Posts Tagged ‘Bucket List’

I added “Hike at least 250 different trails in San Diego County” to my Bucket List in 2014. I’ve had good and bad hiking years since then, but I’ve stuck to the goal, and plan to achieve it regardless of how long it takes. In fact, I’m not in a huge rush. A few weeks ago I passed the century mark for trails and today I passed the century mark for completed hikes. The difference between those 2 things came to be on my 99th hike. I messed up on the navigation and we only completed a little over half of the 7 mile hike. We’ll go back one day soon to fix that mistake, but until then I’ll have a half of a hike on my list.
I’m following the list of hikes in the book Afoot and Afield in San Diego County. The list was started using the 4th Edition that had 250 unique hikes in it. The current, 5th Edition, has 282 unique hikes. I have not updated my Bucket List or tracking page, Afoot and Afield in San Diego County Hikes, but I will one of these days.
I don’t always go with the same people, my wife and youngest son are usually there, but not always. Occasionally we have a bigger group, but not often. I’ve only done 1 or 2 alone, but not long or remote ones. I don’t “redo” trails very often. Before I set the goal, I repeated several of the more popular trails in San Diego multiple times. Cowles Mountain, Iron Mountain, and Mount Woodson to name a few. These are gorgeous and popular trails, but the goal is to explore new trails, so that is what I’ve been doing. A few of the hikes in the book are loops that take you back over at least part of a different trail in the book. But in general I have not done a lot of repeat trails since starting the Bucket List tracking.
I tried to pick a meaningful hike, and of course a special place for my 100th trail. The hundredth trail ended up being Batiquito Lagoon. A very worthy hike in a beautiful coastal lagoon area. We had volunteered to clean up there a few years ago. Usually going out on the water is prohibited but for this special event volunteers are allowed on the water for the cleanup. We kayaked out onto the lagoon to collect garbage. The kayaking was fun and I was pretty proud of the tire I brought back to shore!

Batiquito Lagoon Cleanup September 2011

Batiquito Lagoon Cleanup September 2011

And as a trail for the 100th hike, it was up to expectations as well.

Red Wing Black Bird on Batiquito Lagoon trail

Red Wing Black Bird on Batiquito Lagoon trail

California Least Tern with stretched neck on west side of Batiquito Lagoon

California Least Tern with stretched neck on west side of Batiquito Lagoon

Dusk view of Batiquito Lagoon

Dusk view of Batiquito Lagoon

Jenny and Eric near the end of the Batiquito Lagoon hike

Jenny and Eric near the end of the Batiquito Lagoon hike

I will continue to get out and hike in San Diego regularly. Not every available weekend, I have other things I want to do, vacations, projects around the house, and of course friends, 6 children and 3 grandchildren to hang out with. Like any goal, I want to finish it, but it has to fit into my life, and I think I’m good to go to continue hiking for at least another decade and hopefully more!


Last year, 2014, was not quite “to plan”. It was a very busy year, we had a lot of fun, made some progress on goals, but at the end… it also brought a lot of heartache and sadness. I covered most of the fun parts of the year in my recent End of Summer 2014 post. Before the summer started there was also a work trip to Canada, a getaway to Las Vegas with Jenny’s kids, and a lot of local hiking.

To keep myself honest I should probably review the 2014 top 10 countdown from my post Happy New Year – 2014!

10. Weekend project – install surround sound speakers! (Done)

9. Develop an Android App and publish it to Google Play. (Nope – I’m slacking…)

8. Weekend Project – Improve the storage in our garage so we can park 2 cars in the garage at once (novel idea)! (I say no, but my wife gives me partial credit for some of the things I did to make it a little better, but the big improvements will have to come in 2015.)

7. Our 4th consecutive season of Green Flash Concerts at the Birch Aquarium. (YES – we had lots of fun!)

6. Bucket List (progress) – Complete at least 35 new (never been on hikes) in San Diego County. (Sort of a yes – cumulative, but I think I really missed the spirit of this one. we did not hike at the end of 2014. It was very dry until near the end of the year and then we were booked.)

5. Bucket List – Walk across the Grand Canyon not once but twice on a rim to rim to rim hike! (Not quite… we hiked from the North to the South rim, but the a rim to rim to rim will have to wait until next time.)

4. Check at least one item off my Bucket List in the travel section. Need to coordinate this with a few people so I’m not picking one now… (Not from the travel section “per say”, it ended up being from the California section – see the first post for this trip – A Few Days in San Francisco (Day 1 – 26 July 2014 – Cable Car Museum and Dinner on Nob Hill).)

3. Visit family and friends in Iowa, Nebraska, Idaho, and even here in California! (Yes!)

2. One of my daughters will get engaged! (OK cheating on the prediction side of things as it happened on January 2nd.) (Yep! Not one but two engagements in 2014!)

1. Bucket List – rock a grandchild to sleep in my arms! (Over and over again!)

However, 2014 was not all “fun and games”. Throughout the year there was an underlying theme of significant illness, and uncertainty. Some of this turned out well and some did not. There were also some terrible surprises at the end of the year. In November and December we lost several members of our immediate and extended family. Regardless of all the fun we had throughout the year I will always remember the end of 2014 as a time spent reflecting on past joys, feeling lucky to have known these people, and feeling the full brunt of their loss. One of my key philosophies on life is that joy and happiness would not be as sweet if grief and sadness did not exist. I will carry that as hope into the new year along with the wonderful memories I have of those we lost.

Now to continue the tradition I started last year… here is my Top 10 Countdown for 2015.

10. See at least one singer/act that I’ve never seen before from my Bucket List.

9. Do at least one item from the Adventure, Travel, or California sections of my Bucket List.

8. Eliminate my electric bill! (This one is already planned – so it’s an easy “done” for next year’s review.)

7. Leave room in our schedule for opportunistic travel and adventure and take advantage of at least one of these opportunities.

6. Complete at least one of the following home projects:
– Expand the storage area of my garage by at least 50% to give us more room for fun and games – ping-pong and darts anyone!
– Finish painting the remaining “contractor white” walls and woodwork in our home.

5. Plan and complete a family camping trip to Yosemite. This may be challenging with all our kid’s busy schedules this year.

4. Complete at least 20 new hikes in San Diego County to check off a few more trails on my page tracking the progress on my bucket list goal to hike all the trails in the book Afoot and Afield in San Diego County.

3. Focus on healthy living. I will lose the weight I’ve gained over the past couple years by eating better and exercising more.

2. Spend lots of time with friends and family.

1. Walk my oldest daughter down the aisle!

I hope your 2014 was everything you hoped for and then some, and that your 2015 exceeds all reasonable expectations! Happy New Year!

View to the west as we hiked along the Colorado on the Bright Angel Trail

We woke early (before 4:30 am) on Day 5 of our Grand Canyon rim to rim hike trip. I woke before the alarm sounded and pulled my equipment off the hooks on the wall next to my bunk so I could arrange it on my bunk. The bunk house was dark. I had expected more activity, even this early. I turned off my alarm and quietly prepared for the day. Sean and Mike were on top bunks also on the other side of the narrow walkway between the bunk-beds. I noticed Mike checking the time on his phone. He must have turned off his alarm to because it didn’t sound either. I climbed down off my bunk and noticed that the bunk below me was now empty. That guy got up early and must have been very quiet! I moved my stuff onto the empty bunk which made getting organized much easier. After my stuff was ready, I woke Sean up and had him hand me his things so I could pack for him while he put on his hiking boots.

We were out of the dorm in about 15 minutes, with all our gear. Only a few whispers had been exchanged. We walked toward the dining hall in the darkness to meet with Jenny. After dropping my gear with the others by one of the picnic tables I went to the back of the dining hall to pick up the bag lunches we we eat for lunch. I cooked up some instant oatmeal and coffee for a quick breakfast. After we redistributed some things and had the lunches stowed away in our small packs, we headed south toward the Colorado River crossing. We were on our way about 5:10 am, just a little before sunrise.

Leaving Phantom Ranch toward the Colorado River

We were to the Colorado and ready to cross a little after sunrise, although we would not see or feel the sun for several more hours thanks to the canyon walls.

The Silver Bridge crossing the Colorado River

Mike took a picture with a unique perspective of me crossing the bridge. I like the perspective, but I look a little like I’m waddling not walking. I don’t remember being sore at this point, so it must just be the angle…

Crossing the Colorado River on the Silver Bridge

The Bright Angel trail follows the Colorado for quite a ways after you cross the bridge.

Jenny and Eric Rial on the Bright Angel Trail above the Colorado river

Although we weren’t in the sun, it was lighting up parts of the canyon ahead of us as we hiked beside the river.

The Colorado winding through the Grand Canyon beside the Bright Angel Trail

It was much further than I remembered before we turned uphill, but eventually we did turn up hill. Jenny was happy to be going uphill after the long downhill hike the day before. She prefers the uphills to going down hill. I have no problems with downhill hikes, but was not looking forward to the steady climb ahead of us. The switchbacks make it easier, but eventually, after enough of them, you still feel it!

Switchbacks as you move away from the Colorado and climb on the Bright Angel Trail

Based on my memories of this hike last time, the I knew that as we got higher up the views would be pretty much the same as you looked out on the canyon, but before Indian Garden there would be some interesting and different views along the trail.

The group as we head up Bright Angel Trail June 3rd 2014

Another of my favorite parts of the hike is a little less than a mile before Indian Garden. There is a creek beside the trail and the trail curves along a canyon wall with the creek well below the trail. There is a small waterfalls and trees. It’s a cool place.

Small water falls along Bright Angel Trail a little ways below Indian Garden

Speaking of cool things, if there is a favorite part of this hike you want to share with someone, or you want to relive the whole trail yourself in the comfort of your home, check out the Google Street views of the Bright Angel trail. They also have street views for the South Kaibab trail and the area around Phantom Ranch. Here is the Google street view for the same location where the last picture was taken (click and hold the mouse button then move the mouse to “look around”).  I guess I can leave my camera in my pocket next time!

We had lunch at Indian Gardens on these benches.

Benches at Indian Gardens Campground

We had some shade, and the squirrels were entertaining when they weren’t annoying. They obviously live on human food obtained from inattentive hikers. They didn’t get any of ours but we saw one squirrel nab a bag of drink mix from some ladies over by the corral. He carried it in to a thick bush across the trail from us. That’s when it got interesting. A crow, obviously very interested in nabbing some human food too, hopped… cawing all the way over to the bush. Unbelievably the crow actually squirmed its way into the bush. There was lot’s of cawing, and rustling in the bush, but we never learned the outcome of the struggle! In such tight quarters, my money was on the squirrel.

After lunch we were back on the trail. It was a little after 10 am and we were about half way, but most of the climbing and heat was ahead of us.

A mule train passed us just as we were leaving Indian Gardens. Not sure I would enjoy a long ride on one of these, but on long backpack trips I’ve definitely considered getting a pet mule (to carry my pack)!

Mule Train near Indian Gardens June 3rd 2014

There was little to no shade once we left Indian Gardens, and no stream to cool off in so we took our time, rested in the shade, and used some of our water to keep our hats and shirts wet. This helped keep us cool, and making steady progress. There is an open canyon south of Indian Gardens as you climb the Bright Angel Trail.

View into the canyon south of Indian Gardens

At this part of the day it is dry, hot, and there is little shade to be found until you get to the end of this canyon. And then at the end of the canyon you get to climb seemingly endless switchbacks!

Switchbacks on the Bright Angel Trail above Indian Gardens

Not too far after this first set of switchbacks is the 3 mile rest house. The reason Bright Angel trail is “the way to hike out of the Grand Canyon” to the south is the regular water stops. After Indian Gardens there is a water stop every 1.5 miles. The South Kaibab trail has no water stops! I hope to hike into the canyon on that trail one day, but I’m sure I won’t be hiking out that way.

We took full advantage of the rest houses on the way out of the canyon. We had no stew dinner reservation driving us, and at a certain point, usually around 4, it starts to cool off and the sun sinks far enough in the west to put parts of the trail back into the shade.

Although it feels like you are making good progress, all you have to do is look up, and you realize there is still a lot more switchbacks in your future!

Jenny and Sean taking a break on the Bright Angel Trail

But we kept climbing!

Jenny and Sean ahead of me on the Bright Angel trail

By the time we reached the 1.5 mile rest house we were pretty hot and tired. It was around 2:30. My cousin Mike had hiked ahead of us after Indian Garden, and we had no “time goal” for finishing. We decided to hang out in the rest house for at least an hour to let the sun move a bit further to the west. We actually rested there for a little over any hour, and it was time well spent. Less than 15 more minutes up the trail we were back in the shade!

Entering the late afternoon shade on the Bright Angel Trail

At this point we could see the last big set of switchbacks ahead of us. This is also one of my favorite parts of the trail. The trail seems to dead-end into the shear white limestone walls.

Entering the late afternoon shade on the Bright Angel Trail

The same limestone walls frame the terrific view near the top of the switchbacks.

Near the top of the last set of switchbacks close to the top of the Bright Angel Trail

You know you are getting close to the top of the trail by the number of fresh looking/smelling people you see.

Nearing the top of the Bright Angel Trail

Even though I knew we were close to the top, when I saw the outcropping with the square tunnel in it in the distance I was extremely happy! We had made it!

Sqare Tunnel in limestone outcropping very near the top of Bright Angel Trail

All that was left to do was smile for the group picture at the tunnel…

Group picture at the tunnel near the top of Bright Angel trail

and at the Bright Angel trailhead sign.

Tired - Happy - Successful Rim to Rim hikers

I had given the keys to the Jeep to Mike before he went ahead of us, so we had to reconnect with him before checking in to the hotel. Mike had finish about 3 hours ahead of us. He got his picture at the tunnel…

Mike at the tunnel near the end of the Bright Angel Trail

and at the trailhead sign (a slightly different one).

Mike at the Bright Angel trailhead sign

Then he had headed to the pub! We got him on the phone and arranged meeting at the car (about a half mile from the trailhead). We drove back and parked right beside the Thunderbird (score on the good parking spot), then went to the Bright Angel lodge desk to check in. We were happy to be staying at the Thunderbird because the rooms were all air-conditioned. We had a non-air conditioned room at Maswik Lodge the first night at the Grand Canyon, and it had been uncomfortably hot all night long. Even though it got into the 40’s outside the room, and we left the window open, it had stayed in the 90 degree range all night in the room. After checking in, we grabbed our “fresh clothes” bags from the car and headed to the room.

As soon as I walked in to our room at the Thunderbird I got concerned. It was unbearably hot in the room. I checked the A/C controls, then I called the front desk! The A/C was broken, and would not be fixed! I was sounding terrible on the phone. My laryngitis was in full swing so my voice was a barely audible gravely whisper. I asked if there were any rooms available with A/C. They said there were, but only a couple of suites in the El Tovar Hotel. One suite had only one bed – a king bed but no room for 2 rollout beds. The other was the Presidential Suite! The woman on the phone was very sympathetic and said she would contact the manager and let us know if they could give us a break on the price. She called back just before I was ready to call and just pay full price. She said they would give us a really good price break for the one night. So we moved into the El Tovar Presidental Suite!

Our feet were a bit sore so as we checked in we asked if we could get reservations at the El Tovar dining room. Apparently this is easier to do last-minute when you are staying in the Presidential Suite. We had an hour to get ready. The room was amazing, the A/C felt great, and the very delayed shower felt even better! There was room for a very large party on the room’s balcony. I had taken a picture of the balcony, but it was hard to tell the size with no one there. So… Jenny looks very refreshed from her shower standing on the balcony!

Jenny on the balcony of our room at the El Tovar

Our dinner reservations were for 9 pm, and even though the showers had been refreshing and invigorating, we were pretty tired as we headed for dinner. We order salads with our dinner and had a fun conversation with our waiter. He had worked here for over 30 years and had lots of good stories. My favorite was the time, the first summer he worked here, that he and a couple of friends decided to make a lunch and “walk down to the river”. It was all fun and games going down and at the river. They thought they were giving themselves plenty of time to go back up, but realized very soon that hiking up was much tougher than hiking down. It was dark and very cold by they time they got out. They didn’t have coats or flashlights. Lesson learned!

Jenny and I had beer with our meals. We devoured the salads, but by the time the main course came all of us were done! No one managed to eat even half of their meal. It was enjoyable though and we had only a short walk back to the room and our nice comfortable beds in our nice cool room! What a great night’s sleep!

In the morning I woke about 45 minute before everyone else. I made a coffee with the Keurig coffee maker in the main room and went out to sit on the balcony. What a great place to relax and enjoy the morning. The balcony had a tremendous view of the canyon. I tried out the Panoramic Mode on my cell phone to get this picture.

Panoramic picture from the balcony of the Presidential Suite at the El Tovar

I had been sold on the A/C so this was just frosting! Very relaxed morning. Jenny was next up and she joined me for coffee.

Jenny having coffee on the balcony of our room

We all enjoyed the room and the views that morning, but eventually it was time to hit the road back to San Diego. We took one last group picture of the hiking Amigos y Amiga before checking out of the room.

One more group picture on our balcony at the El Tovar

I don’t know when I’ll be back to the Grand Canyon again. I do know that if you haven’t been you should go. If you have been there you should go again. Originally this was going to be my first rim to rim to rim hike. A cold that just would not go away (some antibiotics finally did it in a couple of weeks later) got in the way of that goal. So one of these days I’ll go back and I’ll get to hike down the South Kaibab Trail, up the North Kaibab Trail, then I’ll get to turn around and go back. Until then I have lots of great memories of this hike and the last one.

The group crossing a bridge in the slot canyons on the North Kaibab trail

I divided day 4 of our trip and day 1 of our rim to rim hike into 2 posts because it was a long hike and I had hundreds of pictures. I originally planned to divide the post at Cottonwood Campground because that is the halfway point for the hike, but probably 80% of the pictures I took were from the North Rim to Roaring Springs, so I decided to divide the posts at Roaring Springs. See Part 1 of the day at: Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Hike (Day 4 – Part 1: North Rim to Roaring Springs)

As you head from the North Rim to Phantom Ranch the surroundings make two significant changes. The first happens just before Roaring Springs. The steep canyon walls spread out and the trail is no longer right against the wall of the canyon. It is also drier with less vegetation, although there is actually a creek along the rest of the trail to Phantom Ranch.

The North Kaibab trail moves away from the canyon wall before Roaring Spring

The second change happens a few miles past Cottonwood Campground as you enter a long and winding slot canyon for most of the rest of the hike to Phantom Ranch (see the picture at the top of the post).

My least favorite part of the North Kaibab Trail is between Roaring Springs and the start of the slot canyons. It is not as visually spectacular as the first part of the trail and for us it was also the hottest part of the hike. We started at the North Rim just before 6 am and got to Roaring Springs just before 10. Five miles in 4 hours is a pretty slow pace. We had definitely been camera happy hikers! We also spent way too much time at Roaring Springs. We did not leave Roaring Springs until around 11:30. I’m glad we took some time to look around as I’m unlikely to hike down that part of the trail again, but it cost us time and put us right in the hottest part of the day for this part of the trail!

A regular water stop is less than a mile past the turnoff for Roaring Springs at the Pump House residence.

Pump house residence behind the bathrooms

We arrived there around noon and stayed for a snack and some Gatorade. The water was working when we got there but stopped working a couple of minutes later. There were some very disappointed people once the water went off. We had fully filled up at Roaring Springs so we knew we would be good for the rest of the hike if necessary. I also had a filter system we could use to get water from the creek if there were no other options. After a short break we got back on the trail.

Cottonwood Campground is less than 2 miles beyond this point. Although it is dry and my least favorite part of the North Kaibab Trail there was still some interesting parts of the trail.

There is a small waterfalls on Bright Angel creek not too much further down the trail. I’ve taken pictures of it both times I’ve hiked the North Kaibab trail.

Small falls along the North Kaibab trail

However, when you take a picture of this falls from the trail (above the falls) it does not show the true scale of the falls. It looks much smaller than it is in most pictures. I used a Google image search to find a a picture on another WordPress blog that shows the true scale of the falls and you can check out the whole post here.

A little further down the trail this overhang provided some shade…

Overhang provided shade for a short was on the hot part of North Kaibab trail

but most of this part of the trail was in full sun and hot!

Dry hot North Kaibab trail between Roaring Springs and Cottonwood

We ate lunch at Cottonwood Campgrounds.

Eating lunch at Cottonwood Campground

The main watering point in the Campgrounds was not working, but there is a second watering point between the picnic area and the creek. We were able to top off our water containers there. There was a lot of air in the pipe though so the water looked cloudy for about 30 seconds after filling the containers, but eventually cleared up.

We also splashed creek water on our hats and shirts. The heat was taking a toll on all of us, but on my wife especially. Her face was red, and she was noticeably tired. We had trained in 90+ degree temperatures, but it was now well over 100. We spent about 30 minutes at Cottonwood and then hit the trail again. The trail starts to head uphill a little ways outside of the campgrounds. At this point Jenny said that she was feeling nauseous. I wanted to go back and cool off some more but she wanted to keep going. I agreed but let her know we would be finding some shade by the creek when we came back down the hill on the other side. By the time we got over the hill we were all overheated. After about 5 minutes by the creek Jenny wanted to get moving again. I think she wanted to get it over with. I wanted to be sure she was cooled off and safe. At this point in the day it was going to be getting cooler, not hotter as time went by. I suggested we wait at least 30 minutes, stay in the shade and splash lots of water on our clothing. I got a little bored and took this picture of a dragon-fly. I didn’t notice until a little later that my camera had accidentally been put in a mode that took pictures with a sepia tint!

Dragonfly on a rock in Bright Angel Creek

We all felt much better after we cooled down. We were also only about a 30 minute hike to the entrance of the slot canyon part of the trail and the shade!

Near the start of the slot canyons on North Kaibab Trail

We arrived at this point around 4:00 PM. We still had about 3.5 miles to go, and we needed to be at Phantom Ranch by 6:30 for our stew dinner reservations! I was more than a little concerned. We didn’t have a back up plan for food! Jenny was feeling and looking much better. Not sure what got in to her, but as soon as we got to the shade, she just took off!

Jenny took off like it was a race in the slot canyons

Every time I stopped for a picture I had to run to catch up! She was a woman on a mission! I did manage to get her to take one picture of us guys…

The guys on the North Kaibab Trail

but then she took off again.

I was happy to see her back to normal, but didn’t want to blast right through this part of the trail without any pictures. There was one familiar place not too much further down the trail.

A familiar spot in the slot canyons on the North Kaibab Trail

I took a couple of pictures at this point. One of the pictures was only about 5 feet before a place where my friend Dave took a picture of me in 2010.

Eric Rial On the North Kaibab Trail October 2010

I had to run after this point and caught the group at the first bridge in the slot canyons.

First bridge in the Slot canyons on North Kaibab trail

Although we were tired, the shade was helping and the trail was once again spectacular. My laryngitis had worsened and I was having a hard time even whispering, but that didn’t get in the way of my excitement to be here! As I approached the bridge I was starting to catch up, but paused long enough for this shot. The view was as invigorating as it is beautiful.

View from the first bridge

Just around the next corner a large overhang above the trail was equally inspiring.

Rocks form a large overhang above the North Kaibab trail in the slot canyons

The trail rose a little ways above Bright Angel Creek and I paused for another picture.

The trail rises above Bright Angel creek in the slot canyons on North Kaibab trail

Although I wanted to catch up to share my excitement, I didn’t want to miss any good views, so I settled in to being behind the group for much of the rest of the hike. The trail crosses from one side of the canyon to the other on a series of bridges in this section of the trail.

Second Bridge on the North Kaibab trail in the slot canyon

It started to become more challenging to get good pictures as the shadows started to deepen on the walls of the canyon.

Shadows begin to deepen in the slot canyon on North Kaibab trail

Some of the pictures, when the higher walls of the canyon were brighter than the walls below, needed a little help from Photoshop Elements to remove the shadows and reveal the details as we could see them. When this happens I usually make sure the bright parts of the picture are properly exposed because the pictures turn out much better. Removing the shadows turns out well, but it is not possible to recover the details from an overexposed part of the picture. As the shadows deepened, this is about as good as the camera could do.

Shadows begin to deepen in the slot canyon on North Kaibab trail

But the details are not lost in the underexposed areas of the picture. Lightening the dark areas with Photoshop Elements reveals all the details we could see with our eyes.

Canyon with all the details we could see with our eyes

I had warned everyone that although the slot canyons offered shade, a fairly level trail, and terrific scenery, it would seem to go on and on forever. I started playing a game in my mind trying to remember how and when it ended. If the canyon started to widen…

The slot canyon on the North Kaibab trail widens in some areas

I would take that as a sign we were nearing the end. But then the walls would rise and narrow again!

The slot canyon on the North Kaibab trail narrows again

I would try to remember at each bridge if it was the one “I remembered” to be the last bridge.

The third bridge in the North Kaibab slot canyon

I started to realize that my memory of this part of the trail was not that good. Just when I started to think that it would go on forever, and that this bridge probably wasn’t the “last bridge”…

The fouth bridge in the North Kaibab slot canyon

and that this widening of the canyon couldn’t be the one I remembered just before we got out of the slot canyon last time…

Another widening of the slot canyon on the North Kaibab trail

we finally turned that last turn in the slot canyon and emerged into a much wider part of the canyon! I knew this meant we would be seeing Phantom Ranch very soon. I was very glad when the Phantom Ranch sign just ahead on the trail confirmed to me that my memory had not failed me again.

Phantom Ranch sign just ahead on the North Kaibab Trail

We passed the dorms we would be sleeping in a few minutes later…

Passing the Phantom Ranch Dorms

and headed right to the dinner room for our stew dinner! We dropped our gear and made it to our seats by 6:40, only ten minutes late. After a 15 mile hike (including the 1 mile detour to the Roaring Springs water stop) we were done for the day. I’ve never had a better tasting stew in my life. Jenny had two helpings! We shared stories with the other hikers at our tables, spent a little time talking about what to do after dinner to make sure we were settled in, and made a basic plan for the morning.

The dorms are segregated by sex so Jenny would be in a different dorm than us. We planned to meet at the picnic tables in front of the dining hall at 5:15 to have a quick breakfast, pack the bag lunches we had ordered for our day two lunch, and do any last-minute organizing of our packs.

After dinner we settled in to our dorms, put on some sandals and headed to Bright Angel creek to soak our feet. The last time we did the rim to rim hike we camped at the Bright Angel Creek Campgrounds right next to a great spot to soak in the cold water. It was later this time because we got in later and then dinner and settling in took even more time, but it still felt great!

My cousin Mike wasted no time getting in.

Mike cooling off in Bright Angel Creek

I was a little slower and more tentative, but decided to just have a seat in the water!

Mike and Eric in the Creek

It felt great on my feet and legs.

A long soak in the cold water felt good

I had a nice view up Bright Angel Creek to the bridge…

View up the Bright Angel Creek while soaking

and the view in the other direction was pretty cool too.

View down the Bright Angel Creek while soaking

Jenny and Sean soaked their feet on the banks of the creek.

Sean enjoying the cool water of Bright Angel Creek on his feet

After about 20 minutes everyone else was ready to go, I could have sat there for much longer! But it was time to head back to the bunk houses, take hot showers, get somewhat organized for the morning, and then get some sleep. The dorms have evaporative cooling systems, so it was nice and cool all night long. It took a few minutes to go to sleep, but once I was out slept very well until the alarm went off at 4:30 am!

On Day 1 we had hiked from the North Rim to Phantom Ranch on the North Kaibab trail. We walked 15 miles, dropped 5800 feet in elevation, and experienced a 50+ degree increase in temperature. Day 2 would be the hike out on the Bright Angel trail. The trail covers 9 miles and a 4400 foot increase in elevation.

Next post in this series:  Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Hike (Day 5-6 – Phantom Ranch to the South Rim)

List of all my posts for the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim: Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Hike Posts (Oct 2010 and June 2014)

Golden Gate Bridge view July 2012

We are planning a long weekend in San Francisco in July. We’re meeting another couple their, friends from way back, so planning will include agreeing on activities we all will enjoy. I have several bucket list things I want to do in San Francisco, but I know some of them are not going to work, but I hope we can check at least one thing off my list.

There are several sources of information when you search Google for things to do in San Francisco. Many of them either sell tours, or offer links to tours. I’m not big on guided tours. There are times when they are useful, especially when visiting historical places, but I don’t generally enjoy being led around places… I would rather do some planning and explore on my own.

We spent a couple of days in San Francisco in July 2012 on our Honeymoon following our wedding and stay in Big Sur. That trip was a road trip and we are planning to drive again, but we are not planning to drive from San Diego to Big Sur again this time. We’re taking a week off, but plan to spend half the time in San Francisco and the other half in Lake Tahoe, so no time for a long coastal drive on this trip.

We’ve arranged for a condo for the four days we’ll be staying in the city through Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO). We’ve used this website for several trips and have always been very satisfied with where we stay. Be sure to look at the reviews before renting. I avoid places that have no reviews even if the pictures look terrific. It is too easy to make a place look good in pictures even if it has issues. In 2012 we stayed in a Hotel in the Market area, this time we will be a little closer to the center of things in Nob Hill.

We also want to do new things and things we didn’t have time for in 2012. So here’s the list so far:

1. Ride a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. We had considered taking our bikes with us, but we are taking our car instead of the Jeep, so we will rent bikes if we do this one. There are several places to rent bikes, and we’ll be watching the local living daily email deal sites for bargains. When you are planning a trip it is a good idea to sign up, several months in advance, for emails for the places you are visiting from sites like Groupon, Living Social, and Goldstar. this one activity gives you a chance to visit the Golden Gate Bridge, get unique views as you cross the bridge, visit Sausalito for lunch, and the ferry ride from Sausalito to San Francisco should give us plenty of great views of the city from San Francisco Bay.

2. Visit Alcatraz Island. The site of the famous prison is now a National Park. Anytime I visit a National park I start with a visit to the appropriate National Park website to the Plan Your Visit section. In this case it helped me avoid a lot of tour companies selling this tour in combination with other tours to get more money. The National Park website pointed me to the official tour company so I can get my tickets directly and skip any additional fees.

View of Alcatraz July 2012

3. Wine tasting day trip! We considered spending an overnight in wine country. This would likely be a good idea when sampling wines from multiple vineyards! But this part of the trip is short so we will make it a day trip and someone (likely me) will volunteer to be the DD. There are almost too many choices. I could do an entire post researching and planning even just a good day trip to this area. Since this will be my first visit to this area I think I’ll suggest the easy way out. We can start at Sonoma Plaza (about an hour drive from San Francisco), do some wine tastings there and then visit a couple wineries in the hills nearby. If we take a few bottles (or cases) home I’ll still get to have the full effect, just delayed a couple of hours!

4. Hike in one or more of the National Parks and Recreation areas in and around San Francisco.

  • Muir Woods. This park has a wide variety of trails from paved to challenging. This would be a great place to hang out for a longer visit on a future camping trip!
  • Marin Headlands area of the Golden Gate National Recreation area – In addition to the National Parks site the Golden Gate National Parks ConservancyGolden Gate National Parks Conservancy organization site is a good information resource for this park. This is my top choice for a hike with a huge payoff – views of the Golden Gate bridge and San Francisco.
  • Mount Diablo is on my bucket list, but it is most likely for another less urban focused trip!

5. Take a scenic drive. The closest drive would be the Reyes National Seashore drive, but it is mostly through rolling hills but the first section to Stinson Beach looks amazing. If we do this one it would make sense to do it at the same time as a visit to the Marin Headlands area and to plan to do another couple few short hikes to lookouts like the Muir Beach Lookout and maybe a section of the coastal trail. The much longer drive to Santa Cruz would be gorgeous, but would take us away from San Francisco for too long and this is a visit to San Francisco…

6. See the 16th Avenue Steps. If we get ambitious maybe even walk up them! If we get really ambitious maybe continue up the steps to see the view from Grand View Park! Looks like a nice climb and I’m a sucker for a grand view!

7. Eat some terrific food from Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, and maybe some of my favorite Italian dishes in North Beach. We can also take time to explore these areas before and after we eat!

8. Cable Car Museum. Of course we’ll ride one, but this might be a cool place to check out too.

9. Explore the Nob Hill area on foot. Since we are staying in this area it makes sense to check it out. The area has Grace Cathedral, Union Square, several historic hotels, and lots of high-end shopping…

10. Visit the James Lick Observatory. This is a bit geeky and probably for a future trip, but wanted to capture the thought here, because I would love to check this place out. Might be good in combination with a visit to one of our newest national parks Pinnacles National Park.

View of St Peters and Pauls Church from Lombard Street July 2012

San Francisco is one of the great urban areas in California. It has a unique location, a unique history, and a unique population. We are looking forward to spending time exploring the city and finding even more things we have to do next time.

The more I research things to do, the more I wish we were spending more than 4 days in San Francisco. I’m sure we will be very busy, have a great time, and that we’ll be ready for at least one day of rest and relaxation when we head over to Lake Tahoe for the rest of the trip. However, there will be tons to do there too, not to mention Hot August Nights going on in nearby Reno while we are there!

Posts for the trip:

A Few Days in San Francisco (Day 1 – 26 July 2014 – Cable Car Museum and Dinner on Nob Hill)

2013 Collage

Last year, 2013, was a very good year for me. Although it will be hard to beat I’m hoping for an even better 2014!

In 2013 I checked a major accomplishment off on my Bucket List, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon and had a great time in Washington DC that weekend! In order to make that happen I ran over 500 training miles including two half marathons, the San Diego Half Marathon in March 2013, and the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in San Diego in June.

We had a great time camping near Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park with family. Although I’ve been many times, this was my first trip to Idaho with Jenny. We spent our first anniversary enjoying downtown Boise, went white water rafting, and biked the Boise green belt on the 4th of July, then headed north for a couple days in beautiful Stanley Idaho. For my birthday we had a terrific weekend on Santa Catalina Island. the trip started out fast with my first zipline experience, and we also had a terrific time hiking in the hills around Avalon and just relaxing in our hotel and at the Descanso Beach club.

We enjoyed our third year of Green Flash Concerts at Birch Aquarium and lots of other live music including a few of my favorites Sara Barelles and One Republic at the SDSU Open Air Theater, John Mayer and Phillip Phillips at Sleep Train Amphitheater, Steve Miller at the fair, and Fleetwood Mac at one of my favorite venues – the Hollywood Bowl.

We closed on our new house on 31 December 2012, so we had all of 2013 to get settled in. This inspired me to start a new category for my blog: Weekend Project. Although I got a good start on the house, there are plenty more projects to tackle over the next few years.

For 2014 I will do this a little differently than last year with a top 10 count down of predictions for 2014!

10. Week-end project – install surround sound speakers!

9. Develop an Android App and publish it to Google Play.

8. Weekend Project – Improve the storage in our garage so we can park 2 cars in the garage at once (novel idea)!

7. Our 4th consecutive season of Green Flash Concerts at the Birch Aquarium.

6. Bucket List (progress) – Complete at least 35 new (never been on hikes) in San Diego County.

5. Bucket List – Walk across the Grand Canyon not once but twice on a rim to rim to rim hike!

4. Check at least one item off my Bucket List in the travel section. Need to coordinate this with a few people so I’m not picking one now…

3. Visit family and friends in Iowa, Nebraska, Idaho, and even here in California!

2. One of my daughters will get engaged! (OK cheating on the prediction side of things as it happened on January 2nd.)

1. Bucket List – rock a grandchild to sleep in my arms!

I hope your 2013 was unbelievable, and your 2014 is unstoppable! Happy New Year!

I started very early planning to run the Marine Corps Marathon in 2013 in March 2012 after putting this on my Bucket List. This would be my first and possibly my only marathon. If there would only be one, I wanted it to be the Marine Corps Marathon. I ran 3 half marathons in 2012 and 2013 to get my training started, and to see what it felt like to run a long run/race. So the morning of 27 October was the culminating event, but the experience really lasted for more than a year and a half. During that time I ran hundreds of miles in some beautiful places. Most of my training was alone, but my son, who ran the marathon with me, ran a couple shorter training runs and most of the long training runs with me. All in all this was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done!

I have mixed feelings now that I’ve run and completed the marathon. I’m completely satisfied with “the accomplishment” part of it, the memories will be with me for the rest of my life, but I’ll miss having the goal in front of me. I’m glad I can just rest and relax for a few weeks or more without worry, but there is a surreal feeling of something not being right. Does this mean I will have to run another marathon? I don’t think “I have to”, but I may decide I want to at some point. I know I will run more half marathons, but I may or may not do another full marathon. If I chose to never run another one, it will not be because I didn’t love the experience, or because it was so brutal that I never want to do another one, it will be because the training takes a commitment of time that can turn you in to a one trick pony. There are so many other things I want to do.

We arrived in Washington DC on Friday in the late afternoon. This gave us a full day on Saturday to get past the jet lag and to do a few things in DC. We didn’t leave until late in the day on Monday, so there was a little more time Monday to check out some memorials and stretch the legs out. For Saturday we had a short list of things “we had to do”. First was getting our bibs and packets at the DC Armory, this was very organized, but also very busy. The line was long for the bibs, but moved quickly. The line was a bit of a bottle neck even though it was moving quickly. Once we got inside the tent, there were very few runners inside the tent. Many of the volunteers had no one in front of them. They could have pushed people into the tent more quickly. We spent about 45 minutes in line and once inside the tent it took about 2 minutes to get our bib. Since I’m a retired Marine we were able to take advantage of a shorter “Military only” line into the Expo. Security was pretty thorough or the lines would have been shorter going into the Expo. Inside we got our race shirt and a clear gear bag we could use to check stuff before the race. Since my wife planned to go with us to the start of the race, we would be able to avoid checking gear. We got out of the Expo quite a bit later than we expected, so we just had time for a quick visit to the Smithsonian and then headed out for an early pasta dinner.

The instructions for the race said we should try to arrive 2 hours early. That seemed excessive since we would be riding the Metro, so we planned to leave about 90 minutes before the race. I expected it would take about 20 minutes to get there. In fact it was much longer. Luckily we were not trying to get on the Metro at a really busy station. I think a lot of people trying to get on the train at the Rosslyn Station were unable to get to the race on time. By the time we arrived at the Porta Potties near the start of the race, the start was in 20 minutes!

Me and my son preparing for the Start of the Marine Corps Marathon 2013

The lines were very long and only some scrambling to find better lines got all the pre-race business done in time! But we managed to watch the pre-race parachute show, take off our warm clothes, and get to the starting line before the cannon fired.

About 15 minutes before the start of the Marine Corps Marathon 2013

There was a mass of discarded clothing at the start in the center median of the road. I suppose they will pick this stuff up for donating after the race. Our corral walked slowly up to the starting point, then we were off. I had expected that my right hip would still be stiff. I had injured it on a training run about 3 weeks before the race and had not run without pain and stiffness since then. It was stiff and painful at the start, but I was able to limp out to a reasonable 10:30 minute/mile pace that I would manage to hold on to for about the first 15 kilometers. The course was mostly flat, but there was a fairly decent climb near the start on Lee Highway into Rosslyn. Then the course turned back toward DC with a long downhill stretch to the Key Bridge. The crowds in Georgetown were very supportive. Then we turned on to Potomac Parkway for a long out and back stretch. This was one of two very “park-like” stretches of the run.

Running near the start of the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon

My 26.2 Miles of Music playlist was working like a charm! Even though my hip was bothering me, the miles seemed to melt away one song at a time. The Kennedy Center, just before the 10 mile mark was the first DC landmark that I recognized. Then came the back of the Lincoln Memorial. This was where I thought I might see my wife and daughter-in-law in the crowd. I didn’t see them, but they saw me. Although I was starting to feel a bit looser, I was still limping fairly noticeably. My wife told me later she was really worried when she saw me that I would not finish. Somewhere around mile 11 the hip pain finally faded – probably just went numb. The course then passed the Jefferson Memorial, as it would a total of 3 times. I also thought my wife might be there, but she wasn’t. We entered a second “park like” stretch, in this case it was an actual park – West Potomac Park. I passed a couple of porta potties with terrible lines, but finally gave in to “the need” and stopped at a bathroom in the park. The women’s lines were really long, but the men’s line was reasonable. A couple of women must have noticed that because they decided they could endure the use of the men’s room. This little stop cost me 8-10 minutes, but the next 14 miles of the run were much more comfortable! Definitely worth the stop.

Before we got to the half-way point they had what I’ll call the “simulated finish line” painted on the ground. It makes for a good picture, and I’m sure I looked better around mile 12 than I did at mile 26.2!

Eric Rial running the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon

The part of the race between 12 and 20 miles was the most enjoyable to me. The course was beautiful, and I felt pretty good. My pace was slow, but I wasn’t worried about that anymore. When the route swung back by the Mall near the Lincoln Memorial, at about mile 16, I finally saw my wife and daughter-in-law. The limp was gone and I was feeling much better.

Happy to see my wife and daughter in law on the Marine Corps Marathon Route

I was very happy to see them. I gave my wife a hug, then back to running! My wife told me later she was very relieved to see me smiling and running more smoothly.

The Mall in Washington DC is one of my favorite places, and I rarely visit DC without taking a run on the Mall. So the course between mile 15 and mile 20 was familiar and motivating! I even got a bit emotional as I turned the corner in front of the Capitol building. The first few times I ran on the Mall you could run up those stairs. I also remember a very rainy day with the family many years ago when we sheltered in an alcove on the side of the Capitol building. Now you can’t come close to the building, but it is still a familiar, yet awe-inspiring sight. As the course turned away from the Capitol we had to run through a gauntlet of photographers. I had a ton of pictures from that part of the course to choose from. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Running the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC

Running past the US Capitol during the 38th Marine Corps Marathon 2013

After the Capitol we past the 18 mile marker. I still felt pretty good. I remembered my long training runs and the thought on those runs at 18 miles… “will I be able to run 8 more miles”. Today that question would be answered. The miles did seem to get longer after this point. The 20 mile marker was just before the 14th Street Bridge and the crossing back into Virginia. At that point not only did the miles seem longer, but the pavement seemed harder! I didn’t even think about stopping, but I did start thinking about and hoping for the finish!

Feeling it on the 14th Street Bridge between 20 and 21 miles

The run through Crystal City was a long blur. Although I usually stay there when I visit DC, most of it did not seem familiar. I did recognize some of it though and I was very happy when I realized we were getting closer to the Pentagon. I didn’t see any mile markers between the 20 and the 25 mile point. This may have just been inattention, but it was actually a good thing. I just ran with no sense of how far I had to go until it was just about over. By the time I got to the hill up to the Marine Corps Memorial I was feeling every step. I ran as hard as I could about two-thirds of the way up the hill, then put my hands on my hips and walked up the rest.

Feeling it on the last part of the climb up the Marine Corps Memorial Access road

At the top of the hill I turned right toward the finish line and started to run again. I wasn’t going fast, but I wanted to run across the finish. It was a long tenth of a mile! At that point the race organization kicked in again. They pushed us into multiple chutes to get our finisher medal, a picture with our finisher medal, and all the other goodies. An optional picture was available by the Marine Corps Memorial… but this picture was one of the reasons I chose this race.

MCM Finisher Photo with Marine Corps Memorial in the background

After the race I was sore, the walk through Rosslyn to get a ride back to the hotel was torture. Although we had planned to ride the Metro back to the hotel, there was a very long line just to get into the station, so we decided to get away from the crowd and try to get a taxi. The first taxi we saw seemed uninterested in working, not sure what his deal was, so my son used his Uber app to get us a ride. The driver showed up in about 5 minutes and we were much more comfortable riding in the large Lincoln Navigator than we would have been in a small taxi anyway!

Running the Marine Corps marathon was an amazing experience from the first training run to crossing the finish line! I’m so glad I decided to run a marathon despite being past the age to “do those kind of things”. I’m also glad I chose the Marine Corps Marathon. Although signing up was a nightmare (thankfully they are going to a lottery for 2014), the rest of the marathon operated like a well oiled machine! I can’t imagine a more motivating course and the weather was PERFECT! If I run another marathon it will likely be something closer to home, but I will never forget this experience. It was worth every mile of training, every hour of commitment, and every ache and pain.

All my Marine Corp Marathon Posts are listed on my  Marine Corps Marathon 2013 Posts (Including training half marathons)page.

Mission Beach Sunset Run
This started as a page to log my training for the Marine Corps Marathon 2013. Now that I’ve completed that marathon I’m transitioning that page to a post.

Prior to the Marine Corps Marathon I completed 3 half marathons as an initial preparation for this training. This log captures the results of all my training runs as I increased the length of my long runs to prepare for a full Marathon. I had a little over 4 months, but I started half-way ready!

I went through several different iterations of a training plan because I was in an over trained state at the beginning of my training, but some training gaps at the beginning resolved this so I settled on a more traditional training plan. I was concerned about my failure to lose weight as part of my half marathon training so I decided to start including my weight. I hadn’t lost a pound running 20 miles a week training for the half marathons. I wanted to lose 20 pounds before getting to the real long training runs. I had hoped that putting my “morning” weight here with my run performance would motivate me to focus on dropping the weight I need to lose to meet my goal, 195 pounds, for the Marine Corps Marathon. However, I failed to lose and keep off any weight during this training either.

Here is a log of my training runs for the Marine Corps Marathon 2013.

Date Miles Conditions Time Mile Pace Weight
14 Jun 2013 4.29 Flat beach run 39:39 9:15 212.8
28 Jun 2013 5.4 Flat beach run, much hotter day – after a couple weeks off running 52.44 9:46 214.6
30 Jun 2013 8.0 Flat beach morning run to avoid the heat – felt pretty warm anyway! 1:16:28 9:33 212.8
10 Ju1y 2013 4.81 Back from vacation. Hilly neighborhood run to get back at it. 50:46 10:33 215
14 July 2013 9.07 Week ONE – 15 weeks to goFlat beach morning run to avoid the heat – felt pretty warm anyway, again! 1:34:56 10:28 215
19 July 2013 6.01 Flat lake run. Planned about 3 but it felt really good. The vacations helped with the over training. Back on track. 55:39 9:15 213.8
21 July 2013 11.63 Week TWO – 14 weeks to goFlat beach run with my son. He is running the MCM with me. His training is going better and he is 18 years younger… Planned to run 10, but he convinced me to run 13. Didn’t quite finish, but felt good to go longer than I planned. 1:58:34 10:12 214
24 July 2013 3.77 Hilly neighborhood run. Felt good. 39:00 10:20 214.2
26 July 2013 5.95 Flat lake run, a little faster. Still feeling good. 53:46 9:02 213.2
28 July 2013 14.0 Week THREE – 13 weeks to goFlat coastal run with my son. Felt good, lost a little steam at the end. 2:20:02 10:00 215.2- a day at the Del Mar races cost me…
30 July 2013 4.78 Hilly neighborhood run. Hotter than usual. Spent 20 minutes on the eliptical after the run to work out some soreness. 52:52 11:03 215.8
1 Aug 2013 6.0 Flat lake run. A little sore… OK pace, pushed it up the small inclines. 55:27 9:14 210.6 – progress…finally
4 Aug 2013 15.02 Week FOUR – 12 weeks to goFlat coastal run. Felt loose for the first 13 miles, then I started to tighten up a little. Need to work on staying loose. 2:34:49 10:19 213 before, and 208 after… but it’s the before that matters.
6 Aug 2013 7.07 Hilly run to the lake. A few really long street lights affected my time. My phone case filled with sweat and I couldn’t pause the run. Much faster pace than it looks like. Really starting to push it up most hills again. 1:17:24 10:56 213
9 Aug 2013 8.0 Little run at the beach after work. Felt good. This is my first 30+ mile training week. Not going to win with those miles, but I hope to achieve my MCM time goal… 1:14:2 9:18 212.8
10 Aug 2013 2.01 Short run with my youngest son. Trying to work the soreness out of my calves. 18:53 9:24 209.2
11 Aug 2013 16.0 Week FIVE – 11 weeks to goLong run on the coast. Flat. A later start, so it was hotter than usual. 2:45:12 10:33 213
14 Aug 2013 3.84 Hilly neighborhood run. Better pace than the last few weeks. Best mile pace was mile 3 at 8:26 minutes (mostly flat). 38:20 9:59 211.8
18 Aug 2013 17.0 Week SIX – 10 weeks to goHilly run from the beach on an inland course. One big hill and then lots of dips. Too slow on the pace pace and sore legs, but it felt OK. 17 mile run course 3:10:22 11:12 211.2
20 Aug 2013 5.37 Mostly flat lake run after dark… the pace felt faster than 9 minute miles. 47:47 8:54 211.6
22 Aug 2013 6.04 Flat run on the harbor. Warmer than usual, but it felt OK. 1:15:45 9:25 214.2
25 Aug 2013 18.0 Week SEVEN – 9 weeks to go
Flat run on the bay. Early start, but it got hot. The Bike the Bay ride was going on so lots of bike traffic. I ended up on a narrow trail for part of the run, and on the side of the road for most of it.Coronado Run 20130825 - 18 Miles
3:12:40 10:42 212.6
27 Aug 2013 6.04 Hilly neighborhood run. Muggy evening weather. 48:07 10:08 210.6
Starting a 10 day vacation. I will run less and shorter long runs. Hopefully I will be less sore and able to train hard for the last 7 weeks.
2 Sep 2013 13.12 Week Eight – 8 weeks to goMidwest Trail Run, Lincoln Nebraska. Muggy morning weather. Nice trail – old train track with lots of shade. 2:16:51 10:26 Unknown
8 Sep 2013 3.0 Reason to Run 5K, in my hometown 25:34 8:32 Unknown
9 Sep 2013 5.95 Lake run. Kept up a good pace 51:26 8:39 213.6
11 Sep 2013 6.20 Beach run. Slower pace, picked it up at the end. The plan was 8 but the feet were sore… 57:30 9:16 212.4
14 Sep 2013 17.01 Week ten – 6 weeks to goHarbor trail run. Early morning, foggy, cool weather 2:57:25 10:26 211.2
16 Sep 2013 7.94 Harbor run after work. Started out a little sore, but worked it out. 1:17:27 9:45 206.6
19 Sep 2013 5.87 Hilly neighborhood run just after sunset. 58:17 9:56 209.6
22 Sep 2013 17.98 Week eleven – 5 weeks to goLong coastal run with a few big hills. 3:18:49 11.04 211.0
24 Sep 2013 5.27 Short beach run. Felt great, but a little sore afterward. 44:45 8.29 211.0
26 Sep 2013 20.04 Week twelve – 4 weeks to goLong harbor run, flat, started early – not too hot at the end. 3:23:07 10:08 209.8
2 Oct 2013 5.53 Short lake run, flat. Wanted to go fast. Under 8 minutes/mile first two miles, but caused hamstring problems. Slowed down. 48:32 8:47 205.4
6 Oct 2013 20.14 Week thirteen – 3 weeks to goLong harbor run, flat, started early – not too hot at the end. I was sore at the beginning, it got worse, but i finished. I’ll need the longer taper to heal, very sore now 3 hours after the run. 3:27:38 10:19 214.6
Week fourteen – 2 weeks to goNo run, in fact I didn’t run all week. Somewhere between my last two runs I injured my right hip. It has been hard to walk. Today I felt quite a bit better, so I went to the gym and did the eliptical. I expect I will run this week, but I will stop if the injury flairs up. My most important run is in 2 weeks and I don’t want to be hurting then. 0 0 0
16 Oct 2013 2.87 Short beach run. Got there just after the sunset…I was very sore at the beginning, in my right hip. The pain slowly went away after the first mile, but the right thigh stayed tight. Felt worse after I stopped. I’ll be stretching more, but gently, and not running much. 11 days until the Marathon. I’m a bit worried. 26:05 9:05 211.6
18 Oct 2013 3.67 Short run at the lake. My hip hurt from the start of the run. I was hoping the pain would fade, but it did not. I think I’ll be able to run the marathon, even with this pain, but I hope it gets better. I could have run further, even with the pain. I could have run faster, but I was trying to take it easy. Unfortunately if this pain doesn’t get better I will not be able to run at my best pace for the marathon, I’ll be worried that it will get worse. 34:40 9:26 212.3
20 Oct 2013 Week fifteen – 1 week to goI decided not to run again until the Marathon. I’m walking with a limp, and it hurts to run. I’m hoping rest and regular ibuprofen will work. The short runs I’ve tried over the last 2 weeks were doing more harm than good. Besides the pain in my right hip I’m in great running shape. So I hope the rest works and the hip heals! Next entry in this log will be for 26.2 miles!
27 Oct 2013 26.2 38th Marine Corps Marathon. I finished! My time was the best I could do on this day. It was an amazing day, the weather was perfect, and it was a terrific marathon to run for a first timer! I love running in Washington DC. 5:13:13 11:56 Approximately 215


I plan to do a post on lessons learned from this training and how I will do this differently next time. Although I am very happy that I finished the marathon and think I did my best on the day of the race, I don’t think this is the best I can do, so I will likely do another marathon…

One thing this log doesn’t show is that the marathon was more than just miles of running. I ran in some beautiful places and had a great time on many of my runs, even when I wasn’t feeling my best. Here are just a few pictures from my training runs. The process of preparing for the race was as rewarding as the race itself. Overall this was an unbelievable, irreplaceable experience that was worth every minute of time it took!

Coronado is a good place for long morning runs. I run buy this marina – Fiddler’s Cove. Also a fun place to sail out of…

Fiddlers Cove on long morning run

This picture does not do the August 2013 Blue Moon justice. I did a full moon run around Lake Murray on 20 August 2013, the moon was spectacular. Really glad there were no wolves howling though. I guess I’ll only do a run like that every once in a “blue moon”… ugh!
Blue Moon over Lake Murray 20130820

Running along the San Diego harbor was one of my favorite medium length running routes. I will be running here more in the future, and it is one my way home so it is convenient! Here is a nice view of the moon rising over the city taken during a run on Harbor Island.

Running on San Diego Harbor Island Sep 2013

A little further into this run as I got to the Northeast corner of the harbor.

Running San Diego Harbor area Sep 2013

I decided to turn around at the bronze statue of a returning sailor near the Midway Museum.

A great place to turn around on a run near the Midway on San Diego harbor

On another run at the harbor that started later in the day.

Running at dusk in San Diego near Spanish Landing
Earlier training efforts:

San Diego Half Marathon 10 March 2013 – Training Log

Rock and Roll San Diego Half Marathon 2013 – Training Log

Phillip Phillips jamming with fellow musicians in San Diego October 2013
We became huge Phillip Phillips fans during American Idol a couple of years ago. He was one of my favorites from the beginning of the season. We love his first album and although we love his singles “Home” and “Gone, Gone, Gone”, it’s the songs on the album that he wrote that are my favorites. Songs like “Where We Came From”, “Can’t go Wrong“, “Man on the Moon“, and “So Easy”. He also took us all the way back to the beginning with his version of Thriller, the song that he played at his Idol audition…

Phillip Phillips putting on an energetic show in San Diego October 2013

We’re looking forward to more great music in the future from Phillip Phillips and hope to see him again soon.

John Mayer and band kicking off his 2013 San Diego show with Queen of California

John Mayer started out with a song from his 2009 Born and Raised Album – “Queen of California“. It’s an energetic song and a good way to get a large crowd going. I skipped his 2009 concert in San Diego because I wasn’t sure his style of music would work in such a large venue. Of course I would love to see him play a smaller venue, but he had no problems filling the Amphitheater with music. The entire crowd, from the front row to the lawn, was up and rocking for “Queen of California”.

The sets for the entire John Mayer show were awesome. They inspired me to consider adding Monument Valley to my Bucket List; however, my wife has been there… a long drive, take a look, and then either stay at the $500 a night hotel, or leave! Let me do a little more research on this one before I “put it on the list”. Most of the sets were desert scenes, with skies that looked like they were pulled directly from… like the stars in the sky for “Queen of California”. But they also had sunrises…

John Mayer sings Something Like Olivia as the sun rises at Chula Vista Ca

super moons,

John Mayer sings in front of a super moon set San Diego 2013

falling snow…

John Mayer San Diego Ca - Monument Valley with falling Snow background-001

large dangling stars, and falling rose petals (I thought those were BBQ Pringle’s until my wife corrected my mistake). The huge burning bush hanging over the stage after the bands first exit was a good sign they would be back…

Burning Bush after John Mayers first exit was a good sign that he would be back

to sing in front of burning bushes rising from the desert floor…

John Mayer with Burning Bushes rising from the desert floor

Really interesting sets! But the sets were just sets, the real show was the music. The biggest surprise of the night for me was just how well John Mayer plays the guitar. I knew he played the guitar, but my main focus with his music in the past was his lyrics and singing. What made the night for me was John Mayer’s guitar skills.

Nice closeup of John Mayer at Sleep Train Chula Vista Oct 2013

His second song was Wildfire, this is my favorite song off his new album Paradise Valley. When he swings into the “You look fine, fine, fine; put your feet up next to mine” chorus, I just can’t help singing along. I’m pretty sure I said, “This is my favorite John Mayer song” about 6 times throughout the night and I found several more favorites he didn’t play for us in my John Mayer music collection on iTunes when we got home! If I had to narrow it down to 3 songs it would be “Gravity”, “My Stupid Mouth”, “Waiting on the World to Change”, and can’t leave out my favorite John Mayer song of all time… “No Such Thing” (which he said he was playing for the first time on this tour). OK that was more than 3 but it still leaves out several others that I really do love including a lot of songs on his newest album like “Dear Marie”, “Waiting on the Day”, and a song that he put the guitar down for and played on the piano – “I Will be Found”.

John Mayer Playing Piano and singing I will be Found San Diego October 2013

I have a new-found appreciation for John Mayer’s overall musical talent, especially his ability to play the guitar. I will never again doubt his ability to make a big venue work. Although we have seen some terrific concerts in 2013 including Imagine Dragons, One Republic, Steve Miller (also a great guitarist) and Fleetwood Mac, I can say without a doubt that this was my favorite show so far. If you get a chance to see John Mayer live, don’t miss out.

More: Live Music Posts (Favorite Artists and Favorite Venues)

Running San Diego Harbor area Sep 2013
There are 5 more training weekends before the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon. I’m a little behind on my training, due to vacation not injury. which I guess is better. I had planned to have 3 long runs over 20 miles, in my previous post on my training plan – Marine Corps Marathon Training Plan (Over 50, Over Trained, and “A Little” Over Weight. Now, if I push my progressive increases to 2 miles more each weekend instead of 1, I will have just 2 runs over 20 miles before starting my taper. However, I have been able to run about 44 more total miles than the original plan up to this point, even with a two weekend vacation from progressive long runs. This is mostly because I also took about 4 weeks off long runs before starting training, allowing myself to heal and lose most of the soreness. It also helps that there are so many terrific places to run in San Diego! The three pictures here were taken on an eight mile run this week along the San Diego Harbor. I love that the moon was there in all three pictures!

Running on San Diego Harbor Island Sep 2013

I’m feeling terrific at this point, unfortunately I’m not completely confident I’ll achieve my goal pace of 10 minute per mile. The last long training run that I was able to keep at the 10 minute per mile pace was a 14 mile run at the end of July. I’ve been faster again after the vacation break, but still closer to 10:30 minute miles on my last long run of 17 miles. My shorter runs have been much better, and I’ve been pushing myself on these runs to improve my speed. However, at this point I’m concerned I will run out of training time and not be where I need to be on time.

Running at dusk in San Diego near Spanish Landing

Since this is my first and probably my last marathon I’m really pushing to achieve all my goals. If I don’t finish I will definitely be running another marathon, but I don’t think I will run again if I have a respectable time, but miss my original time goal. My plan for the next 5 weeks of training is to make that decision unnecessary. So I will be pushing myself on every run. I’ll be doing everything possible to lose another 10 pounds. I’ll be sitting in the jetted tub every night to ease the sore knees and Achilles tendons. I’ll take ibuprofen and gluocosamine on a regular schedule too. Regardless of what happens, I want to know that I did everything possible in this final push to get ready for this race.

Here is my final push – updated plan for the remaining 6 training weeks.

Week Tuesday Thursday Sunday Total
Eleven 8 Miles 6 Miles 19 Miles 33 Miles
Twelve 9 Miles 6 miles 21 Miles 36 Miles
Thirteen 10 Miles 6 Miles 22 Miles 38 Miles
Thirteen 6 Miles 4 Miles 13 Miles 23 Miles
Fourteen 6 Miles 4 Miles 10 Miles 20 Miles
Fifteen 5 Miles 3 Miles Race Day on Saturday – 26.2 34.2 Miles