TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Wandering

sequoiaI may have always been a  wanderer.  It’s been told more than once that my father lost me in a park when I was about two years old.  The fire department found me and brought me back to Dad.  I do not remember the event, but I’m pretty sure that I probably wandered away from my unsuspecting father.  I do things like that. 

I think it’s probably my parents who taught me to wander.  As a family, we often took day trips out to the coast, exploring different locations from from San Diego to LA county.  We drove so many places -- to Tiajuana, the Sequoias, Solvang, Oregon and Seattle.   I remember bike rides that took us miles away from home.  And drives up to Azusa Canyon to collect aluminum cans that we turned in for cash to pay for Disney trips.   Often when we headed back from adventures, my parents drove surface streets exploring exotic neighborhoods (in places like Bel Air) on the way home.  It was not uncommon to hear, “I wonder where this road leads?”

In grade school and later, junior high and high school, I explored all the downtown buildings, including the living quarters above the stores.  They were dark, dingy and full of mystery. I met lots of interesting people and found strange hidden places.  I knew every park within walking distance, and all the side trails to get there.  I wandered into the empty storage rooms of the local library where I hung out during summer days.  I wandered into churches (as they always left their doors opened) and roamed alone through long hallways and curtained back stages.    I often walked aimlessly for hours.  I did the same thing on my bike, first a ten-speed, later a beach cruiser.  I wandered along creeks, lakes and reservoirs, parks and even construction sites.  Later in life, as a young adult, I was again wandering aimlessly for hours but behind the wheel of my car.  I drove into Los Angeles and roamed the streets of the city.  During all these wanderings (in my hometown no less!) I met my wanderer in crime (my future husband) and we wandered along the trails of central California’s coast, through Indian ruins in Arizona, caverns in New Mexico, among red rocks and meadows in Utah, and various other places in Colorado, Texas and Missouri.

Central California / Early 1980smontana de oro 80smontana de oro 80s 1San Gorgonio Mountains / Mid 1980ssan gregoronio 85

Wandering about “Old West” mines in Utah / late 1980s

antimony

Antimony 93 1Even during college, married and working a 40 hour week, I was wandering.  I’d lace up my tennis shoes and roam the city during my lunch breaks where I explored all the skyscrapers, riding their elevators to the top.  When we could, my husband and I were off on a road trip to explore new areas, or return to old ones in places like Utah and Texas.  When I “grew up” and had children of my own I was still a wanderer, strapping my boys into the stroller and spending entire mornings and afternoons wandering about the beaches and harbor in our beach town.  I guess it should come as absolutely no surprise to me then, that I eventually became a trail runner.  I mean, it seems a natural progression really.

Utah / early 1990santimony 93

More mines in Utah / early 1990sheadlands1

Trails in Missouri / 1990sMissiouri 93

Back in Utah mid to late 1990santimony 95

Roaming The Headlands in my hometown on a rainy day in the late 1990sheadlands

And here all along, through my aching feet and suffering these past few years, I’ve been clutching onto the “running” part, as if I let it go, I would lose who I am.  But I am not a runner.  Not really.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have loved running.  But running is just something that happened along while I roamed.  I am a wanderer.  And I can loosen my grip, hell I can completely let go of the running part if I need to.  I think I had forgotten that and have been caught up with the “running” part of trail running, when all along I just needed to explore new trails.   I can hike to wander, I can ride, I can drive.  It does not matter, any form can satisfy wanderlust.  With this new revelation, I have found once again my freedom.  I am free.  I can run or I can not run.  It does not matter either way, as long as I roam, as long as I wander.

Yesterday, I got out to do a little roaming in some of my regular stomping grounds.  I ran mostly, but I hiked too, and I did not fret about that.  It was just great to get out there and wander about. 

With about 6.5 miles and 1,000’ of elevation gained, I got in a lovely, cool and sometimes muggy run overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  It was glorious, and more than enough to qualify for a wandering.  Smile

Do you like to wander?

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Summer is Here

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOne way to make the heat in my local hills seem like nothing, I mean absolutely nothing,  is to run in Corona (Riverside county).  This of course I did last weekend.  Then, on Thursday, I hit the trails again.  This time in my normal stomping grounds, Aliso/Wood Canyons.  I took off for the trails during the afternoon precisely to get myself more accustomed to the heat.  It felt like a cool spring day compared to the treacherous heat in Corona.  It truly was a lovely summer day with blue skies, a hot sun and a semi-cool breeze. 

I stepped over a gopher snake in Aliso Canyon.  With its tail end sticking out of the brush, I could tell immediately he was not a rattler.  Then I turned into an empty Wood Canyon, empty because few venture out into these canyons during the afternoon in the summertime.  About two and a half miles in, I hopped over Wood Creek onto Mathis and made a quick turn onto Coyote Run.  Coyote Run meanders in and out of deep shade, where I stopped to take in the beauty and fully cool down. 

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From Coyote Run, I opted for the rigorous trail called Rock-It, duly named for its white rock floor.  Feeling stronger than I have in a long time, I took that trail to West Ridge.  On Rock-It I encountered my first people on these trails today – two different groups of hikers, 5 people total. 

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Though it seemed relatively cool to me, I surmised that it was not so for others by the looks on their faces as I made my way up West Ridge to Top of the World.  And then as I progressed, a fire truck with lights swirling drove down the ridge, and after that two more emergency vehicles.  When I arrived to the Top of the World, I found a vantage point where I could see a rescue effort way down on Car Wreck Trail.  My best guess was that heat exhaustion had overcome a hiker along that steep, exposed trail.  I think this because there was no helicopter evacuation.  It seems like when someone is physically injured, say a broken leg or such, a helicopter transports the victim out of the canyons.  (I never heard what happened, but am hoping that no news means good news). 

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Anyway, I closed up my loop by running down Meadows Trail, totaling 11.41 miles with 1,329’ of elevation gain.  I felt fine afterward.  However, my foot was wasted back at home.  I really am not sure what I am going to do about this.  I limped around all night, and woke this morning still in pain.  I skipped a run this morning, instead went for the gym membership.  I am stumped and a little dismayed.  Perhaps I will throw in the towel, get an MRI and take some months off.   I really am at odds about this.  Most of the time I am in denial and don’t think about what I should do.  But now, a calm has come over me, as I realize that the time is ideal to slow down and try to get healed. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

It Ain’t But One Hill

I “ran” Billy Goat’s 1/2 Marathon and Hill Climb on Saturday.  I typed “ran” in quotes because there was much hiking involved during the first 6.5 miles.  I don’t know why it was so dang tough –  just as the race director, Steve Harvey, promises, “it ain’t but one hill.”

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That one hill is called Indian Truck Trail.  And it starts at the base of the mountains in Corona, California and climbs up, up, up to The Main Divide.  That “one hill” though quite strenuous, would have not been so bad if it weren’t for the heat.  It was hot out there in Riverside County on Saturday.  HOT.  And being as spoiled as I am living on the cool coast, my body just rebelled. 

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The trip to the top was uneventful, meaning, I didn’t feel like I was going to die.  I took up the very back of the pack, noticing that nearly everyone suffered from the heat.  Boy was I ever happy to turn around and run downhill.  You see, there was little shade along Indian Truck Trail, so there was not much opportunity to cool off.

On the way down, I told myself to maintain between a 12 and 14 minute mile, which was asking a lot in the near 100 degree heat.  (I heard that it was 98 in the late morning).  This got so tough (keeping up the pace) that I resorted to song counting just to make the time pass quicker.  “You can’t look at the garmin until you listen to three songs,” I’d tell myself.  After a few miles, I felt that I would collapse if I did not slow down.  With absolutely no shade whatsoever for those last three miles, there was no relief.  I filled my cap with ice at the aid station, and aside from dripping salty water into my eyes, I’m not sure I noticed any difference.  Amazingly, I learned that the woman running alongside me for mile ten through eleven was 4 1/2 months pregnant!

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Oh how immense my misery was!  Miles eleven though thirteen, I wanted nothing more than to drop to the mountain floor and pass out.  I felt nauseated and a little confused.  And the only thing that I could do to cool myself down was to stop running.  And this I did often.  Then out of frustration over time passing too slowly, I’d pick up my feet again and trot some more.   

I crossed the finish line with only a few runners remaining on the mountain.  Immediately I held onto the timing table, wanting to fall to the ground.  My blood was boiling, I felt so hot.  People were so kind and helpful getting me to a chair in the shade, where they waited on me hand and foot – I got cups of cold water, ice on my neck, you name it.  Within about a half hour, my blood had stopped boiling and I was feeling almost back to normal.  Billy Goat is an event that I’m glad I finally got out to do – but I can’t put up with that kind of hellish misery anymore.  My God, why do I do this to myself? 

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Not Summer Yet

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESGym day yesterday, I was back on the trails late this morning.  I opted for a medium sized loop in Aliso and Wood Canyons.   I ran first through Aliso Canyon, turned off onto Wood Canyon Trail and made the first quick left onto Meadows.  Meadows is roughly 1.5 miles long, with the first half mile being relatively flat – exposed, but flat.  The remaining mile, still exposed, is a switchback with quite a climb, not quite brutal, but tough indeed.

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Though we were socked-in back at my house – the sun shined brightly in the canyons.  The marine layer hovered just offshore, hiding the Pacific Ocean.  My view from Top of the World was misty.  And I got some cool breezes because it’s not quite summer yet.  

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I struggled to pick up my speed for the last 4 miles of this 9.5 mile run.  The run down Mathis, though downhill, was still tough – a good heat training trick, since there is absolutely no shade.  I figured that if I averaged a better pace than normal, I’d have enough time to get some grocery shopping done before tending to the rest of my day.  I managed that, but it came at a price.  Not talking about the standard prices, like eyes stinging from sweat and some overheating (got that though too).  I’m talking about that dang foot trouble.  Oh well.  I went off to my afternoon meeting with a limp, then got so busy for the rest of the day, that I neglected to stretch and take care of the foot.  Doh!  I guess I could still do it tonight before I go off to bed.  But I probably won’t.  At the very least, I will tape.  Winking smile

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9.42 miles, 1,164’ elevation gain

Monday, June 15, 2015

Beautiful Disaster

Boy have I been fooled and spoiled by our marine layer.  Socked in every day, living in perpetual shade fooled me into thinking that I could drive to the top of Ortega Highway and run along Los Pinos Trail (and during the afternoon no less!).  Ummm, I practically stroked out.  Seriously, in the most beautiful, idyllic scenery, nausea set in, a familiar feeling I’ve experienced from heat sickness.  I needed to rest often, and wanted to collapse to the ground for a better rest, and probably would have if I wasn’t on such a remote trail. 

Well, with that said, it was a beautiful run (kinda run, mostly hike), and just a mere six miles, I did survive.  I even smiled often and posted “guess this trail” pictures to Facebook.  And as an added bonus point, I got a good ass-kicking on a terribly technical trail.  Kept myself upright the entire time.  Best of all, thank God, “Lordly, Lordy had mercy on me.” Smile

Scenes from the beautiful disaster:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Catching Up

The sun barely shines around here as we head off into summer.  Instead, most days the marine layer floats above us so thick that puddles form on the ground.  Often, I need to run the wind shield wipers as I drove the boys to school in the morning.  June gloom we call it. I much prefer blue skies

Despite the gloom and crazy-hectic schedule, I have managed to get in two solid weeks of training (though I haven’t written a single word about them). I am so pleased to have succeeded in actually training these past two weeks – and perhaps I owe my progress in part to my two new Marine Corps Historic Half  hats sent to me by Lumberjack (notice the pink and white caps in the photos below).   I think the east coast has better hat vendors then we do on the west – these are the softest most comfortable hats I’ve ever worn! I love them. 

And so, without further ado, it is time to catch up on my training notes.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMonday, June 1, the sun decided to show its face early in the afternoon.  I set out for the steepest trail in Aliso/Woods Canyons, taking on Mentally Sensitive Trail at a snail’s pace.  It was one of those rare occasions lately that when I reached the ridge I could actually see the Pacific Ocean – It was not covered by a blanket of clouds.  Feeling somewhat out-of-shape, I closed up my loop by running down Meadows, a nice steep switch-back into the canyon.  The prizes for this run:  I ran up on two snakes and ran 8.16 miles with 1,029’ of elevation gain.

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My two snakes:

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Tuesday, June 2, it was dark and gloomy and I just couldn’t bear getting out there on the trails. I hit the gym and did 6.13 miles on the motion trainer, 10.81 miles on the bike and got in some weight training.

Wednesday, June 3, I was back at the gym, mainly because of time constraints, and it was so damn gloomy out.  I did 4.81 miles on the elliptical crossramp and 5.98 miles on the cycle before rushing out the door. 

Thursday, June 4, it was once again back to the gym beneath dark cloudy skies, with 7.14 miles on the motion trainer, 4.7 miles on the cycle and some more weights. 

It was not until Friday, June 5, when the sun finally decided to grace us with its appearance that I headed out for another run.   I was pretty dang bummed out when I realized that I had forgotten my garmin.  So, I sat in my truck for a good twenty minutes and downloaded the MapMyRun app onto my phone, set up an account etc., to find that the gps app added about two miles onto my run, crossing me over 8 lanes of the toll road even.  Whoa.  Since this out-and-back is a usual route for me, I have lots of data on the course, so I know I ran approximately 6.8 miles with  961’ elevation gain.  I felt good about it. 

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Saturday, June 6, back to cloudy yucky skies, and the gym for 6.53 miles on the elliptical crossramp and some weights.  

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSunday, June 7, I waited until afternoon when the sun finally showed up, and ran a big loop at Crystal Cove and Laguna Wilderness.  This too is a semi-usual route, but this time, I ran it counter-clockwise because I hate, absolutely hate climbing out of this loop along No-Name Ridge which is a 4 mile uphill with no cover whatsoever.  This time, I ran down No-Name, all the way to the Pacific Ocean, which I stopped by for a quick “hello”.  In all, I ran 10.7 miles with1,462’ elevation gain.

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Monday, June 8, bye-bye sun (boo-hoo).  Back to the gym for 4.87 miles on the elliptical crossramp, 9.45 miles on the cycle and some weight training. 

Tuesday, June 9,  REST. Flirt male

Wednesday, June 10, the skies were dark and cloudy once again, but I decided to go to the sun.  After some freeway driving, and eventually some off-roading, I found myself in the lovely humid, but sunny Trabuco Canyon.   Much to my dismay however, gnats swarmed my face and ears.  Not having grown accustomed to those buggers this year, I was not able to embrace the gnats.  At one point, I snorted three up into my nose and aghast by this fact, I opened my mouth (never open your mouth in a swarm of gnats!).  With my mouth open, I swallowed a gnat or two, and chocked on them!  Almost just as bad as the gnats were the biting flies.  There were much fewer of these critters – but their bites were overwhelmingly annoying.  Still, it was a lovely, lovely run, so full of beauty (even going up the wretched W. Horsethief).  The terrain was also quite difficult, treacherous in fact, full of rocks and boulders where I nearly tripped and broke my neck a dozen times.  Thankfully, I kept upright the entire trip.  Obviously, I have grown out of practice on this technical terrain.   In all, I put in 5 miles during this short run, with 1,552’ of elevation gain.

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The base of W. Horsethief:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Going down W. Horsethief:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Thursday, June 11, the marine layer once again socked in the coast and I put in 6.54 miles on the elliptical crossramp at the gym. 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFriday, June 6/12 I went out beneath wet, soggy skies for a big loop at Aliso/Wood Canyons.  A freaky, ghost-like cold mist blew through the canyons and the ridges alike.  The ocean was nowhere to be seen.  But that was okay.  I needed this run, and am happy I got to do it in cool weather.  I ran 12.47 miles with 1,258’ elevation gain.

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West Ridge & Meadows:

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Saturday,  June 13,  REST. Be right back

Sunday, June 14, we got some sun, but after a pretty social weekend, I decided to sleep in and hit the gym later with 4.78 miles on the elliptical crossramp and 11.65 miles on the bike.

And now, I am caught up.  Here’s hoping I can up the ante over the next two weeks.

Thanks again Lumberjack for the terrific hats!