Sunday, December 2, 2007

Burma Road Shortcut

It has now been nearly a month since I completed my first half-marathon, and I have found it difficult to get back to a regular running routine. I have run a few 3 mile and one 5 mile orbit, but skip more days than I should. It certainly does not help that I have no races scheduled between now and next spring (largely because I want to leave weekends open for the frequent snowboarding trips I hope to make). My wife has not been a source of inspiration lately...since running the 5K, she has not been running at all. So, to help both of us, I push us out of bed and drive us back to the fire trail at the end of Crenshaw, hoping a trail run will get both of us back on track.

Our run starts fine, naturally gaining speed over the long two mile decline. Even my wife can maintain a sub-9 minute pace over this stretch. The uphill on the other side, however, proves more difficult than I remember...and both of us slow considerably. Before we reach the turn around point, both of us are walking. Our next descent isn't nearly as fast as the first...and, by the time we begin the two mile ascent back to our car, we both realize we will be walking most of the way.

As we complete our fourth mile, my wife and I notice a couple hiking up an adjacent hill...perhaps a shortcut to the park at the top. With our pace already shot, we agree to follow them. Unfortunately, when we get to the base of their hill, we do not find a dirt trail, but a steep incline covered in loose Palos Verdes stone.

At first, we embrace the challenge.
This hill is a bit steeper than any we faced on the Point Mugu Trail Run (more than 45 degrees by my wife's estimate)...and the stones really make us work to find stable footing. We pause to take in the view. Fortunately, we can use our cellphones to snap some pictures. The weather couldn't be more perfect...sunny, but cool (in the mid-50's). The recently rain-cleansed air leaves only a slight haze between us and Catalina Island.

Continuing up the hill is a chore. I start wondering if this is a shortcut or a dead-end (the thought of descending upon the rocky path is scary). As we near what appears to be the top, more dirt is exposed, the incline gets a bit more forgiving, but the trail continues upward for a few hundred feet. When we reach the peak, we are not exactly at the park. The trail rejoins Burma Road.

I run back to the car and am happy to see that we indeed shaved more than a half mile off our planned five mile run. My wife's legs are burning, but I am feeling pretty good. I suspect I will not feel the same tomorrow morning.

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