was close to involuntarily falling asleep at the wheel, so I pulled over in a dark shopping center and we all slept for over an hour. I woke refreshed, and me and Dallas rehashed the race all the way back to Tucson.

Dallas said his favorite part of the race was running with me the last 9 miles. It was raining hard, about 1:30am in the morning, and I was running behind him thinking, "This really is the life - running with my best friend as he accomplishes something not too many people are able to do."

The shining spirit that is Dallas and our wonderful friend Mike

Dallas said that finishing that 100 miler was the 2nd best thing he has ever done; marrying me was the first. :)

The Super Stevens Couple