Saturday, February 12, 2011

Spirit of a Run

Just a quick memory I have of running with the Trailrunners a few years ago, a group that meets each Sunday and runs various trails in the Santa Monica mountains.  I gathered with the group of maybe twenty people at La Jolla Canyon, which is a good ways up PCH just south of Oxnard.  It would be something akin to a seven or eight mile run that morning; I don't recall the exact length.  

We started up a ridge east of the campground parking lot and ascended a steep trail, which took us to a fire road heading north, and then eventually west into a large meadow.  All the while, we followed occasional chalk indicators etched onto the trail, which some poor soul had gotten up likely before morning light and marked for us throughout the whole distance of the run.  I remembered as I was running that the organizer had told us to beware of snakes and not to stray too far off of the trail at that time of the year.  So watch for them, I did.

The meadow we eventually arrived into, called La Jolla Valley, lead westward towards a large hill, was full of long, green grass and brush and pretty much blocked the visibility of the trail.  We were all running be "feel," so all bets were off about watching out for rattlers.  We were either going to step on a few, or we were going to make it through unscathed. 

The sun was warming as we approached the Magu Peak via a long, slightly curving trail.  After maybe thirty minutes of running, we found ourselves looking west down onto the Naval Base of Oxnard, hundreds of feet below.  I was taken aback at just how high we had climbed, and how we now had a view far across the deep blue Pacific Ocean.

By this point, a girl and I had spontaneously paired up and were running together.  We talked as we grabbed glimpses of the view at running speed.  She was a personal fitness trainer for LeAnn Rimes and had some fun stories to hear as we got to know one another and kept our pace going.

The trail wound around the top of this promontory, and then down a series of winding switchbacks that lead to the actual "canyon" of La Jolla Canyon, through which we ran past some sort of man made earthen reservoir.  The trail ran across the dam portion of this feature, and as I ran across it, I wondered what would happen if some of the mud holding the dam gave way.  Well, that's easy; shit load of water would rush down towards PCH.  But it occupied my mind for a minute or two.

The last portion of the run skirted the river bed of the canyon was not easy running because the trial was very rocky, uneven, and crossed the dry river populated with odd-shaped boulders of various sizes more than once.  But as we got down and back at the campsite, still energized with endorphins and snake bite free, I knew it was one of those spectacular runs I'd remember for years to come.