TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Country Runs

I’m in the country this Christmas season . . . Texas country, where the roads are long and the skies are big. My boys are staying at my in-laws ranch, while my husband and I are in town at a hotel. Every morning, we drive out to the ranch (about a 20 minute drive), where we have been spending time with family. There’s lots of land to walk around and a couple of ponds to linger about. It really is beautiful country, with miles and miles of back country roads to venture out onto.

Christmas Eve, I set out for a short run with my oldest son in the afternoon. The temperatures were in the forties (Fahrenheit), but that wasn’t cold enough to keep on the long sleeves. By the time we reached the small cemetery (Bowman Ridge Cemetery about 2 miles in), I was ready to take off the long sleeves and run in a tank top. It felt really good to get out and run the straightaway dirt roads. Really good. This run measured a little over 4.5 miles (with close to zero elevation gain). I know this for sure because I’m wearing my new sports watch – Amazfit Pace. Yes, I have officially left Garmin behind, and so for, I am pleased.

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Run 2, which was today, December 27, I took my middle son along. It was dang cold out, but he didn’t even bring a jacket. I told him that he’d need one, but he did not believe. He mainly walked, but every so often would run to catch up with me. I think the running helped to warm him up. His face was red with cold. At about a half mile a jack rabbit stood up and ran across the field. He had to be three feet tall! I wish I was quick enough snap a picture. But by the time I had my camera out, he was long gone. Then about one mile in, two dogs ran from a farmhouse out onto the road, and accompanied us for most of the run. It wasn’t until about a half mile from “home” that the owners of the dogs showed up in a car and called the dogs in. The dogs were beautiful.

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IMG_5914I kept my long sleeves on the entire run. I believe that it was thirty-something. Like I’ve already said, dang cold! The dogs didn’t mind, and my son without a jacket didn’t seem to mind much either. (Crazy kids!) We went back out to the cemetery, which is so interesting. It is a very old cemetery, with grave markers dating back to the early 1800s. It’s also a historical landmark being that it is a Confederate veteran cemetery. I know that it is popular to hate all Confederate history, but I love history, so I’m delighted to come across an artifact like this, which by the way, is practically in the middle of nowhere – it’s surround by country roads and farms – that’s it.

This run measured just a little over 4 miles, with again, practically zero elevation gain.

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Arroyo Trabuco My Good Friend

Arroyo Trabuco 14 mi. / Friday 12/14

I downloaded the Mapmyrun on my phone and took to Arroyo Trabuco Trail Friday, December 14 (yes, I am 10 days late -- so I will make this quick). Not really mourning my Garmin anymore (it really was a pain in the ass). I recall it was a dark day, both physically and mentally. The skies were gray, and I was feeling down for reasons I’ll leave out. Best thing ever to do when down, hit the trails, especially after recent rains.The creek was full, so much so, that I found it difficult to cross without at least dipping my foot in the water. There were several creek crossings. There were also lots of people, and they all made some kind of contact -- a nod, eye contact, even short talks (big contrast to my local trails). I met one man (Ahmad) who told me about the video clips he saw of mountain lions on this trail. We had a good ten minuteIMG_5709 discussion as he showed me one of the cameras on the trail that I had never even noticed. In the end, I was growing somewhat fatigued, and even had to run some to keep to my time schedule. I believe that I probably ran about 6 of the 14+ miles. At the last creek crossing, I didn’t have energy or focus to cross it without getting my feet wet. So, mid-way, I simply stepped down into the middle of the creek and walked across it, drenching my shoes completely.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Bye-Bye Garmin

So . . . recently, I went for a hike-run in Wood Canyon, but I can’t tell you for sure what day it was (I believe it was last Wednesday 12/12). I also can’t tell you any other stat, like distance or elevation gain. Why? Because I lost my Garmin on the trail. And sadly, that Garmin had to go. My relationship with that thing was definitely a love-hate relationship. I loved the stats it gave me, and the interface was pretty good. But really, what a pain in the ass it was to charge (very difficult to make the connection), and I can’t tell you how many times I could not upload my info. I had to constantly reset the thing, and then to top it off, the wristband broke, and the stupid thing does not accommodate a replacement band. I was bound to eventually lose my Garmin carrying in my pocket as I did. I suppose the reason I lost my Garmin is because I went crawling around in caves again. I’m pretty sure that’s when it dropped out of my pocket.

So, I set out late morning, Garmin in hand for what I am going to estimate as an 8 mile route. And because of my mood, which was somewhat down, I decided to make my loop include one of the biggest inclines in the park -- steep inclines do wonders for my mood. My route: Aliso Canyon, Wood Canyon, Mathis, Oak Grove, Car Wreck Trail (super steep!), Mathis, Wood Canyon, and finally back to Aliso Canyon. I noticed my Garmin lost in Wood Canyon on the way back, and did not have any time to go back and hunt for it. I had to get back home in time to attend my middle son’s Christmas concert. And frankly, I really didn’t even want to look for it. I am done with Garmin!

Some observations from my hike-run:

First off, I saw 7 (yes seven!) deer grazing in Aliso Canyon. I have seen many deer in those canyons, but never as many as 7 all at once. They didn’t even flinch as I stood there across the field snapping photos of the bunch. They did look up at me here and there, which is much more to than humans on the trail did. Which brings me to my second observation. People in the coastal hills do not look at you when you come up on them on the trails. Nothing, not a word, not a nod, not even a smile. I find that strange. I try to make eye contact with everyone -- and then I nod or smile. This lack of acknowledgement by other hikers and runners would never happen on a mountain trail. When you come up on someone in the mountains, you are bound to stop and chat a bit with them.

IMG_5585Despite losing my Garmin, this hike helped immensely with dealing with my stress. The creeks were full and even rushing over their usual borders in some places.  Green grass was popping up everywhere, including in the black burnt areas. I loved the torture of Car Wreck Trail, and amazingly, it really wasn’t that much torture at all. It was a good thing climbing up that trail, just as it was a good thing that I lost my Garmin.IMG_5586IMG_5605IMG_5627IMG_5634IMG_5639IMG_5641IMG_5658IMG_5662IMG_5670IMG_5671

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Chiquita Again

Penned 12/9/18, but forgot to post

My diet:
Eggs. Mainly eggs. Well, I guess there are other items too. But lately, my list of staples has been getting shorter. On a semi-regular basis, I consume (besides eggs), beef, pork, butter, sour cream, mustard, mayonnaise (made with avocado oil), heavy whipping cream (in my coffee), avocado, cucumbers, spinach, red and green leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, black olives, salsa, stevia drops, nuts, and different cheeses (lately, bleu, cheddar and jack). This is my diet. Occasionally, I vary it a bit by having turkey, chicken or fish (but that is rare) and also by adding other greens like green beans, cabbage or broccoli (and occasionally onions, green preferred). This is not because I crave greens, but rather to add variation. My semi-regularly splurges are nut butters (almond, cashew or peanut – these foods are a yummy dessert!)

I don’t keep track of my macronutrients (proteins, fats & carbs) – I would go crazy if I did that, my schedule is hectic busy right now. When I first began this journey however, I did measure and record everything. I figured that if I was going to try something so radical (as it was to me – believe me, fats were the devil’s seed), that I needed to make sure that I followed a recordable method. 

The most significant result that has come out of this way of eating . . . that’s easy, I stopped napping. For years, and I mean YEARS, I regularly napped. I napped as a child, as a teenager, as a young adult, as a middle aged woman. I have ALWAYS napped. I felt like I could not help it – I was just too dang tired. I used to fall asleep in the parking lot waiting to pick up my sons from school. In the last few years, I began to feel so fatigued that I struggled to walk even up the steps of my front porch. Yet, I could run twenty plus miles in the mountains (bizarrely true) but every single time it came with a price, a crash price. The first thing that I did when I got home was sleep. It was nap time, and just like that, 3 to 4 hours in the middle of the day were gone. This was a great hardship for me. Extra recovery-sleep hours only added to the many hours I was away from family hitting these trails. We (my husband and I) tried many things to help with my trail running recovery – salts during, then replenishing calories as soon as possible after, or hot baths, or cold baths, etc., etc. Eventually, I could no longer run twenty or more miles in the mountains. I was on and off again in recovery for a long time (recovery from neuroma, back spasms, plantar fasciitis, broken arm, torn foot tendons, and then just overall weakness and fatigue).

Other significant changes since changing the way I eat are: 1) No indigestion, which was nearly a daily thing, and 2) No brain fog. So, why list my diet at the top of this post? I list it because I am pretty certain that it has much to do with my overall well-being (or at least self-perceived well-being). I can assuredly say that I am out of recovery mode. I no longer suffer from plantar fasciitis. The foot where I haven’t had the nerve surgically removed, seems to have recovered from its neuroma. I can put in strenuous hikes. I can run for several miles (not much, but it’s definitely not starting from scratch). I feel substantially stronger than I did 6 months ago. And I really have to say that I think diet is to blame.
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So, with this newly found energy and mental clarity (and let us not forget, no more indigestion!), the trails are becoming increasingly more comfortable. I cannot tell you how important it is to me to get my strength back. I am actually far from where I have been strength-wise in the past, but I am much closer than I have been in a long time. Much. Thanks to a mainly ketogenic diet (and fasting and sometimes a purely carnivore diet – I know – Yikes!!), I can hit Chiquito Trail again and again, as I have for the past several months, and still love the beast.

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The weather was perfect for such a tough course – nice and cool, and even a tad cold to begin. I was hoping to see water flowing in the creeks, as we had recently gone through 2 solid days of rains. The trails were wet for sure. And there were even plenty of puddles, as well as, small bits of water here and there in the creek. The moss was bright green, and the floor was littered with brown, yellow and orange leaves. Chiquita/Chiquito is a must do trail if you like trails. It is like an enchanted forest in some parts, and then gorgeous desert in other parts. There aren’t too many 9 mile courses as tough as this. It’s not straight up difficult, but those first 4 1/2 miles, they are definitely moderately difficult, lots of boulders and continual climbs. I was hoping to cut this hike significantly in time compared to my last trip on the same route. I ran some to catch up on time. And so, of course, I took a good tumble on the way back. More of that is explained slightly in my video recaps below. I really love these two trails, they fill my heart, and really just replace my anxiety with tranquility (but alas, only momentarily – that that is indeed worth it).

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12/8/18 Stats
Route: San Juan Loop to Chiquito Trail, out to falls location and back (taking the other half of San Juan Loop).
9.2 miles / 14.81 km, 1,739 feet / 530 m elevation gain


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Harbor Daze

My Friday hike wasn’t a hike, but instead a nighttime run. I’m not talking about yesterday Friday – I’m talking about last week Friday (11/30)Times have been busy, actually hectic a bit. But hectic might just be a state of mind. My hike wasn’t a hike because Friday morning I had a faculty meeting. Got out about 10:00 am, then had breakfast with my husband at a local Mexican restaurant (eggs & chorizo). That all seemed well-worth it, except for the fact that I was scheduled to teach a 6 hour Microsoft Excel class the following day. So, I really needed to get out and move my feet on Friday. But I didn’t. In fact, I did everything else instead of that. And then finally, I resolved to do a cardio workout at my gym. I even packed a gym bag (which is different than my running bag). So, even as I drove away from my home, I was planning on hitting the gym. But I didn’t hit the gym.  I hit the harbor with a quick 4.24 mile run (not hike).

IMG_2105I forgot to bring my ipod, but I still had music in my ears. On the island, there were a couple of seals barking in the harbor waters.  Waves crashed down on the jetty rocks, and though I could not see them, I could hear untold numbers of birds squawking away on the jetty rocks. There were musicians playing Christmas music over by the restaurants and the entire place was lit up in perfect glory (perfect glory because of the lights reflection on the water). It’s no wonder the Impressionists were so enthralled by light’s reflections.

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With my To Do snowballing, I did not get out for another run again until Pearl Harbor Day (12/7). And that barely didn’t happen. We got two days of solid rain here (Wednesday – Thursday), so I could not do the hike I had planned. All the trails in the coastal hills were closed “due to wet and muddy conditions.” And I wasn’t feeling confident enough to venture out into the mountains the very first day after a big storm. So, I spent the day doing chores, much needed chores, like grocery shopping, which had been long neglected. Also, we had plans for the evening, and time was fleeting (our middle son played in the pit crew for a high school musical and we had tickets!) It was just one of those last minute things – just trot a couple miles I told myself. With the promise that it would be quick, I made a smaller loop at the harbor. 2.25 miles in total. The reflection of light on the water was beautiful.

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