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.

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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.

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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.

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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?