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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Santiago Peak Take 2 (Gnats taste yucky)

My plan was to run up to Santiago Peak again this morning with two running friends.  After checking e-mails at 4:15 AM, I learned one friend couldn’t make it.  So it was two running up the mountain this morning. 

I arrived to a dark dirt lot a couple minutes before 5:30, no Tom.  I thought well, I’ll give him until 5:40 (because duh! I didn’t bring his phone number).  With one minute left, and me deciding whether to go back home and crawl into bed, or to drive to Aliso/Wood Canyons and run some coastal trails (I was leaning toward sleep), Tom B. text’d me to say he’d be five minutes.  And I was just getting used to the idea of more sleep.

Let me say this:  I’m so happy that I didn’t get that extra sleep.  I’m even happy about all those gnats that I breathed in, then spit to the ground (they tasted yucky).  I’ll tell you why.  Tom wanted to run to the top, and he had to do it in three hours.  I chuckled out loud when he said that.  Then I said, “Well, when you reach the top, you can turn around and when we meet, I’ll run down with you.”  Needless to say, I lacked confidence that I could do it.  But I kept that timing in mind, and also a close look on the garmin the entire trip up. 

I made it to the top in EXACTLY three hours.  No leg cramps.  I suffered some from the climb, yes.  The climb was still extreme.  And the gnats were even worse than last week.  I believe hundreds at a time swarmed my face.  It wasn’t a matter of keeping my mouth shut.  At certain points, simply breathing sucked those gnats right into my mouth.  But the weather had to be at least ten degrees cooler than last week.  And I ran much, much more of the Main Divide that I did last Sunday.

Elevation Profile of this morning’s run:My Activities To Santiago Peak 9-4-2011, Elevation - Distance


Tom takes in view on Santiago PeakSANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Posing before above a multitude of cities and the Pacific Ocean:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

No, that is not a beer in my hand (it’s coconut water)SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

The run down went slower than I hoped (than perhaps we both had hoped).  Swatting gnats with my handkerchief, the temperature grew some and I warmly welcomed the shade and an occasional breeze. 

Tom and I hit Holy Jim about the same time.  Then after a steep descent we ascended a bit.  That’s when Tom passed and I felt the first warning of heat exhaustion.  I actually had to stop in the shade for some seconds to gather my wits.  I pulled an ice cold Gatorade (slushy with ice) from my pack and ran down that mountain ONE STEP AT A TIME. 

I saw Tom in the distance, but made no big effort to catch him.  I gather, he was just as eager to get down that remaining 5 mile climb as I was.  When I came upon the spring, that “saved” us all last weekend, I stopped.  Then I leisurely cooled down.  I practically took a bath in that dribbling water.  When I was finished I had an ice-cold handkerchief on my head, brain freeze from the slushy Gatorade, and a handheld filled with spring water in my pack just in case I ran out of fluids.

Completely refreshed, I raced down that mountain, running as quickly as possible attempting to catch Tom.  I tripped several times, but remained upright (amazingly) each time.  On two particularly bad stumbles my calves cramped-up and I thought for sure that I was going to eat dirt.  (core work does help with falls!).

Just when I thought I wasn’t going to catch Tom, I looked up and there he was cooling down in the stream as I crossed.  Guess what he said.  It’s something I’ve heard frequently recently.  He said, “I ran out of water.”  (And he was carrying a lot of water going in).

Thank goodness, we only had about a mile left.  I offered him my spring water.  But he declined.  I had just enough water in my hydration pack to make that last mile.  And that last mile was very difficult.  But not as difficult as last week.  Cloud cover came in.  People by the dozens were hiking up (with seemingly little water).

Though we made it down in a little more time than hoped, I’d say we did pretty dang good.  Tom’s time limit to get to the top was a GREAT motivator.  Thanks Tom.  Smile 

Running down the mountainSANYO DIGITAL CAMERA


Last creek crossing before making it to the truck (where ice-cold water and Gatorade await)SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

16.41 miles run today. Laughing out loud

According to my garmin, I made this trip about an hour quicker overall, than last Sunday. 


  1. You are really hardcore these days. All those runs to the top over the past few months are really paying off now. Well done Lauren!

  2. Great to see how you are getting stronger week by week. I'm not sure if I'm ready for "real trails" (and real hills) yet but I'll keep checking the runs you are posting and hopefully make it out there for one.

  3. WOW -- so many great pics! just found you-- great blog! -- keep up the great work!! :)

  4. Thanks Johann. Sometimes these kind of runs make me feel weaker than ever. Finally today (9/12), I feel some strength improvement : ) Thanks for reading.

  5. Thanks for reading Rachel. It was great meeting you in person at Heartbreak Ridge. Those were some decent hills, and you did pretty dang great!

  6. Thanks for stopping by Running Diva Mom -- I appreciate your nice words.

  7. Thanks for reading Khourt. It was a great run. But so, so tough. Perhaps you'll join us some day : )