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May 21, 2008

in the kitchen, nay, in the oven

as the old saying goes, "if you can't stand the heat, then stay out of the kitchen".  sunday's run was more like sticking your head in the oven.  the plan for the run was to get some decent elevation gain in a long run and stay on my feet for four plus hours.  the route was one i've been itching to do for a while.  holy jim to the santiago summit, main divide to west horse thief and down the trabuco trail to complete the loop.  the estimated distance was around 20 miles and the climbing was going to be at least 4000'.

2503284912_d314837ab6_bas if that wouldn't be challenging enough, mother nature decided to hand out some heat training in the form of temperatures in the 90's on sunday.  i recruited a few folks from the socal trail headz but unfortunately, dmitri was feeling 'upbeat' (that's russian for my legs are still trashed from my 50mile race last weekend) so it was just greg and i that would tackle the summit.

2502446575_38df3ce4c1_b we headed up holy jim, which is a beautiful piece of single track with a constant and challenging uphill grade.  greg and i cruised along at a pretty good clip.  the sun stayed behind the ridge for most of the climb, so we were spared any direct attack, but we could feel the air already beginning to warm.  after five miles, we gained access to the main divide trail and started the three mile climb to the peak.  i've never run this section of trail before and was surprised how steep sections of it were.  we ran most of the way, but there were a couple sections where we were forced to walk.

but not for long.

when we slowed to walk, we were attacked.  flies.  midges.  ugh.  the midges would congregate around our mouths and faces in dark clouds and the black flies would start their biting.  okay, i pride myself in being a pretty tough guy.  i can handle the heat.  i can handle pain.  i think i've got a pretty solid mental fortitude.  but, those freakin' six legged crawling on my face and buzzing up under my sunglasses DRIVES.ME.ABSOLUTELY.INSANE.  no, you don't understand.  i can't handle it.  i nearly snapped and started yelling and howling and then started running faster to get away from the stupid things.

2503251454_7e580f3e73_b up on the summit, there was a slight wind blowing, so the bugs backed off a bit, but you can tell from the picture of me that there are flies and midges everywhere.  you can actually see a couple in the frame.  greg and i quickly topped off our bottles and ate some chow and then boogied on down the mountain to get away from the madness.

on the way down, we passed jessica on her way up with a couple people from her trail club.  we said hi and warned them about the bugs.  i had to be silly and comment on her nice shoes, too. 

we headed south on the main divide toward west horse thief , climbing the couple of steep sections before we hit the trail down.  at one point, we passed a couple back packers resting in the shade.  i looked at them with a concerned look on my face and asked, "have you seen my sheep?".  they looked confused so i elaborated.  "my sheep.  a little black one about yea high."  still confused so i continued, "if you see it, i'm heading this way on the trail.  can you let it know i went this way?".  and then i was off again.

soon we reached the top of west horse thief and began our descent.  this section is a steep and rocky bit of single track.  since it was late in the run at about mile 15, the legs were starting to get tired, so footing was important.  my knees were starting to feel the effort from the day, so i took it easy headed down.  up until this point it had been hot, but both greg and i were being smart about our fluids and the heat hadn't been too much of a factor.  down in the canyon, though, the air stopped moving and it turned into an oven.

at the bottom of horse thief, we were getting cooked and it was all i could do to keep a respectable pace to the end of the run.  usually, this section is one that i like to fly on, but today i could only manage around an 8-9 minute pace.  we finally bottomed out and hit the dirt road that leads back to the trail head at holy jim.  i seemed to forget just how long that section is because it just seemed to go on and on and on.  eventually, we rounded a corner and saw the trailhead and trotted to a stop.  in the car on the drive out the thermometer read 92 degrees.  ouch.

i noticed a couple cool things about the run in the heat.  i switched from packing gatorade endurance in the camelbak and instead opted for water.  i carried two hand helds and just mixed the gatorade powder as i went.  this gave me some water to use for cooling purposes other than drinking.  having the visor to shield my eyes along with the sunglasses made a huge difference in how i felt in the sun.  i also carried a bandana and kept it tied around my neck and wet.  even when the air felt really hot, i didn't seem to really 'feel' the heat.

finally, the shoes.  when i accepted the gear for the salomon xt wings challenge, i was really hoping that the equipment would work out well so that i'd be able to give a favorable review.  these shoes are turning out to be the best pair i've ever used.  they had great traction on the climbs and stellar grip on the descents.  more importantly, though, is that i didn't notice them.  on a run like this, you have enough to worry about, let alone gear that chafes, causes blisters or malfunctions.  no hot spots, no foot slippage, no blisters, no worry.  even in the heat, that is something to celebrate.

soundtrack for this post
The Abattoir Blues Tour lick:
hipsters:
wax:
The Weeping Song (Munich)
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
The Abattoir Blues Tour
Posted by jeff at May 21, 2008 8:32 AM
Comments

your sheep?

i can just imagine you howling at the bugs and running AS.FAST.AS.YOU.CAN. that's funny.

Posted by: Angie at May 21, 2008 11:26 AM

your sheep?

i can just imagine you howling at the bugs and running AS.FAST.AS.YOU.CAN. that's funny.

Posted by: Angie at May 21, 2008 11:27 AM

I don't get the sheep reference. sorry. The use of CAPS is funny. I can totally picture you yelling at them.

Posted by: Juls at May 21, 2008 12:53 PM

It was fab running with you! Very nice recap. I wish I could write!

Posted by: Greg at May 21, 2008 1:05 PM

Ok, those bugs look annoying. But you are still smiling like you are not at all bothered by the flying creatures!

I'm glad to hear you like Salomon's shoes!

Meghan

Posted by: Meghan at May 21, 2008 4:30 PM

Ok, those bugs look annoying. But you are still smiling like you are not at all bothered by the flying creatures!

I'm glad to hear you like Salomon's shoes!

Meghan

Posted by: Meghan at May 21, 2008 4:31 PM

Man, do I envy where you get to run. Wow.

Posted by: GeekGirl at May 21, 2008 5:42 PM

Man, do I envy where you get to run. Wow.

Posted by: GeekGirl at May 21, 2008 5:42 PM

I seriously almost snapped with those bugs too. Every time we stopped I kept moving anyway because they'd start to swarm. I was not happy with any stops on that run. At least when you are moving you felt like you were getting away from them.

Posted by: Jessica at May 22, 2008 9:17 AM

We have midges down here too, so I know exactly how annoying they can be. In fact, I gagged on your behalf -- remembering what it's like to accidentally swallow a few during a raid on my face.

Posted by: Anne at May 23, 2008 11:27 AM

Except for the amazing views, that sounds like my nightmare come true. The heat, the swarming bugs, the steep inclines. Whew! I'm getting tired and itchy just thinking about it! You have my running respect. :)

Posted by: Alicia at May 25, 2008 6:40 AM

Except for the amazing views, that sounds like my nightmare come true. The heat, the swarming bugs, the steep inclines. Whew! I'm getting tired and itchy just thinking about it! You have my running respect. :)

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