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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Back in the Saddle

I love not training!  I got out on the trails this morning and I did not think about negative splits, pace or how I need to improve.  I merely had a set number of hours that I got to “play” in the wilderness.

I took off on Aliso Creek Trail with the creek to my left flowing heavier than usual.  My calves started off stiff on this partially paved trail.  I stopped about 3/4’s of a mile in to stretch.  Onward I ran toward Wood Canyon, never to feel that stiffness in my calves the remainder of today’s run.  The skies were deep blue with white puffy clouds.  The weather was perfectly cool.  I barely grew warm enough to roll up the sleeves of my new Twin Peaks shirt. 

With no route planned today, I ran an old favorite, Cave Rock Trail.  I noticed an amazingly blue bird flutter in the leaves.  And then a reddish-brown hawk flew above.  But I couldn’t get my camera out quick enough for a picture.  So, I merely got back into the moment and kicked into a grove on the downhill back into Wood Canyon. 

Cave Rock dumped me out back onto Wood Canyon Trail.  I startled a female runner when I popped out onto the trail.  It’s easy to miss Cave Rock.  Even when you notice the trail, you aren’t apt to take it.  From appearances it doesn’t look like much of a trail, more like a little trip around a big rock.  Runners can’t see that the rock goes on and on.  It took me a few years to finally run it. 

From Wood Canyon, I made one creek crossing, then took Mathis Trail.  But I didn’t take that sharp incline to the ridge.  Instead, I ran another little unknown trail called Nature Loop.  It’s a magical single-track, ridgeline trail with tremendous views of all the main thoroughfares.  Nature Loop is one of those trails where you can see everything, but no one can see you. 

Creek Crossing on Mathis Trail: 

Nature Loop:  Going up . . .

Nature Loop (perhaps the best kept secret in the park) dumps out onto Coyote Run Trail.  I love Coyote Run, but sometimes it bores me with its length.  This is where Nature Loop helps.  It cuts off about half of Coyote Run. 

I saw my second person on the trails today on Coyote Run – he was a mountain biker.  We approached head-on.  I moved to the right.  He did the same.  I love it when it all works! 

Coyote Run:

Coyote Run dumps back out onto Wood Canyon Trail.  I didn’t see any other person and enjoyed running the canyon to its end.  Then I ran up Cholla Trail to West Ridge.  I picked up my speed on West Ridge, so happy to finally run trails for the sake of running trails.  Lovely! 

I didn’t summit today.  Why?  Because I didn’t want to.  No, not really.  I didn’t have the time.  Instead, I blasted down Mathis, to make this an 11 mile run and get back in time to stretch and drive home in time to shower and dress for work.

I love runs like these.

A quick stop on West Ridge to “point out” Saddleback Mountains:

Elevation profile:  I opted for a gradual climb to the ridge.  Really . . . I’m serious:Running Back in the Saddle 10-23-2012, Elevation - Distance


  1. Great run! I'm glad to "see" you so happy out there. I love those trails where no one can see you.

  2. I love those trails too Johann! We are alike, yet you have been a runner for so many years, and I have only discovered trails in my 40's. It's kind of funny because I used to have a re-occurring dream, all through my youth, that I was running and running and running all around the world . . . and I loved it. I woke thinking, "What the heck???"