TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Am A Bad Girl I Am

Last Friday I put in some hard time at the gym.  I really pushed it.  Back at home, I felt a little weak and merely thought I was low on calories from my workout.  After a glass of carrot juice and some Campbell’s soup, I felt worse.  That was the beginning of the end.

I suffered with the stomach flu for more than three days (thankfully, our youngest son only suffered less than 12 hours – that got me optimistic, but no such luck for me).  I was weak, lacking calories (as anything that went in came out, so I gave up on calories early on).  My muscles ached, I shivered with chills, I burned up with fever.  I slept.   My stomach was so torn up, I agonized in pain.  My legs throbbed, I mean throbbed similar to contractions when I birthed our first son.  My calves felt like frozen stone, like if you were to take a board to them they would shatter to pieces. 

Did I mention that I was miserable? 

Yet each night I hoped by morning I’d feel good enough to run. 

Monday came along, and I felt much, much better.  Lacking calories for so long, I drank a glass of carrot juice and then the big mistake, a glass of orange juice.  Talk about pain.  I refrained from food the remainder of the day with hopes of running dashed upon the rocks.  By Monday afternoon, I felt  much better.  But my temperament hadn’t returned (that is my calm, patient self – ha, ha).  And when our middle son “threw a fit” after school on the playgrounds and ran off, I let him get a good distance, then took off at my fastest speed and ran him down.  Yes, I caught him, but I was breathless.  And as he tried to squirm away from me, I gripped his arm while chatting with a girlfriend and stood on his foot.  Well, he squirmed out of his shoe and I about lost my mind.  Like a child, I picked up his shoe, threw it across the schoolyard and walked away and chatted with my friend until my husband arrived. 

A PAINFUL RELAPSE (that I probably well deserved) attacked as I drove off to an afternoon sub-position.  The evening was practically unbearable.  Though I smiled.  Really, I did.  When I arrived home I went straight to bed, shameful over my lack of patience with my son and moping over the fact that I was still ill.

This morning I woke pretty much pain free.  I had no fever and I was careful what I consumed.   With one piece of toast and a glass of carrot juice I got the boys off to school with much patience, and packed for a run.  When my oldest saw me packing, he exclaimed, “Oh My G**!!  I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE RUNNING WHEN YOU’RE SICK.”

“I’m not sick,” I insisted as he ran off hollering, “Dad!  Dad!  MOM’S RUNNING!” 

I tell no lie.

Thankfully, my husband is very good to never stand in my way.  He’ll give me his advice, but he never forbids his wife anything.  With worry in his voice, he said, “Please don’t over do it.”

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA           So, today, glory be to God, I finally hit the trails!!!  I tired easily however, I was unsure whether it was the illness or the fact that I hadn’t run since Thanksgiving.  I decided on a “shorter” loop than usual, but still wanted a climb to Top of the World.  I chose Meadows Trail. 

Sweating more than usual, I gave myself permission to rest when I felt like it, that is STOP and rest.  Still, I found it difficult to do.  I did stop and rest twice on the way up Meadows Trail.  I honestly can’t tell you if I was sick, but in my heart I knew that I probably should have rested in bed today.  I can also honestly say that I didn’t care.  I wanted to run!

About to make the run up Meadows Trail:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

View climbing Meadows of lower Meadows and Aliso Creek Trail:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

By the time I reached the top of Meadows, I felt pretty dang warm.  It was time to layer down.   I needed to make my decision now.  If I was sick, I needed to turn around, make this run an out-and-back for about six miles total.  If I was well, I would continue on for a nine plus mile run. 

Honestly, I couldn’t truly tell.  I wasn’t sick-sick.  But I was more tired than I would have normally been after such a trek.  And so, I continued onward to TOP OF THE WORLD.

View of Saddleback Mountains from top of Meadows Trail:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Standing at top of Meadows, Pacific Ocean in background:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

In the park at Top of the World, I took out my phone to check for messages and noticed the time was one hour later than I thought.  That’s when it dawned on me that TODAY WAS LATE-IN DAY FOR MY OLDEST SON.  I dropped him off an hour later than usual, which meant that I hit the trails an hour later than I thought, which meant that I had only an hour to make it from Top of the World to my car.  I had never done that.  I have never even made it from Mathis (a good mile away) to my car in an hour. 

Last thing I wanted to do was cause any trouble over this run.  I didn’t want to arrive late picking up our youngest sons.  I didn’t want to phone my husband or anyone else for help.  And so I ran my butt off.  On the day that I really shouldn’t have pushed, I PUSHED the last 4 1/2 miles. 

And then toward the very end, I saw this and I had to stop to take a photo (a blue heron on Aliso Creek Trail):

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I was so wiped out, I thought to myself that I’d just drive like a mad woman to make it in time to pick up the boys.  Turns out, surprise of all surprises, I made it in less than an hour to my truck.  I ran from Top of the World to my truck in about 52 minutes.  And after working this afternoon, I still feel pretty good.  Not perfectly well.  But I can eat and I don’t ache. 

All is well in the world right now for this trail runner, because today, she finally got to run!

Miles run:  9.21My Activities Meadows West Ridge Mathis 11-29-2011, Elevation - Distance

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Loop with Thoughts of Gratitude

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA           One of my Thanksgiving traditions is to run.  I bet you would have never guessed.  Smile  And so that is exactly what I did today.  I woke at 5:30 AM and hit the dirt about 6:40 on a cold Thanksgiving morning.  Usually, I try to not think when I run.  Today however, I dedicated my run to thinking about all that I am thankful for.  And there is so much – too much to put in a couple of pages.  First and foremost, I am thankful for being born.  And I am thankful for my husband and three wonderful sons.  I am thankful for my health.  And I am thankful for my mom and dad.  They taught me so much – one of the most important being to never give up, and also the importance of family – that we are here to help one another. 

As I ran down an empty Aliso Creek Trail bundled in gloves and beanie, I thought about how lucky I was to grow up with one sister, and now I have 5 sisters!  And they are all top-notch women.  In addition to my 3 great brothers, I gained 3 more – as well as another mother and father who also are quality, loving people.  For these people I am truly thankful.

I am thankful for my friends as well:  my writing friends, my running friends, and my friend friends.  I am especially thankful for one of most wonderful people that I have met on this earth, my friend, Bernadine Fraser.  Though we haven’t seen each other face-to-face in a few years, I still am affected by her overwhelming love and sweetness and great humor.  And to think, we met at a job that I was laid-off from many, many years ago (after putting in 9 years there).  Though I was devastated over losing that job, I could never say or feel that I wish that I never worked there.  I met many great friends at this company, one of them, Bernadine.  We laughed together, we cried together, we read great, great books together.  For these friends I am thankful for.  (I wish I could list them out, but I fear to do so because I am bound to forget to type a few names). 

I am also  thankful for my students.  They have taught me so much.  They taught me to smile even when I don’t feel like it.  They taught me the importance of kindness.  And they taught me that people learn in many ways.  (After getting laid-off from the job mentioned above I became a teacher – so I have to say that I am thankful also for getting laid-off from a long held job). 

When I turned down Wood Canyon this morning the ground was muddy and I was still alone.  The run felt effortless as I thought about my children – and though it’s tough, tough, tough being a mom, I appreciate each of their special gifts and especially their love.  I am also thankful for our middle son’s surgeries – not grateful that he had to go through them so much, but in a way, I suppose so, because they have made him who he is.  But I am more grateful that doctors could do something to save his life.  I am especially thankful for Dr. Louden.   And I am so thankful my boy has been seizure free as well, for more than a year.  But more than that, I’m thankful that if he does have another seizure or even surgery, we can get through it.  He is a strong boy.  We are strong, despite our weakness.

Aside from these very important aspects of my life, I am so, so thankful that I became a runner.  I hated running.  IN A MILLION YEARS, I would have never thought that I would HAVE TO RUN.  More than that – I am grateful that I stumbled, and I mean stumbled upon trail running.

I am thankful for Meadows Trail:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA           SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA           SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I am thankful for green meadows and ridiculously steep trails (like Mentally Sensitive):SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I am even thankful for snails, because I know they have some purpose (I just don’t know what it is):SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I am thankful for the skies and mountain views:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I am thankful that I learned the patience to run long distances:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I am thankful for reaching the top of a climb, and taking the time to take goofy, sweaty pictures, because I sometimes still can’t believe that I did it!SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I am thankful for ocean views:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I am thankful for Cholla cactus on Cholla Trail:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I am thankful for breaking through countless spider webs on isolated trails like Wood Creek Trail:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I am thankful for creek side runs:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I am thankful for spotting deer in a grove of trees (and many, many other wildlife):SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I am thankful for the final stretches, and also seeing that there are other psychos out there doing the same thing:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

13 miles (20.92 km) run this morning:  Aliso Creek Trail, Wood Canyon, Meadows, Mentally Sensitive, Top of the World, West Ridge,  Cholla Trail, Wood Creek, Wood Canyon, Aliso Creek – this was my Thanksgiving 2011 loop.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Maple Springs to Four Corners

I finally went back to speed training this week.  That was my rest/recovery after the Saddleback Trail Marathon – no speed training.  Why?  Because I hate speed training.  I spit on speed training. 

So, yesterday, I forced myself to do 25 minutes of speed work.  I even added 15 seconds to my bursts.

This morning was time for fun.  Forget all about that speed stuff.  I hopped into the truck before sunrise and drove off to Silverado Canyon for a run up Maple Springs to the Main Divide.  The first and only time, before today, that I ran Maple Springs, I remember I kept asking my friend, “Are we there yet?  Are we almost there?”  I must have hiked at least 50% of the route up. 

Today, I ran ALL OF IT.  All of its awesomeness.  Autumn is definitely here.  And this trail runner isn’t missing it.  The run started off cold, with frost along the trail’s edge.  The small puddles were frozen over all the way up. 

I ran without music on the way through the canyon amazed how loud nature was this morning.  Have you ever listened to the sound of a bird’s wings flapping above your head?  It makes an eerie swooshing sound.  Added to nature’s music on this autumn day, squirrels chirped their high-pitched rhythmic tone in the brush.  Birds sang in the trees and water crashed down onto boulders. 

Sound alone did not overwhelm me this morning.  The utter beauty of the mountainside was immeasurable.  Bright yellow leaves covered the maple trees.  Lovely green ferns and moss lined the mountain walls. 

I didn’t see a single other person on my run up.  Nothing like complete solitude in the wilderness for a major brain dump.  I let it all drain out, fighting against the urge to think about everything I need to do, etc., etc.  But I did meet a friendly cyclist at the top (4 Corners).  Running down I came across several mountain bikers, one runner and two hikers. 

I ran fast (that is my fast) on the way down.  I didn’t fall.  Didn’t trip once.  I don’t remember even feeling tired.  Perhaps the beauty overwhelmed any fatigue.

What a difference a year makes!

Heading up Maple Springs (pepper spray in hand) and it’s pretty dang cold:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Scenes from the run up Maple Springs:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA           SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA           SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA           SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA           SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA           SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

View from Four Corners:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Thumbs up to a fantastic run up (& time to layer down).  I’m getting warm on this cold day:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Goofing around a bit before the run back:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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From the run down:  fire remnantsSANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Just one more picture of those gorgeous maples:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

The final stretch:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

15.17  lovely miles (24.41 km) run this morningMy Activities Maple Springs to 4 Corners out and back 11-22-2011, Elevation - Distance

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Too Much Data

Have you ever been talking on the cell phone, while at the same time looking for your cell phone?  I have. 

My sister told me that she once used the landline to call her cell because she couldn’t find it.  Then she ran and answered the cell, “Hello?  Hello?”

I was once telling my friend how I left my keys in the car ignition when I went grocery shopping.  The entire produce section was looking for my keys, because I WAS SURE that I had them in my hands while looking at apples.  My friend told me – that’s nothing!  Then he confessed that when he went golfing he had to go back to his car because he thought he left his keys in them.  Not only did he find his keys in the ignition.  But he car was still running!!!

Are we getting old?  Everyone gets old (and really we’re not THAT old).  Even if we were, I don’t think that’s the culprit here.  I think there’s just too much to think about.  Too much data. 

At least for my brain.

No, this blog is not going where you think it is.  I’m not going to talk about all the high tech shoes and running equipment, and how we have to keep track of our pace, elevation, etc. . .   I’m simply going to say that I took a nice thirteen mile run this morning.  My last run before the storm that’s supposed to come in tomorrow. 

Anyway, I dumped lots and lots of data running trails today.  It was beautiful. 

As I ran down “No-Name,” I felt extremely thirsty.  Lately, I’ve been running with handhelds, and with nothing in my hands this morning, I kind of felt to myself (I didn’t really think words, because I was in NO THINKING MODE this morning), “I can’t wait to get to the ranger station.”  (There’s a drinking fountain there.)  This is how it is in NO THINKING MODE.  I mean, didn’t it dawn on me that it was pretty odd that I didn’t carry water on a ten plus mile run?  Then some voice penetrated through the wall and said, “Ah . . . Lauren, you have 64 fluid ounces on your back.”  I laughed and laughed as I drank up.

And then I ran in the moment for the next thirteen miles.

And now for the pictures of a tranquil trail run in El Moro:

The route:My Activities El Moro 11-19-2011 copy

Running down No-Name Trail toward the Pacific Ocean:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Crossing bridge to run up El Moro Canyon:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

El Moro Canyon:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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Old Emerald Falls Trail:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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About to ascend Old Emerald Trail:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

A nice hearty climb on Old Emerald:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Approaching top of Old Emerald:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Running back to reality on Bommer Ridge:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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Miles run:  13.61 (21.90 km)My Activities El Moro 11-19-2011, Elevation - Distance