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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Docent-led Trail Run on the Fremont, Blind, Weir Loop

Up early, early again this morning for a 6:30 docent-led "intermediate-advanced" run. The morning was so very cool for an August morning in California. The skies were blue and spirits were high among the 12 runners.

I have two words to describe my running performance on this eleven mile run (pardon my bad attitude and language): I sucked.

After a couple hundred flat yards we began about a two mile climb that I just could not hack. It wasn't hot, and there was plenty of shade. The group was good, the docents were friendly. I simply could not hang. And it was that way the entire run for me -- exhaustion, like I could barely lift my feet off the earth. Negative self-talk was an added hurdle.

Irvine Lake in Distance

Looking Back Over Approx. 2 Mile Climb

A Rest Near The Top (& I'm not in a smilin' mood)

Down in Weir Canyon

Docent Shares His Knowledge

Cougar Tracks? (They measured the size of my fist -- not a bobcat's tracks)

And More Climbing . . .

The last 3 or so miles of the run, eight of the runners got out so far ahead that they were no longer in view. And the remaining 2 runners were so far behind me, I couldn't see them either. The trail seemed pretty straight forward, but now in with the heat and lack of shade, I grew worried that I had taken the wrong path. I just expected to run down when the end was near (but it wasn't near, despite my hopes). Then at one point, I took a fork in the trail that headed downward. I ran that trail until it dead-ended. Fatigued, I turned myself around and ran back up that trail and continued on to another fork. Following the footsteps in the dirt, I ran straight instead of down to the right (not wanting to duplicate my earlier error).

A bit later, I saw a group of people down off in the distance on a paved road. Thinking these were the runners, I turned around AGAIN and ran back down to the last fork. There I ran the other trail that lead downward. After a couple minutes though, I had to face the fact, no fresh footprints, this wasn't the trail to lead me back. And so I turned around AGAIN and headed back up to the fork and continued onward.

Well, I ran and ran, up and down rolling dirt trails, completely unsure I was headed in the right direction. The runners behind me were nowhere in sight, and I feared that waiting for them would do me no good if I had taken the wrong trail. And so onward I ran, checking my phone. It read 9:30 AM, and "No Service." Heck. At least, I still had plenty water in my camelback.

Up ahead I noticed the toll road, and remembered early on looking back on that. The fact that I was running towards it, gave me hope that I headed in the right direction. I just needed to get beyond that toll road, so that I could look back on it again. I was pretty demoralized and continued running, sweating pretty good, thinking, where's that damn pile of coal that the docent pointed out? I remembered just beyond that, he pointed out the dam to Irvine Lake.

Eventually that lonely road veered to the right, and I finally caught sight of the dam! Damn!!! Before long, that large mound of coal came into sight and I ran straight on into the staging area where a 9 of the 12 runners were resting and a big ice chest full of cold Gatorade awaited me.

I have to take this as just a bad day, and not bash myself for utter poor performance. It happens to everyone, and it's happened to me before (plenty of times). Still, I thought I was out of the woods for something this hard on me. At least I didn't get dehydrated. And even more importantly, I didn't fall.

But I have to explore, what did go wrong? Last night I woke every hour for some reason. And this morning, I did something that I never do before big, early runs: I ate breakfast -- peanut butter on whole wheat toast. I know that isn't much, but it's different than my usual habit. And speaking of running habits, usually I get my mileage in over 3 days of running. This week, I did it in 4.

Oh well. I'm hoping for better runs, and more importantly triumph over the voice in my head that says, "I suck" when things like this happen.

Miles logged this morning: 11

OCTR Members
Front Row: Me, Luis, Polly, Victoria
Back Row: Daniel, Tom


  1. Lauren,
    Your pictures are great as always!

    That was a a difficult run, especially the last part - don't be so hard on yourself.