Sunday, April 30, 2023

Don't Run Boston!

I'm always looking for a reason, or even just an excuse, to do the "Don't Run Boston" race.  It's a 50K/50 mile race around the marvelous trail system of the Blue Hills Reservation south of the city, requiring basic navigation skills and a sense of adventure.  One of my favorite races, for sure!

I managed to talk it up enough to convince our friend Taylor to join me this year and run it together.  It was her 3rd 50K and she was interested in trying something a little different.  Much less about beating cutoff times and much more about having fun and exploring.  This race should fit the bill.  Now I just had to hope I could still navigate while also chatting and laughing our way around the course...

Taylor's mother and 2 sisters joined us for the weekend, yay for the fun company!  And welcome to Boston:

We wandered around downtown Boston on Friday, admiring the beautiful flowers that just might have been chosen because of their similarity to the Boston Marathon colors (or possibly the other way around?):

So much history and so many pretty buildings (also some excellent chow-dah!):

Our AirBnB in Hull was near the beach, so we had a nice walk along the water.  Taylor staying loose before the big race:

Fun with Colby, Taylor, and Ashley:

The forecast for the race was originally perfect, then it looked like a lot of rain, then it went to "we don't really know one way or the other."  We dressed to get wet and were pleasantly surprised with a simple misty drizzle for several hours.  Later in the day it dried out, and the whole time the temperatures were beautiful and cool.  So lucky!

After a relaxed start with the loop around the pond, it was time to navigate.  Taylor and I worked well together, with me watching the map and her watching what other people were doing while also looking for the turns I described.  We almost picked up a running companion who looked like she might enjoy the company, but I managed to mess up one early intersection and our would-be-friend stuck with another runner who had a better idea where to go.

Having a super time!

We made our way around the park and over to the marsh.  My most recent experience(s) here included wading through water, but this time there was a way through the fence to bypass the swamp - super cool!

We were careful on the wet rocks of the Skyline Trail, no slips.  It was actually quite tame compared to some of the rocky trails (and some of the off trail stuff we've done) around Flagstaff.  Both of us were having a blast.

Getting our "bonus points" by climbing the tower, even though it was entirely too foggy for any views:

Taylor asked what the bonus points were worth, so I told her we could trade them in for high fives  :)  Up top!

The folks at the aid station were friendly and helpful, learning our names right away and assisting with snacks, drinks, and our drop bags.  Thank you all!

Taylor was climbing great and we were full of energy (and snacks) for the 2nd ascent to the tower.  Thank you Taylor for the best photos I've ever taken home from this race:

By the time we got to the 23-mile water drop we were ready for a short rest, and Taylor discovered that she loves Coke and Doritos (at least during an ultra, probably not so much otherwise).  I have to include this blurry picture because it makes both of us laugh:

Just a few miles left, I think we got this!  Oh, and a couple more minor wrong turns, oops.  Taylor never seemed to mind, always upbeat and happy to be there.  Even when her feet started hurting near the end.

One last loop around the pond, then her family greeted us at the finish line - yay Taylor!

That was the most enjoyable 50K I've run, so happy and grateful that we got to do it together!

Friday, April 28, 2023

Chiricahua All-Trails FKT

I recently created and then ran an FKT at Chiricahua National Monument.  It's modeled after several similar FKT's in the eastern US, the idea being to run all of the trails in the park.  John and I explored Chiricahua a few months ago and hiked all of the trails over several days.  While roaming around, the concept of covering them all from top to bottom (with the help of the hiker shuttle) suddenly made perfect sense.  A good distance (about a marathon), overall downhill while still getting plenty of climbing, and a way to see everything, everywhere, all at once (ish).

I did a write up for my recent FKT run with the highlights:

Here are some additional notes and pictures.

I started the day pointing at Sugarloaf (the first climb) and got lucky with interesting clouds and a half-decent selfie:

It was hard not to stop for a gazillion pictures of this fascinating terrain with all sizes and shapes of rocks, but I managed to control myself for the most part with a few representative shots:

The big head of Cochise:

Mushroom Rock, as I apparently decided that I needed to point to everything today:

Big Balanced Rock, still standing, so crazy!

I adore the Heart of Rocks loop, although I can imagine anyone trying to run these trails for speed will find it more technically challenging:

Look, over there!

The view from the park road, where I admired rocks that we normally wouldn't have time to study while driving:

Another view of Sugarloaf, where I had started the run:

The pointing theme continues at the Natural Bridge:

This made me laugh enough to back up and pull out the camera:

More pictures of the coatis - so, so awesome!  With funny long tails that go straight up into the air:

They were foraging all around the trees, not sure what they were looking for, but it was more interesting to them than my presence.

Thank you, unique and cute coatis, that was awesome!

Our truck's second FKT adventure  :)

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Random AZ runnings

Spring in southern Arizona has been lovely - getting warmer but not hot (until recently) and plenty of buds and flowers.  And so many more things to still see and places to explore.

We did the little climb up Keystone Peak on a beautiful day:

If there's a flood up here, we're all in trouble:

Love it!

A view of Baboquivari Peak on the horizon (I like to call it Bilbo):

Standing in line for El Charro, after learning that it's one of the more popular places in Tucson.  We did enjoy the food.  Not sure it's worth the effort and the crowds though.  And that concludes my restaurant review of the month.

Our friend Taylor came down from Flagstaff for a conference, yay!  So great to see her and do some hiking.  We tossed out the idea of doing a short adventure race (the orienteering club in Phoenix puts on some good ones) and she was game to try.  The packrafting on the lake was our favorite leg:

John led the way, we giggled a lot, found at least one checkpoint each on the paddle, bike, and trek for an official finish, and called it a success.  Thank you for the fun morning, Taylor!

I've been interested in running the Crown King Scramble 50K since I first heard about it.  "Spines to Pines", it's a climb from the desert up to the ponderosas.  Seems like a good time to try it:

John dropped me off and drove way around to pick me up.  Some things he saw along the way, including a gaggle of hot air vehicles (I also saw them from much further away):

A couple electric Amazon vans parked at the Rivian service center in Phoenix - it's happening!

Maybe they're 40% clothed on the front?

The race went great, lots of rolling hills, a few rocks, creek crossings, and of course a big climb toward the end.  Yay for the high desert!  John got to drive our Rivian on a long dirt road up to Crown King and back down, so he had a bit of fun too.

We're both working on our climbing legs, so it seemed like we were ready to try Mica Mountain again.  This time we drove Tug-E up to Redington Pass to get us a tad closer before starting off on foot.  The view of Mica on the way up - we really like the giant rocks around here:

Still a small amount of snow at the top, but no post-holing this time:

Yay, we made it!

The views from the peaks around Tucson are always wonderful:

Just for fun, we did a 5 mile/10 mile trail race at Catalina State Park.  Good for some speed work that I normally might not do.  The photographer got a couple excellent shots of us:

At the final water crossing, woo hoo John!

John finished the 5 miles and returned for a nice picture of me (and the photographer) at the end of my 2nd loop, with the Catalina range in the background:

And finally, a little peek at the aforementioned flowers:

Tucson is a great place to spend a winter in the outdoors, no doubt.