Monday, February 20, 2023

Running around southern AZ

Greetings from Tucson!  We're having fun with our little adventures around town this winter.  Some actual running, some otherwise.

And a mural here and there:

I had the chance to see the Desert Museum (after John and his parents raved about it) and we made sure to see the Raptor Free Flight, yay!

I love ravens - so smart and fun to watch.  Not a surprise that they seem happy to fly around a crowd in exchange for treats:

We saw our first caracara in Texas with Mom, and now we've seen another one, cool birds!

What a fun little otter!  He/she rolled around, played with a stick, and entertained us for a few minutes, thank you sweetheart:

You lookin' at me?

Joshua Trees and one of many artful butterflies:

The indoor demonstration featured a colorful macaw that roamed all over the tree and squawked:

So many photogenic desert plants:

Organ pipe cactus (and there's a national monument of the same name that we'd like to visit):

That was just a small % of the huge variety of interesting plants and animals we saw that day.  Sonoran Desert Museum = highly recommend.

Now for some actual running - I signed up for the Oracle 50-mile race, north of the Santa Catalina mountains and mostly on the Arizona Trail.  I wasn't sure I was ready for more than 50 kilometers, but the last 19 miles went quite well and I was so pleased with my legs.  It was a gorgeous day for running and I loved the whole trail.

A couple of race pictures - Run Long and Prosper:

Photographer = Damion Alexander

Coming into an aid station:

Photographer = Bob Arendt

It was dark when I finished but at least not too late in the evening, yay!

Photographer = John Beard  :)

Apparently one of the biggest happenings in Tucson is the yearly Gem and Mineral Show (who knew?).  We have been watching tents go up almost since we arrived in October, and it took over many parking lots and even motels near downtown.  John and I both wandering through it a bit here and there just to get a sense of the spectacle.

One example (out of many, many different things to see):

They had everything from small stones and jewelry for purchase to amazing works of art:

OK, I've seen some sparkly things, I think I'm good (at least for this year)!

The Presidio does walking tours downtown, and we were excited to get a guided tour of some of the murals.  It was neat to learn some background and stories about the creators of the giant wall paintings we have been seeing:

A pixilated picture:

Apparently Linda Ronstadt is from Tucson, so this is an homage to her (among other panels that get repainted once a year in a single October weekend - but Linda stays, thankfully):

Back to running (I must have been reasonably recovered from the 50-miler by this point) - our friend Trey had mentioned the Bear Canyon Loop from Sabino Canyon and I wanted to check it out.  Heading up the canyon, there are a ton of beautiful colorful rocks to admire.  My kind of rocks, I think, more so than gems:

The creek had running water, which is apparently rare except during winter rains.  The pools at Seven Falls are really pretty:

And the Seven Falls themselves are awesome!  So much that I took John up there the following week so he could see them.  Gotta go before they dry up:

Near the top of the loop, briefly on the AZT again.  Fun loop, thank you Trey for telling us about it!

Our friend Taylor and her dog Basil came down from Flagstaff to visit and enjoy some warmth (or at least, warmer than Flag right now).  Yay for hiking with friends!

And finally, an FKT attempt for the first time in a year!  I returned to the National Trail over South Mountain in Phoenix to try the out-and-back version.  My most recent FKT was a one-way (since beat by a faster runner) so I was familiar with the trail.  Until recently there wasn't a female out-and-back time, but then 2 ladies set FKT's on the same day in January.  

OK, well, Krista's time looked similar to what I might be able to run, so I figured it was worth a try.  30 miles would be great training, regardless, and the weather was perfect.  So I drove up to Phoenix, stashed a water bottle on the west end, and drove to the eastern trailhead to start:

No time to spare, so I took only a few photos, mostly "on the run", and many of them at an angle:

Slight pause for this one, as I enjoyed the views of the city from up on the ridge:

What a great trail, plenty of variety, occasionally lots of rocks, some really runnable sections, and the kind of desert landscape I enjoy strolling (or sometimes running as fast as I can) through:

I made the turn-around in about 10 minutes faster than my one-way time from last year, that was a pleasant surprise.  The climb back up to the ridge is a haul in this direction, just keep moving those legs.

My return trip was slower, happily not significantly so.  I felt I had an extra second or two to grab a picture of Telegraph Pass with the stone ruins in the foreground and the "visible from everywhere" towers in the distance:

What a beautiful, cool, slightly windy, sunny, blue sky day!  Could not ask for better weather.  One last shot of the trail and Phoenix in the distance:

I was so pleased to run fast enough for an FKT, and even break 7 hours with some running at the end that wasn't strictly necessary... except I decided it would be nice to break 7 hours.

Hey, it's Tug-E's first FKT run!  A photo to celebrate:

That's about it around here for now.  We've got a bunch of orienteering going on and then a Star Trek cruise vacation, happy days!