Joshua Tree Traverse Round #2: The Kick I Needed

March 16, 2013

I’ve been on a long run hiatus since the Grand Canyon.  I’ve been tired and when you’re tired, you take a break. In South America this past November, I went on a morning run up Cerro San Cristobal in Santiago and at the top I took a moment to reflect on the past year. So much had happened, both good and not so good things. I knew I had to take time to relax, breathe and just go back to the basics of balance.

Morning run up Cerro San Cristobal in Santiago, Chile.

Morning run up Cerro San Cristobal in Santiago, Chile.

Simply put, I just needed more time with activities besides running (and the occasional triathlon).  I began teaching and taking yoga again, worked on my rock climbing skills, hiked, snowshoed, salsa danced, and cross-fitted it up.  I was just stoked to spend active time with more great people.

Sunday cruise up ECM

Sunday cruise up ECM.

Snowshoe Saturday on San Gorgonio

Snowshoe Saturday on San Gorgonio.

Teaching yoga in La Jolla (photo courtesy of Toby Guillette)

Teaching yoga in La Jolla (photo courtesy of Toby Guillette).

Monday cruise up Village Peak in Anza Borrego

Monday cruise up Village Peak in Anza Borrego.

One running goal I did set before this “hiatus” took place was the 48 mile Zion Traverse (set for May 2013).  I’ve been sold on this run since I first learned about it.  A March Joshua Tree traverse was organized and after the rad time (in rad shorts) I had last year, I knew this would be a great jump start (and kick in the ass) to Zion training.

I knew the Joshua Tree route and I knew what to expect from it. The sandy wash in the first 5 miles proved to be tough yet again but the packed single track that followed was a huge mental booster.  Right from the start, I felt like I was just there yesterday.  Passing an enormous Joshua Tree (now known as “Big Ben” courtesy of Toby), the sun was shining and there was a clear view of San Gorgonio peaking over the hills.  I remembered this view from last year and I specifically sought it out again this year.

Matt and Toby running the wash

Matt and Toby running the wash in Joshua Tree.

San Gorgonio making an appearance

San Gorgonio making an appearance.

My favorite part of the run descended a ridgeback section around mile 11.  Matt and I decided to parter up for the run and as we made our way towards our aid a mile 19, my calves and hips were growing tight.  This was definitely my fault as my longest training run before the traverse was a 15 miler through Mission Trails the weekend before….oops.

Past the aid point, the remainder of the run was similar to running through a sandpit.  The section between miles 20 and 30 was a bit of a struggle as I was trying to find a running rythm and pace. However, forward progress had to be made one way or another.  The sun was out, the temperature was cracking 90 degrees and without a speck of shade on the ground or anywhere to bailout, I knew the 2 liters of water I was carrying had to be rationed wisely.

Grinding out the last half of the traverse. No wild flowers were in bloom this time.

Grinding out the last half of the traverse. No wild flowers were in bloom this time.

Following the sand path to the end.

Following the sand path to the end.

Forward momentum started kicking in around mile 30 and we found a solid running pace.  Making sandy tracks, we caught up with Toby, Mike and Airey at mile 33. Smacking Airey with a high five, we grinded foward as the mile markers ticked down.

Marker 37 came and went and my pack had officially run dry at that point. My eyes were on the horizon for the shiney speck in the distance where I knew the cars were parked.

Post traverse. Not looking too haggard here.

Post traverse. Not looking too haggard here.

This year's damage.  Healed fine!

This year’s damage. Healed fine!

Finishing the traverse was a happy ending to the kick in the ass I needed.  Post run, it was time to take a wet wipes bath, eat, drink and camp for the remainder of the weekend in the park.  As I told Matt on the trail, despite how uncomfortable I was feeling (my calves were on fire!), as soon as it was over, I was going to forget any amount of pain I was in and just look forward to the next adventure.  I am happy to say that I couldn’t have been more accurate with my statement.

Relaxing in the cave post run.

Relaxing in the cave post run.

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