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Saturday, July 14, 2012

In Way Over My Head

I set my phone alarm last night for 4:30 AM.  As I tossed and turned trying to sleep while the whole house was awake, I made a decision.  My decision was, no Bulldog 50k this year.  This is not the year of redemption for my (so far) only DNF.  This is the year of Twin Peaks, and I’m doing all I can just to finish that 50 miler. I don’t think a preoccupation on Bulldog is the best for me.  

Today’s training plan dictated 22 miles.  Being the middle of summer here in the U.S.,  I’m finding difficulty training for a big fall race, being that it’s so dang hot.  It’s especially difficult when that race is set in the mountains. 

22 miles the plan said, 22 miles I ran.  And after all the heat and torture that I went through, I’d have to say that the best thing that came out of today’s training is that I didn’t die.  Seriously!  And oh ya, I didn’t fall.  Oh, and I didn’t get heat stroke.  Most of all, this run showed me that I’ve got A LONG WAY TO GO and that I have once again bitten off more than I can chew.

So, how do I run a 22 mile suffer-fest in the local mountains on a scorcher of a day without turning around and walking/crawling back to the car?

First off, I left early (but still not early enough).  Secondly, I broke the run into parts.  Without parts I could have never done this run. 

Before “The Parts” / Holy Jim Parking Lot:

About 5:45 AM, coating myself with sunscreen, then putting on a warmer shirt (ha, ha).

Ready to go (the lot is empty except for my truck).

Part 1: Holy Jim Trail (from lot to top, Bear Springs, 5 miles):

The run through the forest was muggy, lots of gnats.  In order to keep the gnats out of my eyes, I wore sunglasses, which meant I pretty much ran in the dark during the first 1.5 miles or so.

Going up on this giant switch-back, back and forth, back and forth.

Part 2: The Main Divide to Santiago Peak (approx. 2.5 miles):

Though only a short distance, this portion was excruciating, especially after the Holy Jim trip.  Besides the steep terrain, I got gnats, biting (horse?) flies and mostly exposed trail (meaning SUN and more SUN).

Running with my training friends THE GNATS.  They’re with me, so that in October when they’re gone, it will seem easier.

A view from Santiago Peak, above the clouds:

Trying for a different kind of pose (okay, you can laugh – I had to think quick!)

Part 3:  Santiago Peak, Main Divide, Upper Holy Jim to Main Divide over to Indian Truck Trail (approx. 5 miles):

Running back to the towers at Santiago (“Talking”) Peak.

Running Upper Holy Jim had lots of tricky and rocky terrain, but at last some shade!  I concentrated so hard on the rocks and not tripping, that once I turned a corner and nearly screamed when I suddenly came upon father and son hikers resting upon some boulders.

Back on the Main Divide, the heat was beginning to wear me down.

Part 4: Indian Truck Trail (In it’s entirety this trail is 6.5 miles one-way, I ran 1.25 down, 1.25 back up today):

Though this part was also short, I found it very difficult.  Even my downhill pace was SLOW.  Really.  I ran through an oven on this trail.  And I also saw the only two runners I would see on this long run.

Heading back up Indian Truck Trail posing before Lilium pardalinum (Panther Lily):

Part 5: Indian Truck Trail to West Horsethief (approx. 3 miles):

These approximate 3 miles were very slow.  However, I was only fooled once by a “false summit.”  Good news, I’m getting to know this mainly uphill portion of The Main Divide.

Part 6: Down West Horsethief, Trabuco Trail back to Holy Jim parking lot (approx. 5 miles):

West Horsethief at last!!  From here it was downhill, a very steep and rocky downhill for the first mile or so.  Then an in and out of shade (forest/desert/forest/desert, etc) for the remainder of the run back to the Holy Jim lot.

West Horsethief comes to an end.

Trabuco, wonderful Trabuco!

I did not gain much confidence on this run.  Rarely did I feel strong.  Mostly I felt doomed when it comes to Twin Peaks.  I tried not to think of that too much though.  I mainly thought, “one foot in front of the other.”   Forget what I said above about the best thing that came out of this run.  The best thing that came out of this run was that I did it. 

My Activities up Holy Jim to peak, upper Holy Jim, ITT, Main Divide, Horsethief 7-14-2012, Elevation - Distance


  1. And you asked me to go on this with you! LOL. Great job Lauren, I know how tough that run is even without the gnats and heat.

    1. But Jeremy, you missed out on all the fun! : ) I have 10 miles I supposed to run today. Don't know how I'm going to do it. Won't be a mountain run for sure.