This morning, I woke at 5AM and met running friend Jeremy and carpooled up the mountain for my last mountain training run for the Saddleback Marathon. As we ran up the Main Divide toward Trabuco Trail, I fretted a bit about that climb come next Saturday. I had forgotten how difficult that first climb is. It’s dang steep and longer than I recalled. The weather was cool going up, a tiny bit windy in some parts. Overall, the views were breathtaking.
We recovered quickly from the Main Divide and took that beautiful downhill called Trabuco. Running Trabuco Trail is a great reprieve – shady, lush, though rocky, a nice long down hill. Sometimes Trabuco seems like it will never end. Not today because we caught this trail early on. Still I had to push it to keep up with my friend whose strides are much longer than mine.
When we reached West Horsethief I took off my sleeves, plugged in my ipod. I don’t recall if I mentioned to my running partner before then that I had planned to try and run West Horsethief in its entirety. I told another friend a couple weeks ago, and he thought I was crazy (Challenge!!). But after a gel, I told Jeremy my plans, which in my mind (after telling at least 2 people) meant that I HAD TO DO IT. (I’m so funny that way!)
Running Horsethief was not too bad at first, though it was still bad. Then . . . about a third the way up, it BECAME REALLY BAD. That’s not “bad” as in “good.” That’s “bad” as in damn difficult. I kept chugging away at it, keeping running form, though running quite slowly. I exclaimed out loud just how difficult the task was.
I have gone up this trail enough times to “know” it. But I have never run Horsethief in its entirety. I have never run most of it. I have only run the bottom flatter portion, and the very top.
Today, I knew that I could do it. All that mattered was whether I decided to chuck my goal if it grew too strenuous. Saying that I was going to run it out loud to more than one person helped (that only helps with some things), and reaching the half way point helped as well. Once I made it 75% of the way, there was not a chance I was going to stop running. And so for the first time in my trail running career (the first time in my life for that matter), I ran UP all of West Horsethief trail this morning.
The face of distress (yup, still running):
Gifted with gorgeous views this morning, we continued on running the Main Divide back toward the Saddleback Marathon finish line. The weather grew a bit warm, then we were blessed with some cool breezes.
Once we hit the Trabuco Trail again, it was all down hill on The Main Divide from there. That of course didn’t mean running was easy. The trail was rocky in some parts. At one point 2 motorcyclists raced around a corner, blowing dirt into my face. I waved my arms fiercely to warn them of another runner behind me. And for a brief second I feared the one idiot driver might hit Jeremy. Did these bikers not even have a clue that others would use that trail? I was a bit perturbed by them that when I came upon three rangers also on motorcycles, I tattled.
From there, I thought I’d try out my faster running muscles (from my speed training, ha, ha) and tried to run the finish as quickly as possible. I took quick small steps, careful not to drag my feet. In the end, I felt happy with my performance, and glad that the shoes I chose for next Saturday did me good on the rockiest portions of today’s run. The shorts however, did not do well, with major chaffing in the waist line.
The final stretch before the finish line next Saturday – a lovely, shady single-track. I wasn’t exhilarated with Jeremy’s suggestion to go UP Horsethief for today’s run (because you might recall, I HATE that trail). But tonight I am so glad. Thanks for pushing me!