Monday, May 28, 2018

This Week in Running 5/20 - 5/28

3rd Place Overall at the Fantasy Run a month ago

Year to Date: 773.25

This Week in Running

It is 5K season here in Arizona.  With the temperatures climbing, the races get shorter.  This is sort of nice in that it forces me to keep my mileage down a bit and keeps me working on my speed.  One thing I have heard is that to get faster is to get do a 5Ks -- a lot of them.

With my half marathon training in the bank doing a 5K is pretty easy.  However, the pain level is much higher (albeit shorter).  I am still trying to figure out what my pace is and I usually hit around 8 minute miles.  There was a time when I ran a 6:15 - 6:30 for my first mile. So it is very frustrating to me to remember those glory days and realize that they are likely in the rear view mirror.

I am still running about 4 - 6 miles most every morning.  If I am racing or recovering from a race I'll keep the workouts pretty ordinary.  However, I have been sprinkling in some 8 - 10 second hill repeats up a steep boat ramp.

My weekly mileage is hovering in the low to mid 30's.  Definitely not as high as I'd like it to be, but running in the morning is a bit rough for me and constrained by time and my weekend races.

Other than mileage, I continue to hit the weights after work.  It is a nice way to wrap up the day.  The gym at work isn't too sophisticated but it has what I need.  I usually warm-up with a stationary bike for a bit before lifting weights.  I try to mix up my workouts -- sometimes it is dumbbells and sometimes I use straps and bands.

I am still homesick a lot and miss Utah.  This has been a tremendously tough transition for me.  I had a really nice setup in Utah and miss my Jordan River Bike Trail.

Upcoming Races

06/09: Arizona Sunrise Race Series 5K #2 - Phoenix Area, AZ (Confirmed)
06/16: Lamoille Canyon Half Marathon - Lamoille, NV (Maybe)
06/23: Arizona Sunrise Race Series 5K #3 - Phoenix Area, AZ (Confirmed)
07/07: Arizona Sunrise Race Series 5K #4 - Phoenix Area, AZ (Confirmed)
07/21: Arizona Sunrise Race Series 5K #5 - Phoenix Area, AZ (Confirmed)
08/04: Arizona Sunrise Race Series 5K #6 - Phoenix Area, AZ (Confirmed)
08/18: Arizona Sunrise Race Series 5K #7 - Phoenix Area, AZ (Confirmed)
11/11: 2018 Las Vegas Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park - Payson, Arizona


To escape the heat, my brother and I drove up to higher altitudes.  One of the closest places to go is Payson Arizona.  It is located right along the western side of the Tonto National Forest and the climate is quite a bit different from the Phoenix area.  

Sitting at 5000 feet, the temperature up there was definitely cooler... approximately 20 degrees cooler.  It was still sunny and pretty intense as far as the sun goes.

Unfortunately for us, most of the trails up there were outright closed.  In fact, we couldn't find a single one to do.  Each of the trail head's parking lots were taped off with a sign saying no hiking and that it was closed.  It was due to a fire hazard as the area hasn't seen rain in a while and it was set to go.

We drove around in search of a trail to no avail.  I was starting to wonder if my 80 minute drive up there was for naught.

 Luckily we spotted the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park and opted to check it out.

Entry is $7 for adults and it was pretty easy to pay and find a place to park . Due to all the trails being closed, the place was packed.  Also, it was loaded with kids and families.  So if you are looking for a quiet place to hike, this isn't likely to be a good spot.  

The park does have plenty of picnic spots and bathroom facilities.  They had a gift shop as well and is only a few minutes outside of town.

The park revolves around a natural bridge or cave that was formed by water running below it.  There are only a few trails here and most are pretty short.  The simplest one to view the natural bridge is the Gowan Trail.  It is well maintained and not difficult -- although climbing back up is a workout.  The Anna Mae Trail trail also leads to the opposite side of the bridge, but is more difficult and less even.  There is yet one final trail that is more like a live game of Twister -- it is about half a mile long and involves a lot of boulder scrambling.  There are some pools of murky water to check out and some rock formations.  I expected the trail to go a bit more but that was it.  Also be sure you are fit and are wearing good shoes.  A lot of the rocks are slippery and uneven.  One slip and minimally you'll wind up with a bruise -- at worst a lot more serious.

Overall, expect to spend a few hours here.  My brother and I both enjoyed it and would recommend it as a family get away for an afternoon.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Tom's Thumb Trail - Scottsdale, Arizona


Last week I was looking to do a hike and figured I'd head up to the Sonoran McDowell preserve up in Scottsdale.  It is one of my go-to areas for beautiful, close-by and stress free hiking.

The Tom's Thumb trail head I thought would be difficult to find, but in fact wasn't.  Just drive to this point with your favorite GPS program. There are many signs pointing you to the trailhead and there was ample parking.

The trail head is well marked and easy to find.  There are bathrooms and a shaded pavilion, but there isn't a water source there.  Also, be judicious with your driving, as the road leading to the trail is fairly narrow but you don't need any special cars or equipment to get there.  It is just a wobbly road that'll leave your stomach in a lurch.

The trail starts off innocently enough but after about half a mile, you'll be expected to work.  The trail is popular with runners and was easy to navigate.  There isn't any shade either.  There are several switchbacks to the top, but plenty of places to stop and check out the valley.  The trail also has several markers on it indicating which way you should go.

After about a mile and a half, you've reached the climb and the rest of the hike -- about .75 of a mile is rolling hills or decline.  You'll be surrounded by a lot of beautiful desert fauna and there were a fair amount of people hiking as well -- so you definitely won't be alone.

Tom's Thumb is a rock outcropping.  I am not sure it looks like a thumb, but you can be a judge of that.  It's formation is definitely unique.  The elevation is also up there, just shy of 4000 feet.  It was a bit cooler up there and there was a nice breeze.

I really enjoyed the trail and it wasn't too terrible.  It was 2.2 miles each way and took me about 45 minutes to an hour to reach the top.  There were plenty of awesome views of the Scottsdale valley and beyond.  Just be sure to bring sunscreen and plenty of water.  I was roasting pretty good.

You can also continue your journey around the park as other trails forked from Tom's Thumb.  You could easily put in 10 - 15 miles in a day there.