Relaxation!

I’ve finally embraced ‘the rest’. We had a wonderful weekend camping in Zion National Park. We arrived pretty late on Friday night and woke up to this view from camp. A bunch of wedding guests had arranged to camp at one of the group sites in the park. So fun! And probably the first time I’ve ever brought make-up and a fancy dress on a camping trip. We had breakfast and then caught the shuttle to the Lodge for the ceremony.

Camp!

Camp!

Camp!

Camp!

The wedding itself took place outside the lodge. It was a beautiful day – sunny and in the 80s. And what an amazing backdrop.

Wedding venue!

Wedding venue!

Ceremony under the cottonwood.

Ceremony under the cottonwood.

We got to hang out at the lodge for the afternoon before heading back to camp for the after party. What a way to celebrate the wedding of two amazing people.

On Sunday morning we enjoyed brunch before meandering back to SLC. And then it was early to bed – partying is hard work!

But I managed to rest for the entire weekend – absolutely no workouts. No running or hiking (which was so difficult – southern Utah is so perfect for exploring). Total rest. And I’m feeling great. I did a quick swim workout (30 mins) on Monday after work. And then Tuesday – more rest.

I think sometimes I freak out if I take a day off. As if not working out will land me back at square one fitness-wise. All those months of hard work will be negated by skipping the gym for one day. By the way – I know that this is crazy. You can’t get fit in one day and you certainly can’t lose fitness by taking a little time off. I guess it takes me a while to give myself ‘permission’ to take some time off. I love the feeling after any kind of exercise – endorphins please! – and it’s hard for me to dial it back.

But I think this year has helped my to gain some perspective.  Previously I would have pushed through – ignoring any pains, hoping they’ll go away on their own, coming back from injury too quickly. All of those mistakes that keep you injured for longer. What I’ve learned in the past year is that it is a million times better to catch running injuries early and give yourself time to heal properly. Rushing back too soon will end badly. Last year I had sciatica and once I was healed “enough” I got straight back into it…………….and promptly got bursitis in both hips. Total time off = 12 weeks!

So I plan on doing another short swim workout out tomorrow and maybe Thursday. And even though my foot feels 100% normal I’m going to continue with my rest from running. It’s taken a while but I feel like I’m finally doing it right.

 

It’s the weekend!

Friday! Woohoo! I get to leave work a little early today so J and I can head down south. One of our very good friends is getting married this weekend. And being a super-awesome bride – she has chosen to get married at Zion National Park, which is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. Here’s some pictures of our visit there in fall 2010.

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Again – I’m reminded how lucky I am to live in Utah where I can drive 4 hours and be in this place! Plus what’s better than a weekend of camping and partying with your best friends!

This week has been run-free and totally great. My foot (which wasn’t that sore to begin with) hasn’t been bothering me but I’m still determined to take another week off before my slowly returning to running. I also have been sleeping in til 7 AM every morning. I think I’ll wait until Daylight Savings ends before going back to my 6 AM workouts.

But I have been staying active. I’ve biked into work three days this week. I was meant to do it again today but had major chain issues -> bike fail. It’s only a little over 3.5 miles but it is literally uphill the whole way and takes about 35 mins. But coming home is totally free-wheeling and a ton of fun. I’ve also hit the pool twice. The U has a pool that’s open for lane swimming every weeknight from 6-10 PM and it’s pretty quiet. My short term goal (I’m following a 6 week program) is to be able to swim 1 whole mile without stopping. I also did a quick strength workout (no yoga until my foot is back to normal) including my longest plank ever – 3 1/2 minutes – this was made a little easier because Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off kept me company. Damn – that is one catchy song!

Finally, I’m happy to announce that I’ve managed to complete one of my goals for the year! At some point during my marathon I managed to tick off 1000 miles for the year. I’m hoping in a week I can get back out there and add a couple more!

Happy weekend!

Returning to normal………….

The post-marathon PR glow has finally subsided and things are getting back to normal around here.

I finally got to a yoga class. So many lunges and downward facing dogs – my legs were loving it. My calf tightness is gone. Yes! Lesson for me: do not stop doing yoga when training for a marathon – your calves will thank you.

Love my yoga studio. Not quite sure why he's standing on a baby though.

Love my yoga studio. Not quite sure why he’s standing on a baby though.

This class also worked on half-moon pose which is my absolute least favorite yoga pose ever. But the teacher made it seem pretty fun – that or I was just so excited to be back on my yoga mat.

If only I looked this good.

If only I looked this good.

I also did a one night camping trip in American Fork Canyon. The fall colors up there are spectacular. And you’re just going to have to take my word for it as my iPhone is acting all weird at the moment.

This is pretty much what it looks like right now.

This is pretty much what it looks like right now. Not my photo.

I also managed to put up my tent all by myself – which I think means that I am now an adult. Usually, I just hold things while J does all of the hard work. It was a pretty great Saturday night hanging out by the campfire. But my God – during the night there was heavy rain, howling winds, thunder, lightening and hail. I did not sleep much – I was too worried the tent would fly away and carry me to Oz.  It was still raining by 7.30 AM (camping mornings are always early) so we packed up as quickly as possible. This meant more driving through beautiful autumnal scenery followed by the most amazing brunch at Sundance Resort.

On Saturday morning I headed out on my first ‘long’ run since the marathon. This was 8.85 miles of not-fun running. I wanted to some mileage in because I will be running a half marathon on Nov 1st – thank you kind race folk for letting me defer after last years injury combo (sciatica and hip bursitis).

So my carb loading continues………………..

Local brewery. Utah has weird liquor laws so they opened a place in Denver.

Local brewery. Utah has weird liquor laws so they opened a place in Denver.

Kale and mushroom-stuffed lasagne rolls.

Kale and mushroom-stuffed lasagne rolls.

I am beyond obsessed with skinnytaste (that is where this recipe is from) and just got her new cookbook as a gift. I am so excited to try out some recipes this weekend.

Am I am still waiting for my new shoes! UPS messed up the delivery last week so I am hoping to get to try them soon.

Finally, I got some marathon photos (at Twin Cities you also get a link to a video showing you cross the finish line). There are a couple of cute ones of J and I running earlier in the race but the finish line seemed to be a little crowded as we were crossing.

Smiling and looking for the camera (for once). I think this might have been mile 14?

Smiling and looking for the camera (for once). I think this might have been mile 14?

Crossing the finish line - and so relieved to be done.

Crossing the finish line – and so relieved to be done.

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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.

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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).

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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).

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Lake number one.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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!

Check-in and check-up

Can you believe that I’m a quarter way through my marathon training plan? 4.5 weeks done. And so far so good. Although it looks like sh*t is going to get real in the next couple of weeks.

Saturday started with a 6 mile pace run. What I learned from this is that I am a terrible judge of my own pace and that I can’t math. Somehow I figured my first mile was 8.15 (I was aiming for around 8-8.05 min/mile) (Spoiler: my first mile was actually 7.12 min) so I decided I needed to pick up the pace a little for the next two miles (7.35 and 7.27). That’s when I figured I needed to slow the hell down. My last three miles were at a more reasonable pace (7.46, 7.53 and 8.06). D’oh! I definitely need to work on even splits. Overall 6.15 miles at 7.41 min/mile average – and a great way to ensure some tired legs for my long run on Sunday.

Breakfast turned into a berry fest – raspberries and Greek yogurt, strawberry/banana smoothie and blueberry scones.

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We had plans to bike downtown to the Utah Arts festival in the evening so we fueled up on grilled cheese and roasted broccoli pasta salad.

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The festival was by the City and County building. And you got $2 if you rode your bike and left it with the bike valet.

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We checked out some bands, drank some beer, ate some ice cream and browsed the artists’ booth. We also saw a really cool performance by the local ballet company.

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Afterwards we decided to hit up a local bar. That’s two Saturday bar trips in a row. I was telling J that we are now party animals. Party animals that are home by 9.30 PM!

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Then a quick bike trip home (and uphill) to catch up with Game of Thrones.

Sunday was my scheduled long run: 12 miles. I have only ran this distance twice before in training, and it kinda felt like the first real long run of marathon training. My plan was to start slow and finish strong. And it felt pretty good. I took a Gu at mile 6 and by the end felt like I could have kept going for even longer. Plus my miles 8-11 were all in the 8.25-8.35 range. The only downer is that my Garmin doesn’t take into account time spent waiting for traffic lights – and by my calculation this was at least 5 minutes over the course of the whole run.  Oh well – Garmin says 9.07 min/mile, I say 8.47 min/mile.

That run brought my weekly total to 31.85 miles which I think is my biggest week ever. And my June total to 115.6 miles – my second highest month ever.

I had made it a goal at the start of the year to run 1000 miles in 2014. So at the halfway mark I’m at 555.65 miles – on target! Woohoo!

Monday was an after work yoga class. Tuesday an easy 4 miler (8.49 min/mile). And this morning – 7 miles (my longest midweek run ever) at 8.42 min/mile. This run felt sluggish. One of those runs where you feel like you are really pushing the pace until you look down at your watch………….and not so much. For some reason, it took me about 4 miles to properly warm up and  then it felt great.

The other big event this week was my visit to the physiotherapist. I wanted her opinion on my right knee pain and left foot pain (both of which flared up in the last 2 miles of my long run) and to get the go-ahead to continue with marathon training.

So after a detailed description of all my running aches and pains and a hands-on examination of my legs, she came to a couple of conclusions.

1. My right leg is significantly weaker than my left leg in terms of muscle strength, muscle mass and stability.

2. This means that my muscles aren’t strong enough to keep my knee pad in its correct place when I run long distances. This makes my knee hurt……..

3. I then compensate by using my left leg more making my foot hurt because I have crazy tight calves.

The good news is that if I work on strengthening my right leg all my problems should go away. So plenty of single leg work and keep doing yoga.

And I can continue to run if the pain is not getting any worse (this is exactly what I wanted to hear!). Interestingly, she said that if my knee starts to hurt when running, I should focus on engaging all my leg muscles in that leg and concentrate on using that leg more. So that’s what I did on this morning’s 7 miler – and it felt so much better. I have 5 weeks until the next appointment and she seemed pretty optimistic that I should be able to fix everything and run pain-free in the not too distant future.

Bonus: she taped my knee-cap so all my coworkers think I’m a crazy, badass runner. Or just a crazy, constantly injured runner.

Now, I just have another day and a half of work to get through before J and I head off to Nevada for a much needed camping trip. I’ll be throwing in my trail shoes and seeing what I can find!

Day 44 – Moab Day 2

A weekend camping + Daylight savings change + 6 AM run + 10.5 hour work day = glass of wine with dinner

Yesterday was tough! But I made it. Managed to do both commutes in the dark :(. Lucky past me had put chicken in the Crockpot earlier in the morning so dinner was a breeze. If I’m feeling really lazy I just pour a jar of Trader Joe’s salsa verde over some chicken thighs and let it do its thing.

Today is a rest day which I was pretty happy about when I looked outside and saw that winter had made a brief return. I made it to the gym and did some strength training. Honestly, I wasn’t feeling it this morning – everything felt a little harder and I managed a grand total of zero pull-ups and 21 push-ups. Not getting closer to my goal. Oh well……..

March mileage: 39.45 miles/63.5 KM

Back to my second day in Moab. I had hoped to get a long run in while I was camping – 9ish miles was on the schedule and after a bit of researching I found a perfect loop in Deadhorse State Park.

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This is a newish trail system with a 9 mile Big Chief loop that is designed for novice mountain bikers (so not too technical and not too much elevation). For the first time in forever I decided to bring my phone with me as I had a feeling this would have some amazing views.

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The trail starts by following the cliff rim overlooking the Colorado river.

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I think this was Pyramid Canyon overlook.

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The first half was over a lot of slickrock with a few short climbs.

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This was the final overlook – looking at the La Sal mountains.

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The second half was mostly dirt road – less technical and a lot easier to run on.

I did my post run stretches looking at this view.

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Not bad. The only downside was that the loop was only 8.4 miles so I had to run some asphalt to get my distance in. Great morning and great place to run.

Day 43 – Over half way through! + Moab Day One

So far I’ve completed 6 weeks of my half marathon training plan. Half way through and feeling good although the mileage should start to ramp up in the next couple of weeks. Plus I have my first race of the year this Saturday.

Our clocks went forward on Saturday night which meant that I’m back to running in the dark :(. I was just starting to get used to seeing the sunrise as I finished my morning run. Oh well. I guess I’ll need my headlamp and reflective vest for a little longer. It was pretty hard to get out of bed after a weekend full of camping and not-so healthy foods but I managed. I did a 4.61 mile recovery run and felt pretty good. I have misplaced (hopefully not lost) my connector to upload my Garmin data so I won’t be sure of my paces until it turns up again. I think it was around 9.00ish min/mile.

Back to my weekend in Moab. We drove from SLC on Friday evening (about 4 hours) and arrived to a dark and very windy campsite. We braved it for a little but headed to bed pretty early. But the next morning we woke to blue sky and sunshine (still a little chilly).

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Our campsite – on a plateau overlooking Long Canyon.

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Our first adventure of the day was to drive down through the canyon on a steep off-roady-type trail to the start of our first hike of the day.

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That’s the road in the front right heading down to Long Canyon and looking over the snow-capped La Sal mountains.

Our first hike was to Corona Arch about 2.2 mile round trip mostly over slick rock.

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Southern Utah sure is pretty.

We ate lunch by the Colorado river.

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After lunch we did hike no. 2 of the day – Fischers Towers about 4.6 mile roundtrip.

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We headed back to camp to cook up some chilli and cobbler in the Dutch ovens before hanging out by our campfire for the night.

March mileage: 39.45 miles/63.5 KM