Just got back from the Malibu Creek 14-mile Trail Race this morning and boy, lemme tell ya - MUCH better this time around.
For those of you not in the know, last year I ran a very pedestrian 2:48. This was primarily due to severe cramping in both hamstrings and calves that hit me at various points throughout the race. I was ill-prepared, the sun came out midway through the race...it was just bad.
This time around, I made sure I went prepared. In my water belt, I was armed with a 22-ounce bottle of Accelerade, 3 salt tabs, a Hammer Gel, and a bag of Shot Bloks. If I suffered out there, at least I would not be able to point the finger at my lack of preparation.
I left my place around 6am this morning and took the long drive up PCH, and then the winding canyons that would lead me to the park. I immediately ran into two running buddies, David (a personal trainer from my gym) and Price (runs intervals with me @ the track). After taking a quick jaunt to find a pee area, we went over to the starting area to position ourselves in the middle of the pack.
While scanning the crowd for familiar faces (and some eye candy), who do I spot but the queen of the trails herself, Jessica.
After a quick hello and photo op, we were off to the races!
I started the race fairly conservatively bracing myself for the long climb up the infamous Bulldog Road. The wide fire road quickly turned into a single track and for the next couple of miles, my world consisted of focusing on the 5-feet of road directly in front of me.
Bulldog Rd came upon us right around mile 3. There was a strategically placed aid station right at the start of the ascent which many of us were grateful for, I being one of them. I downed two cups of Gatorade and a Vanilla Bean Gu and started the death march up. Since I did this climb a couple of times now, I knew it would be futile for most people to try running the approximately 3-mile climb to almost 2,500 ft. I wanted to yell this out to the overzealous bunch passing me up, but didn't want to be presumptuous and assume they were as out of shape as me. Those 3 or so miles were long and arduous but hiking up most of it and making small talk with fellow racers suffering around me helped take my mind off of it a bit. Sure enough, once it finally plateaued I started passing some more folks who started out hard.
The weather by the way, was perfect. Overcast, in the 60's...perfect. And it would hold up for the rest of the race, which helps an overheater like myself.
There would be a few more hills along the way so once the series of downhill descents started, I began making up for lost time by charging down at breakneck speeds. I'm sure some of the folks I passed on the way down thought I was a bit nuts. But I made sure I ran with my elbows up and out to keep me balanced and thankfully, did not tumble at any point.
After one last brutal hill from miles 12 through about 13, it was all downhill and then flat to the finish line. It was at this point I knew I ran the race conservatively because I had a lot left in the tank and passed some more folks along the way to the finish. Clock time finish read 2:32 + change.
Post-race @ this event is great because there aren't too many runners and so you don't have to feel like you have to rush to get refreshments. I helped myself to two servings of freshly scrambled eggs and Krispy Kreme donuts while rubbing elbows with fellow runners. This is when I finally met with up the very lovely Jennifer and her husband who ran a very impressive race based on his time (in the 2:10's).
All in all, a great day for a race. Bring on Palos Verdes!