Monday, February 26, 2007

Southern Arizona

I spent this weekend in southern Arizona at a soccer camp 10 miles south of the tiny town of Benson Arizona. We brought our soccer team here to help recover some of the conditioning lost while they were off playing High School soccer for the past 2 months. Although it was a busy weekend, I got in one potentially great run on Saturday afternoon. I say potentially, because although the temperature was a perfect 45F (7C) and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky for 100 miles in any direction and I was at the end of 5.5 miles open desert road with no cars, my legs just weren’t up for the task.

The first 2 miles were slightly up hill into a stiff wind at a 9:50/mi pace but I was still feeling OK. After 3.5 miles my right foot started falling asleep, but the feeling subsided after a couple of miles and before I got to the turn around point at 5.6 miles, my foot was feeling pretty good again. Although my pace was around 10:00/mi this was already the longest run since the Marathon in January; but I still had to cover another 5.6 miles to get back to the camp. With the wind at my back, I picked up the pace and was feeling great. I wasn’t moving much faster, but I felt much better.

Reality set in on mile 8. My HR, which had been hovering near 150 for most of the run, crept up to 155 and the body (the 3rd person reference is intentional) shut down. Now you’ve got to picture this. Perfect weather, perfect running surface, beautiful open desert stretching out before me, not a car in sight and I can’t convince my legs to run. They’d walk, but they just wouldn’t run. After a few minutes of walking, I hammered out another 0.4 miles before stopping again. More walking and another 0.25 mile run before shut down. A little more walking and bitching and whining and I gave it one more push. I was still 2+ miles out and didn’t cherish the thought of walking all the way back. However, 220 feet later (as measured by my Garmin), my left calf started to tighten up and I wasn’t going there; so I just took a little 2 mile stroll down a country road. Too bad I can’t whistle, because walking down that road was a perfect American existential moment.

This week I’ll run a few 5 milers and another 8 to 10 miles this coming weekend. I don’t have any more trips planned for a couple of weeks, so the running should be easy. I hope your week goes well.


My batteries gave out before I could take very many pictures in Benson, but here is a small sample:

This is the soccer camp. The tiny shed on the left is the "bunk house" where the men-folk slept. It's real cozy. The main house has a single room on the 2nd floor (AKA the first floor if you live in Europe) were the girls slept. The women slept down-stairs. There is also a "mess hall" peeking between the trees on the right. The mess hall isn't heated and was a little chilly on Saturday and Sunday morning. Morning lows were 25F (-4C).

This is the San Pedro river, which runs along the eastern edge of the camp. To all of you who don't live on a desert, there isn't anything remarkable about this picture. To those of us in Arizona, it is an amazing pictures. It is one of only a handful of free flowing rivers in the state.

Yes folks, this is grass on a soccer field (football pitch) in Arizona in February. Most of the fields we play on this time of the year are dirt. Cities don't maintain the soccer fields over the winter when the summer grass goes dormant. It is completely contra-intuitive that a city will spend big bucks to build soccer facilities and water and mow all summer when no one is using the fields and then let them go dormant and dry up in the fall, winter and spring when the kids need them, but that's the political mind. The fields at this camp are privately owned and hence they are planted with winter grass during the winter ... oh what a novel concept.

Arizona is the land of SUVs. Guess which car is mine. This camp is 176 miles from my house and I got to drive all the way down and all the way back alone with the top down with my XM Radio blasting commercial free. Ah ... what a feeling.


J~Mom said...

You told us a few weeks ago that you had a convertible so I knew which one was yours. He he he.

Sorry you couldn't get the run finished but I did have a nice chuckle picturing you walking along whistling.

Yes, I actually enjoyed the trail run. I am definitely going to tackle that mountain again but only after my half. Ouchie owie. I need to be a little bit more conservative with the half being only a few weeks out now.

Ewen said...

Southern Arizona is very much like western New South Wales. Beautiful country.

I wouldn't worry about having to stop early Phil. In a couple of months, 11 miles will be just another run. Sounds like the calf was giving you a hint. Be careful with it :)

Anne said...

Thanks for the pictorial view of southern Arizona, complete with outstanding observations about the culture. I can see how the river would be so attractive. I remember the first time I drove across that part of the state and it was dry river bed after dry river bed. I was parched just looking out the car window.

I wouldn't worry too much about the run. Could be all the traveling catching up or you just had a bad day.

Thomas said...

Southern Arizona sure looks a tad different to Southern Ireland.

I hope the legs will come round soon. You should have recovered from the marathon by now, and any troubles you have would be related to something else, I'd guess.

Feminist Runner said...

The desert always shocks me -- it's so gorgeous and so different from what I am used to. I just spent the weekend convincing my GF that if I get a job in the SW it will be just like living near the ocean! They have sand too! (of course, this job will come about somewhere around 2009, so who know what the climate can hold by then.)

Sorry your leg froze up on the run, but at least you got an existential moment. Almost. Take good care of it, and you'll get back to your normal running soon!

Neese said...

what a glorious blue sky!

olga said...

It just need a tad more green:) But the sky is blue and NOT cloudy!!!

Anonymous said...

lovely pics. next time you're out with the top down, i call co-pilot.

D said...

I love the blue in the photos. You have the right attitude Phil. Whistling and walking between running - sounds better than not being able to run at all!

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

Gotta love that XM Radio! One of the greatest inventions for those of us who spend a lot of time in the car.

DawnB said...

sound like you had a glorious weekend Phil. The pictures are lovely thanks for sharing!!

Pat said...

Love the pics. Arizona is so diverse, I love living here. Wish I could get around the state more.

Arizona, USA

miss petite america said...

great certainly looks like it could be hot, even though it sure isn't!. now anyway...

stephruns said...

it's almost like a surprise to head out for a run and see what the legs and mind say. sometimes it's just not the right day to run.