I don’t recall waking through the night, but it I didn’t sleep well. Seemed like I was dreaming or fretting about going up Bulldog Road all through my sleeping hours. So when I hit the road at 4:45 AM, I was drowsy, and oh so eager for that sun to rise so that I could wake fully. I needed energy, something . . . who knew all I needed was defining?
Skies were blue, the sun shining bright. I didn’t think about what awaited me as I ran through Malibu State Creek Park. I have after all, run this loop twice before. I knew that I could do it. The questions were: Was I going to cramp out? Would my hip hold up? (For massive electrolyte restoration I filled my camelback with grape Pedialyte, and threw several salt packets into my belt for good measure). I just ran through the park, listening to people’s conversations, listening to my music, taking in the visual beauty. I kept toward the back of the pack. And on the single-track I ran quickly to keep up with the runner ahead of me.
Early on in the race
And then we hit Bulldog Road. My strategy: Do not try to run the steepest parts. Hike them as quickly as possible, no hands on the hips and run every flat. Simple enough. YA . . . right : )
In a "nutshell,” going up Bulldog was TOUGH. There were points were everyone around me was hiking – there were many places the same deal (hiking). My strategy worked well for me. I was smiling, but there were times I thought, “I don’t really like this trail!” Overall, I never felt like I couldn’t hack it. On the other hand, I was surprised to see a few, poor suffering souls, not carrying water! They didn’t have a swagger. They were staggering.
I reached the top of Bulldog and spent entirely too much time there at the aid station – mainly waiting in line for the porta potty, then taking off a shoe to remove a rock. Feeling strong I was able to keep on running. No cramps, hip felt great. Before the next aid station, I ran through a swarm of bees, thousands of bees in the exact location I ran through a swarm in last year’s Xterra Malibu Creek race. A group of four or so runners ran through at once as these fast-flying, black little bees crashed into our legs, arms and face. Delightful! I think I actually screamed here : )
Before reaching the second peak (I’m guessing mile 8), I felt an inkling of a cramp in my left leg – like it was threatening to cramp. To make good and sure cramps didn’t attack, I tore open two packets of salt and downed them in a cup of water at the next aid station. Then I tucked my camera away, and set my mind on focusing for the trip back.
I maintained a strong, focused run on the downhill. I tripped once, and my muscles tightened, and for that second I feared the total body cramp that took me down to the dirt in last year’s race. But I remained upright and kept those nasty cramps at bay.
So fatigued that I was, I was still able to run the whole way down. I passed a few people for good that I had been going back and forth with – that is, they’d pass me, I’d pass them, and so on, and so forth. In all, over the last four miles, I passed twenty-one people. No one passed me. I attribute this to 1) defeating cramps – hooray!! 2) conserving energy – hiking instead, when running would have wiped me out, and 3) planks at home for a stronger core so that I could keep the column straight and strong on that long downhill.
I handed off some salt packages to a guy cramping on the way down. It’s a terrible, disappointing pain to get during a race. His calve muscles, tightened and twisted, were visible to the eye. I recognized it at first sight!
Those last few miles were solemn. Exhaustion was everywhere. That final little hill (that is relatively) that overlooks the boys’ detention center was brutal, and upon reaching the top, I ran down gleefully, because both times I’d ran this loop in the past, I cramped terribly coming in. Not today. : ) NOT TODAY.
Coming in for the final stretch (detention center in distance)
I finished this race smiling, my ultimate goal. And I finished this race “defined.” Who can define themselves in a word or even an event? I certainly can’t. After Saturday though, I have to say, I am “defined.” I CAN DO THIS. Who would have thought? I was just chatting with an OLD high school friend, and he said that he never thought that I was the “athletic type.”
Well, maybe I wasn’t and maybe I’m not. But I CAN do this. I can run a race up the Santa Monica Mountains and back, and love it all the while (thanks by the way to OCTR – I really would have never even thought about doing such a thing, much less thinking that I could accomplish it).
13.684 miles logged Saturday May 8
ps. Aunt Joann, I thought of you as I drove back 405 S through your city. If I had only your # or even a memory of how to get to your place, I would have stopped by. You are a special lady. Thinking of you & praying for you. Love, Lauren