Leona Divide 2010. A new course and a new RD. Keira from the Trailheadz accepted the position of RD last year. So this years run, while it kept the flavor of the original LD50, she added miles of the PCT.
Keeping in what is becoming a tradition of our Leona start...or rather missing the start...we headed out about 4 minutes behind the last runner. But, if given the choice of being 4 min. late or missing a chance at the bathrooms...well...go figure!
It was an absolutely beautiful morning to run! Clear and cool. Rick and I slowly made our way up the first hill. Catching and passing the first runner after about a mile. About 3 or 4 miles later we saw the a small cluster or Trailheadz-Beiyi, Doug (Doug's daughter Michelle broke the women's course record!) andYen.
All things considered, we were doing pretty well. We both felt pretty good and the miles started falling away. The aid stations were awesome, the workers were helpful and the tables well stocked. I tried not to graze too much, my stomach was still a bit raw from the day before...don't know why, but it was. Took two pepto bismols before the start and they helped. So I stayed away from solid foods untl it settled. Gels and Heed were enough until lunch time.
The mile 23 aid station, the "70's Station" was run by what looked to be college age runners. All very young and fit, and dressed in 70's clothing. Just before we arrived we caught up with veteran runner Fred who was looking strong. He was a good sport and took a picture with the AS volunteers.
The next 4 miles, while on beautiful singletrack, were tough!!! I struggled thru this and wondered when it was going to end!!! We started seeing runners coming back thru this section, the front runners, this encouraged us because we hoped this meant we were close to the turnaround. I heard Rick ask a few how much farther until the Aid station and the answers were always "at least 3 miles"...The trail seemed fairly flat, rolly mostly. Why was it so hard? I could hardly keep up a run for more than a few minutes without feeling drained. I pushed the fluids and gels, thinking i must be getting low on fuel, but it didn't help much. Finally we break out of the tree covered singletrack and on to open fireroad. Crew directed us to keep right, and it was still 2.5 miles. But it wall all DOWNHILL!! Allright!!!! I felt the wings open up and flew the first mile or so. It was a fairly steep grade, so after a mile I slowed it down to keep the knees and quads in shape, and also because I knew we'd be hiking up this grade in a few minutes. We saw many familiar faces at the turnaround, Corrinne who was battling a strained hamstring was just behind us looking so determined! Beiyi and Sue were not too far behind her.
Climbing back up the fireroad was slow and hot. I took it a little too easy and let people pass me. This is where Fred found what he was looking for and passed us. We would never see him again until the finish line! I was dreading that 4 mile section of the PCT. After reaching the top of the fireroad and starting on to singletrack, I noticed it seemed all downhill...we kept going, all downhill...no wonder I felt so crappy, it was all uphill the first time thru and we were trying to run the whole thing! Well, the second time thru was fun and fast. Shady soft brown dirt with a mild downhill. We flew, trying to make up lost time. We get back to the 70's station happy and refreshed. This marks the 35.5 mile point. We are at 8.5 hours. 15 miles left. We decide to shoot for under 12 hours and head out.
While our legs are feeling pretty good, Ricks stomach has other plans for us. He is sensitive to sunscreen and he thinks a bit of it entered his water bottle at the last aid station. He battled nausea for the last 15 miles. We would trade off leading. I would march on and try to keep the pace while he took needed breaks. The day was warming up and that wasn't helping him either. After the 42 mile aidstation was the last hill. It was a doozie too, no shade and over 4 miles of climb. We passed more people, and a few passed us. Alot of "walking dead" on this stretch. We discussed strategy here, should we just take our time and finish, or set a goal? Rick wanted to finish better than last year, which was 12:39 i believe. So we leave the comfort of the last aid station and begin the final miles. I keep a close eye on my garmin and our pace. We are running 13 min miles...downhill...it's going to be close...we reach another hill, more walking...21 min miles. finally I recognize the homestretch. I look behind me to see how Rick is holding up. He's still looking strong, running straight and tall. It's all downhill now, we hit the half mile with plenty of time left and cruise across the finish line. 12:13.
Rick finds the first bench and calls it home. He looks pale, but still strong...and manages not to throw up at the finish line!! Steve and Annie of the trailheadz give us hugs and congratulations. I see Janet and we chat, she runs off to get Rick some water. I try to eat a bit, share a little with the TH, but his stomach isn't quite ready for fajitas and spanish rice. After an hour he's able to shuffle over to the dining hall, get a little food down. He's looking much better, but a nap seems to be the next on the list. So we make our way to the SUV, and much like last year...take a nap.
Next up...Miwok 100K May 1st.
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