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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Top of the Mornin' (where else but on the Trail?)

Fall is upon us. And oh how I love that cool weather. My boys and I were actually cold driving to school this morning. I drove to Aliso / Wood canyons afterward, wondering whether I should have opted for long sleeves. There I was in shorts and short sleeves, strapping a camelback full of cold water onto my back, delighting in being cold. (I really have had enough of running in the heat).

Tom and I hit the trails at 8:30 sharp. The breeze was slight and wonderfully cool, the skies, blue with a mixture of puffy and wispy clouds. We ran Wood Canyon in downright shade -- sunglasses I pushed up on my head. What contrast it was to the past few months.

My running friend let me try his GPS on for size, after wondering outloud whether it was heavy. It wasn't heavy. I found myself staring it at so much, I feared that if I owned one, I'd probably fall on my face once or twice. Surprised to find us in the nine something minute mile a few times, I said, "Whoa, we better slow down."

After turning onto Mathis Trail, Tom continued running with me until the climb. I gave him back his GPS and he turned around for a six mile total round trip. Then I put my headphones on and continued running up Mathis Trail. I wish that I could adequately relay just how difficult it is for me to run up that thing. Perhaps I can shed a slight glimpse. I sweat salt running up Mathis, even in this cool weather. And the salt drips into my eyes which stings quite badly. At times, the grade is so steep that the only way to run it is on my toes, and when I try to force a mid-foot strike, my calves hurt. I ache to rest about five minutes in. But I concentrate on my breathing and refuse to think about how much longer I've got to go. And then when I reach the top of Mathis, I'm not even at Top of the World. I still have to climb Westridge. I say "have to" in a gleeful sort of way, because reaching Top of the World is a triumphant prize.

On Westridge, almost to the top, overlooking Laguna Canyon Road

Looking down from Top of the World -- the glorious Pacific in the distance

At Top of the World, I strolled through the park, eating my 200 calorie fruit and nut bar for breakfast. All six tennis courts were full as the meters below indicate (how funny -- meters? I didn't notice them on my last stroll).

Having cut back my mileage some (remember my break?) I felt much stronger cutting across the ridge neighborhoods. I ran on past all the "No Trespassing" signs posted into the ground and stapled into tree trunks, onto the single track that leads back to the wilderness park. Looking forward to seeing "my" Meadows trail -- that exhilerating switchback that leads down to the canyon floor -- I picked my pace up some. But, alas, no GPS to know for sure. Finally making it out of the neighborhoods, there before me grazed hundreds of goats on the slope. What a surprise! (A precious surprise -- they were so cute!)

Looking down (Meadows trail meandering at the base)

Something new at the park

Descending down Meadows

Finishing up Meadows

In all I ran 11.5 miles this morning. It sure didn't feel like it. Cutting back has really helped the overall fatigue factor. I'd been running myself ragged. : )


  1. Goats? Wow. that's pretty awesome! Great pics too.

  2. Whoa! As someone who suffers thru a 2 mile effort on local gym treadmill, I suddenly feel like a slacker. Thanks for bringing me along your great adventure (compared to my staring at the hanging tv monitor at fitness center). How awesome your return home must feel.

  3. Ya, goats! I was shocked to see them. They've got them fenced in a pretty big area (which I purposely left out of the pic).

  4. You're no slacker Avery. Spending any time at the gym is admirable. The return on the trail is definately an awesome feeling. If you ever feel like getting out there, let me know. The trail group I belong to has a few runs posted every week, and a new member run almost every Sunday (which is usually pretty relaxed, not to say easy, because when is running ever easy -- hardly ever, especially on the treadmill! -- I have to close my eyes when I walk past the treadmill : ))