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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Race Against The Rain

With reports of rain and more rain to come, I rushed off to some trails this morning after getting our boys off to school.  Let me tell you!  I needed this after taking a ton of verbal abuse from our oldest boy.  I wasn’t going to engage though – I laughed and laughed which only made his anger and disrespectful manner worse. I think that I need a better approach.

The skies were gray and cold at Aliso/Wood Canyons as I headed up Aliso Canyon for the toughest trail in the park:  Mentally Sensitive (AKA Psycho Path). I knew I was going to run some kind of “big loop” around the park, probably 12 to 13 miles.  I should point out, because I think it’s so important with running, that I never, EVER think about the end of the run.  Never does such a thought as “Only 8 more miles to go,” run through my head.  Instead, I just try and “BE.”  Simply “BE” where I am, experience the mile I’m in.  This way, I don’t have to stress over the difficulty that faces me.  Instead I get to enjoy where I’m running.   

On the way to Mentally Sensitive, I spotted a bobcat meandering along the paved trail that runs up the canyon.  Too far for a picture, I ventured into tickville (the area of tall grass where ticks are sure to latch onto flesh passing by).  I didn’t want to full-out run through the pasture for a better picture of the wildcat, as I was certain that would scare him away.  Therefore, I slowly stepped through the grass (allowing more time for ticks to cling on).  I didn’t get 15 steps in when the cat darted off into the brush.  Though I didn’t get a good picture, my eyes did behold  the beauty of the beast.  Imagine a cat the size of a medium size dog.  This one was striped with dark and light brown fur.  

Running up Mentally Sensitive was a glorious chore.  Rain began to fall about a quarter of the way up when I was already sweating buckets.  I didn’t worry about the rain too much – the only thing I would really worry about is the rangers closing the park.  I figured since I was already running trails, I would get some kind of loop in. 

Loving Mental Sensitive:

I worked hard running up Mentally Sensitive.  And where it got ridiculously steep, I forced myself to stop running and power hike instead.  I need to learn to power hike better.  This habit that I have of forcing myself to “run” up even the steepest terrain isn’t doing much good at this point.  I believe it’s making me physically stronger, but it’s also training me to run slowly and not to hike quickly. 

When I reached the top of Mentally Sensitive, I phoned my husband to tell him my son’s punishment.  It came to me running up Psycho-Path that I needed five written paragraphs on “respect” from our boy.  Hubby liked the idea but suggested a re-write of the three pages of the black belt rules he had broken instead.  I agreed.  (Our son is second degree black belt, only a few months away from third degree – disrespecting anyone, especially your elders, is an egregious action for the black belt).

Scenes from Mentally Sensitive when the punishment popped into my head:

The sun came out in abundance as I ran along the ridge.  I thought to myself, “Some early heat training eh?  Bring it on!”  I stopped shortly at Top of the World, took a few photos, and ran off on a detour onto Park Avenue Nature Trail.  Utterly lost in my own world, I didn’t realize that I had ran into a swarm of bees making their way across the trail.  I looked up for no particular reason, and aghast at the literally thousands of bees, I wasn’t sure what to do.  First I ducked.  Then I stepped back.  Then I fumbled for my camera.  By the time I retrieved my camera, the bees were busily on their way across Laguna Canyon. 

Top of the World:

I felt good, happy as I made my way toward Cholla Trail.  When I arrived, I did not think “Five miles left!”  No way.  Instead, I thought, “I get to run DOWN Cholla – Yay!”  I won’t lie.  I did look at my garmin to make sure I had enough time to finish off the run, get some groceries and home in time to get ready for work.  I didn’t stress over my pace though.  Today’s run wasn’t  a training run.  It was a fun run.

Running down Cholla Trail:

View of Wood Canyon from Cholla:

As I ran into Wood Canyon the heat was sweltering.  A cool breeze came in once in a while.  But overall, the canyon seemed to trap in the heat.  It was oh so beautiful too.  And fun.  I finished off this run a bit tired, but I ran it ALL THE WAY IN, totaling 13.53 miles today (21.77 km)

Shade at last in Wood Canyon:

My Activities big loop clockwise aliso woods 4-25-2012, Elevation - Distance

Tonight the rain pours down upon our rooftop. Smile

ps.  no ticks.


  1. What about beatings? Are beatings out of the question? (I kid, I swear).

    Someday, when I'm NOT training every Saturday, I'm totally joining one of those group runs posted on FB. So pretty.

    1. I so hope that I make one of the runs on FB that you join.

      Spankings just do not work for my boys, Giraffy. In fact, LoL, they actually ask for and prefer spankings. Weird.

  2. Great run and write-up Lauren! Excellent training. I do lots of power hiking during ultra runs and practice it a lot as well.

    1. Thanks again Johann. I always appreciate your comments. I've been adding more and more power hiking on the steepest portions of my runs. With a 50 miler coming in October, I know I'd better come up with a technique that works for me. Thanks again!

  3. You should post the essay on Facebook! Spring soccer is almost over, we'll get some saddleback runs in soon.

    1. I shutter to think what would happen if I posted it on Facebook. LOL. I just recently came up with the best punishment, I'll have to tell you about it on our next Saddleback run! Good luck at the OC Marathon Jeremy. : )

  4. Hello Lauren,

    Just wanted to say hi. I recently discovered your blog as I was researching trail running here in orange county. Your pictures are great! They remind me that it's ok to forget about my pace and time and just enjoy the moment and the beauty around use. Funny thing was that I was just running through Aliso Woods yesterday too around noon. I ran into those same bee swarm as I was going up Cholla. Hope they weren't african! And yes it was hot and muggy down in the canyon. Hope to run into you sometime out there. Have a great run!

    - Hung

    1. Thanks Hung for stopping by and commenting!! Those bees definitely gave me a little scare. A sting by one bee, no big deal. But a swarm? Yikes!

      We could have very well passed by each other on this day. At the top of Cholla (heading down) I looked at my garmin, and though I have it to read time elapsed and not actual time, I believe that it was about 11:40 am.

      Thanks again for commenting.

  5. Not only did you see the bobcat and not freak out, you tried to move in closer for a picture? Holy crap you are brave!

    I love that last picture of you. You look so dang happy.

    1. Thanks Khourt. I really love that last picture too. And I was dang happy. BUT, I'm really not that brave. I just know bobcats, their habitat and their behavior, so my fear has turned into awe. : )