TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Heat Training Begins

We did not travel to Texas for heat training.  We came out to visit family.  But just simply standing, or sitting outdoors, I breakout in a sweat it’s so dang hot out here.  When I wake at about 7:00 AM, it’s already over 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27C). By late morning, it’s triple digits until about 8 PM.  Then it’s in the 90’s for the rest of the night.  See.  Perfect for heat training.

I know for many runners that running in 83 degree weather is not much.  But for me, a heat sensitive gal who runs mainly in the coastal hills of California, heat is a big problem.  I never begin a run in 80 plus degree temperatures back home, and one with little shade at that.

I took it nice and easy today, running through the ranch fields first.  Thousands, I mean literally thousands of grasshoppers flew and hopped out of my way as I made through the grass and virtually everywhere else that I ran.  There were little ones, yellow ones, brown and red-striped ones, giant brown ones.  And they’d fly into my legs, sometimes my arms.  And when the big ones hit my hand, I’d have a little “freak-out” moment.  The big grasshoppers were about four inches, the smallest about an inch.  A truly amazing sight.  The only way to avoid the critters was to run directly in the middle of the country roads.  (Which I did not do often)

Heading off the ranch  SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I started off slow and ended slow today (slower than usual).  I also carried a thermometer and took my temperature regularly.  Through out the 8 miles, my temperature increased a maximum of 1 degree, but only for a short while.  It mainly increased from .2 to .5 degrees in this heat.  And I was able to quickly bring it back down by drinking fluids.  I also noticed that my temp came down quickly when I ran through shade.  I plan to take my temperature regularly as I train in the heat while I’m here.  I’m not sure what I’ll discover.  Mainly, I just want to be aware of my body and know what if feels like when its overheating so I don’t do a repeat of my little heat exhaustion drop out from Bulldog last year.

Pretty flowers everywhere, even though this part of Texas is in a terrible drought.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

The beautiful lonely roads of Texas countrysideSANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

One of the large grasshoppersSANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

A quick pose before acres upon acres of fields, no people, no cars, no other sounds except my feet hitting the ground.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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A stop at an old cemeterySANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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8.02 miles (12.9 km) run today.  I drank my entire 64 fluid ounces of water and one small bottle of gatorade – this amount of fluids is unheard of for me back home for this distance of a run.  I barely drink this much on a 15 mile run back home.

Back at the ranch, I was giddy that I got in my first heat training run.  Then I crashed hard and fell asleep before heading off to the water park in town. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Bright Idea

Today (Tuesday), I left California, and being that I’m not a big fan of flying, I’m always coming up with ideas to help me sleep during the flight.  My hope is that I will sleep the entire flight and wake up upon landing.  (ha, ha!).

So I stayed up way, way past my bedtime, a little past 11:30 pm, and I woke at 5:00 AM.  Then I went for a road run.  I didn’t have time to put in miles on the trail, otherwise, I surely would have been asleep on this flight instead of writing this blog.

I was on the road in my local resort town at 6:00 AM.  The skies were very cloudy and absolutely empty.  Even the harbor, except for the one jammed packed fishing boat was dead.  I think people are catching onto June Gloom – no rush getting to this resort town. 

Backyard photo as I lace up shoes:CIMG0071

Dana Point WharfCIMG0074

MarinaCIMG0076

I didn’t put in many miles, thought that doesn’t mean I didn’t work up a sweat.  I remember when this exact route through the campgrounds, Doheny Beach and the wharf used to be my long run.

Though my lids are heavy, I still haven’t slept a wink on this flight.

Looking forward to some out of state running.

Miles run today: 5.77

Saturday, June 25, 2011

So, so, so didn’t want to go!

Being that I will be travelling soon, I jumped out of bed at 6:00 AM, dug through my overfilled drawers for some running gear in a pitch black bedroom (we have “black-out” shades).  I ended up pulling out a tank that I never wear.  Then I sat on the couch and drank two cups of coffee, so much NOT wanting to the hit the trails this morning.  I just didn’t have the energy.  At the same time though, I knew this would probably be one of my last runs in California for a while.  And so I got into the truck at 6:45 AM and headed for Aliso/Wood Canyons.

The lot was full when I arrived, the street curb also filled with parked cars, all with adventurers unloading their mountain bikes. 

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Fake smile before heading off onto Aliso Creek TrailCIMG0033

I really felt horrible to start.  Not sick, not necessarily sleepy, just tired.  But I kept on plugging away because I KNEW eventually, I would begin to feel better about this run and end up LOVING IT.  Really, I knew that.

Just before turning onto Meadows Trail four mountain bikers raced onto the trail.  I thought to myself, dang it – they’re probably gonna ride to the top and turn around to fly back down.  That meant I had to catch them!  Drag.

Entering Meadows TrailCIMG0037

The four bikers were long gone as I made my way on the rolling part of Meadows.  As I began the climb, I could see that they were a good half way up to the top.  Several other bikers made their way down Meadows at high speeds.  And that’s when I thought to myself, Sh*t!  I just remembered that last night as I lay down to sleep I had decided to go up Mathis instead of Meadows.  I know I sometimes say Mathis is harder.  And many times I’ve claimed that Meadows is the hardest way up.  To tell you the truth – it depends on my mood.  Meadows is a switchback, which I prefer mentally.  It is also mainly a single track, which I love.  But the grade is greater than Mathis and the climb is longer.  Mathis on the the other hand, obviously is shorter, and it levels off in places, and even has a few little downhills.  But it’s no single track and there’s no switchback about it.  Still about a quarter of the way up Meadows I wanted Mathis.

About here I began to feel better Smile (I came from left through Aliso Canyon).CIMG0039

About here, climbing even higher, I felt good!CIMG0040

I finally caught the bikers at the top of Meadows.  We all stopped at the kiosk to adjust, drink up etc.  I took those dang long sleeves off.  And eavesdropping on one of the bikers telling his friends of a trail he would take them on in Stockholm, I had to laugh to myself when he said the trail was “flat.”  I couldn’t help think of my running buddy (I won’t mention any names!) who brought me on many “flat” trails.  LOL.  I added my two cents to the bikers, “I wouldn’t trust the word ‘flat’, it’s more a relative word.”  They laughed.  One of them particularly nervously. 

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, finally feeling GREAT, despite the fact that it appears that Meadows chewed me up and spit me out.  Perhaps it did.  If so, that was just what I needed:CIMG0042

I am so glad that I made it out to run trails this morning.  Bunnies were out in abundance.  No snakes, though as soon as it warmed up, they probably devoured some of those cute bunnies. 

I ran all the way in feeling strong, and happily waved to the ranger I spoke with before taking off on my run this morning.  I think she’s beginning to recognize me. 

Miles Run this morning:  11.73

Friday, June 24, 2011

Flashback Friday

 

I’m guessing 1977 / 1978

flashback

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Heat

After recently reading Lisa Tamati’s Running Hot I have been inspired to return to the Bulldog 50k this August.  When the heat took me out last August, I thought I’d NEVER attempt the Bulldog 50k again.  Then I got to thinking a couple months ago, perhaps I’d run the 25k.  I’d have all the time in the world to finish

Then I went and won Running Hot on Quadrathron.  (Thanks Stuart! Smile)  Lisa Tamati has done amazing runs, including Badwater twice.  I have to say after reading about her “hot” adventures,  I’m “hooked.”  Hooked that is, into trying Bulldog 50k again.  I haven’t told the family yet; not sure what they’ll say.  And to be honest, I haven’t made my final decision. 

Until then, I’ve been researching heat training.  The way I figure this is that I need to get acclimated to running in that kind of heat.  AND, I need to learn how to cool myself down.

Coincidentally, I’ve had a bit of heat training lately, especially today.  I began my run in long sleeves.  And though June Gloom was in the air, humidity was HIGH. 

Aliso Creek TrailCIMG9940

I ran off Wood Canyon onto Dripping Cave Trail (one of my favorites) for a detour to Mathis.  I felt sluggish.  The humidity was really getting to me.  Though I didn’t feel anxious over the run up Mathis, I was beginning to get a little anxious over the heat climbing it.  By mile 2.38, I reached the cave, and the humidity was UNBEARABLE.  I was sure to drink up, and I took those long sleeves off and got the hair also off my neck. 

Knowing that Mathis was going to be a bitch, I took my time playing around on Dripping Cave Trail.  I did not want to panic.  Though during Bulldog’s 50k, heat was my worst enemy, panicking was enemy number 2.

Cooled Off, I traipsed through dry creek bed to pose for the camera, cave is to your right (careful, don’t touch the poison oak!).CIMG9941

One of the lovely summer plants around here, growing on outer cave wall.CIMG9948

What you see when you come out far end of cave.CIMG9960

Getting closer to Mathis, one of my favorite trees, and . . . CIMG9972

I realized that I’ve never climbed it.  So I set my camera to timer and try to make it to branch in time.CIMG9975

Unsteadily on branch, the camera timer clicks again, and then . . . CIMG9977

My Camera plummets off the ledge, across the trail and down the slope.  This is the picture the timer snapped along the way (LOL).CIMG9980

Enough of Dripping Cave Trail, I could no longer deny Mathis.  One foot in front of the other I said to myself while passing the first biker up that mile climb.  She was pretty easy to conquer.  Sweating, she smiled when she finally got off her bike and began walking Mathis.  It took me quite some time to pass the next biker.  I’d say it took me about a third of a mile to finally pass him.  He didn’t smile, but he acknowledged my “hello” with a friendly grunt. 

When I reached Top of the World, I believe that it was a little before noon.  The breeze was cooler up there.  But as soon as I took off down West Ridge toward Cholla, the sun came out.  And it came out in ABUNDANCE.  I was sure getting a dose of what I wanted (well, kinda wanted).

I fought against a bad habit that I have, that is conserving water.  Forcing myself to drink up, because I had plenty of water, I took in a couple gels.  The heat was extreme on Wood Canyon once I ran out of the shade for good.  That’s when I remembered that I had a handkerchief in my pack.  Our friend the O.C. Rock n’ Roll Chef a while ago suggested that I do what chefs do in the kitchen to cool down.  They take that famous handkerchief off their neck, wet it and put it on their head.  That’s just what I did.  At stream crossings I drenched it and draped it over my head.  That did wonders cooling me down, especially when a slight breeze hit.  The only problem was, the handkerchief dried out quicker than I wanted.

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When I finally ran to the ranger station, I was pretty dang hot.  I saw at least 3 runners running into the canyon and a biker or 2 all WITHOUT water.  (How do they do it???)  I thought about walking into the ranger station and requesting some cold water.  But I was beat and really had to keep moving to cool down a bit.  I walked around the lot before stretching.  And there parked along the road, were a woman and a man who had just come out of the canyon.  They were drinking ice cold waters and said to me, “You look hot.  Do you want a water?”  I started to say that I didn’t, because that’s what I do.  But when I saw the ice chest in the back of their truck I said, “Why yes, thank you so much, I do!”

That cold water was delightful!

12 miles (19.31 km) run today:

+1,582/-1,5806-22-2011, Elevation - Distance

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday: Start over Day : )

I ran for several hours today, in the heat, up steep climbs.  Expecting June Gloom, I layered with long sleeves, and also forgot my sunscreen.  Let’s just say I got myself a bit of heat training because I kept my long sleeves on until I could no longer bare it.  I believe mile eight I finally took the layers off receiving cool comfort for a sunburn.

A good exchange at the time.Smile

Today was what I thought of as my “start over” run, as Monday has always been start over day for me.  That’s the day, when I “turn over a new leaf.”  First off, my goal was to think through my troubles and not stop running until I thought through them all.  My “new leaf” was to start a new training program that includes a good diet, a runner’s diet, not so much so that I can get thinner (though that’s a nice thought), but so that I can run better, stronger.

Flowers still bloom in the exposed, dry portions of our coastal hillsCIMG9911

Times have changed greatly during this third anniversary of my trail running adventure (I began trail running June 2008).  I no longer experience anxiety knowing that Meadows or Rock It approaches and I’m about to run it.  And I actually run it!  All of it.  Yes, sweat pours off me as if someone were pouring a glass of water over my head (though not as refreshing).  I can also look at the top and behind me, and it doesn’t freak me out.

Nearly to the top of Meadows Trail (about 700 ft. in a little less than a mile).CIMG9914

Running Top of the World (I can finally see the Pacific!!)CIMG9918

A summer bouquet along West Ridge

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Running Stairs on Wood Creek TrailCIMG9922

Finally reaching Rock It, ready for trip number 2 in today’s run to Top of the World.  CIMG9928

A View of Wood Canyon as I run down Mathis TrailCIMG9931

Stopping by Dripping Cave Trail, I meet a new friend.CIMG9934

This is a gopher snake with gorgeous rich and golden browns in its skin pattern.  Though I didn’t see any rattlers today, I distinctly heard rattlers rattling away on three distinct occasions.  At one point I was running a single track along Park Avenue Nature Trail when I heard the loud rattling.  Well, I “high tailed” it off the single track onto a wide trail.  Then I stopped as I always do to find the snake.  It immediately stopped rattling, and I couldn’t see it anywhere.  I was just checking to see if my perceptions were correct when I tossed a few rocks into the bushes where I thought I heard the rattling come from. 

When it happened again,  this time on West Ridge, I attempted my rock throwing attempt as soon as I ran quickly away from the direction I thought I heard the rattling.  It didn’t make another sound, dang it.  But I did confirm with a hiker that I ran up on that the rattling was coming from the bush I thought it was.

The third time I heard a rattler, it was the loudest.  I was refilling my water at Top of the World.  Since the snake was so loud, I knew exactly which way to run to avoid it.  But that of course didn’t mean that I wouldn’t run into another snake on the single track back to West Ridge.  I “high-tailed” again it with the decision, no more single tracks for today.

My plan should a rattler strike me:  Sit.  Yes, sit.  Panicking or running will only make the venom travel through my body faster.  I have the ranger station programed into my phone, so I will probably call them first, since they can come get me.  If they don’t answer, then 911, it is.  If I can’t get phone service, I’ll probably slowly move around a bit to see if I can get service.  If not, I can try texting 911.  And if all else fails, I will slowly WALK toward the ranger station, checking frequently for phone service.  Let’s hope I never have to use this plan.

With that note, I hope you all had a good Father’s Day, and a great week running, or doing whatever it is that you enjoy doing. Smile

16.27 miles run (26.18 km) +2,621/-2691 feet6-20-2011, Elevation - Distance

Friday, June 17, 2011

Flashback Friday’s Wonderful Run

Before I was a runner, one of my reoccurring dreams was that I was running.  I mean RUNNING and running and running and running.  I remember in these dreams I was absolutely amazed how much I loved running, how good it felt, and how strong I felt.  I never tired -- I could go on forever.  This was a really weird dream, because I NEVER ran.  And as I mentioned before, I’m sure, I used to think that running was just about the worst hell anyone could put themselves through. 

I haven’t had that dream in years. 

Today’s run felt like one of those dreams.  I didn’t run forever (8 miles), but I felt strong, like I could have kept on running and running and running.  It was magnificent.  I didn’t plan a route in Aliso/Wood Canyons.  I just ran.   I ran through spider webs.  I took a wrong turn and ran an unmarked trail I hadn’t yet discovered.   Clear minded, I thought about my friend who lost her father two days ago. I mourned her father who was such a good man.  And I felt so fortunate for having such a good life.  I am not rich.  I am not thin.  I have lots of personality defects.  I could be a better mother and wife.  And the last year has been pretty terrible luck-wise.  Despite all that, I have a wonderful life.  Today’s run matched that – a wonderful run.

Looking down on a Prickly Pear flowerCIMG9760

Pausing for photo on unmarked trail that I “discovered” todayCIMG9778

Poor dead centipede being carried by hundreds of tiny ants across West RidgeCIMG9785

Wood Creek TrailCIMG9792

Pausing to reflect on Wood Creek TrailCIMG9794

Elevation Profile at bottom, because I didn’t want you to miss my flashback picture in honor of Father’s Day.  In this picture my dad is holding me, and his sister is holding my sister.  Year:  1967.fathers_day_full

Today’s WONDERFUL run6-17-2011, Elevation - Distance

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why, Tell Me WHY, Would You Do Such A Thing?

I ran my favorite wilderness park between school drop offs and pick ups.  Ran 9.32 miles, up and down the following trails:  Aliso Creek, Wood Canyon, Meadows, to Top of the World, West Ridge, Mathis to Car Wreck, Oak Grove back to Mathis, Dripping Cave to Wood Canyon, Cave Rock back to Wood Canyon and Aliso Creek all the way in.  I felt fantastic afterward.  I was soaking wet and salty from sweat.  This is how I went to pick up our youngest boy from school.

While waiting to pick up my son, my non-running friend kinda joked with me, “How many miles did you run today?”  I told her and then answered that I ran more than sixteen on Sunday. 

Her smile turned to a concerned look.  She said something to the affect that I was amazing, and of course, I laughed.  Then she further inquired, “Why?”

I commenced to tell my friend the races I was training for, and mentioned a 50k.  She asked how many miles 50k equaled, and when I told her it was about 31 miles, her concerned look turned to more of a sad look.

“Lauren . . .  Lauren, WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO RUN 31 MILES?”  She reached out, as to take my hands and shook her head with a frown.  It was as if she realized that I was a heroin addict, or perhaps insane and needed immediate psychiatric care.  She was truly concerned.

Silly me, I was dumbfounded.  How do I answer that question in about two seconds?  There are so, so many reasons why.  The first thing that came to my mind, and of course it travelled down to my lips as I ran off to the car with my boy was, “I do it for the out-of-body experience.”  That was stupid, I know.  An answer like that needs explanation.  But I didn’t have the time. Sad smile

I haven’t been asked “Why?” in a long, long time.  My circle of family and friends either understand, or they think I’m crazy (or both).  A good friend, non-running friend, a writer friend actually, said to me about a year ago, “I get it Lauren. I mean I really get it.”  And I knew that she did.  I could tell by the conviction in her voice.  Perhaps she could explain to my other friend.   

Instead of answering today’s question “Why?” in a multitude of paragraphs.  I’ll answer it with these pictures from today’s glorious, glorious run.

Fresh and Clean / At Ranger Station, ready to take off on Aliso Creek Trail.CIMG9682

Running Meadows Trail before the treacherous, I mean beautiful and exhilarating climb Smile begins (Notice Top of the World neighborhood covered by mist).

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Running down Car Wreck Trail, careful, careful not to fall.CIMG9694

Goofy again.CIMG9703

Running end of Car Wreck Trail (not a single soul in sight)CIMG9713

Finishing up Car Wreck, surrounded by ferns, poison oak and a mesmerizing canopy of trees.CIMG9715

Oak Grove Trail.CIMG9719

Dripping CaveCIMG9727

Entering Cave Rock TrailCIMG9729

Running up Cave Rock TrailCIMG9731

Running off the big rock!CIMG9738

+1,465 / – 1,478My Activities meadows 6-15-2011, Elevation - Distance