A group of us spent our Fourth of July hiking to the top of Mt. Wilson in order to catch fireworks shows from Long Beach to the Rose Bowl. It was a challenging climb to the top, 2:39 hours with ~4,600 ft of gain in a little over 7 miles, heavy backpacks filled with Scooby snacks and beverages, all while racing the sunset. We get to the top and are confronted by a ranger who asked if we had hiked to the top. Once he found out we did, he said something along the lines of, “Well, then you deserve the best view for the show.” and he didn’t make us leave. For a “free” fireworks display, we sure had to “work” hard for it, PHEW!
A couple of highlights of the evening were the Rose Bowl Fireworks which were the easiest to see, a beautiful baby rattler sighting, and meeting a young guy (who was also) hiking in the same direction wearing full fireman gear as he prepared for the academy next month. I had seen him preparing for this hike at the base of the trail and I approached him to see what was going on because we weren’t sure why there would be a firefighter about to tackle the trails (heat, Fourth of July fireworks, forest fires — oh no!). After he told me he was training, I brought up the Prescott tragedy and he told me that he had lost a friend, one of the hotshots named Kevin Woyjeck from Seal Beach. That was a sad thing to hear and I had yet another reason to be thankful on this special day.
As the fireworks died down, we turned on our headlamps and headed back down and were exhausted when we got back to our cars. Obviously the fireworks weren’t very BIG since we were so high up, but it was still a fun-filled night with great friends, great views and great stories to retell later.
It’s been a couple of weeks since Javelina Jundred and I could still sit here with you and talk about it for hours if you’d let me. The whole experience was special and my heart is still fluttering with excitement and appreciation knowing that I will be able to get back out there and try again.
Sometimes I do question whether or not I could have continued on those last 9 miles but then I realize that a lot of time has passed since then and some of those dreadful moments are less vivid now including my feet which have pretty much healed up (except the loss of a toenail or two). I have to remind myself that I did everything I thought I could do out there that day and then I move on. Over it.
I was able to spend the first week after the race working on personal projects and goals instead of running and I completely backed off after a 10 mile run/hike on part of the Chimera course with Ashley (my hip flexors weren’t having any of it). I figured a few more days of rest would do nothing but help me recover more appropriately. Finally during the second week I was able to get in a decent workout up to Mt. Wilson and felt confident enough for the coming weekend where I was able to get in three consecutive days of running and hiking, one of which would be a 12-mile trek up to Kaiser Peak and back in the snow! (more…)
I can’t believe that every single year I find something new that I love about running. After coming back from nearly a 10 year break from competing, I fell in love with the marathon distance. Shortly after that, I fell in love with track, which by the way, is something I hated in high school and college. I knew that I also wanted to get into ultra marathons (anything longer than a marathon) after reaching some short(er) distance goals first. What I love about ultras is the opportunity to be out in nature, breathing in crisp cool air, rugged and challenging terrain, and of course, not having to worry about getting hit by a car.
A few weeks ago I went to REI and bought a Camelbak and Peanut Butter GU (YUM) because I wanted to start hiking and trail running on the weekend. It might seem silly but that stupid pack really got me excited and moving in that direction to finally get out there. My friend Ashley, who also had an infatuation with the marathon had recently switched to running ultras and was hiking nearly every weekend at Mt. Wilson, so I asked if I could join her the next time she was headed out there. Although I had become somewhat familiar with this trail, seeing her check-in every weekend on Yelp and noticing that it took several hours to complete, made me anxious to challenge myself in a new way. We agreed on the weekend and headed out really early, around 6am, stopping by on our way out. Duh. We were definitely on a mission, and I was glad that Ashley had let me join her. (more…)