TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Dream Job

Actually, I want to be a novelist when I grow up.  But second choice definitely would be a P.E. coach.  Today I got a call to substitute 7th grade P.E. (Physical Education).  I remember 7th grade.  Do you?  I hated it.  Much better to teach it than to be it, that’s for sure!

First time ever I got to wear shorts to a job.  First time ever I got paid to run!  First time also, that I got to talk to the regular teacher on the phone before my sub assignment.  She was a lovely lady who obviously had genuine concern and care for her students.  She told me that they had to RUN their laps. 

Oh the joy!  Fun, fun, fun!!!

The agenda was: run 1 lap around the track, do exercises and stretches on the black top, run another lap around the track, then play basketball or “free-play.”

The students were surprised when I took off running with them.  I thought, “What a perfect opportunity to get a little running in today!”  But how to get the kids to run?  There’s some kids who are runners and there’s no problem getting them to run.  But most of the kids, they just don’t want to run (like me when I was their age), and so unless they have a reason to, they don’t run. 

This is how I got them to run:  I hollered, “Don’t let me pass you!”  And so I took off at my regular long distance pace, moseying around the track.  There were students who DO NOT run in general, pretty much ever.  I gave them words of encouragement, told them to just push themselves a little bit harder every time they ran, and eventually they’d be able to run the whole lap.  The other students, the majority, enjoyed my game of “Don’t Let The Old Lady Pass You.”   

One boy said, “I’m going to walk and she’s not going to pass me!!”  He kept looking behind his shoulder, smiling wide, walking faster and faster, pumping his arms like an engine.  That’s when I kicked it in just for kicks.  As I passed him, he yelled, “Oh shit!”  That’s when he started running.  Of course he passed me.  The best thing was, he was smiling.  And I overheard another 7th grader say, “That was so much fun!”

I used this tactic pretty much every time, running my long distance speed until the last tenth of the track.  Then I’d run my 5k pace.  The kids would literally scream and pick up their pace so that I wouldn’t pass. 

During my last period of the day, 2 boys “too cool to run,” said to me when I passed as they walked the track, “What happens if you pass us?” 

I said, “Then you got passed by a fifty-year-old lady.”  I laughed out loud as these two boys took off running at the thought by being passed by a “50-year-old lady.”  (I’m not fifty by the way, it just sounded better than 47). 

Later these same too-cool-to-run boys thought they’d have some fun with me and ran backwards just ahead of me, smirking and giggling (yes, middle school boys giggle.)  I smiled, then at the last moment, I kicked it in and increased my speed.  These guys practically tripped over their feet as they hastily turned around and headed toward the finish.  There was no way they were going to be passed by a 50-year-old lady.  So funny.  So fun.  I guess I’m just a kid too.  (Just don’t look like one). Smile

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spike Run

It was time today for yet another little work-out this morning (not a fun-run, an ACTUAL workout.)  I now call it my spike run – what I used to call hill repeats.  By the looks of today’s elevation profile below, it’s clearly a spike run:

My Activities Meadows 3x 3-29-2012, Elevation - Distance copy

The weather was cold.  It was misty and wet.  The workout was difficult.  But not excruciating.  Except for a few mountain bikers riding down, and one runner going up, I was alone for most of today’s run.  I felt especially alone at the top, surrounded by thick white mist.  The ocean was nowhere to be seen at the top of Meadows.  For some reason it was a bit sad.  No.  Not really sad, more like somber. 

The fun in today’s run was in its difficulty.  But I don’t necessarily enjoy repeats.  I just enjoy being able to run them.  In my twenties I wouldn’t have been able to hike up this hill once without stopping and resting, maybe even sitting.

Smile 

About a half mile into Meadows, heading for the ascent (the top is obscured by clouds):

The climb threatening, but in not in full-force:

The sweat begins:

Nearing the top:

All done!  Heading back to the truck:

From above:My Activities Meadows 3x 3-29-2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How I Roll

I am now spontaneous.  I used to call myself “The Planner.”  I planned everything.  I knew exactly which days I would run, how many miles and which trails.  I planned on which day I would get gasoline, what time I would do the dishes, precisely how many loads of laundry I needed to do daily, how many pages I would allow myself to read a day, how many pages I would write a day.  You could not throw ANYTHING on me “spur of the moment.”  I was not very spontaneous.  I don’t think that I learned my neurotic “planning abilities” from my parents.  Mom and Dad seem quite spontaneous to me.  I’ll get a phone call, “What are you doing today?  We’re on our way over. ”(They live an hour away!  : )  Perhaps they were more planners when they raised me.  Or perhaps that’s just the way my brain was “wired:” systematic, organized, compartmental.  Or perhaps, it’s an overcompensation for all the clutter up there (in my brain that is : )

Well!  Now that I’ve taken on substitute teaching during my days (which are open, because I work evenings), I don’t know whether I’m going to work until 6:30 in the morning.  So, I don’t plan my runs anymore.  I pretty much just run when I don’t work. 

By 7:30, I knew I wasn’t working this morning, which meant that after getting the boys off to school, I had until 2:30 when I needed to leave for my regular job.  After dropping off boy number three, I spontaneously drove back home to chat with my husband before taking off.  I changed my mind THREE times where I would run (that’s rather spontaneous don’t you think?).  I first decided to drive to Trabuco Canyon for a mountain run.  Then figuring the round trip would total about an hour and a half driving,  I decided on closer trails for a longer run time.  So with the coastal hills of Newport Beach/Irvine in mind, I packed my bags and got into the truck.  On the road I figured my round trip driving would total about a hour.  I still wanted more running time.  While driving, I changed my mind (more spontaneity) and drove off to Aliso/Wood Canyons, with only a half hour round trip driving time.  Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “That’s not spontaneous – you always run there.”  But it was indeed spontaneous.  Running today period was spontaneous, and how I decided upon these trails was as well.  I simply decided to run, and run, and run, and run until I didn’t feel like it anymore or until I ran out of time, with no particular path in mind, with my only goal to just have fun.  Fun.  Yup, that’s it.  Fun on the trails.  That’s the how I roll.

Who would guess that I’d visit my old friend Meadows Trail?

But I didn’t run all of Meadows.  I decided to kick up my heels on Mentally Sensitive.  Looked like it was lonely and hadn’t been run in a long time.  Look at Mentally Sensitive’s entry:

More fun running up Mentally Sensitive:

And still more fun going up Mentally Sensitive.  I’m inadvertently sliding down this railing as the camera clicks:

The prize at the top of Mentally Sensitive:

And then I turned left, spontaneously, and ran the trails to the city park down the way:

Where I had myself some swing time:

I could have swung for an hour.  But more so, I wanted to run.  So, I ran to Top of the World, because I LOVE TOP OF THE WORLD:

Then I ran up one hill, then down another hill, then up a hill, down another, again and again until I ended up in Wood Canyon which I ran all the way to the end (or rather beginning):

13.54 stress-free, thoughtless miles run today (21.8 km):My Activities Aliso Big loop up Mentally Sensitive 3-28-2012, Elevation - Distance

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Beg Your Pardon Ranger ‘Mam/Sir

As I ran downhill on the service road leading to Wood Canyon, I suddenly remembered that I didn’t check the website to see if the park was open.  “But it’s got to be open!  It rained Sunday.  Today’s Tuesday.”

Sure enough, I came upon with the “Trails Closed” sign at the park’s entrance.  “Well, I beg your pardon Rangers, but I really, really wanted to run trails on this lovely crisp, clear morning.  And I really don’t know what to say about your sign, but I’m going in.”

I’m sorry to say that I thought about pushing the sign down into the mud.  That way I could say that I didn’t see a sign.  But it was was actually chained and locked to the metal fence post. 

My idea was this:  run down into the canyon, then quickly to Cholla Trail.  There’s no way that I’m going to see a ranger on Cholla Trail.  Not a chance.  It’s a single track – a truck won’t fit, and it’s a little steep (no offense).  At the top of Cholla, I thought I’d be safe, because a utility friend once told me that West Ridge was not actually part of the park – it’s a utility road.

So, I turned off my headphones and ran on into Wood Canyon, listening for trucks.  Nothing.  Then I headed up Cholla Trail.  My calves felt painfully tight.  But they loosened after halfway up when I stopped to stretch them.  It hurt sooo good.

I met a hiker and his dog as they made their way down Cholla.  At the top of Cholla, the gates into West Ridge were closed with the same sign posted that I met coming into the park.

But as I ran along this trail that was really not that muddy at all, I found I wasn’t the only person disobeying the closed signs:

I needed this run.  It was fun.  It was relaxing.  It was beautiful with majestic clouds hovering above.  It was vindicating. And after a while, I saw dozens of other people travelling along the ridge – hiking, running and mountain biking. 

A few pictures from Top of the World (Laguna Beach):

Heading Back:

6.5 miles ran this morning.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

How it went Down.

SO!  I’ve been a little overwhelmed and depressed over non-running issues.  When I showed up yesterday morning (Saturday) in Modjeska Canyon to run a giant loop run with a group, that I had planned for  weeks, I was asked an innocent question by one of my running friends.  In response I started crying!  CRYING!  I felt a little humiliated.  “Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry,”  I told myself.  I don’t like making anyone feel badly or sad for me.  In public, I try to ALWAYS put on a happy face.

I quickly got my mind on running and my running friends were all sweet in helping me forget, especially Judi as we set off for a long, long running adventure into the mountains.

I had run all but one of the trails on this loop, some of them several times.  But I had never run up (or even down) Joplin Trail.  I also hadn’t been to a place called “Old Camp” in a few years, so I wasn’t confident on how to get there.

Our ran began on flat asphalt for just a short while, and then the climb began to the trailhead as we made our way out of Modjeska Canyon.  The weather was cool and beautiful.  Yes, beautiful.  On this particular morning, we could see the weather in the form of misty clouds. 

Running Santiago Truck Trail:

Lisa, Matt & Judi on Santiago Truck Trail:

Brief stop to take in the beauty:

On the run again (photo compliments of Matt):527813_2943303817265_1101323848_32343814_1956340573_n

I’m unsure how far we ran before we came upon the vulture crags, which of course I didn’t take a picture.  However, I did get some photos of us in front of the U.S. flag that flies there.  It’s been there every time I’ve run Santiago Truck Trail.  This time there was a memorial posted for an American soldier (a very young man) who died in service.  Next to the flag was a box with an extra flag to replace the one standing when it became tattered and torn. It’s a lovely, serene place, this memorial across from the vulture crags.  A good place also to fuel up.  I didn’t take in many calories at this point, as I had already picked “Old Camp” to fuel.

Camera on the ground, pointing practically to the sky : ), from left to right:  Me, Lisa, Judi, Matt:

A better picture, vulture crags in background (photo compliments of Lisa):flag

Back on the run . . .

At some point on our run, I began to worry about whether I remembered how to get to “Old Camp.”  Tom Fangrow showed me “Old Camp,” probably the last time I ever ran Santiago Truck Trail.  I didn’t need to worry about paying attention to direction then, because I had Tom (who is familiar with just about every, if not every single, trail in the area).  I recalled a straight shot on Santiago Truck Trail to the place called “Old Camp.”  But then after several miles, the fire road continued straight onward, and off to the left ran a lonely single-track.  That single-track went in the direction I knew we needed to head, but I had NO recollection of a single-track to “Old Camp.”  I decided we should take it, because after all, we couldn’t get lost with the two peaks towering above us (Modjeska and Santiago).

Picture compliments of Judi (I’m not sure what Lisa and I are discussing, but I’m pretty sure by the way I’m holding myself, that my problems told below are beginning):548054_2943305097297_1101323848_32343817_824608932_n

View from single-track (which I learned later with internet research, is still Santiago Truck Trail):

We kept climbing and climbing this single-track, and the more we ran upward, the more I doubted that we would make my original plans.  I knew we’d make the Main Divide however, so I wasn’t worried.  Thing was, I really wanted to see “Old Camp.”  And then suddenly while running this unfamiliar trail, I got a quick flashback of my run way-back-when with Tom, and for a second, it all looked familiar.  BUT WE CONTINUED CLIMBING.  Then I saw Lisa stop up ahead, and I wondered if she had come to a fork.  That’s what we trail runners do.  If we’re running someone else’s run (meaning, we don’t know the particular trails, we stop at forks and wait for everyone).  I hollered out, “Is there another trail?”  Lisa nodded and I felt exhilarated.  Upon full view, I KNEW.  I hundred percent recognized our location, one fork went up, the other went down.  We were on our way to “Old Camp!” Downhill we ran into a different world, a world of lush green and shade.

Lupin on the road to “Old Camp.”

And then finally, after about eleven miles of running we came upon “Old Camp,” where we met several hikers relaxing beneath an old giant tree near a firepit.  The reprieve and conversation with these hikers was a delight.  We refueled.  And we talked trails.  I asked one of the hikers the name of the trail we just ran in on.  He replied, “I don’t know, I just call it the trail to “Old Camp.”  That comment made the moment even more joyous for me. 

“Old Camp”:

Picture compliments of Lisa:536503_10150631775801777_690331776_9777049_1383938027_n

Creek that runs along Old Camp, the one we will partially follow up our next trail:

Woodpeckers’ work:

Some point during this run, and I don’t recall when, my stomach began acting up.  At first it ached just a little.  But as time went on, it worsened.  It felt like my insides were twisting into double knots.  I thought a pit stop might help.  It did not.  I’m unsure whether I should even put it in at this point in this post, because what occurred next on the run, tops the stomach problems.  And that was JOPLIN TRAIL.  I’ve never run Joplin Trail.  It’s single-track, green with gigantic trees.  There’s a lovely creek flowing heavily along the side (at first).  And IT. IS. STEEP.  Most of this trail, I was able to keep my mind off my stomach pain.  You know why?  Because this trail was so dang difficult, that I had to focus hard on simply continuing upward.  Travelling Joplin included very little running.  I grabbed at branches to help me along.  I STOPPED to rest.  And there came a point when I just didn’t care whether it took me an hour to travel one inch.  I just wanted to move forward and get this trail that put West Horsethief to shame FINISHED. 

Every time the trail headed downward I groaned.  Going down meant only that some of the elevation that we had gained was lost. 

Creek Crossing on Joplin Trail (picture compliments Matt):542341_2943309177399_1101323848_32343821_365796845_n

Lisa tells us that it’s getting a little steep (LOL):

More of Joplin Trail:

At times we could see Santiago Peak.  Its towers seemed a stone’s throw away.  Even with the peak so blazingly above us, Joplin trail would JUST NOT END.  My garmin didn’t even read a pace.  When it seldom did, it would give me a 26 minute pace, or something absurd like that.  With my stomach worsening, my mind simply went blank as I just put one foot in front of the other, knowing EVENTUALLY my feet would get me there.  And then, I heard a truck.  A truck!!!  A few minutes later I heard Judi holler out in joy.  And just like that, I was there – on The Main Divide at last!!!

It’s NO WONDER I hadn’t heard much about this trail:

Looking back from the top of Joplin:

Though overwhelmed with joy, my stomach pain was becoming unbearable.  I tried not to grimace.  But I did run, though slowly it was.  I was afraid to eat, fearful I would make the pain worse.  I did drink up which did nothing to comfort my stomach, though at least I was sure to get my electrolytes and fluids (I put Nuun tablets in my water).  When we came up to The Main Divide, we were closer to Santiago Peak than Modjeska Peak.  So we still had to run to Modjeska.  Our spirits were up from finally having finished Joplin.  Our next “landmark” was “Four Corners.” It couldn’t come fast enough.  But it didn’t come fast for me.  It took F O R E V E R.  Each step I ran made the pain worse.

Look!  There’s still snow on The Main Divide:

Matt and Lisa were waiting at “Four Corners.”  Actually, Lisa had run off a little bit to look for some water stash.  She found some, but such a small amount that she didn’t feel right taking it.  Fortunately, the next 9+ miles was down hill – Harding Truck Trail.

My pain was immense.  I told the group how to get down, that there was no way to get lost, just stay on the road.  I didn’t want them to wait for me, because I was going to be slow.  At one point I caught them because they had stopped in the road to talk to a wonderful woman they met running up.  She was over 70 years old, and she was still doing ultra runs.  She had run all the “bucket list” runs out our way.  And not just once, some of them 12, 13, 14 times.  While she was such a delight, her smile a piece of sunshine, I could hardly stand there.  I was literally doubling over in pain.  I tried not to let on as we took in her stories.  But finally, I could no longer stand, and though I just wanted to plop my butt down in the dirt, I leaned over, holding myself by my knees.  Occasionally, I’d squat down with my guts twisting and burning and stabbing at my stomach.  I really wanted to hear the conversation – I didn’t want to be “the wet rag.” Though I smiled and laughed with the group, I wanted more than anything to take off running for a head start.  I knew there was no possible way that I was going to be able to keep up with the group. 

As we headed off, we all kind of widened out, as is customary on group runs.  I chatted with Lisa a bit, and told her again, don’t wait for me – it’s going to take a long time for me to run down.  You see, running really knocked my insides around causing a great deal of pain.  Eventually, I phoned my husband to tell him.  And he wasn’t too happy that I told everyone to run ahead.  Thing was, I felt like I might vomit.  And even if I didn’t upchuck, my pain had reached a peak so terrible, I was no kind of company.  Besides, I knew that trail well, and it was practically crowded with hikers.  So, if anything did happen to me, someone would be around to witness and possibly call for help.

I lost connection with my husband.  So I ran a bit for another cell connection and phoned him again to ensure him nothing had happened.  He thought I had hung up to vomit.  Surprised smile  Here was my dilemma.  The only way to ease my pain was to walk.  Running made the pain worse.  But I WANTED THIS RUN OVER.  So, I ran.  I didn’t run fast.  But I ran.  And I forced myself not to look at the garmin because if I did, time would crawl by EVEN SLOWER down this giant switch-back trail. 

Eventually my three running friends were nowhere in sight.  And I plugged away at this run, telling myself, “You’re tough.  You can do it.”  I never cried.  I never stopped (except for the phone calls) and I didn’t even fall (though I tripped once.)  I even took a few pictures.

Scenes from Harding Truck Trail:

I really don’t have a moral to this story yet.  Maybe you can think of one.  I will add one little tid-bit.  With about two miles remaining, I FINALLY spotted Judi and Matt.  They were about a half mile off.  Judi screamed out, waving her arms above her head.  When I saw those two, I almost started crying.  It felt so good to finally see some friendly faces.   They were so, so kind in their words to me.  We had fun conversation on the way back to our cars.  Back at the truck I found a sweet note from Lisa on my door window.  I was very glad for that note.  It meant she made it safely.   Despite everything, it was a great day in many ways.

Picture of me running up to Judi and Matt (this picture means a lot to me – thanks Judi for taking it!):559215_2943311177449_1101323848_32343825_81049707_n

The Profile:My Activities Santiago Old Camp Joplin Main Divide Harding loop 3-24-2012, Elevation - Distance

Update: 

Today, a day later, my stomach is still having problems, but it’s barely noticeable.  Also, come to find out, my oldest and middle sons had stomach problems on Saturday as well.  Fortunately, they did not fare as badly, as their pain lasted only a couple hours.  Also, I could not get enough sleep after this run.  And I ached all over, as if I was in a car accident (you know, not a terrible car accident, but I’ve been in a few accidents and my body feels similar – aching in the oddest places).  And lastly, I’m already wondering when I can do this run again.  Muhahahaha. 

Oh!  And one more thing.  I just found the entry for my original run to “Old Camp” with Tom back in July 2009.  http://laurenontherun.blogspot.com/2009/07/slam-dancin-with-trail.html  After just reading this and looking at the pictures, my memory did not serve me right at all!  How silly of me not to read this post before Saturday’s run. Smile with tongue out