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Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Road to Calico

This past Monday was the last opportunity for me to put in any miles before the Calico Ghost town race this upcoming weekend. So out of shape am I, I chose the relatively flat trail of Arroyo Trabuco for a little over twelve miles of out-and-back.

With all of our rain, the hills were green, and the creeks were flowing. What a delight to my senses! I made the first creek crossing dry, but ended up with wet feet at creek crossing number two. And I still had eleven miles to go! I cannot stress enough how difficult putting in the miles was on this big, old body. The beauty of it all, and the fact that I have the route mentally packaged into three distinct parts (x 2) helped to get me through it.

In a nutshell, Part I starts on Tijeras Creek Trail and meets up with Arroyo Trabuco about a mile in. This part runs a little over two miles with lots of shade, forests, meadows and two creek crossings. It ends with a climb up to Part II, which runs a little under two miles. Part II is not my favorite part. It’s void of shade, flat with a some-of-the-time a view of The Saddleback Mountains. It can be beautiful, but it’s so dang hot. Part III is a big welcome, as it begins with a down hill into more forest. There’s also more creek crossings, both wet and dry, and some street noise from the gigantic highway overpasses (two or three, can’t be sure right now). Part III ends in O’Neill park where I get clean restrooms with running water. It’s all very lovely, a great place to turn around and do it all again back to the truck.

Well, based on the fatigue factor for this run, Calico was surely going to kill me. Well, not literally kill me (hopefully anyway), but for sure beat the heck out of me. My game plan – just take it easy, enjoy the scenery, and hike all the inclines, running only the downhills and flats. That was my plan, and I was good with that, even rolling in last place. But then . . .  the race was cancelled. CANCELLED. My tenth year at Calico was cancelled due to the expected rain.

Well shucks.

The parts of Monday’s run:


Friday, January 13, 2017

If I can do it in a week, I can do it in a day

So last week (playing catch-up here again), I was at only about fourteen miles come Sunday. All the rain made it difficult to get time on muddy trails. But with a race coming up that I have run for the past 9 years, I felt pressured to put in more miles. Regardless, I’m dead meat in regards to this race, but still, I want to make sure that I can actually put in the miles (or rather kilometers, as it is a 30k). I recall recently saying to my friend Tom F., that “I can run the same amount of miles in a day that I can run in a week.” In other words, if I can run thirty-five miles in a week, I can run thirty-five miles in a day. It may take me an extremely long time, but I can do it. To this, my friend Tom responded, “Yes, you CAN run the same amount in a day, but that does not mean you SHOULD.”

Well, I squeezed out 6+ miles last Sunday to top twenty miles for the week (which is a little longer than my upcoming race). And then, I fell ill – aside from the rain and my illness, I have been able to log precisely ZERO miles this week. Perhaps Tom was right. Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should. Winking smile


Location: Aliso/Wood Canyons

Friday, January 6, 2017

Going with the Flow

I can’t even remember what day it was now. It was the 4th, yes, the 4th, which makes it a Wednesday that I actually dragged myself out of bed early in the morning and drove out to Trabuco Canyon. My plan was to run up Holy Jim trail and back down for a total of ten miles. Turned out, that I needed to practice something that I’ve been teaching myself for many years now – that is to roll with the punches, or rather go with the flow.

After a forty-five minute drive, I came upon a locked gate on Trabuco Canyon Road – locked due to the recent rains. In my youth, that would have dashed all my plans to the rocks. I would have returned home sulking, and it would have probably ruined my entire day. Now however, in my older, years, my goal is to wisely, yet quickly, come up with something new to satisfy my goal when something gets in the way.  Well, my goal was to get my legs used to mountain trails, and also, to experience the creeks now flowing with these past rains.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHaving parked on the side of the road two miles out from the Holy Jim parking lot, there was no way that I had enough time to make it up to The Main Divide and back. I had to work Wednesday evening, and I didn’t want to be rushing around too much when I finally arrived home, only to make the long drive out to my Wednesday night classroom. And so, going with the flow, I quickly changed my plans, and headed out to Holy Jim Falls (which I haven’t been to in a long time due to the drought).

Well, the creeks were flowing, and the landscape was wet and lush. I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day. Every single creek crossing was full. And the falls, well, I haven’t seen more than a dribble in a long time. On this day, there was actually a pool beneath what was much more than a dribble. And even better than that, I didn’t fall once, even though it was rough for me on those mountain trails. Coastal hills are wonderful, but they really don’t prepare me much for the mountain trails. Only mountain trails prepare me for mountain trails.

8.07 miles and my mission was accomplished. I got my legs out moving on mountain trails, and I got to experience the wonderful flowing creeks.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

First Run of 2017

Got out for my first run of the year this afternoon – 6.37 miles, 847’ of elevation gain. Man was I was surprisingly tired afterward. I know I’m supposed to be somewhat fatigued after running trails. But not this much. Must have been the route – Wood Canyon, Cholla Trail, West Ridge, to Top of the World and back. One of the hardest “short” runs I know.

Looking forward to some more difficulty in the next days (if I can get out there before the next big rain).

Cholla Cactus along Cholla trail:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESView of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLooking down into Laguna Canyon from West Ridge:


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Last Run of the Year 2016

Rained through the night Thursday, stopped by the time I woke. And though it looked dark and gloomy Friday afternoon, like it might pour rain any minute, I took my chances for one more trail run this year. Amazingly the trails were open in Wood Canyon, as usually, they shut down after every rain. Though they weren’t closed, the trails were practically empty, and they were muddy.

The skies were dreary. The clouds were gray and heavy. I put in 7.2 tranquil miles, an out-and-back through Wood Canyon. I came upon a few bikers, a couple runners too. But for the most part, I was completely alone – except for the critters, bunnies, squirrels and coyotes. I saw a pack of four coyotes, but they scrambled off before I was able to capture a good photo. At some parts of the trail, the mud was so slick, I needed to gingerly step to avoid a slip and fall. Don’t need another fall this year. Then with a mile left on those dark, lonely trails, the rain began to fall, and I made it back to my car under nightfall just in time for the deluge to fall.

Happy New Year everyone! Here’s to more trails in 2017.


Friday, December 30, 2016

To the Flag and Back

Thursday was intended as a gym day, but seeing how rain is in the forecast over the next few days, I decided to make it a run day instead. A short run – to the flagpole that overlooks these beach cities, and back.

My legs felt heavy, no doubt from the day before, but the fact that this was a “short” run kept me going. I hiked some to, as I do more nowadays on the inclines. And I took in lovely scenery – blue skies, white puffy clouds and the seemingly endless Pacific Ocean.  In all I ran just slightly over 4 miles. The route: Las Ramblas, Cerro Rebal, Forster Canyon, Patriot Trail to the flag where I turned around and ran the same way back.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Counting Steps

I got another day without rain, yesterday, Wednesday December 28. In an attempt to save some cash in toll fees, I opted to drive the coast to Ridge Park, overlooking Newport Coast. What I thought would be a leisurely drive through Laguna Beach, ended up being a holiday crowded frustration, taking much longer than I had intended. My feet hit dirt about thirty minutes past my plan.

Being so long off the trails, I’m not straight on my mileage anymore. I had hoped that I picked about a nine mile loop. But my “run” ended with the sun completely down, beneath a starlight sky and 10.82 total miles on the garmin. And those last miles, about three of them, were really tough. So tough, that I had to resort to the counting game to get me through them. I’m not sure why counting helps me during tough climbs. Maybe it just takes my mind off the struggle. At each hill, I’d make a guess on how many steps to the top, and set off counting. The closest I came during those last rolling hills was guessing 150 steps, when it turned out being only 130 steps. All other guesses were more than fifty less then the actual. The last hill, I didn’t even have the energy to count.

Wow. It’s been a long time since I’ve played the counting game12 28 16 a.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Route: Bommer Ridge, Moro Ridge, BFI, Crystal Cove State Beach, No Dogs, No-Name Ridge.