TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

click on any picture in a post for a larger view

Monday, December 31, 2012

It is done

Well, 2012 is about over.  My running goal of hitting 2,012 miles is complete.  Though I have left so many things undone (yes, I’m a perfectionist and expect way more from myself than I can deliver), I did deliver my running mileage.  Friends and family have been overly congratulatory for my success.  Funny thing is, I don’t feel especially successful over this mileage.  But I won’t get into all that psychology right now.  Success of the 2,012 miles isn’t what I take to heart.  What I love most about the 2,012 miles are the experiences, the times spent in the moment, and most of all the friends I’ve run with and met on the run. 

I ran my fewest races this year in my short running career.  But what a year it has been – a blessed running year.  I ran with Steve, Conrado, Dave, Hank, Alison, John, Janine, Jeremy, Mark, Greg, Daniel, Robert, Michael, Sherree, Jessica, Cody, Cris, Kelly, Judi, Matt, Lisa, Patty, Kurt R., Kurt E., to name just a few.  I ran in the desert, on the beach, in the mountains, in the coastal hills and I bushwhacked.  I ran in 107 degree weather, in the snow, in freezing weather, in hail and in rain.  I ran on dirt, on sand, on rocks; I ran on asphalt, and in the mud.  I’ve fallen at least half a dozen times.  I’ve broken skin, nails, even a crown, but thankfully no bones.  I had plantar fasciitis, throbbing toes.  I’ve been lost, I’ve run off the trail and I’ve broken at least three cameras.  I’ve gone through hundreds of dollars in Nuun tablets and gels.  I discovered KT tape.  I DNF’d for the first time since 2010, and I lived through it.  I ran up on bobcats, weasels, tarantulas, beetles, snakes, birds like Blue herons and Road Runners, scrawny coyotes, and big scary ones, deer, and even prior students.  I’ve cried on the trail, I’ve laughed, I’ve cussed and threw mini-tantrums, but best off all I’ve hollered with joy.  (I’ve also written too many blogs to count, but I am oh, so VERY thankful to the 12,000+ visits in 2012 from 75 countries – love you! and all 50 states plus the District of Columbia in the U.S. – how lucky am I?)

Oh what a running year 2012 has been – all 2,014 miles of it.  Yes, I ran 2 miles past my goal.  I woke this morning feeling like I was in a car accident.  Though I felt fine after my running fall yesterday, this morning, my shoulders throbbed.  Heck my upper body overall ached.  So, I skipped out on an early morning mountain group run that I very much wanted to attend.  The aches and pains nearly vanished by the afternoon.  At two o’ clock, I finally made it out for my last run of the year.  I drove to the closest trail head and ran a 6+ mile out-and-back up one of my favorite trails – Meadows.  This trail was perfect to end 2012.  It reminded me of my old running friend, Tom F., who taught me so much about trails, and without his urging I would have never attempted to actually RUN up Meadows.  And yes, today, I RAN up Meadows, despite the elevation gain you see below.   (Thanks Tom!)

Trails open, despite “wet & muddy conditions.”  Wood Canyon:

This year’s last pose at the Meadows Trailhead:

Meadows turning green in the wintertime:

Climbing Meadows:

Still climbing Meadows, Saddleback Mountains in the far background:

A quick pose over the Pacific Ocean (top of Meadows Trail):

Precisely on the trail when I hit 2,012 miles:

Today’s profile:Running Up Mentally Sensitive down Mathis 12-31-2012, Elevation - Distance

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Closing In

I’m closing in on 2,012 miles for the year.  I’m getting a little beat-up and battered from falls, and I’m not dropping any pounds from the body.  BUT gosh darn it, I’m gonna hit that mileage goal.  And I’m having fun doing it.

It stormed all day yesterday.  Several runners dropped out of today’s scheduled group run for a 17 mile loop in Silverado Canyon.   Four adventurous runners did join me however, for a beautiful loop up Maple Springs Road to Four Corners, along the Main Divide, down Silverado Motorway back to Maple Springs.

The run was delightful.  Snow covered the ground in some places.  In other places, we slipped about on ice. I eventually fell on “black” ice and screamed like a little girl.  Seriously, like a little girl.  I was more stunned than anything else, and a little worried about my sunglasses as they crashed to the hard ice.

Views while climbing Maple Springs (a 7.5 mile ascent):

Time to celebrate at Four Corners:

Left to right:  Me, Janine, Hank, Dave, Conrado:

Moving on along The Main Divide:

Every time I run this loop (which is seldom), I’m always confused just when the Motorway trailhead is going to spring upon us.  It’s like that, suddenly there.  But until then, we’ve got climb after climb, plus some lovely down hills for several miles before we get there.  I think I told everyone today at least 3 times, maybe more (doh!) that “it’s just around the corner.”  New running friend Janine joked, “You say that one more time, I’m going to throw you off the mountain.” 

I hollered with joy when we finally reached The Motorway.  From there it was all downhill (except for that one little hill – LOL).  I took up the rear as usual, then got caught further behind when I needed to duck into the bushes.  Then, as I raced down trying to catch the group, I ate it BIG TIME.  When I say “big time,” I don’t mean that I was terribly hurt.  But I couldn’t fall and roll, which would have meant a lighter impact, for fear that I’d roll right off that single track and off the mountain.  Instead, I hit sprawled-out, face down, landing first on my wrists, then my knees.  I also remember my left elbow slammed down to the ground.  The impact was hard and it jolted me a bit.  Fortunately, I recovered fairly quickly and was off again, my ankle slightly aching from a roll as I went down.

Overall, today’s run was fantastic – great company, scenic views, chilly weather.  A true delight!

Running down the Silverado Motorway:

+4,386 / -4,409’Running Silverado Loop counterclockwise 12-30-2012, Elevation - Distance

Friday, December 28, 2012

Last Minute Run

The boys are still home (I’m still home), all on Christmas break.  During the holidays, I’ve had a variety of rich foods, wines and desserts; it’s all making me lag (In the U.S. as I’m sure elsewhere in the world, we are BIG on food and drink for holidays and celebrations).  I’ll be very happy to get in the groove again, bland foods, lots of vegetables and protein drinks.  I'm not complaining too much.  Celebration is good.  Indigestion is not.  Nor is lethargy, which is what happens with all the celebration food and drink with me.  Not only that, I have a yearly mileage to make.  And not only that, I have this cold that lingers on, and my wrist still hurts from my fall on Joplin.

Today, I slept off and on all day trying to get rid of this cold.  Then I woke and found myself in the midst of a pity-party (anyone noticing a pattern?)  On a whim, I ran out the door this evening and went for a little less than a 6 mile run.  And I was soooo glad that I did. 

The weather was cool, the sunset majestic.  And now, I only have a little over twenty miles remaining to make my yearly goal.

Cheers to running and for all that it does for my heart and soul!

Running the streets for a green belt access down to the marina:

Running through park about to descend down into marina:

Isn’t this a cute boat?

Running along the channel:

Sunset at the marina:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

For the Sake of Mileage

I was right on schedule to run out the door on this cold morning, when I realized that my garmin’s charge was low.  Now, with the new year approaching, I needed to run purely for mileage to get closer to my yearly goal.  The garmin was a little important.   Not terribly.  I just really like not having to measure my run on-line back at home. 

After charging the garmin for about 30 minutes, I couldn’t stand waiting any longer and ran out the door, straight down to the beach.  The weather was bitter cold (for me).  No, there was no snow on the ground, and the temperature was probably above freezing (being that I live at the ocean), but relatively, IT WAS COLD.  I wore sleeves beneath my long sleeves.  I wore a beanie and gloves. 

I crossed the pedestrian bridge for an out-and-back along the Pacific Ocean.  I ran through the campground on both the out and the back.  Campers and cars from much colder states (like Montana and Utah) were parked, and the sites smelled of sizzling bacon.  The only people walking about in the campground were wearing pajamas. 

Crossing the city bridge after a brief warm session running up the stairwells:

Running along Capo/Doheny:

On the back of my first out-and-back I turned off to run underneath the highway.  From there I ran a lonely bike path for another out-and-back that brought me through the Los Rios District.  I got to see several trains pass by.   That still thrills me.  By this time, people were roaming about in The District.  Others were waiting about to catch a train.  I was still cold, kept my beanie on and ran with my cap flapping from my running belt.  Though still cold, my heart warmed when I ran into Los Rios, the oldest neighborhood in California.  I love that place. 

Where San Juan Creek meets the Pacific Ocean and I turn off onto The Bike Path:

The Bike Path (Saddleback Mountains in the background):

Crossing over Trabuco Creek heading for Los Rios District:

Los Rios District:

Finally, I hit trail (East Trabuco Creek) and my feet very gladly got muddy.  I ran up alongside the creek and shared the trail with only one other person – a woman on a horse.  The creek was full and at my crossing I decided to head back.  There was no way for me to cross without getting wet.  And I didn’t want to slip and fall, being alone.  I didn’t miss the opportunity to stop and take some pictures before heading back to my home.  I love how the water roars over the rocks. 

At mile twelve, my garmin stopped.  I noted the location and when I arrived home, I measured the remaining distance on-line, finishing up with a 15 mile run this morning.

Gettin' the feet muddy:

Running above Trabuco Creek:

Trabuco Creek:

A little over twenty-six miles to make my 2012 goal!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It’s Easier in Reverse, Really . . .

Still plugging away miles to make my goal of breaking 2,012 miles of running for the year.  This morning I planned another run to Yaeger Mesa, that extremely difficult run that I made last month, the one that I once again got in way over my head.

My bright idea this morning was to run the Yaeger Mesa route in reverse.  I thought it had to be easier than the counter-clockwise route I took with the guys last month.  Funny thing, it was easier.  But for about a mile there, it became so hellishly difficult in steep, rocky, and muddy climbing, I thought that I might vomit.  Seriously!  During that section, my garmin didn’t even read a pace.  Yaeger Mesa Trail is the most difficult trail I’ve ever climbed.  And I’ve climbed some doozies.  STILL,  a clockwise loop to the mesa was much, much easier, practically an hour easier than counter-clockwise.  (However, I hope I don’t become one of those people that no one wants to run with – not because I’m slow, but because I put them through hell before getting to the prize).

Setting off with Mark Rohren. and Jeremy Howes through Trabuco Canyon on a cold, wet morning:

After Mark turned back for an out-and-back, Jeremy and I began the climb up to the mesa:

One of the very few flats on our way up:

Rain fell down upon us a bit.  I grabbed at branches to help me along.  I stopped to catch my breath more than once.  And then FINALLY, the mesa . . .

After the mesa, we still had some more steep climbing.  It seemed endless.  Then with the clouds so thick, I mistakenly told my friend that we had peaked that it was “all rolling down hills from here on out.”  WRONG.  We had not peaked, and I felt like a dufus.  I hate thinking I’m at the top when I’m not, and then to give that false hope to a running friend.  Doh!

Blue Skies peek through as we run up and down (mainly down) Bell Ridge:Running Yaeger Loop clockwise 12-23-2012

+4,625 / -4,691Running Yaeger Loop clockwise 12-23-2012, Elevation - Distance

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice Run

Christmas is around the corner, and we are the poorest financially than we have EVER been.  At the same time, I sincerely believe we are the most fortunate that we have ever been.  Though we are cramped in a tiny house, we are all close together as we continue to somehow make the mortgage payments.  In such close quarters, I know a little how my children feel, I know what they are doing (because I can see everyone, hear everyone, from practically anywhere in the house) and I know when they need my help. 

Yesterday was my last day of work leading up to Christmas break (two whole weeks!).  Today was the last day of school for our children.  After dropping them all off,  I had just enough time to meet with two lovely ladies for a run on trails on a beautiful blue, crisp morning.  We ran a 14+ mile loop, some of it on Arroyo Trabuco, which I’ve run before.  But, much of today’s trails I have never run.  What a treat!  I love running new trails.  It’s especially nice when someone else knows the way.  That someone else by the way, was Jessica Deline, race director of Twin Peaks.  So I should have known that we were going to do some steep climbing.  Who knew the foot hills had so much elevation.  I need it.  I love it.

After today’ s run, I have 57.43 miles to go to make this year’s goal.  With 9 more days, I’ve got a good chance at making it.

Scenes and the story from today’s run:

Spectacular views from West Ridgeline Trail:

Group photo from left to right:  Sherree, Jessica, Me:

Look at those LOVELY trails ahead:

There she is – Saddleback Mountains:

Taking a wrong turn, we ran down into a scenic paradise:

A STEEP, scenic paradise:

After turning around in search for Arroyo Trabuco, we came upon an unexpected ravine – the joys of trail running:

Arroyo Trabuco at last!:

I had no idea that I was in for this much elevation this morning (I probably should have skipped wine last night):Running Tiejeras Creek Loop 12-21-2012, Elevation - Distance