Grand Canyon R2R2R Part Deux Recap: Day 1

It’s different when you sorta know what to expect. It’d been two years since I last did the double crossing and I remembered the exhaustion and soreness that awaited me. I’m feeling it right now.

But seeing the Grand Canyon never gets old. And like a lot of things that hurt, you forget, and you consider doing them again.

So here I was…

We arrived Saturday afternoon with our running friends and had an early dinner. It would be a 3:45 wake up for a 4:30 start time so we wanted to get a good night’s sleep. Friday night I had slept horribly but it worked in my favor because I was able to sleep early Saturday night and feel refreshed at 3:45 in the morning, lol!

On the bus, ready to go!

On the bus, ready to go!

The only reason I was back was because of my husband. He had never been to the Grand Canyon ever, like me the first time I did the crossing. I was just so excited to share this experience with him and it was what motivated me the entire way.

The start line

The start line

The plan was to take Day 1 slowly and take as many pictures as we could. We were on our own, with a few friends not too far behind and not too far ahead.

The sunrise was our view as we began.

Grand Canyon sunrise

Grand Canyon sunrise

At the top, ready to descend..

At the top, ready to descend..

The descent was very, very windy. And cold. I wasn’t comfortable taking pictures up so high and it being so windy, so it wasn’t until we reached a wide landing area that we began taking pictures.

 

 

We could see some of our friends down below

We could see some of our friends down below

Going down, we kept stopping to look at the views. It was just amazing. We took our time, soaking it all in.

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We just kept saying how pictures couldn’t really show what we saw. The landscape looked like a photo backdrop, too perfect to be real.

Going down...

Going down…

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Can you see me?

Heading towards that bridge below

Heading towards that bridge below

Canyon blooms

Canyon blooms

The tunnel leading to...

The tunnel leading to…

...the bridge! :)

…the bridge! 🙂

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From the South Rim, you get to Phantom Ranch (the bottom) pretty quickly and we actually did pretty good timing considering we stopped to take a ton of pictures, getting there in a little over 4 hours.

Phantom Ranch

Phantom Ranch

At Phantom Ranch, I pulled out post cards I had pre-addressed. You can get them mailed from the bottom of the Grand Canyon and they stamp it saying that’s where it came from! Last time, I had everything ready but forgot the stamps 😦 This time, oops, I did it again, but luckily one of my buddies had extras, lol!

We didn’t hang out long. We had our obligatory lemonade, ate some beef jerky, and continued on.

After Phantom Ranch is a long open stretch without any rest stops and you’re a lot more exposed to the sun.

13288505_10106285957777121_443726599_oThat stretch between Phantom Ranch and the next stop, Cottonwood, is about 7 miles but before that, you can go off course to visit Ribbon Falls–a waterfall hidden along the way. It adds about a mile to your total but is a definite must see.

Pit stop at Ribbon Falls

Pit stop at Ribbon Falls

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at Ribbon Falls. I’m actually behind the water…

Front view

Front view

I knew that the next stop meant that the climbing would start. I also remembered that the first day going up was absolutely brutal. You know how they say the marathon starts at mile 20? This was that point. The marathon would be starting. Here at Cottonwood, we were at 4,040 ft and to the top meant a 4,000+ ft climb. You read that right.

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A little break before the climb <3

A little break before the climb ❤

At the bottom, ready to climb.

We’re ready!

Surprisingly, I was doing okay. I was moving pretty swiftly considering this was the hardest part of the day. I remembered how miserable I felt the last time I was in the very same spot, how slow I moved, and how little I enjoyed it. This time, I think again because I was with my husband, I just embraced it. Everything. The pain, the aches, the struggle, and took it as part of the journey and what made what we were doing so special.

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My husband complimented my pace; he was letting me lead, but was right behind me. Pictures here were scarce, and we spoke little, but we talked about how there’s not really a way you could adequately prepare for this. When you train on the trails, you start by going up and then finish coming back down. This was the exact opposite.

We reached a spot where I had taken my last photo of the first day (the photo that’s at the top of my blog page) and we did a take two.

Looking back at what we crossed: The Grand Canyon.

Looking back at what we crossed: The Grand Canyon.

And like last time, that was the last picture of the day.

From there we had a mile left. A mile, and while that sounded promising, I knew that the last mile was the most difficult. But, I surged ahead. Using my poles and moving up and up and up, surprised at how steady I was. I felt so strong.

When we turned the last corner and could see the top, I smiled. Last time I had cried, happy tears but at the same time, tears of frustration at how awful I felt. This time, no tears, just a triumphant smile that I had finished the first day feeling absolutely amazing.

And unlike two years earlier, I had zero doubts that I would cross again the next day.

I’ll be recapping Day 2, North Rim to South Rim via Bright Angel Trail here in the next few days. Thank you all so much again for following my journey. I’m so grateful I have this outlet to share my experiences and document special moments of my life. ❤ , helly

 

 

 

Next “Race”: Sinister Night Trail Run

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, or not a lot, that I have a race coming up. I use the term race loosely though, as I don’t really “race” trail races. The trail game is strong here in Arizona; I think the trail game is strong everywhere, lol! Those runners are a different breed! So I don’t go in with any expectations other than to have fun running where I love to the most, out in the middle of nowhere.

I love road running, too. But I think it’s easier to get bogged down by the numbers. Out on the trails, I always absentmindedly turn on my watch, mostly out of habit than anything else. Because out there, time doesn’t matter.

The cacti, the dirt, the purple mountains, the breeze, the wild—all of that matters. They don’t care about how fast you’re going.

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On the road, everyone seems preoccupied by numbers. The cars zooming to their destination over the speed limit, the stoplight and its countdown blinking how long I have before I can cross, the people on their phones distracting themselves , tapping their steering wheel impatiently. And me, looking down at my watch, how long have I been running, how far have I gone…

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Anyway, I’m looking forward to my race on Saturday. It’s a 27k out in the mountains closest to where I live, so it’s not too far, and it’s trails I’m familiar with. It’s at night with a start time of 7:30.

Here’s the course elevation (I learned from my first one to look at those things, lol):

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It’s a 3 loop course of the 9k–I kinda like that because that means I’ll pass through the start, and the crowds, a few times. I have a ton of friends doing this race and I know that it’s just going to be a blast 🙂

More after the race!!

–Do you like trail running/racing?

–Have you done a night race before? How’d you like it? (I’ve done 3– two trail and one road one in Canada!)

 

 

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 9 (and Mt. Humphreys!) Recap

Well hello there halfway mark of marathon training!!

For such a momentous point, my running this past week was pretty underwhelming.

7 miles.

Yup, that’s all I ran.

Before I begin, I want to announce the winner of the Slick Laces giveaway….CONGRATS

Tricia Vaughn @MissSippiPiddlin.com

I’ll be sending you an e-mail soon to discuss details!! A big thank you to Slick Laces and all who entered 😀

And back to my training recap:

On Monday, I spent 30 minutes on the bike.
On Tuesday I ran 4 miles and on Wednesday I ran 3.
And that’s pretty much it for running, ja!

It was actually pretty funny that the only two days I ran were these particular two:

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Heat warning, shmeat warning

Tuesday I met up with a few friends in the evening and while the group usually does a 3 miler, I added an extra one. It was definitely hot (108 degrees at the 6 p.m. start) so I took it nice and easy.

Wednesday I was back at track for some more Yasso fun. I don’t know why I like doing these so much lol!

It was another 108 degrees at the start but somehow despite the heat, I was able to pull off 6 solid 800s.

4:00, 3:56, 3:53, 3:58, 3:58, 3:54

#eyeofthetiger

#eyeofthetiger

Thursday was the first day back at work for teacher meetings and right after, it was pick up kids and head straight to dinner/play date. No running. It happens.

Friday was another work day and right after my husband and I loaded our truck and headed up north for our Mt. Humphreys hike the next day 😀

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Road Trip!!!

It was a considerable weather difference in Flagstaff compared to Phoenix. So much so, that I was very, very glad I’d brought my jacket. It was raining like crazy and all we kept hoping for was that it would stop when we started the next morning.

It did.

We got going at 6 in the morning starting at 9,000 feet. You begin the climb right away and it was pretty much straight up for the next almost 5 miles.

It was sooo cold!!! I was triple layered with a running shirt, pullover sweater, and a jacket (that jacket saved me!) and I even had gloves on! My hands were freezing and were getting badly swollen the higher I climbed. One girl in our group didn’t make it all the way up because she was freaking out about her hands.

It was also extremely foggy so we didn’t get any views as we climbed. That kinda bummed us out but we were glad we were still able to do it and weren’t rained out.

Hello, fog!

Hello, fog!

There wasn’t a whole lotta picture taking climbing up as we were concentrating on getting to the summit. The trail is well marked but it gets a little dicey the closer you get to the top. We reached one last flat spot with one last climb ahead and we knew we’d done it. We were finally at the top, 3,000+ feet and 3 and a half hours later.

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Humphreys Peak 12,633 ft.

We didn’t hang out long at the top; it was so cold and windy. Plus, there were no views as we were pretty much in the clouds.

So we headed back down and as we descended, there were areas where the fog cleared up enough for us to see some landscape.

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Even though going down was in some ways easier than going up, it still took us a while. We kept thinking we were further than we were only to be told by those going up that we were still a ways from the start.

The closer we got, the clearer the skies got and we told those beginning their trek that they’d fair better with the views than we did lol! It was all good though. In a way, it was kinda cool to have hiked it with fog all around us.

When we finally reached the plains at the bottom, we were so happy! It had been a long hike at a little over 6 hours. We had stopped along the way to eat (I packed jerky, an orange, cereal bars, and some twizzlers) but I was ready for a burger and a Coke.

Done!!

Done!!

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Even though we hadn’t gotten the amazing views Mt. Humphreys has to offer, it was still an incredible experience and adventure and I’m stoked I can cross it off my list. I can officially say I’ve been to the highest point possible in our state 😀

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And that was my week! Pretty uneventful running wise (7 miles) but hella awesome hiking (10 miles). <— Totally counted that as my long run, lol!

–Do you know what the highest peak in your state/province/area?

–Are you afraid of heights? Hiking your thing?

Have a great week, amigos! Back to school/work I go! ❤ , helly