Ruby-Horsethief and Westwater Canyon River Trip

Last week we celebrated our state holiday with a four day river trip on the Colorado. I had only been rafting once before – right after a conference in Snowmass, CO when I was amazingly hungover and new to the world of camping and groovers.

1584-1

Pooping on the river is interesting……

We had been storing our friends raft in our garage for a couple of years and we were hoping they would let us tag along on one of their trips. Our friend worked as a river guide and has made the trip down the whitewater Westwater section over 20 times – so we were in safe hands.

On Thursday we left early for a four hour drive to Loma, CO, where are trip was due to start. It’s amazing how much stuff you can fit into a raft – a giant cooler, two giant dry boxes + camping stuff, clothes, chairs, beer and other essentials for 3 nights in the great outdoors.

14577977539_403535fbbd_o

We only had about 1.5 hours of floating – but it went by really quickly with such pretty views.

14764623145_a1a95a5106_o

14764621735_d0d359682f_o

14578159597_cb4aeaa1dd_o

We set up camp and had some steak and shrimp for dinner (fancy!). In the middle of the night we were woken by the most insane thunderstorm – it seemed like the whole sky was ablaze with lightening and the thunder roared. It was scary and awesome. We also got rained on – in July and in the desert.

Friday and Saturday were spent floating on the river. Lots of eating and river beers. Plus some beautiful views.

14764618585_1243021e06_o

14577920960_b2976f949b_o

We saw some big horn sheep. And a bald eagle. And a ton of herons.

14761443631_9316e01c65_o

14577979648_66b4c9cd17_o

14741596166_41980a0eaf_o

Friday night camp was at Blackrocks. Some really cool rock formations and a nice swimming spot.

14578149307_3eabb47650_o

14761437791_751d35fbea_o

Saturday was our final float day – and we saw some classic Utah red rock walls and a demon face.

14578146277_3ba11dca59_o

14762247714_14c120c865_o

We camped just a little upstream of the rapid part of our trip – Westwater Canyon. You need a permit to travel down this section and it’s limited to about 70 people per day. It’s a pretty narrow canyon and you need to know what you are doing to get down without flipping your boat. Luckily we had an expert rower and made it down without any dips in the river.

14761424161_3622c52bc5_o 14764271512_3d365fb1d5_o 14762243354_03cac76eea_o 14741599746_fb6e5a2687_o 14784470233_42c78ded80_o

I think there were 12 different rapids – and we got soaking wet but it was so much fun. I think I laughed my way through each one. It took us about 10 mins to travel 2 miles (versus about 40 mins on the floater days).

We made it to the Cisco pullout at lunchtime on Sunday and were back in Salt Lake (via In and Out) by 630 PM. What a great trip!

And major thanks to Irene for being smart enough to bring a camera and waterproof case to document our trip.

Weekly recap!

I’m back and survived four days on the Colorado river. I am putting together a post on this awesome trip but here’s a teaser photo (taken by irenejean). And yes – it really was this pretty and so much fun.

14577985068_0280a58286_o

Last week was week #8 of my marathon training. I moved things around so that it would be a cutback week. I figured I wouldn’t get any running done on the river – so no long run. Instead I added some miles to my midweek runs. And it was actually pretty nice to take a mini vacation from marathon training. My next cutback week coincides with the Hood to Coast Relay and I’m psyched about that already (both visiting Oregon and running the race).

Monday: Strength training

Tuesday: 5.3 miles at 8.57 min/mile pace

Wednesday: 8.15 miles at 8.16 min/mile pace

Thursday: 5.4 miles at 8.50 min/mile pace

Tuesdays have become my easy run day – a way to get my legs moving after hard weekends. This run on Wednesday was my longest midweek run ever and it went pretty well. I’ve been running these at a decent pace – starting slow and building up to some sub-8 min miles. Usually I am ready to be DONE by the end.

I didn’t have time to hit the trails on Thursday – we were leaving for Colorado at 8.30 AM, so I decided to run some of the hills near my house. I live in a pretty hilly area (earthquake faultline!?!) so it’s easy to do hill repeats. Each hill is a little over a quarter mile and about 100 ft in elevation gain. Seven repeats for a little over 700 ft elevation gain.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were filled with spent floating on the river, eating, drinking, swimming and hitting some white water.

Now back to my regularly scheduled training plan and trying to figure out how it’s possible to put on 5lbs in 4 days.

Hills

Everyone should live in Utah!

Well – at least for this week! Thursday is Pioneer Day here in the Beehive state, which is our state holiday to celebrate the first pioneers (duh!) to settle here. It is a big deal – way bigger than July 4th. And also the perfect time to visit one of our neighboring states for a mini vacation. So, on Thursday we are heading with four of our friends for a four day river trip to float/camp/white-water raft down the Colorado river. I am beyond excited to go.

canoe-colorado-river525eef8764ae6.image

We’re lucky to have met so many cool friends in Utah that have let us tag along on so many cool adventures – rock climbing, canyoneering. Things I never in a million years thought I’d be doing…….mainly because I’m a big ol’ scaredy cat.

This also means that I will not be able to run at all for four days! OMG – how will I cope? Well – I’ve already scheduled this week as a cut back week and will be getting three good runs in (adding one mile to each scheduled distance) before we head away. As much as I want to do well in this marathon – sometimes life gets its awesomeness in the way.

This decision was made a lot easier by the great training week I had last week (week 7/18 for Twin Cities).

Mon: Yoga

Tues: 4.3 miles at 9.11 min/mile pace

Wed: 7 miles at 8.14 min/mile pace + yoga

Thurs: 4.6 mile at 9.50 min/mile trail run

Fri: Rest

Sat: 6.2 miles at 7.31 min/mile pace

Sun: 16 miles at 8.50 min/mile pace

Total mileage: 38.1 miles and my longest mileage week ever.

A couple of things stood out for me this week. I did a fast run on Saturday (tire out those legs) at a moderate-hard pace. A couple of miles were at 7.20 pace. I remember training for my half marathon back in April and doing some 1.5-2 mile tempo runs and really struggling to hold this pace. So being able to do it for 10K was pretty special. And my time for this run was pretty much my 10K PR!

Sunday was long run day and the first time I’ve ever attempted to run 16 miles in one go. J has a race in Park City in a couple of weeks and wanted to run some of the course. I decided to join him and run on the Rail Trail which is a pretty flat* trail that leaves right nearby where he would be running. The morning was perfect – 60 F and overcast. And this time I remembered to fuel before I started my run. I skipped out on this last week which probably contribute to the yuckiness that was that run.

The trail was half paved/half dirt road with a slight downhill for the first half (about 400 ft loss in elevation that I would have to run back up on the second half). It ran mostly through farmland with a couple of gates you had to open (and close) on the way. I did notice some dried cow pats on the trail but no cows. That is – until I was at about mile 11 and came across a cow feeding two calves right on the middle of the trail. With nobody around and in the middle of a field with a pissed off looking cow I was a little freaked out. So I slowed to a walk and ducked down off the trail to creep past the cow and hoping it wouldn’t charge. I made it through that animal encounter only to come across a bunch of geese a couple of miles later. Same approach – slow down and try not to get attacked. And just to add to the adventure – I saw a snake at about mile 16. I do not like snakes. But I survived.

More importantly – my muscles and knee were pretty OK. And I wasn’t tired later on. I was wearing my trail shoes though, which I think are a half size to small so I had a couple of feet issues. And that is a first for me. By Monday everything seemed back to normal. So I was pretty pleased with myself.

We also spent most of Saturday in the mountains – this time at Snowbird Ski Resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon. This was the venue for the Speedgoat 50K ultra race – basically running up and down (and up and down) some pretty steep and technical trails. We had our camp chairs and hung out to watch some amazing athletes finish.

IMG_0958 IMG_0959

The winning man finished in 5.12 hrs and seriously looked like he was out for a casual jog. Amazing! We saw the first 20 guys finish and stayed til we saw the winning women (at about 6.30 – these ladies looked strong).

On Saturday night we watched the Grand Budapest Hotel (quirky and fun) and J made the best burgers ever – beef burgers made with Cremini mushrooms and topped with a fried egg, arugula and an amazing – ketchup/mustard sauce. He needs to cook more often.

IMG_0962

Tonight we are celebrating with a friend who just completed her MBA. Then tomorrow I just have to focus on making it through my workday and packing for a trip. On Thursday with hit the water!

How do you celebrate your state/national holiday? Who’s coming to Utah on their next vacation?

When is a 10K not a 10K?

When it’s a 6.7 mile run! Sorry – no smart runner jokes here.

Saturday was the Park City Trail Series 10K held at the trail system in Round Valley. After my horrible 5K race (going out too fast, feeling like crap at the end), I decided to be more sensible about this race.  Keep a steady pace. Don’t push too hard (long run on Sunday). And enjoy it all the way through.

I started out the day with some sensible pre-race fueling (missed that out for the 5K) – wholewheat toast with Trader Joe’s Cookie butter. J was running this race (he came 6th overall), so we headed up to Park City a little before 7 and arrived in plenty of time to pick up our bibs, use the restroom and do a quick warm-up. The weather was perfect – high 50s and sunny. Right before the race started it was announced we’d get to run some bonus mileage. Whatever. I figured most of my races are a little over the listed distance. In fact, last year this race was 6.1 miles according to my Garmin.

8AM rolled around and we were off. The first part of the course was identical to the 5K but with added hills. I decided to go out at what I would describe as a mildly uncomfortable pace. I knew I could push harder but had to remind myself that I needed to run 14(!) miles the next morning and that was enough to reign me in.

I also knew that there was a pretty burly hill in the second half of the race. It was broken up by some switchbacks but was about 200ft of climbing in one go.

  1. 7.42 min/mil  87 ft up/11 ft down
  2. 8.25 min/mile 163 ft up
  3. 8.00 min/mile 111 ft down
  4. 8.11 min/mil 85 ft up/77 ft down
  5. 8.43 min/mile 125 ft up/25 ft down
  6. 7.26 min/mile 111 ft down
  7. 7.37 min/mile 124 ft down

Total: 6.7 miles – 54.01  – 8.03 min/mile – elevation gain/loss

So I guess I have a new 6.7 mile PR! Woohoo!

I actually really enjoyed this race. My focus was on keeping a consistent effort (pace varied with the hills) but I felt good at the finish. I felt I could have pushed harder but that’s not what this race was about. I’ve been trying hard to keep consistent pacing in my workouts. I feel that this is something you have to learn. Ideally, I would like to be able to accurately judge my pace by my effort, so I don’t have to obsessively look at my Garmin every two minutes.

We waited around for the awards. J placed second in his age group and won a really cool water/and or wine holder for backpacking/traveling. I didn’t place – 4th in my age group and 10th woman overall. But I did snag a matching water bottle in the raffle.

We also got some free race photos.

10488149_10152546787137184_4778050396385245107_n

Downhills! And a little bit of muscle definition. FYI the guy behind me passed me out a little after this but then had to stop to puke at the top of the final hill. I think I saw him do the exact same thing in the 5K.

10403237_10152546787057184_8003818302520888321_n

This is me just about to pass out my 18 year old neighbor. Salt Lake City is such a small place that if you go to any event you will invariably bump into someone you know.

I checked the online results when I got home and was surprised to see that I had been bumped up a place in the overall standings and in my age group. I emailed the race organizer as I was planning on volunteering for the 15K next month and found out that a guy had run using his wife’s bib and had been DQed! So another placing – 3rd in my age group!

The rest of the day was spent running errands and catching up with my parents over Skype to wish my Dad a happy 60th birthday. And a fusion yoga class – an hour long class half core work and half restore. Perfect.

Sunday was long run day. And it was epic for me. My longest run ever both in distance (14 miles) and time (a little over two hours). And my first 2 Gu run. I’ve approached my marathon training with the idea that long runs should be done on tired legs so that you train for the latter portion of the race.

I’m not going to lie, this was hard. It started out OK but by mile 9 I was starting to feel the effects of the race and the heat (it had just hit 80F by the end and I was running in the sun). I had to bargain myself into finishing the final mile. And when I was finished I was the sweatiest I had ever been in my entire life. I stood in the kitchen gulping down chocolate milk, two pints of water and some Nuun while a puddle of sweat pooled at my feet. It was pretty gross.

But afterwards I felt OK. No major pain  – just a little muscle tiredness. And my pace was pretty consistent throughout – about 8.50 min/mile average. Although, I think I’ll try and slow it down a little in the future. I know that you should run your long runs slower than your goal race pace but how much slower should that be? 30s-60s-90s per mile?

Sunday turned into baking day. I finally made a pie with the bag of cherries we got in our CSA. I think I’ve finally figured out how to make a good pie – I’ve had a couple of disasters.

IMG_0954

Then cornbread for dinner and chocolate chip scones for breakfast.

 IMG_0955

And boy was I glad that Monday was a rest day. 33.15 miles for the week.

 

 

Review, preview and blogging disaster

Finally it’s Friday! This week has dragged along. I blame you – fun-filled three day weekend. And it was a struggle to get going but I made it through all of my prescribed (by Dr Hal) workouts.

Mon: Yoga

Tuesday: 3.9 mile at 8.57 min/mile pace

Wednesday: 5.55 mile progression-ish run 8:17/8:19/8:02/7.23/7.26  + half mile cool down + evening yoga

Thursday: 3 mile trail run at 9.48 min/mile pace + 300 ft elevation

Friday: Rest!

This week has been pretty easy because tomorrow I am racing! It’s the second race (a 10K) in the Park City Trail series. And it’s the first race where I have a time to beat. Gulp. I ran this race in 49.38 last year and really enjoyed it. This year, who knows? I feel like I’m a stronger runner and I’ve been logging a lot more trail miles this summer so we’ll see. I’d like to go faster but I have my first ever 14 mile long run scheduled for Sunday morning so we’ll see. No pressure, ha!

I was talking about times with my trail running buddy yesterday (she’s really a mountain biker at heart) and she mentioned how runners get too caught up with our PRs. Every race is different. The weather, how you are feeling on that day, who you’re racing against. Sure, I like to give my all when I race but I don’t want to beat myself up if I run slower than I’d like. Perspective is important.

And the disaster – my iPhone charger has died. Maybe someday Apple will make a charger that lasts as long as the phone/MacBook/iPod. I don’t know if I’m really unlucky or really incompetent but every charger I’ve ever gotten from those guys has been amazingly crappy. Off to Amazon/eBay I go.

Have a great weekend!

Great Basin National Park

Hope everyone had a great weekend! I’ve finally caught up with everything after our camping trip. Although, it did end with an unexpected trip to Costco to get our tire patched after discovering a flat in the middle-of-nowhere Nevada. Lucky, J was a boy scout and had an air compressor in the car that saved the day. Bonus: Costco pizza for dinner.

This weekend we were at Great Basin National Park in Nevada – one of the least visited National Parks in the US. We left a little after lunchtime on Thursday, and arrived in time to grab a site in the fourth (!) camp are we tried.

IMG_0875

IMG_0879

View from camp.

Great Basin is known for its great star-gazing, so after dinner we headed to a Ranger talk and some telescope viewing. It was super cool (but I am a science nerd). We saw craters on the moon, Mars, Saturn and a couple of galaxies. Plus, I finally figure out what the Big Dipper looks like, and we saw the Milky Way.

On Friday we had reservations for a 9AM tour of the Lehman Caves. You can only visit these caves as part of a ranger-guided tours and they are super cool (literally – it was 50 F down there).

IMG_0904

IMG_0912

IMG_0907

IMG_0905

In the afternoon, we drove the scenic road up to the base of Wheeler Peak (second highest peak in Nevada). We hiked a loop to a couple of alpine lakes, and then up to a glacier (yes – in Nevada!) followed by a bristlecone pine area which had trees over 3000 years old. Perfect weather and great hiking (about 1500 ft total over 6 miles).

IMG_0919

Lake number one.

IMG_0929

IMG_0925

Lake number two. That peak in the middle of the photo is Wheeler Peak – and our destination for Saturday morning.

IMG_0933

IMG_0931

IMG_0934

We even had to hike across a couple of feet of snow.

When we car camp we always bring our Dutch ovens. Dinner on the bottom – roast chicken and vegetables – and dessert on top – brownies.

IMG_0946

I also decided that I’ll have to comeback in winter to bring this home as our Christmas tree.

IMG_0945

Saturday was an early (5.15 AM) start. We wanted to hike up Wheeler Peak (13077 ft) and the weather forecast called for late morning thunderstorms. We began hiking a little after 6.40 AM and made it to the top by 8.45 AM. 2900 ft in a little over four miles. The last 1.5 miles were tough – small, steep and rocky switchbacks. The view from the top was pretty cool.

IMG_0949

IMG_0952 IMG_0953

They even had a little walled area on the summit for protection from the wind. And a mailbox where you could sign in.

We celebrated our hike (a little over 4.5 hours total) with some ice cream and a campfire nap (for me). Later in the afternoon I did a short (3.65 mile) run around our camp to figure out our Sunday morning trail run. Man, it was so hilly – 674 ft elevation change. But afterwards I got to try out our latest purchase ($10 on Amazon) and totally amazing.

IMG_0939

The next morning, J and I decided to go on a trail run. After our hike up Wheeler Peak and my run around camp this was not the smartest idea I’ve ever had. I managed to run the first mile (in 13.45 mins) and then it got seriously hard. I wanted to stop and had to have a serious talk with myself to keep going. My legs felt the heaviest they’ve ever been. The first 3.5 miles gained 1900 ft, and I had to walk for a lot of miles 2 and 3 (average pace 17-18 minutes). But I kept thinking to myself – this is probably how I’ll feel at the end of my marathon so it’s good to get the practice in now. Ha!

We finally reached the top (following along Baker Creek), and emerged into some beautiful (and flat) meadows. We saw three people at the very start but basically had the woods to ourselves. Then the downhill began – and it was steep. But running in this park (after finishing with all the climbing) was exhilarating! 6.35 miles in a little under 90 minutes. My slowest run ever but one of my favorites. And I managed to remain upright for the whole run (with only three close calls).

We got back to camp and rinsed off with our camp shower before packing up and discovering our flat tire. But we made it back to SLC in one piece except for our burnt out quads!

Anyone else encounter snow this weekend? Hardest hike/trail run you’ve ever done?

Happy 4th of July!

I know I’m a little early. But in one hour’s time I will be leaving work for a much needed camping trip. And a three day weekend!

220px-Stella_Lake_Great_Basin

I plan on hiking to some mountains and lakes. And hopefully getting some trail running in too.

lehmancavesweb

And visiting these awesome caves. Apparently, there’s more to Nevada than Las Vegas.

I do have to mention that after 4.5 years in Utah I finally had my first snake encounter. I met my friend A for an early morning trail run near our work. We had literally been running for 30 seconds when I saw a snake on the left side of the trail. I immediately shrieked and freaked out but A was totally calm and started running right past it. So I followed – and that was it. No rattle. No biting. No attack. And luckily for me no more snakes on the trail.

And what a beast of a trail. I’m currently training for my October marathon but have a couple of trail races in between. Plus mixing it up is key for me to keep my running fun. But 813 ft of elevation change over 5 miles – with 434 ft in mile two. Great workout – 9.49 min/mile pace – and no pain.

Now I’m ready for camping and beer.

Have a great 4th of July holiday!