"...In the end, people either have excuses or experiences; reasons or results; buts or
brilliance. They either have what they wanted or they have a detailed list of all the rational reasons why not."

~ Anonymous
(taken from Matt Erbele's, It Takes Time to Get Good)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

13 mile Trail Run

~13 miles, 3:10:52 (the "~" will be explained later)

Today I went back to the Sierra Azul open space preserve to do my 13 mile long run. I wanted to start getting in some trail running in preparation for Skyline to Sea 50K.

This is the toughest training run I have done, I was going to say in a while, but I think it may be ever. Unless you count some of the organized trail runs I used as training runs.

Here is the elevation chart. You can probably understand that there were many moments when my thoughts were, "Sheesh! What the hell was I thinking? I am turning around"

I had run 3 miles of this trail as an out and back for a total of six miles. You can see in the elevation chart that a 3 mile out and back is challenging, but very doable. It is very beautiful out there, so I thought "hey, that would be a nice trail to be on for 3 hours." Picture: Pretty trail views! Isn't it a lovely day!

At mile 4, I had already changed my tune.

At mile 5, I was cursing Theodore Roosevelt himself for instituting government funded parks programs and plotting the demise and eventual extinction of several species of, what I like to call, "fucking sticker bushes" or FSBs. The FSBs were growing all over the trail after mile 5 because NO ONE except my dumb ass continues to go up 2 miles of exposed trail with over 1200 feet of vertical gain.

Well no one, but me and the creator of this little gem!

For those of you that do not find comparative physiology of vertebrate digestion as fascinating as me, this is MOUNTAIN LION shit.

Yep, M O U N T A I N L I O N shit. A smidge unnerving, wouldn't you say?

This is when I said, "Screw a 6.5 mile turn around, 6.3 is FINE BY ME! I am outta here!" Yeah outta here, but I still had 6.3 miles to run. At a pace , I may add, significantly slower than a mountain lion.

After I got back down to where the trail looked like it was used more frequently by humans, my mind settled down and stopped seeing things moving in the bushes above me. But now I had steep, rocky downhill to navigate. This was part of the reason I was out here as well, to train my legs for long downhills which I will see at Skyline to Sea 50K and the Bizz Johnson Marathon.

Here is the rocky, downhill where I decided that I didn't care if trail gaiters cost 10 million dollars I am ordering them tonight!

Here are what gaiters are and the fabric I chose from DirtyGirlGaiters.com BTW, I was pleased to see that they are NOT 10 million dollars. Only $13 AND free shipping!

At mile 8.5 the trail was downright perfect! Shaded, soft footing and a gentle down hill that was not bone jarring.

Gear Review of sorts:

I had worn my hubby's 50 oz. Camelbak (he has the one with the chest strap. Mine is cheap and for biking only and no chest strap) and carried 8 oz. of "emergency water" on my run belt. I had emptied the CamelBak by 9.3 miles and had to nurse the 8 remaining oz, until mile 11 when I was out of water for good. Bummer.

It was much hotter, and miles 4-6 where much harder, than I had planned for, but I was ok until the end. I am going to experiment with a 100oz. Camelbak (also hubby's) next time, but it looks REALLY big so I am not sure how it will work.

So the review part. It was not bad running with the pack. I thought it would shake, or chafe, or just generally be irritating, but it was ok. The water sloshing was loud and would have driven me bat shit crazy, but I turned up my iPod and I couldn't hear it. This could be a problem for running w/o and iPod and/or with a run buddy (i.e. Jane may shove me off the trail at Skyline to Sea.)

Other concerns: I would need to get a woman specific model if I decided to go this route, because you have to tighten it as you drink the water or it does shake and could chafe on a longer run, and at a certain point I couldn't tighten anymore.

Ok, back to the run. When I got in I was only at 12.6 miles and I wanted to do 13. This bugs me. Maybe some latent Type A personality, but it bugs me. So I proceeded to run across to the other side of the trail head to get the extra 0.4 miles. That is when I ran into this:

This is a horrible picture of a rattlesnake. A RATTLESNAKE! It is a horrible picture because after I scampered back I was NOT going to get close again. So I zoomed, and cropped and at least you can tell that it is a rattlesnake.

Ok, game over.

Back to the car for a total of 12.82 miles.

Whatever. I'll get over it. That was enough nature for one day.


Lindy said...

ANd here I was yesterday, annoyed by the swirling swarms of gnats on the lakefront path yesterday.

As for the mountain lion dung, at least it wasn't fresh-looking. :) No? Although with the heat you described, it may have looked that dried out within in an hour.

Reese said...

You are one tough lady. Able to identify Mountain Lion crap, from low to high point you climbed about 1500 feet, then to top it off you get close enough to a rattlesnake to take pictures.

Erin Leigh said...

I told Bob how you turned around when you saw mountain lion poop. He said, "yeah, good idea, you don't want to be mountain lion poop."

Good job with that. I am tired just looking at the elevation.

Calyx Meredith said...

Rattlesnakes? Mountain Lion poo? 1200 foot climb without enough water? Girl, you have ALL the fun.

Lou said...

Rattlesnake would = game over for me too. I think that's totally understandable.

E said...

You are so hard core. That elevation was enough for me to say "no way" and then you ran out of water and saw a rattlesnake!

Southbaygirl said...

Ok..I'm sorry I love trail running but if I had seen that snake I would have said fuck this shit and gone back to the car. I HATE snakes!!!! The mountain lion-kinda scary because they are scary..but the shit was funny! But you ran it! And congrats and kudos to you for that!!!!

I on the other hand have slugged this week! I've been completely beat up at work, working 14 hour days each day, and spent all day saturday in my pj's watching the olympics-because I'm addicted!!!

You are an animal!!

Anonymous said...

Great job on a tough run! I love trail running so much, too :)

You always make me laugh and I end up reading parts of your posts to my family members. Your cursing TR at mile 5, comparative physiology of vertebrate digestion, FSB's...too much!!

I need some of those dirty girl gaiters - thanks for the link :)

Aileen said...

FSB's...amazing :)

Willie said...

Running is not supposed to be a life or death event. They make these wonderful paved trails around lakes and cities. No lions, tigers, bears, poo (ok so maybe alittle), or snakes. Don't like snakes, never have. Your picture has freaked me out now. Thanks.

Unknown said...

I'm toying with the idea of trail running. We ran a tame trail on Saturday (8 miles). If I get serious about it, I need to look into trail shoes and gaitors (that will be some fun shopping. woot!) and learn how to identify moutain lion poop. Ha!

Way to get it done.

JenZen said...

OMG - a rattlesnake AND mountain lion poop!!! I would have crapped my pants. (not to mention the elevation would have killed me)

JenZen said...

OMG - a rattlesnake AND mountain lion poop!!! I would have crapped my pants. (not to mention the elevation would have killed me)

Herself, the GeekGirl said...

High elevation, hills, durty-girl gaiters, rattlesnakes, okay: you are officially ready to more to New Mexico!! PS: I have DG gaiters. I love mine.

ShirleyPerly said...

I gotta say that just reading your reports are an ADVENTURE!

Holy sh*t about the poop. I think I'd rather not know it was from a mtn lion. And the rattlesnake, that's another thing I don't miss about CA. (Not that gators and occasional water moccasins are any fun to have around)

Way to go on that elevation gain!!

Stef0115 said...

I was laughing and scared for you at the same time reading this.

Seriously mountain lion crap? WOW. Rattlesnake? OH DEAR GOD.

Honestly though the trail is so gorgeous it seems totally worth it. You didn't see the snake till the end so you got a great workout in.

You take great pictures and every time I see them it makes me want to go trail running.

Aka Alice said...

That you identified it as Mountain Lion Shit and then photographed it is just fabulous blog-fodder (get it? shit? fodder?...yeah, I know...booooo) Funny. Scary, but funny.

Also laughing about the FSBs...

Your hill beat mine, that's fo-sho.

Jaime said...

I think I may have shit my pants seeing that rattle snake... but then I would have attracked the mountain lion and really been fucked.

Good job on the run!

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOSH!!! Even the pic of the snake freaks me out!!!
Thank God you're safe & it didn't attack you & eat you whole!
(sense my paralyzing fear of snakes???) They all need to die!

Steve Stenzel said...

That elevation chart looks NASTY!!!

And so did the mountain lion poo. And the rattlesnake.

Why the hell do you do this?!?....


Tater said...

50k?!? Holy c<@p! You geaux girl!

Glad you identified the mountain lion poo .... I am sooo not gonna say what it really looks like *ack*!

Ick on the snake too. Passed a huge fat (luckily dead) water moccasin on last ride as well as a smaller, thinner, but no less scarier live snake that I almost ran over with my bike. Then almost crashed trying to look back at it lol.