Sunday, April 28, 2013

Leona Divide 50 miles

Yesterday I ran the Leona Divide 50 miler in 9:39.  What a fabulous race!  Beautiful runnable course with some gorgeous technical sections, nice views, well marked and stocked,  and friendly folks at the aid stations.
The boys clapping me in to finish

My race plan  targeted a 10 hour finish-  5 miles per hour, to be achieved by walking the steep hills and running the down, flats and moderate uphill grades.  This is what i've been averaging in the last month including water stops, walking steep hills in the sun etc.  So I beat my goal.  I ran completely flat splits which was cool, and today I feel very little soreness, none at all in the knees.  The run felt fast which is sort of amusing since 15-20 years ago I was running 50 milers in around 7 hours.  THAT was fast, but the challenge in racing the clock to beat 10 hours yesterday was satisfying nonetheless.  Probably felt fast since in the back half of the race I was passing lots of people who were walking, struggling with the heat;  I still was running and had spring in my step.  I placed 47/229;  within the age group 40-49 I placed 8th man out of 46.

The day broke warm at 6am and the guy at the pre-race briefing went over the race rules-  passing, leave-no -trace etc, and then: "Its gunna be M-F-ing hot folks!  Manage the heat" he warned, or "the heat will manage you".  His prediction was right, it was very hot and dry on the trail as the day advanced and the sun was like a solar furnace.  Accuweather gave the high at Lake Hughes as 92F; my better half who crewed me w/ the kids maintains it was hotter than that.  I stayed cool by wearing my light white dress shirt, a visor w/ bandana (my prosthetic hair to prevent scalp burn) and carrying one hand held bottle of ice water all day just to douse my head and shoulders.    I stayed cool and well hydrated the whole day and felt great.  The guys with IVs in their arms at the finish attested to the reality of the "...or the heat will manage you" part of what the starter official had said at the pre-race briefing.

The only issue I had was the balls of my feet got very tender as the day progressed.  The Merrill Trailgloves have a mesh upper which keeps the feet dry because its very breathable, but does allow trail grit in, and I wasn't wearing gaiters.  I hadn't had a problem with this in training but on the Leona Divide trail, which was often very sandy,  my shoes collected enough sand and grit that it became a problem-  I stopped three times to clean my feet, shake out the grit.  My better half and the kids met me at mile 42 where i was able to change my socks (ahhhh) and boy it was great to see them there.  Anyways it seems clear that I'll need gaiters or something a bit more grit proof for AC 100;  the feet were just awefully tender by the end of the day (no blisters though!).

First-born crewing me at Aid Station 9

On the other hand-  no knee pain;  no calf problems and I could go dancing today if I had the rhythm.

The absence of calf problems was a welcome relief.  I had a knot in the lateral soleous 1 week after my 29 miler on March 23, and had been trying to rehab it since.  I took a week off, walking only;  I finally "fixed" it with a foam roller and an 18 miler up Mt Wilson 2 weeks ago.  I'd walked 9 miles up Mt Wilson...walking instead of running since the calf was hurt...but it hurt walking, so I decided to screw it and run down (it hurts either way right?).  After a half mile or so  the knot literally popped, felt better,  and since then I've been  on the road to recovery.  Last weekend I ran 24 miles  in the Verdugos, calves were fine but I was running very gingerly on the uphills to prevent overtaxing them.  And yesterday-  no problems at all!

The "Shirt-Guy" at Leona Divide
I took a fair bit of hazing yesterday for my white dress shirt and the full length Columbia pants I wear.  These are the pants type with the zippered legs that remove to leave shorts.  But I started  keeping the legs on to keep my calves warm back in January, and have kept them on because they keep sun,  grit and poison oak off my legs.  By partly unzipping the legs there is  enough air flow to keep the legs cool.  Haven't folks seen what people wear at events like Badwater?

Anyways one young'un in the race that I passed yesterday  at about mile 5 cat-called "hey, you late for the office or what?"  Another older guy later on helpfully pointed out,  "Hey, you know you are wearing long pants?  Its hot out, you'd be cooler if you wore shorts!"  Really?    These  guys I guess are too new to the sport to recall that white dress shirts used to be common-  great sun protection, and the fact that they have collars and open up in the front is a feature I havent seen in any "official" sportswear.     Anyways, by the end of the day,  folks were calling me the "Shirt Guy" and a couple folks that I had passed in the back half of the race came up afterwords and offered that "I guess you know what you're doing.  But whats the deal with the PANTS?"

It was a great day to be out there with the family and the run just seemed to flow.  I especially enjoyed the stretch from mile 20 to the turnaround at mile 29 and back down to mile 42.  This stretch, on the PCT, largely paralleled the ridge line about 30-40 ft down from the top, on the north side so there was shade.  It was a running dream ...and I felt like I was flying;  I had it to myself and I was singing and just having a blast.  I am so grateful for this day!