*The high life*

Over the weekend I attended my first Oiselle Volée meet up!

Before I share that story, let me just tell you that in order for me to go, I had to step outside my comfort zone. So here’s the truth bomb… I drove on the freeway.

Any SNL fans out there familiar with the skit, the Californians? (Google it if you’re not. It’s hilarious!) “You take the 101 to the 405 toward Santa Monica, exit at Sunset…”

The freeways and the amassed traffic are a nightmare. One that I managed to avoid for 8 solid months. Until Saturday. The 405 is such a joke here. So much so that I actually saw a greeting card in a gift shop once that read “I’d take the 405 for you.”

Which is exactly what I ended up doing in order to drive out to Pacific Palisades where I met up with two other SoCal members of the Oiselle Volée team. It was worth every steering wheel-gripped mile!

We met up at 8 AM for a hike up the Los Liones Trail to the Parker Mesa Overlook. It was a cool morning to start but sunny. Round trip, the hike was 7.5 miles with about 1,300 feet of elevation gain. Basically, all uphill as we made our way to the overlook and then all downhill to return to the parking area. The trail became more crowed as we made our decent so clearly it’s a popular choice for hikers, runners, and cyclists looking for a challenge.

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New friends, Saturday morning hikes, sunshine, and ocean views!

The view was incredible! Given that I live on the east side of town, it’s not too often that I get to see the ocean and to be able to view miles of it stretched out as far as I could see was pretty spectacular. I also tend to forget that there are some vast green spaces here too. It was a welcome reminder that there are wild lands within the sprawling city.

Whenever I explain to someone that I’m still fairly new to the Los Angeles area, the first thing they ask is how I like it. My typical response is something along the lines that it’s growing on me or I’m starting to feel acclimated. However, while hiking back down the trail in the company of two great women, the sun shining down on me (in November!), breathing in the fresh ocean air… it occurred to me that I’m actually sort of starting to love it here. (Minus the traffic, I later told my husband.)

It was a fantastic morning and I’m so grateful for the connections I’m starting to make through my Team Nuun, Oiselle Volée, and November Project affiliations (as well as a Saturday morning group that meets for a run and coffee hosted by the Fleet Feet store in Burbank). So worth the drive on the 405!

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The high life!

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*Griffith Park 8k Trail Race recap*

The runner’s high I got from the Griffith Park 8k Trail Race I ran this morning hasn’t quite dissipated yet. Although physically I feel like I ran a hard race (I’m exhausted this afternoon!), the rest of me just feels really content and happy that it was everything I didn’t expect it to be.

As I wrote about in a post a few days ago, I went in with little expectations other than to appreciate the early start before the heat of the day, be well fueled, enjoy being among running community, and just have fun within the experience regardless of performance.

Check, check, check, and check!!!!

The event that I ran was the sister race to a larger trail marathon relay made up of teams of five people. Each team member runs the same 5.25 mile loop. The route was mostly packed dirt and fire lane roads nestled into the canyons of Griffith Park. Within the first two miles the elevation gain is roughly 500 feet. The event I ran today was the inaugural 8k and followed the same course as the relay with the only difference being that we started about 10 minutes before the relays teams, about 90 of them, took off.

The 8k started a few minutes later than planned and there was some slight confusion at the start as to where we were suppose to line up – and which direction we were going – but that was the only fault I found with the entire event.

Teams set up camp on a large grassy slope that is known as the old Los Angeles Zoo, right next to ruins of what used to house caged animals on exhibit. Also, a good place to take pictures if you don’t get creeped out easily… there are stories about the caverns being haunted…

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My adoptive Team Nuun Family (minus one) for the morning. Photo credit: www.crossmyheartfitness.com

I was invited to hang out with some Team Nuun teammates from around the area who had a relay team participating. I really enjoyed meeting some new people and reconnecting with the few that I’d met before. I love running, training, and racing for so many reasons but connecting with people who share my love of the sport is truly a highlight!

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After a 7-month racing hiatus, pinning on my bib felt so good!

As far as my actual “race” went, I felt good. I felt strong! There was a pretty challenging climb the first two miles and I was proud that I didn’t succumb to walking. I sure as heck wasn’t moving very fast but I felt that maintaining some sort of momentum would payoff. I felt like I was flying after I reached the summit and the trail leveled and then dropped. I smiled. A lot. It’s been a while since I’ve experienced that kind of mental ease – like, “Hey! I’m just here to have fun!”

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The classic *stopping the Garmin at the finish line* picture.

Apparently, I was the 8th overall female to finish with a time of 45:26. As far as I could tell, they didn’t do a gender/age category breakdown but I’m guessing that I probably finished in a decent spot. Doesn’t matter though. It was a fun day and great reminder of why I love running and racing!

*The family that adventures together…*

Running, without a doubt, is at the top of my list of favorite things, as is probably obvious since I write a running-related blog. However, it is not my only love.

When I was growing up, my father, a wilderness enthusiast, had my brother and I hiking, camping, road tripin’, and exploring the western part of the US as often as possible. As a kid, I could have cared less. I remember, on a couple of occasions when I was in my teens, being pissed that I was camping in Colorado instead of cruising around town, or stuck on a beach with my parents somewhere on the Olympic Peninsula instead of hanging out at the local Taco Bell with my posse. (To make matters worse, this was waaaaaaaaay before we all had cell phones and social media to stay in touch.)

Fast forward a few years and I cannot even begin to express the gratitude I’ve found for my upbringing and my own love of the outdoors. I’ve done the exact same thing to my own children and it gives me so much joy to see my daughter plan hiking trips with her friends and beau. (The apple never seems to fall far from the tree, right?)

In recent years, one of the things that I’ve been most grateful for are the opportunities to, once again, share these types of adventures with my lil’ bro. My adventurous excursions pale in comparison to what he, and his wife, have accomplished over the last 14+ years but I’m just grateful that every once in a while, they invite me to tag along!

Last weekend was no exception.

The four of us: my brother, sister-in-love, nephew (not quite three years old), and I went on a two-night camping/backpacking trip about four hours northeast of Los Angeles in the Sierra Nevadas. The original plan was a two-night backpacking trip but due to the fact that it was a holiday weekend, and we didn’t pre-reserve a backcountry permit, it seemed we’d be campground camping for the weekend. While still fun, they were looking forward to testing the backpacking waters with their toddler in tow. As is turns out, we made a second attempt to get a permit and we got one for the second night. Score!

My experience backpacking is still limited and I learn something new every time I go. I also fall in love with it more each time. It amazes me to think how few people will ever get to experience this:

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Blue Lake

Despite the mosquitos (and there were A LOT of them!), this adventure was everything I fall asleep at night fantasizing about. I can’t wait to do it again! And, hopefully, one of these times, bring my boys along!

 

*Soul-satisfying trail run*

I’m a happy, happy girl!

On Monday, in my weekly mileage recap, I balked about how traveling to any of the nearby trails to run was just too much effort. Well, I stand corrected. And the effort was rewarded with my favorite run, to date, since moving to Los Angeles!

We had a few free hours this morning so after dropping our son off at school, Mr. Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking and I ventured over to Wilacre Park to check it out. As far as I can tell, it’s probably the closest trail to where we live. It is obviously popular too. The parking lot was packed just after 8 am! The trail is actually part of a network of trails that connect several green spaces in the Studio City and Laurel Canyon hills.

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It just so happens that this was also the hilliest run I’ve done in months but it felt surprisingly good. I even found myself a little disappointed when we made the decent back towards the parking lot. I would have liked a few more miles!

I’ve been having some pretty big Pacific Northwest withdrawals for the past week so this was a soul-satisfying run for me today and I’m already looking forward to doing it again next week!

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Happy girl! Grateful for a few miles on a trail this morning! (And I love my new banner pic!)