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Friday, October 2, 2009

"Don't Forget to Slow Down in Life."

As I drove my two oldest boys to school this morning, I smiled wide and said, “I’m SO HAPPY.”

“Why?” They asked.

“Because I’m going running.”



“Oh,” my oldest said with a look that seemed to say, I still don’t get it.

I haven’t seen Top of the World in weeks. Driving to Canyon Vistas Park, I felt giddy. The sky was blue with white wispy clouds. I knew it was going to be hot, but who cared? I didn’t.

I buckled my running belt (phone, pepper spray, gum, etc.) and strapped on my camelback with more than enough water to take me to the top and back (see “Quickest Route to Top of the World” 9/10/09). Then I put those headphones on and ran down Canyon Vistas Park into Aliso / Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, feeling a little anxious about running up Cholla. “Don’t think about it,” I told myself. “You know you can do it.”

I couldn’t have cared less how hard it was running up Cholla. Yup, it was hard, but it was GREAT. Wearing a cotton t-shirt so I’d really get the full affect of the climb’s difficulty, I was drenched in sweat by the time I reached Westridge. One really nice thing about Cholla is that it twists and turns. That makes it difficult to concentrate on the top, being that I can’t see it. The end comes out of nowhere. I like that. I look to the ground and put one foot in front of the other. The knowledge that I’ve done it before, plus the fact that I know that Cholla trail is not very long, helps.

Hitting Westridge was a relief to say the least. Ahead of me, a trail of rolling hills swept off into the distance, with Top of the World looking, oh . . . so . . . far . . . away. Westridge has two really difficult spots: 1) just before reaching Mathis, the climb is quite steep on sandy-dirt, and 2) when almost to the top, there’s another longer, sandy, but with some nice flat rock mixed in to nearly finish it off.

I picked up my speed to run to the edge where I eagerly looked over. The Pacific Ocean was a nice dark blue today. A few cyclists rested at the benches there, as hikers who parked at the top, made their way down Westridge with walking sticks. I ran down into the park, and thought about the wall post from a new Facebook friend, Ileana G. (whom I met at the Writer’s Conference). She wrote, “Hello wonderful people! Don’t forget to slow down in life . . .”

For the first time, in who knows how many times I’ve run to the Top of the World, I took a stroll through that park. I knew about the tennis courts. But I didn’t know there were six of them! There’s also a finely manicured, full-size baseball field back there. And metal sculptures of life-size whales diving into the grass (with just their rear fins emerged) hid behind the courts. This I never knew! I walked beneath the arbors that I didn’t know existed either, when I reached the final surprise: a basketball half court.

After fully discovering the park, I ran back to the trail to the sign that warned that I was entering mountain lion territory. I recalled my earlier paranoia over mountain lions, overcoming that and devising (thru research) a game plan should we ever meet (older blogs found on my MySpace page).

I joyfully, yet carefully, ran up and down Westridge. I was having so much fun, that I toyed with the idea of heading down Mathis for a longer route home. I fought against that urge. Don’t ruin a good thing, I told myself. Just do these few miles – remember you’re taking it easy for a while.

Yes, I’m taking it easy. : ) I finished off Westridge, then ran back down Cholla, past three cyclists struggling up that thing. Then back through the park, I ran to the car where I stretched and finished off my water.

I got lost driving home (again), still looking for that on-ramp to the toll road. : )

5.9 glorious miles logged today, my first run for October.


  1. Wonderful..............better yet.......spectacular. I feel like running with you and then slowing down in life, but not around mountain lions.

  2. Thanks for the nice comment Ileana! Come out and run any time. I haven't seen a mountain lion yet -- a bobcat once, but that beautiful creature scooted away faster than I had a chance to.