What a fantas
Johnny wakes me up at 6:15, "Don't you want to go running this morning, honey?" I mumble and roll over, so he closes the door. Two minutes later, my eyes pop open. Johnny forgot to put the heavy blanket over the window, so it's bright and sunny in the room. I grumble and curse female hormones that make me extra tired and cranky as I pull myself out of bed. I stumble into the bathroom, and Johnny quickly takes the warm spot in bed I just vacated. Ash is happily munching away at breakfast while watching Toy Story. I prep for the run, slowly. Brush teeth, eat a zbar, get water and gel, put on clothes (make sure they are clothes I would be really cold in), put on NEW SHOES. I prep for going to the fitness center after, to soak in the hot tub - pack my swimsuit, towel, change of clothes, etc.
The drive to Sabino Canyon is uneventful. Clouds are beginning to gather around the mountains, drawn to the summits like magnets. I dressed appropriately (for once!), as I am freezing to begin with. I strap on my little fanny pack, attach my pepper spray to my waist and slip my hand into the water bottle strap. I decide that since I ate a zbar within the last hour, I will wait to take my gel until I hit the Phoneline Trail.
I plan on doing the Phoneline Cutoff/Rattlesnake Canyon loop - the last time I did this was a few weeks ago with Lisa and Kiera. It hurt my itb, and Olga suggested I avoid hills while healing (thank you, Olga!). So today will be a test of both my new shoes, and my itb.
I head out the dirt road on the east side of the parking lot. The trail is strangely quiet. Again, I am struck by how bouncy and springy and sprightly I feel in my new shoes. The wind whips my hair out of my visor, and my nose begins running almost immediately. I warm up quickly though, and before I know it, I am at the creek crossing right before Phoneline. The creek is flowing! Beautiful, clear, snowmelt, making it's rapid way down to the thirsty desert. I run over the bridge, marveling at the sunlight glinting off the water. I hit Phoneline, and immediately begin walking, while I eat my gel.
I hike my way up, up, up till I hit the ridge where Blackett's Trail takes off. My heart and breathing seem to be just right - I am getting a great workout, but not overdoing it. I pass Blackett's and enter Sabino Canyon proper - I can hear the water raging below! Wait, I can hear the water raging below. Yikes! In order to cross the canyon and access Rattlesnake, I have to cross Sabino creek - and there is no bridge. I am used to have no water in the creek, so crossing consists of walking across sand. But not today! I wrestle with what to do: make my workout three times as big as I was planning, by going all the way to the stop of the tram road, an additional five-ish miles and lots more vertical, or risk getting my feet and shoes soaking wet in snowmelt. Darn it! I forgot to pack my sandals, which means if I get my shoes wet, I'll have to drive with cold, wet feet, then hit the hot tub, then put on my cold, wet shoes to get home. Oh, man.
I reach the junction with the cutoff trail, and see some people below. Well, somehow, someone made it across the creek! It couldn't be too bad. I launch off Phoneline, down the cutoff. Whee!!! I keep trying to tell myself to hold back, be careful so I don't hurt my itb. The trail is steep and rocky, and I am having a blast. I reach the hikers, and they inform me that they crossed at Sabino Dam. This is not good news: the dam is a half-mile in the opposite direction of where I am headed, which will add an additional mile - half of which I usually refuse to do, because it's a "scary" riparian area - but oh, well. If it keeps my feet dry, I'll do it.
I make it down to the creek - I can either try to cross here, or add that extra mile. I decide to give it a try. What an adrenaline rush! I am usually a horrible creek crosser. It's one of Johnny's skills, but me - no way. The water is deep, and I have to jump across six or seven boulders to hop across. I get on the first one, bounce to the next. Good job. Then s t r e t c h ... there's the next the one! Hop to the top, and almost slide right off. My shoes grip well, and I take a deep breath and contemplate where to make my next move. I hesitate here, I am scared, but I reach out and secure my right foot on a partially submerged boulder. When I am convinced I am safe, I swing my left foot out and quickly jump to the other side. Whew, I made it!!!
Drained from the heart-pumping creek crossing, I jog across the road and over to Rattlesnake. I love this trail - although I refused to take it for years because it seemed isolated and like mountain lion habitat. But it is just such a great, fun trail. Easy elevation changes, it meanders through a small side canyon, then up and over a small ridge back down to the tram road. Just a blast.
I take off. My itb isn't even twinging - by this point with Lisa and Kiera, I was really pushing through the pain. I am so happy to be running again. I run and run and run and run. At points, I can tell I am reaching 10-minute-miles again, finally. I am gliding through the air, galloping up the canyon, breathing deeply, feeling the air through my hair, feeling alive. It is spectacular. This is why I hike, this is why I run, this is why I live.
I make it out to the road, and head down the hill, on the dirt shoulder. I notice rain in the valley below - rain! In Tucson! Again, within a week! Oh, how beaut...
I am airborne, my entire body horizontal, flying. I try to figure out what the best way to land would be, and I manage to throw my right arm and leg out and down to break the fall. I skid for a good six inches and just lie there. My body stings. I sit up slowly and breathe. I feel tears gathering in my eyes. What an incredible run, and I fell! I fell! A man asks if I am okay. I say I'm fine. He wants to know if I want help up, but I decline. I want to wallow in my misery for a few more minutes.
I get up gingerly and begin limping down the road. There is a little more than a half-mile to the finish (a half-mile, that's it! and I fell! on the road!) I am sad - no hot tub for me this morning. A woman coming up the road calls out to the man, asking if I am okay. He tells her I'm fine. She says she wasn't sure if I fell, or if I was just sitting there. She reaches me, notices the blood running down my leg and offers me an unused tissue. She tells me she's a physician, and makes sure I just tripped and that I wasn't dizzy or anything. She says I should keep pressure on my knee, and I wonder how I am going to do that while walking down the road. I want to keep going, but she keeps talking. She is nice, but I want to go. Finally, she gives me well wishes and continues on her way.
The break with her was good enough, that I am ready to run again. I want to run. Running felt so good. So I do. I start with a jog. Then I speed up. I am running again, and it feels great. When I am almost to the visitor center, I see a woman starting her run - she looks just like Paula Morrison, an amazing Tucson runner. She smiles, then looks down and sees my knee. She looks back up at my face in horror, then continues on her run. I laugh, and go in search of a first aid kit.
No first aid kit to be found, so I head home. Johnny and Ash are surprised to see me so early, and Ash gasps at my boo-boos. Johnny makes sure I don't have any broken bones, then wants to know what I think of my shoes, since I fell in them and all. I tell him they are so incredibly awesome, my run was so incredibly awesome, I had no itb pain - NONE - and I love them.
Then I ask him for first aid help. He tells me to shower off first, so I do. Then we take stock of our first aid kit. It is sorely lacking. Johnny goes to Walgreens, and gets an industrial-size tube of neosporin, some gauze pads and ace bandages to hold it all in place. He also gets fun toys for Ash.
He bandages me up, then takes off for his run - a gorgeous run hike through desert snow.The link above has the rest of the awesome photos.
I adore my new shoes. My itb issues seem to be at bay. I will stretch and keep taking care of myself, so the itb pain stays away. I ran today - I didn't just jog. I ran.
(Albeit extremely cranky and grumpy this afternoon. I am still cursing those female hormones. I just want to crawl into bed to hide and cry. Even though I had an awesome run. I hate PMS. At least I got to have some fresh-baked, fat-free brownies this afternoon.)