TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Break in the Rain

The rain arrived.  It arrived early this morning about 3AM.  I loved the sound of the rain hitting our roof as we nestled in our beds, warm and cozy.  Unlike newer homes, our home (built in 1947) is not sound proof.  We don’t need to look outdoors to see if it’s raining.  We can hear it falling.  I rather like listening to it. 

So, word is, that we’ll continue with a series of storms until Sunday night.  Thunder storms.  If the next few days are anything like today’s “storm,” I’ll have plenty of time to get in my miles. 

Rain fell fairly lightly today.  And then, it broke about noon.  That’s when I quickly changed my plans to fitting in a quick run.  I laced up my trusty New Balance “trail” shoes and headed out the door for a road run.  I noticed quite a few runners and cyclists had the same idea – get out there when you can.  Winking smile

The skies were blue and beautiful, the air was crisp.  I didn’t even feel cold.  My slow pace was faster than my trail pace.  And I do believe my overall pace is gradually increasing (yay!  Almost time for speed training).

No rain has fallen since the break at noon.  With the onslaught expected over the next few days, it will be challenging to get in my remaining 20+ miles. 

Miles run:  5.33 (8.58 km)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Know Thyself

The only thing I wanted to do when I woke this morning was go back to sleep.  For a fleeting moment, I considered chucking my running plans and returning to bed after dropping the boys off at school.  But I knew that with the impending rain, I would regret not running today.  Still, maybe the rain wouldn’t come.  Just maybe.  

First off, I knew the rain would come.  Secondly, I know myself.  I know that if I just got into the truck, I’d feel better about running.  And if I didn’t, I’d feel better about running as I ran through the windy canyon.  And if I still didn’t, I’d feel better after climbing to the ridge and looked out over the miles of trails I’d covered.    Worst case scenario (or best), I would be happy finishing up the run.  I can’t remember a time that I ever regretted going for a run.  I know this much about myself.

It was a BEAR climbing Mentally Sensitive.  But, oh what a sight of the Saddleback Mountains!

Still smiling, even after having to stop to deep stretch an aching plantar fascia:

Running Up MS down RockIt 2-26-2014, Elevation

Sunday, February 23, 2014

My Time in Eden

Sunday:

Holy Jim / West Horsethief Loop:  14 miles (22.5k):Holy_Jim_Horsethief_LoopHoly_Jim_Horsethief_loop_elevation

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Three Days in a Row

I got 6.5 trail miles in yesterday, a hot, winter day.  I ran up on my first baby caterpillar of the season, as it wiggled its way across the trail:

I crossed this creek:

And I crossed this bridge:

I felt a bit sluggish, being that Friday was my 3rd consecutive running day.  I try to get in four running days a week.  Hardly do I ever run more than two of those days consecutively.  Though I didn’t keep my pace up as much as I planned, it still was a good, salty-sweaty run.  And already, this morning, I feel rested enough to run again today.  But I won’t.  I’m teaching an all-day computer course today.  It’s going to wipe me out more than a run ever does. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Training to Run Slowly

Today, I kicked it up a notch and returned to trails with some slightly difficult elevation gains.  Adding flatter terrain in my running of late with hopes of picking up my pace, has left me yearning for hills.

Though I love those hills, they aren’t always good for my training.  You see, all my running up and down mountains has slowed me down significantly.  I’ve inadvertently trained myself to run slowly!  I’ve tried to run up mountains faster, but I can’t seem to manage it without killing myself.  I always knew deep down that I just needed to get my legs used to moving faster.  I just didn’t want to do it – run flats that is (because that inevitably means running roads). 

I’m here to testify that running roads and flatter trails is working.  My legs are moving faster.  I feel stronger.  So, back to the hills I travelled today.  I took on Aliso/Wood Canyons for a short run up to the ridge, then off to Top of the World in Laguna Beach.  It is after all not distance that scares me.  It’s elevation gain that scares the crap out of me (excuse my language).  It’s not distance that sends me staggering to the ground.  It’s not distance that whirls tiny stars about my head.  Yup, it’s elevation gain.  And oddly, I love it!  If I had to choose, I’d pick elevation gain hands down.  But the pace I’ve trained myself to run isn’t going to finish Twin Peaks within the cut-off times this October.  Gotta get those legs moving faster.  

DSC00735  Running Cyn Vistas to TOW and back 2-20-2014, Elevation

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Spring Firsts

The sun decided to hide behind gray clouds all day, and as such, I began my run feeling cold, under-dressed with a beanie on top of my head.  But I quickly warmed.  Though not officially, what little we had of winter has come to an end.  Spring is here.  

Today while running Arroyo Trabuco, I came upon my first mustard seed plant of spring:

I ran along Arroyo Trabuco for seven plus miles before turning around.  Making seven creek crossings on the out, and seven more on the back,  I only fell into the creek once (as I approached the 13 mile mark).  I was more fatigued than usual because I worked on keeping my pace up.  That’s my excuse for falling into the creek, and I’m standing by it.  (I only submerged part of one foot, so it was a quick recovery fall.)

Looking a bit gloomy, but still pretty cool:

My first stink bug sighting of spring 2014:

Yes, spring is here:

Miles run:  14.57

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Celebrating Forty-Nine

Big weekend this weekend, which is why I decided to make this an “easy” week mileage-wise.  The boys had a four day “weekend” from school to celebrate “Presidents’ Day” and either Abraham Lincoln or George Washington’s birthday (I’m not sure which – when I was a child, we celebrated both of these presidents’ birthdays, and didn’t have a “Presidents Day.”)

Insomnia continued to plague me, so I didn’t get extra rest during these “vacation” days.  But I did have some great times thus far.  I can’t write about this weekend without mentioning my trip to Skid Row with my middle son and his church confirmation group.  We rode the train into Los Angeles and walked through downtown to Skid Row.  I have been to L.A. countless times.  I grew up in L.A. county.  But I have never been to Skid Row.  This is just not a place you visit.  Even though I knew what to expect, I was shocked by the stench and hundreds of down-and-out people sleeping, sitting, camping, no, not camping, living on the streets of Skid Row.  The depths the human condition can fall amazed me.  I shouldn’t have been so shocked.  I know homelessness and helplessness exists.  But I’ve never seen it in such abundance first hand.  It was hard to take.  And I kind of felt embarrassed for humanity.  I have always been an advocate for freedom.  But, don’t we have some sort of obligation to lift people out of the gutter?  I’ve been thinking a lot about this.  I don’t have an answer yet.  Not sure I ever will.  One person at a time, I suppose.  That’s the only way to help.  That’s why we were there, to help out the faith-based mission that helps transform lives out of Skid Row.  They are in it for the long run, for anyone who is willing to take their aid.  After scrubbing walls with hot water and soap inside the Union Rescue Mission, we had a couple hours left before boarding our train.  As a special treat, I got to take my son through Olvera Street.  The festive atmosphere of this historic market colorfully veiled the experiences of a day in Skid Row. 

Downtown Los Angeles: Olvera Street:

Needless to say, I arrived home last night, grateful for all that I have.  Dead tired, I still was not able to fall asleep for many hours.  When morning arrived I could not drag myself from the bed at the early morning alarm.   I don’t know exactly why, but I feel that I MUST run on my birthday.  So, I swapped out my early morning run plans for a late morning run plan on my 49th birthday.  Then, after laying in bed awake for several hours, I dressed for a run. 

I ran out the front door and through town.  From there I ran down to the harbor for a delightful run around the harbor and island.  Sea lions barked so loudly, I could hear them before I even reached sea level.  From the island, I witnessed a sea bird dive into the green sea and pull out a silver fish who flapped its fins desperately, before being gobbled down.  I ran several miles in all this without even feeling it.  The skies were blue.  People were out and about picnicking, kayaking, dining, skateboarding, biking, walking, fishing, you name it.  I felt like I live in a fairy-tale land. 

I ran 7.12 miles in this lovely town – a grand birthday present to me.  Smile

Looking down at harbor from bluff:

Running through park down to harbor:

Running the harbor island:

Crossing bridge back to “mainland”:

The Headlands:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

How to Run Faster

After dropping my boys off at school, I drove to Los Flores for a run along Arroyo Trabuco to O’Neill Park (actually, Arroyo Trabuco is part of O’Neill Park, but it’s outside the park’s gates).  ANYWAY, the weather was summer, not winter.  I think we got into the mid-seventies (F).  No need for extra layers, that’s for sure. 

My run was uneventful, quiet and hot.  Then, all of a sudden, where the trail narrows and the brush grows thick, just about a mile away from O’Neill Park, I ran up on a bulldozer!  Yes, a bulldozer was blocking the road as the driver dug out a creek crossing. 

Time for a detour.  I bush whacked through the newly green grass, reminding myself that a tic check was in order later today.  My detour loop was wide, and took longer than expected.  On the back portion of this run, I made the detour again, this time with two mountain bikers, who chose a slightly different, bushier route.  We all came out back on the trail together, even though my loop was probably double the size,  with a creek crossing – I didn’t have a bike to carry. 

As it was, this detour, added time I didn’t have to my run (I think the heat did too).  I fell so much behind in my schedule, that I needed to pick up my pace a great deal from my normal 14 mile runs, in order to make it to my youngest son’s school to pick him up in time.  I cut it really close.  When I made it to school, I was so beat, I sat on the curb to rest while waiting for him to come out.  This was a first.  I never sit on the curb. Winking smile

Miles run:  13.78

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Don’t Wait Until The Last Minute

I try not to procrastinate.  But sometimes I do.  And almost always, it messes up things.  This is why I’ve begun my Twin Peaks so early.  This is why I got my run in today, even though I put it off all morning.  I would have probably been running tonight in the dark, if I hadn’t unexpectedly been summoned to a teaching assignment that looked like it would be cancelled.  In a split second, I rearranged everything, threw on some running pants, laced up my shoes and ran out the front door.  I got in nearly six miles today admist cool wet beach weather.  And once again, I think I’m better for it.  Winking smile

 

DSC00586

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Goal Met

With a mere (ha!) fourteen miles remaining to make my mileage goal this week, I absolutely, under no circumstances wanted to go out and run.  I’ve been experiencing a bout of insomnia, and having finally got some solid sleep around 3AM, I was in no mood to get up when the 4:30 alarm went off.  So, I went back to sleep.  And I dreamt about running.  As I tossed and turned, I wheeled and dealed in my mind about how to handle today’s run.  I threw out a run in the mountains (that would gain me a couple hours).  I considered local runs and continued dreaming about running. 

When I finally woke, I slowly prepared for today’s run.  I knew that I had to do this, else regret the remainder of the day.  With a cup of coffee in hand, I felt much better when I stepped out the front door and let the cool morning air hit my face.  Without thinking about the next hours to come, I headed off to Aliso/Wood Canyons intent on a 14.5 mile out-and-back.  Turns out, I didn’t trust myself with an out-and-back.  It’s too easy to turn back early with out-and-backs.  Instead, I committed to a big loop.  The loop however, I know from experience, only measures 13.25 miles.  This meant I had to add little portions here and there to make up the remaining 3/4’s of a mile.  Last thing I wanted to do was run circles around the parking lot at the end of this run to make up the distance.  (How many of us have done that before?)

I won’t keep you in suspense.  I got the job done, and I’m better for it.  There were four creek crossings.  I came up upon three deer, one coyote, many rabbits and squirrels and one gopher.  I climbed up to the ridge and took in the Pacific Ocean.  Always an awesome experience.  Also, the ridge was crowded with runners, hikers and mountain bikers, so much so, I’d call it festive. 

My morning:

Wood Canyon:

Running up Cholla Trail:

Looking down at Laguna Canyon Road from West Ridge:

Nearing Top of the World:

My trip down Mentally Sensitive, which I could have probably travelled faster if I had sat on my behind and slid down:

Miles ran:  14 

Weekly Goal:  Met! (40 miles)