TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Holy Snowy Jim

Rain and hail poured down upon our fragile roof last night (I describe it that way because of the skylights).  I could see the pea-sized white beads of ice settling on the ceiling windows..  We had  thunder so loud, our boys just couldn’t believe it.  They had never heard a thunder boom so enormously.

I went to bed bummed because a storm like this surely meant that my local trails in the coastal hills would be closed.  As I drove my boys to school beneath dry skies, I saw a snow covered Saddleback Mountain.  Suddenly I HOPED my local trails were closed.  I checked the website and called the parks up until 9AM, thinking “be closed, be closed, be closed!”

Needless to say, they were closed.

Sure, I didn’t have a lot of time, but I had enough time to do some running up Holy Jim Trail in Trabuco Canyon.  So, gleefully, I headed off toward the freeway to find myself in a traffic jam getting to the onramp.  I couldn’t wait, so I took a left onto a side road.  Apparently, THOUSANDS of people came up with the same idea.  Traffic did not move.  From there, I could see the freeway marquee indicating a major accident at Ortega.  So, I got out of line, and waited to make a u-turn.  Apparently, HUNDREDS of people came up with that idea too.  Well, I wasn’t going to do the next obvious thing; instead I drove north some before finally getting on the freeway.  Anxious, I told myself, “Okay, you won’t have time to run all of Holy Jim.  And if you don’t hit snow, well, heck enjoy the muddy/rocky off-road drive to the trailhead.”

Downright giddy that I’m finally off to try and run to the snow!  And downright silly for taking this picture!

I had no idea whether I’d hit snow running up Holy Jim.  It was dang cold for sure, and I could see lots of snow up in the distance.  I passed two hikers making their way up.  After 8 stream crossings, still no snow.  Three mountain bikers passed me on the way up at about mile 1.  And though I was still running on dirt, I felt exhilarated.  Then at about mile 1.4, I spotted two small clumps of snow.  By then I had already peeled off my warm layers (It’s not easy running up Holy Jim).  Then at mile 1.5, I saw long strips of snow along the trail’s edge. 

A stream crossing on Holy Jim:

A quick pose before peeling off the winter duds.

Off in the distance – the prize!!

Other crazy people: Smile

I didn’t note on the garmin when I finally found myself surrounded by snow.  It sounded like rain as the snow melted and dripped from the trees. A tiny creek ran swiftly down the center of the switchback trail.  And then the snow stopped melting, and as I ran past the trees, clumps of snow fell to the ground directly behind me.  It was an honor to be Holy Jim’s guest this morning.  I didn’t want to turn back.  I pushed the time limits as far as I could.  I didn’t want to leave this glorious winter-wonderland, but I had to get ready for work.  As I turned around I tucked away the camera and told myself, “No more pictures – enjoy!”  Though I did take the camera out just a couple more times.  Call me camera crazy today.

Running up Holy Jim:

On my trip down I saw this guy running up Holy Jim.  He didn’t seem to notice me, because when I spoke it seemed I startled him.  I said, “Who is this lunatic running up a mountain in the snow?”  I laughed, but he was so concentrated on the run, he didn’t act like he got my joke.  But I did get his name. 

Brett:

One last picture as I ran back down Holy Jim:

I worked long hours this afternoon into the night.  I’m still grading papers at home.  And it seems like ages ago that I went on this run.  It was so delightful, so surreal, it’s almost like it didn’t happen.  I feel extremely  fortunate.

Miles run 7.01 (11.28 km):My Activities snowy holy jim 2-28-2012, Elevation - Distance

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Race or No Race, It’s Time to Run

Today’s race, The 15th Annual Great Silverado Footrace, was cancelled abruptly last night (due to landowner issues).  The news was big bummer for me.  I love this race.  This would have been my 4th year running it.  AND this was going to be the last year of this race, AND my running friend Jeremy was going to run it as well, AND the race director put a lot of time and effort into this super event. 

Instead, I headed to Silverado Canyon for a get-back-into-the-groove run with Jeremy this morning.  It felt like ages since I’ve run (actually since last Monday – but being sick made it seem soooo much longer).

The morning was beautiful with blue skies and mountain views from afar.  It was a bit chilly, but not cold as we started off up Maple Springs Road.  It’s an uphill start on pavement for about 3 miles (actually it’s all uphill until you turn around and run back).  But those paved 3 miles seem tougher for some reason.  Is it just me, or is it extremely difficult to warm-up on an incline?  The gate at the trailhead was also open this morning (which I haven’t seen in ages), boy was I tempted to just drive through the paved portion, but fear of being locked in stopped that thought. 

Climbing Maple Springs Road (well, actually stopped for a quick shot):

Still climbing:

With the gate at the trailhead open, a good deal of trucks and motorcycles, some dirt bikes rumbled past us.  Two bikers stopped to adjust their water packs, and I overhead the guy say to the lady, “Next time we should jog up like them."  She busted out a laugh (I love eavesdropping).

At Four Corners we saw what all the ruckus at least partially concerned.  A mountain bike race up Harding Truck Trail finished up at Harding and Maple Springs.  Good thing we didn’t pick Harding Truck Trail to run this morning (I actually considered it briefly last night).  Though I’m sure that would have been exciting, and I love excitement.  I also enjoyed the feel of the race up there at Four Corners, the commotion, the anticipation (and the first finisher hadn’t even come through yet). 

A “Group Photo” before the 7.5 mile run back down:

I don’t know what this is about.  I guess I’m just plain ole’ running out of poses.  LOL.  Or perhaps I’m just having so much fun running in the mountains again, I’m a bit giddy:

View going down Maple Springs:

Headed for the final LONG stretch:

Love this tree.  Had already taken a couple photos of it when I lucked out and caught one of Jeremy running by this wizardly old tree:

Almost, almost there:

Almost there: Smile

During that final stretch, at least a dozen motorcycles passed by.  I couldn’t help think of the scene from The Rocky Horror Picture Show where Brad and Janet are stuck at the side of that lonely road, when one by one, sometimes in twos, motorcycles rode by them on the way to the castle. (Honk if you know that movie scene.)

15.20 miles run this morning (24.46 km)  When I arrived home, I changed and crashed on the couch.  My wellness backslid a bit.  I’ll take it though.  I’ll take it!

My Activities Maple Springs to 4 corners and back 2-25-2012, Elevation - Distance

Friday, February 24, 2012

Flashback Friday

I have been sick and haven’t been able to run these past 4 days.  Actually, I’ve been sick for about a week, but I ran a couple times anyway.  Normally I would have forced a run in these past four days.  Because I NEED to run.  But I have a race this weekend that I really, really want to run.

There you have my reasons for my lack of blog entires.  No run; no blog. Sad smile

I’ve been going to bed early, around 8/8:30, waking at 6 AM, to get breakfasts and lunches made for the boys.  And then while hubby, so thankfully, gets them off to school, I go back to bed until it’s time to get ready for work.  By then, I feel better.  By the time I arrive home however, I crawl back into bed early once again.

Today however is Friday, and I had to get some errands run.   Feeling much better, I woke for good at 11:30 AM and ventured out for a few hours.  Perhaps if I hadn’t kept up my strength training (THOUGH MINIMAL) during this illness, I would have recovered quicker.  And perhaps if I would have not run last week’s 21k, I would have been over this by the weekend.  But I couldn’t miss that race, and I couldn’t miss taking down the markers the following Monday.  The race gave me a $50 gift certificate, and the marker take down gave me a mountain run during the week!  Come Tuesday however, I crashed big time.

Back to the reason for the blog – Flashback Friday.  I began looking for a particular softball picture back from 1980 or so.  I’ve been searching this picture out for a couple years.  I know that it’s in my office, that AGAIN looks like a hurricane ran through it (as I now share my office with my husband and my dog.  LOL)  I didn’t find the picture, but I did notice something amusing among my old pictures.  There are an awful lot of poses of me standing on the front lawn of the house I grew up in.  It seems for every special occasion, I posed out front on the lawn.

I’ve picked two of those front lawn pictures for this Flashback Friday:

The first picture, I believe is the first day of high school.  That would make the date September 1979.  (High school for me was 9th through 12th grades):front_lawn (1)

The second picture was taken on my high school Graduation Day.  I graduated mid-term, January 1982, but I walked in the ceremony with the rest of my class, which means this picture was taken in June 1983:

front_lawn1

Same front lawn, same person.  But really, a much different person from today. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Turning the Tide

I have been sneezing all evening.  And I’m not a sneezer.  I hate sneezing.  I hate being “under the weather” even a tiny bit.  I use it as an excuse to be a glutton, eat junk food, drink wine or a really thick ale, and then tada – I’m even sicker.  Smart thinking eh?

I never claimed to be smart, though I may be smarter than the average bear.  (If you grew up in the U.S. and are about my age, this may make sense.).

Anyway, it took me a day to get over Saturday’s race performance.  Actually, my “performance” wasn’t terrible.  It was the mental defeat and physical breakdown that was terrible.  The sore throat lingered, and I slept A LOT before, and especially after the race.  But now, I’m scared to death of April’s 50k (which does a lot of the same trails as Saturday’s race).  So even in my fatigue and apparent “cold”, I worked hard on Sunday.  I worked hard on sleeping, eating right, ab work, glute work, upper body weight training, rolling, not to mention my household chores that were neglected all week long (because I worked every day – yay!!!).  It’s time for the tide to turn!

Today, I had a reprieve.  That is, I got to (yes, that’s “got to”, as in “was fortunate” to run with Steve Harvey again to take down the 21k race markers.  Yup the very race that nearly defeated me.). 

Aside from waiting for Steve at THE WRONG gate, I had a nice pleasant run, beneath cool, gray skies.  It was lovely.  And as usual, the company, grand.  To top it off, I got the added bonus of learning about new trails (& I thought I knew nearly all of them up there!  I suppose I will never know all of them).

Before I continue on with the pictures, because I took lots on this grey day, let me say this.  1)  Running the loop going DOWN West Horsethief, UP Trabuco, is a much more pleasant run than the reverse, 2) Running it lackadaisically with fun company is also a much more pleasant run than racing it in the opposite direction, and 3) Racing this weekend’s 21k pretty much scared the cra* out of me as far as April’s 50k is concerned, not to mention, my overall physical capabilities being way under par.  4)  I’m pretty much back to my “scared to death” status that had pretty much left me after my grand Saddleback Marathon comback.  5) And so, starting tomorrow, I’m putting on the ritz!  Natural foods, no cheese, no wine, and I’m adding lots more core and strength training (once again, but this time without a gym membership) to my regimen.

With that said (or rather written), back to today’s run.  The lovely pictures (have I ever mentioned how very, very fortunate I am – really.  I promised my son that I wouldn’t post this, but I must today.  Saturday, a few hours after the 21k as I lay on the couch resting, my son was hit by a car while riding his bike.  Thankfully, the driver was paying attention and hit the brakes in time so that my son landed on top of his hood.  No head injury, no problems whatsoever so far.  We are watching the bruise/bump on his leg – but again, so fortunate am I (not to mention he!)  He won’t read this blog, so therefore, won’t know that I posted this : ) : 

Taking down a marker on The Main Divide:

Running along The Main Divide:

Steve running the Main Divide:

East Holy Jim (If my memory serves me correctly – I gotta run this trail):

Heading down Horsethief (I decided not to post the picture of me giving Horsethief “the finger.”  Because I never really give anybody “the finger.”)

Horsethief really is beautiful:

Horsethief coming to an end:

Going up Trabuco, which I believe I’ve only done once before.  I’ve run down it many, many times.  Climbing Trabuco, oddly, I hardly recognized it:

(10.33 miles logged today):My Activities Marker take down Baz 21k 2-20-2012, Elevation - Distance

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Big Baz WTRS 21K

I had not run since I stopped my streak.  Then Friday afternoon I took the boys for a hike in Aliso/Wood Canyons.  Back at home I napped a good three hours.  I went to bed with a sore throat, feeling a little slow (you know, a tad dim-witted and slow moving). 

I woke at 5AM for Big Baz’s 21k trail race in the Cleveland National Forest this morning (Saturday).  My throat burned.  After gargling with diluted hydrogen peroxide, I took two motrin, drank some coffee and drove up the mountain early. 

Still, I felt confident, confident especially that I would beat last year’s time.  I hoped I’d beat it by about 15 minutes. Thing was, from the beginning of this trail race, I NEVER felt strong.  I thought it would come though – my strength that I felt for so, so many days in a row during the streak.

Pre-race:  Me, Baz, Judi, Matthew:

The ladies raring to go: Lisa, Me, Judi:

Running alongside Doug, headed for The Main Divide:

So many people passed me going up The Main Divide.  The main crowd got further and further away.  At that point, my strategy became to powerhouse down Trabuco.  And that isn’t easy.  There’s so many rocks and boulders, it’s an easy and dangerous place to fall.

I ran right past the aid station at the top of The Main Divide, leaving a few people behind.  Then I ran as fast as I could down Trabuco, repeating to myself, “kick out the back, kick out the back.”  I knew that the only way I wasn’t going to fall was if I didn’t drag my feet.  It’s impossible to drag your feet when you kick out the back. 

I passed 3 or 4 runners going down Trabuco.  Still I didn’t feel strong, especially when one of the trail workers who were cutting branches threw a branch onto the trail.  It hit my leg.  Simultaneously, the thin branch stuck into the ground in a way that the other end jabbed into my skin then cut down my shin.  It wasn’t a bad injury.  Still it altered my mood some in the negative way.  Yet I kept on running.  Really, what choice did I have?  I could have “chewed-out,” the worker.  But he didn’t do it on purpose.  I doubt he even knew what happened.

View running up The Main Divide:

Running down Trabuco Trail:

Crossing Trabuco to meet up with West Horsethief:

Horsethief got me again!

All along (meaning days leading up to this race and even this morning), I felt pretty confident about going up Horsethief.  I thought that I’d probably run all of it, taking it nice and easy.  Just like I had run it in training.

The trail’s beginning only has a slight incline.  And it was shady and leaf-littered.  A gorgeous sight.  When the climb began, I continued running.  Then, less than half way up, I began sucking air.  About that point, I got a nagging side stitch.  Finding it difficult not to focus on this pain, I concentrated on proper breathing, that is breathing from the diaphragm.  Then one of the runners I passed down Trabuco passed me going up Horsethief.  I felt pretty low.  Not only because another runner had passed me.  I also felt  low because I didn’t want to come in last, I continued to focus on the side stitch pain, and I wanted to quit!  But I can’t quit.  I just can’t!!!  So instead, the negative thoughts overcame me.  I thought to myself “You suck!”  This was very bad.  Really.  I said it to myself more than once, AND DID NOTHING to stop this terrible self talk. 

Running the beginning of Horsethief – hey this isn’t so bad!

Still not so bad, and oh so lovely:

I could feel or hear other runners I had passed coming up on me.  Every time I turned a corner on this hellish switch back, I ran as much as I could.  I figured if the runner behind me couldn’t see me when they turned the corner, they wouldn’t try so hard to catch me.  That seemed to work.

The last time I ran up West Horsethief, I couldn’t believe how short it seemed.  It rained that day, perhaps the rain helped in preoccupying my mind.  Today, I COULD NOT stay in the moment.  Instead, I seemed to focus on my suffering.  I staggered a few times.  Even stopped to take a few photos.  I wanted nothing more than that hellish trail to end. 

And then!  About 50 minutes later, I finally reached The Main Divide.  That’s right about when another runner passed me.

View going up Horsethief:

Another glorious view of this treacherous, hateful trail!

I’m REALLY despising it here:

I ran all of The Main Divide.  But I didn’t love it, that’s for sure.  What I did enjoy however, was the snow.  What I didn’t enjoy was not being able to the catch the lady that continuously ran just about a quarter to a half mile a head of me.  Though tempted, I did not stoop down and grab a handful of snow.  Perhaps I should have delighted in the snow more. 

View of Lake Elsinore from The Main Divide:

When I finally reached The Trabuco/Main Divide Intersection aid station, I stopped for a swig of Pepsi.  Then I grabbed a Styrofoam cup of Gatorade and ran downhill the remaining way.  My pace, as far as I know, never dropped below a 10 minute mile.  Even during the Saddleback Marathon, at this very point on the trails, I was running an 8 minute mile.  I could see about 5 runners down the hill some and tried to catch them.  But I COULD NOT.  I kept tripping and stumbling.  Obviously, I wasn’t kicking out the back.  Holding onto my now empty Styrofoam cup, I ran on in those last few miles, finally giving up on catching any runners.   I wanted more than anything to toss that cup, it bugged me so much.  But again, I JUST COULDN’T.

I finally ran across the finish line, completing this 21k two minutes slower than last year (3:17 / 3:19).  And as soon as I ran on in, Baz was hollering out my name, and my friends where pushing me through the crowd to pick up a prize that I had won – a $50 gift certificate to the running store, Snail’s Pace.  I had no idea how I won this.  This is what I said in my delirium, “Why did I win this?  For carrying this cup for 3 miles?”  Baz laughed and said, “No, for being the nicest lady here.”  I was kinda shoved in front of the camera and a photo was snapped of me and Baz (I’m kind of afraid to see this picture!)

Ahhhhh though.  How nice.  I’m sure I wasn’t the nicest lady there.  But I can surely use that gift certificate.

As a side note, my running friends did great:  Lisa, Judi, Matthew, Doug, Rich and many others.  Though some of them may not have felt they did great.  But compared to me, they did.  I truly felt defeated.

My Activities Big Baz 21k 2-18-2012, Elevation - Distance