TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Now, That’s MUCH Better!

Confession:  Sometimes I wear a knee brace for no reason at all.  Like right now, I’m sitting in front of the t.v. in my pajamas, my knees feel great.  Then I looked to my gym bag, saw the brace and pulled it up beneath my pant leg up to my left knee.  What’s up with that? 

Today, I was scheduled for another ten mile run.  After yesterday’s hellish heat run, I’m surprised I made it out to the trails.  I felt a bit fatigued at first, but that was probably because I hit the dirt at 7:00 AM.  Ahhhhh, what a difference – overcast skies, lots of trees and plenty of fluids.  Now, that’s much, much better!

You can see from my pictures how very fortunate I was (& am). Smile

Running Cave Rock Trail in the morning, not a soul in sight:

Lovely Cave Rock Trail:

Frolicking through the woods on my way to Dripping Cave:

Can never resist a picture in Dripping Cave (AKA Robber’s Cave):

A Dudleya’s bloom along Dripping Cave:

A favorite spot along Dripping Cave Trail that I usually run up instead of down – I don’t think I ran it much faster going down:

Ending up Dripping Cave Trail to meet up with Mathis Trail (one trail here that I usually avoid running up):

Running up Mathis, which isn’t so bad, ESPECIALLY after yesterday’s run:

Top of the World in sight from Mathis Trail:

About to descend again beneath the clouds as I run down Meadows Trail:

Elevation Profile – and what a delightful profile she was:My Activities Up Mathis down Meadows 6-28-2012, Elevation - Distance

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Trabuco Creek Trail / Trabuco Ridge Hellishly Hot Out-And-Back

I didn’t plan on heat training today.  But I get off work at noon now, so there’s always that possibility – especially if you do what I did.  I drove to the nearest trails after work, which are significantly inland from my usual trails, and after the initial semi-interesting Trabuco Creek Trail, I began a steep rolling hill adventure that was hot as hell.  I’m telling you!  For many of my ten miles this afternoon, there was not a tree in sight. 

The only good thing that came out of my run today was that I saw an old student riding his bike on Trabuco Creek Trail.  And this is what I said while running after him, “Um!  Um!!  I know you!  Excuse me!  What’s your name?  I know you!!”

(Duh!!! I was a little speechless, you might say).  Anyway, he finally stopped his bike, and I could not for the life of me remember this very good and respectful student’s name.  I said, “Do you remember me?”  I’m sure I looked completely different in my running attire and gear compared to how he was used to seeing me.  (He looked the same – it’s only been a year after all).  Well, he said he remembered me,  told me his name and shook my hand.  So polite.  Good news, he graduated this year.  So there you have it!  Something good always seems to come out of a run.  Even though I had a pretty miserable run, it was definitely worth it.  I love seeing old students, especially this one!

Starting off on Trabuco Creek Trail:

More of Trabuco Creek Trail:

Crossing over to Trabuco Ridge Trail:

Running up Trabuco Ridge Trail:

Weeeeeeeeee!

Is it time to turn around yet???

Ahhhhhh.  Santiago Peak straight ahead:

I drank every single ounce of my 64 fluid ounces on this run.  I don’t think I’ll be returning anytime soon – at least not in the summertime:My Activities East Trabuco - Trabuco Ridge outandback 6-27-2012, Elevation - Distance

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Glad I Did It

With the regular school year over, my hours have changed.  I’m now a teacher in a different program (same school district) called Academic Intervention.  AND I teach mornings.  That of course means that my running schedule has been turned upside down.  But I can deal . . .  I can deal. 

A short run scheduled for today, I packed the truck with running gear with the plan to hit trails nearby my classroom after work.  Turns out, hubby had a meeting and I had to get home A.S.A.P. to pick up our oldest son from his “job.”  I put “job” in quotes because he doesn’t work for pay.  As a second degree black belt, he’s in a “leadership” program which entails teaching, and this week, helping out in a taekwondo summer camp.  ANYWAY, this all put my run off until early evening.  Not good.  Not good at all.  I literally lay on the couch for hours while our youngest sons recovered from a late night sleepover, by playing video games in my room.  By the time I was cleared to run, I didn’t want to run.  It was 4 o’clock.   I was really more into moping than running.  My husband though, quite strongly, INSISTED that I go.  He did not insist for selfish reasons.  He insisted because he knows what’s best for me.  And quite frankly, most of the time I don’t.

Well!  I was a bit perturbed by his “attitude,” so I wasn’t going to do my “short” run around town.  I got on the freeway I drove to some trails.  Then in the glorious dry-ish heat, I ran into Wood Canyon.  Then I ran up a short little single-track called Cholla to West Ridge.  I took a call from my boss while running up and down West Ridge, as I ran in and out of cell service.  Finally getting business relayed, I took off faster for a hardly run to Top of the World in Laguna Beach.

I’m glad I did it.  Rather, I’m glad my husband pushed me out the door.

Running West Ridge in my whitey-whites:

View of the Pacific Ocean from a freshly groomed Park Avenue Nature Trail:

A pose at Top of the World:

Heading back to truck with view of Saddleback Mountains (Santiago & Modjeska Peaks are the two highest peaks in picture):

Recently bulldozed “Good Girls Don’t” – no more gullies and ruts Sad smile:

My Activities Cyn Vistas out and back to top of the world 6-26-2012, Elevation - Distance

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Grateful

I woke to my alarm at 4:30 AM, after finding a difficult time falling asleep.  I needed to get out early so that I wasn’t not gone all day.  My boys don’t like when I’m away all day. 

Today, I scheduled my 20 miles for The Saddleback Mountains, running all but one trail that I will run in Twin Peaks.  Thing is, Twin Peaks runs them twice.  I can’t possibly find the time to run them twice.  Besides that, mileage like that isn’t in the training plan. 

I absolutely love running in The Saddleback Mountains.  But I was a little more serious than usual today.  I wanted to see how I timed on these trails.  I met with a group of three other runners, and we took off together up Holy Jim, all with different training goals.  Kurt R. was going for an awesome ten mile out-and-back up Holy Jim.  Cris and Keith, while going to the peak, were going for more mileage than I (Cris is training for the AC 100, Keith is his pacer).  Still worried about my knee, I told the guys not to wait for me, that they should run their pace, I know these mountains and will be fine.  Besides, the mountains were relatively crowded with hikers. 

Me, Kurt, Keith and Cris at Holy Jim parking lot in Trabuco Canyon:

Holy Jim was breathtaking, as usual.  It was green, full of blossoms, and the best part – my knee caused no problem.  I was so worried about my left knee.  If walking up steps at home caused so much pain two days ago, how was running up a mountain going to affect my knee?  I am so, so grateful that the problem is apparently gone. 

Scenes of Holy Jim’s beauty:

My best time running up Holy Jim is 1:42.  I’ve hit it only once.  Today, I hit it again.  Recovering quickly, I soon slowed my pace climbing the Main Divide toward Santiago Peak.  My best time making it to Santiago Peak from the Holy Jim parking lot is 3 hours.  I’ve made it in 3 hours a few times.  Most often, I reach it in over 3 hours.  Today, I hit Santiago Peak in 2:50. YAY!!! 

Even though I kept my own pace, I met up with the guys in a couple places after losing sight of them.  I came upon Kurt on my way up, and his way down Holy Jim.  And about a mile away from Santiago Peak, I came up on Eric and Keith as they ran down.  These guys are all amazing runners.

On The Main Divide, headed toward Santiago Peak:

The gnats attack.  They don’t bother me anymore now that I practice nasal breathing:  ,

Santiago Peak:

After a brief stop at Santiago Peak, I ran down the Main Divide, and ran a lovely single track named Upper Holy Jim.  It’s pretty technical at times, and I believe I could have run it quicker.  But I was still a little reluctant about my knee, especially on down hills.  I enjoyed the gorgeous views.  And with nostalgia, I remembered pacing my friend Hank at last year’s Twin Peaks as we ran down Upper Holy Jim.  We ran down it so dang fast, and in the dark – I don’t know how we did it with no falls. 

Upper Holy Jim:

Off Upper Holy Jim, I ran The Main Divide once again.  I still had power in my legs, plus the spirit to run.  Plenty of people drove by riding motorcycles.  A few passed in trucks.  I came across a couple hikers, but no runners.  Then came the climb to Trabuco Peak.  I knew that’s a tough climb, and there’s plenty room over the next four months to quicken my pace on that mile or so up hill.  The five plus miles from Indian Truck Trail (a trail that hits The Main Divide from Corona) to West Horse Thief took F O R E V E R.    But it always takes forever.   At least nowadays, I’m not fooled by false summits (those are so hard on the mental game). 

Plagued by fatigue when I reached West Horse Thief, I ran it with caution.  The trail was eroded more than usual.  And the rocks rolled beneath my feet running that steep switchback down to the canyon.  I knew Cris and Keith didn’t run West Horse Thief and probably took Trabuco because I was breaking spider webs all the way down the trail. 

 West Horse Thief:

I was not physically tired more than I was mentally tired during the final miles of today’s run.  I ran Trabuco Trail at a careful pace, as I had already tripped once.  Back at home, I recorded all my times in my Twin Peaks notebook.  And using crude calculations, assuming nothing goes terribly wrong, based on today’s performance, I would finish Twin Peaks (which has 17,000’ of elevation gain) in 15:20.  The course time limit is 16:30.  Still, I want to cut 1:05 off that 15:20.  I’ve got 4 months.  Can I do it???  I don’t know.  But I’m gonna try. 

Trabuco Trail:

Today’s elevation profile:My Activities Holy Jim to Peak down West Horsethief 6-23-2012, Elevation - DistanceMy Activities Holy Jim to Peak down West Horsethief 6-23-2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Injured?

Something is definitely going on.  Injured?  I am not gonna say it.  I believe that I do not have a repetitive-use injury, which to me is a good thing.  It does not hurt to run.  I feel no pain walking on level ground.  But I feel severe and sudden pain in the center and left side of my left knee when I walk up steps, stepping up first with the left leg.  When I step up first with the right leg, I have no pain when I follow with the left leg.  Weird.  I feel that same pain when I release the emergency brake in my truck.  And I feel that pain when I bend or straighten my left leg.  I also feel it when I lift my left leg from a sitting position.  Yet, as I already mentioned, I can run fine (which rules out IT band syndrome – plus I’ve dealt with that so many times, I’d know if I were dealing with it again). 

I ran this morning in fact, a short run as scheduled per my training plan. I had no pain before this run.  I pretty much rushed it, because today was the last day of school for our two youngest boys.  I wanted to get back to school in time for the last day festivities.  I worked on my up hill speed, as usual.  I really pushed it on the downhill, often having to bank off the trail’s slanted side to keep my speed up.  Perhaps my leg was at the wrong angle when I pounded down on Cholla. 

I’m not calling myself injured YET.  Yes, I’m wearing a knee brace.  And yes, I have iced.  No, I have not taken any pain relievers (except for wine).  And yes, I have foam rolled.  I felt a bit of tightness in the lower quads of both legs, a little more so in the left leg.  Time will tell.  Tomorrow is a rest day, though I’m taking our boys skateboarding and biking.   But overall, it’s a rest day.

Dainty white flowers that lined the single tracks along West Ridge this morning:

Running the back on this out-and-back to Top of the World (& I really think that I look like a boy here, but I didn’t have any pictures from today’s run where I looked less like a boy and more like a girl : ( )

My Activities cyn vistas out-and-back to top of the world 6-21-2012, Elevation - Distance

May your runs be merry this weekend!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Wanna Loop

The plan read ten miles for today.  With little gas and little cash I headed off to the closest trails – yes, Aliso/Wood Canyons.  Thing is, I don’t have a 10 mile loop there.  I have a 9, 9.5, 11.5, 12.5, 13, and 13.5 loop, but no 10 mile loop.  Sure I could have run an out-and-back, five miles out, five miles back.  Thing is, I’m a loopy lady.  I wanted a loop. 

Aside from preferring loops, I’m a bit lazy.  I know that sounds a little weird.  How can someone be lazy who runs all these miles?  Believe it.  It can happen.  Take this case for example.  Even though I know the mileage of every trail in Aliso/Wood Canyons, I guessed (once again) a ten mile loop instead of actually adding the mileage.  Adding, boy that’s tough!  : )

I didn’t want to run laps around the parking lot when I was finished to make my run ten miles.  I didn’t want to run any add-ons and end up on some scary trail like last time I tried to make a ten mile loop in this park.  So I was sure to guess a loop that was at least ten miles, at most a quarter to half mile over. 

Turns out I ran a 11.28 mile loop.  And I finished it up strong.  Yes, I am gradually seeing improvement in my strength and a little in my speed.  I’m still am on the hunt for a good ten mile loop though.  Good thing is, today I got to run one of my all time favorites, Meadows Trail, and I also ran up to Top of the World.    And at the very end of my run (with about a mile to go) the cutest little weasel stuck his head above ground right in front of me.  We made eye contact.  I snapped a picture, and then he was gone, back in his hole.

My routine picture:

Running up Meadows Trail:

Top of the Meadows Trail overlooking the Pacific Ocean:

Salty & sweaty at Top of the World:

Rock It Trail:

Coyote Run Trail:

Pop goes the Weasel:

My Activities Meadows, Rock it Loop 6-20-2012, Elevation - Distance

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Back on Hard Week

Don’t you love it when you go out of your way to use an outhouse (it is after all, usually pretty gross in there) and you end up peeing all over your shorts, and a little on your leg too?  That’s how my run started off today.  It’s happened before.  It’ll happen again.  The bushes are a much better choice – in the brush I don’t need to spend so much energy trying not to touch anything.  Instead, I just look out for snakes. 

I’m back on “Hard Week”  of my training plan, which isn’t much different from “Easy Week.”  Yes, it’s more mileage.  But with “Hard Week” AND “Easy Week,” I run 5 days a week.  I’m a 3 to 4 days-a-week runner.  Rarely do I run 5 days a week.    Five days or not though, I truly am enjoying myself.  With four months to go however, I feel I’ve got way more than four months worth of fitness improvement ahead of me.  I’ve got to move it, move it, move it!!

So!  “Hard Week,” yes.  But today was “Short.”  Don’t get me wrong.  Short does not mean easy.  But it does mean FUN!

My Running Adventure to Top of the World this morning:

Miles run today:  6.36 (10.24 km)