TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

click on any picture in a post for a larger view

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Defeatist

With the glutes doing much better, I decided it was time for some speed work.  I should say first off that I am a long runner.  I am not a fast runner.  But with my Calico goals, there’s no way around speed work.  If I’m going to better my time, I’ve got to run faster.  Not faster on the street, not faster on flat trails, faster on rugged terrain, faster on hills. 

I was kind of looking forward to this morning.  I actually thought it might be fun.  My plan was a short run with speed bursts, longish speed bursts (about 1/2) along West Ridge, and overall run those rolling hills faster than I usually do.  And then when I come to the steepest hill (I call it “Good Girls Don’t”), run that short hell climb a few times as fast as I can

Getting ready for my “new” training, still thinking it might be fun (wearing full gear, because that’s how I will run Calico)

CIMG7781

Well, I hated it.  I HATED IT.  I really cannot stress how difficult this was for me.  I started off strong on mildly rolling hills, about 8 1/4 minute pace.  Strong for about 1 minute!  My breathing quickly felt out of control.  I had to rest at .47 of a mile.  But I kept on going afterwards, bursting up the hills, trying to fly on the down hills.  And then after running up “Good Girls Don’t” three times as fast as I could (I had to stop midpoint all 3 times), I felt like I might vomit. 

On the way back to the car, I ran West Ridge faster than I usually do, but my bursts had slowed quite a bit from my run in.  And I did stop to click one beauty of a picture of the Laguna Coast and the great Pacific.

CIMG7782

Overall, this is what I thought at my first attempt at speed work

CIMG7785

Elevation Profile:  The 3 spikes around mile 2 is the hill I call “Good Girls Don’t”

My Activities speed work 11-30-2010, Elevation - Distance

Miles logged this morning:  3.94

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Get A Grip (in the mud)

After a restless sleep, I did not want to go, I did not want to go.  Rain poured down through the night; I wasn’t even sure if the trails were open.  But I didn’t run yesterday, so I had to go.  I had to.  I’m not going into another trail race untrained. 

It was cold, cold, cold in Aliso Canyon!

CIMG7730 

I saw 2 runners just ahead of me as I set out on Aliso Creek Trail.  And they turned back on the paved portion before I arrived to Wood Canyon.  And then another runner ran past, and she turned back too before I arrived to Wood Canyon.  I worried that the trails were closed up ahead.  But they were open, so I turned onto Wood Canyon Trail, shoving gloves and scarf into my pack.

About 1 1/2 Miles In Layers Start Coming Off

CIMG7731

Running Meadows Trail, Headed Toward The BIG Climb

CIMG7737

The BIG climb was so dang muddy, I was sliding backward trying to make my way to the top.  I could run very little of the trail, finding opportunities when grass grew along the edges.  I laughed out loud over the fact that it was one step backward for every two steps forward.  It didn’t help any to scrape off the mud.  The next step simply added those couple pounds of mud right back onto my shoes.  One biker behind me turned back to find another route as I grudgingly, yet happily made my way to the top.

No More Layers – I’m Warm!!

CIMG7738

CIMG7744

CIMG7751

Top of Meadows Trail!!

CIMG7753

A wonderful cold breeze blew in my face as I ran along Top of the World.  Instead of venturing down West Ridge right away, I headed off onto Park Avenue Nature Trail and took it down, down, down toward the canyon road.  I hoped to find a route over to Laguna Coast so that I can increase the size of my loop in a couple of weeks.  Turns out there’s plenty of routes down and plenty of routes back up to West Ridge Trail.  I took an overgrown single track back up (I love those single tracks!)

Looking across at Laguna Coast and Pacific Ocean

CIMG7759

Back On Wood Canyon Via Cholla Trail (How to run this? Gingerly along the grass edges : )

CIMG7765 \

View of Wood Canyon from Wood Creek Trail

CIMG7766

Plenty Of Spider Webs To Run Through On Wood Creek, But Leaf Litter helped To Get A Grip In The Mud

CIMG7769

Maiden’s Hair Fern Along Wood Creek Trail

CIMG7773

One Of The Hundreds Of Mushrooms Growing In The dense, Shady Portion Of Wood Creek Trail

CIMG7775

Elevation Profile:  +1,935 ft.

My Activities aliso wood cyns in the mud 11-28-2010, Elevation - Distance

Miles logged this morning:  12.53

My Activities aliso wood cyns in the mud 11-28-2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

I’m NOT running the Turkey Trot Trail Run

Every year I think might not run the local Turkey Trot.  It has been such a pain for many reasons.  First off, they lost my registration TWICE last year.  They do not start the runners in waves (though there are more than 10,000 runners) and most importantly, the whole race is on pavement. 

But I’ve run the Turkey Trot for many years.  It was my first race.  It was the one that really set me on my way with running.  I can walk to the race from my house even (big, big plus). The Turkey Trot holds a lot of nostalgia for me.  And I have been known to be very nostalgic.

Well, this year, I went and did it.  That is didn’t do it.  I did not run the Turkey Trot.  Instead, I ran with a friend on dirt, beautiful soft DIRT (& some rock : ).  And it was lovely.

When we arrived to Aliso/Woods Canyons the air was FREEZING.  That is literally.  The wood post fence we climbed over had a layer of ice along it.  Though I wore long sleeves, I wasn’t prepared – I wore shorts, didn’t have gloves or a beanie.  So I wore my scarf tied over my head like my great-grandmother, Babcia used to.

After turning onto Wood Canyon which was still in the shade, we took a little detour onto Cave Rock Trail so we could get up on that rock into the sun.  That didn’t really help warmth-wise.  But the view of Wood Canyon from atop that rock was spectacular, green hills, blue skies with a bright sun beaming down promising to warm us up soon, very soon. 

I had the bright idea to shortem the trip to the top by not running up Mathis.  Instead we ran through that shady magical Oak Grove Trail and UP Car Wreck Trail.  There was no running for me on the steepest parts of Car Wreck.  Even hiking it was a chore.  But it surely warmed me up.

So let it be known, running up Car Wreck is not actually a short cut. : )

A “runnable” portion of Car Wreck Trail

CIMG7724

Sheila and Me at the top of Car Wreck, finally warm

CIMG7726

Reaching the top of Mathis (via Car Wreck) was such a chore that the uphills remaining were pleasurable to run.  We ran on up to Top of the World, and from there across over to Meadows, which we took down to Wood Canyon and back to the ranger station beneath gorgeous skies.  Truly a run to be thankful for on a day that I am glad to remember all the things that I am so thankful for.  Happy Thanksgiving!!

Top of the World

CIMG7727

Miles logged Thanksgiving morning:  9.25

Elevation Profile:

My Activities thanksgiving 2010 11-25-2010, Elevation - Distance

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sit on This

First an update on the Piriformis muscle situation.  Great improvement with switching my sleep position.  But I was still waking in pain.  Have been also doing stretches and foam rolling, and I am good all day loCIMG7720ng (mostly) – that is until I sit or run.  Also, nighttime has not been great.  Then in my desperate stumblings on the internet I came across the suggestion of using a tennis ball.  So, two nights ago, I sat on a brand new tennis ball (3 for $2!!) and OUCH, OUCH, OUCH.  The next morning, I am happy to report that I did not need to roll myself out of bed.  I did not need to hold onto the mattress as I walked out of the room.  Instead, I jumped right out of bed, WITH NO PAIN AT ALL.

You can be sure that I’m continuing this sitting on a tennis ball, rolling it over that muscle to help loosen it up, every time I think of it.  Of course, I have to take some hassling from our oldest son.  He thinks it’s absolutely ridiculous to sit on a tennis ball. : )  Just wait til he’s in his mid forties with Piriformis syndrome!

Now, back to running – trail running that is.  If I wanted to get in 3 trail runs this week, I had to run today.  And I wanted to, I wanted to!  So, I took off through Canyon Vistas Park, expecting the outhouse to be empty at Aliso/Wood Canyons’ entrance.  No such luck.  And for the first time in a long time, I ran off into the brush and . . . fade out . . .

The trails were empty, I mean EMPTY this morning.  The trails were also pretty eroded from the past days’ rains.  Deep crevices lead the way along with rock exposed from the dirt being washed away.

A changing Prickly Pear on Cholla Trail

CIMG7707

I did not feel so strong on this run.  I tried to keep my pace up, but I couldn’t keep it as fast as my last run.  That’s all right though – the morning was lovely.  Lovely and strange.  Everything looked so different to me – the erosion, the brush now greener and growing onto the trails.  As I ran along West Ridge, a helicopter flew between me and the Laguna Coastal Hills at an elevation lower than I was running! 

Looking down on Laguna Canyon Road and Laguna’s Coastal Hills

CIMG7709 CIMG7713 The glutes began stabbing as I ran along West Ridge.  I popped 3 ibuprofen right away.  No way I was going to stop this run at this point.  I’m not gonna lie.  West Ridge was tough.  I blamed a day a Disneyland yesterday.  But who knows, it could have been anything.  I feel a little “out of sorts” in my training right now. 

Anyway, at Top of the World, I stretched that glute muscle.  And then I decided to take a little detour on the way back.  Instead of running straight down West Ridge, I took Park Avenue Nature Trail – another one of those trails I’ve neglected at this park.  Very quickly, I came upon a fork in the road.  I took the right which wound me up on top of a plateau with a lovely 360 degree view of Saddleback Mountains, Laguna Beach and all of Aliso Viejo.  But there was no way down to West Ridge.  So I ran that fork in the road back down to the turn off and took the left trail instead.  And what I saw beneath me on the hillsides was a whole other system of trails, seemingly leading down to Laguna Canyon Road.  More trails to discover!!!! 

Well, I ran a while when it seemed like I should be back to West Ridge.  But the trail cutting across was not West Ridge.  It was a whole other ridge trail that I’ve never seen before.  How could I have never seen it before?  It amazes me how geographical angles can obscure entire trail systems.

Park Avenue Nature Trail

CIMG7717 CIMG7719

I eventually made it back to West Ridge.  From there I (leisurely) ran back to Cholla Trail.  And even Cholla Trail, I didn’t take too quickly.  But I did see another person – a mountain biker riding, not walking, his bike up its steep eroded terrain. 

Miles run this morning: 6.5

Elevation Profile:

My Activities nov 24 out and back to top aliso woods 11-24-2010, Elevation - Distance

Friday, November 19, 2010

Shoot for the Stars

“We are all of us in the gutter,  but some of us are looking at the stars”  / The Pretenders (Message of Love), which basically quotes Oscar Wilde (Lady Windermere's Fan)

The forecast says rain, rain, rain.  So with little time to spare, I got the boys dropped off to school, ran one errand, got a ticket (yes, a traffic ticket!) and headed off for a trail run before the waters descended upon us (which by the way, they haven’t yet).

Altering my sleep positions have helped with the glute pain, so I changed my running plans this morning.  I ran through Canyon Vistas Park, a familiar route, but instead of starting the climb right away up Cholla Trail, I took a downhill route into Wood Canyon.

Today’s Elevation Profile 

Nov 19 run Wood Cyn up Rockit to Top of World

A slight drizzle fell from gray skies.  Dozens of mountain bikers made their way on the trails as I made my way down Wood Canyon.   It was dark, cold and lovely.  Scouring the sidelines for acorns, I stopped here and there to collect them on special request from our youngest son.   About a mile and a quarter in, I took a right onto Coyote Run Trail.

Entry to Coyote Run Trail

CIMG7613 CIMG7615

I did not meet another soul on Coyote Run Trail.  Turning down the tunes to make sure I’d hear oncoming bikes (or other troubles), I concentrated on keeping my pace strong (remember my goal – Calico!)  I felt strong winding through that short stint, but a little anxious knowing what lay ahead – RockIt Trail. 

Rockit Trail

 CIMG7616

I felt amazingly well running up Rockit.  It is after all, only a mile and a quarter (yes, about 2.5 times longer than Cholla Trail, but much, much CIMG7624shorter than Holy Jim or say . . . BULLDOG).  I think . . . I don’t want to speak (rather, write)  prematurely, but I may be through my recovery period. (That is recovery from Saddleback).

I met one hiker just as I headed up Rockit.  Otherwise, I had that trail all to my (happily) lonely self.  What a joy!  I think it was Rockit that finally freed me today.  Though that freedom was short (I had to re-enter the “real” world eventually), it was well worth the sweat and not tears, but salt that ran down my face.

Rockit meets West Ridge which I ran up and down, mainly up, up, up to Top of the World.  After stretching my troubled glute muscles, I raced, I mean, raced back up and down West Ridge (mainly down, but there’s some good ups).  I concentrated on form, but mainly pace, amazing myself at times with an eight minute pace (that is a rarity on trails!).  Even more amazing, I conquered the twelve minute pace on the moderate hills.  (I still owe you Tom for the garmin!!).  Increasing my pace is the only way I’m going to meet my Calico goal.  To break through that bottom 25%, I’ve got to beat my Calico 30k time by about 30 minutes.  To place in my age group, I’ve got to beat my time by ONE HOUR.  My goal is the latter.  As the saying goes, “Aim for the stars, and maybe you’ll reach the sky.”

Miles logged this morning:  7.61

Acorns I collected (quite difficult to get a focused pic).  Baby boy was quite happy though : )  He really liked the yellow ones (who knew acorns were so colorful).CIMG7628

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cave Rock

Tuesday I added an event to my calendar, and when I do that, it’s like a domino affect.  Everything had to shift.  And so, I couldn’t run Tuesday (that got moved to Wednesday).  Instead I went to the gym Tuesday, put in an hour plus on the elliptical, stretched, did weights (but no arms!), abs, foam rolled and felt absolutely great afterward.    

But then the night came.  Night time is pretty miserable for me with this piriformis glute issue going on.  It’s when I sit or worst yet, when I lay down to sleep that the pain comes.  (According to my research, it’s because I “shorten” this muscle with my sleep position).  After tossing and turning all night, I woke this morning earlier that usual – I just couldn’t stand the pain of laying down.  After standing for a while, the pain gradually subsided.  I foam rolled, I stretched, and I dropped all three sons off at school, one by one.

On the spur of the moment I decided on a relatively flat run, a 9 mile out-and-back through Wood Canyon at Aliso/Wood Canyons Park.  I packed on the water (I do that nowadays, bring in more water than necessary) and headed down Aliso Canyon, my glutes causing a great deal of pain. 

I should note that my running about 10 miles today was a bit of an inconvenience on the family, having only one car.  This is partly why I chose a flatish :) run.  I figured I’d get the car back home sooner.  Besides that, I consider myself still in recovery from my last marathon.  A “flat” run, I thought, was a good idea, a chance for my body to rest.

 Sightings Board / Notice upper left corner, lost computer!  Does anyone else find this a bit odd? 

CIMG7586

Well, I about had it by the end of Aliso Creek Trail.  Now, I’m not one to give up easily (good and bad point about me), so I kept it going and turned onto Wood Canyon Trail.  I stopped at the bench there, got up on the table and stretched the suspect muscles, took two ibuprofen. 

I ran only a half mile more before I finally gave up and turned around.  What the heck?  Listen to my body, right?  I phoned my husband to tell him that he could have the car because I was coming back.  I refrained from crying.  I wanted to cry.  But I was kinda feeling that my spouse wasn’t going to think kindly about me crying because I couldn’t run.  I’ve cried too many times over not being able to run.  And I’ve also cried tears of joy for being able to run.  I’d guess it’s getting old.

The Silver Lining : )

On the way back down Wood Canyon Trail, moping, trying so hard not to go to that pitty party, I passed a trail that I have passed over and over again, Cave Rock Trail.  It is one of the very few trails that I have not explored in this park.  I thought it was just this tiny thing that went around the giant boulder with a small cave in it that you can see from Wood Canyon Trail.

Boy was I wrong.  As soon as I ventured in, I knew that this was my silver lining today.  First off, it was a shady single track that quickly began to ascend (oddly, my glute issue disappears on the uphills).  There were wooden steps built into the slopes, moss alongside the trail, even some acorns to gather for my youngest son.  The trail winded up onto that giant boulder with the cave that I could always see from Wood Canyon.  I ran on top of it for an awesome view of Wood Canyon Trail.  The rock never looked that high from the ground.  I was amazed.

I took this trail (about 1/4 mile) until it dumped me back onto Wood Canyon, and though my glutes still ached (only slightly), I ran it all the way into the ranger station and past for a run totaling 4.5 miles. 

Now, if I didn’t have this glute problem, I may have never ventured onto this trail.  How sad would that have been?  Pretty sad.

One of the very few trails at Aliso/Woods I have not wandered

CIMG7591

My Kind of Trail!!

CIMG7596 

Admiring View on the Top Backside of Cave Rock

CIMG7602

More of Cave Rock Trail, Naturally Landscaped with Stepping Stones

 CIMG7603

Lots of Rock on Cave Rock (all part of the same rock)

CIMG7608 

Heading off of Cave Rock, back toward Wood Canyon Trail

CIMG7610

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Crystal Cove

This morning’s run was impromptu.  I knew I was going to run, or at least hoped to.  I popped my last antibiotic, checked my e-mail and tried to get out early.  But that didn’t happen.  I wasn’t out the door til 7AM. 

Just so happens that I have a few state park day passes about to expire, so I set off this morning to a different trail system than I usually run – Crystal Cove.  Normally (and there really isn’t a “normally” for me and Crystal Cove), I start at the top of the hills and run down.  That of course, means climbing out to get back to the car.  Today though, I started at the bottom.  That meant, I got to drive through Laguna Beach.  Lovely Laguna Beach.

I used to drive through Laguna Beach every weekday, many a year ago.  And it was in a complete traffic jam as I made my way to a 40 hour week job in Irvine.  I used to wave at a drifter who had made Laguna Beach his home.  He became known as “The Greeter” as he stood at one of the corners near Main Beach waving at us as we drove by.  He was an old guy, with long hair and a beard, and always a smile.

I remembered him this morning, mainly because he wasn’t there.  But there were at least two sculptures of him along the way, and one painting posted up on a lamp post.  It’s been many years since I drove to that job, so I had to assume “The Greeter” had died. 

Sad.

I also remembered while driving through Laguna Beach this morning, how I used to look out my window longingly driving that same route, flicking the ashes from my cigarette, wishing that I didn’t have to drive to this particular job every day.  I longed so much for a different life.  One of freedom, one where I could wander.  And here I was this morning, three children (& hubby) still sleeping at home, free from cigarettes, free from the 40 hour week, driving to Crystal Cove to run (wander) trails.

Despite everything.  I am lucky. 

I will say one thing though.   The ranger at Crystal Cove wasn’t feeling so lucky this morning.  In fact, I think she hated her job.  I tried to talk nice (I was after all, happy to be there) and ask about the trails.  But she just frowned (practically growled) and pointed to the map on the wall.  After she validated my day pass, I walked out of the station and actually said out loud, but a little beneath my breath, “friendly crowd here.”  I could have sworn that I heard her stand up and hurry up behind me.  And I actually envisioned this angry ranger grabbing the validated day pass from my fingers and snapping, “No Day Pass For You!!”

But she didn’t.  And I didn’t need her.  The mountain bikers and hikers out at Crystal Cove this morning were plenty cheerful and willing to help.  Two bikers gave me a loop just under 10 miles.  And with park map in my pocket, I headed up a 3 mile incline, called “No Name Ridge,” a well groomed, dirt road. 

The trails aren’t marked at Crystal Cove like they are on my regular trails.  I constantly found myself asking people, “Am I still on No Name?”  I was wearing my garmin and carrying my map, so really I wasn’t going to get lost.  I just didn’t want to put in too many miles.

From “No Name” I took a lovely, single track called Ticketron.  That trail basically turned into Deer Canyon which lead me to Fence Line (a trail that I’ve run a couple times.).  Then on Fence Line, or Missing Link, I came across about a dozen or so runners.  And I recognized a few of them, Chris D. and Annie and Steve H. who were the friendly couple working the last aid station at the Saddleback Marathon.  I spoke briefly with Chris and Annie and they assured me that I was on the right track to Moro Ridge.

Moro Ridge was a pleasure, rolling hills, mainly down with a full ocean view.  I ended this run with no glute pain (after beginning with plenty glute nudgings, and NO ibuprofen).

I believe I snapped this photo on No Name

CIMG7549 

Ticketron Trail on way to Deer Canyon Trail

CIMG7554

Fence Line Trail looking toward Saddleback : )

CIMG7559 

Me on Moro Ridge headed down to B.F.I (Big F****** Incline, then El Moro Canyon)

CIMG7562

CIMG7564 CIMG7570

Miles logged: 9.09

My Activities Crystal Cove  11-14-2010, Elevation - Distance