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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Dwarfing Trails

towFINALLY five miles on trails in the hills is not pure hell.  Well, the first ten or so minutes of todays’ “run” to The Top of the World was a tad bit hellish.  But I had my oldest son there along with me, to help pressure me onward (Faster Mommy!).  I’m super glad now to have upped my long run significantly.  It dwarfed this five miler. Smile  Soon, my mountain runs will dwarf these coastal hills.  And even sooner, I’m hoping to dwarf the Calico Trails. 

Miles run:  5.11

Friday, November 20, 2015


I have not been able to increase my long run over the past few weeks due to time constraints.  Being stuck at 8 miles wasn’t cutting it, and quite frankly stressing me out.  But,  I had Chimera to coordinate (more on that later after I write the full story in my journal and then cut out all the bad stuff for this blog Smile).  I put in various 5 mile runs to Top of the World, and once a week long runs.  Not seeing much improvement.  But, I know that’s how it is – no perceived improvement for a long time, then suddenly I will be able to put in the mileage that I want.  But not if I stay at an 8 mile long run!  So, today I decided to throw out the 10% rule (that is, only increasing my long runs 10% each week).  I increased my 8 mile long run by 50% (Mama Mia!) and went for a 12 mile run along Arroyo Trabuco Trail.  For the first time in a long time, I was packin’ on my run.  I strapped on my hydration vest (which I wasn’t even sure how to find, then ended up locating it beneath the kitchen table), and hit the trails about 10:30 AM.   

I am here to report that increasing a long run by 40% is a big deal.  The first six miles were very doable, but not exactly enjoyable.  I did once or twice stop, climb up on a bank and look up to the sky to take in the lovely hawks soaring above.  But overall, the way out was a minor struggle. 

The way back however, was a little bit more than a minor struggle.  I was beat.  Beat!  By the time I finally made it back my truck, I wanted to collapse to the grass.  The only reason I did not collapse (and cry in agony) was because I really needed to tend to the most important thing – stretching so that my plantar fascia did not return to instill great pain upon my when I arrived home.

Overall, the foot held up great. The true test will come tomorrow morning.  

Miles logged:  12.07

Pictures from the course:


Tijeras Creek Trail / Arroyo Trabuco JunctionSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES


Sunday, November 8, 2015

West Ridge to The Top of The World and Back

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI’ve run the same five mile out-and-back three times this week.  The route:  West Ridge (in Aliso Viejo) to Top of the World (in Laguna Beach.)  I take all the detours for extra elevation.  But I can’t tell you what that elevation is because I can’t upload my garmin to my computer.  I have tried everything and I am frustrated to no end about this because I am a data junkie.  I can tell you, just because I have a sense of elevation, and I know these hills I run in, that the elevation gain for this five mile out-and-back is between 900 and 1000 feet. 

It feels wonderful to get out there on the trails, even trails as active as these in the coastal hills.  West Ridge is a popular trail.  It’s easy to get to and has many entry/exit points.  I always see people riding their bikes, hiking and running.  The other day, a large dog jumped on me and nearly knocked me to the ground.  It’s all good though – West Ridge has awesome views of our Saddleback Mountains and the Pacific Ocean at the same time.


Progress is super slow.  Foot pain is minimal.  Actually, its practically non-existent. Yay!  I’m starting to feel okay, not exactly loving it, but perhaps that will come again.  But then I decided to do some running on the treadmill yesterday after my gym work out, and boy did I feel like crap.  So, so difficult to keep a constant 12 minute mile for 2.5 miles.  And I couldn’t help but think, do I even want to run anymore???? What the hell am I doing?  What do I even want?



Saturday, October 31, 2015

Starting Over

Starting over sucks. It really, really sucks. I'm not relishing the "fresh start" aspect of starting over. Not one bit. Instead, it's mainly grueling, struggling, hard-as-hell pain trying to get the running back. There's pretty much nothing worse than trying to run when your legs feel like lead, and your body says, "Nope, I forbid you to run.”  

For the past month and a half, I have been trying to get my running back. For a while there, I felt like an elephant trying to run. It was very difficult to get back out there again and again, especially after a tough day of three miles!! I put in short distances, first mainly on the road, which gradually lead to trails with some descent elevation gain. Unfortunately, there is little enjoyment.

The only thing that makes this starting over bearable is: 1) I'm not really starting over from scratch. When I first began running in my late thirties, I could not even run a block without practically falling to the ground with my heart exploding, and 2) I know I can do this, because I've done it before -- all it takes is patience and perseverance. That’s simple enough I suppose.

A month and a half ago, I started with distances like 1.5 to 2 miles (in 100 degree Texas weather). I had hoped that my gym workouts would keep me conditioned because I never stopped those. I am here to tell you that those gym workouts did not keep me running conditioned. But I suppose it could have been worse. I am now up to 8 miles of hilly terrain. And that's about as tough as a 50k used to be.

My goal is to get to twenty miles of difficult terrain by the end of January. That's three months. I can probably do it. Actually, I know I can do it. Question is, will I have the perseverance?

Texas Running:


Coordinating Volunteers for Saddleback Goat Marathon:


Wood Canyon:


Working Holy Jim AS @ Twin Peaks 50/50:


Safari (Water Drop) in The Cleveland National Forest:


Top of the World:


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Catching Up

Running has nearly come to a halt, a screeching halt.  Though I still have a couple trips out there that have not been blogged. The foot is better, but not at all healed.  I am fine to put in around five to seven miles, but afterward, I am limping about for the rest of the day and into the next.  It is what it is, and I am learning to live with the disappointment.   

First, to catch up with the end of August:

The 20th, I believe it was, I drove my truck with my friend Emmett to the Trabuco Trail head.  We left super early in the morning to avoid the heat, and we made a trek up Trabuco Trail and then the dreaded West Horsethief to the Main Divide for an out-and-back totaling about seven miles. The trip up Horsethief wasn’t so bad mainly because I had mentally prepared myself for pure hell.  When I expect hell, it’s never as bad.  Emmett made it up to the top well before me.  Then he gave me a five minute head start for the trip down, which was down right treacherous.  Fist sized rocks rolled beneath my feet, as ground fell away here and there as my foot hit.  I worried when Emmett hadn’t caught up by the time I hit Trabuco Trail.  Turns out that he took a couple of nasty falls.  That trail is extremely difficult to keep a foothold.  It’s scary too, because a fall could throw you off the mountain.

Somehow my SD card got corrupted and I lost all of the awesome pictures I took of our trip (boo hoo!! I lost the selfie pics of me and Emmett), but I did have these two gems from my phone camera:

Going up W. Horsethief, looking out toward the Pacific Ocean (which is beneath the clouds) and Yaeger Mesa which is about mid photo on the left:

photo (15)

Coming down W. Horsethief, near the top @ The Main Divide:photo (14)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAbout a week later, I got in another 7 mile trip in Aliso/Wood Canyons.   This time, I decided to start at the top of the park instead of in the canyon like I usually do.  I parked my truck at Moulton Meadows in Laguna Beach and in a trepid manner made my way down another treacherous decline – this one called Mentally Sensitive.  A rattlesnake caught me by surprise on that tiny single-track.  But I noticed it in time to steer clear and even catch a photo.  After reaching Wood Canyon, I took that trail to Mathis, which is a nice climb out back to the ridge. On the ridge I spotted my second rattler, and was able to snap another snake photo. 

Some scenes from my last summer trail run:



Looking down from West Ridge onto Laguna Canyon Road:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES


Caught up.  Now I can rest easy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Crushing Fatigue

photo (11)For several months now I have been been feeling lethargic, and growing more so lately.  I have no motivation to do anything that requires too much exertion.  Though I train at the gym about five days a week, I can’t manage to move very quickly or for very long.  It’s a big bummer, more so I think, because this fatigue affects me mentally.  I feel weak.  And I hate that.  Hate it! 

I decided recently to research premenopausal symptoms, as I have the joy of going through that the past six months or so.  And while I did not find the term lethargy in my research, I did come across the terms “extreme fatigue” and “crashing fatigue,” as common symptoms.  Aha!  I guess that makes me feel a little better.  At least there’s an apparent reason to my lethargy.  But the more I throw the terms around in my mind, the more “CRUSHING fatigue” seems to fit my what I’m experiencing -- it’s crushing my physical and mental well-being, it crushes my spirit.  

This past Sunday evening, I decided to get out and just force myself to put in some trail miles.  I took a little run along West Ridge to Top of the World, which isn’t exactly flat.  And I must say, I felt pretty miserable in the beginning.  Actually, I never really felt “good” in the sense of feeling physically or mentally strong.  Once I decided that it did not matter what time I finished, that it was okay to finish in the dark however, I did enjoy the coastal scenes, the gentle off-shore breezes and little evidences of wildlife like bunnies scurrying across the road and stink bugs sticking their heads in the dirt.  I hiked some, and I ran some.  My legs felt like heavy awkward boards when I ran.  They felt a little lighter when I hiked.  I guess it would be prudent to take on something with not so much elevation during this “crushing fatigue” period.  But I can’t help it.  I’m just an elevation junkie.  

photo (12)photo (10)

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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Unmarked Trails, Pink Clouds and Coyotes

Thursday evening I took off for a short run into Wood Canyon.  I really had no final intention on a destination, except for the fact that I knew I’d do between five and six miles.  Anymore than that, I’d be running in the dark, which is not such a big deal, else a ranger stumble upon me and write out a citation. 

The weather was pleasantly cool, as it has been lately during our mild weathered August.  The trails, though not crowded, had more runners and hikers than I’m used to travelling upon them.  I’m seldom out on the trails in the evening though. 

I wore my pf sock (a short compression sock) that helped immensely with my foot pain (either that or my foot is actually improving – I can never tell).  A little over two miles in, running along West Ridge, which overlooks Laguna Canyon Road and the Pacific Ocean, I stopped to snap a photo and noticed something I had never seen before.  There off two my right, only slightly obscured by brush, was a heavily travelled, unmarked single-track that descended down the ledge into Laguna Canyon.  I do not know how I never saw this.  I can tell you that my heart leapt with joy. Seriously.  There is almost nothing better than travelling along a trail that I have never before travelled, even if its practically in my own backyard. 

I descended quickly down this newly discovered single-track.  I don’t mean that I moved quickly, I mean the elevation loss occurred quickly, and oh happy day, I needed to kneel down and slide in some instances, to make the grade.   


SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI could see a large dog park down at the base of the trail, though I wasn’t sure exactly where I would come out.  I told myself, “a little further,”  . . . “just a little further,” until I decided that I needed to head back.  I didn’t want the climb out to be so difficult that it would leave me out in the canyon under darkness.  And so I headed back up, gleefully mind you, grabbing at the rocks to pull myself up along the trail.  It was beautiful.  I never even noticed any problems with my foot. 


SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe sun was still slightly above the horizon as I ran along West Ridge.  Coyotes began to howl down in the canyon. And hikers seemed all headed in the direction to leave the park.  At the last minute, I decided not to run down Cholla Trail, the one I came up on out of Wood Canyon.  I pretty much always take Cholla.  But dang it, I’m bored of that trail, so I headed down Lynx instead, a less popular trail in these canyons, though I’m not sure why. 

Lynx is a wonderful rocky single-track, technical, but not death defying.  There’s even a bullet-ridden car in the gully, hidden to the casual visitor.  But if you stand in just the right place, you get a perfect shot of the old-fashioned, shiny, blue car. 


When I finally dumped out into Wood Canyon, every cloud in the sky was colored pink.  As I ran back up the canyon toward my car, coyotes, many of them on both sides of the canyon barked and howled as the sun finally set on this lovely trail run.  It was the dogs’ turn for the canyons. 


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