Good Friday seemed like the perfect time to hit the trails and do another Mt. Wilson practice run. Unlike some individuals, I have not been faithfully running the trail on a regular basis. In fact, this was the first time since February that I felt emboldened enough to tackle it again. Having signed up to run the race legally this year, I do want to get in a few more runs up the mountain before Memorial Day weekend so that I kind of 'race' it. We pretty much winged our first run, and found ourselves surprised at reaching the turn-around point for the race and then zooming (sort of) down the mountain.
Yesterday afternoon felt quite different. First of all, rather than meeting up on a grey, chilly morning, we opted for the afternoon which was sunny and full of light. I initially worried that it might be a warm trudge up the mountain, but the weather was pretty perfect - not too hot, not too cool. Just like the Baby Bear's porridge. However, I did not bring fresh legs to the mountain, and I knew that the run would be demanding. My partner in crime, Michael, has slacked off on most exercise lately, so the run would most definitely challenge him.
In hindsight, I would not quite describe it as "brutal", but the run up the mountain was definitely tough. I briefly contemplated the run-5-minutes-walk-1-minute strategy, but soon realized that I couldn't predict that the tough parts that I would naturally walk would fall into the 1-minute time-frame. So, I squashed that plan and just walked/ran according to what felt right. There were those moments when I could pick up the pace and really feel my legs taking off, but then the trail would surge upward or I would hit a rocky patch, and it would force me to walk. Once I hit the upper part of the trail, I then began to enjoy it - I ran through nice shade and the uphill grade evened out a bit. That was where I met up with our speedy friend who had already reached the turn-around once and then he returned with me. We headed back down, met Michael who was fairly near the 'top', and went back up with him! The descent was certainly quicker than the uphill trudge, and it did feel nice to gather some speed. However, I forget how deceptive the trail is. There is a certain point when I think that I must ALMOST be there, and yet the trail continues down, down, down. I was surprised at what a great time the afternoon was to run the trail. As I said, it was not too hot, and the afternoon light touched on all of the trees and plants and lent a lovely gold to the trail. Also, there were fewer people on the trail than on Saturday morning which made it easier, both going up and coming down.
This run was slower than my first attempt at Mt. Wilson in February which may not be a bad thing as it reminds me of how challenging the trail is and how I should never take it for granted! I might have quit before the top, but there was a major reward awaiting us at the end: A strong margarita and a veggie burrito at one of our old favorites in Pasadena, Amigo's. Somehow it wouldn't have seemed right to go and have a drink and a huge platter of food if we hadn't all made it to the turn-around point! So, tired, stinky and sore, we all revived when we were ensconced in a comfortable booth and a pitcher of margaritas magically appeared at our table. Bliss!
By 7:30 pm, we had satisfied all of our cravings, and we commented that we'd be home by 8:00 and in bed by 8:30. It didn't quite work out like that because on the drive home, I decided that watching just a bit of "The Big Lebowski" would be the perfect end to an already perfect day. I have NO idea why that thought took hold, but it did, so we enjoyed about 30 minutes of that crazy mess of a movie. And then I went to sleep, dreaming of trails and of "The Dude".
One final note - I felt surprisingly good this morning, bounced out of bed and hit the pool for a very easy swim. This afternoon, however, my legs are suffering from yesterday's adventure. I am, as John Goodman's character from "The Big Lebowski" says, "in a world of pain".