Enlightenment, in the dictionary is defined as: a spiritual or intellectual understanding. Suffer, in the dictionary is .....................well, I think we know where this is going.
As a group we had decided..through some deliberation to plan this run.... all total about 23 miles of undulating hills exposed and unexposed to the California sun; but a challenge none the less. The San Juan Trail to BlueJay Campground a scenic trail switchbacking and weaving through the mountains off of Ortega HWY, backed up by a ridgeline trail cutting through the main divide and Los Pinos peak then coursing along the ridges and returning to finish a complete loop.
After meeting everyone at 5:30am at local shopping center I realized that this might have been a good idea, there were quite a few runners both from OCTR and from the Trail Headz; in addition we had pulled along Bill Ramsey and a few new additions to the group.
Once we all arrived at the San Juan Trail head and were preparing in the dark for our run we were met by Michelle Barton and a friend who were also preparing to run to BlueJay campground, the more the.......well you know. So off we go, water pack in place 60oz.of gatorade orange with some agent orange mixed in, gators on and some gu for the road; in addition to salt tabs - never know. I've come to the conclusion that you need a chemistry degree to run distance - Ultra distance at least..I'm still figuring it all out.
As we begin our ascent we are led by a few runners that I'm unfamiliar with, their pace is consistant but slow....its a nice hiking pace but I can feel that my muscles want to pump a little more so I wait to see what happens. I dont wait long as I hear someone start coming up from behind; politely excusing herself as she passes up the switchbacks. Michelle Barton and partner are chatting away and pass us to continue up the hill. I take the opportunity to increase my pace and begin running behind them, following them up San Juan and leaving the pack behind in the distance.
A sip from my water, not bad almost tastes carbonated which is kinda refreshing....although I dont think its carbonated...hmm. I continue following Michelle up the beautiful trail, stopping to take photographs as I go...its amazingly beautiful on this trail, cascading rocks and tree formations, the scenery changes dramatically as you run and the clouds coming through the canyons are below us now like a cotton blanket; peaceful. I find michelle taking a small break at the top of a ridge and introduce myself to both her and her partner and after a few moments we begin again, but now together. Her partner jokes that if you learn to run with michelle you'll find yourself placing in your upcoming races, I dont doubt it, Ive heard of michelle Barton and its impressive; although I believe she can kick into gear and leave us both panting and alone;, I'm happy to just be running with her.
We have been running for some time, at times I look back across the hills to locate anyone coming up behind but its silent......and once we reach Blue Jay campground we have come to the mid point of michelles run, here they will turn back and return down San Juan as I continue forward towards Los Pinos....but I'm gonna wait awhile for a partner to run with first.
I begin to backtrack along the campsites, Oh! remember to drink, I've been drinking as much as I can remember but its not easy, Bill Ramsey - as experience as he is, has an alarm on his watch to constantly remind him to drink at 10 minute intervals, to slowly hydrate over the course of time. I'm going to work on it. After a period of time I find some of our runners at a water station in Blue Jay, at this point we will split, sending some back down and others will continue along Los Pinos.
At this point there are 4 of us, Bill Ramsey, Dan and Maura from OCTR and myself of course, Unexpectedly we run into Anne and Steve Harvey, Old Goats RD's and continue to Los Pinos Peak as a group. Great group of people!
Los Pinos is one of those trails that looks enticing, its an unbelievably beautiful trail that allows you a veiw of all of Orange, Carona, Riverside ..... just amazing, but its a trail runner eater. The trail is exposed and rocky, both uphill and downhill affords you no rest. The hills continue on like a nightmare, but its so beautiful, its like a drug...it hurts you and pleases you at the same time!
After 23 miles I reach the lazy W campground then the cars beyond that, what a sight to see!! I have a coke screaming my name in a cold cooler and its making me crazy as I stumble to the car.....air conditioning, being able to just stop and know that there are no more hidden peaks to run up......priceless! But a great run with great people, I will return again. Conditioning yourself with a run like this will prepare you for just about anything........just about. At the end ive still got 16oz left and orange gatorade doesnt taste good anymore... maybe Ill bring both on my next long run..I dunno. I need to drink more water, felt dizzy at one point, so I'll work on bringing candy to suck on also.
Great run, but prepare yourself, its not gonna treat you nice!