TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

click on any picture in a post for a larger view

Friday, May 28, 2010

Running when I'm not running

Did a little time at the Disney Resort with my family today.  "Doin' Time" is a good way to put it, because after a few hours, I'm ready to cop a plea -- "Yes!  I did it!  Just lock me away. "

Kiddin'. (Well . . . )

Actually, there are times when the boys are probably thinking, "Uhhh, Mom, you can go sit down now . . ."

I'm talking about the Brother Bear playground in California Adventure, where there's a multitude of bridges, and ramps and slides.  There's like a maze of rope bridges crossing here and there with plenty of kids and moms and dads huffing and puffing their way through them.

Here's where being a runner (not even a very good runner) has its advantages:  You can pretty much scale these rope bridges in a leaping bound, blowing away everyone (unless of course you come across another runner).  That's a lifter, because in my running world, I don't blow away anyone.

My eight-year-old and five-year-old were having a tough time going up and down those rope bridges.  It really is hard to traverse them slowly as they swing back and forth.  I knew that -- it's just like some trails, better to haul a** down them, then take them too slowly. 
"Help Mommy," my five-year-old sang out as he clinged to the siding of the rope maze.  I took him by the hand and ran him all the way up, swinging wildly in the wind as he screamed in delight.  I did the same for my eight-year-old, mainly on the down hill, until neither of them wanted to take my hand anymore (my ten-year-old didn't even think of taking my hand).  The two youngest, after going on a wild ride with me, decided they'd rather cling to the edges and gingerly make their way up and down the bridge mazes.  I'm not about that -- I'm about "do it, get it done."  It's my strong point.  And it's my downfall.  Anyway . . .

No way to count the miles logged today, though I did run plenty.  More importantly, it was a fun day.  And before it all began, as the rest of the clan slept, I got in four sets of planks.  I'm getting better.  I did them all without hollering outloud (it helps to do planks at 6:00 in the morning, because I'm less apt to yell out in agony.  Instead I suffer silently). 

Happy weekend everyone!!  Hope you get in some good runs.  And if you can't run because of injury or some other reason, may you still find some peace.  : ))

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Short Run

I planned all along to run 4 miles this morning.  And even with all that planning, I worked and worked on convincing myself to put in more miles as I drove to the marina.  Let's face it.  I'm a glutton -- no easy way to get around it.  But today, the reasonable me won out.  And I really did just run four miles this morning.  I ran over the bridge to the harbor island, then back over for some more in and about the wharf.  Since I was only running four miles, I decided to play with it some.  Every now and then (about ten times total) I ran an all-out pace.  Well, not exactly an All-Out, not like a tiger was chasing me or anything like that.  Faster though than my 5k race pace, more like an 85% all-out.  Hopefully, this will increase my speed a tad.

Miles logged this morning:  FOUR : )

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sportin' a New Do' on a Loop to the Top

The one reason that has kept me from cutting my hair is running.  I thought that I NEEDED to pull my hair back into a ponytail to run.  Well, I ran a loop to the Top of the World this morning with a new do' and found out it ain't so.  I can run without a ponytail.  I can!

Running up Cholla Trail trying to catch cyclist (never did)
Overlooking the Pacific At Top of the World after cool, but sweaty, yet joyous run up Westridge Trail

After feeling so weak again with this weight training, I felt strong this morning upon reaching the top.  Prior to today's run, I actually felt like my hips were getting weaker!  Of course, that's a big worry with me.  Weak hips means I'm going down for the count one of these days SOON.  Today tells me that I've got to keep up the strength training, despite the fact that I have not learned to love it (I suspect one of these days I will).

Just when I entered the park again on Meadows end, a hawk swooped down into the grass.  And then like a thief, it snagged a snake and took off for flight.  Then like nothing the bird seemed to lazily meander in flight making his way closer to Meadows trail.  There he swooped back down into the brush to, I suppose, gobble up the snake.

These are the sort of things I get to see on the trail.

Making my way back into the park, via trail behind Top of the World homes
Running down Meadows (Eyes alert for snakes)
Bottom of Meadows Trail, about 4 miles left to run
Deer on Wood Canyon Trail


Miles logged this morning:  10.2

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Group Run In Aliso/Wood Canyons

I have been dead-dog tired all week, which I partially contribute to weight training.  I haven’t run since Tuesday, or so (can’t quite recall without looking it up).  Anyway, I dreamed, it seemed all night long, that I was preparing for a run.  The night grew later and later.  Rushing about, I finally sat down to tie my laces and panicked at reading the clock.  It read 9:45 (PM!) and I thought to myself (in my dream) that there’s no way I can run at 10 o’ clock!!! I was bummed.  And then at that instant, my cell phone alarm went off.  And I was really bummed.  It was 5:30 AM.  I had rsvp’d for a group run, and though I was still dead-dog tired, I knew that I HAD to drag myself out of bed and get out there. 

Why?  1) Because I NEED to run, whether I feel like it or not.  2) I would eventually get into it once I got myself out the door and 3) this morning’s group run was at Aliso/Wood Canyons Park –- my home-sweet-home trails.  

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The Gang this morning running Aliso/Wood Canyon Trails
(Dylan, Phil, Tom, Sheila, Kelly, Marcus, Me, Cathy & Vincent at the Aliso Creek  / Wood Canyon Trail intersection)

I arrived to the park at 7:00 AM precisely (as is my custom – to arrive right on the dot, that is).  A police car drove up and down the street as a border control car screeched into the parking lot.  While meeting up with the group, I noticed a border agent jump out of his car, run across the park lot and run into the brush. (I learned later that several more police cars arrived as well as a helicopter).

There were 11 of us running this morning (though only 10 are pictured above).  I felt pretty good, keeping up the rear as is also my custom.  The posted run was for a 9 mile out-and-back up to the end of the ever lovely Wood Canyon Trail.  The skies were gray, the air cool – perfect running weather.  We saw deer along the way, stopped for a few quick photo ops. 

Kelly, Me, Phil, & two deer in the stars (Tom’s Photo)
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I shall not go on and on, especially since these are the trails that I run regularly.  What a treat to run with friends that I’ve run with before (Tom, Sheila, Kelly and Dylan – Dylan by the way ran his first 50k recently – congrats on finishing and with such a great time!).  And what a treat running with newer members (not necessarily newer runners): Cathy and her husband, Vincent, Phil and Sheila’s husband Marcus – Like I always say, and I really do (used to sing it in Girl Scouts) “Make new friends and keep the old.  One is Silver and the other Gold.”

ANYWAY, upon reaching the end of Wood Canyon Trail, Sheila, Marcus, Kelly, Dylan, Phil and myself continued on up Cholla, onward and upward to Top of the World.  The others turned around for a 9 mile out-and-back – a pleasant run that I’ve had the pleasure of running once or twice : )

End of Wood Canyon Trail, base of Cholla Trail
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I NEEDED to run to Top of the World, I needed the agony of hills.  Agony in the end equals ecstasy (it’s not the “agony and ecstasy of defeat” however, it’s the “agony and ecstasy of” triumph.)  Though it’s never easy, the company and conversation made it seem quicker.  From Top of the World, we ran across the asphalt through the neighborhoods to enter the park again and run down that gorgeous switch-back called Meadows Trail.  What a thrill!

Top of the World (Kelly, Sheila, Marcus, Phil, Dylan, Me)
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Miles logged:  11.64

Friday, May 21, 2010

In Search of Falls

I read on the internet that there is another waterfall in Trabuco Canyon besides the Holy Jim Falls.  Since I didn't have much that I HAD to do this morning (there's always plenty to do), I dragged invited my husband along for a hike in search of these falls. 

We found it!  We missed it the first time driving up Trabuco Creek Road.  After turning around at the Holy Jim parking lot, we drove that bumpy road back about a mile, looking closely through the forest of trees for a canyon where another stream dumps into Trabuco.  And there it was!  Well within the area where an Adventure Pass is required, there's a thin canyon north of the road.

The hike is relatively easy -- no major boulder hopping, no super steep inclines.  There's a thin trail that runs back and forth from one side to the other of the stream, with plenty of rocks and logs to balance your way across.   The stream flows pretty good and there's lots of poisin oak to watch out for.  It's shady and cool and in the end a waterfall with about a forty foot drop greets you.  Lovely.  Simply lovely.

The hike to this waterfall is relatively short. From the road it took us only seventeen minutes to get there, and about the same on the return trip. But that's taking it pretty quickly -- I worked up a good sweat.


Coming off the road, making way to Trabuco Creek
Hiking along Trabuco Creek, headed toward that canyon we missed on the way in
Hiking up the canyon in search of waterfall
Look Closely between "V" in trees for the waterfall

It really is a waterfall!



Heading Back


Thursday, May 20, 2010

I'm So Tired

I had planned for about 12 miles of hills this morning.   But I was so dang tired I could not imagine dragging my body up and down those hills.  For the first time in a long time concerning runs, my body said, "No, no, no, no, no!!!"

I felt that if I ran, I was going to somehow be sorry.  I wasn't just tired, tired.  I was utterly fatigued.  To save myself from perhaps injury, I listened to my body and cancelled today's solo run.

A couple hours later, I meekly grumbled, "How about the gym?"  To this question, my body responded, or rather did not respond, so I spent two hours at the gym.  Not to worry, I eased up and split the time between the elliptical and strength training.

Now as I get boys through their homework, make sure baths are taken, I am oh so tired still.  But not the same kind of utterly fatigued kind of tired that said "I'll curse you if you run," this morning.  I can just use a good sleep.  (And thank goodness I don't have to work tomorrow, or the next day, or the next, or the next : )

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Scheduling the Short run

I would much rather run than build strength.  Turns out though, if I want to run, I need to build strength.  But it's HARD to build strength.  It's easy to run.  (Well, not exactly EASY, but enjoyable, quite enjoyable.)

I figure part of my problem with strength training, is that I run myself ragged.  In other words, I'm too tired to strength train.  On my off days, I'm on the elliptical or in the pool.  Rarely am I working on strength.  Recently I added planks to my routine.  I've improved.  But I dread them.  Just as I dread ab work, push ups, or that giant exercise ball that sits in the corner of my livingroom between the baby grand and magazine rack.  It's no wonder that my core is weak, though not as weak as it has been since I've been working on it (post hip injury).  It's weak, because I simply don't work it enough! 

So, I'm switching things up just a bit with my running.  I'm forcing a short run once a week.  That's not an extra run, but an existing run each week will be less than five miles.  Sure, I get short runs in occassionally.  Not because I want too, usually because I have too -- recovery, time constraints or injury issues.  This way, I figure, I'll give my body a break and a little more time to work on the core.  Not an earthshaking routine change.  But let's see if lightening up some will help me get to that core work more vigorously.

Miles logged this morning (nice, flat, cool miles down at Doheny Beach and the wharf): 4.60   

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bay Bridge Run

Another early morning, but not that EARLY.  Woke at 5:15 AM; I’ve seen earlier, and not just for my hobby.  There were times when the boys were babies, that I’ve seen way, way earlier. Those times were joyous (more so looking back), but more so joyous looking now, as they sleep soundly while I sneak out that door at 6:00 AM. 

I arrived downtown San Diego around 7:00 AM, maybe a tad later.  I love San Diego – so easy to get to, and though it’s a big city, it’s actually very small.  I mean, it doesn’t matter where I park for a race, I can easily walk to the start line.  Not only that!  Parking is free at the meters on Sundays : )

The Start Line for the Navy’s Bay Bridge Run was in the Gas Lamp District – near Petco Stadium and the Convention Center.  The way I saw it today was:  this was an easy run, a mere four miles up a tiny bump in the road (that is over the bridge to Coronado Island : )  And it was a bump in the road compared to the hills I’ve been attempting.  Boy, did it feel good to run up that bridge without a problem.  In fact, this is the race that started it all.  Too much to go through now (especially since I’ve blogged about it on Myspace way back when), but this was the race that lead me to the trail.  And so, for that very reason, I’m gravitated toward it each year.  This is my third year running The Navy’s Bay Bridge Run.  And there’s a good chance I will run it every year herein after, at least as long as I can, even with the immense crowds.  Today I ran with 8,000 other runners across the bridge to Coronado Island.   : )

Gas Lamp District, downtown San DiegoCIMG5024 CIMG5027  At Start Line, Ready to goCIMG5044

Running the Bay Bridge over to Coronado Island CIMG5055

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          Tidelands Park, Coronado Bay Bridge in backgroundCIMG5079

The BashCIMG5087

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Entertainment as we wait for bus back to mainlandCIMG5093

Looking old and tiredCIMG5103

Heading backCIMG5121

Walk through downtown back to car (Petco Stadium in background, home of Padres baseball)CIMG5122

Convention CenterCIMG5124

Steak Strip Club (I’m just a small town girl, don’t see these establishments often : )

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Miles logged this morning:  4.0

And of course the video:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Harding Truck Trail

The original plan was to meet up and run Santiago Truck Trail, which I haven't run since last July (which happened to be with Tom, who I met this morning too).  Turned out that No Parking signs now line the road all along the trail head.  Closest place to park was Cook's Corner, which meant running along Santiago Canyon Road a couple miles before getting to Santiago Truck Trail.   Didn't seem like a good idea.  So, Tom suggested parking at the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary in Modjeska Canyon and going up Harding Truck Trail.

Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary


Now, I have never been to Harding Truck Trail -- one reason being that it had been closed for quite some time due to the fires we had. And did I mention that it is STEEP? I mean, like non-runnning steep. At least most of it, and at least for me.  But it was gorgeous.  Wildflowers and green grass covered the mountains.   The low clouds added an eeriness to the beauty, not to mention a coolness to the air.  When we climbed above the clouds the sun shined brightly, my head sopping from sweat beneath my favorite $1.99 beanie.  Did I already say how pretty it was????  I am so glad Tom suggested this trail.

The run down was exhilerating.  I think I found the perfect place to train for Bulldog.  One thing for sure . . . I'm not going to register for the Harding Hustle (30k) come July.  I'm not tough enough (yet!)








Miles logged:  7.5

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spotting Snakes

I didn't want to run this morning, especially not hills. I did anyway. Why? Because, I ran flat easy miles on Tuesday, and I'm planning on runs Saturday and Sunday. So, today was the only day to fit it in -- I don't want to run Friday, because that would make runs three days in a row. I'm a two-day-max-in-a row-runner (so fearful I am of injury.)

Aliso/Wood Canyons wilderness park has five trails that lead directly to the top. 1) Meadows, 2) Mathis, 3) Rock-It, 4) Lynx and 5) Cholla. It's difficult to say which is hardest to run. Different days I'd give you different answers. Today, I didn't want to run up Cholla, because that meant a 4 1/2 mile run to even get to Cholla. And I wasn't much in the mood for Meadows and its steep, steep switchback. Rock-It didn't sound too bad -- less mileage than Cholla to arrive at. But Rock-It actually leads away from Top of the World, which means some back tracking. I WAS NOT INTERESTED IN BACK TRACKING.  And Lynx was out of the question, first because I might as well run all the way to Cholla (which is easier to run up), and secondly it leads in the wrong direction too! The run from the ranger station to Mathis is approximately 2 1/2 miles.  And so Mathis it was. And tough it was. Sunny, hot, sweaty tough. 

As I ran up Mathis, not having a good time at all, I simply thought to myself, "It'll be over, it'll be over." And QUITE SOME TIME LATER . . . it was.

And then the fun began. Overlooking a brilliantly blue Pacific, I ran along Top of the World, still a little sluggish. But things were beginning to look beautiful. I headed down Meadows feeling a lot better than when I started off. And pretty much right away, I spotted a Rattler slowly slithering his way across the trail. He didn't even seem to notice me as I stopped abruptly in my tracks. I got a good look at that rattle as it disappeared into the mustard seed plants, and I was off running again.

By now everything was definately beautiful. The hills were green. Mustard seed added a colorful zing. And I had spotted a rattlesnake before he spotted me! I'm not too fearful of rattlers -- just as long as I see it FIRST. I also have a game plan, which lessens my fear a bit. My plan, should I have the misfortune of getting bit by a rattler is to stay put. I read that exerting energy makes the poison travel faster through your body. My plan is to calmy sit, preferably in the shade. I have the Ranger's station number programmed into my phone, so I will call them first because I figure they can help me fastest. Then I can call 911. Hopefully I never have to use this plan. I'll just keep my eyes open and keep looking so that I'll see the rattlers first.

I met another snake at the base of Meadows.  I stopped in my tracks to watch it slither across the road.  It had the same rich, deep brown colorings of the rattler.  But this one wasn't fat like the one up the hill.  And its tailend went to a small point, no rattler.  It was a gopher snake.  And he too slithered off into the mustard -- that is first after looking at me, sticking his head into a gopher hole, and then basking in the hot sun for just a bit.

Miles logged this morning:  9.08

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Easy Miles

Ran 8.27 "easy" miles Tuesday morning.  I write "easy", because this was a road run, down to the local beaches and through the marina and wharf.  The wind blew against me most of the time, but still the run was definately "easy" compared to Saturday's Malibu Creek. 

All the while, helicopters hovered above the waters at Doheny Beach.  Different helicopters -- news helicopters, military helicopters . . . They were flying in and out of the area ever since I brought my boys to school at 8:00 AM.  By the time I reached the jetty, I feared the worst -- perhaps a surfboarder had drowned, or maybe a jetskier had crashed.  Turns out, there was a whale in the shallow waters just outside of the harbor's mouth.  It was quite the spectacle, dozens of people lined up on the rocks, news vans tried to park as spectators jammed the road with their cars.  I heard on the news when I returned home from this run, "No one knows why the whale swam so close into the harbor, but some speculate that he was looking for a quiet place to rest."

Poor whale certainly didn't find a quiet place today.

Miles logged 8.27

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Xterra Malibu Creek 22k

I don’t recall waking through the night, but it I didn’t sleep well.  Seemed like I was dreaming or fretting about going up Bulldog Road all through my sleeping hours.  So when I hit the road at 4:45 AM, I was drowsy, and oh so eager for that sun to rise so that I could wake fully.  I needed energy, something . . .  who knew all I needed was defining?

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Skies were blue, the sun shining bright.  I didn’t think about what awaited me as I ran through Malibu State Creek Park.  I have after all, run this loop twice before.  I knew that I could do it.  The questions were:  Was I going to cramp out?  Would my hip hold up?  (For massive electrolyte restoration I filled my camelback with grape Pedialyte, and threw several salt packets into my belt for good measure).  I just ran through the park, listening to people’s conversations, listening to my music, taking in the visual beauty.  I kept toward the back of the pack.  And on the single-track I ran quickly to keep up with the runner ahead of me.

Early on in the raceCIMG4917

Yikes!CIMG4925

Looking back from where we’ve comeCIMG4936

And then we hit Bulldog Road.  My strategy:  Do not try to run the steepest parts.  Hike them as quickly as possible, no hands on the hips and run every flat.  Simple enough.  YA . . . right : )

In a "nutshell,” going up Bulldog was TOUGH.  There were points were everyone around me was hiking – there were many places the same deal (hiking).  My strategy worked well for me.  I was smiling, but there were times I thought, “I don’t really like this trail!” Overall, I never felt like I couldn’t hack it.  On the other hand, I was surprised to see a few, poor suffering souls, not carrying water! They didn’t have a swagger.  They were staggering. 

I reached the top of Bulldog and spent entirely too much time there at the aid station – mainly waiting in line for the porta potty, then taking off a shoe to remove a rock.  Feeling strong I was able to keep on running.  No cramps, hip felt great.  Before the next aid station, I ran through a swarm of bees, thousands of bees in the exact location I ran through a swarm in last year’s Xterra Malibu Creek race.   A group of four or so runners ran through at once as these fast-flying, black little bees crashed into our legs, arms and face. Delightful!  I think I actually screamed here : )

Continuing on (After Bulldog) toward the peakCIMG4943

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Before reaching the second peak (I’m guessing mile 8), I felt an inkling of a cramp in my left leg – like it was threatening to cramp.  To make good and sure cramps didn’t attack, I tore open two packets of salt and downed them in a cup of water at the next aid station.  Then I tucked my camera away, and set my mind on focusing for the trip back. 

I maintained a strong, focused run on the downhill.  I tripped once, and my muscles tightened, and for that second I feared the total body cramp that took me down to the dirt in last year’s race.  But I remained upright and kept those nasty cramps at bay.

So fatigued that I was, I was still able to run the whole way down.  I passed a few people for good that I had been going back and forth with – that is, they’d pass me, I’d pass them, and so on, and so forth.  In all, over the last four miles, I passed twenty-one people.  No one passed me.  I attribute this to 1) defeating cramps – hooray!!  2) conserving energy – hiking instead, when running would have wiped me out, and 3) planks at home for a stronger core so that I could keep the column straight and strong on that long downhill.

I handed off some salt packages to a guy cramping on the way down.  It’s a terrible, disappointing pain to get during a race.  His calve muscles, tightened and twisted, were visible to the eye.  I recognized it at first sight! 

Those last few miles were solemn.  Exhaustion was everywhere.  That final little hill (that is relatively) that overlooks the boys’ detention center was brutal, and upon reaching the top, I ran down gleefully, because both times I’d ran this loop in the past, I cramped terribly coming in.  Not today. : )  NOT TODAY.

Coming in for the final stretch (detention center in distance)CIMG4961

I finished this race smiling, my ultimate goal.  And I finished this race “defined.”  Who can define themselves in a word or even an event?  I certainly can’t.  After Saturday though, I have to say, I am “defined.”  I CAN DO THIS.  Who would have thought?  I was just chatting with an OLD high school friend, and he said that he never thought that I was the “athletic type.” 

Well, maybe I wasn’t and maybe I’m not.  But I CAN do this.  I can run a race up the Santa Monica Mountains and back, and love it all the while (thanks by the way to OCTR – I really would have never even thought about doing such a thing, much less thinking that I could accomplish it). 

Halleluiah!

13.684 miles logged Saturday May 8

ps.  Aunt Joann, I thought of you as I drove back 405 S through your city.  If I had only your # or even a memory of how to get to your place, I would have stopped by. You are a special lady.   Thinking of you & praying for you.  Love, Lauren