Today was my first long run since the half marathon. My training plan was to run 60 to 75 minutes at an easy pace.
As I do on most days when I have long runs on my plan, I decided to get the trail shoes and mosey down the coast to Crystal Cove State Park. I decided to deviate from the plan and run a loop within El Moro Canyon. Today I did a longer loop (shown in blue on the map) that shared parts of a loop that I had described in an earlier blog entry. This run is a toughie for me because of the uphills. I took off from the Visitor Center/Parking Lot and made my way to the Big F***ing Incline. One thing for sure - I'm definitely not able to run up this trail. Based on the elevation profile from my Garmin Forerunner, the climb is about 670 feet in about one mile. Definitely a sweat maker. From there, there are a few rolling hills along Moro Ridge, but the climb continues to the high point on the trail at 4.25 miles. At that point, the elevation is 1023 feet, for a total elevation gain of 990 feet in 4 and a quarter miles. The reward are sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean a thousand feet and five miles below you.
The next part of the trail is called Missing Link, a single track that goes along the back fence of the park. The thing that makes this tough is dodging the hordes of mountain bikers on nice days like today. About a mile on this piece of trail, and it's downhill on Slow and Easy. This is the long route to the bottom of El Moro Canyon. A trail called Elevator is the short way down, but this trail is so steep and slippery in places that I find it difficult to come down. At the six mile point, you find yourself down in the bottom of El Moro Canyon. From there, stands of oak and sycamore provide shade for the next mile. During wetter times, there is a bubbling stream that runs next to the trail. Drought the past few years has relegated the stream to a few stagnant pools here and there.
The final two miles are along the bottom of El Moro Canyon. A few uphills here and there, but the majority of the trail is flat, right up to half a mile from the parking lot, where a 140 foot gain in half a mile awaits as the final indignation before reaching the car. At that point, I am almost always in a walking mood. Especially today - after 8 plus miles, I didn't have it in me to hoof my way up the hill - so a final walking push, and back to the car! Whew! It actually felt good to put in the miles today.