TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Last Run of the Year 2016

Rained through the night Thursday, stopped by the time I woke. And though it looked dark and gloomy Friday afternoon, like it might pour rain any minute, I took my chances for one more trail run this year. Amazingly the trails were open in Wood Canyon, as usually, they shut down after every rain. Though they weren’t closed, the trails were practically empty, and they were muddy.

The skies were dreary. The clouds were gray and heavy. I put in 7.2 tranquil miles, an out-and-back through Wood Canyon. I came upon a few bikers, a couple runners too. But for the most part, I was completely alone – except for the critters, bunnies, squirrels and coyotes. I saw a pack of four coyotes, but they scrambled off before I was able to capture a good photo. At some parts of the trail, the mud was so slick, I needed to gingerly step to avoid a slip and fall. Don’t need another fall this year. Then with a mile left on those dark, lonely trails, the rain began to fall, and I made it back to my car under nightfall just in time for the deluge to fall.

Happy New Year everyone! Here’s to more trails in 2017.

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Friday, December 30, 2016

To the Flag and Back

Thursday was intended as a gym day, but seeing how rain is in the forecast over the next few days, I decided to make it a run day instead. A short run – to the flagpole that overlooks these beach cities, and back.

My legs felt heavy, no doubt from the day before, but the fact that this was a “short” run kept me going. I hiked some to, as I do more nowadays on the inclines. And I took in lovely scenery – blue skies, white puffy clouds and the seemingly endless Pacific Ocean.  In all I ran just slightly over 4 miles. The route: Las Ramblas, Cerro Rebal, Forster Canyon, Patriot Trail to the flag where I turned around and ran the same way back.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Counting Steps

I got another day without rain, yesterday, Wednesday December 28. In an attempt to save some cash in toll fees, I opted to drive the coast to Ridge Park, overlooking Newport Coast. What I thought would be a leisurely drive through Laguna Beach, ended up being a holiday crowded frustration, taking much longer than I had intended. My feet hit dirt about thirty minutes past my plan.

Being so long off the trails, I’m not straight on my mileage anymore. I had hoped that I picked about a nine mile loop. But my “run” ended with the sun completely down, beneath a starlight sky and 10.82 total miles on the garmin. And those last miles, about three of them, were really tough. So tough, that I had to resort to the counting game to get me through them. I’m not sure why counting helps me during tough climbs. Maybe it just takes my mind off the struggle. At each hill, I’d make a guess on how many steps to the top, and set off counting. The closest I came during those last rolling hills was guessing 150 steps, when it turned out being only 130 steps. All other guesses were more than fifty less then the actual. The last hill, I didn’t even have the energy to count.

Wow. It’s been a long time since I’ve played the counting game12 28 16 a.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Route: Bommer Ridge, Moro Ridge, BFI, Crystal Cove State Beach, No Dogs, No-Name Ridge.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Runs

We had rains in Southern California days prior to Christmas. San Juan Creek flowed like I haven’t seen in a couple of years. And the San Gabriel Mountains were covered in snow. No snow, alas, for our Santa Ana Mountains. Good news though, it finally stopped raining just in time for a Christmas Eve run. I didn’t have time to make it to the mountains, and all the coast hills were closed due to “wet and muddy conditions.”

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI got in 6.53 miles out of my front door on Christmas Eve. The temperature was beautiful – crisp and cool. But the strong winds annoyed me ever so! And I walked some to relieve my aggravation, but enjoyed it all nonetheless. One bad thing though – after all that asphalt and cement running, my bad foot felt as if someone had taken a paddle to it. Bad foot!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe day after Christmas, after sleeping in quite late, and spending much of the day picking up my house which looked like a tornado had run through, I made it out to Wood Canyon in Aliso Viejo. I ran a 7.19 mile out-and-back. My feet much more enjoyed the soft dirt beneath them. And the winds had died down, so I wasn’t much annoyed. Actually, I wasn’t annoyed at all.

Merry Christmas! I’m looking forward to a new year.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Impromptu Loop

Two miles into my run on Sunday, my garmin battery died. Sounds like no big deal, but to me it was a dilemma. I love looking at stats, checking my pace, calculating mileage. Turns out, I couldn’t take the loop that I have mileage memorized, because certain trails were closed. And so, impromptu, I took another loop, one that I could not find a record for when I returned home. I just may have never run this loop before in Aliso/Woods – I cannot imagine. Seriously, I thought that I had probably run every conceivable loop combination available. Back at home, I used maps and other people’s websites to figure the mileage of Sunday’s loop, coming in a little over ten miles. I didn’t mean to do ten miles, but I could tell that I was in over my plan (which was between 8 and 9 miles) by the level of my fatigue. I came in after dark, when the parking lot was locked up and void of any bystanders. Fortunately, I parked outside of the lot.

Progress is slow, but there is progress.

The loop: Aliso Creek / Wood Canyon / Mathis / West Ridge / Rock It / Coyote Run / Mathis / Wood Canyon / Aliso Creek.

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Wood Canyon in the Morning

Got out Saturday morning for some trails (7.2 miles). It’s been a long time since I’ve done a morning run. I’d like to get into that habit again. It was a bit colder than I’m used to, but my jacket only lasted twenty-three minutes before I had it tied around my waist. I’d be willing to carry my jacket twenty miles just to have it five minutes in the beginning of my run. I’m funny like that.

Wood Canyon in the morning:

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Back-to-Back Out-and-Backs

Sunday (12/4), I got in another out-and-back in Aliso Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. Because I planned on increasing my mileage some, I took a non-hilly route, spending time only on Wood Canyon Trail. 

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I ran 7.1 miles, and felt good afterward – no re-injury, no major limping (though I did limp a tad, as is pretty much customary nowadays). The best part was really just being out in the “wilderness.” And also, doing it in cool weather – oh how I love the cold weather. It makes a world of difference for me.

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Catch Up

Time to catch up on things so that I can started on my venture of getting back into shape.

First off, another successful Chimera has come and gone (Nov. 12 & 13). And though I re-injured my foot in the mountains and severely limped about all weekend, I was motivated to get back out there on the trails. I was motivated by the runners, and by the volunteers. The weekend was not seamless (as usual), and some volunteers gave way more than their fair share. And afterwards, even though I grinded my teeth over all the little mishaps and things that I could have done better, I had a hopeful sense about me. I felt hopeful, because I knew, regardless of my foot at the time, I was going to do this – (not run Chimera, but run trails again!). For some time, many months perhaps, that fact has been in doubt in my mind.

It took me a while, one full week to actually hit some trails. My husband pleaded with me to take it slow (which I always do anyway), but he meant distance-wise. And he urged me to not take on any terrible elevation. I took that advice Saturday, Nov. 19, and went out to Arroyo Trabuco, near Tierjas Creek Golf course for an out-and-back to O’Neill Park. Total miles 5.64:

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMy foot really ached when I set out hiking, and I thought, boy, this is going to be a long trip. No worry, because I was out in nature. The skies were gray, and the weather was cool. And the trails were practically empty. Eventually, I decided what the heck, and set out running (or rather trotting), and to my utter surprise, found no ache when I ran. And I ran most of that trail, except when it got super rocky (can’t afford a fall so soon).

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWith a few trips to the gym here and there after my Arroyo Trabuco run, it took me until the day after Thanksgiving (11/25) to hit the trails again. With rain over the past few days, I was pretty sure my regular trains were going to be closed. And such that time time was fleeting, I aimed for the closest trails: Las Ramblas to the flag that overlooks the beach cities. The run totaled 4.14 miles. I took a phone call from my sister at the half way point and sat down for a good twenty minutes chatting before that magnificent view.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES Well, I managed to get in a couple more trips to the gym after that, but it took me a good long while to hit the trails again – my truck in the shop (I was hit by a student in the parking lot a few weeks back), and lots of classes to teach, and my boys’ concerts to attend, I had little time. But I still desired the trails – it wasn’t like before, during these past months where I felt they were my adversary. Finally, today, (12/3), I got out to my old stomping grounds, and did an out-and-back along West Ridge to Top of the World. I felt absolutely fine with the foot, and I was so ever delighted with the cool temperatures. (5.15 miles)

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I let the sun go down before finishing up. My last quarter or so mile was under a deep dark blue sky, and it was beautiful, peaceful and beautiful. I am feeling optimistic.

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Always An Adventure

Last Saturday was the Twin Peaks Ultra (actually two Saturdays ago now Sad smile ), and though I didn’t run it, I was there (in more than just spirit). Right from the start, before I even arrived, I was on an adventure. I was so close to destination, but found myself diverted onto the 15 Northbound, when I unexpectedly came upon a closed onramp to the 15 Southbound. Finally, I was able to exit the freeway and turn around, entering the 15 Northbound, only to find myself diverted back onto the 91 Westbound, back toward home! Humph! I was about ten miles from the Start Line, my ride up the mountain was probably waiting to take off up Indian Truck Trail, and I couldn’t get there!  Frustrating. But in my old age, I am able to handle these type of things now without screaming out profanities.

6:20 AM I finally arrived at Indian Truck Trail after following the blue dot on my iPhone GPS (fighting against every urge not to drive in the opposite direction, as somehow I got turned around in my mind and being dark out still, couldn’t quite tell where I was). It was probably 7:30 by the time we were all set up at the top of W. Horsethief, where we’d meet the runners at about mile ten and thirty-four. (We includes: Chase who worked the aid station with me, and HAM operators Mark and Adam).

The next adventure was the bee situation, with hundreds (hell, perhaps thousands)  swarming around us and the goodies laid out on the table for runners. At the suggestion of a lady runner from Virginia, we set up several traps around camp to catch the bees. Turns out, bees will fly into a large bottle with a tiny bit of Coca Cola at the bottom, but they can’t figure out how to fly back out. I don’t want to post of a picture of the trap, lest I anger bee lovers. But we did release the survivors after the race.

Other adventures included runners sobbing, vomiting, and several not making the cut-off. We searched out the runner we had reports of laying on the ground somewhere on the switchbacks up to mile 34 (we found him).  And we fought off more bees. There were a couple of missing runners, dropped runners who needed rides back, and logistics problems (which is always the case in ultras) getting everyone back where they needed to be.

And then, I fucked up my foot. In all my dilly-dallying along the trail (because I just could not resist the beauty of W. Horsethief), I fell when the dry sand slipped beneath my feet. My body twisted, and only the bottom half of my foot followed when I hit. It hurt so badly, I thought for sure I had broken my foot. But I kept my shoe on, and continued on the day, even running some to locate a runner.

When I finally arrived back at home, about 9PM, I took off my shoe, and my foot looked God-Awful. It was puffy, and purple, and mis-figured some. I didn’t get to the doctor until Monday (because I refuse to pay the out-of-pocket costs of emergency care for my $900 a month health insurance plan). Turns out, all is good, just sprained ligaments. It looked so bad, my doctor said, because I stayed on my feet for so long after the injury.

So, there! Always an adventure. But sadly, now, there’s no adventure, because I’m still limping two weeks later. Damn it! (And this is the reason you have not seen any blogposts in a while, and why I have not enjoyed the peace of nature in a while, and why I have worn tennis shoes to work every day).

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