30 Days of Running – Day 7…

This morning my foot was killing me!  This is a bunch of crap, it’s SO sore.

Best thing for it?  A run…sure, why not!

I have to get the run in right?  So let’s do this thing.  We picked a route that dropped down the road from the hotel to the lake, then along the lake for a bit before curving back up the hill and across the border in to Nevada.  The hill was rough, especially at about 6,500 ft, but Merelyn and I busted it out.

It was actually a pretty nice run once I got used to running with the pain in my foot.  Ouch.

Morning run at lake Tahoe...

Today’s Run…

Left the hotel at 8:24 AM.

Weather was a nice, chilly 40 degrees.  Ran on pavement.

Total run was 3.05 miles in 33 minutes.  Felt good and finished strong, despite the fighting the thin air.

I really want my foot to stop hurting!  Stupid foot!

Followed the run with a nice protein shake.

30 Days of Running – Day 6…

Day six was a very busy day!  Saturday was spent all day traveling to Tahoe.  By the time we made it up to South Lake, we were both exhausted and I really wanted to spend a night getting used to the elevation change.  So instead of going for a late run, we decided to walk to dinner.  It wasn’t a run, but it was something…

South Lake Tahoe

Today’s Run…

Left the hotel at 7:30PM.

The weather in Tahoe last night was AMAZING!  Nice, clear, cool, slight breeze…perfect.  Walk (mostly) on pavement.

Total run was 4.2 miles.

My left foot is a mess since I got here.  I don’t know what is going on with it this time, but it really sore.  The walk helped.

30 Days of Running – Day 5…

Today’s run started late and I was a little worried about the heat, but it turned out to be pretty nice.  After the shorter run yesterday, my legs and feet felt great and the run finally felt easier.  I kept an easy pace that didn’t feel too sluggish, my breathing was pretty controlled and it didn’t feel like a struggle.

At about 20 minutes in I decided to push a little harder and up the pace some.  Still not breaking any records, but my time is improving.

Neighborhood Running on pavement

Today’s Run…

Left the house at 8:40AM.

Weather was a sunny 78 degrees with a clear sky.  Ran on pavement.

Total run was 3.25 miles in 29 minutes 45 seconds.  Felt good and finished strong.

I’ve still got some random twitchy thing going on in left leg above the ankle.  The bottoms of both feet are sore and tender too, but I am chalking that up to the trail run.

Followed the run with a dip in the pool and a protein shake with banana and peanut butter.

30 Days of Running – Day 4…

I treated today as a rest day.  I was still feeling the effects from the trail run in my ankles this morning and felt like I could benefit from something a little different.  So I did a much shorter run today and focused on trying to open up a little bit and run faster.  I think this proves I still have a long way to go to get back even to where I was before Summer.

Pavement Running...

Today’s Run…

Left the house at 7:50AM.

Weather was a sunny 77 degrees with a clear sky.  Ran on pavement.

Total run was 1.5 miles in 12 minutes 30 seconds.  Felt slow at first but I finished strong.

Left ankle and foot are sore but muscles feel good.  I’ve got some weird twitchiness the tendons just above the ankle joint, not sure what to do with that.

Followed the run with a cup of coffee and water.

30 Days of Running – Day 3…

When my buddy sent me a message last night asking if I was up for a hike/trail run in the morning I was excited at the opportunity to get off the pavement!  I prefer trail running over pavement running any day of the week.

I got up earlier than usual to make sure we could hit the trail before 7AM.  The weather was amazing this morning and the trail wasn’t very crowded at all.  I strapped on the GeigerRig 500 and we hit the trail.

View from the summit of Thunderbird Mountain

Today’s Run…

Left the house at 6:30AM and was on the trail by 7AM exactly.

Weather was a nice 74 degrees with a clear sky.  Ran/hiked Thunderbird Mountain trail.

Total trail was 3.6 miles and we probably ran close to 3 miles of it.  Total time on the trail was 51 minutes.

Run was slow, but felt good.  My legs were not as sore or tired as I expected them to be.  My left ankle felt weak but I’m sure that’s due to running pavement and will improve with more trail running.

Followed the run with a protein shake with peanut butter and banana.

30 Days of Running – Day 2…

I did not feel like running this morning. I was still sore from yesterday’s run. Even when I was running pretty regularly, it wasn’t every day so I am not used to this yet.  But I GOT THE RUN IN.

Today’s run

Left the house at 7:20AM

Weather was a sunny 77 degrees with a clear sky.  Ran on pavement.

I ran 3.25 miles in 31.5 minutes.

Ran slow, sore and slow.  Feeling soreness in my hips and groin from yesterday’s run.  Slight muscle pain in left glute.

Followed the run with a quick dip in the pool (awesome!), and a protein shake with banana.

Humphrey’s Peak Hike…

Kachina peaks Wilderness - Inner Basin

A Little History…

Written in the Summit Journal found at Humphrey’s Peak:

As Sacred Peaks for the Hopi, Navajo, Hualapai, Yavapai, Zuni, Southern Paiute, Acoma and five Apache tribes; the Peaks are named by the Native Americans as: Nuva’tuk-iya-ovi (Place of High Snows) {Hopi}; Dook’o’oslid (Shining on Top) or Diichili Dzil (Abalone Shell Mountain {Navajo}.  These Peaks mark the southwestern-most boundary of the Dineta’s homeland.

The San Francisco Peaks were so names for the Patron Saint St. Francis of Assisi, by Spanish Franciscan Friars during their missionary work with the Native Americans in 1629.

Humphrey’s Peak was named in the mid-1880’s for Brigadier General Andrew Atkinson Humphreys who, during the Civil War, interpreted the survey information of the area which was collected by various previous expeditions.  He most likely never say the San Francisco Peaks.

Brig. General Humphreys had been part of the Ives Expedition as a civil engineer and Captain.  He entered the Civil War as a Major in 1861 and as of 1866 had been promoted to Brigadier General and Chief of Engineers.

Before joining the Powell expedition to survey the Rockies in 1874, American Geologist Grove Karl Gilbert (G.K. Gilbert) was the first geologist to join the famous George M. Wheeler Geographical Survey (Wheeler Survey) of the US west of the 100th meridian (1871).  During his work with Wheeler, Gilbert named Humphrey’s Peak after the civil war general.

Humphrey's Peak

Personal Background…

I’ve always wanted to hike Humphrey’s Peak.  Probably since my first glimpse of it’s impressive silhouette on a drive to visit Grand Canyon in the late 90’s.  It’s always been there, nagging at me, taunting me…but I’d never really thought seriously about hiking the Peak until this year.  As soon as I started thinking about it, I knew I needed to do it.  Especially when I started talking with Matt Mills (@ThePeakSeeker) about hiking Humphrey’s back in June.

I live at about 1,100 ft and, unlike Matt, I don’t get up above 10,000 ft very often.  As the highest point in Arizona at 12, 633 ft, I figured it would be  good idea to see what my body feels like at higher elevation before attempting the big one.  A few months back, I had the opportunity to hike Kendrick Peak (11,418 ft).  I camped at the base of the mountain and hiked Kendrick the next morning with absolutely no issues so I felt confident I would do fine on Humphrey’s.  I knew the trick would be to spend the night at the higher elevations in Flagstaff so I would have time to adjust.

I missed my opportunity in June, then again missed my opportunity in July.  It was very much looking like I was going to miss August as well.  I just couldn’t find the time to be able to spend the night in Flagstaff and hike the next day.  So I decided to chance it and do the hike without the overnight stay.  So I took a day off work, mid-week, got up very early and headed north determined to summit Humphrey’s Peak.

 The Trail…

Humprey's Peak TrailThe trailhead for the summit trail is at a large parking lot just below Snowbowl.  The starts out crossing a sloped, grassy meadow sprinkled with late season wildflowers.  I imagine it would be quite a sight in Spring.  It’s a nice easy walk under the ski lifts and toward the forest.  Even before entering the tree line, you have to start watching your step as the trail is creased and crossed with hard, slick roots.  In late Summer it rains almost every day on the Kachina Peaks, the high mountain gathers clouds and creates it’s own unpredictable weather.  Even in August one could expect anything from sunshine, to rain, to snow and hail.  I got lucky and it was a perfect day  but the ground (i.e. rocks, roots, etc) were still wet and slick from the previous afternoon showers.

Not long into the forest you cross the Kachina Wilderness Boundary and the trail begins the long switchbacks to the tree line.  The terrain changes several times making for a fun and interesting hike.  The rocky slope of the extinct volcano is exposed here and there where the mountainside has either slid away or proven to inhospitable for the forest to take root.

I kept up a pretty good pace through the switchbacks, elated at hiking in 75 degree weather in August.  I wanted to get to the summit quickly.  I had been told earlier, before I’d even reached the trail, that most hikers would be on their way back down already.  I was risking getting caught in a hell of an afternoon storm at the summit if I didn’t get this done quickly.  I wasn’t as much worried about weather as I was just excited to be finally hiking this trail.

Humprey's Peak TrailBefore I knew it, I had reached a sign post marking the edge of the protected area.  Everything above 11,400 ft is restricted.

It was right about this time I started to feel it.  My breath was getting harder to catch, my lungs just wouldn’t fill up and started getting this nagging headache.  The elevation was starting to announce itself.  I was now passing the height I’d seen at Kendrick and in to territory I hadn’t seen since hiking in the Andes.

What’s worse, I knew that I was not conditioned for this hike.  Not only had I spent most of the previous 3 weeks behind my desk working, but I had not spent the night at elevation.  This would be the first time I’ve gone from 1,000 ft above sea level to over 12,000 ft in less than a few hours without a plane.

As I cleared the tree line and made my way to the saddle, I got my first view of the Inner Basin.  The hike, to this point, was worth it just for that view alone.  I stopped at the saddle for a while, resting, trying to let my head adjust to the thin air.  I stripped my pack off and sat on the rocky ground gazing out over the wild canyon below.  The Kachina Peaks form a sort of “U” shape with the open top of the “U” roughly facing north.  Inside is the Inner Basin, a beautiful verdant slope fed by the near constant runoff from the rains at the peaks.  The view across the Inner Basin is made all that more amazing on clearer days as you can see Grand Canyon in the distance.

Kachina peaks Wilderness - Inner Basin

I could have sat at this spot all afternoon, and considered doing just that.  But just as I was talking myself in to a warm cup of hot chocolate or coffee, distant thunder and gathering clouds reminded me that I was on a time limit.  I gathered myself up and strapped on my pack ready determined to make the final push to the summit.

Humphrey’s is one of those summits with a sick sense of humor.  As I’m slowly crawling my way through the rocky trail, swimming through the haze that’s clouding my mind, thinking I’m nearly there the mountain reveals it’s cruel joke.  I had been warned, but with the elevation getting to me I had forgotten about the false summits.  At least twice I was tricked in to thinking I was near the summit when a new, higher, further summit appeared.  The real summit, once I saw it seemed very distant to me.  Without trees or some other context, it’s hard to tell distance on this terrain and my mind was already having problems.  If it were not for a couple and their dog just coming off the summit, I would never have been able to gauge the distance.  When I saw them, I knew the summit was very close and bolstered with renewed energy I quickly hiked the rest of the way to the top.

Kachina peaks Wilderness - From the summitAt the top there is a small rock wall built up, presumably to allow people to shelter from the sometimes vicious winds that tear at the peak.  There was also a small wooden bench, situated near the edge overlooking the inner basin.  I poked around the summit, dug through the ammo can holding all the souvenirs and mementos from other hikers.  The summit journal had plenty of entries in it and I quickly added my own.

With the thunder still threatening in the distance and a light rain starting to drizzle, I didn’t spend too much time at the top.  I couldn’t shake the effects of the elevation and I was anxious to get back down where my head would start working again.

The return hike started out pleasant enough, and I was happy to start feeling the fog lift from my mind.  I knew I had made a mistake by not spending the night at higher elevation before the hike.  I’ve never felt the effects of elevation the way I did on this hike, but it was a good experience and a good lesson.  Something I don’t intend to repeat if possible.

By the time I reached the truck at the bottom my feet were destroyed.  The hike down had really done a number on me and I could barely walk.  I actually ran the last mile or so of the trail because the mechanics of running were less painful than walking.  My feet really need more strength and conditioning work, especially if I’m going to try to keep up with Barefoot Jake this Winter.

All in all, this was a beautiful hike and reaching the summit via the main trail just made me want to come back and explore the rest of the trails through the Kachina Peaks Wilderness.  There are several trails that lead in and out of the Inner Basin and I would love to spend some time on those in the near future.  Who’s with me?

 

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Trail Photos…

30 Days of Running – Day 1…

Thanks to some of the new treatment I’ve been getting from the Body Tune-up Shop here in Scottsdale I am feeling good enough to start running again.  Dave has done amazing things in a just a few short sessions to make me feel stronger, lighter and pain free.  The type of work that he does is all about restoring the body’s natural alignment, core strength and postural correction.  The difference is pretty impressive.

So, with my body feeling better and the weather getting much nicer out here in the desert, I want to renew my running routine.  I’ve been reading a new book called Running the Edge by Tim Catalano and Olympic runner Adam Goucher.  Even though I’ve been super busy I’ve been voraciously reading this book every chance I get and it has me excited about running again.

I plan to run every day for the next 30 days and log each day here, like a running journal.  By the end of 30 days I hope I will have developed a running habit and will either create another challenge for myself or just keep running because I want to.  But these 30 days I will try to get back in to running and will make getting the run in a priority.  They won’t be long runs, and I’m sure they won’t be fast runs (not yet) but I will get something in every day.

That said, I am getting married and going on my honeymoon next month so, I will have to be flexible and adjust as needed.  But the intent is there…run every day.

If anyone wants to share any tips, advice or encouragement….comment below!

Today’s run

Left the house at 7:10AM

Weather was a beautiful 75 degrees with a cloudy sky.  Ran on pavement.

I ran (if you could call it that) 3.25 miles in 31 minutes.

The run felt slow and awkward since I haven’t run much all summer.  I am also not a huge fan of running early in the morning but this morning was nice and I wanted to get it in.

Followed the run with a quick dip in the pool (felt great), and a protein shake with banana.

Heading to Costa Rica…

Nothing like the last minute…

 

Merelyn and I have been talking about what we want to do for our honeymoon for a long time.  We started out talking about Costa Rica but looked at many other options including Hawaii, Mexico and parts local.  We both have had so many things going on with work, finances, living situations, etc. that, for a while there, it looked like we weren’t going to get a honeymoon at all.

Finally, with much anxiety and great determination we decided to make it happen.

So, next month after our wedding in Lake Tahoe, will will be happily heading south to beautiful Costa Rica for a week at the Hilton Papagayo Hotel in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

Hilton Papagayo Hotel

from the Hilton Papagayo Hotel Website…

We are both very excited about this trip.  Neither of us has been to Costa Rica before and we are looking forward to getting to see as much of it as possible from our little bungalow on Bahia Culebra.  Looking over the activities offers everything from hiking the Arenal Volcano, Jungle Canopy Tours, Zip-lines, Kayaking, sailing and fishing, whitewater rafting and so much more.  We can’t wait to get there and explore and take TONS of photos.

Hilton Papagayo Hotel

from the Hilton Papagayo Hotel Website…

I’ve already found hints of pre-Columbian ruins near the hotel that I would love to check out.  The hotel has jogging and hiking trails and there are tons of activities to keep us busy even if we never left the property.

I’ve always been in love with the thought of going to Costa Rica, and nearly moved there several years ago.  I think this is an appropriate place to take my new bride to celebrate our new life together.  I would like to thank both of our parents for their help and support in pulling the wedding together, and financially helping us so we could be in a position to make this amazing honeymoon happen.

Hilton Papagayo Hotel

from the Hilton Papagayo Hotel Website…

If you’ve ever been to Costa Rica I would love to hear suggestions or ideas of things we should check out.  We will be on the Pacific side near Guanacaste.  And if you happen to know someone in the area, I love to meet locals who can get us off the beaten path and show us some of the real gems of the area.

The Infamous Tarantula Story…

Like all great stories, this tale has been told countless times and never the same way twice.  In true storyteller fashion, I wrote this as close as I could to how I would tell the story in person.

This story takes place in a bathroom…proceed with caution…

 

In September of 1998 my dad and I visited Peru.  After a couple weeks in South America, we managed to land a great room in a small, family owned bed-and-breakfast-style place in Cuzco.  It was one of the cleanest places we’d stayed in and the owners were the nicest people you could ever meet.

Our second day in Cuzco we took a bus out to one of the many spectacular Inca ruin sites surrounding the city and spent the day hiking, shopping in local markets and taking endless photographs.  We returned to the hotel tired and sunburned.

My dad retired to the porch to browse through our guidebook and scope out possibilities for dinner and I dropped my gear on the bed and went straight to the bathroom (it had been a long day of eating strange and unusual food).  I closed and locked the door behind me, walked across the bathroom, dropped my drawers and sat down.

I was not afforded more than a few seconds of peace before I caught movement out of the corner of my eye in the direction of the door.  My gaze shifted toward the movement and my pulse immediately doubled.  Any attempt at relaxation was now out of the question.

A gigantic, reddish-brown, hairy, 8-legged intruder was IN MY BATHROOM…and he was looking at me.  Now, for someone who can get a little stage fright when I know two eyes are watching me, this guy and his 8 beady little eyes made me crazy nervous.  I sat there frozen, pants around my ankles, with a spider larger than my fist fixated on me.

It really is amazing when in a situation like this, the brain starts working in over time.  I recalled all the information I had ever learned about tarantulas: they can jump distances up to six feet (about the length of an average bathroom!), the hairs that cover their bodies can have irritating toxins in them (nice little defense mechanism), the smaller brown ones are usually the more aggressive varieties (this, especially, I recalled), and they will usually leave you alone if you leave them alone.

This last one was important.  “You stay there, and I’ll stay here and finish my business and we don’t have to have a problem…”

THEN IT MOVED.

Tarantulas can move amazingly fast (especially the highly aggressive, brown, man-eating, attack tarantulas).  It was a slight movement, maybe a foot or so, but there were two very important and worrisome facts about its movement: it was unexpected, and it was in my direction.

This effectively ended any business I was attempting.  I was now focused on my 8-legged problem.

I considered calling out for help, briefly, but with the door locked and my dad out of earshot, that was a ridiculous and short-lived notion.  I still had distance on my side and held out hope that my visitor didn’t want to be any closer to me than I wanted to be to him (or her, more than likely).

IT MOVED AGAIN.

The creepiness of a spider’s movement is lost in observing smaller spiders.  When the spider is tiny and scurries across a rock, or up a tree it’s just a spider.  Watching the large spiders move, especially when they move fast, is unnerving.  It’s a very alien form of locomotion and, well, it creeps me out.  I’ve never really been afraid of spiders, but I’m not a big fan…especially of the super-aggressive, brown, poisonous, flying Peruvian spiders.

It’s really close.  If it moves again it will be within arms reach.  I’m now very concerned about my exit strategy.  I can’t get very far, very fast with my pants around my ankles and my foe is sitting (aggressively) between me and sweet freedom.  Maybe it’s not my foe?  Maybe it wants to be friends?  Maybe it just needs some attention, like a puppy?  I’m in a small, locked room with my pants down…I am not looking to make friends.

IT FUCKING MOVED AGAIN!

CODE RED.  I need a plan.  This clearly aggressive, deadly, man-eating beast is hell bent on killing me…I’m sure of it.  It’s now WELL within arms reach, which also means it’s close enough to leap at me at any second.  I can easily picture it’s eight gangly, hairy, outstretch legs as it is flying through the air, fangs dripping with paralyzing toxin.  I nervously look around the bathroom for a weapon, tools, a shield, an escape hatch, an eject button….anything.

On the sink, just outside of my reach is a glass.  SALVATION.  It’s not a large glass, it’s a typical bathroom glass you’d find in most any hotel bathroom.  I look at the glass with the same incredulity that David must have had when he looked at his pebble before slinging it at Goliath.  I can use the glass to trap the beast, I just have to put the glass over it.  As I grab the glass and hold it I think, “really?  That’s your plan?  What if it moves?  What if you miss?”

The next time it moved I didn’t even have a chance to see it.  I grabbed the glass and when I looked back down I almost jumped off the toilet.  This crazy bastard was inches from my crumpled pants and I swear I could hear it growling at me (I admit this might have been my imagination).

I had to act fast.

I positioned the ridiculously tiny glass over the massive spider.  I slowly and nervously lowered the glass until I was as close as I could get.  My guest was getting wise to my plan, he took an aggressive stance, feet up in the air, ready for the fight.

I slammed the glass down.

The insanely wild, spastic, explosion of energy that followed was enough to rattle the glass in my hand.  Once the wild dance was over, I was still reluctant to remove my hand from the glass…confident that the monster I had imprisoned would easily toss his glass cage aside and seek revenge.  I slid the glass as far away from me as possible to give me room to get up without risk of tipping the glass and unleashing an angry demon of a spider.

New problem.  Now that I have a spider-in-a-glass, what am I going to do with it?

I quickly found some postcards we had bought and decided I could slide the postcard under the glass and transport my prisoner to a more desirable location.  Sliding the postcard under the glass sparked another energetic frenzy from my reluctant inmate.

“Hey Dad, look what I found!”  My dad’s eyes grew wide once he realized what I had in my hands, followed by some selective swearing.  Out on the patio, several stories above a small garden, we decided the best course of action was to release the beast.  I positioned the glass beyond the rail and with one swift motion I flung the spider away.

Later that day, I had a conversation with the owner of the house about the incident.  Explaining, in my broken Spanish, the ordeal with the “Araña grande” using my open hand to express it’s size.  I was promptly, and urgently asked if I had killed it.  When I told the anxious proprietor I had not, I was definitively informed that I should have.

I got little sleep for the rest of my stay there waiting for my nemesis to hunt me down and exact it’s evil revenge.

tarantula