Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Pacific Southwest

Without the help of an alarm clock, I woke up at 3:25 on Friday morning. In an hour I was en route to the airport and in another hour I was boarding a plane bound for the west coast. By late morning Pacific Coast Time I was running towards San Vincente Mountain on the Westridge Trail somewhere above Brentwood in western Los Angeles. The mountain served as a military installation to defend LA from soviet missile attacks back in the ‘50s. The trail was sandy and soft, but very much runnable, however the terrain was unforgiving. I didn’t run downhill until almost 2 miles into the run. Scrubby, prickly brush bordered the trail on either side and, although it was hidden by cloud cover, the sun sent sauna-like heat down all around me. A sign at the parking lot warned of rattlesnakes and every time I heard a rustle my eyes would dart in that direction. One such time I was pleasantly surprised to spy a mama quail leading her clucking chicks. My stomach was a little tender given I had recently dined on hot coffee and egg sandwiches and I chugged plenty of water prior to running, but a cross-continent airplane ride left me dehydrated in the high desert air. I turned around when I got 3 miles in, happy to really get any run in today, and started back to the car. My pace dramatically increased on the downhills and I clipped my last 2 miles home in 10:45 (5:15 for the last mile).

It was a heart-pounding run for sure, which worked magic for different leg muscles. Unfortunately, the sneaky sun had burned parts of my back and chest. The hills working in concert with the sun played double dutch on my body, but all and all it was a great run probably in a place I’ll never run again.

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