TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Being There

“Where you are, be there.”  Master Lee, one of my son’s taekwondo instructors said to him.  And he said this to him again and again, until I never forgot the words.  But thing is, I did forget those words.  I always forget those words.  But they are back now, brought back by a multitude of circumstances. And I am ever so grateful.  Being there.  This is how I want to live life.  This is how I want to run trails.  For the longest time, I had not been showing up to my runs.  Sure, I was there, but I was not really there.  I was in the past, thinking of how things used to be, of the things I neglected to do, etc.  Or I was in the future thinking about where I wanted to run next time, what I needed to do to get my act together, etc. This is not how I want to live, how I want to run.  I want my feet firmly planted in the now. 

Last January, I posted that “I am back,” after running the Calico Ghost Town 30k.  Well, just in time for this year’s Calico run, I am once again back.  Back on my feet, back in the now.  And I ever so love the freedom.

Friday’s Run:  I ran an out-and-back up to Top of the World.  But heck, who says that I have to run it the same ole way EVERY SINGLE TIME.  This time, I took an obscure single-track that I have neglected for years as I approached Top of the World.  And then on the way back, I ran down Lynx instead of Cholla.  And I searched out a meadow that I noticed from afar.  Found it.  Smile (Miles 7)

View of Saddleback Mountains from West Ridge Trail:View of Laguna Wilderness from West Ridge (look at all that green!):The meadow off of Lynx:

Saturday’s run:  I ran up a trail I haven’t run before named either Cadillac Trail or Trabuco Creek Road.  And I really didn’t run it.  At times, it seemed like I crawled up it.  Yet, I was present the whole time and enjoyed the struggle immensely.  The trail met up with Santiago Truck Trail where I ran up the road that leads to Old Camp.  But I never made it to Old Camp because I wanted to get back home in time to see my middle son off to his music lesson.

Scrambling up Cadillac Trail (& that’s probably a Cadillac on it’s back – it was actually kind of freaky come up under it, what if it slips and falls???):Looking back down at my truck, way down there. SmileMore climbing:And some more climbing:Time to turnaround and head back:

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Santiago Truck Trail

Monday, I drove out to Modjeska Canyon to run a trail I haven’t run in ages.  I needed something new.  I really did.  I didn’t realize how much I needed new scenery.  Yes, parking is a pain (I need to park about a half mile away down in the canyon), but it is well worth it.  The skies were cloudy, the fields were green, the ground was like wet clay. 

Here’s ten miles’ worth why it was all worthwhile Smile:

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

An Evening on West Ridge

The weather feels like winter– crisp and cold.  It’s lovely.  LOVELY.  This evening I took off for a run into Wood Canyon and up Cholla to West Ridge (an evening run because today was the church Christmas pageant, and afterward I took a two hour nap – TWO HOURS).  

I ran through Canyon View park with the sun quickly sinking.  The playground was active with children at this late hour.  I stopped momentarily, sitting on the cement ground to tie my shoe before descending further into Wood Canyon.  A boy about ten or eleven years old slowed as he passed me, and he called to his father to wait.  And then he said to me, “I thought you . . . I thought you . . . “  He seemed nervous and astonished at seeing me, though we have never met before. I told him that I probably looked like someone he knew.  But he just shook his head in bewilderment.  “I thought you . . . ,” he uttered again and continued with something too quiet for me to comprehend.  “Who do you think she looks like?” the boy’s father asked.  Finally, he said clearly and with resolve, “I like your hat.”  I thanked the little guy, and ran further on into the canyon wondering if perhaps I looked like someone the boy knew who had died. 

I ran the ridge all the way to Top of the World, where I turned around and headed back for a 6.63 mile round trip run.  It got dark on me however.  And being that I could not tell depth very well in the dark, I gingerly ran down Cholla back into Wood Canyon.  The experience was peaceful, and also delightful with the Christmas lights surrounding me from the neighboring homes. 

So happy to get this run in.  So, so happy.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

I Didn’t Run

The last time that I hit the trails was Tuesday, and that seems like ages ago.  Heading down toward Tijeras Creek, it took everything I had just to stay out there.  Really, I wanted more than anything to go back home and sleep.  I think the only thing that kept me out there was the fact that I had driven so far to get to these trails.  I didn’t want to waste that gas for nothing.  But, I hardly ran at all.  Well, actually, I pretty much didn’t run – just a few steps here and there.  I told myself, “just go to your happy place, then you can turn around.”  My happy place is the Tijeras Creek / Arroyo Trabuco junction.  It’s so peaceful and beautiful there – even in the fall when everything is basically brown.  Before I even arrived to my happy place, I decided to plod right through the creek.  Reason: I had already decided that I wouldn’t need dry feet because I was going home.

My Happy Place:

On my way back up Tijeras Creek Trail, I stopped to listen to the rushing water.  And then on a whim, I walked up mid-stream to explore the waters.  I’m not sure how far I hiked, but it was enough to soothe my soul.  I haven’t even downloaded my garmin yet, but I’m pretty sure the entire trip was about three miles long. Winking smile

Heading back, beaten by the preceding days, yet refreshed by the day’s little adventure (wearing my trail glasses so that I could read my text messages):

Sunday, December 7, 2014

After The Rain

Southern California finally got some rain.  Two days of rain!  And we didn’t drown. And we didn’t flow away.  Winking smileAfter the rains, I got two days in a row in of running. Not two WHOLE days, but some hours worth, (while struggling, suffering way too early from fatigue).  Still I got, two glorious days, plodding one foot  in front of the other, as fast as I could muster.

Day One:  Three Beaches

We have five beaches (or 6 or 7, depending how you count) in my town.  Three of those beaches, the northern beaches, are adjoined along one long sandy strip, providing a nice 2+ mile stretch to get your feet moving:  Monarch Beach, Salt Creek and Dana Strands (AKA The Strands).  I decided early on Thursday, after getting the boys all off to school, that I would run the northern beaches, as all my coastal trails were closed due to “wet and muddy conditions.” 

I parked on Camino Del Avion, and ran down the bike trail to Salt Creek State Beach.   It’s over a mile along that bike path that runs adjacent to Monarch Links, a golf Course with green belt views and memories of our early life in The O.C.  My husband and I lived on the other side of this golf course, across the street from Salt Creek Beach for our first ten years in The O.C.  It was easy living back then, though we didn’t know it.  We should have known it – I mean, come on, though we both worked 40+ hour weeks, and I was working on my bachelor’s degree for some of those years, evenings consisted of walks on a lonely beach, and solo dips in the community pool.  Weekends, well  . . . after laying around in our sun-drenched living room, we’d pack up our back packs, and head down to the beach for the entire day – THE ENTIRE DAY.  Hubby would fish in the surf, catching the nights’ dinner.  I’d write letters on pink stationary, write in my journal, read a novel, or better yet, work on my novel.  Occasionally, we’d jot off to the headlands, which seemed so far away (but is only about .75 of a mile away according to Thursday’s garmin recording).  Back then, we didn’t head back up to our apartment until nearly every beach-goer had gone home.  I’m not gonna say, “Those were the days,” because I wasn’t a runner then (I was a roller blader, a swimmer, a jazzersizer and OMG a smoker!), so I was missing out on a bunch – but they were wonderful days nonetheless. 

So there I was this past Thursday, trotting (yes trotting) back down to the beaches that I spent so many countless hours in the early years of my history in The O.C.  I wasn’t missing those days.  They just occasionally kissed my mind as I took in new times on these same beaches – this time, approaching 50 years old, with three sons and a wild-crazy home, downtown in the same beach resort. 

As soon as my feet hit the sand on Salt Creek Beach, I took a right and headed toward Monarch Beach.  Problem with the recent rains – Monarch Creek flowed heavily into the ocean.  There was no hopping this without getting my feet wet.

With my heart intent on running Monarch, I took a seat in the sand.  There were few people on the beach – a thong-bikini clad lady ran barefoot along the sand.   A gentleman did pushups up by the dirt trail.  I unlaced my shoes, shoved my socks inside and not so gingerly trudged across Monarch Creek.  My feet sank into the wet sand, as my mind relished the cool rushing water. 

On the other side of the creek I was free!  Free to conquer the remainder of Monarch Beach.  Birds barely flinched as I trotted up on them barefoot in the sand. 

I did some boulder “running” to practice for Calico which is about a month away.  These rocks however, unlike the ones that don’t seem to move in the desert, wobbled like teeter-totters when I pounced on them.  I only fell once – it was a hard solid fall, with the ground giving no resistance.  I pushed myself back to my feet happily unscathed. 

The rocks along Monarch Beach:

After Monarch, I ran back across the creek (taking my shoes off again), ran along Salt Creek, and then The Strands.  I stopped when I hit The Headlands where I photographed some sea anemones and watched the waves crash up on the rocks. 

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Day Two: Mentally Sensitive / Mathis Loop

The coastal trails in Aliso/Wood Canyons opened back up on Friday.  Grudgingly, I had to come to terms with a nagging ankle problem that I believe is not really an ankle problem, but a heel problem.  My hunch is that the stiffness and low-level pain that I’ve been denying is related to my on-going plantar fasciitis.   Frequent calve stretching along Aliso Creek Trail alleviated the situation within about the first mile (which further points to a plantar fasciitis problem).

Anyway, the trails were muddy, and my climb up Mentally Sensitive proved quite strenuous.  I worked up quite a sweat, as I slid back three feet for practically every foot of progress (fun!). 

In all, I covered 10.7 miles, with 1,274’ of elevation gain.  Felt good.  And I was tired. Winking smile

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

7.8 Mile Loop

Miles are hard to come by (as usual lately – but I am not complaining). Really.  I’m not.  I’m just so happy to hit the trails when I can.  Saturday, my feet finally hit dirt once again.  Yay!  I ran a 7.8 mile loop, which entailed running into Wood Canyon, then up Cholla Trail.  Cholla is a short, STEEP incline up to the ridge. It’s usually a pretty boring, and kinda tough stint.  But on Saturday, I saw two deer on Cholla – and I don’t think I’ve ever seen any deer on this trail. 

From West Ridge, I ran up and down those rolling hills, tiring easier than I did a few months ago.  At Top of The World, which overlooks Laguna Beach, I caught a giant glimpse of the grand Pacific, and was a-okay over my performance (mediocre as it was, it wasn’t my performance that mattered – it was the dirt beneath my feet!)

Top of the World:

It was on the back of my usual out-and-back that I decided to make this run a loop.  I ran down Mathis Canyon Trail into Wood Canyon, returning to my truck with plenty of daylight and time to get to the chores back at home. Smile

View of Saddleback Mountains from Top of Mathis:

Wood Canyon, homeward bound:

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