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The first time I hiked Green Lakes, it was an early morning during mid-summer. While I was only hiking, I remember seeing trail runners and thinking it would be a great trail to run. We started at the Green Lakes trailhead, and once we got to the Green Lakes campground, continued on the Soda Creek Trail, that would eventually loop us back to the trailhead/parking lot. Originally we were looking for the trail to reach Broken Top summit, but couldn’t find it. This hike was very green, and butterflies were abundant (especially on Soda Creek Trail).

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Fast forward to late September, when I felt like doing a solo trail run and thought Green Lakes would be a great option. We had just experienced our first snow dump in the mountains. However, I didn’t know how Green Lakes would be affected. My trail run ended up being probably less than a half mile, before I came across mushy ground lined by ice. I thought it would clear up eventually, but soggy dirt turned into slippery ice that turned into deep snow. This trail follows Fall Creek, where you’ll encounter some waterfalls (one of my favorite things about Oregon is that there is no lack of waterfalls). It’s a fairly mellow/moderate hike, with only a few switchbacks towards the very end. On the last stretch you’ll be required to jump a few rocks across some streaming water. Once you reach Green Lakes, you will have stunning views of Broken Top and South Sister.

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I found this hike to be entrancing, especially in the snow. Since the snow was fairly fresh and other trails weren’t well identified (and I was also only wearing trail running shoes), I decided to make this an out-and-back hike and return the way I came from.

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Green Lakes
Entrance: Green Lakes Trailhead
Directions: Heading from Bend, you’ll drive on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway for 23.5 miles. Keep an eye out for the signage on your left and the parking lot/trailhead on your right. It is 0.6 miles past Sparks Lake, so be prepared as you’re driving.
Miles: 9.3 mi (Green Lakes via Fall Creek out-and-back) or 12 miles (Green Lakes to Soda Creek Trail)

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The was my last trail run with Kate before the SOB 50k.  After a lazy and overcast morning in Encinitas, we grabbed coffee from Ironsmith and headed down to Alpine.  After an hour of driving, we arrived at our destination, or so we hoped/thought.

We parked in the apparent lot and spotted the sign “Espinosa Trail –> Secret Canyon rail.”  By the time we made it out east to the trailhead, the temperatures had risen.  No need for an outer- or wind-layer and we both stripped to tanks and shorts.  We headed out with the intention of running 10 miles.  The trail was wide and evident, and we followed along this main trail for 5 miles.

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At this point, we had never reached Secret Canyon.  I guess the big indicator should have been the fact that we continued to gradually climb and never dropped down into a canyon.  In our defense though, the climb was very gradual and we didn’t realize it until we turned around to run back.  We did take some walking breaks on the way up, but I just assumed that I was out of shape/getting my bearings back (not the greatest feeling the week before the race).

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On our way back we also realized we clearly missed the split off for Secret Canyon.  It was maybe a mile or so in, but at a quick glance, the small wooden sign was misleading.  It clearly said “trail –>” but since I didn’t read it and the wooden sign was kind of shaped like an arrow in the opposite direction, we just stayed on the Espinosa Trail the whole time.

The Espinosa Trail extends 7 miles out.  Kate was obsessed with how green it was and kept exclaiming “it looks like Ireland!”

Although we ran the wrong trail, it just gives us another one to try the next time!

Espinosa Trail

Entrance: 21697 Lyons Valley Rd, Alpine, CA
Route: From the trailhead parking lot walk to the trail.  Espinosa is the main trail and will take you out 7+ miles.
Miles: 10 miles +

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Ok, last post for this 50k!  I can’t believe it was only over a week ago…it feels so much longer!

This time I paid a little less attention to my fueling, in terms of what I ate and when I ate (and didn’t do the best job at remembering either). But I made sure to eat before I started to feel hungry. In my 50oz camelbak I carried:

1 almond butter & jelly sandwich
2 Nuun lemon lime tabs (both split in half)
2 packs Probar BOLT Energy Chews (only ate one pack)
5 Fig Newtons

In addition, I ended up eating some random stuff at the aid stations.  Here’s a rough estimate of what I ate and when (separated by the start and each aid station).

Start

2-3 chews, 1 Fig Newton

Aid Station #1-Corral Canyon- Mile 7.5 — Nuun, potatoes

Aid Station #2- Latigo Road Crossing- Mile 11.8 — refilled water, 1/4 sandwich, chocolate covered espresso beans, salt tab

1 Fig Newton

Aid Station #3- Kanan Trailhead- Mile 14.6 (marathon turn-around) — Nuun

3 fig newtons

Aid Station #4- Zuma Fire Road and 50k Turn Around- Mile 16.3 — 1/4 sandwich

Aid Station #5- Kanan Trailhead- Mile 18 – Ginger ale, potatoes

Aid Station #6- Latigo Road Crossing- Mile 20 – 1/4 sandwich, plantain chips, salt tab

Aid Station #7- Corral Canyon- Mile 24.5 – 1/4 sandwich, ginger ale, potatoes, Nuun, refilled water with ice

Remaining chews

Finish

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This picture basically illustrates how frigid it was on race morning!  It was probably around 35-40 degrees at the start, warming up to around 75-77 degrees during the race.  Luckily, we were able to drop our outer layers and warmer gear at the first aid station around mile 7.5 and pick it up on our way back.  Here’s what I wore during the race:

–GapFit long sleeve
–Lululemon Power Y Tank
–Lululemon Trail Bound Shorts
–Buff Original Buff
–Asics Felicity Fleece Gloves
–Patagonia P6 Trucket Hat
–Injinji Compression 2.0 OTC
Hoka One One Huaka
Body Glide
–GoPro HERO4 Session
–Garmin 620 Forerunner
–Camelbak Mini M.U.L.E.

–Probar Bolt Energy Chews x2
–Lemon Lime Nuun Tabs (x2 split in half)
–PB&J sandwich
–Fig Newtons x 5
–Toilet paper

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This is my emerald year!!! Jupiter is in Virgo, which only happens every 12 years, making it a year of luck and success. In addition to checking my Free People and Refinery 29 horoscopes weekly, Susan Miller is my favorite monthly source of predictions. They’re accurate in a non-fluffy, over generalized fashion. And they’re based on mathematical calculations and planets aligning, so they’ve got to be true!!!!! 😛

A lot of exciting things have been happening. I recently became a Westfield UTC Brand Ambassador. I randomly received a Parkland duffle and backpack in the mail. I grabbed happy hour with the girls from Alternative Strategies. I took over the RACEPLACE Instagram. And I ran my second 50k!

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Elisa and I both took Friday off to slowly make our way up to Malibu. Before we reached the campsite, I had to introduce her to Malibu Farms Cafe at the end of the Malibu pier. We had, what Elisa boldly claimed as “the best sandwich ever.” And I almost lost my keys before the weekend even started, but luckily found they slipped into a bucket underneath the water station.

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We arrived to Malibu Creek State Park with our selection of campsites. It appeared that not too many people were camping before the race, or camping that weekend in general. We set up, and took a long walk on a trail. Before we knew it the sun had set and we were making dinner. After eating another take on the DIY Monk Pot, we sat around the fire and warmed ourselves before retiring into the cold tent to read. Go figure, the two of us didn’t generate much body heat. However, after all the ups and downs in the middle of the night mixed with the early bedtime, we probably rounded out a decent night of rest.

Saturday morning we woke up, made coffee and oatmeal and had a 5 minute walk to the starting line. We grabbed our bibs and lined up in the freezing cold….more on the race to come!

We got a late check-out for our campsite so we were able to pack up after the race. We had our eyes set on a celebration at Blue Ribbon Pizzeria way back in Encinitas, so we made our way back home — dirt, sweat, and all.  Once home we quickly showered and dined on the lemon-infused signature pizza we both love!!

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Sunday morning my dad was in town, so after attempting to sleep in, I met up with him and my brother for brunch at Union. A total treat-yourself weekend (including BeerMosas) was in tow after my big accomplishment Saturday :-0  Then we went to REI where I got a backpacking backpack (no trip in mind yet), and then shopped for the big Super Bowl Party for the 3 of us 😛

All in all it was a great weekend and I’m still living on a high from the race (and also soaking in my rest days).  Now to find the next 50k… *insert devil emoji*

Weekly Workout Recap (1/31-2/6):
Sun – Hot Yoga
Mon – Rest
Tues – Rest
Wed – 5 mi + Hot Yoga
Thurs – 5.5 mi
Fri – Rest
Sat – SOB 50k 32.85 mi
Total Weekly Mileage: 43.35 mi
Hours cross-training: 2
2016 miles: 116.6 mi

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After a beautiful but VERY chilly morning trail run with Marissa and Heather, I had the later afternoon to myself. Per one of Marissa’s suggestions, I went to South Table Mountain for a solo hike.

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The trail was a mix of snowy, icy and muddy. It was pretty easy except for one part when it got a little technical, steep and icy. On my way down I contemplated if I would be able to get down without slipping completely off the mountain, or if I would have to spend the night there (in which case I would freeze). A little overreacting, but I conquered my fear and slowly but surely (and on my butt) got down.

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Every so often on the switchbacks up I had to stop and just take in the view. It had warmed up to around 26 degrees, the sun was just resting on the mountains, and you could see the whole town of Golden.

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The view from the very top, on Castle Rock, was unbelievably spectacular. I took some time up there by myself to take it all in. But then it started to get chilly and I knew the sun would set soon enough.

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After making my way down I drove into downtown Golden to explore. Not before long it got super cold and I grew an appetite. Channeling my inner Wild/Cheryl Strayed, I sat down alone at the Old Capital Grill bar for a bowl of chili with some Texas toast and a Boulder Brewing Mojo IPA.

It was a very satisfying afternoon and Colorado is pretty amazing, even despite how cold it was.

South Table Mountain

Entrance: 19th St & Belvedere St, Golden, CO 80401
Route: A sign says “Golden Trail Rules,” but there’s no sign with the trail’s name. From here, you start up a series of switchbacks to the top. At the top of the mesa, head north towards Castle Rock. Keep heading north and the trail will lead to cement steps climbing to the top of Castle Rock.
Miles: ~2 mi

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Back and at the trails!! One week after my 50k, Elisa and I took to Iron Mountain + Ellie Lane. Iron Mountain is a very popular hike in San Diego, however this was my first time visiting the trail. Elisa suggested we take the offshoot of the Ellie Lane loop because it’s less trafficked and it adds a little distance to the run/hike.

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Even pre-holiday weekend, it was still pretty busy, especially when we reached the top. My legs were still tired from the weekend before and were definitely feeling it. We took the casual approach of walking the uphills, and running the downhills. However, in general it was really nice to get out. I couldn’t imagine running if it had to be on the road, but the trail was exactly the freedom and diversity I needed.

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And because PB&J sandwiches are my FAVORITE (and such a large staple in my diet now) this post is filled with pictures of me stuffing my face!!!

Iron Mountain + Ellie Lane Loop

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Entrance: Hwy 67 & Poway Rd, Poway, CA 92074
Route: Follow the Iron Mountain Trail until it comes to a split. Head left for Ellie Lane. Continue on this until you meet back up with the main Iron Mountain Trail.
Miles: 10 miles

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Elisa and I ran this trail probably 2 weeks before my 50k.  This trail run ended up being a lot more hiking than running.  However, I think it ended up being good preparation!  With over 4,000 feet of elevation gain, there were some good, steep sections of climbing.  It also allowed for a lot downhill.  Meaning, getting those legs used to rolling, feeling the impact and dodging stones.

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It was warm at the start, however, once we got to the highest point, we realized we were severely underdressed compared to everyone else (donning full pants, jackets, etc. while I was merely wearing a tank and shorts).   Our favorite part of any trail run are the breaks at the top (to eat our PB&J sandwiches, always).  However, after we scarfed down our snacks, we were quickly on our way, experiencing huge goosebumps from the settled sweat and cool breeze.

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We ended up running all the way down.  I don’t think I’ve been this sore in a long time!  This run definitely took a toll on my calves on the uphill, and for sure my quads on the downhill.

El Cajon Mountain in the El Capitan Open Preserve

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Entrance: 12777 Wildcat Canyon Rd, Lakeside, CA 92040
Route: Begin at the staging area just off Wildcat Canyon Road and walk .5 mile uphill to the proper trailhead. Continue along the main trail to the summit.
Miles: 11 miles

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Get ready…this is going to be a novel!

Saturday, December 12th I woke up at 5:50am. I made a fire, some coffee and spent close to an hour trying to make oatmeal. Unfortunately I stayed at the Leo Carrillo Campgrounds, which ended up being 30-40 minutes away from Malibu Creek State Park (which is south and east from Leo Carrillo). In hindsight I’d plan a little more ahead and stay at Malibu Creek State Park. Originally I wanted to leave around 6:40, but with waiting for water to boil, it was more like 7:05. So of course, I ate and drank on my drive over, resulting in some spilled oats on my shirt and shorts. Great!

I arrived at Malibu Creek State Park in the back of a car line around 7:35. I was slightly worried because the bib check-in was from 7-7:45am. However, I tried to remain calm, and remind myself that it was a super low-key race, and if I made it in the realm of on time, they would have to give me my bib.

When I arrived I quickly parked, hopped out of my car and ran over to get my bib. I returned to my car and prepped all my gear — water in the Camelbak, fuel, GoPro, iPod, keys, toilet paper, etc. I debated between wearing a long sleeve shirt and not (the same one that had oatmeal stains on it now). It was quite brisk so I decided to keep it on. I had to pee, and the line was a couple people deep, so I decided “this is a nature race,” and popped a squat behind a tree. My biggest fear was not starting with the pack and not knowing where to go.

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At 8am we were off on the Malibu Canyon 50k!  I hopped in the back and walked my way up to the start.  Everyone started at essentially the same time, because there was no tracking when we crossed the starting line. Around less than a half mile in, before we had even passed the parking lot, I decided I was NOT going to wear my long-sleeve shirt (mind you, we had already started the race). I decided to pop out and shed this extra layer, since 1. this race was pretty low-key, 2. I knew I would be taking pit-stops anyways, and 3. I didn’t want to end up carrying extra gear. I jumped back into the race but was now in the back of the pack. As we made our way from the camp road to the trail, we started on single track switchbacks, running in a single file line. It was fine until people started walking…already. In a single file line. My pace dropped to 13 minute miles and I knew I could be running this part at least a little bit faster. I wasn’t racing this race, however, I don’t like feeling stuck and confined. I was just going to go with the flow until a boy passed on the left so I decided to piggyback and follow him. I have and had no idea about etiquette in terms of trail running and/or ultra races. He seemed pretty experienced, like he’d run several ultras before, and like he’d be in the front of the pack. However, this was also his first ultra, and first race ever. Little did we know, Max and I would be spending the next 6 hours together.

The first aid station came at mile 2.7 (Tapia Park). I didn’t need any aid at this point and moved quickly past. This stop marked the start of the climb that would last until mile 10. It was definitely an uphill climb, so steep that running wasn’t even an option for me. Walking at a moderate pace was all I could manage. And even then, if I didn’t have Max hiking at a faster pace I definitely would’ve been walking slower.

Around mile 3 my nose started to drip and I realized it was bright red blood. I ended up using my gloves to stop the bleeding (which caused some chafing under my nose), and luckily I had packed some TP (in case of bathroom issues) so I shoved some up there several times until the bleeding stopped.

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The second aid station came at mile 8 (Corral Canyon). By this time I took a little water top-off and started my electrolyte hydration plan (or non-plan because I kind of made this up as I went along). I had packed some Nuun tablets split in half, and when I came to an aid station, I grabbed a water cup, threw in a tab, and chugged it. After this point, we had about 2 more miles of climbing until the GLORIOUS downhill began. The first time around it felt great. We flew down with an ~8 minute pace. On the flats we kept it consistent and were “flying” in an ultramarathon sense of the word.

At mile 12.7 we came to the M*A*S*H* site aid station. I re-filled my Camelbak with a little more water, took a Nuun, and sat down to rub some vaseline on a blister I could feel forming on the inside arch of my left foot. From this point we knew we had 2.9 miles until the halfway mark.

We finished the first 25k with smiles on our face. I think if I was alone and hurting, this would have been mentally challenging because the turn-around checkpoint was immediately to the right of the finish line. We stopped, I ate half a PB&J sandwich, swallowed a salt tab and continued with my half Nuun hydration tactic.

We started back off feeling great. But by the time we hit the switchbacks again we both were beginning to experience the fatigue. All of our intentions of making the second half better and faster than the first quickly went downhill. It’s true you experience so many different emotions, so many highs and lows. There are times when you feel like absolute shit and times when it’s not too bad. Max and I worked off of each other, making plans like “let’s walk the uphill and run the rolling hills,” or “let’s run to that ribbon,” “let’s run to that tree” even if it was just to keep us moving and propel us only 50 feet forward.

On the second go, the scenery looked vastly different. Instead of focusing on the people in front of me like I did in the beginning, there was nothing around us this time except for an arbor of trees and a fall backdrop. After crossing the small creek (a much bigger feat at mile 17 vs. mile 2) my hips started to tighten. We stopped and stretched, I did a figure 4 on both sides which helped out immensely. See, it is a different mentality! In a normal road race I would never stop and stretch.

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The one good thing about repeating a 25k loop twice is that you know what to expect. I knew from about 18-25 we would be climbing (which meant walking, which was OK by me). At mile 23 I could not be any more excited to seek some serious aid from the aid station. I already had it planned from 2 miles out. Salt tabs, Nuun, vaseline, potatoes dipped in salt. What I would’ve given for some McDonald’s French fries at that point! This was our longest pit stop but very much needed. It lifted our spirits and I left feeling refreshed and ready to go for the next 8 miles.

Max and I talked about what our position might be in the race. I suspected we were in the top third because based on where we started and how many people were in front of us, it didn’t seem like too many. Plus a lot of the runners that were on the loop the first time were only doing the 25k, so that put them out of the running.

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The downhills that felt so great the first time were far from that the second time around. They were torturous. My hips felt like they were rubbing and my knees felt like they were tracking out. I was afraid of taking too big of strides in case the impact was too powerful. Instead, I was taking 2-3 times as many small steps than usual. It was all about controlled falling. Originally we were going to skip the M*A*S*H* site and keep moving to the end. But after enduring the downhill, a little break sounded more than deserved. I could not have been more excited when we reached this aid station. A little stretch, a little Nuun, and a little questioning — “what position are we in?” gave us just the boost we needed. We found out we were 26th and 27th (WHAAAT!) and the game plan changed. “Don’t let anyone pass us, and pass people if we can.” We were ON! We came across #25 and he quickly succumbed to a lower position.

The last 2.9 miles ended up being a constantly evolving game plan. From holding a 9 minute pace, to just running by feel, to keeping it moving until we reached the stairs. I would have to say mile 29-30 was THE hardest. Not even mentally, but physically. I felt like I was a cartoon character trying to run. By the time we made it up the stairs and onto the camp road, we were in the definite home stretch!! As we rounded the corner into the last straightaway with a clear view of the finish line, I could not contain myself. My body filled with so much adrenaline, to the point where it would have been more work to slow down. I picked up the pace and finished strong. 31 miles. 6:19:20. I have never felt more happiness, excitement or sense of accomplishment in my life!

We checked the sheet and saw we ranked around 29 and 30 overall. The official results came out and I saw that I placed 29th overall, 5th female, and 2nd in my age group. So not only did I get a coaster for finishing the 50k, I also got a medal for placing! :-)

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It was a blessing that Max and I were able to run together the whole time. It would have been miserable and 100x more difficult alone. At the end, I kept telling him to go ahead and I’d see him at the finish. But he kept telling me “we’ve made it this far together, we’re finishing together.”

Going into this race I had no idea what I was doing, but apparently I looked like I did, as I got that from several people. Everything I thought about or brought with me ended up being perfect and of the most absolute importance. I ate before I felt any type of intense hunger (I did not keep track of what and when) because I knew by the time I really felt hungry, it would be too late.

Honestly, after this 50k, I am hooked. Everything from the experience to the culture is unlike anything else. From being smaller and on trails. To everyone being so nice, actually talking during the race and being super supportive. I found it to be very different from road racing and actually really nice. I already asked my mom to sign me up for my next 50k for my Christmas present and I wouldn’t be surprise if ultramarathons took precedence over qualifying for Boston….just saying 😉

Mile splits recorded by my Garmin (6:18:47):
1 – 9:49
2 – 10:31
3 – 12:35
4 – 15:55
5 – 15:34
6 – 13:09
7 – 11:14
8 – 11:43
9 – 14:57
10 – 9:07
11 – 9:26
12 – 8:42
13 – 12:32
14 – 8:52
15 – 8:51
16 – 14:12
17 – 10:55
18 – 12:28
19 – 18:13
20 – 18:17
21 – 13:59
22 – 14:45
23 – 13:46
24 – 23:46
25 – 9:38
26 – 10:56
27 – 9:38
28 – 11:24
29 – 9:24
30 – 9:28
Last .55 – 4:45

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In honor of #OptOutside, Kate, Andy and I hit the trails running a little northeast from us in Escondido. Originally we were looking to go to Julian/Cuyamaca, but the low temps (30 vs. 55) and the potential for rain convinced us otherwise. Instead, we ended up doing a trail run I’ve completed a couple times with my running group. In fact, the last time I visited was last January, before I realized I was incredibly sick with food poisoning.

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Anyways, Raptor Ridge is part of the larger Coast to Crest Trail in the San Dieguito River Park, and pretty straightforward. It’s a well designated, wide path that is easily accessible right off the freeway.

What I call the Raptor Ridge trail is around 10.5 miles round trip (5.19 out an 5.19 back). We went the morning after some rain, so while it was muddy, it wasn’t too bad.

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Around mile 4 the trail changes to a single track (this is considered the “Raptor Ridge” trail) and starts the ascent to the top. And while it was tricky (requiring a few walking breaks in which Andy turned around and said “you guys coming?!”) the view from the top was worth it!

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And the best part about going up is that you get to go down! We ended up negative splitting this trail. By the time we hit mile 9 we were ready to be back to the car and turned the pace into a tempo run, dropping down into the 7’s.

My favorite thing about trail running, especially in the middle of San Diego, is how it makes you feel so displaced. Like you’re hundreds of miles away in a completely different area. We all agreed and loved how it felt like such a quintessential fall afternoon, from the color of the leaves, the wafting scent of plant-life and greenery, and the crisp chill of the air.

Raptor Ridge

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Entrance: 12301 Sunset Drive, Escondido, CA 92025
Route: Start off at Mule Hill trail and follow the trail signs for Raptor Ridge trail/viewpoint
Miles: 10.5 mi out-and-back

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