My First Ultra: The Bulldog 50K
by Linda Hernandez
As written to her family...
I want to thank you so much for your thoughts and support. I finished the run in 7:19:55. We started at 6:00 a.m. It was refreshingly cool at the beginning. I went out very conservatively, knowing I needed to keep going for 32 miles. I felt really great. There is this incredible adrenaline energy that occurs during the tapering period.
The first climb was Bulldog; 4 miles up. In Ultras you walk the hills, run the downs and jog the flats to conserve energy. At the top of Bulldog we turned right onto a trail that led to Solstice Canyon. I love this part of the run. It is a single-track, shady trail with gentle ups and downs. We come out at Corral Canyon, our second aid station. It was energizing to see so many of my running friends from The New Basin Blues, manning the station. I grabbed an orange slice and topped off my water bottle. We were at 12 miles and I felt great.
The run continues on across the crest of the mountain for about 5 more miles. There is one area that is particularly challenging. The trail washed away during the year of El Nino and we virtually had to go down a steep and narrow slide area to rejoin the trail. We drop down into Tapia Park relatively quickly following switchbacks to the bottom, and then we go under the bridge and across the stream to the bottom of Stunt Trail. This is mile 17. I had trained on these trails so was psychologically prepared for the next segment, truly the most difficult.
We had a 5½-mile climb up to Stunt Road. Boy, was I happy to see the aid station. I had some coke, refilled my bottle and had an orange slice. I carried peanut butter pretzels with me and ate about three every hour. I felt energized for the run down Stunt. It took me 1½ hours to climb to the top and I hoped to make it down in an hour. This is a technically difficult part of the trail. It is narrow, there are drop-offs, rocks, and it is quite steep. I managed to get down in a little more than an hour. The aid station and moral support at the bottom of Stunt would take me to the finish in about 30 more minutes.
One more difficult, but relatively short climb up Spur Trail from Tapia to Malibu Creek Park. I was so ready to finish. The finish is a very unglamorous run across a field. I was so ready to stop running, but there was no way I was going to come across looking anything but strong. There were tears of joy and relief as I crossed the finish line with my running friends there to congratulate me along with Saul, Angela, Valerie, Alishia and Gabe.
Alishia ran the last few yards with me. Some friends had brought a case of Corona and Saul brought chips and salsa. I enjoyed an ice-cold Corona and waited for the rest of the UltraLadies to finish. We celebrated with Margaritas and Mexican food at La Paz. It was hot at the end, but not as hot as it had been during most of our training runs, so I was grateful. 130 started the 50K and 118 finished. 100 out of 101 completed the 30K. I am so grateful to Nancy Shura, Pauline Freeland, and the UltraLadies and UltraMen for the great training and camaraderie. The experience of training with such a great group of people motivated me to continue. I now have three Ultras under my belt, Bulldog and Ridgecrest 50 Ks and Avalon 50-Mile. I never would have believed it. From the beginning, I kept saying "if I do the training and don't get sick, I'll do Avalon." It is an incredible feeling to know you can go that far on your own two feet. I have now learned to never say never!Back to story index page