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Monday, February 18, 2013

More Practice ( and, What was I thinking??????)

I hit the Saddleback Mountains today, driving up before sunrise.  My plan:  run the correct Old Goat first 20 miles.  I had previously missed a turn onto what’s called the Viejo Tie.  And I was also ending this partial practice course on “Old” San Juan Trail instead of “New” San Juan Trail.  The Viejo Tie and the correct ending added about 2 miles to my usual route.

The campsites were full, but quiet as I ran the paved road toward San Juan Trail.  I believe I was the first runner or cyclist to show in Blue Jay.  Not a person stirred.  The weather was cold as I focused on pace, running San Juan Trail without music at first.  It’s an extremely rocky trail, my biggest fear was falling.  In fact, San Juan Trail is the location of one of my biggest trail running falls ever.  Still, I was happy that I made it to the Viejo Tie in good time. 

Running above the clouds on San Juan Trail:

The Viejo Tie added more technical trail (by-passing a milder portion of Chiquita).  So in-tuned and focused, I surprisingly caught the quick left turn I was supposed to take according to the map I closely studied last night.  I ran uphill, then downhill, then uphill, then downhill, again and again, until I worried that I took a wrong turn.  And then FINALLY, I saw it – the Viejo Tie/Chiquita Trail intersection.  At this point, I was still pleased with my time.  Not exhilarated, merely pleased.   

These twenty miles are extremely difficult for me to run.  Some parts are quite technical, at times with boulders blocking the way.  There’s tree roots and tree stumps crossing the trails.  There’s slippery sandy parts.  There’s ruts and crevices.   Thankfully, there’s also lots of shade.

I made Chiquita falls a little disappointed by my time.  But I told myself, “Don’t fret, don’t grow anxious, IT IS WHAT IT IS.”  I had finally controlled my anger over tripping on rocks.  I kinda figured it wasn’t good for the mental game if I yelled out a profanity every  time I tripped on a rock.

Running the San Juan Loop into the parking lot:

I arrived to the turnaround point across from The Candy Store 50 minutes past my best case scenario, 20 minutes past the deadline for making the entire route within the first cutoff back at Blue Jay campground.  To make matters worse, after digging my water jug out of the bushes and refilling, I accidently dumped my entire re-fill.  So, I made it back to the bushes for the jug, refilled the bladder again, dissolved Nuun tablets again, squeezed the air bubbles out again.  I spent 8 minutes at the turnaround.  I didn’t give up the idea of at least trying to make the cut-off, and kicked it in for the most difficult part of the trip.  I ran most of the time, hiked the steepest portions. 

I grew so fatigued toward the end of my climb back, I decided that when I hit the cut-off time, I was going to cut the course and head back to my truck. 

And then, my ipod battery died.  That’s when I heard the breeze.  It sounded like beautiful music to my ears.  The tree leaves rustled in the wind.  And leaves crumpled beneath the squirrels’ tiny feet as they scampered back and forth across the trails.  I didn’t want to leave the trail.  So, I decided to run the whole first part of Old Goat and not cut the course. 

In the end I came in 18 minutes past the cut-off. I’m okay with that.  I’ve got a little time.  Besides, today was the first time I ran the Viejo Tie.  Not only that, I felt good when I finished, like I could run another thirty miles. 

(Still, what was I thinking?????).

Running Candy Store Loop w- viejo tie 2-18-2013, Elevation - DistanceRunning Candy Store Loop w- viejo tie 2-18-2013


  1. Sounds like excellent training indeed. Mmm..that's why I never run with music. Happy training Lauren!

    1. This train is definitely excellent training. On the surface, it doesn't seem so difficult. But it is so difficult!

  2. I admire how dedicated you are to running those trails. I miss tagging along with you! I haven't done nearly enough trail running since moving here. I am living vicariously through you and watching you running those trails I love. Great job!!

    1. Thanks Lisa. I am lucky to have so many trails relatively close to me.

  3. Solid 20 miles Lauren. Looks like one tough trail run. Well done.

    1. It is really tough Hank. Not so much in elevation, but in the technical aspect of the trails.