TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dirt Tastes A Whole Lot Better Than Pavement

Overslept for a 6AM run (because I need an hour or so before heading off for a long run), I finally made it out the door 6:22. I looked forward to this twenty mile run, not really wondering if I could do it, because I knew that I could. Actually, compared to the trails, I figured it would be a cinch. In the midst of our usual end-of-August heat wave, I carried a handheld for water, with several electrolyte tablets packed in the strap for refills along the way. Good thing. Can you believe it was already warm at 6:30 in the morning? Not just warm, but muggy.

On the way down PCH I met an out of town trail runner who asked for directions to the beach. I told her, as well as, what I thought would be about a five mile run. We joyfully compared the trail to the road, the trail of course so much funner. And I ended by pointing to my scabbed knee with a comment about falling on the trail.

At least I won't have to worry about that on the road!

This is how I progress my way through long runs: I break it into portions or "legs". And I work on just one leg at at time.

Leg One (5.28 Miles)
Leg one started off great, meeting a fellow trail runner as mentioned, I looked forward to some nice solitude, good music. And then . . . AND THEN (I practically weep thinking about it), I FELL! I actually tripped on a sidewalk crack and plummeted forward. I hit that sidewalk hard, knee landing first, and then I rolled to the left (instead of my usual right, I suppose because I held my water in my right hand). All the while, cars whizzed by.

Well, I was pissed. I mean, damn angry, grumbling profanities beneath my breath. How could this happen? I wasn't even running downhill. Scab blown off, my knee bled afresh. After cleaning it with an antibacterial wipe, I applied an over-sized band-aid and put my feet to the pavement, and continued running.

There are differences between falling on dirt versus falling on pavement. First off, pavement DOES NOT MOVE. There's no give whatsoever. That makes for a much harder impact. Also, when I fall on the trail, dirt completely covers my wounds, pretty much stopping the bleeding immediately.

Anyway, there was a dead duck on the sidewalk after that. And the air smelled of gasoline as I made my way inland. Occassionally, glass littered the way. And here and there a single sock laid in the gutter or in the landscaped planters. When the climbing began, I ran it stoically, never stopping (because these beach city hills, though steep, are nothing compared to say, Mathis or Cholla in Wood Canyon). Then toward the city's high point, I noticed a thin rope tied across the sidewalk, attached to a street sign. What the heck? Up a ways, another rope taut across the sidewalk.

The downhill was no thrill for me. My bandage saturated in blood, I moved on through this leg to a paved path that led me down to the city's northern most beach. Plenty of hikers made their way down this trail, which about half way posted a sign that read "Trail Closed -- DANGER of slide." I let my mind wander, thinking about my life, still angry about my knee, my shirt now irritating me as it rode up my waist. And then suddenly, a feeling of despair overcame me. "Don't think, don't think," I told myself. JUST RUN. And so, I kept on running, because I really had no choice as far as I was concerned. Besides that, Leg One's end was in sight.

Leg Two (1.94 miles)
I ran out under PCH to begin Leg Two. Plenty of runners made their way along this beachside path. Not a breeze stirred as I began another climb that ended running beneath the highway for a flight of stairs up to the apartment complex that my husband and I lived in for many years. (memories) From there I made another climb up the same hill I ran down a few miles earlier. I looked to the trees, desperate for air movement. Not a leaf stirred.

Leg Three (2.65 miles)
This leg began on a downhill, back toward the sea. The bloodied bandage weighed on my mind, and my shirt irritated me so terribly, I was about to rip it in two when I decided on a four block detour (8 total for a round trip) to head home for a new shirt and clean bandage.

Back on the road, more comfortable in my favorite green, snagged-up shirt, I ran through the town center where vendors set up today's market. It smelled of bell peppers, onions, nectarines and all sorts of wonderful produce. Few buyers strolled about at this early hour.

I crossed PCH once again and ran to the cliff that overlooks the harbor. The air was still. But my spirits now lifted with a new shirt and clean bandage, I ran down the stairway for a gorgeous run on the historic cliff side trail to end with another stairway back to the road. And then I was back again, running down the same highway, toward the same beaches I told the women how to get to a few hours earlier.

Leg Four (3.86 miles)
This phase was the longest, mentally, and the hottest, yet the flattest portion of the run. It was mainly on asphalt where I ran through a crowded campground that smelled of campfires and cigarette smoke. I ran the straightaway, the waves to my right unseen because of RV after RV parked against the sand.

When the sidewalk ended and I made that last turn around, I was not physically tired, but mentally so.

Leg Five (4.36 miles)
Finally! The beauty of the run! Shade!!! I ran up to the jetty, a multitude of long boarders off to my left waiting for that perfect wave. An actual breeze blew as I made my way through the crowded wharf, restaurants full of morning diners. People lined the sidewalk for day long fishing trips. Several other runners made their way alongside the marina's still waters, very few smiling. It was hot!

Leg Six( 2.44 miles)
Portion six ended coming off the island, where I ran past the marine institute to the cliffs that tower above the small beach there. Tide was high, the surf rather calm. And then it was homeward bound with one last hill to climb, which I ran confidently, all the way back home.

Well, that's enough of the road for now!

Trails, take me away.

Miles logged this morning: 20.53

Falls to date: 8 (But who's counting?)

ps. Back at home I asked my husband, "What's the matter with me? Why so many falls?"

He responded, "Didn't your family used to call you 'Grace' when you were a kid?"

(Well, first of all, I was never a goat, but . . . ) Oh ya, that's right. I almost forgot: I'm a clutz. Okay . . . I feel better now.

All is well in the world. : )

1 comment:

  1. Wow, 20 miles at a moment's notice. I'm impressed! Sorry about the fall, we're going have to give you a Purple Heart or something.

    "Let it be known that she who wears the trail-running order of the purple heart has given of her blood in the defense of her mileage and shall forever be revered by her fellow trail runners."

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