Sunday, 30 September 2012

Nature Walk



I was feeling beat up after my first 100k week - ever - of running. I was getting winded walking up a flight of stairs. The previous night, I went to a wedding of an old co-worker. After three hours in heels and the longest 1.5k walk home up Robson EVER, I was convinced that I was a cripple for life. Most important - I was down to my last gel.

However, the weather forecast was good and the snowline was still high up, so Brooke (my kneeknacker training / life partner) and I decided to run Elfin Lakes.

moonrise
I woke up in the dark. I walked to the bus stop with a full moon overhead in a cloudless sky. The bus went over Lion's Gate just as the sun was rising.



blinking lights
On the drive to Squamish, Brooke's oil light started blinking. We attempted to buy oil at the gas station, but weren't sure about the right kind. Since there was no smoke actually coming from the hood, and since the car seemed to still be running, we chanced it and turned up the long gravel road to the trailhead.

are we there yet?
The gravel road started out okay. Then it climbed - and kept climbing. The potholes got larger. The gravel became rocks. Brooke's patience got less and less. At one point, the road looked like it was about to break out of trees, and into the parking lot. Instead it went around a bend, to a neighbourhood with a small cluster of houses. "Seriously?!" Luckily, googlemaps showed us to be almost at the parking lot - otherwise, the run might have started quite a bit earlier.

"I'm so lactic"
After doing a lot of elevation the last couple weeks, the wide, gently granded trail up to Elfin looked deceptively runnable. We started out at an easy jog on the uphill. After about ten minutes, neither of us was talking. We looked at the uphills, looked at each other, and opted for a brisk powerhike.



needy runners
The one thing missing from the run was Katie, who decided to forgo trail adventures in order to attend stroke camp, in Calgary. I attempted to sing a newfie song in her honour - it turns out, I'm not the best singer. Instead, we planned future trail runs to do once she got back - get ready for Coliseum Mountain, Katie! :)

holy sh*t - they did WHAT?
Two of our teammates were racing in the Berlin marathon today, so we did what any VFAC-er would do - obsessively check online for results, then text friends equally obsessively once they were posted. Hearing about Alicia's (www.runningoverdose.com) 3:01 and Tara's 3:13 marathons was a great inspiration. On the drive back home, we checked out the VFAC facebook page to discover that Drew won the Surrey marathon, and is now a national (well, for Surrey) hero!

motor skills
We stopped to have some calories after 1:15. I quickly downed a gel, and started running again. Brooke was running besides me on a rocky downhill section. I looked over more closely: Brooke was eating a fruit bar with one hand, and with the other hand taking off a layer and putting her hydration pack back on. WHILE KEEPING PACE. Apparently this is nothing compared to an intense two-shirt + jacket + pack delayer she did during the Fatass 50k a couple years ago, while never breaking stride. Apparently I still have a lot to learn about trail running.



travelling light
In June, during a particularly snowy and tiring kneeknacker training run, my perfectly-sized MEC backpack of four years finally came apart. In a state of panic, I bought a replacement. A really, really large replacement. A replacement with a 3L water bladder, about 10 pockets, and roughly 100 straps that I never really know how to do up. A replacement that, if I forget to apply body guide, leaves large angry lime-sized welts on my shoulder blades. When I bring this new pack out for hikes, a couple things happen - I get made fun of by friends with normal packs, and I then get talked into carrying all of other people's gear that doesn't fit into their packs. I resolved to go to MEC to get a smaller pack this weekend....and napping won out (it sort of always seems to win out). But I am determined to stop the cycle of ridicule and awkwardly applying polysporin to my raw shoulder blades, and next time I'm out on trails I will have a small pack that doesn't give me a sore neck or tight shoulder (...if I theoretically had either of these things).



I don't eat gluten...sandwiches aren't gluten...
Brooke had to go to work after our run, so I got dropped off in Lonsdale to have lunch with Allison. By this time, it was past 1pm and we were both starving. I could have eaten salad. I could have eaten oatmeal. Instead I had a veggie sandwich on fresh whole wheat bread and sat out in the early fall sunshine.

Stats
distance - 22k
elevation - 800-ish?m
pictures take - a lot
pictures in which Brooke fully committed to doing a thumbs up - 0
times Brooke re-checked the directions to the trailhead parking lot on our way up the long sketchy gravel road - 10
percentage of the (formerly whole) grilled pineapple I ate tonight - 50%

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Everything Zen

I started yoga to avoid getting dumped again by a physiotherapist.



(birthday card from the cats - the Lea family cats celebrate all major holidays)


I am not a naturally calm person. Thinking about being calm and relaxed ends up stressing me out more than my natural (high-strung) state. I grew up on Saltspring Island, with more than my fair chair of chanting, bongo drums, auras, and guided meditation.

The injury
During the lead-up to the Vancouver marathon, my weak core muscles caused a nagging hip and knee injury. I was able to keep training through and run a good race, but I was in some type of pain on most of my runs.

When I first became injured, I was lucky enough to know Allison: a wonderful physiotherapist, a member of my running club, and a member of my marathon pace group. Luckily for me (not so much for Allison), I had her phone number. When the side of my foot became too painful to ignore, and when my google searches became increasingly disturbing, I texted her:

"my foot hurts - the internet says it could be a subluxed cuboid - can you help me?"

Physio #1
Allison fit me in that evening, late, after the end of her normal day. She got me in good enough shape to run, and sent me home with athletic tape and a sheet full of exercises. For the next several weeks, I got up, did my exercises, taped up my foot, and hoped the run would be relatively pain free. I saw Allison regularly, and started to feel better.

Injuries don't heal in a straight line - there are relapses, and bad days. During the final build-up to the marathon, a group of us arranged to meet at 7:30am and do a 35k long run. The night before, I went out with a girlfriend. We stayed out far too late and drank far too much wine. I woke up, 5:30am, still drunk, with a throbbing foot (okay, maybe also a throbbing head). My immediate response? Clearly, to text Allison: "my foot hurts do I run?". Despite being woken up by this text, Allison gave me good advice (tape it, advil it, run on it, deal with it later).

End of physio #1
The next week, Allison referred me to her husband, Ramsey. (Allison claims that this referral was due to my schedule and her upcoming week's vacation, but I still believe the early early not-so-sober texts played a part.)

Physio #2
Ramsey immediately noticed my complete lack of core strength, and demoted me to remedial exercises. He also let me give him a text message update after every workout, and went a long way towards reassuring me that I would not be crippled for life. He allowed me one text message after each workout. My message pretty much stayed constant: "It hurt a bit? Sort of? Then stopped. Then started. WHAT DO I DO?"

I realized I could not be the world's neediest physio patient forever, and needed to take back responsibility for my own injury prevention.

try it - you'll hopefully like it (and if not, you're still signed up for 3 months)
Post-marathon, I was left re-learning how to walk and how to build up my very low alcohol tolerance. This coincided with the end of my audit busy season. All of a sudden, I had more time than I knew what to do with. The best answer to this situation: sign up for a three month unlimited yyoga pass. I had gone to exactly one yoga class in the previous six months - and I didn't hate it. This was reason enough to get an embarassingly teal yoga bag, unearth my $20 mat from winners, and started showing up.

The first class I went to was a morning core class. It started with about five minutes of sitting, cross legged, with the instructor talking. I quickly became impatient for the actual sweating part of the class to start. Five minutes later, I only wished for more talking. I DNF-ed pretty much every set of core exercises. While my fellow yoga-ers were lowering their legs in an alarming, shaky manner, the instructor had me doing thread-the-needle hip opening exercises. It was a humbling experience: not being able to complete a one-hour yoga class after completing a marathon. So I kept going. I do power, I do hot, I do flow. I fall sideways, I fall forwards, I see spots during back bends.


yoga studio #2

remedial hips
I have tight hips. As long as I run, they will remain tight - yoga is pretty much a war against attrition.

centre
Where yoga really has helped me is the core - having more strength seems to keep my hip from getting too painful. As an added bonus, the extra strength seems to have helped my trail downhill. I also did crow pose for my parents, and I really think they were impressed.

I came here for a stretch, not inner peace
A lot of the classes I do are the power, or ashtanga classes (I tried Hatha. It was supposed to relax me. It made me more and more uptight.) In those classes, breathing is really important. The point is to breathe through a difficult pose, breathe through the shaking, and find a sense of stability through discomfort. Sometimes the teachers say to find space - to relax into the pain. They tell us to think of an intention - something to focus on, to think about. I could choose "peace" - but let's be realistic. Some days, I say "heal", some days, "strength."

When I have my Thursday VFAC workouts, and the pace starts to bite as we do the last interval while the moon rises over English Bay, I tell myself: "commit". And for whatever reason, lately, it works. I commit to following the shoes of the person in front of me, I commit to the pace - and I try to relax enough to keep going.

I don't know if that's the peace of transcendence I'm supposed to find, but it's been enough, so far.

postscript
A month ago, my physio pronounced me healed enough to only come on an "as-needed" basis. I haven't been back since. I haven't physio text messaged (drunk or sober) since...well...at least early July.



Sunday, 23 September 2012

Why I keep bailing on road running plans



This weekend's run adventure started off with an amazing weather forecast for Whistler. Katie and I floated the idea of running up the Black Tusk to some friends, and sent out an email to our trail running list, but for some reason. takers were thin on the ground. Our trail friends, who had been up for Squamish run adventures, early morning grouse grinds, and falling down rooty trails, were now wrapped up in road marathon season.

Luckily, our friend Meghan, an amazing trail runner and mountain biker from the Sunshine coast, was game for a Black Tusk expedition. At the last moment, we were also able to recruit my kneeknacker training partner Brooke into joining - even though she had to be at work at 2:15 that day.

sleepover
Katie and I had to catch a 6:14am bus Sunday to get over to the north shore, where Brooke would pick us up. We would then all drive to the ferry terminal to meet up with Meghan, who was taking the first ferry over from the Sunshine coast. No buses left from Kitsilano early enough Sunday morning, so Katie slept over at my apartment.

I tried to be as good a hostess as I can be with a tiny bachelor apartment, an inhospital couch, and no blankets. Despite my offers of freshly washed sheets, Katie was firm that she was in no way sharing a bed with me. Instead, she curled up under a spare bedsheet, with a fleece robe on top of her. (I told her: "it turns into a blanket!" but she was unconvinced.)

getting there


a picture of a cat on a paddleboard
 In true Alex style, we arrived at the bus stop excessively early. Then we arrived at the ferry terminal excessively early. Although the weather forcast was still good, the morning was cloudy and grey. Then we arrived at Galileo's coffee (still early), saw a picture of a cat on a paddleboard, and knew that it was going to be a good day.

Every long run has high points and low points.

low point - warming up takes forever
We put on armwarmers or long-sleeved sirts and started to powerhike up from the Rubble Creek parking lot, in order to warm up easily. Within fifteen minutes, everybody but me had de-layered. The powerhike up the gradual swtichbacks became a run in most sections. Somehow, Brooke, Katie and Meghan were able to keep up a conversation as I wheezed along in the back.



high point - breaking out from the rubble creek switchbacks to see gorgeous fall colours
The clouds had burnt off by the time we hit the first great views. We smelled baking pine needles, and a cool wind came down from the mountain.



low point - work time
Two hours into the hike, just as the views were becoming truly spectacular, Brooke had to turn around to go back to work. I was sad to have my powerhiking buddy leave. (Even though she would have been diappointed with the number of walk / gel breaks we ended up taking)

high point - summit!

2:45 after starting the slog up the Rubble Creek switchbacks, we were surrounded by mountains. It's the kind of view that goes on inspirational posters.

medium point - scree love and Katie on snow
To avoid the increasing number of hikers coming up the trail to the Black Tusk, we took a shortcut - down a very steep, loose scree slope. Meghan described the technique for running down scree: "just bounce down." I preferred the "sidestep awkwardly while filling your shoes with pebbles" technique. A solid technique.

To get a photo op, Katie attempted to slide down a patch of snow. she gained more and more speed, then went onto her butt, then managed to self-arrest just before the snow ended in very large, pointy rocks.

hiker friends and wash break
On our way down to Garibaldi lake, a group of hikers made a "bridge" by joining arms above us. They cheered us on as we ran under. On the downhill, I also learned the literal version of: "eat my dut", as following Katie and Meghan meant running through increasingly large dust clouds - just in time to do a rinse-off in the lake.



signature Alex thumb picture

how to meet guys
At the lake, we ran into some guys we had seen earlier making their way down the Black Tusk. They recognized us, cheered us on, and made some comment about "crazy runners." We asked them if they had dayhiked, or if they were camping. They replied by confirming that yes, they were camping - and invited us back to their campsite. As appealing as the offer was, we figured anyone who didn't run up that day didn't have enough cardio for us to be interested. We kept going.

some tunes
To keep up morale on the last 8k back to the parking lot, we started to sing songs as we ran. We did a pretty good version of "What do you do with a drunken sailor", a decent "American Pie"...but started to run out of steam by the time we got to "50 ways to leave your lover."

casualties
Meghan taught us a new run term: "superman". It means to wipe out, face first, with your arms in front. After performing such a wipeout, she bounced back up and immediately got back to running downhill at an alarming pace.

hardcore.

post-run effects
Being in the mountains for over five hours, on amazing trails, with the sound of the creek and your own footsteps as background - it does something to you.

For me, it gave me a sense of calm and peacefulness I rarely get. Apparently, I even talked at a normal speed.

For Katie, it gave what we call "trail tourettes." This is exhibited in unexpected physical contact (body checking, body checking while soaking wet after an dip in Alice Lake - from someone who refuses to share a bed with me) and giddyness.

some stats
- 29k
- 1700m -ish elevation
- 5.5hrs (including all breaks)
- 2 newfie sea shanties sung only by Katie
- 1 wipeout
- 3 pairs of running shoes that smell so bad, they should probably be taken out and shot

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The New Normal





A year ago, I was living together with an old boyfriend in Yaletown. My maximum weekly mileage was 50k. Friday nights involved drinks out and shouted conversations in uncomfortable chairs. Weekends called for dinners with other couples (and sometimes their young children) and a solo 24k run on the seawall. Weeknights involved making dinner (an actual dinner!) and watching TV. In a lot of ways, it was a very good life - very comfortable. I meal-planned different meals. I dressed up and ate nice dinners out. I had running, in its own box, as a small and separate part of my life - I picked a couple half-marathons each year, I sort of trained, and I hadn't had a PB since 2008.

Things are a lot different now.

My life is busier now, and messier. I worry less, and have much more fun (along with this fun comes occasional hefty physio bills and consistently beat-up legs).

shoes
I have six pairs of running shoes scattered around a 400-square foot apartment (each running shoe has it's own special purpose!) and I am considering adding a couple new members to the trail shoe family.

A lot happens before 7am
I have realized that it is useless to try and sleep in anywhere past 6am without turning my phone onto silent. If I forget to do this, my bad habit of texting friends at 5:30a, when I am usually up, has come back to haunt me. I wake up to my phone buzzing:

" I know it is early but somebody needs to know how much my tempo hurt."

From my tri friends, who have consistently early swims: "Good morning, sunshine!" (that is a lot of endorphins to be so perky).

Or I get treated to a workout, via live-texting:

"About to attempt 6x1km at 3:00 to 3:07.5"

"2 down at 3:00 flat."

"Halfway. They are killing me."

"Four done but I think I might DNF on the next."

"Go big or bust on this one."

"Five done. Almost barfed."

Cooking
I make one big batch of quinoa each week, and mix different fruit and veggies into it as the week progresses. Luckily, I have a high degree of tolerance for eating close to the same thing every day, and have yet to get sick of it. As a result, "cooking dinner" each night has become scooping the quinoa and veggie mixture into a bowl, which is about as much meal prep energy as I have.

I also have embraced "recovery" food after long weekend trail runs, and truly believe eating nachos with a pound of cheese has enhanced my performance.



Distance
I ran a half-marathon in February. Then I ran the Vancouver marathon. I told others: my family, my (very tolerant) work that this would be a one-time thing - train hard, run well, get back to my regular life. The marathon was back in May. Since then, I ran a trail 30 mile race. I signed up for a trail 50 mile race this early December. I signed up for the Colorado transrockies run (http://transrockies-run.com/news/) with trail and life bestie Katie Wadden (200k, 20,000 ft elevation, 6 days) next August. Whatever I thought normal was, I won't be going back to it. This is the new normal.

Run recovery
Thursday nights involve running on trails of varying distances (1 mile 5/8ths? 2k net downhill?) with varying navigational references ("turn when you can see the ocean through the trees", "at the intersection it's about 400m", "take a right at the raccoon", "turn around when the blacktop ends"). Afterwards, I should theoretically stretch, roll out stiff muscles, and get to bed early. Instead, Thursday is my "big night out" - especially as we have found a West End patio that doesn't mind runners showing up in full spandex.



Long runs
My weekend "run" plans, lately, have involved picking a hiking route, then running it. In the last six weeks, I have done the Garibaldi traverse (1500m, 25k), the Howe Sound Creest (3500m, 28k), whatever the hell the part of the Squamish 50 trails we did (a lot of elevation very fast?, 32-ishk), and Hanes Creek (1100m, 34k). These runs involve several cars, frequent weather checks, water planning, and way too many gels. They take up virtually all of the day - at the end, I am dropped off back at my apartment: dusty, sore, scraped and ready to do it all over again the next weekend. Doing enough of my runs has given me the feeling that I can do anything - always a bit risky when you have poor eyesight (I don't run in glasses / contacts), get lost / misdirected on virtually every trail run I go own, and have poor co-ordination skills.





Social life
I love planning. I love my weekends. I get to see my friends, but the way we hang out is a bit different. Friday nights are yoga or a grouse grind. Saturday, instead of brunch, we do easy trails (or, theoretically, track, if I can ever make myself go back). Sunday we chat our way as we powerhike up a mountain. When we do get together for a non-exercise event, it is always a bit of a shock to see people in normal clothes with makeup on.

Letting go
As much as I loved running, I used to be afraid. I was afraid of running too much, and getting injured. I was afraid to push hard in tempos or Thursday night VFAC practices (www.vfac.ca), in case I "blew up" and couldn't hold my pace during the workout. I was afraid of getting lost on trails, or injured from going downhill too fast.

In February, I did a 25k trail race around Seymour. I got lost so badly I ended up going up the mountain twice, and DNF'd. In April, I battled a hip injury the last month of marathon training. It hurt, I trained through it, and I eventually recovered. When I did the Kneeknacker in July, I sprained my ankle badly enough to need a month's recovery. Everything I was scared of happened - and I'm still running. When my ankle was swollen up to twice its size, all I could think about was the downhill from top of Seymour grind to Deep Cove, and how much I wanted to be back on the trail taking the drops down and picking my way through the roots. When I was going to yoga, and doing my hip exercises, I just wanted to be back doing tempos as the sun rose, feeling the mix of adrenaline and peace that happens when my pace finally kicks in and everything feels smooth.



Take away my doubt
This is the lifestyle that I choose. It means that some nights I fall asleep at 7:30 because my body needs rest. It means that my weekend plans revolve around which mountain my friends and I feel like running up. It means that my google search history can pretty much be summed up with: "why does my leg hurt? is it a stress fracture?". It means that my drink tolerance is now two glasses of wine (and sometimes less).  It means that I embrace everything: the dark, rainy mornings, the trail wipeouts, the unnerving aches and pains, the tired legs. It means that, when things start to hurt, I choose to exhale into the pain, trust the strength in my bones, and keep going.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Running the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim ( or how to turn 28)

I ran the Grand Canyon South Rim to North Rim on my 28th birthday with a guy who I had been on three dates with. In a year filled with impulsive running (and especially trail running) decisions, this one was a stand-out.



Based on my experience, here is a how-to guide to run the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim.

Choose a date well in advance.
I got an invite to go to Las Vegas for the weekend of my birthday. Las Vegas itself is not hugely appealing to someone with a 9pm bedtime, but the potential to do one of my "dream" trail runs was enough to book an airplane ticket 6 days before the run.

Give yourself plenty of time, and have your planning completed well in advance of starting the run.
We had one day to get to the Grand Canyon, run rim-to-rim,  get back to Las Vegas, and catch a 10pm flight back to Vancouver. I started planning this on a Monday. The last logistical detail fell into place the Sunday night before the run.

Be sure to make your travel plans in a professional manner, and do not make special requests.
In order to get the logisitics to work in one day, I knew the timing would be tight. Additionally, as running or hiking Rim to Rim is heavily discouraged, there are no companies that arrange for dropping you off at one rim and picking you up at the other. It is a 4 hour drive from Las Vegas to the South Rim, and it is a 5 hour drive back from the North Rim to Las Vegas. In order to help with make the plan happen, I pulled out all the stops: I played the "birthday" card, the running card, and finally, the "will keep calling back until I get the answer I want to hear" card. Most people were very helpful, once the story was explained.

Know your run partner well, and have experience doing runs with similar distance / terrain / elevation profiles.
I met this guy 2.5 weeks before. We'd hung out...3 times? However, Athlinks stalking totally (www.athlinks.com) counts, right? My run parter has done very fast 1/2 marathons on road and trails, and I can run his 10k pace. For a 400m track repeat. I explained the run to him as: "About 30-35k, some elevation gain, might be a bit warm on the canyon floor." This might have been a bit of an under-sell.

Be sure to taper before the run, in order to be well-rested for the climb out of the Canyon at the end.
My run partner competed in the 70.3 World Championships the day before, in temperatures around 100F. (for all runners like myself: a 70.3 means a half-ironman triathlon - swim 2k, bike 56 miles, run a half-marathon).

Check the forecast carefully. Be sure there will be ample cloud cover.
The forecast was for 23C, 60% chance of rain. The forecast was accurate...at 3pm, when we were done. The run was mostly cloudless. We hit the Canyon floor around 11am, and the heat was easily 30C.
Give yourself plenty of time to complete the run
Due to the 2:30pm shuttle pickup, we had just under 6 hrs to complete the run. Only one company has one bus that leaves the North Rim once a day. So...2:30pm or bust.

Relax and go at an easy pace!
We started the run going down the Bright Angel trail - switch back after switch back of easy trail. As we descended, we could watch the sun move down the Canyon walls. The hikers we passed made us feel like rockstars: all congratulations and astonishment that we were running.

We made very good time to Bright Angel campground (approx. 14k into the run). The campground had a tap with drinking water, so it was easy to do a water-pack refill. The next water stop was at Cottonwood campground, about 12km further across the canyon floor. On this section, the Canyon floor wasn't "flat" - it was a long, gradual climb on shadeless trail. As the full hit heat us, this uphill started to take its toll. The walk breaks became more frequent, and the time remaining to catch our shuttle got tighter.

Finally, we joined up with the river in a shallow crossing, and were able to lay in the water to cool off. At the time, this was great - except we didn't think about all the sunscreen that was washed off. We made it to Cottonwood campground - and still had another 9k and 2500m elevation to go. Things weren't looking to good at this point - running on (relatively) flat terrain had us pretty wiped, and the hardet part of the run was ahead.

After a couple kms of climbing, we hit the shade of the North Rim walls. The views were amazing, even if we were a bit too wiped to fully enjoy them. At this point, we were about 5hrs into the run, and 50 minutes away from our shuttle meeting time. At the pace we were both going, we wouldn't be able to finish in 50 minutes. I started to get worried that the shuttle would leave without us. We would be stranded on the North Rim for the night and miss our flights home to Vancouver.

Both of us had enough food and water. So we decided that I would run up the rest of the trail, hold the shuttle, and then come back to meet my partner. With the extra kick of adrenaline (I hate being late for things!) I took off along the trail, running on the flat parts and powerhiking the uphills. I started to pass lots of hikers who, when they saw me running, would cheer me on. I felt like a rockstar! With my heart feeling like it was about to explode out of my chest, I made it to the top of the trailhead at 2:31. From there, it was still one mile by road to our shuttle meet-up. Luckily, some hikers saw me and offered me a ride to the meet-up location. I arrived - sweaty and frantic - at 2:35, to discover the shuttle was waiting still waiting for us. WHEW. Even better, they had ice water and coke. Best of all, they drove back to the trail head, where I picked up my run partner. Who promptly curled into a fetal position in the backseat of the shuttle. (You can't say you've given a trail run your all until you've gone into a fetal position, or at least really really wanted to.)

Take lots of photos so you can share the experience



We took some pictures. And I wish I could describe this in a way that could explain the peace and exhiliaration I felt running in one of the most beautiful places I have visited. In the pictures, you see a muddy river, hazy sky, and red rock. You see green shrubs, and, in the distance, canyon walls. You don't see the narrow overhangs, looking up through a rock slot to see blue sky far overhead. You can't hear the deafening buzz of the cicadas, and the far off rushing of the river. You can't feel the heat come off the valley floor in warm waves as you descend further. You can't feel the sudden coolness of shade when the trail goes alongside the river in a narrow cliff. I can't explain the feeling of looking far across the canyon floor to see the faint zig of the trail as it hugs the cliff to climb over and up. The excitement of not knowing what the views are like around the next bend. The climb out of the Canyon floor, watching the endless cliffs and feeling the cool of the forest. The ache in my legs and the relief of exhaustion that comes with 6hrs on the trail.


Be sure to properly stretch, ice, and re-fuel
Upon finishing the run, we drove (sat) for 5hrs. And had the following performance food to recover (yes, that is a frosty in the cupholder - dairy is good, right?).




Debrief - what did you learn from this experience?
In the end, garmin said 39.6km, 2500m elevation, and 5:54. It was one of the more epic adventures of the year, and even with all of the misadventures, I would do it again in a second! Thanks Donovan for being my run buddy! (this is some sort of triathalon training, right?)

Logistics
4:45a - wake up, eat breakfast, finalize packing. Leave from Henderson (NOT Las Vegas!)
5:35a - go down to get cab to drive to the North Las Vegas airport. The cab takes 45 minutes. Realize that you are supposed to arrive 1 hr before your flight. Realize that you set your alarm an hour too late.
5:45a - Leave in cab. On the way to the North Las Vegas airport, stop at thw MGM hotel to store luggage at the bell desk. Say that you are staying at the hotel, and will be checking in later. As it is early, you are wearing a run skirt, compression sleeves and gesturing frantically, the desk does not question your explanation, and instead writes you out a luggage ticket to get you out of there as soon as possible.
6:30a - Arrive at airport. You are the last guests. As the adrenaline is wearing off, grab a coffee to boost energy.
We flew with Vision Holidays. http://www.visionholidays.com/ - even though we booked a one-way flight, they let us join the bus tour into the Grand Canyon, and went out of their way to drop us off at the trailhead.
7a - fly out to the Grand Canyon in a tiny plane!
8a - sneak on the bus to the Grand Canyon with the rest of the tour.
8:15a - bus driver drops off rest of tour at viewpoint. He then leaves them to drop us off at the Bright Angel Trailhead, 10mins away. He also informs us that we are crazy.
8:38a - start trail!
route: Bright Angel trail to canyon floor, meet up with North Kaibab trail.
2:30p - get picked up on North Rim by Grand Canyon Tour Company Shuttle. http://grandcanyontourcompany.com/.
8:00pm - arrive back in Las Vegas, and pick up gear from MGM. Instead of leaving us at MGM (as was supposed to happen), Mark (the shuttle driver) drove us all the way to the airport.
8:25pm - arrive at airport. smell awful. check in.
10:00pm - flight back to Vancouver!