Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One MORE for the Road

I planned to stay off the trails, that is big climbing trails until I got this nerve/toe (?) problem figured out, because I suspected that it was the steep climbs that caused the injury.  The good news is:  I ran on roads today and when I returned, I took off my shoes and OUCH.  Toe pain : )

I guess that means that I can return to the trails.  (Great logic, eh?)

Anyway, it is true, today I hit the road one more time.   And it was beneath gorgeous blue skies that carried with it warm winds.  Those winds blew up against my baby jogger, creating a parachute working against me.  Needless to say, the run was tough -- but tough is good.  Feels good to work really hard. And baby, well, he's no baby anymore.  My four-year-old has grown since I last pushed him on the run.  He was a heavy load.

I put up a good sweat today and loved every minute of it.  Even though I had to use my husband's ipod (because mine, since the crash, has only the same three cd's I've been listening to for the last few runs and workouts -- and I just can't take it anymore).  Regardless, he's got some good music on there.  I took it off "shuffle" and handpicked some good running tunes.  

I didn't much pay attention to my surroundings.  Just thinking, thinking, thinking, strategizing about my writing, what I'm gonna write, how I'm gonna market it.  Baby screamed in delight as usual at all the squirrels that scurried about on the island. And even things a simple as a pigeon brought him joy!  Remember the days?  

I do.  I get them once in a blue moon.

Using my inner-gps, I gauged what I thought might be 5 miles.  At home I measured and learned, miles logged this morning:  6.23

Monday, September 28, 2009

One for the Road

Well, I'm back, after a weekend of debauchery (nah, just kidding, I was just at a writer's conference), and I've been aching, I mean aching to run. Actually, I hadn't planned on a run this evening, but with a new teaching assignment and having to learn the ropes this week, today was the day.

I was a little afraid, 1) because of the heat, and 2) it's the evening!  I usually can't run after a busy day.  Amazingly, even with a warm breeze, and blaring sun, and pavement beneath my feet (boy do I miss the trail), I had great fun.

Sunglasses, and ipod with the same three cd's loaded since my computer crash, I ran down the highway, up and over the pedestrian bridge where I squeezed my way through two guys stretched out smoking pot. And then I made my way, against my own advice, to the campground. I thought it might be too hot there, too smokey. Yes, it was hot, but smoky, not -- instead lovely dinner smells on the bbq.

And then I did my usual thing, ran up to the jetty, longboarders to my left simply sitting in the still waters, waiting for that wave. Egrets stalked the grounds by the fisherman who threw their lines out at the rocks, and across the marina waters, hundreds of pelicans simply sat at the filling dock, like they were sleeping or something (I couldn't tell).  All the while, I didn't stress about anything -- I just let my mind glide along with my feet.

Anyway, thru the wharf, crowded restaurants, and those lovely water fountains for refreshment along the way, I ran onto the island. I powered up that bridge to it, feeling no pain, just nice easy runnin'. Yes, I had one of those easy runs today. And when I arrived at the cliffs, where waves rather gently made their way in, the skies were dark, stars twinkled in the moonlight.

Can it get any better than that?

The night was still as I headed back, golden lights reflecting off the marina waters. Though still, the air was cool. And even though my cotton t-shirt weighed about five pounds about now (drenched with sweat), I powered up the big hill home, delighted that I could make this one for the road.

Miles logged this evening: 9.13

Friday, September 25, 2009

"Crack Baby Crack, Show me You're Real."

I can't even begin to tell you, nor do I think I will.  Nothing personal.  Let's just say at the moment:  Tough times = all the more reason to run!

A couple of quotes come to mind.   First from the only Dickens book that I've read (Tale of Two Cities):

"IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair . . . " "

Sure, I'm not facing the French Revolution.  But I can relate . . . yup, maybe we can all can relate.

And then from The Old Testament: Ecclesiastes
"To every thing there is a season, and time to every purpose under the heaven:A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance . . . "

And so there have you, my feelings, someone else's elegant words . . . as usual.   

So, what does this have to do with running, specifically trail running? As with life, when I run that tough hill, or long stretch, I can't look far ahead, I have to take the good with the bad.  And though that hill may be tough, enduring it is the real award.  I can't focus on the difficulty. Instead, I take in stride (column straight, kicking out from the back) acknowledging that this is one of the tough parts, plant one foot in front of the other and just keep on moving. (If only I could do that in real life!)  If I start to look too far ahead in my runs, keeping my eyes glued to the top of that hill, well, then, another quote comes to mind:

"Crack Baby Crack. Show me you're real. Smack, Baby Smack, is that all that you Feel?" (David Bowie, "Cracked Actor" from Aladdin Sane -- get it?  Sounds like A Lad Insane : )

That's precisely what happens if I don't stay in the immediate moment when I run -- Crack Baby Crack.  And that's precisely when I began to falter on my last race.  It's when I saw those front runners heading back up that long hill, and I began to fret about that hill probably two miles before I even got there.

STAY IN THE MOMENT AND ACCEPT WHAT IT IS.  That's what trail running has taught me more than the above quotes.  I don't always remember what I've learned.  But heck . . . it's a start.

So, even in the best of times, or the worst of times, and during every other season and purpose under heaven, I can stop that CRACK. I'll show you I'm real -- one foot in front of the other, I'm movin'. It's just life. And with life, at least I got in a run. Yes, I got to run, be it against those warm Santa Ana, westerly blowin', hot winds . . . I got in a fast (for me) relatively flat run. : ) And it was lovely,and it was forgetful, because I thought about nothing.  Nothing at all.

Miles logged this warm, warm morning: 6.0

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Take a Break?

"My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare
I had to cram so many things to store everything in there."

David Bowie, "Five Years",
Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

My note regarding the above quote: Best when said screaming, with hands pressed to head, like Edvard Munch's painting, "The Scream."

No one thought when I said I was gonna "take a break" that it meant I wasn't gonna run? Did they? : )

What I really meant was that I was gonna tone it down -- less intense runs, less weekly mileage, and a short break from the hills. That's what I really meant. : )

So, I ran 9.23 lovely, flat miles today, beneath hot sunny skies. They began laboriously, but ended joyfully. I ran along the river (nearly dry on a bike path), ran along sycamore creek trail (an exercise trail with no creek in sight, where I jumped the small hurdles twice), then made my way over to the socked-in marina, complete with cool breezes and ample water fountains.

Really grateful for the time to run. Because later today would not be so good -- I crashed my notebook computer, which is an actual extension of my body. My dog is sick, she's an old gal that I love so much. And an ink pen leaked in my purse, which isn't terrible, but it just added to it all.

What a time . . . what a time.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Heartbreak at Heartbreak Ridge Half Marathon

With the pain in my wrist acting up again, and these dang toe problems I decided to take it somewhat easy this week as far as running goes. Eleven miles on Tuesday, then it was just fun non-running workouts for the other days. Thursday, I swam. After 3,000 yards, I felt I could do more, but dried myself off nonetheless, because I've got this Writer's Conference looming ahead and lots of chores at home.

And then the wrist pain attacked without mercy. I'm referring to the injury from Santiago Truck Trail (Slam Dancin' with the Trail) and then the re-injury at Bulldog 25k. After crawling in the mudrun last week, the swimming really did my wrist in. Thursday I slept restlessly all night, waking in pain constantly.

Friday, I took the day off and immobilized my wrist. To bed by ten I had another weird, restless night of sleep, I figured that Saturday's half marathon, though a "trail" run would be relatively easy. Besides that -- I took it easy this week.

I had a long drawn-out drama dream the night before this race, about me trying to convince some adult children to attend the 4th or 5th wedding of their drunkard father. He was really in love this time and was gonna change his life. One daughter was in tears as I tried to convince her to sing at the wedding. Before I knew it, I too was bawling over the phone re: her pain. After finally convincing all the children to attend, I guzzled champagne like water, and searched a department store for an open bathroom (I couldn't find any!). Then I woke. The clock read: 7:05 AM. My half marathon started in 55 minutes, and if I didn't jump up now, drive 80 miles an hour on an empty tank, I wasn't gonna make the start line in time!!! What a morning : ( I barely had time to brush my teeth, but I made the start line with minutes to spare. Amazingly, I got a parking space right up front.

They were out of t-shirts (no big deal, I have too many anyway), and the bathroom lines were empty by now too -- as everyone was already lined up to run. I took off comfortably under cloudy skies, the first mile over asphalt complete in 0:9:40. I planned to keep that pace, maybe pick it up some. I really hoped that we'd hit the trail soon, which we did, and I was at ease. : ) I made mile 2 by 0:20:00. My pace was falling, though we were running on a slight incline.

When the tougher climb began, I ran it, not feeling too uncomfortable. In fact, I felt good. Mile three was a ten minute pace. I wanted to pick it up, hoping for more of an average of a nine something pace for the race. At about mile 4 or so, I began a fun descent on that wide dirt fire road. Thing was, the sun came out, and it came out in vengeance. Still, I felt pretty good on this out-and-back half marathon (I really don't enjoy out-and-backs, that is: run to the halfway point, then turn around and run back the same way).

At about mile 5.5 the front runners were passing us on their way back, and I realized that I had been running down hill for quite some time -- too long, in fact. I began to fret about the turnaround, knowing that I'd have to run back up this thing in the searing heat that was now weighing me down.

Just make it to the turnaround, I told myself. JUST MAKE THE TURNAROUND. Worry about the rest later. I was not in a good state of mind though this morning. Having rushed out, and having to deal with these injuries, not to mention the negative self-talk over my persistent procrastination (in general for everything, but in particular, over the writer's conference).

Well, the turnaround came much, much later than I felt it should. Already drenched in sweat, I began to resent the cute little sayings on those Mile Markers. Things like: "The Goal is Pain" -- It is so NOT the goal. It was so not the goal, that at the turnaround I downed three ibuprofens to subside my toe pain.

I don't think I have the energy to relay just how defeated I felt coming into mile eight. One guy ran by and said, "After mile 9, it's uphill for a mile, then all down hill from there." I smiled (because that's how I am, try to make nice) and made some small talk. But I thought, "what the hell is he talking about, we're running uphill right now!" At a bend, I chuckled at the Marine who said, "Just a little hill up ahead, you can do it!"

Little hill my ***.

They were really little hills compared to what I've conquered in the past. But for some reason this morning, I got beat -- completely mentally defeated. I felt like I couldn't take another step. And so I began walking the hills, as did most around me. I ran as fast as I could on the flat portions, which wasn't very fast at all. And I began to think to myself, "just walk the next 4 miles. Or maybe, just quit."

Upon reaching the high point (around mile 10) I felt relief running down hill. It was crucial though I did not fall, so I kept a keen eye on the ground. One more hit to this wrist, I'm gonna end up in the E.R.!

I don't think I could have smiled at this point if I tried. Even on the downhill, I felt I couldn't run another step. And then when we finally leveled off, I did something I thought I'd never do on the flat portion of a race -- I walked. I wanted to quit. I wanted to just walk away from the group and pretend I never started this race. I was SPENT, and doubted that I'd ever run again. I wondered, "What the hell am I doing? Could I be any bigger of a loser." (I'm sorry, but that's really how I felt, utterly and completely defeated.)

And I continued walking as fast as I could, one ambulance passing, then another up a ways loading up another runner. Marines stood out on their balconies watching us come in, and I still walked, feeling ashamed, my eyes to the ground. I mean come on -- 13.1 miles on a trail race with not even 2,000 feet of elevation gain. I can do that -- can't I?

Not today.

Then I remembered a marine yelling out, "just one more bridge to go!" I didn't recall any bridges on this race, but up ahead, I saw a bridge, and so told myself, "when you hit that bridge RUN."

I ran over that bridge, and after a turn in the now paved road, I could see the finish line balloons not too far off. I saw one female racer cut through the parking lot, shortening her run to those balloons. She must have felt like I felt -- SPENT, out of gas.

I finally crossed that finish line at 2:25:55 with the sad, sad feeling that I was finished running for good. I was reminded of Forrest in Forrest Gump when he just stopped running because he simply didn't feel like running anymore.

After crossing the finish line, I grabbed 2 waters, walked straight to the car for a quick stretch. Before leaving the marine base, I filled up the car with much less expensive gasoline than we civilians usually pay, and I drove home.

I wept at home relaying the race story to my husband. I told him that I thought I was done running. That I had been mentally beaten, to which he responded "you're no quitter . . . you just need a break."

That I do.

I guess I have made my decision. No marathon for October, and as I cut back my miles I will finally make it to the doctor for x-rays on my foot and wrist.

And that is the story of my heartbreak at Heartbreak Ridge. Who knew that the title of this race would be so apropos.

Final Standings:

I placed 32 out of 47 women ages 40 to 44.
Overall I placed 781 out of 1,079 civilians.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Solo Run in Aliso and Wood Canyons

After dropping our sons off at school, I took off for my weekly posted run in Aliso / Wood Canyons, this time solo. While I miss the company and the encouragement of the group run, solitude is nice too. I can appreciate both. That's one of the nice things of youth finally being behind you -- it's easier to recognize the benefits in both sides of the coin. And it's easier to "make due" with whatcha got.

So, this morning, I got me a solo, beneath gorgeous blue skies, enormous puffy white clouds, long hilly run. Earphones plugged in, I thought to myself, now's a good time to work through that missing chapter from my novel that I need to write ASAP, else it never get written. But it's a disturbing chapter, and after working through it only a few minutes, my heart pained with sadness, and I decided that my brain couldn't dwell in the darkness on this beautiful trail run. (Though I did work it out enough to know where it was headed and finally wrote the chapter when I got home from work tonight).

The sun shined brightly and hot, as I expected at 8:30 in the morning. Those puffy clouds though, provided enough shade to comfort me, and an onshore breeze added even more delight to this morning's run. While still on Aliso Creek Trail, a large deer, with two stubby velvet antlers on each side, trotted down the path ahead of me. I was amazed -- first by it's size, and secondly by its lack of concern by my presence. Then this gorgeous creature turned into the brush and disappeared towards the creek.

There were bunnies out and about, hawks flying overhead, and black beetles robotically making their way across the trail. And there were lots of tracks -- deer tracks, coyote and bobcat, plus another, large birdlike track, that I haven't identified -- perhaps quail (because I see them often here), but these tracks seem a little big from what I figure Quails would make.

ANYWAY, I ran up Mathis this morning. It's been a long time, and I don't believe that the run up that steep, exposed climb has gotten any easier. But what a delight to do it! My mind didn't wander towards finances, or district budget cuts, or chapters that need to be written, running up that thing. No, I just thought about one foot in front of the other, and not stopping. Do not stop running. Do not stop!

From Mathis, I hit Westridge, which gives some relief at first with a minor down hill, possibly an 1/8th mile, probably less. Then it's uphill on rocky, mixed in with sandy dirt to the Top of the World.

Westridge on the way down was a delight with that ocean breeze and rolling hills. I didn't turn off on Mathis, but continued straight on until Rockit (with a slight delay to fix my camelback, which somehow managed to get air in it). I focused hard on Rockit, so as not to fall in a desolate area where I usually see no one. Then all of a sudden, a female cyclist emerged out of nowhere, spooking us both. We smiled, kinda chuckled.

At the bottom, I turned off onto that enchanted Coyote Run, thankful for the occassional breeze, and plentiful shade above the creek here and there. Upon reaching Mathis, my skin crusted with salt, I joyfully made my way back to Wood Canyon and ran on in all the way to the ranger station, beat, but not beaten.

Lovely run.

Miles logged this morning: 11.27

Saturday, September 12, 2009

SBSD Mudrun (What am I thinking??)

So, I was watching a television show this week, called "Wipe-Out", and thought to myself "these people are crazy." I mean, they're putting themselves through terrible obstacles, wiping out in front of everyone for the mere chance of winning $50,000. And a slight chance at that!

When I woke first at 4 AM this morning I couldn't remember what the heck I had gotten myself into for this Saturday morning. Then when my alarm finally rang at 4:45, I thought hard before remembering -- that's right, I gotta get going, I have a long drive ahead, not to mention a mudrun to endure. : ) : (

As I drove through the Santa Ana Mountains, focusing through the fog, sleepy still, and bit hungry too, I thought to myself "What the heck am I doing? I mean, am I crazy? What is my problem that I drag myself out of bed at these ridiculous hours, hit the rode before sunrise? And there's no chance of winning a dime. Not even a chance of placing, or even placing in my age group." I began to grow a bit down . . . what is it exactly that I'm trying to prove?

It was light when I arrived to Kurt's (a friend I have known since I was 12). And as usual, out of darkness, things looked a little brighter. On que, my comedian friend quickly cheered me as we made our way to Devore for the San Bernardino Sheriff Department's Mudrun. This was our second year running the same mudrun together. Last year, though only a 5k, it was tough.

Kurt had not pre-registered, and because he only brought credit cards along, couldn't register this morning. And for the first time in a race, I ran alongside a bandit. That made for some excitement. I don't know what they do to race bandits -- were the deputies going to pull him out of the race, or worse yet, catch him at the Start Line, taser him on the spot?

Clean and Pristine Pre-Race (Maybe Not Exactly Pristine)

Turned out, no one noticed my bandit friend as we ran this muddy race together. Well, I'm sure he was noticed, as my friend is quite a character, flirting with all the young ladies we passed. But no one noticed that he was a bandit. We ran up steep climbs, ran through mud pits. We ran up and down moguls, crawled through thick, sticky mud, slipped in the mud, fell in the mud. We jumped over obstacles, ran through giant pipes, all admist loud explosives -- and, ALL FOR THE FUN OF IT!


It was fun, despite the pain (those wipeout people -- they're crazy!). My socks filled with mud, and those fine granules dug at my ankles like sharp rocks. But in no time, it was over. 3.11 miles, even with all those obstacles, well, it's practically over before you know it.

Anyway, Kurt and I finished together (I bettered my time from last year & because he wanted to run together Kurt's time was longer this year -- but it was all for fun, who cares about time. Right? Right.)

Me and Kurt

How One Removes The Mud

Photos I Snapped On Our Way to the Car of Runners Coming in for the Finish : )

"Make New Friends and Keep the Old. One is Silver and the Other's Gold."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wood Canyon in its Summertime Glory (A Pictorial -- mainly :)

As this newfound back-to-school freedom begins to set in, we found ourselves this Friday with some spare time. And so, my husband and I decided on a hike through the lovely Wood Canyon. We started plenty late (about 10 AM) after tending to work, errands and such. And so it was rather warm. I take that back -- it was more than warm . . . it was hot. But we had a nice cool breeze for occasional comfort, plenty of shade, and a beautiful Wood Canyon in all its summertime glory.

Enter Wood Canyon

Buckwheat along the trail

The Lovely Wood Creek Trail

Stairway to Heaven? Think not, but a beautiful trip through Wood Creek Trail

Why I love Wood Creek Trail

Crossing Back over to Wood Canyon Trail

Creek along Coyote Run Trail

Coyote Run Trail

Prickly Pear (Coyote Run Trail)

More Coyote Run Trail

Somewhere on Dripping Cave Trail

Miles hike with husband this morning: 6

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Quickest Route to Top of the World

My goal: a short run, but I didn't want it easy, and I wanted trails (which goes without saying that I didn't want easy). I began running at about 9:45 AM, which was problematic due to the heat. But I was determined anyway to once again, run to the top. To make that trip in about five miles, well, that was a first for me. Usually, I do some kind of loop to get to the top and back, totalling between ten and twelve miles. But there is a way in fact, that's much shorter (definitely not much easier)-- it's up that Cholla, then that rolling Westridge to the top.

I took off on a paved downhill from the grassy Canyon Vista Park. As a cool breeze blew, music piped in through my earphones aiding in my determination to run all the way, no matter how hot it got. And it got hot. Hot, hot, hot. Pretty quickly, I ran through that wall of heat and my feet hit the dirt a few minutes in. Then it was exposed trail for the entire distance. Up, up, and away I went on Cholla, which is quite short, about 1/3 mile, but steep, sometimes rocky, and all sunny.

At Top of the World, I talked with a few cyclists before turning around and returning the same way, up and down Westridge, then down Cholla. This was my first trip down Cholla, and needless to say, I focused hard on keeping my balance. About half way down, I took a phone call (so odd these modern days!) from my old-time friend calling to say he'd run Saturday's crazy race with me. "I'm on a sunny slope right now, can I call you back?"

And though I powered up some of those hilly portions (mainly the short ones), I took that last paved hill up to the car running rather slowly. I reached the car absolutely drenched and covered in salt, after only 5.9 miles.

But I loved it. : ) AND . . . I did not fall : )

You Are Now Entering Cholla Trail -- Tread Lightly and do not Fear : )

About a Quarter Way Up Cholla, Looking Back to Trail Entrance and Wood Cyn

Up Up and Away / Summertime on Cholla Trail

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Sad Freedom

Not one of us here got good sleep last night -- much on my mind, I'm pretty sure that I woke every hour. Just before waking for good, I dreamt that I rollerbladed along the asphalt Aliso Woods Trail. Then I daringly crossed over the "Closed" section, the one that intersects Wood Canyon Trail, and doesn't have a gate. It's just simply closed off to travelers. I breezed over that thing on blades, enjoying the freedom, until the trail took a turn toward the creek. Then after a sharp right I discovered a hidden treasure of a trail. It ran alongside the creek, beside secret homes for the privledged who had to access this heavenly trail.

Well, I scooted down a steep slope in my blades to access this dirt trail, when I found myself on a richly manicured lawn and before me, a gigantic wildcat. She was as tall as my shoulders, grayish-brown, and a cross between a cougar and a lion. Basically, it was a cougar with a mane. Well, I backed up slowly, moving my way up that incline. And just as I was about to hop back up onto that paved trail and skate away, the rangers drove by. Fearful that the cougar-lion might pounce, but more afraid of the rangers, I ducked and hid there until the rangers were good and gone. Then I hopped up on the trail and raced along the asphalt trying to make it back to the public road before the rangers caught me on a closed portion. But there was snow everywhere now, and hikers kept stopping me to ask the way. Frustration grew when I finally woke.

So what does that dream mean?

I have no idea. I'm sure in some way, it symbolically tells the story of sending my boys off to school today. Sure, I looked forward to this day. Today, I would gain my daytime freedom. No more nagging, no more 3 boys fighting. But it was very sad too. No more three boys lounging around the living room during breakfast, no more three boys laughing too loud in the morning. I missed them terribly, and ruminated over the fact that our guys are growing up so, so fast.

And so what did I do when all the dropping off at schools was complete?

That's easy. I'm sure there's no guessing here. 9:20 AM, I clipped my ipod to my belt, and I ran. Beneath cloudy skies, I ran down to the state beach, then through the smoky campground, and out onto that long stretch that used to kill me nearly six years ago. The tide was high, and when the sun finally broke through the clouds, its shine created thousands of fluctuating silver glimmers across the sea.

The wind blew cool, the sun beared down hot, and I ran some more. I ran out to the rock jetty where old fishermen threw out lines into still waters. Across the way, hundreds of pelicans mulled about the filling station dock. Plenty of other runners made the rounds too -- perhaps they also had sent children off for their first day back to school.

And I ran some more, through the wharf, its restaurants practically empty of tourists, seaguls prancing along roof tops, flies swarming in their glory at back door entrances.

And I ran some more beneath the bridge in cool shade, then up and over it to my island. Squirrels with tummies bulging ran across my path. But it was the walkers who blocked my path. Drinking fountains quenched my thirst, all the while, I thought about nothing. Nothing.

And I ran some more.

I didn't stop until I reached the cliffs. Waves crashed upon the jetty, sending easy, routine splashes toward the trail. I stopped for a second here, noticing a burn in my arms from my shirt seams. After rubbing chapstick along my arms, I took off running again. And I took that big hill home as fast as I could, no hands on the hips, just looking to the ground, listening to my music, thinking about nothing.

Freedom is definately kinda sad.

Miles logged this morning: 11.36
# of other runners on my route: 19

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Maple Springs / Main Divide / Silverado Motorway

Woke at 4:15 this morning, on the road at 4:45. It was still dark, and unable to read the unassuming street signs, I drove right past Silverado Canyon on the way in. I made a u-turn on that lonely mountain road to arrive at the Silverado / Black Star Canyon intersection a little before 5:30 AM.

The weather was wonderfully cool as six of us (I'll refrain from saying six of us lunatics, or six of us crazies!) headed up Maple Springs Road. There was no downhill, or even a flat warm-up. The climb, though very gradual, began right away. Hey, I'm not complaining -- a cool breeze can make up for a lot. The climb was constant up to the Main Divide, but not terrible. That's not to say that I wasn't tired -- that I was. But I still had plenty of energy and the heat had not begun to bear down upon us.

Heading Up On Maple Springs Road

Maple Springs

Main Divide Road / Looking Back From Whence We Came

When the pavement ended, we ran a switch-back dirt road to the Main Divide, totalling a little under ten miles (I think). Daniel was waiting for Tom, Kelly and me, David and Larry had gone on ahead. When after wondering whether they had taken the correct turn, we saw two tiny figures in the distance, and so we were off too, headed for the ridge and that glorious trip down.

Meeting up on the Ridge (Tom Pointing Out Where We're Headed)

And We're Off!

The last part of the Main Divide Road (along the ridge) got pretty crazy for me. I found myself conserving water, which was not too smart. And the two hundred calories thus far wasn't nearly enough to make some of the steep climbs. My energy drained from me quickly as the sun now beared down hard. I relished even the tiniest bits of shade. And it was only after two hundred more calories, thanks to Kelly and Tom, did my energy slowly return. I told myself then -- no more rationing water. In fact, "you're in big trouble girl if you have any water left at the car."

Looking over other side of Santa Ana Mountains
(215 Fwy below, Lake Matthews in distance)

Me and It's-Not-As-Steep-As-It-Seems-Tom : )

Our Last Ascent!!

Group Photo-Op before heading down
2,000 Ft in Two Miles (Silverado Motorway)
Kelly, Daniel, Me, David, Larry

The trip down was a blast. Though tired as I was, I focused hard. Do not fall. DO NOT FALL. I tripped about three times, but no falls. That Silverado Motorway was a steep, steep, rocky switch- back (about 2,000 ft. in 2 miles). And though it was oh so beautiful, it was OH SO HOT. Tom, Kelly and I all ran out of water before reaching the bottom of the canyon. That was okay, because downhill, knowing the end is just around the corner, well, nothing beats that! Even in the blazing sun.

What a run. I'll say it again. What a run.

Miles logged this morning: 16.4

The Final Stretch (Car Is Just Around The Corner!)

The Fast Ones Waiting For Us As We Arrive

Elevation Profile (courtesy Tom, as well as 3 of the pics above)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Catching a Cool Breeze

Originally I planned for an early morning run, but for the first time in a long time, I slept in. What time is sleeping in? 7 AM. (Oh, where have the days gone when sleeping in meant 10 or 11 o' clock?) I couldn't fit in a morning run waking so late (we had things to do, places to go : ) Plus, another blazing hot day, there wasn't a chance I was gonna run with the sun anywhere in sight. And so I waited.

8 PM, still quite humid, down right hot in the house, I finally set out for a run. The moon was full, or nearly full, big in the sky. It cast a wonderful shimmering column of light across the dark ocean. I was surprised as I ran out to the rock jetty to find the weather still quite hot -- but who am I to judge? I mean, how could it be hot, I mean "really" hot, running along the seaside? Believe me, it was.

Not a leaf stirred in the trees, the ocean was still, its swells measuring in inches. But then as I ran on through the wharf, restaurant lights twinkling across the black waters, sudden marvelous cool breezes hit me head-on. These surprise gusts stayed with me as I ran throughout the marina all the way to the cliffs, where I stood looking down at the waves as they gently rolled in.

Miles logged in the dark: 5.09
# of other runners out there tonight: 3

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

To The Top!

Big clouds, with slight touches of gold and blue, shaded the land for a 6:30 AM run to Top of the World with fellow club runner, Tom. Those gorgeous clouds also trapped in the heat, making for a humid trip through Wood Canyon. I wasn't complaining too badly though, because of the lovely shade those clouds provided. Perhaps the clouds were the reason that the park had more visitors than normal (and I do believe the bikers were out earlier than usual), plus one lone worker trimming branches along the trail.

From the first step, I thought, "Oh my gosh, how am I gonna do this?" so tired was I. (Actually, I thought "How am I gonna do this?" from my first step out of bed). But there's something about running Aliso and Wood Canyons: I have to run all the way to the top -- doesn't matter how tired I am, or which trails we take, to the top they must lead.

And so we ran that gorgeous humid Wood Canyon, with Sycamore trees starting to show their fall color, all the way to Cholla Trail. Cholla is an exposed single track, quite steep, but not too long. It's extremely difficult for me to run up, and I'm never quite sure when it's gonna end. Then suddenly there's a right turn, and Cholla is finished. Hallelujah!

Stopping at bridge over creek on Wood Canyon Trail

There were plenty of bikers out this morning on the Westridge trail, which we took all the way to the top. And at the steepest, toughest part, Tom ran up ahead, and if I'm not mistaken, he raced the cyclist up that thing (and won!).

Running Westridge looking towards Aliso Viejo neighborhood

Quick snacks at the Top of the World, I don't remember even looking over the other side to Laguna Beach. Have I run to the top now so many times, that the view's become mundane? Oh my, let that not be. The view to the other side used to be my motivation. Now I suppose my motivation is simply the satisfaction of running some dang tough hills.

We took Mathis Trail down, with occassional breezes along the way. Cloud cover now disappearing, shade was the greatest relief.

In all we ran 11.63 miles, I'd say a great way to start the week (did I forget to mention that my week doesn't start til I run? : )

Fossils in rock where I stretched near ranger station