As I mentioned in my last post, the Peanut is now on a swim team which makes finding time for long trail runs a little harder to manage. She practices almost 4 sometimes 5 days a week (whether with the team or at Steve Wallen Swim School) and has a meet every Saturday until August.
This past weekend was her second swim meet and her very first “away” meet (visiting the Sierra Sharks in Cameron Park). What is new for the Peanut is also new for Vans and myself. We are not used to this sort of thing as neither one of us was ever on a swim team. Soccer? Sure! I know all about traveling to tournaments and playing two games in one day (3 or 4 on a weekend)Â but I was never the PARENT in that situation. Dear Dad, I am sorry for all those crazy hot tournaments that you drove me to … luckily you didn’t haveÂ a 2 (almost 3) year old Squeaker to drag along with you. Poor kid!
It was one HOT weekend but the TrailmommaÂ family rallied like troopers. Thank goodness for GCRS Girl and her family. They are veterans of the swimÂ meet and truly help us out in a way that I cannot even describe.
We arrived at the pool, found GCRS and family and set up our little camp. The kids immediately go into “what cool snacks did we pack” mode. Swim meets = eating lots of random snack and junk food.
The Peanut was listed in two events again, the 25 yard freestyle and the 25 yard back stroke. When it came time for her freestyle event we made our way down to the pool. Unsure of the set up, we noticed that they had regulation diving blocks instead of the mini-ones the 6 and Under kids are used to.
Vans and I separate and each move to one endÂ of the pool. This race, the Peanut was swimming towards Squeaker and myself. I saw her shake her head and refuse to get on the block … that’s ok, they are not required to jump from there.
When the buzzer blew, she jumped and started swimming. I was cheering so loud hoping that she could hear me under the water. All of a sudden, I notice that she’s one of the first few reaching the wall! She touched the wall and the timer turned to me and said “She got first place!” What?! My Peanut had swam FIRST in her heat!! She came out of the pool and I told her that she may have won AND that she beat her previous time by almost TEN SECONDS!!! Huge accomplishment. She was glowing.
She was given a bead from the coaches for achieving a PR. I think she was more happy with the bead than the new time!
Next up was her back stroke. Once again, all four of us made our way down to the scorching hot pool. Poor Squeaker was barely hanging in, she was so hot.
Starting in the water, the Peanut was put into lane 5. We were told by GCRS Girl that lanes 4 and 5 are reserved for the “fastest” of swimmers. When the buzzer went off, the Peanut pushed off the wall and started her back stroke. She stayed almost 100% straight and I saw her looking for the wall near the end. Instead of giving up and kicking (like she has done in the past) she reached and moved her arms another stroke touching the wall! She was first place AGAIN! She also got another PR by just a hair this time too! Who IS this kid? 🙂
Apparently losing a tooth and gettingÂ a short summer hair cut made all the difference in her strokes this race.:)
When she got her bead, we also treated the kids to smoothies and icies (the post race ritual now I guess).
Once we were home, I blasted into full force mode. Lunch for the girls, nap for Squeaker and a hot hot run for me. I just needed to get few miles in and it was blistering hot outside so I picked what I thought would be the shadiest route.
6 miles later I arrived home completely drenched but I felt better. It was probably the toughest 6 miles I have done in a while.
I saved some energy because I knew on Sunday I would be running with Pigeon and we were planning to do 10 to 12 miles.
Our goal was to start at 6:30 am and run some of the same route I had on the day prior. Pigeon was kind enough to come run in my hood knowing that I had to work at 10:30 am.
When she arrived I was having some shoe difficulty but soon we were off and noticing how warm it already was at just 6:45! Ouch.
We ran a few local trails over towards Brown’s Ravine. The first thing we see as we entered Brown’s was aÂ gaggle of turkeys. TONS of them. All over the place and they had babies with them. Great, baby turkeys. The local turkeys are procreating, just what I needed to know!
As we ran I noticed neither one of us was really running like our usual selves. It just seemed like “work” to run. Folsom LakeÂ looked gorgeous though and is definitely filling up with water (slowly).
We saw quite a few FTRÂ runners on the trail too. When my GarminÂ Buzzed 5 miles I stopped. I told Pigeon that we were at 5 and if we head back now, we’d have 1o. “I said 10 or 12,” Pigeon replied. “Ok, are we doing 12 then? We can run to the levee and that might give us a enough,” I say.
“What do you want to do?” Pigeon replies. “Man, if I had a quarter I’d flip it and let that make our decision.” I say half jokingly. “I have a Gu packet!” Pigeon says “Let’s flip that.”
Yes, that is totally a scientific way of making a decision when out on a trail.Â PowerGel side up we continued on (aka Powering On) if it was the back of the packet, we were turning towards home.
Onward we went, all the way to the levee (which really wasn’t much further than where we had flipped the packet). 🙂
The run back was a struggle. Our energy was low, the temps were rising but we still had our sense of humor. We talked about our plans for Tahoe Rim and for some future runs. It as nice to reconnect with Pigeon as it has been a few weeks.
What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and having what should be a short easy run turn into something that feels like a marathonÂ in a sauna while breathing through a straw is a good thing. It brings your brain and your body to a low point and it is how you reactÂ to that low point that matters. We could have given up and called Vans for a ride home but we didn’t. We hiked onward trying to lift ourselves up. Pigeon is not training for an easy race in July. She will hit low moments and who knows where those moments will strike. They could very well be on a flat easy section. It is how we handle those moments that matters.
As the Peanut has demonstrated recently, hard work in practiceÂ will produce good results. So get to work. 🙂
So in my last post I said I was excited for my run this weekend and boy was I ever! I went from being “ho-hum” about running this week to having a day on the trails where I do not think I stopped smiling for even one minute!
In the four years since we last ran this training run, Pigeon has excelled as an ultra runner. She is officially training for a 100 mile race (again) and I have run my second 50k and my second 50 miler in addition to quite a few marathons. When we ran this run in 2010, we were naive. We both had run one 50 mile race and pretty much signed up for this training run on a whim and decided we could handle it. We did but we were complete novices out on the trail climbing mountains that are pretty intense. While we finished in 2010 laughing the whole way, we had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into on that run.
With quite a bit more mileage under our belt, this time around would be a little different. We both have a lot more respect for this trail. In my mind, there is no better place to run than on this trail as it has a little bit of everything and if you are not careful, the trail can rule your day.
Pigeon and I carpooled to Foresthill Elementary School and checked in with the people putting on this run. We paid the fee to run this organized training run because that not only provides us three fully stocked aid-stations along the way it also goes towards restoration and maintenance of the trail itself.
In 2010 Pigeon and I rode the yellow school buses along with hundreds of others doing this run. This year, Pigeon coordinated with a friend to get us a ride to Robinson Flat so we could avoid the bus. The same ride in a bus takes an hour (and it is a curvy road with no shoulder) … in a car that ride took us a half an hour. That means we’d have a good jump on all the hundreds of other runners headed out for a long day out on the trail.
I agreed to the ride, although I admit I was a little bit worried when she told me who else was coming and the car we would be in Â (a Rav4). The numbers didn’t add up in my head. Where would I sit?
While I was sitting nice and illegal cosy in the back of the Rav4, I listened to everyone talk about their past 100 mile experiences whether in races or on training runs. The whole car was training for a 100 mile race whether it is Western States or Tahoe Rim … and then there was me, in the back. 🙂
When we arrived at Robinson Flat we all got out and stretched and used the facilities. In 2010 there was so much snow on the ground that we could not ride all they way to Robinson Flat. I had forgotten about that and quickly realized that the first 6 miles that I was about to run, I had never seen before!
The excitement started to grow. The girl who drove us was waiting for another person to arrive so Pigeon and I decided to follow some guys who had also avoided the buses and started our run. I didn’t know which way to go and Pigeon had a pretty good idea but we wanted to start out following someone just in case.
Once we left the camp ground and started on the trail following the yellow ribbons, I was in awe. At first we climbed a bit and were behind these guys who seemed equally excited to be out running. At one point they all stopped, not sure which way to go. One guy said he thought we should go right. I looked to my left and saw about 3 yellow ribbons so I said, “I think we go left, there are the ribbons.” Even Pigeon was thinking it was to the right. Luckily we went left. 🙂
Pigeon was cruising pretty fast. She was sticking close to the guys. While I was feeling fine, I could not pass what was before me! Every which way that I turned was the most amazing view I have ever seen!
I was slowly getting left behind because I kept stopping to take photos. I also knew we had a very long day ahead of us and I didn’t want to blow up my quads running down hill racing after the boys. Pigeon was on fire and sticking with them. Me? Nah, I’d rather have a photo op. 🙂
At one point I caught up to Pigeon and the terrible pacer that I am I made her stop. I reminded her that I had never been on this section before and that I was just blown away by the trail and the views … and then I made her take my picture. 🙂
I tucked the camera away (finally) and we kept on running. I knew that I had lots of photos from the second half of the run from 2010 so I needed to make sure I captured all that was before us on the first few miles.
My Jenny Vesta Hydration pack was FULL of fuel and water. I knew there would be aid along the way and mostly I was thinking I would only need water and maybe a few potatoes here and there at the aid-stations. I have been experimenting with my fuel lately and have been relying recently on ProBar products. I am more inclined to use real food instead of gels or chews but the ProBar Bolt chews have been working nicely as well as their ProBar Fuel bars. I prefer the bars most of the time.Â So when Pigeon stopped to find a tree, I had a snack and of course took another photo.
While we were running there would be the occasional runner who would catch up to us and chat for a bit. At one point, a guy who had originally missed the turn but heard us chatting off the trail, ran up behind us and thanked us because we had made him realize he had gone the wrong way. He joined us for a bit.
Now I have shared before that sometimes when Pigeon and I are off running deep in the woods, we will hear the occasional gun shot off in the distance. It sounds miles and miles away and is just the echo throughout the canyons that we generally hear. Not on this day. The three of us are running at one point I had looked down to my right and saw what looked to be a shotgun shell. My brain did a mental pause when all of a sudden we hear BAM! BAM! That wasn’t miles and miles off in the distance that sounded like it was just 15 feet away! The three of us jumped. BAM! again and we looked to our left. We couldn’t see the shooters but they felt way too incredibly close.
With our heart rates pumping, we just kept moving. We came across the first aid-station at Dusty Corners. I didn’t need anything really. I don’t recall what the heck I did at this aid-station other than fill one of my bottles with water.
The temps were definitely rising and in some sections it was down right hot. I felt good though. We just kept trucking along. I knew soon we would be coming to the long descent at Last Chance. It was this section in 2010 leading to Devil’s Thumb that I rolled my right ankle pretty severely and twisted my knee.
It is a very technical descent and the trail is covered in dry leaves so you can’t quite see what is underneath. Pigeon was not bombing the descent like she normally does so I was able to stick pretty close to her. All of a sudden I see her right toe get tripped up on a rock and what followed was in complete slow motion (for me, not sure about her). She trips and starts to fall forward and I go, “oh no!” and as I do, she rights herself almost catching herself from falling. However, out of no where it is as if gravity was pulling her and Pigeon just falls face first down the trail. Her hands didn’t pop out to protect her, at least not from my view but her arms were scrapped and she also ended up with a mouth full of dirt and her feet kicked back behind her like a scorpion’s tail. I did ask her if she was okay but my second question was “can I take a picture?” 🙂 She immediately snapped “no!” and popped up before I could even get my camera out of my pocket.
She had a few minor scrapes on her however we had quite a ways to go until we reached the bottom. Luckily there was a mini stream half way down and Pigeon was able to wash off some of the dirt and blood.
This fall took a lot out of Pigeon. When you fall on a trail run, it is more than just the injury or scrapes that you might end up with. You all of a sudden feel more exhausted than ever and your mind starts to play games with you. Thoughts like “oh, you must be tired” or “I fell because my legs are tired” start creeping into your brain. I was trying to not let Pigeon get down on herself about the fall because we were quickly approaching the toughest climb of the entire day, Devil’s Thumb.
Between Last Chance and Devil’s Thumb is a bridge called The Swinging Bridge. I posted about this in my 2010 post. It was old and scary but it thoroughly did its job of getting runners across the river. However, with the massive fires that this area had last year, this is all that is left of The Swinging Bridge …
Of course I completely forgot all about the bridge or the lack thereof. I had been watching the posts on Facebook over the weeks and I totally confused the construction of “the new bridge” as the replacement for the Swinging Bridge.
So how were we going to get across the river? Not to worry! The Western States crew had thought of everything …
Now the river doesn’t look that high in the photo but those men standing there to help us cross, were standing on rocks. In between those rocks, the water was almost up to our chest! I even asked one of the volunteers to take my photo because you know, I was still smiling.
That dip in the water was SO refreshing. It really cooled the body temperature down which was a good thing because the next item on our agenda was to tackle Devil’s Thumb.
I have only climbed “the thumb” once before. I’ve been to it a few times but the only other time that I actually hike up was back in 2010 with Pigeon. I remember it was tough and I remember going up switch back after switch back.
When we started the climb, Pigeon was leading as usual. I noticed she was getting more and more quiet but we were climbing and I know she was still thinking about that fall. I just stayed behind her and tried to offer some words of encouragement. Occasionally a few other runners would catch us and pass and I know that mentally, it bothered Pigeon. She’d ask to stop a few times and take a breather and that was totally fine with me. I didn’t want to tell her but I was feeling really good on the climb. Of course I was tired and of course my legs were burning, but overall, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other trying to make our way to the top. The top was very far away.
If you look closely at the above photo, you will see little specs of people up the hill. Way up high, between those two trees, is a person and that person is barely half way up this climb. Devil’s Thumb is no joke and we were soaking wet from the chest down (yes, including wet socks and shoes). While it was nice to cool off, it didn’t last long as parts of the Thumb are exposed and as you can tell from above, pretty steep. It was also sad because you can see all the damage from the fires and how barren and charred the trail now looks.
It took a while but we made it. Pigeon had completely sucked her hydration pack dry and finished The Thumb with zero water. She didn’t tell me until we reached the top and I had plenty left in my pack so I handed her one of my bottles that had a few inches of water left. That is what training partners do.
The next aid station would be at the water pump, which the organizers called Deadwood because it is close to Deadwood Cemetery. When Pigeon and I stopped, she filled her pack and I filled my bottles and pack as well. We ate a few things from the aid-station and as we were leaving I asked Pigeon if she wanted to soak the bandanas we had around our neck. We’d stop at a few streams and soaked them along the way putting them on our necks to keep us cool but the pump water is COLD. It felt pretty awesome to soak those and have a nice cool cloth around our neck as we continued on our way toward Michigan Bluff.
The rest of the trail is the same section that we ran just two weeks ago. You can read about that run here and see the photos. It felt like we were on the home stretch and I was still feeling really well however, I knew that we’d soon be entering the El Dorado Creek Canyon and that massive descent which murdered my knees just two weeks prior.
Up until this point, my knees and been feeling pretty good. There were some sections where I would feel a twinge or two but nothing that ever prevented me from moving. El Dorado Creek Canyon leading to Michigan Bluff is a 5.5 mile descent. That is five miles running deeper and deeper into a canyon that doesn’t exactly scream smooth easy trail. It is rocky, technical at times and down right painful when you are battling an IT problem (Iliotibial band). Pigeon’s knee was bugging her from her earlier fall so she wasn’t flying way ahead of me like she had two weeks ago but she was moving a helluva lot faster than I was at times. Occasionally she’d stop and turn and would catch me winching in pain every other step. I may have been wincing, but I was still smiling!
When we got to the bottom, we crossed the bridge and started making our way back out of the canyon towards Michigan Bluff where we knew another aid-station was waiting for us.
As we were climbing, Pigeon started coming back to life. She had a little more pep in her step. Maybe she knew we were close, maybe she had overcome whatever it was that was bringing her down but she was back to her usual self.
As we climbed, we came across two guys who were sitting on the side of the trail. They were not together but they were probably 5 feet apart. One was dry heaving and the other looked like he was dizzy enough to pass out. Pigeon asked the first guy (Mr. Dizzy) if he had any salt on him. He said no and was kind of wish-washy about wanting to take one. I handed him two salt tabs and we told him to take them.
Then Pigeon moved on to the next guy who when she approached, about vomited at her feet. Knowing my feelings about this, she quickly turned to me and said “you may want to look that way for a bit!” 🙂 This guy had a girl with him and she was trying her best to encourage him. He said he wanted something solid, no more gels (who can blame him). I handed him my last granola bar (gluten free baby!). Pigeon also told him that I had ginger chews so she told me to give him one and I did and then I quickly ran back down to Mr. Dizzy and gave him a ginger chew too.
So at this point, we said good luck and continued our way up the hill. I had a gel left in my pack and I think one more package of ProBar Bolts but I was done with wanting any of that.
When we reached Michigan Bluff we were greeted by Ann TrasonÂ (SO COOL) manning the aid-station along with some other women. There were a lot of stragglers who were hovering around this aid-station. I wanted something solid and I quickly dove into some plain potato chips and even and a few pieces of a PayDay candy bar which I have not eaten since 2010. This was sort of a slow aid-station so I ended up filling up my pack myself which was totally fine, I wanted to be on our way.
Pigeon and I started walking and eating at the same time. We were heading to Bath Road which would be our final climb of the day.
I had completely blocked out the section leading to Bath Road. It was a bit up hill with some definite run-able sections. We were moving along at one point, when all of a sudden we hear BAM! I screamed and jumped a mile. Then BAM BAM! Again. These were not shot guns, this was a regular gun. Don’t ask me how I knew the difference, maybe it is too much TV but I could tell, this was more of a handgun than aÂ shot gun and the sound was coming from in front of us and not off to the side.
Pigeon, the girl we were running with and myself were pretty petrified. I pulled out the whistle that comes with my hydration pack and started blowing. Pigeon told me to keep blowing my whistle and the girl we were running with started yelling “hey!” at these people. We could see them and their gun off in the distance. They were standing over a cliff and we couldn’t tell what they were shooting at whether it was a target or if they were just shooting over the cliff. Whatever it was, it freaked me out and when they saw us (and heard sirens in the distance) they stopped shooting and started getting into their car.Â Well that sure made me run faster!
When we reached the bottom before our climb up to Bath Road, there was a stream. In 2010 it was much higher and we needed a rope to help us cross. Now, the stream is not so high but it was pretty darn crowded!
Pigeon and I once again used our bandanas to wipe off our faces and put them around our neck. Bath Road is paved and leads us to the Foresthill Elementary School and ultimately the finish. In 2010, Bath Road and I did not get along. I was done at that point, completely toast (mostly due to the ankle and knee pain I had) so this year, I had some unfinished business.
We didn’t run up the hill the way we did in 2010 but I do feel like I probably could have run portions of it which made me feel good inside that I had the energy and the mojo. Instead though, Pigeon and I just power hiked our way up the road.
We were joined by a group of 3 who were extremely chatty and trying to be funny. Some times they were and sometimes, not so much but it was still entertaining and we just rolled with it. When Pigeon and I reached the top and got to Foresthill Road, we started running and we ran ourselves all the way to the finish.
We’d done it. We completed the training run again! It felt good for me to be able to finish and not feel so completely depleted like I did in 2010.
This year I bypassed the massage tent and instead we went to my car and just tried to clean ourselves up and we hit the road home.
We laughed on the way home about how naive we were in 2010 trying to do this run with very little experience under our belts. That’s how you learn though. That is how you do it sometimes and while the outcome could have been much worse, Pigeon and I are strong runners and when we are together, we seem to be even stronger. We help each other out and we motivate each other when the time comes.
Now, two days later, I have to say, I feel great. While two weeks ago, when Pigeon and I ran in the same canyon, I could barely walk for 3 days straight. I was much kinder to myself when I got home after this run. The kids were in the pool so I stood in the pool too all the way up to my knees. I rolled my quads on the foam roller that night as well. The next day at work, I used The Stick to knock out any additional kinks that I was feeling in my quads. I feel amazing. Stronger.
It was a great day and I couldn’t be happier with myself despite the sour weeks I’ve had leading up to this run. It really is a matter of mindset sometimes. If you talk yourself out of something, you are destined to have a miserable time. Reading my old blog reminded me how much I love everything there is about the Western States trail. While I don’t need to race and be competitive, I am most content when I can just have an awesomely fun day out on the trails with my ultra running partner.
And coming home to two awesome kids and a hubby who fully supported me and this run, was pretty awesome too.
Finally, here are the stats for the day (edited to add: 32 miles inÂ 8 hours). Check out the elevation gain AND the elevation loss. Pretty crazy.
(Edited to add: I hardly ever proof my posts before posting so please excuse the typos and terrible grammar. I do eventually go back and edit … eventually).
Okay, for weeks now I have been “ho-hum” about running. We’ve just been in super busy mode with the Peanut’s new swim team practice schedule and work has been busy lately. The weather is turning nice outside and the last thing I want to do is be inside in an office all.day.long but, it pays the bills, particularly swim team bills.
Now I would be completely lying if I didn’t say that I was totally dreading this weekend up until a few hours ago. I’ve been tired, exhausted and running around like a chicken with my head caught off mode for quite a while now. I even skipped my morning session at Breakout Fitness today because I wanted to have a few extra hours of sleep. It helped but I love my TRX.
I’ve also had some aches and pains and some pretty pathetic runs this week that all lead up to me just feeling pretty down and unenthused about Saturday’s run. Yet, it is a 3 day weekend and while I still work at the store on Sunday, I will have Monday off to be with my girls.
As I was walking outside on my lunch hour (in this 96 degree heat), I realized I needed to change my attitude around. So I read my old post from 2010, and that was it. Now I am excited to run. While the heat is going to be pretty intense (they are calling for 100 degrees), it SHOULD be a great day.
I will be running with Pigeon again and this year we are doing things a little bit different (more on that AFTER the run). She’s in super training mode but she knows how much I like to have fun on the trails so I am sure there will be some laughter along the way.
It will be a long day for Vans and the girls too but I am sure they will keep him busy laughing too….
With Miners Revenge behind me, it is time to get back into building miles again so that I can be ready to pace Pigeon at the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Miler in July. Last week was a hard week for me. I took a couple of classes at Diane’s that made me so incredibly sore, running last week was a struggle. I did manage some hill repeats one night although it wasn’t a pretty sight.
When Pigeon reached out to me to plan our Saturday run, I was a little nervous. She gave me some options but she really wanted to get some time on her feet in the canyons which involves a lot of climbing (both up and down). My shaky tired legs were a bit nervous.
The drive to Michigan Bluff takes about an hour. Pigeon was pretty good at getting us there without too much trouble. After we parked and started to get ready, we noticed that it was pretty darn cold outside. Her temperature gauge in the car had said 40 degrees! We knew it would warm up but boyÂ it was a chilly start to our run.
Right near the parking area (really just in front of some people’s houses) is a monument dedicated to the Western States Trail and Michigan Bluff’s role as a big aid-station in that race.
We weren’t alone when we arrived. There was a group of about 15 boys (teenagers?) who were also unloading their cars. They didn’t look like runners to us at all and so we assumed they were hiking. We never fully figured how who they were or what they were doing but they were pretty funny to run past on our way down into the canyon as they were cheering for us and wishing us a great day.
However, not one mile into our run I had a little malfunction with myÂ Ultimate Direction Jenny Vesta pack. I love this vest/hydration pack more than anything but this is the second or third time I have had this same malfunction. My hair is on the longer side and when I braid it down my back, the braid inevitably gets caught in the pack zipper! So we are starting our run and all of a sudden I can’t lift my head! It is tilted back and totally caught in the zipper. I yell out to Pigeon that I need her help. She stops.
Me: “My hair is caught, can you get it out please?”
Pigeon, “We are not even 1 mile into our run and you are having wardrobe issues? Wait. It’s stuck in that thingy! How did you did you do this? I can’t get it out! It’s stuck in the loopy-d-loop thing!”
Me: “Don’t mess up my hair! Don’t undo my braid!”
Pigeon: “I have to! I can’t get it out!”
We were laughing so hard. I never take myself seriously and clearly our runs always have some element of fun to them.
However, things would change a bit a little further into our run. The first 2.5 miles are a pretty deep descent and Pigeon is loving long descents lately. Me? I like them but I can honestly say they are not my strong suit. I’d rather run up a climb than run down a hill. I know, odd.
Pigeon took off down the descent and soon I lost her yellow jersey from my line of vision. Normally this is how we roll. She goes on ahead and I just take up the rear doing my thing, taking photos, whatever. However there is something about Michigan Bluff and the canyons that had me a bit spooked on this run.
Granted, not more than two months ago Robert “Bob” Root was lost for two days and then ultimately found on this same trail!!! Also, Facebook has been inundated lately with bear and mountain lion sightings all throughout Auburn and other areas. I am petrified of seeing either on the trail (more so the mountain lion).
So of course it was absolutely natural for my mind to go to dark dark places when I was running solo down these long descents where the trail was narrow, foggy and totally in the middle of no where. Sure Pigeon would be waiting at various turns or cross sections, but within moments she’d take off again and I would be mentally picturing in my head some gruesome scene played out around every corner. I know, I know, not smart but that is the way my brain works. I had my cell phone in my pack but of course I had it turned off and all I could think about was “if I get eaten, my phone isn’t ‘on’ so they can’t track my phone!” I need to stop reading scary books the night before I go on these trail runs. Clearly.
Did I share any of these thoughts with Pigeon? Did I tell her how petrified I was? Did I tell her that my heart rate was spiking not because of the physical activity but because I was totally imagining some vampire meets the hunger games scenario in my head? Nah. Instead I would just run my little heart out so that I could get as close to her as possible.
Soon we were climbing which is a good thing because then I was close to her! We were hiking our way up the trail when I heard something off in the distance. Pigeon turns and looks at me and I am smiling.
Pigeon: “What? Why are you smiling?”
Me: “Nothing. Nothing at all. I didn’t hear that gun shot did you?”
Pigeon: “Nope. I didn’t hear those gun shots either.”
Granted, they sounded miles away and it sounded very much like target practice. Â Whatever, some sick twisted part of me was thankful for the gun shots as I was hoping it would scare away any four legged creatures that might come eat me.
We continued climbing, up and up we would go, switch back after switch back. There was no one on the trail. It was quiet except for a few birds and the lizards darting through the leaves.
Eventually we made it to Deadwood Canyon. I remembered this section of the trail from 2010 although it looked a lot different.
So of course the curious side of me gets going: “Why is it called Deadwood Cemetery? Is it a real cemetery? What does it mean?” Pigeon has no clue but luckily there are some state park educational billboard things out there to ease inquiring minds (like mine).
These little bits of history were kind of neat. They also calmed me down a bit because if there are state parkÂ info boardsÂ like this out there, that means we were closer to possible civilization!
The water pump in the above photo was our destination but we had not quite achieved the mileage we wanted so we decided to keep going. As we were running away from the water pump I saw 3 girls running in our direction.
I MAY have been a bit overly excited to see people on the trail that I MAY have squealed “PEOPLE!! PEOPLE!! HI PEOPLE!” Pigeon was pretty mortified but then again, she had no idea WHY I was so overly excited to see these three strangers.
We chatted briefly with them but the time had come for me to come clean with Pigeon and I shared with her how terrified I was earlier on our run. She was shocked and had no clue and couldn’t understand why I would be so frightened. I have a very over active imagination and sometimes it gets the best of me. 🙂
Soon however we had reached our destination, Devil’s Thumb. I have been out at “the thumb” a few times. Once as a volunteer for Western States and then again in 2010 when Pigeon and I ran up and through it. I have to say, I was shocked by what is now left of Devil’s Thumb.
Pigeon and I took a few moments to wander around and look at all the damage. It truly was heart breaking to see this area just burned almost beyond recognition!
We gathered ourselves together and decided to turn around. Neither one of us wanted to go down to the bottom of Devil’s Thumb only to go back up (the climb is brutal and we’ll be doing it in about 2 weeks anyway).
Our run back was good. Pigeon stayed with me for most of it. We ran into those teenagers again who said hi. The first section of the trail however, involved a large descent and would end with a large climb (the reverse of what we ran out).
Pigeon stayed a little closer to me on some of the downhills. Maybe she didn’t want me to be afraid or maybe she just was taking it easy but at one point, she stopped dead in her tracks which scared the living day lights out of me. Now normally my brain would just think “did she see a mountain lion?” but instead, I had heard what she heard … a motorcycle!
What?! We are on some random single track trail in the middle of no where and it sounded as if there was a highway near by! Nope, barreling around the corner was a guy on a dirt bike.
Luckily, there just happened to be a big rock off to the side that could fit the both of us while the motorcycle dude passed. He also shared with us that there was another guy behind him so we stayed put on our rock. Thank goodness for that rock! It totally saved us from either getting run over by the bikes or worse, getting poison oak by jumping into the bush.
We continued pounding the downhills with Pigeon moving quite a bit faster than myself. We did see a lot of people though on our returnÂ trip which was more reassuring. However, my IT band started to yell again a bit at about mile 13.
With the sun peaking out behind various clouds, our return trip was gorgeous. I had to stop to take a few photos (or maybe it was to rest my IT … maybe both?).
Once we got to that bridge, we helped a couple of hikers find their way and then it was a LONG 2.5 mile climb out of that canyon to the car. Pigeon managed to get ahead of me on a few of the switch backs and tried to be “funny” by dropping a rock down from above so that I would freak out. It ALMOST worked but I was onto her. 🙂
We paused a few times to say hi to a few runners along the way and then it was just climb climb climb. Once again, Pigeon stopped, only this time she screamed like a girl (and I say that in the nicest way possible). I grabbed my vital organs (my heart and chest area) and yelled “what!? what!?”
She pauses, ” a lizard!!!”
She screamed because of a lizard. Okay, I may scream because someone’s random dog (off leash) creeps up behind me or because some venomous turkey is on the trail, but she screamed for a lizard!? Okay, maybe this lizard was larger than normal and she almost stepped on it.
We laughed our butts off for a bit on that one and then continued on our way. Soon enough, I was D-O-N-E with this 2.5 up hill climb. I wanted to move so I started running. I ran various stretches of the uphill with Pigeon kind of giggling behind me at my attempts.
She had run 15 miles on Thursday and had some tired legs under her so she was content to work herself up that climb with a solid power hike. Me? I am barely in the shape that she is and I wanted to run to add an extra workout to the day (um, I had mega sore quads this week which I attribute to all the downhill but still, a reminder of what we conquered).
Overall it was a great day. I struggled with some highs and lows. My motivation is on the low side since finishing some of my key races but I want to keep my fitness levels on the up and up because:
1. It feels amazing to be able to go out and run the canyons on a few days notice;
2. I have a Western States Training run in 2 weeks (that is 30 plus miles); and
3. I have to pace Pigeon anywhere between 20 and 30 miles for Tahoe Rim Trail in JulyÂ and I want to be ready.
This runÂ also gave me a chance to try some new fueling and experiment more with running with my heart rate strap but secured a little tighter.
My favorite part of the run was all the laughter. Pigeon and I generally have a fun time on the trails and I always know she’d never leave me or risk my safety. I was out of my element a bit but it was also a little invigorating! Not saying I’d go out and run that route solo like a few of the other runners we saw (no thank you) but it does make me feel good inside and out.
Once again my recovery was nonexistent. My body was quite sore come Monday and I didn’t really rest much at all. Stretching MUST become my new best friend otherwise, I think my running days may be numbered. I see Dr. Lau this week and I am sure he will tell me the same thing.
This coming weekend I have a 10 mile race that I am not so sure how to tackle. Part of me wants to run hard and gauge my fitness level, part of me wants to run it easy so my body can fully recover and part of me wants to run with TiggerT who is also doing the race and would be somewhere in between. I have never been on the course before so really I am going into it with no real expectations. I just want to run.
Just so long as the course elevation looks nothing like it did last Saturday!
Recently our little Peanut turned six.Â Â From the start, we wanted to do something different for her birthday, something a little more active … something outside. One day when I was watching the Peanut ride her bike, an idea hit me,Â Safetyville USA! I had never been myself but I have heard great things about Safetyville and Vans said that the place has been around since he was a little Vans. The Peanut has really progressed in riding her bike so this place was perfect!
If you don’t know much about Safetyville, it is a mini replica of Sacramento complete with buildings, stop signs, railroad tracks and real working traffic lights!
We totally lucked out on the weather as it had rained the day before but that Saturday, it was gorgeous outside. Jersey Dad was still in town to help us set up and get things moving.
When I was organizing the party, I realized that the Peanut’s guest list has grown tremendously over the years. Between friends she has known since daycare, to close friends we have known forever ,to her new friends in kindergarten, the list went on and on. Luckily the place accommodated a large guest list and really, the more the merrier when it came to cruising around Safetyville.
What I did not want (or need) was huge piles of presents. Â I know it is customary to bring presents to a party and I know that kids (especially six year olds) really look forward to all the presents but I knew that the Peanut would be happy with a few little things and so, Vans and I talked and decided to do something different this year.
We used evite.com for our invitations instead of the usual paper invitations. I happen to like evite.com because I can insert the date and party information directly onto our phone and we also limit the amount of paper produced.
Through evite.com we were able to notify guests that we were offering an “in lieu” of presents idea. When I told the Peanut what I was doing she didn’t understand. She thought she would receive NO presents on her birthday but when I assured her that she will have plenty to open, she was okay with what we were asking her to do. It made her happy to help.
I reached out to Mike on Trails over at EDHTrails.org. You may remember when I posted about EDHTrails.org in this post here. Well he got the approvals he needed to begin this journey of brining a quality trail network and skills loop to EDH. Vans and I could not be more excited.
As avid trail runners and mountain bikers, having a trail that connects to our own street seems pretty sweet not to mention that it will provide a place for our kids to ride and play.
When all was said and done, most of the kids (and parents) agreed that they had a fun time at Safetyville.
Overall, the Peanut was able to raise $135 towards EDHtrails.org and have enough presents to open and play with for hours.
While the idea to donate to a charity or cause isn’t new, I Â have to say I really loved it and I look forward to doing it more in the future. Santa Claus knows we have more than enough toys in our house. Sometimes giving back or giving to those who need it more, is a win win situation.