Wednesday, February 20, 2013

3 days in the desert (training week 1)

Feb 11-17

This past week began my first in training for my races this summer. As it stands now I am going to attempt two 100 milers this summer. The first being the Sluicebox 100 in Fairbanks at the end of June. The second will be Resurrection Pass 100 the first week of August. I am also planning on running the Equinox Ultra again in mid September. I considered racing a 100 out of state this year, but I decided not to spend the money to travel and instead will be running the only 3 summer ultras Alaska has to offer. This will give me a chance to gain some more experience in the ultra world before attempting to run a Hardrock qualifying race, Hardrock being my ultimate goal race....someday.

day 1 was a flop, recovering from food poisoning.

day 2 got 5 miles in pushing my youngest son, Z, in the B.O.B. I felt pretty good considering I was pushing him thru soft snow conditions on the multi-use path.

day 3 splitboarding up the local ski hill, Hilltop. It's a quick roundtrip that usually takes me about 40min. 360ish feet of climbing.

day 4 rest

day 5,6,7 in Phoenix.

I have traveled to PHX every President's Day weekend for the last 8 years. I coach with the Alaska Northstars, a select soccer team, taking players to showcase tournaments in an attempt to get players seen by college coaches. Last year on our trip to Portland, I discovered Forest Park and enjoyed running there last month. This year I did some research and found a couple of really good places to run within the Phoenix area. On Friday I 'ran' in Phoenix Mountain Preserve. It is a great network in and around a mountainous area right in the midst of the PHX metro area. It was actually a pretty brutal trail to run in regards to elevation and trail surface. Also, I was out in the heat of the day, which was around 75˚. I had a 6 mile route planned that proved to be pretty ambitious and instead ended up doing 3.75 in an hour on the "circumference trail" (local name) or 302 (park name) I chatted with a grizzled and tan desert/mountain man on the way up the first peak, Piestewa. He gave me some good info and I had a great time. The trail was actually super technical with loose rocks, steep grades, and continual up and down.

The next day I ran in the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve. This area contains a great set of manicured trails visited primarily by locals hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. It was almost sundown when I got there and I headed out on the Dixie Mountain Loop. The trail was very runnable and I saw no one. This was in contrast to the previous day when I saw many people on the trail, but only one other runner. As I contoured around the back of Dixie Peak the sun had officially set and the trail was plunged into the flat light of dusk. I made my way down the trail to the parking lot.

On Sunday I went back to the Sonoran Preserve to try to finally get in a good run. Today I had no time constraints and timed it so that I was in the cooler part of the day before dark. I ran comfortably and really enjoyed the desert scenery. I finally felt like I got a good run in, completing 7 miles of trail in just over an hour.

Until this trip I always dreaded going to PHX. The heat is a nice change from the Alaskan winter, but the sprawl, traffic, and lack of things, um, natural don't appeal to me. Finding these two desert gems though have me looking forward to trail running there again next year.

The sweetest part of the trip though wasn't actually on the trip, it was the next morning as my wife and I were bombarded in bed by my two boys. The look on their faces as they wrestled and cuddled was the best homecoming reception ever.

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