For New Year’s, Robb got me one of the top ten trail runs I have ever done.

Thank you, Robb. The Gridley Road debacle is definitely forgiven. Not totally forgotten, but forgiven.

We had driven by the entrance to the trail of my dreams at least 25 times per year for the four years that we lived in California. This was every time we drove to Pine Mountain to get our mountain fix. 100 times we drove by this amazing place and we didn’t know to stop. It’s called the Sespe River Trail and it is just North of Ojai, CA. So amazing. Seriously go here if you are ever in the area.

But carry water. Which is probably obvious to most people. You’d think.

We started out frolicking along the path, joyous, oblivious, full of wonder for the world, taking pictures, awestruck around every corner. Marveling at the breathtaking silence, the smooth, wide path where we could run beside each other, innocent, carefree, tra-la-la!

We couldn’t stop running. The path was all variable, rolling, beautiful loveliness. Run run run. And then, all of a sudden, we realized that we had run for quite a long time. I looked down at Strava, and, wow, we were almost at 5 miles. We must have been flying!

But we still needed to get back. And we hadn’t carried water because we hadn’t really set out on running 9-10 miles. But, oh well. The trail was lovely, pristine, we were strong and youngish and surely hydrated. Surely.

So we stopped at the next campground and turned around, still feeling good, legs good, lungs, well we are used to running at almost 9,000 feet, so at 4,000 the lungs are still doing okay. I was setting the pace, maybe a little faster than I should have, but it was all okay.

The thing is, sometimes when you accidentally find yourself almost 5 miles down a trail, it is probably likely that during that time you had probably been running downhill a bit. Just a bit. But also just enough so that on the way back, it’s like you are climbing freaking Mt. Everest. Especially when the sun is beating down on you and you stupidly did not carry water or a snack. Or even a lifesaver. A puny lifesaver full of just the smallest amount of sugar would have actually been the only thing that we needed to get back in fine form.

And then one of us, I don’t remember who, because both of us simultaneously found ourselves in that weird zoney, pre-bonking place, running running, legs moving, head getting a bit swimmy. Well, one of us said, so how ya doin? And we both kind of mumbled and I looked down at Strava and what had been a weird vortex of quickly passing time on the way out had turned into an inversely related long run on the way back and we still had about 2 miles to go.

So, we slowed the pace, we walked up a large hill that I swore was not there before, we talked to each other to keep the tunnel vision from getting too bad. And then we ran the last mile and we finally made it back to our car.

photo 3 (28)

The spot we almost bonked. Documented.

We devoured all of the fruit that we had thankfully brought; orange, water, apple, water, banana, water. We shoved it all into our faces like we hadn’t eaten in years. It was quite dramatic. The calories and sugar finally made things look more normal again, though.

Despite the dramatic ending, which was our own and not the trail’s fault, this was one of my favorite runs ever. It feels like one of those places that I might have crazy dreams about. Maybe it’s because we read about all of the ancient Indian petroglyphs in the area and I could imagine all of the people who had been there before. Or, more likely, it’s because our kids were driving us crazy in their post-Christmas buzz-kill and the pure silence in our ears was like nirvana. (Thanks for taking one for the team, Nana!) Anyway, I want to do the whole 17.5 miles next time.

In the down hill direction, of course.

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Fruit carnage


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