Leona Divide 50K

It's been a long time since I last raced. I'm pretty sure that the the ill-fated 2013 Miwok 100K was the last time I pinned a freshly crumpled race bib to my shorts. I hadn't signed up for any races this year, but thanks to my friend Chris, who won an entry to the Leona Divide 50K at a charity auction and somewhat uncharitably donated the entry to me, I was racing whether I liked it or not. Chris, by the way, ran the 50 miler and had a great race. He ran right through the finish line and kept going, running into some chairs and a couple of helpful bystanders.

I was very happy with my training coming into the race. The 50K training plan that I set up worked really well for me. It wasn't too much to handle, and I think all the extra stuff helped keep me healthy (MYRTL, foam rolling, cross training on the bike, core work). I feel like all that extra stuff, plus taking rest and recovery seriously, is as important as putting in the miles, especially as I age and the miles add up. I also really appreciate the advice of James Walsh, who suggested I add a fast finish long run every other week. I cursed him while I was running those, and I hope what I said under my breath doesn't hurt his chances to get into heaven. Those workouts were so tough, but I think they really paid dividends during the race.

There's not much in Palmdale. There were clouds covering the mountains to the west, bringing the rain, wind and snow, but by race day the clouds were mostly gone, the wind blew a bit, carrying some snow flurries, but it was crisp and beautiful running weather for most of the day. But yeah, not much in Palmdale and I really wanted sushi the night before the race, and there was this place called Shogun that was a little outside of town, if sprawling flat towns like Palmdale have an outside. It seems that there is no center there, and everything is outside of town, but this sushi place across the street from a few deserted warehouses and a Boys and Girls Club took me right back to Japan. It was some of the best sushi I've ever had. As soon as I opened the door and smelled the oil from the tempura, I knew that we had picked a good place.

My wife joined me for the weekend. It was the first race she has been able to come to in a few years and it was great having her there. Seeing her at the finish was one of the highlights for me, and made the day worth it.

Our marriage is sponsored by Patagonia (#sufferbetter)

The race director, Keira Heninger, found out a few weeks before the race that the course would have to change. The new route was run mostly on the PCT, and I was really worried about that. The PCT is pretty narrow, and this race had two long out and back sections on the PCT, but that really turned out to be one of the best parts. First of all, the sweeping views from the PCT were beautiful, and the other racers were so supportive of each other, offering "good jobs," "nice work," looking good," and "keep it up" as we squeezed by each other. Usually these races are much more solitary, but it was nice to share the trails with fellow racers, especially this group of trail runners.

My race was unspectacular. I passed some people, and I was passed by some people. I had a goal of finishing in between 5 and 6 hours, and I came in at 5:23, so I was happy with that, and I haven't run a lot of 50Ks, but that was my second fastest time, and my fastest time in seven years. Looking back on the race, I feel like I could have run certain sections harder, and that I walked some sections that I should have run, but that's easy to say a week later while sitting in a comfortable chair, sipping a cup of coffee.

My desire to race has been waning, so I don't have any other races on the schedule for this year, but I know racing has its necessary place; it motivates me to get the training in, it pushes me to run faster than I would if I were just out enjoying the trail, but as I take this running journey, I know that my favorite type of running is just getting out on the trails for a stress-free run, not worrying about time or distance, just appreciating the day.

Another benefit of racing: cool race photos

May you be blessed with a grimace that looks like a smile...people will think you're always positive.

Thanks for reading.

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