TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Rain Run

I do not run in the rain.  Some time ago, perhaps years, I decided I didn’t like to run in the rain.  And so I don’t.  Some people don’t like to run in the wind, but I do.  Some people don’t run in the heat, but I do.  I will run in many conditions, but given the choice, not the rain. 

My feet hit pavement today after I dropped my son off at his music lesson.  It was 1 PM, and the skies were cloudy.  It rained yesterday, but seeing how we get very little rain, it didn’t even occur to me that it might rain today. 

One mile in, I was running along the beach with my jacket tied around my waist.  A mile later, the jacket was back on as a light drizzle fell from the skies.  The beaches were empty.  The parking lot at Doheny was full though with spectators and vendors out for the Doheny Wood Car show.  (Woodies are historical cars with wood frameworks.)

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Rain fell faster as I made my way back through the car show.  By mile four I thought that I was good for another few miles.  I was soaked, but the rain wasn’t falling particularly hard.  At mile five, the rain came down harder, enough to form puddles in the road, and I thought, “That’s enough of that,” and phoned my husband for a ride.  With my jacket zipped up to my chin, I stood beneath a giant Eucalyptus tree and waited for my knight in shining armor to bring me back to our nice warm beach shack up the road. 

Miles logged:  5.05 (8.13 km)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Nothing New

It’s nothing new that I can’t part with my jacket on cool runs, then within a mile I have it tied around my waist for the rest of my run.  I wore my jacket around my waist for 11 of the 12 miles I ran yesterday morning.  I can deal with that.  Oddly, it’s worth the trade – I’d rather not freeze for the mere mile.  Call me an oddball.  It’s also nothing new that I ran this 12.08 mile loop in Aliso/Wood Canyons, my home trails.  But it is fairly new that I ran the loop counter-clockwise.  Usually, I like to get the climbing over quickly, grind it out right away in the beginning. This is the way of the clockwise loop in Aliso/Wood Canyons (from the ranger station).  Instead, I chose the long slow, rolling hills, climb to Top of the World.  The climbing lasts longer, but when I come off the ridge running, counter-clockwise, I am only about two miles from my truck.  There’s something soothing about that. 

It’s also nothing new that I thought about pretty much nothing during those long twelve miles – as in my mind was blank during this run.  And as I ran back in toward my truck I reminded myself that I really need to get back to thinking about whether or not I want to continue all this nonsense.  One of these days when I have a moment . . . Smile with tongue out

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12.08 miles (19.44 km), 1,190’ (363m) elevation gain

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Breaking Forty

Well, I did it.  This week I finally broke forty miles.  There was a time when that was common place.  Not anymore.  Imagine, I even contemplated throwing in the towel again – reminding myself that I don’t have to run.   At any time, I can chose to NOT run.  I find it healthy to remember this.  Well, it took me four runs to get in 44.4 miles, and I am glad for it (not to mention a tiny bit optimistic).

Monday (April 13), I drove up the coast through Laguna Beach then up Newport Coast for a run out of Ridge Park.  I took the long way because I didn’t want to pay the $6.50 toll.  I ran 11.78 miles (18.96 km) in total, taking off from Bommer Ridge, then El Moro Ridge where I stopped off at a World War II bunker and headed down B.F.I. (Big Friggin’ Incline).

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I couldn’t resist running beneath the highway (Pacific Coast Highway) for a close-up look at the ocean.  After some relaxing time listening to the waves roll in and out, I headed up through the campground to check it out for a possible family outing.  Nice campgrounds, but no campfires allowed.  No campfires!  Can you imagine camping without a fire? 

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After the campgrounds, I made the difficult three mile uphill trek back to the car.  So worn out was I that I didn’t care about a stinkin’ $6.50 toll and drove the toll road back home. 

Thursday (April 16), I ran out the front door for a run down at the beach.  I saw a woman pulling her huge luggage on wheels behind her up Pacific Coast Highway.  She asked directions as I passed her on the road and I could tell even behind her dark glasses that she was bawling her eyes out.  I helped pull her luggage back up the highway, and used her phone to call the bank she was trying to locate.  Turns out the bank was much too far for this woman to walk, especially with all her heavy luggage.  I contemplated walking her back to my house so that I could drive her, but I didn’t need to, because while I phone, the bank manager said that he’d drive out to pick her up.  I walked the recently widowed woman up the highway further and waited with her until the bank manager showed.  When he arrived, he appeared like a knight-in-shining-armor – tall, dark and handsome.  (I did get the details on this woman’s situation, as we had a lot of time to talk.  The details are so sad and too complicated to relay here, and though, I feared “handing” her off to a stranger, I got his name and make of car, and felt overall confident that he was safe).  This small adventure derailed my running plans, but I was able to get in 5.30 miles (8.53 km) along the California Coast. 

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFriday (April 17), I planned for a long run, setting out in Aliso Canyon around ten AM.  The skies were blue and the tall brown grass sang in the wind. From Wood Canyon, I quickly turned onto Meadows Trail (my old-time favorite) and ran along the overgrown single-track to Mentally Sensitive Trail.  The trek up that steep trail was excruciating.  It took me about twenty minutes longer than usual.  That was a good thing, because before I had a chance to commit to my long loop, I received a text from my husband stating that his car didn’t start.  This meant that I had make a smaller loop, heading back down Meadows for a nice long switchback down into Wood Canyon.  I got 7.69 miles in (12.38 km) and made it to my youngest son’s school just in time for his pick-up. 

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSaturday (April 18), I was back at Aliso/Wood Canyons (this time at 12:30 PM)  for a long run up Wood Canyon, Cholla and West Ridge to Top of the World.  That was about 7.25 miles of hot uphill running.  On the ridge I ran through a swarm of bees, which startled me at first.  But then the scene brought back lovely memories of running through swarms of bees on trails in years past.  At The Top of the World, I took in the view and then turned around and headed back the same way for a total of 14.53 miles (23.38 km).  This run kicked my butt.  But when I calculated my week’s totals back at home, I came in a little over 39 miles.  This meant of course, I needed to get out one more day this week. 

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Sunday – today! (April 19), I ran straight out the front door at about 3 PM and ran 5.10 miles (8.21 km) along the beach.  It was a tough run, but easy terrain-wise.  I kept up a decent pace, but felt still slightly sluggish. And that was it – my forty miles done – happily struggling along, “embracing the suck,” every last mile of it.  Winking smile

Monday, April 13, 2015

My Date with Sparta / Spartan Race Give-away

Well, it is official, I have another date with Sparta.  This one I aim to keep.  My date is in September to “run” the Spartan Beast.  Problem is, I am such a chicken – I don’t know how I am going to be able to push myself in training to get there.  It means that I’m going to start doing a hell of a lot more than the measly Winking smile mountain runs I’ve been doing.  I just have to do it.  Time is ticking away.  In the meanwhile, I plan on maintaining my motivation up by listening to the Spartan Up! Podcast.  I’m hoping that I can learn “tough.”  I soooooo need it. 

http://www.spartanuppodcast.com/

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So, maybe you want to join the Spartan team too by finding a race in your area.  Turns out, I have a free race to give away – good for any open heat (non-confirmed start time) in any Spartan Race in the continental US.   This is what I will do with that entry: In two weeks, I will hold a drawing with the names of anyone who replies to this blog post.  If only one person replies – you win.  Smile And Just for trying, I can give you a code that will give 10% off of any race.

As always, though I don’t always write it, thanks for reading. Red rose

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Freedom

I felt a great sense of freedom after questioning whether or not I should continue with my trail (aka adventure) running.  My Plantar Fasciitis has grown so bad that it is practically crippling when I’m not running.  I have so little time to get out to the trails that I adore, and I have lost much endurance.  After I considering throwing in the towel, I remembered something very important.  Merely contemplating quitting reminded me that I am free.  I run because I choose to run.  And I can choose not to whenever I want.  That single notion helped me a great deal mentally over the past week. 

Last Tuesday (3/31) I had little time, so I ran out the front door for some beach front running.  I got in 5.43 miles.  (8.74 km).  Two days later, I ran practically the same route (with less than 200’ elevation gain) for 5.23 miles (8.42 km) before heading off to work.  It wasn’t fun, and I wasn’t pretty. Smile with tongue out  But I was very glad afterward for the time on my feet.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFinally, on Good Friday (4/3) I had all the time in the world to get in some long trail miles.  Instead, I chose to hike with Chalynn, wonderful woman is who a canyon activist and also the race director to one of my favorite races (The Great Silverado Footrace).  Chay lead a group of us (about 8 total) along 7.05 miles (11.35 km), climbing 1,755’ (535 m) to a gigantic cross in Baker Canyon (very near to Silverado Canyon). We met many hikers out there, most stopping at a number of stations along the way to commemorate The Passion Play. 

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On Saturday, I did some cross training at the gym and then returned home to run a quick 1.16 miles around Doheny State Beach.  My middle son wants to increase his mile pace and asked me to help.  Thing is, he runs quicker than I do, and I struggled to keep up.  I will be good to increase his endurance.  If we are lucky, he will help me speed up as he increases his own speed. Winking smile

Monday (4/6), I was finally back on the trails.  The weather was warm with a lovely cool ocean breeze.  It was absolutely perfect for the 11.90 mile (19.15 km) run with 1,221’ (372 m) of elevation gain.  Sure, I could barely walk after resting back at home due to foot pain and stiffness.  But during, all was well as I made my way through Aliso and Wood Canyons, and up to the ridge for a glorious view of the Pacific Ocean. 

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Not only am I grateful for the peace and beauty this last run provided me, but I am also grateful that it beat the crap out of me so badly.  It was this run that prompted me to take my husband’s advice on a new stretch to alleviate the PF pain.  The new stretch is similar to my old stretch (dropping my heal down off a stair step), but it is more extreme due to the fact that my toes are raised over a rolled up towel.  It has helped immensely with immediate relief.  Time will tell if it will help “cure” the PF.  I am not overly optimistic.  But in the scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter.  What matters most is that I am free.Smile

It is good to realize my freedom.  Freedom alleviates a lot of the stress.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Snakes!

A few of my friends and acquaintances think that I’m crazy to run where snakes, specifically rattlesnakes, cross my path. I have actually seen people on the trail run away screaming, even at the mere mention of a rattler. Being that I got in a two-snake run on Monday, I’d like to clarify some things regarding these snakes that I have grown so accustomed to on the trail. To begin, it appears that I do not fear rattlesnakes.  Truth is, I do not fear a rattler that I can see.  If I’m out there snapping pictures of my slithering friend, everything is a-okay. It is the rattlesnake that I do not see that I fear. If I can see him, I can tell if he’s ready to strike. If I can see him, I can determine his striking distance. I have no qualms about walking around a snake on the trail. If I can see him, I can estimate the length of his body. And since no rattler that I have ever heard of can strike the distance of his body length, I give him that. Say the snake is about three feet long. I can very safely travel around him within six feet. (I should note that my research says that rattlers can only strike up to 2/3rds its body length. So on a good day a three foot rattlesnake can only strike two feet away, and I give him six!). You can see then, there is no need to fear if I’ve got him in sight. 

So when I’m running along, and I am suddenly up on a snake (because I was not paying attention) I waste no time looking for its rattlers or other tell-tale signs (like the shape of his head). I back off immediately. Immediately. I’ve seen how fast a rattler can coil – it takes a split second. And once he’s coiled, he is good to strike. This is my rule: Look for the rattles later – back off now.

It’s those guys I cannot see who are the real problem. This is why I am always on the lookout for rattlers, and why I am so happy when I see one. But even if I can’t see him, I may hear him. Fortunately, rattlesnakes are spooked quite easily, and their warning system is loud.   There is no mistaking a rattlesnake’s rattle. You may have wondered if that sound you heard was from a rattlesnake or a cicada (a grasshopper-like insect out our way). But once you’ve heard a rattlesnake, there’s no mistaking it. It is loud, vigorous and determined. As I’m running along that trail (fa-la-la-la-la-la), and a rattling overtakes the serenity, I run away from the sound. Away. This is my second rule: Do not try to determine where the rattlesnake is – put distance between you and that sound. Then you can go about tossing pebbles if you want to know where he’s at.

Basically, I’m on the lookout, and I give the snake its space. Simple as that. Enough of my snake rules (for now). Let me show you the lovelies that I ran up in Wood Canyon on Monday. The first one was a friendly guy, good for a close up:

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The second guy was not so good for a close up:

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Miles run: 10

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Breaking Thirty

A couple weeks back, my mind actually entertained the idea of stepping away from trail running, or all running for that matter.  It’s true.  And I can’t believe it myself.  Can’t believe that I let the thought even enter my mind.  But it was a relief really to contemplate the notion.  I have been suffering physically and mentally for quite some time now concerning this hobby that has defined me.  I felt anxious and confused about what to do about it.  When the thought crossed my mind, I was in the middle of coordinating Old Goat 50, and I was busy with work.  And then spring break hit for one of the schools I teach at.  I told myself, just run until you have time to think about this new notion of actually stepping away.  And so I ran this week, and without realizing it, broke a 30 mile week.  The last time I broke 30 miles was the 3rd week of January this year.  (The first 3 months of 2014 I broke 30 miles seven times.)

Maybe, just maybe (& perhaps this is just wishful thinking), I can run myself right through this mini-crises and come out on the other side in shape.  Winking smile

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMonday’s run:  7.4 miles (11.91 km), 1,006’ (307 m) elevation gain, Laguna Wilderness and Crystal Cove State Park.  Bommer Ridge to Old Emerald Trail into Emerald Canyon, up Old Emerald Falls (which was a nice hot climb in the sun), Moro Ridge back to Bommer, back to my truck. 

I felt good in spite of the heat and the elevation climbs that I have grown unaccustomed to.  The views were spectacular.  The skies were blue with giant wispy clouds.  Coming up out of Old Emerald Falls a helicopter circled an area above Moro Ridge.  Upon reaching the ridge, I witnessed a rescue worker lowered to the ground, where a mountain biker lay, victim of a fall.  (I passed the mountain biker later on Bommer Ridge; he was conscious, hooked into a stretcher with a neck brace, and i.v.)

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Wednesday’s Run:  11.78 miles (18.96 km), 787’ (240 m) elevation gain, Tijeras Creek Trail to Arroyo Trabuco and back. 

With more time to spare than usual on Wednesday, I headed out for a shady trail with a little less elevation gain that the run prior.  Thank goodness for the shade.  It was a hot one for sure.  These trails are several miles inland, alongside two creeks, so it can get quite muggy without an ocean breeze.  I relished the shade when I got it.  Even the rattler I came up on was digging the shade.  My first rattler sighting of 2015. Smile

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Sunday’s Run (today): 15.21 miles (24.48 km) , 2,641’ (805 m) elevation gain, San Juan Trail (from the Lazy W trail head) up several miles and back.

Today was my big run, and I had three other lovely ladies to accompany me.  We took off early this morning to head up a giant climb called San Juan Trail.  We could see for miles and miles, with the Pacific Ocean at first covered with a blanket of clouds.  It was a dang difficult run or me, and the downhill wasn’t much relief.  It was slippery, steep, and narrow, and much of the trail was riddled with ruts.  I needed something like this.  And I needed the company.  Smile

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