Chasing 42

Life, the Universe, & Running

Archive for the tag “Arizona running”

Daily Chase: Vol. 67

There is so much anticipation around the holiday season that we begin talking about it months in advance. Ultimately, the payoff is hopefully positive, but nonetheless gone in a flash, and we are left to look forward to the next significant event in our lives. I can’t help but think about the similarities with many of the major races we run each season. We train for months and months, all in the hopes that the stars will align and we will go out and achieve the goals we set for ourselves. Our best laid plans are somethings thwarted, of course, by weather, or illness, or any of a number of life events that so inconveniently get in the way. This has certainly been the case for me on many different ocassions, and it has given me pause to consider the level of anticipation I place on any one day or event. I love celebrating with family and friends, just as I love running and the running community, but I feel I’m much more careful now. My hope is that I can remember to enjoy the moments in between, take advantage of unexpected opportunities when they arise, and properly contextualize my big races, just as I do major holidays. This may not stop me from getting ridiculously excited to surprise the epicurean with any number of unique and unexpected gifts, but it will help me remember again in the upcoming year that every run is important in its own way. I’m #chasing42 each time I lace up my shoes, whether it’s for a simple training run or a 100-mile race! 

Chasing42 Log: 20161220- 20161230

Run: The last week and a half have provided perhaps the most diverse array of running opportunities I’ve had in quite a while. In the days leading up to the beginning of winter break on campus, folks start to disappear early, which means accomplishing anything meaningful becomes more and more difficult. As a result, I was able to leave early the last two days I was in, and enjoy some mid-afternoon, mid-week trail time, which was a delightful treat. We flew out of Philly last Friday, and were lucky enough to snag a non-stop flight to Phoenix for our annual journey to see the epicurean’s lovely family. I squeezed in a morning run before our flight, which was needed considering the 5-hour flight across the country. This past week has been a running delight for the most part. I’ve been able to venture out onto the Arizona desert mountain trails on several ocassions. However, I was held back a bit by an unexpected cold and fever earlier this week, which meant not pushing quite has hard and doing some more running around town as well. Despite feeling a bit under the weather the last few days, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the variety of trail experiences. The highlight was most definitely a run up Elephant Mountain near Tonto National Forrest yesterday, and some of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen. I’ll be sure to share more trail highlights in an upcoming post! 

Thought: It’s that time of year again where the calendar resets, and everyone eagerly pours over potential races and other adventure goals.  I don’t have many races on my calendar as of yet, but am hoping to fill it in soon. However, my hope is to plan a few more solo or group adventure runs in the new year as well. There are a lot of ways to experience the world around me, and I want to make sure I don’t miss out on any opportunity! 

So, what do you have planned for the upcoming year? What exciting races should I be looking at? I’m always up for adventure invites too! Happy New Year to everyone as you ring it in tomorrow night! 

Checking In: Tucson Travels

Did you miss me? Did you notice I was a bit absent? I’ll assume some love and a giant “yes” and move forward 🙂 The past 3+ weeks have been a whirlwind of travel and hectic work responsibilities, hence my lack of recent posts. However, fear not as I plan to catch you up to speed on my travels and varied running adventures.

By the time I pulled into the driveway around 2PM this past Monday, I realized that I had slept out of a suitcase for 16 of the previous 21 days. I made my way to Tucson and San Juan for work, and to Tulsa for the amazing Route 66 Marathon. It makes fairly logical sense to start at the beginning, so let me share a bit about my Tucson travels.


I headed down on the 5th for a multicultural education conference, and was almost instantly greeted by warmer temperatures (shocking in Arizona, right?!). The highs hovered around 80 the entire time I was there, which was almost too warm, but I wasn’t complaining. I immediately started hydrating to compensate for the dry air, but probably never fully did the job. However, I managed to get in several great runs while I was down there. They only added to my love of Arizona trails, and the winter climate. Remind me again why we wait until we retire to split our time during the year between two locations?

The conference was at the Hilton El Conquistador, which was a bit out-of-the-way, and not really my style of travel, but a lovely location. If you love to golf and sit by a pool, then this is the spot for you. Alas, I enjoy neither of these activities, but I also knew I would be rather busy anyway so it was of little significance. Luckily, I arrived a day early, and the hotel offered a shuttle out to Catalina State Park. I made a few new friends on the shuttle from the airport, and we decided to head out to the park together. Once we got there, I took off on my own for some trail exploration.


It had been a year or so since my last visit to Arizona, and I tried my best to remember the impact of climate differences but the elevation and dry heat still took me by surprise! I followed a fairly well-worn trail, but I still had to keep my eyes open to make sure I wasn’t making any wrong turns. The switchbacks and constant climbing were simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting, and I loved every minute of it. I made my way down the Romero Canyon Trail towards the Romero pools, and the views were spectacular from every angle. I had a hard time not stopping every 100 feet to soak up the scenery and take pictures (as well as catch my breath a bit). At one point, I had naively thought I could have made it to the base of Mt. Lemon, but the distance was a bit far off and I dialed back my expectations, especially considering the sun would be setting soon and I probably didn’t want to get stuck out in the desert by myself at night (without a torch)! I made my way back and met up with the others to hop on the shuttle back to the hotel.


The next day, I squeezed in a shorter run out to a nearby trailhead that wound up the foothills of the Catalina Mountains. I ran into another runner out of the trail, and he gave me some great advice for the journey ahead. I love the fact that runners always seem to be ready to help one another out, whether they know each other or not. I made sure to bring my headlamp this time, and I pulled it out as the sun was setting over the mountains and I made my way back down towards the hotel. The colors were just spectacular, and it was hard not to just stop and watch the patchwork quilt of reds, oranges, and yellows unfold before me. My lack of local wildlife knowledge propelled me forward, however 🙂


On my last full day, I headed out for a Saturday long run, intent on doing as much exploring as possible. I managed to wander between several different trailheads that were connected by roads in a neighboring development. Even in the early morning hours, the sun was already out in full force, and I was happy to find a place to refill my water bottle along the way. Even though this was my 5th run in Arizona, the dry heat and elevation still slowed me down and I had to be quite intentional about tempering my expectations. Once I did that, however, I had a blast. My eyes darted back and forth, intent on taking in as much of the surrounding scenery as possible, and committing these happy moments to memory.


My five days in Tucson were jam-packed with meetings and presentations, but I was lucky to find the time to get out and explore a new area of Arizona. I wished I had more time to hike up into the Catalina Mountains, especially after reviewing all of the trail maps, but that just means I have another to-do item for my bucket list.

Next up on my travel log is a trip to San Juan, PR with the epicurean…stay tuned!

The Law of Exponential Taper Gremlin Growth

At any given time, the last 20 weeks or so either feel like they have blown by quicker than I could blink or crawled by at a pace that would make a 3-toed sloth laugh. This weekend, I tackled a sub-zero marathon on Saturday, and then slogged through a snow-covered follow-up run on Sunday. Each had their highs and lows, but they were good training runs and I’m feeling strong. More importantly, this weekend marked my last long back-to-back weekend, which means I now have the long-awaited joy of tapering! Did I say joy? Maybe I meant disdain. You see, the psychological and physical aches and pains that tapering, combined with a long and intense training season, bring, seem to have grown to proportions I haven’t experienced before. This obviously led me to wonder if there might be more to my extended tapering pains. The result is a theory that will no doubt win me accolades the world over, so I guess y’all should feel honored that I’m sharing it with you first!

Perfect weather for a marathon, eh?

Perfect weather for a marathon, eh?

Aside from the vehicle-induced aches and pains I recently incurred, I’ve noticed that the phantom wandering pains that typically arrive during my taper period came much earlier this time around. I probably started feeling various issues about 5 weeks ago, and they’ve been flowing through my body ever since. My right Achilles was acting up, and then it was my left forefoot, along with both of my knees at various points, and my groin before that. I’ve monitored all of these issues, and they’ve gradually dissipated and then disappeared altogether. However, they seemed to begin around the time I really started to look forward to my upcoming trip to Arizona and Across the Years. I’ve written before about battling the injury gremlin, and this most recent ongoing battle led me to wonder if the fact that everything was happening earlier had anything to do with the increased distance I was running. I mean, I will be attempting to run longer than I’ve ever run before, and the entire race experience will be brand new. I’ll be stepping into uncharted territory, much like all of my other running firsts. Perhaps my body knows this, and it began making me hyper-aware of every ache and pain that much earlier as a result.

I think winter is finally here.

I think winter is finally here.

Over the last two years, I’ve pushed myself harder and further than ever before, and my endurance has certainly increased. My recovery time has also decreased, which has been a welcome development, especially considering my consistent back-to-back long runs on the weekends. As a result, my outlook on various distances has changed along with my goals, which is to be expected, I suppose. This has led me to contemplate the recent exponential growth of my tapering conundrum. It would seem as if the more I increase my race distance, the earlier my taper gremlin emerges to start whispering sweet nothings in my ear. In general, you can think about this Law of Exponential Taper Gremlin Growth like this:

Taper Graph 2.1

Now I should be clear that my sample (methodology) is one of convenience (me) and these results may be limited to my own well-being (limitations). However, it seems fairly clear at this point that the longer the race, the longer the tapering aches and pains. This wouldn’t be horrible, except for that fact that I’m still only tapering for the next three weeks, which means I have been left to deal with the drawbacks of a taper, while still logging long distances. This hardly seems fair! If a graphical representation hasn’t made this new, highly scientific discussion clear, I will also include a more detailed explanation (discussion). Ultimately, I think I can work through the following race distance stages.

Stage 1 (Half-Marathon): I’m ready and feeling good- let’s go!

Stage 2 (Marathon): I could sure use a massage, but let’s knock this out!

Stage 3 (50K): I think my knees could definitely use the rest.

Stage 4 (50 miles): My back, knees, and shins are definitely feeling the training, but I’m ready.

Stage 5 (100K): Thoughts of seeing a PT or podiatrist creep in a few times a week.

Stage 6 (100 miles/ 24 hours): Those thoughts are happening daily. Can I just taper in the hospital to be safe?

After what can definitely be called an exhausting training period and academic semester, I’m definitely ready for my taper, as well as a bit of rest before January hits. Ultimately, I know the various aches and pains come with the territory, and I’ve put my body through a lot lately, so it has earned a more relaxed schedule. My endurance is up, and I’m as ready as I’m gong to be for this race, so focusing on the planning, organization, and nutrition will gladly fill my thoughts for the next three weeks. In my free time, perhaps I can shop this “law” around to various scientific journals. This publication showing up on my vita would definitely turn some heads!

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