Pay Attention to Warning Signs?

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View from the top

This morning we went of what was to be a 7.18 mile hike in the Santa Monica Mountains. We’ve done this trail many times, but not in the last four years. I was looking forward to experiencing it in a new way as I am much more fit than I was the last time I recorded time and distance, December 8, 2012 (2:25:50 or 21:42 per mile).

The original plan for today was to run or hike in whatever areas seemed appropriate for each activity. My coach, who is helping me train to qualify for Boston, said “no running, just enjoy the hike.” He also assigned a long run of 11 miles yesterday. So hike it was, but still with a goal to do better than last time.

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The first sign that all was not well with our plan.

When we arrived at the trail head, Megan and I started out and soon stopped as Matt started looking at a sign. It told us that a portion of the trail was closed. The sign had been there awhile so se decided that surely the trail was open again and we continued with our plans.

The hike was beautiful and we were averaging an 18:23 pace so I was happy. Then we came upon a larger sign… actually a fence with a sign that said basically “don’t go any further”. The problem was that we had already traveled 6 miles and weren’t too interested in going back again. So we decided to keep going on what was always the most difficult part of the trail (scary rocks).

A half mile later we came to the end of the trail. I wish I had taken a photo but no. Anyway a couple men were trying to come up where we wanted to go down. They couldn’t find a path as the rock had all slid away. Megan and I turned back for the long trek but then we heard shouting. The men had found a way and they were now on our side. By the time we returned, Matt had crossed over. Megan started and I followed.

For the first time that I can remember I froze. I couldn’t make it across as all I could envision was falling and bouncing off the rock wall that we were trying to cross. So I said, “I’m sorry, I can’t. You all go, take Megan home so she can get to her show, then come back for me.” Nobody argued with me as I think they all saw the terror in my face. So they went down and I started on the 6.5± journey back the way we came. I don’t regret this decision because I’ve learned to listen to my instincts. I had no fear they Scott, Matt, and Megan couldn’t make it… just me.

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That is quite the out and back!

The trip back was actually kind of nice. I decided that although I wasn’t supposed to run, I couldn’t bear to walk that far so I went for an easy jog for all but the steepest portions. And I made it back in 1 hour 45 minutes with an average pace of 15:35 and only one mishap. The entire hike ended up being a 17:40 mile pace.

The mishap was my first lesson in trail running. PICK UP YOUR FEET. I was running along this very easy section through a meadow and next thing I knew I was on the ground. I have a few scrapes and a couple bruises but otherwise was unhurt. I picked myself up and continued.

My second lesson in trail running was, I LIKE IT. So, I think I need to invest in some trail running shoes and get out on some truly open trails once or twice a month. It will certainly help me learn to pick up my feet and running up and down hill can’t hurt either.

Happy running… umm hiking!

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A few graphs. The drop off in the pace in the middle was encountering the washed out trail, turning around, trying to cross, giving in to fear, and starting again.

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