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Training Log Archive: Bash

In the 7 days ending Feb 18:

activity # timemileskm+m
  Running2 13:35:16 55.04(14:49) 88.58(9:12) 1779
  Mountain Biking2 4:29:37 27.16(6.0/h) 43.71(9.7/h) 428
  Trekking1 2:49:04 7.88(21:27) 12.68(13:20) 547
  Power Yoga2 1:20:00
  Total7 22:13:57 90.08 144.98 2754
averages - sleep:7.4

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Sunday Feb 18 #


Flew home and 'Bent arrived home from his Guatemala dental mission in the wee hours - yay!

Saturday Feb 17 #

8 AM

Running race (Trail) 8:35:16 [3] 61.02 km (8:27 / km) +783m 7:56 / km
slept:7.0 shoes: Salomon Speedcross 3 - Coral

Black Canyon Ultras 60K
North of Phoenix, Arizona

When Browner and I started talking about a bike/hike/run/yoga vacation, I found this 60K trail race on Ultrasignup and thought it would be a fun way to finish our trip. We didn't have time to train properly but hey, the race course was net downhill with a generous 12-hr time limit so it must be possible, right? If we treated it as the grand finale of a big training week rather than a race, we'd just have to shuffle along at 5+ kph and we'd get to see some different scenery while someone else gave us water and snacks. Browner may or may not have rolled her eyes but she rarely turns down an adventure.

Approaching a race this way was out of my comfort zone. In the week leading up to an ultra, I've always taken it easy - gentle yoga, lots of rest, maybe one or two short runs, hikes or rides.

But that kind of attitude can totally ruin a vacation so Browner and I decided to just have fun in Tucson and not worry too much about the race. Mrs. Gally and Dee joined us for a couple of days of sun, and Cristina led us on the 27K Bear Canyon Loop, which was awesome and definitely *not* restful.

Browner and I decided to run/hike on Mon/Tues and bike on Wed/Thurs to use different muscles. We went a bit easier on Thursday's ride and on Friday, we drove to Phoenix to check in for the race. That was our taper. My legs felt tired just climbing stairs. Uh oh.

Before sunrise today, we took a shuttle bus north from the finish line at Black Canyon City to the start at the high school track in Mayer. Fellow Ontarians Diane Chesla (former Dirty Girls race director) and Henri Ragletie were there; Henri was racing and Diane was supporting. Denise McHale had registered but didn't start. (Update: she was sick and had to drop out at the last minute.)

I'd worried more about the desert heat later on but I had to add arm warmers and a light vest for our 8 a.m. start when it was sunny, cool and windy. We were on a plateau at an altitude of almost 1300 m, similar to Canmore.

This was going to be Browner's longest run ever!

It was my longest run since the Transgrancanaria 84K last February. Our longest training run leading up to this was 27K but each of us had done other things ranging from back-to-back runs to snowshoeing to boot camp to spin class, and we were hoping the cross-training would get us through.

After a lap of the high school track, we headed through Mayer and onto dirt roads that joined the Black Canyon Trail. Strong road runners tried to gain time here before the rocks began. I planned to go harder in the first couple of hours because my body doesn't dissipate heat well, i.e. I melt in hot races. With no shade for 60K, I expected that I'd need to slow down to cool off even though my legs might still have energy.

I knew I'd enjoy the race course but didn't have super high expectations. Browner and I agreed that the Black Canyon Trail is a race director's dream. The 104 km trail ends at the edge of a metropolitan area with a population of 4.6 million. The north-south route roughly parallels a major highway just a few kms away so there is good access for aid stations and start/finish lines. Aravaipa Running (the organizers) offer 60K and 100K courses that both start at Mayer but finish at different places. When our shuttle bus arrived at Mayer High School, we noticed the school bus depot next door. You'd think the town had been designed to host point-to-point races!

However, a trail near a major highway and a city doesn't necessarily mean beautiful wilderness or interesting topography. It turned out to be gorgeous and varied - way beyond our expectations.

In general, the 60K race course started off easy and got more difficult. There was a mix of hard-packed sand and rocky trail throughout the race but it got rockier as we went with a few more climbs - although not nearly enough climbing for those of us who look forward to hiking the uphills. :)

The race course had 783 m of climb and a whopping 1381 m of descent, much of it in the first half of the race to guarantee that my quads were sore for the second half!

Much of the trail was single track along a hillside or canyon wall.

Here's Browner flying down the first descent. It was beautiful!

There were also some scenic dirt roads.

I kept expecting to overheat but it never happened. The temperature went up to the low 20s C but there was usually a breeze. There was virtually no shade so I did feel the sun and was careful about sunscreen.

Between the pleasant weather, the beautiful scenery and the downhill stretches, I felt energetic enough to run slowly most of the time, and a lot of people were hiking so I went by them. Some of them were in the 100K race, which started an hour before us so they were pacing themselves differently. There were also some 60K racers who may have started out too quickly; some of them appeared to be cramping or feeling the heat.

One racer wearing headphones moaned loudly at regular intervals. When I caught up and snuck by (difficult on a narrow, cactus-lined trail when she couldn't hear me), she glanced over, moaned again and farted loudly! Most people were friendly and it was fun to chat for a few seconds when we met. From the 12K aid station to the finish, I passed a quarter of the 60K racers. Browner did the same - not bad for the longest trail running race of her life!

About 4 km from the end, I noticed a woman glancing over at me on switchbacks and running steadily, not too far behind. At first I thought I'd step aside but then I decided to make her work for it. :)

There was a river crossing soon after - muddy and just a few inches deep except for a short log crossing. The woman ahead of me was working to keep her feet dry, which I didn't care about so late in the race. She asked me to wait while she crossed the log. With another racer breathing down my neck, I decided to cross on some rocks nearby. Dumb idea. They were slippery. I slipped. I caught my entire body weight on the fleshy part of the palm of my right hand. OW!!!! It's an interesting colour now a few days later. I even got mud in my mouth - blah.

The biggest climb of the race was next, followed by a descent to the finish line. The 100K racers were climbing back up to the trail from our finish line, which was an aid station for them. They were great and cheered us all on. I managed to stay ahead of my pursuer. ;)

I'd aimed to break 10 hrs so I was happy to finish in 8.5 hrs, 4th of 14 in my age group. I don't understand why I felt so energetic today after inadequate training in recent months and a heavy training week leading up to the race. Maybe my approach to races has been all wrong?!?

Browner had a great race too, even with some major foot care breaks.

There was post-race wood oven pizza at the finish line and a finisher mug. We'd also received a tech shirt and lightweight Buff at check-in so we were spoiled. Great job, Aravaipa Running! This is a terrific event.

Friday Feb 16 #


Browner and I drove to Phoenix to check in for the Black Canyon Ultra 60K. Obviously, we decided not to taper for it! We decided to treat it as the grand finale of a warm weather training week. We’ll see how that strategy works. :)

Thursday Feb 15 #

10 AM

Mountain Biking (Single track) 1:50:40 [3] 22.43 km (12.2 kph) +176m

Mountain biking at Honeybee Canyon in the rain. We drove up to Oro Valley and rode the Big Wash Connector Trail to reach the Honeybee Trail. It felt surprisingly remote, partly due to the misty conditions. We only met one other rider. The trails are mostly fast and easy but there are some short, steep, rocky climbs and some patches of slow sand. We turned to loop back after an hour and left a lot of trails to explore another day.

A forest of Teddy Bear Chollas.

Yes, those are raindrops all over my face and “sunglasses” in one of the sunniest cities in the U.S. (Tucson residents are very happy.)

Wednesday Feb 14 #

9 AM

Mountain Biking (Single Track) 2:38:57 [3] 21.28 km (8.0 kph) +252m

Browner and I are running a 60K trail ultra on Saturday so we switched to mountain biking today. Even though we aren’t resting up for our race, we figured it might be wise to stay off our feet a bit. Also... biking in February!! :)

Browner found us a couple of nice 29ers to rent - a Specialized Stumpjumper for her and a Specialized Camber with wider tires for me.

We went to the Sweetwater Preserve in the foothills of the Tucson Mountains beneath Wasson Peak, yesterday’s hike.

It’s a great set of trails, mostly beginner to intermediate level with a few tricky, rocky sections here and there. Lots of fun! We rode almost all of it - some short trail sections twice.

I wore my new Watt Riot jersey supporting Flight’s female cycling team.

No falls and - more importantly - no cactus thorns embedded in any body parts!
(Time includes photography.)

Tuesday Feb 13 #

10 AM

Trekking (Trail) 2:49:04 [2] 12.68 km (13:20 / km) +547m 10:58 / km
slept:8.25 shoes: Salomon Speedcross 3 Coral

Browner and I headed to the west side of Tucson to hike up Wasson Peak in Saguaro National Park. Based on the recommendation we received at the Visitor Center, we drove around on a bumpy dirt road and started from the north on Sendero Esperanza, which led up the ridge to the Hugh Norris Trail.

The desert landscape was beautiful with lots of saguaros, not surprisingly!

Views from Wasson Peak.

It’s never too early to train for Storm The Trent!

After a 15 min break to admire the scenery (time deducted), back down we went.

4 PM

Power Yoga 45:00 [1]

Mrs. Gally led us in a “slightly more aggressive” yoga class on the patio - nice. Restaurant patrons and hotel workers seemed very curious!

Monday Feb 12 #

9 AM

Running (Trail) 5:00:00 [3] 27.57 km (10:53 / km) +996m 9:13 / km
slept:8.5 shoes: Salomon Speedcross Pro

Browner, Mrs. Gally, Dee and I are in Tucson for a training week, and I was excited to learn that Cristina, Melissa and Lukas would be here too! Cristina offered us a guided tour of the Bear Canyon Loop - a Tucson classic.

We had a spectacular day for it although later on it got a little warm for our Canadian blood. This was a hike/run since most of us needed a relatively easy effort today.

Right off the top, Cristina found the tourists a javelina - not *this* one but our javelina kept hiding behind a cactus so my photos aren’t great.

We had to negotiate a number of tricky creek crossings. (The desert is easier than the Snowshoe Raid.)

Bear Canyon was jaw dropping.

When we’d climbed high enough, we had great views back toward Tucson.

Along the way, Cristina shared interesting snippets of local knowledge and taught us the names of some plants.

We took a break at a high viewpoint for photos and yoga led by Mrs. Gally.

Then we continued running - more downhill now.

Finally we arrived at the end of Sabino Canyon and dropped into it.

On the way out, we successfully crossed several Hazardous Bridges.

Luckily, Mrs. Gally didn’t learn about the local mountain lion until the end.

Thank you, Cristina! This was an incredible day.

4 PM

Power Yoga 35:00 [1]

Mrs. Gally is a talented yoga teacher working toward her full certification. We had an awesome impromptu class in the courtyard of our hotel. I took a break in the middle to meet Lukas (AP name Haakon) at last. He’s adorable!! Nice to see Melissa for the first time since Norway. :)

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