Most of the posts that I write on this blog are entitled with topics where I discuss a tangible lesson. But, very rarely do I simply write like a usual personal blog, about my adventures and life. This past week was very fun and brutal, in the best way, so I thought that it would be good to share it around.
Last week was Spring Break for my family and I, now usually we go on a big trip somewhere, but this year we kept it simple. This year for the first weekend of the break we went up to Santa Barbara for a few days and then my dad and I headed home while my mom and sister went to Disneyland for another few days. Other than the trip to Santa Barbara I stayed at home, which was great, because then all I needed to focus on was running and resting. It was a great reset period.
On the first Saturday of the break we left for Santa Barbara. We were in no rush so we woke up at around 5 and got ready, leaving in the cool and crisp fog at around 6:30. Later than when we usually leave, but like I said there was no rush and we made sure to keep that in mind. We drove up in our Volkswagen Weekender which we got last summer and now comes with us on every trip. It is an extremely versatile van, with a pop top, beds, table, comfortable chairs, and more. The drive up in it was calm and fun, albeit I did get a little bit car sick, but listening to podcasts and closing my eyes helped assuage it. If you have never drove from the LA area along the coast to Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo then you should make it a priority to do so one day. It is a totally stereotypical California drive with surfers, beaches, beach houses, mountains, sun, palm trees, and more. That was the drive we took and as the sun rose more and more it got ever more beautiful. With the sun shining on the ocean and surfers playing in the waters I was reminded about how much I love where I live.
When we got to Santa Barbara we headed straight to the trails, I had already put on my running shorts under my regular shorts when I got dressed in the morning. After gathering our things at the car and making some final decisions on what to bring my dad and I headed down Jesusita trail. Now if you don't know, the trails in Santa Barbara are some of the most technical and brutal that I have ever come across. With huge stones to ascend, rocks (of many varying sizes), roots, slippery sandstone, sand, and now because of the crazy amount of rain that we have got this year, tons of plants. Now you may ask yourself, "Why are tons of plants bad?" Well, I'll tell you they're bad, because they hang over the trail and make you mistake where the trail is, so on a trail with a steep drop off to one side you might think that you are stepping on solid ground but you are actually stepping on grass and then off the ledge. We had to be aware of this. The plants were also damp, making slipping even more likely. But, as my dad and I were just heading off down the trail we didn't know all of this. We took it easy, laughing, talking, and running. The trail climbs up to Inspiration Point and up until then we did not see that many people. One thing that continuously amazes me about this sport is how fast you can climb. Within moments it seemed we could see all of Santa Barbara. The vistas really do make it awesome!
After Inspiration Point you drop down to Tunnel Trail and around this point there were lots of people. We could tell that Tunnel Trail had not been used all that much, due to the overgrowth and even more gnarly terrain. The rains have washed away much of the dirt that usually tops the rocks leaving large boulders exposed that you have to climb up. This trail was probably the most brutal part of that run and we took it easy, power hiking it all. At the apex you reach Rattlesnake trail which is where we discovered how sketchy the plants and sand made the descent. Both my dad and I almost took a few spills here and there as we made our way down to the trailhead were my mom and sister would pick us up. Which they did once we finished our run and relaxed by the creek. While we were running they went to a farm and picked up some delicious fresh blueberries and snap peas.
After our excursion in the mountains we grabbed a falafel lunch at Whole Foods and headed to the hotel for a shower and some rest. But, we were soon ready again to head out so my dad and I walked to Santa Barbara Running Co. which is always fun. They had a good selection of fuels, but not too many clothes. Well, not too many clothes from many companies. Afterwards we walked back up State Street to head to dinner at a favorite Mexican restaurant, Los Arroyos, on the way we stopped off at an Indian/Tibetan store. After dinner we went back to the hotel and I read and watched Hulu while the rest of my family watched Say Yes to the Dress (what!?).
The next day we slept in and took it easy in the morning. Enjoying the hotel and the room, I had an oatmeal breakfast. My dad and I had planned on going for a run, but he wasn't into it so I went by myself. I started at the trailhead that we ended at the day before and I went up Gibraltar trail, which ran through pines and sand. I soon connected with Gibraltar connector encountering only a handful of people on my way there. That trail was great, simple climbing up switchbacks is the life. But, I soon encountered a problem, I hit a road. Which was not something that I had expected. I gave a call to my dad and we worked it out that I had to run down the road. I soon found the next trail and it was a descent through small scrubs and then along a creek, with some sketchy parts here and there were landslides had occurred. I even encountered a drainage pipe from 1905! After that trail, Cold Springs West, I hooked up with Cold Springs East and made my way upwards, until I got lost again. Thankfully a friendly local saw me staring confusedly at my map and offered to help. We stayed together for a little bit, as he helped me find my way, eventually I made it to the Hot Springs trail. This trail, after the sweeping vistas of the ridge I was just on, was deep in large shrubs and trees. As I made my way down the trail opened up to let me gaze down the canyon to the ocean. Eventually you start to see palm trees and then you hit the ruins of the old Hot Springs Resort. I felt like I was Indiana Jones, climbing up the sandstone stairs and looking over the valley. The rest of the descent was mainly open fire road and I casually made my way down to Mountain Road for my pick up.
After my run I grabbed lunch at Natural Cafe and then headed back to the hotel for a shower. My dad and I walked to REI which is always nice to look around in. We checked out the new Co-op bikes. We also saw and talked to the owner of a VW Weekender (ours is better). We found a cool coffee shop and my mom and sister met us there. I love sitting in a new coffee shop, talking, and relaxing. We talked about how I could build out my dad's Honda Element, which will now be mine, so that I could camp in it. After we finished we headed to the nicer Los Arroyos a little ways down the coast. The dinner was great and then we relaxed in the hotel.
The next day, Monday was when we left. We took the morning easy, enjoying our breakfasts on the balcony. Then we hopped in the car and headed out and as the way up was the drive was great. I listened to music and enjoyed the scenery. We stopped in Ventura to go to the original Patagonia store which doesn't have that wide of a selection and then headed for coffee. The rest of the drive was spent nicely.
Once we got home my dad and I unpacked the car while my mom and sister headed to Disneyland. My dad and I enjoyed the rest of the day, I worked out and we had a nice dinner together. Relaxing was great. Tuesday was spent much in the same way, I ran and we watched a movie together. On Wednesday my mom and sister got home after my run and we all relaxed. Thursday I went for a long run while my dad worked and I got the afternoon to myself, recording my interview with Nickademus Hollon. Friday I ran again and then my sister and I watched X-Men: First Class.
The weekend was going to be the big deal. I planned on doing a 20 miler on Saturday and a 20 miler on Sunday to round out the week with 70 miles. And I did just that! Saturday had a 5 am wake up call and I ate a peaceful banana and almond butter breakfast before doing some yoga and getting dressed to run. I headed out in that sigh of tingling cold air that is the early morning mist. The sky was a gray blue that always signified the calm before the day for me. My hands quickly became really cold, but I enjoyed the flow of the run. As I made my way along the road to the trailhead I eased into the rhythm of the day, which was to take it slow. Once I reached the trailhead I filled my bottle and headed up. Those first few miles in the early morning by myself are always so peaceful and what makes this sport so awesome.
As I headed towards the first big climb of the day I listened to some podcasts and took it easy, the overgrowth naturally slowing me down. Once I got to the first big climb I remembered to take it slow, which seemed to be my mantra for the day, as I headed up. The climb rises until you have a vista of much of the ocean, islands, and lands of coastal Southern California. At the top I refilled my bottles and headed back down, getting used to the long descent again. The plan was to climb a very steep and technical climb three times for the next part of my run. As I began to head up the climb I put the audio book of The Alchemist on, which I had never read before and realized was absolutely awesome! The climb was slow going due to the technical terrain and overgrowth, but my plan was to take it slow. At the apex I took in the views while I stretched and while the horizon stretched out too. The descent had changed much since I had last run it, due to the rains, many areas of it looked like there had been big floods/washes. Once I reached the fire road at the bottom I headed back up again, powerhiking it like I needed to. The first part of the climb is very rocky and seems like you are running in Utah or Arizona. Afterwards you ascend towards the apex a little bit more gradually through many types of plants, mainly mustard seed. Again I took the descent slow after taking in the views up top and enjoyed The Alchemist. When I reached the fire road I saw my mom! She was hiking and once I reached the climb again I saw that the Rancho Palos Verdes Parks people were there and that trail was closed so I didn't want to chance it, thankfully I didn't because my mom later told me that the sheriff showed up soon thereafter. After realizing I couldn't do the climb a third time I figured that it was for the best, I would still get 20 miles, so I headed home the way I came.
At home I did some yoga, foam rolling, Target Release, and took a cold bath. I made a point to recover well because I knew that I was going to run long again the next day. I also wore compression shorts and sleeves and drank lots of water. For the rest of the day I relaxed, watching Alien: Resurrection and having a nice dinner with the family.
Sunday was Easter and we were going to have brunch with my aunts and uncle, so I had to wake up earlier to get my 20 miles in. I woke up at 4 am and again had a peaceful breakfast with yoga after. I always try to make the time before I run very peaceful so that I can get my headspace right. That morning I headed out with a headlamp and used it all the way to the trailhead. The dark is like a blanket to me, focusing me on my running, but I always have to make sure to be aware of what is around me, to be safe. At the trailhead I was thankful that I had the forethought to bring gloves, because for the moment or two that I had them off to fill my bottle my hands were frozen. Heading into the trails I didn't need my headlamp anymore so I put it away and again enjoyed the silent breath before the rest of the day begins. That day's plan was to head all the way to the farthest reach of the trails that I have and then head back to my aunts house. I figured it would probably round out to about 20 miles.
The first big climb was the same as the day before and again I took it slow while listening to the still amazing The Alchemist. After the climb I headed into the less populated part of my trail system and I loved the solitary suffering. I took it slow again and enjoyed both the ascents and descents. There were parts of my run through this area that were so overgrown that I had to walk and battle my way through, I was a forward moving force battling against infinite tendrils of stationary mustard seed and grass. It was fun, but tiring. Some sections I could simply cruise, but then I would reach the inevitable overgrown area and have to tell myself, "Jarod take it moment by moment. You will get though it eventually. Enjoy the beauty." I also threw on some Metallica for some extra motivation. Once I reached the open fire road I was ecstatic to throw on some Judas Priest and let the legs fly. I took the same route along the ocean to my aunt's house where we had Easter Brunch. I was overjoyed to have completed two 20 mile days and to have rounded out a solid 70 mile week.
While it might seem weird to have brunch right after running 20 miles, but I showered and I was ready to eat. We did a little Easter egg hunt and then chatted. For the brunch they had the stereotypical ham, but my mom had made us a vegan frittata which was sublime. Super tasty and just what I wanted after my run, paired with some roasted potatoes it was a great meal.
After we hung out at my aunts house we headed to my grandma's and grandpa's to see them. They were happy to see us as usual and we chatted with them about Easter and life. They originally speak Spanish so sometimes the language barrier is a little hard, but I have known them my entire life so usually it is alright. They have both lived through huge swaths of history, from growing up on a rural Mexican farm to immigrating to the US to building a successful business. Don't forget all of the history that has transpired in the time that they have been alive either. As a lover of history it is always wonderful to sit with them.
Afterwards we headed home and my sister and I watched Avengers. Again a simple time spent with family is always a favorite time. We then both helped my mom with dinner and when my dad got home from work we had a great Easter dinner of samosa pie, scalloped potatoes, and roasted veggies (a compliment to almost every vegan meal in my opinion). The rest of Sunday night I spent lazily relaxing in the warm embrace of a good chair and good show.
This past week was a real adventure for me and even more evidence of the fact that a great vacation can be had right here at home (even though we went to Santa Barbara it wasn't like it was a strenuous trip or that it was too long). To me vacation is all about simultaneously breaking the norm and keeping it. So big runs and lots of relaxing are a perfect pair. Here's to big runs and relaxing!