There were 25 DNF’s at this years Leona Divide 50M. I was not one of them. That is to say, I finished, but it could have been in a more glorious fashion! And now for a brief account of the day and some pictures.
The alarm woke me up a little before 3am Saturday morning and thirty minutes later I was on the road. Just after 4am I met up with Stitch in a random parking lot that he found on Google maps as a location to ditch a vehicle and carpool the rest of the way. Once we got to the Lake Hughes Community Center I could not keep count of how many friends were out there running and supporting runners.
The first several miles is mostly climbing up the Leona truck trail to the Pacific Crest Trail. Gareth was on hand to photograph all through the day including a ton of shots at the finish line. Check out his work here.
The plan was to take it easy the first 35 or so (to have something left for the last 15) and test out some new nutrition that I might use for AC in July. I had a great time chatting and joking around with Stitch for 30 miles or so.
After that (in hindsight) I started to get low on electrolytes and did nothing to remedy it. Big mistake. I did have the pleasure of going through the Coyote 80′s aerobics themed station twice (out and back course) which temporarily helped out. Especially the high fives and ice water dumped on my head. No, seriously, it was amazing!
After 42 miles with Stitch we parted ways. He was feeling good and able to power up a climb where I was crippled to a crawl. Because of the electrolyte error, fluid sloshed around in my stomach and was not absorbing. A few on the go stomach emptying sessions (puke sessions) helped clear that up and I was able to go at a decent pace again. Unfortunately I was unable to consume calories or fluid after that so it was a little rough.
At the last aid station I downed a whopping 30-40 calories in the form of a third of a gel and a swig of water with a crushed saltstick capsule. That was enough to get up the last hill and amble down to the end. Near the finish, there was tons of cheering and a Coyote tunnel of love to greet me. Somehow I squeaked out a 50M PR as well.
All in all, it was a great day. Amazing trails courtesy of a whole lot of PCT, fantastic volunteers, and a very well organized race. My biggest regret was missing out on ADZPCTKO (Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off) as it took place the same weekend. Huge props to Stitch for finishing his first 50M on virtually no training and in his killer homemade Luna sandals.
Take home points:
-keep up on electrolytes fool! I ended up losing 11 pounds due to the stomach emptying and being unable to replenish.
-the nutrition fueling plan is looking pretty good
-gear (shoes, socks, shorts, jersey, etc.) was solid
-running an ultra on 3 hours of sleep is hard, but stopping to throw up on the side of the road on the way home is way tougher
So that’s that. I’ve been sort of looking forward to getting Leona behind me on the schedule. It completes my roller coaster of three 50 milers in three months, but more importantly I have a solid base and can now focus on the 10 weeks ahead which lead into AC. I’m very excited to get back to Wrightwood this year, and to cross the finish in Loma Alta Park.