The Winter Solstice Group Run at Corrals

I dashed out of the house tonight and headed to the gas station. My husband had drained the last bit of gas on his last outing and I was right on empty! I got to the gas pumps and every pump was taken and many had others lined up waiting for a turn. I found a spot and waited. And waited. And waited. Apparently, the dude I pulled behind got his gas, headed in, then meandered leisurely through the convenience store until he’d taken a freaking 20 minutes to come back to his vehicle with his arms loaded down with Coronas! Grrrrr!!! I finally got the gas, and headed to the freeway, knowing I was horribly late, but determined to still go, even if I had to do tonight’s run alone at the back of the group.

As I was riding, and feeling rather Grinchy, Oh Holy Night came on the radio. It softened me. As I finally pulled into the parking lot, several minutes late, I saw something beautiful that I wasn’t able to see last year when I was part of the big group — several lovely headlamp lights just twinkling in the dark, bobbing up the hillside like a string of white Christmas lights. It made me smile.

I got out and started plowing up the first steep climb on the Corrals trail with an elevation gain of 370 feet. I was happy to feel stronger than I ever had on that climb (I’ve done this trail multiple times over the last 2 years.) That first mile was a 13:23, which is pretty great for me on that! Mile 2 has a mere 102 of gain and I did that in 11:16 and caught up to four runners. When I wished them a Merry Christmas as I passed, I heard someone say, “Christie????” Turns out it was a few of my friends! We hugged and chatted a bit, then I headed on up the hillside. Mile 3 is a gut buster with 448 feet of elevation gain and I did that in 13:42. I kept a pretty careful eye on my heart rate throughout the climbs and hiked when it would head above 155 or so, since that is the goal heart rate I’m tuning into as I prepare for my 100 miler. I thought it was a great chance to practice reigning myself in so that my endurance isn’t hampered by going too hard early on.

I caught up with two more friends at about mile 2 1/2 and didn’t recognize them until again, someone said, “Christie?” This time it was my friend Mike and I gave him a big hug hello! He called me “Speedy” and that, of course, just made me run by faster and smile! Since the truth is, HE is Mr Speedy, he passed me before we crested the steepest section of mile 3. I could see our friends up at the top, gathered around the giant rock pile in the dark, the city lights making them a series of silhouettes. We both kicked it up a notch as we neared our destination.

There were many hugs and hellos and “Merry Christmases” after we arrived. It’s always fun to try and pick out your friends in the dark, when everyone’s blinding one another with their headlamps. hehe. My friend, Seth is so cool! He’d carried up a battery pack and a string of Christmas lights and I arrived just before he plugged them in and we all went “Ooooohhhhhhh” with proper respect and admiration at his handiwork. We cuddled together near the festive rock pile for a few photos, said our goodbyes and gave each other hugs before heading back down the mountain.

I had a blast running downhill, as usual, though I ran somewhat conservatively, since I am still new to running trails with a headlamp. I can’t wait until Christmas since I have a much brighter headlamp waiting under the tree to make my dark running days FASTER since I’ll be able to see where I’m going much better! I ran with Otto , his dog, Molly and my buddy, April. We were a good threesome on the way down, keeping a great, consistent pace that seemed to suit each of us well. We ran mile 4 in 8:43. Mile 5 in 8:32 and mile 6 in 9:28.

After arriving back at the parking lot, we turned off our headlamps and enjoyed the views of the stars up above, twinkling brightly so far away from the city lights. A few of the guys started pointing out constellations that they knew. It was a very magical, fun evening!!!

Average HR: 163. 973 feet of elevation gain. Felt: STRONG!

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