Who Knew Getting Lost Could be So Much Fun…

Since I’ve spent most of January sick (maybe that’s why it feels like it’s been such a long month…), I’m a little behind on long runs, so I knew the 30 miler I had previously planned for today was not going to happen.  So, I decided I would head to Lake Sonoma and see what happened.  I was more comfortable doing a shorter run if I’d get to see more of the race course.  And, I’d already planned a run for Sunday as well, which was a good way to make up the distance and get a double day in.  Anyway, on to the adventure that was Lake Sonoma.

I made a plan over a hot toddy last night.  I’d park at Lone Rock, just beyond No Name Flat where I parked for my last adventure.  From there, I could access a portion of the course I had yet to see, run a few miles out, then back to the car, and then head out towards No Name.  I’d seen those trails before, but there’s only so far I’m willing to limp back to the car if I break myself.  Not that its happened before or anything….

Before stopping at Lone Rock, I drove the extra few miles to Liberty Glen to see if there was any day use parking – it’s another good place to access the course, but all I had read about was camping parking.  Good news!  There was day use parking.  But, I already had a plan, so I headed back to Lone Rock.

I got ready, paid the parking fee, grabbed a map and headed across the road to the trail.  After that, it took approximately three miles for my plan to fall apart.  I found the first trail I was looking for, Outcrop, pretty quickly.  And then what I thought was Madrone.  So, down I went.  The whole time thinking, it’s really going to suck to come back up this.

And, then it ended.  Just got down by the lake and stopped.  There was a short, steep, downhill that I thought might lead to a trail….nope just goes right into the lake. So…now what.  I decided to make my way back up the trail and see what I could find.  If all else failed, I just needed a trail to run on.  Rolling hills look like rolling hills, and at the end of the day, I just needed to get a run in.  Oh, what’s this…Cove Trail.  Not on the map.  Oh well.  That works.

So, off I went….and really, so much fun.  Since I didn’t really know where I was, I focused more on time (run out on a trail for a half hour, run back), rather than how many miles I had run or how fast I was going.  So, I splashed through creeks and slogged through mud without too much of a care in the world (I mean, it is still hog hunting season)…and I actually felt really good (Orange Theory is going to be worth every penny if it’s already making me feel great after two weeks), when I wasn’t hacking up my lungs.  That part wasn’t too much fun.

After about four miles, I decided to turn around and see what else I could find.  Didn’t want to get too much further from the car.  I got back to the service road and hiked back up to Outcrop where I had come down.  At this point, my lungs were pretty sore (stupid sick), so I briefly thought about heading back then, but curiosity got the best of me and I decided to see what happened if I continued to head up the fire road.

That led to Liberty Glen, which I knew was part of the race course.  That took me to Serpentine, which according to the map, would take me to Rancheria.  I enjoyed the trip down a rocky descent and arrived at a junction…..Rancheria….’hey there trail…I’ve been looking for you all day’.  I pulled out my map again to see which way I should go, and that was when I flipped it over.  And realized there was a detailed layout of the Rockpile Road trails on the back….I’m an idiot.  haha….oops.

I made a right and planned to follow Rancheria out until about 2:30.  That would give me a half hour to get back to the fire road and I’d be on my way back to the car by 3.  I ran more than I thought I would….it reminded me a lot of Matt Davis and my run out to McKennan….until I came across a recently downed tree.  Apparently that was my cue to turn around.  Since one side was a cliff down to the lake and the other side was a hill up, there wasn’t a safe way to get around it.

So I turned and headed back toward the Wulflow shortcut….once I got there, I decided I’d try to take the long way back up.  Since I now had the map and all.  And the more of the course I saw, the better.  After about a half of a mile, I thought better of it and turned to head back the way I came.  I didn’t know how far it was that way, I didn’t have a good track record with not getting lost, and my lungs were just about done.  So, up I went.  It was actually a lot further than I remembered, and at some point I realized I didn’t really know exactly how to get back to the car.  I mean, there was always the road, so I wasn’t completely lost.

And that’s where the adventure began.  At one point, I thought I was at the fire road that brought me down to the trails (conveniently named fire road….as was the other one), so up I went….of course it wasn’t the right road and I just ended up in someone’s campsite.  So, back down I went.  Lots of time with the map…..of course not all the trails are on the map, so lots of potential for some brief wrong turns.  Finally, I got back to where there were some markings and an exit to the road….and other runners.  Of course, rather than ask them if they knew where Lone Rock was, I just picked a direction and started jogging down the road.  After spending the last two miles trying to get off the trails, I was all set with guessing games for now.

So, down the hill I went.  Past a closed parking lot/event site…I think I remember passing that on the way in….around several more corners, I kept thinking I would see the lot, to no avail.  Until…..there was…..

No Name Flat.

Really?!  Seriously?!  I had only run about a mile in the wrong direction.  Ugh.  Poor lungs.  Across the road and back I went….a couple of cars went by…for a fleeting moment, I thought about flagging someone down for a ride.  Let’s not pretend it would be the first time.

Thankfully, it didn’t take too terribly long to get back to where I was and then literally around the corner was Lone Rock.  Steps from where I’d come off the trail.  Awesome.  Only me.  Despite being desperate to be back at the car, I looked down to see that I was at 13.8 miles.  Can’t have that, so I took a couple of laps around the parking lot to make 14.  And of course as I was doing so, I thought about what a great day I’d had on the trails.  How much fun it was being caked in mud.  And how I couldn’t wait for next time.  All of this now that I was back in sight of the car of course.

The best part, once I got home and looked at Strava, I was actually on the race course, if not all day, close to it.  So that’s good.  The giant hill I ran down – definitely Madrone.  The Cove trail….it’s actually Rancheria.  Apparently Strava decided to call it something else.  Or the course map did….or something.  Oh well….was a fun adventure and I’m glad I saw a lot of the course.

I also came home to an email from the race director – there’s the potential for a training run that will let me see all of the course.  Hopefully it works out…..not too close to Way Too Cool, not too early since it’s two hours away, etc., etc.  He’s also planted some water on the course for people training and let us know what local water is potable.  It also looks like one of the creeks is 18 inches deep….good times.  Sounds like I’ll be running in shorts.  I never wear shorts.  Hopefully it’s warm.

Now, I’m hungry….where is my pizza.  And that hot toddy I’ve been thinking about since about mile six.

Next up – three hill repeats on fox trail tomorrow…because I hate myself or I need to get ready for goat hill.  Or maybe both.  And, barring any madness, I should hit 100+ miles for January.  Not bad for the sick girl ;).

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