Sunday, January 28, 2024

What's the Deal with Blogspot

I haven't been posting my trail adventures in this blog lately because something strange is going on with Blogspot. The pictures have disappeared! 😕 Well, not actually disappeared. Instead. you have to click on an image thumbnail in order to see it. Apparently, I'm not the only user having this problem but no one seems to know what's going on. I'm a little bummed about it -- my blogposts are photo heavy. So, I'm not putting effort into posts at the moment, until I can figure out how to fix this situation. In the meantime, as always because I'm just picture crazy, I post the full set of pictures (many that never make it to Blogger) here: https://www.facebook.com/LaurenOTR 

Friday, January 12, 2024

2024 Races

For 2024, we’re putting on 2 classic Old Goat races: Billy Goat in April & Saddleback Marathon in November. I am super pleased we have dates approved with enough time to get the word out (Billy Goat time is a bit short though). See below about the races, and please help get the word out. I also have a fundraiser, hoping to help a Kenyan runner travel here for one or both of these races (see more below).

April 6, 2024 Billy Goat Half Marathon Climb:

billy goat profile

Billy Goat (with various adoptions of the name like: Billy Goat Hill Climb, Billy Goat 1/2 Marathon Mountain Climb, etc) is Steve Harvey’s (Old Goat) original race. Traditionally, it ran in June to commemorate Steve’s birthday. Traditionally, it was hot as hell. In 2024, we are still commemorating Old Goat’s birthday but just a bit earlier (I will certainly invite him out). The gnats will be fewer and the weather a tad cooler. We’ll probably see some spring flowers too!

Billy Goat 1/2 Marathon Climb is run on Indian Truck Trail in the Cleveland National Forest outside of Corona, California. It is an out-and-back on truck trail to the Main Divide. We’ll have aid about half way up and at the top (The Main Divide).  “It Ain’t But One Hill,” as Old Goat originally dubbed. With Fires and Covid, its been more than a few years since this race was run.

logo with poppies     billy goat qr code

November 9, 2024 The Saddleback Marathon: 

This race is my all time favorite, even more so than Calico Trail run, and that’s saying something – I ran Calico 10 times (I think. Maybe it was 9). This race was originally put on by Big Baz (Baz Hawley) and then later Old Goat (Steve). We (OnTheRun) ran it in 2019 and 2023 (re-routed). With fires and Covid, it’s been challenging keeping this awesome race on the books.

In 2024, we are back to the original course (Baz’s), with trail work scheduled completion in summer 2024. We’ve also kept Old Goat’s half option, which goes up the infamous West Horsethief! The course is short of an actual marathon (about 2 miles) but I promise, you won’t feel it.

the main divide

Get a glimpse of the course here (it’s a little bumpy & blurry):

Saddleback Marathon 2011

Anderson Kipyator Chepkwony

Anderson lives in lives in a rural town about ten miles south west of Nakuru, Kenya. He emailed last September 2023, requesting an invite to the Saddleback Marathon. With an invite Anderson could apply for a visa with the embassy for the purposes of running races. Why is this important to Anderson? There is little to no employment in Kenya.  Running races outside of his country offers him a higher standing in Athletics Kenya which could eventually attract sponsors and possibly a running career in his country.

We sent a Billy Goat 1/2 marathon invite to Anderson and his running friend Evans. After confirming race records, passports and conducting basic online research, I set up a fundraiser in my name hoping to help Anderson get here. If you interested in helping, please see the link below.  Any amount is greatly appreciated – small amounts add up!

We hope to see Anderson and his friend Evans this April (or November for Saddleback, if we can).

Read more about Anderson’s fundraiser here


Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Spring Approaches


My goal (tentatively) is to hit the trails three times weekly. Started off this week, Monday, with about 6.5 miles in the local coastal hills, my long time stomping grounds, Wood Canyon. The weather is quite chilly nowadays (low 40s F in the morning, 50s in the afternoon) but there’s lots of green peeping through! Spring certainly approaches.

I took a few detours off Wood Canyon, beginning with Wood Creek, that little trail that nobody seems to know about. It’s magical and as usual was empty.

One of my favorite spots along Wood Creek Trail:IMG_2113
Leaf littered path along Wood Creek Trail:IMG_2124

I stopped by Dripping Cave as well, a bit giddy on the way in because the “Trail Partially Closed” sign was gone at the trailhead. Most of Dripping Cave Trail has been closed for several years due to fires. Of course, the closed section was one of my favorite trails in all of Wood Canyon. Turns out, the park has permanently ended the trail at the cave. And the place is so overgrown, I couldn’t even make out the old trail. So, I jaunted up a rocky path off to the side just to make sure. I didn’t find the trail but an awesome secret outcropping to sit at and look out at the canyon. From the spot, I could also see the actual “old” Dripping Cave Trail (the now closed part) and decided not to go for it. I wasn’t in the mood to dodge rangers. I’m not that quick nowadays.

Dripping Cave:IMG_2147
Path up to secret outcropping:IMG_2151

After Dripping Cave, I decided to head back. I took took another detour and jumped onto Coyote Run Trail after Mathis. In contrast to Wood Creek Trail, Coyote Run is not so secret. It’s the way to RockIt, a huge park favorite. On this Monday though, I had it practically to myself. I came upon only one runner and one hiker on this fairytale trail.

Coyote Run Trail:IMG_2157IMG_2165IMG_2177IMG_2179

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Staying Local

IMG_2041Not ready to hit the trails. Still holding onto my seat from the 2023 wild ride. I’ve got a tree up still in my living room (fully decorated) and other remnants of holiday decorations around the house. I finally threw out the Christmas wreaths yesterday. I am going to miss that lovely pine smell. (All the more reason to get back to the mountains!)

We are only one week into 2024, I have a little time still to get organized and  to clean up the 2023 mess. The longer I wait to hit those trails though, the less capable I am to actually do it. Every day I don't get my legs moving up a mountain, I grow weaker, both mentally and physically. I can catch up on the mental fitness other ways (though that has been rare lately) and I try to do things that give me some fitness -- like take the stairs or park at the far end of the parking lot. Walking to the grocery store or post office is also a great way to keep some type of physical fitness (though it is waning!). So, I’m pretty much staying local lately with promises and hopes of at least hitting the trails a couple times before spring semester begins. Until then, I’ve been staying local. We’ve got lots of walking material here in my hometown, Dana Point, even some dirt trails. This week on one of my errand walkabouts, I decided to detour to the Headlands and mosey about the roped trails overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was a beautiful sight. A great small start to getting my feet back to dirt.


Monday, January 1, 2024

Good to be Exhausted

2023. Fastest year ever. It was like a whirlwind. It seems like I had to force time to catch a breath (only when absolutely necessary mental health-wise – I’m last minute like that). 2023 is almost all a blur now, that is until I open up my phone and travel through the year. What a trip. I am in the future. 2023 at my fingertips. At first thought, I didn’t accomplish much in 2023. I came up short on goals, physical goals, writing goals, even reading goals. My phone however is here to remind me that I did do much in 2023. I lived in 2023.

A Chronical of the year that hit me like a whirlwind and left me exhausted (It’s good to be exhausted):

1 JAN 26Spring semester began, I was teaching 3 days a week. I also enrolled in another piano course and one day a week after my class, walked to the music building next-door to Business Sciences for piano. I stayed local mostly because I was having car trouble (my gauge wasn’t measuring gas in the tank accurately. Twice I ran out of gas, once thankfully in my driveway). So, I hiked beaches and used my bus pass happily (I was tired of driving anyway, and tired of gas prices too).

3 march 281 JAN 6


2 FEB 10Chiquito Falls were flowing once again. All of our creeks flowed like crazy – in the coastal hills and mountains. The wild grass was fresh and green. New growth was everywhere. California got enough rain to end our most recent drought. But I did not venture out much with classes to plan, committee meetings to attend, new music to learn, etc. 

2 Feb2 feb 12


3 MARCH 24The rain continued to fill our creeks. Attended my son’s Junior Recital at his university and a dear friend’s wedding at a lovely spot in the mountains. It rained almost all of the time, even during the wedding (but that’s what made it even more enchanting). Began attending Thursday night Lent supper services at church. I was still riding the bus to work which meant I had a lot of much cherished reading time and finally finished a book that I had been reading for a while. I think that was the beginning of my exhaustion. (Great book though).

3 MARCH 5         3 MARCH 12


Continued attending Lent soup dinner services on Thursday nights. Attended more concerts. I was so looking forward to my hike to Baker Cross on Good Friday. But one week prior to this finale, I caught COVID19, my first bout. I went down pretty hard, I think mainly because I hiked ten miles in Black Star Canyon without knowing I was already ill. I was out of commission for a bit. I tested negative pretty quickly and most symptoms vanished  but fatigue and depression lingered. I was in a funk for a while. 

4 april


Fully back to work but a time of recovery. More lovely concerts and also the university music award banquet for my son. The blackberries began to blossom in the backyard and spring was bursting out all over due to our late rains. (During drought, spring flowers are long gone by May.)

IMG_9171    5 MAY 315 MAY 16


6 june 19Youngest son graduated high school, oldest son flew in from East 6 JUNE 21Coast. Had dinner with the entire family for the first time in a few years. It was a lovely time. But only the beginning! Flew out to NYC with husband, my middle son and girlfriend to see him play in a guitar orchestra at the Manhattan School of Music. Oldest son flew out too. It was a time of chaos at the airports (lots of cancellations) but we did amazingly well. We ate wonderful food, saw the sights (Central Park, Times Square, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, etc). Later, we drove to Maryland to stay with oldest son and his girlfriend. Ate homemade tortillas at his place, wonderful crab at a local joint then enjoyed more sights and excellent seafood at the National Harbor. I was calling the trip a “Foodcation” by this point. Ended East Coast trip with a stay at an Airbnb in Arlington, Va (Crystal City) where we enjoyed the National Mall in DC and excellent dining in Virginia. It was a long trip home with a layover in Charlotte that was delayed and eventually cancelled (but we had already found another flight before the cancellation!) I taught summer online classes during the trip. I pre-recorded my lectures but still had tutoring hours to adhere to. Even so, I had fallen a little behind, especially with the new piano class I had enrolled in for the short semester. House was still standing when we arrived back at home. Youngest son kept the garden flowers alive. Smile
 6 june 25 6 june 27


7 JULY 30Continued teaching online courses, worked on catching up with everything: unpacking, cleaning, gardening, piano, grading, and trying to get a date nailed down with the US Forest Service for the marathon. On the last Sunday of the month, I attended my 35th High School Reunion.  35 years since I had graduated from high school --  Yikes.

7 july 5


8 aug 10cMore rain, lovely summer rain. We had an earthquake as well (five something on the Richter scale if my memory serves correctly). Attended son’s summer concert at our church, helped sons move into dorms, prepped classes for fall semester and attended piano classes online from my Livingroom.

8 aug 10a


9 SEPT 23Got an answer on a marathon date (November, not enough time!). Back in the air for another trip, this time with husband to see family in Texas and pack up things from storage to have shipped home. Flew into Austin, saw family for a few days south of Dallas and rented a U-haul. Drove to Waco to unload into a U-box and met our oldest son at Austin airport. Saw family places in Giddings, spent time at the Wendish museum in Serbin then returned next day for the Wendish festival. Was a wonderful ending to a stressful trip. Spent last night in Texas at the worst hotel ever, across from the Capitol, seriously don’t ever stay at the La Quinta Inn across from the state capitol – it was comical. Flight home was turbulent but made it without any cancellations (not so for our son).

9 SEPT 24 9 sept 24a


10 oct 26 bOctober I finally got back on the trails. The lush green hillsides had turned brown, flowers at home were blooming in abundance. Felt a little bit in a race against time putting the marathon together. It was going to be a small race and I wasn’t sure when to pull the trigger on the shirts, medals etc. Stressful month. And then I was back in the air again. This time, for a business conference in Florida that I felt really fortunate to be a part of. Thing was, it came at a tough time. Left early on a Wednesday with a colleague, stayed in an awesome Orlando hotel, was catered to with fine food, spent an evening at Epcot and was back by the weekend (late Friday night). Talk about whirlwind.

 10 OCT 2610 oct 26a


Got lots of hiking in, scouting and prepping trails for race. Received11 NOV 19A bad news about my beloved uncle on life support week prior to race, then day of, while marking Viejo Tie, learned my mother was in hospital for heart issues. We had the marathon, was a small race, old-school you might say. A lot of runners liked it, a couple didn’t appreciate that it was long. Was great to be back in Blue Jay. The next week, I drove out to Nevada, stayed the night in Spring Valley to be with my uncle. On return stopped by the Liberty Sculpture Garden down a dirt road outside of Yermo, California and spent some time wandering about the anti-communist monuments that I only seen from the highway but had never investigated close up (I had no idea even the topic). Had a quiet Thanksgiving in Fallbrook with the family, mother recuperating with a date scheduled for surgery. Was super good to be with family.

 11 NOV 1111 nov 19 11 nov 20


12 DEC 9Christmas Boat light parade down at the harbor, the NutCracker Suite with my niece in a staring role. Youngest son went to emergency hospital for internal bleeding. As he healed, oldest son flew out for pre-Christmas visit. Drove with eldest out to Vegas and stayed downtown after spending time with my uncle. Worked on race permits. Mother had heart surgery. Went to Disneyland with all 3 sons and their girlfriends. Closed up fall semester, Christmas shopped, stayed two days in Redlands with middle son and girlfriend. Christmas celebration in Fallbrook. Day after Christmas, drove to Nevada and got a hotel in Vegas, met Cousin’s son and we spent time with my uncle. Walked on the beach on the last day of the year and spent a quiet time at home with my husband meeting the new year.

12 dec 1812 DEC 29