I just got back from a nice warm reprieve from the frosty winter we’ve been having in Southern Ontario. I took my kids down to Arizona where my parents spend the winter. I knew the weather would be beautiful, there were lots of trails nearby, and I would have someone to watch the kids so of course I planned to run while I was there. I was even lucky enough to find an ultra on the calendar within a 2 hour drive so I signed up for the 52km race thanks to Nick at Aravaipa Running. The first morning I woke up, looked at the beautiful blue sky, saguaro cactus, and red rocky hills all around and couldn’t wait to hit the trails. I planned a 10km route in the desert, got a bit mixed up and did 14 with some unexpected climbing, and came back refreshed from the previous day’s travelling and amazed at the spectacular scenery I encountered. A couple days later, I woke up at 4:30 AM and drove up to the Coldwater Rumble 52km race and had a great morning on the trails outside of Phoenix. This race wasn’t a training focus, or the focus of my trip but I knew it would be an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I didn’t go into it wanting win, or PB, or with any competitive expectations so that I wouldn’t end up stiff/sore/heat sick for the rest of the trip and just had a fun day. I crossed the line and then it was back to my family :). Vacation was still the priority, racing was the bonus! It was great to get an early season race in (especially where I only had to wear a single layer of clothing!) and see what it was like to race in a desert.
Some people find it strange that I would want to run (physical exertion) while on “vacation”. I love it – its a great way to find nature and experience unique landscapes that I don’t see at home. When I took the kids to my hometown of Thunder Bay last summer, the first thing I did was round up my favourite running crew and head out to The Sleeping Giant for a long trail run. When I was out to the west coast for my younger brother’s wedding two summers ago I planned out a bunch of trail runs (ie: Mt Benson and the Arrowsmith Trail.) I think running is a great way to see new places and keep fit while I am away. It also lets me justify sampling lots of local food and beer that is the other great bonus of being away!
How about you: Do you run/bike/anything else while “getting away from it all?” Do you focus your vacations around running or running around vacations? What has been your best running destination so far?