TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year’s Eve Silverado Loop

I’m not sure that I can adequately write about my last run of 2011.  So I will probably let “the pictures tell the story.”  I will write that this run was fantastic.  It was difficult, quite difficult for me.  But I loved every second of it. 

I will also say that running friends are really something special.  We go through so much together.  It’s as if we escape all the harsh realities together and go to a place to share an awesomeness beauty together.  And we just “BE.”   That’s the way that I see it anyway.

In a nutshell, we began on a cold morning up Maple Springs Road.  My friend Jeremy had to turn back early.  But I’m really grateful for the time he was able to put in running with us all, especially on New Year’s Eve.  Three other friends, Kelly, Michael and Rob joined in on this spectacular run as well.  And I met a new running friend, Kurt, who also ran with us today.

At the top of Maple Springs run we continued up and down an excruciating rolling ridge.  Kelly remembered and pointed out the exact spot I began to see stars when I ran this very same loop 2 years ago.  I looked ahead at the large ascent approaching, and I thought “OH MY!!!”  This time though, I ran the whole thing.  Don’t get me wrong.  I didn’t sprint it.  I ran it more at a snail’s pace.  But I ran it.

Some scenes from today’s EPIC run:

Kurt, Rob, Michael, Kelly, Me, Jeremy ready to take off up Maple Springs:

Kelly, Michael & Jeremy as we began this run on asphalt:

Group photos at “Four Corners.”

Running the Main Divide I look at Maple Springs in almost disbelief that we ran that thing: Smile

Rob & Kelly look out over Riverside County from the Main Divide:

Rob’s new pet; he runs this snake back to the cars:

Running the Main Divide, will the Silverado Motorway EVER get here?

Silverado Motorway at last!

Group shot running down Silverado Motorway:

Keeping the fluids flowing:

Rob and Michael take off on the steep, rocky, switch-back:

Silverado Motorway – about 2 1/2 miles, it seemed much shorter than 2 years ago:

Back at Maple Springs, a shot of my salt stained shirt:

Acting goofy back at the lot:

Miles run:  16.77 (26.99 km):Elevation Profile

My Activities Silverado Loop 12-31-2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Santiago Oaks

I set out early this morning for some trails I’ve never run.  I met friends Sheila and Kelly in a shopping center parking lot at the base of the mountains and we took off on the streets for some trail running in the foothills.  I felt surprisingly well for this being my tenth consecutive day running.  And we took some pretty good climbs together. 

We ran a trail called Bumblebee that lead to gorgeous views of The O.C.  The weather was perfect, our loop rolling and joyful. ( I could see Santiago Peak off in the distance and longed for it.)

We got in some fire road, some gravel, some single track, some switchback and cliff trails.  Running up Anaheim Hills Trail we met a couple of hikers who mentioned that they renamed that trail “Dirty Rotten Filthy Hill,” and their friend called it “Cardiac Hill.”  That really cracked me up because I’m a trail re-namer too.  (I’ve renamed Mentally Sensitive to “Psycho-Path,” and I’ve named a portion of West Ridge, “Good Girls Don’t.”)

In all, we three women ran 8.33 miles on this Thursday morning (13.41 km).  Lovely, lovely run.  And here’s the best thing as we approach the end of the year:  with over 1,600 miles logged, I am UNINJURED.  I have so many things to credit for this fact, which I’ll save for another entry.  I will write that part of the non-injury stuff comes from my cross-training at the gym.  But alas, 2011 is an end of an era for me.  My gym membership runs out in a few days.  And I won’t be renewing.  Though I am a fairly new runner (meaning I started in middle-age), I have pretty much always been a gym member.  I don’t even feel like going back now knowing that I won’t be renewing.  But at the same time, I feel like I need to go back, knowing that in a few days I won’t have a choice. Yet, I have learned much over the past few years, so I’m confident I can keep up the non-injury streak without a gym membership.  Smile 

Scenes from a run though Santiago Oaks:

My Activities Santiago Oaks 12-29-2011, Elevation - Distance

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Enjoy

I scratched original plans to visit the gym today and put in just about 2 to 3 miles of speed work after my workout.  I really didn’t feel like spending my time in a crowded gym. I wanted to be alone Instead on day 9 of my running streak.   I decided on a nice little out-and-back in my favorite wilderness park, Aliso/Wood Canyons. 

I took off with the melancholy blues.  But as I made my struggle up Cholla, I began to lighten-up and enjoy the moment.  Enjoy the sweat dropping off the ends of my hair.  Enjoy the rocky terrain.  Enjoy the blue skies.  Enjoy that I wasn’t alone, though I was, as the park was crowded with hikers, runners and bikers.  Others were out there struggling up and down these hills.  Who were these people?  I didn’t know a single one of them, yet it was sort of like we all knew each other.  We didn’t talk.  A simple head nod or smile did the trick to convey – “Yup, I’m crazy too.”  Nah.  I think it more conveyed, “Yup.  I understand.”

Running up Cholla, biker cycling down:

Heading up Cholla, the world seems to transform:

View of Saddleback Mountains from Park Avenue Nature Trail:

Prickly Pear bloom (the first I’ve seen this season):

6.35 miles run on day 9:My Activities canyon vistas to top of world and back 12-28-2011, Elevation - Distance

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On The Eighth Day

Well there, that’s done.  I broke my longest streak, by running 8 consecutive days.  On the 8th day of my running streak I met three friends (Kelly, Sheila and Michael) at Aliso/Wood Canyons on a cold, frosty morning.  And we ran through Aliso Canyon, shivering.

On the 8th day, I ran with my friends up Meadows Trail and we were warm before we even reached the top:

Top of Meadows:

On the 8th day, I ran with my 3 running friends to the Top of the World.  Then we ran down a steep, steep, technical trail called Car Wreck Trail, which if you are returning, you’ve seen more than once on this blog:

And there we posed in front of the graffiti-ridden wrecked car:

On the 8th day, we ran Car Wreck, to Oak Grove, and ran a short distance on Mathis where we took a fun detour with a nice climb to Dripping Cave Trail.    We meandered about the cave and took another group photo before running through a shady grove of trees back into Wood Canyon:

On the 8th day of my running streak, Michael found ice on Dripping Cave Trail, and somehow it was almost like finding diamonds:

And we were off to run the final stretch:

On the 8th day I got to see the blue heron that I usually see, and I caught another picture of it in flight, this time as Michael ran straight at it so that it would take off:

On the 8th day of Streaking into the New Year, I ran 9.35 miles.  That’s a little over 15 kilometers:My Activities Small Loop Aliso Woods 12-27-2011, Elevation - Distance

Then on the 8th day of my running streak, my Uncle Norman died, the older and only brother of my mother.  We are in mourning.  And in mourning, as in happiness, I want to get back out on the trail and run. 

You were a good man on Earth Uncle Norman.  I am happy and proud to have been a part of your life:Uncle_Norm

Monday, December 26, 2011

Seven Day Streak

Today’s run was my seventh-day-in-a-row run.  Seven days is the longest streak I’ve ever had, so if I make it through tomorrow, I will break my longest streak.  The deal is, I’ve joined Jessica Deline’s challenge, Streaking into the New Year.  It’s public group that you can join on Facebook, and so far, I believe 32 people have taken the challenge. 

It’s kind of a two-part challenge, first to make it to the New Year running consecutive days, then to keep on going to see how long you can “streak” until January 31st.  The only rule is that you run at least 1 mile every day. 

Yesterday, Christmas day, I ran 1.12 miles.  And it was the most difficult run of my entire streak.  I was so worn out, that I practically ran in circles trying to figure out where to run.  Finally, I mindlessly took off on the sidewalks in my rarely worn street running shoes.  When I arrived back at home and my husband said, “Well, where did you run?”  I thought for a second and said, “Uh, I don’t know.” 

He laughed. 

“I think I ran such and such street, yup, that’s what I did!  I basically ran a rectangle through the neighborhoods.”

The important part was that I ran my requirement to keep in the challenge.

Today, I woke at 5AM with plans of going to the gym and doing some speed work on the dreadmill.  My throat was sore.  The house was quiet and the Christmas tree lit.  I drank two cups of coffee and then fell asleep on the couch until 9:30.  I’m not sure I felt so rested, but my sore throat was gone.  Well, you know what that meant?  It meant TIME TO RUN.  “Yahoo,” as our oldest son says, “PARTY BUS!” 

Well, I didn’t feel that excited.  I actually felt a little anxious recalling yesterday’s short run and adding very little sleep and way more calories than I usually consume over the past two days.  I took off out the front door with the notion of running down the highway, crossing the pedestrian bridge to the state beach then running back home, for hopefully a mile.

I felt great by the time I ran up the steps to the bridge.  I thought to myself, “Okay, I’ll run a little longer and circle the campground.”

Crossing the Pedestrian Bridge:

Countless runners hit the pavement this morning.  Cyclists rode in large groups.  The campground was unexpectedly full for the day after Christmas.  After drinking from the water fountain in the campground I felt so much better, stronger, that I decided to lengthen the run even more and run through the state beach and then out to the jetty before turning home.

View from campground of San Juan Creek mixing with the salt water to dump out into the Pacific Ocean:

Running out to the jetty:

At the jetty, I saw a guy reel in something from the sea.  I wasn’t sure if it was a stingray or a halibut.  Halibuts have to be down right huge in order to keep.  I don’t know about stingrays.  Anyway, he threw it back in the waters before I could snap a picture.  As I tried to talk to him about it, he nervously looked away like he didn’t want company.  But one of the bystanders gladly chatted with me a few seconds about the catch.  He told me it was a stingray, and then I was off running again. 

After that, for the first time in my twenty plus years living here, I ran up onto the jetty.  I’ve walked around on the jetty before, but I’ve never run the jetty.  Jumping from boulder to boulder was such great fun I thought that I might run this jetty’s entire length.  I think people mingling about thought I was probably a bit crazy, as even I’ve never seen anyone run the jettys before (thought some must have, right?)

Well, about 3/4’s of the way, I thought I’d stop scaring the people and halted.  After posing for a picture, I ran off with the promise to return and run ALL of the jettys after most people returned to work after the holidays.

The jetty I ran:

I still wasn’t ready to end this run after the jetty.  I ran into the wharf with a smile on my face.  I noticed (I knew this before) that the road runners don’t often wave or smile at each other, at least that is my experience.  On the trail, you hardly see other runners, so we always acknowledge each other.  I guess on the road, there’s so many other runners, that you’d be waving the entire run if you were to acknowledge everyone.  And who wants to run waving, waving, waving?  In fairness, some runners did return my smile or head nod.  (I stopped the short wave early on since it was vastly unreciprocated.)

The wharf:

Finishing up the Marina (do you think I ought to wash the salt off my glasses?):

After the wharf, I still wasn’t ready to end this short run.  I continued on past crowded restaurants and coffee shops into the marina.  People walked their dogs large and small.  Smokers sat at benches with picturesque views as they toked their cigarettes.  Walkers strolled along hand-in-hand, often blocking my passage. Smile

The weather was perfectly cool with the slightest breeze.  And I had the luxury of a drinking fountain probably every 50 yards if I needed it.  Though I didn’t feel I needed the fluids, I was sure to stop at about every fifth one to drink. 

I finally turned back to head up the big hill home, when yet again, I decided that I wasn’t finished yet.  It’s just so boring to run the sidewalk up a big hill.   Instead, I extended this run up into a grassy park with lots of stairways.   I didn’t photograph them all, nor did I count them.  But I’d say I ran at least 5 staircases, perhaps more.  I can happily say that after the mountain runs these flights of stairs were surprisingly easy.  And I was so glad. 

Finally, it was time to head home, as I told my family I would be gone an hour at the most, and probably much sooner.  Already a little after an hour had passed. 

I reached my front door, calm and collected, anxiety-free.  After grabbing a tall cup of water I headed out to the backyard for a nice long stretch session.

Miles run on the 7th day of my streak:  6.04 (9.72 km).