TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tired of Giving it a Rest

About the only cardio my foot can handle is the gym bike.  Tuesday I rode 30 miles.  I just couldn’t stand to sit any longer.  Slowly, very slowly, the pain is lessening in my right foot.  Pain hits worst in the morning.  And also after sitting.  You can imagine how I limped away from the gym bike after 30 miles. 

Yesterday, pain was at its lowest point in a long time.  Ice, heating, anti-inflammatory medicine and rolling did some good after all.  And dang it!  I was tired of giving my foot a rest.  I mean REALLY.  Just how long can I stay away from the trails?

I did make some concessions today – firstly, I chose a “flat” trails.  I drove to Las Flores, parked at a tennis park and ran down to Tijeras Creek.  From there I made my way to Arroyo Trabuco Trail.  This is the “flat trail.”   In 10.04 miles that I ran, I climbed more than 2,000 feet.  So much for flat!  No really, it was fairly flat.  What made the largish gain was the constant low grade climb for 5 miles.  Thus, my second concession.  When I reached 5 miles, pain was minimal and I wanted to run further.  But I forced myself to turnaround, just in case. I even hesitated, turned around again and moved further onward just to realize I was behaving like a child.  I NEEDED to turn around and head back.  

I should also note that the reason I returned to Arroyo Trabuco (beside it’s “flatness”) is that I’m still attempting to “punch through” to Trabuco Canyon so I can finish mapping out my “Tides to Towers” run.  (Tides to Towers – a run from my house, the beach “tides,” up to Santiago Peak, aka. Talking Towers). 

Tijeras Creek Trail Head (one of the many Tijeras Creek trailheads):

Tijeras Creek Trail:

I fell into the creek on my first crossing!

Arroyo Trabuco Trail:

Turnaround time:

Pain was very bearable when I arrived back at the truck.  Then I sat behind the wheel for about twenty minutes.  When I arrived home, I limped to the door.  Only now, at this late hour, does my foot feel some relief.  I’ve iced.  I’ve rolled.  And right now, it is nicely wrapped.   Definitely hoping that I continue to heal, and that my impromptu run today didn’t worsen my plantar fasciitis. 

Happy Trails!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Update: Another Reason To Hate The Dreadmill

Super busy weekend, Saturday I didn’t have time for my long run.  Instead, I spent three hours at the gym.  I got lots of work done – weights, abs, elliptical crossramp, and the treadmill.  Wait.  Did I say treadmill?  I meant Dreadmill.

This is a dreadmill – notice my gear, not on my back.  There’s a towel on the left (to soak up the sweat from my face, because who wears a hat on the dreadmill?), water bottle and hair-tie on the right, and a Trader Joe’s bag on the floor with keys and other stuff like chapstick, a high school newsletter, and pen and paper:131026_001

For some reason, I find running excruciatingly difficult on the dreadmill.  I sweat more, the scenery is blah, and time passes slower than a snail moves.  Time moved so, so, slowly on Saturday, I put in my earbuds and forbade myself from looking at the stats until a song finished.  I played little games like increasing the pace at times, and not allowing myself to decrease it until an entire song played. 

This “adventure” really was hellish.  All 5 miles of it.  And before I even hit mile one, another dreadmiller came up and got on the machine next to me.  There were about 15 empty dreadmills that he could have occupied without having someone on either side.  I’m just not used to running so closely, side by side with someone for 5 miles. 

131026_006Don’t get me wrong.  I appreciate the dreadmill and what it offers (runs on terrible weather days, or when you can only fit in a run at 3AM).  My brother in fact, can only run dreadmills nowadays – it’s all his schedule allows.  At best, I appreciate the dreadmill because I can force myself to run faster. 

I don’t know. Maybe if I was a serious athlete, I’d appreciate this piece of machinery more.  I ask you, after peering off a mountain edge for several miles, how am I to appreciate a view like this:

131026_007

Okay, it’s not a terrible view.  But there’s no clouds, no stinkbugs, birds nor bunnies.  Regardless, all of this complaining would really be moot, and I’d find myself back on the dreadmill probably someday soon, if it wasn’t for one thing.  The most important thing.  When I got home, my plantar fasciitis flared up worse than it ever has.  I endured great foot pain for two days, barely able to walk.  Ibuprofen did absolutely nothing to ease the pain.  Taping in fact did very little to ease the pain.  Numbing my foot with ice was about the only thing that worked.  The pain actually kept me awake at night.  That first night, in fact, I sweated all night long (like I had a fever).

I took Sunday and Monday off from any kind of cardio work, especially running.    I’ve been rolling, icing, heating and stretching.  I’ve gone through so much tape that I have permanent tape marks on the bottom of my foot.  Maybe it wasn’t the dreadmill.  But it seems just too coincidental to me.  (Sorry treadmill enthusiasts). 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Doing Time

Today, I did my time on the trails.  Wasn’t really in the mood.  Didn’t even have that much available time.  I neglected the laundry, dishes, vacuuming however, so I could get out there.  In the process of increasing my weekly mileage, some runs it’s just about the doing time.

I ran past the “Old Corral.”  This was a working corral when when this property was part of a gigantic ranch that the Moulton family owned. 

After 4.5 miles, I ran up out of Wood Canyon, via Cholla Trail.  I struggled a little with the climb, but took opportunity to STOP and take a picture looking back into the canyon.

At mile 7.5, I reached Top of the World, stopped for a quick self-portrait.

At about mile 9, I finally reached the top of Meadows Trail.  Nice and sweaty, I was ready for that windy switch-back trail.

I joyfully ran down Meadows, following some mountain bikers who quickly left me in the dust. 

A mile later, I was running the flat portion of Meadows back into Wood Canyon to close up the loop.

12.20 miles run doing time.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Crazy Crawdads

This morning the skies were gray, the air wet, the breeze cool.  I climbed the steepest trail (Mentally Sensitive) and it did a great job of clearing my mind.

Happy to overcome Mentally Sensitive:

I found a new trail behind the park at The Top of the World.  Of course, I HAD TO investigate.  It was a short trail, .15 of a mile, with vast views and wooden tables with three bench seats each, placed periodically along the edge. 

Newfound Trail:

When I ran down Mathis Trail on my way back into Wood Canyon, I stopped by the creek for a look at my crawdad friends.  Surprisingly, I didn’t see any in the pool.  Simply standing there, I focused on my surroundings, for no particular reason.  I wasn’t tired.  I wasn’t thinking.  I was just taking in my world when I noticed the crawdads.  They were climbing up the rocks, in the algae and rushing water.  Crazy crawdads!  I have no idea what they were doing.  Lots of guesses, but I haven’t Googled it yet. 

The Stream Crossing at the bottom of Mathis Trail:

Crawdads struggling against the current:

Then I ran into Wood Canyon for a cool relaxing run back to the truck.  I passed a blue heron on the way.  He stood like a statue as I ran by rather closely.  In all I covered 11.12 miles, happily.

Wood Canyon, going home:Running Big Loop 10-24-2013, Elevation

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Twin Peaks That Was Not

Saturday (yesterday) was the day Twin Peaks was supposed to run, but was cancelled due to the government shutdown.  The race director went down to the start line at 7:00 AM to hand out the medals and shirts for anyone who wanted to claim them.  Most of the 25 who showed ran a “Fat Ass 50k” for the fun of it.   (Fat Ass:  a term used for an unmarked, unsupported, unofficial race).  I elected to run an out-and-back to Santiago Peak.  Another runner I met elected for a shorter route than my 22 miles.  Several runners (at least 6) took a ride down off the mountain at some point  (the trails are that tough!). 

Since I had all the time in the world, I took this run with no intentions on pushing myself speed-wise.  Simply running these mountain trails would be pushing myself hard enough.

At the start, I met a group of guys who said they watched my 2012 Twin Peaks video the night before.  I saw some people I knew of, but did not know.  I saw some good running friends too.

Me and Emmett (& John in background):IMG_7968

I’ll try and cut it short.  I ran eleven miles uphill, turned around and ran eleven miles back down. 

Running ITT to Peak & back 10-19-2013, Elevation

Well, that’s a bit too short of a story for my taste.  First off, it was cold.  I drove to the other side of the mountain, the Riverside side, which is much colder than the coastal side.  So, I ran up the nearly seven mile Indian Truck Trail with long sleeves and a cool breeze to my face.  The run was not technical, but it was hard.  And it was lovely.

Running up Indian Truck Trail:

From Indian Truck Trail, I considered turning around and making this a 14 mile run.  But I forced myself onward and I took The Main Divide for that brutal run to Santiago Peak. 

I met this amazing runner along the way:

And this amazing runner too (Scott) – both of these 50k runners passed me on the way to the peak:

Almost there:

Santiago Peak within sight!:

Arrived (Now time to turnaround and run back):

Before summiting, my sock lifted a piece of tape from my foot.  The loosened piece began sawing away at my foot.  It felt like tiny chainsaw moved back and forth along the side of my arch with each step.  I debated whether I should stop and re-tape.  I’m getting a little smarter and decided “better safe than sorry.”  So, I rested at the Upper Holy Jim water stop Jessica (the RD) had provided, and untapped my foot to find a raw slice in my foot.  I re-taped and took off with a much stronger foot. 

Unfortunately, the stronger foot lasted only about an hour.  By the time I made Indian Truck Trail again my right foot felt like it was going to fall off.  But I was now on the LONGEST TRAIL IN THE WORLD!  And I was a little eager to end this adventure.  Concentrating on picking my feet up quicker, I felt content with a 13 minute mile (And that’s downhill!).  That’s all the pain I could take.  If I ran all out, I’d put myself through pain for no reason.  This was a fun run.  Not a race.  Arriving intact was more important than finishing 15 to 30 minutes faster.   

Upper Holy Jim:

In all, the day I was registered to run Twin Peaks, I ran 22 miles.  The day was gorgeous, the weather perfect.  I had plenty of fun, but boy!  The run wiped me out.  I think I could have finished Twin Peaks, but never with a 7AM start.  I would have taken the 4:30 early start, as I will do next year, if I am so fortunate to have another chance at Twin Peaks.

I got my shirt, and I got my medal.  Though the medal was merely given to me, I’m going to consider all those times I dragged myself up that hellish climb to the peak as earning this medal. Winking smile

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Arroyo Trabuco

Late this morning, I decided to run a different trail – Arroyo Trabuco Trail.  It runs for many miles, through several cities, beneath the streets (sorta).  I parked in Las Flores, in a strip mall lot and ran along the streets to one of the many entrances down to Arroyo Trabuco Trail.

First off, I came to this sign because about a mile away, a road crew was clearing away brush along the road.  Ah . . . I don’t think so!  I am so tired of things closed for my own safety!  I made the risky calculation and took my life into my own hands and ran along this sidewalk to the cement trail that travels down beneath Oso Parkway. 

I ran through lots of shade, through plenty of creeks.  The trail was as I recalled.  I remembered fun times along this trail.  I remembered hard times along this trail (though the elevation gain isn’t tough).  And I remembered crying along this trail (when I ran the Las Flores Marathon and thought that I couldn’t take it anymore – but I took it and finished intact).

In all I ran an out-and-back totalling 11.22 miles.  I saw very few people, around 5 or 6 cyclists.  And I was tricked by the ole’ “Y” intersection once again!  Running out (into the “V” of the “Y”), I didn’t notice another trail coming into mine.  But on the back portion, as I ran up the base of “Y”, I suddenly realized that I didn’t know which arm I came from.  I studied the land a bit, and decided on taking the right arm.  Pretty quickly the trail seemed wrong.  The creek crossings seemed suspiciously different.  I didn’t cross them as easily as I did on my way in.  The trail overall was muddier too.  Then, before I was absolutely certain that I took the wrong trail, but was pretty sure I did, I turned back.  Turns out, that was a good move.  Soon enough I was back on the right track, adding one mile to my overall out-and-back mileage.

A great day to begin my training for Twin Peaks 2014.  Winking smile

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Twin Peaks Ultra 2013 Cancelled

Due to the government shutdown (U.S. that is!), and the fact that the Twin Peaks Ultra is run in national forest, it has been cancelled.

I feel sorry for those who trained.  But I feel sorry most for the race director.  I can’t imagine putting that much work into something just to have it shut down mere days beforehand.

That’s all I have to say about that . . . for now.

forest gump

Monday, October 14, 2013

Biding Time

Back to Day One on my Fitness Streak.  I’m just biding time, taking it easy with some fun workouts.  Late this morning, I took off into Wood Canyon for a run, first to the Top of the World overlooking the grand Pacific Ocean.

Though I didn’t work it super hard, I got in some decent elevation gain.  I ran to enjoy myself, and to sweat too.  I didn’t criticize myself once.  I just didn’t think about my progress or performance.  I simply ran. 

I ran down Rockit, which is always a blast.  One false step, and there’s a good chance blood will flow.  This trail not only offers adventure, but great views as well.  I stopped a couple times to take in trails I knew from afar – they look so different from another perspective.

From Rockit, I turned left on Coyote Run, another beauty. 

And I sat on a bench beneath a tree that I’ve run past dozens and dozens of times.

Then I grew really silly, and decided to climb that tree.  I crawled up a meaty branch that was so heavy that it sloped low to the ground.  Before reaching the main trunk, I had risen to about ten feet above the ground, and I was sure to grind my knees into the rugged branch before making my next move up toward the trunk. 

Finally I grabbed onto the trunk, now two main trunks reaching upward.  I was elated to make it safety.  Then I stood there for a while, taking in my quiet surroundings, including the same mountain biker race by two times.  There he is:

As long as I stood between the crook of two branches I felt safe:

It’s when I ventured upward that I grew anxious and worried that I might fall.  I hugged onto the trunk tightly:

When I was a child I climbed trees, and never worried that I might fall out of one.  In fact, I remember falling out of a plumb tree when I was quite young.  I skinned my knees up badly, and cried all the way home.  But I was never seriously hurt.  I used to climb as high as I could get, never concerned how I might get down.

Today, I looked for a way down with every foot that I climbed upward.  And pretty quickly, I came to a point, that I figured I would not be able to climb back down.  I’m not a child any more.  I may act like one.  But I’m 48.  And so, I made my way, carefully, back down the tree.  When it came to crawling back down that long, heavy branch, I grew quite hesitate.  Ten feet above the ground, I figured I could make the jump instead of making the crawl.  In fact, I knew that I could, because I have made such a jump in a marine obstacle race down in San Diego.  Back then though, I had runners climbing up behind me, and I had to jump.

Today, no runners climbed up behind me forcing me to jump.  So, I looked for another route down.  Another branch, just a short bit away, thick enough to get a good enough grip on, ran parallel to mine.  If I grabbed onto that branch, my feet would hang only about five feet from the ground – an easy jump.  I warned myself that my weight was going work on tearing my grip from the branch.  I told myself before reaching for the branch, “No matter what, HANG ON!”. 

Well, it’s been too long I guess.   I didn’t take into account that when I grabbed onto the branch and let my legs fall from the one upon which I stood, I WOULD SWING.  Yikes.  Try holding onto a tough-barked branch, swinging back and forth wildly.  “Hang on!”  I warned myself.  I knew that if I lost my grip, there was a pretty dang good chance that I’d land on my back.  Don’t want to land on my back!!!!  DO NOT WANT TO LAND ON MY BACK.  So, I held on, swinging back and forth.  It felt like the bark tore the skin from my hands.  But I held on, because it was too important not to.  When I stopped swinging I quickly dropped to the ground and laughed out loud.  What a dang silly lady I am.   

I dusted myself off and ran off to another beautiful trail, Wood Creek.  Escaping the moment (not good while trail running), but I was still thinking about the tree adventure, I came head-to-head with another runner.  We scared the wits out of each other.  She clutched her chest.  I let out a yelp.  Then we both giggled and passed each other in the forestl.  About five minutes later, I stood less than ten feet away from a doe.  She stood still as a statute.  And I let her just stand there while taking in her presence.

I need to do “biding time” runs more often.  Winking smile  Happy Running!!

Wood Creek:

Today’s Profile:

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