Woke up at 7:30AM today and headed out to training for the Ragnar Trail Relay Zion UT race I’m running in April. I was going to run 6 miles but ended up doing 8.09 miles. I ran it a little slower but it was unavoidable because I ended up crashing through the brush and a homeless encampment.
Today’s trail run was at the San Diego Otay Valley Regional Park on the Otay River Trail. I’m lucky to live two blocks from the entrance to the trails. I’ve mountain biked and walked with my wife in parts this area before but never did any trail running so this was new for me. Most of the year the Otay Rivers is not a river at all, especially now since California is in the midst of a drought. The river right now is really just a series of little finger streams feeding small ponds that dot the Otay River Trail.
The main trail is groomed; mostly dirt, but there areas that are rocky and places where the department of recreation and parks has placed gravel to help reduce erosion. There are a number of places where you can leave the main trail, most created by mountain bike riders. And then there are some trails not well traveled that I learned on this run I should avoid. One of these places was just after the 5 mile mark on my trek, the groomed trail ended abruptly; I must have taken a wrong turn at one of the forks. I noticed a small trail that looked like it ‘might’ lead down to the main groomed trail and so it decided to take it. The trail got thicker and thicker with growth and when it finely open up in to a clearing I found myself in a homeless encampment, the residents of which looked at me with surprised, much the way I looked at them; one individual didn’t seem too happy that I had come across their camp. I continued on my way desiring no confrontation with those in the camp. Not far from their camp the trail ended; rather than run back through the homeless encampment I elected to trudge and smash my way through the underbrush, something the skin on my legs is still paying the price from doing; shorts are not the best bush wear. I’m lucky that it was still cool outside else I’m sure I would have at some point happened on a Rattlesnake which are plentiful in this area.
I made it to another trail, not the main trail for sure; this trail was really a small muddy path that was a stream at some point and still had water in some parts. Someone, more than likely the homeless group I happened upon, placed pallets and scrap wood in the areas with water so they were passable.
I did eventually make it back to a main path only to find myself off track again later in the run. It was only near end of mile six mark I was again running on the main groomed path but I still had a hill climb to do before I would be near the home stretch of my run.
Home from the run; legs trashed from brush, my running shoes wet and mud packed the lessons I learned were; 1. As cool as that trail looks to run down, it might not be a good idea to leave the main trail and 2. I need to buy some shoes designed for trail running; my Saucony stability road shoes are no good for trail running I need shoes with a more aggressive sole. I’ll be visiting the sporting goods store next week.