While on vacation with my family, I was fortunate to carve out some time to run. No simple feat when I was driving from one place to the next. In 7 days, I logged 3,400 miles driving through 7 states. Needless to say that I was beaten down by the time we arrived at each stop. In Bryce, I was able to grab some rest since we arrived the day prior.
I was excited to run and set my mind on getting up early to watch the sunrise over the canyons from one of the many peeks. At quite as I could, so as to not wake my family, I dressed in my running clothes and exited the RV into the early dawn. The air was crisp and clean; my lungs were energized with my first breath. But, of course, with five adults, one teen, and one child in a 27 foot RV, the air can get somewhat stale.
The dawn chorus of birds serenaded me while I awakened my body in preparation; stretching has become a ritual since my last injury. The cool morning air caressing my face as I ran the short distance down the pavement to the trailhead felt invigorating but was short-lived as I hit the dirt trails and elevation took center stage in my legs and lungs. Gasping for air at elevation, Lactic acid burning in my legs mattered little as I crested the first peek, greeted by the rays of the sun breaking behind the mountain draping the landscape of Bryce Canyon in a blanket of subdued light, the magic hour light. Nature’s spectacle opening in front of me.
It’s magical what happens on a trail run. As you run the trail, every worry and stress seems to melt away as you immerse yourself into the run and scenery; it is truly a time when I am at peace with not only myself but with life and the world.
I haven’t talked much about the struggles I have with anxiety. In my generation, it was not something you talked about; you were expected to man-up and deal with it. In 2012 I started walking and then running because of health issues. I wrote about it in my blog post “My Journey to Health – Running “.
When I start running is when I discovered that running was helping me with my anxiety. So I went from near weekly visits to Urgent care to maybe three times a year. But still, even though a visit to the doctor’s office was reduced, it was, and still is, a battle. In 2018, I decided to ask for help. This was incredibly hard to do, and had it not been for my wife having a degree in psychology and helping me understand what I needed and supporting my decision to seek help, I may have never tried.
I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and PTSD, kind of the same; no surprise, I guess. However, after several months of working with the psychologist, I was just getting worse. Pandora’s box was starting to crack open, and I felt like I was spiraling down. My night terrors became more frequent, and I could not get control of my anxiety, even by running. So I dropped out of the sessions and stuffed everything back in the box tight, and closed the lid.
I turned fully back into Trail running and it has done more in helping me with my anxiety and PTSD than anything else ever could, and I am so thankful for it. Trail running sets you at peace, its not just the action; but the strange excitement and experience of being in nature the way humans were meant to be.
During my trip to Bryce Canyon, I woke up early, got into my running clothes, took off for the trails to run and watch the sunrise. It was there at the bottom of a canyon that I was swept off my feet by the beauty and felt so thankful for trail running. I was driven to spill what I was feeling in a video. Something told me I needed to make it, maybe for others who struggle; I don’t know, but here it is, welcome to a peek into part of my soul.
The third stop on our family vacation and 10 hours from Bryce Canyon Nation Park was Elkhorn Hot Springs, a short 38 miles off Highway 15 or 40 miles South West of Dillon Montana, and located Montana’s Pioneer Mountains.
Elkhorn Hot Springs is off the beaten track. My wife and I found it while mapping out our route the old fashion way, using a Rand McNally Road Atlas. The Rand McNally Road Atlas has always been our go-to because you can find places to see on your route that you likely would not bouncing around google and find them faster.
Elkhorn Hot Springs is a gem! It was our first time going there, but it will not be the last! We made a reservation ahead of time to get one of the two RV slots that have electrical hook-up. Elkhorn Hot Springs has been around since 1918, and the same pools built back then are still in use today. In addition, there is a lodge and cabins that were built in the 1920s and 1930s. The pools were HOT. The staff told me both pools are naturally heated and run between 92 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit and that the pools continually cycle, so there are no chemicals added. The sign in the pool recommended that you not stay in the pools for longer than 15 minutes at a time.
I don’t think my skin ever felt so nice after coming out of the pools and drying off. The females in the family comment on how soft their hair was. This could only be from the minerals in the water.
It is a recreation area, and being a trail runner; I was shocked when the staff told me that no trail runs or runners for that fact visit.
There are a TON of trails that I wish I had time to run. The staff gave me directions to areas to run to that “would blow my mind,” My wife flat-out refused to let me go run-off into the wilderness; I just didn’t have the time.
I can’t wait to go back FKT on some of the trails.
Leaving Zion National Park, the family and I jumped into the RV and drove the 82 miles to Bryce Canyon National Park. Since we left the Zion earlier than expected, it was still daylight, and we were able to enjoy the fantastic views on the way out. One of these places was Red Canyon on Highway 12 in Utah. The rock formations were fantastic and RED. Driving through, I saw many great trial heads just begging to be run or explored.
Leaving early also allowed me to buy an AK-47 at the gas station. Well, an AK-47 BBQ lighter, to be exact, not an actual pew-pew.
Arriving at Bryce Canyon, the entrance fee was like Zion, free for active-duty military and veterans. GOD blessed our family because we were able to find an excellent RV slot in the North Campground; it was the only one left.
After setting up camp and eating. We took a short walk up a path near the campground, and when we crested the hill, we stood in awe of the view. We had never seen a sight like this; it made us more excited for the next day. As darkness feel UNO and puzzle building were the focus. Just before bed, we all went outside to look at the stars and galaxies. With no light pollution, the sky was coved with billions and billions of stars. Look at the night sky in an area such as this always take my breath away. I was up early the following day, I wanted to take a trail run and watch the sunrise as I trotted along the trail, but I’ll write about that later when I got back to camp. Most of the family was up, and the coffee was ready. After breakfast, we all took the short walk to the Visitor Center to catch the shuttle. The shuttle runs in a loop that allows you to get on and off at all of the trailheads and viewing points.
I saw that the park had a Jr. Ranger Program for the kids, so I grabbed my granddaughter and got her the workbook she would need to complete to become a Jr. Ranger. It’s another memory I will keep. She was so excited to work on the book throughout the day; grandpa was her guide and helper.
Our family day hike started at the furthest shuttle stop. We hiked back between stops, and when hungry, popped back on the shuttle to get something to eat and then back to the views. It was one of the most beautiful hikes and views of my life. But, unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to see more. So my wife and I decided that we would be going back soon.
Just got back from a whirlwind seven-day family vacation. In seven days, we visited;
• The Narrows in Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park Utah • Elkhorn Hot Springs in Montana’s Pioneer Mountains • My fathers Grave in Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls in Idaho • Multnomah Falls, Lava River Cave, and Lava Lands in Oregon • The ghost town Bodie State Historic Park in California • Lastly, before returning home Keough’s Hot Springs near Bishop, California.
All in All, we drove 3,559 miles.
The real purpose of the road trip was to visit my father’s grave in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We had planned to visit him in 2020, but everyone knows what happened that year. There is always good that comes out of bad things happening. Because of COVID, my wife decided to rent an RV rather than stay in hotels. Had we not rented an RV, we would have driven straight to Coeur d’Alene and back. Because of the RV, besides me, my wife, and my teenage son, we were able to bring my wife’s father, my son, his wife, and granddaughter.
The Narrows in Zion National Park Zion was our first stop on the trip. We only had time to visit the Narrows, which is a gorge that you can hike up. You hike up a river bed that has cold water, sometimes up to your waist. The walls on each side of the Narrows are in some areas as high as 1000 feet.
The hike is a ten-mile round trip, but we only did six. Because walking through the rocks in the river took a toll on the older and young family members. Besides, by the time we started back, the river more resembled the walkways in a mall on a hot Saturday afternoon. It was packed with people, which drove the enjoyment level to 1. The crowd was incredible, and I was glad we were in the park early early and on the first transport to the Narrows when you could still hear the sounds of nature instead of the gaggle and screams of humans.
In my blog entry “Running: Okay, this time it’s for real ……. I promise.” I told you that until I’m able to run my current route without walking, I would not venture off. Well, I’m almost there! I am trying not to get too excited about it, but seriously I’m almost there!
I can’t explain how excited this makes me. Kind of a strange feeling, though, since a couple of years ago I was running near ultras and hills or not, this route was merely a warm-up.
Just the same, looking that the maps that my running app, ISmoothRun, and Strava, provides and seeing in picture format how far I have come in the 30 total runs since March 22 give me a sense of accomplishment. Blue lines are where I walked, and if you look at June’s map, you can see I walked only once, and that was on the flattest part of the route. I can run every hill now.
Awesome. Maybe I can come back from this. I think I’ll look for a 5K run to sign up for.
Memorial day never been easy for me, today is more then most because I hurt in my heart and feel guilty for not visiting my brothers and sisters who served, and for many died, for the freedoms we enjoy. I was raised to honor this day and Veterans Day by my father, to take just a little time to remember, and honor by visiting the graves of those who served.
I’m sorry my brothers and sisters for not visiting you today. But, know that you all are always with me, always in my heart, and that I love you, thank you for serving and most of all, for being my bothers and sisters. Until I see you in heaven, I will always remember you for will always be my family and part of me.
My beautiful wife had been talking about purchasing a treadmill for a long time. Even though I am not a treadmill fan, I 100% supported her venture; after all, anything that gets you moven,’ and groven’ is good for you. In all honesty, I’m sure I will use it on days that I don’t feel like getting rained on and I need to run, or when the darkness has come, and when my anxieties/PTSD strike suddenly late at night or in wee hours of the morning.
My wife spent a lot of time researching treadmills and asking me questions about them which I know nothing about. She wanted to find a treadmill with the best quality and available features to value. She ended up getting the Horizon T303 treadmill. A trip to COSTCO added a 32″ VISIO TV (which we returned for an LG yesterday, the VISIO was app laden and lethargic) for viewing pleasure.
It took my wife and me about an hour to assemble, this thing is HEAVY, 325 lbs heavy. I have to say, as far as instructions go and making it simple, Horizon nailed it! The instructions were laid out cleanly and easy to follow; the best instructions I have ever seen in a product. A bonus was they provide all the tools you need to assemble the treadmill.
There was an issue found while testing. The treadmill can do up to a 12% Incline, and it was not working. I followed the Horizon troubleshooting guide, which indicated that the incline motor connector might have come loose during shipping and to open the cover and ensure the connector to the incline motor is fully seated.
Checking the connector, I unplugged it and re-plugged it, and sure enough, the incline started working. Good? well, no. After putting it together, my wife attempted to use it, and the incline motor stopped working. I took it apart again and checked it, but everything looked fine. I plugged the unit in with the cover off to see if I would notice anything before I called the company. I noticed that when you plugged the treadmill in, the incline motor attempts zero, meaning that it resets itself to 0% incline. I found that the motor was stuck. I after a second unplugged and plugged the incline motor, freed itself, and went to zero.
I could then use the manual incline buttons to cause the incline motor to move through all of its ranges. I noticed that near the 1% and 2% zones, the screw shaft that moves the running deck up and down was dry of any lubrication. I took a Q-tip, took some of the lubricant I found at the top of the shaft and lubricated the dry section. I ran the incline up and down a few times and put the treadmill cover back on. We have not had a problem since. Horizon should spend a few cents more and add a round shaft dust bellow to keep the dust and dirt off the shaft. I don’t know, just the Engineer in me thinking. The expose shaft is an area I do think will need maintenance dust and dust bunnies are bound to find their way onto the shaft and gum the works up.
My wife took it on its maiden voyage and is delighted with it.
A day later, I turned on the TV found a trail running video on YouTube, and took it for a 1-mile run—odd experience. Running to a trail running video is sort of strange, enjoyable, but strange. I had never run to a video on a treadmill before. I found that I was following the trail rather than the treadmill. Do you know what I notice? The treadmill goes in a straight line and does not follow the trail as it curves. More than once, I found my foot hitting the edge of the 20″ wide deck. LOL
Overall, it’s a sweet treadmill just wish that we would have bought it during the memorial day sale they are having right now; I would have suggested she get one of the Studio versions.
If their AFG Pro App were not so awful, I might even recommend the Horizon T303 treadmill to others. But the APP sucks so bad I would have to qualify the recommendation with how bad the app sucks; so I will not recommend it at all.
The things we like: • Simple controls easily move through the selections and change things such as speed and incline even while in a pre-programmed routine. • Easy to read displays and layout for the stats • Heartbeat monitor is neat but don’t expect it to be too accurate. • Built-in Fan is a COOL idea, just not very strong. • The 20″ wide X 60″ Long running deck is PERFECT. • Thumbs Up for built-in routines • Solid Deck – Not too springy feels just right underfoot • Solid & stable – the machine doesn’t bounce or move while in use feels strong or well built. • Easy to install • Folding Option
Things my wife and I don’t like: • Their AFG Pro APP SUCKS! Not just a little A LOT! Very disappointing. o Crashes all the time on the iPhone (OS 14) o Not intuitive at all. o Will not work on SAMSUNG tablets o APPS you can export to are limited to just FitBit and UnderArmour apps like MapMyRun. It doesn’t support the major apps like STRAVA or Runkeeper, which sucks. o You can’t program anything without being connected. You unable to configure your routines ahead of time. o Only one device can be connected; if you connect two, you will have to disconnect and re-pair later. Major hassle. • No onboard memory. Once your session ends and you clear the display, or it times out, you lose all your data unless you use their crappy app and it doesn’t crash.
Not sure what to make of it, this morning I woke up wanting to do a long run, my 18-mile long run to be exact, the one that would take me down the strand into Coronado. I know it is not possible for me to RUN_FAR yet, but just the same, I felt like doing a long run. Is that weird? Maybe it’s a sign that my Ultra mind is resurfacing. I don’t know, but that urge to RUN_FAR is egging me like the sharp click and drop of a mechanical clock’s longhand. I can hear the hand drop in my head – Click-Tick-Run.
I long to be back to the abilities and distances I once enjoyed running. I miss running in the mountains and deserts of California with other trail runners. I even miss the Ragnar Teams – I wonder what the ‘I LIKE PIE’ team members are doing now. The I LIKE PIE team are people I didn’t know who found me and asked if I would like to run with them in the Ragnar Los Cayotes Trail Run in 2018. It was the first time that I had ever been on a running team where I didn’t know a soul, and it turned out to be one of my best adventures.
The 2018 Ragnar Los Cayotes Trail Run, 2017 Ragnar Road Washington DC, 2016 Shadow of the Giants 50K, among other smaller races, I never blogged about. The Shadow of the Giants 50K (7:27:43 )was probably the pinnacle of my running between 2015 and 2018. I find it funny that I went to the trouble of making a video about it but never blogged or posted it. If you are interested, here is the video.