Friday, October 31, 2014

Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver Half Marathon race report

With a start time of 8:15 (so civilized!), I didn't have to be up until 7:00. Had some leftover pizza for breakfast (perfect!), got dressed, and headed out to walk the few blocks to the start.

Other than visiting the girls at the Brook VIP Porta Potty, I managed not to see ANYONE I knew in the corrals. (Weird!)

Because the city of Vancouver was very strict about road closure and reopening times, the organizers decided to start the last corral, #24, at the front of the race, and 15 minutes early. Suz had psyched herself out a bit, so she decided to slide back (or was it forward?) to corral 24. I asked her afterwards how it was to start up front -- she told me she LOVED it -- "When else am I going to get to start in the first corral?"

facing the start line -- and corral 24 getting ready to go

I joined my corral much farther back and tried to get into a running mood. I was a bit footsore -- 3 days of standing on concrete floors will do that to you -- and had a weird pain in my leg. But no matter -- it was time to Rock 'n' Roll!

view from my corral

As usual for me, a lot of the early part of the course is a bit blurry… I do remember running through Gastown, then under the big Chinatown gate, and then through some pretty deserted industrial streets.

see, proof: the Chinatown gate

But just after mile 5 we arrived on the waterfront, and things got a lot prettier from there. I spotted this lady hustling along and asked if I could take her picture-- genius!

love love love this woman!

I had been trying to do the math in my head -- first, kilometers to miles, then also trying to work out if or when I would catch up to Suz. Running + math is hard for me. But I figured that I was trotting along at just under 11-minute miles, that Suz would be running right around 15-minute miles, and since I had started about 30 minutes afterward… hmm, let's start over.

But eventually I was able to get my head around the idea that I'd meet up with Suz somewhere around mile 7. Sure enough, not far from the halfway point, there she was, stretching just at the side of the road. I hustled over, we had a quick chat, exchanged a few cheers for each other, and separated again.

Suz tells me that though she'd been struggling in the beginning of the race: "Well, like a team that is getting pounded in the first half of the game, seeing you was kind of like my half-time. I threw out my game plan and tried something new." She shifted to 1:1 intervals and thinks she actually ran a negative split. Attagirl!

Soon we were running past those wonderful "A-Maze-Ing Laughter" laughing statues by Yue Minjun, and the lovely Sylvia Hotel, both of which made me wistful for a romantic weekend away in Vancouver.

A-Maze-Ing Laughter by Yue Minjun

A bit later the course took us into Stanley Park, and things got even prettier. I don't know the park at all,   but I'm pretty happy to report that we did NOT run up to Prospect Point… though there were some gentle hills here and there. We also ran under the road approach to the Lions Gate Bridge -- so we didn't get to see the pretty lions… except on our medals, of course!

(love this historical image of the Lions Gate Bridge in 1939)

At some point Jess and Kevin caught up with me -- Kevin (running his first half marathon!) looking fresh as a daisy, and Jess her usual gorgeous, happy self.

Two sad and scary moments -- running past two separate runners, lying on their backs. I can't place where they were on the course, but somewhere in Stanley park near the water. The first was being helped by some runners and a small "medic" cart/truck was coming to assist, too. The second, another mile or so along, was obviously in worse condition, as a fire truck and ambulance were moving down the narrow course toward them after I passed him. (Her? I don't know -- once I have seen that a person is being helped, I try not to look anymore.) I sent good running karma thoughts and kept going.

in Stanley Park

view of Vancouver

last couple of miles!

More pretty stretches, views of downtown Vancouver, and then the home stretch -- an oddly narrow walkway with a raised sidewalk of sorts on one side, and spectators along that. It seemed a little narrow… and uneven… but it was nice to have people cheering.

surely this must be the home stretch???

I thought I still had more running to do … but, suddenly, I could see the finish arch. I engaged in a little last-minute racing with a guy next to me (sadly, I think he won), and then tried to make my way through the chute.

Nearly missed picking up a medal because so many people were just standing around. C'mon, folks, get out of the finish chute! I did manage to get a bottle of water and a mylar blanket, but didn't see any food worth eating. (I did wonder if they were unable to import their usual finisher food?)

The finish line party was pretty muddy, very crowded, and, frankly, I didn't need to linger. I had thought about finding the merch tent, but I decided to just get out of there and go back to the hotel. (And, yes, I did stop for breakfast at Freshii. Again. So sue me!)

Some stretching, a breakfast burrito, a hot bath, and I was right as rain. I took the Skytrain to the airport, took a very small plane for a very brief flight back to Seattle, and was home in the mid-afternoon.

Things I loved about the race:
  • Vancouver! What a lovely city!
  • A well-organized corral start. I overheard a lot of runners impressed by the waves and the corrals -- which made sense, because I remember the BMO Vancouver Half being pretty chaotic at the start when we ran that back in 2010.
  • Lots of pretty stretches along the water and through Stanley Park.
  • Seeing my pal Dawn at the Expo.
  • The GORGEOUS medal!
Room for improvement:
  • I would have liked more -- or more obvious? - mile or kilometer markings on the course.
  • The final, uneven stretch was difficult to run on.
  • The GU station was weirdly early -- possibly at kilometer 9 rather than mile 9?
Not sure I need to run this race again, but was really happy to run the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver!

obligatory post-race medal pic!

Inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver Half Marathon medal

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver pre-race report

I ran Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver last Sunday -- which will get its own post, I promise... But the days before the actual race were pretty run-tastic, too! I try to work one big race a year -- from set up to tear-down -- and then run the race. I've been lucky enough to work Denver, San Antonio, and St. Louis over the years, and I was excited to work the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver Half Marathon.

First of all, I took the train up on Thursday morning. THE TRAIN! Sure, I could have driven... but the train was $34 one-way. That makes it way cheaper than gas or mileage, expense-wise. Plus, umm... THE TRAIN!

there's something about a train...
Soon it was time to get on the train -- the Amtrak Cascades line, specifically the Mount Adams.

Clean, comfy, spacious -- and I had a seat by the window on the water side, facing forwards. This seemed like a stroke of excellent luck until I walked the train a bit later and discovered that no one was seated on the other side of the train because it was nearly empty.

Taking the train feels like luxury ... well, luxury with mediocre food.

(at least they had a hot vegetarian option!)

It was pretty great going up the coast -- especially when we went across tthe "lifty bridge" that we've often run under. I got a quick glimpse of the Ballard Locks as we went across it. 

view from the lifty bridge

The ride up was pretty uneventful -- a few scheduled stops (Edmonds, Everett, Stanwood, Ferndale) and a few unscheduled stops -- like when we got, literally, side-tracked. 

Favorite trainism: "side-tracked" -- when your train is moved onto a secondary track to wait so that a higher-priority train can go by on the main line. (Okay, maybe it's my ONLY trainism...)

quick glimpse of the Peace Arch as we sped by

crossing the Fraser River

Two side-track waits, plus a long wait for maritime traffic on the Fraser River to pass, meant that we were 90 minutes late getting in to Vancouver. But I went out into the drizzle, got a taxi, and headed over to the convention center to help with expo set up. 

This was the 4th real set-up I've worked, but the first one where I was issued a high-visibility vest. It was a little surprising, but then again there are lots of forklifts and cherry pickers and other big machines moving around, so it makes perfect sense.

calm before the storm!

I worked on unpacking Brooks and Moving Comfort product and getting as much of it out on the sales floor as possible. Meanwhile others were organizing Moving Comfort bras, Vancouver event merchandise, and Rock 'n' Roll Series merchandise. 

lots of cute Moving Comfort bras!

We put all the overstock in the back room, tried to keep it organized by size, and got everything else squared away for the next day. We managed to wrap up pretty early -- we headed back to the hotel not long after 5pm. 

cute Rock 'n' Roll keys at the Hyatt

That night I went out and grabbed take-out from Freshii -- an amazing small chain of restaurants that has lots of vegetarian options. Settled in to do a little work at the desk in my room at the Hyatt, then bed. 

On Friday the expo didn't open until noon, so I didn't need to be there until 11:30. I went out for a little walk, checked out the big new Lululemon store (not super amazing, but I did like the digital pants wall), and then headed over to the expo hall. I was a little worried that I didn't see anyone waiting to get in, but it was early...

We did some last-minute tidying, someone somewhere in the hall played a short set of accoustic music, and then the doors were open. The calm before the storm:

all of these tanks and most of these shirts were gone by the end of day one
cute NightLife gear for the ladies
… and for the fellas
I fully expected the first hour to be busy -- people coming in on their lunch break, rushing through, and heading out. And it was. But they didn't rush through... they lingered. They shopped. They bought like crazy. 

Kathy and I were kept busy restocking product, tidying up the racks, and helping people find sizes.... and it didn't stop feeling busy.

a quiet moment in the merch booth
By closing time, at 6:00, we'd already sold half of the weekend goal. We were starting to run out of sizes and products. And nearly all the backstock was out of the back room.

That night, feeling tired from having done a lot of running around all day, I begged off an evening out… which meant a long, hot bath, pizza from Megabite Pizza (sesame seed crust!!!), and a few episodes of West Wing… 

Up earlyish on Saturday to be at the expo by 8:30. I made a detour to find Douglas Coupland's "Digital Orca" statue -- giant and charming on a rainy morning!

the convention center (site of the expo)

Digital Orca by Douglas Coupland
If I thought Friday was busy… Saturday was NUTS. We were solidly busy all day. A few friends came through: Connie and her husband, Ryan and his family, Jess and Kevin, Dawn, and Suz -- always nice to see my peeps! Between helping look for sizes, bringing out the last few scraps of merch, and spreading the dwindling product out across the racks, well, time flew. But I was dog tired (and more than a little relieved) when the announcer started the 30-minutes-to-closing countdown.

with Dawn from the Inca Trail trek!
So little merchandise was left that we were able to pack things up in just under half an hour -- crazy!

Suz came to meet me after the expo and we walked a couple of blocks in the pouring rain to the Steamworks brewing company for dinner. Why Steamworks?
1. It's a steam-powered brewery. What's not to love about that?
2. I read they had a great pumpkin beer.

So we enjoyed a tasty (if noisy) dinner, and then headed back to our hotels. I'd like to tell you that I enjoyed a great night's sleep… but the dudes who stormed home at 3:45a.m. and then had a dance party in their room spoiled that. But thumbs up to the Hyatt staff for quickly responding to my front desk plea!

I did manage to get back to sleep before getting up at 7am on RACE DAY!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Corrals Announced

We're just under four weeks away from the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon, and the corrals have been announced.

It looks like runDisney is again keeping the front corrals quite small, probably figuring those people are more apt to be running for time. The great big corrals at the back do make me a little apprehensive, but I'm also sure that runDisney tests different strategies in order to find the right system for each race. 

I'm excited about running "the other direction" at the start -- which we haven't run since the Disneyland Half Marathon in 2010.

Wil and I will be in corral D -- where will you be?

Wine & Dine Half Marathon -- the West Coast Advantage

Runners from the West Coast tend to have a bit of a disadvantage at most runDisney events at Walt Disney World. It's not the long travel time -- plenty of East Coasters have a long journey. It's the time difference… and the early morning starts.

But West Coasters have a definite advantage when it comes to the Wine & Dine Half Marathon -- my new favorite race at Walt Disney World. If you're running it in 2014, here's three examples of why your internal body clock gives you an advantage over your East Coast running buddies.

1. Pre-race food. Let's face it, it's pretty hard to feel like eating at 3am (midnight, to you), and that dinner you had the previous night was a long time ago. A late lunch and then an early evening snack before the race is a lot easier to stomach. Pun intended. We ate lunch at 2pm, then ate a bagel with cheese at 7:30pm en route to the start.

We ate our lunch at Tony's Town Square, less for the pasta menu than for the inspiration in this photo:

our version … clearly fettuccine rather than spaghetti
2. The start time. A 10pm start may seem late to some folks, but, hey, 7pm is when you probably do some of your training runs, right? I often start a morning run feeling a little achy or a little stiff, and have to work to silence the voice in my head that tells me that I "just don't have it today". But at Wine & Dine 2013, we'd spent the early part of the day walking around the Magic Kingdom and then taken a short nap before going to the start. As a result, my legs felt great -- like I'd been gently warming them up all day. (BTW, I don't recommend a hardcore parks day -- but think of spending a few hours in the parks that morning as your day-before-the-race shakeout run… especially if you spent all day the day before on a plane.

3. The post-race party! I saw people commenting online that it was ridiculous to keep the post-race party open till 4am -- that no one would want to stay out that late after running. I -- and my West-Coast brethren -- beg to differ! That's only 1am to our body clocks, or a not particularly late Saturday night. Once we made our way to the party, at around 12:30am, we refueled with delicious food options from around the festival. As a bonus, all that walking around meant we didn't have any soreness in our legs the next day!

We LOVED running the Wine & Dine Half Marathon last year (read all about it here), and are a teensy bit sad not to be making the trip this year. That's one reason why I'm excited to be participating in this Virtual Blog Hop hosted by Didi at DISTherapy. Reading the other bloggers leading up to the race makes us feel like we're there!

On your way to Wine & Dine? Let us know how you're preparing for the race! Click the image to see all the blog posts:

Virtual Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend Blog Hop

Friday, October 17, 2014

Grand Canyon Rim 2 Rim hike report

The alarm woke us up very early -- 5:45 -- so that we had plenty of time to get up, get dressed, and eat breakfast before piling into the van for the drive to the trailhead. The night before we had laid out all of our gear, packed our daypacks, and packed everything else into our suitcases to get shuttled to the South Rim.

Over the previous 36 hours, there was a flight, some hanging out, a loooooooong drive in a big white van, a nice dinner, some drinks, and a night in a cabin just outside Grand Canyon National Park.

But now it was time to actually do this thing that we had agreed to do on Christmas Eve. Let's just say that Jen was very persuasive. Well, to be fair... We had been talking about hiking from Rim to Rim for years, but the logistics were always just too daunting. 

So the chance to join up with an extended family and friends who had been making this trip every year for 19 years, well, we couldn't resist. Someone else organized the hotel rooms, the shuttles, and all that. We just had to turn up…

Oh, and did I mention that every year the hike is done IN COSTUME?!?!

We pulled up at the North Kaibab Trailhead right around 6:30, and soon the other van joined us. We were handed an emergency radio (yeah, these folks know what they're doing!), we chatted a bit, admired each others' costumes, and then posed for this epic group photo.

Wil and I took a couple of our own, too:

hike faces

superhero poses

We also took a quick photo with Cherry and Christine, who had ridden in the van with us from San Diego:

with Christine and Cherry
We took the photo and then suddenly realized that EVERYONE was gone. Just like that. Poof. Well, after all, they had crime to fight in the canyon….

Wil and I laughed because we were already the last folks in the group!

But we got our poles, strapped on our packs, and set off down the North Kaibab Trail.

We took it pretty easy -- Wil didn't want to tweak his bad knee, so we just moved along at a gentle pace.

The first landmark was the Coconino Overlook:

It surprised me how different the view from the North Rim (okay, just below the rim) was from the South Rim. But I guess that's because the North Kaibab Trail runs down Bright Angel Canyon, so you see that rather than "the big one". Within a few minutes we had dropped way below the rim -- surprisingly so.

Our next landmark was the Supai Tunnel, two miles down the trail. There's a corral for mules here (seems like an awfully short ride?), but it was deserted when we arrived.

standing outside the entrance to my secret lair...

the Supai Tunnel
Not long after we went through the tunnel, we entered into the Redwall, one of my favorite parts of the descent.

I know it's probably heresy, but I always love when a trail includes a well-integrated "built environment" -- like these blocks below.

A little farther along and we spotted the Bridge in the Redwall -- built after a flood in 1966 wiped out much of the old trail.

Okay, yes, I ran ahead to pose for this shot:

bowl of fruit in the Grand Canyon
I thought it was interesting that a second layer of planks had been laid down the center of the bridge … 

Here's the view from the bridge -- see what I mean that it doesn't look like you expect the Grand Canyon to look?

Soon Wil joined me -- how awesome is that Hulk shirt???

View down the canyon -- you can see the path we'd be walking along at the center of the photo.

My North Kaibab Trail Guide informs me that this part of the trail "squiggles through the Redwall next to the Needle". Mmmkay.

While searching online for a map of the North Kaibab Trail, I just found these images, which made me feel slightly queasy… this is a view of where I'm walking in the above image. Which, now that I look at it, is also scary.

image by Bobs Pixels

And… wow. Let's just note that I am SUPER HAPPY I didn't notice this when we were hiking. 

image by Titanium Harvey
As we hiked, we passed or met a lot of other folks on the trail, and were usually greeted with, "Oh, more super heroes!" It also made us feel like "part of the group" even though we were hiking alone. We had to pose for a lot of photos with a lot of strangers… especially when I still had the wig on!

My memory gets a little hazy here. At some point we lost contact with Christine and Cherry -- and shortly after going through Cottonwood Camp we passed a lone hiker… who turned out to be Magnus. He asked if C&C were behind us, and we said we thought they were ahead of us… but none of us were sure. Magnus hopefully said, "Are we close to Phantom Ranch?", and I had to break the news to him that we were still 5 or 6 (or more…) miles from there. 

All I know is that at some point I looked back to see where we had come from -- wow...

… but we still had a looooong way to go before we even reached the river…

The trail was really pleasant for the next hour or so -- gentle, nice breezes, and at some point we joined a river.

Eventually we entered The Box -- a narrow canyon with walls made of Vishnu Schist. Is it super dorky to have a favorite rock? Yeah, I know it is. 

Finally… we spotted this. Ahh, heaven… it's Phantom Ranch!!!

Of course, we were slightly stunned by the sight of buildings, water… shade trees… and weren't quite sure what to do first. We went into the main building, thinking we might get a beverage…

But it was crazy busy in there, so we left quickly. I do wish I had been able to see the pins or patches or whatever -- that was high on my list -- but it was so noisy and crowded that I just needed to get out. Of course, not before I mailed two postcards!

Jen had told me that it was possible to send mail from Phantom Ranch, and that that mail would be taken out by mule. So on Friday night, Wil and I wrote Jen and Mike a thank you postcard that we mailed from the bottom of the canyon… along with a postcard to ourselves. How disappointed was I to learn that there's no special postmark?!?! Yeah, well, it's the thought that counts!!!

We headed over to where some of our gang was eating lunch -- Batwoman, Catwoman, Wonder Woman, and Captain America (aka Carolyn, the matriarch of the crew; Cheri; omg, I can't remember her real name; and Monica). We sat, rested, ate sweet and salty food, changed our socks, and got ready for the rest of the day.

While we sat there, we heard that "Snow White and Prince Charming" had been through earlier -- turns out the folks meant Spider (wo)Man and Silver Surfer… sometimes it's hard to know. )

Magnus arrived as we were refilling our water -- I was proud to note that I'd already had nearly 3 liters (which is waaaaaay more than I can usually make myself drink). He didn't rest long, and actually headed out just ahead of us. None of us had seen Cherry and Christine for hours, which made me feel edgy.

A quick pit stop, however, and we headed out -- managing not to miss the trail turnoff!

 Very soon we met up again with Angus and finally spotted this:

Hooray! The Silver Bridge! The Colorado River! The "halfway point" (even though we'd traveled 14 of the 24 miles).

The bridge felt narrow but otherwise very stable. I somehow managed not to get a good picture of the river itself, but when you looked at it, it was thick and brown but very fast-moving… like Willy Wonka's chocolate river.

Starting across the bridge:

I tried not to look down, but Wil pointed out that the bridge was essentially see-through. So when you were walking, the grating almost "disappeared" because you could see the current of the river. Yeah, a little barftastic…

Safely across!

Just as we reached the far side of the bridge, we met a family -- mom, dad, bored teenage son. The dad said, "Oh, okay, you're the Hulk, and you're…. Zorro?" I was about to tell him, when the bored teenage son said, "She's Ms. Marvel, DAD." I said, "Yeah! You're right! You're the first person to recognize me!" feeling pleased. Then he ruined it by saying, "Her powers are pretty generic."

So I zapped him with radiant energy.

The next stretch, known as the River Trail, crosses a sand dune habitat. Yes, sand. (Weird.) So though it wasn't particularly steep or challenging, it was a bit of a slog. Cue the opportunity to take some photos of the Colorado River:

And a nice panorama of the river:

Hey, this isn't so bad… only 9 miles of this?

(Yeah, don't look at the high cliffs to the left…)

Right around where this photo was taken, we met our first mule train. (Luckily there was a nice wide space to stand in off the trail!) The mule guide asked me to stop my "cape" from flapping in the breeze. I didn't know what he was talking about at first… then realized he meant my sash. I was so busy and nervous about spooking the mules that I stood stock still, and didn't get a photo.

Here we're just starting to go up… note the complete lack of shade…

We were heading into the sun along Pipe Creek… not very steep at this point, but… then we hit the Devil's Corkscrew. Long, steep switchbacks, with (at the time of day we hiked it), essentially no shade.

This photo looking down at the Corkscrew does it a little more justice… and how much nicer would it have been in the shade?!?!
image by Bobs Pixels
The one good thing was that when we would turn and look back into the canyon, it started looking much more like the view we were expecting. Except for the high ridges all around us…

I think it was the hottest point of the day… we hadn't reached Indian Gardens yet, but I knew we were close. Wil decided he needed to stop. I tried to get him to keep going -- that if we just kept going a little farther, we would get to Indian Gardens with shade and benches and water and such. But Wil would not be moved. He refers to this part of the trek as his "Incredible Sulk".

After something to eat and something to drink, we did move on… and soon arrived at Indian Gardens. We put on our "cooling neck things", Wil got some more water, and we sat for a little while longer. We also met up with little Padme, little Batman, and Indiana Jones -- they had driven around and then hiked down to the campground, and would be hiking out with their mom, aunt, and grandmother. Very cool.

All I wanted, at this point, was to just keep going. I *think* this next photo is above Indian Garden. But everything is pretty fuzzy. :)

See, Indian Garden is down there. And they have shade.

While we were resting, Magnus passed us. He was determined not to stop, not to rest, and to just keep moving. He said he couldn't stop -- that seeing us walk away along the trail at Phantom Ranch was "so disheartening".

On we went -- our next destination the 3-Mile Resthouse. I should point out that that was only 1.6 miles past Indian Garden, but still So Far.

This is probably part of the "Jacob's Ladder" switchbacks. Again, photos are a GREAT excuse for a break…

We pulled in at 3-Mile Resthouse so I could get some water.  I was super glad I did -- my Camelbak was almost empty. Looking back down the trail it was amazing to see how quickly we had climbed.

No, that's not snow. It may be "2-Mile Corner", where the rocks are covered with lichens. 

We just kept going up, up, up… but the view was getting more and more "right".

Somewhere along here we passed the Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse, and let me tell you that a mile and a half is still a long long way to go. We saw Hulk #2 (aka Reid) resting -- he said he was okay but ready to be done. We decided to keep plugging along.

Switchbacks? Yeah, there are switchbacks.

We started hearing the occasional whoop -- which meant we were getting very near the trailhead. So no more photo stops -- we were just pushing to the top. We rounded a corner and could see some of the crew…. I don't know that I've EVER been so happy to see a "finish line"!!!

that smile *is* genuine joy, I promise!
Whooping, cowbells, hugs -- we were done! Mike handed Wil and me shots of tequila, followed by cans of Grand Canyon beer. I can't tell you how nice that was! Mike had driven the van around from the North Rim to the South Rim, checked us all into our rooms, and then set up a "finisher's area" at the Bright Angel Trailhead. Such service!

We took the obligatory post race… erm, post hike photos:

Before long, Robin and Hulk 2 arrived, to more high fives and whooping (and beer):

 The first thing out of Jen's mouth when we came out of the canyon was, "Are we still friends?" Of course we are!!!

One thing I really loved was that everyone stayed around waiting for the hikers to come out of the canyon… drinking beer or wine, eating snacks, and just hanging out. We also made a point of cheering for other hikers as they came out -- even sharing our treats with them.

Now, I was still a little worried about C&C -- no one had seen them since we "lost" them -- but Jen got a text from Cherry when they reached the Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse. So a few of us decided to gather up some treats and hike down to meet them. Jen, Magnus, Wil and I put on our headlamps and slowly hiked down. It was exciting to see meet them and cheer them the last few hundred yards to the finish!

We soon piled back in the van and went to our rooms. We were supposed to go have a celebratory dinner, but… well… we ended up begging off and grabbed a surprisingly delicious veggie pizza at the lodge next door and just relaxing in our room. A perfect end to an amazing day!

Now, I know what you're thinking -- when are we going again?

My initial thought -- moments after finishing -- was NEVER AGAIN.

By the next morning I was halfway convinced that we would go next year -- it's their 20th year of doing the hike! I could design medals! It could be amazing!!!

But now I think we'll take some time off. One of the things that we would have preferred was to have some more time at the Grand Canyon. I love going out to Hermit's Rest, walking the Rim Trail, heck, I love looking in the gift shops. Our trip was too short (despite the HOURS in the Canyon itself!).

Also, we love love love Zion National Park. I'd love to spend time there again sometime, so combining a Grand Canyon hike with another visit to Zion would be wonderful.

That said, we've now been to the Grand Canyon 3 times -- and we have so many other places we'd like to go! So maybe we'll put the another rim to rim hike on the back burner for now.

Huge thanks to Jen for letting us tag along, Mike for being the best chauffeur, caterer, and host imaginable, and the entire Rim to Rim 2014 crew!