TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Harding Truck Trail

Yay!  The boys are finally off school for the summer.  And it took long enough!  Really.  This had to be the longest school year ever.  EVER.  I celebrated on Thursday by tip-toeing out of the house while everyone still slept and drove to Modjeska Canyon for a run up Harding Truck Trail.  I didn’t want to do it.  It was the last thing I wanted to do.  Seriously.  But I knew that all I had to do was get my feet going up that monster climb, and if I just put one foot in front of the other that I’d eventually reach the top of that 9.32 miles.  And in the end I’d be happy.  Happy and dead-dog-tired. 

I arrived to the top of Harding Truck Trail (Four Corners) five minutes sooner than I did when I last ran this trail.  I’ll take it.  Five minutes isn’t much, but at least my time was not slower.  I really made up my time on the down hill portion when I forced a strong 9 mile finish, completing the entire 19.64 miles thirty minutes quicker than usual.    This was tough.  I know it’s all downhill.  But it’s rocky and hot and my water was running low – this on top of having just ran over nine uphill miles. 

The Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary was open when I arrived at the bottom.  I rushed inside to purchase a cold water and Diet Coke.  So wiped out was I that I possessed no strength to “stand” in line.  And so I sat on the floor, sweaty and hot, my eyes stinging from salt, as I waited to pay.  

Wow.  These are the days!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mentally Sensitive

I got out for some trail miles this morning under wonderfully dark and gloomy skies.  The weather was muggy, but a little cool as well.  I struggled once again up Mentally Sensitive – it’s not getting any easier (not yet anyway).   The best thing was:  I made it to the top!

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Total miles run:  10.66 (17.2 km).  My guess was 10.8 miles.  My guesses seem to be getting further and further away.  It must be all that Mentally Sensitive stuff is making my brain mush. Winking smile

The deceitful Mentally Sensitive Trail:

And then the Going Gets Tough:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Time to Run

For the first time in a long time, I got my first run in on the first day of the week. SmileI managed this because, though my boys are still in school, my week break between spring and summer sessions is this week.  Yay!  Aside from a six hour meeting on Friday, and getting the boys off to school for their last days, I have lots of time for chores Sad smile and more time to run Smile.

Monday was slightly an experiment in running for me.  I’ve cut back my calorie intake significantly because I am really starting to fret upcoming events in September and October.  For one thing, it would be nice to fit back into my preferred running clothes.  And for another thing, I will perform much better carrying around less weight come fall.   The experiment was how I would weather moderately difficult trails. 

The verdict – I believe at the moment my calorie intake is probably too low to take on tough terrain.  Though I only ran ten miles, I had some good climbing.  With that climbing I experienced a great deal of muscle fatigue.  And I also felt light-headed. 

Aside from my experiment of sort – even a bad day out on the trails is a good day.  I spooked three deer while running a heavily wooded single track.  And they spooked the heck out of me. For some reason, my internal reasoning was delayed, and it took me several seconds to register what kind of animal was running across my path.  Later, in the canyon, I ran up on what I thought was one deer.  Lo and behold, I got to catch a glimpse of another and two baby deer.  One of the babies had white spots all over his back, just like Bambi.  I also crossed many snake paths, but did not see one of them.  But I did get to witness a small bird attacking a larger bird in flight.  The larger bird had something in its beak that the little one tried ferociously to get at, to no avail.  But the larger bird did drop some of his bounty and I could see that it probably was some kind of nesting material, shreds of things like paper and straw. 

Notice the deer through the trees:

A stop in the shade going up Meadows Trail:

Miles run:  10.03

I’m looking forward to amping up my runs. 

Stay tuned. Winking smile

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Almost Over

I feel like I’ve been running an ultra, the finish line is in sight, AND I JUST CANNOT TAKE ANOTHER STEP. I don’t feel this way from running though – I’m talking about the end of the school year, and I don’t feel like I have it in me to cross the finish line. The boys are ALMOST, ALMOST finished. My grade-schooler is as good as finished. But my middle-schooler and high-schooler have their noses to the grind, pumping out projects and studying for finals. My night job (adult education) is in its final week. And I’ve been taking more substitute teaching assignments than usual because it’s all coming to an end. But I AM SOOOOO TIRED. Just. A. Little. Bit. Longer. Take one more step. And then another. And then another.  This is what I tell myself when I’m running.  Hopefully it will work for this. Winking smile

I have time to make quick stops at the gym. Very little time for the trails. I do have two trail runs to report this week. First, on Sunday, I took a practice run on twenty miles of the 50k race I’m running in four weeks. Though not a technical course, it’s a tough course. A LOT OF UPHILL (For that matter, a lot of downhill too, but the uphill is so relentless, that by the time it’s downhill time, I’m pooped).

harding tt 20 mile out and back elevation

On Sunday, I packed a great deal of water, as I’ve gotten myself in trouble on these very trails before. In all I carried 110 fluid ounces. Seventy of those were in my pack bladder, the remaining I carried mostly on my back. Thank goodness I don’t have to carry that extra water weight during the race. On Sunday, my back ached so much by the time I reached my turnaround point, I broke down and took two ibuprofen. I also cut open beneath the mouth of my plastic water bottles so that I could pour the still frozen water chunks into my bladder and carry the fluids in a centralized location. This made a huge difference comfort-wise on the downhill portion. On the bad side, it took me 6 hours to travel twenty miles. Granted, on race day, I will probably move faster. But as usual, I will need to move A LOT faster. On the good side, I came in on those twenty miles feeling strong. Back at home, I didn’t even take a nap.  Oh!  And I ran up on two snakes on Harding Truck Trail during this run – a ribbon snake (garter snake?) and a gopher snake.

Report 2, today (Thursday) I hit the trails for a 12.50 mile run that I had no business running.  I have absolutely no time for this!  I didn’t have a sub job though, so damn the laundry and damn the dishes.  They can wait until after I cross the finish line!  (Tell that to the boys who had to scrounge around for underwear this morning – because today I also had a small report to write for a six hour meeting I’m attending tomorrow, attendance to record and print for June, a timecard to complete, Vacation Bible School registration to complete, a son to coach in Spanish, and a three hour testing lab to run at the Adult School, etc., etc., etc.,).  And so I ran anyway!

A helicopter hovered close to the ground at the get-go in Aliso Canyon.  It had border patrol colors (green and white), so my guess was they were looking for someone.  Either that, or they were just running maneuvers.  The noise got a little annoying at times though – and it did seem they were looking for something or someone, as the helicopter flew so close I could see the passenger leaning out and looking toward the ground.  And as I gleefully ran along the dusty trail, I got to thinking about how stupid this was if the helicopter was Border Control, that the U.S. would leave the borders so easily crossable and then hunt people who cross illegally inside the borders as if they were animals or hardened criminals.  I mean, come on!  If it’s that important that you spend so much manpower and money to hunt people down, why not make it more difficult to cross?  Ah . . .  off subject, I guess.  Immigration is a huge and controversial subject here in California.  Regardless of my views on the matter, I hate this hunting down of people.  Hate. It.  And I had PLENTY of time to think about it as this helicopter swept down low into the valley for HOURS today.  Seriously, hours.  (Do note that it’s only my speculation over what they were doing – but we all know here that green and white is Border Control.  Just sayen).

SO!  I “ran” up Mentally Sensitive as the helicopter continued to hover about.  And I found time to smile despite that trail’s retched incline. 

And then I smiled tenfold as I ran along Top of the World and saw this baby goat.  I so wanted to hop the electrified fence and take him for my own.  But alas, I ran on because time was running short, and I still had so much to do.

And then, silly, crazy me, I decided to lengthen my loop (originally planned on 10.75 miles) for a 12.50 mile loop.  Why?  All because I wanted to run down RockIt which is a huge challenge, even on the downhill.  It’s steep in some parts, and so unevenly rocky, that I find it quite difficult to gain any speed.  Still I try.  And try I did.  And I didn’t even fall on RockIt.  I fell on Coyote Run Trail.  Flat on my butt.  Serves me right.  Winking smile  I really had no business putting in a 12+ mile trail run today anyway. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

More Stats

Got out late this morning, but ever so grateful because I’ve been working more than usual, leaving little time for morning runs. 

The stats: 

Miles run: 10.03 (16.14 km)

Elevation gained:  1,253 ft (382 m)

The pics:

Entering Meadows:

My “Everything’s-Everything’s-Gonna-Be-Alright-Bridge (because if I make it to here, chances are very good that I’m surviving the run Smile):

Top of the World:

Robber’s Cave:aUp Meadows down Mathis Dripping Cave

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Devil Wears Cholla Cactus

Okay, I’m wondering if the English translation for Cholla is SATAN.  I’ve come across many things on the trail, and I’ve learned to stay away from many of those things – like say for example, Stinging Nettle. You would have thought by now, I would have learned about Cholla Cactus, AKA Jumping Cholla.  I have after all, run Cholla Trail on countless occasions.  But I have only admired this treacherous plant from afar.  That is, until Tuesday morning. 

There I was, minding my own business, running along Aliso Creek Trail in Aliso Canyon and I passed by a Cholla in bloom.  It has such a lovely (deceitful) flower.  I stopped and went back to snap a photo.  I took one from afar, then I pushed in close, stepping beneath the lower branches for a close-up.   

I stepped away oblivious to what had transpired beneath the bush.  But I realized right away with the first step that I took.  Ouch!  It felt like needles were poking the bottom of my foot.  I glanced down to see that I had stepped on a fallen Cholla branch.  And I could not kick it off.  After some attempts using my other foot, I managed to break the branch away.  What remained were dozens of Cholla thorns penetrating the soles of my shoes – poking ALL THE WAY THROUGH the insoles.  I could not take another step without prickly pain.  AND my attempts at releasing the thorns were futile.  They poked quick and deep into my fingertips, drawing immediate blood.  I took a rock and tried to shave off the Cholla thorns.  But that only broke them at the surface, still leaving them deep in my shoe.  Finally, I found a thick branch that I used to pry the suckers out of my shoes. 

STILL!  One little thorn dug into my forefoot after I put my shoe back on and tried to run.  After unlacing them two or three more times and trying to dislodge the unseen thorn with my bloody fingers, I sat at the side of the trail nearly beaten.  Forty-five minutes already wasted dealing with these demons, I whimpered a bit before pulling myself back in the game.  “It’s just an obstacle,” I told myself.  “Figure out a way!” 

When I walked I could not feel the thorn.  When I ran, it jabbed hard into my forefoot.  Obviously, it was buried beneath the insole padding.    So instead of finding the little sucker, I decided to crush the little it where it hid.  With a rock and some spirited anger, I smashed down into my insole, then laced up my shoes once more.  Success.  Obstacle defeated.  I was off again, for a shorter run then planned, with a loop totaling 8.39 miles (I guessed 8.4!!)

I am certain to never stop anywhere near a Cholla cactus again. Never, ever, ever! Smile with tongue out

Capture

Monday, June 9, 2014

Breakfast at “Four Corners”

I got my once-a-week-mountain-run in this morning bright and early.  Well, not that early.  I started off up Maple Springs at 7:00 AM.  Still, I was the only one on the road for some time.  The weather was cool.  The skies were blue.  All ideal for a time in the mountains.  I originally decided to set out for an eighteen mile loop often referred to as “The Silverado Loop.”  It gets really nasty after mile 8 due to HOT, exposed, uphill trails.  But a mile into my loop, the battery on my garmin died.  Doh!!!  I didn’t want to make that trip without my security blanket, my sweet, sweet garmin.  So I began stashing my extra water as I made my way up Maple Springs for a fifteen mile out-and-back instead.

I saw a couple of these little guys along the way:

I didn’t run up that mountain quickly at all.  In fact, I met a two hikers again and again on my giant switch-back, as they made their way straight up the mountain, bushwhacking their way.  I didn’t stress over my inability to pick up my feet any quicker however.  I enjoyed the the lush mountainsides and little creatures along the way. 

I arrived at “Four Corners” quicker than I figured I would.  And I thought to myself, “I can do the loop.  I can, I can!!”  But alas, I had already stashed my extra water on Maple Springs.  I didn’t dare make my trip across the “desert” without reserves.  “Four Corners,” by the way, is a junction of four trails: 1) Maple Springs, the trail that I came up, originating in Silverado Canyon, 2) Harding Truck Trail, a 9 mile uphill battle beginning in Modjeska Canyon, 3) The Main Divide heading north (I think) and 4) The Main Divide heading off toward Modjeska and Santiago Peaks.

View from “Four Corners”:

My breakfast at “Four Corners”:

In all I travelled fifteen miles during this wonderful mountain out-and-back.  The back was all downhill, with plenty of wishes at my disposal along the way. Smile

Friday, June 6, 2014

Just the Stats

This morning I hit the trails in Aliso/Wood Canyons for my first run this week (day 117 in my fitness streak).

Miles run 13.38 (my guess was 13.37!!), 21.53 km.

Elevation gain 1,244 ft. or 379 m.

Spotted:  2 bucks, 2 does, 1 mouse, many lizards and goats, goats goats! (& I was wearing my Nanny Goat shirt Smile)

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