So sometime last November, my buddy TC came to me (via Facebook) and said “Hey, I think we should run the Grand Canyon.” As usual, I threw caution to the wind, and clicked “I’m attending” on his spiffy FB invite. It sure sounded like a good idea at the time….
Training for this Run:
I often get asked “Holy guacamole; you are running what? How do you train for that?” My answer is usually “Well, um…. “(trail off for dramatic effect). The truth is that I love running and loathe training. So when I get asked about training plans, my answers are usually a bit vague. Let’s call this skill a “work in progress.”
I was injured for most of the summer, so I didn’t actually start training until July 24 (with an “I haven’t run in two months” 10k at Wharf to Wharf – amazingly, I PR’d). So that’s a solid 5 weeks of training and taper. My longest run was Aug 13 at 37 miles. I ran from the Saratoga Gap to Rancho San Antonio Parking Lot and back in 95* heat. I purposely ran myself out of water just to see what my body would do. Overall, the run was AWESOME and I’d definitely do that run again. In between that and now have been some consistent 7 milers, and 20 milers for long runs. I also did two training days (plus one long bike ride) at about 9000 ft.
Saratoga Gap to Rancho:
Great Run: 37 miles of up and down and up and down, rinse (in the creek), and repeat.
Olberman’s Causeway in Mt. Shasta:
A few little hill repeats:
The Game Plan:
We had originally thought to start at 5am, like normal R2R2R Runners, but watching the weather, we pushed it back to a 12 am start, so we would avoid a lot of mid-day heat. As of last week, we have pushed this back to a 10pm start. Dan thinks it will takes us <16 hours to complete, TC is aiming for a 17 hour finish, and I’m thinking it’s going to take me all sassafrassing day. TC’s wife, Sally, her sister, Lindy, their brother-in-law Alex, Shaily, and Shuan will all be hiking down to the bottom and back. I hope they are still on the trail when we head back up Bright Angel.
There are several choices of trails to take down from the South Rim, but we are going to take the tried and true Bright Angel Trail. We’ll come up the North Side on North Kaibab trail. Water stops will include Phantom Ranch, Indian Garden, and Cottonwood Campground. I am hoping all will have water flowing!
I should say that when I initially conceived this run, I thought we would have/need some support. I definitely thought that someone could meet us at the other side (North Rim) with drop bags, and maybe even have someone to see down at the bottom, if only for a few GUs and a high five.
Packing for this Run:
Things I brought:
· 100oz (not to be confused with liters) Camelback bladder (which is stuffed into…)
· Nathan running backpack
· The Extractor (looks like a miniature version of something out of Austin Powers; It is theoretically used to extract snake and other venoms from your body)
· Heat Blanket – Not that I’m thinking I’m gonna need it, but I always travel into the backwoods with it as a safety precaution
· Whistle (another backwoods essential)
· Handheld bottle
· Sunscreen in a baggie ‘cause I can’t find my little tube of it
· Watch w/ intervals
· A borrowed GPS watch that I was assured would last the whole run
· 2 iPods (because they don’t have a very long battery life)
· iPhone (so I can take pictures!)
Breakfast: 1 PB/Honey Sandwich, 1 FRS if I can find it, 1 Vespa Pouch
· 100oz of Water (to be refilled)
· 20 oz bottle of Gatorade/CarboPro Mix
· 1 PB/Honey
· 1 Baggie Animal Crackers
· 1 Baggie Dried Mangoes from TJ’s
· 2 5-Hour Energies
· 4 GUs
· 2 Shotblock Packs
· 2 Packs Sportsbeans
· 3 baggies of Gatorade/Carbo Pro Mix
· A few FRS chews
· 1 Vespa
The plan is that the majority of my food will be consumed at the top of North Rim, or at Phantom Ranch at the second trip down.
Things I thought I’d bring and decided not to
· Pepper Spray (another thing I never leave home without)
· A burrito (what I usually train with)
Things I’m worried about:
Heat, Altitude, Lack of Sleep, the headache I’ve had for 2 days, and the Mexican food I un-wisely consumed for lunch
Things I’m super excited about:
I’m not going to lie; I’m really excited about the 20% chance of thunderstorms. I am also secretly itching for the chance to separate from my running buddies and have a few miles of running on my own. I love running. I hate being constrained by time, tempo, and other people (awesome though they might be). I just want the chance to experience the Grand Canyon and form my own opinions. Regardless, this is going to be a special experience no matter how it plays out.
When I made the decision to do this run, it was largely in response to the relationship I was in at the time. Basically my former flame told me I wasn’t allowed to do this run. When I said “yes” to this run, I felt like I said “yes” to myself, and an emphatic “no” to him (and promptly began packing my bags). Weather I finish this run, or even live through it, agreeing to run this was absolutely the right decision! My nerves are giving way to excitement as the minutes pass!