Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Leona Divide 50K Race Recap

This past weekend, I completed the Leona Divide 50K. This race was done as a training run on the road to the San Diego 100-miler in June. It's still a little weird to say that a 50K race is a training run, but that's what it is at this point. And, I realized this was my 10th 50K race. So, yay for that! There are so many things I loved about this race! I'll try to keep the recap short and sweet but you know how I love to carry on about things :)

This race is put on by the wonderful Keira Henninger. I've done a few of her races now, so I always know they're going to be well organized, the course well-marked and the aid stations well-stocked. And this race was no exception. We received ample directions in the days leading up the race, with driving and parking directions, maps and details on the course and where the aid stations will be, weather info and so much more. Ultra race directors are pretty thorough and Keira is no exception. She provides so much info, you'll be ready for anything.

My running partners in crime, Vanessa and Alexis and I left Friday afternoon. The race location was just outside of Palmdale, CA, in the Angeles National Forest. It's about a 2.5 hour drive without traffic but it took us about 4 hours. Lots of back roads, slow trucks and other traffic woes thwarted our plans of arriving to the hotel quickly, but it was still a relatively fun time. We drove through some interesting towns and sang along to some good tunes, so all was not hideous.

Saturday morning, we awoke super early (3:45am) and made our way to the Green Valley Charitable Hall, where the start/finish was located. We checked in, used the port-o-potties in the dark and got ready for the race. We met up with lots of Orange Mud Ambassadors and InknBurn Ambassadors before the race, which is always a good time. Super awesome running friend Philip even had a blanket for Vanessa and I to cuddle in (it was actually chilly at the start...but that didn't last long).

At the start, with Sparky photobombing

Vanessa, Tam, Chad, Alexis, myself and Jenny

Pre-race blanket love

After a brief talk from Keira, we were off. The first 3-ish miles are pretty much all uphill. We run on the paved road out from the Hall to a connector trail that leads to the PCT. That is all uphill. The road is uphill, the connector trail is uphill. At the top, where the connector meets the PCT, was the first aid station. It was well-stocked and everyone was happy to get there. We didn't need to really refuel at this point, though. From there, we headed south on the PCT for about 6 miles. This section was really beautiful. We ran through some trees and shade on beautiful single-track. Though, the 50K front-runners were making their way back on to the connector and the trail got tight at times. But, along the way, we passed/saw the Bouquet-Canyon Reservoir, which was quite full and lovely.

Initial climbing, while we're still smiling.

Beautiful PCT single track

Bouquet Canyon Reservoir

We got to the 2nd aid station at about mile 8.5 or so. I had my share of Coke, pickles and potato chips and water. We loved that the road we began on was called Spunky Canyon Road, so we needed to take pictures with the signs. Then we were on our way back to that first aid station/connector. The 50-milers kept going south for another 9 miles or so.

Heading back to Spunky Canyon Rd. Cause we spunky. 

After coming back to the connector and what was now aid station 3, we refilled our packs and loaded up on salt and fuel. Lots of fruit and potatoes at this buffet table aid station. Next we were heading north on the PCT for about 7 miles or so. We were told that this section of the course can be rather grueling. It's exposed and it's getting HOT. No shade + heat = hideous. And it was. We made our way to aid station 4 and were so happy when we got there. Our friend, Philip (of pre-race blanket fame), was there to apply sunblock to our already sunburned necks and shoulders (is he amazing or what?). We also refueled on pickles and potato chips, ice water and soda. After dipping our hats in the ice water and placing ice cubes in various places, we were on our way back.

Aid station heaven 

We ran that. 

I'm not going to lie, this section was soul-crushing. It was so freaking hot at this point and we were just kind of over it. What felt good on the way out to that last aid station felt miserable on the way back. And the sun was unrelenting. Unrelenting. But we made it back to the connector and what was now aid station 5 at mile 29. We did pass a man that was in severe distress. Thankfully the runners ahead of us notified the medics at the aid station and they headed their way out to him. I don't know what ultimately happened to him, but I'm sure he was taken back to the race start and given fluids. I'm hoping he was ok.

Unrelenting sun and heat

When we got back to the last aid station, what was now aid station 6, we filled up our packs, had some Coke, pickles and potato chips, and hunkered down to finish the last 3 miles. Really, this was a grit-fest making our way down the connector trail to the paved road and back to the Hall. The trail was manageable but the paved road was a little banked in places. It was not comfortable. But we made it to the finish line! And that finish line was SWEET. According to my Garmin, total mileage was 31.15 (I think Vanessa and Alexis had higher mileage) and total elevation gain was 4295 feet. And, according to Garmin, highest temp was 102 somewhere along the course. HOT. We earned those medals!

After the race, we hung out for a bit with friends. We saw the 50-miler women's winner, Rachel Ragona, finish. She was met by who we think was her husband and her children (you never know!). She has two young kids, maybe both under 3. I cried a little at how inspiring it was to see her finish. It was pretty amazing. She's a rock star.

After cleaning up, we headed back into Palmdale to Cafe Rio, a delicious Mexican fast-casual place. Vanessa and I enjoyed burrito monstrances (Alexis was good and had a salad) and then we headed back home. Thankfully, the trip home was shorter than the trip there and we made it home in about 2.5 hours.

Don't judge me

Post race glow! And most favorite race shirt ever! 

Would I do this race again? On one condition - the temperature would have to be below 70 degrees. Other than the temperature, it really is an awesome race. I have no complaints.

Next up is the PCT 50 Mile on May 13th. This will be my 3rd year in a row. Here's hoping temperatures stay low! What's next for you?

I'm linking up with Susie from the Suzlyfe, Lora Marie from Crazy Running Girl, Debbie from Coach Debbie Runs and Rachel from Running on Happy for the Coaches' Corner blog link up. Check these awesome ladies when you're done here!

I'm also linking up with Wild Workout Wednesday Link Up with Annmarie from The Fit Foodie Mama, Jen from Pretty Little Grub and Nicole at Fitful Focus. Check these badass women out!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Run For Charity This Spring

The long cold winter is coming to an end and spring has sprung! And with spring comes a running renewal! Spring is a perfect time to revisit your goals for the year. Perhaps winter wasn't kind to your running for whatever reason and now that the daylight is longer, the temps are warmer and races are popping up all over the place, you can revise those goals and start working towards them with gusto.

Even with the arrival of spring, you may still have trouble motivating yourself to work towards those goals. The most dedicated runners still have trouble with motivation at times. Sometimes working towards a time or distance goal just isn't enough. That's when I think about making my goals about something else like a cause near to my heart. For my 5th marathon, (New York City Marathon many moons ago), I was part of the Livestrong Army, raising funds and awareness for cancer research. For another New York City Marathon, I fundraised for Team for Kids to help kids in low income areas have access to physical activity programs and opportunities to learn about healthy living. I've also fundraised for Girls on the Run, local AIDS charities in Washington DC, as well as my kids' schools. Each time it brought a whole new level of importance to my goals. Getting up to run isn't just about you but about the charity you're running for. The people you're running for become your motivation and the possibility of letting them down is enough to keep going. So, how do you make the move to run for charity? See below for my 5 tips.

Before I continue, I'm linking up with the Friday Five 2.0 link up, hosted by Rachel at Running on Happy and Lacey and Meranda from Fairytales and Fitness. When you're done here, be sure to check these ladies out!

1. Pick your cause. Think about the causes that are important to you. Maybe there's a disease that you want to raise awareness for or a community project that could use more funding. Maybe your child's school is in need of resources for some of their programs. All it has to be is something you care about.

2. Find a race. Many races are associated with various local and national charities. Once you've found the charity you want to support, you can see if there are any races that will benefit that particular charity. Or you search for a race first and narrow your choices down by the charities they support.

3. Start your own campaign. Perhaps the charity you want to support isn't associated with a race or event. You can still run the race of your choice and fundraise on your own. In fact, Eventbrite can help you set up your own campaign to fundraise for the charity of your choice. This way you control the fundraising and the exact cause near and dear to your heart gets the exposure and funds it needs.

4. Enlist friends and family. Trust me, I know that ask is tough. Asking your friends, family, coworkers and others to donate to your cause is hard. But when the cause is something important to you or your community, you'd be surprised how quickly people want to help. And knowing you're also helping yourself achieve a goal will make it easier for others to support you. Email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all great ways to get your message out there.

5. Host an event. If asking friends and family repeatedly is getting old, think about hosting a fundraising event. Speak with local restaurants about holding a night where a portion of the sales go to your fundraising campaign. Other ideas include a spa night where a local massage therapist offers a discounted rate for massages and a portion of the sales go towards your fundraising. Many businesses will gladly help out as it helps get their name out there too :)

Running for charity is a great way to stay motivated and excited about your goals. It makes you feel good knowing your runs, even the bad ones, will brighten someone else's day.

Have you ever run for charity? What tips do you have for others fundraising now?