Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sabino Canyon Trail Run, Seabiscuit and The Missing Family

My parents live in Tucson, which is awesome because they usually feed me and are a lot cheaper than a hotel!  I signed up to do a Saturday morning run on the far north east Side of Tucson, about two hour's driving from my home. I drove to their place Friday afternoon and spent the night.  When I arrived my dad was watching Seabiscuit.  I don't really like a lot of movies and it looked predictable, so I never saw it.  Turns out that the movie wasn't half bad, and I loved the story.  If you don't know the story just know this:  The jockey and the horse were  never expected to do anything, and shortly after success, both were seriously injured.  The horse had a torn ligament, the jockey a shattered leg.  You can guess the rest.

After the movie we went out to dinner taking in some fantastic Ethiopian cuisine!  What a treat that was!

Saturday's run wasn't a race.  See, this weekend marks the one year anniversary of an event that shook the Tucson and southern Arizona community.  Last January a young man attempted to take the life of Gabrielle Giffords, and killed several others in the process.  One of the lives he took was of Gabe Zimmerman, who I learned today was active in the Tucson running community.  In fact, his father was a founding member of the Tucson Trail Runner's Club.

To remember the life of a "friend and competitor," SAR and The Tucson Trail Runner's Club held events, free of charge, all over Tucson today.  I participated in a trail run at Sabino Canyon, with my father.  My father is recovering from a ruptured Achilles in September, but has been running stronger and longer and really enjoying life because of it!

We showed up a bit early, and it was COLD.  There was a good turn out, over the 200 person cap set by the Forest Service.  There were no bibs, no clock, just a run to remember.  It was interesting what was said before the race.

One of the board members, Jim, I think, of SAR, said that part of their mission was to create healthy communities.  He said that everybody thinks of running as healthy for your body, but that what they wanted to do was a lot more than physical health.  They wanted to promote healthy lifestyles, but running as a community event that promote healthy minds and spirits.  Then he and another spoke briefly about Gabe Zimmerman, running with him and competing against him.  It put a person where, for me, had just been a name.

In the picture you see a mother and daughter signing one of the three posters put out for people to sign and perhaps write something they feel or remember. 

Our run starts and I saw the person who just beat me on the 5K race a few weeks ago.  I caught up to him, cutting through people, jumping over rocks, ducking under trees, having a great time doing it.  His name was Bill, he's two years older than me, an amateur musician and has a math degree and two children.  Striking how similar we were!  We ran the entire course, finishing way ahead of anybody else running the short 4 mile distance.  (There was an 8 mile and a 16 trail run too.)  You can click here to see the Garmin-recorded details.

It was a beautiful run, some trail, some asphalt.  We crossed some running water, ran up and down some hills which caught me by surprise to be sure!  They were steep.

Feeling great after my run I stopped and ate a cookie, some oranges and had some water.  I found my mother and got my phone to take some pictures.  After about 30 minutes I began to wonder where my dad was.  About that time  I overheard someone informing one of the SAR board members that a man took a spill and was limping badly.  He said that his Achilles was already injured and appeared re-injured.

I headed back out on the trail looking for my dad.  The trails we ran cut across the roads that are used to access some of the lower parts of the canyon.  I worried that he'd miss the turn on his way back, adding about a mile to the trip.  I also worried that I'd have to help him walk back, worried about his spirits and worried about how bad the injury would prove to be.  I mean, it had already been significant, maybe a complete tear this time!

Eventually I make it all of the way out, taking a few pictures along the way, but no sign of my dad.  I'm beginning to worry.  I ran across the trail, limiting the time I could miss him significantly.  Plus, from what the person said, he was still a long way down the trail.

My phone rings but it's not a number I recognize.  Turns out it's Jeff, a gentlemen who, with his wife, help my wife with Bountiful Baskets, which is a kind of like a food co-op, kind of.

He said, "Hey, are you guys showing up today?  The truck is here (at the pickup point), but we have no paper work."  My wife runs the this site and has all of the "stuff."

It was 9:30.  Jeff and I both thought she was supposed to be there at 9:00.  She's NEVER late...EVER.  I explained that I had spoken to her morning but had no idea where she was and I was 80 miles north, but that I'd call and let him know.

I called.  Voicemail.

I called again.  Voicemail.

My wife and I never have "words."  But, this past week I kind of got on her case about leaving her phone on vibrate and in her purse.  She can be impossible to contact sometimes.

I called again.  Voicemail.

I texted her.  Nothing.

I called and I looked for my dad. I called and I looked for my dad.  I called and I looked for my dad.

My oldest daughter was in Tucson at my in-laws' house.  She was performing at the UofA Junior/Senior Honor Band.  She wouldn't help.  I called my youngest daughter.  Her phone didn't even ring.

I called Jeff and explained.  I'm walking down the trail, calling, looking for my dad, worried about my wife, was she in an accident?  What could've happened?  Jeff said he'd go look for her.  

At almost 10 I called my youngest daughter's friend.  She answered the phone.  She was with my wife and daughter!

Jeff calls me, tells me everything is fine, they showed up.  Turns out that the truck was early, everybody was early, my wife was on time.  Her phone...on vibrate.  Daughter's phone...dead, charging at home.

"You're cute when you're mad," she says loudly so I can hear her on Jeff's phone. 

Shortly after I received a call from my dad.  He was back at the car, I had missed him.

I'm not a high-stress person, but at this point I was stressed. 

We get back to my parent's house and I start an ice bath in a storage tub for my dad.  There's already significant swelling and pooling blood.  He's got road rash on my arm, his running/compression shirt I got him for Christmas is torn (like a real runner!), and he's got road rash on his legs. 

He said that he saw something off to the side while running through a rocky portion of the trail, lost his concentration and stumbled.  As he went down, somehow it "popped."  Not good.

I spent the rest of the day with my mother, driving around town looking for a walking boot, striking out.  We exhausted our Saturday measures short of a trip to Urgent Care (he'll see his doctor Monday), and I take a shower at their house.

I sat with my dad for about twenty minutes and we just talked.  Then I hit the road, drove 40 minutes across town to my inlaws' house where we immediately loaded up and drove 20 minutes back to the university where we had to fight for parking to see my daughter's concert.  The concert was FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC.  There were kids from 35 schools from all over Arizona, Nevada and California performing.  Wow...what they pulled off with two days work was impressive!

As I'm sitting there at the concert I'm thinking, My dad is Seabiscuit!  Oh, this is gonna be good!

After it's all said and done I'm fried.  I'm beat.  I'm toast.  I'm physically and emotionally drained.  I'm not sure if I could handle much more "vacation!"

And tomorrow morning, according to SmartCoach, I'm supposed to do a 10 mile run at 8:22 pace.  Come on now...

Until next time folks, thanks for reading and happy running!

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