TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Triple Digits

I went out for a run in misty winter weather, California winter that is.  My goal: run a minimum of nine miles so that I can hit triple digits for January’s mileage.  It’s been a few months since I’ve had a triple digit month.  Now that I’m training for Twin Peaks, I’ve got to get my mileage up. Winking smile

Turns out, my mood was low, quite low.  I didn’t really want to run.  But once I got out of my truck, I knew that running would be the best thing for me.  And it was.

I began at Oak Tree Park in Las Flores, ran down Antonio Parkway and caught the Tijeras Creek trailhead.  I took that down to Arroyo Trabuco, a flatish trail, all the way to O’Neill Park (which rests at the base of the Saddleback Mountains).

The trails were nearly empty.  I saw one runner.  He was wearing a shirt that read, “Freedom Run,” and I saw him on the way out and on the way back (we ran in opposite directions).  Other than that runner, I saw only two other people, a man and woman riding their mountain bikes together.

I had six creek crossings on the way out, the same on the way back.  I did not get one toe wet. (Yay!) With a mile remaining, I got some light rain.  So, I quickly stopped and packed up my phone, camera and ipod.  The remainder of the way in, I could hear the bunnies and squirrels and little birdies scampering about in the brush and leaf litter, apparently in preparation of the rain.

A lovely run.  Miles logged:  12

Tijeras Creek Trail:

Arroyo Trabuco:

Time to turnaround (O’Neill Park):

Taking Arroyo Trabuco on the “back”:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Familiar Ground

I woke without a limp this morning.  Hallelujah.  After dropping the boys off at their schools, I headed off to Aliso/Wood Canyons.  My feet felt good on familiar ground.  The skies were white.  Yes, WHITE with fog.  It was lovely.  It was cold.

I felt fatigued, but still chose the hardest climb, Mentally Sensitive.  I put in almost 11 1/2 miles on my home trails.  I came in with only a minor discomfort in my PF foot. 

Running down Mathis back into Wood Canyon:

Running down Mathis after the sun poked through:

The only creek crossing on Mathis:

Running up ms down mathis 1-29-2014, Elevation

Monday, January 27, 2014

Calico Trail Race 2014

Sunday, I ran my 6th straight Calico 30k trail race.  Worried a bit about my foot making the difficult terrain, I didn’t dwell on this fear.  Instead, I merely figured it would be my long run, I’d take in some awesome scenery, and if need be, I’d walk on in if my foot couldn’t take the pain.  I had all the time in the world in my eyes, as about 100 runners were running a 50k instead of the 30k.

I stayed with my family just outside of town in one of the two available bunkhouses.  Had some great family times.  Then I woke throughout the night as the boys went absolutely crazy, running about and such. 

Awake at 5:30 AM, I walked to the Start Line in town at 6 AM.  My nerves were calm.  I said “Hi” and talked briefly with friends.  I looked forward to my “long run,” though I didn’t really look forward to fighting against the honorable DFL.  So, I just threw that idea out of my mind. 

The Walk:

I took off on the downhill asphalt road out of Calico feeling good.  My pace was very decent.  The atmosphere was festive.  I didn’t chat like I usually do.  I literally looked to the ground and simply ran.  My mind was blank.  Occasionally, I said “hello,” as a runner passed.  Occasionally, I took my eyes off the desert floor and took in the quiet, immense desert beauty.   

I ran like this (head down, blank mind) for the first seven miles.  The sand was thick, I ran off the trail where the dirt was more solid.  I arrived to the first aid alone.  I was told there were about 6 runners behind me.  But I found that hard to believe – I didn’t see a single soul behind me.  I stayed maybe 30 seconds and was off to the next aid about 5 miles away.

Little by little, I began to lift my eyes from the trail.  And as the rocks turned greens and blues, the earth hardened beneath my feet.  I popped two advil before mile ten.  And when I reached mile ten, I cheered inside knowing I was more than half way. 

When the ground grew rocky, my heart grew fonder.  It was like stream crossing (without the water).  Actually, it’s also like a chess game maneuvering across the boulders and rocks.  One must think several moves ahead to make the run smooth. 

I felt cramping coming on in my calves.  Kept them at bay with some salt pills.  Except for the occasional Search and Rescue that drove by, I felt absolutely alone in this rainbow desert.  I spent very little time at the aid stations.  Once I took a rock out of my shoe. 

I snapped pictures frequently (yes, a new camera!).  But I never once stopped to click a photo.  All my pictures were taken on the run.  So fortunate was I to find that many were in focus. 

With four miles remaining, and the most difficult part of this race remaining, I knew that if I was going to pass anyone, it would be during this portion.  Why?  Well, if a runner hasn’t gone through those last few miles before, the terrain is just so shockingly difficult, that even the experienced runner slows tremendously. 

Somewhere in the middle of this rocky canyon, I came upon three or four jeeps with people trying to figure if they could make it further.  One of the women stood outside of her car, looked at me and exclaimed, “Oh my God!  You are . . . You are . . .”

To which I responded, “Insane.”  And she said, “Yes, insane.”  And we both laughed as I continued on past her, hoping still to pass at least one runner. 

 The Final Stretch:

And then, the end became very near . . . and I grew giddy.  But not too giddy, because that’s when I fall. Winking smile

And then I passed my first runner, at approximately mile 17.

And then quickly afterward, I passed two more runners.  But one of them, a female would not give up on catching me.  Finally, as I ran through the parking lot, I phoned my husband who was up above in town.  He could see me and waved.  I asked about the girl behind me, “How far is she?”  You see, I refuse to look back.  Looking back gives the runner strength to catch you.  I know it gives me strength when the runner up front looks back.  Hubby reported on her distance and her demeanor and I felt confident to rest up and go for a strong power hike for a few minutes.  And then at last, I slowly made my way up the back service road, ran into town and down to the finish line. 

In the end, I did not fall.  I experienced no anguish.  I did not cry.  My foot survived.  I survived.  And nine, yes NINE runners came in behind me. 

I am so glad that I went ahead with this race.  I feel like this marks the beginning of my comeback.  What a fantastic long run! (It measured 19.76 miles on my garmin).

Thus ends my SHORT version of my 6th Calico Trail Race.

Running Calico Ghost Town 1-26-2014, ElevationRunning Calico Ghost Town 1-26-2014

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Seven Sure-Fire Ways to Kill your Camera

I put another camera to rest, in a bag of rice actually, with the hope that it may start working again.  This camera was the first one that lasted past the extended warranty that I always purchase.  Alas, I will not be purchasing another camera soon.  But I do of course, have my phone (It somehow survived a full water submerge.)  And even the little, inexpensive, old-fashioned cell phones have cameras.  And therefore did I during this morning’s run.   

140122_002Still, a phone is just not the same.  I don’t care what anyone says.  I love my camera-cameras.  And as I ran through Aliso Wood Canyons today, opting to run up Meadows for the first time in a long time, I began to reminisce about my old cameras.  I enjoyed them all; they were all great cameras.  And as I ran up and down those wretched hills,  I recalled each of their destructions and came up with a list of ways I’ve accidentally killed my cameras.  Each of the methods below, I know firsthand will do the trick (but just to be sure, it always helps to have the lens open, especially for drops – lenses go very easily)

MY SEVEN SURE-FIRE WAYS TO KILL YOUR CAMERA:

  1. SLAM your camera into a boulder.
  2. Throw your camera off a cliff.
  3. Underhand toss your camera down a dirt trail.
  4. Fully submerge yourself with camera in hand, into a pool of water
  5. Set your camera on a boulder so that the wind can blow it off and knock it to the ground (this one particularly, works best when the lens is open).
  6. Keep your camera in a mesh pocket during a rain downpour.
  7. And lastly, merely drop it to the ground (again, remember lens open). 

Sure, I missed a lot of photo-ops on my run today.  I ran within a few feet of a blue heron.  Then watched it fly away with its enormous wingspan.  But I’ve snapped that picture before – dozens of times.  In fact, I’ve probably taken thousands of pictures on Aliso/Wood Wilderness trails.  Running without a “legit” camera freed me some today.  This helped me focus on my run more intently.  Still today, I indulged a little during my 11.46 miles of trail running.  I guess I’m just a photo junkie.  Smile

Climbing Meadows:

140122_005

Top of Meadows:

140122_006

Top of the World:

140122_007

Running Up Meadows down RockIt 1-22-2014, ElevationRunning Up Meadows down RockIt 1-22-2014

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mission Unaccomplished

First mission unaccomplished was my original plan to wake at the crack of dawn and go for a mountain run.  I did wake at the crack of dawn (actually before dawn).  I could not however, walk due to the pain in my foot.  I pushed myself from wall to wall to move about the house.  Even though I knew my foot would probably get better (it’s always the worst when I wake), this disheartened trail runner went back to sleep.

I woke again several hours later feeling way, way down in the dumps.

I didn’t have a good morning.

I didn’t have a great early afternoon.

Eventually, I laced up my shoes and ran out the door for a run along some of our beaches.  Yes, that’s right.  I opted for sidewalk and sand over dirt trails.  I felt a bit sluggish but enjoyed my time running the city streets.  One thing I noticed was that it was LOUD with all sorts of noises:  car motors, people talking, dogs barking.  But it was also beautiful.  I live in a gorgeous city.

 Beach Access:

Even though I see the Pacific Ocean every day, catching first glimpse of white water at Salt Creek Beach on my run this afternoon was breathtaking. 

After running Salt Creek’s crowded sand, I turned the corner for a run along Dana Strands.  Off in the distance I focused on the headlands, Dana Point’s famous headlands.  I’ve run on top of them, I’ve near and around them on both sides.  But it’s been a long, long time since I’ve gone around them.  It’s a daunting task, and probably shouldn’t be done alone.  The rocks are steep and jagged, and the way is very slippery.  On the plus side, there’s a private little beach where I could get my quiet solitude that I missed from trails.  I was game and a little giddy about it!  The tide seemed low enough to make it.  And I figured I’d be okay because I’d climb carefully and would certainly turn back if the tide was too high.

The Headlands:

Making my way along the base, prepared and confident for my first climb:

The First Big Climb (not so difficult, but slippery and a fall could mean a plunge into the ocean):

After making that first climb, this is where I stood – absolute bliss:

The front base of the headlands was numerous with tide pools as I remembered.  Occasionally, a wave crashed up on the plateau as I made my way across.  The work was difficult, as I needed to use both lower and upper body strength to make my way up and down the sharp boulders. 

With a water bottle in one hand, I clicked the camera in my other.  My private beach was now in view when I stopped for a few last pictures before descending down the plateau’s rocky edge.  I jumped that last step, as it was too far down to reach.  When I landed I took another step (I think) and then I don’t know what happened.  I remember realizing that I was losing my balance, and then I went down, down as in tumbled down over the sharp, jagged rocks.  My knee, my arm, my shin, they all took terrible hits.  Then on the last tumble, I flew right down into a gigantic tide pool.  I went under, fully submerged, taking my camera and phone with me and a big gulp of salt water. 

In utter disbelief, I quickly jumped out.  I stood there with my sopping wet camera in my hand and cried.  Blood streamed from a gash in my right shin.  My right knee as well ached with a minor scrape revealing itself right away.  And my right arm, specifically my elbow was bleeding.  I was most worried about my camera.

Okay, take control, Lauren.  That’s what I told myself.  I stopped crying and decided that I should not continue the journey.  I chose to carefully make my way back and call my husband for a ride home.  That is what I did.  Back at home, he cleaned me up, disinfected beneath the torn pieces of flesh on my elbow and arm. 

I didn’t break any bones.  I have worn my right arm in a sling all night.  The arm is swollen and ugly.  Ibuprofen did wonders.  So did a warm blanket.

These were two of the questions I got from my family:

My husband asked, “Were you scared?”  Funny, that’s one thing I wasn’t.  I never felt scared.  I felt surprised.  I felt sad.  And I felt angry.  And then finally relief.  But I never felt scared (too stupid to be scared Winking smile).

My middle son asked, “Did you almost drown?”  No, I didn’t come anywhere near drowning.  Even the gulp of seawater that I took in didn’t take my breath away.  Thank God I didn’t hit my head.  If I knocked myself out, there could have been much more dire consequences. 

Well, there you have it.  My missions unaccomplished today.  I did get in a 6.25 mile run.  So that is good.  My husband rescued me.  And that was good.  And I seemingly haven’t broken anything, and that is good.

Here’s one last picture, probably the last one I took.  Off in the distance is the private beach where I wanted to take in some silence.  My fall occurred probably about twenty five feet from my position.  It is beautiful, don’t you think?