Tag Archives: trail running

Stepping It Up

Someone said there were 480 stairs here, but I didn’t count them. We started heading up them around mile 8 of the “Stairway to Heaven” 1/2 marathon trail run, so I wasn’t in a counting mood. Instead, I was in a mood to use the excuse of documenting to stop climbing, and the photos I got throughout the race are all similar in that way and thus highlight the more painful moments of today’s experience. 

The course took us around a sizable portion of Mission Trails park, including to the top of South Fortuna, which was the 5th peak I needed to conquer to complete the “5 Peak Challenge,” that the park offers. The others I climbed on previous visits. I can pick up a certificate at the Visitor center sometime. 

The one thing going for us today was that it was cloudy for the first couple hours. This race was the third of a four race series of trail runs, and the one I was most reluctant to do because of heat this time of year. I don’t think the weather has been this forgiving in years past, and I doubt it will be again, so I’m okay with calling today’s race an “x in the block.”

Before the stairs, at around mile 3 we climbed this fun hill, called “the widow maker.” It took us up to a saddle between North and South Fortuna peaks. Fortunately, what goes up must come down, and on the backside we followed a rolling loop of a trail that was the most scenic part of the run, prior to the stairway. Because it was pleasant and fast, and I was feeling good, I didn’t stop for pictures. 

There were signs placed periodically along the course, but this was the only one I thought really notable. And it was placed on the stair climb, so of course I was happy to stop for a photo opp.

The last couple miles were relatively flat through an area called the Grasslands. That was a bit of a relief, but since the clouds had cleared the heat compensated for the elevation to continue the torture. Therefore: photo time.

The only photo taken when I wasn’t in agony was this “before” race pic.

Because “after” we were considerably dirtier, smellier, and less inclined to an upright position, we didn’t manage a picture. But since there is nothing like pain to make you appreciate its absence, we were still smiling.

Making Tracks

Today I took a quick jaunt up a well-travelled trail nearby, in prep for a trail 1/2 marathon that will be neither quick nor jaunty this weekend. I encountered this apparent snake trail when I diverted to a different path after seeing this cross the trail ahead of me:

I did my good deed by back tracking a bit to inform a couple of older women hiking behind me that they might want to change course. Fortunately, this weekend there will be plenty of others ahead of me on the trail to scare away the varmints before I get there. Not that I ever was, but there are fewer incentives to being head of the pack these days. I like it.

What Sunscreen’s For

For two years I resisted the inclinations of many female runners here to a) run with a hydration backpack, and b) to shield every shred of skin with clothing, even in the heat of summer. I recently broke down and got a hydration pack, and I actually love it, especially on days like today when I found myself on a trail run in the late morning blazing sun that lasted almost three hours (not the original plan). But you will never catch me in tights and a long sleeved shirt in summer here. My friend, on the other hand, is a beast.