Friday, September 14, 2012

Red Rock Adventure Part II–Red Rock Canyon

See Red Rock Adventure Part I – Red Rock 5K Here

We last left off with the end of the awards ceremony and a decision.

“I had a choice, run the two miles back to the hotel, or head “elsewhere”  So I hit the road…”

And now, the exciting conclusion…

My intention was to run some more after the race.  Sure, I could have easily run the two miles back to the hotel and make it a 7 mile run, but that just wasn’t good enough.  Since I’m in training for a 50 miler, I really needed to get more in than that.  My plan was to head out west…. literally.  The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is located about 15 miles west of downtown Las Vegas, roughly 7 miles west of my hotel along a sparse highway.  What better way to see the sights than on foot right? 

After giving it some thought, I decided to run out towards the park, but turn around early to make it a total of 13 miles.  Since I’d just run a 5K, I wasn’t sure if I’d be up for anything more.  So I headed out. 

DSC04758The first 1.5 miles or so were through the suburban neighborhood the race was in.  Fancy homes and such.  After that I hit the highway and it was a straight shoot out of town.  Slow and steady was my mantra.  It was hot and the sun was shining high.  Thankfully I had my chill towel from the race.  I periodically would wet it down some more and let it cool my neck and head, very refreshing.  Had I not had this, there was no way I would have made it much further. 

DSC04764Shortly after I started running along the highway, I noticed there was a lot of bikers out.  It was a bicycle race.  I came upon the finish area and saw a small crowd was hanging around, waiting for the finishers I assumed.  I continued to pass bikers for nearly the entire rest of my run.  Some were pleasant and said high, others, as bikers commonly do, acted like they had the right of way and would fly past me, expecting me to move off of the shoulder. Still, it made for some interesting company.

Getting back to the run, I quickly left the suburban landscape, replacing it with rocks, dirt, and more rocks. Desserts are beautiful from a distance, but up close, it’s nothing more than dirt and rocks, with a smidgen of life thrown in for good measure.  When one is stuck along said terrain, it can become quite monotonous of a landscape.  Thankfully, I had plenty of rocky mountains to occupy my eyes.  The mountains were gorgeous.  Per the name, there were various formations of reds and browns throughout the landscape. 

DSC04771When I got close to my predetermined turn around, I was in good shape.  I had over 1/3 of my water remaining and could have easily returned to the hotel without problems.  Then it struck my vision, a road sign ahead that stated I was only two miles from the parks visitors center.  Hmmm.  More to contemplate.  Turn around or keep going?  If I turned around, I had a 4.5 mile straight shot to the hotel.  I had some nutrition with me, and water was decent.  The other option, head out the extra two miles to the visitors center where I was bound to find more water, snacks, and some rest.  I took the obvious choice, hit the visitors center.

Keep a truckin’ keep a truckin’  I was moved fine, but since getting on the highway path, it had been a steady but slight uphill.  Soon, I arrived at the visitors center road, and headed up.  I was relieved to find out that bikers and walkers only had to pay $3 to enter, instead of the normal $7.  A nice perk for spending the last 1.5 hours in the dead hot sun.

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The visitors center was quite cool. there were some interesting exhibits, and a nice gift shop, not to mention the air conditioning. I stayed there around an hour, relaxing, seeing the exhibits, and grabbing some gifts for the family.  Since it’s difficult to actually see many of the desert wildlife, they had a bronze statues of many local desert wildlife around.  Paige and Connor would have loved it.  After that, it was time to hit the road. 

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I knew I still had roughly 6.5 miles to get back to the hotel, so off I went, slow and steady.  I didn’t use set intervals, but I was probably running between 1-2 minutes with a 1 minute walk break.  The return trip seemed to fly by.  Sure it was hot, brutally sunny without a hint of shade for miles around, but I had a full water pack, my hat, sunglasses, and my chill towel buddy to keep me comfortable.

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Before I knew it, I was back in the land of the living, with houses, people, and some shade!   That last 1 mile or so was nice.  I knew I’d run over 16 miles, but wasn’t exactly sure how much.  I’d had an adventure in the desert, and I’d completed a 5K including a PR.  I just had to reach the hotel where a refreshing shower and cold drinks awaited.

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Finally I hit the parking lot for the hotel.  Since it’s a resort casino, the place was huge, and I still had a good 1/2 mile to the front.  Slow and steady I went.  Finally, I made it and promptly asked one of the doormen to snap a photo of me.  When I got to my room, I calculated everything out and the finally tally was 18.5 miles.  Two miles to the race, three miles racing, and 13.5 miles through the desert.


How’s that for a Las Vegas Adventure? 


Annie said...

I like your self-portraits. :-)

Paul said...

Awesome day! :-)

Jess said...

That's awesome. The sun would have destroyed me, I think.