Tales and Tails, Trails and Trials.

Last weekend was one week out from the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. I didn’t feel the need to do back-to-back 16/10 milers this weekend as my BHAG training plan dictated. Instead, I got a phone call from a friend offering a better training experience that required less mileage.

Matt’s marathon. Click to enlarge.

Matt is training for his 1st 100k. THE Chimera 100k on Nov 17th. This race is no joke – potentially one of the toughest trail races in SoCal (so I’ve heard). His training involved running a marathon last Sunday, up and down Mt. Baldy in the San Gabriel Mountains, and he called to invite me to do half of it with him. Hmmm…. We decided that it would be best for me to meet him for the second half of his run; running down Mt. Baldy sounded much better to me than running up.

I’m confident that the 3+ hours we spent out there were much better training for me than a 16 miler on the road would’ve been. This allowed me to train at the right elevation for my 50k and get practice on technical terrain. When I met up with Matt, we started at an elevation of 3,700ft+ and climbed for a few miles up to 4,400ft+. It was a challenge for this beach gal but great experience. My uphill power hike and walk/shuffle could use a lot of work, though.

Trails:

Matt loves trails.

This was my first time out on Barret-Stoddard Truck Trail and it’s awesome. A mixture of gravel truck trail, single track, and fire roads, this trail heads into what they call the Valley of the Giants – a beautiful, rolling land enclosed on all sides by large peaks. I don’t often get to run so far out from civi that I can no longer see electric wires out in the distance, so this was a real treat.

I thoroughly enjoyed some of the more technical parts of the trail where the path was barely a foot wide and most of the shrubs that hung over it were no match for my shins and elbows that came barreling through. Thank you Run Love compression socks and Swiftwick arm sleeves for your added protection. There were a few shrubs/sticks/stones that caused me to stumble a bit, or ones that I decided to just jump over altogether.

Actually wore these during a WOD to help break them in.

I haven’t put a lot of miles in these shoes yet, but it was a good thing I wore my Vasque Mindbenders for the toe protection and great traction. I didn’t slide or slip on the loose gravel and I certainly appreciated the added confidence and stability they gave me out there. The soles of these shoes aren’t cushy like my road runners but my feet didn’t get sore in them. Part way through the run I had one hot spot on the outside of my big toe (I probably push off from that foot the most) but it did not develop into a blister, thank goodness. I give these shoes two thumbs up!

Trials:

I’m still experimenting with whole food based running fuel and it was clear on Sunday that my sweet potato formula needs work. Half a sweet potato wasn’t enough and I really dragged in the last 5 miles of fire road. Trial and error is how we learn things, though, and I am learning what my body can handle and what it needs. So I’ll just put this run down under training low glycogen training.

I got a lot great tips from Matt while we were out there, though. He was also experimenting with a ton of different run fuel products. He calls himself a mobile lab. One thing he said works for an upset tummy or nausea is candied ginger! Don’t mind if I do.

On me: Ultimate Direction handhelds, Nuun visor, Maui Jim sunnies, Swiftwick sleeves.

I noticed a lot of folks wearing running gaiters at Leona Valley Trail Races and asked Matt about these ankle bandannas. I did have to stop to clear my shoes of debris a few times during this run so I think gaiters would be a good investment. Pinned it. 

For this run I took two Ultimate Direction handhelds. Full bottles were a little heavy but it took about 6 miles before I felt my arms start to get tired. I kept telling myself it was better than the 15lb plate carry I did at CrossFit the day before. I really want to try a hydro pack and am looking at the UltrAspire Surge. I just don’t know if I can ‘handle’ handhelds for 31 miles. The straps started rubbing on my knuckles a bit.

Added Note: This Sunday morning trail run was immediately followed by lunch out with friends and then Sunday evening at church with no ability to shower in between. Fortunately, I didn’t offend anyone with my salty odor because I still have some ShowerPills handy and they work wonders. Highly recommended.

Tales and Tails:

Shake, ______, and Roll. During one of the most picturesque points of the route, Matt let me take the lead on the single track. As the trail jutted out over the valley, we reached a point with a great view of the Valley of the Giants that we were about to descend into. Matt pointed this out so I stopped immediately to take it all in. That’s when Matt noticed that there was a BABY RATTLESNAKE about 4 feet ahead of me crossing the trail. Awww. Oh, $#@%! Had we not decided to take in the view right then this awesome trail run might have been a trail tragedy. It’s heartbeat moments like these that make even skeptics like Matt believe in a higher power.

Taken right after the rattler sighting. I’m alive!

We skirted around the last-known location of the baby rattler and headed on our way down the trail. Some time later we spotted some kindlier and furrier tails. Three beautiful deer were bounding up the hill above the trail, probably frightened away by the heavy sound of two bipeds lumbering toward them. We kept an eye out for four-legged hunters after that but saw no cat tails this trip.

A word about Matt: I know Matt from our Team in Training days, although he is now coaching for American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation. This last Sunday, even though he was doing a marathon and I was only doing the second half with him, he was patient and encouraging as ever. Thanks, Matt! Matt is the first person I knew to religiously wear compression socks. I’ve blamed him in the past for planting the idea-seed of trail running and ultras. Matt is the one who told me about Vanessa Runs and has been a continual source of information and tips. I used to think he was a wee bit crazy. It’s troubling now that I think he isn’t so crazy after all, because I know that means that I’m just becoming crazy. Anyway, ladies, he’s single and loves dogs so, act fast.

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