Running the Manhattan Beach Sand Dune, or How To Feel Like You Might Barf in Two Minutes Flat

Imagine the most terrible, ruthless stairmaster workout. Now imagine doing it in piping hot sand that crumbles underneath your feet with every step, the California sun beating down on your back. Your muscles scream, but you will not let the heavyset 60-something-year-old man — with his sweat-soaked t-shirt and shorts (yes, this is one of those sweaty-butt-crack workouts. blech) — climb the dune more times than you. So you keep going, up and down, up and down, until it fees like your lungs might burst and your legs will fall off. This is what it’s like to climb the Manhattan Beach Sand Dune. As one woman running it next to me and my friend Tamara last Friday morning said, “It’s like we’re cookies baking on a cookie sheet and the sand is the flour.” So true, lady. So true. I felt my lard baking on the inside and out. This is one mother of a workout; it makes the stairs at Memorial Drive seem like a stroll through the park. A stroll with lemonade and ice cream.

The picture doesn’t do the dune justice. Extra-steep cliffs at the base and the top make for some challenging moments. We conquered the dune seven times. We would have stopped after six but that meant the man with the sweaty butt crack would have beaten us. (Sorry. I keep repeating that detail because the traumatizing image burned my retinas.) Although it was one of the most difficult workouts I’ve had in recent times, if I lived in Manhattan Beach, I would run the dune every week. I love a challenge, as does Tamara, who runs it whenever she’s in town.

To celebrate our dune-running accomplishments, we ate fajitas and fish tacos that night at Mucho Ultima, a buzzing Manhattan Beach spot. We drank margaritas, too.

Why bother working so hard to burn fat if you can’t have fun replacing it?

~Michelle

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