On Saturday morning, my brother and I toed the line for his first ever trail race at the Bulldog 25K held at the Malibu Creek State Park, in the Santa Monica Mountains. This race is reputed to be very hot due to the course's lack of shade, and the fact that it is held in August. I thought about signing up for the 50K, but opted instead for the much shorter and easier 25K. Several OCTR members were in attendance, some doing the 25K, while others like first-time ultra runner, Wendy did the more brutal option.
The course is basically a loop. 25K runners complete one loop, and the 50K runners complete two. The 50K runners started at 6:30am, while we mere mortals running the 25K had a more sleep-friendly start time of 7:30am.
The toughest part of this loop was the major climb to the scenic Santa Monica Backbone Trail. It's probably a couple of miles of a grind. After that we enjoyed the views afforded by running along the rolling hills on the ridge. To finish the loop, we dropped down, then went up through some switchbacks and down again towards the last mile.
I looked at this race as a training run—walking up the hills, jogging on the flats, and just coasting when going down. I planned on a longer run the following day so I didn't want to burn my legs out. I ran with Jon R. and my brother for the most part. On the last aid station, however, my brother was suffering from his chronic cramps and told me to just go ahead. I finished the race just behind Jon at about 3:04 while my brother was a little less than eight minutes behind.
We were fortunate on Saturday that the dreaded heat did not materialize. It was warm, but certainly nowhere close to the scorching temperatures in the past (90s to 100s). There was a cloud cover which did not make for a gorgeous ocean view, but protected the runners from an otherwise blazing sun.
After the race we headed down to PCH, had lunch at a little Malibu seafood market and cafe, and laid on the beach listening to the soothing sounds of the surf for a little bit of R-and-R.
Click here for more Bulldog photos.
The following day, I went out to El Moro Canyon and the adjacent Laguna Wilderness Coast Park for the second part of my back-to-back long runs. I'm doing this in preparation for my first 50-miler in October. I've never run back-to-backs before so I just took it easy. Because of my Saturday night out, I had a late start, about 10am, but fortunately, it was unusually cool. Out a few miles towards the ocean, sheets of rain were pouring while lightning strikes were giving a minor light show. An onshore breeze also kept me refreshed for the most part of the run.
I did a little exploration to the end of Boat Canyon Trail which the park claims to have the best coastline view. The panoramic scene did not disappoint, unfortunately I did not have my camera with me, but you believe me, don't you?
I finished the run after 18 miles, satisfied that my legs were surprisingly OK even after Bulldog and the previous night's x-training at the nightclub. Running more than 10 miles alone can be a drag though, let alone 18, especially when the trails are empty and no one to say hi to or talk to for about three-and-a-half hours. I will need to recruit someone to come along next time. Either that or remember to bring my iPod.
Total miles for the weekend: 15+18=33ish. Now, it's time to rest.
Google Earth Image borrowed from Bulldog Trail Runs.