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Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Candy Store Run

In preparation for Old Goat 50 this March, I left early this morning for a drive up the mountain to run what we call “The Candy Store Run.”  It’s named this because either the beginning, or the middle of the route, is across the highway from The Candy Store up Ortega Highway in the Cleveland National Forest.  This route is approximately the first twenty miles of Old Goat.  It’s single track, it’s technical, and even the downhill is hard, very hard. 

Since I parked across from The Candy Store I ran approximately miles 10 through 20 first, then turned around and ran miles 1 through 10 of Old Goat.  To run the route correctly would have meant driving several more miles and parking near a Big Baz trail race event today.  I was in the mood for some solo running this morning.  And solo running I got for a long, long time.

I found the “hard” part (mainly uphill) quite pleasant this morning.  The air was still cold and the scenery was breathtaking.  I felt strong the entire way into Lower Blue Jay campground.  

Running San Juan Loop down into canyon:

Chiquita Trail:

A stop at Chiquita Falls (which was dry).  I spent some minutes here, which won’t happen in the race.  (However, I must get in and out of the aid stations quickly come March!):

I entered Blue Jay Campground toward the end of Baz’s race.  I ran the opposite way as several worn-out runners.  Some were bloody and bruised (and bandaged), one lady was even holding her wrist up as if it was sprained or broken.  I also saw a running friend, John H. in the campground after he finished up a solo 20 miler.  Even though I didn’t stop by the Start/Finish, I could hear Baz’s voice booming through the mountains.  Sounded like a fun time.  Though the race was only a 12k, I could have benefited from it for speed training.  But I really needed to do this Candy Store Run.  I wanted to make sure that I could make it with enough time to complete the remaining 30 miles.

Turns out I ran this extremely difficult terrain in 6 hours, the absolutely longest I can take and maybe finish the 50 miler.  I did stop at the falls.  I also talked with John a bit.  Then on the final stretch back in I was stopped by nearly every group of hikers coming in (at least 4 different groups).  Now, I feel an obligation to be kind to strangers, and an even stronger obligation to answer their questions when they don’t know where they are, and I do.  I would HATE IT if I brushed off a hiker and he/she ended up lost.

One young woman hiking with her boyfriend asked me with despair in her voice, “How much longer til the end?”  There’s that question again.  Exactly WHERE IS THE END?  (Giggle, giggle).

I stopped.  “Where are you going?”

“Chiquita Falls.”

I couldn’t do the math quick enough using my garmin, and I really wanted to get going.  So, I asked, “How far have you travelled?” 

“About an hour,” the woman responded.

(Hardy laugh inside my head, but a wide smile on my face)  Time on the trails gives me absolutely no information.  When I talk about driving, I always talk in time.  For example, “It’s an hour drive.”  But not when it comes to running trails.

“I mean, how many miles?”

Her boyfriend told me that they had gone about 2 1/2 miles to which I responded, “Well then, you are half way there!”  He smiled at his girlfriend and gave her a reassuring hug. 

With about a mile remaining, and out of water for a while, three guys stopped me and asked, “Is there a peak or something somewhere around here?” 

I grinned, almost laughing looking up at all the peaks in the mountains.  Then (with a giggle to myself), I said, “Santiago Peak is about 30 miles away.”  I could tell they wanted to hike to a place of interest.  So, I told them about Chiquita Falls and how to get there.  Then as they marched off I noticed that each of them held ONE water bottle about half full.  “You don’t have enough water!” I yelled back.  I pointed to the ridge they’d have to go over and noted that it was exposed.  They’d never make it.  Good thing they believed me.  When I told them about the much shorter loop back to the parking lot, they said that sounded better.

We’re in the 80’s F here now in California.  When I arrived to my truck I was parched!  Without water for a mile or two, I couldn’t wait to get to the coconut waters in much truck that I had frozen the night before.  I felt for sure they’d be warm by then.  Turned out they were still frozen solid.  Desperate, I ran across the street to The Candy Store.  It smelled sickly sweet of freshly baked cookies and muffins.  I grabbed a water and a diet coke, swiped my debit card, and the total came to $4.85!!!!  Now if you have read my blog on occasion, you may have deduced if I haven’t already downright written it, I AM POOR.  There’s no way I’d ever pay that much for those two drinks (24 packs of cokes or water cost around $6 to $7).  Then the friendly cashier said that debit cards had a FIVE DOLLAR minimum.  “Would you like to add a cookie?”  The thought of a cookie made me want to vomit.  So, I added a small bag of candies for my sons’ dessert tonight and my total came to over $7.  Moral of the story – FILL UP ON WATER WHEN I GET TO BLUE JAY CAMPGROUND.  I had the chance, but I didn’t.  To make my mistake more stupid, I ran out of water after not re-filling at Blue Jay the last time I ran The Candy Store Run. 

Despite the water thing, I loved this run.  BUT, I really must do it faster.  Like an hour faster!!!  I want some time to spare for the next 30 miles.

Today’s profile Red rose:

Running Candy Store Loop 1-19-2013, Elevation - DistanceRunning Candy Store Loop 1-19-2013

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