The race itself was another depressing venture into the reality of my age. Mount Cheaha is a beautiful course and I enjoyed that aspect of it, but I was so fatigued near the end that I could have literally laid down beside the trail and fell into a deep sleep. I think 'racing' back to back ultras needs to be put on hold for a while. Pound for pound, Mount Cheaha is one of the most challenging, while providing the most gorgeous views, of any race in the South. The vista near the top of Preacher Rock across the verdant valley below is simply breath taking. Plus the mile climb up 'Blue Hell' at around 28 miles is well...just check out the picture of the part that is not too steep...yes it gets worse...much worse...
So, with the lactic acid still burning in my legs, I flew to New Mexico for a week of working in the desert. Two or three times a year, I get to leave the desk in the simulation lab and actually get 'dirty' doing various things in the 'field.' Usually the tests are hours away from any civilization for safety reasons...so packing a few bottles of water and a few peanut butter sandwiches is a necessity. After eating dust from the desert winds and screaming from grabbing Yucca bushes and other desert plants that do not want to be touched...I was almost ready to be back in the lab. Almost that is...luckily we finished early on the 29th, and with the idea of doing something on that rare day, I hiked through the Rinconada Canyon of Petroglyph National Monument near the city of Albuquerque (and no, I did not take a wrong turn doc). Unlike my usual too fast a pace to notice the details, I actually walked slow and took advantgage of the time to view the 700 year old Pueblo Indian carvings in the volcanic rock. There are hundreds of these...here are a few from my camera phone:
The hike was really 'cool', but since time refuses to stop, I was soon back at the hotel knocking sand out of my shoes. One last adventure waited on the 29th in that I hit one of Guy Fieri's 'Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives' suggestions. I scafred down a feast of blue corn meal enchiladas, refried black beans, and some crazy rice dish all seasoned with green chilis...I considered actually licking the plate, but I do have some dignity, that and there were too many people around.
After a cramped flight and maddening dash through the airport to catch my connecting flight, it was nice to see the sign "Welcome Home Daddy" pasted on the back door of the house. Hey, I have teenaged daughters, I was expecting "Oh, Are You Back Already?"