Bunchgrasser’s World

My unique filter on life

Archive for January, 2010

Trail Running – Arizona style

Posted by bunchgrasser on January 29, 2010

I recently spent 4 days in the Phoenix area where my daughter was playing in the ODP Regional Championship Tournament. Since most days she only had one game, that left plenty of time for running the trails. Before I left Portland I scoped out some great trails online and printed a couple of maps. As luck would have it, there was a great trail system right next to the Reach 11 soccer complex north of Phoenix. I literally walked 50 paces from the soccer field, stepped onto the trail and proceeded to “get some”!

I ended up going 10 miles total (5 out and 5 back) all on a dirt/sand/gravel trail that followed along a big canal. I passed under a couple of freeways and crossed a 4 lane road before turning back. Clearly this isn’t a peaceful, remote trail – but what it lacked in scenery and peacefulness, it more than made up for in convenience. The relative flatness was exactly what I was looking for on that particular day also.

The following day I was invited by friends to hike Camelback Mountain. I’d never heard of it before, but it sounded like fun – so away we went. A pretty strong storm system had moved in to the Phoenix area the night before, so it was pouring rain when we arrived at the trail head. There were still quite a few people there in spite of the wet weather. Being from Oregon, I didn’t think twice about the rain – in fact I may have been the only person that packed a waterproof shell on my trip to Phoenix.

The hike was quite steep in places, actually more of a scramble with actual climbing involved in places. I managed to snap a pic with my cell phone at the top (poor quality, unfortunately) of the amazing 360 degree view. The rocks were also a little slippery in places but the climb down was much easier.

The sun came out for my final day in Phoenix. I packed, checked out of the hotel and headed for the North Mountain trail system which was only about 10 minutes from my hotel. I parked at the trail head, strapped on my GPS watch and water bottle, then headed out. I ran the Shaw Butte loop which was very steep going up and very steep going down. The views from the top were fantastic though and helped me forget about my screaming quads. Once down in the flats I jumped onto the #100 trail (also called the Charles M. Christiansen Memorial trail) and ended up back at the trail head. Not wanting to finish so soon, I got back on the #100 trail, crossed under the road through a tunnel and ran a couple more miles before turning back. My distance ended up being roughly 6-7 miles total and I was pretty tired once I got back to my car (mostly from the steep hills).

After a quick sink-bath in the trail head restroom, I jumped in my car and headed to the airport. This was my first ever visit to Phoenix and I very much look forward to returning soon for another go at some different trails. I truly enjoyed running through the desert, mostly I think because it is such a different look and feel from the green forests of Oregon. Naturally I enjoyed the sun and warmer temps as well.


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Update on my ultra aspirations…

Posted by bunchgrasser on January 3, 2010

The past couple of months haven’t gone according to plan. I expected my Achilles/calf muscle problem to go away with rest and some light daily stretching – but such is not the case. I’ve started running again in moderation, but I’m still having the same problem with soreness in those areas.

I did see an orthopedist recently and had an Xray, but unfortunately it showed nothing out of the ordinary with my foot & lower leg bone structure. The doctor suggested that my calf muscle pain could be compartment syndrom but since my Achilles is also sore I’m unconvinced. Since I’m not really interested in any kind of “exploratory” surgical remedy – I’ve chosen to keep with the status quo (stretching) while adding some miles to my base to see if it gets better or worse.

Given my lack of training, I’m doubtful of being ready to run a 50k by Feb 20 (bummer), but I’m going to try and ramp my miles up some anyway.

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