23 December 2012

Red Rock Canyon big loop


Shelley and I have been coming down to Las Vegas for the holidays a few years in a row now as her sister and nephew and brother-in-law live here. I usually try to squeeze in a ride or run and this year I got to drive myself to Red Rock Canyon and go for a run.

I was running up here once before and it was really beautiful and today I was hoping to tack on some extra miles to what I had done last year. Mistake? Maybe.

Every so often your body just is not clicking. It might be your own fault (too much or too little training, too much drinking, etc.) or it might not (an injury, unforeseen weather conditions, etc.) and today was one of those days for me. In my case I think it was mostly due to not taking care of myself meaning I have not been stretching, doing proper recovery workouts and have really fallen off the diet wagon during this holiday. Oh well. The bottom line is within one mile I knew it was not going to be a fast outing so had to readjust my expectations. I decided to try and look around as much as I could. Today would have been a good day to take the camera long but I opted not to in order to keep my hands free. :(

I started out on this old dirt road that had become a wide trail/river wash and climbed gradually up to the White Rock loop I wanted to run and within what felt like no time (two miles maybe?) I was walking. Ouch. I got moving again but this run/walk pattern would repeat itself for most of the day. Poop.

Even when I got off this wide trail and onto the fun trail I was going slow. In hopes that I was just needing some fuel I ate the Sport Beans pretty early.

ASIDE - I was wearing my brother in law's hydration belt that hold two bottles at an angle in the back. I could have carried two bottles in my hands but I thought I might need my hands for a shirt if it got warmer as I ran and/or the camera. Having free hands was a good idea but the belt was not so fun to wear. It kept riding up from my hips to my waist and there it would bounce around some and sometimes pinch my gut. It would also pull my shirt up so every half mile or so I was tugging my shirt back down to avoid the tummy show and potential chafing. It got a little better as the day progressed - perhaps because the bottles got lighter - but it was never what I would prefer to carry water. Lesson learned.

The White Rock loop was great. Yes I was going slow but the scenery out here is fantastic and I had found a pace that let me jog along a little longer before I had to walk. And I managed to run up all of the steep section so small redemption there.

I saw a handful of people out early in the day and then descending the White Rock loop I started to see a lot. I was also starting to feel just a little better here so tried to give it some gas and passed one group at a pretty good clip. That was fun. :)

At the end of this loop I ran down the dirt access road and then across the upper part of the canyon over to the Sandstone Quarry and Calico Springs area. I felt pretty reasonable on this traverse thank goodness.

I did this loop in the clockwise direction for two reasons.

  1. I wanted to get the boring part out of the way early.
  2. I was hoping the Calico trails would be mostly downhill.

I did get the boring part out of the way and the Calico trails were mostly downhill... mostly. :) Over here I was also running on sandstone for short stretches - think Slickrock in Moab, UT. But there were also some pretty steep uphill pitches that were killing me by this time. I didn't really feel like I was bonking but I was shattered and crawling long by now.

As I descended the Calico trails I was trying to decide where to exit the canyon and get back up to the visitor center where I had parked. I ended up running past the last exit and out to the highway. Oops.

Soon it became obvious I had gone the wrong way as I watched the mileage accumulate on my GPS. Then the trail ended in a river wash and I started doing that classic "I'm lost" thing where you move foreword a little, second guess yourself and backtrack, then second guess yourself again and move further forward. Good grief.

Finally I saw an old dirt road that headed up the ridge in the general direction of the park entrance and took it. At the top - where I could finally look around - I realized that I was perhaps one mile past where I wanted to be but in my depleted state it felt (and looked!) much further. At least now I knew where to go so I jogged/walked my way back up the ridgeline. With about half a mile to go I could see the visitor center so perked up a bit. Man was I tired when I got to the car.

Still, amazing views! And a lot of these trails were were super fun to be on. Surprisingly, there were a lot of tight corners that I had to run around. You're cruising along and you can see for miles so you think the trail will be really predictable but suddenly it will zig left and then descend down some little gully. Pretty fun mostly.

Waking HR  
Body Weight  
Body Fat  
Breakfast 6:30 AM - 2 bananas, mixed nuts, water
Workout Food 2 bottles w/sports drink powder, 2 GUs, 1 package Sport Beans
Time of Day 8:30 AM
Workout Type endurance
Weather sun, blue sky, low 40s at start, mid 50s at finish, calm
Course quite a bit of river wash, sand, gravel (the hard part) but also lots of fun dirt and rocky single track
Equipment Brooks Cascadia 7, 2-bottle hydration belt
Clothing Brooks Infinity Short III, Patagonia Capilene 1 Silkweight Stretch T-Shirt, Patagonia Merino 1 Silkweight Crew, SmartWool socks

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