TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

click on any picture in a post for a larger view

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

All Alone in Aliso / Wood Canyons

I went for a solo run in the wilderness this morning.  The air was so heavy with water, one might have said it was raining. CIMG5977 The skies were gray, the marine layer thick. A perfect day for a gloomy run.

Feeling weak both physically and mentally lately (especially after the car accident), I needed this run.  I didn’t feel like making this run, that’s why I did it solo.  I didn’t want to hold anyone back.  It’s time though, time to get back on track

Me at the start of Aliso Canyon Trail (not too cheery)

I chose the loop that took me to the end of Wood Canyon, up Cholla Trail, across the ridge to Top of the World where I met Meadows Trail to take it on down.   Slow to start, and slow to end, I just ran.  And I ran, and I ran and I ran . . .  (and I took a few pictures too).

Running in Aliso Canyon on this Eerie Morn’

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First Creek Crossing on Wood Canyon (no wet feet on this trail)

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2nd Creek Crossing on Wood Canyon

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Everything was beautiful right away today, despite the gloom.  I mostly thought about nothing, occasionally fighting against intruding thoughts.  And then I turned a bend in the trail (past the old corral, before the 3rd creek crossing) and there they were – two deer feeding on the grass.  They didn’t move, one continued grazing, the other trotted across the trail to graze further away.  I’m still astonished when I come upon deer on the trail.

Beauties

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3rd Creek Crossing on Wood Canyon Trail

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Solitude & Beauty (a nice combination)

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4th & Final Creek Crossing on Wood Canyon Trail (standing on pipe, sandbags off to left)

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A Quick look back on Wood Canyon while running up Cholla Trail

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A Foggy Westridge & not a soul around

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Looking down on Laguna Canyon Road, the Pacific Ocean hidden

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Heading down Meadows Trail

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Back in the Canyon

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Miles logged:  11.74

Thoughts:  close to zero

Rewards:  lots

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Quail Hill

I went out this morning for OCTR’s New Member Run at Quail Hill in Irvine.  We had quite a turn-out.  Eleven runners showed up for this 7:00 AM run. 

The skies were cloudy, the air was cool.  I wore my new hydration pack (Ultimate Direction), the one I’ll wear from here on out, at least until Bulldog.  I got it especially for Bulldog, mainly because it holds more water than mine, and also has lots of storage space.  That means I can get rid of the runner’s belt, taking weight off my lower back when I run (ahhhh).

I’ll make this blog entry quick, as I’ve had a trying week, well, trying month . . . let’s make that a trying year.  And I’ve been unusually tired the past few days (even though I’m getting plenty of sleep). 

We all ran the first five miles together, then about six of us turned off for about five more, hilly miles.

I was beat (in more ways than one).  On the good side, I tripped hard once, and did not fall – that’s a good thing : )  I’m gonna say that I didn’t fall because my core is stronger.

Miles logged: 10.21

Amy, Tom, Morgan, Dave, Me, Dylan, Robert, Jim, Cathy, Kelly, Janet. 

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Cyclists starting out as I stumble on in : )

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Practicing Caution

As I approach the biggest physical challenge of my life, I find myself practicing EXTREME caution.  It seems like before every big race, something happens, a hip injury, the flu, a fall, a hip injury . . . a hip injury  : /

I am so paranoid about injury that I am focusing on strength this time around, much more than endurance.  In other other words, I trying hard to forget about racking up the mileage. I figure I "have" endurance.  I hope so anyway.   Instead, I want to increase muscle strength.  Of course, that's leaving me a little apprehensive.  Coming in under twenty miles last week (& probably this week too, worries me some).  But I've already decided it's better to go into Bulldog 50k this August without injury, than having piled up the mileage.

After the knee and back problems from the Las Flores marathon, then back and hip problems from my auto accident, I've been taking it easy mileage-wise.  After Tuesday's run, my right hip ached a bit.  Last minute I decided lay off running.  Over the past 3 days, I've spent two at the gym on the elliptical crossramp (12 miles total) and spent much of my time weight training -- not to mention rolling and icing the hip (& stretching, stretching, stretching). 

Tomorrow will be my first run back, bringing my total under 30 miles this week again.  But that's okay.  Caution, caution, caution.  That's where I'm at right now. 

Miles logged:  0

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

After the Rest

I took my two days off as promised.  I didn't even get to strength training (like planks : ( 

Story is, I was forced into total relaxation, because on Father's Day (of all days!) I was victim of a four car pile-up.  Thank God we are all okay. (No one at the scene needed immediate medical attention.)  Most importantly, my three boys weren't even sore the next day.  My back, hip and neck on the otherhand ached.  By day two, lower to mid back really irritated me, so much so, I took Alleve to handle the pain.   I tried not to grow angry about what this was going to do to my 50k training.  Instead I focused on how we "dodged a bullet" and that my husband and boys are all okay.

I woke this morning with no back pain whatsoever.  Neck and hip felt good, so after dropping my three sons off at their schools, I hit the pavement.  Yes, pavement.  I decided to skip the trail for safety reasons.  If I did have a messed-up back, I certainly didn't want to jostle it around on uneven terrain.

So I set out under sunny skies, coconut water in my handheld (Nuun and Pedialyte powder in my belt).  And I gleefully ran.  I mean GLEEFULLY.  This was such an easy-going, FLAT run, I literally couldn't believe it.

I ran along Doheny, through the smoke-filled campgrounds (twice) through Capo Beach, up to the jetty.  The wharf was crowded with tourists, children on bikes.  Everything was oh so beautiful.  And I felt so rested.  After the island, I headed for the cliffs.  And before my turnaround, I stretched my IT band.   

Running up PCH back home (the largest incline of today's run) the right hip began nagging.  And here's sort of an odd thing, about an hour after arriving home, I was freezing, I mean, bundled up on the bed cold.  My husband said, "It's not cold."  Then he asked, "How many miles did you run?  Don't lie."

As if I would lie about mileage.  It's just not in my blood. : )

I ran 12.75 miles this morning.  And I napped from about 2pm til 4 this afternoon.  Was I not ready for this run, or was a just simply tired over a trying weekend?  (I did afterall wake at my usual weekday hour 5:30 AM today -- who wouldn't be tired?)

Glad to be back.  I may, just may stay away from the trail for the a couple more days just to see if the back pain returns.



Mosiac above is on pedestrial bridge that crosses over to Doheny

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Arroyo Trabuco -- Tijeras Creek Loop

I woke too early.  Recently, waking at 5:00 AM on a weekend is a NO DEAL.  What I mean to say is that I AM TIRED.  But 1) I wanted to run with the OCTR and 2) and I wanted to re-visit the scene of the DFL (Yes, it’s doubtful I will ever live that down, but that’s a good fun thing,) and yes, this run covered part of Arroyo Trabuco trail, THE trail, the trail of the Las Flores Marathon. 

Thing is, less than a week after a marathon is too short of time to hit the trail for a 13+ mile trail run.  I kind of knew that. Truth is though, I didn’t let it cross my mind at the time. 

I’m glad I did attend this run, even as fatigued as I was.

Why?  Because the company was fun.  Even though no one says it out loud, we all know that each one of us has got to be crazy!!  And also, because I got out on trails that I wouldn’t normally run solo. And best of all, because there’s always a story – it’s either a story of getting lost, getting injured, triumphing difficult terrain, falling, laughing, crossing creeks, difficult elevation, near heat stroke, forgetting to bring calories, meeting familiar faces, having a bobcat, rattler or deer cross your path, finding cougar tracks, not to mention traversing through gorgeous terrain, and the most common story for me, thinking I can’t run another step, yet, somehow, I can.

Today’s story:

We all met up at the Albertsons parking lot at Plano Trabuco. We, meaning:  myself, Sheila, Kelly, Tom and Dave.  The skies were gray, the air cool.  I actually wore long sleeves (not for long).

We ran the streets for about a mile to the back gates of O’Neill Park. Problem was, the gates were locked!!  There was no climbing over the fence, topped with about six inches of barbed-wire.  I could not even get my big feet into the fence links for an attempt.  Even Kelly, with much smaller feet than I, had no luck.

And so, some of the runners (and I won’t say who!) sat down on the bench and said, “let’s wait.” (Meaning waiting til 7AM when the park opened). Other’s, myself included, because, that’s how I am “wham bam, thank you ‘mam.” Walked around, thinking, thinking, thinking.

I was thinking “there’s for sure, a way in, we just have to find it.” I happen to have a husband, who when we were dating, never let a locked gate to the wilderness stop him.  So I’m used to looking for way in.  I looked for a piece of fence peeled back, a gate, that even though locked, opened wide enough to squeeze through, something, anything.  After several unsuccessful attempts, I came upon a large tree in O'Neill Park.  Its branches reached over, leaning downward onto our side of the fence.  I think I heard, “No way!,” not sure, as I pulled myself up and over.  Before you knew it, I was in the park, with only one scratch on my hand (that I didn’t even notice til much later).  One by one, each runner, happily, climbed up the tree and over the fence, and we were off!

Up and Over, climbing trees at 6:30 AM

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Sheila holds branches down for an easier route down

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And as I think I’ve already mentioned, we were off for a 13+ mile loop.  We ran at first under cloudy skies. Crossed some streams (still, people laugh at me when I plough through the streams – but I really think that’s best for me – remember my parents used to call me “Grace” as a child. If I try to gingerly try to make my way across the crossing, balancing on rocks, I’m going to either fall and get my feet anyway, or fall and twist my ankle, or worse).

Disoriented at first, because I haven’t got these trails memorized like my home trails, I was gleefully surprised when we came upon the Las Flores turnaround arrow (from the opposite direction).  When I say “gleefully surprised,” I mean it in the way that if I were to come across the girl named JANICE, who bullied me in the 7th grade. : )  I would love her in a nostalgic way. (But I would still want to kick her *** – just kidding. I didn’t just write that) 

We ran through “The Jungle,” but took a left onto a closed trail (not my idea!).  And we continued our loop to end up on a sunny, hot climb out of the trails back onto the streets.  I was DEAD-DOG-TIRED, and hiked much of the inclines back.

“The Jungle”

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Spring Color
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Twin Peaks in the back ground
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Kelly, Sheila, Dave, Tom, Me
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13.21 Miles logged this morning.  Upon arriving home, I cooked up some homemade beef vegetable soup (from veggies out of our gardens) which meant plenty of standing time (chopping veggies). Then I made potato salad (request from son #2) AND then I crashed.  I mean I CRASHED, salty and all, I lazed about, sleeping off and on for hours.  I finally woke fully at 5:00 PM for a much needed hot bath.

I’m taking 2 days off. I am. REALLY.  Not even going to the gym.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

First Run Back

I headed out this morning for my first run back.  My goal, a fairly short run, but one with elevation.  I just wanted to see if I could do it comfortably.  And I did.  I ran up Cholla Trail, up and down Westridge to Top of the World in Laguna Beach.  Then I turned around and ran back.  Running up through Canyon Vistas Park, I giggled to myself and thought "only twenty miles left!" 

I can report this:  I ran for about five minutes before I got my breathing in sync.  The run was tough with all that climbing, but no tougher than usual.  Though I did not run any bursts.  Afterwards, I was crusted with salt.  And one more thing:  Spring is still in the air.  Cool breezes accompanied me.  Wildflowers still dot the hillsides. 

I am officially back. 

Miles logged this morning:  6

 Quick Stop at Top of the World before running back

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Aftermath

The aftermath. There's always THE AFTERMATH with me and big races. I wonder if it's like that for others? I don't read about it in blogs.  Is THE AFTERMATH a big secret, or am I just always in, way over my head?

My parents used to jokingly call me "Grace" when I was a child, because I was always crashing into things, falling, stubbing my toes.  Little did they know-- "In over my head," is my real claim to fame.  I remember when my husband and I used to ski.  (Before children :) We were Blue Diamond skiers, yet, somehow I would manage to get us on these treacherous Black Diamond Runs. He'd glare at me "that look," and I'd just say something like "snow plow!"

The day after "Las Flores" my quads ached, my glutes ached, my arms ached -- a fatigue sort of ache, not injury.  I put the cloth knee brace on first thing upon arriving home.  I even slept in it (ya, ya, I read somewhere that's not a good thing to do -- but there's always another side to every claim that says, that's "bull.").  When I slipped the brace off in the morning, what had seemed like a knee injury, was completely gone.

But then there was my back.  Every so often my right, lower back would spasm, in between a constant nagging pain.  The spasms were plentiful and painful.  Had a terrible time sleeping Monday night.  Tried sleeping on the floor for that straight-board affect.  Didn't help.  A little worried, I thought that I might put a call into the physical therapist.

Here's my theory on the back, though, I am about as uneducated about muscles, sports, etc. as they come.  (Not really, I am a tiny bit self-educated in these areas).  Anyway.  The theory.  When I injured my knee, either from just plain ole' over-use, or running through those sandpits, I began compensating, changed my gait and my back took the brunt.  How's that for a theory?  Plausible?

I deliberated much on recovery after this race.  Monday, I took the day off.  Well, my middle son got the flu, so I spent my time caring for him, doing chores, etc.  But I took the day off from training or any kind of "recovery" activity. 

This was my decision:  take it nice and easy recovering from my DFL in the Las Flores Marathon.  Because judging by Sunday's performance, there's no way I'm going to be ready for Bulldog 50k, if I overdo it and injure myself.  I needed healing, and a fast track back into hardcore training.  And so, I decided on two days swimming after my day of rest.

Tuesday, hubby caught the flu.  I got boy one and boy three off to school, checked in on boy two and hubby then headed off to the gym.   I swam 1500 yards, sat in the jacuzzi (with the jet blasting on my back), layed down on an oh so lovely, straight cedar bench in the suana, took a steaming hot shower, then did some light weight training (plus some minor core work).  Wednesday, I swam 1400 yards, did my regular hip exercises at home and just one long plank.

1400/1500 yards is such an easy-going swim workout, that I decided to work on my flip turns.  Flip turns have always freaked me out -- ever since I was a teenager (and I'm 45 now!).  I have this fear that 1) I'm going to flip too late and crash into the wall, 2) flip too early and have nothing to push off from (no big deal), or 3) smash my head into the pool floor on the flip.

I've hit my head on pool floors plenty of times (funny thing though, never on a flip turn).

During these 3 days, I also iced the back, off and on.  And I have to say that my back feels almost 100% -- I'd say it's about 90%.  I'm also icing my right hip for a slight dull pain. My right hip is my usual problem. (But it was my left hip that got me into physical therapy. Overall, the hips are pretty good.  I think I'm ready for a run. : )

Now, back to, how in the world am I going to get ready for Bulldog 50k?  After much thought, I've come to the decision that I MUST lose weight.  I must, must, must.  It is essential.  I'm at least 15 pounds overweight -- and I've known it for a LONG time.  Thing is, I just haven't been able to motivate myself to drop the pounds.  I "work-out" (run, swim, gym, weights, etc.) six days a week -- I don't want to worry about diet.   As soon as I say, I'm going to "diet", anxiety grows and I actually eat more!  Usually what happens is, I eat too few calories for my activity level, that by the time night rolls around, I'm starving.  I arrive home from work between 6:30 and 9:30PM, and by then, I don't want to wait for a well balanced meal.  Instead, I go for the quick fix, and lots of it (cheese, chips, things like that) to get rid of the hunger.

And so how am I going to motivate myself this time to lose those 15 pounds?  I'm going to do what I'm doing now -- write it in my blog.  If I write it, I have to do it. Right?  RIGHT?  (I really want to run that 50k, besides that -- losing weight is secondary.)

"If I write it,I have to do it."

I hope so.

: )
 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Las Flores Marathon (My First DFL)

One of those things again this morning -- cell phone alarm rang out its annoying tune, and I lay there at 5:30 AM, wondering "What the heck?"  I said outloud, "I have no idea what day it is, or what it is I'm supposed to do." 

"A race," my husband said, half asleep.  "Get up and run."

A race?  A race?????  I'm thinking, "no big deal," then rolled over and groaned.  It's a MARATHON, and a trail marathon at that, with only 25 runners at that!  (Don't worry, it gets worse : ).

The original plan was to run the SD Rock n' Roll marathon in June (I was looking for a marathon where I could get lost in a sea of 22,000 people, besides that, the SD R n' R was my first marathon.).  But with my injury, I waited to register.  By the time I knew that I could run, the race sold out!  Thing was, the only month I could run this year's marathon #2 was June (believe me, it just worked out that way.)  I hunted on-line and found a lovely little race put on by Charlie Alewine and his wife, on a local trail in fact, the Arroyo Trabuco Trail.  I was leary because the race is held to 25 participants.  But I registered nonetheless.  (I always thought it would be an honor to come in DFL "Dead F****** Last."  That F can stand for "Friggin" or "Final" if you want, or any word that will work, a co-runner Ed, that I met today told my sons it meant "Dang Fine Lady").  Still, DFL has always worried me on these small races.  I look at other people in awe who come in last, because I thought it took a hell of a lot of courage to keep on going (I guess I didn't necessarily think so for myself).

Race Directions from Charlie

It was a cool, cloudy morning, and I arrived with plenty of time to spare. We took off without the fanfare, up onto the sidewalk and down, down, down a steep single track on our way for an out-and-back. Not just an out-and-back, but for the full marathon, an out-and-back four times.

Wait. I'm getting a little ahead of myself. A word or two about this trail. I've run this trail at least twice before, and always found it pleasant, and relatively easy (it's never actually easy). There were only two steep portions for this marathon -- one at each turnaround point. There were 4 creek crossings on a one-way trip, obviously 8 on the round trip, and 32 for the entire marathon. Crossing through the creek (because I plow right through them) was like adding 3 pound weights to my feet (my shoes also pick up mud and dirt on the exit). There are lots of beautiful shady parts, and the portion dubbed "the jungle" was included in this out-and-back. A good portion was single track, though some fire road portions existed.  And then there were portions of beach-fine sand, usually coming out of the creeks or near them, that was quite difficult to traverse.  Other parts of the trail were flat and easy, while even others were more rocky.  I tripped more than once on these rocky single-tracks.

Now, back to the story.  I felt okay about the run, even having been sick all week and not able to run.  A small group of runners (3 or 4) were within catch-up distance ahead of me.  And a good number, 7 or maybe even 8 were behind me.  I got to know their faces well. 

But then, it began to dawn on me that these runners all within my ability or less, were running the half-marathon!  Slowly but surely, the number of racers were dropping until I realized, most everyone was running the half marathon.  Only the die-hard freaks (no offense, because I guess I'm one of them) were running the marathon.  Don't get me wrong -- they were all friendly, and smiling and encouraging, these marathoners.  But I was way out of my league. (Charlie said that only 25% of the 25 runners ran the full marathon).

Scenes from the trail


I'm not really sure when the cramping began.  It was rather early on, before mile 15 I believe.  And they were only mild, just slight cramps in the calves.  Thing is, I'm so paranoid of those severe cramps that have attacked before, I started downing salt, I mean pure salt, straight out of the packets (I was also drinking pedialyte and took some endurolytes).  I didn't mind eating the pure salt.  In fact, I think it gave me peace of mind.  After about an hour of eating of fast-food restaurant salt packets, the cramps, even the threat of cramps subsided.  But then something else happened.  My right knee.  I'm suspect it was those sand pits, because that's the only thing really different about this race than my usual running.  Somewhere along the line, my knee began to ache, and I needed ice desperately.  So into the creeks I sank, because that water was cold and did seem to help the knee pain (not to mention the 2 ibuprofens that I took at the beginning of leg 4).

The Turn Around Arrow in the Dirt


I phoned home to tell the family "Don't plan on meeting me at the finish at noon." I was going to be lucky to come in by 1:15.  This race was beating me up.  And I don't know why.  It shouldn't have.  I've been doing strength training, speed training, cross training, you name it -- I'm training!  (But then again, I have been sick -- I wasn't sick today though.  On the other hand, Hubby says that 6 hours sleep isn't enough to run a marathon.  I don't think it was that either -- I'm guessing that I didn't realize what a trail marathon was going to do to me, even one with low elevation gain). 

After the turnaround on leg 3, I tripped over rocks, roots, whatever, it seemed every few steps (perhaps that's what got my knee).  I never actually ate dirt though, and I do feel that a stronger core helped me fight the falls. But a stronger core does not make a stronger psyche.  I wept a couple times while running, especially the third leg, out in the wilderness all by myself (for this is when my knee really took its toll and also when I knew that I was DFL -- in a few days I will bask in the glory of DFL, but not now as I write this blog, though really, I'm not terribly upset.  I knew that it would happen eventually.)

On my way up the hill to finish up out-and-back #3, the marathon front runner passed me to finish up the race.  Up top at the aid station, the half-marathoners were happily lounging about, taking pictures with their medals, etc.  I found it extremely difficult to leave the aid station and head back out for the final out-and-back.  On my way back down, a few more marathoners passed me on their way to finish.  I even passed by the last half-marathoner making her way back.  Then finally while still on my way out, the 3rd to last guy passed me on his way into the finish.  And as I made my way into "the jungle," Ed, the guy behind me was making his way back to finish. 

That jungle was terribly long, I mean agonizingly long!  I wasn't even near the turnaround until I exited the jungle.  These were my rules:  run only the flats and downhills, uphills were okay if I felt like it, but absolutely no running through the sand.

I felt great relief at the turnaround and took that nice long downhill not exactly happily, but at least with content.  Now I wanted "the jungle," for the shade!  And I couldn't believe how long it took me to get there, eventhough I ran the whole way!

Then as I crossed the first of the last four creeks on my way back for the finish, I phoned my husband, because I knew that he and the boys were waiting at the finish line.  I told him that he might as well go buy a soda or something, because I had at least another twenty minutes to go.  I could hear Ed, the runner who came in before me, describe to Dave how much longer I had to go.  Amidst all this, a giant doe pranced before me.  She was a beauty.  Chestnut brown with a wide, wide behind.  She was gigantic compared to the does I see on my home trails.  She made my day.

And I was off, three more creek crossings and, stumbling through the sand, and I was homeward bound!  Ed met me coming up the fire trail, and we made our way up the climb together.  Turns out we have run many of the same races!  Hard Corps Marathon (see my blog entry, he's the one in the cast!), Big Cat Challenge, to name a few. 

My husband and boys were atop the hill to greet me coming in.  It was a great treat to see their faces.  After hugs, and presentation of medal and the much coveted DFL trophy, I felt like I hadn't even run a marathon.  (Not the same the next day!)

Coming in for finish
Son presents me with DFL trophy

The Movie (because I'm silly)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Food for Thought

I have been sick the past few days, and it's really pissing me off.  I mean, I really have a bad attitude about it.  Thing is, I KNOW, that's not the way to heal.  Rest, positive attitude, good food, that's the way to heal.  Not me, I've been grumbling, eating nachos for dinner and tossing and turning through the night. 

I hate to get sick.  And this is not your oridnary sickness -- this is one of those dental/bacterial things, which means there's pain involved.  That makes me even angrier.  I've been trying to let go of this anger.  I even read Bach's Illusions, which is a lovely, lighthearted book with lots of good advice that I have not employed once.

So what is my problem?  I'm just a baby, that's my problem, and it seems that my attitude is somehow tied to sweat.  If I don't sweat, I have this irrational fear that I'm rapidly growing physically weaker.  And it's only been two days. 

On the good side, I have kept up the hip exercises and the planks.  Not going to do much good fighting those nacho dinners.  But perhaps I will not lose strength.  (I am toying with the idea of sneaking in a run today, or at least faking that I am much, much better, and perhaps I will be better, and that this whole sickness thing is really more attitude than anything else).

I shall leave you with this video clip that I found on Runnerdude's blog.  It's a good one for plank instruction.  You can find lots more on youtube.com

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Planks, Blogging and Short Runs

Planks and more planks, that's what I say.  I still hate them.  But I can tell they make me stronger, more stable on my feet as a runner.  I am now up to five sets, more than a minute each.  I know that doesn't sound like much.  Consider this:  when I first tried planks, I crashed to the floor yelping after a few seconds!  That's how weak I was.  Sure I could run for five/six hours straight.  But there was always that nagging hip.   And then with my last injury (when I finally visited the dr.) he was amazed at my leg strength, but frowned at my core strength.  He actually used the words, "very weak." 

I knew my core was weak.  I didn't want to do anything about it.  I knew it was more difficult to keep my column straight with a weak core, and that I bent at the hips when I grew fatigued.  And I knew that the more rugged the terrain, the more apt I was to get injured.  But this is the funny part.  Nevermind that running period, is hard -- it was just too hard, in my mind, to work on core strength.  And so I didn't.

Now, I'm not saying that planks are the "end all" answer to my weaknesses (that is physical weaknesses :).  I've added all sorts of weight training and hip exercises, and I'm returning to a schedule that includes more cross training.  But I am saying that planks are the clincher in this strength training journey I'm taking.  Thanks to Runner Dude's blog.  I'm not sure I would have began my plank regimen if I hadn't stumbled upon this blog.  He convinced me:  planks, planks, planks!

I've been running for about seven years.  I've been running trails for about two years.  (Another plug:  thanks to OCTR).  Since my first blog on myspace back in about May/June  2008, I have blogged every single run, even those runs I put in on the treadmill (which by the way, now I can't even look at a treadmill without anxiety shuddering throughout my body).  Recording every run is just something I do -- 1) because I run, and 2) as an exercise in writing (because I love to write, but don't have enough time otherwise).

AS THUS (spoke Zarathustra -- joking) I feel I must blog today's run, eventhough today's run was my short run, and I don't have much to say about a run that lasts well under an hour.  (Obviously that's not true, because how many pages have I written so far?)

My rule for these newly added "short runs" (thanks to Tom, who inadvertently convinced me on Harding Truck Trail that I need short runs) is that they must be less than five miles.  At first the idea repulsed me.  Seriously.  Was it even worth tying my laces to go out for a 3 or 4 mile run?  I mean, if I'm gonna run, well dang it, I want to put in the time.  (As I've mentioned before -- I'm a glutton). 

Now I am here to say -- Yes!  It is worth it to tie my laces and run for 3 or 4 miles, even less.  This afternoon I was joyous from the very first step.  Because from the very first step, the run is almost over!  (For those who don't understand the logic to this, because I wouldn't have 7 years ago, part of the joy of running is FINISHING the run, that is the last step).  With the short run, that last step is "just around the corner!"

I ran the wharf and Doheny Beach today.  And to add a little excitement (did I say excitement?  I meant, pain : ) I added seven bursts of speed throughout the run.  That is, I ran for short distances the pace I would run if I were coming into the finish line of a 5k race, which is basically the fastest I would ever run.  (Thankfully I haven't had to run from a predator, human or otherwise, because that would probably be the fastest I would ever run, which would be faster than my bursts today).  

I originally planned on 6 bursts, but in the end added one more.  I have to say that after each burst I wanted to stop running, but I kept on going, and in time, I was ready to add another.

At the end of my short run, I walked about for a cool down same as usual.  And I drank some water before a regular stretching routine (same as my long run stretch session).  The only thing different on these short runs is that I don't carry water, nor do I stop at fountains.  I also don't take in calories on the run.  And my snack back at home was a mere apple (of course, lunch was just around the corner).

Running!  It has taught me to change things up. It has taught me so much.

Miles logged this afternoon: 4.27

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Venting

The morning went haywire.  Started off hectic, but not haywire.  Got the 36 cupcakes to my son's class for his 11th birthday (which later I learned turned out to be a mess and no one's allowed to bring cupcakes for birthdays anymore).  Then I had to race home to get my birthday boy's violin and music books, because today's Thursday, and Thursday is orchestra.

Thursday is also my run day.  With a half hour now chopped off the morning (driving back home and then back to school), I rushed around this morning, getting my gear together and the youngest's lunch packed.  As he lazed about, and I realized we were going to be late, I mentally cut my run from 11.5 miles to 9.5 miles. I had too much still to do after the run -- gifts to wrap, a kitchen to clean, shower and get ready for work.  Heck, at least I was going to get in some hills.

And then after dropping baby off, I got lost.  Yes!  I got lost looking for my gas station in Aliso Viejo with the carwash and least expensive gas in town.  Admist all this, I took a call from my husband about server problems.  And so there I was driving around looking for my gas station, trying to troubleshoot over the phone, in near tears (I'm lying, it wasn't near tears, once off the phone, real tears).  Finally, as I stood there pumping gas, chucking the car wash because time was dwindling away, I nearly chucked the run.  But I couldn't.  I just couldn't.

I did chuck the 9.5 miles though and opted for a another tough loop that I ran last Christmas Eve with a couple of running friends for 7.5 miles:  Up Cholla and then Westridge to Top of the World, back down Westridge to Rockit and Coyote Run Trail to Wood Canyon back to the car.

And then suddenly, everything was beautiful.

I powered up Cholla.  I really did.  Venting, I suppose.  And I powered up Westridge on the uphills every chance I could all the way to Top of the World. 

Some flowers on Cholla Trail

Trying out the new bench on Westridge at the top of Cholla Trail
Flowers along Westridge

Flowers along Rockit
I ran Rockit with delight in my heart.  I didn't think about the future, there was no past, there was just now.  I noticed more lizards than usual crossing the trail, some of them in pairs.  Cicadas buzzed off in the brush.  At the bottom of Rockit, I turned onto Coyote Run, running the portion that I have only had the pleasure to run once before.  Overwhelmed with shade and amazed that I still had strength, I crossed on over the bridge with a dwindling creek below, to hit Wood Canyon.  I ran Wood Canyon and Canyon Vistas Park all the way in for a total of 7.5 miles.

So glad I didn't chuck the run.

Prickly Pear on Rockit
Coyote Run Trail
Wood Canyon Trail