Lost Boys Training Run #1

"A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles." - Edward Abbey
I had two great training runs last week, great runs shouldn't happen that close together.  Runs that make the bad days worth it can't be scheduled, so you just take them when they come.  We were in Kauai on vacation last week and I did a nice humid 18-miler on some of the paths that lined the streets on the south side of the island.  Unfortunately, I didn't make it to the famed Kalalau trail on the Na Pali coast, which I have heard is trail-runner heaven.  I had to make some concessions with the family and couldn't take an all-day solo trip to the north side of the island to live out my trail running fantasies; I just couldn't do that to the wife and kids.  Running on Kauai was breathtaking, even if it wasn't the Na Pali coast, the roads were lined with putting-green grass trails that were just the right surface for a long run on tired muscles.  There were a couple of rainbows, but unfortunately no double rainbows, and an abundance of lush green scenery.  It was hot and humid, but the winds were cool and just when it seemed to get uncomfortable, a perfect summer rain would fall for about ten minutes, then clear up.  The air was clean, there weren't too many cars and I drained my 70 ounce hydration pack over the 18 miles, which I thought was a lot of water to drink on a training run, but now, after Saturday's run in the desert, seems like a teacup-full.

Stretching out the legs after a post-run dip
I was also lucky enough to get to run with my wife in Kauai.  We don't have the chance to run together very often because someone has to take care of the kids, so we usually split training time up - she usually gets up before the kids wake up and runs with her friends in the mornings and on Sunday.  I try to get my run in whenever I can get away from work for about an hour and I usually do my long run on Saturday.  In Kauai we had my mom, my brother and his family and my two sisters and their families, so while the cousins played together, my wife and I were able to run together.  It's always great running with her, she forces me to slow down on my recovery days, and we are able to talk without being interrupted by someone who needs food, milk, wiping, etc.  My wife got me into running and I'm glad she runs and that she gets that I need to drive an hour and a half into the desert to do 22 miles in the 110 degree heat, stop for some recovery food on the hour and a half drive back, on a Saturday, then get up Sunday morning and go for a recovery run.  Not only does she get me, she is patient and accepting, and I hope if I kiss her butt enough in this post, it will buy me a few more long training days before Whitney, the 50 miler, and the double crossing of the Grand Canyon.

I woke up early on Saturday morning, 5 Am, and drove through Ramona and the windy roads of Julian to the Anza Borrego Desert to run 22 miles of the Lost Boys 50 Miler course.  I had my 70 ounce pack and knew there would be water stashed along the way, but I didn't think I would need it.  I had just done an 18 miler in the heat and humidity of Kauai and I did fine with 70 ounces.

Through some user errors, a few of us ended up at the wrong starting point about a mile down the road from the correct starting point, and by the time we figured out our error we were a half hour behind the rest of the group.

I'm not sure what the temperature was at the start, probably in the 90s by 7 AM, and the highs of the day were 110, hot and dry, no clouds, no cool breeze and thank god for the water that was stashed by co-race directors Kara and Paul because there would have been some delirium out there, serious Chevy Chase in Vacation delirium.
The Desert Trail
Being a half hour late, I was pushing a little at the beginning of the run to catch up with some of the people who started earlier.  The first four miles were through soft sand in a wash with walls on both sides, probably an old riverbed and the soft sand would feel a lot worse on the way back, but I had fresh legs and I felt good running through it.  I crossed the road (the road name has got to be one of the coolest road names in the world, but I would hate to live on it and have to fill out a few lines for the return address - "Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849."  After crossing the road, there was quite a long climb (the total elevation gain for the 22 mile run was 3,300 ft) and I felt very good going up, keeping my eyes on the trail and looking out for rattlers.  I saw Carl running down the other way and he warned me of a rattler up the trail about 400 yards, and I thought cool because I kind of feel left out - everyone that runs the same trails I do sees them all the time which leads me to believe that I am either extremely lucky or extremely oblivious to my surroundings and I tend to think it's the latter.  I scanned the trail, searching for the triangular head, listening for the tsk tsk of the rattle, but it must have moved, because I didn't see it.

I got to the turnaround a few minutes after my hydration pack ran dry and I was praying that I would be able to find the stash of water because I knew I would be in trouble without it on the return trip.  Luckily, I ran into a couple of other runners who pointed me in the right direction.  I filled the bladder and ate a ginger chew that had been dropped near the stash of water.  I tried to pee, but not much came out, I was thirsty and even though, up to that point I had drank 100 ounces of water, I was feeling dehydrated.  I caught up to the pair of runners who had shown me the water stash, they had both run the San Diego 100 a couple of weeks before, so as we ran down the mountain, towards the Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849, we talked about the 100.  At this point, the heat was rising, pushing 110 degrees and we filled up our water at Paul's truck.  I also ate a gel and had some pretzels.

A coyote popped out on the trail ahead of us, looked back and walked off in a lazy heat blanket slow walk into the bush and I scanned for it but it was gone.  We crossed the road and as we entered the soft sand and the desert walls of the wash, the heat was rising, reflecting off the walls down onto us, and the heat was really getting to one of the guys I was running with so we stopped under the shade of a desert tree.  I walked with them the last few miles.  I felt good, but no reason to push it in, I was definitely getting the heat training I am going to need for the next couple of long races and my nutrition and hydration was working great - I downed four gels and drank 200 ounces of liquid (Cytomax and when that ran out, water).

There was salt caked on my shirt at the end, not just dried salt on my shirt, which I have had before, but a thick line of caked salt and I needed a hamburger and french fries.  I drove home through Julian and saw a fajitas restaurant, bet there wasn't any parking, so I headed up a side street and found some parking.  As I opened the door, right across the street from where I parked I saw the Buffalo Bill's Buffalo Burgers sign and I staggered over and got my salt on with "The Nugget," a buffalo burger with cheese, bacon, an onion ring and barbecue sauce with french fries and a coke.  It was amazing, not just the burger, but the whole day, suffering and sweating in the desert solitude.
Salt cake
The Nugget

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