40 by 40

It feels surreal to say, but I’m turning 40 in two weeks.

I don’t feel 40. Sure, I have aches and pains but I attribute these ailments to activity, not age: back problems from 12 years of playing rugby, tennis elbow from, well, tennis. And I’m pretty sure I developed plantar fasciitis because I have very high arches yet insist on wearing my cute brown boots that have absolutely no support (if that isn’t youthful thinking, I don’t know what is).

The Challenge:

I don’t feel 40, but  as my birthday approaches I can’t help thinking about the passage of time and getting older. So I’ve come up with a plan to help me embrace this milestone. I’m going to run 40 miles by my 40th birthday. 40 by 40—a gut check to make sure this girl still has it. And by ‘it’ I mean being in shape, like I was when I ran cross-country in high school, completed a marathon at age 29 and played full games of competitive rugby in my early 30s.

Day 1:

IMG_4058On Monday I ran a hilly four miles I’ll call “Hilltop Run.” Or “Loop de Loop.” I started by running up a steep street I’ve always avoided. At the top I ran around another circular street (the inner loop). When I was back on the main street, I started running down the other side. About halfway down I noticed a dirt trail that led off into the hills. I’d noticed it before but had never checked it out. This time, wanting to increase my mileage for this run, I  went for it. The trail spread out in all directions, but I stayed on the same path until I got to a high point where I could see all the way to the ocean. Now completely sweating, I ran back to the paved street and headed home. If I hadn’t set this challenge for myself, I might not have added the trail run, but I’m glad I did.

Day 2:

IMG_4082On Tuesday I wanted a flat course to give my glutes a break. But alas, since I live halfway up a hill, I can’t catch a break. I decided to run a section of University Trail, which would accomplish two goals. First, to make progress toward my ’40 by 40′ challenge, and second, to cross an item off my O.C. bucket list. I’ve been wanting to run this trail but had been putting it off because I wasn’t sure how long it was and didn’t think I was in good enough shape to run more than three miles. But there’s nothing like a challenge (even one that’s self-inflicted) to make you just do it!

It was a challenging course because I had to run more than a mile uphill to get home, but the University Trail section was flat and pleasant. It’s paved and I don’t like running on concrete, but I was able to run most of it on the packed dirt next to the path. Even though there’s a busy street nearby, it felt peaceful because the trees blocked the view of the road. It was 78 degrees with the slightest of breezes, so needless to say I was sweaty once again by the end of my run.

With every new run I go on, I’m continually amazed by how many nature trails there are in Orange County and what a great place this is to run.

40 by 40 Progress:

Day: 2 of 15
Miles: 8 of 40 completed
Status: My legs are sore. But I still don’t feel 40!

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Today’s run was hilly!
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University Trail
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University Trail
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Yes, dogs are allowed on University Trail
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Day 1 run: A flower on the path
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Day 1 run … views all the way to the ocean
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What comes up must come down!
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