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