Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Glen Canyon Run

Vacation is a time to unwind, get away from it all and just relax. Being a freelancer, I don't often get to indulge in taking full days off and not worrying about a deadline, a story, an interview or some other work-related task I have to fulfill.

But on Saturday I was able to not worry about work at all. While on vacation at Lake Powell on the border of Arizona and Utah, I was relaxed. Perhaps this played into my mood as I set out on an early-morning run from my hotel room in Page, Ariz., to the Glen Canyon Dam.

Now, I've done this run before. In fact, one previous run was very memorable. So in a way I knew what to expect and the newness of it all was just not there. At least, I didn't think it would be there but it certainly felt like it was a new experience.

Arizona in early July seemed like a daunting prospect. I wasn't quite sure of how the heat would affect me, and actually I wasn't quite sure what time it was. I'd set my alarm for 5:30 but beat it by about 20 minutes as I woke up at 5:10. But it was actually 4:10 Arizona time. My phone, for some reason, was showing Utah time.

I was up and dressed at 4:30 a.m. but stayed in the dark and quiet hotel room for a bit longer, careful not to awake any of the slumbering females in the room.

Around 5 a.m., I finally made my way outside.

What I saw at the start of my run

I figured it was a good thing that I got up super early. After all, the inevitable heat wouldn't wilt me.

Off I went. The road to the Glen Canyon Dam is actually Highway 89, the portion there being a one-lane highway. I did my best to stay on the side of the road but there weren't very many motorists to dodge.

Before too long, the sun started showing signs of life.

Sunrise in Page, Ariz.

I wasn't quite fearing the heat but rather in awe of the sunrise.

I was nearing the end of the second mile and looked ahead to see my eventual destination. Somewhere beyond that terrain was a bridge that stood 1,000 feet above the Colorado River and the Glen Canyon Dam, which allowed for the existence of Lake Powell.

Can you spot the Glen Canyon Bridge?

I glided forward. I was so into the run, so into my surroundings and my environment that I barely felt any strain on my body as I moved forward. I was in running ecstasy, being carried forward on air. I smiled, threw my arms in the air and to my side and thanked myself for the umpteenth time for having taken up running in the first place.

Finally, I made the turn and came upon the Glen Canyon Bridge in all of its glory.

Just don't look down and you'll be okay

I didn't exactly debate whether or not I should run over it. I knew I was going to run over it, but my legs gave the slightest bit of hesitation, a final are-you-sure-you-want-to-do-this? pause before I set across on the bridge.

Right away I looked down. I smiled a nervous smile, and muttered "Holy crap" to myself.

It's a loooong way down.

Luckily, I was safe. A chain-link fence stood between me and an enormous fall. Once on the other side and on firm ground again, I crossed the desolate highway and ran past the visitor's center. Before me was the Glen Canyon Dam in all its grandeur.

The Glen Canyon Dam, magnificent and intimidating

Also bearing its glory to me was Lake Powell, a stunning sight in the early-morning hours.

Unadulterated beauty exists in nature

I stood there for a minute, watching the sight before me. I looked over at the bridge once more moments before I set out to scale it again.

The Glen Canyon Bridge, a sight unto its own.

On my way to the bridge, I was reminded of what sort of area I was in, and the history it possessed.

How often do you see dinosaur tracks during your runs?

Afterward, I set across on the bridge. The second part of the run did not seem as exciting. After all, it was bound to be fairly anticlimactic, what with the payoff already in my rear-view mirror. But that didn't stop me from enjoying the run as my high carried over well into the second part of the run.

I took in the scenery the area had to offer. After all, I didn't get to run with this on my side very often.
The Vermillion Cliffs

I glided on through to the end, and if my feet hit the ground during the run I was blissfully unaware of it. There were no onlookers, there was no medal waiting for me at the end, nor was there a finish line or chute to carry me through the end. But this run was what made running enjoyable, what made running grand.

Seeing these kinds of sights up close, being witness to the sun's rise above the desert and lake and staring at the Colorado River from above... if there is a better way to spend an hour-plus on a Saturday morning, I have yet to experience it.

1 comment:

Whitney said...

Awesome. Just awesome.