Sunday, March 6, 2011

March 5, 2011 – Crashed in the Canyon.. Then Crashed my Car…

This week started with me trying to get my strength back after being sick for the 2nd time in 5 weeks.  Basically, I have had one “healthy” week in the past 5 weeks.  Not ideal for training, but getting sick happens.  All week, I kept my runs really easy. They ranged from 20min up to 50min.  Each run left me really spent, but I did feel stronger each day.

Knowing I still wasn’t 100%, I decided to do a Long Run in the canyon with the thought of taking it fairly “easy”.  I probably wouldn’t have normally chose to do this, but the April 15th Rim to Rim to Rim date is starting to get close and I don’t feel like I am where I need to be… so I thought it was worth a shot.

My day started at 5am… after a piece of toast and some coffee, I grabbed my gear and started the trek down Highway 180 at 5:45am.  When I left it was only 11degrees, but by the time I got to the S.Rim, (around 7:15am) it had already warmed up to 32 degrees… and off I went.

CRAHING IN THE CANYON - The first 10min of the run were a bit sketchy due to ice, but once I was past those sections, it was smooth sailing.  I got to the bridge in 56min and felt pretty good.  I kept the pace moving and filled up with water at Phantom Ranch and ate some of my gel.  Now for a steady ~8miler to Cottonwood Campground.  Once again, I felt pretty good.. I didn’t have much pop in my legs, but still good. 

After about 55min of running, I got to Cottonwood Campground.  That’s when things started not going my way.  Both the water pumps were shut off and I was out of water.  Rather than add mileage to my run and get water at Roaring Springs, which may be shutoff too, I decided to just head back to Phantom.  Honestly, I never felt too thirsty until I was about 15min from Phantom, but I think I was digging myself into a bit of a hole.  The tough thing about digging holes is if you dig too deep there’s a chance you won’t be able to climb out. 

Once I got to Phantom, my pace had slowed quite a bit and I was pretty thirsty, so I took my time and drank quite a bit of water before heading back up S.Kaibab.  After filling up my water bottle and nearly empty gel flask, I was off.  At that point, I was tired, but still feeling like I could have a solid effort up to the top of the South Rim.

Once I started the climb, my thought was to stay within myself until I got to Midway, where if  I felt good I would push the pace.  On the exposed sections, the sun was beating down and it was really starting to heat up, but I kept trudging along.  Soon enough, I was at Midway.  I hit that sections around the 4hour mark and all of a sudden my body was done… so was my water bottle and gel flask.  I decided to hike a little and see if that helped.  It didn’t.  I was in full-blown bonk mode telling myself that I just need to keep moving forward.  This isn’t the first time I have been in this position, but this time felt a little different as my mind would really wonder and I started to get dizzy. 

From Midway, my typical time to the SRim Kiosk is about 35min.  Well, 35min had passed and I hadn’t even made it to Cedar Ridge.  I was DYING!!.. but I was still moving forward.  Once I got passed Cedar Ridge, I started grabbing handfuls of Snow on the side of the trail, but it didn’t seem to help.  My body just wanted to stop.. and I wanted to let it, but I knew if I stopped I may not get out.. so I kept moving forward… at a snail’s pace, but forward never the less. 

As I pressed on, I began to get REALLY dizzy and I noticed I was weaving on the trail.  It felt like a bad dream.. Everything was hazy and surreal.. I couldn’t focus my eyes.. and I was really thinking I may not make it even though I could see the top.  About then, a VERY nice hiker stopped me and asked me if I was alright.  She filled up my water bottle and gave me a Power Bar.  She made it possible for me to muster up enough energy to press my way out of that horrible place.. I had made it out alive.. now I just had to walk a mile back to my car.

I LOVE the Canyon.  It has to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth.  I love being able to run there as often as I do, but when you have an excursion like this one, you hate it.. and that is just reality.  Not only is it one of the most rewarding places to run /hike, but it has to be one of the most unforgiving places as well.  I would attribute this mainly to the fact that you hike down first.. saving the brutal uphill for a finale.  It’s not like any other type of running.  Once you are at the bottom, it’s a total commitment.  You can’t DNF… You can’t take the easy route home.. You HAVE TO get to top and there is no easy way… you just have to do it.  When things go well, it leaves you feeling high.. when it doesn’t go well, you are just happy to be alive.

CRASHED MY CAR - So stumbling back to my car, I am feeling happy to be alive, but disappointed that things didn’t go better.. My head was still cloudy and I just want to get home.  Once I got to the car, I drank some water and had a few snacks and I was off.. Still not feeling “right”, I hit the Highway.  My eyes were hardly able to focus... but it’s nothing I can’t get through.  Next thing, I know I am getting very drowsy.  Then BAM.. I wake up.. and I am flying off the opposite side of the road over rocks, stumps and into the forest.. CRASH.. the side of my 4Runner smashes into a tree and I come to a stop.  What the..??? .. I had fallen asleep and crashed into a tree!!! 

Eventually, I was able to dig myself part way out and a family was nice enough to stop and tow me out.  I was VERY lucky that I didn’t hit an oncoming car, or a tree head on, or a million other horrible things that could have happened. I truly feel blessed by God. 

So that brings me to where I am at today.  I don’t want to make a knee-jerk reaction, but I now contemplating cancelling my Rim to Rim to Rim and replacing it with something else.. like a Single Crossing Record Attempt, etc. I don’t want to put myself in that position again, and unfortunately, I haven’t been able to coordinate running with other people.  I also have had so many health issues in the past 6 weeks that I am just not in the shape I want to be in. 

My decision isn’t final, but that’s where I am at today..

View from S.Kaibab before the Start

Ribbon Falls from Kaibab Trail

My Poor 4Runner After the Accident


  1. Damn dude. Glad to hear you are okay.

  2. Wow, that's crazy. Hope everything turns out okay.

  3. Man! I am glad you are okay. Maybe we need to really light the fire under everyones ass to do group runs. I will try harder to join you on your runs.

  4. Jason,

    Holy cow man! Glad you are safe and well. I've been there myself...questioning wether I should be driving back from the Canyon after having my butt kicked there. Lesson learned and heard! Again, glad all is well.

  5. Yikes. Thanks for the very honest and open account! Good reminder about how burly running in the canyon is and how things can go badly so quickly... trust me I've been there (I wasn't doing so good in there just last week). That canyon can kick some ass... Glad to hear that your o.k.!

  6. Everyone thanks for the concern and the positive comments.. I really appreciate the support.. I can't wait to get back out there!!!! This time with a lot more respect..

  7. jeez man. sorry to hear about that and glad your're ok. hang in there through a tough last couple weeks

  8. Oh my gosh, Jason, I was almost in tears for you. I am soooo glad that you are okay, thank God! Good luck training, I will be thinking of you!