Monday, October 24, 2011
Double-crossing the Big Ditch.
What do you do after 4 months of a lay off from running due to various injuries and a couple of weeks with few runs topping off at 6M? You have a tooth extraction with some stitching involved, pick up your other half (who had just had a root canal done), get on the plane and fly to make a Rim to Rim to Rim (also known as a double crossing of Grand Canyon) happen. All of 48 miles of it (we don’t take no short routes, Bright Angel both ways!) with some 13,000 feet of elevation gain. Piece of cake! I truly believe our bodies are made to go the distance; all we need to do is to know how to listen to them and take care of them. And I surely know that part to a “T”. We met sunset and walked around, and we didn't even contemplate much on tomorrow's trip too much. It was going to just be...
Grand Canyon is just that. Grand. There is no reason to describe it, post bunch of pictures (all of which in much better quality can be found on internet) or say words that pale. Still, the main point of the trip wasn't to enjoy the beauty - as much as it was a part of it no matter, because you simply can't avoid seeing breathtaking views and be in awe of the Mother Nature - the main point was to double-cross, no bailing allowed, and in a respectful time, so we can put this behind and go on onto the next adventure.
We started our trek at 4:29 am (don't believe the watch, Larry took a few extra minutes to make final adjustments and shoot pictures). It was supposed to be mid-30's at the top of a rim, but literally in 3 minutes as we dropped down, we stopped and shed the layers off. So much for carrying extra stuff!
I reached the NR at 6:20 into the run, and met up with Steve and Deb Pero, who started their journey from South Kaibab trail. They were waiting up on their own struggling friend (whom I passed). I was afraid Larry would join him in misery, but a mere few minutes later Larry showed up, scolded at me, yet ate a couple of gels, a few beef jurkey slices - and got up for the trip back. He still didn't run and rather walked downhill to let the stomach settle, but he was moving and not giving up.
At the "2M down" water spigot, where I was chatting with Tina and Bryon, Larry caught up with me, and he was running! He was back! And he was smiling to boot! I was thrilled - and I knew we were going to make this thing together, and in a great standing, and with an awesome mood. From now on, we ran, relaxed, easily, but ran, laughed, enjoyed, and really felt like we belonged here.
We spent 25 minutes at Phantom Ranch, between standing in line to get food and chatting with other folks (Larry, as an American, loaded on bagel with cream cheese, I, as a true European, ate a sausage) and then moved on, still having running legs, into the last section, across the bridge, up to Indian Garden and all the way to the Bright Angel trailhead. It was awesome! We felt strong! Larry even ran some half a mile to show off, but overall, we passed a few (or more) dozens of people, and felt like we just started. The trail, even though 3 miles longer than South Kaibab, is more mellow in a grade, had shade at the time we were on it for about 80% of the time, and never let us feel like we are about to die. I, of course, made all kinds of predictions and time goals on the way (obviously, somewhere around North Rim the finishing time was in such jeopardy, I was planning to be ashamed and prepared a speech for leaving Larry with words like "I am a respected ultrarunner and have obligations to people" and "I don't want to ever come back because my time sucked too much"). We blew by Indian Garden and hoped to be up by 6 pm. I even thought may be before official sunset at 5:45, but that was stretching (even I knew that - however I never gave up trying). It didn't quite happen, we finished at 6:04, in 13:35 total time, but with stops and a break-down at North Rim climb, it was absolutely best time imaginable. We can certainly check this one off now!
Exhilarating doesn't even begin to describe how it felt to do so well. It meant a lot to us. As ultrarunners, adventures, and as a couple.Best time together, allowing us to look forward so many things...
My tooth hurt, so did my foot, and I was taking Ibuprofen every 4 hrs to keep pain at bay (dry sockets pain is pretty excrutiating), although by the last climb the ligaments around my ankle felt over-tasked for compensating and hurt too. It didn't matter whether I go slow or fast, the pain bothered the same level, so I was pushing fast - why not? But today the injury itself is not any worse than it was, even if I am limping due to that ankle. My tooth should be fixed tomorrow, and after all, those are minor details. What's left to remember is the beauty, the grandiose, the fortitude - and the love we share for each other.
The sunrise next morning was beautiful and peaceful. Like the beginning of a new era...
PHOTOALBUM for Grand Canyon.Walnut Canyon on Sunday.