Sunday, April 20, 2008

Leona Divide 50

Distance: 50 miles / 80.5 km
Gun time: 10 hours 45 min
Bib number: 29

I got about 3 hours of sleep, woke up at 2am – I had really been worrying I would just ignore my four alarm clocks and miss the race – and left home at 3am.

I reached the start area at 5:20am and saw a bunch of familiar faces there before the race. The SoCal ultra-running community seems to be pretty tight: after just a couple of races I recognized at least 25 people – well, quite a few of were from our SoCal Trail Headz club (formerly known as OC Trail Runners) – but a lot of folks were the runners I remember from Unknown, Orange Curtain, Ridgecrest and Mt.Disappointment.

We ran first 13 miles on fire road and I was feeling great. But after we hit the single-track trail with those endless ups and downs I started to struggle. It was a mental thing – I guess I just freaked out about the fact that it is 50 miles and my legs were soar already, and I was out-of-breath on the up-hills. By mile 17 negative self-talk reached the point when I started to question why a hell I am doing ultras at all and whether I should just DNF. Luckily I ran next 15 miles after that with Pete from Bakersfield – conversing with him took my mind off all the negativity.

Aid station #6/8 was a lot of fun: they organized Hawaiian beach party there – men were wearing bras made of coconut halves, which looked pretty much the same as Charlie’s and Greg’s bra-style camelbacks, by the way :)

After the turn-around point at mile 35.5 I felt completely broken. My feet, legs, knees were in pain. My stomach went south. I felt pretty miserable and could only walk.

After the long downhill to the aid station #5/9 I felt better again as we had just slightly more than 7 miles to the finish. I power-walked most of the ascent to aid station #4/10 and even started passing other runners.

On the final 3-mile descent I maxed out volume of Metallica and Anthrax in my headsets and squeezed all the remaining juices I still had left in me. I really wanted to break 11 hours and was not sure how many miles I needed to run to the finish. I ended up sprinting downhill and crossed the finish line with a gun time of 10 h 45 min. This was one of the strongest finishes ever - I guess my pace for the last 200-300 yards was around 7min/mile.

After I finished I just felt sick... I did not drink much for the last 6 miles of the race and could not drink after it either. Neither could I eat. The hunger caught me two hours later and I had to stop at an In-n-Out drive-through on my way home were I devoured two double-double burgers with grilled onion and no cheese :)

Right now when I am closing my eyes I see this never-ending trail running under my feet. And I have to open my eyes each time: Damn! Is not it supposed to be over yet? Has not I finished this thing yet?

P.S. Somewhere close to the aid station #6 I met this little guy on the trail. I never saw anything like that before and thought it was a dead lizard someone had stepped on. I carefully removed him from the trail to make sure he would survive Leona Divide race. Do you know what it can be?

Here are some more photos from the race:
LD50M 2008


Charlie Nickell said...

Way to hang in there. Just remember, feeling bad during an ultra is normal. Robo told me he had a meltdown between miles 20 and 35. Just know you'll come out of it. Hey, you qualified for Western States. Better get some 4-ply trash bags. The American River is the real deal. You stud.

Pete Vara said...

Congrats you looked strong out there.
I felt the same way out there, even with 2 broken ankles. :)

Pete IV said...

hey! it was nice running with you. thank you for the advice you gave me on the top of the hill. hope everything is going well.

Anonymous said...

wow, Dimitri, you rock! glad to hear others get negative thoughts too...way to push past. the little guy is maybe a horned toad lizard? aren't they cool looking, very hard to find.

Anonymous said...

You were so sweet to me when I saw you at the 38(?) mile aid station. That was a very dark moment for me. I was dying from my Old Goats 50mile the weekend before, and at that point your words of encouragement rocked. GOOD JOB D-I-M-I-T-R-I!!!!!! You rock baby!!! Love, Keira Henninger

jeff said...

great job, ch-ch-ch-chia head!

your little friend is a horned toad lizard. as you can tell by his camouflage, they're rare finds. i think they good luck for ultra runners. ;)

Anonymous said...

Nice work, my friend. Isn't Leona pretty, as in pretty darn hard? Way to hang it there! -- greg

olga said...

Hey, Dimka, sub-WS qualifier! That's all that matters sometimes:) You know, it's a weird thing, but don't you love it much more when you suffer more? Oops, have you run something with no suffering? :) Congratulations!

Stephanie said...

Wow, congratulations, did it. you chose a tough race as your first ultra.