|Posted by Breanna Cornell on June 20, 2014 at 4:55 PM|
Day 22: Monday, June 9
With the Bryce Canyon 100 less than a week away, I didn’t have any super-adventurous runs or hikes planned for the week. However, Rob, who I had met at the Yellowstone-Teton 100 in October, contacted me letting me know that he was going to be driving through Salt Lake today. Rob and I met up and we went for a beautiful run through the hills that butt up against the city’s limits.
Rob on the trails above Salt Lake.
I spent the afternoon working on getting some things squared away with job applications, interviews, relocation and the like. Annndddd watching many episodes of the new season of “Orange is the New Black.”
I spent the evening walking around downtown Salt Lake with Mark. We explored some outdoor gear shops. I learned a lot about Kayaks. I’ll elaborate more on that in the future…
Day 23: Tuesday, June 10
Today I officially accepted an offer from a company in northeastern Alabama. I spent most of the day working out moving, location, and how this effects the rest of the plans I had for the months of June and July. I might not be able to complete my road trip to the extent that I desired, but I am super fortunate to have been able to go on a month-long adventure. Starting work in a different part of the country will be another adventure for sure; a different culture from the midwest, new trails to learn, a new community to become involved with, learning and becoming successful at my new job– all future challenges I am excited to face.
Where I will be located is along the Tennessee River, hence I started formulating some plans for Kayak camping with Sophie (my parents’ dog who I will be adopting). I’m excited not just only to explore a new area, but meet new people, and continue learning. I don’t think I’ll miss the snow too too much (except for skiing). Ask me again in a year.
Day 24: Wednesday, June 11
I left for Bryce Canyon today, a beautiful four-hour drive from Salt Lake City, after thanking and saying farewell to Mark. Mark’s hospitality was phenomenal, but the good-bye was brief as he would be pacing another runner at Bryce so I would see him again at the race.
Driving to the canyon led me through winding mountain passes to a green plateau. Despite the fact that it had felt like the drive was mostly downhill, there had been a net gain in elevation. The rim of Bryce sits at around 8,000 feet. From the green plateau the road descended into startlingly red rock. The sandstone rose from the earth in pillars and arches like flames frozen in time.
Rock tunnels driven through just before Bryce.
I decided to camp in the park, as the race itself (Bryce Canyon 100) does not actually enter the National Park. There, I hiked the rim trail where my breath was stollen by the views. If I could not invasion a heaven before, I could now.
My soul ached to be a bird, to fly and weave between the hoodoos, the cathedral pillars of time. The vivid colors of stone– reds and oranges striped with chalky white– were unreal. Meditating on the rim, the mind’s eye could invasion the centuries of erosion, of weathering, of freezing and thawing, that had brought about these fantastic formations.
Look at what adverse conditions had created with time: a remarkable landscape. Maybe, with time, that is what life’s challenges does to us; weathers away our unfavorable traits to reveal the true beauty within, exposing who we are at our cores, should we endure.
As I was hiking back to camp, a man ran past me with a shirt that had the word “ultra” on the back. I called out, “Are you racing this weekend?”
He stopped and turned around. “No, but my friend wanted to do the 50.” We started talking. His name was Brian and he was on a road trip with his friend, Michelle. It turned out that they were camping not five campsites down from me. I let Brian get back to his run, but met up with them later that evening for an enjoyable time of story swapping. They were wonderful and are going to do great things, I know.
The moon was full and bright. Somewhere I was hopping it would go away so I could see all the stars, but was happy for the fact that it meant a headlamp was unnecessary. The night was cool and beautiful.
One of the trails along the rim.
Day 25: Thursday, June 12
After a short jog along the rim trail, I made up my drop-bags for the race. One less thing to worry about tomorrow. It was a day of relaxing, reading, exploring, and enjoying some alone time. It’s funny, the thoughts that come when you sit in silence with an otherworldly view. The thoughts and ideas themselves seem profound, but seem to almost be erased when the mind becomes clouded with worrisome thoughts again, much like an etch-a-sketch.
Looking across the canyon, I almost felt like– not that it belonged to me– but that I belonged to it. For as anxious as I’ve been in the past about running other races, I’ve felt at peace leading up to this race. I’m simply excited just to spend time in the canyon and see more spectacular views. I just want to absorb it all.
Day 26: Friday, June 13
After a short run along the canyon’s rim, I met Mark at the hotel just south of Bryce. Mark had paced me at Zumbro not three months before and I was happy to have him pace me at Bryce. I spent the majority of the day making sure that my drop bags, shoes, and pack were in order and resting in the hotel. We went to the packet pickup later that evening, which was swamped with racers.
We went to bed early that night, as the shuttle to the start/finish line was to depart at 5 AM sharp.
Day 27: Saturday, June 14
Today was the Bryce Canyon 100!
I don't really feel the need to do a full-on race report, as there are so many other people who have thoroughly covered the entire course. The race website lists race reports compile by racers and you can view the list of links here. I will say this: it was a bit disorganized. There was some (ok, rather a lot) of confusion as to where shuttle pick up/drop off was and a lot of questions went unanswered (there was no pre-race meeting). I don't think I ever saw the race director, and it would've been nice to even just thank him for the event. There was a LOT more wooded trail that I expected and a lot less canyon trail (the best views are between miles 3 and 9). The race has a lot of small kinks to work out, but it's only in the second year of its being. It'll get there, and when it does, it'll blow every other race out of the water. It's a well-marked beautiful and decevingly challenging course with well-stocked aid stations, awesome goodie bags, and amazing finisher's medals/belt buckles. Lots of people, but all of them fantastically welcoming and nice.
Mark and I awoke early to catch the shuttle from Ruby’s Inn to the start, about 7 miles outside of town. There, we huddled in the twilight with other 50 and 100 mile racers around campfires before the start. Needless to say, I became ill. After some time into the race, my stomach/abdomen began to ache to the point where running was severely uncomfortable. Despite the fact that I had drank over 4 liters of water, I hadn’t peed in 10 hours (TMI?). After the problems started, I weathered another 30 miles before calling it quits. It was difficult to enjoy the beauty of the race when I was feeling so blah. What I really wanted was to run IN the canyon, not just by it. I wasn’t having the fun I had expected or searched for– not feeling well being a big part– and really just wanted and needed to lay down.
So that night I rested rather comfortably– minus the trips to the bathroom– in a hotel.
Day 28: Sunday, June 15
The next morning, Mark and I went into Bryce Canyon National Park, where we spent the day exploring and running trails. I wasn’t yet feeling 100%, but felt much better than the day before with some medication.
THIS was where I had wanted to be the whole duration of the race; alongside the hoodoos and between the rock. I had done myself a disservice, I think, camping for several nights within the park before the race because I had sincerely expected the course to challenge the beauty that I had already experienced along the trails there. While the course was beautiful in its own right, it couldn’t even begin to hold a light to that of what lay within the park’s boundaries.
Mark coming down a switchback.
Despite the “failure” of previous day, today’s fun overrode any residual negativity that had rested within my soul the previous night.
Day 29: Monday, June 16
Mark’s flight back to Minnesota didn’t leave Las Vegas until midnight, so we decided to have a bit of fun. We went for one more run through the woods along Bryce Canyon before packing up to drive over to Nevada.
Just outside Red Rock Canyon.
Having to start my new job in July, a pre-employment drug test was required. The company had requested that this be completed by Tuesday, and Mark having to be in Las Vegas anyhow, decided that would be the best stop for its completion. I wondered, peeing into a cup, if running long distances effected the balance of chemicals/compounds/stuff within urine…?
Just outside of Las Vegas is the Red Rock Canyon. Mark and I targeted this as our next adventure. We were met with frustration when we encountered difficulty finding trail maps. Throwing caution to the wind, we picked a trail and started hiking. The trail lead us to a dried up river gorge where we spent the next several hours bouldering and climbing up through the canyon, little Cairns sitting atop rocks. We stopped to add our own Cairns to the mix.
Into the canyon!
Driving back to the city with some more time to kill before Mark’s flight, I suggested seeing a movie. Being the dork that I am, I wanted to see “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” So we did. And I LOVED it. Thankfully, Mark seemed to like it as well, haha
Mark then started to make his way to the airport. It was a daunting good-bye; by moving to Alabama and the impending start of a career, there were no promises of when we would next see each other. Neither of us had any near-future races scheduled. However, friendship always finds a way. We’ll run together again, Mark!
Mark & I in Bryce.
I then found a camp spot for the night and made plans to drive home the next day.
Day 31, 32, 33: Tuesday, June 17, Wednesday, June 18, Thursday, June 19
I began my drive back to Michigan today. My road trip was being cut a bit short, but I think it was for the best. In preparing for my new job, I had to find a place to live, sign employment documents, pack up stuff, and go home to get Sophie (my parents’ dog, now mine!). I was able to make short stops in Moab and Leadville, but beyond Denver there weren’t many points of interest that could compare with the arid beauty of the red deserts and canyons, or towering kings of snow capped peaks.
Short trail run ending in a clif on the way home.
Returning home, it almost seemed as if the road trip had been a really good dream that I didn’t want to wake up from. I was able to make it home in time for my mom’s birthday, which was awesome, but there’s almost a let-down coming home, an “adventure withdraw.” I know that it won’t last for long because, only being home for two days, I’ve already found myself distracted by house/apt hunting, cleaning, and packing.
But that’s how life is: one adventures ends, another one begins. It might not be scaling a mountain, racing, or running a new trail, but it brings challenges and new life experiences. I’m excited for the future; I’m excited for more adventures, be them in running or the rest of life.
Day 34 & Beyond
I would like to thank everyone who has followed and supported my posts. Blogging has definitely been a learning experience on its own. It does, however, take a lot of time and energy. While I am flattered (and sometimes surprised) that people follow my blog, there are so many inspirational people out there who post, and I wouldn’t count myself among the most qualified.
I have learned so much over the past couple of years. Of the things I’ve learned, it’s not about the personal story so much as the global. It can be difficult and rather humbling to put your goals and ambitions out on the world wide web, which definitely takes on a more personal nature. In the future, I think I will keep my goals to myself, as sometimes I aim too high, but would love to support the goals and ambitions of other racers and the running community as a whole. I won’t disappear; I’ll be here. But if there is one thing that running has taught me is that success is better when shared, more felt as a team, and more sincere when gained in silence; to speak less, but do more.
Sophie! My new housemate!
Having said that, this is my last blog post.* I am so thankful for the support of my friends, family, runners, followers, and people who have gotten in contact with me via social media. I can only hope that one day I can give back as much as people have given me. Until our paths cross, just remember to
always do what you love, and love what you do.
Best of Wishes, and Happy Trails,
Breanna Kay Cornell
*for the time being. I’m not going to try and predict the future.