TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

High Energy!

IMG_0946Saturday (2/24) was ten days since switching to a ketogenic diet. My energy is still sky high, and mental focus so much improved that it really is kind of freakish. In addition, my appetite is oddly suppressed, like no other appetite suppressant that I’ve tried. Just think, if someone would have concocted a pill to do all this -- get rid of the brain fog, give tons of energy, and act as the best ever appetite suppressant to boot, I would have taken that pill. I would have taken that pill because I have been raised in a culture where we are always looking for that magic solution, one that works without even trying. I have never found such a pill. Instead, I stumbled upon something called a ketogenic diet.

Who knows if these are all temporary side effects. I’m hoping not of course. For now, I enjoy experimenting with the high fat/low carb diet effects. Since now when I wake in the morning, I am awake, I have more time in the day. Seriously, I experience no grogginess upon waking. I also no longer nap. I have been a napping girl for years. YEARS. I stopped napping the day I switched my diet.

So, on Saturday (2/24), I decided to run-hike a loop in Crystal Cove/Laguna Wilderness that has been a struggle for me over the past few years. I chose this loop because 1) It’s relatively close by and I had limited time due to the fact that I needed to get my two youngest boys to their music lessons, and 2) I wanted to see if my newfound energy would affect the misery level of this run. The route: From Ridge Park in Newport Beach: No-Name Ridge to No Dogs to the Pacific Ocean (all pretty much down hill). For the climb out: El Moro Canyon to Slow & Easy to Boomer Ridge back to truck.

I got out of the house fairly early (about 7:10 am). The temperature read 38F in Dana Point. It had warmed up a bit by the time I arrived to Ridge Park in Newport Coast. The streets were already lined with cars dumping out cyclists, runners and hikers onto the trails. The mood was definitely festive! I hit the dirt on an empty stomach being that I am also intermittent fasting, which basically means that I fast for 16 hours before eating (this by the way is simple because much of the 16 hours is done while I’m sleeping!). Anyway, I have never put in a grueling run or hike without some sort of fuel. I packed calories (almonds) just in case my body began breaking down.

The results: I ran down to the Pacific Ocean with very good energy. I didn’t miss the gloves that I accidentally left at home, as I warmed up pretty quickly. The ocean was beautiful with a crisp horizon line. I lingered there with the sand beneath my shoes for a bit, not looking forward to the climb out. I will not deny that the climb out was tough. But the thing that I noticed was that after the really hellish parts, I rebounded very quickly. Pretty much as soon as I hit flat ground. I never once needed to sit at the side of the trail to rest (that’s how bad it had gotten for me!).  And I never felt the need for fuel. But I did drink up, more so than I usually do.

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IMG_0987IMG_0989The trip was 9.75 miles long with 1,284’ of elevation gain. I had more energy than I’ve had in years. I rebounded quickly. I did not need fuel. And I did not nap all day. I promised myself at least a month of ketogenic dieting. Today as I write this, I am on day 14, and as it stands now, the benefits of ketogenic eating are too great to go back. (5 pounds down also)

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Link to my shaky video diary of the run: My More Energy Run

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Surprise on Maple Springs Road

Sunday morning (Presidents’ Day in the U.S.), I woke refreshed. Ever since I’ve switched to a ketogenic diet (8 days ago) I wake up awake. This feels so strange to me, because for years now, I have been waking groggy, and pretty muchIMG_0869 miserable to face the day, while trying to squeeze in a nap whenever I can. Sunday, it was not so. I felt refreshed getting out of bed. So, I braved the cold (and it was soooo cold) and headed out for Maple Springs Road in Silverado Canyon around 8 am.

Wow, what a morning! The trek up Maple Springs Road was difficult, but I never felt the need to rest. The skies were a beautiful blue with big white clouds. The road was crowded (relatively) also with drivers and cyclists (more so drivers). Again, I didn’t mind the “crowds” because I’m a little hesitant to get out in the wilderness again after so much time away.

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A couple miles in, a female runner travelling down Maple Springs Road came around the bend and suddenly stopped just a few feet away from me. All bundled up, wearing dark sunglasses, I didn’t recognize her, but figured that we might know each other because of the way she deliberately stopped. She pointed at me, “Lauren?” I didn’t recognize her until she removed her sunglasses. And I was flabbergasted to see that she was my long time trail running friend, Kelly. For a second there, I thought that I might cry. It has been at least a couple years since I’ve seen Kelly. What a great surprise on Maple Springs Road!  The best surprise.

Anyway, after chatting a bit and also meeting her running partner, Maria, who arrived several minutes later, I continued my trek up Maple Springs Road. I took the road up to “Four Corners” where it meets Harding Truck Trail and also The Main Divide going off in two directions. It is a wonderful, sometimes desolate place. On Sunday, “Four Corners” was completely void of humanity. From my vantage point, I had views of The San Gabriel mountains in one direction, and The OC and The Pacific Ocean in the other.  I didn’t stay long though because the wind blew cold and strong. I just snapped a few pictures, and then I was off again, headed back down Maple Springs Road.

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I ran all the way back to the car. The scenery was so breathtaking that I couldn’t control myself with the camera. The only mishap was because I got careless. At one point, I looked down at the garmin on my wrist, taking my eyes off the road, and I kicked a rock. Ouch. It hurt. Though I tripped, I did not fall -- hallelujah.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Bright-eyed and Bushy-Tailed

Saturday morning I woke up fresh and headed out for Santiago Truck Trail around 8 am. I recently began ketogenic eating, which has given me a good deal more energy. I have lost very little weight (granted today, I am only on day 7, and Saturday it was a mere day 4). The increased energy though, was something I noticed almost immediately. Never, and I mean never (in the past several years), do I wake up refreshed and not tired. Saturday, I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

I parked in Modjeska canyon because no parking exists at the trailhead. The walk is about a quarter mile to the trailhead. The weather was warm, the skies were clear, and the trails were crowded with cyclists. I didn’t mind the company, and although I wrote “crowded”, I mean that relatively. I could go as much as 30 minutes without seeing a soul. But occasionally, a single rider, a couple or a group of several (5 or 6) riders would come by.

I took the first single trail detour near the trailhead so that I could be completely alone, and also so that I could pass the little man-made monument hidden in the brush. Immediately, I noticed a great deal of strength in my stride as I made my way up that steep incline. It was as if my feet were more solid than ever on the ground.

Single track leading to the “monument”:IMG_0818IMG_0823

After the single track, I remained on the main road, destination: the flags across from the vulture crags. This was the day (day four of Keto) that my mental focus clicked in. I felt so strong and mentally crisp, that I just couldn’t hold back my energy and decided to run, just to see if I felt better about running.

Gosh, did I ever feel better about it. I ran a great deal without fatigue, and laughed out loud as I ran over rocks without even a stumble. My mental clarity was so improved that I was able to use it to my advantage and achieve a smooth feet-eye coordination. Really, I was amazed.

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It seemed in no time I was at the vulture crags. Still feeling good and strong, I hung out at the flags for a bit shooting photos, the same photos that I have shot hundreds of times. Why? Gosh, I guess it’s an uncontrollable habit now. Just me reaching to bring some of that beauty home with me.

The Crags:IMG_0838IMG_0839IMG_0842IMG_0848

In all, I ran-hiked 7.29 miles with 1,328 feet of elevation gain. Afterward, I felt un-hungry and refreshed, not to mention focused. Jazzed about these side-effects of ketogenic eating, I was hopeful, yet hesitant to expect that they stay with me. When I returned home, get this, I didn’t even nap. For ages now, I have been napping, especially after runs or big hikes. On Saturday, I returned home and cleaned the whole house. It was weird.

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