Something New...Something Solo
The Painted Desert by Garrett LeSage
I've been out of the running world for a few weeks now, just getting by with a few runs here and there with no real training mentality or objective. In the past I've always tried to have some money invested in a race to motivate me, push me out the door at 4am but not now. Not since I finished Cascade a few weeks ago. I'm just ambling along without any real purpose. I originally was thinking of entering Man Against Horse for the 50 miles up Mingus Mountain but plans changed, I wasn't able to do it so I let go of that idea. Now I'm not actually going to be out of town and in fact could go do it but at this point I'm not trained or mentally ready for a fifty mile race. With that in mind I think I am ready for a 50K trail run, maybe unsupported, map & compass? Yes. Definitely.
Arizona Badlands...like the Moon almost. Or I'm just weird.
Painted Desert by Sean Cupp
The Running on the Moon 50K isn't a real race. It's just a name I made up a couple months ago when looking around maps of Arizona and dreaming up places I'd like to run. I've mapped out a "course" across the open desert that I'll plan to loosely utilize as a route. There are no trails in the Petrified National Forest, no water stations, no rivers, no springs. Nothing. The terrain is wide open badlands with loose sand, hard rock, craggy surfaces to scurry up and over and around. The landscape looks like the moon. Barren yet beautiful, beaten yet alive. It's an amazing difference than other areas of Arizona and something I've very excited to see.
There is very little elevation change, barely under 2,000 total climbing, if I followed the route I plotted. That's a far cry from what I'm used to but I'm sure still a time consuming route given there is no trail and the terrain is unpredictable. I plan on carrying a SPOT messenger as I do typically on off trail adventures. More so for my wife than anything as it's not all that far from the I-40 yet far enough after a run in with a rattler or broken ankle.
If all goes as planned I hope this run to be a good sample size of what to expect should my planned excursion through the Navajo Reservation comes to fruition. Running on flatter surfaces, forcing the run, holding a steady pace is something I'm not strong at. Given all the "running" I've done I'm not really a good "runner." Instead I'm simply decent at maintaining forward motion, not necessarily at a running pace. I'll admit with no humility though that I have mastered the Ultra Shuffle. I'm an expert really. So this run with such little climbing will be a good test for me mentally to push through some miles and reach the mileage I need without coping out and shortening the route. As it is, the elevation gain across the Reservation is less than 12,000 feet of climbing over 200 miles...not exactly a mountain climb.
Off We Go
So while all my friends are running against some horses in Prescott I hope to be in the Navajo Desert running along some ridge lines, across the Badlands and back safely to my truck. I'm excited for something so unknown to me, so unique and with so many possibilities. Just knowing that I can go right...or left...at any time and I'm not left to the direction the trail is going is such a dynamic shift from what I've grown to be accustomed to with races, training and the life on the trail.
Now if I can only find that SPOT messenger. Ironic that I always lose the one thing that is supposed to save the lost hiker.