TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

click on any picture in a post for a larger view

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Yup; I was there.

Despite my complaining, and maybe it was stupid, (I was hoping the antibiotics would protect me) but I grabbed me some of that fortitude this afternoon and headed out for a trail run.  I just had to do it.  It wasn’t that a short hilly run was gonna suddenly train me for the following weekend.  I just needed the release, the escape.

I took 4 ibuprofen, 2 Sudafed, packed my hydro pack with plenty of water (let me tell ya I drank it all), and ran down Canyon Vistas park with my shoulder reeking of Icy Hot, and a pain jabbing my RIGHT glute.  (It switched sides – go figure :)

At the bottom of Cholla Trail I asked a mountain biker if he would grab the Icy Hot out of my pack.  He kindly obliged, then I hid behind a sign, and COATED that glute.  I powered up Cholla best that I could.  Passed a biker resting at the side along the way.

I focused on relaxing and not compensating by changing my gate.  Mid-foot strike (especially on the uphills), straight core, and most importantly I concentrated on relaxing.  Toward the end of West Ridge I found myself running alongside three male runners who were just at my pace – they had actually passed a ways back, but I caught them on the uphills.  Conversation with one of the gentlemen took my mind off the tough end of West Ridge.

 Me at Top of the World, Pacific Ocean/Laguna Beach in background (look!  My ipod matches my shirt)CIMG7378

I can’t express what a relief I felt to stand at the Top of the World.  The breeze was cool, the people smiling.  By then my arm felt nohallow's eve 2010 pain, my glute minimal pain.  The ocean was dark, the skies bright.  And I have to say that just standing there gave me a boost – a mental boost (I don’t think it did so much for me physically). 

After running into Alta Laguna Park and stocking up on toilet paper to blow my nose, I ran back up to West Ridge with gusto.  I stretched and took a few snap shots, then ran, not that swiftly, back up and down, up and down West Ridge to Cholla, and back to the car.  I arrived home to greet my parents who stopped by for a short visit.  Then I spent a pleasant evening feeling just fine, my with my youngest son’s friend and parents.  And we gathered entirely too much candy trick or treating on this Halloween night. 

Photo of a beetle (stink bug) as it crosses beneath me during glute/hamstring stretch at Top of the World

CIMG7375

Elevation Profile

halloweeen run 10-31-2010, Elevation - Distance

Miles logged on this Halloween:  6.24

I don’t mean to complain but . . .

I really do hate to complain, I don’t mean to complain.  But the truth of the matter is, I’m screwed.  I mean, really, really screwed.  At this point, the only thing that is going to save me is fortitude.

Definition of FORTITUDE

strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage

Examples of FORTITUDE

  1. She has endured disappointments with fortitude and patience.
  2. <it was only with the greatest fortitude that the Pilgrims were able to survive their first winter in Plymouth>

Origin of FORTITUDE

Middle English, from Latin fortitudin-, fortitudo, from fortis

First Known Use: 12th century

Related to FORTITUDE

Synonyms: backbone, constancy, fiber, grit, grittiness, guts, intestinal fortitude, pluck, spunk

http://mw1.meriam-webster.com/dictionary/fortitude

I first started thinking about fortitude after my pastor spoke about it one evening that I went to church with my oldest son.  I had never really thought of the word before.  I had thought about “suffering gracefully”, which I cannot do.  But fortitude?  Well, that got me inspired.  2010 has been a tough, tough year – in so many ways that I won’t even begin to go into.  All this time I’ve been hoping and praying for things to get better, but then it dawned on me: IT MIGHT NOT.  I always thought a positive attitude makes things better.  But I’m realizing that I can’t control the world and that a positive attitude, well, that’s all good and all, it helps emotionally, but it surely doesn’t stop the bad things from happening.  As I sat and listened to that sermon, I thought to myself that I’d better suck it up and get me some of that fortitude, because things might not get better for a long time.  Of course, I’m not merely talking about my physical strength and abilities, I’m talking about life.

But concerning my physical strength and abilities, namely TRAIL RUNNING, it’s all been going downhill for a while (or should I say uphill!).   My training went astray last Father’s Day when we were involved in that 4 car collision (which by the way, the adjuster of the person at fault is telling me that my medical bills were way too high, and they aren’t even considering all of them, and my “training” means absolutely nothing to him – I am after all a 45 year old woman with 3 kids and a husband at home – what the heck business do I have traipsing around the hillside like I’m some kind of athlete?”  He didn’t say that last part, but that’s what he was thinking, I just know : )).

And thus I digress.  SO!  I really started thinking about fortitude again last weekend when I got stung by a wasp twice while running up the Santa Monica Mountains.  And I prayed for fortitude. I made it through that race amazingly fine – especially with very little training.  Which brings me to now:

That day I got a sore throat.  The next day decided not to workout, not because of the sore throat or sneezing and coughing, but because my quads were so stiff from that long downhill run.  When Tuesday rolled around, I decided to get to the gym to at least loosen up – I have the Saddleback Marathon looming ahead.  I sat in the steam room and sauna (lovely), foam rolled, worked on abs and lifted weights.  And since my deltoid and pec seemed so much better, I had the bright idea to workout all muscle groups, including my arms.

My arm (shoulder area) has ached since.  I practically wear a heating pad over my shoulder now as part of my normal attire.  Not only that, I’ve got that dang glute issue going on, not to mention, lower back pain.  I’ve been stretching and rolling the glutes like mad.  Doesn’t seem to help.

Wednesday, I wanted to run, but I was too sick.  Thursday, same thing.  Now I’m really falling into the pits.  I can’t even look at runners on the street, I get so jealous.  I was so sick, my husband had to get the kids to school.  He came home and told me, T____’s mom  “was going for a run this morning.” 

“La, la, la,” I covered my ears.   “I don’t want to hear it . . . wait!”  I uncovered my ears.  “Where’s she running?”

“It didn’t look like she was wearing trail shoes,” he said.

“Have you ever noticed her legs all dirty, I mean, this is important!  THINK!Has she ever picked up her kids with her legs caked in dirt like I do?”

“No,” he said, “I’ve never noticed her legs covered with dirt.”

“Okay.  GOOD.”

Thursday, I was still too sick to run.  My deltoid/pec still aching, glute painful, throat sore I headed off to the gym – I had a marathon in a little over a week.  I got a good workout.  I spent over an hour on the elliptical, lifted some weights (no arms!), did ab work and lastly did some lower back strengthening (bad, bad idea!)

Friday, too sick to run.  But I felt better, better enough to get the kids to school, do errands and take the Boo Cruise out of the Harbor.

Saturday, big plans to run.  Too sick to run.  So I finally went to the doctor, spent two hours in the waiting room.  Turns out, my cold turned into a secondary infection, which fortunately can be treated with antibiotics.  “Are you going to give me the fast acting kind?” I asked, eagerly. 

Nope.

“Should I double dose the first one?”

Nope.

Fortitude, I need fortitude.

Sunday, again, big plans to run.  I caked on the Icy Hot, took 4 ibuprofen and laid a heating pad over my lower back when I went to bed last night (at 9:30).

When the alarm when off at 5:00 AM, I decided I was still too sick to run. 

And so as you can see, I am screwed.  With practically no marathon training whatsoever, I’m going to run one next Saturday with 5,000+ feet of elevation gain. 

Fortitude!  Please give me fortitude.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Coastal Trail Runs – Malibu Creek 25k

Though I went to bed early, I got little sleep.  It seems I woke every two hours and dreamt all night that I was running, racing actually a double loop that went through houses and backyards.  I finally woke at 5 AM for good and hit the road for Malibu Creek State Park at 5:30.

I felt excited to run the same loop I’ve done on 4 other occasions, but this time in the opposite direction (clockwise).  I thought clockwise had to be easier than counter-clockwise.  After all, I wouldn’t have to climb Bulldog Road (which stresses me out immensely – which should make me ponder why do I do it???)

Anyway, this was a low key race, actually three races, a 10k, 25k, 50k all starting at once.  I believe the race director said there were 92 runners.  About 30 ran my race.   I recognized one woman from the Marine Hard Corps Marathon this year.  That brave soul was going to conquer the 50k.

My strategy:  take it slow.  (Borrowing someone else’s words: start off slow and end slow).  And so I did.  I started at the back of the pack, pain stabbing my right glute.  But as I ran up Backbone Trail (it’s usually the last hill in the race, a torturous devil of a little hill, what a joy to get it over first), I felt happy, to be running this loop once again.  My main goal was to finish – that’s all.  Finish.

Running down the other side of Backbone (which is usually hell coming up at the end of the race) I got a little surprise.  Something fast-flying flew beneath my sleeve and stung my right shoulder!  I screamed, or yelled, I think it was a scream actually, and brushed the thing out of my sleeve.  Then it swiftly flew down and stung my ring finger, the one with my wedding band.  My finger immediately swelled up and I ran in pain, astonished, wondering what the heck stung me.  I couldn’t imagine; all I knew was that bees lose their stingers when they sting.  So, it couldn’t have been a bee. 

At Aid station number one, we looked through the first aid kit for an antihistamine.  Coming up empty handed, I popped some ibuprofen, which did nothing for the sting pain , but took care of the glute problem.  The aid worker said that a hornet probably got me – they don’t lose their stingers when they use them. 

Yikes.  My first wasp sting.  Rather, stings.

So, I had to work on my attitude a bit as I continued running.  I can’t run a loop like this with a bad attitude.  Relaxing my body and my mind, I prayed some (Dear Lord, give me fortitude), repeated mantra’s like loosen-up, loosen-up and found in no time that negative attitude gone.  And I kept on Truckin’ . . . 

Running up to the ridge was not easy, in fact it was very difficult.  I hiked some of it.  But it was by NO MEANS as difficult as climbing Bulldog.

I caught a cool breeze running the ridge line.  There were some up hills and down hills.  I could take them all, having not been destroyed by Bulldog.  I tripped once, pretty hard on the ridge.  I barely lost a step.

Heading up the Mountain

CIMG7251 CIMG7256 CIMG7257 CIMG7265

Beauty on the Trail

CIMG7267

Onward to Bulldog Road (& second aid station)

CIMG7282

Running down Bulldog was an eye-opener.  I fought hard to keep a constant pace, finding it difficult not to “fly” down that road.  I admit as I ran down Bulldog I thought to myself, I’m NEVER climbing this thing again – it’s strange looking at Bulldog Road from another direction.  I finally realized why it’s such a difficult climb.  There is absolutely no relief from the climb and very little shade.  And it’s a long trail, more than three miles. 

With my brain empty I concentrated on the road, slipping once (fortunately I caught myself).  Then, this is how emotional running is for me, my dog Daisy popped into my mind about half way down the mountain.  I sobbed out loud in mourning.  Though I found it difficult to breathe while crying and running, I didn’t stop myself until I was done.  Sobbing that is, not running. 

After Bulldog, I ran past the M.A.S.H. movie set where picnickers set themselves up alongside a rusted jeep.  And then I made my way onto the single track, not stopping once.  I did trip once here though, but again kept on my feet (strength training!). 

By mile 13, I had grown so dang tired, that the old Lauren (before trail running) would have laid down in the shade for a nap.  But I kept on running, so eager to make the finish line.  I knew my time was going to be my slowest ever for this loop (more than 4 hours).  Like I cared!  I barely had any business running this race.

When I finally crossed over the creek again, I felt a huge sense of relief – homeward bound relief.  I could roll myself to the finish line if I had to at that point.  But I didn’t need to.  The crowds of people dressed in their church clothes mingling about the creek brought such a smile to my face and heart, that I ran it on in, slowly yes, but extremely thrilled that one of the 50k runners didn’t lap me.  I really didn’t want to get lapped.  (I expected that the closer and closer I got to the finish).  I didn’t even get the honored DFL.

Remnants of M.A.S.H. television props

CIMG7295

Along the Final Stretch (well, not exactly the FINAL stretch, but almost there)

CIMG7301

At Finish Line (not looking too pretty, but oh so happy to finish!)

video finish

Overall, I had a great time.  Now I truly know the meaning of “Quad Killer.”  I’ve heard runners say this or that hill is a “Quad Killer,” but I’ve never had any bad effects from any of these downhills.  RUNNING DOWN BULLDOG WAS A QUAD KILLER.  I can barely move around tonight, my quads are so stiff and sore.

Oh, there’s more : )  Elevation profile below and the movie (I can’t resist) beneath that.

Miles logged today:  15.55

Clockwise loop 10-24-2010, Elevation - Distance

Friday, October 22, 2010

Trails are Closed Until Further Notice Due to Wet and Muddy Conditions

My last run was Buffalo Alley.  I didn’t run Sunday, but planned a week full ofrain trail runs.  And then the rain came.  It poured, lightening lit the skies, thunder growled loud enough to scare all my children.  Monday and Tuesday came and went.  I thought still I can get in one good long run before Malibu Creek.  And it continued to rain.  Wednesday left us wet, and I still thought, there’s time . . . there’s time.  Thursday, more rain – but it wasn’t supposed to rain!  And then at last today, Friday, I woke to rain once again.  But I continued checking the trail websites, even calling the park.  All I got was “Trails are closed until further notice due to wet and muddy conditions.”

Phooey.

All week I obsessed over going to the gym.  Spent hours each day there, as if.  As if somehow miles on the elliptical, weight training and core work could help me run up the Santa Monica Mountains.  Deep down though, I knew that I could ride the elliptical until the cows came home, and it wouldn’t help me run up those mountains.  Pretty much, the only thing that’s gonna condition me to run up mountains, is running up mountains.  Sure, strength training and cardio are aids, mother’s little helpers.  Little helpers that lessen injuries.  They don’t substitute for the real thing. (That is running up mountains)

But then I went and re-injured/re-strained what seems to be my left deltoid and pectoral.  The pain bothers me so much, that I cannot even rightly sleep.  It’s odd, standing up, even pumping my arms doesn’t cause much pain.  But I’m in agony when I stoop or lay down.  And I can’t even begin to get into a plank position.

Woe is me : )

And so this morning after checking and re-checking Aliso Wood Canyons website, plus phoning them SEVERAL times, I said screw it!  I did not go to the gym.  I did no core work at home.  I lifted no weights.  I simply ran errands.  I cleaned house, stabbed my hand with a fork doing dishes (literally had to pull the fork out of my palm).  I did laundry, dropped off the boys, picked up the boys and drove out to San Diego County with my oldest son for my mother to color and trim my hair. 

I can only do what I can – isn’t this the same ole’ story????  (I know this sounds a bit crazy, but it’s a fun story – that is, when looking back.)

On the good side, I’m only signed up for the 25k this weekend, which has the same time limit as the 50k, 8 1/2 hours!  I should be able to do that : )))

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Buffalo Alley, a Race for the Fallen

I love soldiers.  I have always loved soldiers, even before my brothers were soldiers.  I’m not sure why I love them so much; I think it’s because they do something that I don’t think I could ever do.  I’m too selfish.  I wish I was like a soldier, selfless. 

Since I’ve started trail running, I’ve been running Buffalo Alley at Camp Pendleton.  This is my third “Race for the Fallen.”   Though the cause is solemn, it’s a fun race with two good climbs and lots of rolling hills.  And proceeds go to families of the soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

This is the one race, no matter how tough the climb gets, I run every single inch.  I tell my self to sacrifice this one time, because soldiers have to run when they don’t feel like it, or when they’re tired.  And so I run, sometimes breathless.  Today though, I never got breathless.  I’m getting better at them hills : )

CIMG7197 CIMG7198

The mood was festive as we lined up on this cool wet morning.  The marines put on a well-organized race as usual.  Lucinda, the woman I see at every Camp Pendleton race was present as usual.  She runs in all black, boots and carries the U.S. flag the entire race.  She amazes me.  We ran neck-in-neck, until she blew me away in the last 10th of a mile or so. 

CIMG7214 CIMG7220 CIMG7227 CIMG7240

I lost some time this year because I did a video of the race.  I’ve also got the glute issues.  Plus running every inch of the hills, I think makes my time slightly slower too.  The reason for this, I’m sure is that they wipe me out so much, that I run slower on the flats and downhills.  But I don’t care.  I had a great time, really, a fantastic time – the marines were characters, polite characters, funny, wild, crazy, respectful, and tough. 

But I saw no buffalos : )

Miles logged this morning:  6.22

The race:

map_horno

The movie

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Car Wreck Trail

I’ve heard about a wrecked car in those hills at Aliso Woods.  A few runners have told me they once came upon it, but haven’t been able to find it since.  The wreck wasn’t on an official trail; I knew that.  I’ve run every inch of trail in that wilderness park.  I should say every inch of “legal” trail.  And I’ve never seen a car wreck.

I figured there was no car wreck, or it got cleared long ago.

Today, I found myths do come to light sometimes. 

I don’t know how I missed it, but sometime in August of this year, Aliso Wood Canyons had their grand opening of Car Wreck Trail.  I must have been thinking about upcoming Bulldog, or moping around after Bulldog.

A couple weeks ago, I ran into the ranger station, excitedly exclaiming “Where is this new trail?”  The ranger pointed it out on the map, surprising me with the fact that it started (or ended) off of Mathis Trail.  Some day soon, I promised myself, I’m running that trail.  One of the guys working with the ranger said, “Up is the better way to run it.  Much easier to do that than run down it, the trail’s that steep.”  I chuckled to myself and thought, “psycho!”

SO, I took off running through Canyon Vistas Park late this morning.  I ran up Cholla, not so sure where I was running except for the fact I was running to the Top of the World.  That’s just me.  Gotta do it, because it’s so difficult.  On the way up Cholla, a mountain biker walking his bike up ahead heard my pounding and turned around to look at me.  He stopped, pulled over, allowing me to pass (I could feel his pain).  As I ran past him, he said “Just put me out of my misery now!”

I laughed and said, “I keep thinking it’s only a half mile, it’s only a half mile,” Cholla that is.  Then I looked back and uttered one more thing:  “The longest half mile there is!.”

West Ridge was empty and foggy.  A delight to run, though I’m not at top notch ability right now.  The run is also more challenging in the fog, because I can’t see Top of the World.  Therefore, I’m never quite sure exactly where I am in the run.  As many times as I’ve run West Ridge, in a good fog, I still can’t make out exactly where I am.  Strange.

How West Ridge Looked this Morning (Nice and Cool and Lonely : )

CIMG7153

At Top of the World, I looked at my watch and decided, heck, why not search out Car Wreck Trail today?  I think I’ve got the time.  I had a little over an hour to make it back to the car in time to stretch and pick up my kindergartner from school. 

I took the West Ridge down hill at a good pace, then turned off on Mathis, surprised Car Wreck Trail wasn’t right there.  I’d guess I ran about a quarter mile before finding the marker.  A mountain biker came up behind me.  I let him pass, then posed for a self-portrait before the steep descent.

Posing in Front of the Brand New SignCIMG7157

Car Wreck Trail is lovely.  Mostly a single track, it’s quite technical, lots of rocky terrain.  And yes, it is a bit steep.  But it’s not the steepest trail I’ve ever run down.  I won’t tell the whole story here, because I’ve got pictures below.  But quickly – Car Wreck has twists and turns, plenty of shade, and yes indeed, a car wreck.  At just one point I did stoop down and jump down over the terrain because I felt I might wipe out running it. 

Car Wreck dumps out onto Oak Grove Trail which in turn dumps back out onto Mathis Trail (the flat part).  I ran Mathis to Wood Canyon Trail, which I ran all the way back to the car.  I tripped once, on a flat portion and lurched forward pretty hard.  But I kept my self upright, and didn’t lose a single step.  Thank you planks.  : )

Some of the terrain on Car Wreck

CIMG7166

Car Wreck Trail:

CIMG7167

The Car Wreck

CIMG7174 

CIMG7177

CIMG7178

CIMG7181

Toward End of Car Wreck Trail, Heading onward to Oak Grove Trail

CIMG7182

One Last Snap of the Camera, Coming Off of Mathis Trail

CIMG7190

7.51 miles run today

Elevation Profile

Car Wreck Loop 10-14-2010, Elevation - Distance

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I’m Breaking up with you . . . Pavement

Now, I have nothing against road runners.  Really, I don’t.  I’ve run miles and miles, joyfully, happily on pavement and/or asphalt.  But that was in the past.  Lately, it’s just not working out between us.  More and more, the road just reminds me of my old friend, the dreadmill treadmill. 

Today, I was forced to give you one more chance, pavement.  With no time to drive to some trails, you got me on the rebound!  I filled my handheld with water, my belt with Nuun tablets and phone then headed off down the road for a nice, three hour run . . . a three hour run.  I hoped you would help me get lost just like Gilligan.  I wanted to lose myself, simply run.

But right away, stabs at the right glute, even after a warm-up, it was too painful to stay with you.  Now, I know that I’ve been having glute issues recently, and it probably is just me, but I couldn’t help but blame you, pavement, for my problem today.  And so, I was none too happy to dump you in for the dirt and run back up the hill home.  I was angry at first, but then glad to be rid of you, glad to spend time with my good old friend, Gym.  I spent two  hours there (closing my eyes as I passed the dreadmill treadmill.)

I had fun with planks and the roller too (my glutes loved that roller).  I got lots of ab work and strength training in, plus nearly 6 miles on the elliptical crossramp.  And even though I should have been sad or mad that I didn’t get to lose myself on the pavement today, had I not broken-up with you pavement, I would not have witnessed miner Esteban Rojas emerging from the mines after being trapped there since August.  I would have not choked up with tears while sweating on the elliptical as he dropped to his knees, clasped his hands and prayed. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

I am not ready

I am not ready for the Saddleback Marathon -- "California's hardest marathon."  I hardly ran in the Santa Ana Mountains all summer -- I think only once, and that wasn't a very long run.  But I am crazy enough that I'm gonna run this marathon anyway.  I've got two races before the big date -- nothing that will prepare me.  But I am, on the good side, venturing back to Malibu Creek State Park.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am returning to my nemesis. 

This will not be the first time I've entered a trail race ill-prepared.  Three young children, a job, a household to keep to mention a few obligations, things just get in the way.  Excuses.  Excuses.  If life always went as planned, it would be pretty boring, I say. 

I'm not that concerned, though I did want to run/hike up Holy Jim (aka Holy Crap) at least once before the Saddleback marathon.  Not going to happen.  Just not enough time.  It seems like every big race, something big happens that keeps me from my training plan.  Does that happen to you? 

I ran Calico this year with an aching hip, rubbing gobs of Icey-Hot beneath my hemline at each aid station.  Bulldog 50k, there was my car accident and 6 weeks of physical therapy right up to the race, not to mention I DIDN'T HEAT TRAIN. 

It really doesn't matter though.  I'm in this for the fun.  Yup, THE FUN.  There's no chance I'm placing, even in my age group.  What I want is to finish.  Even if I don't, I've had my first DNF, so I think I can handle another without sobbing hysterically. 

It really is all about the fun, the challenge, the adventure . . . the story.  That is why I enter trail races.  The story is just too good to pass up! 

How about you?  Why do you enter races that you have no chance of winning, or even placing in your age group?

ps.  No back spasms today.  We shall see about tomorrow.  Today I swam 2,000 yards, did some core work, lifted weights.  Tomorrow will be the true test.  I'm hopeful. : ) 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Peters Canyon on 10-10-10

Yesterday, the back spasms were far and few between with much less intensity.  Heating pad on my back, I went to bed early for a 4:45 AM wake up.  No pain!  Stiff glutes yes, but no back spasms : )  I packed the ibuprofen anyway. (Along with all the other essentials: water, phone, camera, Cliff Bar, hat, sunglasses, chapstick, and of course music.)

The sun had not even shined above the horizon when Sheila, Kelly, Vicky and I took off running into Peters Canyon.  I couldn’t help feel that I needed a headlamp.  Two women we passed in the dark asked if we were going up to the ridge, because they didn’t want to go up alone.  I wasn’t sure if it was wildlife or man that spooked them.

After taking Peters Canyon Road into the Canyon, we ran up Eucalyptus Trail. As you would probably guess, it’s lined with tall Eucalyptus trees.   Eucalyptus Trail is also the same one that got me so dang angry over two years ago because I had to pull on the branches to help me up.  Peters Canyon is where I ran my first trail run.  It was also the location of my first trail race.

Runners on East Ridge View Trail (Vicky, Sheila & Kelly from left to right)

CIMG7123

Eucalyptus Trail meets East Ridge View Trail which is a rocky one– loose rocks, the hard kind to run.   East Ridge, like most ridgelines goes up and down, up and down, up and down.  I felt pretty fatigued early on.  But that’s okay – I needed this.

A lake view greeted us coming off the ridge.  Catching Lake View Trail, we made the loop around the lake, but not before cutting off the corner and running a lovely little trail called Willow Trail.  It’s like a jungle, shady and cool.  The ground was still damp from last week’s rains.  Vicky lead the way, so he was the one to run into the spider web.  After that, he picked up a stick to wave out front. 

The ups of East Ridge View Trail

 CIMG7132

Kelly and Vicky leading the way on Lake View

CIMG7125

The climbing began again on the other side of Lake View Loop.  I vividly recalled that this was the first uphill trail I ever ran.  It’s a wide road, no shade and I think it was almost as tough today.  But that’s okay too.  The past few months have been tough.

We ran a detour off of Peters Canyon Trail – Creek Trail.  It’s my Featured Trail of the Day (below) because it’s lush, cool and oddly, a bit landscaped with stepping stones and bridges throughout.  The creek was full, but still.  Not exactly something I wanted to splash around in, but it added a serene touch to the trail.

We finished off one loop when Sheila, Vicky and Kelly ran off to add a mile or two before heading home.  I stayed behind and ran the loop again.  With my headphones on, still plenty of water on my back, I finished another joyous Peters Canyon loop, totaling this morning’s run at 11.71 miles. 

Back down Lake View to catch Peters Canyon Trail CIMG7148

Before parting company after one loop (Me, Kelly & Sheila)

CIMG7126

One more pose before parting, Vicky, Me and Kelly

CIMG7128 

Pretty flowers coming off the ridge

CIMG7135

Lake View Trail

CIMG7137

Willow Trail

CIMG7143 

  Elevation Profile of One Loop of this Two Loop RunMy Activities 10-10-2010, Elevation - 1 loop Peters Cyn

Featured Trail of the Day

Friday, October 8, 2010

Come Hell or High Water

First, sickness kept me from the trail.  Then rain.  I was going to run today “come hell or high water.”  Hmmmm.  Not exactly sure what that means.  For me, it meant, I’m running NO MATTER WHAT.  I need to get away, unwind from loads of stress.

And so I woke with back spasms!  **#%%##!!!!!

They were so bad, horrific is more the word.  I cried from the pain.  They attacked about every 15 minutes, literally throwing me to the ground.

Hmmmph!  I am so sick of troubles with running – injuries, heat exhaustion.  It’s time to end.

I started with the ibuprofen at 7:00 AM.  By the last school drop after 9:00, I had taken a total of five, and felt spasms no longer.

Like I said, I was running no matter what.  Still, I lied to myself as I drove to Canyon Vistas Park.  I thought that I’d just check it out, if there was no pain whatsoever, I’d run, little pain, I’d take a long, long walk, lots of pain, I’d just lay down in the park for a few hours and enjoy the the cool breeze.  But really, deep down, I knew that I was running.

I took off through Canyon Vistas Park walking, because I didn’t want to pound the pavement.  As soon as I hit dirt I began my run.  Slow, very slow to start, I ran down Wood Canyon, through shady groves, fearful of returning pain.  I tried to wipe those thoughts from my mind and think of nothing.  Instead, thousands of thoughts dashed in and out of my brain.  Relax, don’t resist, I told myself and ran all of Wood Canyon Trail completely pain free!

The Glory of a Cool Breeze and SHADE on Wood Cyn Trail

CIMG7099

Feeling good, I decided (actually I had decided yesterday) to run up Meadows Trail.  Virtually empty, I began the climb with a mountain biker who whizzed off ahead.  Far in the distance I could see two hikers with walking sticks about half way up Meadows.  I wondered to myself whether I could catch them.  Then I just put my mind on nothing and began running that steep, mile-long switchback up to the ridge. 

Eventually, I noticed the hikers pretty dang close.  I thought to myself (again), well I hope I don’t pass them because then I’ll have to talk.  After this morning’s attack on my back, I wasn’t in much of a talking mood.

Looking Back on Aliso Canyon as I make the climb up Meadows Trail

CIMG7108

About three-quarters up Meadows’ climb (probably more) I came upon the two hikers.  One of the men said, “You’re not gonna shame us and run past us.” 

I smiled and laughed.

The other man said, “You better not be able to talk.” 

He really said that.  I had to laugh, having thought that I didn’t want to pass them earlier because I didn’t want to talk.  And so I began talking, like I was going to go into a long drawn out conversation.  Then I laughed and said, “just kiddin’, I can hardly breath.”

I was exaggerating.  I could breath, and pretty well.  I was just breathing pretty dang hard.  I met the men (Phil and Eugene) on the ridge too.  They wanted to go down another way, so I mapped out about 4.5 miles for them, taking Mathis back down to Wood Canyon.  I don’t know if they decided on that route, because I had to rush off to make it in time to pick up my youngest son.  I still felt good and pain free, just a little tired. 

Rock Sculpture @ top of Meadows Trail

CIMG7110

Me (@ Top of the World / Meadows side)

CIMG7113

Goats at Top of the World

CIMG7121

After running through the residential neighborhood, I ran West Ridge much faster than I usually do.  Time was extremely low – even my fastest pace probably wouldn’t make it in time.  I pounded Cholla Trail then ran back up to my car.  I was late.  No time to stretch, I jumped into the car and raced off to the school.  I hit every single red light and was late arriving to pick up our son.  Fortunately, this was the one day his class was let out late.  My little one was none the wiser.  My oldest however, who stayed home sick today,  was aghast that I ran nearly ten miles after all that pain this morning.

I thought that I was “home free” from the spasms.  And I was so glad to have finally hit the trail.  THEN, after picking up middle boy, the pain attacked again.  Needless to say, I’m researching back spasms tonight.

Miles run today:  9.68

Today’s Elevation Profile

My Activities aliso wood cyns 10-8-2010, Elevation - Distance

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I don’t think I’m cut out for the heat : (

Friday morning I woke from a race dream.  As usual (in dreamland) I was running late picking up my bib, where I learned that this was a nude trail/mud run.  (Where I’d put my bib, I have no recollection).  Reluctantly, I stripped down and ran off late to the Start Line, apprehensive about my nudity.  While I was running I noticed not everyone ran this race nude, in fact, very few runners were naked.  Some, especially the women, ran in shorts but with no shirts, and some runners were fully clothed.  Then someone told me, “No!  It’s Clothing Optional’.”  I was not happy.

So, Friday I got out on the trail in my waking life, late as usual (since the boys went back to school getting out early is tough.)  Thing is, we’re still in the midst of a heat wave, and 10 AM is way too late to begin a trail run. But I had this great idea.  I was going to stay in the canyon and avoid the heat on Friday – forget that oven along the ridge.  I was going to keep cool.  Really cool.

Ha!  I felt overheated the first 1.5 miles in – Aliso Creek Trail which has virtually no shade.  My right glute felt pretty tight and my throat was sore.  But I was determined to make this trail run.  I need to get back into training.  (Wait.  I don’t need to.  I want to – I’m just a little crazy with this “need” thing right now.)

I laid on the picnic table at Wood Canyon Trail to stretch that glute (figure 4 stretch) and I couldn’t even keep a hold of my legs, my hands and legs were so slippery with sweat.  Later, that ibuprofen I took for my throat ended up helping with the glute too.

Wood Canyon, a beauty, but hot as heck

wood cyn trail

Finally approaching much needed shade on Wood Canyon Trail

finally shade on Wood Cyn Trail

Determined to make this run, I put my head down and plowed through it.  And then it started happening again.  I couldn’t cool down.  And I was hydrating all the while (with Nuun tablets too!).  Taking my mind off the heat, I shot an amateur video of Wood Creek Trail (Featured Trail video below), and got to enjoy some cool, breezeless shade for a short while. 

A Baby snake, as I ran onto Wood Creek Trail (probably a gopher snake, its tail covered in dirt I couldn’t see rattles, but his head looks a bit tiny in proportion to his body to be a rattler)

snake

One of 2 tortuous flights of stairs in this wretched heat on Wood Creek Trail

staircase on woodcreek

Covered in salt and drenched in sweat, I laid beneath a tree back at my car and stretched a long while.  I arrived at school to pick up my youngest, my back actually cramping from the heat exhaustion.  After a shower, I felt loads better, but the sore throat was growing worse. 

Friday night, we decided to go to our son’s friend’s family restaurant Steer Crazy for some good bbq – a plug for those in The OC looking for some bbq with an ocean view and ocean breeze : )

By late Friday night the sore throat evolved into chills.  Bundled up in four blankets, I went to bed freezing while everyone complained of heat.  All day Saturday (today), I laid around, sleeping, aching, and sweating.  Heat exhaustion twice this week, I think really took a whack at my immunity.  Sadly, so, so sadly, I’ve decided against Sunday’s early morning group trail run (Boo Hoo! Not happy.  But I will be back)

Miles logged Friday:  9.24

Featured Trail of the Day Wood Creek Trail

As a positive note:  my right glute has not given me any problems since Friday’s run.