TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

click on any picture in a post for a larger view

Friday, April 29, 2011

I’m Back (Kinda)

I visited the doctor Thursday and was happy that I didn’t have pneumonia.  And, he informed me that my bronchitis could be treated with antibiotics.  I happily took my prescription for only 8 pills to the pharmacy.  Then I chocked at the $140 bill  -- that’s with insurance.  Mighty expensive pill -- $17.50 a piece.  I guess my doctor took me very seriously when I said I WANNA RUN!  These are some strong antibiotics.  One dose knocked back my cough tremendously and put those body aches to bed. 

And so, even though I still coughed this morning, when my husband said that he had a meeting in Laguna Beach and asked if I’d like him to drop me off at Top of the World.  I didn’t think twice.

Heck Yes!

I’m not completely well.  I feel a whole lot better.  And with the cost of those pills, I felt protected. LOL.

Lily at Top of the WorldCIMG9952

CIMG9956I’ve never begun my run at Top of the World.  I looked forward to the change and the downhill start.  The skies were blue, the breeze cool.  And I was smiling.  I didn’t see many runners.  But I saw a total of 3 snakes.  The first snake was a garter snake in Wood Canyon.   The second snake was a rattler also on Wood Canyon Trail – it slithered so quickly across the road that it practically flipped across the trail.  I raced up to it, but only caught a picture of its tail end as it slithered into the brush.  The third snake was also a rattler.  This one was on West Ridge on my run back up.  Again, I only caught its tail end as it left the trail.

Garter SnakeCIMG9970

As I raced up to the first rattler, I caught up with a shirtless man I’ve seen at Aliso/Wood Canyons  time and time again (it seems for years!).  He’s pretty much always there putting in countless miles on the trails.  Today, we had a nice long conversation together (maybe 1 whole mile’s worth) and I learned he is an MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter training for a Vegas fight Memorial Day weekend.  I’m looking forward to watching him on Spike T.V. (You wouldn’t believe what the purse is if I told you – I was absolutely amazed to learn).  He goes by the name ARod (like the baseball player) and he’s sure got stamina.  I don’t know though how stamina helps your body to take a beating like those “ultimate fighters” do.  But wait, why did I put that in the negative?  The stamina I’m sure, helps you to keep on pounding your opponent even when your dead-dog-tired.

It’s not like me to strike up long conversations with a “stranger” on the trail.  (I do however, strike up long conversations with riders on a bus : ) But Arod’s not really a stranger, and I was just so happy to be out there running trails again – I wanted to know why everyone was out there.  Most of the other people that I saw today were mountain bikers, which of course are difficult to strike up conversations with (since they’re usually travelling faster than me) – still I spoke with a few (and they probably thought who is that crazy, giddy lady?)

Today’s Elevation Profile:

My Activities Aliso Woods - Back on Track 4-29-2011, Elevation - Distance

One Picture From Each Of The Trails I Ran Today:

Park Avenue Nature TrailCIMG9957

West RidgeCIMG9959

Cholla TrailCIMG9962

Wood Canyon TrailCIMG9966

Dripping Cave TrailCIMG9979

Mathis Trail

CIMG9980

Oak Grove TrailCIMG9985

Car Wreck TrailCIMG9988

Miles logged today, my first day back after the 100 Mile Week: 7.55

I could sit in this Cave (Dripping Cave AKA Robber’s Cave) all day long.

Enjoy your run! 

CIMG9976

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Aftermath

The aftermath of any big run or running challenge is always significant for me.  When my hundred mile week ended, I was elated, truly elated.  Then that same day, I was saddened that the whole thing was over – not just the running (though I LOVED the running), but also the racing around trying to fit runs in during my busy schedule and the challenge of doing this all when I was sicker and growing sicker.  I actually liked the fact that I lost my voice – it was like a battle wound.

That kind of stuff makes me feel alive.

About 36 hours after I finished the 100 miles, depression set in and I could feel aches in both IT bands.  I told my family I would wait three days before I ran again.  Sunday, we celebrated Easter.  Monday, I did my chores, worked, etc.  Tuesday, I felt a whole lot better illness-wise.  And so I set off to the gym for a two hour workout.  Hubby said, “Wait, you said THREE days!”  I responded, “3 days no RUNNING.” 

I felt great after my gym workout, ecstatic in fact.  And then BOOM!  I was sick again. 

It hurts to swallow.  I toss and turn all night. My cough is deep.  And when I see runners on the street, I’m jealous.  Jealous.  I’m 46 years old, and I’m JEALOUS when I see people running.  I’m not jealous when I see people driving Mercedes (I don’t even own a car).  I’m not jealous when I see jeweled fingers or by women who wear a different outfit every day.  I’m not even jealous of slim trim ladies.  I’m jealous when I see people running.  And sadly, though while I was experiencing my 100 mile celebration, I loved it, now I feel the same ole weakness I’ve always felt.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Strength Granted / 100 Week Goal Hit

Day Seven 100 Mile Week Celebration/Challenge: 100.09 Miles Run

My husband thought it was all over for me on Thursday.  He said I ought to say, “Ah . . . I meant 100 Km!”

Friday night I said to him, with a whisper of a voice (because I lost it somewhere on my runs), “If I don’t improve vastly overnight, I don’t know how I’m gonna make it tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow” was Saturday, today, the 7th day of my 100 mile week celebration/challenge.  I went to bed early, with another “shot” of severe cough and cold medicine.  I slept pretty good until midnight when I woke with a coughing fit.  After chewing a cherry-honey Ricola, I fell promptly back to sleep, then experienced wild dreams of a lunatic trying to kill me.  He succeeded, then I’d play the story over and over again, trying new things so that he couldn’t succeed in killing me again.  But each time I changed my moves, so did he.  I remember climbing up crazy-high fire escapes and riding falling elevators.  Not fun. 

6:00 AM arrived, and I woke out of habit (I set my alarm for 6:30).  Thankfully, my throat no longer ached.  After two cups of coffee, I foam rolled my IT band, calves and hips.  Then at 7:30 AM, I ran out the front door for the last segment of my 100 miles to celebrate Holy Week.

CIMG9889I will try and make a very long story short(ish).  I began this run on an uphill which was very tough.  I felt weak.  Reaching the top of the hill was a great relief as I made my way down to complete the first leg of this run.  Great relief does not exactly equate to “fun.”  I still felt overly fatigued.  Then while listening to Eminem on my ipod (I know some of you laugh), he sang the words, “Lord grant me the strength . . . “  And I thought, “Man!  What Am I doing?  Those should be my words.”  And so I chanted those same words until my tiredness departed and I began to enjoy this lovely morning and the feeling of triumph, as I finished off my 100 miles.

I told myself “Your’re only running  4 sets of a little less than 4 miles.”  I didn’t plan out each segment in advance, instead I decided as I ran, and promised myself not to look at mileage until I reached the end of a “segment.”  Last thing I wanted was to stress over mileage.  I really wanted to enjoy this run on such a glorious and beautiful day.

After that first downhill, I ran a straightaway, then down some more to the beaches at the northern end of town – Monarch, Salt Creek and Dana Strands.  By the time I made my way to the surf, I felt normal – like I hadn’t pushed myself to the limits this past week. 

Segment 1 was probably the longest, but by far, the most enjoyable.  I ran along wet sand, visited tide pools.  The mood on the beaches was festive with surfers, walkers, runners and sun tanners all enjoying the early morning sun.

Running down into Salt Creek/Monarch BeachCIMG9892

Running Dana StrandsCIMG9897CIMG9903CIMG9909CIMG9916

Leg 2 included the upper portion of my town, “The Headlands,” which meant a nice climb back UP.  But climbing up also meant trails, lovely trails.  I ran them for a couple miles, stopping once to take off my long sleeves and empty my shoes of sand.

View looking back at Monarch Beach, Salt Creek & The Strands  CIMG9922

Running Headlands, Overlooking Marina & Island (Island is Leg 3)CIMG9925

Sculpture of Richard Henry Dana, Jr.  (Author of Two Years Before the Mast) throwing cowhides off the cliff down to The Pilgrim well before the marina existed (1830s)CIMG9934

Running Down Into Leg 3 – The Marina IslandCIMG9941

I felt great during leg 3.  People roamed the island, squirrels scampered about as pigeons excited little children who exclaimed “Look at that pretty bird.”  (How wonderful to think of pigeons as pretty birds rather than annoying pests who try to steal your picnic food).  Outriggers rowed the calm waters inside the jetty.  Windsurfers paddled against slight winds.  Party goers decorated gazebos for birthdays and pre-Easter celebrations – a true delight. 

A View From Island (Headlands In Background, From Whence I Came)CIMG9947

Sculpture Of Richard Henry Dana, Jr. Greeting Incomers To Marina IslandCIMG9949

Leg 4 of my run to end Holy week went relatively quickly, though I found it difficult not to stare down the garmin.  I was tired somewhat, but making sure I didn’t drag my feet (by listening closely to my step), I was able to keep decent form, which meant for an enjoyable end. 

Though a car nearly plowed into me during Leg 4 (and it wasn’t my fault, it was his – a lot of good “fault” does if he hit me), I didn’t lose spirit.  I ran along the marina, through the wharf, then the main road.  I ended my lowlands run through Doheny Beach and on the bridge then over San Juan Creek, or actually the estuary, as it is where the river meets the ocean.  And then I ran back up Highway One home.  I chose (on purpose) the least grade back.  And since that climb was gradual, it was enjoyable.  And as I ran up the driveway of my home, I heard my middle son yell out with glee from the living room, “ONE HUNDRED MILES!”  What a pleasure that was!

Happy Easter.

Miles Logged today:  15.32

Friday, April 22, 2011

One Day Remains, 15.23 Miles To Go

Day Six 100 Mile Week Celebration/Challenge: 84.77 Miles Run

I cannot adequately describe how utterly fatigued I am.  People ask me if my legs are tired.  No they aren’t tired.  My arms are tired though.  My eyes are tired.  My shoulders are tired.  My ankles ache.  And I think I may have broken my toe (though it has vastly improved, so I could be wrong).  My neck is tired.  My voice is tired.  And my brain is tired.  I. Am. Tired.

I didn’t begin the 6th day of my 7 day running celebration/challenge like this.  I began it with a throbbing headache, runny nose, sore throat and cough.  After rushing around getting the first two boys to their schools, I took a shot of “severe cold and cough medicine.”  The only kind we had in the house was the “nighttime” formula.  And I use the words “took a shot” because it tasted awful, much like downing a shot of whiskey (yuk).  LOL.  Yes, I am a bit off, I think.  I did though feel a lot better.  I’m sure it didn’t help in the “tired” category.

After dropping my kindergartner off to school, I literally began my run from his classroom door.  Leaving the car in the school lot, I ran to the river walk and headed to the beach.

Day Six, Raring to RunCIMG9872

Amazingly, my body felt good running.  I was hoping to get a big push on mileage so that day 7 would be a short run.  The weather was cool, though I warmed up pretty quickly.  I tried not to think about anything, especially the end.  Except occasionally, looking at my mileage was forbidden.  I didn’t want to stress.  I just wanted to run. 

And run I did, snapping a few photos here and there.  And I even saw a high school friend Andy  as I headed back.  What a great pleasure it is to see old friends (we didn’t grow up in The O.C., but live a couple blocks from each other now).  Anyway, I stopped for a moment and talked quickly, as I was losing my voice and I had to get back to school.

I thought I might run twice today to make up mileage.  As it was, after picking up boys one and two (hubby picked up boy three), I threw myself into bed.  There I slept and tossed and turned for more than three hours. 

Miles logged today:  13.80

Views Along The Way:

I call that a low, low, low rider Smile

CIMG9875

Running Beneath Highway One Into Doheny BeachCIMG9876

Kind of Striking a Pose at the MarinaCIMG9879

CIMG9881

Turn Around Point / The JettyCIMG9885

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Less Than 30 Miles To Go!

Day Five 100 Mile Week Celebration/Challenge: 70.97 Miles Run

I woke this morning with a worsened cold.  But I still cleaned the kitchen, got those lunches packed and did some laundry.   Then as I rushed out the door to meet two running friends, I grabbed my cell phone to call Sheila and confirm our run.  Well, with no glasses, I scrolled to the “S’s” in my address book and “dialed.”  (I can’t read without glasses!)  A man answered.  No biggy; I thought he was her husband.  “Is Sheila there?” 

“Wrong Number,” he said. 

I was in a rush.  I laughed and said, “Okay, I know you because you’re in my address book.  But I gotta go.  Sorry.”

“Lauren?” the man on the other end said.

“Yes.  Who’s this?” 

“Shane.”

SHANE IS MY BROTHER.  L . . . O . . . L

That is how whacked I am right now.  I don’t even recognize my own brother’s voice!  My husband and oldest son got a good long laugh over this one. (It’s good to make your family laugh, don’t you think?)

I made it to Aliso/Wood Canyons in time to meet friends Sheila and Kelly, and they joined me for the big loop – the CLOCKWISE LOOP, which means running UP Meadows (that’s the ridiculously steep hill from my “timed loop” mentioned in several blogs.)

Me, Sheila and Kelly about to take off through Aliso Canyon

CIMG9853

Surprisingly, I was able to do this 11+ mile loop without dropping dead to the ground.  Thankfully, the skies were overcast and the air was heavy with moisture.  The run through Wood Canyon on the way back was delicious with a lovely cool breeze.  But that last .75 miles on pavement coming into the ranger station was tortuous.  I was so dog-gone tired.  But that wasn’t the end for me.  When the ladies left, I had planned on another 4 miles since I had more time. 

Running along West Ridge Trail (All the major uphills finished!)

CIMG9858

As I mentioned, that last 3/4 mile I felt like I couldn’t run another step.  Running into the finish nearly breathless, I exclaimed, “I AM SOOO TIRED.” 

“You know what I do when I’m really tired?”  Kelly had a serious look to her face.  I thought she was going to give me a good tidbit. 

“What?” I eagerly asked.

She smiled.  “I RUN FOUR MORE MILES!!!”

Well, that set me off with a good laugh.  Sheila sent me off with “You’re a rock star,” but I knew that she could have run those extra miles too. 

What a great pleasure to have company on this morning’s run.

And then I set off running again.  I wanted 15 for today, so I ran across the street into another park.  I simply ran glancing at the garmin, and when it read 2 miles, I turned around and ran back for a total mileage of 15.55 miles today.

The park across the street (I’ve never run this park before today)

CIMG9860CIMG9862CIMG9865CIMG9866

There’s those birds again (above).  Magical, I tell ya.  Magical. Smile

About 29 miles remain and just two busy days to run them. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Magical Birds

Day Four of 100 Mile Week Celebration/Challenge: 55.42 Miles Run

Today has been the most difficult to fit in a run for my 100 mile week.  Early morning (6AM), I scrambled to wash dishes, do laundry, make lunches.  My husband said that I was on a “mission” and didn’t need to do these other things.  I imagined an entire room full of dirty laundry after 4 days neglecting it. 

As soon as I could I drove straight to the harbor, and ran up to the minute that I needed to leave and pick up our youngest son (actually I left about 5 minutes to spare so that I could stretch).

Not only was today the most difficult to fit time-wise.  But today was the most difficult to start running period.  I was dragging with this nagging cold.  And as I set off running those first steps, I thought, “OH, MY, MY, MY what the hell am I doing???  I felt so sluggish I figured I’d be lucky to get in 6 miles today.  Glancing at the garmin I noticed my pace was thirteen minutes on a flat surface!  I simply wanted to fall to the ground.  I never thought, “I can’t”, but I sure FELT IT. 

After running the wharf, I ran over the bridge to the island.  And I stopped momentarily to take a picture of these two magnificent birds at the 2 mile mark:

CIMG9845

I think that they were magical birds because when I took off running, I FELT BRAND NEW.  My pace picked up, and I was no longer fatigued.  I enjoyed myself in the cool ocean breeze, wishing I had more hours to squeeze in more miles.  I felt so energized I could actually focus on form.

A happy, happy runner at about mile 5CIMG9849

Capo Beach – a few miles before I have to stop.  Total Miles today:  12.57

CIMG9852

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Decision Time

Day Three of 100 Mile Week Celebration/Challenge: 42.85 Miles Run

CIMG9787Off again for another run, heading toward that 100 mile week.  I started off tired.  And upon taking off, I honestly thought, “I just can’t run today.”  At .90 of a mile, I felt like my old self – enjoying the run.  But I did learn today that it’s time to decide.  Do I want to run 100 miles this week?  Or do I want to explore run, like I so much love to do.  I can’t do both.  I just don’t have the time. Sad smile

 

This cool, nearly chilly morning, I took off onto the river walk again.  This time though, instead of crossing the bridge, I headed off along the west side of the creek where it splits.  Just what is it that I’m looking for?  Well, I once heard that I could run trails from the beach to the mountains, Trabuco Canyon, near the Holy Jim Trailhead.  So far, all I have reached are dead ends and closed trails.  You may ask, “What about a map?” 

I say, “Eh?  Can’t hear you?” Smile

Today I found a trail called West Trabuco trail.  I ran that until it turned into another trail by a different name.  And then I came to this?  Can you guess which path I took?

CIMG9797

You guessed it!  I took the right trail.  And it was a lovely wide trail for quite some time.  Then I passed a camper in the middle of nowhere.  A bit later I passed a rundown house and worried that I was trespassing on private property.  And then I came to this: 

No more trail!!  After traipsing though this thickness (as it got even thicker toward the creek), I finally found a bank to claw up back onto the original trail.

CIMG9800

And so, I ran some more.  Until I came to this. Smile  A lovely single track that I gleefully ran, hopeful that I would find a trail along the stream.

CIMG9808

And then I ran upon this.  An old abandoned house, surrounded by nothing but wildlife.  A little spooked, but intrigued, I snuck up on the house, listening carefully.  I figured though the house was abandoned, it could be some kind of drug house or perhaps homeless slept inside. 

CIMG9809

I simply could not resist and I went on in.  The stairs intact, I even ran up to the second floor where I walked carefully among rusty nails and broken boards.  There were sleeping bags and cases of empty beer cans scattered about.  A blanket even hung like a curtain in one window.  And large tree had fallen right through the top of the roof and had stabbed through the floor into the first story.  I found it surreal.  But then suddenly felt the urge to get out of there. 

CIMG9812

A bit nervous, I snapped one more shot as I took off to run that single track all the way down to the creek, where I indeed found a nice wide trail – actually a dry creek bed adjacent to the flowing creek. 

CIMG9818

I ran alongside the creek until I could not pass through the brush.  Nor could I cross the creek without getting my feet wet.  And so I turned around.  My legs stung from tiny thorns perhaps – not sure.  It felt like I had brushed against Stinging Nettle, a plant that I have only come across in Utah.  I haven’t seen this irritating weed in California.  But we may have something similar to it.  I didn’t see any thorns, but my legs felt cut, though by appearance they were not.  (I also noticed small bumps forming on my calves).

CIMG9819

Unable to find the single track back, I found myself boxed in again.CIMG9821  I just felt that I needed to get out of there.  Deciding to trust my instinct, I crossed the creek, getting my shoes drenched.  Surprisingly that lovely cold water got rid of the stinging legs (& even the bumps).  Happily, I ran back up into downtown San Juan Capistrano.

And I saw this – pollywogs!

CIMG9824

Feeling comfortable back in the historic district, I ran around until it was time to pick up our youngest son.  Then I raced home to change clothes and shoes. 

CIMG9831

And then I returned to school to run with my two youngest sons for the Kids Run the O.C. program.  After work this evening, I put in another mile run to bring today’s running total to 14.47 miles.

CIMG9835

Exploring runs to cease for the next few days!