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Saturday, September 14, 2013

How to force yourself through a 20 mile trail run, when you don’t wanna

Woke to a 4 AM alarm, packed my gear, changed for a run, then decided I needed more sleep.  Set my alarm for 6:00 AM, fell asleep on the couch.  When the alarm rang out, I reset it for 6:30 AM, and then later, reset it again for 7:30 AM.  Mistake.

I finally rolled out of the driveway at 7:45 AM and drove an hour to the Holy Jim Trailhead.  After applying sunscreen for the hot morning sun, I stepped out of the truck.  That’s when I, and the inside of my truck were promptly swarmed by gnats.  “I’m sorry,” I told myself.  “But I just can’t do this AGAIN.”  And so, I drove out of the canyon, the entire time fighting against the inner voices that go bash, bash, bash against thyself. 

I decided to stop by my house to give hubby his ATM card.  I got a chance to say hello to my boys and their friends.  Then I drove off again, headed to Aliso/Wood Canyons.  I did not start running until 10:15 AM.  And the weather was already HOT.

I planned on a ten mile loop that I would run twice.  By the top of my first climb, I realized a double loop was not a good idea.  The misery level was just too high today, and I didn’t think that I’d have the mental power to continue onward after the first loop with my truck so close by.  For the next 5 or so rolling miles, I focused on staying in the moment and off and on, thought about how I might alter my plan and still come up with a 20 mile run.

Yummy looking Prickly Pears on Cholla Trail (I have never tried one, but these look scrumptious, if I could figure out how to pick one without a thousand tiny thorns imbedding my fingers):

3 miles in (up), at Top of the World,  the real heat has just begun:

As I ran down Mentally Sensitive Trail, I had no idea that I would eventually concoct a route that later included climbing up Mentally Sensitive.  That’s okay.  An unclear plan made running down the steepest trail in the park delightful, scary sometimes yes, slow sometimes yes, but delightful nonetheless.  By the time I reached Aliso Canyon where I would connect up with the last part of Mentally Sensitive and Meadows Trail, a runner came barreling toward Mentally Sensitive for the climb up.  I thought he was crazy.

By the time I reached Wood Canyon, where I would normally turn left for a loop, I decided to instead turn right and run out as far as I could.  Get as far away from the truck as possible was my plan.  That way, I’d have no choice but to continue this 20+ mile route, else I wouldn’t get back to my truck. 

At the ranger station, I drenched myself in cold water, and took off for Laguna Niguel Lake.  This meant crossing a busy street.   But that was well-worth it.  Laguna Niguel Lake was cool, shady and sprinkled with drinking fountains throughout.  At a little over 10 miles on my garmin, I turned around and headed back.  Before leaving the lake, I filled my pack to the brim and re-drenched my bandana which I now wore upon my head.

Running down Mentally Sensitive:

Laguna Niguel Lake:

Though still quite warm, miles 10 through 15 were bearable.  Not quick, but bearable.  At the base of Mentally Sensitive, I ran out of gas.  I mean, I felt like I could not run another step.  I forced down some more calories and began to power hike that climb.  Pretty quickly in, I hit a stubborn wall, found some shade and sat until I regained energy.  I sat more than once in the shade during that one mile climb.  And I felt no shame about it.  I figured this was the only way I was going to have the strength to run in the last 5 miles.

Sitting in the dirt on Mentally Sensitive Trail where shade is scarce:

Finally!  At the top of Mentally Sensitive:

I recovered pretty quickly for the final 5 mile stretch.  Actually, I was amazed that I was able to run those last five miles.  Mind you, I ran at a snail’s pace. Winking smile  I hunted down a couple of short-cuts, to no avail, which ended up wasting more energy.  The last quarter mile to my truck, I peeled off my pack and walked back up through Canyon View Park.  My energy was spent.  SPENT. 

I am actually a little proud of myself for pulling this off with such a late start – especially since I spent the first few minutes of my running trying to figure out a way that I could get out of running Twin Peaks come October.  I’m just going to force myself, like I did today.



  1. Wow, that is some run! I don't know if I would have pushed on like you did. I must say that I often feel better later on in a run. It takes me quite some time to get into my groove.

    1. That was definitely one tough run!! So glad summer is finally over. It takes me quite some time too to get into my groove.