Zion National Park - Angel's Landing

After completing the Lake Powell Half Marathon, we headed north to Zion National Park, a short two hour drive. One could spend a week or more exploring Zion and during our two-day visit, we hiked the two most popular trails - Angels Landing and the Narrows. This appeared to be an obvious destination after the destination race as we encountered other runners from the Lake Powell race out in the park.

Angel's landing
One of the most popular hikes in the park, this challenging climb starts with paved walkways on the West Rim Trail then heads into Refrigerator Canyon. After a series of short but steep switch backs (Walter's Wiggles)you can rest at a nice plateau (Scout's Landing) before ascending 1500 feet on cliff edges using chains as climbing aids. This was by far the most challenging hike I've ever done and I wouldn't have completed it without the encouragement of my friend Julia who suggested it in the first place!

There are numerous blogs, websites, YouTube videos describing and virtualizing this climb so I won't repeat that content here with the exception of what worked for us.

One - get to the trail early. I think it was barely light out when we got on the park bus that would take us to the trailhead. We weren't the first hikers out there, either! An early start means you will avoid the super hot conditions prevalent in a desert.

Early Morning On The Trail
The Virgin River and West Rim Trail Below

Two - pack ample food and water. Julia is a seasoned adventurer - we packed containers of veggies, hummus, nuts, fruit, and protein bars. She is gluten intolerant and I avoid grains, sugar and simple carbs like bread so no sandwiches for us. The local market in Springdale had lots of packaged hiking food to choose from. We both used backpacks with water bladders for hands free hydration.

In Refrigerator Alley

Taking in the View

Three - proper footwear like hiking boots. I used my trail running shoes with great success. Julia packed sturdier Keen hikers. You wouldn't believe how many people we saw heading up the paved walkway in flip flops. When you're on what feels like 2" of rock face and hanging on to a chain, you will feel more secure with grippy shoes.
We Had to Hike All the Way Up There!

- take your time going up, with plenty of breaks to rest, refuel and enjoy the amazing scenery. If / when you make it to the top, spend some time to bask in the accomplishment. Even if the climb is too much, getting to Scout's Landing is beautiful and enjoyable.

Climbing Up

Atop Angels Landing

The View is Great From the Top of Angel's Landing


Exploring Page, Arizona - Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend

As follow up to yesterday's post on the Lake Powell Half Marathon, here are a couple tourist activities activities to consider while visiting Page, Arizona. We explored Page the day before the race, so we took the low-key approach to sightseeing, opting for easy walks over a strenuous hike.

Antelope Canyon:
Antelope Canyons are slot canyons on Navajo lands just east of Page. To access either Upper or Lower Canyons you must sign up with an official tour operator. This is required as flash rains have resulted in flash flooding of the canyons. The Upper Canyon tour includes a fun Safari style ride through the desert with an easy half mile walk in and out of the water carved formations. The mixture of ambient light, rock colors and the carved sandstone formations result in a beautiful scene.
Swirls of Fire

Fiery Layers
I've read the Lower Canyon is just as breathtaking - the main difference is access to the Lower Canyon involves stair climbing and traversing uneven canyon boulders.

Horseshoe Bend:
Another popular destination is Horseshoe Bend, another geological formation carved out of the Colorado river. This 3/4 mile hike proved to be a little more strenuous but not too taxing. The view at the rim, with no rails or chains was literally breathtaking.
Horseshoe Bend

Lake Powell:
The Lake Powell Half Marathon's namesake is a man made reservoir that formed after the the Glen Canyon Dam caused the Glen Canyon to flood. The result is a flourishing water recreational area. We stayed at official race hotel, the Lake Powell Resort and found the accommodations nice and comfortable with fantastic views of the lake.
View Upon Waking
There are plenty of boat rental / tour opportunities around Lake Powell.

Getting to Page - While we flew in and out of the little town of Page, most people opt to fly via Vegas due to the plethora of flight options and lower cost. The driving time to Vegas is 4 hours. Another option is to fly into Flagstaff, 2 hours south. The Grand Canyon is not too far out of the way either, so many will visit Page while out in that area.


Flashback - Lake Powell Half Marathon

Does it matter that I ran this back in October of 2017? I don't think so, as it was an amazingly scenic event.

I happened upon my first “true destination race” (meaning I had to get on a plane to fly to the race locale) in serendipitous form, signing up after another race fell through. I signed up for Vacation Races’ Lake Powell Half Marathon after my new to running friend, Grace, declared that it would be her first half marathon. I would be joining Grace and her friend, Julia, another first-time half marathoner. We planned to arrive Thursday evening, explore the area on Friday, then drive to Zion National park after Saturday's race.

Unfortunately, Grace got injured and bowed out of the event. Julia and I still had an awesome time and recommend this event to anyone looking for a great race in a scenic location with plenty sightseeing opportunities.

The location: Lake Powell, a man-made reservoir of the Colorado River and part of the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area near Page, Arizona, just south of the Utah border. Lake Powell was created after the completion of the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River.

The race: The point to point course starts near the city of Page in an outdoor, cavernous amphitheater and winds through the town’s streets before taking a two mile stretch of single track trail with 270degree, spectacular views of the Colorado Plateau. The runners then leave Page behind, cross the Glen Canyon Dam bridge and enter the Glen Canyon Recreation Area with views of Lake Powell and canyonlands.

Being a point to point event, transportation was available from the finish line to the start line, pre- and post-race. Our hotel was close to the finish line, so early race morning (5am!), we walked to the shuttle bus. With the remote location, inky darkness and clear skies, we could see incredible detail of the starry sky, including the Milky Way.

An outdoor amphitheater served as the race's starting line and on race morning, winds reminiscent of the Illinois prairie were whipping and cold. We took shelter under the theatre stage, huddled together like bats waiting in the dark. Fortunately, once the sunrise started, the winds calmed down. The race start coincided with sunrise and we took off into the golden sunrise.

Race highlights – since the city of Page sits atop the area, the views along the edge of the city were stunning. My favorite part of the race had to be the trail portion, with its sweeping views of the canyons below. I also enjoyed running across the Dam bridge. Overall, I enjoyed the race - I treated it as a training run for the upcoming Monumental marathon, so there was no pressure to race. I loved the constant scenery. I even ended up buying the race photos because they were reasonably priced and captured the spirit of the run experience. All participants receive a free photo opportunity, a great memento of the race.

Running Photos:
Ran From Arizona to Utah! #shirleyruns #running #runnerbliss #secondwindrunning #desert
We ran from Arizona to Utah!

Race Photos below by Lucid Images, the official photographers of the Lake Powell Half Marathon
Running the Lake Powell Half Marathon, Photo by Lucid Images
My Favorite photo from this race. The scenery in this section was amazing.

 On the trail

Crossing the Glen Canyon Dam bridge

To make the most out of traveling to a race, the destination needs to have ample sights and activities to take in. This event did not disappoint with several options in the town of Page and outside of Page. I will post about those activities in a follow up post.

Travel details: While we flew in and out of the little town of Page, most people opt to fly via Vegas due to the plethora of flight options and lower cost (there were two flights per day in Page, on a stripped down 7 seater prop plane - something I hadn't been in since the 90's).

Would I run the Lake Powell race again? Probably not, but I would consider any of the other races Vacation Races puts on, including the Zion Half Marathon or their Coastal Redwoods Trailfest. Vacation Races also puts on a series of Ultras – one in Antelope Canyon, (part of Lake Powell area), Zion and Bryce Canyons. In 2018, Julia will be running their half marathon in the Great Smoky Mountains, a bit closer to home.


Prom 2018 Shenanigans

So what if Prom was back in May? I'm simply trying to get back into some routine of blogging and these photos were a lot of fun to take.

First of all, my son and his girlfriend were super late to the designated photo venue. Like last year, they opted to gather at the University of Illinois' Main Quad. Traditionally, the senior class takes photos at the local country club, but I think something transpired a few years ago which led to the students no longer being welcome on the golf course's 18 fairway (probably because they tore it up).

Serious Photo. The girls are so tall with their high heels, it's hard to see the guys. This group, with the exception of my son and the boy on his right are juniors.
Prom 2018

So I asked the guys to get up on the edge of the stone banister, but then one of them slipped and Chaos ensued!
Prom 2018
This is my favorite outtake photo!

After things settled down:
Prom 2018

Prom 2018

With the Senior Gang
Prom 2018

The guys insisted on this one:
Prom 2018

Then a more candid moment - with the golden sun
Prom 2018

A great Senior prom for the Class of 2018


Downtown Austin at Night

I traveled to Austin for work in early May. I was last here about 8 years ago, for a similar reason, and this time our group made it downtown.

At the Library Bar
I work in IT / Manufacturing and well, I'm used to being the only female. (I'm taking the photo)

Rooftop Scenes

Texas Capitol

Middle Set

I haven't been downtown since the 90's. I forgot they close down parts of 6th Street (aka Pecan Street) at night. This was a Thursday evening.
I Forgot they Close The Street to Traffic

Altered States


The music and overall vibe of Downtown Austin is hip and vibrant. I highly recommend venturing away from the suburbs and into the city.



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