May 3, 2008

Thirty Miles. Five Canyons

Living at the foot of the San Joaquin Hills in the OC has its benefits. When I called Jeff Padilla last night to see if he wanted to run today, I suggested we should start from my house and run into the SJ Hills. Running from my house is usually an easy sale with Jeff, largely because my outside fridge is always filled with cold Coronas. "I'll see you at 7 am" he said just as I was about to walk out the door to go out to dinner with my wife Jen and friends. Jeff was only planning on doing 15 miles, or half of the 30 miles I was planning on running.

Jeff Padilla. The Man. The Legend. The Elvis.

6:50 a.m. -- Doorbell rings, Jeff is here. Kids and wife are asleep, now awake. I hastily assemble my gear. Gel in canister-check. Cliff blocks-check. Energy bars-check. Salt tablets-check. Trameal (anti inflamitory)-check. Emergency TP-check. Heart rate monitor-check. Garmin-check. Ipod-check. Sunglasses-check. Shorts (really now)-check. Sunscreen on-check. Who said running was simple? We're out the door at 7:10 a.m.

Jeff descending single track Coyote Canyon

Top of El Moro Canyon

The San Joaquin Hills consist of 17,201 acres of grasslands, coastal sage, chaparral, and riparian and oak woodlands. From upper Newport Bay these hills extend approximately 16 miles to Oso and Trabuco creeks, and includes Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and Aliso/Wood Canyons Reg. Park. To the east looms OC's majestic Saddleback Mountain and to the west the mighty Pacific Ocean, both within view when running the ridge lines. Simply put, the San Joaquin Hills are a beautiful, inspiring place.

View Acsending from Laguna Canyon

Our course took us from a few hundred feet at the start along upper Coyote Canyon to the top of Signal Peak (1,161'), the highest point in the range. From there the views are full and panoramic. Newport Bay below, Palos Verdes above, Catalina to the left. Keep turning. Laguna Beach, the entire San Joaquin Range, El Moro Canyon, Irvine Valley, Saddleback Mountain. They are all there, looking at you look at them.

Signal Peak - 1,161'

We continued on down the trail. Jeff turned to the ocean to head back while I soldiered on toward the warm canyons. My first decent was into El Moro Canyon via "Slow and Easy". This was a good 1.5 mile trail that descends to the bottom of the canyon. From there I headed right back up via "Elevator", the first hill we encounter on Saltwater5000. Once I crested the top I began another long decent to Laguna Canyon via Bommer Ridge.

Salt Tabs. Don't leave home without 'em.

Long descents are golden training opportunities for me for Western States 100. I'm told most runners that drop out of the WS 100 do so not because of the uphills, but because of the pounding of the down hills. The quads get so beat up that people can't continue. I liked this hill so much I turned around and ran up and down it again.

Pain. What Pain?

After "canyoning" twice at Laguna Canyon, I headed back up to the ridge and descended again into El Moro Canyon. From there I headed toward the ocean to finish up the run on the beach along Crystal Cove. I hit the beach at 25 miles and added another 5 on the hard sand.

Not a bad day at the office.

Tunnel to Chrstal Cove State Beach...Alas.

1 comment:

Frayed Laces said...

Nice pictures--and even nicer run description! Was it as hot as it looked? I chuckled at your running checklist. Geez, it sounds like mine when I only run 10 miles. I think I may need a wheely suitcase when I ramp it up a few decades.