Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Hills are alive

Recently I was asked by the Big Sur International Marathon to talk about some of the trails I run on for a video they are compiling.

They are hoping to get an award designating Monterey one of the most runner-friendly cities in America. I was happy do this video, and afterward, it got me thinking that perhaps I should take more advantage of the area.

BQ, or before Quin, I had a lot of time to explore or drive to beautiful places to run.

When you run 100 miles a week, you do as much as you can to save your legs, which means hitting the dirt rather than the pavement. Lately, I have fallen into a bit of rut, running from my house most days out along 17 Mile Drive.

It’s a beautiful run, but when you do it week-after-week you sometimes lose your appreciation for it. Doing this video gave me a good kick in the butt to change things up a bit.

The day after doing the video, I decided to go the “Backside” or what I call the backside of the former Fort Ord land near Laguna Seca. I hadn’t done this run in probably six months. I used to do it almost ever other week. The reason I hadn’t done it was simple — it’s brutal. I have to get really psyched up to run it because some of the steep climbs.

Some of those can be periods of extended torture.

But the views of the Salinas Valley are worth the pain, especially on a sunny day.

Those are days when I might run into hundreds of sheep grazing along the hillside.

Imagine that helicopter shot from “Sound of Music.”

I’m Maria Von Trapp, arms open wide, soaking up the scenery, singing “The hills are alive...”

It’s just like that, except I’m wearing shorts and a sweaty T-shirt . . . and I’m too out of breath to sing . . . and my arms are pumping hard to keep my legs moving. But, other than that, it’s just like the “Sound of Music.”

A few years ago, I had a visitor who wanted to experience this run with me.

When I told my coach, Bob Sevene, I was planning to take my visitor there, he tried to warn him.

The warning was not heeded. This particular route is about a 16-mile loop, but I can’t say for sure. I’m a GPS skeptic.

A few hours later, my visitor, his pride slightly bruised, was offering me $100 not to tell anyone he had to walk several times along the route. As my dad always told me, “the male ego is a fragile thing.” By the way, I never got my $100.

The former Fort Ord trails were a main draw for me when I moved to California, and they have something to offer for all ages and ability.

Though it is true the trails accessed near the Creekside Entrance are more challenging, the trails closer to Marina and CSUMB are perfect for all levels and are just as beautiful. If you would like to learn more about the trails check out the for the latest information and trail plans.

Better yet, become a member and have a say in what happens to our beautiful land that is so precious.

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