Thursday, May 30, 2013

Grand Canyon R2R2R: A Tale of Ups and Downs

For those who just want the bottom line:
  • ~43 miles
  • 11,000ft of elevation gain + 11,000ft of elevation loss
  • 14 hours and 45 minutes
  • The hardest (physical) thing I've ever done
Naturally, there is a little bit of a story to precede such a feat.
Warning: this day has an emotional toll component to it that really personified the month of life that preceded it. This is going to be a long post that requires the reader to have an open mind, a lot of time, a beer or a coffee, and some dealings with a few profanity laced tirades. If you want to skip the background and go right to the tirades, scroll down to The Big Day.

Legend for random changes in text formatting
Regular Text: R2R2R "Report"
Italicized Text: Thoughts at the time. Verbatim, no filter.

Fall 2012
Michelle and I went to the Grand Canyon with a bunch of people who were doing R2R2R. I had no desire whatsoever to ever attempt an Ultra run, but it was fun to be there - it is the grand freakin' canyon after all -  and we hiked the "Rim River Rim" route - from the South Kaibab Trailhead, down to the river, and then back up Bright Angel. We added a 3 miles round trip out to Plateau point, and so it ended up being a 19 mile / 10 hour day. It was a grueling hike that I loved! 

When we were descending into the Grand Canyon around 515am, I didn't really appreciate what I was doing. The Grand Canyon is so grand, it's hard to really wrap your head around how freaking big it is, and so I kind of simplified it as basically "a big hole in the ground". Not to mention, it was filled with smoke from a fire on the north rim the day prior, so we were descending into this eerie "hole" that just kept on going down...

It wasn't until the hike out of the canyon, that I felt like I was in the belly of the beast - like I was climbing a mountain! It was an awesome day.

Even after hearing all the stories about how incredible doing R2R2R was, I still had no desire to ever do an ultra..

January
I still had no idea what events I wanted to do for the year, so I was riding, running, swimming and lifting weights a few times a week until I figured something out. It wasn't training, as much as it was keeping a base level of fitness and socializing. Fun!

A few months prior, Larry Bice, one of my coworkers at ViaSat, and who was my racing partner in RAAM 2009, sent out an email to a bunch of people advertising a trip to the Grand Canyon. There were 2 options, the Rim River Rim hike I did last year, and also the Rim to Rim to Rim. Even though there were a few emails and discussions in the fall and before Christmas, I just wasn't interested. However, with the January email, for whatever reason, I immediately wanted in on R2R2R. It was visceral, and required no thought. I wanted it. Why - I don't know.

February
I did a "30 in 30" to jump start my running fitness, complete with commuting on my bike 1-2x/week (40 miles total), a snowshoe race up at Big Bear, and the King of the Hill series El Capitan trail race as my 30th day. It was a great 30 days!

March
Training continued in earnest, but I was sick for about a week/week and a half. Responsibilities at work increased significantly. My right knee developed a little ache & pain.

April
After 4 years, Michelle and I decided it wasn't meant to be, and we broke up. As you can imagine, this was not easy.

My right knee was having some issues but were more problematic for my mind than for my running. Work was still all-consuming. Mentally, I was all over the place. I had a wedding to travel to 3 weeks before my run. I got sick upon return. I pushed through, did a full Cactus to Clouds to Cactus with a solid group, ran 40 miles over the course of the weekend 2 weeks out, and finally declared myself physically and mentally "ready" (enough) to do GC. 

Right around this time, just about everyone who was going to do R2R2R dropped out. This meant that I was going to run, and back, across one of the worlds wonders solo. Honestly, I was torn and not stoked. In the time leading up to that point, with the physical and mental challenges I was having, I wasn't sure I'd be able to. As soon as I reached the point where I was ready - that aspect of team work and group support was gone. I was not looking forward to running it honestly - but I was also not going to not run it. I guess I was in. (Probably not an ideal mindset!)

Fortunately, I had two good friends talk me into it. Kevin Hunter, a RAAM teammate who I logged many painful miles with last year and a 2x R2R2R veteran himself, talked me into the positive aspects of doing it solo, and reminded me that even on some group runs I did in training, I was off the front by myself anyways. James Walsh, another R2R2R veteran, shared his experience on how much his R2R2R adventure meant to him (when I was there that weekend), as he went through a similar situation just 6 months prior. Both dudes are those whom I have a ton of respect for, and so I took their words to heart. It was time to charge.

The Big Day
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I look way too awake for 430am

I was fortunate enough to get a ride to the South Kaibab trailhead for a 430am start by my roommate for the weekend - even though he was hiking Rim River Rim about 60 minutes later. This actually was a point of contention for me: start with a group at 530ish, or start solo, in the dark. After mulling it over until the 11th hour, I opted for the 430 start. The decision was quite simple: I was going to run the entire thing solo, so starting with a group at 530 had no significance in the grand scheme of things, so I might as well do the entire thing solo. Further, I really wanted to start the run before the sun came up, so I could watch the Canyon open up right before my eyes. This ended up being a great decision for that exact reason. And, because I never ran into the mule trains going down South Kaibab. Extra score!

South Kaibab to Phantom Ranch

Hands down, without a doubt, this was my favorite part of the run. Despite 35 degrees at the start, I was wearing a t-shirt, shorts, arm warmers and gloves. Just as expected, shortly after descending, the temperatures increased. 20 minutes in, the gloves were off (literally and figuratively!), and 45 minutes in, the arm warmers were off.

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Magic

And just like I wanted it to, the Canyon was literally unfolding with each step as the sun was slowly making it's way to the horizon:

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Just below skeleton point

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Looking West

My approach to a day like this was to "enjoy" it - meaning, don't rush through to the point of not being able to appreciate and take it in, but also not want to be out there "any longer than I needed to be". I also wanted to take a ton of photos, and with the golden hour in effect, the descent down to Phantom Ranch took longer than I wanted to because I wanted to take a photo every 2 minutes!

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Single Track

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Looking East
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Breakfast
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What the hell have I gotten myself into?

As I got down to the river, I couldn't see the sun come up, but I could see it laying some rays on some far off buttes. Awesome.


Sage advice from Kevin/James: Run with a pepsi down SK and store it in the river (with some rocks around it) near Phantom Ranch so that I can have a nice cold soda right before I start the death march back to the south rim 26 miles later. This was awesome!

Phantom Ranch to Cottonwood

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Local Resident / Welcoming Committee

The trail from Phantom ranch for the first 3-4 miles winds through a canyon with a couple hundred foot walls along a creek. It's beautiful.

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Morning View
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Panoramic
  Eventually, it opens up to a valley, and you can see the single track trail head as far as the eyes can see.

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Welcome view

Somewhere before I got to the valley, I started feeling the first feelings of physical fatigue - about 2h30m in - a little earlier than I expected.

"I'm not a runner. Why the fuck am I doing this? This is absurd! I'm not even close to halfway through this right now and this how I'm geeling? Not cool. I can't believe I thought I could do this on less than 3 months of training. Dumb ass."

"Hey, wait a minute, the fact that you are attempting this off of less than 3 months of training is pretty remarkable. Cut yourself some slack and focus on doing what you can, because that's all you can do" (this is the "back of my mind" speaking)

Ugh, this is going to be a long day.

I was moving along at a comfortable pace, trying to enjoy things. It was beautiful, and it helped keep my mind off things like fatigue, and well, the cards I was dealt with during the prior month. It was around this time that the first of (only!) 3 songs entered my head for the day (The Killers - A Matter of Time):

"You're looking for a way out, I can feel it
Come on, show me where it hurts, maybe I can heal it
Your feelings are your own, now you keep them under lock and key
You've got me driving through the streets for an answer to the mystery"

(The lyrics from this song must have replayed in my head for about the next 3 hours off and on, and really embodied all that was life for both the prior month and the task at hand).

Backing up a little bit, about a month prior to the GC, I bought the Garmin Fenix gps wrist watch. It had some cool features that the forerunners didn't have, and was marketed as the watch for ultra runners, since the battery could go up to 50 hours (!) if you put it on the ultratrac mode. Shortly after leaving Phantom Ranch, I switched from Normal to Ultratrac. That was the immediate downfall of the Fenix being value-added for the rest of the day. Bottom line: this might be a good watch for mountaineering, but NOT for ultra running! As I was barreling along towards Cottonwood, I was looking down at the Garmin to get a rough idea of about how much longer it would be to get there. It was telling me I had run 16 miles already, yet I knew Cottonwood was no more than 15 miles in. Hhmmmm

Then, I hit the only logistical error of the Grand Canyon. Despite EVERYONE saying there are ZERO turns or anything to worry about, there actually was a fork on the trail. There was a sign said that "Rainbow Falls"  to the right, which involved going up a steep hill. Going left stayed flat. I thought about it for a second, and went left. About a quarter mile later, I reached the river, and didn't find a place to cross.

You gotta be fucking kidding me. Who fucks this up? (Apparently Rob Krar on his record breaking run too!)

As I got into Cottonwood, I did a quick self assessment, and I was feeling pretty decent. I spent a minute looking for the water spicket, added some powder to my bottle, and sat for a moment. As an aside, a few weeks prior, I picked up some Salomon soft flasks, and they were pretty money all day.

Why on earth am I doing this again? I will never do this, or anything like this. Again.

I looked down at my Fenix, and saw that it said I had run 29 miles already.

Piece of shit.

Shortly after I left Cottonwood, I saw two runners coming down the trail. And they were moving.

See, those 2 are runners. Why are you doing this? You're not a runner.

I knew it was about a mile or so to the Ranger Residence where I could get more water. I was about halfway there, and in a pretty foul mood. Up until this point, I hadn't seen the sun. I had been running deep in steep canyons, or valleys that were deep enough such that the sun hadn't yet peaked over the rim edges.

I ran around a corner, and literally stopped dead in my tracks. The canyon opened up, the sun was blazing, and there were waterfalls that were really loud. There have been very few, if any, points in nature or in an event where I have stopped dead in my tracks like that. Nature was putting its power and beauty on display, and it was something to behold. I stood there for a minute just looking around, and couldn't help but smile ear to ear.

Life is good. Life is amazing. THIS - THIS is fucking cool. I can't believe I'm doing this!!!

I walked backwards because I wanted to record me walking around on video, so I could remember that feeling. However, seeing as though I was using the movie function on my camera for the first time, I was having a few difficulties, as noted by the words spoken in the beginning:

I crossed a bridge, and there was the Ranger Residence. I stopped over, took my pack off, opened up the reservoir, filled it up at the spicket, and was on my way. 

We'd find ourselves a place, we belong in this forever
Ain't that what it's all about?
Make the promise and keep it
Come hell or high water
We'd figure it out

(More lyrics from A Matter of Time)

Ranger Residence to North Rim

Right after leaving the residence, the trail just gets STEEP, and stays like that for the next mile. 

Aaahhhh - finally something I was good at

I love hiking. I love hiking hills, and so I was stoked for this section. Finally about a mile later, the trail flattens out, and I was basically running along a double wide trail, with 500ft drops off to one side.

This is so cool!

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I crossed another bridge, and then started the gnar ascent up to the north rim. There's plenty of switch backs, and as I am climbing, I am noticing how much more green it is on the north rim. It's beautiful! I actually passed a few hikers along the way too, and so it was cool to actually see and interact with some people!

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Greenery from the North Rim

I hit the Supai Tunnel, and as I was drinking out of my pack, I unexpectedly heard that slurping noise that means I'm out of water.

WTF?! I just filled this thing up about an hour or so ago. How on earth am I already out? Do I have a leak?

I took a minute to think.

Rookie move!

At the Ranger Residence, I never took the bladder/reservoir out of the pack, and so all my gear/nutrition was compressing the reservoir, which meant I wasn't filling it up to full capacity. I only had about 20-25oz in it after I left the Ranger Residence.

Shit.

Seeing as though I was out of water, and I had no idea how many miles or elevation to climb to the north rim, I backed off a bit and basically hiked all the way up at a little more casual pace.

The North Rim

When my buddy Toby did this a few years ago, he said the North Rim was anticlimactic. You do this gnarly ascent, and arrive at a trail head where there is no lodge, restroom, cars, people or anything.

It couldn't have been any different for me.

About 5 minutes before the top, I passed a guy from our larger group that was hiking (!!!) R2R2R. After I got the top, I saw 3 others from our group who were also hiking R2R2R. 3 minutes later, 3 other people who were doing R2R2R showed up, and then a few more minutes later, 2 other dudes showed up. What was supposed to be a very anticlimactic point of the day ended up being happy hour!

Now about that water situation. Thankfully, the water in the spickets at the North Rim was turned on the afternoon prior. Thank God! I was so thirsty, I was literally drinking out of my hose while filling up my reservoir! I couldn't drink enough! It felt and tasted so good.

I got to the north rim in 5h54m, 5 minutes ahead of schedule!

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Mileage may vary

It took me about 20 minutes to feel pretty normal again. After that, I noticed 2 things:
  1. The bugs on the north rim are insanely annoying
  2. Food didn't taste good and had to be forced down
The beginning of the end has started

In hindsight, I wish I listened to more sage advice from Kevin and James: bring real food - especially for the north rim. After having done all sorts of single and multi-day endurance events and my stomach never having issues with the processed stuff, I figured I was safe with about 3,500 calories - half from vitargo, half in solid food.

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Normally it's good on me

This couldn't have been a bigger miscalculation.

I would have loved a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Or some chips. Or ideally, some boiled potatoes with some olive oil, salt and pepper. If there will be a next time, that will definitely be on the menu.

North Rim to Cottonwood

I knew that the focus of the descent to Cottonwood was going to be on hydrating and eating, and after being at the top for about 35 minutes total, I started back down. 5 minutes later, I peed for the first time (!!!!) of the day, and let's just say it wasn't light colored.

Yup, just a tad dehydrated

The descent from the north rim is steep, technical and long.

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Switchbacks plus that itty bitty little trail down there

After descending for a long time, I was about half a mile from the ranger residence and I finally had enough. All the descending was taking it's toll. It wasn't my quads, it was that everything hurts from the jarring type-of-feeling. I hadn't seen anyone in at least an hour, and I finally let out a wave of frustration:

WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!

Naturally, I look up, and what do I see? A family of 4 enjoying a nice hike in the Grand Canyon, not 25 feet from me. I instantly smiled, said "Don't mind me", got a laugh out of the girl in front, and kept on my way.

I got to the Residence again, took my reservoir out of the bag, and filled up again. I chatted with a few folks who were taking a break, and was on my way.

When the sky turns gray
And everything is screaming
I will reach inside
Just to find my heart is beating

You tell me to hold on
Oh you tell me to hold on
But innocence is gone
And what was right is wrong

(Imagine Dragons - Bleeding Out)

Somewhere between the Residence and Cottonwood, all of 1+ miles, things were heading downhill -  literally and figuratively. I muscled my way to Cottonwood,  stopped for a few minutes to fill up my reservoir, put some powder in my bottles, and also force some food down.

Blegh.

I also needed to prepare myself for the next section. R2R2R can have all sorts of weather conditions, but the only weather challenge I was dealt for the day was a 35 degree start temp, and 90 degrees in the Canyon - right where I was about to run. I was prepared for this, but let's face it, running in 90 degrees can be challenging. 

By this point, any part of the trail that was going up at even the slightest grade, was only walkable for me. There was no more running on anything above a flat or downhill. I'm even talking about whopping 0.5% climbs.

Dude...

Eventually, every one who does R2R2R on the way back hits a particular point that Kevin warned me about. It's the point where you look far across a valley, and see where you have to go, and how far up you have to climb to get there. I am not exaggerating one bit on how I felt in this photo:

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It was right around this time when the third song of the day popped into my head, and it was a tad unexpected: Fuel - Shimmer (which I probably hadn't heard in years before this):

It's too far away for me to hold
It's too far away...
Guess I'll let it go


With an emphasis on "It's too far away..." (!!!!)

Somewhere after I left the valley and after a few bridge crossings, I was really hurting. I figured I was about 28 miles in - the longest I had ever run ever.

Fight through this Denner - you've done stuff like this. Just focus on getting to the next point (random bushes, turns in trails). Just keeping moving...

After another 10 minutes of this, it HURT to sustain a 10 minute jog. I kept trying to push through, but it wasn't working. I was effing miserable. I concluded:

It's time to start the Death March a little early

I walked the next 1.25 miles or so to Phantom Ranch, where the only thing I could think of was that damn Pepsi.

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High Fructose Corn Syrup never tasted so good!

As soon as I got there, I bee-lined it to where my soda was, opened up, and just started pounding it. I headed over to the water spicket where another runner and I started talking. I went over to where his friends were to commiserate with them for a while. After 20 minutes, it was time to get the hell out of dodge.

River to Bright Angel Trailhead

I started my way slowly towards the bridge to cross over onto the other side. For those not familiar with this part of the canyon, the first half mile or so (although it seems much longer), is soft - very soft sand. It is the equivalent of sucking the life out of you. It rolls and climbs a little, and I was afforded views of some rafters, who seemed to be having MUCH more fun than I was.

This so dumb, but I can laugh about it now.

I took the left at the rest station, and hiked along the small creek at a leisurely pace, fully engulfed in the Grand Canyon. I had come to terms with the fact that I would no longer be pushing any kind of pace, nor would I even be able to consume calories. Yes. I still had about a 4 hour hike ahead of me, but the thought of consuming anymore vitargo or another bar was enough to make me puke.

I made it about a third of the way up the Devil's corkscrew, and it was a struggle to go up. There were plenty of logs on the trail to simulate stairs, but some of them had a height much greater than normal stairs. I was relegated to the point of stepping up with my right leg, then stepping up with my left leg, landing my left foot just next to my right foot. It was hardly "normal" walking, by anyone's standards. I was literally taking things, one-step-at-a-time.

Ok, this is dumb, but it's crazy. More crazy than dumb

It was about this point that I reached a new point in endurance athletics - or life - that I have never reached before. I was taking my medicine, and it was good for me: I have never felt so powerless and humbled in my entire life. Never have I had to summon so much energy to do such a simple thing as walking. I stopped, literally (because moving hurt :), to stop and reflect of such action and mindset, as my eyes peered up the canyon, thinking "Dang, I still have that much more to go". You see, I believe in the philosophy of my former coach that endurance sports of any kind are really metaphors for life, and that in life, one seeks out hardship from which to experience and grow. It is moments like this that at the end of the (long ass) day, make it all worth it. It's times like this that I will remember for the rest of my life, and in some odd way, affords me a clarity of life that only long, hard days can. I haven't written much in the past few years, but the few times that I have in the past 5 weeks or so, have been after BIG days, AND a lot of coffee, quiet space or good music, some food, and a keyboard that pretty gets abused for about 90 minutes as I unleash a complete brain dump. It is a flow of thoughts and emotions that doesn't come easy or frequent, but when it does, there is a state of enlightenment achieved that can't really be described in words.

Now, back to climbing. This is what Devil's Corkscrew looks like from above after one has climbed it:

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Life changing event

Panoramic - Click for more detail!

Around this point, the trail flattens out, and I couldn't help but think of the conversations James and I had regarding the runnability of Bright Angel. From this point to Indian Gardens, it is very runnable. I'd call it false-flatish. In this section, I enjoyed the sound of waterfalls and the breeze, and also passed a few hikers.

The trail opens up a little bit, and I finally arrived at Indian Gardens. After stopping for a few minutes, I got up and made my way, but I was stopped in my tracks.

What was that?

The sound coming from the hills can initially be described as velociraptors. Yes, velociraptors. I almost felt like I was in Jurassic Park. After I shook off my initial dementia, I realized that it was multiple mountain goats communicating with one another. After observing for a few moments, somehow goat boy came to mind. I had a laugh, and decided to get on my way.

Then the wind picked up, and it enough for me to get more video. Or maybe I was in Jurassic Park?

Anyways, 20 ft later, the bottom outside of my right foot started hurting, a lot. It had my attention. I stopped and took my shoe off to massage it a little bit. As some canyon hick got close to me, and with a slight southern accent, he mentioned "Boy, you look tired". Thanks jack ass...

I put my shoe back on, and started my way upwards. The pain came and went over time, but generally went. I was thankful.

It was time to start what I called the meat grinder. The meat grinder is about 4 miles of switchbacks that doesn't ever seem to end until you get to the top. In fact, if you even think about looking up, the switchbacks get lost in the enormity of the canyon. If you do actually look up, you can't help but think:

How the hell do I get up there?!?

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Goiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing up



























Part of the meat grinder from above.


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Fortunately, at this point, there were a number of poor souls who were also doing the death march up the meat grinder, and so there was a little bit of social interaction primarily in the form of sarcasm.

At some point, a girl came out of nowhere and passed me like I was standing still. She was CHARGING! It was awesome to see, and she also sprinkled some inspiration dust on the trail, and so I put my headphones on for the first time, and started charging it mydamnself!

It was relatively short lived though.

The music was a nice change, so I stayed in my zone, and then a few songs later, all I hear from out of the blue was:

"DUDE!!"

It was Desi, and it was so good to hear (and see!) her! There was some speculation that we might see each other on the trail or at the trail head, but this was still an unexpected surprise!!! You see, Desi and I have a long history of doing or crossing paths on crazy adventures, and so this was very fitting! There were a few high fives, but absolutely no stopping. She jumped on the train (and dropped her husband!) to be a mobile cheerleader for me, and it was awesome. Sorry Rich, but I literally couldn't stop walking... I had to keep trudging forward!

We eventually parted ways, but it was a few minutes later when I caught myself doing a fist pump. it was out of nowhere, unplanned, unthought of, unprovoked, but very awesome.

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Fist Pump O'clock

I guess my sub conscience hit "that point", and it's a point I'm familiar with. In the 2 Ironman's I've done, I've reached "that point" somewhere around a half mile from the finish, where no matter what hurts and how much, I get a tunnel vision, stoked, pick up the pace, and charge!

Well, I wasn't about to charge the last half mile of uphill, but I WAS STOKED!

I've done it. I can't believe I've fucking done rim to rim to rim.

There was a smile creeping in under that battered demeanor. I looked up, and I saw the rim. I saw people at the rim. I could taste (and hear) it.

As I came around the last switchback, I took what looks to be a meaningless picture.



It's just the fact that the sun is setting, and I made it out of the canyon without a headlamp (another one of my goals). This is another one of those random memories that will just stick with me.

I asked an innocent bystander to take an obligatory photo of me (a la pullharder.org) to cement in Facebook history, and promptly texted my family, along with Kevin and James to tell/remind them how absurd that was.


After reconnecting back with the electronic world, I think I walked around in circles a little bit, because I didn't know what to do with myself. There was a part of me that wanted to wait for Desi and Rich, watch the sunset, and take a moment to absorb what I just did.

But then, my stomach rumbled, and it was getting cold.

I called Larry, and when he picked up the phone, he was all surprised and happy to hear from me and wanted to know how I was doing. I got right to the point: "Larry, where are people eating right now because I'll be there in 20 minutes". We shared a laugh and I was on my way.

The Aftermath

We stayed at the Maswik Lodge, less than half a mile from the Bright Angel trailhead. I'd highly recommend staying there. This made the commute from the finish to a shower VERY easy, as I didn't have to worry about driving after or getting a ride somewhere.

Now, if you stay there, don't stay on the second floor like we did because the buildings DON'T have elevators! Going upstairs wasn't so bad. Going downstairs on the other hand, involved all upper body strength!

After putting down 4 pieces of pizza like a champ, I left the dining area, and made it maybe 40 feet from the exit doors.

Dude, you're not going to make it through the night.

I turned around, walked back inside, ordered myself a big ass bowl of chili and baked potato, and proceeded to demolish it back in the hotel room. Epic!

As for breakfast the next morning, my roommate for the weekend had a tough Rim River Rim hike the day prior, and had some jacked up knees and quads. Walking was a no-no. So, what did we do? We drove to breakfast. To appreciate how absurd that statement is, below is the route we drove. Yes, we opted to drive for 45 seconds, rather than walk for 3 minutes. And I wasn't complaining!


Post R2R2R Thoughts

What a day! Writing this was probably way more fun than actually doing it, as I've been able to relive some memories in greater detail and dig up some stuff that was clouded by discomfort and what seemed like an insurmountable task. The post event processing, as I mentioned above, can really be one of the best parts.

As you can probably tell, it was a hard day for me and I won't lie - it left a mark on me, both good and bad. In some respects, it took me a few days to come to terms with the demons I faced down there. When most endurance athletes complete something hard like this, there are immediate feelings of elation that make them want to do it, or something like it again (at least, that's been the case for me and most of my friends). I did NOT have that this time, nor did I for a few days. But slowly but surely, those scars healed and while I am not saying that I want to do this or something like this again there is that voice in my head that would at least entertain the idea, so long as my preparation, physically and mentally, was better. Why? Because I know I can do better.

Lastly, regarding my thoughts of not being a runner: Let's just say that I'm not sure how many "non-runners" could attempt and complete this, given various circumstances.

Not bad for a non-runner!

Thanks for reading!

11 comments:

Ang said...

RYAN!!! What a feat! I loved reading about your adventure. I'm sure it really did test every singer fiber of your being.

Tina Marie Parker said...

Ryan, you rock. I am always impressed by all you do my friend.

Evan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evan said...

Nice work. Your photos are spectacular, too.

I've been thinking about a Grand Canyon run after seeing a photo in Outside a while back. Is this is an official "race"? A quick Google search didn't turn up any registration website.

Ryan Denner said...

Hey Evan,

There was no official or formal event. It was just a bunch of people from my work who went out to tackle the canyon. In fact, there is no official race - at all, and NPS doesn't really want people doing the run, so you kind of have to be discreet about it in a sense.

I know EXACTLY what photo you are talking about, and it is an amazing one at that!

vwaldoguy said...

What, what an amazing adventure. What kind of pack did you use? Planning my own R2R2R adventure next May. You provided some great advice about taking the bladder out of the pack and about stashing the Pop. They're both on my list!

vwaldoguy said...

What, what an amazing adventure. What kind of pack did you use? Planning my own R2R2R adventure next May. You provided some great advice about taking the bladder out of the pack and about stashing the Pop. They're both on my list!

Ryan Denner said...

VW,

Thanks for the comment and words!

I ran with the Salomon xlab 12 pack (or whatever its called). Its the black and white one. The pack is just a tad bulky for my liking in general, but then again, it was perfect for something like R2R2R.

Have a great run out there!

-RD

andrejs said...

Fun write-up! I ran R3 last November and loved reading your account :) Going back this fall again, thanks for the re-inspiration!

Ryan Denner said...

Thanks andrejs... enjoy going back there and have a great run!