TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Friday, July 12, 2013

The “New” Out-Of-Shape

It’s a bitch getting back into shape.  It seems much harder getting back into shape than it is getting into shape in the first place.  It feels painstaking now, progress seems slower.  Then it dawned on me today, the reason it seems harder is that the bar has been raised.  Who raised the bar?  I did.

When I first started running, I couldn’t run a neighborhood block.  When I reached a mile, it was pure hell, and the last step was the best step of the entire trip.  Now, “out-of-shape,” I can go out the door tonight and run twenty miles.  Heck, I can, on the spur of the moment, sign up for a marathon and run it tomorrow.   And finish.  I won’t break any personal records, but I can do it.  This is my out-of-shape.  My out-of-shape is a weak core, a slower pace than I know I can run (& that’s not very quick), extra pounds, and a recovery rate that sucks, not to mention a wimpy mental attitude.  I know what it feels like to be at my near best.  When I’m not there, I’m “out-of-shape.”  This is my “new out-of-shape.”

So fast forward to this morning . . . I set my alarm for 4:30 AM.  I woke feeling way, way, way too tired to make the mountain drive for my planned run.  So, I walked out to the living room couch and fell back asleep. 

Waking at 7:30 AM meant no mountain run for today.  I drank some coffee and packed up for a local run in the coastal hills.  When I pulled up to Aliso/Wood Canyons, there was just one space to park on the street, perfectly sized for my truck. 

The great news is, my shins barely ached.  In fact, I wouldn’t even say that they ached.  They merely felt tight.  Not tight enough to stop and stretch however.  My pace was pretty slow.  I didn’t want to waste time stopping if I didn’t have to. 

I took a “relatively” flat course up Wood Canyon, making 3 or 4 stream crossings.  Humidity was high.  Parts of the canyon trapped in the heat so intensely, it felt like someone had closed the oven door on me.  I felt good nonetheless.  I was just so dang happy to be running trails, enjoying the wildlife, bunnies, squirrels, stink bugs and tiny yellow birds hopping about the meadow floor. 

Glorious.  Simply glorious. 

An easy Wood Canyon stream crossing:

The shady oven:

The toughest climb was up Cholla Trail.  Out of the canyon, Cholla left the oven behind, but the air was still thick with humidity.  I’m used to running this entire trail, so when I felt I couldn’t run it today, I stopped instead of hiked.  I’m that stubborn.  I can run this trail dang it.  I stopped to rest twice going up Cholla. 

As I ran West Ridge’s rolling hills I didn’t think about how much longer I needed to run before I finally made Top of the World.  Instead, I noticed deer tracks off to the side.  I noticed slithering snake “tracks” across the trail.  I nodded to several hikers who made their way along the trail, and I wondered how they could make it with just a single bottle of water.  My clothing drenched with sweat, and my body chaffing at clothing seams, I guzzled my fluids like it was the last on earth.

West Ridge:

Time for breakfast at Top of the World:

Some beauty on Cholla:

I didn’t finish these near 15 miles strong.  But I finished.  And I finished dirty.  It’s good to get dirty – even being out-of-shape.

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Running Wood Cyn Cholla West Ridge TOW & back 7-12-2013, Elevation

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