Day two of “hard” week (Wednesday) rolled around and I rolled myself out of bed. I felt sore from head to toe, particularly my quads and my arms. Looking back, I could have probably gotten through the scheduled run, or at least part of it. I felt more than anything that I really needed a day of recovery. So, I allowed myself the day off, on the condition that I wouldn’t beat myself up all day for missing the run. In order to accomplish that, I cleaned house big time, worked on laundry, read and napped.
Wednesday was supposed to be 14 miles and Thursday was scheduled for ten. I flip-flopped that so that I would not run too much behind, and set off for 14 miles in the Saddleback Mountains this morning (Thursday A.M.)
It was still dark as I sat in my truck in my driveway. The only reason I didn’t change plans and head for a coastal hills run was because I was too lazy to turn off the car, open up the house and tip-toe in to change the note I left my husband. (I leave him a note with the trails I’ll be running in case something happens. And I don’t stray from my note.)
Last night I looked forward to the time alone in the mountains today. But the closer I got to the mountains, the more I fretted their difficulty. The Holy Jim parking lot was empty when I took off running up Trabuco Trail. The sun had risen and the gnats soon discovered me running alone through the canyon.
Quickly into this run the gnats swarmed around my head. Now, I’m usually one to tell people, “You need to accept the gnats. Then it will be better.” I usually run pretty carefree through the creatures, especially now that I breathe through my nose. This morning however, they swarmed my head like I was their hive. They flew up my nose. They landed on my eyeballs. They psyched me out so much, I lost my groove. I looked to the ground too much, and somehow tweaked my knee along the way.
I felt like from afar you couldn’t see my head. All you could see was a swarm of these tiny gnats buzzing, buzzing, buzzing. I wanted to plop to the dirt and cry. Seriously. But to do that would mean remaining with the gnats. I needed to get up West Horse Thief a bit before they left me, that much I figured.
Needless to say, those dang gnats didn’t get me to West Horse Thief any quicker. In fact, they sucked the time right out of me. They pretty much sucked everything out of me. I didn’t look forward to my run anymore. I even thought about turning around on Trabuco and heading back to the truck. But, that would mean that I’d have to run through more gnats. I wasn’t looking forward much to climbing West Horse Thief either. However, I managed to run onward, slowly albeit, but run nonetheless.
I ran the Main Divide feeling glorious. The gnats forgot about me for several miles. I didn’t see a single other person for a long time. Finally, I spotted a cyclist off in the distance. As we approached each other I was surprised to see that this lone rider was a woman! A half mile or so later, I saw another cyclist (perhaps her boyfriend or husband), struggling to keep up with the lady. Later, a dirt biker passed me as I grinded the dirt toward Holy Jim Trail.
I ran that five miles down Holy Jim eager to get back. Eleven other hikers made their way up in various groups. It was a lovely trip for me (hopefully for them too, but their faces revealed a great struggle). Though lovely, it was a long, long trip. And I’m oh, so glad I made it – gnats and all (and they were sure to greet me toward the bottom of Holy Jim)