Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Leona Divide Race Recap

Leona Divide 50 mile race report-

Where is Leona Divide 50miler?
It is located in Lake Hughes, CA. just about 30 or so minutes from Six Flags Magic Mountain.

The Course has about 34 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail and about 16mile of fire roads.

Wow! what a long day  The day started or should I say the early hours of the morning started at 2:15am. I live 2 blocks away from a popular Irish Pub called Silky Sullivan’s here in Fountain Valley. I was awaken by rowdy passers, as I starred at my digital alarm clock awaiting to go off, I was staring and counting down the minutes to 2:30am (my expected wake-up time). Having packed 3 days prior including my drop bags  I managed to brew coffee, prep my Miso soup, and some oatmeal. I was out the door by 3:00am, making good time, I had plenty of time to take many restroom breaks. I arrived at the race start by 5:00am 1 full hour prior to race start. I was thrilled to see many familiar faces upon check-in, they include Robert B, Rob S, Dmitri, Jill C, Charlie, and Kirk.

My main objectives for this day included:
1. Finish the race
2. Start out easy
3. Finish Strong
4. Nutrition (I have a bad habit of not eating)
5. Have Fun and meet new people along the way.

The race started promptly at 6:00am, the weather forecast called for a chilly 42-58 degrees, and winds in the 8-15mph. The winds served to be crucial factor in my efforts, before the start I opted to leave my gloves in my trunk (very bad move). As the race started up the first hill, I made a conscious decision to take it easy, my legs felt strong and well rested. I chatted for a while with Jill’s, friend Jennifer, she seemed pretty cool and knew that Jill will be waiting for her at the finish line after the race. About Jill, she is a amazing runner and Ironman athlete. I was privileged enough to meet her last year at my 2nd Ultra at Lake Hodges 50K. We both were part of Team Aquaphor, we exchanged contact info and since remained good e-pals. Jill provided some fantastic tips on eating on a long distance race. Prior to the race on my long training runs, I would always have major dips in energy levels between 18-20miles and 27-30miles. I always knew that it was because I did not eat and preferred liquids. Jill was gracious enough to share some wisdom that proved to be helpful in this long day. After chatting with Jennifer, I noticed that it was freaking cold. My left hand felt like a cold rock, I could NOT make fist, or bend my fingers. Normally I am a huge fan of running in the shade to remain cool and avoid the sun at all costs. But I was searching for patches of Sun just to stay warm. Please bare in mind this was just 8 miles into the race. I was thinking this is NOT good, I could NOT feel my finger tips. I was making a sarcastic remarks to a woman wearing a coat how HOT it was, we both chuckled because we both left our gloves in the car. Then like a Angel from the sky came Shannon Farar-Griefer, Shannon was the first woman that doubled badwater back in 2001, she also happens to be the person that created Moeben Sleeves. Shannon heard my whining and without thinking twice, she took the sleeves off her arms and told me to try her New Prototype Sleeve made from HEMP. I promised her that I would not smoke them . But promised to return them after the race, it was her only prototype. For the record she had several layers of clothing so she was not left cold.

We began a rather lengthy conversation and between Aid Station 2-3 we kept a great pace. Then at Aid Station #3 (Mile 20.3) became my pitfall…Aid Station #3 was the 1st of 3 drop bag locations. I had placed a 1.3liter of Pedialyte bottle in my drop bag, the challenge was to quickly empty the bottle into my hydration bladder. I failed miserably, I was trying to do 3 things at once. All three included drinking 1 bottle of ensure, refilling my 27oz bottle of water with Powder, and refill of my bladder. Shannon the veteran couldn’t wait (rightly so) pressed on, but I did have her on my sights to catch back up to her. But my hydration bladder started to leak, I felt this soggy drip run down my shorts. I knew this was not good. I started to rapidly drink the pedialyte instead of it going down my leg, I had the sensation that I just had a full meal, that was a good thing. I had no energy dips between Aid station #2-4 (Miles 13-24). I was really stoked at this point this meant I my nutrition plan was working (Major breakthrough) and I could feel my fingers.

When I arrived at Aid Station #5 (Mile 28), the fun began. This was the major climb I dreaded in my sleep. I knew it was coming but I just had to muscle thru it, it was brutal. I had to power walk this section, I did NOT have enough power in my legs to even attempt running. I simply strapped on my ipod shuffle and began the hike. I am not a huge music fan, I tend to listen to talk radio. For some reason I find it more stimulating and funny. I loaded my ishuffle with Howard Stern 100 best funny prank calls. OMG this was the some of the funniest stuff, I was in tears laughing the whole way up. I think I was having too much fun. (I will include a small of audio clip in the video below) Time became a major factor in terms of Cut off times. After arriving at Aid Station #7 (Mile 35), the volunteers told me I was flirting with cut-off times. The adrenaline started to kick in and I was determined to finish the 50 mile run. My goal was to bolt down the hill taking many risky moves, and to hit Aid Station #9 Mile 42 before 5pm, I made it by 4:50pm. I gathered myself to climb yet another hill (800 foot climb), this was pure torture at this point. I knew there were some down hill sections coming and I had plenty of time completing 8 miles before the 13hr cut-off. After the last Aid Station #10, the gracious volunteers told me there was only 4 miles left, 1.5 miles uphill climb then a 2.5 mile downhill finish. This last uphill was torture, to the right I could see the main hwy so I knew I was getting closer, once I reached the peak it was all down hill, I had a moment of clarity and coasted down to the finish.

Overall this was a great learning experience of testing what is inside when things are tough and building yourself back-up. I am very pleased to have finished and I would do this course again without a doubt. Also, I am energized to have completed all 5 of my main objectives. Getting to this point would not have been possible without some very important relationships. Having reliable consistent running partners was very crucial to my training program; with this individuals this would have a big flop. These running Angels, include: Lisa K, KK, Lisa N, Sid, Cyrus, Natasha, Julie V., if it was 1 loop or 3 loops of El Moro at 5:01am they all pitched in with pacing support. As I wind down and look forward to returning to the Sport of Triathlon, trail running will remain a constant part of my training. I am looking forward to other running adventures that include local or abroad, and will welcome any of your ideas.


jeff said...

great recap, pete! smsmh and i are cracking up at the video.


Anonymous said...

Pete, Awesome. Very happy for you! No real reason to ever run again maybe. Great job. Mikek.

Jessica Deline said...

that's pretty awesome. good job!

Dmitri said...

Great recap, Pete! And the video is pretty funny too!

Pete Vara said...

Thanks guys for the kudos- I look forward to future runs with you.

Dr. Marc and Tanya said...

Yes, most of the snow is at the top of Baldy; but, it is melting fast. Have a great time up there. We are heading to the Grand Canyon this weekend.