I wasn’t sure what kind of run to do this past weekend, but I knew it needed to be at least 20 miles each day and one of the runs needed to be on trails. I checked in with my friend, Rob, who does a lot of trail running on weekends. He kindly invited me to join his group for a run from Eaton Canyon. I had never done this run before, so I just showed up with food and water and hoped for the best.
We started just before sunrise, so it was still a little dark when we hit the trail. Because of my botched eye surgery, dusk and dawn are the hardest times for me to navigate uneven surfaces, as I have very limited depth perception. Add this to the fact that I’m a big klutz, and it made for a very tentative start for me. I’m sure the guys were regretting that I had been included, but they were much too polite to say anything.
We crossed a stream (without getting wet) and then hit the main trail. Luckily for me (and for the guys who had been waiting on me on the technical part), the trail was a very groomed forest road. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it), it was a very steep groomed trail. But I didn’t care – I needed the workout and I knew I wouldn’t hold the group back with my hesitancy on technical trails.
Up, up, up we went, running every step.
The guys said it was 2.4 miles up (not including about .25 from where we started). It felt much further! And because I was trained by a group of “distance exaggerators,” I’m less than trusting when it comes to mileage quotes. But I had no choice. My fear of getting lost or eaten prevented me from breaking rank. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally made it to the turnaround at Henniger Flats Campground.Yes, I have sunglasses on my head at 6:45 a.m. Don’t ask.
And then we headed back down. While I held my own on the ascent, I was no match for the men on the descent. They flew down the mountain with no fear and full power – it was awesome to watch!
(I later confirmed they weren’t lying to me about the distance when I chatted with the members of the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Squad who were in the Canyon practicing maneuvers off the bridge.)
After we finished the up and back, the guys had to get home. I still needed a little over 15 miles to get my full 20. What to do? As much as I was dreading going back up the mountain, I didn’t want to have to drive to another trail to finish my run. It was the mountain or nothing. Time for Henninger Flats Repeats – no crybabies allowed!
For the next 3.5 hours I ran up and down the mountain. Initially, I followed a guy who was going up to Mt. Wilson.
I thought about tagging along for the fun of it, but there was snow, and I was in shorts with no gloves or hat, so I bid him adieu and headed back down the mountain for the second time.
At the end of the second loop, I tried to convince myself to quit. (“Look, you’re halfway. Just go out and run the other 10 miles on roads. You can even stop on the way and pick up a Starbucks…maybe even a chocolate doughnut…”), but I forced myself to go back up. I knew that any pain I was feeling on this training run was going to be nothing like I was going to feel during Western States if I wasn’t properly trained, so back up I went.My view from the bottom, thinking “Not again.”
It was brutal on my quads, but a total blast! I would chug up like an overloaded freight train on its last batch of coal, and then roar down as fast as my quads, and my klutziness, would allow. Yes, I was very sore on Sunday. But it was a beautiful place to run, so most of the time I wasn’t feeling too sorry for myself!Gorgeous view of Los Angeles kept me motivated. Oh, and fear of looking like a dope at WS.
There were a couple of minor rock slides during my run which made me wonder if there could be a BIG rock slide. Hmmm… one more thing to be afraid of to add to my list. But it did make me run a little faster.
Finally, I made it to the top for the last time. I chatted with a guy who was using the mountain to train for Mt. Ranier – how cool is that? It is always so fun to meet people out on the road or trail and hear what adventures they have planned. I always get so energized that it makes me want to do more.Self-portrait before final descent.
When I finally made it to the bottom for the last time, I did some short out and back sections on the flat part to make sure I hit 20 miles (yes, I know I have OCD). When I finished, I headed back to where I thought we had crossed the river earlier, but couldn’t find the spot. Hmmmm…. I asked a woman who was just heading up the mountain and she said, “Oh, go about 10 minutes down this way and you will hit the parking lot.” This didn’t seem right, but I couldn’t argue because I had no idea where we had crossed. I ran for about 8 minutes and knew I was not getting closer to my car. Back towards the mountain I went, looking and looking for our stream crossing. How is that I am able to get lost after 5 hours of running when I am only looking for my car! Sheesh!
Finally, after about 30 minutes of going hither and yon, I found a spot that seemed low enough to cross. I decided getting to the other side of the stream was the main objective, and then I could figure out how to get out of the canyon to my car.
With a little more navigation, I eventually found the trail up to my car.
I later learned that there is a big parking lot at the end of the trail. The woman I spoke to initially was directing me to that lot, thus explaining her directions. Since I didn’t know there was more than one place to park, I got a few “bonus” miles during my search for my car – Yay!
All in all, it ended up being a great workout. With the “bonus” miles at the end, I finished with about 22 miles. It was perfect weather and a perfect day for repeats! I can’t wait to do it again!
What did you do this weekend?