Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wild Runs and Wild Life

I haven’t blogged in two weeks.  Bad blogger.  School started this morning and in the past couple of weeks we seemed to be busy squeezing all we could out of the summer.  I am going to use this post to recap some of my runs over the past couple of weeks.

Last Saturday, we had a great long run down at the beach.  The weather was still uncharacteristically cool and the sun didn’t come out at the beach our entire run.  I had twenty on my schedule, but Kelly and Joan wanted to do eighteen.  I took the long way to get to Kelly’s house before driving to the pier and gave myself almost a two mile head start.  We ended up running nineteen, giving me twenty one for the day!  We ran up to “the water tower.”  I had never been on this run, but it was obvious where our turnaround spot was.  The crazy thing is that the water tower is an actual home!  They apparently live up in the round part of the tower.  Cool!
huntington beach water tower IMAG0215
That Tuesday, I met Joan for a run in the trails.  She had shown me a fabulous trail off Weir Canyon the week before and I was eager to run it again.  It has a lot of hills and mostly single track.  At one point, we ran through a tunnel under a road.  I don't mean an underpass, but an honest-to-goodness tunnel.  At one point we couldn’t see our feet, even though we could see the light coming through the other end.  Trippy.
Weir Canyon Trail
Joan realized that trails don’t scare me.  I don’t worry about getting lost and am willing to try a new one if it means finding a fun new route.  She asked if I wanted to try a trail she had always wanted to explore, but didn’t want to do it alone.  Of course I would!  From this point on, we explored the area, trying new trails and some areas that weren’t even trails.  We battled overgrown brush and even some giant spiders.  Yuck!

At one point, we looked up at the top of the hill and saw a deer.  We stopped and tried to wait for him to run down the hill, but he/she saw us and was willing to wait us out.  I am glad that the deer is as far as the wild life got that day.  We were out a bit later than normal and the sun was really starting to get hot.  I was very worried about seeing a snake (I HATE SNAKES), and thank goodness I didn’t.

I met Marci last Wednesday for an eight miles tempo run.  We did a good job of keeping our pace faster than marathon pace (8:45), but not quite to half marathon pace (a little over 8:00).  Most of our tempo miles were right around 8:30.  It felt good to work a little harder and remind my legs how to run a bit faster.   We ran through a neighborhood that had a lot of horse properties.  Every other house or so had a stable or corral and horses.  I was taken by surprise when I saw a ZEBRA!IMAG0218
You can see his buddy the llama (or alpaca) coming up behind him.  These people also had an ostrich, a pot-bellied pig, more llamas and a bunch of donkeys.   You really don’t see that every day!

We have run a couple times in the last week into the Boy Scout camp just past Irvine Park.  It is a great hilly run with a lot to see.  How beautiful is this run??
DSCN2190 Irvine Ranch  
Irvine Ranch and Santiago CreekIMAG0230Yesterday, we saw a different kind of critter.  No deer or even coyotes were spotted.  Just an incredibly creepy crawly.
Joan put her hand down to give reference to show how big this thing was.  Ewwwwww.
And, of course, we run our beloved Santiago Creek at least once a week.  I never get tired of this place to run.  Now that we have branched out and tried new trails from this route, I know I’ll never get bored here.  There are so many trails and so many kinds of terrain.
Santiago Creek sign post
Santiago Creek
In the middle of all these great runs was a little race called the LA Mud Run.  I will post a race report soon.  I still have to get the pictures developed, and that is something I am not used to doing.  I ran with a disposable water proof camera so I am hoping for some fun muddy pictures.

I am so lucky to live so close to such fabulous places to run.  Add all the wonderful people I have met to run with, this is turning out to be a great training cycle!

Happy Running!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Across the generations

I have found that running crosses so many lines.  No matter what I might or might not have in common with someone, if we both run, we instantly have a connection.

Today I ran with my friend, Joan.  She is only ten years older than I am, but is in a completely different place in her life.  This morning she excitedly told me that her son's wife had another baby early this morning.  I forget she is a grandmother.  When we run, we are both just two women- two runners enjoying each other's company.

A few months ago, I was running with another woman who decided not to train for a marathon with us because she was hoping to get pregnant in the next year.  One running partner beginning her parenting life and another whose parenting role involves spoiling her grandchildren. Yet we all have common ground.

I follow a lot of blogs (and due to that fact am not as consistent as I would like to be at commenting) and I follow such a wide array of people.  But I find I have something in common with all of them.  I follow grandmothers, newlyweds and singles.  There are moms like me, some around the same age, and others much younger.

Lately, it seems like I am meeting runners everywhere.  I don't know if it is because everyone is running or if I just tend to meet runners.  I think it is the former, to be honest.  I talk to a lot of people who are new to running.  It is great!

Happy Running...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It is like a drug, I tell ya….

I am sure that many of you are hooked on the endorphins that come from running.  I reached a place where I could tell in my mood when I needed to run.  My husband has been known to tell me to go for a run when I am cranky and irritable.  But the aftereffects of running aren’t lasting as long as they used to.  It seems like I am cranky most of the time these days.  I even wake up cranky.  The only time I am comfortable in my skin is when I am running*. 

Lately, my life has been really stressful.  It is the kind of stress that feels like a vice grip around your chest.  We are in the same situation we were in last year and it is definitely harder the second time.  We picked up and moved here for a job and now that job is gone.  While the news says the economy is getting better, we aren’t seeing more jobs out there.  You would think that we would have better luck looking in the LA market (as opposed to San Diego) but no.  In fact, we are looking everywhere.  Both of us check the listings, talk with recruiters.  Nothing.  Things are pretty scary.

So I run.  And run.  But when I go out for an easy run by myself, I am alone with my thoughts.  I obsess and fret about our situation.  Thankfully, I have found a wonderful group of friends here and I have no shortage of running partners.  My runs with my friends tend to be relaxing and chatty.  That is great, until my natural desire to “talk it out” takes over and the subject turns to our situation.  Don’t get me wrong, it does help to talk out problems with friends and they are my saving grace, but it isn’t quite an “escape.”

My escape comes when I push myself.  I push myself hard enough that there is no room for the rest of the world.  Just me and the physical nature of the activity.  To be able to push out the world for that brief bit of time is priceless.

The best way for me to push myself is in a race.  There is something magic the way a race increases my adrenaline.  Even a “fun run” that I am not going for a PR clears my head and sends those endorphins into overdrive.  During a race, all I think about is my pace, my next water or fuel (depending on the length of the race) and the runners around me.  I can focus on my gait, my breathing and even the music from my iPod.
Unfortunately, races cost money.  Alas…money (or lack thereof) is a cause of my stress.  Luckily, my dad sent me some money for my birthday in April and made me promise to use it on myself.  Instead of getting my hair done (the grey hair always creeps in!) or buying an outfit, I used it towards race fees.  I went on a roll and ran four half marathons in 30 days.  I followed that by a 10K Mud Run, a 10K, two 5K’s and a 15K

I don’t have any major races on the near horizon** and it makes me sad.  I am training for the Long Beach Marathon in October and the long runs are a good drug for me (three hour runs do become an escape).  I had originally planned on running Montana de Oro 50K in August.  However, with vacations and family obligations, I am a bit behind in my training (maybe if I didn’t do so many short races, I’d be in better position.  Oh, the irony).  I can’t justify a destination race which would cost gas, hotel, food and entry fee when I won’t be 100% prepared.  I can slug through a race that I am under-trained for, but it just doesn’t make sense for me right now. 

As I increase my mileage, I seem to need it more and more, like a junkie looking for a fix.  But I also realize that pushing myself too hard would be counter productive.  I read blogs where runners are sidelined by injury and feel bad for them.  More than that I am terrified of the possibility.  I can’t let that happen to me.  Just thinking about it makes the crushing feeling in my chest increase.  I revised my training plan recently for the Long Beach Marathon and added some six-day weeks with back-to-backs on the weekend.  I was going to start today.  I woke up and was planning on running eight miles this morning (after running sixteen yesterday).  My body was SO tired from a lot of activity and late nights this past week.  I decided that a few hours of extra sleep would do me more good than eight miles.  I went back to bed.  While I feel like I could have run it, I am glad to be a little more rested going into a busy day.

I am officially a running junkie, but I think that admitting it is the way to ensure that it doesn’t get out of hand.  I think I am still approaching my running in a rational manner.  But…if anyone has a race entry they want to give me, I won’t turn it down.  LOL.  If there is a patch for this addiction, I don’t want it.  For now… I am lovin’ it.

Anymore junkies out there with me?

*Don’t get me wrong, my family is wonderful.  My children give me so much joy.  But I feel like I have less patience with them. I am a better mother when I get my frustrations out while running.
**I recently signed up for the LA Eco Mud Run through Jamba Juice.  It will be fun, but it is only a 5K…so not much of an escape.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I had a personal best in terms of mileage this month!  I ran 167 miles!!  Considering that the week of July 5 – 11 I only ran sixteen miles (I was on vacation), I am pretty happy with myself.

The month started out with my three-races-in-two-days the first weekend.  I did a 5K, a 10K and a 15K all within 24 hours.  I PR’d in two out of three of those races.  Woo hoo!

Then we packed up the kids (and a BUNCH of stuff) and drove up to Mammoth Lakes to go camping.  I had never been to Mammoth and fell in LOVE with it.  It was a perfect first camping trip for the kids.  We camped with another family and kept busy with bike rides, hiking and enjoying the area.Mammoth Lakes bike ride Devils post pile group shot
There were cool geologic features as well as gorgeous and powerful waterfalls.
Rainbow Falls.23  
I even was able to show off my Jamba Juice “super powers.” *
jamba riverOn our second to last night, I checked Facebook from my phone and saw that Alissa (one of my blogger, facebook, dailymile buddies) posted something about being on her way to Mammoth Lakes.  I sent her a message that we should get together for a run.  We were able to meet up the next morning for a nice run around a bike path.  Alissa and I had met once before at a race, but this was our first chance to run together.  The altitude was kicking my @ss, but it was a great run.  We decided to run again the next morning.
DSCN1908  It was a great run with fabulous company in an unbelievable setting.DSCN1906The next day we decided to explore some of the trails near our campground.  I had run briefly here earlier in the week, but felt much better going deeper into the woods with a friend.  It was GREAT.
Mammoth Lake run woods
Mammoth Lakes trail run Alissa
Mammoth Lakes trail run Lisa We ran a little more than nine miles.  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring Gu.  Normally, I can muscle through a nine mile run without fuel.  However, at over 7000 feet on the last day of sleeping (or not sleeping) five nights in a tent and not having breakfast that morning….I bonked around mile 7.  I haven’t felt that weak during a run in a long time.  And I have never felt that weak that early.  Luckily, Alissa had  Gu with her that she generously offered me.  It made all the difference in the world.  I don’t know if it was mental or physical, but I was able to finish the run.

When we returned from vacation, I jumped right back into my runs.  It was time to kick my long runs into gear.  I ran 16.28, 17.72  and 18.69 miles on successive Saturdays.  This past Saturday was the easiest for me of all of them.  Ironically, the Huntington Beach 16-miler was the flattest yet most difficult of my recent long runs.
The weather for most of the month has been perfect for running.  We have had overcast mornings followed by somewhat mild afternoons.  We had some normal hot days, but nothing like years past.  I hope that August continues like this…but I’m not optimistic.

If July was my best mileage month ever, I’m excited to see how August shapes up.  My training calls for increased mileage, including several 20+ mile runs.  This is good, since lately, my mood is more and more dependent on my running.  There are some days where I am cranky all day except when I am running.  My poor family….  But more on that in another post.

Happy Running….
*I posed for the picture for a Team Jamba photo contest.  The funny thing is… I climbed out onto a cliff that was 100 feet or so over the rocks and rapids, much to the worrying of my family.  The picture doesn’t show my precarious location at all.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Another great long run

On Saturday, I wanted to knock out an eighteen mile run.  I also wanted to run with my friends.  Kelly wanted to stay close to home because she had to be done early for family obligations (which also meant that she didn’t have time to run eighteen miles).  We decided to run our favorite route on the Santiago Creek trail to Irvine Park and add Peters Canyon to make it long.  When mapping it out, I decided to invite all my runner friends of various abilities, since there were various places for people to drop out.

Nine people showed up to the run at an early 5:30 meetup time!  I was so excited.  We had people running six, eight, fourteen and eighteen miles.  I was the only one running eighteen, so I made sure to have my music with me for those last lonely miles.  We also had various paces.  The group naturally fell into pace groups of two or three people.

I ran the first part with Shannon and Stacey.  It was their first time running the creek and there are confusing turns in order to get to the trail heading out to Irvine Park.  I didn’t want them getting lost.  They run at a relaxed pace, a bit slower than I like to run my long runs, but it was a very pleasant way to warm up.

About four miles into it, as we were running around Irvine Park, I decided that I needed to make sure that I knew where Kelly, Marci and Kristen were.  They were running fourteen and since Shannon and Stacey were only doing six or so miles, I wanted to keep the others in my sights.  Shannon and Stacey urged me to go ahead.  They knew how to get to the parking lot where Stacey and I had dropped off her car.  They would be fine for the last few miles.  So I ran ahead with Rod*, who had run back to check on Lori and Heidi behind us.

I caught up with Kelly, Marci and Kristen and ran with them down to and around Peters Canyon.  Our pace increased from just under 12:00 for the first four miles to under 10:00 (except for the mile with two big hills in Peters Canyon) for the next several miles.  We opted not to do the BIG hills in Peters but hills, in general, are unavoidable there.

One of the best things about running with Marci is that we can push each other well.  Our paces are very similar and I am excited to run the Long Beach Marathon with her.  She was running up the last big hill in Peters Canyon and I ran right alongside her.  I could tell we both wanted to run to the top.  It was great pushing myself like that, even if it was for a short hill. Kelly and Kristen followed behind us.  We stopped at the top to drink some water, catch our breath and enjoy the scenery.

Peters canyon

Kelly and Kristen cresting the hill

peters canyon lake view
Marci enjoying the view
Peters canyon marci lisa
At this point, it was right about mile thirteen.  Their cars were at the Albertsons parking lot about a half mile (uphill) away.  We got to the cars and the three of them headed home.  I still had over four miles to go.  I decided to run into Irvine Park to refill some water.  Even though the temperature was perfect, I had consumed most of the water I had carried with me.

We had all hoped to see wildlife during the run.  In the past, we have seen deer, coyotes and even a couple skunks.  The only wildlife spotted was during the solo section of my run.
Irvine park peacocks I probably saw a dozen peacock.  I had never seen so many together.  They were like a flock…and I didn’t think they were flock birds.  This was about half of them hanging around this parking lot in the park.  Crazy.

The last five miles of my run went by quickly.  My pace was all over the place due to the hills and terrain, but I was able to run mile sixteen at a 9:00 pace.  I felt really good and didn’t feel much fatigue until about mile seventeen.  By that time, I was on the trail back to the car and I knew I was almost done.

I ended up running 18.69 miles at a pace of 10:30 per mile.  Having the run broken into three distinct sections** really helped to make it seem less like a long run.  In fact, this was my favorite run in a while (replacing last week’s long run).

I took yesterday off, but easily could have run.  I think I might add a Sunday recovery run into my plan.  I ran six miles today and felt good.  I am happy with how I am recovering from these long runs.  I don’t remember enjoying them quite this much the last go-around.  I am excited for the rest of the training cycle.

Happy Running….

*Rod only ran between six and eight miles that day.  Normally, he would have run the entire run with me.
**1st—Shannon and Stacey 2nd—Marci, Kelly and Kristen, 3rd—solo.


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