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Monday, January 18, 2010

Calico 30K Trail Race (CHECK) New Photos Added 1/27/10

First what I dreamt:  I can't find a parking place and the race begins in minutes -- it's a marathon, in the big city, and come to find out, before I even begin the marathon, there's a 20 mile pre-race.  Parking illegally, I run and run this "pre-race", through water and mud and crowded streets, into hair salons, toy stores, and even libraries where I run through endless aisles of books.  The books get bigger and bigger, making the aisles tinee, tiny, and I finally must crawl and squeeze through skimpy crevices between  these books, and the marathon hasn't even begun!!!

Back to the real event . . . The whole family stayed the night in Calico Ghost Town.  And strangely, though my hip was better the day prior, suddenly it ached all day Saturday, and I worried.  I stretched, took those anti-inflammatories.   After a fun day and dinner downtown with the family (though stressful), I bedded down early in the bunk house, still some coughing here and there, the boys too excited to sleep.  And I woke throughout the night, dreaming, dreaming, dreaming . . .

Down Town Calico Ghost Town
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Our Lodgings

Woke for good at 5:30 AM, stretched, and oh, so slowly prepared for the race.  Two extra strength excedrin didn't do much for the ache.  I hoped it did something for the inflammation.  6:30 AM,  IT WAS COLD as I headed up the road by foot toward downtown Calico.  Dozens of cars passed me on the road.  My excitement was the wondering whether I would be able to complete the race.  Actually, wondering, how on EARTH I was going to complete this race.

Ready to Leave -- I'm thinking, "I'M FREEZING," and not 5 seconds later do I have that orange fleece shirt pulled over my head

The walk up to the Start Line in downtown Calico Ghost Town begins

Getting Closer . . .

And Closer . . .

Arriving to the Start Line -- 9 minutes to spare : )
There were familiar faces in the crowd, mainly people I know about, but don't know.  But there was also a trail group member I know, Matt (You may recall, he helped me rescue my earpiece from the storm drain some months back).  We took off at the same pace for a good four miles.  It was a slow, steady incline, nothing tough.  My hip ached, but not terribly.  The relatively small group of racers (I don't know, perhaps 100?  probably more) didn't spread out drastically during those first five miles.  Parts of the trail was sandy, which is much like running on a sandy beach (more difficult than solid dirt or asphalt).   I laughed when Matt looked over his shoulder at the good size group of runners, and remarked, "Look, we're not last!"  I felt good, despite the hip, despite my doubts about completing this race.  I felt happy to be out there -- with my runny nose and kleenex in my pocket and all.  I felt grateful to be running again. 


Me, so, so cold, on that lonely (but not really that lonely) road into the scarey desert : )

Aid Station #1 at approx. 7 miles -- these stations are such a wonderful sight -- here's where I dropped of my fleece and gloves, but kept the sleeves because it was still quite chilly

This photo taken by Badwater Ben Jones

Miles 7 through 12, the crowd spread out, and Matt gained distance on me as did plenty other runners.  The gradual incline continued for some miles.  And the slant was ever so slight with my bad hip on the downhill -- not good for the pain.  It got worse.  I drank my water, downed the electrolytes in one form or another.  And then much to my amazement . . .  about half-way through this miles 7-through-12 segment, my right leg began cramping.  Seriously! I was actually aghast.  I had done everything in my power to avoid this cramping, from storing up potassium to eating potato chips at the aid station (which I never do), etc., etc. Though I say I was AGHAST, I didn't let that spoil my mood, because completing this run, in my opinion was all about mood.  That meant keeping a good attitude, breathing right, smiling and smiling often, relaxing the shoulders, waving, swaying to the music (yes, I did that here and there),  praying, yes praying, and to say the least, eating those jelly beans -- I hardly ever allow myself the indulgence of jelly beans, but today I stuffed my pockets with them at the aid station : )))))

Miles 7 thru 12, still seeing people around me, trail not difficult yet, except for slight slant

Hmmmm . . .

More of Miles 7 thru 12, notice white arrow painted in dirt to show the way

Aid Station # 2 -- Glory!

Poor Runner Who Didn't Make It

The Terrain Grows More "Technical"


Still Miles 7 thru 12

Yes, That's My Big Foot : )

I was feeling the technical difficulty of the terrain to the point of fatigue by the time I came to the 30k/50k split. The volunteer here said, "Don't worry, it gets better once you reach the top," and I thought to myself, "didn't we already reach the top!!!" Ha, ha, ha : )  I knew . . . I remembered from last year the best was yet to come.

The 1st 30k/50k Split -- I'm going to the right!!!

From the split on, the terrain became increasingly difficult, or "technical" as they say.  No longer a nice wide road, I had rocks and boulders to deal with and a steep incline to climb.  Less than 100 yards from the summit, I phoned my husband (it was precisely 10:30).    After a short chat,  we lost connection, which happened to be at the peak.  Not wanting to lose downhill time, I raced down when suddenly both legs cramped.  Yikes!  For some reason, I tried a hamstring stretch.  NOT A GOOD IDEA.  My entire body nearly went into a cramp.  Then I remembered, stretch in the opposite direction of the cramp!!!  And so with my knees bent slightly, one foot in front of the other, I lifted my toe and bent down to grab it for a solid calve stretch.  Then I rubbed down the calves.  Feeling better, I attempted another hamstring (why????)  Yikes.  I nearly sent my body into a full cramp again.

Heading Up to the Summit (looking off to my left) -- Awesome to be there!

The Summit -- It's downhill from here to the next aid station (I'd guess 1 to 1.5 miles away) -- but the cramps hit in abundance here, so I can't make up that much time due to the fact that I need to stretch out the cramps : ( (Still though, I'm really happy I've made it this far, because it's pretty much a done deal that I'm FINISHING this race -- as long as I keep on smiling and praying and swaying to the music : )

Every time my right foot stepped on a rock a pain shot into my hip.  So I tried to avoid that!  At one point I got that hip shot, something also happened to my knee -- it was wierd, quick, and painful.  It didn't disable me, but I knew, it was not right.  But I kept on running.  And of course, click, click, clicking away with the camera.  (Fortunately, I didn't hear much complaint from my knee after that until I got home.)

After downing extra strength aspirin and some more electrolytes, I made that down hill run all the way into the second aid station, ipod blaring in my ears, and a wide smile on my face.  Oh, how I love those aid stations!  More potato chips for the salt, some gatorade (and jelly beans in the pocket), I also slabbed pain reliever cream onto my hip.  Then I gleefully phoned my husband one last time to tell him that I had less than four miles to go.  But I warned him, it was NOT the usual kind of four miles.  What lay ahead was the most technical portion of this trail race -- the cursed portion, the portion where I wiped out big time last year. 

Into the Glorious Canyons I Descend -- Did Not See One Single Other Runner During Canyons

Awsome (though I stumble quite a few times through this portion)

The Trail Begins to Smooth Out -- I'm Dead-Dog Tired, "just put one foot in front of the other."

Finally Coming Out of the Canyon -- and I'm a BIT TIRED : )

Running Along Base of Ridge I'm About to Climb up to -- Homeward Bound!

Running Along Ridge, About to Descend -- One Last Look Back

This photo also taken by Badwater Ben Jones.  I was just coming off the trail, headed for the paved campground.  I couldn't run more than a few steps without my calves cramping up.  I saw Ben there with a camera and the last thing I wanted right then was for someone to take my picture : )  I'm glad he did. 

The long stretch in was painful.  I saw Matt walking back to his camp as I made my way through the campground. I stopped a couple times through the parking lot to stretch out the cramps.  But I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face.  And I felt GOOD.  My time was about five minutes longer than last year (about a minute over 5 hours, I think) -- but the course did not beat me up this year.  I was not bloodied and bruised, I did not feel like vomiting.  I simply walked over to my family not feeling like I had just run 30 kilometers through the desert.  I definately call that a success. 

I experienced no more cramps once I got out of those hills.  My hip felt just about the same after the race as it had all week.  But back at home, I was icing an aching knee.  Not a terrible thing.  It was all worth it. WELL, WELL WORTH IT. 
So, So Happy to Cross Finish Line (below photos compliments of husband)

Heading off to The Mystery Shack, Where Water Flows Up, and Brooms Stand on Their Own : )

Miles logged:  18.66 (30k) glorious miles

Stats forthcoming (when Calico posts them : )


  1. Congratulations! Amazing perseverance! BTW, I'd forgotten how beautiful the canyon portion of that run is (from your blog of the run last year). It's just gorgeous. Plus, your photography just gets better and better.

  2. Way to go!! Knew you would do it even with all the problems you had. That looks like an awesome area to run in.

  3. Wow, love the pics...very interesting and diverse terrain. I like!

    Sorry about the cramps but you should be pleased with your performance.

  4. Congrats Lauren!!! I wanna blog like you. Thanks for giving us a top notch blog to go to. Let's go running!!!

  5. Thanks Melissa. Yes, it is gorgeous out there. We can get to the canyons pretty quickly, going in the back way (when we can all make it out there together : )

  6. You knew more than I did Rich! Looks like you've had some great accomplishments too. Just know catching up blog reading.

  7. Thanks Billy! You like, you should definately get out there to Calico -- it is breathtaking. Next year perhaps I will have this cramp thing conquered!

  8. I'm glad you like the blog Hank! Hope to see you soon on an upcoming run -- Once I get this hip thing taken care of (somehow) I'll post another Aliso/Woods weekend run. Springtime is coming up, and it is gorgeous there.

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  10. Found your blog looking for reviews of Calico. Great information and entertainly written. I usually run either Crystal Cove or Chino Hills. Calico will be my longest. Thanks again for the write up

    1. Have fun Chuck! Say Hi if you see me. :) I run this race every year. Sometimes I do well, other times, I do not. This year will probably be a year that I do not do well. But I intend to have fun nonetheless. Best of luck to you!!