Grand Canyon Prep for Rim2Rim2Rim
In less than 48 hours I will be somewhere deep in the Grand Canyon where I'll have the privilege to experience both its width and depth in one day over the course of 48-ish miles. I will be running from the south rim (on South Kaibab Trail) down to the river and then up the north side (North Kaibab Trail) to the North rim (which is the taller of the two rims) and then back down to the river and then up Bright Angel Trail to the south rim again. In short, I’ll be doing R3 (or R2R2R) SK-NK-BA in the GC (trail lingo).
I'm not going solo. There is a large contingency of runners from Austin that are going this weekend including Iram who invited me to join and Mallory Brooks who intends to set the FKT for R5. Friday, May 7 is the day.
The major considerations for this big adventure run are the heat and the steep and elevation gains and drops. There are places to get water along the way, but my water carrying capacity is much more than in my previous hikes or runs because access to water less frequent and I’ll be consuming much more with the heat. The temperature this last weekend was 102 degrees “in the box” (the low part down by the river) so I’m prepared for scorching heat during most of the day. I'm getting a head start on my hydration by starting NOW.
Unfortunately, my training has been subpar at best as I decided to do this about 2 months ago (which is not really enough time to have a training cycle). I’ve been dealing with a nagging hip/TFL injury since spring break which hasn’t boded well to ramp up my running volume. I would say my training has consisted of 2-3 weeks of focused training at 60-70 weekly miles and 7,000 ft of elevation gain over the week. The Grand Canyon is about 10,000 ft of gain and loss over the course of the day so I definitely didn’t hit the hills as much as I should have if I were in good shape. All that is to say, I will be power hiking the uphill portions anyway so hopefully the hip issue doesn’t worsen tremendously out there. I did make an effort to do most of my runs in the hear of the day here in Austin while it was 90+ degrees and full blast sun to do some heat training. This helped me figure out my nutrition regarding what I think would be palatable in such gross heat.
*Hip Injury is the usual runner’s issue from not strength training: gluts not firing properly, tight hip flexors from too much sitting, weak core…sigh… It also sneaks up on me AFTER my runs and doesn’t bother me much or at all DURING my running.
I had one strong long run at about 27 miles at Mount Lakeway with Nick and Iram. It was hot, STEEP and a long day. We practiced hiking the uphills which was good to feel what that would be like on steep terrain. I realized on this run I would definitely want real food in the GC because at the slow pace of "fast hiking" gels and sugary bursts would not be sustainable over the course of the day. My plan is to nom on real food early and save the gels and caffeine and sugar for the last third of the run.
Nutrition and hydration are key for this adventure and I plan to have tons of electrolytes in the form of Tailwind, pickle juice and I'm bringing salt tabs with me for the first time. As for my real food, I'll carry a bean and potato taco, some salted plain pasta and dates as well as some bars (Lara and Bobo's for the win) and peanut butter packets.
I'll have access to water approximately every 7 miles, which is GOOD NEWS because sometimes this time of year the water is still off on the North rim and one should be prepared for 20+ miles without access to water out there. The table lists the major benchmarks with water and the elevation gain or loss and milage between.
Not pictured is my taco, pickle juice, a Bobo's bar and iPod shuffle.
I am excited to take in the canyon from predawn to post sunset and I have no time goals. I am packing enough food/water for 12 - 15 hours. This is not a race, but rather an adventure deep into the heart of one of the natural wonders of the world. I'm more nervous than usual for this type of thing and I think it is because I haven't put in the training required and I'm struggling trusting my body, but I will go forth and face the weather, terrain and pains that come and soak in the striking beauty to push me forward.