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Friday, November 12, 2010

Gathering Acorns

I woke this morning feeling amazingly well.  It’s been a while.  Still on the antibiotics. But I think this thing is kicked.  Taking my time to get ready, I packed plenty of water, my camera, phone, ipod and sunglasses and headed out the door before 7AM. 

I wore gloves on the trip over, but promptly peeled them off before running down through Canyon Vistas Park.  Pretty much right away, my glutes began stabbing at me.  And while I thought about popping the ibuprofen, I focused instead on relaxing.  Not a single soul rested at the bottom of Cholla, so I took the time to stretch my piriformis muscles (more on that below in my self-diagnosis blurb).

Still in my recovery phase (from Saddleback) I’m taking it pretty easy.  I think I’ll wait another week before amping it up.  But I still ran Cholla Trail in its entirety and tried to keep it strong.  I didn’t meet a single other person going up that steep rocky, semi-switchback trail.

West Ridge was empty too.  At first that is.  The skies were blue, the breeze crisp.  Then I began seeing people.  In fact, I came across twenty-one hikers (one at a time or in small groups), 7 mountain bikers, but just one lonely runner.  I stopped to talk to two women who were looking for the owner of a pair of prescription glasses they found.

At Top of the World, I stretched my piriformis muscles again.  And I met a woman who was looking for a pair of prescription glasses.  I told her about two hikers and she quickly headed off down West Ridge.  I met her again on my way down; she was walking up discouraged for not having found the hikers with her glasses.  A short time later, I came upon the two hikers with the glasses and relayed the story.  And I was off again, this time down Mathis.

Top of the World, Overlooking Laguna Beach & Pacific Ocean


Top of the World, Facing Saddleback Mountains, where I ran last Saturday’s Marathon


Mathis was void of runners, hikers and mountain bikers.  Feeling somewhat spooked, I picked up a nice size rock to take with me down Car Wreck Trail, which is pretty desolate anyway.  On a day like today, a weekday morning, I wouldn’t want to be caught defenseless on Car Wreck because it’s kind of out of the way.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself running down Car Wreck Trail.  No glute pain whatsoever.  The weather remained clear and cool, though I did push my sleeves up some.  I turned down my ipod also so that I could concentrate on the trail’s more difficult areas and relish its beauty. 

Nice Technical Aspects on Car Wreck Trail


Posing in front of Wreck (tossing my rock)


Ferns on Car Wreck Trail


I chucked my rock when I hit Mathis again, even though the trail was also empty (but at least I was running a main route).  Wood Canyon was empty as well as I set off on a mission to collect acorns for my youngest son.  Oak tree after oak, no acorns, only leaf liter – and lots of it.  Finally, I ran offtrail and into a thick woodsy oak grove.  It was dark and shady in there, cramped with branches.  I scoured the floor that was inches thick of crisp oak leaves, but no acorns.  Then I looked up and focusing through the other side of the grove noticed a lush green meadow.  What the heck!  I have got to go there, I thought to myself, but then chucked that idea, being alone and all.  But before I turned around to head out of the grove and back out onto the trail, I suddenly noticed, not twenty feet away from me – two deer.  They just stood there looking at me.  I had never been that close to deer before (except for at petting zoos, like Japanese Deer Park – remember that place?), and I wondered if they might charge me.  I mean, one was pretty big and all, even the smaller one could knock me over.  Reaching for my camera, I took a step closer.  Crinkle, crinkle, crinkle went the leaves beneath my feet.  And the deer were off like lightening through the grove off into the meadow and gone from sight.

Back on Wood Canyon Trail, I continued my search for acorns.  I found plenty smashed, some even intact, but without caps.  Then finally with about a half mile remaining of this morning’s run, I hit the jackpot.  I found a nice cluster of capped acorns.  I stooped down, collected up a handful of choice selections.  And then I was off again running the trail, as these five cyclists passed me headed back toward Cholla Trail and Canyon Vistas Park.

Heading Back on Wood Canyon Trail

Miles logged this morning:  7.51

My self diagnosis:  All along I had been working on “fixing” the gluteus maximus muscles.  But I was showing no improvement.  I just couldn’t get to physical therapy right now.  So AFTER Saddleback (not before!!) I did some research and I really believe my problem is the piriformis muscle group which is in the same area (the butt).  The symptoms match perfectly.  Piriformis Syndrome is when the muscle tightens or spasms (yup) and also irritates the sciatic nerve, resulting in lower back and thigh pain (double yup). One cause of this “syndrome” is running, in particular, running uneven ground (yup again).  On the good side, in just a few days I’ve seen improvement by doing piriformis stretches and foam rolling that I found on youtube.  I am hopeful.


  1. Okay, that Car Wreck Trail looks really hardcore.

    Good luck with the piriformis stretches.

  2. Thanks Green Girl! Ya, that accident looks pretty bad. And I just can't figure how the car got there. It really had to fly off a cliff and roll a long way. I can't get any info on it either, when it happened, how, etc. But it does appear to have happened years ago.