Sunday, April 20, 2008

Leona Divide Race Report

After the exciting weekend at Old Goats, I was all revved up for Leona Divide 50. I thought I had recovered sufficiently, but my mental toughness was to be tested. We got up super early, as usual, and drove out to Lake Hughes. I had a friend accompany me this time so I didn't have to drive home with my after-race stiff and sore legs. I had no idea what time I would do for the race, as I've never done this course. And since there is such a difference from course to course and from year to year; I had no idea what to expect. I just wanted to keep a comfortable pace and hold on for as long as I can. However, back in the corner of my mind, I was hoping to place again. Hey, call me an elitist or a dreamer if you want, but I'm only human to hope for that. I knew it would be very unlikely given the racing talent that shows up at this race year after year. For a moment there, I gave in to my desire for recognition. Honestly, I wouldn't say it would never happen again; but, suffice to say, recognition is not why I race.

Leona Divide was a much bigger race than Old Goats. There was only the 50 miler; and the field of 160+ was five or more times that of Old Goats 50 and there were runners attending this race from as far as Maine. Leona is also more mature and established, given time I think Old Goats will establish its own heritage, character, and following. The elevation of the looped course was 9,000 feet compared with 12,500 feet for Old Goats. Again, I had not pre-ran the course and was going in blind. But, I did study the map this time. The weather was cool - what a difference a week makes. There was a very chilly wind and I wore arm warmers and gloves the whole time. The course was very runnable and well groomed (non-technical); I can see why this race is so popular.

This was the third race of my triple header; however, from how excited and nervous I was at the start, you would think I'm doing this one race all year! I lined up near the front as I have been doing this season and took off with the front quarter of the field. Right away, my legs felt good, just like last week. I was happy and having a good time. I thought I was going to have another fun race.

I kept going at my pace and didn't really push very hard. Last week, at Old Goats, I thought that I didn't go hard enough, so this week I was pushing a little bit more; but not that hard. I was able to talk comfortably while I was running. I trudged up the hill and started reeling in people; I caught up to Keira, last week's second place finisher, and chatted with her until the top of the first climb. I wanted to make up a little time on the downhill, for I knew I would give it up on the next climb. So, I push up my speed a little bit down the descent. Soon, I caught up with Rob and iMichelle. I started chatting with Michelle and ran with her for the next several miles, including the second climb.

I thought that it was kinda strange that I was able to run with Michelle, because she is a speed demon. The thought did cross my mind that I was going out too fast; but I truly felt comfortable and was able to talk and chat with Michelle for the whole time. My legs felt good and I wasn't out of breath. I didn't think too much about it, I thought may be I was having another good day.

Shortly after Aid Station number 2, at about 15 miles into the race, I felt fatigue setting in. Perhaps Old Goats and a hard training week were taking their toll, or I went out too fast. So, I slowed down my pace and let Michelle go; and she quickly disappeared out of sight. As I slowed, a whole line of people passed me by. The competition at this race was at a higher level; as there isn't that much of a gap between people in the front pack.

As the line of people passed me and got further and further away from me, I got discouraged; and mentally I was having a let-down. The excitement from the start of the race had turned into disappointment and misery. Emotions can swing quickly in a race. In my mental let-down, I was giving up; and I did think about DNF at one time.

However, physically, I was still able to do the race just fine provided I kept a slower pace. After the faster people passed me, I kept going for a few more miles and there wasn't anybody passing me anymore; I felt a little better. I started running/walking up the hardest climb on the course to conserve energy. This was also the out-and-back section with a turn-around. I counted the runners coming back, I was in about 50th position.

When I got to the turn-around (35.5 miles), I knew I would make it. It was all downhill from there, save for one last climb. I ran the whole way down and ran up most of the climb. Finishing strong, I was able to catch about 7 or 8 people on the final climb.

Lessons learned: I need to nail down my 50 miler pace. I was eating too much early on and had to go to the restroom.

Until the next adventure, happy trails!


Anonymous said...

You are a TRUE Mountain RUNNING Rockstar!!
It was a blast sharing the trail and conversation with you early on at Leona Divide.
There were so many incredible views of the mountains peaking through the dense fog in the early morning hours. Keep Blasting Ted!

Rock the trails, Michelle B.

Ted said...

Yeah, those fog looked like a white sea covering the mountains. Incredible! Good luck on your Grand Slam this year! I know you will rock them all. :)

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