A Virtual Trip to Zion National Park

Ever since I found out that I won a free entry to the Zion Half Marathon next March, I’ve been totally geeking out on Zion National Park and all things Southern Utah. If you’re an avid hiker, check out this virtual hike up Angels Landing, from the National Park Service. There’s lots of great multimedia stuff here, including video and information about the trail. I can’t wait to try it out myself. After all, what’s a little five-mile hike up a mountain after a 13.1 mile race?

Let’s Get Serious

Screen shot 2012-07-05 at 1.08.57 PMWell, one of my goals over the holiday break was to start training seriously for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon, which I’m registered for in January. On the whole, I’ve been working out regularly and running more miles per week than I did in preparation for the Arizona Half Marathon. The downside, though, is that I’ve been unhappy with the length of my long runs. We had four days of rain last week in Tucson, and with end-of-semester grading I’m a bit behind where I’d like to be. Last week I did 9.6 miles on the treadmill and it was slow and generally awful. This week I hope to do a 10-miler and get a weekly total close to 24 miles.

OK, but I’m not here to write about the race I already told you about, as cool as running a race at Disneyland may be. No, I’m here to tell you something even more exciting. Last night I found out that I won a free entry to a race that I am super excited about and terrified of: The Zion Half Marathon in beautiful southern Utah.

I first found out about the Zion Half a few months ago and it struck my imagination, but I was wary of registering because of the cost, the travel expenses, and my concern about running an uphill race at altitude in the cold of March.

I hope the Zion Half people don’t mind me stealing their image. Free publicity!

Now that I’ve won this entry, though, I think this might be fate. I am already planning my Utah road trip adventure, and even if it is cold, I’m looking forward to pushing myself and to exploring Zion National Park after the race. Moreover, this trip will come about a week after my planned Spring Break adventure in Honduras, and a couple of weeks before I go to a conference in San Francisco. This gives me a lot to look forward to in 2013, and hopefully it will mean some very cool pictures and travelogues for all of you! If anyone has done an uphill half or a very challenging race like this in the past, feel free to share your training advice!

Northern Arizona and Utah

Just over a week ago, while my father was visiting, we took a road trip to the Grand Canyon and the Arizona-Utah state line. I’ve waited years to see the Grand Canyon and it was wonderful to be able to see it with my dad and my dog, who came along for the ride.

A few helpful notes: Since my dad is a senior citizen we got in for a mere $10. He also got the national parks pass for that amount, which will get him into national parks for the rest of his life. Also, dogs are welcome in the park but I can imagine it being impractical if we were there in the tourist high season. Dogs are only allowed on the rim trail (not into the canyon), and while the rim trail offers more than enough for the first-time visitor to see it can get crowded near major vistas and high-traffic areas.

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We spent a few hours at the canyon hiking and taking pictures. We also took a scenic drive along the rim that included several vistas. Without a doubt, I can say this is one of the few places in the world I’ve visited that I wish everyone could see. It is unbelievable. If I had been on my own, I would be off on the trails and down into the canyon. Maybe another time.

My dad had arranged to stay the night in Page, AZ. Frankly, I’m not sure why because that is quite far away. There are many hotels near the canyon… but driving to Page did allow us to see some of the Navajo reservation and to enjoy Navajo blue corn mush with our breakfast buffet.

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Just outside of Page is Horseshoe Bend, which is a beautiful sight. This site is much-photographed, but I was not aware that it was over 100 miles away from the Grand Canyon. The river sure gets around. (Joke.)

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We got all the way to the Utah state line and just over it. I walked my dog into Utah and he almost immediately got a pricker in his paw. That’s when we realized Utah is not the place for us.

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This road into Utah is an adventure that will have to wait for another day.

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