Antelope Canyon 50k: The Next Adventure

Here’s the thing with baby ideas: they sit in my brain like a little kernel of information, rattling around from time to time, reminding me that they still exist. Then, one day, BAM! I simply decide to act on that kernel and help guide it into fruition.

And that’s exactly how this 50k came to be!

Run a marathon has been on my life goal list for as long as I can remember. And, I even made an attempt back in 2012 when I registered for the Rock ‘n Roll Denver marathon. I was trucking along with training and had even pushed my long runs upwards of 16 miles. However, that was when my back problems erupted and instead of running {or doing anything, for that matter}, I ended up visiting my ART doc twice per week for a solid three months. No marathon for me!

Since then, I experienced solid runner burnout. Simply put, I wasn’t interested anymore. I found CrossFit and that became much more entertaining. After all, if your workout isn’t fun, then why bother?

But wait! There was still a light at the end of the proverbial running tunnel?! Enter = trail running!

photo 1 (1)

Once I rediscovered my fondness for trail running, I fell back in love with the sport. Running wasn’t a chore anymore and I didn’t dread lacing up my sneakers. I even found myself anticipating my early Sunday morning group runs with the girls from CrossFit. Each weekend, we’d pick a new trail to explore, finding new-to-us places that we had somehow missed. After awhile, I started to toy with the idea of running some longer distance races. Maybe it was time for a new challenge?

Truthfully, my goals this year haven’t gone so well. Mt. Evans ascent? I didn’t start once I realized that it was the same weekend as Will’s sister’s graduation from grad school. Family will always take a front seat in my world, so that massive hill climb is on hold for another year. The Girls Gone Rx CrossFit comp this past weekend? I had to find a replacement at the last minute while the doc researched my strep issues and pulled me from physical activity. Blah blah blah.

In short, this 50k idea was already hiding in the dark recesses of my brain, waiting for something to light the fuse. Naturally, that happened the weekend I crewed for Heidi’s 100 mile race in Steamboat. I watched all those runners frolicking in the mountains, eating weird-ass concoctions and verbally abusing their pacers, and decided I wanted in. I wanted to try running far!

{Let me be clear: I will in no way be running a 50 miler or a 100 miler. You can just erase that thought from your brain right now!}

More than anything, the appeal of trail races is the scenery. Y’all know that I love spending time outside, and this is just another way that I can spend some time on trails, soaking in the views and the feel of sunshine on my skin. Once I realized that ultras really have a fair bit of power hiking, I was intrigued. And then I heard that slow running was the thing to do. I mean, I can do that! I can so do that!

After the decision was made, I had to find a race. I debated my options, but in the end, I decided that I wanted to run over the winter after our company closes for the season. In my opinion, running can inherently be a selfish sport with runners heading out for hours on a Saturday morning. I realize that training will take a lot of time and I don’t want that to take away from family time with Will or my friends. If I train during my non-working months, I can do my long runs midweek while everyone is at work. Yes, I’ll be training through a Colorado winter which may be tough, but honestly, Denver winters are not as bad as people think. Nothing a couple layers of quality gear can’t fix!

50k

As a result, I settled on the Antelope Canyon 50k in Page, Arizona. It’s near the end of February so it fit my time schedule. More importantly, however is the scenery. Would you check out this view?!

horseshoe

Like I previously mentioned, being outside with beautiful views is a huge draw to this ultrarunning world. While the 50k sadly doesn’t go through Antelope Canyon {a place I’m dying to visit!}, it does pass through some stunning slot canyons. It also runs along the rim with a view of Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River. Pretty sure I can tack on at least an extra 30 minutes to account for all the photos I will be snapping!

Lastly, I knew I needed to find a running buddy who would tackle this with me. I was hoping to find someone new to the distance so we could suffer together. Misery loves company, right? Will was an absolutely negative as he told me “he doesn’t even like to drive that far,” so I knew he wasn’t an option. Then, it hit me: I have the perfect friend for this! Heidi of BananaBuzzbomb fame {not the 100 miler above} is a close friend from my OmniTen season, and she is always looking to stretch her limits. And, she even lives in Arizona. Could it be any more perfect?!

And just like that, our plan was hatched. Heidi agreed to run, we both registered, and now we’re kind of wondering what the hell we got ourselves into! Fortunately, I’ve been training for the Moab Trail Half in early November, so I’ve got a solid base under my belt. I do know I’ll continue to CrossFit three times per week and I’ll definitely focus my training on back-to-back long runs to accustom my legs to running while tired. Aside from that, I’ve got nothing. That’s why it’s an experiment!

If you want to follow along on the adventure leading up to our February 21 race, check out the hashtag #50kAdventure on Twitter or Instagram!

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I’m all ears: any words of advice? Tips or training tricks? Anyone use CrossFit to help train for ultras?

 

34 Comments

  • Reply Logan @ Mountains and Miles at

    So exciting! I would never say never, though…trail and ultra running is a very slippery slope…

    Looks like it will be a beautiful course for your first 50k! I skipped marathons and went straight to 50ks, too, for the exact same reasons as you… I just wasn’t feeling the roads anymore and trails were calling me. Can’t wait to follow along.

    • Reply heather at

      Yeah, I definitely think my road days are behind me– I just can’t be bothered! 🙂

  • Reply Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb at

    While my opinion may change once we’re out there I’m so glad you invited me along. I’m seriously stoked for this. Had to laugh about Will’s comment because when I read your original email you said, “Is this on your hell no list?” DH responded. “It’s on my hell no list!” Hahahaha. We’re crazy and I love it!

    • Reply heather at

      Ha, yeah, it’ll even be a struggle to get Will out on ANY of the runs 🙂 Anything over a 10k just isn’t his style!

  • Reply misszippy at

    Oh my gosh–how beautiful! Can I come?! You guys will have a spectacular adventure.

    I am on the ultra bandwagon, too. A 50k will happen this year and I have a feeling it will be the perfect fit for me. Trails are where I belong!

    • Reply heather at

      Maybe it should be Antelope Canyon?!

  • Reply eric eagan at

    I could not be happier than to see all these people turning to the trails! Good luck – Have fun during your training!

    • Reply heather at

      Well, I can’t say the trails are a new thing but I’m glad to have rediscovered them. As for this running far thing? Only time will tell! 🙂

  • Reply Christy at

    Looks like a beautiful place to run! I love that you are dragging someone along on your adventure!

    • Reply heather at

      Couldn’t do it on my own! 🙂

  • Reply Erin @ Her Heartland Soul at

    You are going to rock your run! What beautiful views!

    • Reply heather at

      Thanks Erin!

  • Reply Elle at

    BEAUTIFUL! What an adventure! You are gonna have so much fun…

    • Reply heather at

      Man, I sure hope so! Thanks Elle!

  • Reply Laraine Wyn-Jones at

    This sounds amazing! Best of luck with your training. I did a 50 mile hike this weekend (no running) with 8000 feet of ascent and the best tip I can give is to wait until you’re absolutely broken after CrossFit or another workout when you feel like you’re about to vomit, then work out what food you can still swallow without chucking up. The food that went down fine for the first 14 hours of my hike was not going anywhere but up later on, and I really struggled with the lack of fuel later on. Sorry it’s a gross one! Oh, and while I’m on a gross subject – take loo roll with you. Your stomach reacts in a way you can’t even imagine… Good luck!

    • Reply heather at

      I have to say that “loo roll” made me smile 🙂 But, thanks for the tips! And nice work this weekend– I saw some photos on IG!

  • Reply Christine @ Love, Life, Surf at

    Amazing!! I’m so excited for you and Heidi to do this together.

    • Reply heather at

      I think I’m excited…although I’m still more nervous!

  • Reply Chris at

    Nice Heather! It is a beautiful area and the views surely won’t disappoint. It sounds like you’ve been runabled (as I’ve heard it described before) 🙂 Good luck with training and I’ll be cheering you on….from my couch 😉

    • Reply heather at

      One day we’ll get you out there! And you’re right– the views will {hopefully} make the whole thing worth it!

  • Reply Kovas - Midwest Multisport Life at

    What a great adventure! CrossFit will definitely help with your overall strength, just keep building on that base for running. Looks like a beautiful location for a first ultra.

    • Reply heather at

      You recently ran a 50k, right? Did you CrossFit too?

  • Reply Craig at

    This sounds great. I never had a desire to run 26 miles until I hit the trails. Now I have one 50k under my belt and it was one of my biggest “racing” thrills to date. Pack some delicious on the run foods and have a great time!

    • Reply heather at

      I remember really liking those mini-Snickers while doing my long runs. Those are definitely going in the backpack 🙂 Any other suggestions?!

      • Reply Craig at

        Oh man. Ziplock bag of ice and mini snickers were my go to for miles 7-15. I think I took some dried mangos with sugar on them for 15-25 and then gels for the last 7 mile loop. I also ate half a pbj 3 miles in to each loop. I just had fun! Be smart early on.

  • Reply Sarah C at

    That looks so gorgeous! I can’t wait to follow along with your training – I hope you post lots about how you’ll prep for this course and for the increase in mileage. I love reading about ultra trail running, even if I’m not myself (YET) to the mileage needed to tackle a race of this distance. I’m no spring chicken anymore, but I do hope to improve enough to take on a 50K some day!

    • Reply heather at

      Good to know! I always wonder how much training stuff to include on my site since I don’t want to bore people. Personally, I’m never one to enjoy “weekly roundups” of training, so I likely won’t do anything like that. But, I definitely will post more frequently about the prep since I obviously have NO FREAKING CLUE what I’m doing! I’m also curious to see how my body will handle the upswing, so I imagine y’all will hear my ramblings on that.

      And for the record, I’m not in my spring chicken years either 😉 I’ll actually be turning 33 a week after the 50k….so maybe I’m like middle-aged hen?! Either way, YOU can do it too!

  • Reply Rosey Rebecca at

    I’ve just spent the last half hour reading through some of your posts and have to say that I’m really happy I stumbled here through Twitter. I think it’s awesome that you’re planning to run this race after all the obstacles you’ve overcome. I am particularly inspired by you because I’ve been suffering from some mysterious back problems lately and sometimes I feel like it’s never going to get better. I can’t wait to read more of your posts. Congratulations on making such a huge decision!

    • Reply heather at

      Thanks Rebecca!! Hopefully your back issues get solved too!

  • Reply Kayla @ kpLOVINGit at

    You’re CRAZY.

  • Reply Jill at

    So many cool trail races and you’ve picked a great one. Very cool!
    I’ve found a ton of smaller trail races all around Denver this summer and into the fall – I’ve had a blast doing them. They’re great build-up races for the longer guy, and build a lot of confidence on the trails.
    A group of us usually hit up Mt. Falcon once a week at night. Might be time to pull out the headlamps, but if you ever want to go give me a shout!

    • Reply heather at

      I may take you up on that at some point!!

  • Reply Alyssa at

    Sooo excited for you! This race sounds perfect for you and you will absolutely love ultras, I am positive. My advice is to practice eating real food on long runs. For our first 50k Kara and I would stop every ten miles or so on training runs and set up our cars like an aid station and eat chips, oreos, all the stuff aid stations generally have. We learned what did and didn’t work for us and how much to eat (because it’s not prepackaged Gu and instead deliciousness it can be tempting, for me, to eat 6 oreos. Bad idea.) I’ll be following the training of course!

  • Reply 2015: The Year of Resolutions? - Just a Colorado GalJust a Colorado Gal at

    […] Antelope Canyon is growing closer and every day thrusts my nerves up just a tad! For awhile, I was supremely confident in my abilities to finish all 34 miles. However, as my training days disappear from the calendar, my confidence diminishes a little. I still know I can finish the race, but I’d really like to finish it happy, with a smile, and not deep within the confines of a pain cave! […]

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