Do you KNOW what I did on my trip?
In the days following my epic run/hike on Wednesday, all I could say was, "Do you KNOW what I did?" I found ways to drop it into every. single. conversation. It drove C nuts (okay, so that motivated me to keep finding ways to bring it up *grin*). Eating almost an entire pizza by myself: "Do you KNOW what I did today?" Wanting ice cream immediatly after eating almost an entire pizza: "Do you KNOW what I did today?" Limping, moaning and groaning: "Do you KNOW what I did yesterday?" Taking the elevator instead of the stairs: "Do you KNOW what I did?"
12.2 miles. 3220 vert ft of elevation gain. 4.5 hours. A description can be found here, along with the recommendation of allowing 7.5 hours to hike it.
I didn't think I could do it that quickly. I mean, I'm out of shape, and this is steep stuff. It's the freakin' Grand Canyon. It's amazing.
I started at the top of Bright Angel Trail, with the hopes of running all the way down to Plateau Point, 6.1 miles away. I launched myself off the top and started the long jog down. It was fun passing people and seeing the look of surprise on their faces. I overheard a number of comments, such as:
1. She won't be doing that for very long.
2. She's jogging?!
3. How far are you going?
4. Way to go!
5. You are in great condition!
I liked the way how this trail was broken up: 1.5 mile resthouse, 3 mile resthouse, Indian Gardens at 4.6, then Plateau Point at 6.1. Each segment is approximately 1.5 miles apart, which made nice targets. I did each 1.5-mile segment on the way down in about 23 minutes. I got stuck behind one mule train, wishing I had brought a bandana to cut down on dust. The guide was very nice about pulling all his folks over so I could pass (mule trains have the right of way). I took my time at Plateau Point, taking lots of photos. Ran back up to Indian Gardens, where I took my time refilling my camelback, switching out my gel flasks and using the restroom. I eavesdropped on folks talking about having seen someone running the day before rim-to-rim. He had no body fat and was probably in his mid-forties. "Yup, ultrarunner for sure," I thought to myself. I overheard someone say, "If you can make it up from here in three hours, you are in amazing shape." Immediately, that became my goal :)
I started the hike back up, telling myself I just had to make it up to 3-mile resthouse. 1.5 miles, that's it. Just think about that. I hit the "go button" inside and kept the "petal to the metal" and just went. I decided to channel Olga, who is a strong hiker. She moves her arms side to side and just plows on ahead. I made it to 3-mile resthouse in 45 minutes, shocking myself. Way to go! I then immediately attacked the next segment. This 1.5 miles was so hard. I was bonking and tired and didn't want to keep moving. It was hard to keep the go button pressed. I had to stop and sit - my first sitting-down rest on the whole trip - for about 5 minutes. I got back up and started walking again. I was very tired and was having a hard time mustering up the energy to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I tried to channel Olga again, and I also reminded myself that in most ultras, this hill would be just one of many. I consoled myself with the fact that I only had to do one hill. I started dreaming of a cheeseburger and cherry coke, and then tried to *not* think about the food afterwards; I wanted to save that for the last 1.5 miles. So I promised myself dreams of food once I hit the 1.5-mile resthouse. Somehow, I made it there in 43 minutes. So even with the 5-minute break, I was still going fast (for me anyway!). Just past the 1.5-mile resthouse, I passed a group of backpackers going up. A few minutes later, I could hear them gaining on me again. No way, I thought. There's no way I'm going to get passed by them on the last 1.5 miles! That, combined with my full-on dreams of food, kept me going, going, going on the last 1.5 miles. All the sudden, there were many tourists around, and I had to dodge them to keep moving. I was determined. I realized I had a chance to finish by 1 pm (I had initially told C I'd be done by about 2:30, possibly later if I had a bad day). I was almost there. Could I make it by 1 pm? I looked ahead at the switchbacks and gauged my pace. It would be close. I thought maybe I could finish by 1:03. But 1 pm on the nose? Not sure.. I ran the last 20 feet, and finally - in 45 minutes from 1.5-mile resthouse, and at 12:59:41 pm, I topped out. I did it! Not only that, but I ran the whole way down, some of the way up, and I did the last 4.6 from Indian Gardens in 2 hours and 15 minutes.
I spent a few hours at Bright Angel, eating a hot dog, drinking cherry coke, eating ice cream (do you KNOW what I just did?!) and reading, until C was done with his work.
The next day, I hiked just over 5 miles along the Rim Trail from Hermit's Rest. I wanted to do the whole 8 miles (at the time, I thought it was 7 miles) from Hermit's Rest to Bright Angel Lodge, but by 5 miles, I was done. I don't usually go out the day after a big run/hike; I like to rest. I was glad I went out and did something, but it was a pretty miserable 5 miles, even with ibuprofen in me. I was tired! I also got somewhat lost. The trail generally stays along the rim, between the rim and the road to Hermit's Rest. At one section, both the trail and the road veer away from the rim. I ended up losing the trail. I was a little worried about this, but knew I was still between the rim and the road so I couldn't *really* get lost. But yes, I was scared! I found the trail a little while later and all was well. Once I hit the shuttle stop just over 5 miles, I thought to myself, "screw this! I'm done!" and took the shuttle back to Hermit's Rest where I got to finish my book (I borrowed Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes from the library) and rest next to the gigantic fireplace while C finished up. Then we drove out to go see the Watchtower, a neat building at the other end of the park, built by the famous architect who also built Hermit's Rest. That evening, I spent in the hot tub at the hotel. Damn, I was still so sore!
The next day, we drove up to Page to go see Antelope Canyon, which was spectacular. I was still limping, but I did okay. Then we drove down to Flagstaff, where we ate at my favorite restaurant, Mountain Oasis. It was 10 pm by the time we were done, and we didn't really feel like driving the four hours back to Tucson that late. We spent awhile trying to find a decently priced hotel room, and finally we did. I was exhausted and slept so hard! We drove home yesterday, making a stop in Scottsdale to lie on the world's dreamiest mattress. I fell asleep last night at 6:30 pm and slept for 12 hours. Guess I was tired!
My legs are doing okay, although my calves are still hurting. My hip didn't hurt nearly as much on this trip as it had been; it was mostly my calves and shins from that steady uphill. I want to go to yoga this morning, and then just relax. I have to dive back into work tomorrow morning with a 2-hour drive to Phoenix for a client meeting. I'm feeling a little worried about this week - I am feeling emotional and definitely missing Ash. He won't be back till next Sunday! I know I'll be fine, but I know it's going to be hard. My heart hurts; I don't like being away from him for this long!!!
My camera decided it didn't want to read my memory card about halfway through the trip, uh-oh! I'm hoping to get it figured out so I can get some pics up soon.
PS If you have not read this yet, you should.