Monday, June 20, 2011

My New Found "Trail"

Once again, it has been some time since I’ve updated this thing. Sorry.  So what have I been up to since you last heard from me? Well….lace up your boots…a whole lot and a whole lot of the same. Riveting, I know! I have been running a lot more. I discovered a local “trail” that I have put to good use. I suppose I should rephrase, it’s not actually a trail. It’s actually just the canal with some open sections on either side. As I have previously mentioned, our apartment complex is conveniently located on the Aqua Fria Canal here in the greater phoenix area. Well this canal is lined by bike trails that one can run/bike/skate/skip/walk/jog/scoot all about the city. The problem is, I detest pavement, almost as much as I detest dreadmills. Okay not quite that much, but, when given the option, I’ll choose the dirt right next to the pavement every time. So this is exactly what I’ve been doing. Every morning at the late hour of 4am, I’ll lace up my tattered shoes and venture south on the bike trail for about a mile, and then continue on thru the brush, swamp, rock bed, or whatever it is. There really isn’t a trail or any markings just two 20 foot concrete walls with about 100-200 yards of brush, swamp, water, cactus, dirt and garbage in between. This is where I run. It is the closest thing to trail run I can find while being extremely far from single-track. The terrain varies from sand to large boulders which would break my ankle in two if given the proper opportunity. We will definitely avoid this at all costs. Now you may be wondering why I would venture from perfectly paved smoothness to this rocky wasteland?? Well…as previously mentioned, I detest pavement. So this “trail” provides the perfect escape. Although I would much prefer to go run the many mountain recreation areas here, but, time is an enemy that is rarely defeated. So it on this “trail” I find my solace.

Now one would think that because this “trail” is located in the city, or in the suburb at least (if Phoenix has suburbs??), it would be devoid of much wildlife. Very wrong. Here I have seen a wealth of wildlife. Actually nearly every morning I encounter a whole family of coyotes that lives within a mile of my apartment. I've tried catching one of them but they are always just out of reach.
Guess I need to get some more speed work in. I also have recently found a large family of javelinas about 4 miles from my apartment. Now these buggers scare me. They are basically a big ole pig but I know what pigs can do to someone if they are spooked or just plain feel like eating you. Luckily they run away every time I come trudging by. The most common species is the common jack rabbit. See tons of these. They are everywhere and are wicked fast. If only I had ears like that. I have yet to see a snake in the canal and I hope to keep it that way. However, Patsy and I did have a rather frightening encounter with one about a week ago while on a trail run in Deem Hills Recreation Area. We ran to the top of the small mountain there to watch the sunset and then took the trail back down. By the time we were down it was getting dark and as we rounded a corner we both froze when we heard the rattle of snake. I had hair sticking up in places I didn’t even know there was hair. Good news is, I guess the snake will warn you before it takes a bite out of your leg. That is if you don’t step on it first. This prompted me to do some research on how to treat snake bites if you are out and about. I guess you are supposed to cut an “X” between the bite marks and then suck out as much of the poison as you can. We’ll just make sure to avoid that event. 

Other than the above running adventures, I have continued my daily 12 mile commute from work every day. Yes it has hit 110 degrees on some days and makes the day quite toasty, but the dry heat is much more manageable than the humid nonsense from which we came. I’ll take this heat over VA heat any day. Not saying I don’t miss the mountains and green of Virginia, but Arizona holds a beauty that is much different and whole different type of enjoyable. I have upped my training mileage in hopes to run some longer races come fall. The first of which is the Flagstaff Marathon. This one is a wild card because Flagstaff is much higher elevation than Phoenix and I don’t think I’ll be able to get up there to run too much. So we’ll either just wing it or see what happens or I’ll just have to make a few weekend trips as the race draws closer. The one I’m really excited about is the Javelina 12 Hour Full Moon Night Run. This will be my first attempt at a race longer than 26.2 miles. Yes I know, maybe I should try a few marathon distance races first, but quite frankly, I just don’t want to. I would much rather get lost on trails for 30+ plus miles than pound pavement for 26.2 miles again. This is not saying that I won’t do a marathon again. I have some redeeming to do since the last one didn’t go as well as I had hoped. But that is a whole different story. For now, I’m going to continue to explore my new found trail and get myself into the best trail-running shape I can so I start doing some longer trail races this fall. I hope you’ve all enjoyed this rather long prose on what I’ve been doing….if you got this far…thanks for caring! I promise, we'll meet again! 

Jog on Mates!