Updated 10/26/14 2014
Medal from the Half Marathon
The Flagstaff Half Marathon Trail Run at the Nordic Center September 20th , 2014
The T shirt from the Event

A chilly frosty morning greeted us as we arrived Saturday morning up at the Nordic Center once again to do the trail racing events this year. While the fall colors had not quite arrived yet at the 8000 foot altitude of the Lodge, up near 9000 feet during the race, the aspens were starting to turn golden. Recent monsoon rains had made the ground wet, but not too mucky and actually I think it helped get grip on the slopes on this grueling trail race which is one of the hardest in the state to do well.

Once again, I did the Half, and Dawn the 10k event. I tied my fastest ever time of 2:06 set last year and back in 2008, and Dawn came in right in the mid range of her times in 1:46 for her race walk. We both had a great time, and the weather could not be better. Two deer ran right in front of me across the trail during the race too. Plenty of food and drinks at the finish line, and a nice medal this year to boot.

 Images of the Event

Below: Before the race runners start to get in line

Last minute registration and packet pickup

Waiting for the star of the Events

Packet pickup inside the tent

The finish line after the Full marathoners left

Junction aid station

Junction sign to keep you on course

Here I am lining up for the Half (Center background in blue)

Start of the Half Marathon

Here I am heading up towards the steep up hill climbs ahead (circled dressed in medium blue)

After completing the fastest run of this race - ever!  Im wearing my "PR Gaiters"

Dawn after her race walk

Both of us after the race
Gaspin in the Aspens Woods Run August 23, 2014

When we arrived at the Flagstaff Nordic Center at around 6am, the skies were clear, and it was around 50 degrees. This new month that the race is run in August instead of June made for slightly warmer temperatures, but a real chance for monsoon rains to interfere. Fortunately, no monsoon was in sight and we were in a break from the constant rains and clouds this year. The race was full, with 250 runners for all events total - It always fills up in the last month before the race so you have to sign up early!

The 15k, which is just over 9 miles started around 7:30 and 5k shortly after that. You couldn't ask for better conditions this year! The trail was not too mucky from recent rains and made for fast down hill sprints. No big animal sightings this year, mostly squirrels and birds but lots of elk and deer tracks along the race route which winds on back trails in the deep woods. This high altitude trail race is all about big rocks, roots and ruts in the trail. This year no body fell near me, but there were a few injuries as usual for this challenging of a run. We both did well, I tied my fastest time ever tying last years run in 2:06, and Dawn came in in great shape with here typical fast race walking pace in 53 minutes, faster than some runners in the 5k.

This is the first of several trail races that get me in shape for the October Grand Canyon Rim to Rims. Its a slow but fierce ramp up to the 50 mile adventure that comes in a few months.

 Images of the Event

Below:  Sunrise over the Peaks in Flagstaff

Below:  At 6am, lines for late race sign up and packet pickup in tent behind lodge

Below:  The Starting line before the race

Below:  Neil - making sure the event goes smoothly.

Below:  The Nordic Center Lodge before the race

Below:  Here I am warming up before the  race.

Below:  Start of the 5k

Below:  Waiting for 15k runners to come in

Below:  Neil photographs incoming runners

Below:  Coming in for the finish!

Below:  The last 100 feet

Below:  After the run

Below:  Post race photo
Above: GPS Data from the Half
The Dave MacKay Memorial Big Brother Big Sister Half Marathon Flagstaff, Az August 9, 2014
Finishers Shirt

A big PR for this race, fastest run of this event in 8 years. Nearly ideal weather conditions, 50s at race start and a bit warm near 80 just after I came in. Half way at mile 6 it rained lightly on us, cooling us down enough to probably make us run faster mid race. Dawn was not able to make it this year, however we are racing again in two weeks at the 'Gaspin event at the Nordic Center. Fall racing season has begun! I met David Bluestien and his wife Kristy there, and many other friends from other northern Arizona races.

The first two miles is a very challenging up hill trail, but after that my speed picked up and I always seem to be best mid and late race in these trail events. In the last few miles I was passing nearly everyone in sight and it was an awesome down hill run to the finish. I came in in 2:04 this year, a full minute faster than I have ever done. I keep my goals for this one on an eventual sub 2h time.

Some images of this event:

Shot at the starting line by David
Last minute sign up tables and packet pickup
Gathering before the race
Down the trail we go, uphill very steep for the first 2.5 miles
Back to steep up hills along the trail

Such a cool shot - David Bluestien sent me this panorama of his wife Kristy on the trail during the race.
GPS Data from the race More or less one of the flattest Full Marathons Ive run, the last mile is up hill and is where I slowed down.
Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon Events Seattle, Washington June 21st, 2014
Finishers Medals Finishers Shirt

We had not done this event previously, and with the unfortunate changes they made in the San Diego event last year, we thought we would try this one, also in June. And after running this one, I can say for certainty I liked it much better and we will be doing this one again in the future! The route is for the most part flat and fast. While there is in the beginning a run through parts of the heart of the City, mostly the run was in rural and beach side forested areas rich in lush vegitation and wild life. We ran streets, trails and main thourough fares in the City, and in parks, sea side paths, and along the shore lines. Even a long bridge reminicent of San Fransisco to take in the summer views. While I did the Full Marathon, Dawn race walked the Half Marathon and we both did very well for the first time at this event.

Travel and the Expo

We left on Thursday morning and arrived in time to take in the large Expo at the xxxxx to pick up our packets and bibs. The expo was huge, like San Diegos, and had lots to see and buy. I came back with a new pair of Sketchers Ultras, a mid foot strikers shoe for runners like me with this uncommon gait. Dawn got some great shirts and we left there ready for the race. later that day we decided not to drive the busy rush hour race route, since much of it was in areas you cant drive anyway. It would be a surprise on race day! There are no really great museums in Seattle we were interested in, so we went over and rode up in the space needle for some great views of the city and most importantly the race starting areas from high up.

Friday we drove to the xxxxx mountains, where we ended up in the middle of some glaciers and the town of Paradise for lunch. It was awesome up there and we hiked on the snow packed hills and photographed some of the small glacier lakes. The long drive there 2 hours and back made for a long day, but the scenery and experiences up there were priceless. The sky was totally clear, very unsusual for Seattle which is the rainiest state. Weather predictions for race day looked great, and we definitely lucked out again on this race for that.

Saturday was race day. There were like 42 corrals and I was in 11, not too far from the front. I gave them a rather optomistic 4h time for completion when I registered, and for a first time on a new course that was certainly the case. The race started at 7:30 and in this time zone the sun had been up for about half an hour at that point. It was low 50s for temperature - perfect for racing. I did very well on this run, mostly because of its fairly flat - one of the flattest Ive run in a long time. I held my sub 9 pace till mile 25, and then lost it after that, but came in in a spritely 4:10 time, great for a very first crack at this race. Dawn did great and came in 3:45 on the half.

After the race we walked a mile back to the hotel, and this was great not to have to find parking and escape the mass confusion at the finishing area. We had an awesome race!

Sunday we flew back and were back in the Valley by lunch time, drove back home and had the rest of the day to recover. We WILL do this one again!

Photo Pictorial, day by day

The flight in and going to the Expo - Thursday afternoon:

Coming in over the clouds, the peak of Ranier with snow cap

Seattle from the air just minutes before we landed. The Space Needle is on the right side

The Expo Packet Pickup location

Sign at enterance to Expo

Me in center picking up race packet and bib!

After the packet pickup, we walked over to the Space Needle which was near by.

From the top (it wasnt free) looking around the harbor

Dawn at the top of the Space Needle viewing area


Friday - Up to the glaciers at Mount Ranier

Quick over view at a sign along the way:

Dawn in front of a glacial lake up in the snow cap of mount Ranier - a 2 hour drive from where we had our motel.

Me too.

Driving the road had some excellent photo oppourtunities

Glacier pouring into valley. The green aqua color of the ice is a signature of the type of ice that forms up here in glaciers.

Examining a water fall on the way back down the hill.

More vistas

Finally we arrived in the small mountain lodge community of Paradise. Here we are on the back balcony at the lodge

where we ate lunch.

From the lodge, you could hike up to the top of this, the peak of the mountain seen here in a hole in the clouds

Sign at the visitors center

Inside the lodge were stores and a small museum

Dawn sets here half marathon gear out the night before!

Saturday Race Day:

Early morning empty corrals near the starting line just up ahead. Mine was corall 11 for a 4h finish time.

Me at the starting line. Temps were around 50 degrees.

Dawn at starting line too.

Waiting for race start in the mall. Every one here at this time of morning is a runner!

Space needle near starting line, Dawn seen here

Ready to race about an hour before race start.

Photos from Dawns Half Marathon Race Walk. Much of the route is the same for the Full I ran - plus another 13.1 miles!

Along the Mono Rail track

Moving through Seattle inner City

The "Brooks Man" in a rural area. Brooks is the shoe sponsor for this race.

Along Lake Washington with some memorial signs. The Full is on the right, the half on the lef of the yellow tape.

Full plus half

Through one of several long tunnels - I have never had this in any race before!

Onto the freeway to cross the bridge over the bay

Towards the city

Waterfront vista

The Half finishing chute finally! The finish line for the full would be another story...

In the Half finishing chute. The finish line is dead ahead!

Runners and thier families gather and wait for the full runners in the nearby park with a water fountain

Finishing area

Finally I come in around 4:10 and seen here relaxing at the fountain in a post race shot

Dawn at the fountain, post race

One last look around before we leave for the motel. Look at the full marathoner on the right edge (yellow bib) engorging on post race bags of bagels!


Post Race - Later that day

After cleaning and showering up at the motel, we drove back out to the race route and took some shots of the snow

capped mountain over the lake. Most days we have been told are too cloudy or hazy to even see the mountain.

Me examining the awsome horsetails along the shore.

Parting shot - flying back over the Grand Canyon to Arizona.

Grand Canyon Trail Run: Rim to Rim to Rim GC, Arizona May 22nd, 2014

Our former bi-annual trek to the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona has now resumed. It has been at least five years since the last time, and my expectations were tempered by #1: Im older now, and #2: I am a marathon and trail running addict now. As it turned out, my performance this time was unexpected - I recorded my fastest times ever in over 15 years of Canyon running for BOTH ways Rim to Rim!

The trip to the Canyon

Wednesday we headed up to the Canyon and arrived on a cold and windy day on the South Rim at the Visitors center. After taking in a few overlooks and photos of animals and birds, we dined at the Lodge dining room for dinner. Then we went back to Tucsyon where our motel was and I got my stuff ready for the big adventure the next morning.

Photos on the South Rim on Wednesday:

(Chris photos, Canon 10D)

  Looking into Canyon from south rim, on left is Bright Angel Fault
Part of the trail on the Kaibab near Skeleton Point 

  Phantom Ranch with telephoto lens
  Visitors Center display at south rim

(Dawns Photos, Panasonic Lumix)


  Tame Elk near visitors center

  Interpretive model of geology at visitors center
  This is now where most people go down into the canyon, I dont go this way when doing R2R - its 2mi longer!

4am sharp. Thats the time Dawn dropped me off at the Kaibab trail head. It was dark, mostly clear and around 40 degrees on the thermometer. Ahead lie 23.5 miles of rocky, gravel dirt trail winding down through 5000 feet in elevation to the river in 4 miles. Then after the Colorado River, 20 more miles of constant up hill gaining 6500 feet mostly in the last 4 miles. It is without a doubt, one of the most challenging and difficult trail runs in the country. My fastest ever was many years ago, when I ran to the north rim in 7 hours and 30 minutes - a lifetime goal was achieved on that day! I told Dawn it would more than likely take me 8 - 9 hours because it had been so long since I had done this challenge.

With a brilliant 27 LED flashlight in hand, I started the run to the bottom. Cedar Ridge came in a fast 20 minutes, and then the morning twilight began to make its appearance. In an hour and 35 minutes, I was at the bottom - standing on the bridge over the center of the raging Colorado River. So far so good, Ive gotten to the river faster in past years, but that is dependent mostly on the conditions of the trail more than anything else. Crossing the bridge, I headed another mile to Phantom Ranch - the campground / community at the bottom of the canyon in a stunning lush river setting. In less than 2h, I was topping my water bottles off at Phantom at the water station in front of the dining hall. Then blasting onwards in the mad dash to the Pump House. Its a long rolling hills run to get there, some times so steep you have to power hike the nearly 30 degree uphill slopes, and hold yourself back when careening down the gravel slippery grades. The beaver dam is a great landmark along the way. In past years, you had to hike through a trail in 8 foot tall cat tails in black squishy muck for about 500 feet. My socks always got nailed by the muck! Now, they put a bridge over the mess and its awesome to look down at the swamp where beavers live.

Cotton wood Camp is next, and its a nice sized hikers camp with running water and facilities. No time for a break, had to keep going. Mile after mile of rocky trails later, the sun finally comes up for us deep inside the canyon. In 4 hours, I was at the Pump House, the last stop before the horrific super steep climb to the very top of the 8400 foot cliffs. Up hill I went, running as much as possible on the flats, and few down hill slopes. Mostly its power hiking up very steep rocky grades and a few precarious cliff faces. The smooth green colored dirt trails of the Bright Angel Shale leads to the worst part of the climb - going through the Redwall Limestone. It is steep, has giant logs as stair steps to traverse, and goes along some steep cliff faces that are a bit un nerving - so I walk those.

Topping the Redwall is a major accomplishment! The rest will not be so rugged and steep. The Supai red beds are mostly sandstone and shale, and make for fairly flat smooth trails, with a few giant steps of sandstone in places. It is packed with Permian fossils too, nice to look at when climbing through the layers. At the top of the Supai - which is really thick on this side of the Canyon, you finally reach the Tunnel. This 100 foot long carved tunnel in the red rock allows access to the rest of the trail. When you come out of the tunnel, you are in a water wonderland - Another rest area with faucets, drinking fountains and bathrooms. It in a awesome setting of maples and oaks. This time of year they are just sprouting baby green leaves. A quick food bar and up I go. The Coconino Sandstone which is yellow is not very thick on this side, which is a good thing since the trail is full of giant rock slabs all the way. The lookout point at the top of the Coconino is a fabulous place to look over the canyon and reflect on your journey. Then it is time to move upward and onward. By now, the heat is not a problem. While it was getting hot in the sun coming up thorough the Redwall, the elevation change is so significant by the time you reach the Kaibab limestone, you are over 7000 feet in elevation. White smooth trails now will take you to the final set of switch backs - a set of zig zag back and forth trails that take you up the final cliff face to the top. I raced up the final stretch as fast as I could, and in the last trail you can just see the parking lot at the top as you get closer. I hit the stairs in that parking lot in the fastest time I have ever ran across from South to North. Dawn had driven around 250 miles from the South rim around the east side of the Canyon and was there at the top to greet me. There was no doubt, my heavy marathon training and numerous trail races had done their work - a new PR was in hand!

(Chris Photos - Kodak Pocket cam)

  Crossing the river on the Kaibab trail takes you over this metal bridge, this is now just barely light enough out to take photos
  Approaching Phantom Ranch. Some folks were already up at 6am

  After Phantom, the first bridge over the Bright Angel Creek The top surface is paved with black asphalt!
  Along Bright Angel Creek - the trail along the bottom of the Canyon is really smooth along here.

  Crossing over the Beaver Dam. A wonderful bridge, we used to have to hike through black muck here for a hundred feet or more!
  Just ahead - Cotton Wood Camp. Very nice downhill smooth trail here.

  Waterfall along creek
  The sight Ive been waiting for - the last bridge before the Pump House!

  Pump House grounds. There is water, tables and seats. Last stop for 3 miles...
  Gigantic bloom from century plant

  Many interpretive signs along north Kaibab. Ahead is the nasty Redwall cliffs, then red beds from Supai, yellow sandstone near top is the Coconino Sandstone, and finally the last bit at the top is the Toroweap/Kaibab limestones. Thats where Im going.
  Nearing the top of the Redwall. The trail is quite steep and treacherous here.
  Another long awaited sight - the Tunnel in the Supai
  Someone is IN the tunnel ahead!
  At the rest area JUST on the other side of the Tunnel. There is lots of water, rest room, and places to sit.

On the North Rim

Dawn drove us to the north Rim Lodge, and I hobbled over to the main desk and got our rooms in the motel which we had reserved a year before. You have to reserve the cabins at least a year and a half in advance if you want to get one of those! That will be next October. I cleaned up and we went to lunch at the lodge dining room, a top rate restaraunt with outstanding food selections. We walked around a bit seeing the area and gift shop and it was time for our reserved dinner. (One year in advance too). I gorged on BBQ ribs and Dawn had something awesome as well. We watched the sun go down as the smoke from the Sedona fire started moving in to the canyon, blocking the view of the other side.

The next morning I could hardly walk! The quads were trashed and I think every muscle in my body hurt. How was I going to run back across the NEXT MORNING? Well, like every year Ive done this, I found that by the end of that first full day up on the North Rim, I improve so much I am almost dancing by sundown. We spent the day driving around in the windy partly cloudy skies and photographed the birds and animals. Fantastic scenery. The snow that had fallen the day before was now gone and the wind was marking the end of the cold front. At least it didnt rain on me coming over. Then the day went as fast as it came, and it was time to get to the motel and set all my gear back out. I wasnt exactly dancing around at that point, more of a controlled death march. You have to bring two sets of running clothes when you do this - one for the trip over and one for the trip back. That evening it rained and thundered and lightning all around us. It might be a muck bog all the way to the bottom tomorrow!

(Chris Photos - Canon 10d)

North Rim

  Parked on the North Rim overlooking the smoke at Imperial Point
"Angels Window" (after Bright Angel creek and such) The canyons depth can be seen through this giant hole in the rock

  View of the hole in the Kaibab Limestone from the first lookout
  Dawn photographs the side canyon


(Dawns Photos - Panasonic Lumix)

  Close up of fossil glass sponge in Kaibab Limestone
Crinoid stem parts from ancient sea bottom 280 million years ago 

  Rain from the Lodge on North Rim It snowed right after that.
  Dark clouds from the Lodge

  White tailed deer herd
  Now for a sequence of some flowers we found on the North rim


  Kaibab Squirrel
Cloudy skies 

Angels Window 

  Looking through hole in window
  This is me standing on walkway OVER the Angels Window! You cant see it below you.

  Then later in the day, the sun started to come out



  Coyote stalking a rodent

  Lightning strike right after it happened when we were at breakfast
  Gray and Yellow bird

  Just after sunset, the appenglow illuminates the Canyon with a blue glow
Sunset on the night before I must go back 


Saturday Morning - 4am.

So there I was standing again - this time on the trail head on the North Rim Kaibab Trail. 23.5 miles ahead. I could walk ok, but running was going to be a challenge. Down I went, in the dark while watching a crescent moon in the clear cloud free sky, and looking once in a while for the supposed new meteor shower that was taking place at that moment. (no meteors). Down through the most rugged down hill trails I have ever run - slowly at first, but then as I finally got to the smoother Supai red beds and Bright Angel Shale trails my pace became faster. I found that running on my toes was the only option and did that all the way to the bottom. I passed through the Pump House in about 2 hours, and arrived in Phantom Ranch in 3h 30 minutes. Thats about 13 miles of torturous rocky trails. There were about 2 dozen trail runners like myself going the other way - towards the North Rim along the way. We usually waved and high five'd each other and went on. It was great to see others like myself doing this. In under 4h, I was at the river and crossing the bridge. I was at least 500 feet over the bridge on the south side in exactly 4h. Now the climb begins again, this time 4 miles to the top. Through the terrible Redwall, long steep inclines one after another through the Supai. Then you emerge at Cedar Ridge, the 1.5 mile down flat spot with a rest area but no water. A fast gel and food bar and up I went, power hiking upward as fast as I could. The switch backs on the south side are wicked too. They never seem to end! The final home stretch I knew I was going to do a new Personal Record (PR). I finally crossed the threshold at the top of the the trail at 7:11 - The fastest Rim to Rim I had ever done in my life. In an instant, all the long hours of running miles and miles week after week, and all those excruciating up hill trail races seemed now worth it. I knew I was in the best physical shape of my life. It felt good.

(Chris Shots - Kodak mini Cam)

  Obligatory shot of the gear all set out the night before the North to South crossing
  First light, I saw the crescent moon rising in the east

  Up ahead is still Cottonwood camp, but I can see the sun has risen already on the South Rim - my destination.
  Really cool bridge over a dry part of the creek

  Phantom Ranch! This is the bridge I pass that would take you back up the South Bright Angel trail, remember - the one that is 2 miles longer?
  Now HERE is my bridge - the one that takes you across the river to the bottom of the South Kaibab trail

  The very bottom after the bridge crossing. inside the tunnel in the Vishnu Schist
At exactly 4h, I was here - coming up the south Kaibab looking down back at the river see the tunnel to the right where it comes out from the bridge? 

  Looking back to the switch backs in the Vishnu
  Coming up through the Hakati shale, hikers seen on lower trail below me.

  Now on the "Tonto Platform" in the Bright Angel Shale, it is green and smooth and loaded with Cambrian trace fossils.
Selfie at - you guessed it - Skeleton Point. Yes that is a black spoon in my mouth.

  Cedar Ridge! This is in the bottom of the Supai red beds.
N After leaving Cedar Ridge, looking back. O'Neil butte is on the right side.

  Long torturous steps to the top in the Supai formation
  The final view up ahead is your goal, the last switch backs to the top in the Kaibab limestone.

(Dawns Shots - Traveling 250 miles around from N to S)


(Dawns Shots - South Rim Again)

  Last shot of the Canyon from the South Rim when Dawn was waiting for me to come out
  After getting to the top, I have to catch a shuttle bus and go a mile down the road to where Dawn is parked at a lookout. And here I am!

For this side, I have to take the next shuttle bus to an lookout site down the road, where Dawn was parked, since the cars are not supposed to be at the trail head at that time of day. I got off the bus, and there she was - and we made our way back to out SUV and headed off to lunch again! What a day. Next time will be October when the fall colors are at their peak on the North Rim. I cant wait.

The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge

 Above: The center of the profile is at the 13.1 mile turn around. The slope is constant up hill from 5000 to 7000 feet, down to 6000 feet and then back up to return!

Finishers Medals The 10k is on the left and the Full is on the Right. It is one of the hugest finishers medals I have ever recieved!
The Whiskey Row Marathon Events - Full and 10k Prescott, Arizona May 3rd, 2014
Finishers Shirt from the Event (Click to Enlarge)
This year was my comeback from last years mess - I got the flu last year right at race start. This year, I was back to doing the Marathon, and once again made the early start my goal. While I may miss the western carnival like atmosphere of the normal start an hour later, I get to run with only a dozen or so other runners, and we have the trail to ourselves. We both had a great time this year, and while the weather was a bit warm at the end, nearly 80 degrees - we greatly enjoyed the social and cultural atmophere of the event. My only complaint this year is that the aid stations had nothing for us for at least the first 13 miles. They did not know of the annual early start. So next year wear your hydration vest.
Images of before and during the Race Below: Packet Pickup lines for all races at the YMCA gymnasium Below: 10k race shirts pickup Below: Marathon and half race shirts pickup Below: Dawn in center (blue shirt) picking up packet for 10k Race Morning Below: Inside the Matts Saloon right outside of the starting line just before race start. Below: Whiskey Row in Prescott at 6am is vacant for the race! Below: The early start group I will be running with an hour before the main race start. Below: Early start race line up. I am in yellow on the right side. See Matts Saloon on the left? Below: Seconds before race start for the early group! Below: Off we go, this is a fun group! Below: Early start group tail end. Below: Fire dept ladder truck holds the starting banner for the main start. Below: Authorities keeping the crowds under control Below: Marathon normal race starting lineup Below: Start of Marathon! I am an hour ahead of them.... Below: The finishing area of the Courthouse Plaza. Below: Here I come in after 26 miles. You can tell the half marathoners with the Pink bibs - they are smiling. They didnt have to run a wicked 26 miles! Below: Coming over the finish line. I am in front of the girls now... Below: The tired marathoner Below: Dawn after her 10k
Above: GPS profile The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge  This
Finishers Medal
The Brian Mickelsen Half Marathon and 10k Cottonwood, Arizona April 12, 2014
Finishers Shirt from the Event (Click to Enlarge)
Well, you never know how a race will go until you've crossed the finish line in one piece. This year while I did the Half Marathon, Dawn race walked the 10k, and we both came over the line in one in good shape. Unfortunately for me, I had a bad side stitch (its a type of bad muscle cramp) between miles 8 and 11 and had to slow down to barely running for that distance. When the problem cleared up, I ran my best to make up the lost 5 minutes or so, but was not able to. I came over the line in 4th place in my age division, only 30 seconds from getting that bronze medal! Maybe next year. Dawn finished a fast race and fared better than I did.
Images of before and during the Race Below: Sunrise at the staging area park Below: Setting up for pre race registration and packet pickup. We always pick up ours now. Below: Registration set up Below: Sun up - time for practice run! Below: The starting/finish line before the start of all races Below: nearing race start, all the runners are now showing up in the background.. Below: Like one huge party, all the runners and thier families before the race Below: Im in orange in the center here at the starting line. Below: RACE START. Im way in the middle back not seen yet here. Below: Animated GIF movie should be playing as you see this. Made from a bunch of still Dawn shot at the starting line. Below: After we left, the 10k racers line up next. Dawn racewalked this race and did very well! Below: Here I am coming in on the Half Marathon, a quarter mile to go! Below: Look carefully at my foot strike on the leading leg - I run either on my toes or midfoot, most runners hit heel first... Below: On the final 100 feet to the finish line! Running on my toes here... Below: Crossing the finish line! 1:58 this year, 30 seconds from getting the Bronze for my age div. Below: At the finsh line, final shot Below: Dawn at the finish line
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge  This shows the entire full marathon route, which appears mostly downhill.
Finishers Medal
The Phoenix Marathon Mesa, Arizona March 1, 2014
Finishers Shirt from the Event (Click to Enlarge)

The weather predictions for this event were turning into a marathoners worst nightmare. While all during the week we had sunny skies and 80 degree temperatures, the BIG one was supposed to hit - a Pacific winter storm - with its peak rains right on Saturday morning at race starting time. With over an inch of rain predicted and the prospect of high winds and hail, we both came prepared for the worst. Fortunately, it wasn't bad until after I crossed the finish line, then the skies fell.

We stayed Friday night at the Best Western in Mesa after work, and were within 10 minutes of the bus pickup for the marathon. It just started to cloud up at sunset, and we had no idea what the weather would bring by morning.

When the alarm went off at 2:45 am, we got up and looked outside - no rain yet, but clouds. I got on one of the first buses to the starting line at around 3:45 and after what seemed like forever, we arrived at the marathon staging area in a big parking lot at a shooting range. The wind was fierce - like 25mph and the flags were straight out. A live band was playing some weird rap music again, and making marathon related comments.

In the mean time, Dawn had volunteered to help out at the finish line, and went over there to help set up the tables and food. Everything was blowing around in the wind, but it was not raining hard - yet.

Since I was the first bus, the field was empty and there were no campfires like last year (that nearly burned the desert trees down with fires) but dozens of propane heaters, about half still lit. The wind made them pretty worthless, so many of us found areas next to the buildings to wait it out till start time to get out of the wind.

Finally, the time came around 6:30 and we stripped down to our running clothes. I left a clear plastic bag with arm holes on over my shirt to block the fierce wind and possible rains on the route. About ten minutes before the race started, we were all in line and the rain fell like crazy soaking us! The crowd was screaming! Then they set fire works off - lighting the sky with big explosions. When a actual gun went off at start time, we zipped over the starting grids and were off in to the darkness, rain pouring.

The rain slowly abated in the next five miles and we found ourselves running in perfect cool temperatures and damp roads. The route is desert scenic, and weaved through both housing developments, town buildings and back roads. It is a very well run race! The wind was a problem, but at least the rain was holding off.

At the finish line, the wind approached gale force and the tents and tables were blowing down the road like toothpicks in the wind. The big rains were coming!

But it held off on the route, and while mostly down hill, you never got the impression that it was a downward slope. It always seems uphill to the finish line in any race! I came over the line in 4:03 and beat my best marathon time ever for any race by one minute, set two years ago. I think with better conditions and less wind this could be my fastest marathon every year.

When I found Dawn in the finishing area, she was handing out "Magic" Bagels to the tired runners, and was having a ball. When we left, the wind was increasing and it wasn't long after the huge storm hit. Mesa got over an inch of pounding rain, a F0 tornado hit right near the marathon route, and massive flooding was everywhere. On the drive home we hit massive rains and hail. I could have been running in this! Id say we were very lucky again this year - and looking forward to next years race.

Images of before and during the Race The outdoor Expo was pretty good for a race this size! The scene at race start, in the dark and cold about 2h before the race started. What looks like smoke on the right is a plastic bag blowing straight out from the winds! Back at the finish line, the volunteers get instructions Raining at the finish line hours before I came in Setting up tables in the wind and on and off again rain. Scene at the finishing area as I was running. In the sleet. It started to let up as I approached the finish line, and the public started to show up along with runners families. Dawn works the Bagel Booth Dawn handing out Bagels to the marathoners! Here I am, finally at the finish line. What a race! Last look at the ceremony area for the winners Driving home - still in Phoenix here. This is what came in after I did...
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge  This to and back course is brutal with an uphil race to the turn around then a free fall to the finish!
Finishers Medals Left: All Races Right: 3rd place Bronze
The Lost Dutchman 10k Apache Junction, Az February 16, 2014
Finishers Shirt from the Event (Click to Enlarge)

No matter which race we do at the Lost Dutchman, it has always been a memorable experience! I have now done the 10k, Half, and Full marathon races and have great memories from each event. This year, we both did the 10k race. While I ran my legs off in the front line, Dawn race walked the event with her best efforts. I have to run the Phoenix full marathon in two weeks, so I had to run a shorter distance this year. We both did very well this year, and I won a Bronze 3rd place in my age division for my fast time. The last three miles of the marathon is the route for the 10k, both out and back 3 miles. This is one of the most torturous finish miles in the marathon, and my memories of running that last steep long hill during my 26 mile trek is mostly one of pain and suffering! But this year, we started by running it BACKWARDS then turned around at mile 23 and came back up the hill again. While it was slow going up that hill both ways, I had enough speed left in me on the 10k to zoom back down the hill to the finish and average an 8.01 minutes per mile pace for the entire distance, and came in at 49 minutes. This really surprised me, since I am almost recovered now from a pulled calf ligament and had to wear my soft squishy Pegasus 29 running shoes instead of my usual fast Nike Zoom Elites which are much faster. Maybe next year!

Next year:

- wear faster shoes

- more hill training

Images of before and during the Race Sunrise at the starting / finish line Full moon set in the West Last minute packet pickup Finish Area before the race 10k Starting area Before the Race I started in the 7 - 8 min pace area Seconds before the gun goes off! Staring the 10k Im in blue with yellow hat in center coming back on the to and back course Post race, giveing out the winning medals Finish area shot Finish shot Third place Bronze! At the finish line, both medals Finish line shot!
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge  A race that was not flat making for slow going on the outgoing trip, but much faster in the second half!
Finishers Medals: All Races
The Sedona 10k Sedona, Az February , 2014
Finishers Shirts from the Event (Click to Enlarge)
Plummeting winter temperatures during the week yielded to completely clear skies on the day of the race once again, and our annual trek to do the Sedona marathon events was once again in the plans. We left Payson on the morning of the race, around 5am and arrived just before 7am. Once again, we parked at the top of the hill and had a long walk to the starting area. Not a cloud in sight! But it was cold, around 25 degrees out at sunup. Attendance this year hit a new record, 2400 runners in all races were in attendance. Both me and Dawn signed up for the 10 K event, we had both done this in the past two years and it works out well with fitting in with my intense marathon training for march. But it was only two weeks after the PF chang half, and I was still not fully recovered from a pulled muscle from that race, so did the best I could this year. The marathon runners left around 9:10 am, the half 5 minutes later and the 10k right after that. This is a hard race! While it is up hill for a few miles, then down hill some very steep hills, and on the 3 miles of return some very difficult up hill running. This is never a very fast race, but it is fun with the hills and stunning red rock scenery. By 11am we were both finished, and off to lunch. Heavy clouds rolled back in that evening.
Images of before and during the Race Packet pickup at the Expo! The smallish Expo Driving home from the Expo! RACE DAY PHOTOS Sunrise in Sedona Walking down from the parking area to the event starting area Walking around before the race start Finshers medals ready to give out on rack Getting ready for race start at the starting line The starting line of the 10k - Dawns photos from here on out Race Start! Heading for down town super steep hills you got to come backup on the way back! Chris - after the 10k Dawn after the 10k
The GPS data from the run The new route is tough! It is all up hill and about mile 8 - 10 you have to negotiate some major hills at the Papago Buttes.
Finishers Medals: Mini and Half
The PF Chang Half and Mini - Marathon Phoenix, Az January 19, 2014
Finishers Shirts from the Event - Both Mini and Half (Click to Enlarge)

This year, the race has a completely new route, and is a whole new adventure again. Instead of running from down town Phoenix to Tempe Stadium, which was more or less uphill all the way, the new route forms a loop that leaves and comes back next to the Tempe Town Lake in a big parking area. But did that make it faster? For me anyway it was bout 5 mins slower at 1:50. The reason was primarily the long steep uphills for several miles in the area of the Papago buttes, which made it slow going in those areas. Dawn race walked the "Mini Marathon" which is a 5 mile race taking part of the Half Marathon route and back in 1h 29m.

This year we left the house at 4:15 am and headed down to Tempe. After parking we waked bout a mile to the starting line which was the same for both of us. The marathon was a different starting line all together, but ended in the same finish line. In the half, I started in coral 2 again, and we got off the line right on time. I held an 8 minute pace up until around mile 9, where the steep uphills just before the Papago buttes slowed my pace a bit. After that is was trying to finish as fast as I could to make up for those wild hills. Dawn did well in the mini, and we both now have an initial time to compare to in the coming years.

Images of before and during the Race Packet pickup at the Expo! Race morning, mostly clear, stunning sunrise and palm trees. THIS is my coral 2 at the starting line, right up front with the fastest runners. You can see the starting banner directly ahead. Looking back from the front! 40 corrals behind me the rest of the less speedy runners. Starting line of the mini marathon / Half The mini marathon and Half begins! Race walking in the Mini Marathon The last miles - the Tempe bridge over the River Finishing area, after crossing the finish line, look at all the racks of medals at the finish line! Finish line shot Dawn at the finish line too!