Sunday, February 26, 2012

Trail Running

The Atascosa Mountains have always intrigued me.  In them live bears, mountain lions, coyotes and foxes, raccoons, coatamundi, javelina, tiny Coues whitetail deer, and very large mule deer.  Not to mention it's crawling with border patrol chasing around illegal immigrants.  And perhaps the craziest thing, there are jaguars that frequent the mountain range!  But definitely the most dangerous thing out there are the drug traffickers hauling loads of various types of dope north through the canyons.  In these mountains in the past two years there have been several bodies found (shoot outs between rival smuggler groups, supposedly), as well as the shooting death of a border patrol agent

Here's a picture I took of some mountain lion prints a few years ago:

I live in the foothills of those mountains, my bedroom window looks out on them.  I've done a bit of exploring through some of the trails, especially when I was into 4-wheeling.  But now I'm into running, not Jeeps.  I want to run those trails I used to drive.

Today I did a route that leads  right up to the very base of the mountain.  Last year at this time I'd ride this route on a mountain bike for a good workout.  Today, I'm dead legged from yesterday's windy 73 mile bike ride (I rode almost 200 miles this week!).  Things change, don't they?

I decided that I'd take my time and just relax, try to sneak in 8 miles on my tired legs.  I did a little warm up, threw on my toe shoes and trusty knee wrap (notice the excellent salt stains).  I need the knee wrap because sometimes one injury creates another.  Due to a weakened hamstring, I've developed some patellar tendon issues from riding with a muscular imbalance between the hamstring and quad! DOH!!

I knew I wanted to stop and take in some of the views and shoot some unworthy pictures on my phone.  Here's the first.

 As you can see, it's a hard packed road, and most of today's run was just that.  However, in toe shoes, that's not a fast surface.  Often it was like running on marbles (I imagine).  Again, today that was fine as I just wanted to go run around.

When I started I didn't warm up enough and my injured hamstring was quite tight.  So, I just went real slow until it loosened (about a half mile).  Everything felt great until I stopped to take a picture.  After that, my piriformis felt heavy, like lead.  Eh, what are you gonna do, stay home?

The terrain here is high desert, mostly grass land.  The mountains were covered in live oaks, but there were two huge fires last summer that denuded them. 

After running about three miles I happened across a military-type, 6X6 vehicle.  That's 3 sets of axles for a total of six wheels.  They were perched on a hillside looking south.

I'm pretty new to running and often learn things that are obvious to others.  Today I learned that when trail running, the terrain dictates the pace.  That goes doubly true for running trails in toe shoes!  However, they keep my stride short and form in check, so it's a good trade off!

Today's eight mile run capped off a monster week.  I missed a forty minute run due to the previously stated patella issue, but still amassed 207 total miles of running and riding.  I had three TOUGH rides where I started using my heart rate monitor to determine my pace instead of the speedometer. 

The last thing I wanted to share was this:

I mentioned the quote in my last post, but today I saw a similar picture.  I thought they fit together nicely.  For me, right now, all of that squiggely line in the middle is injury and dietary indiscretion.  :D

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