Arizona – Where I Went

Many thanks to Tara for graciously allowing me to cover multiple weekends (and the days in between) as part of her Weekend Update linkup!

While most of my time in Arizona was spent in the “Across the Years” zone – preparing for, running, recovering from, crewing, recovering from crewing the race – we did manage to see some sights and enjoy some favorite and new places. Note, there is some crossover between this and the “what I ate” post that’s coming soon.

Friday 12/26 – Hit up the great folks at Tribe Multisport for an extra flask of my gel in case I needed it. Turns out I didn’t, but I am glad I was able to get it. They have the largest section of nutrition products I’ve seen anywhere! Their friendly folks talked to us about races, trails and the general area. Also went to the iRun running store, again, great folks. Really enjoyed talking to people in both stores. What a terrific endurance sports vibe and community in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area!

In the evening, we went to the Desert Botanical Garden – a place we’ve enjoyed before for the plant life and the Chihuly exhibits. They were running a holiday event called “Luminarias” in which the garden was lit with hundreds of luminaria and “fairy” lights on trees, and various local musical groups were playing at different spots on the property. It’s a hugely popular event, we ordered tickets well in advance. I was captured by some great jazz music while walking the path through the garden….it drew me to a tent where I heard a great jazz group – the Adam Roberts Jazz Ensemble (he’s the saxophonist and appears to be the leader, and he has some stuff on youtube). I actually recorded their version of Holly Jolly Christmas (which the leader said was their “demented” version, seemed perfectly fine to me) but it’s too long to embed and I haven’t figured out how to clip it. Perhaps for next year.

 

Luminaria

Luminaria

 

tree at Luminarias

tree at Luminarias

more Luminarias lights

more Luminarias lights

star lights, jazz band

star lights, jazz band

Adam Roberts jazz ensemble

the jazz group I liked – Adam Roberts jazz ensemble

Saturday 12/27 – Across the Years (ATY) race packet pickup started at 2pm. After a lazy morning at the hotel, we drove the 35-40 minutes to the race site. We were able to get our bibs and race belt, and the extra swag bag (purchased, got some nice logo stuff!). Here’s the registration tent (white, on left).

ATY registration tent on left

ATY registration tent on left

Below, on the right you see the edge of the red medical tent (not shown and closer to me would be the white warming tent) and the blue/black large aid station tent where the vast array of foods and drinks provided by the race organizers were available during the race (they even changed some of what they served during the race, depending on time of day and across days so people would find something they liked and wouldn’t get bored). The volunteers were uniformly terrific, whether at the registration tent, the aid station or anywhere else. Friendly, welcoming, enthusiastic, helpful.

aid station on the right

aid station on the right

We scoped out the “tent city” – you could order a tent of different sizes, a cot, and tables. We ordered a tent big enough to stand up in the center (smart move by DH), a cot and a table. To our delight, the tents were set up, sparing us the (planned) time and stress of doing it ourselves, and cots already inside. Brilliant! One more reason Aravaipa Running ROCKS! We chose a tent right next to the track, across from a light, and put our name on it. We also put the table up in front of the tent, next to the track.

tents for runners & crew

tents for runners & crew

We even got a chance to walk part of the course (the part that wasn’t inside the Camelback Ranch gates, which were closed to us until the race). I saw this 30 times in the course of my race (this is the way the last 90 minutes or so went, the first part of the race I was going the other way).

part of the ATY course

part of the ATY course

Sunday 12/28 – my race! In case you missed it, here’s the recap. The only places we went other than the race were to Five Guys and Picazzo’s to satisfy post-race cravings that evening. I’ll share all the food details with you in an upcoming post.

Monday 12/29 – Recovery day, so nothing was planned. I did some light biking in the hotel gym before starting the gluten-free binge with breakfast out at the tremendous Jewel’s totally gluten-free bakery/cafe. (more on that to come, just let me say….pancakes) We spent some time at REI shopping for rain and cold gear due to the race forecast. We hoped that by doing (as I called it) the “credit card anti-rain dance” and dropping a fair amount of funds, the rain wouldn’t show up for my runner’s race. No such luck, though it could have been worse. (more on that in an upcoming post on crewing a 24 hour race) For dinner, a new yummy place called Chelsea’s Kitchen.

Tuesday 12/30 – aka the day before crewing my runner’s race…..I had a massage while DH went out to breakfast to a non-GF friendly restaurant. For dinner, we hit Picazzo’s again.

Wednesday 12/31 – Up at 5am, at race site by 7am for 9 am start – enjoyed crewing the race!

Thursday 1/1 – (still) Crewing the race till 9am, then getting runner & car full of stuff back to hotel, not a trivial task given all the supplies we’d brought. Got back to hotel. slept, got up and ate (I don’t even remember what!) and tried to get more sleep, which was tougher than you’d think.

Friday 1/2 – DH & I both got massages. I was so tired I almost fell asleep in the lounge afterward (the massage therapist suggested I lay down for a while). We went out to eat BBQ – tried one place that smelled fantastic but after standing outside in line for 15 minutes, we decided not to wait for what looked like another hour to get in the door to order, and found a second only okay BBQ place. Later we went to Whole Foods and got some Sweet Republic ice cream/gelato.

Saturday 1/3 – Started the day with my first run since the race, 6.5 miles on the hotel treadmill. We visited the Japanese Friendship Garden, lovely, fairly peaceful, and interesting. Apologies for forgetting the names of the stone sculpture structures (we didn’t keep the pamphlet). I even bought a packet of food to feed the 300-500 koi that live in the pond (some gorgeous colors, especially a blue/white and a blue/orange). It took both DH and I multiple attempts and a combined effort to get the food to the koi instead of the really pushy ducks (who’d peck at the koi, follow you around….they get a lot of practice at stealing food I think).

Friendship Garden sign

Friendship Garden sign

castle guardian fish

castle guardian fish

 

waterfall

waterfall

stone sculpture

stone sculpture

stone lighthouse

stone lighthouse

koi

koi

We also walked in the neighborhood as it had interesting houses, more like Portland or Craftsman type – with green grass lawns, not the norm in Arizona! I didn’t take any photos, just enjoyed the stroll.

We made a quick trip to Walmart for a luggage strap, with a stop at Jewel’s for pastries. I think we just ate leftovers in the room for dinner. The iPhone Health app tells me I managed 6.5 miles of walking on Saturday.

Sunday 1/4 – Our last day in Arizona (sad face). After a quick 3.5 miles on the hotel treadmill, headed back to Jewel’s for one last breakfast and to pick up pancakes, mix and a variety of pastries to bring home for my next week of GF binging, ahem, recovery. We walked the neighborhoods around the hotel a lot – another 6 miles according to my iPhone – and up and down a hill near the hotel. Some lovely views.

house overlooking golf course

house overlooking golf course

 

view of Camelback Mountain from neighborhood behind hotel

view of Camelback Mountain from neighborhood behind hotel

cactus lit by the setting sun

cactus lit by the setting sun

sunset our last night there

sunset our last night there

Monday 1/5 – We headed to the airport before 7am, saw a lovely sunrise from the rental car center, and flew back to DC/NoVa. Here are a few photos from the plane, which came out surprisingly well! I don’t really know what any of them are of, though….

Phoenix from plane

Phoenix from plane

river in canyon

river in canyon

snow-capped peak

snow-capped peak

Hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of my trip – posts on what I ate and on crewing the 24h are likely coming sometime relatively soon. (ICYMI, I updated my podcast list.) I’ll also be getting back to more “regular” posts on training (here’s an update) and such, as the day job, life and training permits. I’m toying with putting up a page of book recommendations and a 2014 recap as well.

Happy Monday and have a great week!