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Posts tagged with: trails

Backbone Trail to Hondo Canyon


Last Saturday, I met with the Coyotes for the second time. It’s been a few weeks since my last run with them, but there’s been big events like the San Diego 100 ultramarathon last week, and other 50k’s. This time, we meet up by Topanga Canyon Blvd at 7:30am. I almost overslept and didn’t arrive until a few minutes before 8, when we planned to start running. Oops! Coach Jimmy went over the routes, which was a simple out and back for the 2.5 hour and unders, but became more complicated for the longer distances. I planned to do about 2ish, so it wasn’t a problem for me.

From the meeting spot to the Backbone trailhead, was about a mile, so we walked single file along Topanga Canyon Blvd to the start. Coach warned us of poison ivy along the course, which was plentiful, especially in the beginning. The first half was majority uphill, with maybe some light rollers in between. It eventually became single track trails with lush greenery.


For the most part, I ran with a new friend, Rachel, who is also taking it easy like myself, but coming back from a long injury. Sweet! No pressure! Everyone else seemed pretty fast, so we let everyone else go while we just chatted it up to make the run fun and perceived quick. There was also this one teammate, David, who finished the 100 ultra last weekend, and he “took it easy” this week. Yeah right, his “slow & easy” pace was wayyyyy faster than our fastest.


By the time we got tot the top, everything looked familiar to me. Wait a minute! It was the top of Stunt Rd, a popular spot for cyclists, car clubs, and motorcyclists. I remember doing a bike ride up this road last summer, training for Ironman Canada, and boy it was tough! And we ran it?! It was pretty challenging though, but in good company, it wasn’t actually that bad. There was also Krispy Kreme waiting for us at the top (I didn’t eat it though).


The rest of the run was downhill, so it was even more enjoyable! Met another teammate, Steph, who was also very fast, but we were able to get a conversation about work life, commutes, and baby seals in. Towards the end, I also met another Coyote, Jenna, who is fairly new to the team, but has a lot of good race plans towards the end of the year.


As you can see, it was nice and overcast. A little chilly, but I say perfect running weather! 8.5 miles in about 2 hours. All in all, another successful Coyotes run and looking forward to more!


Cheseboro Canyon Run

This morning, I met up with some old UltraTEAM alumni (Arkady, Carlos, Raul, and Tom) to run an unspecified distance at 10am. By the time we got there it was already in the 80 degree range. Oh boy, flashbacks of Leona heat!

I was prepared for 3 hours of running in my Nathan backpack/bladder, but because of the heat, I decided to do around 2 hours just to be safe. I missed this training run with the UltraTEAM last time because it was the same weekend as my first 50k, Ray Miller in Malibu. I was looking forward to it because I heard of the beautiful views. Unfortunately the best of the views were what is pictured above. Dry, dead grass. It was super hot and exposed, with birds chirping that sounded like the Smoke Monster from LOST. Not very motivating. You see, it’s supposed to look like this:

I had that picture in my head going into this run, then it wasn’t that. I guess you have your good days, and your bad ones, and this morning was the latter. You know it was a walkathon for me! The trail had some considerable rolling hills, so I practiced my downhill form and cadence. Tried to run faster on the flats, but for some reason it just wasn’t working for me. Ugh!

I turned around at the 1 hour mark, then at an hour and a half, I ran out of nutrition from my backpack! That’s supposed to last 3 hours! Well, I had a bottle of water in my front pocket (for splashing on my head), so I made do with that and Gu to hold me over til the end. So yeah, the heat definitely did me in this morning, only completing 7 miles in 1:45. Tough day, but another learning experience under my belt.

First Coyote Run – Sullivan Canyon

This morning was my first weekend run with The Coyotes running group. If you don’t know who they are, they’re a well known group in the trail/ultra community founded and coached by Jimmy Dean Freeman and his wife Kate. They coach all levels for marathon distance to 100+ mile distance races. I’ve always heard of them through mutual friends running with them in the past, or you see their presence around these Westside trails and ultramarathons.

Since most of my close friends are still in triathlon training or coaching, I felt a little antsy in this "off-season" not really training for anything. So I decided to at least do something. I need some kind of training structure or some race, otherwise I won’t run on my own. I mean, look, I haven’t swam or biked in months because I really don’t have a triathlon coming up, and I’m fine with that.

So this, joining The Coyotes, will be a good thing. I know I still need to work on my running. I know I can get stronger, faster, and more skilled in those technical trails, and I believe Coach Jimmy & Kate will take me there. Now for the race? I’m not registered yet but I’m 99% sure I’ll be signing up for the Mt. Disappointment 50k on July 13. Everyone I’ve talked to about that race said that it’s no joke! I’ll post details about it later, but it’s a 6000+ total gain, with 2 giant climbs of 3 miles @ 2000. Oh, and it’s in the middle of summer and it’s supposed to be HOT. Challenge accepted!

So back to this morning’s run. We met in the neighborhoods of Brentwood near Sullivan Canyon at 7:30am. As a newbie, I was a little intimidated because everyone already knew everyone else. The Coyote structure is a training session of 4 or so months and each cycle has a unique nickname. Our "season" is called Trail Nirvana. There’s also two different coached options. I signed up for "Come As You Are" program which allows me to come to every run session, but I have to build my own schedule myself. I still have access to all the coaches though for tips and suggestions along the way. The full program is everything, custom coached plans. It’s cool because almost everyone I talked to this morning had a different race, and the coaches have a unique plan for each because everyone has different experiences and race goals.

After everyone checked in, Coach Jimmy did some announcements, kicking off the official training season, then we were off! Sullivan started off with a nice downhill to get warmed up, with great tree coverage. Everyone kept a nice comfortable pace, even running on most of the inclines. This was where I got to meet and get to know some new friendly faces.

Up by the top of Sullivan and Mulholland, Coach Kate gave options for people to run depending on their planned mileage of the day. I decided to do 3 hours today so I stayed with the longer run people. Coach took some of us down a challenging but fun single track descent called Farmer’s Ridge. Ooh we were flying down that thing! A lot of switchbacks and uneven terrain, but I loved it! Coach also made sure our downhill running form was correct and she pointed out to correct my shoulders a few times, which I appreciated because I tend to have bad back & shoulder form sometimes.

After that, we ran up some pretty significant but runnable climbs until it was time to return back. My friend Craig then took us down Bobsled Trail, which was pretty fast & steep but had banked curves for some fun single track technical practicing. At the bottom, Coach Jimmy was waiting for everyone. It was a quick cool down run back to the cars then we were greeted by Coach Kate and these bad boys:

My friend Kelley made these. I believe they were Rice Krispy, Captain Crunch, and marshmallows, covered in some sweet peanut butter covering. Mmm mmm it was delicious! Overall, a fun morning and looked at my watch at the end of all of it, I did 14.15 miles in 2:50, with an average pace of 12:08 min mile. Faster than my usual trail running average, so I was happy about that! Since Leona I’ve only done some quick midweek runs and the half marathon last weekend, so I’m glad to be back in the running mix! I could already tell that I’ll enjoy the rest of the season with cool teammates and great coaches! Looking forward to more!

XTERRA Trail Runs

One thing I haven’t really tried yet is trail running. I’m not sure if the Santa Monica Mountains count, but just by watching this video gives you a sense of some of the more challenging trail runs. You’ll have loose gravel, loose branches, challenging hills, crooked descents, and more unexpected encounters. What makes it all worth it I think are the beautiful landscapes you will run through.