Where I’ve Run Wednesday: Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

A few weeks ago the awesome peeps at Altra asked us ambassadors to tell them about some of the amazing places that we get to run.  So that got me thinking Sean & I have had the opportunity to run in some really amazing places, both on trail and on the road and I’d love to share those places with you.  So here goes…the inaugural Where I’ve Run Wednesday (WIRW for short) and I’m starting with one of our favorite spots near San Diego – this was posted to the Altra blog about 2 weeks ago but it wasn’t super clear that it was my post 🙂 oops so I’m sharing it here as well.

The very first time I came to visit Sean in San Diego (for our 2nd date) we went out to Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in Descanso, CA near Julian. I’m not sure what we were thinking because it was a super hot August day with temps reaching 100 degrees. But that day we would run/walk/hike 10 miles, giving me a small taste of what the mountains near San Diego would offer, like seeing the golden fields that California is known for the first time.Jenny Nakamura photo 1
Since that day in August 2014, Sean and I have spent a lot of time out on the trails in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, the neighboring Cleveland National Forest, and on the PCT. These trails play host to a number of events, including the San Diego 100, Cuyamaca 100k, Mount Laguna Marathon, and Noble Canyon 50k.Sean has run all of these races so he has been a good guide, and we’ve explored a lot of the trails that are a part of these races. Some of our favorite spots include the third loop of the Cuyamaca 100k, which is approximately 18 miles of trail that takes you from Camp Cuyamaca into the northern section of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park before entering into Anza Borrego Desert State Park, and a short section the PCT before returning to the camp.

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The views once you hit the PCT are absolutely spectacular, and I tend to pinch myself because it’s hard to believe that I live so close to such a beautiful place.  I really love this photo too because it shows how vast the area really is.  It’s hard to believe it’s just 45 minutes from the beach.

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Another area that we like to visit often is in the Cleveland National Forest. There is a great spot off the Sunrise Highway—the Meadows Aid Station at San Diego 100—that we’ve spent a lot of time at lately, mostly because it’s a little flatter and more runnable. The single track in this area isn’t too technical and is well cleared. This area is a part of the Noble Canyon Trail and this winter we encountered a lot of snow, which was super cool.

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There is so much to explore in this area. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park has over 100 miles of trail. Cleveland National Forest has over 920 square miles of trail, including over 100 miles of the PCT. And the Anza Borrego Desert State Park has over 916 square miles. The landscape is so diverse, from desert to fields to mountains to forest.

And the views? Well you’ll just have to come and see for yourself.

What are some of your favorite places to run?

How I plan to win at running…

So let’s be honest here…Running is hard.  And I’ve been making it a lot harder on myself because I’ve been neglecting a few keys areas.

How I feel during a hard, hot long run

#1 – My run nutrition sucks.  I feel sick on most long runs and that’s because I have yet (after 8 marathons and 28 or so half marathons) to dial in my nutrition.  I think I always revert back to my track days when I didn’t eat much because I was so afraid to throw up after a race (TMI – I have a huge aversion to throwing up and I would rather not eat than get sick – I’ve been like this since I was a kid).

#2 – My mental strength, not so good.  I try, but then when it gets hard, I have a really hard time powering through so normally my brain works against my body.

#3 – I just run and while this is fine and dandy, I’m not going to get a PR if I don’t do speedwork & have a bit more focus as far as my training goes.

So what I am I going to do about this?

#1 – I’ve decided to run more shorter distance races for a few months after the LA Marathon on Feb 14.  I’m going to focus on the half marathon and will get a new PR.  I’ve run 28 or so halfs and I’ve only run under 2 hours twice.  My current PR is 1:57:26 and I’m going to work towards a 1:55.  Which considering where I’m at right now is going to definitely take some work to hit those 8:46 miles.  I’ve got the San Diego Half in mid March which I plan to use as a goal race.

I will train to PR in the marathon.  Sean & I just signed up for the Vancouver USA Marathon on June 19.  It’s a flat & fast course and perfect for a PR.  And it’s not until June so it gives me plenty of time to train and really work towards a PR.

#2 – Start believing in myself more.  I have it in me, but I let my mind defeat me every time.  I am getting a new Momentum Jewelry Motivate Wrap with my mantra – I Can & I Will.  And I’m going to get a few books to read on how to work on this.

#3 – Focus on my run nutrition.  I’ve been saying this for a while, but it’s obviously a huge problem for me and something I really need to dial in. I shouldn’t feel sick on every run.  And since eating seems to be an issue for me, outside of oranges and jolly ranchers I rarely eat anything on a long run.  I don’t like Gu, I prefer more natural or real food type products but even though I take them with me, I rarely eat them.

I will be trying the CarboPro Hydra C5  as well as TailWind.  Each of these products has 100 calories per serving so hopefully if I like the flavor, I’ll be able to drink my calories and stop feeling sick every long run.  Sean also tried this awesome tasting Core Proven Nutrition drink mix at Tahoe 200 last year and it can be mixed with either of these other products which might be an option.

I love running and I want to keep doing it, injury free of course, for a very long time but I would like to feel like I’m accomplishing something.  I’m hoping that focusing on these three areas will help me to succeed in achieving my goals this year.

Do you have a favorite way to get in your speed training?

I’d love to hear what you do to get past the mental aspect of running.

And what are your favorite ways to fuel on a long run?