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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Coastal Trail Runs – Malibu Creek 25k

Though I went to bed early, I got little sleep.  It seems I woke every two hours and dreamt all night that I was running, racing actually a double loop that went through houses and backyards.  I finally woke at 5 AM for good and hit the road for Malibu Creek State Park at 5:30.

I felt excited to run the same loop I’ve done on 4 other occasions, but this time in the opposite direction (clockwise).  I thought clockwise had to be easier than counter-clockwise.  After all, I wouldn’t have to climb Bulldog Road (which stresses me out immensely – which should make me ponder why do I do it???)

Anyway, this was a low key race, actually three races, a 10k, 25k, 50k all starting at once.  I believe the race director said there were 92 runners.  About 30 ran my race.   I recognized one woman from the Marine Hard Corps Marathon this year.  That brave soul was going to conquer the 50k.

My strategy:  take it slow.  (Borrowing someone else’s words: start off slow and end slow).  And so I did.  I started at the back of the pack, pain stabbing my right glute.  But as I ran up Backbone Trail (it’s usually the last hill in the race, a torturous devil of a little hill, what a joy to get it over first), I felt happy, to be running this loop once again.  My main goal was to finish – that’s all.  Finish.

Running down the other side of Backbone (which is usually hell coming up at the end of the race) I got a little surprise.  Something fast-flying flew beneath my sleeve and stung my right shoulder!  I screamed, or yelled, I think it was a scream actually, and brushed the thing out of my sleeve.  Then it swiftly flew down and stung my ring finger, the one with my wedding band.  My finger immediately swelled up and I ran in pain, astonished, wondering what the heck stung me.  I couldn’t imagine; all I knew was that bees lose their stingers when they sting.  So, it couldn’t have been a bee. 

At Aid station number one, we looked through the first aid kit for an antihistamine.  Coming up empty handed, I popped some ibuprofen, which did nothing for the sting pain , but took care of the glute problem.  The aid worker said that a hornet probably got me – they don’t lose their stingers when they use them. 

Yikes.  My first wasp sting.  Rather, stings.

So, I had to work on my attitude a bit as I continued running.  I can’t run a loop like this with a bad attitude.  Relaxing my body and my mind, I prayed some (Dear Lord, give me fortitude), repeated mantra’s like loosen-up, loosen-up and found in no time that negative attitude gone.  And I kept on Truckin’ . . . 

Running up to the ridge was not easy, in fact it was very difficult.  I hiked some of it.  But it was by NO MEANS as difficult as climbing Bulldog.

I caught a cool breeze running the ridge line.  There were some up hills and down hills.  I could take them all, having not been destroyed by Bulldog.  I tripped once, pretty hard on the ridge.  I barely lost a step.

Heading up the Mountain

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Beauty on the Trail


Onward to Bulldog Road (& second aid station)


Running down Bulldog was an eye-opener.  I fought hard to keep a constant pace, finding it difficult not to “fly” down that road.  I admit as I ran down Bulldog I thought to myself, I’m NEVER climbing this thing again – it’s strange looking at Bulldog Road from another direction.  I finally realized why it’s such a difficult climb.  There is absolutely no relief from the climb and very little shade.  And it’s a long trail, more than three miles. 

With my brain empty I concentrated on the road, slipping once (fortunately I caught myself).  Then, this is how emotional running is for me, my dog Daisy popped into my mind about half way down the mountain.  I sobbed out loud in mourning.  Though I found it difficult to breathe while crying and running, I didn’t stop myself until I was done.  Sobbing that is, not running. 

After Bulldog, I ran past the M.A.S.H. movie set where picnickers set themselves up alongside a rusted jeep.  And then I made my way onto the single track, not stopping once.  I did trip once here though, but again kept on my feet (strength training!). 

By mile 13, I had grown so dang tired, that the old Lauren (before trail running) would have laid down in the shade for a nap.  But I kept on running, so eager to make the finish line.  I knew my time was going to be my slowest ever for this loop (more than 4 hours).  Like I cared!  I barely had any business running this race.

When I finally crossed over the creek again, I felt a huge sense of relief – homeward bound relief.  I could roll myself to the finish line if I had to at that point.  But I didn’t need to.  The crowds of people dressed in their church clothes mingling about the creek brought such a smile to my face and heart, that I ran it on in, slowly yes, but extremely thrilled that one of the 50k runners didn’t lap me.  I really didn’t want to get lapped.  (I expected that the closer and closer I got to the finish).  I didn’t even get the honored DFL.

Remnants of M.A.S.H. television props


Along the Final Stretch (well, not exactly the FINAL stretch, but almost there)


At Finish Line (not looking too pretty, but oh so happy to finish!)

video finish

Overall, I had a great time.  Now I truly know the meaning of “Quad Killer.”  I’ve heard runners say this or that hill is a “Quad Killer,” but I’ve never had any bad effects from any of these downhills.  RUNNING DOWN BULLDOG WAS A QUAD KILLER.  I can barely move around tonight, my quads are so stiff and sore.

Oh, there’s more : )  Elevation profile below and the movie (I can’t resist) beneath that.

Miles logged today:  15.55

Clockwise loop 10-24-2010, Elevation - Distance


  1. Wow, I can't believe you got stung on your run!

    Congratulations on finishing an extremely challenging race.

    And a very big congratulations on your ability to conquer that Bulldog in the opposite direction all this time!

  2. Nice! I can't believe there are still splotches of green.

  3. I am dead serious when I say this but 2 weeks ago I was stung on my ring finger at the same spot you were. Something landed on my hair and I reached up to swipe it out and was stung. I forgot to take off my wedding ring and my whole finger swelled up huge. I spent the next 2 days in pain because the ring was cutting off the circulation from the swelling.

    Also good job out there. I honestly think that way is harder and slower than the bulldog race. I think you were just having a bad day at the race in August. Everyone has them.

  4. Nice job!

    Personally I think the counter clockwise is worse, at least the downhills don't trash your quads...but it's a grand day out either way!

  5. Thanks Green Girl! With not so much training, I'm so glad to have finished. I had a great time!

  6. Thanks Glen! Lots and lots of splotches of green out there. And the creek at the bottom was full where it was empty in August. A Beaut!

  7. Thanks Evan! My finger sweld up pretty good too. But my shoulder got the worst of it. Now I know one thing, I'm not allergic to wasps stings. But I have added antihistimes to my things to pack : )

  8. Thanks Stuart! I definately think Counter-clockwise is more brutal. But the downhill going clockwise killed my quads, which has never happened before. Plus, I way, way, way like getting Backbone out of the way in the beginning. I just can't take it at the end.