TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Different Kind Of Beautiful

Last weekend I noticed something while I drove Interstate 5, southbound, at about 70 miles per hour.  I noticed a flag flying high up in the hills overlooking San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point and San Clemente.  It was an American flag, I could tell that.  How I never noticed it before, I cannot tell.

Well, I’m one of those sort of runners who sees a flag and then has to, and I mean HAS TO run to it.  I got quickly thinking which trails might lead to this flag, and determined the trails off Las Ramblas, ones that I have never run, would probably take me there. 

There’s a reason I don’t run the Las Ramblas trails.  Very simple.  No shade.  I love trees, and I love shade.  Take both of those out, well, I pretty much stay away from you.

But I HAD TO run to that flag.

And so, on day 29 of my running streak, I strapped on my pack and headed out on the hot, exposed trails of Las Ramblas.  It was scorching, and it was a struggle, but I made it.  I ran the trails that went up, and I made it to the flag in about 2.5 miles.  And I discovered that just because these trails aren’t “my cup of tea,” they are still beautiful – a different kind of beautiful. 

Miles logged:  5.04

Psycho rider up in front of me: Winking smile

I think I see my house – that tiny dot way over there:

I signed one of the several flag journals, read a few entries and wrote out my blog url:

View of Saddleback Mountains:

One more trip back up to the flag before heading back.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Things that I do

As I approach the end to my Easter Running Streak, I think that I’ve come to a decision.  My decision:  I am going to end this streak when April ends, as I originally planned.  For a while during this month’s streak, I was contemplating keeping my streak going through May.  I thought it would be cool if I could top my longest streak of 56 days.  BUT, I’m not feeling that “love” anymore.  That is not to say that I don’t love running.  I still love running.  But it’s time, really time, to get my butt in gear and cross-train so that I can start to build my overall strength.  It may seem odd, but I feel so weak, even though I can get out on the trails and run mile after mile.  My upper body is weak, my core is weak, my mental strength is weak. It’s time to get back to weights, planks, burpees, swimming, etc.   Meanwhile, I’m off to finish this April/Easter Running streak strong.  Thanks so much to Johann who influenced me to do this.  (I should not count my chickens before they hatch however, I’ve still got two days to goSmile)

Day 27:   I was so dead-dog tired, it took all that I had to put in a minimum run.  About 3 0’ clock in the afternoon, I took a run downtown for a total of 1.36 miles (2.19 km).

Day 28:  I ran in the coastal hills for 11.21 miles (18.04 km).  I struggled quite a bit running up that crazy, whacky trail called Mentally Sensitive (aka. Psycho-Path) AND I LIKED IT. Smile with tongue out  I got in some Swing Time at Top of the World.  And I ran up on a huge rattlesnake in Wood Canyon.  But alas, I could not run up on it fast enough to catch a good photo for proof.  Sad smile

Psycho-Path:

Swing Time:

Top of the World:

I am pleased with my mileage today, especially because I was able to pick up my pace here and there, even while fatigued.  My guess for this run was 11.13 miles.  That’s something I do.  I always, always, always guess my mileage down to the one-hundredth of a mile.  I very seldom guess right-on, even on out-and-backs.  Today, I felt confident that I guessed it exactly.  (I allow myself approximately a mile out to come up with a final number).  Today, I almost slapped my garmin off when I hit 11.13 miles so that my guess would be correct.  How silly is that?  To cheat at a game that only I’m playing?  I didn’t cheat.  I kept running to my truck and kept the garmin running, and came in at 11.21.  Shocking.  I really thought I had it this time. 

Two more days to go . . .

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Day 26

Rain began to pour down well before midnight Friday.  Still, I set my alarm for an early morning wake time, hoping to get in a mountain run Saturday.  Wind howled throughout the night as rain pounded down upon our roof.  At times, it sounded like our roof was being ripped apart.  6AM my alarm rang out.  I reached for the floor and picked up my phone while focusing my hearing on the outside world.  Eventually I could hear that the rain still poured down.  I went back to sleep.  7AM, I woke again and nudged my husband.  “Is it still raining?” I asked.  “It’s pouring,” he said.  And so back to sleep I fell.

I didn’t wake fully until 9AM when my dog awoke me as she ran about the yard and barked.  The wind was still howling.  My youngest son was awake in the “Man Cave,” (Our video game/terrarium room).  I called in the doggie and caught a glimpse of the skies.  Surprisingly, even as the wind howled ferociously, the skies were blue and bright.  Perhaps I can run today, I thought. Smile

I did not get into my truck until 10:45AM.  I had no choice but to run in the mountains (that is, if I wanted trails).  Yay!!!  After the rains, all trails in the lowlands (the coastal hills and foothills) are closed.  I picked a route that was quick so that I would get home at a decent hour.  Still, my drive time was over an hour.  I did not park my truck on Maple Springs Road until 12:00PM. 

When I set off running up Maple Springs Road in Silverado Canyon, the air was cold, the skies were blue with puffy clouds that casted giant shadows on the terrain below.  I had a lovely uphill run to “Four Corners.”  Occasionally, I needed to run up the trail side to avoid a large puddle.  Off-roaders and dirt bikers also passed me on the way up.  Some stopped to chat with me, oddly curious as to why I was running up this mountain.  It doesn’t seem so odd to me that someone would run up a mountain.  It also doesn’t seem that odd that someone would drive up a rocky dirt road.  Just being in the mountains high above the cities, seems reason enough to endure whatever it takes to get there.

I reached “Four Corners” feeling comfortable.  And so I headed off for some extra mileage toward Bald Peak.  Of course, the run to Bald Peak was longer than it looked from afar.  And it was more uphill.  But, I can do uphill, right?  Yup.  I can.  Especially if it means I can add in some power hiking, which I gladly did.  From Bald Peak I took some photos, then headed back for the long downhill trip to my truck.

Views from Bald Peak:

I made excellent time (for me) on my trip back down.  I felt strong, even on the rocky terrain.  I was able to hop over the gulley’s left by the rains.  I was able to quicken my pace with just a thought.  I felt satisfied with my progress when I finally reached my truck.

10.71 miles run (17.24 km).  Day 26 complete!

4 26 14 maple springs to boyd peak

Friday, April 25, 2014

Dirt Paths and Tracks

Day 24:  Ran 10.34 miles (16.64 km) in Aliso Wood Canyons.  I ran the canyon route along a shady dirt path.  Then I took a detour off to one of my happy places, Cave Rock Trail.  There I watched lizards scamper across the rock.  And I stood high on the giant rock and peered down into the valley below.  That alone rejuvenated me.  From there, I ran up Meadows Trail, a steep switch-back, single track trail that dumped me off on the ridge line overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  It was a long, hot trip back along the ridge.  Fortunately, it was mainly all downhill from there. Smile

4 24 14 provile

My time on Cave Rock:

Day 25:  It was off the dirt path and onto the track today.  Not my choice of course.  But I am fortunate to have had the opportunity.  I subbed 7th grade girls P.E. and ran with my class during two of the periods  I think the kids enjoyed it, as most of them hate to run, and they liked the idea that the substitute was assigning them something that she would do herself.  Miles run:  3 (4.83 km).

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mama Said There’ll Be Days Like This

Running streak going strong (well, not necessarily strong, but at least still going Winking smile)

Day 22:  Tuesday was busy with getting the boys back to school, doing chores, etc.  I watched my youngest during his after school running program, then visited my brother in the hospital.  In the evening I was off to teach an adult Excel class at a local high school.  Somewhere in all this, I squeezed in a minimum run about the neighborhood totaling 1.20 miles (1.9 km). Nothing to write home about, but I did work up a sweat, and I did meet my minimum to continue this streak.  

Day 23:  Today was a little less hectic.  I ran first thing, or almost first thing (after getting the boys off to school), so that I wouldn’t flake and opt for a back-to-back minimum.   I hit the dirt in Aliso/Wood Canyons and soon found myself making and receiving work calls concerning my classes.  I was happy to finalize some things and was able to run more freely.  Soon however, I felt weak and tired, and the negative, “I’m no runner,” talk came prancing in. 

Despite my weakness and slight negative talk, I managed to run 11 miles (17.70 km) in this wonderful “wilderness” park.  I’ve put in enough miles in my short running career to know there’d be days like this.  And so, I went with it – hiking when it became too much and always, always remembering to appreciate the beauty.  And it was a beauty.  No matter how tough the trails become, they’re always beautiful.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tres Dias Mas

I’ve added three more days to my Easter streak, but time is so short, I’ve had little time to contemplate on them. 

Day 19:  I got out late, though I did manage to get in a beloved mountain run.  I drove to Silverado Canyon, and then Maple Springs Road to where the asphalt ends.  It’s a single lane road, that is, not one lane each way.  No, it’s one lane period.  Carefully I drove that road even as eager as I was to finally hit dirt.  And hit dirt I finally did.  I ran up hill on Maple Springs for 4.5 miles.   A mountain biker passed me as he rode downhill and exclaimed, “You’re Awesome.”  Wow.  I never feel awesome.  I should re-state that.  I feel awesome, meaning, I immensely enjoy where I’m at and what I’m doing.  But as a person, measuring my accomplishments, I don’t think I’m awesome one bit.  In fact, I constantly fall miles short.  I am a classic low self-esteem person.  So, when this cyclist hollered this out to me, I felt blessed.  I thought, “How nice he is, and how neat that I am a recipient of his niceness.”  

From “Four Corners,” I turned the bend in the rocky road and headed up toward Modjeska peak for 1.5 additional uphill miles.  I only made it to the point however, as time ran out for Saturday’s run.  At the point, I took in the hazy view, ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, then turned back for a glorious 6 mile downhill run.  With about 4.5 miles remaining, two dirt bikers flagged me down to tell me this:  “We admire you. We really do!!”  Wow.  I hope that I am a stranger that makes someone’s day once in a while. SmileTotal miles run 12.02. (19.34 km). 

Day 21 (Easter Day):  I planned on getting a run in during the morning hours of Easter.  The morning flew by however, so I was left throwing my shoes and garmin into the car as we rushed off to my parents home in Fallbrook.  After an Easter lunch and way, way too many sweets (as my no- sweets-during-lent had ended), I headed out the door for a minimum run just to keep up my Easter streak.  I ran Dinwiddie Preserve for a grand total of 1.28 miles (2.06 km).  And I was happy to do it.  Note to to self:  Don’t forget to pack a sports bra!!!

Day 21: This was not a good day.  To begin, I dreamt in great detail that I was Jewish and in a Jewish concentration camp.  The dream was heavy, too heavy and too detailed.  A couple things that I explicitly recall are: 1)  I said to myself again and again as I registered as  Jew and checked myself into the camp, “This has already been endured.  You just must endure it again,”  and 2) the utter filth in the bedding that we were forced to lay in (though I brought my own clean bedding along with me, which was promptly thrown out when I arrived). 

Among other things on this day, which I will not categorize here, I jumped off my front porch, catching my hand on a rose bush.  A thorn tore, and I mean TORE through my ring and middle fingers, leaving a bloody mess that would not relent.  Besides that and other things (like I broke my husband’s windshield!) and one of my baby brothers went into emergency surgery last night, I was worn out mentally.  (My baby brother’s fine now, but I witnessed him in a great deal of pain yesterday, Easter Sunday.  I am so thankful that he has such a terrific wife.  She got him to the hospital despite preliminary doctor’s findings that they would “monitor,” his pain.  Turns out he was diagnosed wrong and had a ruptured appendix all along, that he suffered with for EIGHT days.)   Anyway, I’m off subject.  The point of this blog is that I did manage to streak day twenty-one.  I took a short drive and ran up Aliso Creek Trail into Wood Canyon.  From there I turned off on a single track for one of my happy places, “Dripping Cave.”  I spent a little time relaxing in the cool and shady Dripping Cave, then headed back out to Wood Canyon where I finished up my run with 6.11 miles (9.83 km).  I’m not sure if this made the day better, but I know I’m better for it.  And I did get a bit of tranquil thoughtlessness.  That’s always a good thing. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Add Three More Days To My Streak

Day 16: Wednesday; I didn’t get out for a run until after the sun had already set.  For the first time that I can remember, I wished for reflective wear as I ran down Highway One.  For a moment I considered wearing my headlamp.  But vanity got the best of me, and I decided on a light colored shirt instead (light blue).  Okay, so I quickly ran off the streets, into the wharf and marina where cars cannot venture.  Miles run:  3

Day 17:  Thursday, I ran in Whiting Ranch which is in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains (Saddleback Mountains).  I avoid Whiting Ranch because that’s the location that most of the cougar activity I hear about comes from.  A cyclist was killed there some years back by a cougar.  He was reportedly stooped down fixing his bike.  A couple days later, that same cougar dragged off a woman.  She survived.  Fast forward some years -- just last week, a cougar was shot for acting aggressively and “stalking” a family.  Needless to say, being a lone runner, this is a place I avoid (call me stupid, because there’s cougars other places that I run, this particular area though seems to have the most reported activity.)

Thursday however, I ran with a girlfriend whom I have haven’t run with in a few years.  Victoria contacted me early in the week, and after a short deliberation, we decided upon Whiting Ranch.  I printed up a map the night prior.  She read it while we ran (because I run without my reading glasses), and we ran through lovely, green wooded areas for eight miles.  She kicked my butt, needless to say.  I’m so used to lollygagging about the wilderness without needing to keep up with another runner.  It was a wonderful run, and Victoria kept me on my toes no doubt!

Whiting Ranch:

Day 18: 1.35 miles: Friday; I am so wiped out from many days and evenings of work (both teaching adults and substitute teaching children), that it took all that I had to run out the door and put in the minimum.  I ran 1.35 miles into town.  My feet dragged.  Back at home, I did ten burpees in the kitchen.  Then feeling badly for struggling so much for such a little load, I took in fifty squats.  Call me crazy.  Cuz I am.