Running in New Mexico...

Let me start off by saying, New Mexico is an incredible state. I've always fancied myself an ocean lover--I was born in Carmel, California, and always assumed that the sea must have had some special hold over me as a result. I now know that the Desert Southwest speaks to me as well.

My trip to Alamogordo was brief to say the least. I sort of planned it that way--regrettably, I now know. I didn't want to impose on my aunt and uncle for too long, and I had some other tasks to accomplish on my ten days off as well, thus, the 3.5 day sojourn. Alamogordo is probably like any other small town in the desert, a bit run down and lacking in amenities (the highlight is a big Walmart), and really dry and dusty. Still there is a certain amount of rustic charm that just can't be found elsewhere.

Maybe it was the fact that at least on three sides, the canyons and mountains loomed. Perhaps it was the swath of white sand seen off in the distance from just about any vantage point. Lack of traffic crawling along at a snail's pace. How about the fact that every where you went, people were incredibly friendly and hospitable (not a single grunt, groan, or mean glare anywhere). Whatever it was, Alamogordo, NM, and it's surrounds were incredible. I would highly recommend a trip there.

Did I mention my uncle has run more marathons than he can count? How about the fact that at 72, he's still so buff that he could kick most people's asses? He works out daily at the gym on Holloman AFB, and still runs and cycles regularly. My aunt is just as active, if not quite as athletic. Made for a perfect trip. Beauty at every turn, and lots of physical activity.

Since my uncle was aware of my plans to run my first half marathon, he made certain to schedule a variety of runs for me. Day 1, a simple 2.5 on relatively flat terrain--something about needing to acclimate to the 4300 foot elevation. Day 1 was followed by a two hour gym session where I received lessons on the finer points of weight lifting workouts that would benefit my runner's legs. The the best part of Day 1--a run over the dunes at White Sands National Monument.

Day 2 was a hill run--of what seemed to this Flatlander's eyes--monumental proportions. Scenic Drive was the name. One mile, pretty much straight up. OK. That's a bit of an exaggeration. It was more like a quarter mile of a relatively gentle incline, and then 3/4's straight up to the top where a big storage tank marked your accomplishment. The picture I took just doesn't do it justice. You really can't get a sense of how steep a climb it was. Ran it twice, and felt great. Thought about running it a third time, but knew that my uncle had additional activities planned for us and I was afraid I would be totally wiped out.

Day 3 included about a 3.5 mile run down from their house in the 'hood to the main drag, and back. Did I mention that it was 'up' on the way back? And did I mention that I ran with their dog, Pepe? A first for me. Damn, that dog had some stamina! That early morning run was followed by a short trip up in the mountains to the Cloudcroft Lodge for a spectacular breakfast of Eggs Benedict with coffee and grapefruit juice. Perfect way to top off physical activity to my way of thinking!

And finally, an few other shots of incredible beauty for your enjoyment...