Friday, July 24, 2009

Run SMART Retreat, Flagstaff AZ

I spent the last week in Flagstaff at the Run SMART Retreat, running, learning and making new running friends. We started off the week with a few runs around a 2 mile loop in Buffalo Park. Left to right, below: Tom Podell, Jane, Bill Risch, me, KC, Casey, Erin Strout, Tom Bane and Mike Smith (Run SMART coach):

The trail was fairly easy and level, only a hill at the 1.75 mile point. I was worried about the altitude and took the first loop uber slow. I was pleasantly surprised to find the second loop very easy, and ran the last loop at 8:00 pace when Vince (my coach) joined me. I was so happy after this run, and had hope the week was going to go well.

While in Sedona, we took a dip in the cold waters at Alligator Point. I sat and let the waterfall pound on my shoulders a bit. That's Vince on the left, his wife Sarah's legs on the rock above and Everett Hill to the right.

I should mention the shotgun van ride back to the hotel for about 75 minutes with the A/C on high. I had no dry clothes. I was blue when we arrived back in Flagstaff.

This was a stop to hook up with the Runner's World photographers who spent the day with us in Sedona (and then the evening in Flagstaff). Quite a warm run as we trotted past Bell Rock. Check out the sweet Run SMART Retreat jersey. Vince and the guys really hooked us up with some great swag.

For me, the highlight of the trip was the hike down and back up the Grand Canyon. Mike Smith and the rest of the coaches did a good job putting the fear of Mother Nature in us.

Here I am, just before the hike. Please note I was frightened enough by the lecture to fill a camelback and actually wear it for the entire hike. Imagine my surprise to find it bone dry, only 1.4 miles up from the bottom. Whoopsie.

Vince mugs it for the camera, probably wondering if I was going to survive not only the heat, but actually carrying several pounds of fluid on my back.

My good friend Everett Hill, whom I am especially privileged to know. He is definitely a hero to me! He's overcome a significant health issue and keeps running strong and is truly an inspiration. Some day, I will be as brave as he is and tell my own story.

A breathtaking view into the Canyon, pre-hike.

The motely crew before the hike, this is a fantastic group of people:

Nearly at the bottom, Tom B. (shown below), Tom Podell and I just couldn't help ourselves when they told us we would turn around at mile 3. We bolted to the bottom, figuring it was better to beg forgiveness. Luckily, we didn't get in TOO much trouble.

Tom Podell and I at the bottom. What a fun hike back to the top! I actually negative splitted the Grand Canyon, making it down in 1:36 and all the way up in 1:28 at a 14% average elevation grade. Can't wait to do it again next year! It's 100 F+ in this picture.

The last night I was there, we experienced a restorative yoga session to relax and help our bodies recover. Oh yes, I was paying for that Grand Canyon stunt.

This was really a great trip, and I look forward to attending next year. I really look forward to following the progress throughout the year of the many new running buds I met. Thanks to the Run SMART team, what a classy job you guys did!


Rick said...

What an incredible week you had! Thanks for sharing, and I can't wait to hear even more about it!

runner-grrl said...

Rick, Thanks! You are so right. This was an awesome week, and I would recommend the Run SMART Retreat to anyone for next year. Unfortunately for you, you'll probably be getting earfuls for the next few long runs... --Alex