click on any picture in a post for a larger view

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Saddleback Marathon

Up at 4:30, I was on the road (5:30), driving up Highway 74 to Blue Jay Campground in the dark.  Missing the turnoff once, I parked along the road and ran on over to a camper to meet a exciting and wonderful Australian named Baz who puts on The Saddleback Marathon (among other races).

All my “stuff” laid out the night before – yikes!  Quite a bit there – my packing list has grown : )


Thankfully, Baz granted me and a few other runners an earlier start with the trail marker who was also running the race.  I was afraid that I would come in after the cut off if I didn’t get at least a little earlier start.  Turns out, Baz is a super nice guy and pretty lenient on the time limit. 

Anyway, the weather was perfectly cool this morning, the scenery lush and green, for the most part.  I think that first trail was San Juan Trail, which was mostly up and I ran it with little problem.  Then we were off for a magical downhill trip on Trabuco Trail, where the ferns were bright green and yellow leaves littered the floor.  The run took some concentration, especially when we hit the rockier areas.  I tripped several times, but never “ate dirt” or “ate rocks” rather.  I have run Trabuco Trail before, but nothing looked familiar to me.  But when we hit that rocky area – it all came back.  (Aug or July 09, I believe “In Over My Head” blog)

One super fun thing about getting an earlier start, I got to witness the front runners fly by me – I mean FLY by.  The first two passed on the flat desert-like part of Trabuco, about 9:00 AM.

Eager for my 3rd marathon this year, my 2nd trail marathonCIMG7432

Going up San Juan Trail (Irvine Lake in distance?)

CIMG7436 CIMG7438

Trabuco Trail


 Wonderful Aid Station Workers – they all look familiar to me, but I couldn’t place them


So, how do I make this race report sweet & simple.  I can’t.  But I will try.  The first ten or so miles went surprisingly well.  Aid Stations supplied, among other things, ice-cold Coca Cola, which I took like shots.  They felt like zingers and gave me the rush I needed.  Then we hit Holy Jim.  I thought to myself, this isn’t so bad (difficulty-wise), and even though I promised myself to hike all of Holy Jim, I ran a good deal of the beginning.  (I kept thinking “Eh, Bulldog is much harder!)  Besides that, Holy Jim was gorgeous with boulders, stream crossings, colorful leaf liter, small waterfalls along the way.  And then we hit the switch-back, one after the other after the other

Mile 11.5 or so, I felt I could not take another step.  Cramps were setting in.  First my toes began cramping, then my calves.  Though I had been taking S-Caps (salt) all along, I began eating them like candy. 

CIMG7466 CIMG7469




Still going up Holy Jim . . .


About the time we were supposed to reach the Main Divide, according to my garmin, I couldn’t see it.  I feared I had got off track.  I could hear falls somewhere nearby, but I didn’t turn my head to investigate.  I was too concerned about reaching the divide.  Then I saw Sheila up above climbing an extremely steep incline.  And then another runner came up behind.  That last tiny stretch of Holy Jim was quite difficult.  It was layered with several inches of slippery acorns. Using my hands to climb up, I could see a truck through the trees.  Then a table came into focus.  I had made it – the 13.5 mile aid station at elevation 4,056 on the Main Divide!

The station workers were awesome – supportive and at my service to the extreme.  They wouldn’t let me do a single thing for myself.  I took my Coca Cola shots, refilled my water, popped in more than necessary Nuun tablets and was off for a gorgeous, windy up and down trip along the Main Divide.  On one side I could see The O,C., the otherside, Lake Elsinore.

Lake Elsinore down there


While I had been sucking down gels all along, I knew that I had to get in more calories.  But I really didn’t think I could hold down any solid food.  At station #4 one of the aid workers pulled a Luna Bar out of my pack.  I held that thing in my hand for a while as I ran along the divide.  I could feel the cramping just at bay.  My body crusted in salt, I continued to down those S-caps. 

A little delirious at this point : )  Feeling goofy.


All the runners I met along the way were friendly and supportive as I ran this last portion, waiting, waiting, waiting for that last aid station – after that it would be all down hill.  I felt like a zombie.  I was just running with no thoughts, nothing – simply putting one foot in front of the other when I yelled inside my head, “Eat!”  And so I began taking little bites of that Luna Bar.  I kept it all down. 

Another runner, Jeff, and I came up on the last aid station at the same time.  This station was run by Steve and Annie Harvey (I recognized them  from my first Calico Ghost Town trail race).  They are a friendly couple who are race directors for the Old Goat Trail Races

So dang happy to find out we had only three miles left, I really started acting quite silly, yakking away with the Annie and Harvey, saying it was a true miracle that I had made it that far, etc., etc.  I was the happiest girl you’d ever see after climbing more than 5,500 feet!   I finally took off running, actually running, when my legs could move no more.  Some time later, Jeff caught up with me.  And we ran those last three miles together, the longest three miles EVER.  We crossed the finish line before every one had packed up and left.  Several other runners came in one after the other after that.  And I found it odd that I hadn’t even noticed them out there behind us.   I used the garmin to give the recorders my official time, since I got an early start.  I was running up in those mountains for a little over 7 hours!!

I felt perfectly fine after crossing the finish line.  I chatted some with fellow runner Dave (but forgot to snap a photo of him!) and also with Mark.  I laughed at Baz, his energetic and boisterous personality.  But I forgot to say good-bye to Jeff.  If you read this Jeff – it was great running in with you.  You helped take my mind off the total hell that my body was going through : )

It is finished!!!  3 marathons this year:  Check

The Movie   : 0

5,523 Elevation gain

My Activities Saddleback Marathon 11-6-2010, Elevation - Distance


  1. Congrats! I had no doubt you would finish...but it's great to read that you enjoyed yourself out there. Here's to muscle memory. :) btw- Running up San Juan and any part of Holy Jim?!!! wow..I'd be hiking!
    Hope you are relaxing today as that was a wonderful performance yesterday on a tough course!

  2. Thanks so much Rachel for your comments. I really had doubt. I'm so happy to have finished. Thanks again!

  3. Thanks Hank! It was really killer, a miracle that I got it done. I just really never thought "how many miles left?" that would have killed me : ) And many times, I simply refused to look at the long climb above, I just put my eyes to the ground. I guess Denial is sometimes a good thing.

  4. Nice job Lauren! A tough race that I've yet to run..

  5. Thanks Jessica! If it wasn't for OCTR, I wouldn't have even dreamt of attempting this. And I still think I had no business being up there. I'm just so happy that I finished.

  6. Great job!

    Holy Jim is a bitch of a climb!

    I see a Twin Peaks in your future!

  7. Thanks Stuart. Twin Peaks working an Aid Station Maybe! : )
    Seriously, after Saddleback, I told myself, now it's TIME TO GET IN SHAPE. I'm tired of running races out of shape. Have been concentrating on my Glute Problems since Sat (not to mention rolling my quads -- they took a serious beating), and I think I'm on my way! Next is Calico. I love Calico. Thanks again for all your comments. They really help.

  8. Congrats on finishing a tough race Lauren! You need to do some more Baz races this winter. His post race drawing and antics makes signing up worth it in itself!

  9. Thanks Glenn. Will definately do more Baz races. He is a crack-up. January is reserved for Calico, so I'll be out to Blue Jay after that (I kinda have my eye on his 50k, but then again, I must be absolutely INSANE : )

  10. Congrats Lauren. I should have ran with you guys since it took me 7 hrs to finish as well. We just parked as you started with Doug M. That was my 7th marathon and 4th of the year. I was looking at the table at that last aid station and it was going in circles. We do the Catalina Marathon every year and I highly suggest it. Not as hard as Saddleback but is challenging. Good luck to you.

  11. Thanks Jeremy! Saddleback was my 3rd this year (4th total). Congratulations on your SEVENTH!! I was acting pretty dang goofy at that last aid station. I think I was delirious, because otherwise I would not have been able to run it on in. Hope you had a great time in Catalina Marathon. I'm done for the year : )

  12. Congratulations on completing your third!

    I'm sorry it got so rough for you but nice job pushing through. ::hugs::

  13. Thanks Green Girl. It sure was a doozie : )