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Saturday, January 28, 2017

SST in the Green

I find it very difficult to wake early on the weekends nowadays. But being that I want to get back into shape, and weekends are the only time to run mountain trails, I grudgingly woke at 6:00 am. And then I promptly tapped the phone screen for a nine minute snooze. And then I did it again, and again, and again, and again. I wasn’t out the door until 9:30 am. So much for setting the alarm.

Due to the fact that I got such a late start, I decided on Santiago Truck Trail (STT). The reason this is such a good trail to run on late-start mornings is because it only takes about thirty minutes to drive there – and more importantly, it’s paved the entire way, with no off-roading. To add a special touch – the drive is delightful, with a turn off into Modjeska Canyon and a windy drive through a couple of tree canopy tunnels.

So, I didn’t do what I had planned today. I didn’t beat myself up over it. At least I was out there, and got to wander about in the wilderness. Even saw three runners that I know on STT. And the hills were so lush and green. Absolutely beautiful. I wasted a lot of time pulling the camera out of my pack.

Miles: 7.22, Elevation gain: 1,376’


Friday, January 27, 2017

Calico, Rain and Quail Loop

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESEven though the Calico Ghost Town trail run was cancelled due to impending weather, we made it out to Calico this year once again. Tenth consecutive year for me, ninth for my husband and sons. The streets downtown were like a real life ghost town – empty. It was lovely. Stayed in our usual accommodations, The Bunk House, which houses about twenty bunk beds – more than enough for our party of seven.  We had a campfire roaring for most of the night, a trip downtown, some shopping and a stroll through the cemetery (which is supposedly haunted). We also had a superb dinner in Barstow. I know some of you might be thinking, in Barstow? Yes, Barstow. We found a gem last year – an Italian restaurant called DiNapoli's Firehouse. I had the lasagna.

Then for the first time ever, I got to stay up late  at The Bunk House since I didn’t have to run twenty miles the next day. Still, the boys we brought along with us stayed up even later (except for my middle son, who so diligently goes to bed at a decent hour every night!). I slept soundly, warm and cozy with freezing temperatures outside. I woke around 6AM and simply stayed in my sleeping bag until 10AM – four hours doing absolutely nothing!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSo, it barely rained Sunday morning, the day of the cancelled race. But by noon, we got some downpours downtown. After more shopping, some attractions and lunch at the Calico restaurant, we departed at 2:45PM, foolishly hoping to make it down the mountain before a terrible storm hit. No such luck. Sometime after Barstow, but before Victorville, a storm set in over a double rainbow that stretched across the sky.

rainbow pic

The drive really was a treacherous one (and I wasn’t even driving!). For my husband it was a white knuckler. Visibility was close to zero, and the rain never let up. The radio station kept blaring its loud emergency broadcasting signal as our phones relayed messages that we were in a dangerous zone, in a state-of-emergency with warnings of flash floods and slides. Drivers drove with their hazard lights blinking, and not a person travelled over thirty miles per hour. The worst of it was going down the Cajon Pass. Traffic moved along at about ten miles an hour here – which is a good thing really. My biggest concern were the big rigs, or any driver for that matter, behind us – with visibility so poor, it was only a matter of time before someone slammed into another. But that didn’t happen – nor did it happen anywhere around us (though I did witness sirens and emergency activity down in a valley somewhere near the junction to Wrightwood).

We got lots more rain in Southern California the following Monday. All the creeks were following rapids out to the ocean. (So sad to see all that water flow away!). I didn’t get out for a run until Thursday (1/26), though I got in some cardio at the gym a few days before that. Being a freeway flyer (that is teaching at three different schools, flying down the freeway from one class to another), I need to find trails directly off the freeway. One such trail system is in Shady Canyon. I got in 5.23 miles on Thursday running the Quail Loop Trail that overlooks the 405 freeway and all of Irvine and beyond. The loop is about 1.75 miles, and gloriously green from all the rain we’ve been having. Not exactly wilderness. But it sure beats pounding the pavement.

Until next time, some pictures from Quail Loop:


Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Road to Calico

This past Monday was the last opportunity for me to put in any miles before the Calico Ghost town race this upcoming weekend. So out of shape am I, I chose the relatively flat trail of Arroyo Trabuco for a little over twelve miles of out-and-back.

With all of our rain, the hills were green, and the creeks were flowing. What a delight to my senses! I made the first creek crossing dry, but ended up with wet feet at creek crossing number two. And I still had eleven miles to go! I cannot stress enough how difficult putting in the miles was on this big, old body. The beauty of it all, and the fact that I have the route mentally packaged into three distinct parts (x 2) helped to get me through it.

In a nutshell, Part I starts on Tijeras Creek Trail and meets up with Arroyo Trabuco about a mile in. This part runs a little over two miles with lots of shade, forests, meadows and two creek crossings. It ends with a climb up to Part II, which runs a little under two miles. Part II is not my favorite part. It’s void of shade, flat with a some-of-the-time a view of The Saddleback Mountains. It can be beautiful, but it’s so dang hot. Part III is a big welcome, as it begins with a down hill into more forest. There’s also more creek crossings, both wet and dry, and some street noise from the gigantic highway overpasses (two or three, can’t be sure right now). Part III ends in O’Neill park where I get clean restrooms with running water. It’s all very lovely, a great place to turn around and do it all again back to the truck.

Well, based on the fatigue factor for this run, Calico was surely going to kill me. Well, not literally kill me (hopefully anyway), but for sure beat the heck out of me. My game plan – just take it easy, enjoy the scenery, and hike all the inclines, running only the downhills and flats. That was my plan, and I was good with that, even rolling in last place. But then . . .  the race was cancelled. CANCELLED. My tenth year at Calico was cancelled due to the expected rain.

Well shucks.

The parts of Monday’s run:


Friday, January 13, 2017

If I can do it in a week, I can do it in a day

So last week (playing catch-up here again), I was at only about fourteen miles come Sunday. All the rain made it difficult to get time on muddy trails. But with a race coming up that I have run for the past 9 years, I felt pressured to put in more miles. Regardless, I’m dead meat in regards to this race, but still, I want to make sure that I can actually put in the miles (or rather kilometers, as it is a 30k). I recall recently saying to my friend Tom F., that “I can run the same amount of miles in a day that I can run in a week.” In other words, if I can run thirty-five miles in a week, I can run thirty-five miles in a day. It may take me an extremely long time, but I can do it. To this, my friend Tom responded, “Yes, you CAN run the same amount in a day, but that does not mean you SHOULD.”

Well, I squeezed out 6+ miles last Sunday to top twenty miles for the week (which is a little longer than my upcoming race). And then, I fell ill – aside from the rain and my illness, I have been able to log precisely ZERO miles this week. Perhaps Tom was right. Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should. Winking smile


Location: Aliso/Wood Canyons

Friday, January 6, 2017

Going with the Flow

I can’t even remember what day it was now. It was the 4th, yes, the 4th, which makes it a Wednesday that I actually dragged myself out of bed early in the morning and drove out to Trabuco Canyon. My plan was to run up Holy Jim trail and back down for a total of ten miles. Turned out, that I needed to practice something that I’ve been teaching myself for many years now – that is to roll with the punches, or rather go with the flow.

After a forty-five minute drive, I came upon a locked gate on Trabuco Canyon Road – locked due to the recent rains. In my youth, that would have dashed all my plans to the rocks. I would have returned home sulking, and it would have probably ruined my entire day. Now however, in my older, years, my goal is to wisely, yet quickly, come up with something new to satisfy my goal when something gets in the way.  Well, my goal was to get my legs used to mountain trails, and also, to experience the creeks now flowing with these past rains.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHaving parked on the side of the road two miles out from the Holy Jim parking lot, there was no way that I had enough time to make it up to The Main Divide and back. I had to work Wednesday evening, and I didn’t want to be rushing around too much when I finally arrived home, only to make the long drive out to my Wednesday night classroom. And so, going with the flow, I quickly changed my plans, and headed out to Holy Jim Falls (which I haven’t been to in a long time due to the drought).

Well, the creeks were flowing, and the landscape was wet and lush. I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day. Every single creek crossing was full. And the falls, well, I haven’t seen more than a dribble in a long time. On this day, there was actually a pool beneath what was much more than a dribble. And even better than that, I didn’t fall once, even though it was rough for me on those mountain trails. Coastal hills are wonderful, but they really don’t prepare me much for the mountain trails. Only mountain trails prepare me for mountain trails.

8.07 miles and my mission was accomplished. I got my legs out moving on mountain trails, and I got to experience the wonderful flowing creeks.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

First Run of 2017

Got out for my first run of the year this afternoon – 6.37 miles, 847’ of elevation gain. Man was I was surprisingly tired afterward. I know I’m supposed to be somewhat fatigued after running trails. But not this much. Must have been the route – Wood Canyon, Cholla Trail, West Ridge, to Top of the World and back. One of the hardest “short” runs I know.

Looking forward to some more difficulty in the next days (if I can get out there before the next big rain).

Cholla Cactus along Cholla trail:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESView of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLooking down into Laguna Canyon from West Ridge: