Thursday, October 30, 2014

Canyon de Chelly

White House Ruins
Last long run done and we were off for the vacation part of our trip. We'd wanted to travel to this National Monument in northeastern Arizona last year but the long government shut down changed our plans.

Road Trip! It's a 3-4 hour drive from Albuquerque and I'm not sure it's any closer to any other larger city. This area is remote. K and I took turns driving and made numerous stops to other National areas to break up the drive. It was nice not to be in any hurry

Canyon de Chelly is entirely within the Navajo Nation and as such has very strict rules for access.  This felt right to me as there is a lot of nasty history in this area. Like in Ireland, it seemed like seemingly distant history was very much recent and a reminder. It was good to respect that.

Hiking down to canyon floor on White House Ruins Trail
We were there for two nights. Chinle, the small town adjacent to the attraction, is very small with limited tourist accommodations. Restaurants are limited too. We made do and stayed at the very clean but older lodge within the national monument which has an attached cafeteria. It made for easy access and it was nice to be off of the busy main road of the town. 

We drove the South Rim the first evening we were in and were dazzled by the canyon. The next morning, K and I went for a short easy run just on the main highway. There are no sidewalks but there is enough of a shoulder and drivers are well accustomed to foot activity it seemed. They gave us a wide berth. WE headed right off to the White House Ruin Trail which is the only trail tourists can access on their own.

Spectacular! It was a relatively easy hike down to the canyon floor and then back up. Yes, this is at altitude but we had perfect weather. It was sunny towards the end but not too hot. We made plenty of stops for photos and just marveled at it all.  The only other way to access the canyon is to hire a local guide for a jeep tour. And we did that in the afternoon.

Actually it makes perfect sense. There is no road into the canyon. Jeeps drive in on the canyon floor which at certain times of the year is a river and unpassable! The sand is deep and it was fun to be in the 4 wheel drive vehicle. JJ, our guide, had grown up in the canyon and had a lot on interesting observations and stories.  This was well worth it. Since we'd already hiked to the White House Ruin, he took us farther up into the Canyon del Muerto. It was beautiful, quiet and evocative. No airplanes or any other noises besides the wind in the trees and the occasional animal noise.
Mummy Cave Ruins

K and I had one last shorter am run and headed off to drive the north rim. We saw the most spectacular ruins perched on the canyon wall. HOW did they do that? How did they live there?

I'd love to go back.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Duke City Revisted

I needed one last long run with a chunk of miles at goal marathon pace. I could've gotten up very early before our flight to get this in. It would've been dark and possibly cold, by myself and a route I've been running a lot (too much). Instead, I was able to sign up for the Duke City Half Marathon. I'd last attempted the marathon in Albuquerque but a combo of altitude, heat and who knows what else meant I bailed at 14 miles.

This time I was set for whatever race day. If I ended up just running the half at an easy long run pace, that was going to be ok. In fact it was better than ok because I really did not want to push hard during my taper for the marathon in 3 weeks. K's parents live just a couple miles from the race start so I got up a bit early, had breakfast and cruised over to the start. I had just enough time to find a bathroom (indoor!) and drop my warm up shirt and gloves and line up.

It was perfect weather at 50 degrees and no wind. Of course it was going to be brilliantly sunny so i knew it would start to feel warm by the time i finished in a couple hours. I opted not to carry any water and was happy to see that out on course the race had replaced those itty bitty cups they'd had two years ago with regular sized water cups.

I'd lined up a fair bit back but soon i was right on the pace i wanted which was no faster than 9:30 for the first three miles (I'd run just over 2 miles slower over to the race start).  Then I sped up.

These races (5k, 10k, half and full marathon) did not sell out. Each race had a separate start time which was good. AS it was it was almost too crowded on the course in the half. It's a narrow paved pathway that the course gets onto after 2 miles on roads. Once I sped up to marathon pace, I was continually passing people and once the people ahead of me reached the turn around and headed back on this out and back course, I really had to monitor staying tucked in and not interfering with other runners.

It did give me something to focus on but this time marathon pace was enjoyable. The miles ticked off quickly. I walked through water stops but had no problems getting back on pace. The last two miles I just ran easily back to the finish. Done and I was happy to be under 2 hours too.

What a difference! I had a fabulous time running this race and was very pleased this worked out so well. They had a Blake Lottaburger breakfast burrito truck parked at the finish. I had come prepared hopeful that i could get my desired breakfast burrito. I came away with a fabulous bacon, egg and hashbrown burrito with green chile sauce. yes, this is New Mexico!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

And we are off...

One last sort of longish run (15 miles) and we are off on a short trip/vacation to visit K's parents. We'll be headed off for a couple day excursion in the SW too. I can't wait! We left Seattle on a wet albeit warm day. Here in Albuquerque it was a very warm feeling 70 and super sunny.

One last long run will be done as part of the Duke City Half Marathon. Why not? I'll keep it easy and enjoy the scenery. we went off to packet pick up directly after landing. I'm rather annoyed that packet pick up is not possible the morning of the race and they'd run out of small sized race shirts as I'd requested. Oh well. It's a smaller but very nicely done race and I'm looking forward to running somewhere different.

Oh and I've already been scouting out breakfast burrito (read: green chile) possibilities for after race noshing.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

It all works out - Fall City Half Marathon

Snoqualmie Valley in the morning.
It's amazing what being a smart athlete can do! One week later even with full training, my foot feels so much better. A week ago I couldn't bear the thought of a long road run but with the next marathon looming in three weeks, I knew this was the weekend to get it done.  

I'd even had a course picked out for a year.  Last year, I raced the Fall City 10k but my original plan had been to race the half marathon distance. I woke with a mild cold the day before the race and pulled back my goals. I knew I'd wanted to come back to the event so a few days after last year's event, i signed up for the half marathon with a very good early registration price.

Fast forward a year and i'm in the middle of marathon training. yes, a half marathon will work as long as I actually run at a long run pace. But then we also got the good news that K's brother was getting married. It was a pretty quickly planned wedding for various reasons.  The wedding day after much schedule figuring with various friends and family members was going to the be the same day as the race.  Training is as training is. Gotta get it in.  

K was also signed up for the half and was also treating it as a long run. He cheerfully put up with my dragging us out there extra early so I could add on 5 miles before the race. I got back to the start with about 10 minutes to go which was enough time to jog around some more and find the super secret portapotty all to myself and say hello to some other friends running and we were off!

My only goal was to run the first few miles at no faster than 9:30 pace. I'd walk through water stops and just enjoy myself and I did. It's a great course with so much to look at.  The photo above was taken when i was out on course running the early 5 miles. There are flower and veggie farms, mini goats, mini horses, cows and many loud frogs. At various times i saw flocks of geese, possibly cranes and maybe some ravens. 

the course is overall as flat as you get here for races in this area and instead of being a straight road has enough turns to keep it interesting.  At the turn around I picked up the pace a bit and had fun picking off runners one by one all the way back to the finish. I'd not planned on it but the last mile even with the one short (sort of nasty) hill, I got below marathon pace. Oops.  I was feeling good.  I finished, picked up my medal and went right back out for a very slow and sloggy 2 more miles.  

20.4 miles done at a solid long run pace overall. 

We left quickly and got home to eat, shower and I took a bit of a nap. Then we were off to the wedding. It was a lovely sweet ceremony and it was a lot of fun.  I can have my training and some cake too! 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Reminder: you ran a marathon

My foot has been bugging me this week. I thought it was the dreaded plantar fascitis but actually it was worse. It's bursitis in the heel. Why worse? The body has numerous bursae throughout the body. It's not something which you can massage or stretch. The only thing to do it give relative rest, keep the area pain free and do things like ice.  The problem? It doesn't hurt while running but it bothers me later in the day once I've been walking around and standing at work.  
What to do? I'm one month from the goal race. Wait a minute! I ran a marathon two weeks ago. I couple days off isn't going to interrupt training. So I got in a couple good workouts monday and tuesday and then took two days off from running. I did bike on teh trainer for a short bit and I did one day of anti-inflammatory.  Actually, I'm really wimpy with that. I take one 200 mg tablet of ibuprofen every 5 hours for half a day and call it good. That's enough. I hate the stuff. 
And I was more careful at work and stayed in my running shoes when I could. I did realize that my work shoes are many years old so I have a new pair now to try.  Two days later, my foot was feeling better and I wanted to try a long run.

the thought of a long run on pavement made me wince though. the foot would not enjoy that and neither would I.  So as a treat I took a day off from work and went and ran out at my new favorite trail system, Paradise Valley Conservation Area.  I hit every trail but only a couple short ones twice and got my 2 hour and 45 minutes long run in. The foot was just getting a bit tired towards the end but then everything was tired! 
A lot of this trail system has some features specifically for mountain bikes. It made me nervous even walking along some of the boardwalks. I liked that it was well signed. I also liked that it makes for an easy stop at a favorite fruit stand where I loaded up with apples, pears and sweet potatoes.  Fingers crossed that the foot continues to feel better.