#25 – Hike Runyon Canyon

I have a bit of an addictive personality. I don’t know if that’s indicative in my posts, but it’s true. When I weighed 300 pounds I was clearly addicted to food. Now that I am 149 pounds it’s clear that I am addicted to exercise.

Since November 2010 I have run 15-25 miles per week depending on my free time. In that time I have lost 40 pounds. Mind you, that has been on flat ground. Two Friday’s ago, my buddy Trevor invited me to Runyon Canyon.

I’ve heard numerous things about Runyon, whether it has been through friends who live near it or through cinema like “Funny People.” It has always intrigued me, but I had never tackled the mountaintop.

Trevor sent the invitation my way while I was in the middle of a 3 mile run. Despite the fact that I was mid-workout, I wasn’t about to deny the invitation since we needed to talk business, and why not kill two birds with one stone. Plus, Runyon intrigued me.

I met up with Trevor at his brother Tanner’s, on the Valley side of Runyon, and we went from there. Trevor made his first visit to Runyon two days prior so he served as our trail leader.

Before we entered the gated entrance to Runyon Trevor took off running. That is customary Trevor, since he tends to be one notch on the energy level above everyone else. Soon there after I took off after him, and Tanner followed suit. I couldn’t help but feel a bit out of sorts with hippies conducting yoga exercises and bunnies up for sale right next to the stretching granola & yogurt eaters.

Runyon is basically all up hill for the first mile, and it starts that way even before you reach the main entrance. I started with the same pace that I would generally start with in my flat ground running, and after about 25 seconds I felt a shooting pain in my legs and a shortness in breath. I immediately realized I was in way over my head. We had barely started, and my legs were already done. Trevor was owning the mountain while Tanner and I were strugg-a-ling.

I take pride in my endurance. I can run 5-8 miles on flat ground while barely breaking a sweat. It’s something that I have earned over the past year and a half. 25 seconds into Runyon Canyon and I was humbled.

Trevor kept shouting that we were near the “resting tree,” which is the first rest stop on the hard trail of Runyon. Tanner and I made it there shortly after Trevor, and we were greeted by others also grasping for breaths of air. My legs felt like they were made of Jello and my feet felt like they were running on hot coals.

Trevor carried a backpack with him, which housed our cell phones and water bottles. Upon initial visit I mocked him for carrying the glorified fanny pack, but I cherished his decision while I downed half of the 12 ounces in my water bottle during our first stop.

Before I could fully catch my breath, Trevor was off and running again. I wanted to remind him that I was hung over and that I had just finished running 3 miles, but he was out of shouting range, and I definitely didn’t have the necessary air in my lungs to reach his ears.

Tanner and I eventually reached Trevor again,  at the next rest stop, passing by hot chick after hot chick in tight spandex pants and sports bras. I’ve often heard that Runyon Canyon is the ultimate spot to hit on hot chicks, but what they fail to mention is that it’s hard to spit game when you’re hacking up your own lungs. That didn’t stop Trevor, however, who surely left his water mark on the mountain.

At that resting spot Tanner and I had a decision to make. Trevor informed us that we had two more large hills to climb before we reached the top of Runyon. Trevor took off running. Tanner and I took a couple of looks upwards and second guessed whether we could make it further. I said, “Fuck it” and took off. It took all of my will power to make it up the hill. I met up with Trevor, grabbed my water from his backpack, and we looked downward at Tanner who gave us the signal that he was done and was going to climb back down the hill. We enjoyed the view for thirty seconds and Trevor took off again. I looked forward and saw the final ascent of what laid in front of me.

The final hilltop shouldn’t even be called a trail. Sylvester Stallone should meet you at the base with a rope and a Sherpa to lead the rest of the path, because that’s some straight “Cliffhanger” type of shit. Trevor attacked that last uphill as if he were Spiderman. The funny thing about him is that if you put him on flat ground he can’t run a mile without taking some breaks. Put him on a mountaintop, however, and he’s a beast. My attempt up the last hill found the use of every piece of energy I had left. I could barely lift my legs off the ground. I felt like someone had shot me in my hamstrings. I was basically on all fours while gasping for my life. I wish I was exaggerating.

I eventually made it to the peak. I’m still not certain how I made it. I may have blacked out at one point. Trevor asked me if I wanted to venture back down the path we just up-scaled or if I wanted to take the longer path, which was all down hill. Seeing as how I nearly killed myself climbing up the hill I figured I would most definitely kill myself trying to descend the 45-degree angle.

I enjoyed the view of Los Angeles and couldn’t help but feel that I wasn’t actually in Los Angeles for just a moment. For someone like me who is not from the area, we always search for remnants of “home,” or really anywhere that doesn’t remind us of the smog of Los Angeles. Runyon Canyon reminded me of parts of San Diego like the La Jolla coves and the trails of Rancho Santa Fe. I quickly enjoyed the view and then took a cliché Runyon Canyon picture.

That is the look of pain and suffering.

After we walked about a half mile of the downward trail, and peeped some of the eye candy that Runyon has to offer in the form of ladies and luxury homes adorning the surrounding area we then took off running. I don’t think I had ever run faster. The combination of the downhill and my accumulated adrenaline allowed me to bypass any pain I was experiencing. I managed not to trip on my own two feet or on any of the unleashed dogs, and reached the finish line where we had originally started.

Trevor and I met back up with his brother and then went for sushi. I was immediately addicted and knew I had to hit the trail again, which Trevor and I did five days later. That time around I wasn’t hung over and didn’t run three miles prior to hitting the Canyon. Trevor, however, did have an intense Muay Thai workout the night prior and suffered through Runyon much like I did during my first venture. My dumb ass, however, figured my legs wouldn’t be nearly affected the next day, so I attempted my usual 3+ mile run, of which I suffered through during the final 2 miles.

Just like all the dogs at Runyon, Trevor is also dropping a deuce.

I will most definitely be tackling Runyon Canyon again. I will just remember not to run 3 miles immediately before or after I do so.

2nd time was much easier than the 1st.

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