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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After meeting some friends to ride the tethered orange hot air balloon at the future Orange County Great Park, we made our way north and arrived in Calabasas around 2:45. As we made our way into the Malibu State Creek Park I looked around at the view. Off into the near distance, cutting the sky in half, was Bulldog Peak. It was a lot more imposing than I had envisioned and I had my first “What am I thinking?!?” thought and considered turning around to head back home. I almost always have that same thought run through my head before any big race, but I’ve never once listened.<br><br>
After getting registered at the campsite, we got to work on setting things up. Around 4:30 I made dinner preparations. Cooking soothes me…cooking outside over a charcoal campfire really sooths me apparently. After dinner we went for a short walk around the campsite and I looked out for fellow Bulldog entrants…all the while eyeing Bulldog Peak off to the horizon. It just…loomed. After a good gorging on s’mores I took a shower and then got everything out and ready for the morning. As I got my stuff together I ran through my usual dialogue: Trust in your training…you know what you are made of…you can do anything you set your mind to…one foot in front of the other…live the moment…you are strong…you are tough. I envisioned me holding back at the beginning and getting familiar with the terrain, drinking water, sucking down a gel every ½ hour, taking a salt tablet every hour, and driving it home. I envisioned the roots, the rocks, the intricacies of the trail. I envisioned the promised view of the ocean at the peak of Bulldog. I envisioned a relaxed upper body on the ascents and the descents. I envisioned the layer of dirt I’d gleefully wash off at the finish line. I envisioned myself a self-contained vessel of calm and confidence.<br><br>
At 9:30 we got settled in and went to bed. Livi settled into her sleeping bag with such delight, “We’re going to sleep outside!” and in minutes she was asleep. The neighboring campers sounded far from their bedtime and could hear laughter, the clinking of wine glasses, the hiss of propane lanterns, the flush of toilets, shoes on gravel…and I laid awake even after the noises died down and it was quiet. I fell asleep somewhere around midnight and at 2:30 got woken up by a rather loud and inconsiderate group of…what’s that? That’s not English. It’s not Spanish. It’s not Chinese. The goddamn French! The campsite right next to ours had looked abandoned all day: Towels and bathing suits draped over the picnic tables to dry in the sun, eight identical blue tents assembled and zipped up, a hibachi with a red dome. I had eyeballed that group of tents since we got to the campgrounds and wondered where the inhabitants had gone. Well wherever they had gone, they were back now.<br><br>
Finally at 3:30 I had had enough. With a slight rush of adrenaline I unzipped the tent, stormed over to the bulk of the noise and said, “People are trying to sleep. Now shut the **** up!” Now, normally I would not use such vulgar language towards strangers, but it was 3:30 and I had to be up in 2 hours. Whether or not they understood my request, they finally settled into their tents and went to sleep. I fell back to sleep and woke up to the alarm on my watch at 5:45. I got dressed, brushed my teeth, washed my face, gathered my necessary gear, and put on my still bedraggled yet dependable trail shoes and headed off to the race start, which was just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from the campsite. I got my bib and goody bag, which I walked back to the campsite (a 3-minute walk) and dropped off, and then back.<br><br>
The 50k folks had already taken off (their start was at 6:30) and at 7 the 25k folks assembled nearer and nearer to the start. It’s always fun to size up the runners, and predict who is there to win, and who is there to just finish. Lots of people geared up head to toe in nothing but the best and newest, and some people bring the bare minimum with them. There were plenty of shirtless guys, and one woman wearing a tiny pair of running shorts and a bikini top. Yes, a bikini top. Not a minimalist sports bra, a bikini top. A halter bikini top: tied at the neck, two small triangles covering her boobs, and a hook in the back. I hoped that she had put on plenty of sunscreen. I noted who brought handhelds, who had fuel belts, who had hydration packs, and who had none of the above.<br><br>
At 7:25 the race MC called everyone to the start and said, “At 7:30 I’m going to countdown from 10 and then say ‘Go!’” which I thought was a charming announcement. And at 7:30 she counted down from 10 and said “Go!” and we were off. I brought one handheld with a sizable pocket that held a snack baggie of Bloks, 3 gels, and 4 salt tablets. Two years ago the temperature at the finish was 107 and though it didn’t look like it would even hit 90, I reminded myself to take a tablet every hour. The first 200 yards of the race were on asphalt and then we made our way onto the trail. I hung in the back and soon enough the faster runners took off and were out of sight. I said “Good morning” to anyone who passed me, and anyone who I happened to pass. After a mile I settled into a nice comfortable place and took in the smells, the sights, the flora, and the intricacies of the trail.<br><br>
Around mile 2 we passed by 2 rusty vehicles (one jeep and one truck) that were memorabilia from the days when M.A.S.H. was filmed on this very location. Eventually the trail became a single track and I dealt with a traffic jam. I started to chat up the guy in front of me and when the trail opened up we introduced ourselves. He was there with 3 other friends and when I told them that it was my first Bulldog, and my first trail race, they decided to keep me company and lead me on. This was different. In road races you keep your space your own, and there is no opportunity to socialize. At some point we hit a bunch of switchbacks and stopped running. It would be 4 miles before I would get to run. We went up and up and up and up. I hit the first aid station and marveled at the food: Hot Tamales, Red Vines, orange sections (yum!), pretzels, Ritz crackers, and the usual water and Gatorade. We took what we needed and headed up and up and up. I recalled that line “I went to a boxing math last night and a hockey game broke out” and relayed this thought to my companions saying as a follow up, “I went on a hike and a race btoke out”. At some point I wondered if I was holding these guys back and mentioned this. One of the guys said, “Are you kidding? We’re all trying to keep up with YOU!” I don’t know if he was serious, or if he was just flattering me, but we were definitely power hiking our way up. We’d run on the flats and descents (which were few and very fat between), and then power hike the ascents. One of the guys, Mark, looked at his Garmin and said, We should be hitting the next aid station soon and at exactly mile 7 we did. I couldn’t believe we were halfway through! At this point the lead 50k guy came bouldering past us. What we had just essentially hiked up he was running at a very impressive clip! Unlike road racers, this guy had very muscular legs. Not beefy, just very strong and built for the hills.<br><br>
A few miles after the second aid station I came upon a woman and we chatted. She was going at a bit slower pace, and the guys who I had been running with took off. I held back with Michelle for a bit and then, not wanting to seem rude, but not happy to slow down, bid her adieu. I welcomed the quiet and alone time and settled in now that the main ascent was behind me. There was a lot of up and down here and I took advantage of the downs and let my legs just go. And then the main descent started and I barreled down, keeping my upper body relaxed yet strong, leaning slightly forward, and ran. I passed by a guy who was standing alongside a mountain bike and he announced that there was just 4 miles to go. That didn’t seem right. Just 4 miles left? As I didn’t have my Garmin on me (just my watch) I calculated the time in my head and it was was correct I might hit my goal time of 3:18! This propelled me even faster and I started to run up the ascents, too. I came up on the only water crossing and, while 2 other racers carefully walked their way along exposed rocks, I went right through the water and came out up the bank on the other side. I hit the last aid station and quickly threw back a cup of Gatorade and a few orange slices. One of the volunteers said that we had just 2.5 miles to go and that there was one last big climb left.<br><br>
To my amazement I passed by the bikini girl who was walking. I hit the climb and it’s steepness slowed me down to a hike. And then we went down again, and I took off. I figured by that point I had 1.5 miles left and I opened up. A couple I had chatted with early on in the race came up behind me and I realized that it was the two of them that I had passed on the water crossing. The husband said, “When she sees another woman running, she has to run. She’s like a mouse to cocaine.” We agreed to take each other in and we three, figuring that we had a mile left, decided to open it up. And we did. We passed through a parking lot and hit asphalt. To my right was the campsite I had lived in the night before. Not much further now. We hit our last little climb and the wife took off like a mouse heading to cocaine. I couldn’t keep up with her and told her husband that I’d be fine and to to get her.  At the top of the hill I turned right and followed the cones and just as I turned I saw the finish and my family. What reserves I had in my legs I used to bring in my kick and looked at the finish clock and realized that though I had missed my goal time of 3:18, I was going to finish in under 3:30. I crossed the finish line at 3:29:04.<br><br>
Tore off the lower portion of my bib, got my medal (YAY ME!!!) and after greeting my husband and Livi congratulated the husband-wife team who ran me in at the end. As we were standing around, me eating watermelon, Livi munching on Red Vines that I had stolen for her, the guys I had started out with came up to me and congratulated me. The one guy, Mark, introduced himself to my husband, shook his hand and said, “That’s one tough woman you’ve got there.” I asked them what their time was and they said “3:25”. I was just 4 minutes behind them! I drank some water, said “Congratulations!” to some other runners I had met along the way, and then heard what I had hoped I would be around to hear, “Here comes the lead 50k woman runner, Michelle Barton.”<br><br>
My husband announced that he wanted to get going so I washed up ( I was filthy!) and grabbed a cold bottle of water and we were on the road. No time to eat the lunch that they were going to serve the 25k runners. As we pulled out of the parking lot and faced Bulldog I pointed to the highest peak and said, “You see that right there? Those boulders stretching up to the sky? That highest point? I was up there just over an hour ago.”<br><br>
And I’ll be up there a year from now. Maybe I’ll even do the 50k.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
And there are so many other thoughts, musings and details I would have loved to include. If you want to know more, or have any questions, next time you are in SoCal, buy me a beer and I'll run amock. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile">
 

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What a great race report! And what a great race! I'm so glad you enjoyed it, and you clearly kicked Bulldog's ass.<br><br>
I hope to offer you that beer one of these days...
 

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Good for you!<br><br>
(but tell us the truth: <i>you</i> were the bikini woman!)<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/razz.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Razz">
 

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Blasting right through the stream-crossing while others tip-toe on the rocks = Awesome!<br><br>
Congrats on a super trail debut.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/biggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy">
 

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Great race and report hahaoya! I know it doesn't make any sense but I got a little misty eyed reading this. I can sense the great amount of joy and pride you felt/feel for such an awesome accomplishment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I apologize for the typos and inconsistencies. Too lazy to make the necessary edits. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/wink.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">
 

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Great job, and what an excellent report to read!<br><br>
I enjoyed how much fun you seemed to have <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile"> Despite the rude campers keeping you awake.
 

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Yeah, hahaoya! What a great RR. Your report made me realize I can't wait to trail run again. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile">
 

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Wow! Amazing! Your report made <i>me</i> want to run that race, and I am not <i>nearly</i> where you are with my running. I'm glad you enjoyed it and had such a good time, especially for your very first trail run!
 

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Congratulations! You are the ruff-tuff trail grrl! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/biggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy"> Great job and excellent report. You are amazing.
 

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That was awesome!!<br><br>
This race report has everything, boobs, dirt and tamales!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Not sure if this will work:<br><br><a href="http://orderpicture.com/shop_addtocart.php3?event_cat=&client=byr_7608681798&event=BULLDOG_2007&image=000174.jpg&password=" target="_blank">http://orderpicture.com/shop_addtoca....jpg&password=</a>
 

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CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/razz.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Razz">
 
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