Tag Archives: #trailracing

What a year…and listen to your body!

I have so much to say about this season including how you need to listen to your body!  With the world of social media the blog post has been put on the back burner because sometimes it is just easier to post away instead of sit down and take the time to write.

Soaking in the river mid run
Kilkenny Ridge Race! Photo by Jeff Sinon

I have been very busy this year playing, working, farming, race directing and trying to be the best person I can be!  My year began with me being injured and after months of x-rays, MRI, tests and trying alternative therapy I finally found out it was my sciatica that was causing all of the issues with my hip.  With my hip feeling better I was excited to reach out to Jeff Browning and start being coached again!

Beautiful day in the Whites!
Nate Hut Traversing
Beautiful day in the Whites!

The season started out incredible with two new ladies course records at the Traprock 50k and Worlds End 50k.  Something happened at Manatous Revenge, I got homesick and burnt out.  I just wanted to go home, so I did.  At mile 30 I dropped out of the race, hitched a ride to the finish line and bailed on every single trip and race I had planned this year with the exception of the Vermont 50.  Something kept me from pulling the plug on that race.

Hut Traverse Sunrise
Hut traverse sunrise

Vermont 50 was my first ultra run almost 14 years ago!  I signed up mostly on a dare with maybe 40 miles of running for the year.  The day was spent chasing cut offs and smiling….I was hooked!  Never did I imagine one day I would be good at running and doing ultras all over the country!

We have goats!! One of them, Destiny is learning to trail run!

After Manatous I set my eye on training for the White Mountain Hut Traverse FKT attempt.  I spent every moment I had pushing myself hard in the mountains.  The more vert, the more miles, the longer and harder the effort the happier I was.  I pushed myself on some local FKT routes and got a handful of them this summer.  My mountain fitness was the best it has ever been!  It became an obsession and I felt like a caged animal set free!

Skillet Toss winners!
Ashleys 48 finish!

Mid summer my husband Ryan took a huge fall and broke his finger which require surgery.  Long story short, it sucked and he was not able to have the same type of summer I did although he did end up landing his dream job which was awesome so now we both have jobs we enjoy going to!

Paddle boarding
Hut Traversing

Ryan and I hosted 3 new races in the White Mountains which were a huge success and we hope to add 3 more to our schedule in 2019!  We absolutely love race directing and can’t thank everyone involved for making them simply perfect!  Check us out at www.rockhopperraces.com

We are so excited to bring challenging races to the White Mountains while focusing on building a community as well as raising money to keep the trails beautiful!

I did end up getting the ladies FKT on the Hut traverse in a time of 14:28 which I am confident on a day that is not as hot or crowded I could go under 14 hours. I will try again next year!  The bummer was that after the hut traverse I did not take enough time to rest and ended putting my body into a bad place.

My beautiful mountain!

I am very fortunate to have some other ladies to talk to about the things that happen to female athletes who train a ton.  I was training around 11-19 hours every week.  I was also working full time.  Something eventually has to give.

Happy and tired after the hut traverse!

I have been through this before and saw every single sign but could not stop myself because with each success in the mountains I wanted more.  I was constantly fatigued, felt shaky inside, started losing some hair, lost my sex drive, had dizzy spells, got night sweats and an array of other strange symptoms.  I don’t have issues with eating but I do think about whether or not what I am eating is okay and how it might affect my training.  I started losing my appetite and I knew where I was headed, my hormones and adrenal system were starting to drift into an unhealthy place.

There is nothing more important than listening to your body, noticing the small changes-good and bad

I had a long talk with my coach about how I may have pushed myself too hard.  I often talk with one of my friends about being a woman and pushing the limits.  She has experienced this too.   It is comforting and sad to hear that other ladies experience these side effects of trying achieve maximum fitness levels.  I realized that women need to be far more careful than men with training and eating needs, this needs to be talked about more.  It is so easy to get wrapped up in our goals and key races that we become addicted to success and after a while success slips away slowly as our bodies deteriorate.

Finishing the Hut Traverse!
White Mountain running on one of the few easy trails!

I had 2 weeks to go until Vermont and really wanted to run the race.  I had long conversations with my friends and coach about my health and whether or not this race would break me.  I literally shut it down and took 2 weeks to eat and sleep like a champ.  Three days before the race I started to feel less fatigue.

Chocorua Mountain race photo by Jeff Sinon

I decided to go to the Vermont 50 miler and not race it.  Being a sponsored athlete with several great accomplishments over the last few years made this decision very hard to make.  I wanted to hammer myself and see what I could do but I needed to see if I could make a smart decision.  I needed to see if I could still love running races again.

Morning moon
Eating Crickets with Nicole!

Race morning came and I was unusually giddy, typically I am gagging on bits of granola and feeling sick and dizzy thinking about racing.  This time I was simply there to have fun and I felt so calm.  I also knew that even though I was in awesome mountain running shape I barely spent any time running on dirt roads so those muscles were about to be woken up.  My goal was to finish happy and strong.  This was going to possibly be my last race for a very long time.

Maybe taking one race a year to step back and make is social is a great way to remember why running is so fun!

Winning is fun but so is spending time being able to experience simply finishing!

Once we took off I started yapping with everyone around me!  I was laughing and the miles just flew by!  I felt a joy that I could barely contain!  I spent 50 miles running with friends and got to finish with a friend who was running her first 50 mile!  She laid down an amazing time and we even tied for 9/10th place!

Jack Puppy!
Bennett!

I was beat up the day after the race and had a lot of time to reflect on the race.  Two days later I woke up more excited to race than I have been in years!  I think I needed a non competitive day to realize why I run and why I race!  Now it is time to get some bloodwork done, see where my  health is, hit the gym, ski and hike.  I will be running too but not with any formal training until the spring.  I am ready to rest up, recharge the batteries and enjoy life a bit more!

Having fun with my Ryan!
I am loving this new Lycan GTX!

I am cutting back my work hours substantially in January so that I can focus on my running, farming, spending time with my husband and friends, and just having time to take care of myself.  The challenge of feeling relaxed before a big race is going to be tough but fun!  Life is always full of lessons and each day I am so happy to learn something new about myself and where I want to be!

Running is awesome but so are other things in life-friends, family, farming, biking, cooking, meditating…you know, those things that don’t involve running!

Make sure you live a well rounded life so that when you can’t run there will still be purpose in your life!

VT 50! Photo by Andrew Drummond
VT 50! Photo by Andrew Drummond

Thank you to my sponsors La Sportiva, Julbo USA, Boom Nutrition and Choucas Hats for their support.  If you haven’t checked it out you can see my new favorite shoe through this link!  #spnsrd Thank you to my friends for being so supportive and to my husband Ryan for being my favorite running partner.  Thank you to my sweet Jack puppy and Bennet for being the best trail pups ever!  I am a very lucky girl!!

There is nothing better than being in the woods!

 

Skyline 55k and trail running in Utah

I try to find races when I visit family so when I was headed out to see my brother and his family I registered for the Skyline 55k in Eden, Utah!  The course looked beautiful and the location quaint.  I was a bit concerned about the altitude but figured I would give it a try!  I love the trail running in Utah!

Running in Canyonlands!

What is the Skyline 55k like?  Are there a lot of rocks?  What is the highest point on the course?

The Skyline 50k is a low key race in Eden, UT.  The bus will pick you up near a field  and drive you to the start which is a very beautiful and remote area!  The race starts up some beautiful switchbacking single track and does start at around 5500 feet.  I did not expect to feel the altitude but I did!

It was dawn when we started and what I thought was really unique is we did not need headlamps even though it was dark out!  The sky was just starting to get that morning light as we followed flashing course markings to the trail.  We were treated to a wonderful sunrise that lit the mountains up beautifully!

 

photo from skyline facebook page

The terrain was quite runnable and everything switchbacked.  I loved how the course took us over beautiful ridges where we could see hot air balloons rising in the sky!  The altitude would make for some labored breathing but for most of the day the beauty made me forget about how I was feeling!

There was one long climb to the high point of the course where I became very nauseous and had a searing headache but did top out at almost 10,000 feet so it was to be expected.  After the descent off of that climb we never really went above 8000 feet so it was tolerable.

Running in the Canyonlands

The course has one more stout climb after the high point and then there is a fabulous descent that goes on forever!  Luckily we were treated to awesome aid stations that would squeeze cold water on us because it was extremely hot and there was very little tree cover.  The race finishes near where the shuttle picked us up and there was a wonderful post race meal as well as massages!

Camping in Utah

What kind of critters can attack me?  What is the trail running in Utah like?

Bears, cougars and snakes are probably the biggest worries but I have only seen bear and they took off quickly.  We also saw a bunch of moose off in the distance but they didn’t seem to care that we were passing by.

Utah trail running in the fall

The running in Utah varies.  I have run in a few places that range from nice buffed out single track to steep rocky talus.  There are some great mountain runs in Utah as well!  My two favorites were Mount Timpanogos and Kings Peak!  The altitude was killer for me but so worth venturing up to the incredible summits!

Ryan looking off the summit of Timp!

I found the summer to be quite hot and dry and the fall to be very pleasant but chilly up high.  There is a great running community in Utah and we did see other trail runners out there having fun!  Utah also has a lot of bike/running paths and a variety of trail systems!

Kings Peak Summit! Utahs high point!

Moab and Canyonlands are another great place to run!  The trails are very unique and it is cool to run around so many rock formations!  I have been in the spring and fall and found both times of year to be wonderful times to visit!  Moab isn’t fully open until late April (we went in early April and many places were closed for the season)

Moab/Canyonland area

Where can I stay?  Is it expensive?  Can I find food that fits into my diet?

Utah is affordable to visit.  Flights into Salt Lake City are reasonable and offer many time options.  In the more populated areas there was a huge selection of food to choose from.  As we ventured into more remote areas there were fewer choices and one area only had a pizza hut!  If you are not able to be flexible with your diet you may want to have some food on hand.

The race venue had a couple of food options but I found it somewhat hard to find gluten free food.  Ogden is the closet town and there is plenty to choose from there.  I was staying in Eden which was beautiful but only had a couple of places to get food.

There are so many places to stay in Utah!  There are chain hotels, air bnb, and campgrounds.  It can get windy camping in the desert so be prepared for the possibility of a sandstorm!

Kane Creek Trail

Are the people strange in Utah?  Can I get good beer?

NO, the people are actually very nice!  I have heard so many people comment on the Mormon population.  They are by far some of the kindest people I have met!  They all greet you with a huge smile and are extremely welcoming!

There are some laws in Utah that affect alcohol percentage and consumption.  You can read about them here.  It really isn’t a big deal and did not affect my trips at all but it is important to know before going.  I have known people to drive across the border to purchase stronger drinks.

Canyonlands

Do I need to worry about the weather?  Are there avalanches?

There is an avalanche danger in parts of Utah so always check before going out, even in the spring and fall.  We wanted to play in the La Salles one April and there were too many avalanches!

Be aware of slot canyons as a storm many miles away can cause flash flooding and in the summer afternoon thunderstorms can happen suddenly.  Often times you will be on a ridge in beautiful and sunny weather and when you top out you may be in the worst thunderstorm of your life!

I absolutely love running in Utah!  The state offers such a wonderful variety of running!  You can run through shaded forests, run through the aspens (in the fall they light up the forest!), run mountain tops and spectacular ridges or run through the vast desert around and through rock formations, slot canyons and open land!

Utah Desert running

Feel free to reach out with any questions!  Happy running!

 

 

Connecticut Trail Running

Connecticut Trail running, where it all began for me!  I was born and raised in Connecticut and the trails there will always hold a special place in my heart.  There are so many great trail races there with the most recent one that I have raced being the Traprock 50k.  One of my most memorable CT races is the Nipmuck Trail Marathon!

What are some of the popular trail races in Connecticut?

Connecticut has so many trail races that I could not possibly cover them all!  Some of my favorites are Traprock 50k, Nipmuck Trail Marathon, Soapstone 25k, and the Soapstone Assault.  Many of the trail races have significant history and have been going on for many years!

Dying at the end of the race-photo by Scott Livingston

Most of the Connecticut trail races are very low key with a great post race vibe.  Plan on socializing after the race and most events offer great post race food!  The Connecticut trail running scene is pretty awesome and very friendly!

Are there scary critters there?  What is Connecticut trail running like?

Connecticut has bear, copperhead snakes, timber rattle snakes and ticks that can carry Lyme Disease.  The snakes do frequent certain parts of the state and seem to prefer sunny ledges.  I spent most of my life living in Connecticut and have seen plenty of large poisonous snakes but they have never been aggressive.  I have also had Lyme disease twice and was fortunate to have full recoveries.

That tree at Case Mountain!

The trails are great!  They are a nice mix of hills, rocks and roots!  Connecticut does have fairly technical trails and most areas have traprock which can be very slippery when wet.  There are a lot of hard wood forests which are pretty cool because you can see so far in the woods!  The ridges in Connecticut offer wonderful views that seem to go on forever!

Connecticut has short winters and it makes for great trail running almost all year long!  The winter can provide some fun snow running while early spring and late fall tend to be some of the nicest times to get out for a run!  Summers are always nice too!  Some of my favorite places to run are Case Mountain, Penwood state forest, Meshomasic and the Natchaug forest.

Is it expensive?  Do campgrounds exist?  What is the easiest way to get to CT.

Connecticut can be expensive but it does not have to be.  There are many options for spending the night and there are some areas that allow camping although most are RV style campgrounds.  You can easily find good food near any bigger town and the variety available is endless!  Connecticut is crowded so don’t plan on having the place all to yourself but if you venture out far enough you will probably see fewer and fewer people.

I will shine again, and even brighter than before! 🙂

Connecticut is easy to reach if you live anywhere in New England.  There are several major highways and various forms of transportation.  Bradley International airport is very convienent and most airlines will fly into the airport.  It is the easiest airport to get in and out of!

Are dogs allowed on the trails?  What is the best way to find information on trails for Connecticut trail running?

Dogs are allowed on the trails but most places require them to be on a leash.  You will need to check each individual area regarding rules on dogs.  There are many multi-use trails with mountain bikers and horses so make sure your pups are used to them.  Some areas have issues with Coyotes attacking dogs so you will want to either avoid those locations or keep your pup on a leash.

The internet has wonderful information on trails in CT.  There is also a great book which has a guide to all the blue blazed trails in Connecticut.  There are several running clubs within the state that you could reach out to as well!  I used to belong to the Shenipsit Striders and they are very welcoming to everyone!

Case Mountain Trails!

I may be biased but I highly recommend visiting Connecticut for a trail run!  Signing up for one of the many races is a fabulous way to explore new trails and meet some of the local runners!  They are some of the best people I know and when you are racing in CT you will feel the energy that they exude!  I have never done a race anywhere else where the other runners are so upbeat and excited to cheer you on whether you are in the front, middle or back of the pack.

Quest for the Crest 50k-North Carolina

Quest for the Crest 50k – North Carolina was one of my first races that I viewed as a destination race.  I saw some pictures of the course and it looked like it would suit my running strengths!  I saw hills, rocks and roots.  The ridgeline looked amazing and it was right near the North Carolina highpoint Mt Mitchell which I needed for my US 50 Highpoint list.  This post is going to discuss the race and travel information.  You can read my race report here.

Quest for Crest 50k taken by Sean Blanton

My first impression of the race was a bit worrisome with a million strange emails from the race director Sean Blanton who owns Run Bum Tours.  The forecast went from 100 degrees to 18 degrees and snow.  At one point we got emails about Microspikes and aid stations possibly being unmanned!

We had no idea what to expect and quite honestly I thought Sean was out of his mind and figured the race would be a disaster.  I was shocked when I saw it was one of the best organized races around!  The course was amazing, the aid stations friendly and stocked well, perfect course markings and a wonderful post race party!  I think he tries to scare the runners prior to the race because everything was absolutely perfect on race day!

How do I get there?  Where do I stay?  Are southerners nice?

The easiest way to get there is to fly into Charlotte, SC.  It is about a 2.5 hour drive to get to the race start.  I found the airport to be quite easy to find my way around and the flights there are very cheap.

From the top of NC!

We stayed at Alberts Adventure Inn but there also is camping in Burnsville at Black Mountain campground.  Book ahead of time because it does fill up.  The room was clean and offered nice views of the mountains and golf course.  The packet pickup was right there too!  I really liked being so close to everything!

Southerners try to be scary but deep down they are so friendly and nice!  I found everyone to be very helpful and genuine.  There are a lot of confederate flags and pick up trucks with guns but I think it is simply a display of Southern Pride.

Quest for Crest 50k taken by Sean Blanton

Is North Carolina expensive?  I’m vegan/gluten free/etc, is there food for me to eat?

North Carolina is not very expensive if you live in New England.  I found everything to be very affordable!  There were plenty of chain stores and restaurants in the busier areas but as I ventured further to the mountains everything became a bit more remote.

Runners like to take pride in their diets.  We all do it differently and many people don’t understand our wacky ways.  In the bigger cities I was able to find anything that I wanted.  When we got closer to the race location there were literally two restaurants within reasonable driving distance.  The food was typical bar food.  You could get pasta dishes, burgers, fries and salads.  If you are vegan, gluten free or vegetarian I found it difficult to find those foods.

From the top of SC!

Southern food is amazing and I will sometimes cheat on my sugar/grain free diet but not before a race!  If you have dietary restrictions bring your own food with you.  The cost of food was reasonable and you could get dinner for $10-20.  I brought my own food for the morning and did not look into what kind of breakfast was offered near where we stayed.

Quest for Crest 50k taken by Sean Blanton

What kind of critters are there?  What are the trails on the course like?  How much elevation is lost and gained in Quest for the Crest 50k ?

The question I always ponder and research before going anywhere new is what can kill me on the trail.  North Carolina has panthers/cougars, bear, a variety of poisonous snakes (some that can swim very well), poisonous spiders and poisonous plants.  Honestly I saw none of these and felt safe the entire time.

The trails are simply amazing!  They varied from steep, rocky and rooty to buffed out switchbacks.  I felt that the course really leveled the playing field and offered a challenge for everyone.  The single track was stunning and the views on the ridge were jaw dropping!

Mid race at Quest For Crest 50k, taken by Sean Blanton

Plan on more rocks than runnable terrain and more steeps than switch backs but where it is buffed out you can really move!  The course gains about 12k and loses about 12k and trust, my legs were sure to let me know that!  Being from the White Mountains I found this course to be in my favor with the challenging terrain and tight single track.  The ridges were unique and reminded me more of high meadows than the rocky alpine zones in the Whites.

Mount Mitchell, North Carolina High Point!

Overall I give Quest for the Crest 50k 5 stars and something to put on your bucket list!  I chose to spend my extra time high pointing the neighboring states but if I go back I would certainly spend more time exploring the local trails as it looked like there was a lot to offer!

My vacation buddy Elizabeth! Crazy New Hampshire Chicks! We had so much fun at the race!

St John Trail Running

We love St John trail running!  Sadly the island got slammed with two hurricanes in the fall and is still recovering.  The campground at Cinnamon bay was by far the nicest place on the island and we hope that they rebuild it.  Kenny Chesney has set up a foundation to help raise money to help rebuild the island and it is awesome to see him bring so many people together to help repair the broken island.

I love so many things about St John, my favorite being the incredible trails, the awesome people the low key vibe, the beautiful snorkeling and beaches!  There is something special about that island.

Trail running!

What are the trails like?  Are there dangerous creatures are there?  What is the weather like?

The trails are amazing!  They are rugged, steep and fun!  The offer wonderful views and you can run through lush forests and arid desert.  The Trail Bandit map is pretty sweet and will help guide you through over 30 miles of trail!

High pointing!

There really are not any dangerous creatures on the island.  You will see donkeys, goats, iguana, lizards, hermit crabs, mosquitos, snakes and cats.  There are some to watch out for in the water such as jelly fish, sea urchins, barracuda and nurse sharks.  (The worse we experienced was being stung by a jellyfish)

Snorkeling!
It felt so nice to be wearing a tank top and sweating!

The weather is hot, it typically rains for a few minutes at night.  It is not very windy so the camping can be quite muggy.  We just leave the fly off of the tent and use the tarp for shade and rain protection.  The sun is very bright so be sure to bring good sunglasses and sunblock!

Coral!

Which side of the road do they drive on?  Is there camping?  Are there flights that go to the island?

Driving is done on the left side of the road even though the steering wheel is on the left side of the car.  The roads are very steep with a lot of twists and turns.  It is a very easy island to navigate so you won’t have to worry about getting lost.

There was camping and hopefully will be again.  Cinnamon Bay was the nicest campground!  They had very nice outside showers with private stalls and clean toilets and sinks.  The campsites all had cooking grates and fire rings.  They were very well kept and I highly suggest bringing a tarp or buying one while you are out there to hang over your site as it does rain sometimes for a few minutes.

More fishies!

There are no flights to St John, you will have to fly to St Thomas and take a ferry.  There are ferries that run from most of the islands in the area so fly into whichever is easier for you.  The ferry ride is about 25 minutes.  We typically rent a car in St Thomas to make things easier.  There are two ferries that you can take.  Currently you can only use the Red Hook Ferry as Charlotte Amalie is no longer running.

Incredible view from a run

Is it expensive?  Do you need a passport?

St John is located in the USVI.  Hotels can be expensive but you can rent places for reasonable prices through AirBNB.  I have not stayed at any of the hotels but most are located in Cruz Bay.  Caneel Bay had a lovely resort but I have heard that they will not be rebuilding after the storm.  The best meal I ever had was at ZoZo’s which was in Caneel Bay.

Evening running on the island
Dinner in the islands!

Expect to pay around $20-$60 for dinner (more in some of the fancy places).  Lunch is typically $10-20 and we ate breakfast for $5 at the Starfish market.  Drinks range from $5-12 unless you hit up one of the many happy hour specials which are between $1-5.

our campsite!
Ram head point

You do need to bring your passport for the return back to the United States.   There was a very short and easy customs line and it did not take long to get into the terminal at the airport.  Plan on being there 2-3 hours prior to your departure time.  There is plenty of food inside the terminal.

Aside from St Johnntrail running are there other activities?  Do they have trail races on the island?

There are so many different things to do on the Island!  You can snorkel at one of the many beautiful beaches, take excursions to other islands, fish, relax on the beach, kite surf, sail, kayak, shop and so much more!  It really is a place that has it all!

Mutants on a wild adventure!
The cool things that can be found on the trails! This was before our fun bushwack!

There is a trail race and a road race that are both quite popular.  The 8 tuff miles is a run on pavement and there is also the St John trail race which is 13.6 miles.  I have not run either of them but hope to run them someday!

Trying out paddle boards in the islands!

I would highly recommend a trail running trip to St John Island!  Feel free to reach out with any questions!

Trail running and racing Arizona

Something just felt right when I saw an ad for the Black Canyon 100k trail race.  I wanted to know what trail running in Arizona was like!  The photos looked amazing and it was a great time of year for escaping from the long winters of New Hampshire.  The skiing is fun but it is also nice to go somewhere warm and feel the sun on my skin.

Bumble Bee Arizona trails
Arizona Trails

Unfortunately a muscle tear in my hip area turned into a huge pile of adhesions and sidelined me since October.  I would get better, get worse, think I was healed and then realized I wasn’t.  I thought I was in the clear until we did a hike on very unstable snow and two weeks before the race I was hobbling around in pain again.  Being stubborn I went to the race and sadly dropped at mile 20.

It was motivation to finally fix this issue so I ruled out a stress fracture and saw two body work specialists where I experienced very painful massage, active release and dry needling along with chiropractic adjustments.  I am feeling incredible now and wish I had gone sooner, although if I had been able to run I would never have taken up skimo so if I could turn back the clock I would not change a thing!

Sunset in Bumblebee Arizona
Fun in the desert!
Mayer Arizona

Arizona, this is probably my absolute favorite trail running destination so far!  The race was in February and typically the temperatures are a bit warmer than we had but it was still wonderful!  Normal daytime temperatures are in the 60’s with the night dipping into low 40’s.  For us we had 30-40 degrees during the day, 20’s at night and a snowstorm (not typical)

Cold at the Grand Canyon

We camped at the Bumble Bee Ranch in Mayer,  Arizona.  They were very nice there and the camping was in a small area that had nice bathrooms and showers.  The race course literally passed by the camping area.  It was a great place to spend a couple of nights.

Ryan running some of the Black Canyon course

The race was absolutely fabulous!  Jamil Coury is the race director as well as the CEO for Aravaipa Running.  This race was flawless, perfectly marked trails, excellent pre race information, enthusiastic volunteers, fully stocked aid stations and an incredible vibe!  I actually enjoyed the race so much, even with a DNF that I plan to be back!

What is it like trail running in Arizona?  What kind of scary animals are there?  Is Arizona all desert, does it have trees?  What does it feel like to run into a cactus?
Trail by the ranch
Cuddling with the mountain lion at Bumble Bee Ranch

Running in the desert is fun, there are killer views the whole time due to the lack of trees.  The variety of cacti is really cool and the terrain is quite runnable.  There are some technical sections but they are not too bad if you are used to running on rocks.  The terrain is rolling and all runnable.  I found it to be a great way to run a faster pace than I am used to in the White Mountains.  I prefer running mountains but I also love to be able to stride out and feel my legs just go!

Hiking in Sedona

Scary animals…we did not see any but the biggest hazards are poisonous snakes, bears, mountain lions, scorpions, killer bees and other insects that pack a punch.  We saw absolutely none of these and honestly, the only thing that hurt me was running into a cactus and that was not even too bad.  Aside from the initial sting I had no idea that I had spines stuck in my leg until I felt something hanging off my leg and looked down.  Pulling them out hurt more than getting stuck with them.

Grand Canyon after the snow
The Grand Canyon South Rim
South Rim of the  Grand Canyon

Arizona was really unique because it had so much variety!  You could go to Flagstaff and run mountains (avalanche danger was very high so we did not tag the highpoint Humphreys Peak).  Flagstaff had trees, mountains, snow and felt like home.  Sedona had drier air and a mix of cacti, small trees and beautiful red rocks.

We also travelled to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and went down a few miles in the snow storm.  It did end up clearing up and we had great views!  I loved dropping down in the canyon and wished we had more time to explore the area.  There were trees there and very cool rock features.  The Lake Powell area was very desolate and pretty in it’s own way.  I am not sure trail running here would be too pleasant due to very dry and sandy conditions.  There was almost no plant life here but there were neat landmarks such as Antelope Canyon and Horshoe Bend.

Antelope Canyon
Horshoe Bend

February is a tough time of year to find open campgrounds and showers were even harder to come by.  Unless you have an RV you are not welcome to shower in any of the year round campsites that offer showers.  The national park campsites do offer coin operated showers.  Expect to pay for a National Park Pass and a $35 campsite fee.  Your National Park pass is good for 7 days so you will use it if you plan to see some sights.

To our surprise truck stop showers were the best find!  For $12 you get to take a clean shower in a huge stall that you can lock the door and there is no time limit.  Ryan and I took turns showering and were able to both take a shower for the $12.  It was a bit sketchy but I would take a truck stop shower again!

Antelope Canyon
More antelope canyon

Do not expect to be alone if you are doing any of the popular attractions such as the canyons, Horshoe Bend, etc.  There were thousands of people, multiple tour busses and the bathrooms were so disgusting I preferred to “hold it” than use them.  Even grocery store and gas station bathrooms were a disaster in the areas that offered more tourist type attractions.

I know this is disgusting but every single toilet in the Lake Powell area including some of the campground ones looked like this. This is not okay.
Lake Powell

The cost of visiting Arizona was reasonable.  Camping ranged from $10-35 a night and they all had nice tent sites.  Food was very affordable with the exception of Sedona which was much more expensive (plan to pay between $25-60 for dinner).  Breakfast and lunch were very affordable as well (except for Sedona which ranged from $15-20).  Sedona was beautiful and worth checking out.  Due to the time of year only one campsite was open just outside of Sedona, during the peak season there are a lot more to pick from.  We stayed at Manzanita campground and it was perfect!

Ryan in Sedona
Sedona

Overall I would recommend visiting Arizona for a winter escape!  The trail running is fun and the vibe in Arizona is really laid back!  Don’t let the overdevelopment of Pheonix concern you when you land.  It is a city, just like any other major US City.  The airport is easy to get in and out of and you will have plenty of places to stay just outside of the airport.  

Sedona

Grand Canyon
The La Sportiva Lycan was the perfect shoe for running the trails in Arizona.  It offered plenty of support and cushion while maximizing traction.  The clothing was perfect for the variety of conditions we encountered!  My Julbo Aerolite sunglasses with Spectron 3 lenses kept my eyes shaded from the sun, they are light and comfortable.
Running part of the Black Canyon course in my Lycans!

We plan to check out other parts of Arizona the next time we visit and can’t wait to share the experience!  I wish we had more time to run in Flagstaff but there is always another time to explore!   If you have any questions about our trip feel free to reach out!

The storm moving out of the canyon
Antelope Canyon