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Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Road to Calico

I want to run Calico Trail Run again. I love this race, and I miss it. It's been a few years -- 2015 was the last year I ran Calico 30k. I had come a long way. It destroyed me the first time I ran it in 2007. Going in, I felt fairly confident with the distance. It was the terrain that caught me off guard. Oh the troubles I encountered that first year! This race taught me the meaning of technical terrain. I crossed the finish line with bloody arms and legs having wiped out on the rocks in a bluish-pink canyon. At home, my husband used tweezers to dig out the pebbles embedded in my arm from my fall. I was wiped out for days. Calico 30k basically chewed me up and spit me out. I never realized how much I would love something like that. I was smitten.   

IF I can do it, Calico 2020 will be my 8th year. It is going to be a tough road to Calico. I'm not starting from scratch, but I'm definitely far away both mentally and physically to run this race well. The time to beat, well, that would be my best time which is 4:30 (from 2012, the only year I placed in my age group).

MY TRAINING PLAN is twofold. In the midst of teaching at two schools and directing a race in December, it has to be twofold, otherwise, there's a slim chance I'll be able to run Calico come January 2020.

FIRST PRONG of my attack (but not necessarily most the important): I need to get in good physical shape. I have a long way to go in building strength and endurance. I'll accomplish this by running, hiking, calisthenics, and some weights. I may even get back to the gym. 

SECOND PRONG, which is crucial to my success: I need to get in good mental shape. This entails proper sleep, proper food and completely cutting out all sugar. Fasting will be a huge part of this prong. I have been using it frequently, since I decided to run Calico again a few weeks ago.

I've further divided my plan into 3 phases, each lasting a little over a month. 

Phase 1: Getting Started 
Phase 2: Building
Phase 3: Maintaining

Currently, I am about 2 weeks into Phase 1. I have been running short distances on the road, as well as, hiking trails. I started slowly with calisthenics (planks only). And right now, I'm using The Big Loop at Aliso which is about 12 miles with 1,565' of elevation gain as my way to measure progress. (Love that loop!). I'm hiking all of it, but with a goal to increase my speed, I will add some running soon. About a week ago (10/27) I hiked The Big Loop in 4:37. This was an enjoyable hike; I didn't kill myself doing it. I'm in the "Getting Started" phase which is extremely important to my success. It's all about getting into a routine and doing it nice and easy with mental clarity so that I don't injure myself. Two prong attack, I believe that is key.

The Big Loop

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Lovely Dirt

So, it's been a long time, yes? I have much to tell, but in this post, I'll stick to my latest workouts (I'm calling them workouts because I am officially training). Training for what? Well, it's three months out, and it's been a few years. That's my clue.

I got in about twenty hiking miles this past weekend. Friday (10/18) I made it quick, about 7.5 miles, with a hike into Wood Canyon (Aliso Viejo, CA). It had been much too long since my last dose of medicine. August 22 to be exact. I'd rather not wait that long ever again. My excuse? Summer recess has ended and so I'm back to work. Work is enjoyable I have to say. But it takes a lot of my time. I need both to be balanced. I need work, and I need trails, or really, wandering of any sort. And right now is an especially wonderful time to be out and about because we fluctuating on the edge cool and even cold temperatures. 

The breeze was cool on Friday. I spotted a couple of crawdads in the creek. Autumn was visiting and what an enjoyable hike it was! I turned off onto Coyote Run Trail and took the single-track back toward Wood Canyon. Across a bridge and in and out of shade, my music was the sound of leaves rustling in the breeze, birds and squirrels chirping. To my delight, a Road Runner crossed my path and a meandered a little bit so I could admire him. I didn't even reach for a camera because I knew that by the time I grabbed for it, he'd be gone (that's what always happens!) 

It felt great to get back out on the trails. And I chose this lovely flat course for a purpose. With a plan to hike Sunday, I wanted Friday's hike to be a warm-up. It had been too long, nearly two months. I can't remember the last time that I took that long of a break.  

From Friday

The following Sunday (10/20) I hit the trails in Aliso/Wood Canyons once again. This time, I added some hills for a 12 mile loop, what I call The Big Loop. It was another lovely Autumn day. There was no struggle getting out the door. Autumn is my favorite time to hike. The wilderness seems more "alive". In Aliso Canyon I came up on a juvenille buck. He was grazing so closely to the trail, that I was a bit nervous when my presence hadn't spooked him away. Too close. Not that I think that he'd attack me, but he could certainly rush at me. I think in that collision, he'd be the one left standing. I did manage to take a couple of photos before taking off though (I couldn't help it!). 

The Big Loop

Sunday's hike was definately a workout. Though the weather was still cool, I struggled some taking the inclines and the sun wasn't helping one bit. It was worthwhile medicine. I took in plenty of fluids (with electrolytes) and made a good day of it putting one foot in front of the other on dirt. Lovely dirt. 

More From Saturday -- West Ridge

  The Pacific Ocean (Laguna Beach)

View of Saddleback Meadows just before descending on Meadows Trail

And then the weekend was over, and I was back to work which meant a break from workouts. Around Monday, "Indian Summer" visited with a solid heatwave. The heat has continued into today (Thursday) but I had to go outside and greet it anyway. I am not going to get physically stronger if I don't begin the process. I was somewhat in a grumpy mood to begin with and I can say that pounding the pavement for two miles didn't put a smile on my face. The smile on my face, however, did appear when the run was over. My mood was better. It is going to take some time getting used to a running pace again.