20 With a Snake and a Cat

This was a tough one for me. Well, actually, it was easy until about mile 15. Then it became exponentially more difficult each mile. The good news is that I tried to talk myself into a shorter run more than once, but I declined my own request every time. That’s the way it had to be. I just had to cover the distance by running or walking, but I was able to run a lot of it. I met a big gopher snake and a bobcat on the route, which was interesting. I believe that is only the second time I have ever seen a bobcat at Rice Ranch Park. I also ran into a nice 1 year old German Shepherd, but he was not as friendly as ours. It was 10:15pm when I finished, but I covered the distance without compromises. The tough ones are great.

One Mile PR?

I decided to give the Strava one mile PR challenge a shot. The only problem is that I am a long distance runner. I have no strategy for shorter distances, and I have no idea what my one mile PR is. No matter. I pushed as hard as I could anyway… which may not be very impressive. It felt like my lungs were going to explode. I was pretty sure I was going to die. But it was fun for a quick run. I guess.

It turns out this this is my second fastest mile according to Strava. I missed my Strava PR by eight seconds. That makes me wonder when my fastest mile was. My guess? It was on a downhill during some longer run. On the other hand, I didn’t stack the deck in my favor today. I ran in the midday during recovery. Sure, I could get a faster mile if I was running downhill, but I’m happy with this one on flat land.

Hot and Slow

It was uncomfortable on Saturday. I got out at a decent time, but it was already hot. It wasn’t long before I felt super slow and unmotivated. I tried to push through because that is what I am training to do. But I didn’t. I turned around. I guess that means I have to get out again tomorrow. It will be next to impossible to run during the week, so this weekend is my chance. The only interesting event was when I ran into a large snake on the trail on my way back. I thought I saw the rattle on it, but as I got closer, I realized the rattle was the snake’s head. It was just a gopher snake, but it had just grabbed breakfast, so it had a big bulge in the middle. I hope he picks up his crap and leaves because a mountain biker will not see him in time if he stays there.

Figueroa Mileage

I planned to get between 18 and 20 miles today. I would have had 20, but I kept running out of trail. I ran the length of the Catway until I hit a dead end. Then I ran back and took the Zaca Peak fireroad. I ran out of fireroad there, but continued on a very overgrown single track until it became too overgrown to continue.

But I ended up with 19.4 miles, and that’s close enough to 20. In the beginning of the run, it was 40 degrees and super foggy. Four miles in, I made it above the fog for some great views. It got a bit warm for the next few miles, but right around the halfway point, clouds started moving in, and it cooled off. It made for a very nice run.

There was not much wildlife to be seen today, but I did run into a horned toad. I used to see those things all the time when I was a kid, but I almost never see them now. My legs felt good the entire run. My feet didn’t hurt as bad as the last 18 miler. I’m tired now, but feeling good. Good stuff today.

Mystic Canyon Trail Climb

Being in Glendora again, I decided to hit up the best trail I have found in the area so far: the Mystic Canyon Trail. It was about 80° at the start, and it is a steep climb. I shot some GoPro footage while I was out there to make it more interesting. It was actually really nice, especially in the higher elevations where there was more of a breeze. I enjoyed it, and my legs felt good.

Into the Fog with C Dog

Today, C dog and I climbed the Pt. Sal hill to the top and then headed up the ridge a little ways. We met two other German Shepherds and a friendly gentleman new to the area. On the ridgeline, the fog was blowing in from the Pacific and rolling along the ridge.It was really nice and kept it cool.

On the way down, C dog did great until we came out of the fog for the last 1.25 miles. He was clearly tired and hot. I gave him a few minutes to cool down even though there was no shade around the last half mile, and I think it helped. He picked up the pace and kept in front of me until we reached the car. He did good. I think I’ll limit his top mileage to a 10k going forward. I do not want to do anything to cause him to overheat.

As soon as we got home, he wanted to play catch with me, so I think he was fine. He’s a good running companion.

Romero Evening Run

Yesterday, on the way home from Ventura, I hit up the Romero Canyon loop. This is one of my favorite Santa Barbara trails, so I brought the GoPro to film it. That always makes for a fun run. The weather was perfect. No wind. Mild temps. Very few people. It just got nicer and nicer as the sun set. It was a great way to end the day.

Rice Ranch Loop

I just had to get C dog out for a run. The dog has endless energy. I did the standard loop. Not much more to say about it.

Sunday Climb

My legs felt strong the last two days after my Thursday night long run, but the ball of my right foot was quite sore. It felt bruised. So I was curious how today’s run would go. I wore my brand new Hoka Challenger ATRs for maximal cushioning, and it felt great. I felt strong and I pushed my speed. I had the two dogs with me, and they did well too. Less than one mile in, I ran into Mari and her two sons. It was nice to see them because I generally never see anyone I know. But it was a great run for a Sunday morning. I feel really good about the outcome.

Escondido Night Life

Thursday night was an interesting night.

To start with, I had some major doubts about the mileage increase. I had doubts about running on unfamiliar trails. I had doubts about my physical fitness. Etc.

But things went well. My route was planned well. My brand new headlamp worked perfectly. And I encountered a bunch of Escondido night life throughout.

It started not long after I summited Stanley Peak. I surprised a coyote. He looked like a dark grey coyote, which I don’t see too often. He quickly ran around the corner of the Diamondback Trail. Then I heard him bark a few times. The another coyote or two barked somewhere nearby. They went back and forth for a few seconds, then they all started howling. I realized I was surrounded by coyotes somewhere in the brush. It was really cool.

Soon, the sun began to set. I turned on my new headlamp. It seemed dim at first, but it is supposed to react to the surroundings to emit the appropriate light needed. I think it worked great. Not too long after that, I was in a canyon with overhanging oak trees, and it was very dark. The light took care of it. I had zero problems seeing.

After dark, I started to see were the poorwill birds. Then I saw frogs hopping away as I approached. Then I saw something I’ve never seen. There were two rodents that hopped on two legs and had a tail that splayed out at the end. I’ve looked them up since I’ve finished, and I think they are kangaroo rats. They are pretty fearless. I think I may have interrupted a romantic moment between two of them, but there was also a big frog there, so I can’t tell you what the hell was happening between the three of them. Near the end of the run, I saw another one, so that was fun.

There was more wildlife, but I won’t bore you with the rest. It was a great, moonless night that was perfect for running. My 17 mile run turned into 18 by the time I reached the car. Not a problem. My feet hurt pretty bad, but overall, I felt great.

As I write this, it’s past midnight. I’m getting some food down, and enjoying the recollection. Great night. Great run. I am sure I’ll sleep well tonight.

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