Sunday, November 16, 2014

Run With Endurance

Meet my friend Kate.  
Oh, you've never heard me talk about Kate before?  
Well, that's because I met her on the trail.  
After running/walking 13.1 miles together, we're besties now.  

The morning started cold.  Real cold.  My toes were actually numb in my running shoes.  
Before the racers lined up, the announcer told us about how she ran this trail 8 years ago.
And fell.  60 feet.  And shattered her pelvis.  And spent 2 sub-freezing nights alone.
"Stay focused", "follow the orange ribbons", "be careful" they told us.  
We would soon find out why. 

Here is a topo of the trail.  Notice the first 4 miles are uphill with a gain of about 1,000 feet.  
Notice also the sheer drop from mile 8.5 to 9.5.  We'll look at that later.

What they don't tell you is, the first four miles (uphill) are in sand. Sand!  
From this pic, you can see that we had just come up the canyon.  It was still cold in the shade. 

At about 0.5 miles, we could hear the sound of a flute.  A Native American flute.
Turns out, it was Kokopelli, the figure you see on petroglyphs in the Southwest.  
Kokopelli is thought to be the god of fertilization.  Legend holds it that if a woman hears
Kokopelli's flute, she is to run, lest she become pregnant.  "Run!" the flute was telling us. 

Look at the tops of those canyon walls.  Soon we would be running atop them. 

This pic shows the trail coming out of the canyon, onto the top of the mesa.  
It was at about this point that the trail became very rocky, full of boulders.  
We had to scramble over some boulders five feet tall.  

We came around a corner and spotted this beauty.  

After we summitted the Saddle, the trail was relatively flat, but still sandy.

Around another corner and we spot these beauties.  

Soon after we left the arches, we came to the edge of the canyon.  Look down.  
Do you see a "trail" on the right side?  Yeah, that's a road.  

Yeah, yeah.  It's a marathon.  We should have been running.  
But with views like this, how can you NOT stop to take pics?!

The trail ran so close to the edge.  It was easy to see how our announcer had slipped and fallen.
From here, we started our steep decline.  
From here to the road, it was pretty much jumping down from boulders.

Some of the boulders were so big, there were volunteers on hand to help us make it safely.  
Speaking of volunteers, they were the best!  
As you could see from the pics, the trail was pretty remote.
Some volunteers had to travel to their aid station the night before and camp out in order to be ready for us by race time.  Thank you volunteers!

And here's the road.  Really?  Uphill at mile 10?  
We really didn't think this through, did we?

After we crested the road, we turned off and entered the river. 
Yes, I just said "river".  We were told the river would be knee-deep.
Um yeah.  The water was up to my rear end!
And cold.  And it lasted for one entire mile.
Did I mention it was cold?  
Kate and I yelped every time it got deeper. 
Once again, my toes were frozen.

Going Home!
Disclaimer: NOT our pic!
Unfortunately, the race photographer is taking FOREVER publishing the pics.
I would love to show you a pic of Kate and I as we crossed the finish line, 
holding hands high above our heads.

Janine and I at the Finish Line Party.  What fun!  
Good food.  Live band.  Smiles all around.  
Can't wait to do it all over again.

where Glory meets my suffering