Friday, February 19, 2016

Arizona Half Marathon/Hiking Tour

Caleb was a gold place finisher in the solo and ensemble contest.  When you're a 13-year-old boy, this is about as much excitement as you'll show your mom.

Connor's group was a little more chipper about their gold win.

We decided to take a selfie before every run until the Boston Marathon.  All smiles before the run started.

My dear friend Claudia is turning 40 this month.  To celebrate, she asked us to travel to Arizona and hike like crazy and then run a race.  I think she found the only couple who said yes.

Hike #1 was Camelback in Phoenix.  After leaving single digit temperatures, hiking in 80 degrees was a treat.

Pancakes at the top of the mountain seemed to make sense.  I'm not sure this is a recommended hiker snack.

We made it to the top....and still smiling and hugging each other!

Camelback was just a starter hike.  The next day we traveled to the Grand Canyon.

Majestic.  Best word to describe it.  And with the snow, breathtaking.

Best part was seeing the canyon through Chris's eyes as this was his first time visiting.

Hiking in the Grand Canyon means you will encounter snow.  "Crampons" are required (spikes that attach to your shoes).

The balmy Phoenix weather was replaced with chilly temps and snow at the top of the Grand Canyon.

A little too close to the edge for my comfort.

Views never got old.

Two miles into the canyon, and the snow disappeared and the temperatures rose.

Claudia demonstrated to me (a nature novice) how to pee in the woods.

Six hours later, we made it back to the top.

The next day, we were back on our feet.  This time at Cathedral Rock in Sedona.  This was by far my favorite hike.

The hiking part was mostly climbing up a series of rocks.  Kept thinking about my boys, and how they would have loved racing around the rocks.

Claudia even showed off some fancy moves on the hike.

I honestly could have set and soaked in this view forever!  

 The last day, Claudia and Jim ran the Arizona Marathon.  I ran the Arizona Half Marathon.  I just decided to run the race for fun (no pressure with time goals).  The course was flat, but not that interesting.  It did run through a military base for a fun view.  But, the weather was beautiful for February...60s without a cloud in the sky during race time.

On the last day of our trip, our friend Jim said, "Sometimes you need a vacation after your vacation."

Sage words.

Our trip to Arizona was a vacation.  But, it wasn't the sort of trip that includes lounging poolside while sipping on a cool beverage.  It was four days jam-packed with hiking and running.  For some, this may sound like torture; for me, it was a delight.  

On Thursday, we landed in Phoenix.  After leaving what felt like the center of Antartica, it was glorious to walk out into the sunshine and warm temperatures.  Within hours of exiting the plane, we were ascending Camelback Mountain.  It felt a bit surreal to be walking around in shorts and tank when just hours earlier we had been donning gloves and winter coats.

Friday we hiked in the Grand Canyon.  For me, it was a treat to see the canyon through my husband's eyes.  It was his first glimpse at this awe-inspring site.  He was smitten, and I could help smiling over his delight.

In the canyon, Jim took us on a hike that pushed me out of my comfort zone.  Traveling on a curvy, steep hike can make one recite quiet a bit of SOS prayers.  Mentally, I vowed to not look down and just focus on each step.  But, the views kept me going. I shifted my gaze out into the canyon and couldn't help but feel grateful to be part of this beauty.

Saturday, we headed to Sedona.  The landscape reminded me of the Cars movie with chiseled rock formations jetting out of the red clay ground.  The cathedral rock hike was my highlight.  We jumped among the rocks and felt a bit like naughty kids who wandered off the trail.  My boys would have been in heaven!

On our last day, we ran the Arizona marathon and half marathon.  Our friends raced in the marathon, while I selected the half marathon.  The race advertised a great t-shirt, but an uninteresting course.  They didn't disappoint.  The course lacked pizzazz (with the exception of a short jaunt into a military base).  But, the weather was phenomenal.  For the last few months, we have been running in three layers.  To race in shorts and a tank was divine.

The only difficult part was the flight back home. Our airline experienced many delays.  Subsequently, we arrived back home at 4:30 a.m. (and I didn't experience a wink of sleep).  Waking up three hours later to watch my four boys was a bit jarring.  That's the point where I felt like I needed a vacation.

(Thanks to my parents for watching the boys while we were away. You've officially earned saint status!)

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