Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sometimes plans change

First light from Pine, AZ
Given my upcoming schedule for the next couple weeks, I really wanted to head up north to Pine, AZ for one of my long runs. It would serve a couple purposes:

  1. Long run
  2. Training at elevation
Pine, AZ is at about 5,400' and many of the trails extend well into the range of 6,000-7,000 feet. It is home to some of the most infamous notorious  toughest trail runs in the country...Zane Grey 50 and the Mogollon Monster 100. Both of which are on my race calendar this year.

I'm going to do my best NOT to plug Motel 6 but I thought I'd be clever and drive up to Payson on Friday night and get up early to go hit the trails. Turns out, the walls of the Payson Motel 6 are paper-thin and I could hear every sound from my less-than- thoughtful neighbors.

After ducking into the Payson Walmart at 3 am to get a blanket, I headed to the Pine trail head to try and get some sleep before the sun came up. Turns out, my Camry is not comfortable at all and I did not get any sleep while hanging out in the dark.

As a metaphor for racing, sometimes you have to change your plans and make the best of things. Starting late meant that I was even more time constrained given I needed to be home before 2.

I started up the Pine trail and it was clear within the first half mile that my ability to climb and use less oxygen was also going to hamper my distance goal for the day. After going 5 miles in 1.5 hours, I resolved to do a couple ONB's on the Pine and Arizona trails and just enjoy the time out on the trail (as you can tell from all the pictures)

To say that these trails were challenging would be an understatement. Having run the San Tan trail for so long, I can honestly say I've been pampered with the wide smooth trails and easy climbs. The Pine trail was covered in rocks, treacherous elk tracks and overgrown with thorny bushes that scraped the arms and legs at every turn.

I was truly enjoying the views and the varying terrain of this area. One minute you're on rocky trails, the next you're on a forest trail covered in pine needles. I may have taken more pictures during the first couple hours than I did running :)

After bumping into JeremyD (RD for the MOG100), I headed back to the trail head to refuel and get stocked up for the next 10 miles. I crossed over Highway 87 and headed up the Arizona Trail.

After covering a couple miles on the Arizona Trail, I realized that the Pine Trail was only a warm up for the feet-bashing and knee-knocking rocks and boulder-hopping. It's been a long time since I've felt this beat up from a 20-mile run.

The sweeping views and amazing sights from many of the climbs almost make the harsh trail conditions worth it.

With my water bottles slowly draining and the heat of the day bearing down on my, the pressure I felt in my chest and the thumping in my ears made it clear to me that the altitude, trail and heat were a combination that was going to be a tough to overcome for Zane Grey and MOG.

I had a great time up north and really enjoyed this run even though my ankles, feet and knees still hurt today. Here are a few more pictures from the run.
Rough grade and rocks on the Arizona Trail


Looking east toward Highline from the Arizona Trail

In bloom

Oak Spring

1 comment:

  1. looks amazing. Seems like a nice place for a hike. I'll take your word for it that it is a good place to run.