On Saturday, January 9, 2016, I ran the San Juan Trails in the Saddleback Mountains for the first time! My coach, Keira, said it was 100% singletrack. I was very nervous. 100% singletrack trails?!
I drove 77 miles to the trailhead so I was glad there were restrooms! (Yes, it’s the little things!) Coach said it’d be a far drive but worth it.
The lovely Dirt Divas!
The trail began like this! Ahhhhhhh!!! I didn’t even know where to step.
The views were beautiful though.
Some sections were super muddy from the rain that week. There were so many mountain bikers on the trails whose bike rutted the trails even more. They were all very nice though and would let us know they were coming by.
These mountains are just amazing. So different from the Santa Monica Mountains with an ocean view.
We could see Heather and Cindy just above us!
I got to run with Joyce for the first time! She stuck with me and ran behind me. She gave me great tips on footing, nutrition and just trail running, in general!
We knew Coach Keira would be at Mile 8.5 with an aid station for us. The singletrack was tough for me. I had to really watch my footing the whole time. I just knew I had to make it to her aid station.
We got to Cocktail Rock.
We took a little nutrition break and I had my yummy Honey Stinger energy chews.
We saw ribbons for the Big Baz trail race that was going on there, too.
We climbed to the top!
Rocky sections, muddy sections. It was tough. I told Joyce she could go at any time but she stuck with me. I told her she on the way back, she could go down fast and I’d text her when I got back. She said she’d run back to get me. I thought I’d for sure do 17 miles but we decided on doing 20 miles and I kept joking that Joyce could run 21!
We ran into one of our teammates who was going back. She said the aid station was at about 9.6, not 8.5! Oh boy! So we’d be doing 20 miles, definitely. So this is how Coach makes us run more…tell us an aid station is so far when it’s really farther! Haha.
We got to the aid station and it was about Mile 9.6! Keira had all kinds of snacks and Coke for us! We refilled, went to the restroom and headed back.
I loved these rocks!
As I ran around the mountain, the rocks dotted the mountain. So cool looking!
We had great weather all day. It was a little overcast and cool.
Crazy trails! At one point, a mountain biker almost ran into me. We were running up toward the curve and several bikers were coming down and didn’t see us. As one was trying to stop, he lost his balance a little and almost crashed but all was okay!
This Epic bacon bar saved me in the latter half of the run. I was getting hungry and craving salt.
Joyce was in beastmode going down. I couldn’t see her at all but I did catch a glimpse of Cindy and Heather on the way down. I just took my time and did what I could.
It seemed like I would never get there but I knew this was good training for the times in an ultra run when there are no runners around and you’re just out there for miles by yourself. I wasn’t prepared for that when I ran Ray Miller. I’ll be way more prepared for my next 50k.
On the way back, Joyce found me and pushed me to the end! When we got back, I still only had 19.2 miles or something on my watch so I ran on the road to get 20. I made Joyce come along and she ended up with 21 miles! Yes! 20 miles of singletrack trail!!! For me, this is a huge accomplishment.
I couldn’t believe it! It was the toughest run I’d done to date. 20 miles of singletrack in 6:52:17. 3,727 feet of elevation gain. Later on, Coach Keira said in a post that she was proud we ran those trails. The San Juan trails are her go-to trails and they run there all the time! She trained for Hurt 100 on these trails. I’m thinking, this is your training ground?! Omg! And you made us run here and didn’t tell us how hard it’d be? Haha. Well, it was hard for me but I did it. I believed in myself and had my teammates nearby to support me. I’m looking forward to many more awesome trail runs that are tough and amazing!