Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Ride & Hike 05/31/10

Camelback Mountain
Scottsdale, Arizona
Bike Mileage 9.5
Hike Mileage 3
AEG 1275

Matt, Robert, and I were looking for something fun and low key to do in town this year for Memorial Day, and he came up with a ride and hike to Camelback Mountain. I picked Robert up at 8:00am in Chandler, AZ and drove up to Matt's place in Old Town Scottsdale. We put our gear together and hit the road. Two miles into the ride Robert had a flat, he quickly replaced the tube and away we went. Wasn't much longer and the second tube went flat. Frustrated, Robert tried to repair it, didn't work. He just pushed the bike to the trailhead from there. Along the way, we stopped at a light, and a couple people were looking and pointing at what appeared to be puppies on the greenway near the bikepath. With a closer look, we realized there were 5 coyote pups, and the mother sitting on an embankment watching over them. Neat thing to see in the middle of the city. The hike was good, a little on the hot side though. After we got off the mountain, Matt and I cruised back to his house and jumped into my SUV to go pick Robert up on his bike. When we all returned to Matt's house, the pool was just too inviting to pass up, so the three us took a swim and hung out sharing hiking and trail racing stories.

Sugar Is Still Sugar

Good marketing has led many people to believe some foods are healthy for us, using terms like "organic" or "all-natural" to describe all types of products, from crackers to cookies to cereals. Granted they may use organic ingredients, although one still must be careful about the type of food eaten. A cookie is still a cookie, regardless if it's organic or not. With that being said, sugar is still sugar, even if it is from the most natural source available. While most of us fear fat, carbohydrates, or even processed foods, sugar is more damaging to our health than just about anything else out there.

The problem with sugar is that it's completely void of any nutritional value (empty calories if you will), and contains no vitamins, nutrients, enzymes, or fiber. Sugar consumption creates an overly acidic condition in our bodies, calling on healthy cells to borrow vital nutrients (especially calcium) to metabolize these empty calories. When this unhealthy condition continues, degenerative diseases may begin to arise due to poor intestinal health, including diabetes, hypoglycemia, heart disease, gallstones, osteoporosis, and even depression.

Some of the worst foods are:

Soda - Fruit Juices - Energy Drinks - Cereals - Energy Bars - Smoothies

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Phoenix Mountains Park Loop Run 05/30/10

Phoenix Mountains Park
Phoenix, Arizona
Mileage 17.51
Time 2:50
AEG 1579

Over the past two weeks, I've done a great deal of research to find the best pair of trail runners for my upcoming races in June and July. I'm very loyal to Salomon, especially the Speed Cross 2, which is what I am training in currently. After countless hours online reading specs, reviews, and watching tutorials I decided to try a pair of Pearl Izumis. I was excited to test them out. Two miles into my run, they just didn't seem to feel right, so I adjusted the laces a few times and still no good. In fact, they actually started to hurt my feet, so I fast hiked back to my car with my Salomon's waiting for me. I quickly swapped them out and headed back onto the trail to finish my run. Towards the end of today's trek, I felt a little twinge (for lack of a better word) in my IT band, which is not cool. I guess after putting 230 trail miles in during the month of May alone would begin to take it's toll. I returned the Pearl Izumis and went home to order 2 new pairs of Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultras (below).

Hutch's Pool 05/29/10

Hutch's Pool via Sabino Canyon
Sabino Canyon Recreation Area
Pusch Ridge Wilderness
Tucson, Arizona
Mileage 8.83
Time 3:13
AEG 1000

Brian, Ann, Alissa, and I were looking for another place to hike and go swimming to start the Memorial Day weekend off right. We chose Hutch's Pool as our final destination, and a good one it was. In my opinion, Tucson has the best hiking in the state, especially Sabino Canyon, and that's a bold statement because Arizona has so much diversity. We barely caught a tram ride at the recreation area around 9:30am and started the hike on Sabino Trail #23 leading us up to Sabino Basin (above) and over towards the pools on the West Fork trail. Four miles later, we arrived. This is a fairly popular area, although we had the place to ourselves. After hiking in the hot sun, I had only one thing in mind when I reached the cliffs above the pools...and that was jump. Thirty feet later, I hit the water. I want to say it was refreshing, a better term would be freezing! What did I expect, the water is snow melt from Mt Lemmon. We didn't stay long for a few reasons, the water was cold, Ann fell and smashed her leg, and the place became crowded with other hikers. Great place to hike and camp, I have a feeling I'll be back later this summer.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bell Pass Loop 05/23/10

Bell Pass Trail Run
McDowell Sonoran Preserve
North Scottsdale, Arizona
Mileage 9.30
Time 1:17
AEG 1937

The weekly mileage continues, with three weeks out from the Flagstaff 50K, I keep cranking out distance and elevation on trail. I had a late start this morning following a hike up Piestewa Peak with one of my co-workers. Starting at 9:00am is so much different than 5:30am, I guess it's good training in order to adapt to the summer heat.

Fossil Springs 05/22/10

Fossil Springs Trail
Strawberry, Arizona
Mileage 9.93
Time 6:30
AEG 1391

If there's a waterfall...I will jump. Fossil Springs is one of the most remarkable places in Arizona, one in which I visit each year. My friend Brian organized a group of about 22 people to spend the day hiking, swimming, and cliff jumping (my personal favorite). As the name states, this is a natural spring that rushes out of the ground, forming a crystal clear stream with more waterfalls and swim holes than you can count. It's literally a tropical paradise in the middle of the high desert, and a must-see if you plan on visiting Arizona in the summer.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Cactus to Clouds" 05/15/10

San Jacinto Peak
Palm Springs, CA
Mileage 17
Time 9:45
AEG 10,745

The anticipation for this hike has been building for the past couple months, mainly because it's rated as one of the most difficult hikes in the entire nation, and I was dying to see if that held true. It did.

Friday evening I met up with two other organizers (very fit and experienced hikers from our hiking group) around 11:00pm and began the four hour drive from Phoenix to Palm Springs. We rolled into town a little after 3:00am, put our gear together and were on the trail by 3:30am. This hike is completely exposed to the sun, so an early start is critical to help avoid heat related illness (it was 97 degrees Saturday). We hiked the first hour and a half with the aid of a headlamp, and then it was all sunny skies from here on out. The skyline trail begins at 481ft of elevation and climbs over 10,000ft going beyond the tram stop to the summit, topping out at 10,800ft. Most people take the tramway from the bottom, although the "crazies" (which would be us) hike all the way up, which is 10 miles and over 8,000 ft to this point and join all the others on their way to the summit.

This is where things got interesting. With 3 to 5 feet of hard packed snow cover and 5.5 miles of go, there was not a visible trail to the peak, only footprints of those before us. We were doing fine until the signage mislead us to the wrong summit. We actually climbed Jean Peak, adjacent to San Jacinto and a mere 130ft lower in elevation. By the time we reached the false summit we were low on water due to the strenuous nature of the hike and feeling a little dejected, so we decided to call it a day and head back. This was probably a wise decision with dark grey storm clouds building rather quickly. The trek back to the tram was easy compared to what we had just been through. Each of us bought a boarding pass, rode down to the bottom and caught a cab back to our car at the trailhead. This was just the type of adventure I needed to start my summer off right. I am looking forward to more excursions and to see what 2010 has in store for me...I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Granite Mountain Peak 5/9/10

Granite Mountain Peak (7626)
Granite Basin Recreation Area
Prescott, Arizona
Mileage 10.6
Time 4:59
AEG 2800

In 2009 I hiked with a few friends to the overlook of Granite Mountain and attempted to reach the summit, yet fell short without having an adequate map or directions to follow. This time around we were better prepared and determined to stand proudly on top of Prescott's most prominent peak. I organized a group of adventure seekers from my local hiking group(Ahote), to join me on this trek/climb to the peak at a height of 7,626ft. The first 4 miles are easy going, given there is actually a trail to follow, the latter half is another story. We were faced with heavy brush and massive boulders to climb and navigate our way through towards the top. After 3 hours we reached our goal and were treated to the incredible views of Granite Basin, the town of Prescott, and even Mt Humphreys. The return trip seemed rather easy and everyone was all smiles after tackling such a difficult, yet rewarding hike.

McDowell Mountain Super Loop 5/8/10

McDowell Mountain Trail Run
North Scottsdale, Arizona
Mileage 20.15
Time 3:10
AEG 4380

I set out early on Saturday morning to complete a giant, 20 mile figure eight loop in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, which would take me on a challenging journey over Windgate Pass, up the backside of Tom's Thumb(pictured below), and eventually around Bell Pass returning to the Gateway Trailhead. The sky was overcast for most of the morning providing some relief from the sun on a near 100 degree day. Besides finishing, the highlight of today's run was getting to see a rather large diamondback rattlesnake stretched across the trail near the end of the Windgate trail. I think he was just as surprised to see me, as I was to see him. We quickly parted ways, and I headed for home.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sunrise Peak Trail Run 5/6/10

Sunrise Peak via Lost Dog
North Scottsdale, Arizona
Mileage 8.85
Time 1:08

Today was my third trail run this week, I took it easy on Tuesday and Wednesday after logging over 30 miles this past weekend. I'm trying to increase my weekly mileage for an upcoming ultra in Flagstaff, AZ June 12. My legs felt strong this morning and I picked up the pace averaging 7:42 per mile, not bad considering the first 2.5 miles gains over 1,000ft before heading back downhill. I can feel the summer heat approaching taking in more water than usual.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Listen to your body

When people ask me what to eat, I simply tell them it comes down to common sense, and the best way I can explain it is this: What you eat and drink is exactly what your cells are using to build, repair, and fuel every part of the body. When you eat good, you feel good. When you eat bad, you feel bad. Simple as that.

Eating the wrong foods will send warning signals when the body disagrees with something you've ingested, usually in the form of acid reflux, heartburn, indigestion, bloating, etc. These symptoms should not be ignored or treated with an over-the-counter remedy (not the answer). Avoid the post-meal stomach distress by eating clean, with fewer processed foods, and less ingredients. It's much easier for the body to digest an apple and a few raw almonds than it is to process a burger on a white bun with fries and a soda.

So if you're feeling sluggish, tired, stressed or unable to perform at your best, take a second look at your nutrition...I'm sure there's a connection. Raw, minimally processed whole foods are the answer, and the key to feeling great and living better. Eating healthy is simple, you just have to do it.

More on this topic later, as it relates to performance nutrition.

-Boone Ebel

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mt Wrightson 03/27/10

Mt Wrightson (Madera Canyon)
Santa Rita Mountains Arizona
Elevation 9453ft
Mileage 12.4
Time 5:29
AEG 4033ft

I organized this trek with my hiking group (AHOTE) to hike the Old Baldy Trail to the summit of Mt Wrightson. In my opinion, this is one of Arizona's best, and most scenic hikes. Two and a half hours South of Phoenix, this prominent peak stands alone in the middle of the desert, roughly twenty-five miles from the Mexico border. What's odd is the mph speed limit signs change to kilometers this far south. We reached the trailhead around 8:00am ready for the challenge this trail offers, little did we know what was in store for us near the top. Roughly 2.5 miles into the climb, existing snow covered the trail. And I mean covered it, completely. We marched along over footprints from those before us and each step was a guessing game, "would the snow give way?" Sometimes it did, sinking up to our waist at times. I learned a valuable lesson not to follow too close behind my friend Veron, as he slipped and the small tree he was holding onto snapped back and whipped me in the face. I felt a sharp pain in my ear, like a bee sting, and my other friend Brian started laughing. I branch from that tree pierced through and broke off in my ear. What are the odds? The final ascent was no walk in the park. No trail, bad footing, total exposure, and howling winds made the climb a memorable one (and not in a good way). We did it though, when the logical choice would have been to turn back, we pressed on and reached the summit in tact. Great hike.

Not again...

Injury seemed to become a theme over the past several months for me. Now that the ankle had fully recovered, I developed runner's knee and IT band syndrome, both overuse injuries common among runners. The solution was rest. How could I rest, I had a full schedule this spring (Cave Creek Trail Marathon, Pemberton 50K, Mesquite Canyon 50K, and the Zane Grey 50). I had to rest, I had trouble walking. Running was completely out of the question, and hiking (especially downhill) would only prolong my injuries. Strength training would become my focus over the next two months, with an occasional hike to fill the void and keep my heart and mood elevated. Five weeks had passed and I had had enough, time to stretch the legs.

Camelback Mountain 10/24/09

Camelback Mountain (Echo Canyon)
Phoenix, Arizona
Mileage 2.5
AEG 1300

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, I decided to hike (who am I kidding), run to the summit of Camelback Mountain via Echo Canyon. This is a local hot spot for tourists, and training grounds for the locals. The trail is incredibly steep and rocky, making uphill travel seem like you're doing thousands of lunges. I decided today would be the perfect day to push my limits and see how quickly I could reach the summit. A personal best, 18:08. Feeling pretty good, I had no reason to stop there and took off for the trail head bouncing from boulder to boulder until one wrong step turned my world upside down. Not literally, but almost. I came down hard and rolled my left ankle, ultimately spraining my ATFL. The pain nearly caused me to blackout, and I still had a half mile to go. I limped off the mountain and was in an unbelievable amount of pain. The injury put me out of commission for the next 6 weeks.

Mt of the Holy Cross 9/4/09

Mt of the Holy Cross
Eagle County, CO
Elevation 14,005
Mileage 12
AEG 5,600ft

I flew out to Denver on a whim over labor day weekend to meet up with an old friend from WIU (Sandi F),with the intention of hiking to the summit of the holy cross. We camped at 10,000 ft in the White River National Forest and set out early Sunday morning with sunny skies abound. Roughly 4 miles into the trek, it began to rain. Rain quickly turned to snow and as we approached the final ascent, it was a complete much for a view. We made it back to our basecamp safely with a total roundtrip time just under 8 hours. Quite the experience for my first 14er.