Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Boston Marathon

I completed a bucket list goal of running and completing the Boston Marathon, held Monday April, 19, 2010. I finished 650th in my age division, 14592 overall with a pace of 9:05, or 3:57:51.

Here with Brother Dave, who ran a full half-hour faster, at the family gathering site outside the finish line. I ran this with Valencia friends Frank and Belinda.

There is truly nothing like the Boston Marathon.

To start, there is the qualification. This is the only marathon to require qualification. For many like me, that is the biggest challenge, simply qualifying. I qualified with a 3:40 time (with about 13 seconds to spare) at St. George in 2008 with friends Belinda and Mandy, and qualifications are good for 18 months.

There is the training. Long long running. Oddly, I ran Death Valley in December 2010 with little training and ran a 3:41; here, I spent weeks and miles and couldn't break 3:50 let alone 3:40.

There are the logistics. Getting there, getting a hotel room, getting on the bus in downtown Boston with tens of thousand of people, getting to the start, hanging out in the cold for two or three hours.

There is the start. Two waves; faster and slower (I was in the slower; brother Dave in the faster). I stumbled right at the start over somebody's trash bag and got banged up.

There is the race itself. Jockeying for position for the first six miles. Hundreds of thousands of people along the race -- the screaming people through Wellesley; the Wellesley girls offering a kiss. Heartbreak Hill, although I didn't realize I was at Heartbreak until at the top. I am ashamed to say that I walked part of Heartbreak.

There are the people. Forty thousand, or so. Seeing them in the hotels, the restaurants and pubs around Boston; all fit and thin; mostly youngish, or at least younger than me. From all parts of the world; lots from Ireland, Canada, England, Spain, Mexico. Striking up conversations with them in restaurants, at the airport.

There's Boston. Walking the Freedom Trail with Debbie and friends Belinda and William. Seeing the LDS Boston temple, a huge edifice. Going to Church services in Mitt Romney's old stake and hearing his name mentioned frequently. The fabulous Irish pubs, the Italian restaurants. (The hotel was a different matter; 100 yards from the Boston Garden in an area filled with sports bars; after the victory over Miami, all-night celebrations.)

There's the finish; with friends and family. I finished higher, but not much, than my seeded number. I was able to get up to the 13,000 series at mid-point before fading back (and then seeing friend Belinda pass me, somebody I had beat by several minutes in a half marathon just three weeks before). And a hundred thousand people in downtown Boston.

I'll post more pictures.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Paria Canyon, 38+ Miles

On April 8-10, 2010, sons Tadd and Nate, sons-in-law Kirk and Casey (running companion), friend Greg (two 50-mile hikes and prospective Mt. Shasta fellow climber) and I made a 38-mile descent of Paria Canyon.

I had done this hike once before, but in under 24 hours with son Rob, ultrarunner brother Dave and friend Brady. Consequently, most of the hike was at night and we hadn't seen much. I had mentioned the hike to retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge R.N., who then reported to me with pictures that he had done the descent himself and wanted to do it again. I had decided that I had missed too much with my night descent and I wanted to do it again myself.

On April 8, 2010, we hired Susan, the shuttle driver, to pick us up at Lee's Ferry, Arizona, where we parked the car. She transported us the 90 minute distance to the Whitehouse trailhead in Utah, which can be see at point D on the map to the left here. Along the way she figured out pretty quickly we were Mormons and told us about the lead scroll find authored by John D. Lee at Lonely Dell. Of course, she wasn't too interested in hearing about my observations about the likelihood of the scroll being a Mark Hoffman forgery, but the others in the car had never heard of this stuff. Lonely Dell was John D. Lee's hideout from federal authorities after his participation in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I had had prior experience with massacre here and here.

We left Whitehouse at about 1:00 p.m. Thursday. The more spectacular but longer hike would have been at first down Buckskin Gulch, but this time of year a descent down that Gulch would have required swimming and rope work. Driver Susan had told us that last year some hikers had found a dead hiker in a pool at the end of a rope.

I was a little concerned about the height of the Paria River. I hadn't seen it that high before. When I had hiked it some years before, the water was clear and low and it was easy to pick one's course across the river. This week, the snowmelt was underway, and the water was very silty and stepping off into the river could mean stepping into a deep pool. I laughed as the boys tried for the first couple of crossings to avoid getting their feet wet; we'd have 400 river crossings total.

That first day we hiked downstream about 8 or nine miles to a spring and camped. It took a few crossings to figure out the efficient method of crossing -- look for ripples in the water signifying shallow water.

It was great to have outdoors expert Greg there because he had become very familiar with the terrain through guidebooks and internet research. Although I had done the hike before, and Greg hadn't, I would not have known how to locate the springs along the way. Greg was able to identify them. The springs were more than just drips coming off the canyon walls. There were many springs sitting in clear pools along the base of the canyon walls. If one didn't know what one was looking for, those pools could easily be missed. Our first night was camped adjacent to such a pool.

From our first night's camp, we hiked a tough 17 miles or so the next day to "Last Reliable" (meaning, last reliable spring water). While packing up at Last Reliable around 7:00 a.m. the next morning, ultrarunner brother and fellow amateur Mormon historian brother Davy met us, after entering Whitehouse eight hours before. He then exited with us. His detailed account is here; he spent 8 hours running to where we had camped after two days. I kept telling the boys that he'd be arriving; they didn't believe me. I wondered what would happen if he arrived in the middle of a cold night and we had no tent to put him in.

We had to carefully pick our places to water up in springs along the way. At the lower end of the hike, river crossings were difficult because the water had become rather deep. When the water was high the second day, I shorted out my Canon ELPH in a river crossing and was forced to rely upon my blackberry for remaining shots.

We were warned to wear Neoprene socks, and they were very wonderful as they added an additional measure of warmth. The first day's descent and first evening were cold; the temperature descended to close to freezing. The next evening was much warmer as well the exit day.

We moved at a fast pace. Covering this distance in three days was rather challenging, but the boys did not complain.
The photos here are of Dave arriving just as we were breaking camp.

The adults were complaining about the inability to find any petroglyphs. I offered to get out my Sharpie and make some for them. Finally, on the last day, Greg carefully analyzed the photographs in his guidebook and found some petroglyphs for us.

This week completed a 60 mile plus week for me. Too bad I couldn't lose the gut before Boston.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

More preparation for Boston

Another long mileage week, this time in rather cold weather.

After a 15-mile run Saturday morning, I took the family on one of my favorite 5-mile loops in Towsley Canyon.