Big Bear Lake
Big Bear Lake in California is an epic spot for outdoor activities year round. Summer offers all water sports know to mankind as well as amazing hiking and trail running. The winter months are breathtaking offering skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.
I mostly live, work, and play at sea level in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Yes, that does include amazing mountains, but I tend to do most of my workouts and races in a surfski (high performance racing kayak) at sea or lake level elevations.
As a result, I noticed a distinct lack of oxygen when I went to Big Bear Lake CA (elevation 6700 feet) and starting hiking and running the amazing mountain trails around the lake (one of which is the Pacific Crest Trail, which also runs through my home area).
After 5 or so days of daily 5-10 mile trail hikes and runs (sometimes up to 9000+ feet elevation), I noticed an advert for a Half-K/10-K/5-K run along the lake shore. As noted previously, I’m not really a runner (I’m a paddler, remember), and I’m not acclimated to higher elevation workouts.
So naturally, I signed up to race. In my funny toe-shoes. Fortunately, I picked the 5K option, since my quads, IT bands, psoas and hip flexors were complaining mightily about all of the earlier punishment.
The venue was mostly blocked-off streets with stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Most of it was level, with some ups and some downs, with the usual aid stations here and there.
Miracle of miracles – In spite of needing to wog (walk/jog) when I hit some uphill sections, I managed to place 2nd for my age and gender (59.97 years old at race time)!
Maybe next year, I’ll do the half marathon. As long as I can slip an oxygen tank next to my water bladder, and use a nasal cannula to sneak pure O2 as I go…
After the race, I consolidated all of my swag. T-shirt, 2 Leis (it was a Hawaiian themed race), one medal, lots of munchies, and several beer tickets. I then took my sore self to Altitudes Massage. If you are ever in Big Bear Lake (whether you run or not), you need to go here. Chelsea Redwood is an amazingly intuitive, talented, and knowledgable masseuse. She and another masseuse/acupuncturist at her spa did amazing things to unkink and reactivate my aching, locked up muscles. She also did aromatherapy, which was an amazing “dessert” for the whole experience.
That felt so good that I took myself over to the Big Bear Brewing Company Brewpub for a celebratory quaff and some nosh. I recommend their Sidewinder Red ale. It’s a delicious 9.2% beverage, so be careful — you ARE at a high altitude. I had two and went back to the house to rest up for the next few day’s adventures (hiking and camping in Joshua Tree National Park).
Go see Big Bear Lake – it’s an amazing place, no matter what you do there or whenever you go; they have winter skiing and summer mountain biking options options, lots of great food and beer, and those trails…
Ciao for now!