Zion

Note: Once again, this post was meant to be finished and posted like 4 days ago. Life is busy. So be it! I am behind, but I guess that means that life isn’t revolving around blogging ;-)

Just rolled in from a weekend in Springdale, Utah – the gateway to Zion National Park. Neither Stephen or I had been to Zion – this is a shock to most! I know. I KNOW! How is it possible that we hadn’t been to Zion before? Well regardless of whatever kept us from going before, how about what took us down there this weekend?  The short story: The Zion 50/100 miler.  The long story: On January 6, 2012 (this past winter) my friend Adam Lawton died in an avalanche in British Columbia. Adam was no ordinary person. He was extraordinary.  He welcomed everyone, and made every experience, outing, and adventure one to never forget. He was the most positive person I have ever met in my life. He left behind a circles of friends – not just a circle, but many circles.  At his memorial this past winter, one of his friends made the statement that “Adam had somehow forged an alliance with the “hipsters”.” His girlfriend, Amber, a cute little brunette, hipster as they come, had just moved into his house days before he died.

The news of Adam’s death came sudden and via text while I was on the chair lift at Alta. I was riding the chair with my parents and once I got through reading the text I just kept repeating, “no, No, NO. This can’t be.” I was crying immediately. How could Adam be dead? I couldn’t imagine a world without him. He brought so much life to everyone’s life that he couldn’t be dead. He needed to be a live. We all need Adam to be alive!  The sad and bitter truth is that he wasn’t alive. He had died. I would never see him again. This made me terribly sad to think about. All I kept thinking about his how Adam was always so positive. What would he say to me about this? What peace would he offer me about his own death?  These are questions I feel I have some answers for, but that I continue to think about even now.

Adam had signed up for the Zion 50 mile run, scheduled for Saturday May 12, 2012.  Prior to decided to run this 50 mil race, he had been pacing our friend Wynn in some longer distance runs and finally decided to pull the trigger and run a 50 himself. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t get the chance, but that didn’t mean we wouldn’t be there, at the Zion 50, thinking of  him and running in his place. His girlfriend Amber talked to the race director and told him the situation. How Adam had died and how she wanted to run the race in his stead. Of course, the director was more than happy to accommodate the request.  So Amber was all set up to run the race. Additionally, Wynn and Lesli Shooter decided to sign up and run it in memorial of Adam; Matt Schrier too, and two other acquaintances, the Emilys – Emily Sullivan (a coworker of mine’s, wife) and Emily Bracklesburg. At any rate, there was quite the posse down in Zion for the weekend. All of us, except for Wynn and Lesli, were staying in the Desert Pearl Inn in Springdale. The place is amazing – Springdale and the Desert Pearl. See the pictures to follow.


Poolside on Friday afternoon

Check out that view!

The rooms are well-designed and feel more like a condo or “home” than a hotel room.

Friday Stephen and I rolled into Springdale around 1pm and checked into the hotel. We went for a swim, then walked up to Cafe de Amigos and had a couple tacos, then went into the Park. I won’t go into the details of the park, but it is a full on production. Shuttle vehicles with voice-over telling you all about the park and what you are seeing out to the left and to the right. It was “cool”, and the park is beautiful no doubt, but I look forward to going back in the future and checking out the backcountry parts of the park (the main part of the park was a bit too “amusement park” for me) . Photo-dump to follow of photos taken in the park Friday and Sunday.

Hiking up to the Emerald Pools.

The Upper Emerald Pool.

Our feet.

Lupine.

Globe mallow.

 

One-sided penstemon.

Indian paintbrush.

The rest of the gang got in Friday evening. We had food and a beer or two and enjoyed the view and good company.

Saturday was race day!  It was a clear day, which meant it was going to be a hot one. Cassi, Emmit, Henry and Maria followed Stephen and I in Maria’s truck out to the first spot that Crew could get to – Smithsonian Butte. We left the hotel about 9:45am and got to the aid station around 10:30. We saw Brent and Chad there (the Emily’s husbands) and chatted with them while we waited for our peeps to start showing up. First one through was Emily Sullivan – she was killing it!  She rolled into the aid station (mile 25) and hardly appeared tired or even as if she had been running. She got in and out of the station pretty quick. Next through was Matt Schrier. He came in with a bit of a funny gate and said his hamstring was a bit tight…Yikes! But he kept on moving and got out of the aid station. Then came Emily Brackelsburg. She had actually missed a marker on the trail and ran a 1.5 extra. She was none too happy and ready to try and make up some time. Her husband Chad decided to run with her and help pace her along. I was waiting on Wynn and Lesli to show up. I was geared up with my pack and my hand held, gels and music and ready to run. They came through a bit later and we got their water refilled, with lots of ice and headed out on the trail. The day was starting to get pretty hot and Wynn was struggling with the heat. Lesli and I kept motoring ahead at a good pace, but kept Wynn in our sites until we got to the next aid station – Little Creek Mesa. Little Creek was up a long gentle climb and about 7 miles from Smithsonian. The descent from Little Creek aid station was awesome. We rounded the corner off this rocky butte, and down a steep four-wheel drive trail. The vista opened up to the valley below and we ran. Really. Fast. It was so much fun! I felt so free and so alive in that moment. I thought of Adam.

Then there were some more miles. And some more miles. Lesli and I were still cruising along, but she was definitely getting ready to have this race over. Wynn was no longer with us – he was moving slower and dealing with the heat, and an upset stomach.  The last four miles before the next aid station (Gould’s Rim – where crew could also meet you), I started having some IT band tightness and pain in my left knee. There was a possibility that I would finish out the last 10 miles with Lesli (for a total of 23 miles) and was actually feeling very much like I could. My legs, lungs and body felt great, all except for my knee. I decided at Gould’s aid station (mile 40) to stop.  I felt very torn. Should I stop? Should I continue? I ultimately felt that I should stop because this wasn’t my race and I didn’t want to do more damage by continuing on. I had helped Lesli get through a tough middle section and was proud of our effort. We ran well together and maybe, even for a fleeting moment, had fun!  At Gould’s, she re-fueled, re-iced and was off. At this aid station, Stephen had driven the car in and had made himself available to Matt or whoever else to pace them in for the last 10 miles. Stephen ended up not pacing anyone, but ran the 10 miles into the finish. This meant that the car was there for me to take back to the finish and wait for people to come in.

I won’t recount the details of everyone’s run – but let’s say the heat was a brutal factor and definitely messed with everyone. Wynn didn’t finish (stopped at mile 49!), Emily B. suffered some major cramping at mile 44, hung out at the aid station at mile 45 and finished the race a bit later. Of the 100+ starters, only 60 finished. Emily S. took first in the woman’s!! This was her first 50 mile run. Needless to say, she did amazing!  Matt and Lesli both finished around the 10.5 hour mark and with smiles on their faces. It was truly remarkable to watch them go through this amazing physical endeavor. Amber (Adam’s girlfriend) also finished shortly after Lesli. I saw her throughout the race at various aid stations. She was loving it!  And she ran it for Adam!  He would be so proud and so happy for her. We all left a bit out on the trail for Adam – blood, sweat, tears. We miss him. And we know that had he been there, he would have run that race and finished and been the most positive, fun-loving person out there!

Lesli – moments after crossing the finish line!

Lesli (left) and Amber (right). Amber had a blister on her pinky toe that was the same size as her pinky toe!!

Below – Matt, Cassi and Emmit, just moments after Matt crossed the finish line – with Emmit in his arms!  I have amazing friends that I would do anything for. I mean, look at these wonderful people and what they have accomplished!!

 

There is so much more I could say about that weekend, but I think I have said enough. We ran. Some of us further than others. We saw some beautiful parts of this world. We experienced. We suffered. We saw breathtaking vistas. We sweat. We swam. We laughed. We loved. We lived.

I can’t help but think that some day, I would like to test myself and try a 50 mile race. (I think I will start with a marathon, check that off my list, then see how I feel after that).

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5 thoughts on “Zion

  1. Sue schaaf says:

    Awesome pictures and story of your time in Zion. You and your friends are amazing. Thanks for sharing once again.

  2. Tom Schaaf says:

    Thanks for sharing ….. You have an amazing group of friends you it sounds as though you all enjoy life!

  3. [...] but the rain was pretty wicked and unfortunately I have been having IT-band issues ever since the Zion 50 and was forced to cut my run short. I am hoping that my IT-band issue goes away soon, for I am [...]

  4. Finally reading this amazing story. Your words are so touching, your loss and your challenge to honor your friend. Congratulations on a dedicated, heart-felt, memorial to Adam and supporting Amber. Beautiful photos! Thank you for sharing this sweet and bitter-sweet time.

  5. [...] my friends Wynn and Lesli Shooter who were training for the Zion 50 miler, which I blogged about here.  I very quickly, and probably too quickly, started running long distances with them – 10 to [...]

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