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Archive for May, 2012

In the beginning of May I decided to add hikes to my calendar to mix it up a little and not get so bored of running. Plus, hikes will help build strength when I have to run up hills.  When I go hiking, I usually go to the mountains where the elevation can get up to 8,000, sometimes even more.  So in May, William and I planned two hikes for the month with my brother Ray.  The first hike took place at Mt. Baldy on May 12th.  Mt. Baldy happens to be the highest in the San Gabriel Mountains or the highest in Los Angeles County reaching an elevation of 10,064.

We started our day by waking up very early in the morning and met up with Ray at Duarte.  We rode to the mountains and started our hike at 8:57am.  The weather was neither hot or cold, the skies were clear blue and the pine trees and chipmunks were waiting for us.

The beginning of the hike, about 6,000 ft elevation

At the start of the hike my body felt good. My heart started pumping right away and I felt the burn on my butt as I took each step.  At one point we stopped for a second to drink some water and I was able to feel my heart pumping out of my shirt!  It was a great feeling because I did not feel tired. I was very excited to be surrounded by the mountains.

We only had a total of two backpacks between the three of us.

They consisted of the essentials for a hike: lots of water, food, snacks, and some miscelleneous items.  Just from William’s backpack, he was carrying four liters of Smart water, two Vitamin waters, six meat lovers sandwiches (that I made at the crack of dawn), and trail mix.  I did not get to carry a backpack but I know I eventually will have to. It’s a pain but I know it’s necessary if I will want to do more hikes.

As we hiked, the switchbacks increased and the steepness did as well.  

The views just got better too. As you can see from the above photo,  we were in the middle of magnificence.  There is no better place than to be with nature. It is such a great feeling to be away from the every day life and city. It’s peaceful and tranquil, just what everyone needs to decompress from the hardships of our every day lives.

If you see in the background, there is a man who was trailing behind us who had his skis with him!  We were so curious of where he was going to use his skis. The only areas of snow were ice patches that were scattered in random places where they were melting.  It was not enough to ski but we thought it was funny that this man was hiking with his skis.

As you can see from the above caption, there is no place to ski!

Our resting point was going to be at about 8,000 ft of elevation where there is a small green house located in the middle of some trees.

The little green house

The little house was closed but there were some benches and tables to take a rest. Conveniently there was an outhouse right behind it.  We stopped to enjoy a lunch.  We had already hiked more than hour, probably two hours by now. The hike up to the house had not been easy but we managed.  I know that if I had not been running before this, we would have taken longer and maybe not even had made it this far.  I have to mention the satisfaction of eating during the hike. Food does not taste any better than when eating it at a hike.  Every bite is delicious and savory.  Those sandwiches that were trapped in the backpack since early morning tasted like the best sandwiches ever on the planet.  They were simple too. They had three kinds of meats: peppered turkey, roast beef, and ham. They each had one slice of cheese with Veganaise and mustard.  Simple but the best!  Food just tastes different when you have been hiking non-stop for a couple of hours. It’s a great feeling.

Once we rested, we gathered our belongings to continue to the summit of Mt. Baldy.  We were high up in the mountains close to the clouds and navy sky.

I forgot how beautiful it is to be that high in altitude, where the sky is darker and you feel you are close to the outer universe.

Off we went to the peak and everything got difficult.  We were in the 8,000 ft of elevation or probably higher by now and the breathing began to change.  It was harder to catch my breath and difficult to hike.  The inclination was almost a flat wall and somehow we were climbing this wall that was no longer a trail but instead loose rocks everywhere.

Almost seems we were climbing the wall to Mt. Baldy’s summit

I don’t know if I had gone this high before. The highest I have hiked was a few years ago was in the San Gorgonio wilderness in the mountains of San Bernardino where we hiked about six miles up from 6,00o ft in elevation to 9,000 ft in elevation.  It reminded me of a hike like that but Mt. Baldy was worse because we were getting up to 10,000 ft in elevation in less than two miles.  It was a beast!  It was a hiker’s high I guess. It was a thrill where the end results was a satisfaction feeling that cannot be described.

Once we reached the summit, I made sure to take a picture of the evidence that we made it!

Highest point in Los Angeles County

It was quite an accomplishment and it felt good to be up there.  We did it!

Everywhere we turned we saw beauty.

On top of the world

A great moment that will not be forgotten.

At peace

A moment of happiness.

We stayed at the peak for a while and enjoyed the 360 views.  We scoped out the areas and found an area where it looked like someone had skied in a patch of snow. Minutes after we saw the same man with skis going up the snow. We had lost this man when we reached the green house. It looks like he took another trail and found the his snow. This was so funny.  This man hiked up Mt. Baldy in the left over snow. Here he is resting after he reached the summit.

The man with the skis

Good for him!

Once we absorbed the greatness of the summit, we decided to hike back down.  A minute into the hike down the summit, my legs were trembling. It had not occurred to me how much more difficult and strenuous the hike would be on the way down. By this time, the legs were tired but we were using different muscles to hike down but it didn’t matter.

Going down very slowly

I wasn’t able to feel my legs and I couldn’t control the trembling and weakness they felt! It was awful, very awful. I fell about four times because my legs gave out, or maybe I was just slipping easier because I had no more strength to give. It seemed to take forever to go down.  I was the slowest of the pack. The trails looked so different going down.  I kept asking how we managed to get up!  This trail all of a sudden seemed impossible!  All my steps were slow and careful. I was trying to use the surrounding rocks to hold on to for balance.  It seemed there was never a break.

Rocky finish

We rested a few times a long the way but it never got better.  I had not experienced this kind of work to my legs before.  No matter how many breaks we took, my legs were not recovering and I knew there weren’t going to anymore for the rest of the hike. There was no room to quit either.  I just had to tough it out and pace my steps. Every single step was closer to our destination.  Even when reaching the 7,000 ft and 6,000 ft elevation where it wasn’t as steep, I was still having a hard time.  I wondered if this was the way I was going to feel for the marathon.  At least I was catching glimpses of the reality of the marathon.

At last, we reached the bottom of the mountain.

I couldn’t be any happier to reach the end of trail. If you click here, you can view the recording of me reaching the end. I was not exaggerating when I said I was slow. Even it seemed flat, it was still difficult. By the finish point, I had spaghetti legs. We finished the day with a total of about ten miles.  It was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to do more!

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The Mt. Baldy hike that I did on May 12th did wonders on my body (Mt. Baldy post to follow soon).  I almost forgot how a hike helps the body in so many ways.  Some time this week I managed to come up to 6 mile runs each time I ran.  The hike I did last Saturday really helped a lot on my endurance. After Saturday’s 10 mile hike at Mr. Baldy, I was sore for a few days.  I was not able to run until Wednesday May 16th where I actually felt good to run after being so sore from my legs. I was ready to change it up a bit and asked William what my goals should be for the week.  He responded that I should focus on the length of my run rather than my distance. “You should be able to run at least one hour after hiking Mt. Baldy,” said Coach William.  I thought it was good idea and remembered reading this somewhere.  It’s not about the distance, it’s about how long you can take it!  So I decided to run about one hour.  I ended up running five miles up towards San Pascual Avenue and back to my house.  I felt very energetic like a ball of fire running through the streets of Highland Park. I almost did it in one hour. It was getting really dark so I only did five miles in 53 minutes.

I did it again on Friday evening after work and this time I ran down San Pascual Avenue, to the park, and to the beginning of one of the Arroyo Seco trails.  It was 3 miles to this point and did it in 30 minutes. I ran back to my house after hitting the beginning of the trail. I realized that I was running more and walking less.  My legs felt they were on a good pace for the most part of the run.  I ended with six miles in one hour and three minutes.  I was very happy to accomplish this part of my training.  I felt more confident in achieving my goal that I have which is to run 13 miles by July.  Just a few months ago I was running two to four miles runs and now I feel that my minimum I should be running is six miles during the week.  I actually feel somewhat of a runner!

I hit a brick wall on Sunday, May 20th.  I had the most laziest Sunday ever and knew that I had to get in my run. This Sunday run was supposed to be my long run but I had no energy or motivation to get my legs out there to run.  I did not want to quit but I did not have any urge to get up and run. William did not look like he was giving in.  He was determined to do a run on Sunday because he had skipped a few runs during the week. We had also been indulging in munchies and treats because we were busy watching the basketball playoffs. Now it was time to run and I had to do it.  I got dressed and started my run with William. Immediately my body felt heavy and my knees felt they were getting pounded on the concrete.  I stopped a few times to walk on this awful long run.  I did not want to quit. How could I after hiking ten miles and running a total of 11 miles this past week?  So I pouted and pushed myself and tried to keep up with William.  What a big difference from Friday’s run to Sunday’s run. We were almost at the midpoint from Friday’s run when William turned around and asked me if I wanted to turn around.  “I made it this far feeling like this, we might as well make it to the midpoint and then turn back,” I responded. “Yeah! That’s the spirit!”  William was very happy with my response.   We started late on the run and once we reached this point, it was dark and turned back.  I know that I would have not made it this far if it wasn’t for William. He made this run happen.  Sometimes it’s just one of those days and Sunday was one of them for me. On the way back I finally started to feel I was at a good pace.  The last portion of the run I ran steadily but it basically took me the whole time of the run to get this pace!  Oh what a drag. I ended up running 6.45 miles in one hour and thirteen minutes. I would say that this has been one my most difficult runs I have done.  And it wasn’t even the road, it was me and the lack of energy I had.  I hope they get better!

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A little late on my analysis but not forgotten. I would say that April is the month where I began to push myself more and actually had more time to do things.  My weight stayed the same at 171 lbs but I feel that my running has improved. This was the month where I was able to add hills to my runs. Most of my runs have been around my neighborhood where the streets are uneven and on hills.  This should help because I need to build the endurance to last the hills of the Maui Marathon.  I was also able to accomplish my first race of my training, the Merrel Down and Dirty which was close to 6 miles in Castaic Lake.  I was racing up hills and different obstacles.

I have also had more time to cook and eat healthier meals than the previous months.  It  has not been consistent but I feel that I was drinking more shakes and eating healthier meals.  I need to make sure that my diet is consistent and the right one for a runner in training.

I think I had said in a previous post that my goal was to run 13 miles by June. Given my history of training, I think I’m better off moving that goal to July.  I have to be realistic and acknowledge that I do not always have the time to run about 5 times a week so I’d rather give myself one more month to conquer that goal.  I am trying to run longer runs when I can and I am confident that I will be able to run 13 miles by July, which is also the month that I should be ready for Tough Mudder!!!

May posts to come soon!

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