This weekend I decided to go for a trail run to train for my first two races of the year. I got new trail running shoes for Christmas and had yet to test them out on the trails. Also, my first race is a Warrior Dash in Albuquerque, NM with my second race, the Atomic Man Duathlon, the day after. It is going to be a rough weekend.
This is my first Warrior Dash, so I am not really sure what to expect. I figure it is only a 5k, hopefully meaning that if I am not cut out for that type of racing it will be short-lived mistake. But, the Atomic Man Duathlon Fat Man course is a 10k run, a 40k bike and a 5k run. Normally as a rule of thumb, I don’t race anything as long as the Fat Man course this early into the season. But, rules are made to be broken, right? I guess we will see.
Back to the trail run. So, I thought a good way to train would be to do a decently long trail run down up the Rio Grande Canyon. It is some rough terrain to get down to the riverbed, but I figured this would help with running and getting over obstacles. The intended distance of this run was 7.5 miles; notice I said the “intended.”
I told my wife it would be around an hour and half to an hour and forty-five minute run as she was putting our daughter down for a nap. Then, I strapped on my CamelBak, Garmin watch, and ICEdot band and I took off.
Going down was fairly easy with lots of switchbacks and not too many big rocks to get over. But, there were a lot of loose rocks and sand. Once I got down, there were some nice rolling hills with packed sand. It also had a spectacular view of the canyon. The breeze of the river kept me cool and I kept going along the beaten path. About 3.5 miles into the trail, there was an amazingly beautiful little waterfall. Unfortunately, this is about where the problems started.
Apparently, this is where most people turn around and go back up the trail. There was supposed to be another trail that started around where the waterfall is located. It took me about 10 minutes and several attempts at starting down what I thought was the trail only to find a dead end. Finally, I found the correct trail markers and started on my way. Well, this trail is not used very frequently and goes through some very loose, sandy areas, making the trail really hard to follow. It also isn’t marked well. I got lost at least a dozen times. I kept checking my watch to see how far I had gone and to try to gauge when I was supposed to be headed back out of the canyon. Finally, I called my wife, this is about an hour and 15 minutes and 4.5 miles into the run, to tell her I was kind of lost and it was going to be a little bit longer than anticipated. I was supposed to have been climbing back up out of the canyon at 3.5 miles.
I had an idea where I was because the river was still there and I had picked a house on the canyon edge to be my landmarker when I started. At this point, I decided to just turn around and go back the way I came. There was one big problem. Remember the breeze that was keeping me cool earlier and the very loose sandy areas? Well, there were no more footprints. So, I had to just trust my instincts and head the general direction I had come from. This worked surprisingly well and I found the trail again.
I finally starting going up. Little did I know I was really going to be climbing up and getting more than the necessary training I wanted for the Warrior Dash. I climbed about 1,000 ft. in a little over half a mile. It was all rocks and boulders. There was no running at this point, just climbing and muttering under my breath.
I finally got to the top only to realize this was the very end of the trail and it didn’t connect back to where I had started like the map had said. Thankfully, I had done some road runs in the area and knew exactly where I was. I decided that I would just take the road back home because, at this point, I had already done my 7.5-mile trail run.
I walked back into the house at two hours and ten minutes after I had started my run. Thankfully, my daughter was still napping and my wife was understanding about having to drive me to the trailhead to pick up my car after she woke up.
And, this is how my weekend started.
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