Updated 2/18/09

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The San Antonio Marathon San Antonio, Texas November 16th, 2008

The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge
Left: The route starts out fairly flat while we looped in and out of the city. Then as we left the central city, the route had a constant downhill slope, making it deceptively easy to reach the 17 mile turn around point. After that, you turned around and ran back uphill - mile after mile, to a finish back in the city at the Alamo Dome.
The stunning huge and heavy finishers medal for the full marathon

Friday and Saturday

When a brand new late fall Rock & Roll marathon was announced a year ago, the entry slots filled fast, so we decided to make it my second marathon event after a successful San Diego adventure. Although Dawn had visited her sister there recently, I had never seen the city, and it was then a double opportunity to see family and do the run as well. As the event neared, they announced that the entry slots were all filled - there would be over 30,000 runners taking part in this inaugural event! This would make it the largest inaugural marathon in US history. How could we miss out on that?

We arrived after work on a Thursday evening in a 2 hour flight and got our car and motel, the Best Western which was about 30 minutes from the drop off point for the busses on Sunday. Friday we went to the Expo at the Alamodome and because we were there on the first day, crowds were much less and we had a great selection of running accessories and clothing. We heard later on that on Saturday, the crowds were so huge that the lines were long to get in, and nothing was left hardly. Now that was planning. We had dinner that night with Dawns sisters family, with some howling winds outside that nearly blew the town apart.

Saturday, we did Sea World, and then while I rested at the motel for the next days event, Dawn took her niece to the Expo and fought the crowds. We ended at an Italian food restraunt and I had of coarse a pasta dish to boost my carbs for the next day.

Sunday - Race Day.

Once again, we avoided a real mess and disastrous start by getting to the drop off at the AT&T center at 5am and I got right on the first bus to the start line. Runners arriving later were not so fortunate. Buses ran late, and they were simply not prepared for such a huge number of runners. Some never made it to the start line before the race started. Once at the park next to the zoo, the runners started to pile in, as the slow busses dropped them off some distance down the road. It was cold, about 39 degrees and some of us kept warm by huddling around the heat lamps, or the generators. As the sun came up, things improved and we made it toward our corrals we were assigned before the race based on our estimated completion time. My corral was 15, and their were a total of over 40 corrals! As the tens of thousands of both marathoners and half marathoners packed into the gated corral areas, the sun began to warm us and the excitement built every
second. When the gun went off, we never heard it, since it was nearly a quarter mile in front of us! The race was started in waves. Each corral was released one at a time, with two minutes in between. This prevents too much crowding at the start, and allows you to run faster in the beginning. It took nearly 30 minutes for us to finally pass the starting gate, and our timing chips strapped onto our shoes started the clocks for each of us individually.

The Marathon

The first part of the race, you are running back and forth through the city multiple times on different routes. Crowds cheered us on, and it was not too difficult to keep my pace up except on some of the tight turns through narrow streets. At mile 11, your basically starting to exit the main part of the city and go into the rural areas. Thats where the half marathoners split off from us. These "half-a-thoners" as some called them turned off to the left, and off to their 13.1 mile finish line. The marathoners like myself kept to the right and went onward to the back streets of town and some amusing neighborhoods. Id say over 2/3 of the runners were half marathoners based on how much the runners thinned out after mile 11. For the marathoners, they also marked what was for us the 13.1 mile mark for timing purposes, I passed that point at 2:15, which means it took 2:45 to go from there to the finish line - an extra half an hour due to the endless uphill climb. Heading due south out of town, the generally down hill slope went through some parks, and back roads next to lakes that had only an occasional on looker cheering us on. I really liked that part of the run, away from the heart of the city. At mile 17 we turned around to head back north. Then it was all uphill back to town. Miles of long uphill running characterized this tough and slower path. By mile 22, over half the runners were walking from exhaustion. I made it through this rough stretch, and was pretty much sailing again by mile 24. As we headed a bit more slowly back into the city, you could see the Americas tower getting closer and closer, which was near the Alamodome, our final finish line. By mile 25 we ran past some industrial complexes and next to a huge electrical grid sub station. When we turned the corner just before mile 26, you could now see the Alamodome, and started pouring on your last energy to make it to the finish. My wrist GPS was very accurate, and I was able to judge pretty well the remaining distance. After mile 26 mark, they made you run up a long concrete ramp onto a side road next to the Alamodome. That was excruciating. The final 500 feet was a level run the narrow finish line, past the all too small crowd packed area. I met my time goal of 5 hours, and wore that marathon finisher medal proudly after such a huge effort!

After the race, the staging area was pandemonium as expected with such an over abundance of runners coming in, and after I grabbed an ice cold water, met up with Dawn and the relatives at the "S" family reunion pole nearby. It was over. I did it! Next time, since I now have done the course once I can plan my pace accordingly and start taking off a few minutes off the total time from now on. I look forward to the 2009 San Antonio Rock and Roll Marathon!


Before the Race - In and around San Antonio
  The River Walk is a prime attraction of shops along a series of canals in the city.
  Nightfall along the River Walk
  The Alamo building at night. Its small and easy to miss in the daytime
  Lit up horse drawn buggies attract tourists
  Sea Worlds main entrance.
Before the Race - At the Expo
  The Alamo Dome where the Expo was held and we picked up our race packets
  Inside the Expo Registration pickup
  Inside the Expo running gear for sale
  Signs on lamp posts all around town for the big event!
Before the Race - At the Marathon Stealth Cam II Images
  Waiting under the heat lamps in the dark, 39F
  Activity in the park near the zoo as sunrise approaches.
  Finally - in my corral 15, about 15 mins before the gun went off - see the start line WAAAY up there?
During the Race NEW Stealth Cam II Images
  The race has officially started! Were only a few corrals from the start.
  It was only after a few miles the crowding opened up more.
  As the sun rose, runners threw off their clothing for miles along the road. This gets donated to charity...
  The tightest turn in town forced us to run nearly single file around a narrow corner.
  As far as the eye can see - a sea of runners moves through the city on the first loop
  Around a park the tightly knit runners ahead of me
  One of the first rock and roll bands along the route!
  A significant point at 12 miles - all the half marathoners have peeled off to their finish, and you see now ONLY full marath- oners...
  And on to my favorite part of the run out of the city, into the parks.
  The looping road through the park where the busses park for tourists.
  Now imagine all those cheerleaders rooting for the marathoners! How cool is that?!
  The loop around at Mission San Juan. This is the last downhill for the rest of the race...
  Mile 18 - look dead ahead, you can see how far we are outside the city we started at.
  Running along the lake was very nice
  The 35k mark is where the uphill run really got intense.
  Mile 23, now heading back into the city. A lot of runners are dropping out or very slow
  Back into the streets of San Antonio!
  Mile 25, so many are walking now but we continue on. I was doing pretty good at this point maintaining a decent pace
  And at the finish line area! Mass confusion! At least I got my medal...
During the Race Dawns Images
  Dawn caught me at mile 10 as I came by and grabbed a gatoraide from them!
  Marathon spectators at st mary road
  One of the aid stations along the route near Dawn and here nieces
  Runners passing in the city near mile 10
  Near Mile 10
During the Race Provided by marathon photographer
  About at mile 6
  Passing mile 6 in the city still
  Passing the 10k point Im on the left in blue
  Coming up on the finish line - the clock is 30 mins off since it started at gunfire,
  Finishing at 5h (chip time)
  Success! I did 26.2 miles !
After the Race
  And now for my routine post race pose - smiling and drinking ginger ale with a medal around my neck
The Bisbee 1000 Bisbee, Arizona October 18th, 2008
The Start of the Bisbee 1000
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge

The Bisbee 1000 - 2008

Now in its 18th year, this athletic event was bigger than ever with over 1500 participants. The weather this year was warmer than last year, and surely slowed a few down from the 80 degree heat. To take part in this event, we arrived the day before and got a hotel for the night. This gave us some time to walk around the town after dusk, and trace some of the routes marked in chalk along the roadways, and see the town. We ate a decent meal that night at the Copper Queen motel, and settled in for a good nights sleep.

The next morning we were up at 5:30am, getting ready to head out to the starting line. We reached the courthouse downtown early to get a good parking spot, and had our race number and a few trinkets by 7:00am. Parking is at a premium in this small town! The run is chip timed, and they were setting up the sensors at the start and finish lines while we walked about and took in the warming sunrise rays. The race started at 9am, and this year they used a "wave start" to even out the crowding at the stairways. For the first wave, runners who THOUGHT they would complete in around 30 minutes went first, then the majority of us went off after that five minutes later. I found this amusing, since I passed about half of the first wave runners during the race.

The race started for us then at 8:05 and we burst over the starting line, this time I positioned myself near the front to keep away from the slower crowds. We blasted down hill through the entire length of the town to the first stairway, with a pace I had never run before during a race - just averaging under a six minute pace. Each of the nine stairways was conquered by slowing to a fast power hike up to the top, some of them over 150 grueling steps long. In between the 9 sets of stairs, you ran up and down super steep slopes, long straight always through back streets, alleys, main roads, dirt trails and even through the porches of some hotels. How wild is that?!

The race is not something you can easily train for in normal running, and while I did very well in the running parts, the stairs were really challenging. I came over the line this year 3 minutes faster than last, which is significant in a 4.4 mile run such as this in 48 minutes. Certainly if I'm going to do this race again, Ill need to spend more time on stairs!

After the run, we looked around in the craft fair, ate some junk food and drove north through some amazing southern Arizona geology and scenery on the trip back to Payson.


Before the Race
  Sunset in Bisbee See the huge "B" on this hill?
  As we walked around, the route, you can see this white chalk arrow in front of an old bank building.
  Dawn traces the route after sunset.
  One of the last few stairways, in between two buildings!
  Along main street where we really will pour on the speed.
  This is the gigantic stairway they ran the ice block competition on.
  The first loop back through town, about halfway into race. Such a hill!
  The view down main street where we will be running the next day.
  This time exposure taken at night (hand held) of the town.
  High pressure sodium lamps light the town at night, here is another arrow.
  The bank building at night.
  The next day we entered the registration area, and this sign was posted
  The giant copper statue this year was apparently staring at the setting moon!
  The local fire department was well represented here
  Runners gather for last minute instructions
  Overall view of the race start area from the ramp
  Here I am (center) waiting for the race to start
  Final instructions are given to runners
  Seconds before we took off!
During the Race Stealth Cam Images
  Here is what it looks like inside the starting line minutes before we started.
  Running down side streets!
  The wild dash up the stairs.
  Up behind the motels above main street.
  Heading up the steep stairs between the buildings.
  Blasting down an ULTRA steep hill trying not to trip!
  Heading down the steep hill back near the start line for the second loop.
  Another steep stairway next to a restaraunt.
  Up, Up, UP!
  Will they ever end?
  One of my favorite shots all the runners heading down the hill back to town.
  Not exactly a rock and roll band, but hey it was entertainment along the route!
  The final big blast toward the finish line into town.
During the Race Dawns Images
  The huge sea of runners at the start of the race!
  I am on the front right in this shot
  I pass Dawn sitting on the ramp
  Runners coming down the ramp into town
Crossing back into town in the middle of the race, I'm just coming down the ramp 
  Through town a second time...
Heading for another stairway 
And up we go (It was a bit crowded!) 
The final push across the finish line ! 
  After the race, the food and drinks area
The Rim Challenge Half Marathon Payson, Arizona October 4th, 2008
The start of the Half Marathon
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge
Second Place Age Group Medal I won for the Half Marathon

The course changed once again on this third year for the Rim Challenge half marathon held in Payson. This year, the races started at Green Valley Park, next to the lake on the golf course. At 8am the starting line was packed with 92 runners under mostly cloudy skies. The temperature at start time was near 60 however, and made for ideal running conditions. There we met our friends David Garcia and his wife, and the speedy Debbie Goodwin. This was going to be great fun! This year also, Dawn did the 5k run/walk along with 85 others so everyone had something to do.

The Half Marathon
The racers burst from the start line on a low tech "On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!" from the race coordinators and we headed towards main street where the police had blocked off half the road with orange cones. This slight up hill street is misleading, and can wear out runners that take off too fast. I tried to slow myself down to no more than an 8:30 pace to conserve for the latter hills. We then turned left on to Colcord, past the jail up to Longhorn, past the high school and then onto Payson Parkway. This is where we started last year, at Rumsey park there. Up to this point, I was running with Debbie and we got to chat a bit. She very slowly pulled away from me after that. It was all back streets behind the west side of town, and onto some very steep long hills that trashed many runners only halfway into the run. Since I
train weekly on these roads, I saved my energy for what was coming up next - the steepest hill in all of Payson, affectionately called the "Challenge Hill". This runs up Airport road up onto the mesa, and rises over 250 feet in a quarter mile. If you survived that at mile 10, it was level running for a few more miles through the subdivisions behind the airport, which was a new route this year. Then past our street where we live and then steep down hill for several miles through the golf course! It is here you can make up the speed you lost coming up the Airport Road hill. The route then headed back to Green Valley park to the finish line which was up a last quarter mile torturous hill in the park where cheering spectators inspired you onward!

This year was my fastest Rim Challenge run yet, 1h 57m with an average pace of 8:50. This netted me second place in my age division, I received a race medal for this. An amazing race, well worth the views and good company of friends through a very challenging race. Dark clouds moved in soon afterwards, and it rained the rest of the day after that. Wow, were we lucky again this year!


Before the Race
  Gathering for race packet pickup
  Packet pickup booths
  Me and David Garcia study map of the route (Courtesy David Garcia)
  The starting line by the Park
  Waiting for the race start
  Official giving race instructions to runners
  Listening to race preliminary info
  In the race crowd (Stealth Cam)
During the Race Stealth Cam Images
  Gathering at the start line
  Heading down Main Street - The race has started!
  Onto Payson Parkway the old race start location
  The infamous "Rim Challenge Hill"
  Heading up the hill
  And back down toward the Golf course
  Passing the Golf course
  Heading to the finish at the Lake
Shots by Dawn Schur
  Nearly a hundred runners launch from the start line !
  The race start, cont.
  Heading down Main street Im in blue on the right
  Nearing the finish line coming down the final slope
  Finish line burst of speed!
  Final Clock time for a very tough race
  David Garcia in red coming in for a fast finish!
  Mid race down Bulla st near our house (Courtesy Jill Vancamp)
The 5k event (Dawn)
  Heading past the park
  onward to the turn around
After the Race
  David, Debbie Goodwin, and myself share race stories (Courtesy David Garcia)
 047 Second and third place winners for my age division (Courtesy David Garcia)
  Looking over the park at the race finish after the race
  Race recovery mode
  David, me and Dawn relax after the events
  Davids wife Rita, and Debbie after the race
  Age division winners, Debbie is always a top finisher!
  Age division second place winner...
Flagstaff Half Marathon Flagstaff, Arizona September 27th, 2008
Running through the Aspen forest

This years running events at the Flagstaff Nordic Center were greeted with nearly perfect weather, 250 runners, and a surprise finishers medal at the finish line. We arrived at 7 am to pick up the race packet, in a chilly 43 degree temperature. This years T shirts for the half marathon were a rust colored short sleeve with the marathon logo on the front. As the sun came up, approximately 200 full and half marathon runners gathered around the main tent where we found food, fruit, tea and coffee. By the time 8 am race start came around, it warmed up to the 50's, and increasing warmth made all of us energetic and ready to run! It was far less dusty this year, as we headed out in a tight group down the narrow trail. After 15 minutes or so, the group started to spread out, and we could really pour on the speed to our race pace.

This is by any definition, a tough trail run. The trail takes you up steep hills, rocky fields, and through narrow stands of white apsens through an altitude range of 8000 to nearly 9000 feet. Like any trail run through the woods, the hazards of limbs, large basalt rocks, pot holes and slippery gravely trails were the norm. Fortunately, casualties were few this time, only a few cuts and bruises from falls. I had two people trip and fall right in front of me on several occasions, but none for the worse.

The run to the finish after a steep hill at mile 10 was fast, and exciting. I was able to make up for a lot of slow uphill slogging here, and finished 15 minutes faster than last year, a new PR at 2:06. A surprise came as we crossed the finish line this year, stunning finishers medals were handed to us making the whole effort seem so worthwhile!

Afterwords, the raffle for the half marathoners was held, (I didnt get anything) and and the winners were announced and recieved thier awards, slabs of polished wood with engraving on them.

Im looking forward to next years run allready, planning my strategies for maybe that sub 2 hour finish!


Before the Race
  Trail directions for 10k, Half and Full marathons
  Route map, you run it twice for full marathon
  Runners lining up at the start line for directions
  Tim, director of the event gives trail instructions
Standing in line for the race to start! (Stealth Cam)
During the Race
  And were off! 250 runners at the start
  Some of the best trail runners in the US run this challenging event
  Heading down the trail after a mile, we spread out along the trails
  Passing the 10k cross point in 58 minutes
Heading out to the deep woods! (Stealth Cam)
The first aid station in the Aspens (Stealth Cam)
  Steep uphills toward 9000 feet (Stealth Cam)
Yes, it was the "Fruit Loops" Gal (Stealth Cam)
Second Aid Station at trail cross point (Stealth Cam)
  Heading into the deep woods (Stealth Cam)
Rental ski cabin in the woods (Stealth Cam)
Heading deep into the Aspens (Stealth Cam)
  Surrounded by small Aspens (Stealth Cam)
Fall Colors in gorgeous scenery (Stealth Cam)
After the Race
  Final clock time 2:07 15 minutes faster than last year!
  Finish line photo after the grueling trail run
Big Brothers Big Sisters Half Marathon Flagstaff, Arizona August 9th, 2008
Running a half marathon in deep slimy mud was a new experience!

The annual Big Brothers Big Sisters charity half marathon was held this year on August 9th, at Wheeler park on the extreme west side of Flagstaff. Several hundred runners showed up for this tough trail run, which the first three quarters of a mile was the street route from the park to the trail head. Uphill it went, to nearly 8000 feet elevation, and topped of on top of Observatory Mesa, where the Lowell Observatory sits. Past that after mile 7.5 was all down hill, helping to make up for the grueling up hill climb up to the top.

The road/trail conditions this year were about the muddiest I have ever run on, the roads were so mud bogged from monsoon rains that we had to run through the woods on the side of the roads, and giant lake like puddles made for some very amusing obstacles! No one got hurt, and while the poor trail conditions slowed us down a bit, we still all had a great time because the temperature was nearly perfect in the 50s and 60s.

While I was running the half, Dawn took part in power walking the 5k route, which was the first decent road part of the half marathon route in a fast time of 44 minutes. By the time I came over the line, she was there getting photos of the finishers coming over the line. I was still able to finish 20 minutes faster than last year, at 2h 9m time.

Before the Run
  Dawn signing up for the 5k walk
  Before the race runners collect their packets
  Registration pickup
  Starting to line up (Natra)
  Runners gathering at the start about 10 mins before race start
  At starting line - I'm in center in blue (again)
  Stealth cam shot from starting line looking forward
Running the Event
  Gunfire - Were off!
  I'm just to the right of center here
  More runners out the gate
  Coming in to the finish line full speed
  Final time
Stealth Cam Photos During the Run
  At the starting line
  Heading down the street part of the run
  At the trail head, mud ahead!
  Steep up hill dirt path
  Sharp left turn at the first aid station
  Now the real mud running begins
  I have never run in such mud before
  Trail runners strung out slogging through the mud
  San Francisco Peaks view from trail
  Lowell Observatory on the meadow
  On Observatory Meadow the speeds start to pick up
  Fairly dry back road
  And back to the gooey mud!
  Running through the woods to avoid the mess
  Near the end of the run, the trail was fairly dry and narrow
After the Run
  At the finish line no more mud today...
  An hour after we left, the sky let loose with a huge rain cloudburst. We were very lucky! (Natra)
Huffin & Puffin 8 mile Race Payson, Arizona July 12, 2008
Payson Roundup Photo (I'm in blue on left)

Hosted by Safeway food stores and some local businesses, the proceeds from this event went to helping poor families pay for their groceries in our economic times of need. With that in mind, an 8 mile, 5 mile, and 1 mile fun run were held at Rumsey Park in Payson Saturday morning. I signed up for the longer 8 mile run, and it essentially ran through the most challenging loop in town, up over the Airport hill and down through the golf course back to the park. This is the same run I do twice a week anyway, and it was really refreshing to have 34 top notch racers run the same route.

The 8 miler started at 7:30am, and ran through the parking lot at the park onto McLane, north through the back streets, up the Airport hill - the long difficult "Rim Challenge" Hill. Then up over the subdivisions near our house, and back down the hill at high speed to the Payson Golf course. Back down Main street, north again through Colcord road and onward to Rumsey Park to the finish.

In my practice runs in the previous weeks, my best times were 1h 20m, and 1h 25m running at near race speed. I was able to exceed that during the actual race, in 1h 13m, with an average pace of 9m/mile. With all the challenging hills on such a tough run, that's the fastest I've ever done it.

The race was fairly well done for a small town run. Water stations were well placed with both water and Gatorade. The temperature at race start was near 70, but near the end was a very muggy 80, which made us all slow down a notch and pour with sweat. I guess that is to be expected for a monsoon July race! We were promised a "surprise" at the top of the Challenge Hill, besides the spectacular view of Payson from there. Anticipation grew as I made my way up the hill, powering up as I did in practice runs in a slower but constant fast pace. Then at the top - a cooler with Popsicles! No one I saw actually took one, since we were racing right? Who had time to eat one and make good time on such a short run anyway. But some of the slower runners I'm sure had them.

A fast finish and it was a free breakfast for the runners and $5 for other family members. All considered, a fun morning and a nice inaugural run to look forward to next year.

Before the Run
  The event is held at Rumsey Park
  Tables of "goodie bags" for all of the runners in all events
  Registration booth
Loads of people preparing breakfast for the Runners after the race!  
  Runners for the 8 mile event gather
Lynn the event Organizer makes final announcements 
At the starting line, the 8 milers gather
Im in the center in blue 
  All 35 runners pose for a final shot before the gun goes off.
Running the Event Above - Time lapse sequence from a video of the start of the race
  Newspaper shot of the start of the race
  Here I am in the final thrust to the fast finish!
  My clocked time, a full 7 minutes faster than I had ever done this route before
Stealth Cam Photos During the Run
  Before the race, I took this during my warm up running looking back at the start line
  A runners point of view standing at the starting line
  Running up the ultra challenging Airport Road "Revenge" hill
  Up on top, running toward Birch Mesa, where our house is
  Rounding the Golf Course
  Through town along Main Street
After the Run in the Newspaper
  Front Page in in our weekly local newspaper
  Closer to show me at the start of the race on the left edge of this photo
  And yes, I'm on the sports page too.
  Front runners in the race blaze past the photographers camera. I'm in front here, on the right side.
  Gaspin in the Aspens 2008 June 21, 2008

This very tough trail run up at the Flagstaff Nordic center takes you up from 8000 feet on upward, through cross country ski trails and steep slopes, rough rocky trails, meadows, and dense stands of aspens in which the trail cuts directly through like narrow tunnels. The combination of an extreme endurance run and the fabulous scenery makes this run a favorite for a mid summer challenge. The registration is limited to 250 runners, so I signed up early for this one, and this well organized event is always so much fun. Temperatures this year were mid 50s at race start at 8am, and warmed up considerably to low 80s on the way back. While only 9 miles (15k), the grueling hills really slow you down to a crawl at some points as you race toward the fast downhill finish. Trail runs such as this are particularly hazardous if your not prepared or unaccustomed to trail running. Large rocks, logs, pine cones and huge ruts in the sometimes hard to see trail take their compliment of casualties each year. I saw at least two runners with sprained ankles, half a dozen with knees wrapped in ice packs, and cut an bruised legs coming over the finish line. But thats endurance trail running and how it can go if your not properly trained. Nearly all of us however came out unscathed and had a great time. I bettered my time of 100 minutes last year by 6 minutes, to 94 minutes. Next year - maybe 90?....

Before the Run
  Sign at the Nordic Center for the Event
  Runners gather in the cool morning, low 40's
  The Start Line for the 15k (9 miles) Event
  The view behind the Nordic Center as the sun came up
  Warming up on a side trail before the run
  Getting directions and rules before the start
  I'm in blue in the center of this telephoto shot
Running the Event
  And were off and running!
  250 runners thunder off the start line
  Passing Dawn about a thousand feet down the trail in a huge thundering cloud of dust!
  Heading off into the forest like a giant heard of gazelles.
  Follow that dust cloud
  The reception committee at the finish line awaits the first runners
  And here I come - breaking away from the pack for a fast finish! ~
  Official clock time over the line.
Stealth Cam Photos During the Run
  A few moments before the race started right after sun up
  The start line marked "15K" in chalk
  And were running! Heading out toward the deep pine and aspen forest
  Running into a grove of aspens (they look like birch trees)
  Now into the Ponderosa Pines
  The first water/aid station
  The trail through the Aspens - see runner up ahead?
  Another aid station just before we get into a big meadow
  San Fransisco Peaks to the left as we cross the meadow
  Tiny aspens to the left
  Passing the final aid station on the way to the fast downhill finish
  A common sight at the finish - feet packed in ice.
  The runners gather after they finish for the door prizes!
Finish Line and After the Run
  Runners and families relax, waiting for the rest of the runners to come in
  The results are updated real time from your bib tag.
  After the run, with the finish line in the background - over 2/3rds of the runners had not come in yet.
  Tim hands of the awards
Rim to Rim Grand Canyon Run May 18th, 2008

This year there were many changes in our strategy, and the the company that runs the north rim lodge. First, because the San Diego marathon was only two weeks later, I decided to go do only one way, from the North Rim to the South Rim. The plan was to be full recovered by the time of the marathon because I was doing only 24 miles. Friday, we left for the north rim through marble canyon. After taking some photos at the bridge and canyon there, we headed north and westward toward the north rim canyon entrance. We always enjoy the scenery along this route, the huge Jurassic sandstone cliffs capped by the Wingate sandstone towered around us on the way, and a few stops to shoot the stunning geology we taken. Upon arrival at the north lodge, we checked in and then drove around a bit to see what had changed since last visit. Saturday, we started out early, to try to get some photos of the birds, animals, and hopefully some wild turkeys. (we didn't see any). A hike to Cliff Springs was one highlight, where the water flows out of the side of a small canyon and is covered with thick moss. Then onward to the small pond to shoot the swifts flying over the water. They are very difficult to shoot, since they move very fast and erratically. We were able to sneak up on a few that had landed in the trees for rest, and got the best shots we had ever taken of these amazing birds.

Sunday morning, at 3am, I hit the trail head and headed down to the river. It doesn't take long after 3:30 before the sky starts getting light and by 4am the morning twilight made for faster progress down the steep slopes. As I passed Cottonwood camp, I knew my time was very good, and I pulled into Phantom ranch 3 hours and 4 minutes from the top, my fastest time ever. By 3 1/2 hours, I was standing on the bridge over the Colorado River. An amazing sight as the sun was starting to illuminate the cliffs that towered over me. I spent the rest of the morning trying to stay ahead of the two mule trains that dogged me all the way up to the top. I crested the south rim in 7h 54 minutes, my third fastest so far. All in all, a fairly pleasant hike, only a bit too warm coming up the south side. Here is a photo pictorial of our trip. Wish you were there!

Adventure Photo Pictorial

The Drive to the North Rim
On the way up to the North Rim, the Jurassic Echo Cliffs were spec- tacular
Visitors Center at Marble Canyon, the very start of the Grand Canyon
  Closed old bridges over Marble Canyon
  Looking at the Colorado River
  Standing on the bridge over the Colorado!

Sights on the North Rim

At a large pond at the GC North Rim, our favorite birding spot - swifts dart over the water
  At the pond shooting birds
  Extremely difficult to photograph, swifts are seldom seen sitting still Took YEARS to get this one!
  Rumped Warbler is amongst the most colorful on Rim
  The view toward Cliff Springs
  Ancient Indian grain storage in cave along trail
  Inside the cave
Trail Head of Cliff Springs Trail
Looking out toward the main canyon along the trail
  Hiking out toward Cliff Springs, a side canyon to the GC
At Cliff Springs 
Cliff Springs!
The small side canyon that Cliff Springs is in
Flowers along Cliff Springs Trail
  Flowers 2
View of the snow capped San Francisco Peaks from the trail
  A small pond next to the road on the North Rim
  White Flowers next to the pond
Looking for birds at the pond
  Skipping stones
  Flowers at the pond
California Condor flies over the North Rim

Hiking 24 miles across the Canyon

  During the run down the first light was at Roaring springs Canyon falls
  On the trail, running is much smoother on the north side of the canyon
  Coming into Cottonwood camp - the lighting is still very low at this point
  The trail opens up again after Cottonwood, and you can really pick up the pace!
  Sunrise on the distant South Rim, still 20 miles away...
  About halfway to the bottom passing through giant blocks of Tapeats Sandstone This is the geologic formation our house is built on in Payson!
  The side trail to Ribbon Falls.
  In the bottom of the Canyon, the sun does not come up for a while!
  A fantastic new change this year - the bridge over the swampy beaver dam we used to have to slog through
  A new elevated trail through the beaver dam - Fantastic!
  Bridge crossing over Bright Angel creek
  Another bridge crossing nearly destroyed by the winter river floods
  The long run down to Phantom Ranch, along Bright Angel creek
  Golden sunlight reflections of the canyon walls in the creek
  After passing Phantom, the Colorado River just ahead!
  Reaching the Colorado river bridge in about 3:15, my fastest ever.
  Crossing the Colorado River Is this cool or what?
  Heading up the other side, looking back at the bridge I just crossed.
  Views down to the bottom as I ascend the very steep trail to the south rim.
  Mule train that dogged me all the way up, they go about the same speed I do, and its challenging to keep ahead of them.
  Looking back toward the inner gorge at the red Hakati shale
  From the Tip Off, in the Hakati shale
  Towards the top, still thousands of feet in elevation up hill to go
  Parting views of the red beds in the Supai Group about 3/4 to the top.

San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon June 1st, 2008

 This truly action packed weekend started on Friday night, when we flew into San Diego and headed over to the Convention Center for the Fitness Expo and packet pickup. The Expo was the largest pre-race event we had ever attended, inside a huge auditorium packed with dozens of rows of vendors of race gear, upcoming marathons, and health gear we have ever seen. On one side was the packet pickup, and out of 29 possible starting corrals based on your expected finish time, I was in corral 16 for a moderate 5 hour time slot. I felt this was a safe choice since I had not run this route before, and wanted to make this first experience enjoyable by not pushing it too much. After a few hours at the expo, we met up with Dawns sister and family where we spent the evening and next day with. We also drove the long race route to get familiar with the layout and hills, and the long and steep highway routes. We spent the night before the Sunday race at their house.

Race Day

We got up at 2:15am, and headed out toward the race parking lot by 3am, just under an hour away. That's where we split - I took one of the about a dozen giant busses out to the race start line, and Dawn stayed to wait for here sister and family to meet up with. At the starting line we were at a huge park on Sixth and Palm. It was dark, still very early in the morning at 5am. When the buses dropped us off we walked about a quarter mile towards the brilliant lights at the other end of the park, where we found not only thousands of other runners gathering, but tents of food, coffee and sports drinks. Wow. How cool was that? After some coffee and bagels, I saw an amazing sight as the sun started to come up, the field was filling with tens of thousands of runners - just like me. We all had the same idea that day, to do our best and have a great time participating in one of the most challenging endurance athletic events, the 26.2 mile long marathon.

As the start time approached at 7:30, we hovered near our starting corrals. Mine was 16, about halfway down from the start over a quarter mile away. I could just see the start hoop of balloons if I stood on my toes. Up front of course were the "Elites", the worlds fastest runners to lead the race, and I would run in their footsteps the whole way. When the gun fired to start the race, we didn't start moving for about 5 minutes. It was shoulder to shoulder, jam packed across four highway lanes, 22,000 runners were starting to move! Finally after many minutes I passed the start line, we then started to run very slowly, then within about half a mile, were ramping up our pace. I probably started out too far back in the pack, since for the rest of the race I was passing everyone in my group.

By mile 2, I was still too crowded to really get up a good pace, but we ran through the back of the zoo. By mile 5, it finally opened up enough to ramp up the pace, to my 10 minute/mile marathon pace. We raced around Balboa park, and by mile 6 to 7 across harbor drive, where we saw boats and the ocean for the first time. The temperature was nearly perfect, around 60 and a nice cool breeze. We were flying now! Then we ripped through down town San Diego, where some of the streets had a camber to them that was ankle twisting at best. But not much different than some of the trail runs I have done, so no complaints here. The crowds here were awesome. Hundreds of thousands of spectators cheering us onward. What an amazing experience. Then we zipped through the other side of the park and zoo again at miles 9, and over the 163 freeway - yes they had cleared the entire major freeway to us and we were all by ourselves running on a slight uphill on a major through way. Spectators were standing on top of the overpass bridges, waving flags and banners and cheering us on. And yes, every mile there were stages with live rock and roll bands. Some were so loud that your ears nearly blew out when you ran by, others more sedate but all of them rocked you onward and really got you in the running spirit.

Finally at mile 11, we exited the freeway and onto Friars Blvd, a long and mostly uninteresting stretch of road along a park. But then we turned north and ran along Mission Bay, with boats, giant ships and the ocean once again. We looped completely around the bay, and by mile 20 were on an island which we crossed a bridge to reach. This is where people started to really drop out, about a quarter of them at this point were so exhausted they were walking, or worse along the side of the road. But for those of us which had trained for pushing past the 20 mile "wall" it was a pleasant run (but getting very warm) with the ocean on both sides. It was a long uphill to mile 22. Many more runners began to walk here, as it started to get warmer and more humid. But I followed my training plan well, and kept a strong steady running pace past the 22 mile peak. The run started to go downhill from there, and by mile 24 we were running over freeway overpasses back into town, and I remember all the cars on the freeway going under us were honking there horns at us cheering us onward! Miles 24 to 26 was a slower even pace as most of us were pretty darn tired by then. Along the road there were rows of high school cheerleaders chanting: "GO RUNNERS GO, GO - GO - GO". That really got my spirits up so near the end. I read afterwards there was 40 cheerleader squads along the route! The last left turn through the gates at just over mile 25 of the MRCD military base meant only half a mile more to go. That was a long half mile! As I ran through the finish line, I raised my arms in victory, as most of us did that ran in our pace group. It was over. My life had changed forever. I had run my first marathon a bit faster than my expected pace, in 4h 54m start to finish.

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GPS data from the Garmin during this run
The Awsome finishers medal
Before the Race through Race Start The Health and Fitness Expo
The San Diego Convention Center where the Expo was
Along the route, some of the signs
Entering the Fitness Expo
Buying goodies at the Expo
Inside the huge Expo
Inside the Expo 2
"Stealth Cam" Images at the Starting Line
Just dropped off at the Start Line - Head for the light!
Minutes before race start, 22,000 runners gather
The slow walk to the Start Line after the gun went off
And were off! The chips on our shoes will give the actual times from start to finish
During the Race More "Stealth Cam" images during the entire Race
Typical scene running under bridge overpass with spectators cheering
Heading into town
First sight of the ocean along the beach
On the freeway at the start of the uphill
Mile 9 time check (gun time only)
Under another bridge
Passing the 4:45 pacer runner
At the halfway point 13.1 miles - still really packed!
At the water stations the ground was soaked and cups everywhere
The police at all major intersections
This was humorous - orange peels at one point Yummmm....
Heading toward the ocean again
Running along a saltwater bay
Thousands run up the freeway overpass
The finish line crowd
Images from a professional photographer on the finish line (ASI Photography)
The final burst of speed over the finish!
Second shot taken moments later. Chip time was 4:54
                                                 Photos at mile 22 from Dawn and Sheri
Runners nearing the mile 22 switch back
Here I am - passing mile 22
Mile 7 and At the finish line: By Dawn and Sheri
The scene at mile 7 before the runners arrive
Alyssa and Genna at mile 7
The first wheel chair group passes
The parking lot near the finish line jammed with thousands of cars
The finish shot!
After the Race By Sheri
At the seafood restaraunt after the race

The Half Whiskey Row Half Marathon

Prescott, Az May 3rd, 2008

 The Whiskey Row half and full marathons are rated as the fourth most difficult races in the entire country. This was the first time I had run this event up in Prescott, and naturally I started this year with the half marathon. Now in its 40th year of running, this half marathon starts at the courthouse in down town Prescott at an elevation of just over 5200 feet, and heads out of town along unpaved back roads into the ponderosa pines, thousands of feet to the top of the turn around point. After enduring such an excruciating running climb to the top, you then turn around and back to town in what can be described as one of the fastest down hill racing runs you ever experienced. I dont think my legs could go much faster without tripping on the numerous pot holes, rocks and loose gravel along the sometimes poorly maintained back roads. Obviously you scream toward the finish line in a slightly up hill finish, nearly making up for the slow slogging trek
up to the top.

About 600 runners did the very popular half marathon this year, with 200 enduring the full marathon starting an hour earlier. The temperatures at race start was a chilly 43 degrees, but warmed up very quickly as it often does at higher altitudes as the sun rapidy rose in a clear blue sky. 3 miles of paved street running led to the unpaved Copper Basin Road, where the greuling uphill challenge intensifies. At mile 5, the steepness became even more extreme, and many runners had to walk sections of this hill for a short distance. Despite this, I was able to get to the turn around point at 6.5 miles with a fast 10.0 minute pace. I never expected to get there that fast, but hill running in the same altitude in Payson really paid off here. My pace ranged from 7 to 8 minutes/mile all the way down into town, with a final time across the finish line of 2h 00m 09s, and an average pace for the run of 9:16. This would make this extreme run my third fastest
half marathon ever.

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GPS data from the Garmin during this run
The finishers medal
Before the Race through Race Start
  Mulling about minutes before the call to the starting line.
  At the Start, I am in blue with the blue cap in the center.
  3 police escort to star the race!
  And were off! I am just below the word "Alley"
  Runners thunder off the line!
  Still comming...
  Thumb Butte and hundreds of runners
  Another huge sea of runners for the shorter 10k.
During the Run (Racepix Images) Images from a professional photographer on the race course
  Near the end of the race...
At the finish line: Dawn took these about a quarter of a mile from the finish line as we rounded the last turn
  Here I am comming up the final steep hill to the finish!
  Full speed ahead!
  Just after finishing watching the others comming on in.
  At the end of the finish chute, where they handed you the finishers medals
  Courthouse in Prescott where we started
  Whiskey row after the race
  Statue on the Courthouse lawn
The Valley of the Sun Half Marathon March 9th, 2008

 This half marathon is considered to be a fairly fast run, and many runners have reported getting PR's (Personal Records) here. For the most part, the run is down hill with one steep hill in the middle, and a fast down hill finish. I ran my fastest half here, again beating 2h, with a 1:53 official time. The run takes place in a very scenic pure desert and rural part of Apache Junction, just south east of Phoenix and far from the city environment. A very nice fitness expo was held the day before, on Saturday for packet pickup and purchasing some running gear. And unlike the disorganized mess that was the 2005 event, they now seem to have it very well run, and it was extremely enjoyable. The race had plenty of aid stations, helpers that were tripping over each other to assist you, and some decent food at the finish line.

The Course

We were bussed out to the starting line, and sat in the road for an hour in the cold waiting for the event to start. That was not too fun, but I was able to run up and down the blocked off roadway for a long distance to warm up before the event started. The horn went off to start the race right on time, and the DJ played AC/DC and Chariots of fire music. The sun wasn't even up yet, and we ran during the sunrise as I watched the planet Venus rise over the superstition mountains. When the sun came up, we found ourselves warming up to back roads, rural streets and finally major roadways. We ran up a steep long hill at one point, before the halfway point next to a small lake, with cattails, ducks, and fishermen. Then it was downhill for a long distance to a fast finish. There was just over a thousand runners, making it so far one of the largest events I have run in. Not exactly the big city half marathon event, but still a very well run and exciting event to participate in!

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GPS data from the Garmin during this run
  The gorgeous finishers medal.
Before the Race through Race Start After the bus left with the runners to the starting line, Dawn took these shots from the area around the finish line as the sun came up.
The busses that took us to the start line 13.1 miles away
Stunning sunrise with saguaro cactuses in silhouette
  Finish line refreshments waiting for the first runners
  Mount McDowell (Red Mountain) at sunrise
  Looking back at the now empty roadway the police blocked off from the traffic
  The Finish Line (Were coming!)
Running "Stealth Cam" shots Realize that most of these snap shots were taken while running as fast as I can at the same time, took about 2 seconds to shoot each, and I never slowed down. Composition is questionable under these circumstances for sure! But I hope these at least give you some feel for what it is like to be running in an event such as this.

  After the bus dropped us off, we walked about trying to keep warm.
  In the last 5 minutes before race start, the final announcements came.
  Then the quarter mile walk began down the road to the starting line.
  Here a thousand of us are waiting not too patiently for the race start!
  And were off! The sun had not come up yet.
  bout 15 minutes later, the first light of the sun. Now were really screaming.
  Running along normally busy main streets, totally shut down for the event by the police department.
  At the 10k distance, which is 6 miles our lap time was read out from our shoe sensors.
  At mile 7, volunteers hand us water, and something green.
  Running right toward Red Mountain
  Passing the small lake on the left just before we hit a very steep hill
  Mile 9 water station
  Passing Red Mountain on the left side.
  Purple flowers on the hill next to the road in full bloom.
  Passing stands of Saguaro Cactuses in the desert
  My attempted shot of blasting fast to the finish line. Its just up ahead! This was my fastest half marathon ever.

During the Run (Racepix Images) Images from a professional photographer on the race course

At the finish line: Dawn took these about a quarter of a mile from the finish line as we rounded the last turn
  The first runners start to come in
  My final burst of speed to the finish line
  Passing younger runners
At the finish Line !
  Runners at food/ refueling tent
The Lost Dutchman Half Marathon February 17th, 2008

 Considered one of the most scenic desert half and full marathons in the western US, rated as one of the best in the country as well by Runners World Magazine. The Lost Dutchman was also my fastest half yet, breaking the 2 hour barrier for the very first time. Held since 2002 in Apache Junction east of the Phoenix, the lower elevation - about 2000 feet and warmer climate gave me an advantage over other half marathons held at higher elevations.

The Course

It seemed like the whole run was up hill both ways. From the very start, its an uphill climb along the highway, until you hit the dirt. Then you literally plunge down a very steep hill - The "Dutchmans Revenge" as it is called through back roads in the desert. The landscape goes up and down for miles, and you turn around at the 6 mile mark. I was doing a solid 8:30 pace at that point. The return trip is again undulating hills, and then - the "Dutchmans Revenge"! A humoungous up hill run, extremely steep had half the people walking. I was able to run all the way to the top. There, is a fake wall in the road, with an opening you "must" run through as you crest the hill. I was way ahead of most of the pack at this point, and looked forward to a long downhill run to the finish. It was awesome! I finished in 1:56 despite the steep hilly terrain, making it my fastest yet.

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GPS data from the Garmin during this run
  The gorgeous finishers medal.
Before the Race through Race Start
  After a ride to the starting point, the busses park and runners start warming up
  Sunrise over the distant Mountains in a typical desert scene
  Lost Dutchman Mascot from New River
  Seconds before race Start on this chilly Morning...
  And were off! over a thousand runners started at the same time.
  I'm here in blue (again) embarking on one of the most scenic runs ever
  Finish line sequence - Dawn captures my last quarter mile!
  Making final passes before the finish
  Fast finish to my fastest Half marathon yet -
  Just under 2 hours for the very first time!
Running "Stealth Cam" shots Due to a failure in the stealth cam - the lens fell off inside the camera (now fixed) the shots are small and not all clear, but you can get the flavor of the event as seen from the eye of a sleek racer near the front of the pack. ; ) (Non Clickable)
  Gathering at the start line
  Off and running just before sunrise
  In the saguaro cactus forest
  Rural areas
  Pure desert road racing!
  Racing full blast through the desert
  Top of the "Dutchmans Revenge" a super steep hill you run through a fake brick wall
  The long downhill plummet after the challenging hill
  Only a few miles to go now - pour on the SPEED!
  Spectators cheer us on in the last quarter mile
The Sedona Half Marathon February 9th, 2008

 Our second year at this excellent event had nearly perfect weather, and a bigger turn out than ever. Over 800 participated in the half marathon this year, with around 300 doing the grueling full. The fine weather and all the challenging hill running I had done during the year made for the fastest half I had done to this point, I crossed the finish line at 2h 2m. This is tantalizingly close to the self set limit of 2h, which tells me I'm ready to run a full.

On this run is the first time I used the "Running Stealth cam". This small spy sized digicam was strapped to my wrist GPS, and enabled me to take for the first time a few quick snap shots during the actual run, showing the runners, and scenery along the way in an attempt to capture the excitement of the event for those who did not run this event. They are smaller (640 x 480) and lower resolution. And now on to the Photo Pictorial of the 2008 Sedona half marathon!

Click on all thumbnails for a 1024 x 768 sized image Before the Race through Race Start
  Officials get the timing for the start/finish line set up.
  The crowds start to gather about half an hour before the events
  Stage for live entertainment
  In the center of the track field where we started
  Race Start!
  I am on left with blue hat
  Hundreds of runners off the start line!
GPS profile of Run on wrist computer
During the Race through Finish
  (Stealth Cam) Standing at the Start line
  (Stealth Cam) Heading down the road toward the red rocks
  (Stealth Cam) Amazing red rocks scenery on the first leg
  (Stealth Cam) Heading for first turn
  (Stealth Cam) After first turn
  (Stealth Cam) Heading toward second turn
  (Stealth Cam) Near top of steep hill, the ambulance is ready
  (Stealth Cam) The most memorable view looking up toward the big hill
  (Racepix.com) Mid run
  (Racepix.com) Mid run
  (Racepix.com) Mid run
  Coming into the Finish Line
  To the Finish
  Fast Finish!
  At the finish - A steep challenging Half at my fastest time yet 2h 02m
  At the Finish Line
  After the Race
  Leaving after the race
After the Race - A Sedona Hike A brisk 6 mile loop into the Red Rocks
  The Map at the trail head
  Red Rock Vista 1
  At the snow packed creek
  Red Rock Vista 2
  Red Rock Vista 3
  Red Rock Vista 3
  Red Rock Vista 4