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Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Own Private Marathon

Had we not lived with only one car for so long, I might never have thought of riding a bus to a trailhead.  Even if I had thought of it, I probably wouldn’t have done it.  I should point out, that we finally have two cars again.  And I should also point out that I love riding the bus, pretty much anywhere.

This weekend I had planned on an 50k, but it wasn’t “in the cards.”  To be truthful, I was feeling a bit jealous reading and hearing about different runners’ marathons and ultras.  And so today, I decided to run my own marathon, one with lots of elevation.  Waking at 5:00 AM, I drank my coffee, dressed, grabbed my pack and ran to the bus stop.  I like to arrive early.  Turns out I was only about two minutes early, so I worried that I missed it, until the bus finally appeared about five minutes late.

Waiting for the bus.  Perhaps I should have run a brush through my hair?  Nah.  I was on my way to a marathon.Smile


The bus was busy this morning.  Many of the riders wore uniforms – hotel and restaurant uniforms, drug store uniforms.  Two riders got on (separately) carrying skateboards.  One rider boarded in my town who I thought I recognized as a Crystal Cove worker one of the first times I rode the bus to this trailhead.   Turns out, Steve and I got off at the same exit again this morning and walked up to the ranger station together.  (Hi Steve, if you’re reading this blog).

I began running in the dark, surprised how many runners and hikers  I came upon early on.  I ran up “No Dogs” and “No Name,” two trails I had to mostly hike about 2 years ago.  This morning I ran them in their entirety as the sun appeared on the horizon. 


The mighty sun shined brightly when I reached Bommer Ridge.  I ran without headphones so that I could eavesdrop on other runners.  One guy passed me running up hill, then two others.  When we all reached the top, the leader said to me, “Did you see how much I beat those guys?”

“Yes,” I said.  “But you all beat me.”  I ran on past them as they rested at the top of the hill.  I heard them running behind me on the flats when I overheard one of them say, “Man, this really SUCKS!”  That made me giggle inside as I turned off onto Fenceline Trail, a lovely warm and sunny single track.

Then I began my descent back down into the canyon and the sun disappeared.


I ran over deer tracks.  And I was alarmed by the tufts of bunny hair scattered about the trail.  Lovely spider webs dangled from the brush like delicate jewels.  Stink bugs scampered across the trail.  I ran East Cut-Away for the first time.  It seemed to be a never-ending climb.  With the mist and clouds I wasn’t quite sure when I was going to finally hit El Moro Ridge, which I would run almost to the top.  Just before reaching the top I ran two of my favorite trails, one of them a delicate, misty single track called “Emerald Falls,” and the other, “Old Emerald Falls,” a treacherous rocky uphill that I took  to hit Bommer Ridge again.  I felt strong, even running up “Old Emerald Falls,” where I gladly hopped to the side to let mountain bikers fly by.  I noticed one of them with blood running down his knees.


I wasn’t exactly running fast, this was a marathon after all.  But I still felt physically strong as I ran Bommer, Willow and finally Laurel Canyon out of the park.  “Stair Steps” into Aliso Wood Canyon Parks took my remaining mental strength.  Though my legs still moved onward, I was fatigued.  Not drop-dead kind of fatigued but the “this needs to end soon,” kind of fatigued.   

Glee filled my heart when I finally reached West Ridge.  I ran it to Top of the World and stopped there to refill on water, etc.  I had to move onward quickly.  Time was fleeting, and I couldn’t help but think – if I keep this pace for Saddleback I’m in trouble.   

Laurel Canyon (a gorgeous run!)SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Ending Laurel Canyon, about to cross Laguna Canyon Highway and make ascent into Aliso/Wood Canyons ParkSANYO DIGITAL CAMERA


I still had physical strength upon reaching Meadows Trail.  But I consumed no additional calories.  With my headphones on, I ran onward, “Just make it out of the park,” I said to myself.  “Out of the park!!”


I ran the streets after exiting Aliso/Wood Canyons Wilderness, UTTERLY fatigued.  I forgot how locate Aliso Summit Trail, asked a stranger for directions.  Upon finally finding the trail, I cut through the brush to catch it, so anxious I was to finish this marathon.  I continued running, wanting, wanting, wanting for this trail to end and my race to finish. 

Aliso Summit Trail ended with a total of 26.38 miles (42.45 km) on my garmin.  I took time to stretch waiting for my family.  I was chaffed raw.  Otherwise, I felt fine.  No cramping.  But I really felt that I sucked, excuse my language, as a runner.  Why did I run out of energy with so much training?  I can answer that now with several hours to rehash the experience. After about 17 miles, I didn’t take in additional calories.  Why?  Because I didn’t feel like eating.  I must learn from this, continue with the calories!!

The good news is, this is the first marathon I ever WON!!!

View of Meadows Trail and Top of the World from Aliso Summit TrailSANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

First placer, placing first in my age group and first overall – Just play alongWinking smile SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Elevation Profile:My Activities Long Run 10-22-2011, Elevation - Distance

My Activities Long Run 10-22-2011


  1. Congratulations on your First Place Finish!
    Man, I am so impressed with the mileage you put in... Every time I up my mileage I end up injured.

    Do you still have the yahoo email? I will send pic I took of you at Buffalo Alley.
    Keep up the running... You are an inspiration to us all!

  2. What an epic run! I love all those trails over there than you can string together into one long run. Old Emerald is awesome but I've never run up it. Nice job :)

  3. Wow, that is awesome Lauren, well done! Running that distance on your own is never easy. You will reap the benefits of all your hard work. What prize did you win? Have a good week!

  4. Nice work Lauren. I think when you're in a larger group setting, you feel the energy and really feed off of it. To go out and have the discipline to do it yourself is amazing. I agree, all your hard work will pay off BIGTIME!!!


  5. Wow. Pretty epic training run Lauren!

  6. Thanks for the picture Rich! And thanks for the compliments. I work every day on my problem injury areas. So far so good this year!

  7. Thanks Jessica. I really love how they all string together too -- and I haven't even ventured over to the Nix Nature Center to expand this one way run. Running up Old Emerald was pretty dang difficult for me -- but great training. Thanks for reading!

  8. Thanks Johann! My prize was completing this run : ) (plus a little wine) I certainly hope that running in my next race gives me a bit more speed.

  9. Thanks Hank for your nice words. I'm really hoping that I can feed off the energy of the crowd come Saddleback!

  10. Thanks Glen! I'm crazy, as you probably figured. : )

  11. Holy crap Lauren! Awesome job with your trail marathon...that elevation profile looked brutal.

  12. Thanks Whitney. Yes, I am crazy. But then again, I suspect, so are you. : ) Not necessarily a bad thing.

    The profile was brutal for sure!