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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Running Up Meadows

I showed up to my regular Top of the World run, met fellow club member, Tom, and we headed off down Aliso Canyon about 8:30 AM. We spotted a Blue Heron along the way, and plenty of other runners and cyclists making their way in and out of the wilderness park.

Well . . . upon reaching Wood Canyon Trail, Tom mentioned that it was decision time. “Nah, “ I said, “we’ve got plenty time.” I was thinking we could go up Mathis (which is over a mile away), or after that, Rockit, or Lynx or Cholla. We had lots of choices. One thing I knew for sure, “Not that way,” I said to Tom, pointing up Aliso Canyon.

THAT WAY was Meadows Trail, and I had never run up Meadows. I tried once, couldn’t make it. The second time, I just hiked the whole thing, which was difficult enough. Tom hadn’t ever run the entire thing either.

“I’d just like to get it over with,” he said. It was kind of tempting for me to get the climb done right away. And so we turned off onto Meadows Trail, headed for the most difficult run to Top of the World.

Once we ran through the meadow (which is actually brown right now) and over the small bridge, the climb begins very slowly. And then – Wham! Probably not even a quarter mile after than turn, the hellish climbing begins. It may seem tough to start. But it only gets worse.

Meadows is a switch-back trail, that makes it to the top in about a mile. I tried to only think about running to each corner. That didn’t help much, so I tried not to think about anything at all. Good thing I had my ipod with music to push me along. As I ran higher and higher up that trail, I would think to myself, I’ve got to be close by now. I’d look down at the canyon, and it seemed so far away. Then I’d look up at the ridge – and it was still SO FAR AWAY.

My calves hurt, sweat poured down my face like rain, but I kept on running. Tom was quite a bit ahead of me. But I could see on some of the turns that he was still running up that deliciously tortuous trail as well. About three quarters of the way up, I really felt like I could not run another step – it seemed like the trail was getting steeper and steeper still. But I had run it this far, there was no way that I was going to stop running now. I can’t really brag with, “I ran 75% of Meadows!” And so, I pulled this one out of the magic hat, and kept on running, my calves aching and my IT band now burning. And then, and then . . . I made it – I ran up Meadows Trail! Tom was up there waiting. He smiled and said, “It’s all downhill from here.”

Not quite. After some down hill on the paved ridge, up we climbed again to the trail that goes around the private neighborhood. And after running down that, we had to run back up out of it. After finally reaching the neighborhoods at the Top of the World, there was still some more up hill! And then, at last – down hill : ) Oh, the glory.

The rest of the run was easy, a pleasure really, with cool breezes and overcast skies. We also saw two deer on Wood Canyon Trail. Upon reaching Aliso Canyon trail, I said with delight “homeward bound!” And we ran that last mile and a half back in, finishing strong at the ranger station. I was wiped out. My hip still burned, and I knew I was going to be in trouble the next day (which I am), but it was all worth it. WE RAN UP MEADOWS!

Miles logged Tuesday morning: 11.84

Elevation map courtesy of Tom (miles 2 thru 3 is the Meadows climb -- notice how it's not all "down hill" after that : )))


  1. Yeah, but can you do it without music?

    Hope your IT Band is feelng better!

  2. LOL. I'm not sure if I can.

    IT is better, but I thought I'd be farther along with the healing than I am.