Sunday, March 09, 2008

Chantry Flats to Newcomb's Saddle Run

This was my birthday weekend! Last year, I ran my age in miles around Pasadena's famous Rose Bowl. For this year, I thought about doing 47 laps of the Rose Bowl on my bike - about 146 miles. However, I didn't think my biking legs were at that level yet. Maybe next year! So, I settled for a nice long run from Chantry Flats to Newcomb's Saddle and beyond. The weather was, in true Spring fashion, cool in the morning and very comfortable as it warmed up. And, I got to break in a new pair of shoes.

I got to Chantry Flats about 7:00 am; it was a later start for me, but I still beat most of the hikers to the parking. Since last weekend's run was an epic. I figure that I should just do a nice easy run this week to let my body rest and also be ready for next weekend's 50k race near beautiful Morro Bay.

I proceeded up the Upper Winter Creek trail. At the Hoegees junction I took the Mt. Zion trail and went up and over the Mt. Zion summit. It was a nice little climb about 1,000 feet in 1.5 miles. I thought that I should at least throw in some climbing for the day; as the rest of the day was going to be gradual ascents and descents. Once over the summit of Mt. Zion, the trail descended to Sturtevant Camp.

I was breaking in a new pair of shoes. If anything was wrong with the shoes, I would go back to Chantry from Sturtevant - a short 4.5 more miles. I planned the route that way so I had an option. But, everything went well, no blisters and no toe pinching. They were the New Balance 790's, a super light weight trail racing flat. Watch for a more in-depth review coming soon. Those shoes felt really comfortable; I think I will use them, with a minor adjustment, for next week's 50k race.

I got water at Sturtevant Camp and proceeded up the Gabrillino Trail towards Newcomb's Saddle. Half way up the trail, I saw Hal Winton. Hal, an experienced ultra runner himself, is the perennial trail maintenance guru in these parts of the San Gabriel Mountains. The Mt. Disappointment 50 mile race is named after him. I chatted with Hal for about 45 minutes. Just like that, out in the middle of no where, we talked about everything under the sun. It was nice seeing someone and was a great diversion. Hal drives up from Harbor City almost every weekend to be in the mountains. It makes me feel so privileged to live so close to Chantry Flats. I can be in the Chantry parking lot in under 15 minutes from my house.

Once I got to Newcomb's Saddle, I took a right following the AC race course in reverse. I was planning to just follow the course in reverse and turn back once I got in the mileage I wanted for the day. However, somewhere along the way, I missed a turn. I ended up going along a fireroad, I think it was the Redbox-Rincon Road. But, it doesn't matter, as I was just going out and back.

The run back to Chantry was just nice and easy, following the AC course, except for the part where I took a wrong turn. I got back to the car not feeling tired at all. The run was about 20 miles and took four hours. It felt really easy even with 3,000+ feet of climbing. I am feeling good about where I am relative to the upcoming season.

Happy trails!

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