TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Tres Dias Mas

I’ve added three more days to my Easter streak, but time is so short, I’ve had little time to contemplate on them. 

Day 19:  I got out late, though I did manage to get in a beloved mountain run.  I drove to Silverado Canyon, and then Maple Springs Road to where the asphalt ends.  It’s a single lane road, that is, not one lane each way.  No, it’s one lane period.  Carefully I drove that road even as eager as I was to finally hit dirt.  And hit dirt I finally did.  I ran up hill on Maple Springs for 4.5 miles.   A mountain biker passed me as he rode downhill and exclaimed, “You’re Awesome.”  Wow.  I never feel awesome.  I should re-state that.  I feel awesome, meaning, I immensely enjoy where I’m at and what I’m doing.  But as a person, measuring my accomplishments, I don’t think I’m awesome one bit.  In fact, I constantly fall miles short.  I am a classic low self-esteem person.  So, when this cyclist hollered this out to me, I felt blessed.  I thought, “How nice he is, and how neat that I am a recipient of his niceness.”  

From “Four Corners,” I turned the bend in the rocky road and headed up toward Modjeska peak for 1.5 additional uphill miles.  I only made it to the point however, as time ran out for Saturday’s run.  At the point, I took in the hazy view, ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, then turned back for a glorious 6 mile downhill run.  With about 4.5 miles remaining, two dirt bikers flagged me down to tell me this:  “We admire you. We really do!!”  Wow.  I hope that I am a stranger that makes someone’s day once in a while. SmileTotal miles run 12.02. (19.34 km). 

Day 21 (Easter Day):  I planned on getting a run in during the morning hours of Easter.  The morning flew by however, so I was left throwing my shoes and garmin into the car as we rushed off to my parents home in Fallbrook.  After an Easter lunch and way, way too many sweets (as my no- sweets-during-lent had ended), I headed out the door for a minimum run just to keep up my Easter streak.  I ran Dinwiddie Preserve for a grand total of 1.28 miles (2.06 km).  And I was happy to do it.  Note to to self:  Don’t forget to pack a sports bra!!!

Day 21: This was not a good day.  To begin, I dreamt in great detail that I was Jewish and in a Jewish concentration camp.  The dream was heavy, too heavy and too detailed.  A couple things that I explicitly recall are: 1)  I said to myself again and again as I registered as  Jew and checked myself into the camp, “This has already been endured.  You just must endure it again,”  and 2) the utter filth in the bedding that we were forced to lay in (though I brought my own clean bedding along with me, which was promptly thrown out when I arrived). 

Among other things on this day, which I will not categorize here, I jumped off my front porch, catching my hand on a rose bush.  A thorn tore, and I mean TORE through my ring and middle fingers, leaving a bloody mess that would not relent.  Besides that and other things (like I broke my husband’s windshield!) and one of my baby brothers went into emergency surgery last night, I was worn out mentally.  (My baby brother’s fine now, but I witnessed him in a great deal of pain yesterday, Easter Sunday.  I am so thankful that he has such a terrific wife.  She got him to the hospital despite preliminary doctor’s findings that they would “monitor,” his pain.  Turns out he was diagnosed wrong and had a ruptured appendix all along, that he suffered with for EIGHT days.)   Anyway, I’m off subject.  The point of this blog is that I did manage to streak day twenty-one.  I took a short drive and ran up Aliso Creek Trail into Wood Canyon.  From there I turned off on a single track for one of my happy places, “Dripping Cave.”  I spent a little time relaxing in the cool and shady Dripping Cave, then headed back out to Wood Canyon where I finished up my run with 6.11 miles (9.83 km).  I’m not sure if this made the day better, but I know I’m better for it.  And I did get a bit of tranquil thoughtlessness.  That’s always a good thing. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Add Three More Days To My Streak

Day 16: Wednesday; I didn’t get out for a run until after the sun had already set.  For the first time that I can remember, I wished for reflective wear as I ran down Highway One.  For a moment I considered wearing my headlamp.  But vanity got the best of me, and I decided on a light colored shirt instead (light blue).  Okay, so I quickly ran off the streets, into the wharf and marina where cars cannot venture.  Miles run:  3

Day 17:  Thursday, I ran in Whiting Ranch which is in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains (Saddleback Mountains).  I avoid Whiting Ranch because that’s the location that most of the cougar activity I hear about comes from.  A cyclist was killed there some years back by a cougar.  He was reportedly stooped down fixing his bike.  A couple days later, that same cougar dragged off a woman.  She survived.  Fast forward some years -- just last week, a cougar was shot for acting aggressively and “stalking” a family.  Needless to say, being a lone runner, this is a place I avoid (call me stupid, because there’s cougars other places that I run, this particular area though seems to have the most reported activity.)

Thursday however, I ran with a girlfriend whom I have haven’t run with in a few years.  Victoria contacted me early in the week, and after a short deliberation, we decided upon Whiting Ranch.  I printed up a map the night prior.  She read it while we ran (because I run without my reading glasses), and we ran through lovely, green wooded areas for eight miles.  She kicked my butt, needless to say.  I’m so used to lollygagging about the wilderness without needing to keep up with another runner.  It was a wonderful run, and Victoria kept me on my toes no doubt!

Whiting Ranch:

Day 18: 1.35 miles: Friday; I am so wiped out from many days and evenings of work (both teaching adults and substitute teaching children), that it took all that I had to run out the door and put in the minimum.  I ran 1.35 miles into town.  My feet dragged.  Back at home, I did ten burpees in the kitchen.  Then feeling badly for struggling so much for such a little load, I took in fifty squats.  Call me crazy.  Cuz I am.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nostalgia

Day 14: I hit the trails in Aliso/Wood Canyons Wilderness park.  The weather was perfectly warm with an almost hot breeze, a nostalgic breeze.  The weather brought back many memories as I ran through the two canyons.   I’ve been running the trails in this park for a long time.  There was a time I could get lost here.  There was a time that I did get lost here.  There was a time when I had not yet run every single trail in the park.   Now I know them all. 

On the morning of my 14th day in this running streak, I decided to take the toughest climb to the ridge.  That’s right, Mentally Sensitive (better known in my mind as “Psycho Path.”) 

It’s deceiving at first:

After all the nice, pretty stuff, Mentally Sensitive dumps you out onto an asphalt road for a little jaunt.  There was this guy to warn me off from the evils of “Psycho Path.”

But I didn’t take his warnings because sometimes I am insanely determined.  It was pretty dang miserable too, so steep and difficult it was.  Can it get any better?  This is the top of Mentally Sensitive:

And this is at Top of the World (overlooking Laguna Beach):

I finished up the eleven trail miles a little sluggish, as the warm winds brought back memories of finishing up these trails with drastically less vigor.  I recalled coming out of this canyon many times ready to collapse.  I recalled the friends that I suffered with on these very trails in hot, hot weather, and how we quietly bonded in our suffering.  Boy!  That’s great stuff.  Remembering those runs nearly made me cry. 

When I got home I registered for a Spartan Race (come September!  One month prior to Twin Peaks!!!).  What the heck was I thinking?   It was the nostalgia I tell you!  Winking smile Nostalgia made me do it.  Wasn’t that what got me into trail running in the first place? Yes, indeed it was.  If I hadn’t camped in Calico as a young Girl Scout, I probably wouldn’t be a trail runner today. 

Day 15:  I began my burpee training.  And as my husband watched me struggle off to the side, he said, “Ummmm, I think you have a problem.”  He said out loud what I knew.  How can I be so weak and at the same time be able to run for so many miles.  Well, first off, I hardly cross train any more.  And I also don’t swim any more.  Something to change.  But first, after a good sweat and some rapid burpee heart beats, I took off for a minimum run around the neighborhood.  On the 15th day of my running streak, I ran 1.32 miles.  Smile

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Recovery

I used the 13th day of my Easter running streak as a recovery.  I ran out the door, down to the closest beaches and ran to where the sidewalk ends.  I don’t walk around well, but I ran just fine today.  On my way down the highway, I ran past another runner.  As we approached face-to-face, I thought he was waving to me.  Turns out (I only figured this out seconds too late), he was trying to high-five me.  That’s just so dang nice. I’m bummed that I missed the chance to high-five another runner.  I guess I’m still a little dinged from yesterday’s run.

Miles run today:  5.70

Where the sidewalk ends:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Not Ready

I overslept this morning and changed my mountain running plans to coastal hills running plans.  Then I changed my plans back to mountain running.  My feet didn’t hit dirt until after 9AM.  That’s okay though.  I felt rested and strong as I started the first leg (the uphill leg) of my version of The Candy Store loop.  There many variations of this “loop” out there.  The main parts of the run however, are always the same:  Around 20 miles long, it starts or ends in the lot across the highway from The Candy Store, and goes to Blue Jay Campground, with the main trail being a long technical, rocky Chiquito Trail (which passes by Chiquito Falls, dry now for a good long while).

Fortunately, I experienced a cool breeze practically all day.  Also in the fortunate category:  I am still immune to poison oak, as the shady portions of today’s run were covered with the plant.  However, unfortunately, I was NOT ready for this difficult run.  I felt so fatigued, I experienced light-headedness and needed to force down additional calories.  I also poked my leg by running into cactus, resulting in a trickle of blood.  Then I fell flat on my butt running down a steep Old San Juan Trail.  Running the uphills on the return “downhill” portion really got my goat.  At one point, I turned a bend to find another uphill on my “downhill” route and hollered out a profanity.  

On the slightly humorous, Lauren-peculiar side, a set of hikers stopped me with three miles remaining for my run and asked, “How much longer?”  At that point, my brain could hardly form a thought.  But I did manage to sound like a ditzy broad when I replied “How much longer to where?”  (It always cracks me up when people ask me how much longer, as if I know where they are going).  The group of three looked at me questioningly until I re-phrased my question to “Where are you going?”  One of the guys answered, “Chiquito.”  Still barely able to form a coherent thought, I answered, “You’re on Chiquito.” 

Turns out they were  hiking to Chiquito Falls (which I should have guessed – duh!).  And though I figured out “how much longer” after we parted ways, I was only able to tell them that the falls are five miles from the parking lot.  I forgot to mention that the falls are dry.  Smile

Despite not being ready for this run, I did finish it.  I finished it without collapsing and without calling 911.  I didn’t even run out of fluids.  Hooray for the fresh water in Blue Jay!  Who cares that my lower left calf aches (grocery store accident), and the plantar fasciitis in my right foot is having a painful flare-up. 

Going Up . . .

Much Appreciated Shade:

So, so, so happy to hear the cars from the road way down there – I was almost, almost finished:Running Candy Store Loop 4-12-2014, Elevation

Route:  San Juan Loop, Chiquito, Viejo Tie, San Juan Trail, Long Canyon Road in Blue Jay, Old San Juan, Chiquito, San Juan Loop.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Minimums

IMG_0093This week is spring break for me and the boys.  Early on, we packed up and headed for the woods in the Cleveland National Forest with Papa (my hubby).  The weather was warm for early spring (90F +), the grass was lush and green.   We took mountain hikes with ocean views.  We hiked down a long ravine in search of a small waterfall that we never found.  We sat around the campfire and told stories.  We roasted marshmallows.  The boys learned to tie different knots.  This wasn’t a time however, for a lot of running.  It was family mountain time.  So, after our hikes, I put in some minimum miles to keep up my Easter running streak.   

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Day 8:  After a walkabout and setting up camp, I ran about the campground for 1.73 miles.

Day 9:  We took a good long hike in the morning.  Then before our evening hike, I ran along San Juan Trail for 1.20 miles. 

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Day 10: Back at home, late evening, I went off to the grocery store to put some food in our bare cupboards.  An employee was pushing one of those motorized carts that was stacked so high he couldn't see over it.  I didn't even hear him coming down the aisle when he plowed into the back of my legs.   My left calf hurt so much, I couldn't stand or keep my breath very good.   The damage:  broken skin, a small cut, a big bruise and a lot of swelling.  After some icing and a little "shaking out," I was okay. But, it was not a good scene -- the guy who hit me felt so badly, he was falling over himself with apologies. I was so afraid he was going to be fired, the manager was so afraid I was going to sue him. The fright that I got was the worst part.  The injury was not terrible, but bad enough, that I decided to put in another minimum and ran 1.81 miles around town.

Day 11:  I set my alarm to wake early and put in a good long run.  However, my leg ached still.  I decided to give it another day of rest and opted for yet another minimum.  This afternoon I ran 1.42 miles about town. 

Thus ends my several days of minimums (hopefully).

All’s well that ends well.  Smile

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

On the Seventh Day

Day 5 (Saturday):   Taught a six hour computer class and found it difficult to get out the door when I arrived home.  I did manage to continue this streak with a 1.23 mile run around town. 

Day 6 (Sunday):  I went on a hike with my boys and a good friend for 3.5 miles along Tijeras Creek and Arroyo Trabuco trails.  My family and my friend thought this should have counted for my running streak.  But I didn’t run on the hike, so it didn’t count.  Winking smile  Back at home, I ran out the door into downtown and back, for a 1.34 mile run.

Day 7 (Today!) : This evening, I finally found a little time to run out the door for a nice distance.  I thought I’d probably put in three miles (certainly wanted to do more than my minimum requirement).  I had an urge to run along the headlands, so I headed out that way, not really sure where I would run.

A Quick Stop at the Gazebo overlooking the Marina:

View from The Headlands:

Just getting to The Headlands pushed me on further in the 7th day of my Easter running streak.  I mean, I was so, so close to the ocean, I simply had to pay her a visit.  And so, I ran down from The Headlands to The Strands (AKA, Dana Strands) to check on my sea creatures in the tide pools before I headed onward for a sand run along The Strands and Salt Creek.  I spent some time at the base of The Headlands, taking in the waves as they crashed upon the rocks.  I relished the glossy black mussels and green sea urchins as I dodged waves slowly moving upward on the rocks.  Tide was rising, I could tell.  Foot prints had disappeared on the sand.  Sand castles were being flooded by waves. 

Sunflower (named so by me) Sea Urchins:

My Lovely Green Friends:

In all, I ran 6.29 miles on the 7th day of my Easter streak.  And all of it was lovely.  Yes, a little difficult at times, especially the up hills, but lovely still.