Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pura Vida - Costa Rica

I'm taking a vacation in Costa Rica this week. My oldest daughter surfs and had visited the Mal Pais area in Costa Rica before so this time the rest of the family tagged along. Due to some misadventures, we spent over 3 days in transit on the way here so I didn't get much running done in the airports. Once we got to Santa Teresa (stayed at Casa Zen), I got out the shoes and ran up the road to Cobano which we traveled on the way into town. There was a light rain at the time so I was able to run at least 20k (which included a nice climb) without a water bottle in the afternoon. On the way back down, I stopped at a gas station which had a spigot and got a drink. The next day we went to Montezuma to ride the zip lines and I didn't get in a run although we hiked a hill that was pretty steep. However the day after that, I tried this road in town which looked pretty steep. Looks were not deceiving and it was a lot longer climb than I had hoped! I doubled that in the morning and had shorts that were completely soaked with sweat. I ran it again that night and again the next morning (today). We are now in Tamarindo and the hostel manager referred me to some routes just across the street from the hostel (Chocolate Hostel) so I just got in from a tour of those. I have seen some howler monkeys during my runs. They've just given off little barks when I see them. But at night and in the morning, they can be really loud. They sound something like a semi-truck skidding if you hear them at a distance. Anyway, Costa Rica has plenty of hill work available.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Harding Truck Trail

Harding Truck Trail is a jeep trail (5S08) which starts in Modjeska Canyon and climbs 3300' (so I'm told) over about 9.5 miles to the Main Divide Truck Trail which runs along the main ridge of the Santa Ana mountains. This is one of my favorite runs in Orange County. However, it has been closed since the 2007 fires. About 3 or 4 weeks ago, it reopened. I ran it 2 weeks back. The fire burned up to about the 6.5 mile point. The place it looks the most different is around Laurel Springs at 5 miles. There were a lot of trees (willows?) overhanging the trail in this area and of course those are all blackened skeletons now. In addition, some rocks which used to be hidden by the trees really stick out now. Nevertheless, I was happy to be out on the trail again. I caught myself dancing and smiling after I got back home just thinking about the run.
Then last weekend, I ran it again with my buddy Gus. I don't often run with someone else so I was a little surprised to find myself pushing hard enough where I was breathing about twice as hard as the week before, taking a breath every 3 or 4 steps instead of every 6 steps. I wasn't sure if I would be able to keep up the pace for the duration but it turned out just fine. The first mile might be the steepest, then there is a quarter mile downhill followed by 5 1/2 miles of pretty steady uphill. There is a gentle downhill starting at about 7 miles, past 8 miles and then a less steep climb up to the MDTT. So at the top, Gus ate a gel and I ate two and then we started back down. I was worried about the downhill because of my recent sore knees but then running with a buddy kicked in again and as a result we were moving pretty well on the downhill. On that 1/4 mile (now uphill) just before the 1 mile point, we decided to see what we had left. Gus accelerated faster than me and pulled ahead. We both died a little at about the same spot but kept pushing until we got to the top of the climb. Then it was just one mile until the end.
I took the next two days off because I had a funny feeling in a bad spot - right around where the soleus and achilles connect but two days later, my legs felt great. In fact my joke is that it used to be that my knees were sore - now that has improved so that all of my legs feel sore.