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Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Different Take on The Same Trail

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFirst things first:  I am so flippin’ happy that we have cold weather once again (and its not really cold, but certainly relatively cold – LOVELY).

Secondly, I did not get out as early as I had wished.  But that is typical – pretty much since my drive went flying out the window a couple years back.  But all was not lost.  Why?  Because we have cold weather once again!  So, I don’t need to get out super early to avoid the heat. Hallelujah.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBeing that time was limited, I needed trails with a quick drive so that I could get my run in, and back in time to drive my boys out to Fallbrook.  But since it rained pretty much all day yesterday, our coastal trails were bound to be closed. Therefore, I had two choices (to my liking) with less than an hour drive:  Harding Truck Trail and Santiago Truck Trail, both located in Modjeska Canyon.  Santiago Truck Trail is slightly closer.  I chose that trail, but not because it’s a tad closer.  I chose this trail because I felt I’d probably enjoy it more being that it’s more technical, and seemingly a single track compared to a truck trail. (Parts of Santiago Truck Trail are wide enough for a truck, other parts, it would be a tight squeeze, whereas Harding is all truck trail the whole way – in fact, I’ve driven it).

Right from the start, I saw the trail up ahead crowded with mountain bikers – traffic jam crowded.  Seriously, there had to be 50 bikers (it was surreal!). And being that I needed to use the ladies’ room, I hiked off trail, upward, toward the peaks.  I needed to hike so far off trail before locating said ladies’ room, that I didn’t want to back-track the same distance to return to the trail.  So I decided to hike up the hill some more, hoping that I could find a route back to Santiago Truck Trail. (One thing I hate is backtracking!)

I did not find a route immediately back to Santiago Truck Trail.  But I did find a single-track along the ridge, that took me above and parallel to Santiago Truck Trail.  Eventually, I came upon a cross made of sticks and branches erected above the valley.  And then the trail finally meandered back to Santiago Truck Trail. 


SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI ran Santiago Truck trail for a bit longer until I found another single track that ascended up to a ridge.  Being that I was on a ridge roll, I took it and ran it back to Santiago Truck Trail once again.  I was able to by-pass all the mountain bikers taking these side trails, and it also gave me ambition to take one last side trail up to a flag high up on a hill (above the vulture crags that I usually run to, where a lower, easily reachable flag flies).  I had noted this one particular flag pole for several years now, oddly, never desiring to make the trek up to it – I suppose because there’s so many other landmarks on Santiago Truck Trail.  But today, I finally got up to it.  The scene was awesome from up there, the flags tattered and torn from the weather.  I really could not have asked for a more beautiful view.


In all, about 6 miles run, approx. 1,100’ elevation gained.

Friday, November 27, 2015

My Own Personal Turkey Trot

Aside from bouts of treadmill torture, I did not get out for my first run this week until Thursday morning, Thanksgiving Day.  And what a wonderful day to run.  Sure, it was on pavement, and that put great fear in my heart, as the pavement is not kind to my foot condition.  But the fear was quickly put to bed by the extraordinarily beautiful big, puffy clouds, some of them threatening to storm.  And the streets were so festive, humming with people, all wearing runners bibs for our city’s annual Turkey Trot.  As I ran, I did not spend the time to contemplate all the things that I’m thankful for (though I have lots to be thankful for).  Instead, I merely took in the scenes and ran with a blank mind (only occasionally performing random mathematical equations in my head or typing out strings of gibber on an imaginary keyboard). This is not to say that the short distance I ran was not difficult.  It was difficult.  But the best things are always difficult.  Right?

I ran slightly more than the turkey trot, around 4.10 miles (approximately 6.6 km, whereas the turkey trot is 3.11 miles, or 5 km).  No foot pain whatsoever.  Barely even a limp all day.  That I am truly thankful for, not to mention these gorgeous scenes along the way:


Happy Thanksgiving!

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.