long runs and narcs

i know, i know, i owe the blogosphere a recap of my february media fast.  march has only a day left and i don’t even have a draft for something that i did a month ago.  well, honestly, i think about it often, but i enjoyed the media fast so much that i just ended up continuing it.  the long and the short of it is that it is AWESOME.  lots of great thoughts came along with the whole thing…but that’s for another post.  today, i’m going to blog about the past weekend because i need to document some cool/funny running stuff and drop a tactical thunderclap bomb and then fade back into the ether.

i think i’ve mentioned that i’m pursing the idiotic dream of completing a 50mi race again.  this is a monkey that i have to get off my back and once it’s gone, i doubt i’ll revisit the distance as a race.  but, that, too, is a thought process best saved for another post.  the short story is that i’m putting in lots of miles these days and lots of long back-to-back miles.  the past several weekends have been an exercise in attempting to hit 60+ miles over the course of three days.  with several long runs in excess of 30 miles, i’m feeling pretty well prepared for the race next month.

this past saturday i scoped out a huge loop to run from home.  the route would encompass the aliso/wood canyons park, laguna coast wilderness, el moro and crystal cove state park, the nix center and the james dilley preserve.  running in a clockwise direction [and in the order of the parks listed], i headed out before dawn on saturday.  the run went off better than expected for the first 31 miles.  i ran all the hills hard, kept moving with the exception of a couple of water stops and exercised wisdom with my fuel and fluid intake.  everything was going perfectly to plan until mile 31.

after leaving the james dilley preserve, i have to sneak onto some private land for the remaining two miles back to the house.  for years, i’ve used an old jeep trail to run through the land.  the trail starts right at the edge of james dilley and the access to the trail is squished between a lake and a large body of seasonal water.  an old road used to run between the two and when the road was removed to the other side of the seasonal pond, the road was dug up and a long trench was left behind.  i would run up the trench from james dilley, hop up the berm at the end of the trench and the gate to the jeep trail was right there.  easy peasy.

it has been a year or more since i’ve been through this route.

as i rolled through the james dilley preserve, i popped out through the brush above the trench and was surprised to see it completely filled with water.  i ran around the south end of it to the berm that paralleled it and began following a faint animal trail toward where i knew the gate would be.  i figured at worst i’d do some bushwhacking for a couple hundred yards, but i was confident that the berm would connect up with the section of land that the gate was on.

it took only a few seconds of running along the animal trail before it devolved into heavy brush.  i began climbing through the heavy branches and brush, making my way toward the gate.  the brush continued to get more dense and before long i was doing chineese contortion moves to get through the thicker sections and climbing thicker branches to get over impassable areas.  i found it funny that just prior to this change in activity, i was becoming physically and mentally tired.  i could smell the stables and i was beginning to let fatigue set in.  now that i was doing something other than running, i had plenty of mental focus and energy.

eventually, i reached an area where i could see the gate ahead.  the only problem, though, was that the berm ended about 30’ shy of the gate.  blocking my path to the gate, and on both sides of the berm were wide pools of water.  i began to realize that the trenches had been constructed to collect overflow from barbaras lake and most likely to provide wetlands for migratory birds.  i stood at the end of the berm and took stock of my options.  i could bushwhack my way back, but the only route i’d have back home included about four miles of detour up laguna canyon.  the other option was to wade through the standing water to the other side.  that gate was so close, yet so far.

the water didn’t smell stagnant and didn’t have any funky growth on it, so i figured i’d give wading a try.  with two steps i was up to my waist.  by the third step i would have been in up to my chest.  i backed up and grabbed a construction stake to feel the depth as i moved around the berm trying to find a more shallow crossing.  after several minutes of failed attempts, i realized i was either going to have to swim or run the extra distance.

i was right, and after three steps i was up to my chest.  i held my bottle high and waded in up to my chin and pushed off.  my feet found no purchase, so i dog-paddled and one handed stroked my way across to the other bank.  after climbing up, i took quick stock and made sure i didn’t pick up any unwanted visitors during the swim.  i ran through the open gate and into the fields beyond.  the shoes squished a bit, but quickly drained and the warming air had my skin and clothes comfortable after a couple of minutes.

what stuck with me, though, was how fresh my legs now felt.  the cold water on the muscles had rejuvenated my legs and the change of activity had kick-started my mind.  the remaining two mile run back to the house was easy and i just kept cracking up thinking about having to do a ‘river crossing’ in southern california; that was a first.  the renewed legs, though, made me think forward to my race and the handful of stream crossings that are on the course.  i think on race day, i’ll make a point of stopping for a couple of seconds to do a quick submerge when i come across them.  i’m hoping that the results will be similar.

well, i’ve babbled long enough so the narc story about thunderclap will have to wait for another day.  maybe next month, eh?

soundtrack for this post
hipsters foo fighters
lick new way home
wax the colour and the shape

7 thoughts on “long runs and narcs

  1. Well, you’re not alone in tackling a fifty miler this year. But in contrast, I do expect to re-visit this distance, and I do have plans for more. Each to his own, isn’t it?

  2. i may run 50 miles or more in the future, but i think for the time being i’m done with racing. i’m leaning more towards keeping the distance miles up so that i can run things like death valley, or the grand canyon, or a weekend in the rockies. but racing, i think, will be a rare ‘luxury’ [to steal a phrase from repete].

  3. Man, j’og, you really have gone atavistic, haven’t you? Now when you disappear for months at a time, I’ll be thinking you probably drowned in a drainage ditch somewhere. Wouldn’t you rather die under more dignified circumstances, like in a whoo-wer house?

    No, on second thought, don’t do that. That’s MY dream. Get your own!

    You ultra people are certifiable. I ran just over five miles this morning and I’m think about how I’ll have to go to bed at like 8:30 now to rest up after such an effort.

    I disgust you, don’t I?

    Good! Hahahahahahahaha!

  4. Sounds like fun – cannot wait until we’ve got “warming” air. Plenty of water now, though.

    Hope TC’s able to avoid trouble with the law…

  5. I seem to run better when I know I don’t have to prepare for a race. Not sure why, but I think it has to do with my short attention span.

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